Return to main page HERE! ROMANCE
Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Bride’s Matchmaking Triplets
(Lone Star Cowboy League: Multiple Blessings Series)
Set in Little Horn, Texas, 1896. After a scandal involving her father, Elizabeth Dumont worked tirelessly to pay for the care of Aunt Evangeline. When her dear aunt passes away, Elizabeth answers an ad for a mail-order bride. However, when she arrives in Little Horn, Texas, it is to find her intended marrying another woman. The Lone Star Cowboy League temporarily hires Elizabeth to care for abandoned triplet babies. She longed to be their true mother, but as a single woman she is unable to adopt. When her onetime sweetheart, minister Brandon Stillwater, offers a marriage of convenience, she agrees for the triplets’ sake.
A few years ago, back East, their insecurities drove Brandon and Elizabeth apart. Once again residing in the same town, the pair try to be cordial to each other. Yet when rumors threaten to ruin Elizabeth’s reputation, Brandon is unable to sit by and do nothing. He tells himself that the marriage of convenience is for the sake of the three abandoned boys, but the truth is that thought of Elizabeth ever marrying anyone else hurts. Neither wants to risk their hearts again, but the same old, wonderful feelings begin to bloom between them all over again.
***** FIVE STARS! The triplets (Jasper, Eli, and Theo) are crawling babies when the story begins, but by the end they are trying to walk. It was interesting to see just how much of a handful three baby boys could be. The author keeps everything realistic, so do not expect those babies to do anything magical to bring Elizabeth and Brandon together. They are simply babies being babies – and totally irresistible.
As the story begins, Elizabeth is already in Little Horn and caring for the triplets. The author tells the reader about the couple’s past, how they parted, and how each ended up in Little Horn in such a way that I feel as if I actually read about it all as it happened, rather than after the fact. That is some stellar storytelling! I read this entire tale in a single sitting and enjoyed every second of it. The story flows smoothly and the characters are all engaging, even the vexing old women who love to gossip. An excellent novel for any time of the year! *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Briar’s Patch (Adventures in Amethyst #7)
Briar Sankey has always been the most beautiful girl in Amethyst. During her school years she had several different boyfriends, but never fell in love with any of them. Now she is forty-seven and the owner of her late mother’s restaurant, Bea’s Café. With no family around any longer, Briar is hearing her biological clock ticking – loudly! She wants to have a baby before her next birthday in October. Having given up on love, Briar wants a sperm donor: however, she does not want some anonymous person that she did not know and could not vouch for his genetic traits. She wanted her child to be like Harper, her sixteen-year-old waitress. With that thought in mind, Briar considers Harper’s father, Roman “Bud” Marasek. He is not handsome, but who cares? He is a great father. He is sweet, shy, loyal, trustworthy, moral, and hardworking. Problem is that Bud would never agree to give her a child and not be involved in his/her life. He would insist on helping to raise the child.
Bud has no idea how to talk to his emotional teenage daughter about dating and boy trouble. Thank heavens Harper has Briar to talk to about it all. Harper practically considers Briar to be her second mother. Bud had a crush on Briar back in school, every guy did, but he fell in love with Evette. Since Evette’s death over a decade ago, Bud has not even considered getting remarried. Yet when Briar asks him to father a child for her, he begins to look at her differently. There is no way he would give her a baby with no strings attached, but perhaps they could go out on a few dates and see what happens.
**** FOUR STARS! I was thrilled to return to Amethyst and witness another couple come together. The only thing I did not like about the story is the fact that Briar is in her late forties. (Women are considered “high risk” if they become pregnant after thirty. “Very high risk” after the age of thirty-five.) For readers who think ahead, as I do, there is no worry about the baby if the parents pass away before the age of seventy because it would still have Harper, who would be adult by then. That was my very first worry upon learning Briar’s age.
This story shows that just because a woman is beautiful, it did not mean that she would only consider handsome and physically fit men. (In a small way, it reminds me of Beauty and the Beast. I have always adored the story and I just saw the newest movie release. So, yes, I may be biased because I love tales such as this.) The hero this time has a little extra weight and his hair is thinning. However, the heroine only cares about what he is on the inside. From my experience, men do not realize that women care more about how the men treat them, since that is how they will also treat their future children.
The author’s writing style is easy to read. There is no life-threatening danger, just a romance that will make readers sigh in satisfaction. Highly recommended; especially on a rainy or snowy afternoon. ****
Author: Sophie Jordan
Title - Fury On Fire (Devil’s Rock #3)
After spending a decade in prison (Devil’s Rock) North Callaghan is finally free. To forget the past, North loses himself in hard work and loose women. But the other half of his duplex home has been sold and the woman who has moved in is the prim and proper type – and SO tempting.
Faith Walters has been a social worker for over two years. At the age of twenty-six, she has finally moved out from her dad’s and purchased her own home. But the walls are thin and her inconsiderate neighbor is very noisy. He seems to have a bed partner every night of the week and getting her night’s sleep is not easy until he and his various playmates are done. Even then she is too fidgety to drift off quickly. The way he seems to watch her does not help.
*** THREE STARS! The author has ensured that I like the main male character, North, even though he was a convict, by explaining early in the story what and why he did to end up in prison. Now out, he comes across to me as being less honorable than when he went in; yet he still has a line that he will not cross. Still, I could never actually admire the man or come to care for him. (Yes, but I still like him. It is impossible for me to explain.)
The main female character, Faith, comes across to me as the sweet, proper girl next door. She not only takes care of her father – and her brothers – but being a social worker shows that she cares for the welfare of children. They are total opposites, yet somehow, are good for each other.
The writing style is slow paced. Several scenes and subplots seem drawn out. It took everything I had not to start skimming paragraphs or pages. This story is good to read on vacation, because one can easily put it down to do something else; however, it is not good to fill in a long afternoon. The two previous titles in this series are much better. ***
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Adventures in Amethyst Series Collection, Volume 1
(Books 1 – 4)
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Perfect Reflection (Friendship Heirlooms #5)
Elaina Houston’s best friend and coworker is Ethan Lynwood. Though they live in the same building, they live in separate apartment (on the same floor and there are no other tenants in the building.) This makes sense to the pair due to the fact that most of their waking hours are spent together.
Ethan hopes that he may be more than a friend to Elaina someday, but knows better than to push the issue. He knows all about her past and probably understands Elaina’s dating behaviors better than she does. Her parents had Elaina in beauty pageants and other competitions from a very early age. They expected perfection from her; for Elaina to enthrall everyone – especially judges. When Elaina eventually rebelled, she went all out and ended up falling from grace. But thanks to another friend, Elaina is back with Christ.
When Elaina goes out with a man she lets him know up front that it is as friends. She insists on paying her own way. Yet every single time the man would quickly want more. Elaina has to change her phone number often. The only man who has never pushed for more is Ethan. He is her rock. So why does seeing Ethan date anyone cause her grief?
Ethan may know all about Elaina’s dark past, but she does not know his. In fact, Elaina would be shocked if she ever found out. Therefore, when Ethan’s brother, Sebastian, says he is coming for a visit, Ethan has every reason to worry.
**** FOUR STARS! This story clearly shows that even the closest of friends may not know everything about each other. However, if one hopes for more than friendship, then truth and communication are essential. Deception only breeds misery because it is inevitable that the truth will be revealed.
Karen Wiesner’s writing often has me cogitating on a story’s meaning – this one more than any I have previously read. I not only found it to be insightful, but was entertained throughout the day as I read it. This novel would be perfect for book clubs to discuss and I highly recommend doing so. ****
Author: Kathy Carmichael
Title - Angel Be Good (Christmas Romance)
The Angelic Council has made a slight miscalculation. Lieutenant Danvers was supposed to die that day in Vietnam. They did not anticipate Daphne to interfere and end up dying in his place. On these very rare instances the newly deceased simply enters heaven early; however, Daphne insists that Leonard (the angel informing her of the Council’s error) go tell the Council to fix the problem and send her back. Returning to her past life is already impossible, but the Council does decide to allow Daphne to return and take over the life and body of another female due to arrive shortly. They only ask that Daphne do them one small favor.
Nathaniel Danvers is CEO of Danvers and Son, a leading department store chain in sixteen states and three countries. He has no idea how the beautiful lady managed to enter his office, much less the building, but he wants her gone. He does not believe in the guardian angel she claims is with her invisibly or anything else that he cannot see, feel, taste, or hear. Yet somehow the silent alarm does not summon help, the doors refuse to open, and he is being forced to watch his life story.
Daphne returns on Christmas Eve, several years after her early death. She has until the end of the night to help the son of Lieutenant Danvers change his ways or he will not make it to heaven. (It had been Nat’s mother who had asked the Heavenly Council for help.) So here Daphne is, paying an after-hours visit to Nat’s office. With Leonard giving flashes of Nat’s past, present, and future on various gadgets she has never seen before, Daphne is about to play Ghost to his Scrooge.
**** FOUR STARS! You do not have to be a fan of the classic tale A Christmas Story to enjoy this delightful romp (but it sure helps.) This romantic story has the same flavor; however, the author has upped the ante by having the “Scrooge” be in the twenty-first century and adding some chemistry between Daphne and Nat. (It does not hurt that Carmichael’s version of Scrooge is H-O-T either.)
Kathy Carmichael has a flare for telling a heartwarming, yet sassy, stories and this one will certainly put you into the holiday spirit! ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Forever & All That Jazz (Friendship Heirlooms #3 – Inspirational Romance)
Jasmine “Jazz” Pepowski and Pastor Wesley “Wes” Horace had been engaged once before. Wes broke it off and both of them suffered while apart. As the story opens, Jazz and Wes have been married for nine months. Nothing else matters to Wes but serving Christ and coming home to Jazz. The pair can seldom find any private time with each other due to (chronically needy) parishioners.
It is no secret to Wes that Jazz had been a wild child and her father, Henry, let her do anything and everything without supervision. Wes knows what Jazz helped her friend, Ashley, through while they had been teens and the consequences both ladies now live with. But Wes had been miserable without Jazz in his life. The Lord has given them a second chance to be together.
Their nine months of bliss hits a major road bump when Henry can no longer hide his heart disease from Jazz. The doctors at the hospital say that Henry needs surgery to get an ICD implant. This will monitor and regulate his heart rhythm. Once done, Henry will still only have six months to a year to live. During this time, Henry will need twenty-four hour care. Jazz wants her dad to come live with them in the tiny parish. She wants to be with her father constantly during the short time he has left. But Wes feels as though Henry is trying to steal Jazz away from him. He wants Henry to be put in a hospice home. It was not natural for Wes to be a sensitive, sympathetic, sweet person, the way he is trying now. Wes admits to himself that he is beyond selfish and absent minded. He knows it to be a huge flaw; however, Wes does not want Henry to live with them. Wes believes Henry would receive the best care living in a hospice house. An added benefit would be that Henry would not interfere with his private time with Jazz. After all, Jazz can go to Henry if the nurses call her. Wes simply cannot understand why Jazz wants to be with her father as much as much as possible.
As for Jazz, she cannot believe that her husband, a pastor, does not understand her wanting to care for her father during the short time of life he has left. Jazz wants to be the one to take care of her father and spend as much quality time with him as possible, yet Wes is all but telling Jazz to choose between her father and her husband. How can Jazz help Wes understand that she simply could not live with the decision to put her father in a hospice home? And if their marriage is going to survive, Wes and Henry will have to eventually sit down and reconcile their differences.
**** FOUR STARS! I must admit that I was amazed that such a selfish man would become a pastor. He has no trouble counseling others, yet when it comes to his private life Wes wants everything his way. However, by being this way, the author shows that pastors are simply human, like everybody else. Jazz is the type of woman who enjoys being a full time house wife. She actually enjoys taking care of the home and doing everything for Wes. But she also understands that for a marriage to work, the two must compromise on things; especially during times of family trouble. The author clearly explains why Wes is the way he is, but I still find it difficult to believe that Wes is so ignorant as to why Jazz wants to spend time with her father.
Author Karen Wiesner has crafted an excellent Inspirational Romance that shows how one must lean on the Lord during times of strife and/or confusion. This helps between Wes and Henry, as well as between Wes and Jazz. This story has no life-threatening danger or surprises; just a pure romance where the main characters must look within themselves for answers. So few stories are written this way any longer. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Cowboy Fever Series (5 Complete Books)
Fever, Texas, is a small cattle town. It was at least an hour from any city of consequence. Fever is considered to be at the center of the South Plains. It is located between the Permian Basin to the south and the Texas Panhandle to the north.
This novel is about five neighboring ranches – the Lewis Ranch, Triple Aces Ranch, May Ranch, Sanford Ranch, and the forthcoming Mackenzie Ranch – and the people who live there.
Wings “Mac” Mackenzie is co-owner of Mackenzie Environment & Infrastructure. The engineering firm is quite successful, even though Mac’s brother has married, had kids, and now only consults. Mac is very old fashioned. He wants a loving wife at home, raising the kids and taking care of their family. Problem is that most modern women are more interested in having a career than a family. Out of all the women Mac has known, one stands out, above the rest – Amanda Grant. She is the charming millionaires he has seen at various of her father’s parties over the past twelve years. Each time he saw Amanda, she had been with someone else. This time, however, they were both unattached to other people.
Amanda Grant is a successful interior designer. When Mac asks her to come down to Fever, Texas, and renovate the fixer-upper ranch he has purchased, Amanda hopes it is Mac’s way of being alone with her before asking her to marry him. Yet after only a week together on the ranch, Mac leaves her to go deal with a problem at a project site. After three months pass, the ranch is ready to be lived in and Christmas is only couple of days away. Amanda decides it is time to admit to herself that she has (once again) fallen in love with a man who does not feel the same way about her.
Mac could tell something was wrong when he hung up from his weekly phone call to Amanda, but he had no idea what it was. An on-the-job injury helps him realize that it was time to become a full-time rancher and spend the rest of his life with Amanda by his side. Yet when Mac arrives home, it is to find Amanda gone.
**** FOUR STARS! This is what I call a “feel good” story. Its main focus is on the relationship budding between the two main characters. The secondary characters are from the neighboring ranches. In this story, there are glimpses into the lives of those neighbors. Amanda fits right in with everyone in Fever. I have already come to care for Maggie May and her small son. I could almost hear her Southern twang. If this is a taste of what is to come, than I look forward to the rest of the stories in this novel. ****
Lance Olsen, Triple Aces Ranch co-owner, used to date Janaya Gaines in high school. They even had planned to elope. When Janaya suddenly dumped Lance and left for a singing career in Nashville, Lance turned to her older sister, Colleen. Lance and Colleen eventually wed and had a son, Gav. Colleen and Gav were everything to Lance, until they died in a fire. It has been four years since the horrible day his family perished. Lance’s heart is still numb and only his ranch matters any longer. Yet when Janaya comes home to Fever, Lance loses his numbness and rage takes its place.
All Janaya’s life, she has had to be careful of her back-stabbing sister. Colleen had always gotten everything she set her mind to. That was usually everything that Janaya had wanted. No one could ever replace Lance in her heart. Staying away from Fever was the only thing t hat kept her anger and resentment at bay. But now Janaya has come back to Fever to stay. To say she is surprised at Lance’s hatred for her would be an understatement. Perhaps coming home was a mistake.
**** FOUR STARS! In this story, both main characters have lost those dearest to them. What bothers me is that Lance knew something was odd when Janaya dumped him, yet he did not pursue the answers to his questions. However, that is not abnormal for most teens. I am eager for the next episode and plan to begin reading it immediately. ****
Jared Chapman is foreman and co-owner of Triple Aces Ranch. His grandmother had brought home an orphan, Alana Hamilton, long ago and Jared gave his heart to her. He never regretted it; however, it had always been difficult for Jared to express his feelings. So he kept them hidden.
Alana returned those feelings but never believed that someone as wonderful as Jared could ever see her as interesting. Alana believed that Jared considered her no more than a sister. (Though Alana had never been adopted into the family, she had been raised on the ranch.) Alana accepted the proposal of the only man who expressed interest in her, Holt Bowman. Holt was an up-and-coming politician, but he took his stress out on Alana. When word finally reached Jared of Alana’s abuse, he all but ran to her rescue.
***** FIVE STARS! The author tackles a situation of which most authors would not dare – physical and emotional abuse. Alana has a friend in town (who also used to live in Fever, Texas). Though only a secondary character in this story, she is vital to the plot. She will also have her own story told later in this omnibus. *****
April St. Clair and her father had lived in a filthy hovel since her mother’s death. Her father never paid much attention to her and April’s meager wardrobe was all third-hand or worse. She studied hard and was considered to be a geek, her nose always stuck in a book. At graduation, she had been petrified to have to deliver the valedictory address. She held the highest grade rank in nearly thirty years. Upon finishing the speech, April was relieved to be heading back to her seat, only for Shawn Jacobs to stick out his leg at the last minute and cause April to go sprawling. The entire school had laughed at her and April vowed never to allow Shawn to ever humiliate her again. Years passed …
April St. Clair is now a high-powered lawyer and has been made a partner. When April learns of her father’s death, she is shocked. April never knew her father was sick. She returns to Fever and learns that her father has a young mare at Triple Aces Ranch and that he had wanted Shawn Jacobs, and no other, to train her. No matter her harsh feelings toward Shawn or how much he considers her to be stuck up, April would fulfill her father’s wish. Whether he liked it or not, Shawn Jacobs would train the mare…because he is now the one who needs money.
**** FOUR STARS! April is a wonderful role model. She went from rags to designer outfits. She worked hard as a teen and even more so as a young lady alone in the big city. She earned every cent. How could anyone not be impressed? Even a bit envious? There are several lessons in this terrific tale, but the main one I heard was to never judge someone until you have walked a mile in her high heeled shoes. ****
Around five years ago, Ken Abrams, Triple Aces Ranch co-owner, and his wife, Karla, were madly in love and expecting their first child. But tragedy took that unborn daughter and the two reacted differently. Ken seemed totally unaffected by the loss. He did not want to talk about it and did not even appear to grieve. The very next morning, Ken was back out on his horse, doing ranch work, as if nothing had happened. But for Karla, her world had shattered and she could not forgive Ken for diving into his work and forgetting all about his wife. Ken is the only man Karla has ever loved, but after five years apart she knows that she has to decide on whether to divorce Ken or confront him about the loss of their child.
Ken never knew why Karla left him. The death of his daughter tore him to pieces and only by working could he keep himself together. The few times he contacted her, Karla had been seething and cold. Ken believes she blamed him for the death of their unborn child. But then Ken is – basically – kidnapped by Karla’s four brothers and taken to the exotic dance club that Karla has been working as a waitress to make ends meet.
**** FOUR STARS! This story is a wonderful way to conclude this omnibus. It is riveting and holds onto the reader’s attention whether she wants it to or not. For the readers who noticed that one other female character has not has her story told, do not fret. The sixth story, Drifter’s Heart, is soon to be published. I can hardly wait. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Destiny (Inspirational Romance)
Christian “Chris” Riley, Elizabeth Horace, and Oscar Albright grew up together in Peaceful, Wisconsin. After graduation, Chris moves to Los Angeles to get away from everyone and everything that has been dictating his life. On his own, Chris takes control of his own life. Though Chris has long known that Elizabeth loves him obsessively, even he was surprised when she follows him to L.A. It did not surprise Chris to see Oscar moving to L.A. with her. Oscar has been in love with Elizabeth for years too. There is no way Oscar would allow Elizabeth to live in such a bad section of Los Angeles without him. Over the next thirteen years, Chris has become the owner of a game design technology company. He has been in short relationships with various women, but whenever he needs a shoulder or for someone to tell him that he is a good person, Chris goes to Elizabeth. Deep down, Chris understands that she alone will always love him, no matter how far he strays or how much he hurts her when he spends a night with her, disappears the next morning, and avoids her until he needs her again.
When a serial killer rapist’s attack of Elizabeth is mercifully thwarted, Oscar and her best friend, Yolie Thorp, are there for Elizabeth. The attack changes Elizabeth. She realizes that Chris is not a good man for her. She had always seen what she wanted to see, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Chris is not a hero, not the way Oscar has been all her life. Now, viewing things more clearly, Elizabeth begins looking at Oscar in a different light.
Chris had known Elizabeth had something important to tell him the day he left her – again – but he had ignored her calls and left for the Bahamas with his current girlfriend. When Chris finds out about the attack on Elizabeth, his entire world is rocked. But after racing back to Los Angeles, Chris learns that Elizabeth has finally seen him for the cretin he really was. Elizabeth severs the ties between them and Oscar sets a defense perimeter around Elizabeth that is all but impenetrable. Chris knows that the only way to get her back is to give himself to the Lord. God begins changing Chris from the inside out, but it just may be too late.
***** FOUR & A HALF STARS! This story shows that, quite often, what you are desperately searching for in your life has always been there, unseen due to its familiarity. And as with Elizabeth, it also shows that love is often blind. Too blind. The lucky ones realize it before it is too late.
Once again the author, Karen Wiesner, has written an inspirational romance that kept me reading far longer than I should have. (I rescheduled a dentist appointment just so I could finish it.) I stress that this is an “inspirational” romance, meaning that the characters in the story are Christians and often turn to the Lord for guidance. In this story, Chris lost his faith as a preteen, due to the influence of his uncle. For those who like to be notified if a story has scenes of abuse, assault, and the like, this tale only mentions Elizabeth meeting the killer and later, after the attack, glosses over what happened. I do not believe that anything is told/shown that should hold you back from buying and enjoying this inspiring romance.
I would also like to mention that a card game (called Destiny Poker) is played in this story. A small section, in the back of this book, tells how the author came up with the game. Since the idea first came to mind, Destiny Poker has been tweaked and refined and is now available to the public. You can find details on how to play Destiny Poker in the book (and possibly on the author’s web site). The author has even made a special card deck, which you may choose to order. (I have a deck. The back of each card has a picture of the book’s cover. I have to admit that the cards are gorgeous.)
This is a stand-alone story. No other book needs to be read to fully enjoy it. The characters have well developed backgrounds and are so believable that, were they real people, I could have called them my friends. A wonderful story to curl up with on a cold night or take with you on a plane or vacation. Very heartwarming. *****
Author: C.H. Admirand
Title - A Wedding in Apple Grove
The town of Apple Grove, Ohio, is unlike any other. Everyone is friendly but nosy; small in population but big in heart. When the locals need any handiwork done, they know that there is no job too small for the Mulcahy sisters: Megan, Caitlin, and Grace. Meg is the oldest sister. The petite redhead works hard in the family-run business. All day long she makes her scheduled rounds to fix whatever needs fixing in the homes of Apple Grove. Since this is a small town, everyone knows everything about everyone, and not all customers pay in cash. A few bake the most mouthwatering deserts that the entire Mulcahy family is more than happy to receive them in lieu of cash.
Daniel “Dan” Eagan is determined to put his ex-fiancé and his ex-buddy firmly in the past. Dan is looking to make a new start in Apple Grove. The only person Dan knows in the town is Aunt Trudi and according to her, Dan will fall in love with the place. Dan has only just crossed into the county when he spies a lady walking on a fence as if it were a balance beam. Dashing from his car to the fence, Dan reaches the redhead in time to catch her as she falls. The instant their eyes meet, neither can deny the attraction that springs up between them. Meg no longer believes in romance and Dan fears another rejection, but their hearts refuse to be denied. And when Meg’s past collides with her future, it may take all the residents of Apple Grove to keep their romance from short-circuiting.
*** THREE STARS! I must admit that there are some very interesting characters that live in the town of Apple Grove. It is the type of place that resembles Mayberry (from the Andy Griffith Show). Everyone seems to know about everyone else’s families and gossip spreads faster than a virus among kids in school. This story starts out pretty slowly and many character names are thrown at the reader early on, but you will not have to worry about trying to remember them all. To help readers out, the author has listed the cast of characters in the front of the book for quick reference.
Though the relationship between Meg and Dan is the primary focus, there are one or two others happening simultaneously. Watching Honey B. make a certain sheriff crazy with her internet dating is just as fun as wondering what color the little beautician will dye her hair each week. For me, there are times that Honey B.’s love life was even more interesting than Meg’s! By the story’s end, I was grinning from ear-to-ear and wondering who finished up Mrs. Doyle’s perm – if anyone.
I am eager to return to the people of Apple Grove. I have come to care for several and I find it awful to leave them, even if it is only for a short while. Admirand needs to write faster! ***
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - First Love (Angelfire Series #2)
Darlene Foxx learned long ago to never rely on anyone. Darlene lives in New York City. She is a floral designer at Cherished Flowers and has been with the store since its beginning. Though she left her hometown years ago, Darlene has still not put her horrible past totally behind her. She has a long list of guys who have walked out on her since then. So, basically, Darlene has created solid walls around her heart and refuses to let anyone in. But there is one man, Jason "Jace" Radcliffe, who always manages to get through her defenses. Darlene and Jace have known each other since childhood. He was her first love. For the past eighteen years Jace would show up at her apartment, stay a few weeks or months, and the moment Darlene let down her defenses he would walk out of her life. But now Darlene's life has changed drastically.
When Jace walked out two years ago, Darlene began dating Todd Roziminski. The moment Darlene informed Todd that she was pregnant, he walked out. He took all her money with him. Now Darlene is almost eight months along in her pregnancy. She has sold all her nice things to get money for the baby. Each day Darlene works long hours, walks home, and crashes in bed from exhaustion. Darlene is not really awake when Jace walks into her apartment and back into her life.
Jace has been in love with Darlene forever, but she never lets him get close. Each time she walls herself away, he leaves. Yet he always ends up returning. After being gone two years this time, Jace has decided to return and never leave Darlene again - no matter how much she hurts his pride. It shocks Jace to find Darlene pregnant, her hair cut short, and with little more than an old couch to her name. Jace knows that Darlene wants to tell him to get out, but he manages to keep her from saying the words out loud. He knows that he deserves her anger. He, like everyone else, left her. But now, even though she would never admit it, Darlene needs help. And whether Darlene likes it or not, Jace is determined to stay this time. He will regain her trust and win back her heart even if it takes forever.
**** FOUR STARS! In this story, both Darlene and Jace have major emotional turmoil. The main trouble between them is Darlene's feelings of being unworthy and her refusal to tell Jace how she feels. I simply could not understand Darlene's stubbornness until she finally told Jace how life with her parents had been. The author clearly shows how vital communication is in a relationship.
Though this is the second title in the Angelfire Series, it is a stand-alone story. You do not have to read any other title to enjoy the tale. If you are searching for a light romance, something perfect to take with you on vacation, then this is it. I loved every minute with Darlene and Jace. ****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - Like One of the Family (Family in Paradise #1 / SuperRomance 1778)
Set in the Caribbean, St. John. Filled with white beaches, blue waters, and tropical drinks, most people consider St. John to be paradise. For Lora Bell, it was her childhood home and only a source of painful memories and obligation. If it were up to her, Lora would still be in Chicago. The only real reason Lora has now come home is because the family resort, Larimar, is in trouble and she has the power of attorney. Once in St. John, Lora learns that the situation is direr than she could have ever imagined. Lora's grandfather ("Pops") has early onset dementia. He loses time and often believes his wife is still alive. Pops hid his declining health well. Now it would be a miracle if Larimar was not sold out from underneath their feet because Pops has not paid the resort taxes in years.
Heath Cannon was the poor, neglected island boy who had been abandoned by his parents at the age of ten. Though Heath is now an adult, he has never forgotten that he owes everything to the Bell family. Lora has no idea that she had probably saved his life when she gave him the basket of food so long ago. Then Pops gave him a handyman job at Larimar and Grams had home schooled him. Basically, Heath had grown up at Latimar. Pops and Gram were like parents to Heath. The fraternal twins, Lilah and Lindsey, were like his sisters. But the oldest Bell girl, Lora, has always been different. Lora never was like a sister to him. Heath has had a crush on Lora from the first day they met.
Heath had tried to reach Lora in Chicago for about a year before his certified letter finally forced her to actually take notice of Larimar's troubles. The instant Lora steps from the ferry platform, Heath knows she has not changed. Lora is still the sour-faced Bell that everyone remembers. But Heath also knows that Lora had always been expected to be the responsible one. While her sisters were out at dances, on dates, or hanging out with their friends, Lora had been at Larimar studying hard. Currently, Lindey is in Southern California "doing the actress thing". Lilah has been at Larimar, but Larimar's problems are too much for her to handle. Heath could probably have handled it all, but he does not have the power of attorney - ergo, no authority to get information, much less make decisions or change anything - and Lora had ignored his emails and phone calls for a year. Therefore, when Lora arrives at Larimar with a huge chip on her shoulder, Heath meets her head-on with a huge chip on his shoulder too. It is said that there is a fine line between love and hate. It is also said that opposites attract. Lora and Heath are like oil and water. They may not mix well, but the chemistry between them is highly flammable. Lora and Heath must put aside their grievances with each other and work together to care for Pops and to save Larimar before they lose everything.
**** FOUR STARS! Thanks to this story I now know that one of my cats is what an islander would call a COG. (A cat that often acts like a dog, such as playing Fetch.) Author Kimberly Van Meter greatly suffered as she spent time in St. John visiting a childhood friend and doing research for this novel. After all, who would actually WANT to spend time on an island exploring the local customs, enjoying the white beaches, or living like a local by sitting on the porch during a tropical storm? Yet because of all these sacrifices, Kimberly Van Meter was able to create a believable romance with all of St. John's local flair and common etiquettes. I could almost hear the Crucian accents and see the bright white beaches as the crystal blue waves pounded its shores. This author brought everything to vivid life!
The character of Lora is a workaholic and known to be brutal - even low enough to stab a coworker in the back or plant false evidence to discredit any competitors. Lora is no sweet miss, has no friends, and certainly does not know how to be one. Therefore, Lora was not high in my estimations. I found it difficult to like her. But when I stopped reading for a few minutes and actually put myself in Lora's expensive designer shoes (and pretended that I grew up as she had), I realized that the author was spot-on about how I would look suspiciously at people - even those I knew in my childhood. I did not like admitting that I probably would have reacted as Lora's character was written.
On a future note, the second title of this trilogy is named "Playing the Part". It will be Lindsey's story and is due for release in early September 2012. The last sister, Lilah, will have her story released sometime early 2013 and it will be titled "Someone to Believe In".
If you want to feel the full effect of this novel, read it on the beach or while you are outside enjoying a hot and sunny day. ****
Author: Bella Riley
Title - With This Kiss (Emerald Lake #2)
Rebecca Campbell is the innkeeper at Emerald Lake Inn. She had been engaged to the owner, Stu Murphy, until recently. That was when she had walked in to find Stu kissing someone else...a man. Rebecca and Stu had not been in love though. In fact, Rebecca had planned to break off their engagement. So the pair was actually relieved to know that they could remain friends. Stu asked Rebecca not to tell anyone his secret, and though Rebecca was no good at keeping secrets, she had agreed. But then Stu left town that night without telling anyone why; however, Stu did leave brief messages to his family members saying that he had to go away and think for awhile. This means that Rebecca has not only been left with Stu's secret, but to also let everyone know that the wedding has been canceled without revealing exactly why. Elizabeth, Stu's mother, blames Rebecca for (somehow) causing her son to run off. Rebecca feels lucky that only Elizabeth seems to be blaming her. That is, until Stu's brother, Sean, arrives in town for the wedding.
Coming home and falling for his brother's former fiancé was not what Sean Murphy had planned. Yet Rebecca's sweet smile and loving heart is simply irresistible, even for someone like him. It is obvious that Rebecca knows why Stu disappeared. The lady's face is an open book. She probably even knows where Stu went to. No matter what he feels for Rebecca, Sean cannot give his heart to her while secrets are between them.
**** FOUR STARS! More is happening in this story that I reveal in the synopsis. Sean may be upset with Rebecca for keeping a secret, but he has been keeping one for twenty years. That secret has caused harm to his entire family. To make things even tenser, Rebecca is not only running the entire inn and planning weddings for other couples. In about two weeks, she will host the First Annual Tapping of the Maple Festival. The event would bring more tourists to Emerald Lake and help the local economy, but one local resident has filed a petition to stop it. There is also trouble between Elizabeth and Bill (Sean's parents) and a ghost in Rebecca's bedroom.
Needless-to-say, this author has so much going on that I never had time to grow bored. Unlike most novels, this one does not slow down in the middle. There are no hot bed scenes that would cause you to blush should one of your kids open the cover for a peek either. (The chapter ends, leaving most to your imagination.)
Bella Riley has written an irresistible contemporary romance with charming characters set in an unforgettable little town. I can hardly wait to revisit Emerald Lake. ****
Author: Jules Bennett
Title - Caught in the Spotlight (Harlequin Desire)
Mia Spinelli has been the assistant of Olivia Dane, one of Hollywood's most beloved icons, for six months. During this time, they have become close. Even Olivia's daughter, Victoria "Tori" Dane, a world famous fashion designer, adores Mia. Mia loves her new job and more than excels at her duties. Mia has kept no personal secrets from either Olivia or Tori. Both know that Mia had been the assistant of Anthony Price, Hollywood's top director, prior to becoming Olivia's. Back then, Mia had been used as fodder for the media, which claimed that she and Anthony were lovers. Refusing to let the lies break up Anthony's marriage, Mia had resigned as his assistant.
Hotshot producer Bronson Dane is every woman's walking fantasy. Believing his mother and sister to be blinded by Mia's act of innocence, he intends to keep the assistant close. If Mia plans to learn Dane secrets and then report them back to her lover, Anthony, Bronson would be there to stop her. When passion flairs between Bronson and Mia, both agree to explore and enjoy their time together with no strings attached. Having been lied to and manipulated by a scheming woman before, Bronson locks his heart away and refuses to trust Mia. But he wants her whether she was lying or not.
As for Mia, she is having a difficult time keeping silent about something that could tear the Dane family apart. She had stumbled across the dark secret shortly before coming to work for Olivia. The secret is not Mia's to reveal and telling it would only hurt the people involved. Should Bronson learn of the secret, and the fact that Mia had known and kept silent about it, Mia would lose his trust forever.
**** FOUR STARS! The character of Mia is portrayed as honest, hard working, and extremely loyal. She is the total opposite of Bronson, who is a cynic. For me, watching the pair clash was like witnessing a multiple car-pile up on a freeway - a mangled-up mess with a good chance of Bronson exploding. The author, Jules Bennett, opened the story in such a manner that my attention was instantly captured. Due to a variety of sub plots and surprises, I found it difficult to fall asleep that night, no matter how exhausted I was. I wanted to see what was going to happen next.
As an added bonus, there is a short novella tucked into the back of this book. Billionaire's Baby is written by Leanne Banks. I enjoyed it so much that I read it twice.
Both stories are well written and I hated seeing them end. (Hmm, perhaps Tori will get her own story told someday. Hey, I can hope!) ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Shards of Ashley (Family Heirloom #5)
Ashley Savage grew up in an uncaring family. Since the age of five her mother, Corinne, abused Ashley in several horrific ways. Mentally. Verbally. Physically. Later Corinne wed but nothing improved for Ashley. In fact, Ashley's abuse worsened. Her pampered half-sister was nothing less than a bully. Corinne and her husband, Pedro Ramirez, played at being Christians. The Ramirezes delighted in telling everyone at church about their sinful and wayward daughter, Ashley. No one asked Ashley for her side of the story. Ashley never said one word of ill against her family or in her own defense. Everyone believed the worst of Ashley.
Now an adult, Ashley no longer turns to drugs or sleeps around. Today Ashley is the sole owner of A&A Design. She has become a success in every sense of the word. The only person who knows even a bit of Ashley's history is Jasmine "Jazz" Pepowski. Jazz is Ashley's closest friend, but even Jazz does not know every horror that Ashley has locked away in her mind.
The one man who has the annoying ability of getting through her defenses is Jay Samuels, a military chaplain. In six months Jay will retire from the military and become the local pastor. As the story opens, Jay has Leave for one week and Ashley is picking him up from the airport. For Jay, simple friendship is no longer enough. Not when he has seen her strength, the way she had picked up the pieces of her shattered life and rebuilt herself from scratch. Ashley has never allowed anyone to get close to her. She pushes everyone away, including Jay. But during his week home, Jay plans to somehow convince Ashley to marry him. To accomplish this, Jay needs to find out about every dark secret in Ashley's past. Jay needs to make Ashley see that she could trust him even if she could not trust another single person. But Jay does not realize the extent of all Ashley has walled off within her own subconscious or what keeps her from giving herself to God.
***** FIVE STARS! This is the fifth story within the Family Heirloom series. Once again Karen Wiesner is tackling a hard topic that most authors would avoid like the plague. When one, such as Ashley, has been dealt several, various abuses and yet, somehow, still manages to straighten out her life and succeed, then the LAST thing she is eager to do is to put her trust in another human being. When that same person has begged all her life for God to help her, save her, and then for Him to never heed her distress, then the LAST thing she is willing to turn to is her faith in God.
Wiesner not only goes into the needs for Ashley to deal with her past, her issues with trust and control, and of finding her way back to God. The author also looks at the how many Christians often fail to help their neighbors. In this story, Ashley is wild and has done many sinful things; however, no one in the congregation ever thought to wonder WHY the teenager was doing it all. Because Ashley never defended herself or told anyone that her parents were telling lies, her fellow Christians assumed she was guilty and gathered around the "poor parents". In reality, no real Christian likes to believe that they may have overlooked such crimes happening to the children within their church. Yet it happens more often than you would think. As I read Ashley's story, I found myself looking at the young kids and teens around me in a different light. Perhaps those wild teens drinking on the street corner are seeking escape from something worse at home.
If you have not read the previous titles of the Family Heirlooms series, you will still fully enjoy this story. Each title is a stand-alone tale. However, if you have read them, I am happy to inform you that Samantha Samuels and Kyle Feldmann, from "Glass Angels" (Family Heirlooms #4), are wed in this episode. And if you are familiar with Wiesner's "Kaleidoscope series", you may notice a small reference to the Kaleidoscope building too. Noticing that made the setting more believable to me, especially since the reference was made "in passing" - instead of being used as a plug for another series.
If you are looking for a Christian Romance that will touch your heart, while also opening your eyes to a new way of viewing the world around you, then this author is for you! Not just this story, but ALL of Karen Wiesner's stories are this way. As for this individual story, you will be treated to a realistic, well written tale that will capture your attention almost immediately, hold onto it until the very ending, and will long linger in your mind. I am unable to explain how much I loved Ashley's story. In a word: "Indescribable!" *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Glass Angels (Family Heirloom #4, Christian Romance)
Set in Wisconsin. Three years ago Samantha "Sam" Samuels had been sexually assaulted by Ryder Feldmann. Pastor Samuels, Sam's father, had been counseling Ryder and had kept urging Sam to befriend the man, even though Pastor Samuels had known that Ryder was a convict. Pastor Samuels's evangelistic ambitions had made him blind and he made Sam go out with Ryder. Since that horrible event, Sam refused all contact with her father. The most tragic part about that time in Sam's life was that she had been love with Kyle Feldmann, Ryder's older brother.
Kyle testified against his brother during the trial, but he could never blame her for breaking up with him. Now, three years later, Kyle owns Feldmann Christian Divorce Counseling where he counsels others. His son, Chad, is fifteen-years-old, a difficult time in a young man's life. Though Kyle and Chad have always been close, recently Chad has been putting distance between them. But Kyle understands the teen's need for some independence and he does his best to give Chad the space he desires. It is Summer Break and instead of getting a part time job, Chad spends most of his time with his girlfriend, Winnie. Kyle has known Winnie (basically) all her life. Kyle is happy to see the life-long friendship blooming into romance. Kyle tries to also keep up with news about Samantha.
Over the past three years, Sam has lived in an apartment between Peaceful and La Crosse, where she has been attending college. Her friend, Jordan Palunachek, has started a rape counseling clinic called Glass Angels. The largest corner office has been held for Sam, waiting for her to finish earning a Master's Degree in psychology. Samantha believes God has been leading her to this path; to help women who have gone through the same trauma she has. Samantha is surprised to learn that Glass Angels is in the building owned by Kyle and that her clinic shares the building with Kyle's counseling center.
Sam has never blamed Kyle for his brother's sin. They both quickly realize that their feelings for each other have not dimmed. They begin dating again. Kyle cannot accept that their love will not work out this time. He wants so much to help Samantha heal. He will need to be painstakingly sensitive and slow, because though the assault was three years ago, Samantha has not really begun to heal. To make matters worse, Ryder is about to be released from his prison confinement and he has not changed one bit.
***** FIVE STARS! There is even more going on than I reveal in my synopsis, but to touch on everything would more than double the story's description. The author shows that bad things can and do happen to good people, but it is for each person to decide whether they will break and crumble under the pain or bend and find a way to make their pain work for some good. Karen Wiesner often takes Christian Romance from its normal shelf and propels it well beyond all expectations. This story is a prime example. Stellar! *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Foolish Games
(Family Heirlooms #3, Christian Romance)
Peter Samuels has owned and operated a Christian book store for fifteen years now in Peaceful, Wisconsin. One year ago he lost his wife, Lydia, to a brain tumor. Peter honestly has no idea how he would have coped if not for the help of Lydia's best friend, Kimberly Wolfe. The thirty-four-year-old lady has been a close friend to the entire Samuels clan since her childhood and has worked in the book store since its opening. In fact, Kimberly is the only reason his store has not gone out of business after Lydia's death. Peter has two kids. They have known Kimberly all their lives and consider her to be an honorary aunt or second mother. And speaking of the children, James and Brenna seem to be finally moving on. This is partly due to Kimberly's presence. However, Peter is still grieving for Lydia.
Kimberly Wolfe has always loved Peter, though she has been careful to keep the knowledge from him. When Peter fell in love with Lydia and then wed her, Kimberly had been happy for them. She could easily see their love for each other. They were a perfect match. When Lydia died, the pain cut Kimberly as deeply as it did Peter and she did everything she could to help Lydia's family make it through the aftermath.
An innocent kiss at a New Year's party leads to a growing awareness between Peter and Kimberly. Peter is not sure he can love again or if his friends and family would consider his new feelings for Lydia's friend to be wrong. Kimberly is not sure whether her love for Peter is right or wrong either. Even if she can be with Peter, Kimberly must first deal with her fears borne of the past. Kimberly's domineering father had used the Bible to justify his God-given right as head of the household. Kimberly cannot forget how her father had literally destroyed her mother with his mental, verbal, and sometimes physical abuse. Even though Kimberly no longer lives in his home, her father still tries to control her. Due to this, Kimberly fears trusting any man and has never allowed any man to get close enough for a real relationship.
Can Peter see Kimberly as more than a friend and employee? Can Kimberly ever forgive her father or trust Peter not to someday become just like him?
**** FOUR STARS! This story has several characters. Those who play large roles are well developed, while those with lesser roles are not. (After all, why learn a detailed background of someone who is only mentioned in passing or appears for a brief cameo or two?)
Lydia had been a huge part of Peter and Kimberly's lives before she died. The author has done a terrific job of explaining this, as well as why Peter and Kimberly worry about whether their growing love for each other is wrong. Kimberly's character is caring and forgiving, except where her father is concerned - for good reasons. The reader quickly understands that Kimberly really was happy for Peter and Lydia's marriage to be so wonderful. Kimberly was not then, nor is she now, the type who would consider trying to steal Peter from Lydia. Kimberly never comforted Peter in hope that he would turn into her embrace or something like a rebound. The author made Kimberly the exact opposite. The lady is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside. (Kimberly is the type of person that I would love to be able to call my close friend.) Yes, there are people in today's world that are as caring and sincere as Kimberly's character is, but they are few and far between.
In this story, Wiesner shows that each person needs to follow the path God leads them to, even if by doing so the person disappoints their family. That path is not always easy either. If there is one lesson that I have learned about the author it is this: Stories by Karen Wiesner warm my heart like a cozy fire on a chilly night. ****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - The Past Between Us
(Mama Jo's Boys #1, SuperRomance 1694)
Cassandra "Cassi" Nolan and Thomas "Tommy" Bristol had grown up together in Bridgeport, West Virginia. At the age of ten, Cassi had been a rich girl, one of the popular kids. She had also been the only person in school to walk up and befriend the twelve-year-old poor boy. Tommy had been one of three white foster boys living with Mama Jo, a single black woman. Mama Jo had adopted the three kids with the worst personal histories. Though Mama Jo was a small woman, her sharp gaze could cut a person to the core.
The past between Cassi and Tommy is just that - the past. Now Cassi Nolan is wanted by the law and FBI Agent Thomas Bristol is the one assigned to bring her in. He has spent the last two months tracking the little thief down. The evidence in her file clearly shows that Cassi has changed. No matter what he once felt for her, Tommy cannot let those guileless blue eyes trick him into letting her go.
Cassi is claiming herself to be innocent of all charges. She has been on the run for two years. During that time she has been hunting down information on her stepfather, Lionel Vissher, who Cassi says murdered her mother to get his hands on the family's fortune and is currently after her. But Tommy has heard countless criminals claim similar tales and he refuses to fall for her act...even if her story is starting to make sense.
***** FIVE STARS! Sizzling, suspenseful, and full of drama well describes this story, the first of a new trilogy by Kimberly Van Meter. This talented writer has taken a strong man with a horrible past and (basically) handcuffs him to the one woman in the world able to see through all of his emotional barriers to the raw wound still bleeding upon his heart. The author injects honor within his veins and an all-consuming desire to follow the law (to the letter) within his soul. Not content to stop there, Van Meter follows this up by making sure that his slippery and deceitful prey is none other than his first love. It all adds up to create one of the most captivating romances I have read this year. I did not really need that night of sleep anyway. *****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - A Chance in the Night (Mama Jo's Boys #2 / SR #1700)
As a kid, Christian Holt had been helpless to stop his mother from selling herself to men. Much of her earnings went to support her illegal drug habit. Christian had been eleven-years-old when she died from an overdose. Eventually he ended up in West Virginia with Mama Jo, a petite black woman with a big heart, the wisdom to understand what a troubled teenager needs to straighten himself out, and strong-willed enough to make the teen actually want to change. Mama Jo raised Christian up right, along with his two other foster brothers.
Now an adult, Christian is a bartender at an upscale bar in Manhattan. He has solid plans to open his own nightclub in the near future with a buddy. First, however, they must entice an investor to aid them set things into motion. Christian has always been able to read people well. Yet unknown to Christian, his keen sense is totally wrong when it comes to Skye. She is Belleni's best call-girl but, no matter how you look at it, the pretty lady is just like his mother. She sells herself for cash. To Christian, this means she is not worth his time and he refuses to give into his attraction to her. But when Skye's rich client becomes physically violent, Christian cannot ignore the situation. After all, Mama Jo would have never let him live it down. Saving Skye's life ends up changing everything.
Belleni offers only the best to his clients and they pay him well for the privilege of booking a date with Belleni's elite stable. The man is smooth and charming on the surface, but turns vicious when crossed. The only person more heartless than Belleni is Vivian Forrone, his right-hand-man (so to speak). Vivian is a sociopath draped in a socialite's body. In her own twisted way, Vivian has been in love with Belleni for over two decades. They had even been lovers at one time in the past. She knows Belleni goes through women and Vivian has always kept her jealousy in check. But five years ago, Belleni saw Skye and his infatuation with the woman still shows no signs of ebbing. Belleni had entered Skye's life when she had been most vulnerable. Using his charm, Belleni impregnated Skye and she has been in his power ever since.
No matter how much four-year-old Nico physically resembles Belleni, Skye D'Lane loves him with all of her heart. Skye would do anything for her son and Belleni knows it. Belleni keeps Skye isolated from her family and uses Nico as leverage against her. Skye is now Belleni's best girl and earns him much profit with the clients. She lives alone in a cheap, small apartment. To keep Skye from running away, Nico lives with Belleni. If Skye wants to see Nico or spend an afternoon with her son, she must earn the privilege. Skye is not looking for a hero when Christian swoops in and rescues her from a violent client. Yet after only a short time in his company, Skye cannot stop from wondering if Christian could help her and Nico escape Belleni. The problem is that by doing so, Belleni would go after Christian, as well as his family.
**** FOUR STARS! Christian Holt is the second of Mama Jo's foster sons to get his story published. In my personal opinion, this tale is not as exciting as the first, but the danger is just as real. (The previous title is "The Past Between Us" and involves Christian's foster brother, FBI Agent Thomas Bristol.) For readers with soft hearts, I will state that the child, Nico, is never harmed or ever in any real danger. So if you tend to pass on stories involving a child, rest assured that this story is safe for you to read.
Kimberly Van Meter has a creative writing style, with a unique flavor all its own. I really wanted to begin reading another novel once I had finished this one; however, I found myself unable to do so. I cannot express exactly why, but these characters kept lingering in my mind. They almost seemed to demand that I sit quietly and enjoy the warm and humorous feelings that the author left me with. Whatever the reason, this is one romance that will quickly capture your imagination and warm your heart. ****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - Secrets in a Small Town (Mama Jo's Boys #3 / SR #1706)
In Dayton, California, twenty-five years ago, Owen Garrett had been at the tender age of eleven, when his life shattered. His father, Ty Garrett, had been the leader of a racist cult at Red Meadows. Ty had been killed, along with many others, when the FBI raided the compound. It had been a massacre. Young Owen had been sent to live with an aunt, who relinquished custody of Owen to the state. Eventually, Owen landed in the care of Mama Jo, a petite black woman with more heart and wisdom than anyone Owen had ever met.
Today, Owen Garrett is the owner of Big Trees Logging. He has returned to Dayton so that his family name would not always be associated with only bad feelings due to the town's history. The logging business should help bring good things to the town and, hopefully, change the public perception of the Garrett name. This is hard to do, thanks to a reporter who keeps writing articles about his company. Piper, the journalist, is painting Owen as a man with no heart, stating that his company is cutting down the forests without any consideration for the environment.
Piper Sunday is a reporter for the Dayton Tribune. The ambitious lady has dreams of landing a Pulitzer someday. The incident at Red Meadows may be her ticket to receiving the award, as well as earning a position at one of the more well known papers. Piper believes that she has found proof that Owen's father was innocent. Her source claims that Ty was deep undercover with the FBI when the raid went down and that the shooting was a cover-up. But no one is willing to talk about the event. Piper cannot help but wonder why everyone is trying to bury all knowledge about what actually happened at Red Meadows. It is starting to feel as if everyone has something to hide, including her own parents. Piper refuses to stoop digging until she learns the truth.
Reluctantly, Owen and Piper team up to uncover the truth of what really happened at Red Meadows. Spending time together has each seeing the other in a new light. But even so, would they ever be able to fully trust one another?
***** FIVE STARS! This is the final story in the trilogy about Mama Jo's Boys. Owen is the one who feels he must prove himself worthy to the Dayton community. Since Owen lives in California and Mama Jo stays in West Virginia, Mama Jo's role is much smaller than in the previous titles. However, Mama Jo is not forgotten. If a woman begins to mean something to one of her boys, then Mama Jo has to meet her and decide if she is worthy. During Thomas's (The Past Between Us) story and Christian's (A Chance in the Night) story, hints were given about Mama Jo's health possibly declining. Everything becomes clear in this episode.
Kimberly Van Meter's stories are a true pleasure to read. *****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - Guarding the Socialite
Since the death of her twin sister, Emma Vale has structured her life so that she never feels helpless again. In honor of her sister, Emma used her trust fund to open Iris House. It is a house that gives sanctuary to women, with no questions asked, as long as three rules are obeyed: No drugs, no bringing anyone home, and each boarder has to hold a regular job. Most boarders are former prostitutes, trying hard to reclaim their lives.
As the story opens, Emma is identifying the body of Charlotte, one of the boarders. Charlotte is the third victim of a serial killer and a link to San Francisco's Iris House has just been established. Emma's wealthy father has pulled strings to ensure that the case has been given to the best-of-the-best, Special Agent Dillon McIntyre. After losing his partner in a recent investigation, Dillon does not want the case. However, something about this particular case calls out to him. Problem is that Dillon is not sure whether he is being drawn by the case or Emma, the strong-willed woman who runs Iris House.
"Practice Makes Perfect" is sent in a note to Emma. This first contact conveys the killer's interest in Emma, as well as those residing within Iris House. With the Winter Ball rapidly approaching, protecting Emma has become even harder. Iris House will crumble without the donations that come from the annual Winter Ball, so canceling is not an option. Can Dillon protect the amazing woman he is falling in love with from the serial killer that has fixated upon her?
***** FIVE STARS! The author tackles the hard reality of young ladies who have found themselves on the streets. One boarder is but a teen and the author clearly demonstrates the toughness these teens need to develop for survival. Though characters from a previous title are mentioned, this story stands alone. If you have not read any of this author's previous stories, I highly suggest you do so because they are FANTASTIC!
I found the characters in this story to be believable, with well developed backgrounds. The teen boarder of Iris House has her tale told as a sub-plot. This not only adds depth to an already engrossing story involving romance and suspense, but also adds a bit of street realism. If you are searching for a story that will make your afternoon FLY by, this is it! Books by Kimberly Van Meter are as addictive as hot cocoa on a cold, icy day. *****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - To Catch A Killer (Silhouette Suspense 1622)
Ten years ago Kara Thistle left her small hometown in California to begin her FBI career. Now the lovely FBI special agent returns to Lantern Cove. It is a place Kara never expected to see again. But it is where the third body of a child has been discovered with the same MO of the high profile case her team is investigating. Kara is the lead of the Child Abduction Rapid Deployment Team "CARD". They are seeking the serial killer that the media has dubbed the Babysitter. To make Kara's job even more difficult is the fact that she must work with her former lover - Lantern Cove Police Chief Matthew "Matt" Beauchamp.
Matt never expected to see Kara again, though he has never forgotten her. Due to their one night together, the guilt he still feels, and all the hard feelings between them, Matt still wants her. Then he learns her secret. Now their daughter, Briana, has been kidnapped by the Babysitter. Kara and Matt must somehow manage to put their history aside and focus on finding Briana before she becomes the killer's fourth victim.
***** FIVE STARS! This story is filled with vivid characters which seem to leap off the pages and into reality. The writing style is smooth, allowing the reader to actually feel a sense of danger. It is also obvious that Van Meter conducted A LOT of research, in a variety of areas and topics, in order to make the investigation plot realistic. Did she succeed? Oh, yeah! I bit my poor fingernails down to nubs while reading long into the night. I could not seem to turn the pages fast enough to my eagerness to see what would happen next. Kimberly Van Meter needs to write faster, because I want more - NOW! *****
Author: R.C. Ryan
Title - Montana Destiny (McCord Cousins #2)
The city of Gold Fever came by its name honestly. And everyone knows about the legendary McCord curse. All the McCord men have died trying to locate their ancestor's lost gold. When old Coot McCord died, his will brought three McCord cousins back to the Lost Nugget, the working ranch they grew up on together. Jesse, Wyatt, and Zane McCord reside on the ranch with their Aunt Cora as they continue Coot's search for the missing treasure.
Emergency medic Marilee Trainor grew up as an Army brat. Having been moved dozens of times in her life, Marilee has finally chosen Gold Fever in which to settle and dig some roots. Driving the ambulance makes her happy. Often Marilee will fly her small plane to deliver and pick up supplies for various businesses in her new town. But no matter how busy she keeps herself, Marilee finds that a certain rugged, sexy cowboy is managing to slip himself into her heart.
Wyatt McCord has been all over the world, but Coot's ranch is the only place that has ever felt like home. Lately there has been a lovely emergency medic that has captured his interest. When Marilee stumbles upon a clue to the McCord gold, she immediately delivers it to the ranch. That is when Marilee becomes a target in a mysterious killer's sights.
***** FIVE STARS! Watching this wild rebel and independent woman attempt to coexist was so much fun. This is the second McCord cousin's story. Though I enjoyed Jesse and Amy's story in the first book, Montana Legacy, it is my opinion that Wyatt and Marilee's is even better! (If that is at all possible.) The author, R.C. Ryan, delivers an ongoing tantalizing mystery suspense with heart warming romance. Sinfully yummy! *****
Title - Montana Legacy
Author: R.C. Ryan
The Lost Nugget is a working ranch in Montana. Grandpa Coot had purchased all the surrounding land possible, so the ranch now boasts thousands of acres. Three McCord cousins and their families live with Grandpa Coot and Aunt Cora in the massive house. Jesse McCord, the oldest cousin, never leaves the ranch. However, the other two leave when their parents move away from Montana. Once adults, Wyatt and Zane do not return to the Lost Nugget until they receive word of Grandpa Coot's death. The estranged cousins are brought back together for the funeral. The will forces the trio to remain on the ranch together and to continue Coot's search for the family lost fortune.
Amy Parrish is Jesse's lost love. As a teen, she had moved away suddenly, with no word of explanation. Now she has returned to care for her ailing father. Their feelings for each other have never dimmed, but neither is willing to hand over their heart for fear of rejection. Danger lurks them as well, because someone close is threatening Amy and Jesse's very lives.
**** FOUR STARS! A well written story with fully-developed characters that I easily came to care for. The tempers of the cousins are short and they enjoy venting their anger with their fists; however, the author makes it clear that they never abuse innocents. The unknown enemy does not begin causing trouble until half-way into the story. Until then the story focuses on reuniting the cousins and bringing Jesse and Amy back together. By the end, I felt as though I had read two back-to-back novellas. (Before danger starts and after.) However, since this title is the first of a trilogy, I understand that a solid foundation for all three titles needs to be built. The author does a fabulous job of it too. I eagerly await the next McCord cousin's story in May, 2010. ****
Author: Linda Barrett
Title - Quarterback Daddy (Super Romance 1619)
Sherri had been nine months pregnant when she died in the back of an ambulance. Her sister, Alexis Brown, had been with Sherri at the time. With her last breath, Sherri revealed the identity of her baby's father. Little Michelle had been born shortly thereafter by emergency C-section in the ambulance.
To care for her niece, Alexis took time off from her job as a prosecutor for the District Attorney's Office. However, Ally still owed a lot for student loans and Sherri's funeral. Michelle is now three months old and Ally has only a couple of weeks to solve her cash flow problem and find suitable day care or she will lose Michelle to the legal system. So Ally wraps her courage around herself like a shield and goes to introduce Michelle to her unsuspecting biological father.
Dan Delito is the starting quarterback and captain for the New England Patriots. When he first sees Ally he thinks he is seeing the ghost of his deceased wife, Kim. Ally's resemblance is uncanny. As for Ally, she is immediately hit with the strong smell of alcohol. Seeing Dan totally drunk, Ally refuses to tell Dan about Michelle. Once Dan learns about the baby, he swears that not another drop of alcohol will enter his system. Dan and his family are thrilled about Michelle. Ally is happy to see the instant love bestowed upon her niece, but had hoped to share custody. So when Dan calls Ally and actually begs her to become Michelle's live-in nanny (the applicants were horrible), the decision to place her lawyer career on hold is easy. Then their uneasy friendship begins to bloom into a possible romance. Can Ally trust Dan to never touch alcohol? Does Dan really see Ally or a stand-in for Kim? Looks like the paparazzi will be the least of their problems.
**** FOUR STARS! Ally is a strong character and it fast became clear to me that she would go to any lengths necessary to ensure Michelle receives the best of care. Even if that meant not getting partial custody of her. Like Ally, I am not a football fan; yet this story tackled my heartstrings from the beginning. An "abso-pos-a-tutely" warm romance that will leave you with a big smile upon your face and a spring in your steps. Linda Barrett pens pure pleasure. ****
Title - A Man Worth Loving
(Home in Emmett's Mill series, Harlequin #1600)
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Fed up with her snobby Manhattan family and their elite circle of fake friends, Aubrey Rose decides to move to Emmett's Mill, California. With her degree in child psychology, a minor in child development and experience as a nanny, finding a position should not be difficult. Since Aubrey has always preferred to earn her living, the allowance from her father is in a savings account or carefully invested. So Aubrey can get by until she finds a position she likes.
During a Quilters Brigade meeting, Aubrey meets Mary Halvorsen. Mary informs Aubrey that her son, Samuel "Sammy", is in need of a nanny. Sammy's wife died six months ago while giving birth to their son. Sammy is still grieving and finds it hard to even look at his new son, Ian, much less care for the baby. When Aubrey goes with Mary to meet Sammy, she is appalled. Sammy is obviously nursing a major hang over. Drinking to oblivion and chasing skirts is almost a nightly ritual of his. Aubrey is about to refuse the nanny position when one of Mary's daughter-in-laws walks in with Ian, after caring for the toddler all night. Aubrey realizes Sammy is a "silly, self-absorbed idiot who didn't know how lucky he was." Unable to bear the thought of leaving Ian with his father, Aubrey accept the position. As she comes to know Sammy, Aubrey finds herself attracted to him.
As Aubrey tries to make Sammy snap out of his grief and bond with Ian, she also has the displeasure of finding her mother and sister on her doorstep. Seems Aubrey's father has decided to stop allowances for the three of them. Unlike Aubrey, her mother and sister have saved nothing. Things become worse when Aubrey finally manages to get a return phone call from her father.
***** FIVE STARS! There is so much going on in this story. I left out quite a few problems and sub-plots. I never found myself growing bored at any time. The character of Aubrey is strong willed, yet with a soft heart, especially toward children. I could not help but admire her and cheer her on during rough situations. As usual, all the characters are fully developed and the story is well written. I would like to hear about Aubrey's sister again in the future too.
If you are looking for a good and entertaining book, this is it! Kimberly Van Meter's stories always bring out the warm-fuzzies in me. *****
Title - Finding Their Son
(Spotlight on Sentinel Pass #5, SuperRomance 1588)
Author: Debra Salonen
Our story begins in the Black Hills. Seventeen years ago Charlene "Char" Jones lost her innocense with drunk Eli Robideaus on the night before his wedding to another lady, Bobbi. Eli never recalled being with Char and never knew she ended up pregnant. Char was not even out of high school at the time. Aunt Pam helped Char get the baby boy quietly adopted. Char has hoped for seventeen years that someday her biological son would look for her. Char has even been putting money aside in case she found out he had college plans. But instead of a teen boy walking through her store's teepee entrance, it is Eli.
Eli is a cop on the reservation. As his home life crumbles and Bobbi leaves with the kids, Eli lets his uncle talk him into a sweat lodge and going on a vision quest. His uncle claims that Eli needs to find the missing pieces of himself. When Eli wakes up the next morning, he is alone on a cold hilltop in the Badlands. No uncle. No car. No money or credit cards in his billfold. Eli enters a store with a white teepee entrance and his life takes another smashing blow. There is Char at the counter and somewhere in the world, he has another child.
Char does not believe much in coincidences. Perhaps the time has come to stop waiting for her son to come find her. Perhaps it is time for her, and Eli, to go find their son.
**** FOUR STARS! This time the story does not take place directly in Sentinel Pass. Char's store and California covers most of the setting. I was able to see some characters from previous titles of the series, but they are secondary characters. The author focuses on Char, Eli, and the search. There are a few startling revelations about Char and more than one surprise plot twist had me raising an eyebrow. I wish the story could have been longer. Char and Eli's story is complex. Their history together, as well as their private lives while apart, runs deep. This book covers the past of each, their feelings for one another currently, and finding/meeting their son. I want to know more about the son and his history. I hope to read glimpses of how he is doing, if he goes to college, and perhaps learn of a love interest in his future.
As always, Debra Salonen hits the hearts of her readers with a satisfying SMACK! ****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - Kids on the Doorstep (SuperRomance 1577)
John Murphy, a reclusive horse trainer, knows the sound of knocking on his door late at night often means bad news. John answers the door to find his elderly neighbor, Gladys Stemming, with three little girls by her side. Gladys has recently undergone major surgery and needs John's help with the girls. Jason Dolling is her late sister's grandson. Jason had just shorn up at her door, shoved the girls at Gladys and left to score his next batch of drugs. As for their mother, Renee, she left months ago and the girls do not understand why.
Alexis is nine and has obviously been caring for her two younger sisters for a long stretch of time. Taylor is five and is very interested in John's horses. The youngest is three-year-old Chloe. John can tell immediately that the girls have been abused, neglected, and are malnourished. It appears that Jason has been poisoning the baby for unknown reasons. Before John knows it, he loves the girls. The courts grant temporary custody to Gladys and the entire group stays on John's ranch. This is when Renee shows up, demanding her children.
Renee did not know Jason was abusing the girls. She had gone into rehab while Jason cared for their kids. Shortly before getting out of rehab, Renee told Jason she wanted a divorce. Once out, Renee finds Jason and the girls gone. After months of searching, Renee finds them with Gladys and John. Due to her past mistakes, the courts refuse to give her back the girls until she 1) gets a place to stay, 2) gets a job and 3) proves herself now fit to be their mother. The children do not want to be with Renee and Alexis will be the hardest to get forgiveness from. Can Renee prove herself to Alexis? Can Renee win back their trust and respect? And can John keep himself from falling in love with the recovering alcoholic who has made some very big mistakes?
***** FIVE STARS! This author tackles a situation which is, unfortunately, all too real these days. At first I was very disappointed in Renee. But Renee realized that she could not take care of the girls until she received help for herself. Going into rehab was her first smart move. I cheered Renee throughout the entire story. The author did an astounding job on that character! The story is so well written that I could easily see and understand everyone's feelings and actions. And I totally fell in love with the three girls. This is drama at its finest! *****
Author: Debra Salonen
Title - Picture-Perfect Mom
(Spotlight on Sentinel Pass #4 / SuperRomance 1564)
Mac McGannon is a miner who is still bitter at his dead wife for stealing his inheritance and then driving her car off a road. If anyone had told him a year ago that he'd be a single dad with an indoor dog and a little girl who was afraid of the dark, he would have called them crazy. And add a famous heartthrob brother-in-law and a new business in the mix and he'd have laughed himself silly. Yet here he is, trying his best to raise his four, almost five, year old daughter, Megan, all alone. Mac also has to deal with the fact that his grandmother will soon die. Gran has not been herself for a long time now. The last thing Mac needs is to be attracted to Morgana Carlyle. She is the celebrity playing the role of his sister, Libby, in the television series set in his town. Megan thinks Morgana is a princess and wants to be exactly like her.
Morgana thinks Megan is adorable and her father is certainly easy on the eyes. The more time she spends with the pair, the more she wishes she could be a part of their lives. But everything about Morgana, now and in her past, is a lie. She has worked too hard to achieve some success in show business. And should Mac ever find out who she really is, he would despise her forever. Her past simply HAD to stay in the past. If only her heart would listen to that logic.
**** FOUR STARS! This is the fourth story set in the small town of Sentinel Pass, South Dakota. You do not have to read them in order since each book has a stand-alone story; however, some of the secondary characters are from the previous titles. If you read these out of order, you risk minor spoilers.
There is no physical danger in this episode, but the drama runs high as the main characters deal with multiple problems. Mac and Morgana's relationship resembles a soap opera, so you will find many twists and surprises. Take a deep, calming breath before you open this gem and walk into some scenes you may never forget. ****
Author: Debra Salonen
Title - Daddy By Surprise
(Spotlight on Sentinel Pass #3, SuperRomance 1540)
Kat Petroski has a weakness for "swoo". That is the word her mother came up with to explain why the women in the family were drawn to awful choices in men. Swoo is why Kat has been married twice, divorced twice, and has one son by each man. Kat simply cannot imagine her life without her boys, but at the age of thirty-one Kat listens whenever her "swoo alarm" goes off.
While waitressing in a bar Kat meets Jack Treadwell and her "swoo alarm" clangs loudly. When a former school buddy offers Kat's services to give Jack a semipermanent tattoo with henna (rather than needles), she agrees. Kat needs every penny she can earn. Jack show up on his motorcycle for his tattoo and the next thing Kat knows she is agreeing to be his paid tour guide of the Black Hills.
Jack is an orthodontist from Denver. His ex-fiancé had told Jack that he was boringly predictable. Jack wants to find out what he has been missing. So he buys a motorcycle, takes time off, and heads for the Black Hills to live life to its fullest. The very last thing Jack expects is to be attracted to a mother of two boys, especially since he wants absolutely nothing to do with kids. His father's career had been ruined due to a lying child. But how can Jack resist such a brave and honest woman like Kat?
**** FOUR STARS! The author brings this couple together in an interesting way. Kat and jack share the same dream about Mad Jack and a schoolmarm in 1876. They wake up to find they had made love while asleep. I found it a bit hard to believe they both slept through the act, but I guess it is possible.
Not as much attention is given to the television show being filmed in Sentinel Pass and few characters fro the previous titles make an appearance. The author's focus remains on Kat and Jack most of the story. Due to this, I was able to learn much about their backgrounds, including Kat's boys and ex-husbands. These details made me feel as though Kat were real. I came to care very much for Kat's character. I am also eager to read Char's story. This author cannot write fast enough for me! ****
Author: Debra Salonen
Title - His Brother's Secret
(Spotlight on Sentinel Pass #2, Super Romance #1516)
Years ago Jenna Murphy had been taking a college art appreciation class. Shane had been in that class with her. Though both had been interested in each other, they never got together. Then came the night of the party. Alcohol continually flowed. When Shane saw his twin brother, Adam Osterberg, with Jenna he left. Soon afterward Shane learned that someone had slipped something in one of Jenna's drinks and she had been physically violated. Shane never forgot Jenna's face as he spied her leaving in the back seat of her parents' car. When Shane discovered Adam was the guy who had harmed Jenna, it was the last straw. After years of dealing and living with the cruelty of his twin and father, Shane cut all ties to them. He changed his last name to Reynard, his late mother's maiden name.
Now Shane Reynard is a Hollywood success. He is a producer, director, and television screenwriter. His latest project puts him in Jenna's hometown of Sentinel Pass, in the Black Hills. Of course, Shane also needs to see for himself how Jenna has faired since Adam's assault. The attraction between Jenna and Shane is still there. Jenna seems to have dealt well with her past. Though she still cannot stand for a guy to get close to her, she is living her life again.
Since the death of her science professor father, Jenna has taken over the Mystery Spot. It is a tourist-oriented business that, quite literally, boggles the minds of those who take the tour. Her dad's dream was to make physics interesting to kids and hopefully influence some of those kids to study science. The business takes up most of Jenna's time, and money is tight due to having some emergency repairs pop up with the place. So when Shane offers her a part-time job as his script consultant with high pay, she eventually agrees. As Jenna and Shane become close, Shane feels he must confess about Adam. But once Jenna knows the truth, there is a real chance she will never want to see Shane's face again. Things take an even worse turn when Adam, now a politician with powerful connections, comes to town.
***** FIVE STARS! No one writes drama like Debra Salonen! This is the second story in the "Spotlight on Sentinel Pass" series. Though it is a stand alone story, the man destined to star in Shane's television series (which is based on the people and places within the town) is Cooper Lindstrom. Coop and Libby's story was told in the previous title, BABY BY CONTRACT. If you have read the title, then you will be happy to know that they are background characters this time. I enjoyed seeing how they are doing.
Jenna's mother, Bess, adds lots of humor to this tale. Bess keeps matching people to dog breeds. (For example, Cooper is a golden retriever and Shane is a bernese mountain dog.) I fell in love with the character of Bess fast. She stole the spotlight more than once. (No pun intended.)
I have come to learn that Debra Salonen has a talent for tackling touchy topics, that other authors' shy away from, while delivering humor and romance with her own unique style. (Sigh, no tongue twister intended either.) I can hardly wait for the next visit to Sentinel Pass. *****
Authors: Christine Spindler, Karen Wiesner
Title - Tears on Stone (Falcon's Bend #2)
Twenty-nine years ago Dorothy Hawks killed her abusive husband in self defense. The law took away her two young children and placed her in jail. When released, Dorothy began "S.O.S." (Society of Survivors) to help teach other women how they could protect themselves and their children.
Forty-nine year old Pam Garland is an abuse counselor and a major member of S.O.S. She often refers women to the organization. She has also been the legal guardian for MaryEmma and Shelley Gold since their abusive stepfather died years ago. Shelley had married an abusive man, Jack Wilson, and has a four-year-old daughter, Ariel. Ever since Jack died in a fire last year Shelley has been in depression. MaryEmma has taken over the role of caregiver to Ariel, hoping Shelley will get better. When disaster strikes, Pam has MaryEmma, Shelley, and Ariel pack quickly. They leave Springvale, Minnesota, without any notice to anyone. At MaryEmma's suggestion, they go to Falcon's Bend, Wisconsin, where MaryEmma spent the happiest time of her childhood (unknown to Pam).
Jordan Shasta was eleven when MaryEmma moved away from Falcon's Bend. He never forgot her or the stone garden she loved. Now the stone garden in his back yard is an overgrown mess. Jordan's wife, Kaitlyn, walked out last year without a backward glance and moved to Dallas, Texas. Jordan has sole custody of their eight-year-old daughter, Nicole. When MaryEmma moves in next door, Jordan hopes to get to know her again. Nicole hopes Ariel will become her new best friend. MaryEmma now seems withdrawn and keeps to herself, but Jordan is not above using the excuse of wanting to revive the stone garden to draw her out and spend some time with her. Shelley sleeps all day and parties most nights with numerous men. All the while, Pam is setting up a new S.O.S chapter in town and keeping her wards on short leashes. It soon becomes obvious that, unknown to Jordan when he was childhood friends with her, MaryEmma's life has been one long nightmare ... and it is not over yet.
***** FOUR AND A HALF STARS! Let me warn readers in advance that there two scenes of rape flash-backs. They are short, but I understand that some readers prefer to pass on books with any scenes at all. There is a lot of physical abuse throughout the story as well, but most are just mentioned in passing. I do not believe anything in this story will trigger anything for those who have physical abuse in their (real life) backgrounds.
That said, let me get to how much I enjoyed this story! Though there are two authors, I could never tell which parts were written by either. The duo must have the exact same writing style. There are a few sub-plots to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. I never found myself getting bored. The characters are well developed and I came to care for many of them. I look forward to more stories in Falcon's Bend. *****
Author: Linda Barrett
Title - Summer at the Lake: Count on a Cop
(Super Romance #1560)
When Kristin McCarthy's eleven-year-old daughter, Ashley, is assaulted in the restroom of a movie theater, their lives seem to spin out of control. Ashley is too traumatized to even speak, much less help the police. A close friend of Kristin's offers her summer home on Morningstar Lake in the Catskill Mountains. Mother and daughter retreat to the lake house. Kristin feels helpless. She has no idea how to help Ashley and guilty for not being there when her daughter was assaulted. Then they meet their neighbor, Rick Cooper, and his German Shepherd, Quincy.
Rick Cooper has spent twelve years working on the Crisis Team of NYPD. He is the best hostage negotiator they have. But when negotiations fail and a little girl is killed, Rick begins to doubt himself. On leave, Rick takes Quincy to the lake for some time alone so he could figure out what to do with his life. Quincy is a therapy dog. So when Quincy reacts to Ashley, Rick knows the little girl is hurting. Quincy has Ashley speaking again almost immediately. Can Rick walk away instead of helping the daughter? Can he keep his growing feelings for the mother at arms length? Or will all of them take a chance?
***** This romance tugged me every which way but loose. It is so well written that I could actually feel the mother's helplessness, as well as the officer's sense of failure. At the same time that I enjoyed the tale, I also learned a bit about how law enforcement handles a child assault crime and the methods and the methods criminals use to keep their victims silent. I hope to see more novels with working animals in them. Quincy proves to me that animals can help not only solve crimes, but help heal people. Author Linda Barrett pens the most heart warming stories! *****
Author: Melissa McClone
Title - Rescued by the Magic of Christmas
Six years ago on Christmas Eve, the day before her wedding, Carly Bishop lost her brother, Nick, and her fiancé, Iain, when disaster struck during the two men's climb up Mount Hood. Jacob "Jake" Porter promised Carly he would find them. Unfortunately, the Oregon Mountain Search and Rescue (OMSAR) team did not find them in time. Carly moved to Philadelphia for a fresh start.
Nick's widow, Hannah, has been remarried for two years now. She and Garrett are expecting a new baby. Carly returns home to help care for her nine-year-old niece, Kendall, and seven-year-old nephew, Austin, for a couple of weeks. She did not expect to be blind-sided by hard memories though. But strong and reliable Jake is there to help ease the pain.
Jake has desired Carly for a long time now. He held his peace when she fell in love with Iain, helped her get a job in Philadelphia when she left, and has been a "surrogate everything" to what remained of the Bishop family. Now Carly has returned. Jake finds that six years has not dimmed his feelings for her. But since Carly is only in town for a couple of weeks, the best think Jake could do was keep his distance from her and guard his heart. Too bad his heart was not listening to him.
***** Lots of drama in this story. I am amazed at how much I learned about mountain search and rescue teams without even realizing it. (I have a lot of respect for the men and women who handle such a dangerous chore.) Losing a loved one during the end-of-the-year holidays is difficult and can tarnish those holidays for many years to come. This story gets that feeling of desolation across, but also shows that life and love goes on. This book left me with a warm feeling and a smile on my face. Highly recommended reading. *****
Author: Fiona Harper
Title - Christmas Wishes, Mistletoe Kisses
Louise Thornton grew up caring for her family, but had been a young model when she met, fell in love, and married the rising British movie star Tobias "Toby" Thornton. No longer modeling, Louise always put Toby's wants and needs before her own. She denied any rumors about Toby having affairs, though she knew they were true. But now they have an eight-year-old son, Jack. When Louise realizes another affair has begun, she knows that for Jack's sake it all has to end. She informs Toby that she wants a divorce.
Ben Oliver knew Laura Hastings, the elderly actress who lived at Whitehaven. Before Laura died, Ben promised to come by the Georgian mansion occasionally to cull the weeds. It has been about two years since he made that promise. Ben has been divorced a few years now and shares time with Jasimine (his eleven-year-old daughter) with his ex. Ben is surprised when he comes face-to-face with the new owner of Whitehaven. He had no idea that the place had been sold.
Neither Ben, nor Louise thought the other to be a suitable match, but sometimes things just click.
*** This one is pure romance. No real drama or excitement, except for the occasional annoying paparazzi sneak attacks, to interrupt with the blooming feelings between the two main characters. This is perfect for your next vacation or a quite evening alone at home. ***
Author: Barbara Hannay
Title - Blind Date with the Boss
As a kid Logan Black learned that men who led with their hearts rather than their heads brought humiliation and hardship on the people they loved. Since then Logan has disciplined himself to put all his focus into studying, making five-year plans, and business. As a result, Logan Black is Managing Director of Blackcorp Mining Consultancies. By the end of his next five-year plan his company would be secure enough for him to relax just a bit. Perhaps then he could consider looking for a wife and someday have his own family. One like his sister's.
Sally Finch grew up as a country girl in Tarr-Binya. When she inherited her grandmother's house, Sally left the Australian country behind and moved to Sydney. She lands the front desk position at Blackcorp and is happy with her new job. Her boss, Logan Black, is a tad too stiff and a bit intimidating. When she finds herself teaching him to waltz, Sally gets a glimpse at the softness hidden beneath all the discipline.
*** This romance set with the hauntingly lovely background of Sydney, Australia. The characters are well done, but the backgrounds are not as well developed as I would have liked. I never came to actually care for the characters. I believe readers will find this story to be good for relaxing on a beach or while vacationing in the mountains. Pure and simple romance. ***
Author: Jackie Braun
Title - The Tycoon's Christmas Proposal
Dawson Burke runs Burke Financial Services, like his father and grandfather before him. Having lost his wife and daughter due to a car wreck a few Christmas Eves ago, Dawson pours himself into his work. Profits are better than ever before, but Dawson still blames himself for skidding on the black ice and being the only one to survive. He has buried his guilt underneath work. In fact, Dawson no longer even shops for Christmas presents for his close-knit family. He had put distance between himself and relatives. For the last couple of Christmas holidays, Dawson has gone out of town, alone, to someplace sunny, and had a personal shopper buy and deliver his gifts to his family. But Dawson's personal shopper has recently had surgery.
Eve Hawley is Dawson's new personal shopper. Problem is that when it comes to her clients' family members, Eve insists on face-to-face consults so she can purchase gifts that the receivers will love. Dawson did not want to take the time to stop and actually THINK. That is why he has a personal shopper, right? When his mother uses the "disappointed" phrase to force Dawson into showing up at a charity event, Dawson has Eve go with him to keep his mother from setting him up and to let Eve actually meet the people she would be shopping for.
Eve can see that Dawson has stopped looking forward to life. He did not seem to realize how lucky he was to have such a close and loving family. Since early childhood Eve has been passed around and lived with various relatives. She had always dreamed of birthdays and holidays surrounded by caring family members. And Eve is determined to help Dawson get back what she never had.
***** I am amazed at the talent shown by author Jackie Braun in this story. The characters are well developed, the situations are serious but lively and humorous, and the story just flows smoothly the entire time. This author has a new fan in me! In my opinion, this is MORE than worth your time to pick up a copy of. Perfect for the end-of-the-holiday season, but good any time of year. *****
Author: Debra Salonen
Title - Baby by Contract
(Sentinel Pass #1, Super Romance #1492)
Elizabeth "Libby" McGannon is in her thirties and wants a baby. But there is no one in Sentinel Pass that she wants to be her child's father. Sentinel Pass is a small town in the Black Hills of South Dakota. (Think Mayberry from the Andy Griffith Show.) Libby is the postmaster and knows everybody by name. Sentinel Pass had only gotten high-speed Internet a few months ago. Though they were now able to access the world, most of the town's citizens do not want the town to change one iota. However, Libby decided to use the net to advertise for a sperm donor. The man chosen would receive a share in her family gold mine.
Cooper "Coop" Lindstrom is a popular actor and TV personality with money troubles. He needs an idea for a new sitcom. Coop's mother recently died and her irate bookie is sending him death threats to pay up. Then there is his two exes demanding their alimony checks. So when he runs across Libby's MySpace ad, Coop feels as though he has hit the jackpot. Cooper decides to hide out in Sentinel Pass, donate some DNA, see if the gold mine will produce, AND be able to turn the entire thing into a new sitcom. What an opportunity!
But when his true reasons for being in town is revealed, Cooper finds himself in trouble, not only with Libby, but with the entire town. The old Cooper would never have cared; however, time with Libby and her town has changed Cooper, as well as his desires.
***** Debra Salonen is what my mother would call "A book writing woman!" Well, I totally agree. This author writes better than the norm. Going from the blurb on the back of the book, I did not think that I would really like the story. I am very happy to be proven wrong. I do not think I could have enjoyed the story more! At the same time, this story set a concrete foundation for the rest of the Sentinel Pass series. (The second installment is due out in September, 2008, titled "His Brother's Secret." Sounds like Cooper's producer, Shane, may be the main character there.) Libby's three close girlfriends, Jenna, Kat, and Char, are the secondary characters. The author did a fantastic job of giving each girlfriend their own unique personality and set of little quirks. I actually came to care for them as if they were real. That is talent! An incredible story that I highly recommend. *****
Author: Kathleen O'Reilly
Title - Shaken & Stirred
(Bk 1 of the O'Sullivans series, Blaze)
Four years ago Tessa Hart, after a bitter break up, left all her worldly possessions behind with her ex-boyfriend in Florida. She arrived in Manhattan with only a high school diploma and an encyclopedic knowledge of tropical bar drinks. Even with her life obviously in ruins, Gabriel "Gabe" O'Sullivan gave her bartending job in his bar, Prime. He has never regretted the decision. If Tessa is not mixing drinks, she is studying to earn an associate's degree in finance.
Moving often is part of college life and Tessa has had several roommates come and go. But when she learns that she will be on the street in five days, Tessa is worried. That is not near enough time to find a new place to rent. It would not be such a problem if she did not mind having male roommates. But Tessa has her own set of goals and men, thanks to her ex, are NOT part of it at this point in time. When Gabe offers to let her room with him, she is hesitant. Even though Gabe is her boss, friend, and mentor, he is still male. Very male. Extremely noticeably male. Yet she really has no choice. The two agree that the arrangement is temporary. As soon as she finds a place to rent, she is gone. Problem is that once rooming together, the pair find themselves even more attracted to each other than before. Gabe wants permanence. Tessa wants to prove to herself that she can make it on her own before even considering getting serious with anyone. For now, they are roomies and what is a little white hot romance between friends?
***** H-O-T! There is really no other word for this story. Tessa and Gabe's romance is steamy the entire story, but there are times that I thought the pages of the book would catch fire! True to the Harlequin BLAZE series, the bed scenes are much more often than typical romances and more graphic. Fans of the movie "Cocktail" will especially love the O'Sullivan series. Tessa and Gabe, as bartenders, are just as great in the flashy ways they mix and serve drinks. On a side note, Gabe's two older brothers, Daniel and Sean, are secondary characters and will have their own stories told within the next month or so. Be sure to keep an eye out! *****
Author: Kathleen O'Reilly
Title - Sex, Straight Up (Those Sexy O'Sullivans, Book 2)
(Harlequin BLAZE #388)
Daniel O'Sullivan became a widow seven years ago, on 9/11. He still wears his wedding band. He still misses his wife terribly. He is still unable to move on. Quite frankly, Daniel has no interest in moving on. Until her death, Michelle and he were soul mates. The chances of meeting a second soul mate in a single lifetime is slim. Most people never even find one. The odds are against him and Daniel has no intention of ever searching. However, his brothers have had enough of Daniel using work as a crutch. If Daniel is not busy with the accounting firm, then he was helping out at the family bar, Prime. His brothers, Gabe and Sean, and even Tessa, Gabe's girlfriend, join forces and use guilt to get Daniel to take a three-day weekend off at the summer time-share beach house in the Hamptons. From the moment Daniel hits the beach, he is counting down the minutes until he can return to work. The beach house time is shared with two other people (lawyers) and their dates. It is all snack foods, alcohol, and wild times. Daniel spends most of the first day on the beach of the house next door to get away from the others. When Daniel realizes that the house next door is currently occupied, and the lovely lady is sitting outside, he approaches her to make sure it is okay for him to sit on her section of the beach.
Catherine Montefiore can tell the handsome man wants to get away from the others. After chatting awhile, Catherine is amazed to hear herself offering one of her spare bedrooms for him to sleep in. He agrees. It is all meant to be very chaste. Yet they end up in one bed. Doing something totally new for her, Catherine decides to have a hot affair for forty-eight hours and then return to her normal life. When the two days are up, Daniel returns to his life and Catherine returns to her family's exclusive auction house. She is hardly back into the swing of art appraising when the family's business is hit by a very public scandal. The board believes her grandfather, who actually owns the auction house, of collusion with another business. The board insists on an independent audit. Daniel is part of that independent audit team. As Catherine and Daniel hit the invoices in an attempt to prove her grandfather innocent, they find themselves unable to keep their hands off each other.
***** Harlequin BLAZE is called that for a HOT reason. Expect some hot bedroom scenes with light erotica. Nothing hard core, but still designed for ages seventeen and up. Consider yourself warned. Having said that, I wish to go on record as stating that author Kathleen O'Reilly is one of the few BLAZE authors that I have come to thoroughly enjoy reading. This is the second O'Sullivan man's story. The first brother is Gabe. Gabe's story is titled "Shaken and Stirred" and readers may read about him and Tessa by clicking HERE! Daniel's story has a sound plot, engaging characters, and focuses primarily on the romance between the main couple. Be sure your beau is within reach as you begin this tale. This is the perfect way to heat up an otherwise chilling winter evening. *****
Author: Kathleen O'Reilly
Title - Nightcap
(Those Sexy O'Sullivans Bk 3, Blaze 394)
Sean O'Sullivan loves women. He never gets romantically attached and always lets go of each woman in some way that she leaves happy. Should Sean ever need any of his former lovers to help him with anything, they would jump at the chance. In fact, his network of women is how Sean keeps the family's landmark bar, Prime, open. For the past two years, someone in the mayor's office has been sending a lot of trouble Prime's way. Gabe, one of Sean's brothers, runs and operates Prime. There has been citations for health violations, electrical problems, street problems, and even historical problems. All citations without cause. But Sean is a medical malpractice lawyer. In the jungle of law, med-mal defense lawyers were the carnivores and Sean has decided it is time to challenge Tarzan (a.k.a. City Hall).
Ironically, it is Jane who really gets things done in City Hall. Cleo Hollins, Deputy Mayor of New York City, is running on very little sleep. In Cleo's world, vulnerabilities were carefully masked and hidden because there was always someone there waiting to take advantage. Currently on her plate is a four-day-old transit strike. Over eight million commuters are trying to get to work, and there is no buses, no subways. The last thing Cleo has time to worry about is a bar. Cleo cannot deny how attracted she is to Sean, but the transit negotiations take priority over her hormones. That is, until Sean taps into his network and helps deal with the strike. Perhaps they could help each other out, in business and in bed.
***** There is more going on than meets the eye here. Cleo also lives with and cares for her mother, who has Alzheimer's. Only those who have been close to and cared for someone with Alzheimer's can understand the full impact, the deteriorations, and the slow heart breaking agony which that one medical word covers. Author Kathleen O'Reilly describes it well. The author also knows that a tough bad boy like Sean needs an equally tough lady; and who better to stand toe-to-toe with a lawyer than a Deputy Mayor? When these two get together, in and out of bed, sparks fly. Romances by O'Reilly are sharp, witty, and takes no prisoners! Guaranteed to please. *****
Author: Susan Mallory
Title - Sweet Talk
The call to come home to help her twin sister during her recovery from surgery was a godsend for Claire Kent, but at the same time, a fearful thing. She has spoken to no one in her family for years, having been made an exiles thanks to a failure in communications. But, she does not hesitate to answer the call, even though running a bakery is something far removed from her life as a concert pianist. For various reasons, time away from her career is exactly what Claire needs. Every day back at home proves to be a challenge as she confronts Nichole's long held resentment. There are bright moments as well as Claire discovers new talents and new love as well as faces fears and seeks to heal the broken ties with her sister. However, Nichole is not one to let go of betrayal, and that leads to ugliness that Claire could not have anticipated.
*** Heartwarming and touching, this story gives readers a real treat for their summer perusal. Family and forgiveness are powerful elements that Ms. Mallory has used well here. ***
Authors: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jaid Black, & Kresley Cole
Title - Playing Easy to Get (3 erotica novellas)
Turn up the Heat by Sherrilyn Kenyon: Vince Cappelleti is an ex-Mafia hit man who is now being sought by his prior employer. Vince knew too much. He had done too much. When "Z", Vince's brother-in-law, sends him to a (sort of ) Fantasy Island to hide for awhile, he is grateful. But the island caters to the winner of the Hideaway Heroine contest. Vince is to pretend to be just one of the island's actors. It is the least he could do for Z. But when the winner, Allison George, steps out of the plane and onto the island, Vince feels as though someone has knocked the wind out of him. Ally is gorgeous and does not even seem to know it. Soon the two cannot keep their hands off each other. Problem is that Vince's former employer has found out where he is and the assassins are already on the island with them.
***** An excellent plot, full of extremely hot romance and equally as extreme danger. *****
Hunter's Oath by Jaid Black: Sofia Rowley's brother, a U.S. Army officer, has been lost in a deadly helicopter crash in Alaska. Sofia flies up to help identify his body, but ends up being kidnapped by the taxi driver. Instead of going to Fairbanks, Sofia finds herself sold (by a bride-hunter, one who steals single wenches from above ground for the Vikings) and taken deep below ground when Viking clans still live and reside by the rule of forgotten gods. Sofia is sold to Lord Johen Stefsson, commander of the independent sector of Hannu, and becomes his bride. So much is happening and the ways of the people are strange. Can Sofia live with these people or should she take desperate measures?
**** An interesting plot, though not very believable. More time is spent on the erotica romance than on plot development. ****
The Warlord Wants Forever by Kresley Cole: Nikolai Wroth is a ruthless vampire warlord. He is but one of the walking dead until he finds his predestined Bride and she "blooded" him fully. Once blooded, he will be rendered truly alive. His Bride turns out to be Myst the Coveted, a Valkyrie seductress. During his fevered chase, he must also fight to help reclaim Kristoff's crown from his uncle Demestriu, who'd stolen the crown centuries ago.
***** In my opinion, this is the best of the three. A complex plot that can be used in the author's future stories. This story will leave you begging for more! *****
Author: Patricia A Guthrie
Title - In the Arms of the Enemy
After the deaths of his father, a horse trainer, and a prize steed, Adam Blakely suspects the assistant trainer, Maggie McGregor, of being the one who killed all three, even though she was nowhere near the trio at the time, having left a month before following a falling out with her fiancé. Yet, he discovers a woman who seems innocent, a woman he could love. Unfortunately, key evidence does seem to support his original theory. There is also someone trying to kill her, or are they? Adam does not know what to believe, or if Maggie is innocent, if she will forgive his suspicions.
*** It is easy to read In the Arms of the Enemy in one sitting, but the story is fully developed despite its brevity. The true culprit will be a total surprise, yet will also make sense in retrospect. It is clear that the author's early love of Agatha Christie well prepared her for her career and bore fruit. ***
Author: Shannon K. Butcher
Title - No Control
The man who stood by and watched her being tortured for months is the last person Lana ever wants to see again, much less entrust her life to, but she is not given a choice when she becomes a target once again and is forced to accept Caleb Stone as part of her world once more. Caleb goes into his assignment knowing Lana Hancock has to hate him since he could not break cover to protect her before, much less rescue her, but he has his orders and a need to atone. Besides, he is the best man for the job. However, the Swarm, the terrorists who are now after her, is an even more dangerous enemy when wounded. Caleb's resources will be pushed to their limits as he fights to keep safe the woman he loves and who, amazingly, has been able to get past what he was to return the feeling.
*** From the outset, the action is virtually nonstop. Readers are taken on a mental roller coaster ride of thrills liberally mixed with chills as they wind their way through emotion-charged scenes and heart pounding action. There is nothing sweet about this romance, it's a book both men and women can share, with enough passion and adventure to sate both their appetites. ***
Author: Nancy Herkness
Title - Music of the Night
The discovery of a lost symphony of Beethoven's may be a cause for celebration to music lovers, but it proves to be the cause of death for some. As the leading authority on the late master and someone with ties to the dead, Nicholas Vraos appears to be the most likely suspect, or perhaps a potential victim. Either way, policewoman Anna Salazar has to stick close the the handsome, enigmatic maestro. Doing so draws her into his world and into his arms. Yet, as the two become closer, Nicholas doubts his ability to endure another heartbreak, something he sees an inevitable given Anna's line of work. However, both have to survive for it to be an issue.
**** Music of the Night sings. Tightly woven action is blended into a suitably moody atmosphere as the two worlds of the protagonists come together in harmony. Beyond the excellent mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end, the insight into the artistry of music is fascinating. ****
Author: Linda Barrett
Title - The Soldier and the Rose
(Harlequin's Everlasting Love series #19)
The book begins in Long Island, 2007, with Rose and Charlie. They have been married sixty years. They sit at a table, with a box of memorabilia opened in front of them, reminiscing with their daughter, Susan, and Paul, Susan's husband. Part One begins in Brooklyn, the early 1940's. Rose has been married to Joseph Rabinowitz for only six months before he is deployed to Germany. Money is tight with everyone. World War II is in full swing. Hitler is doing his worst and the American soldiers are battling for freedom. It is not long before Joe learns that Rose is pregnant. Joe is to be a daddy! His buddies are thrilled for him. The soldiers make a pact together. Should one of them die, the survivors would contact the family of the fallen soldier and attest to his quick death on the battlefield. An instant ending. No pain and no suffering - regardless of the truth.
Joe is one of the soldiers killed during battle. One of his war buddies who happens to live in Brooklyn, Charlie Shapiro, makes it home. Charlie had spent time as a POW in Germany. Like the other soldiers, Charlie seldom, if ever, spoke about his time over seas. Once Charlie gained enough weight and strength back, he went to visit Rose and her daughter, Susan. Charlie falls in love with Rose and Susan, but Rose is still grieving. Yet Charlie convinces Rose to marry him anyway.
Part Two is in Queens, the 1950's. Rose and Charlie have been married five years. Part Three is in Long Island, the 1960's. Kennedy has just been assassinated. The main focus is still Rose and Charlie, but more and more scenes are with an adult Susan and her two siblings. Throughout the years, Rose has written Joe, one or two notes per year, about Susan and her second family's lives. Charlie still wonders if Joe still comes first in Rose's life. It is a question only Rose can answer.
***** The entire story is told within the space of a few hours, on a single night, by Rose and Charlie to Susan and Paul. However, the reader watches the events as they unfold for Rose and Charlie. Told in such vivid details, I felt as though I were there. This tale is absolutely perfect for a made-for-TV movie! Keep the tissues handy. This author will touch, if not play with, your heart strings. *****
Author: Jenna Mills
Title - Sins of the Storm
Fourteen years ago, little Camille "Cami" Fontenot saw her father, Troy, gunned down. Trouble always seemed to follow Cami. No one honestly believed Cami had witnessed Troy's death or that she had been chased by the killer as she fled Whispering Oaks, her home. Then she disappeared without a word to anyone.
Cami had very good reasons to disappear and to never attempt to contact anyone. Now, with word that her father's murderer, Marcel Lambert, arrested, Cami could go home. For the past fourteen years Cami had gone by the name Cameron Monroe, now a famous true-crime writer, and had lived on the other side of the country. Cami returned to Louisiana, determined to publicize her own past within her next true-crime novel. Finally, Cami could close all the doors she had left open from her childhood. It was easy until she crossed paths with Sheriff Jacques "Jack" Savoie of Bayou d'Espere. He had broken her heart before. She refused to let Jack know that she still had any feelings left for him.
Jack had been in boot camp when Cami disappeared and unable to help search for her. Jack had seen what obsession did to people - just look at Troy Fontenot and his own father. They had been obsessed with a stained glass window, a religious artifact believed to be only a legend. Troy had given his life for the artifact. Less than a week later, his own father had walked out of a bar, never to be seen again. Jack would never let himself become like those two men. But when it came to little Cami, Jack had always been her protector. So when Cami suddenly showed up at Whispering Oaks, Jack was equally relieved and furious. If he had any idea of the danger which stalked Cami, he would stop her search for the truth.
***** This is the third novel in the Midnight Secrets trilogy. The first book is titled THE PERFECT STRANGER (Silhouette # 1461). The second book is titled A LITTLE BIT GUILTY (Silhouette # 1468). I must say that Cami and Jack's story closes the circle very well indeed. The evil inside, but unblemished outside, of Marcel Lambert's character has been the perfect villain throughout the entire trilogy. Author Jenna Mills can certainly make a villain that readers love to hate. That is talent, readers! I have grown to love these Cajon nights of intrigue. I eagerly await for the next romantic suspense by Jenna Mills. I am hoping it will be the first of another trilogy. Jenna Mills creates magic, Cajon-style! *****
Author: Christie Craig
Title - Divorced, Desperate, & Delicious
On the sixth anniversary of her divorce, Lacy Maguire is having an unusual day. Her mother is worried about her sex life, her fridge is reminding her to eat tuna and buy milk, she's having Christmas in February thanks to a photo-shoot she's holding in her home, oh, and a sexy as sin cop on the run from the law has taken refuge in her house. Chase Kelly was shot while escaping from the fellow officer who is trying to frame him for drug possession and murder, and doing a darn good job of it. Now, he needs a safe place to rest and recuperate, and somehow, Lacy got elected. However, the worst thing, apart from the dangerous dirty cop chasing him and the annoying talking appliances, is the fact that it's been so long for Lacy that there are no condoms in the house, and the pains Chase is suffering have nothing to do with bullets. Once he gets Lacy on his side, all they have to do is keep Chase from dying or being arrested, keep away from the bad guy, convince her ex she's not pining, clear Chase, eat tuna, buy milk, and definitely find some birth control. After all, this isn't meant to be a long term relationship, is it?
*** Though for me, the bedroom scenes were done to excess, most people will not find that a drawback, and it was the only flaw in this book for this reviewer. Otherwise, this is an exceptionally funny, fast paced, snappy read with unusual humor that will make you laugh. ***
Author: Caridad Piñeiro
Title - Secret Agent Reunion
(Silhouette Suspense #1476)
Danielle "Dani" Moore used to be an agent of S.I.S. (Secret Intelligence Service) She posed as the fearless assassin code-named the Sparrow. But then she let a mission get personal. Trying to find out who killed her parents long ago, Dani almost lost her own life, as well as her sister's. The S.I.S. tossed Dani aside. She would have died, but Corbett Lazlo, another former S.I.S. agent, stepped in and took responsibility for her medical treatment. Lazlo took Dani into his agency, the Lazlo Group. The Lazlo Group is a private agency known for handling the most discreet and sometimes dangerous missions. Once Dani is well enough, Lazlo introduces Dani to her new partner, Agent Mitch Lama. Mitch is Dani's former lover, but he had died in her arms long ago.
Mitch knew he loved Dani even back when they had been lovers. If only she had trusted him with the truth back then, things could have been fine now. Instead, the two must somehow put aside their personal feelings and suspicions and team up to find out who the killer within their ranks is.
**** This is an excellent addition to the Mission: Impassioned line from Silhouette Suspense. The S.I.S. is the British version of America's C.I.A. Though the setting for this story is in Europe, Mitch is American. This way the author, Caridad Piñeiro, was able to successfully blend together a story that will appeal to the American readers, as well as to the British. I recommend reading this story on a day that you need some something to lift up your spirits. This tale is very inspiring! ****
Author: Julia London
Title - American Diva
Audrey LaRue seemed to be the golden girl of the music scene, a talented, popular beauty who charmed teens to the senior set with her voice and had a long-standing relationship with a fellow singer. Then, as often happens with the famous, she acquired a stalker. To deal with this problem, she hired Jack Price, a no-nonsense guy with dreams of a better life, which this job could finance. At first, he seemed totally unimpressed by the diva, then he saw past the facade she put up to shield herself and fell in love. Seeing in Jack the sort of man she needed, one person who would love her and not use her, Audrey responded; however, her boyfriend is not ready to let go, and neither is the mysterious stalker who brought Jack into her life.
**** Two intertwined storylines are deftly played out in this light, yet absorbing novel. Audrey proves to be a much more complex character than she first seems to be. Fans of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and early Sharon Sala will love this book. ****
Author: Jenna Mills
Title - A Little Bit Guilty
(Silhouette Suspense 1468)
Evangeline Rousseau's brother, Jimmy, had been innocent of the murder charges twelve years ago. It did not change the fact that Jimmy went to jail for it. However, the injustice gave Evangeline the determination needed to study hard for her future plans.
Today Evangeline is an Assistant District Attorney. But the lovely A.D.A. has a secret agenda and it involves infiltrating the personal life of one of Louisiana's brightest legal minds.
Lawyer Gabriel "Gabe" Fontenot lives for the day he brings down his father's murderer. Problem is that the killer, Marcel Lambert, is a respected member of the community. He is a man who'd used his wealth and status to skate outside the law. But finally, Gabe is closing in. Then his adversary, Evangeline, interferes. The two are soon forced to ally with each other, even though they can't trust each other, in order to bring some much needed justice back to New Orleans.
***** This is part of the Midnight Secrets miniseries. Each novel contains a stand-alone tale. Best thing about author Jenna Mills is that she gives such depth to her main characters. This means that when main characters of previous novels show up as secondary characters in the most current story, I am still able to feel a warm connection to them. I, as the reader, am no longer simply reading a story. I am revisiting old friends and making some new ones. If you are not yet a fan of Jenna Mills, Gabe and Evie's story will make you one. A fabulous tale of love and vengeance! *****
Author: Jenna Mills
Title - The Perfect Stranger
(Silhouette Romantic Suspense #1451)
Saura is a Robichaud. Her eyes sparkle with a fierce intelligence and fiery Cajun passion. All members of the Robichaud family seem to possess those traits. But Saura is the only one Detective John D'Ambrosia has spent time with as a lover. She had been a beautiful stranger back then. They had shared a single incredible night together. Now she has turned up on the arm of Nathan Lambert, one of the biggest and most ruthless New Orleans crime bosses.
Once they realize they are on the same side, John and Saura join forces. It is NOT something John wants to do. He wants to keep Saura far away from Lambert. Yet John has no choice but to acknowledge the fact that Saura has gotten closer to their target than he ever will. And Saura has a few surprises in her past which may come in very handy.
***** Saura is proof that you should never judge a book by its cover or a person by how they look on the surface. The book may someday become a classic and a person may use their appearance as a tool, if not a weapon. The heroine, Saura, does such. I could not help but feel immense satisfaction each time she succeeds in doing so either. The author, Jenna Mills, focuses equal amounts of time to the case, as well as, to the romance building between the couple. A surprising twist is even thrown in a time or two. Each time I felt as a rookie must. I left myself wide open by concentrating on the couple, rather than some small evidence that did not add up and came back to slap me in the face. This is proof, to myself, that the author has the excellent talent of diverting the attention of her readers without rousing suspicion. (Perhaps Jenna Mills is practicing to become a Puppet Master. Who knows for sure?) Excellent story! *****
Author: Janet Mullany
Title - The Rules of Gentility
Philomena Wellesley-Clegg is on the verge of being betrothed to a man she most assuredly does not want to marry when the sinfully handsome Inigo Linsley corners her and proposes an engagement of convenience. They will be secretly betrothed, but not really, thus getting both of their families off their backs, but leaving her free to find another suitor, one she does actually care for and him to find a wealthy, titled heiress. Though she fails to see the logic of his outrageous proposal, she agrees. Neither one counted on arriving at the point where they would want the fake betrothal to be real or that they would feel the need to break it off for the sake of love, but that is only one of the many unexpected things the hapless pair will find taking place in the days to come.
*** Told in a present tense he said/she said fashion, The Rules of Gentility can be somewhat awkward to read at times for stylistic reasons. However, there is a great deal of comedy and even the mildly scandalous aspects are handled with utmost tact and good taste, rendering it a worthwhile read. If you do enjoy Regencies and/or Chick Lit, this is a must read. ***
Author: Julia Holden
Title - One Dance in Paris
Being skinny and tall has made Linda Stone feel geeky and gawky for her entire life. She has also harbored resentments towards her mother because her mother effectively "abandoned" her by dying. Then, Linda is sent a picture of her mother wearing an elegant dress, looking gorgeous, and bearing a striking resemblance to Linda herself. This sends her on a quest to discover who her mother really was and perhaps find out who she herself is in the process. The striking resemblance turns out to be all too true, as her initial contacts first drop their drinks then slap Linda for inadvertantly insulting her mother's memory. The quest moves from America to Paris where Linda learns her mother was a legend at the Folies Bergere and where she meets the men who adored the late woman. She also meets one who might adore her, if she can bring herself to trust him. Trusting herself is perhaps a bigger issue as she contemplates recreating her mother's show. What is the best choice that will help her be true to herself?
**** The best word for the story of Linda's inner quest is quirkly. She is an amiable narrator whom you cannot help but like, and the people she encounters are most unusual. Her questions are ones that most everyone will have to face at some time, in some form, though perhaps not in such a colorful manner. ****
Author: Stephanie Bond
Title - Body Movers: 2 Bodies for the Price of 1
Carlotta Wren really would not think that anyone would WANT to steal her identity. After all since her parents went on the lam ten years ago, she's been jilted, in debt, had to deal with raising her brother who has a bad gambling habit, and been involved in murders. Yet, someone has not only stolen her identity, but is well on their way to ruining her life. Her credit has gone from bad to deplorable, her cell phone bill is impossibly high, and that's just for starters. Then, she comes home to find the four men in her life; her brother, Wesley, Detective Jack Terry, ex-fiance' Peter Ashford, and would-be suitor Cooper, depressed and freaked out over the fact that she has committed suicide. Apparently, the woman who stole her life has killed herself. Now, in a sting to try and bring her parents out into the open, Carlotta will have to pretend to be dead. Before it's all over, she will have to try to keep pretense from turning into reality.
***** This series is simply splendid. Vivid, quirky, flawed wonderful people fill its pages and you care about what happens to them. Like the prior volume, it is replete with humor as well as action. I can hardly wait to see all these characters again. *****
Author: Robyn Carr
Title - Virgin River
Melinda Monroe hoped to find a fresh start in a peaceful, rural setting. Recently widowed, she finds the pressures of an urban hospital too great, so the opportunity to serve as a nurse and midwife for Virgin River's sole medical practice sounds ideal. A home is even being providied rent free. However, what she finds is a doctor who wants no help, no matter how much he needs it and a cottage that is beyond miserable. After only a few minutes, Mel is ready to head for the hills, or anywhere at all, other than Virgin River. Then, she finds an abandoned baby, the old doctor begins to soften, and a charming man helps her feel welcome. Things begin to change, and despite her continued protestations that she is leaving soon, Mel becomes part of life in the town. Could all her dreams find a way to come true in the most unexpected of ways?
*** This gentle story meanders through the months as the healer is healed in her soul. If you have enjoyed books written by James Herriot or the recent Irish M.D., then you will enjoy getting to know this quirky little town that is both modern and part of a past era. ***
Author: Toni Blake
Title - Tempt Me Tonight (Red series)
Fourteen years ago, Trish Henderson wanted Joe Ramsey to be her first man. She was leaving for college, but they had already decided to remain a couple and Trish would come home often. But as she got ready for college, Joe hooked up with Beverly "Bev" Rainey instead. Devastated, Trish washed Joe out of her life.
Now Trish is a successful attorney in Indiana. During Trish's fourteen years away, she visited her hometown only for a day or two at a time, to see her parents and friend Debbie. Trish went out of her way to never run across Joe. This time, however, her luck ran out. It only took one glance for Trish to know that she was still heavily attracted to Joe. Deciding to get him out of her system, Trish decided to seduce Joe into her bed for one hot night and then walk away forever. Perhaps it may even make Joe feel as used as she had all those years ago.
To make matters worse, rumor said that Bev's thirteen-year-old daughter, Carissa, belongs to Joe. The rumor was false, but Joe let people assume what they wanted. Joe had the DNA test to prove that Carissa was not his biological daughter. Yet Joe always treated Carissa as if she was. Bev still has hope that someday Joe will ask for her hand in marriage and become Carissa's father by law. But then Trish returned.
*** If you have read any title in the RED line, from Avon Books, then you already know that the series is called "Red" due to all the extra, extra steamy contents. So if you do not like erotica or mild erotica, do not pick up this title. You should also be at least seventeen-years-old.
Now, having said that, this title does not begin out hot. It begins with a tease. The heat comes later than most Red Books. Author Toni Blake spends time with the main couple's problems and with the secondary characters' interferences. So this book actually takes time to entertain readers with a realistic plot. My own, personal, problems with the book is that there was no "real" villain to hate. I simply felt pity for Bev and hoped she would find someone to love her back as she deserved. Also, the story slowed down more often than I like. The hook never really grabbed me. I never felt the urge to keep reading to learn what would happen next. However, the story was good enough to have me read the entire novel. All-in-all, this is a good read for a rainy afternoon and worth your time and money to purchase. ***
Author: Gemma Townley
Title - The Hopeless Romantic's Handbook
Working on a home make-over show, Kate does interior designs that help others get their dreams, but her hopes of the perfect romance with the ideal man remain only fantasies, and doomed ones at that. Then, on ebay, she purchases the Hopeless Romantic's Handbook, and sure enough, soon finds love, or at least a reasonable facsimile, or so she thinks. Her two best friends are not as sure of Joe's qualifications as Prince Charming. One of them, Tom, would like for Kate to see him in that light, while Sal has her own problems, dealing with the possible demise of her marriage and an unplanned pregnancy. Yet, it can take just a single day for Kate's world to fall in on itself.
*** Falling somewhere between romance and chicklit, this is a sweet story with a serious message that will appeal to fans of the Devil Wears Prada or Bridget Jones. The multi-faceted narration offers readers a full view of the action as the story unfolds. You will cheer for the happy ending. ***
Author: Gena Showalter
Title - Catch A Mate
Few people have the opportunity to work at a job that perfectly caters to their most prepossessing desire, but Jillian Greene is among the fortunate few. An emotionally scarring experience left her bitter towards men, so making a living as "bait" to uncover the cheating tendencies of other women's significant others seems to be a job tailor-made for her. Then, everything changes when the Catch-A-Mate agency is sold to a man, Marcus Brody, who is as disillusioned about women as Jillian is toward men. Putting the two of them in a close working relationship is asking for trouble, but they can not deny the attraction that is determined to assert itself between them. No matter how casual they try to keep things, Marcus and Jillian might be forced to admit that they might have been wrong about the opposite sex and risk everything on love and forgiveness.
**** At first blush, this appears to be a light-weight read with steamy moments, nothing more. Yet, as you get into it, deeper emotions are uncovered, revealing profound truths behind the mask of fluff. There's an important message in this story along with the fun. ****
Author: Linda Barrett
Title - Houseful of Strangers (Super Romance 1409)
Twin Lake's local veterinarian, Eric Mitchell, badly injures his arm and needs some temporary help. He hires Dr. Alison Truesdale, never expecting her to seem so fragile. Not only does Alison look physically unable to do the work, but she is obviously emotionally scarred too. Her smile never reaches her eyes, especially around Joey, Eric's ten-year-old son. But that is okay as along as Alison does not upset Joey and does what he hired her to do.
Fifteen-year-old Dani ran away from her father two years ago. After dealing with her father's neglect and abuse for years, Dani was already sharp as a tack, but now she has street smarts as well. She avoids drugs, alcohol, and anything that may bring police attention. After all, her father is a retired NYPD cop and has connections. Evading her father, Dani ends up in the barn of a country vet. Ruth, the veterinarian's mother, finds Dani and actually gives the runaway some hope.
Eric is not thrilled when his mother demands Dani be allowed to stay awhile. Yet it is not long before the teen begins to grow on him, much as Alison is doing. How could Eric possible consider either of the two ladies remaining in his home when he cannot seem to open himself up to love? How will he ever continue without the two ladies if they eventually leave?
***** Author Linda Barrett tackles several major topics at once in this heart warming story of love and trust. I found my attention captured quickly and could not stop reading until the last page had been turned. I read the entire story in a single sitting, and lost a lot of sleep doing so. But I have no regrets. The characters are well developed and I came to care for each one, especially Joey and Dani. An outstanding read that I highly recommend! *****
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Title - McKettrick's Heart
No one is more surprised than Molly Shields when Psyche Ryan summoned her to her home. This was the widow of the man Molly had an affair with and a son with. This was the woman who was now raising that boy as her own. Psyche was also the gentle woman who was dying and wanted her child to be raised by his birth mother after she was gone. Molly is both thrilled and saddened, but her agreement does not go without being challenged. Keegan McKettrick has been Psyche's friend for a long time, and he does not want the woman who, albeit unknowingly, had a fling with her husband to be complicating her life in her last days. It is what Psyche wants, though. Moreover, she sees that Keegan and Molly would be excellent parents for the child and is determined to leave behind a real family when she goes.
**** This book is well titled, there is so much heart in it you will have to work not to get teary. Keegan and Molly's love story and Psyche's sheer grace will touch even the most jaded soul. It will help you believe the world can be a nice place again. ****
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Title - McKettrick's Pride
Echo Wells' new life starts with a near bang as she almost has an unfortunate vehicular encounter with Rance McKettrick. From that moment on, the wealthy businessman turned rancher can't get the lovely new lady in town out of his head. The fact that his two daughters and his mama like her only compounds the matter, and it scares him to death. However, when Echo is placed in danger thanks to the reprecussions from an act of kindness, Rance truly begins to appreciate how much she means to him. Can he learn to love and trust again?
**** Ms. Miller's stories always take direct aim and hit you in the heart. This is no exception. The quirky characters, both human and animal, make the plot come to life. Seeing the healing and love that goes on among these people will make you cheer. ****
Author: Catherine Anderson
Title - Sun Kissed
Tucker Coulter first notices Samantha Harrigan when she goes toe-to-toe with a man abusing his horse, and both Tucker and Sam wind up in jail for their trouble. When the vet next sees the lovely horse breeder, she's out of her head with worry over the spate of illness that is afflicting her precious steeds. As he works beside her to try and save them, Tucker sees how lovely she is inside as well as outside, and begins to fall in love. However, Sam is also the prime suspect when it turns out that her horses are being poisoned and she stands to benefit from the insurance. Now, he must help save not only her animals, but her as well.
***** You can bank on Catherine Anderson for telling a sweet romance that could almost, but not quite be placed in the inspirational category. I especially enjoyed the clear faith that Samantha displayed as simply part of her life, and how she evangelized Tucker without saying one preachy word. The plot was compelling and educational. What it all comes down to is this, if Catherine Anderson writes it, you need to read it. *****
Author: Anne Stuart
Title - Ice Blue
All that stands between the world and a holy war is the knowledge locked in Summer Hawthorne's mind. The easiest thing to do would be to kill her, but Takishi O'Brien finds that, despite his stone cold heart, he cannot do that. Instead, he protects her, allowing her to get past his defenses so that he falls in love. Yet, it will take all his skill and the resources his super secret agency can draw upon to stop a madman from unleashing a nightmare.
*** Though this is an excessively dark and convoluted story with a hero that I frankly did not like, it is imaginative. Secondary characters, such a Isobel Lambert, Jilly, and Reno were intriguing enough to redeem the book. Ms. Stuart's most loyal fans will probably get more out of it than I did. Her attention to detail and unconventionality in character conception is to be commended. ***
Author: Bethany True
Title - Remember the Alimony
Delaney Davis-Daniels had plenty of reasons to kill her almost ex-husband, but she knows she did not do the deed. She really didn't care that much about him after all the dirt he'd done to the ex-beauty queen. Someone is apparently killing two bird with one stone by eliminating him with murder and putting her in jail. That could seriously harm her romance with Lucas, her ex's hot attorney who has seen her in the best and worst lights. He might also be the only hope she has of getting out of this mess.
**** Though at first this comes off as a fluff book, as you get into the story, it turns into something that will captivate your attention as the mystery unfolds. Moreover, Ms. True has captured the feel of Texas without descending into type-casting the setting. Somehow, she has made the book fun and serious all at once. ****
Author: Mary Janice Davidson
Title - The Royal Treatment
Christina Krabbe finds herself down on her luck when she loses her job as a cruise ship cook just as they reach the Republic of Alaska. She pours out her troubles to a nice, older gentleman and he offers her a place to stay, and incidentally, to fix her up with his oldest son. She didn't really believe that he was King Al II until she arrived at the palace. She is instantly welcomed into the most unpretentious royal family and it is not long before Crown Prince David proposes. This is no fairy tale, and Chris needs some convincing, but in the end, she agrees, even if she has some qualms about marrying a guy who seems more interested in penguins than anything else and to whom marriage entails becoming a servant of the people. She likes Al and all the rest of the group and she's never had a family. Besides, David is hot, when he doesn't smell like tuxedoed birds. There are some obstacles between her and happily ever after; shoe shopping, princess lessons, the official royal pita- Edmund, an ex-lover who turns into her bodyguard, and some violence, but all in all, she's managed to achieve every girl's dream, sort of.
**** This is a fun book. Yes, it does have all the trademarks we have come to expect in a MJD novel, but there are innovations as well. Edmund could give Summerset a run for his money about who can be the biggest stick in the mud while being utterly endearing about it. Ms. Davidson's novels are always a kick to read. You can complain that they tend to be much alike, or as King Al might advise, "shaddup and enjoy it." ****
Author: Jenna Mills
Title - Veiled Legacy (Bombshell, Madonna Key #6)
Long ago there existed a fabled race called Marians. They were forced to go underground and eventually disbanded. However, before they disbanded, they disassembled The Lady and hid the tiles away. Other than their enemies, no one remembered the powerful race.
Nadia Bishop had been adopted as a child. No one knew anything about her, except that an ancient key was left in her possession. Now Nadia has grown into a lovely woman. She is a former MI-6 agent with a two-year-old daughter, Lexie, to care for. Lexie's father, Joshua Adriano, is from a powerful and cruel family. Therefore, Nadia never lets Joshua know that he has a daughter. It would have remained that way, but when Nadia sees an obituary of a lady named Scarlet that looks exactly like her, she knows that she must seek out information. Nadia has always yearned to know of her biological family and this may be her only chance. As she investigates Scarlet's life, Nadia learns that the lady had an ancient key too. When Nadia finds out that the Adriano family is involved in Scarlet's affairs and Scarlet's death, she knows it is too late to back out.
Nadia must pick up the gauntlet thrown down and hidden by her ancestors, the Marians. If not, the Adriano family will force an apocalypse upon the world.
**** The Madonna Key series is completely author-generated, the collaborative product of several authors. This one is number six and by author Jenna Mills. Through Jenna Mills's creative talent, I traveled France and Ireland. I could feel Nadia's determination to protect her child, her yearning to learn of her own heritage, and of her confused emotions about Joshua and the Adriano family. You do not have to read the previous books to totally enjoy this wonderful adventure, but if you do the story will mean much more to you. Recommended! ****
Author: Kristi Gold
Title - Fall From Grace
A stroke is the instrument that reunites Dr. Jack Morgan and his ex-wife, Anne. Telling herself that he is still a friend and that their daughter needs him, Anne insists on Jack moving in with her, into the home they once shared, for his recovery. The only problem is, neither of them ever really fell out of love. In the coming months, Jack will have a double recovery to work on; regaining his health and regaining his real life.
**** Though Jack's experience does seem to be a little bit softened and less severe than reality, this is still a moving, emotional story that will speak to anyone who has watched a loved one go through a protracted illness. Despite the serious subject matter, the story is far from depressing and is full of grace. ****
Author: Christie Ridgway
Title - Not Another New Year
After being dumped in the worse possible way by her fiancé, school teacher Hannah Davis decides to bring in the New Year with a bang after literally falling into the arms of sexy ex-Secret Service agent Tanner Hart. Even though Tanner has sworn off women, he finds Hannah’s wholesome charms too hard to resist. While Hannah is discovering the many joys of sex with Tanner, Tanner’s brother, Troy, is finding that he can no longer fight his attraction to the bane of his brother’s existence the beautiful and extremely sexy Desirée.
**** This is a fun and frivolous romance with double the seduction and sex wrapped around the stories of Hannah and Tanner and Desirée and Troy. This is a quick and enjoyable romantic read. ****
Author: Naomi Neale
Title - Method Man
On the night her divorce is finalized, Becca Egan goes out with her friends to celebrate, but before they arrive at the bar, a guy starts trying to pick her up until one of her sister's friend's brother, A.J. Daye, intervenes. He tells her that the guy was trying to get her up the "yes ladder" by using the seven step "method." While the guy who was hitting on her has stepped away, the two make a bet that he will proceed from the step at which he left to the next one on the ladder. If A.J. is right, Becca will become his "wingman" on his nightclub trawls, to help him set up stings on hapless women he has targeted for his "yes ladder." Becca loses, but the experience of being a wingman revolutionizes her life. She is now aware of what goes on in a guy's mind and can enjoy navigating the sea of love. But, she wants true love. Is the method going to help her? Is it right in front of her face?
**** Although the story didn't end quite the way I hoped, it was a fun read. The characters are so insanely quirk-filled, which is a step beyond quirky, that you just might have met them in real life. I'm pretty sure I've met one or two people like Portia. There is one "secondary" character who is so vibrant that I hope there is a sequel, but to identify this person might cheat you on the ending, and that would be a crime. Just read it. Life is nuts, reading something that makes you laugh is the best panacea. ****
Author: Kylie Brant
Title - The Last Warrior
(Silhouette Suspense #1437)
The Navajo people are still rich in honor and traditions today. The magic and the beauty of the reservation land is second only to the Grand Canyon about fifty miles away. The Tribal Council has decided to have a book published about the area, a type of photo history project. Most of the local people disagree with the fact that a belagana, or outsider, was hired to take on the project rather than a native. So when someone begins shooting at Delaney Carson, a disgruntled local is their first thought.
Delaney has reported in various dangerous places. In fact, she has just gotten over the worst parts of post-stress trauma from being buried alive for more than two days with seventy-one corpses in Baghdad. When someone begins shooting at her, déjà vu crashes all over her. It is impossible for Delaney not to have flashbacks of mortar fire and shots from sniper rifles. Given the fact that her boyfriend was one of those killed, it is easy to understand her hesitation of letting anyone else close to her.
Enter Joe Youngblood. Joe is a criminal investigator with the Navajo Tribal Police. Though the office is busy dealing with investigating three execution-style murders, drug runners, and various other priorities, Navajo Nation President Frank Taos insists that Delaney be first priority. (Since this is the first book Delaney has accepted to do since her near death experience, the Tribal Council hopes her name on the cover will turn their book into a bestseller.) Joe has a strong connection with the land and the people that live upon it. Though he does not agree with his grandfather, Charley, that an outsider should do the book, he abides by the decision. In order to keep an eye on Delaney and still follow the leads on the murders and drug traffickers, he has her tag along whenever her local guide is not around.
That is enough trouble for anyone to deal with at one time; however, Joe is also having trouble with his ex-wife, Heather. Currently Heather has their five-year-old son, Jonny, with her. Trial for custody is only a few weeks away and it looks like Heather is getting ready to run away with Jonny if things do not go the way she hopes. The LAST thing Joe wants is to get involved with another woman, especially an outsider. Yet the more time he spends with Delaney, the harder it gets to even imagine letting her go once the book is completed.
***** Author Kylie Brant brings the Navajo Nation to vivid life for readers in this story of romance and suspense. More illegal activities are going on than I mention and as things got more and more tense, I often found myself biting my fingernails. This is one tale that readers will never forget! I am hoping to see more stories in the future about some of the secondary characters in this story. The story is so well written that I felt drawn to some of the other local characters, especially others on the police force. Outstanding! *****
Author: Kathleen Eagle
Title - Ride a Painted Pony
One stormy night, Nick Red Shield finds a battered, lost woman on the road. She gives her name as Joey, and refuses to go to a hospital or contact authorities. Nick takes her home to heal, not knowing she is Lauren Davis, a young mother on the run from the mob boss who stole her son and wants her dead. Lauren has no plan to make her dream of regaining the real Joey come true, until she gets to Nick's home. His new horse is a champion racer, with the right jockey, and she is that. The horse is also the perfect bait to lure her ex. The only flaw in her plan is that to achieve her goal, she will have to leave Nick, the man she has come to love.
**** There is no waiting for this story to kick into high gear. From the first page, the reader is intrigued, and things only go up from there. Lauren's quest is both suspenseful and heartwarming. In the past, I've considered this author's pace too slow, sometimes. There are no complaints at all in this book. ****
Author: Christie Ridgway
Title - Must Love Mistletoe
"The Perfect Christmas" is owned by Bailey Sullivan's family in Coronado, California. Many locals consider it a landmark. But Bailey hates the holiday. Nevertheless, she leaves LA and returns to Coronado to help save the family store from going under. Since the holiday season is in full swing, Bailey is hoping to get everything back up to par by the 25th and head back to LA.
Problem is that Bailey's parents are feuding. Her mother, Tracy, is hiding away and Bailey cannot seem to snap her out of it. In fact, Bailey cannot even get Tracy to step inside their store. No amount of begging or cajoling is working. That would have been enough for anyone, but Bailey knows she is in trouble when she spies Finn Jacobson, the boy she loved and lost ten years ago.
Finn wants nothing to do with Bailey. The last eleven months of his life has been a nightmare. Finn is part of the Dignitary Protection Division of the Secret Service. He is on "vacation" and visiting Gram while he comes to terms with what happened during an assassination attempt. One of his younger team members died in the line of duty and Finn lost his left eye. The last thing he wanted was to see Bailey again. However, she is the only one who asked about him and was not really wanting to know about his eye patch.
Neither Bailey, nor Finn, wants to rekindle their old flame. Or do they?
**** A good read for the Christmas holiday. This story will keep you in the holiday mood, but keep you far away from the shopping crowd (at least during the time you are reading anyway). Lots of hot bedroom scenes within this tale too. The author, Christie Ridgway, spends time with Tracy and her husband, Dan, too. They are Bailey's mother and stepfather. Watching Tracy and Dan is just as much fun as watching Bailey and Finn! All-in-all, this is perfect for a romantic evening at home, after a day of hectic holiday shopping. One word of warning: do not read unless your lover is home. Enough said. ****
Author: Jennifer Skully
Title - Sheer Dynamite
Opal Smith comes from a long line of bona fide psychics. Other than her Grandma Blue, Opal is the only member of the family without any psychic talent what-so-ever. Opal's brother is the golden child of the family. He is known world-wide, like his father before him. He even has his own television show. Opal's mother is the psychic to the stars and cares for no one other than herself and her wonderful son. Opal's sister, Pearl, has a gift when it comes to reading taros and runes for people. Out of those family members, Opal only feels close to Pearl and Grandma Blue. Opal and Pearl even own a store together called Bedazzled. Pearl does readings for customers and draws in repeat customers. Opal has a head for finance and keeps the store stocked and drawing a profit. But Opal has always wanted to have at least a little bit of psychic talent. When Opal sees a phantom body fall from an overpass, she is excited. This is her first REAL vision.
Jack Davis, the guy who rear-ends Opal, is not happy at all. Upon hearing why the lovely blonde slammed on her brakes during rush hour traffic, he knows she is nuts. But Jack is a sucker for blonde hair and fair eyes. When Jack learns she plans to stalk the overpass until the man shows up to jump, he is determined to save Opal from her own recklessness. It is nice that the lady wants to prevent the man from jumping, but with the way she looks and dresses, Opal is asking for trouble. There is no way he is going to let her walk the overpass for hours everyday, while guys in cars try to pick her up. But Jack does not anticipate Opal's matchmaking Grandma Blue, who claims he is the reincarnation of "Dynamite" Davis, her all-time favorite race-car driver.
Grandma Blue believes that Opal is the only normal person in a family chocked full of nuts, besides herself of course. And Grandma Blue looks forward to using her so-called acerbic wit and outrageous suggestions to bring Opal and Jack together. The boy needs his some chaos in his stuffy life and her granddaughter is just the one to do it.
***** There are some wonderful sub-plots in this story as well. Pearl's romance with her ex-boyfriend, Nile, unfolds throughout this tale. Yes, Nile is psychic too. He finds people by touching their stuff. He is normally too late to save them though. He is currently looking for a run-away. Pearl and Nile's romance and problems soon merge with Opal and Jack's life. As they hunt for the missing girl, dead or alive, a killer is close behind them. This adds some suspense to this wonderful romance and kept me begging for more. Jennifer Skully proves, once again, that she can work magic with her stories. Excellent! *****
Author: LuAnn McLane
Title - Dark Roots and Cowboy Boots
For years, Jamie Lee Carter has had a crush on her brother's best friend, Griff Sheldon, but he's only seen her as a little sister. Then, Parker Carrington comes to town, to make a horror flick and possibly romance Jamie Lee, awakening Griff's protective instincts in the process. Jamie Lee is attracted to Parker, but can't quite get past her longing for Griff, even though every time they try to go for more than friendship, accidentally or on purpose, something bad happens to curtail it. Jamie Lee is afraid of ruining her friendship mingling it with romance, but the way things are going, she'll be lucky to have even the friendship before it's all said and done.
*** While this is a funny, witty romance with colorful characters and an accurrate portrayal of near hill-billy town life, there is a drawback. Jamie Lee and Parker have more chemistry and Parker is more likeable than Griff. ***
Author: Kate Angell
Title - Calder's Rose
Devin James has been very successful in her historical/western romance series involving a strong heroine character named Rose Coltraine. Rose is a saloon proprietress, but unlike most women in this position, Rose is a prim and proper miss. In fact, she is the most respected woman in town.
Shane McNamara has also been very successful in his western series which involves a tough gunslinger named Dare Calder. Hot bedroom scenes are scattered throughout each book. Calder never has trouble getting any woman he wants into bed and he never looks back once he has taken them to bed.
The two authors are a lot like their characters. Devin and Rose are sweet, honest, and looks for romance. Shane and Calder want only to slip into the sheets with a different woman every night. Normally Devin and Shane would have nothing to do with each other. However, Silver Star Publishing decided they would collaborate on a book. Their two main characters are to meet and share an adventure together. So the two authors are thrown together in a private cabin on a private Florida beach, given a SHORT deadline, and told to go to work.
This is much easier commanded than done. Shane insists that Rose slip into bed with Calder. HIS fans expect it. After all, no female can resist the gunslinger. Devin insists that Calder woo Rose and forget any hanky-panky with saloon owner. After all, HER fans expect Rose to be treated like a true lady. The two authors clash on every single thing. Their heated anger and stress (A.K.A. passionate feelings for their characters) ends up actually bringing the two main characters to life (sort of). Rose and Calder decide to take the making of the novel into their own hands!
***** This is mainly a modern contemporary romance; however, there is a touch of paranormal as the story goes along. No ghosts, vampires, or other overly used props in this tale though. I am told that authors come to care deeply for their characters. This story proves it. An interesting twist for romance fans. *****
Author: Jina Bacarr
Title - The Blonde Geisha (Mild Erotica)
American banker, Edward Mallory moved to Japan when his daughter, Kathlene, was but a child. The child was instantly fascinated with the geisha ladies and their mysterious ways. She longed to become a geisha too.
In the year 1892, when Kathlene was fifteen-years-old, her father makes a powerful enemy of a prince. Knowing the prince intends to kill Kathlene, Edward hides her with Simouyé, the elegant mistress of the Teahouse of the Look-Back Tree. Even though it is forbidden to train foreigners in the pleasures known only to the geisha, Simouyé agrees. Thus, Edward leaves for America and prays the prince would not be able to locate his daughter. Simouyé disguises Kathlene and takes her into the wondrous world as a maiko, an apprentice geisha. Kathlene makes an instant friend in Mariko, another maiko. The two become close and intend to become geisha-sisters some day. But Kathlene also makes an instant enemy in Youki, another apprentice.
For over three years Kathlene studies the subtle ways of the geisha, learning the secret art that will enable her to pleasure a man like no other. Kathlene and Mariko are ready and eagerly await the final ritual that will allow them to become real geisha women. But danger lurks nearby.
Prince Kira still has his men searching for the blonde Kathlene. Baron Tonda, a samurai, believes he has located the daughter of the gaijin at the Teahouse of the Look-Back Tree. He fully intends to do as his prince ordered and kill the girl; however, first he will enjoy himself by purchasing the right to be her first customer. But the baron is not the only one who has finally found Kathlene. Reed Cantrell promised Edward Mallory that he would find Kathlene and smuggle her out of Japan and back to San Francisco in America. Kathlene falls in love with Reed, even though geisha law states never to fall under the spell of any one man. One thing is for sure, the baron plans to use Kathlene's body, then kill her, and there is no way she can escape with Reed until she gives the baron the geisha ritual of being her first customer.
***** Author Jina Bacarr takes her readers into the geisha world, behind the paper screen walls, and shows them what the forbidden world of a geisha is like. Here you will find erotica pleasures interwoven with a diabolical plot that will make you breathless and leave you begging for more. *****
Author: Caridad Piñeiro
Title - More Than a Mission
(Silhouette 1428, Capturing the Crown series)
Set in a small town called Leonia, near Silvershire. Elizabeth "Lizzy Bee" Moore runs a four star restaurant/bar. Everyone around knows her well and genuinely cares for her. Her face shows all her emotions as she feels them. Other than spending Friday nights out with her girlfriends, she eats and breathes only for her business. There is just no way she could fake all those things. Yet the Lazlo Group is sure that Elizabeth is the world-renowned assassin called the Sparrow.
Aidan Spaulding has only been careless once in his years as an agent. That once had been in Rome, two years ago, and cost the lift of his best friend and partner, Mitch. Mitch died with the Sparrow's name on his lips. The Lazlo Group might have been hired to find out who killed Prince Reginald back then, but Aidan only wanted Mitch's killer. That the Sparrow did both murders was sure, so in doing his mission, Aidan also got revenge for his best friend. All leads pointed to Leonia. Elizabeth's garden has all the ingredients that had been used in the prince's poison, she has the fighting skills, and she has mastered the skills with the knives in her kitchen that no one else is allowed to ever touch. All the dates and places of the Sparrow's assassinations had Elizabeth in town. The only thing needed now was physical proof.
Aidan is hired by Elizabeth as her bartender. Both are attracted to each other, yet both try to deny it. Neither can afford to get attached emotionally. And a danger, unknown to them both, is coming.
***** As I have come to expect from this author, I found my attention captured faster than lightning and just as startling. I am glad I had several hours reserved for the story, because I never stopped reading until the last page had been turned. I never noticed how much time had passed as I sat on the edge of my seat with my nose stuck in this book. Next time I get something written by this author, I'll order out for pizza before opening the cover! Romantic Suspense gets no better than this! *****
Author: Patricia Rice
Title - Small Town Girl
Emotionally and physically wounded Flynn “Flint” Clinton leaves country music stardom behind in Nashville as he returns to his small town roots to try and become the father that he wants to be to his two preteen sons. His quest for the simple life becomes a distant wish as he becomes consumed with the beautiful and fascinating Joella Sanderson and the series of mishaps that occur in the close knit small town of Northfork, North Carolina. Flint struggles to make a living from being the new owner of the Stardust Café and trying hard not to fall for the lovely Jo who he knows is destined for bigger and better things. Ignoring that fact that she could bring him to financial ruin Flint helps Jo become the star that she should be.
With her captivating charm and wit, Jo works hard to keep her small town alive in the face of the mill closing, her mother’s illness, and her sister’s failing marriage. Even though she has sworn off music men, Jo finds it hard to resist her new boss, Flint, and is sure that they can make beautiful music together.
*** Though I did enjoy this romantic story by Patricia Rice, I felt that it could have had more depth to hold the reader’s interest better. The interactions between the characters could have had more substance instead of the bulk of the story being played out in the main characters’ thoughts. The relationship between Flint and his sons could also have been improved upon. ***
Title - Catch of the Day
"Catch of the Day" is a collection of four short romantic, wedding stories by different authors beginning with Brides Gone Wild by Cathie Linz which is the charming story of Pam Greenley, a floral designer, who runs into her first love and high school sweetheart, Michael Denton. Michael ended their relationship when he left for college 10 years ago, and they have not seen each other since except at their high school reunion just a month ago when they fell into bed with each other and Michael left again without a word. Now Michael is back in town for his cousin’s wedding which is only one of the five weddings that Pam is coordinating the flowers for this weekend. Pam is determined to avoid Michael, but he keeps popping up and making her realize that even though she is still attracted to him she refuses to be hurt by him again. Michael, who wrote a book called, How to Hook Your Guy, under a pen name, is determined not to get hooked in the foreseeable future but simply cannot fight his continuing attraction for Pam. Funny situations arise in this romantic comedy set in a very nosy small town in which the town gossip has her own blog!
Lissy Charteris and Will Fraser seem to have the perfect relationship. They really love each other and have the most steamy sex life until Lissy comes up with the idea of abstinence for the two weeks prior to their wedding. So The Bet and much sexual frustration ensue as Will tries to entice Lissy to attack him while she drives him to near insanity with temptation. Is this the wedge that will keep them from saying “I do”? Throw in the mother of the bride from hell who will do nearly anything to keep her daughter from walking down the aisle and you have the funny and frustrating adventure of Heaven Can’t Wait by Pamela Clare.
So Caught Up in You by Beverly Brandt is a story full of adventure as Tasha O’Shaunessey is determined to make sure that her sister’s adventure wedding goes smoothly in Costa Playa even though she has heard the nasty rumors concerning the wedding planner for Extreme I Do, Quinn Hayes. It is rumored that Quinn is involved in white slavery, is an ex-con, and also may be responsible for the disappearance of two film stars that vanished five years ago when Quinn was the last person to see them alive. But Tasha quickly finds out things are not always what they seem as she goes swinging over the canopy of trees in the jungle, helps to hide refugees, and aids Quinn in the coverup of the murder of the head of Costa Playa’s secret police all while trying to understand her intense attraction to Quinn.
In The Wedding Party by Whitney Lyles Meg Thomlinson is hopeful to reconnect with Mason Strout the guy she dumped several months ago only to realize that maybe she made the mistake of her life. They are both in her best friend’s wedding party, and Meg is hoping that they can pick up where they left off. But just when Meg thinks life is back on track with Mason she meets Bill who is also in the wedding party and is now wondering if he could possibly be the man of her dreams especially when they get stranded in Mexico together.
**** I really enjoyed these combined romantic stories which make a fun and delightful read as four women each find their ‘Catch of the Day’! This book would make an entertaining beach read. ****
Author: Marianna Jameson
Title - Big Trouble
Twenty years ago, a twelve year old hacker named "R@ptorgirl" wrecked havoc on Joe Casey's family company. When the company needs a security audit now, Joe has no idea that their former nemesis is now to be their best friend, or that he's going to fall hard for Naomi Connor, who has now grown up and reformed. Her skills as a hacker make her ideal for the job, but she keeps her secret hidden. Even as the pull between her and Joe grows, her once upon a time crime overshadows Naomi. She knows Joe and his family would hate her, with good reason, if they found out the truth.
*** Though there is a lot of padding in this story, at its heart, its a good romance of redemption and second chances. It is a very credible tale, one you can imagine really happening. ***
Author: Patricia McLinn
Title - What Are Friends For?
Anton "Zeke" Zeekowsky left the dot on the map called Drago, Illinois, for the big city sixteen years ago. He never expected to return. Quite the opposite, he hoped to forget it even existed. Zeke founded the security software firm "Zeke-Tech". After toiling long and hard, he became a self-made billionaire. Even so, Zeke's mind is always churning away, always designing his next creation. Zeke's life is shaken when his assistant, Brenda, informs him of an invitation from his hometown and urges him to act upon it.
Somehow, against his better judgement, Zeke finds himself back in Drago. He has committed himself to being the Grand Marshall of the Drago Lilac Festival Parade, head judge of the Drago Lilac Queen pageant, and guest of honor at the Drago Lilac Festival Dance. The only good thing about it all, other than getting a chance to see how his mother is doing, is seeing Darcie Barrett and Jennifer Truesdale again. Jennifer was the unattainable beauty as Zeke grew up. Darcie was his best friend. And man, how times have changed! Jennifer is now divorced and raising a twelve-year-old daughter, Ashley. Darcie is now a local police officer.
Jennifer and Darcie hope to convince Zeke to help turn Drago's economy around. The town is on its last legs. Yet both know that Zeke has bad memories of the place. Darcie, having been closest to Zeke, is the one chosen to soften him up. Problem is that the last night Darcie saw Zeke was also the single time they made love. He was gone the next day. Her feelings toward Zeke has not changed. She tries to hand him off to Jennifer, but even her chief seems to be against her. Chief Dutch Harnett, a hard-nosed outsider who'd taken over Drago's police department almost a year ago, decides that Darcie should change her patrol schedule a bit and drive Zeke everywhere he needs to go. Anytime Zeke drives himself, he ends up speeding, and the chief thinks this arrangement should end the problem. Well Darcie may have to drive him around, but he would have to deal with sitting silently by as she makes her normal rounds. Darcie cares too much about the locals to miss checking up on them.
Zeke is happy that his "vacation" will be spent mostly with Darcie, even if he did have to become a slight nuisance to the chief to do it. Perhaps he could even find a way to work some on his latest project. Zeke even brought a disk with his soon-to-be-announced gadget on it for Darcie. But someone else out there has plans for Zeke and the disk.
**** Author Patricia McLinn has created a romance that will entice all those ladies out there who are not afraid of a mouse. A computer mouse, that is. No wimpy characters in this book. Zeke and Darcie are both strong characters with enough faults to make them human and real to the readers. I hope to see Jennifer get her own story told someday, in addition to Vanessa (Zeke's business partner). In the meantime, rest assured that more than what I mentioned in the synopsis is going on within THIS story. You will never get bored. ****
Author: Lois Winston
Title - Talk Gertie To Me
Honora "Nori" Stedworth thought she had it all. She lived in a garden level apartment in Manhattan, has a rich dermatologist boyfriend, and a good job at a dot-com. Then, in the space of only a few hours, Nori finds her boyfriend cavorting in the Jacuzzi with her supposedly best friend, she gets laid off from work, and her mother flies in for an indefinite visit. To cope, Nori does what she did when she had been little; she has a conversation with her imaginary friend named Gertie. Gertie is Nori's sarcastic side with some pretty snappy come-backs. Sounds harmless, right?
Enter Mackenzie "Mac" Randolph. Mac is the station manager for WBAT radio. WBAT is the Big Apple's talk radio, which focuses totally on men and sports. Due to a computer mix-up, Mac and Nori end up taking the radio station by storm. Nori is now the hottest thing on radio with her talk show "Gertie Gets Even". As Gertie, Nori tells men exactly what about them annoys women. And the ratings soar. But Nori is not the only one in the family getting famous.
Constance "Connie" Stedworth is tired of living in the shadow of her husband. Her husband, Earnest, is the mayor of their home town called Ten Commandments, Iowa. Earnest refuses to leave the 1950s and runs the town and his family the same way. Connie leaves Ten Commandments for various reasons and her entrepreneurial side comes out. Connie becomes famous as the "Belly Button Artist to the Stars." But by following their dreams will Connie lose her husband and will Nori become the family's black sheep?
***** Absolutely hilarious! At one point of the book I tried to read the story out loud, with different voices for each character. But I could not keep a straight face and I kept snickering. This novel is like two stories in one. Nori and Connie take turns telling what is going on in their lives. Oh, and the secondary characters are just as colorful as the main ones! After all, the setting IS in New York, where colorful characters abound and anything can happen (and usually does with frequency). I am hopeful that Reese may get her own story told one day. Author Lois Winston deserves a standing ovation for this gem! *****
Title - No Law Against Love
(Anthology for a Breast Cancer Prevention charity)
If you have ever found yourself rolling your eyes at some of the more stupid laws, then you are going to adore this novel. Over twenty-five stories fill up this anthology, each one dealing with at least one stupid or outdated law. Let me give you an example: In Florida, USA, there is a law that states "If an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle." In Great Britain, "A license is required to keep a lunatic." Yes, you read those correctly. No matter how many times you go back and reread them, the words will remain the same. Those two laws are still legal. Most of the crazy laws in these wonderful stories are still legal. The tales vary in time and place. Some take place in the present date, in the past, in the USA, in England, may contain magic... in other words, there is something for everyone! You simply cannot go wrong. Best yet, all profits from the sales of this novel go to breast cancer prevention. The anthology is not made up of unknown authors either. Here is a list of the seventeen authors (in order of appearance) that contributed stories for you to enjoy: DeborahAnne MacGillivray, Leanne Burroughs, M.J. Sager, Cheryl Alldredge, Marly Mathews, Jeanne VanArsdall, Victoria Oliveri, Cissy Hassell, Kemberlee Shortland, Diane Davis White, Rekha Ambardar, Jennifer Ross, Michelle Scaplen, Jacquie Rogers, Kristi Ahlers, Patty Howell, and Susan Barclay.
***** A stellar anthology that had me laughing, sighing in pleasure, believing in magic, and left me begging for more! Will there be a second anthology someday? I sure hope so! This is one novel that I will go directly to my "Keeper" shelf, to be read over and over again. Very highly recommended! *****
Author: Elda Minger
Title - The Kiss
Only a day before her wedding, Tess Sommerville reunites with a man who makes her wish she wasn't getting married, Will Tremere, someone she once knew and had a bit of a crush upon. Then, hours later, she finds her fiancee' cheating on her, in the church. Will's invitation to call him if things don't work out becomes her escape route, taking her on an odyssey of self discovery and finding love in friendship. However, her step-mother and fiancee' are not willing to let her go, since her defection ruins a business deal. Tess is about to learn who really loves her and who doesn't. Will just hopes that what began as an impulse can lead to forever.
*** Funny and poignant moments superimpose upon each other, making this an easy and light, yet profound read all at once. Though it all seems very unlikely and too good to be true, it's fairy tales like this that give us hope. ***
Author: Erin McCarthy
Title - Heiress for Hire
This is the story of two daughters. The first is Amanda Delmar, a spoiled heiress whose father abruptly decides it's time for tough love and cuts her off without a cent. The second is Piper, a scared little girl who is dumped without warning on Danny Tucker's door. He had no idea the girl existed, or he would have stepped in sooner to prevent the emotional abuse she suffered. Danny needs a sitter, and Amanda needs a job. Though he has doubts that the deposed princess can really be what he needs, Danny finds that Piper and Amanda connect on a level that both "girls" benefit from. The fact that his attraction to Amanda is becoming uncomfortable will simply have to be ignored or dealt with.
*** The contrasting stories and the love that infuse the story make it more than simply a comedy, but a sweet, touching novel. You will truly care about what happens to these three lost souls before it ends. ***
Author: Jennifer Skully
Title - Fool's Gold
Tyler "Brax" Braxton is a sheriff in Cottonmouth, California. When he receives a frantic phone call from his sister, Maggie Felman, he decides to use some vacation time and visit her. Maggie believes her husband of ten years, Carl, is having an affair and plans to leave her. Brax arrives in Goldstone, Nevada, and cannot believe his eyes. Goldstone is like a ghost town. The nearest grocery store is thirty miles away and all the buildings fell to ruin during a fire catastrophe and then a flood catastrophe long ago - never to be rebuilt. Brax can't figure out how the few people that reside in Goldstone exists.
As Brax and Carl chat in the only local bar, Brax finds his attention riveted by hot Simone Chandler. Then he learns that she earns her living by writing erotica fantasies for internet clients. Of course, his own imagination jumps to life. He soon realizes that people came to Goldstone to forget or be forgotten. Brax has plenty he would like to forget and found the idea fascinating. One thing is for sure, he finds Simone VERY fascinating and is soon finding time see her. All is going well, until Carl turns up murdered.
Simone may live in a trailer and write erotica for a living, but everyone in the small town knows she would never harm a fly. Not even the sleazy Jason Lafoote, who is trying to get the permits needed to open a gambling resort in the area. But then the most horrible thing possible happens, her MOTHER comes to visit with the intention of making Simone move back home!
***** Romance, humor, mystery, hot scenes, and suspense ... it's all in here. HQN struck gold (no pun intended) when they got a contract with author Jennifer Skully. As much as I liked her previous book "Sex and the Serial Killer", I enjoyed this one even more! This is one novel you will not trade into a used a book store. It will head straight to you Keeper Shelf to be enjoyed again at a later date. Wonderful story that I highly recommend to all. *****
Author: Kimberly Cates
Title -The Gazebo
Deirdre Macdaniel's world comes crashing in on her when she finds a long lost letter in an old trunk and discovers that she is not her father's daughter, that her mother had an affair that resulted in her birth. No wonder she always felt out of place in her family. Anger and a need to know more drive her to hire Jake Stone, a man who once tried to ruin her sister - in - law's life in the course of his P.I. work. Against her family's wishes, she lets the quest drive her, never giving heed to the pain she is causing her brother, father, and daughter. Then, she's forced to face the latter, when her daughter's budding romance ignites painful memories and old fears. Jake sees all this happening, but this time, he won't stand idly by as his client's life is disrupted by changes. Somehow, this acerbic, driven woman has gotten through the tough shield around his own heart, and he won't let her destroy herself.
*** Deirdre is all too realistic. She's not the easiest heroine to love, because she's so very alive, and has all the angst and flaws of a real person. High drama keeps the pages turning in this detailed, in depth story. ***
Author: Sondra Rice Newman
Title - Silver Dreams
Leigh Meredith is broken when her boyfriend of three years dumps her during the Christmas season. So she leaves Manhattan without a destination in mind. She ends up in Fox Creek, Virginia.
Leigh's life in Fox Creek is totally different than it was in Manhattan. Now Leigh works at a weekly newspaper for only a dollar over minimum wage and she rents the rooms over a hardware store. While working at the paper Leigh meets "Bibs" who operates a boarding farm for horses. Though Leigh is uncomfortable with outspoken and harsh Bibs at first, she quickly becomes friends with the widow. Leigh even purchases a horse that Bibs has acquired from an abusive owner. Silver Dreams "Sil" only has one eye and is almost five years old; however, he is a thoroughbred with racing in his blood. Leigh cannot help but wonder if Sil has what it takes to be a winner at the tracks.
On the advice of Bibs, Leigh turns to a former trainer, Whit Riley. After his wife ran off with his business partner, Whit became a bitter recluse and took to over drinking. But seeing Sil in action just may bring Whit back into the world.
As things begin to come together for Leigh and Whit, a wealthy widow comes into the picture. Her name is Kara Trenchard and she has wanted Whit since her high school days. Now she is determined to get everything and everyone she's had her eyes on for so long, no matter who she must harm in the process.
**** This romantic tale shows that not all successful New Yorkers have hearts of stone. Not to mention that success means nothing if you are not truly happy. Author Sondra Rice Newman knows this well and puts the knowledge to good use in this novel of friends, horses, and love. If you know nothing about horses or all the hard work and dedication required in caring for them, whether race horses or not, then you get a glimpse at how hard the job is. Yet the love of horses the author has clearly shows in her words and descriptions of the world. Wonderful story that you will recall for quite a while. ****
Author: Julie Kenner
Title - First Love
NOBODY has had a tougher time planning her wedding than Julia Spinelli. NOBODY!
There are only five days until Julia walks down the aisle with Roman Sonntag in the fanciest wedding celebration that Fredericksburg, Texas, has ever witnessed! Now it is all falling apart. Julia has just been informed that the perfect wedding dress she ordered will not be arriving. Her Jersey parents have arrived early. (Every Red Neck joke ever created describes her parents. They're rich, but still act like hicks.) And due to a business deal gone sour, fifteen years ago, between Julia's dad and Roman's, it is bound to become even worse.
Marv, Julia's pop, is out to sabotage the wedding. He will use every below-the-belt tactic and every manipulative trick in his arsenal to keep his Princess from marrying the enemy. Believe it or not, Marv not only has a surprise guest show up, but he also travels around in a pink stretch limo with longhorns on it and a horn that gives out a sharp "Ah-OOO-Ga" blast!
Julia has to convince her parents that her fiancée is in love with her and not her trust account. A feat that is looking more impossible by the hour.
**** By putting myself in poor Julia's designer shoes, I felt as though she should either tell everyone to take a flying leap and then go elope OR she should just give up and postpone the wedding ... a few decades. Anything that could go wrong did. Yet when all looked in total ruin, help comes from some surprising sources.
Author Julie Kenner has the ability to bring her characters to life. I felt every hart ache, as well as, every joy. I also learned that no matter how embarrassing your family seems to be, they will always stand beside you. Fabulous novel! ****
Author: Linda Barrett
Title - The Daughter He Never Knew
Lila Sullivan's heart shattered to pieces when Jason Parker fled Pilgrim Cove years ago. He promised to return. That promise kept her going. Five years afterward, he sent her a message. Jason was never coming back and Lila should not wait for him any longer. He would not return for her, so he never found out that he had a daughter, Katie.
Four more years have passed. Katie is now eight-years-old. She's thrilled that she is about to get a dad and a sister. Her mom, Lila, is about to wed Adam Fielding, He is the dad of her best friend, Sara. Katie did not believe her life could get any better, until her real dad appeared.
Jason Parker has never gotten over Lila. Now he is finally hitting the big time. He does collaborations with singers to produce memorable music. His latest song, about Lila, is already on the radios. The song clearly tells the listeners his plans. Jason is ready to face his past. So everyone in Pilgrim Cove is waiting, wondering if Jason is honestly coming home. What will happen when he sees Lila again? What will happen when he finds out he has a daughter?
***** Once again Sea View House in Pilgrim Cove, Massachusetts, is working its magic. The tale of Lila and Jason has been long anticipated. Well, it has finally hit the book stores. Was it worth the wait? OH YEAH! This is the most intense, most joyful, and most emotional episode of the series thus far. Every book in the "Pilgrim Cove" series sits on my "Keeper" shelf, never to be loaned out. Mine! Mine! Mine! If you have not read any of these books as yet, order them before it is too late. And Linda Barrett, should you read this, don't stop writing about this town and its residents until you (at least) tell the story of the vet. *****
Author: Carol Stephenson
Title - Courting Danger
Katherine "Kate" Rochelle has been in Palm Beach's social elite since birth. She has had money all her life. For her career, she became a criminal defense attorney. Scandal hit when Kate learned her co-worker was on the take. Kate could not let such illegal matters go and dutifully turned him in. Kate is as honest as her grandfather (a judge) had been before he disappeared from his court chambers in the old courthouse over thirty years ago. However, her honesty makes the other lawyers antsy, especially those who believe Kate should have turned the other way. So Kate made her own law firm and is out to prove herself all over again. Her first case is to prove that a friend, Lloyd, did not murder Grace.
Grace Roberts had been murdered in Kate's grandfather's old chambers. Since Kate does not believe in coincidences, she begins looking into a possible connection. Kate's partners, Carling and Nicole, hire a P.I. named Gabriel "Gabe" Chavez to assist her. It does not take long for Kate to realize that her life is in danger. The evidence is beginning to look as though someone high up is the culprit. Kate's debutante skills and social connections help her get some answers. Yet only Gabe's P.I. and police skills can keep her alive.
***** This story seems to be the first of a trilogy. At least, I hope Kate's partners each get their own stories.
What? You say that you demand lots of action? You want suspense AND some romance as well? Then pick up this novel and RUN! Otherwise, you may not get your hands on a copy. Once readers begin talking about this title it will fly off the shelves. Excellent legal and mystery drama. *****
Author: Janet Elaine Smith
Title - Pampas
Raul Escobar is employed by Señor Pancho Mendoza only five years before the man died. During that time, Señor Mendoza became the father he never knew. Señor Mendoza instinctively knew that Raul did not want to discuss his past and never asked about it. Raul loved his employer dearly. When Señor Mendoza died, he left the hacienda to his housekeeper, Doña Helena. Most everything else was left to Raul, now Señor Raul Escobar. Of course this made some people furious, such as Ambassador Jeremy Whitcomb. He believed that he should have been included in Señor Mendoza's will.
Raul and Helena meet Samantha Manchester less than a week later. She is the wealthy daughter of the Manchester International Corporation owner Reginald Manchester. She is also an archeologist. What she wants most is to dig on Raul's land and is furious when he refuses her. But Helena invites Samantha to stay a few days with her in the hacienda. By doing so, Samantha and Raul will have a chance to sincerely talk. Samantha can explain WHY she wishes to dig on his land, as well as inform him of what Ambassador Whitcomb is up to.
Love slowly blooms between Raul and Samantha. However, Raul fears that his hidden past could sneak up to destroy everything.
As for Ambassador Whitcomb, Samantha and Cassie would need to teach him to be more generous and less selfish.
**** A beautiful romance story set in the heartland of Argentina. In this lovely tale, readers get two romances in one. The author has hidden a few surprises, strategically placed, to keep the story rolling along smoothly and the romance exciting. ****
Author: Jeanette Baker
Title - A Delicate Finish
Two years ago Francesca DeAngelo Harris returned home with carry out food for her husband, Jake, to find him carrying out his luggage. Jake left Francie without a word of explanation, leaving her with a 1200 acre, hundred year old vineyard and their six-year-old son, Nicholas. Fortunately, her mother-in-law (Julianne) ran a catering business out of the home. With Julianne's help, Francie managed very nicely on her own...until now.
Grape Growers Incorporated "GGI" is determined to mass-produce wine in the valley, putting all the small, independent vintners out of business. Mitchell Gillette is transferred from San Francisco to make it happen. His twin children, fifteen-year-olds Sarah and Drew, must move from the city to the valley with him. Mitch had divorced their mother long ago and the kids had lived with her. However, their mother died very recently. He does not really know his children and they are all up-tight. Sarah and Drew are handling all the sudden life changes differently. Sarah is trying her best to fit in and adapt. Drew is falling in with a bad crowd.
Francesca comes home after a hard day of work to find her ex-husband, Jake, sitting at the table. Jake swears he is reformed and wants back into her life. That is a shock in itself. But shortly thereafter, Francie finds Mitch, the corporate enemy of the entire valley, at the table. Even worse, Julianne is falling in love with Mitch. Life is full of surprises.
***** Many good novels have been written dealing with one rocky relationship and also involving major businesses. However, THIS book deals with twice as much. This story revolves around two main "romance" relationships, as well as, around the problems that single parents with rebellious teens must endure. Under it all is the community's winery troubles. It all sounds like a lot to cram into a single novel, however, the author has managed to pull it off. The story flows smoothly. You will never find yourself confused either. Author Jeanette Baker has created a marvelous and realistic modern day tale that readers will long remember! *****
Author: Alesia Holliday
Title - Nice Girls Finish First
Two women, Kirby Green and her secretary, Brianna, are about to each embark on a journey of self discovery. Brianna desires to be an opera singer, but she's radically underweight for the best roles and her fiance' does not support her dream. His dream is to marry June Cleaver. Between his doubts and her teacher's disapproval, Brianna faces the fact that she must examine what she wants in life, figure out what it is, and go for it, with or without support. Her journey towards her dream will be filled with revelations, though she's not sure what to do with all of them. On the other hand, Kirby is facing the challenge of being nice. Told she can not have her vacation, that she will lose her job unless someone tells her she is nice, Kirby desperately tries to become a person that would be told that. Even before the dare, she'd been on that road, now she has to extend that same quest to her professional life as well as personal. What she learns will startle her.
**** Although alternating first person POV's can be difficult to adjust to, Ms. Holliday handles them deftly. Readers can not help but be drawn into the two women's struggles, and cheer them on. This is a writer who will make you smile whenever you see that she has a new book released. ****
Author: Kylie Brant
Title - The Business of Strangers
"Angel" washed up on the beach of Santa Cristo. She had two bullets in her back and had spent hours in the ocean during one of the worst storms of the year. A local found her in the early dawn and nursed her unexpected guest back to life. Angel could not remember what had happened to her. She could not even recall her own name. However, she discovered that she had a familiarity with weapons, Dim-Mak combat and assassination techniques, and was fluent in at least six languages. Whoever had tried to kill her came back to finish the job. When he failed, another came. The assassins had one thing in common. Each had a small tattoo, an intricately detailed image of Pegasus - just like the one on her ankle. Angel made herself disappear. Six years pass.
She is now Sheriff Rianna "Ria" Kingsley of Tripolo, Alabama, newly appointed. Ria keeps people at a distance. She has no real friends. The only person in the world who knows that she is not what she seems to be is Benny, and they have never met face-to-face. Benny has never asked questions. For that, Ria has made his bank account grow. It was Benny that made her new identity. He is a computer genius. The best "cracker" she has ever found. Only six weeks into her new career and the local county commissioner is patting his own back for hiring Ria. The new sheriff has busted more drug rings and dealers than any before her.
Jake Tarrance owns a restaurant in a nearby county. It is one of the few legal businesses he has. Most of his income is obtained outside the law, but there is never any proof. Jake has eyes and ears everywhere, including within the nearby prison walls. Ria dines there one night because it is outside her jurisdiction and no one knows who she is. She can be alone. Of course, Ria and Jake are instantly attracted and neither knows the occupation of the other. They find out too late. Their relationship might have ended there, except Ria finds another lead on the tattoo. A lead that might finally tell her who she was over six years ago and what happened that stormy night long ago. Yet by following the tattoo lead, Ria would lead the group of assassins right to her door.
***** Once you begin reading this book, you will not be able to pull yourself away. The suspense begins on page one and continues until the last page has been turned. The best thing you can do is to order out for pizza and tell your family not to bother you unless the house is burning down. Only then should you get comfortable and open to page one. Otherwise you will snappish every time something interrupts your reading, your mind on nothing but getting back to the book. Yes, Readers, this story is THAT good! Highly recommended reading! *****
Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Title - Match Me If You Can
Heath Champion wants a wife- not for love, but because one would be useful. Rather than go the standard route of looking on his own, he hires a matchmaker. However, when Portia Powers' agency does not deliver satisfactory results, he hires a second one, owned by Annabelle Granger, the total antithesis of Portia. Where the Portia is professional and controlled, Annabelle simply is not. She does agree to accompany him on his dates, twenty minute affairs in which he assesses and accepts or rejects a potential candidate. However, not even between them can Portia and Annabelle seem to find the right woman for Heath. However, Portia's own lovelife begins to look up, and Annabelle does begin to make headway as far as getting Heath back in the good graces of Phoebe Calebow, owner of the Stars football team, as long time fans know. She also begins to work her way into his closed down heart, but both of them fight falling in love with each other tooth and nail. Annabelle is not cut out to be a society wife, at least not to first glance. Heath does not really believe in love. Yet, perhaps the matchmaker has met her match.
**** Susan E Phillips always scores a touchdown, and this is no exception. With warmth and wit, she tells a fun story. At the same time, she brings back favorite friends. I admit, I was hoping to see Bobby Tom again, but still, seeing Kevin, Phoebe, Molly, and Dan was a treat, making the book worthwhile, even without the main story, which was worth it as well. ****
Author: Karen Harper
Title - Dark Angel
The young Amish lady, Leah Kurtz's young life has seen too much sorrow; first her sister dies, then her fiance' jilts her following his rumspringa, finally, her best friend falls prey to a genetic disease common among their people, dying far too young. Yet, in Barbara's death lies a blessing. She and her husband choose to give their little girl, Becca, to Leah to raise as her own rather than the young widower trying to be a single father. Perhaps it is partly her duty to Becca that leads Becca to go to work for the English gene doctor, Mark Morelli. Soon, the is much more going on than mere work. Someone has turned the gentle Amish into a target, and it is somehow tied to Mark's work. After a child vanishes, Mark and Leah work together to find out what is going on, and that closeness begins to ignite a forbidden passion that will force Leah to chose between her people and her love. Then, her own Becca disappears, and nothing else matters but rescuing the daughter of her heart.
*** As always, a book centered around the Amish is fascinating. Of all Ms. Harper's Plain heroines, Leah is my favorite. The tension between the clashing worlds provides an apt background for a compelling story that ends on a heartwarming note. ***
Author: Janet Elaine Smith
Title - Monday Knight
"Monday's child is fair of face." At least that is how the famous poem begins. It was absolutely correct when it came to the face of the world's most beautiful model, Monday Knight. Monday has made her career on her looks. But one car wreck threatens to take it all away from her. Monday wakes up as she is rushed into Central Hospital. She is so badly damaged that no one even recognizes her.
The head plastic surgeon, Dr. Stephen White, has no idea that his near dead patient is a big celebrity. It would probably not phase him if he did. Dr. White is the best in his field. Many celebrities have willingly gone under his knife. Yet even believing that his patient is a normal, everyday person does not keep him from doing his very best by her ... even when she calls him a "Shmoo".
Fate has brought together a crazy laughing female temptress and a doctor with a big ego and a lousy bedside manner. Yet somehow they will heal each other.
**** Reading this story is much like watching a soap opera, without the cheesiness. Keep the tissues close at hand, because this delightful story will have you laughing and crying. A great feel good story filled with love and hope. ****
Author: Caridad Pineiro
Title - Danger Calls
Diana Reyes, FBI agent, is serious about her job. She is a "by-the-book" kind of woman. However, she also knows that some things cannot be explained, such as the existence of Ryder Latimer. Ryder is the man she loves. He is also a vampire. They have already lived through one tough adventure. (Last book "Darkness Calls" ISBN 0373273533) Ryder is still too weak to be out in the sun as yet. Weak or not, danger is near.
Dr. Melissa Danvers has taken on the role of caretaker for Ryder Latimer, as her relatives had before her. Until her parents died last year, she had no idea that Ryder was vampire. She only knew that Ryder had always been there for her and her family. He was, and is, like a godfather to her. Melissa is still catching up on the journals her relatives had written. Problem is that someone has recently slipped into her office at the hospital and stolen one of the journals her father had written. As a precaution, Melissa must ask for help from Sebastian Reyes.
Sebastian is Diana's brother. He gets enough money by being a security consultant for businesses that he does not have to work outside the home. He also makes computer games as another source of income. He and Melissa had one night together (last book). Sebastian is sure that it was merely for comfort, at least on Melissa's side. Thinking she could not be interested in him, he has kept his distance. So when she shows up at his door for help, he is thrown for a loop. Can he possibly scan all the journals and encrypt the files and the database for her without becoming too involved with her?
In the darkness, someone watches Melissa. The stolen journal does not tell enough. Soon other steps will have to be taken. More people will have to be silenced. Melissa will help or die.
***** This is an ongoing series by Silhouette's Intimate Moments books. The first book, "Darkness Calls", had fans begging for more. Silhouette heard the cries for more and responded by making it a series. This novel is the second in the new vampire series by author Caridad Pineiro. (The third book is due for release in October 2005. Of course, the date of release may change.)
This time readers get to see a bit deeper into the personalities of each character. The relationship between Diana and Ryder as secondary in this one. The author focuses much more on the relationship between Melissa and Sebastian. There are some pretty steamy love scenes between the new couple, but more time is given to the suspenseful plot of murder and dark researches. Caridad Pineiro is an author to keep your eyes on. This series has the potential to only get better and better! *****
Author: Cait London
Title - Total Package
(Bk 4 Heartbreaker miniseries)
We return to Amoteh, a town in southwest Washington State. Danya is the last single Stepanov man. They are a family famous for the furniture they build with pride, as well as, for the luxurious Amoteh Resort.
Danya's wife died nine years ago. He is now thirty-two years old. He has a business with one of his brothers as a builder and remodeler. Danya has not found a woman he could love since his wife died, but hoped to some day. Then he spies a lady unlike any other. She is at the grave site of Chief Kamakani, stripping off her clothes as she talks to deceased.
Sidney "Sid" Blakely is a professional photographer (freelance) who has recently been jilted by a long time boyfriend. Sid and her sisters (Stretch and Junior) have been raised by their military father (Bulldog). The Blakely women detest anything overly feminine, such as dresses, cosmetics, anyone holding a door open for them, etc. Sid usually takes photos of things that put her in danger, such as an erupting volcano. However, to avoid her ex-boyfriend, she is at the Amoteh Resort with a group of ladies. Sid has been commissioned to photograph great shots of the ladies to be made into a calendar. (SO not her normal type of job!) To escape the models who are trying to give her a make over, Sid decides to camp out near Chief Kamakani's grave site.
When Sid thinks Danya is about to suicide by jumping off a cliff, she begins talking him out of it. Danya begins using the misunderstanding as an excuse to spend time with her. The Stepanov men know quickly upon meeting a woman whether she is perfect for him or not. Danya is no exception. But Sid is not like other women. Thus Danya's courting must be done without Sid realizing what is happening.
***** A wonderful conclusion for the Stepanov family story. I found it very interesting to watch Sid do so many masculine things while Danya attempt to out maneuver her (and her macho family). I find myself regretting that this is the last of the "Heartbreaker miniseries". I can only hope that Cait London will begin a new romance series some day soon. *****
Author: Jacquie D'Alessandro
Title - We've Got Tonight
Riley Addison works in Prestige Residential Construction's accounting department, located in Atlanta, Georgia. Normally she gets along great with everyone. However, recently the new head of the marketing department, located in New York, New York, has become a royal pain in the back side. Riley simply could not double his budget, nor could she justify his $743.82 dinner expense. Riley knows the guy must be crazy and refuses the wild requests at every turn.
Jackson Lange has never had anyone disagree with his spreadsheets, much less flat out tell him NO to what he believes to be needed expenses. He is positive Riley must be some sort of wicked witch. When his boss has him come down to Atlanta for the weekend, Jackson is determined to meet Riley early Monday morning before he has to fly back to New York. It is time to put the witch in her place.
Jackson arrives in Atlanta in time for a community festival. For fun he decides to have his fortune told, never knowing the hot gypsy lady is Riley. Both go hot upon seeing each other and set up a date for later in the night. But at the beginning of that late night date, they find out who each other are. Even so, the attraction is still strong. Can they keep business and pleasure separate? Or are they doomed to fail?
**** Lots of hot times in this Harlequin Temptation and lots of clashes as well. Jacquie D'Alessandro has readers eating (Boston Creams) out of her hands and begging for more. An excellent love story to keep you warm during those snowy nights. ****