Monday, August 31, 2015

Merry and Bright - Jill Shalvis (Kensington - Sept 2013)

Finding Mr Right

Brilliant chemist Maggie Bell has a knack for choosing Mr. Wrong, and with yet another lonely Christmas looming, she decides it's time to alter the equation - and seek out someone who seems totally wrong for her. Eureka! The heart is a genius...

Fun story. Maggie is tired of her bad luck in finding Mr. Right and with the encouragement of her sister, decides to have some fun with a Mr. Wrong instead. When she discovers that the man in charge of renovating the office where she works is her old high school crush, she feels she has found the perfect candidate.

I loved Maggie. She's the stereotypical nerd, brilliant at her chemistry work but awkward in social situations. When she gets nervous, she spouts all kinds of scientific trivia, which can be a little disconcerting at certain times. Jacob is concentrating on getting the job done so he can get paid with the bonus and then get out of town to visit his family. He noticed Maggie early on, attracted to her without recognizing his old classmate. Their first encounter was funny and hot as they went from awkward to steamy in a hurry. Maggie keeps trying to convince both of them that it is a one time thing, but they can't leave each other alone. I especially liked seeing how easily Jacob saw past Maggie's awkwardness and liked what he saw.

There's also some mystery going on, that has Maggie's office being searched, her tires slashed, and her house searched. Jacob is determined to keep her safe. It's pretty obvious who is behind it, but there is a twist to the end that I didn't see coming. 


Bah Handsome!

Behind on her bills, B&B owner Hope receives an unlikely guest - stranded solicitor Danny, who has been threatening to put her out of business. Funny how the holidays can bring people together no matter how much they resist...

Another fun story. Hope has had a really bad year. One ex-boyfriend broke her heart, and the next one stole her money. To make ends meet, she borrowed money from her stepbrother. Unfortunately for her, he's a heartless SOB, the loan is due in three weeks, and he won't give her an extension. Instead, he's sent his CPA, Danny, to make sure she pays up.

Danny didn't want to come, doesn't approve of what his boss is doing. He tried to talk Hope out of signing the loan paperwork, but she wouldn't listen to him. She's not happy to see him and he really can't blame her, but he really wants to help her. Unfortunately for him, he can't get her to listen to him.

I loved the interactions between Danny and Hope. There's a really strong attraction between them, but Hope is desperately trying to ignore it. Being from the city, Danny has no experience with things like frozen pipes and bears, so seeing his encounters with them was pretty funny. I loved the way that Hope called him "Genius Boy" and teased him about his reactions. I also enjoyed seeing how their attraction would get the better of them, and could understand Danny's frustration when Hope would push him away.

I thought Danny was a real sweetheart. It was pretty adorable when he tried to protect her from the bears. I also loved the scene when he tried to save her from the "earthquake" while just - almost - wearing a towel. It was great to see how getting away from her stepbrother made him realize just what had been happening to him, and that he was ready for a change. The phone conversation with Edward was really great.

I must admit that I got very frustrated with Hope and how she refused to even listen to Danny when he offered to help her. She's in deep trouble and she knows it, but her pride won't let her accept anything from him. I loved seeing her friend Lori keep pushing them together. It was also the mark of a true friend when she told Hope what an idiot she was being at the end. The final scene was very satisfying.


Ms. Humbug

Born rebel or overgrown man child, Matt is the kind of man no woman can tame--until an unexpected encounter with his nemesis, Cami, at the office holiday party proves there is an exception to every rule.

Fun opposites attract story. Matt and Cami have worked together in the past, but usually end up on opposite sides of the issues. Now, thanks to a rash of scandals, Matt has gone from councilman to mayor and is trying to bring back the town's reputation. Matt is the kind of guy that everyone likes, easy to get along with, fun loving, and really good looking. 

Cami is just the opposite. She is a workaholic who has to be in control of every aspect of her life. That tight control tends to turn men off, so it's been awhile since her last relationship. She's gone out with a coworker a few times, but it has been pretty platonic. She's hoping to get a bit further with him at the office Christmas party, until she spots his shoes along with a pair of women's shoes in the ladies room at work.

Then, in a comedy of errors, Cami and Matt have a confrontation that has her convinced that he was the one in the ladies room. Encountering each other at the masked Christmas party, Cami mistakes Matt for Ned and they share a scorching hot kiss, which makes Cami mad when she discovers the truth. She can't deny the way he made her feel, and Matt is equally surprised by her effect on him. 

I loved seeing the way that Matt was determined to pursue the attraction between them. He was amazingly sensitive to her needs for a man with the reputation of a playboy and Cami wasn't sure how to deal with it. I loved the way that he appreciated how smart she was, and that she didn't back down when she was trying to make a point. I also liked how he tried to get her to relax and have some fun. Cami discovered that Matt was the only one who could make her want to give up the tight control she kept on herself. I really enjoyed the scene in her office when she really let go.

I also enjoyed the way they worked together on the office mystery of who was behind all the scandal revelations. As they worked their way through all the possibilities, their differing ways of looking at things meshed well. The guilty party wasn't really much of a surprise, as they were the one with the most access. I loved seeing how the confrontation went down, and the effect it had on Cami. 

Bidding on Her Boss - Rachel Bailey (HD #2399 - Sept 2015)

Series: Hawke Brothers (Book 2)

Florist Faith Crawford has a brilliant plan -- win her company's CEO at a bachelor auction and use their "date" to show him her designs. But her plan backfires when the focus of their meeting shifts from flowers to a floor-tilting kiss.

For Dylan Hawke, it's time for damage control. Promoting the talented Faith is a no-brainer, but fraternizing with her is strictly forbidden. Dylan must remain professional -- the fate of his business rests in the balance. Too bad Dylan won't rest until he gets another kiss…

Very good book. Faith is a talented florist who works for Hawke's Blooms. She's been trying to get one of her designs into the company catalog, but has met resistance from her manager. So she decides to bid on CEO Dylan Hawke at a charity auction and use their date to show him what she can do. She doesn't expect the attraction that flares up between them.

Dylan is the youngest of the Hawke brothers and the one known for being a bit of a playboy. With his older brother about to marry a princess (The Nanny Proposition) he feels that it is time to change his reputation. He starts by offering himself as one of the bachelors for his new sister-in-law's charity auction. He notices "Faith Sixty-three" as soon as she starts bidding on him and is looking forward to their date - until he discovers that she works for him. 

I loved the auction. Dylan isn't really comfortable doing it, but it says a lot about him that he was willing to put himself through it to help out Jenna. It was fun to see him rooting for Faith to be the winner. The zing of attraction has him really looking forward to their date. His disappointment the next day, when he discovered she's an employee, was deep. I also loved his initial confusion over just what it was she wanted. I liked Faith and how she found a way to go after what she wants. All she's looking for is an honest chance to get her work looked at. She wasn't expecting to want Dylan in a personal way, and she fought it. She knows the company policy also. When their first "date" doesn't go as expected, she's determined to try again, but the after effects of the unexpected kiss they shared are hard to ignore. I loved her reaction to the promotion she was offered and how she made Dylan understand her point of view.

It was great to see the way that Dylan began to understand Faith and what she was really looking for. I loved the way that he introduced her to his brother Liam, and the doors that opened for her. Because of the company policy against fraternization, they tried very hard to keep things professional, but it was a losing battle. I loved seeing the way that they were able to share parts of their pasts with each other, and how they got closer because of it. But when her emotions started getting involved, Faith panicked.

Because of events in her past, Faith doesn't trust that anyone she cares about will stay in her life. She's afraid that the same thing will happen with Dylan, so she pulls away first. I hurt for him, because he had put his feelings out there, but he had also missed doing some things that would make her believe in him. A kick in the seat from his brothers made him see where he went wrong. I loved the ending and seeing Dylan's "go big" moment and how Faith reacted.

I really enjoyed the background of the flower business and seeing some of the behind the scenes things. I loved Dylan's recounting of how the business began and the parts he and his brothers played when they were younger. The story of the new flower and the things that went into its launch were really interesting. I also enjoyed the relationship the brothers had with each other. It was fun to see them give Dylan a hard time, but they were there to support him when he needed them. I'm really looking forward to Adam's story.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Coming Home to a Cowboy - Sheri Whitefeather (HSE #2429 - Sept 2015)

Series: Family Renewal (Book 4)

The Secret That Tamed Him?

Renowned horse trainer Kade Quinn has always been hard to pin down. But when the wealthy drifter discovers he has a son, and that beautiful Bridget Wells is the child's mother, it's time for a major rethink of his priorities. This time, he's ready to be there for his found family and let himself fall for Bridget all over again.

But Kade ran once. Can Bridget risk a replay? She's on the fence about trusting this still irresistible man, but boy, it feels good to come home to a cowboy, and a father for her child…

Good book. Kade was surprised to get a call from Bridget telling him that they'd had a child together years earlier. He wasn't too happy that she'd kept him a secret for ten years and is determined to become part of his son's life. He's not quite sure how he'll do it.

Kade is a man who has never wanted to put down roots. His job as a horse trainer takes him all over the country and that is fine with him. He has also never had a permanent relationship. His parents' marriage hadn't been a good one, and their example had left him unwilling to attempt one of his own. He had never forgotten the week he spent with Bridget and was looking forward to seeing her again, but he isn't sure what she expects from him.

Bridget had not planned to tell him about Cody, but when her son started asking questions about him, she felt she had no choice. Bridget's father had been a traveling man also, one who eventually quit visiting at all. She didn't want that to happen to her son. She's cautious about allowing Kade into Cody's life.

As soon as they saw each other again, they realized that they had another problem. The attraction between them is as strong as it had been all those years ago. At first they really try to fight it. Kade reminds her that he isn't one to settle down, and Bridget is just as adamant against getting involved with someone like her father. But love of their son draws them closer to each other and resisting gets harder. Kade is finding it more and more difficult to think of spending long periods away from Bridget and Cody. I loved seeing the way that he drew them into his family. The trip to California was wonderful. It was really sweet to see the way that Kade planned that special evening for he and Bridget. She was falling further for him, but still afraid to trust what was happening. When the connection between them deepened, Kade panicked and did a couple things that reinforced Bridget's fears. I loved seeing what Kade did to show Bridget that he had changed. I especially loved the way he involved Cody. I have to admit that I saw his solution coming earlier in the book, but it didn't make it any less satisfying.

I liked the secondary characters also. Cody was a lot of fun to watch as he got to know Kade. I really liked the part with the mess that he and his friend made, which seemed like typical behavior for his age. Bridget's grandmother was really funny. I liked the way she saw what was happening between Bridget and Kade and predicted that they'd be together within a month. It took me a little longer to warm up to Bridget's mother because she was so pessimistic about Kade, but I liked her at the end. I really liked seeing Kade's brother Tanner (The Bachelor's Baby Dilemma) again and catching up on what is happening with them. I also liked seeing his sister and how she is progressing. I hope that she gets a story of her own.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Agent to the Rescue - Lisa Childs (HI #1592 - Sept 2015)

Series: Special Agents at the Altar (Book 3)

A bride on the run…and a killer on the prowl…

When FBI special agent Dalton Reyes discovers an amnesiatic injured bride in the trunk of a car, his protective instincts kick into high gear. Who is this mysterious redhead? And why is someone going to such great lengths to kill her? When a man claiming to be her fiancé steps forward, Dalton can't ignore his jealousy…and his fear that that her betrothed isn't who he seems. But as Elizabeth -- his beautiful charge -- faces the dark truth of her past, Dalton must keep her and her two-year-old adopted daughter safe from the evil forces determined to reclaim them both…

Good book. It started with plenty of action and kept up the pace throughout. Dalton is serving as best man in a friend and fellow agent's wedding (Agent Undercover) when he gets a call about a case he's been working on. Since the ceremony is over he takes off to see if he can catch the perp. Instead of the car theft ring he expects to find, he discovers a woman dressed in a bridal gown in the trunk of the car. Thanks to a blow to the head, she can't remember anything about what happened or who she is. It's believed she could be a near victim of a serial killer who preys on brides. But whoever she is, Dalton's determined to protect her.

Elizabeth has no idea what happened to her, but there's something about Dalton that makes her trust him. Each additional attempt on her life draws her closer to him. Even when a man who says he is her fiance comes forward, it doesn't feel right to her. He does provide her with news that brings a few of her memories back, including those of the little girl she is now guardian of. She'll do anything to keep Lizzie safe. I loved seeing how much she believed in Dalton and his ability to protect them. She also realized that she felt far more for Dalton than she ever had for her fiance. It was great to see her show Dalton over and over how much she cared for him.

Dalton is a man who was sure that no woman would ever tempt him into a permanent relationship. His past is too rough for him to feel worthy of that kind of love. He had grown up on the streets of Chicago, been a gang member before moving to the right side of the law. But there is something about Elizabeth that he can't keep himself from caring about. I loved seeing how protective he was, to the point of even taking her with him to follow up on leads, rather than leaving her with another agent. The appearance of her fiance created a fair amount of jealousy in him, and he doesn't think that the man deserves her, but he also doesn't believe that he is good enough either. His lack of confidence almost lets him walk away, until his friends talk some sense into him. I loved his big moment at the end.

The mystery of who was trying to kill Elizabeth was very well done. From the initial belief of a serial killer to the final conclusion, my interest never wavered. I loved Dalton's determination to get to the truth, and all the steps taken to get there. As the clues began to pile up, I especially liked his conviction that there was no such thing as a coincidence. As the attempts of Elizabeth's life increased in number and intensity, I started to suspect who might be behind them. The final confrontation was really intense and I wondered just how they were going to get through it.


Friday, August 28, 2015

The Rebel Daughter - Lauri Robinson (HH #1250 - Sept 2015)

Series: Daughters of the Roaring Twenties (Book 3)

For every wild child…

No more watching from the sidelines for Twyla Nightingale: her feet are firmly on the dance floor! She won't let anyone sour the delicious taste of freedom -- especially not Forrest Reynolds, back in town after all this time.

…there's a guy who thinks she's the bee's knees.

Forrest didn't expect a warm welcome from the Nightingale sisters, not after their lives had been so dramatically upturned. But seeing the challenge in Twyla's eyes, Forrest takes this rebel for a wild dance she won't forget!

Very good book, and one I liked even better than the previous book. Twyla is the second daughter and the one with the rebellious personality. In the last several years she's gotten very tired of her father's and older sister's overprotective tendencies and has done everything she can to break out. She's snuck out to boxing matches and run a kissing booth. It's only recently that her older sister has started to allow Twyla and Josie to help with the resort events and she isn't going to let anything stop her now. That includes Forrest Reynolds, who come back to town after five years away.

Forrest had left before the Nightingale resort had become a big business. He had been friends with Twyla and her sisters since they were children, until a flu epidemic killed their mother and his little brother. Forrest's father blamed her for the death of his son and began making threats against them, especially as the girls got older and prettier. Forrest thought it would be better if he left town rather than provide his father with more fuel for his hate. He didn't know the effect his departure had on Twyla, and there ended up being more to his leaving than she knew about.

Forrest's father is also guilty of some really bad things, and Twyla's father,though no angel himself, has the contacts to get him arrested. Once he's in prison, Forrest returns to take over the property. He doesn't really want to do it, as his interests lie in flying, but he feels responsible for it. He doesn't expect to be welcomed by the sisters, thanks to the way he left, but seeing Twyla again has him wondering what might be possible.

Twyla had had a crush on Forrest before he left, but thought he was in love with her sister. Now that he's back, she's afraid he'll try to break up her sister's romance, as she's convinced he's still in love with her. Meanwhile, she's even more attracted to him now that she was before. Forrest tries to convince her that he has no interest in Norma Rose, but she's not buying it. The sister that he's really interested in is Twyla herself, but he doesn't want to put her in danger by pursuing her. I loved seeing his fascination with her and how it becomes too hard for him to resist her. I really loved the part where he took her flying. It was also wonderful to see how well he understood her when the flight was followed by a confrontation with Norma Rose and he was able to make her see how best to deal with her sister. Their feelings for each other continue to grow stronger, but both of them have some baggage from their past that they will have to deal with first. Twyla's attempt to help him nearly ruins everything, and some of the things he says to her hurt her a lot. I ached for her as she tried to accept the end of their relationship. I loved seeing Forrest kicking himself for being an idiot and letting his fears get in the way. His moment at the end was sweet and romantic and I loved seeing how it worked out.

There's a mystery running throughout the book regarding Forrest's father and what he had really been into. Word has come that he will begetting out of prison soon, and Forrest is worried about what sort of revenge he might take on the Nightingales. I liked seeing how Forrest enlisted Roger's and Ty's help and tried to keep Twyla out of it. Twyla, of course, refuses to be left out, and gets more deeply involved as the book goes on. When the truth about Galen Reynolds' activities comes out, Forrest and Twyla end up in serious danger. I loved the excitement and intensity of how they handled it, and seeing how well Forrest and Twyla worked together. The resolution was quite satisfying all around. There was an interesting twist revealed by Forrest's mother, and I was a bit disappointed that it wasn't resolved by the end of the book. 

A Novel Seduction - Gwyn Cready (Pocket - Oct 2011)

When snobbish book critic Ellery Sharpe screws up at Vanity Place magazine, her boss assigns her the ultimate punishment: write an ode to romance novels, a genre she considers the literary equivalent of word search puzzles. To make matters worse, he hires her former party-boy ex, Axel Mackenzie, to shoot the photos. Axel knows the magazine will double his fee if he convinces strong-willed Ellery to make the story positive. But getting Ellery to fall for romance novels might be just the push she needs to believe people can change . . . even him. At his sister's advice, Axel gives Ellery a copy of Kiltlander, a much-adored romance whose warrior hero is utterly irresistible. To her dismay, Ellery finds herself secretly falling in love with the story -- and with Axel, who's drawing his own lessons from the book's compelling hero. With her carefully crafted image crumbling and her dream job on the line, will Ellery risk it all to make the leap from tight-lipped literati to happily-ever-after heroine?

What a fun book. Ellery is the book critic we all love to hate - the one who puts down romance novels and those who read them. At the start of the book, she has written a scathing review of the memoir of a romance publisher. Unknown to her, her boss is sleeping with said romance publisher and he is not happy with what she wrote, as it has put him in an awkward spot with his lover. He decides that the only way to fix it is to have Ellery write another story, this one from the other side of the issue. 

Ellery is not happy about this assignment. She had other plans for her next article, one that would put her on the top of the list for a new job. This one is liable to make her a laughingstock in the business. To top it all off, her boss has assigned Ellery's ex as the photographer for the job. Alex really needs this job to work out. If he can get Ellery to do the job right, he'll get a bonus that will enable him to make a move into his own dream job. So he gets some advice from his sister and a bookstore clerk on books that will convert Ellery to a romance lover.

This is where it really gets fun. The books he picks are a Regency style historical romance, a Twilight style vampire novel published by the maligned memoir writer, and a wildly popular book called Kiltlander. Ellery starts out with her nose stuck firmly in the air, but thanks to Axel and some location work, her opinion slowly begins to change. Axel also takes the opportunity to show Ellery that their feelings for each other are still there. There are some flashbacks to their previous relationship, showing what was right and what eventually went wrong. Parts of the story told from Axel's point of view show that he's changed and wants another chance with her.

Their trip starts with a visit to a bar set up like a location from the vampire novel. Ellery has read some of it with her prejudices still firmly in place. Thanks to a little too much to drink, she finds herself slipping into the story, and behaving in a very uncharacteristic manner. Ellery's inhibitions get crushed by the alcohol and a need to show Axel that she can still have fun. I loved seeing Axel try to take care of her while at the same time trying to make his own dream come true. The attraction between them starts to flare back to life, but Ellery resists.

From there, they travel to London, setting of the historical romance. Ellery has read some of this one also, and surprises herself when she begins to enjoy it. They hit up some of the locations, one of which brings up some dark memories for Ellery. She's stunned by the depth of the emotions it has brought forth, and Axel's attempts to comfort her. There are some guilty feelings that also come out, having to do with something from their past, and she has to decide how to deal with them. There's a really funny scene in the hotel room as she and Axel "discuss" some of the descriptions of lovemaking in the book. That evening she has a meeting with a romance book club, another eye opening experience for her attitude toward romances. Kiltlander is the book under discussion, and the similarities to Outlander are obvious. I loved seeing Ellery's responses to the things she's reading and hearing, but she's still fighting hard to keep her original attitude. It is here that Ellery's future and Axel's past collide, in the person of Ellery's competition for the new job. Axel's feelings being what they are, he tries to protect Ellery, and ends up getting himself into trouble with her because of it.

Their final destination is Scotland, to speak with a sociologist about romance novels. This lady also lives near one of the iconic locations for Kiltlander, giving Axel and Ellery more chances to connect with the story. Her conversation with the sociologist batters away at her prejudices. In spite of her growing appreciation for romances, Ellery is still fighting against writing the required article because of the effect it could have on her job opportunity. Her attempt at a compromise article is a disaster and causes problems with her boss, Axel and the potential new boss. I loved seeing how Ellery finally sees the light and what she does about it.

I loved the resurrection of the relationship between Axel and Ellery. Through the flashbacks we saw that they were not really ready for the strength of their feelings. Axel is older than Ellery and set in his bachelor party animal ways. He cares for her, but he's not prepared to change his lifestyle. Ellery is still fairly young and idealistic. She has her plans for her future and wants Axel to be part of it. But something happens that shows her that maybe he doesn't feel the same way and she starts to pull away, eventually breaking off the relationship. Six years later, forced to work together, they will also have to face their pasts. Axel has had a life changing event that shows him that it is time to make major changes. He knows what he wants them to be, he just has to find a way to make it happen. His work with Ellery could be part of it. He also wants Ellery back in his life, but he's not sure how to make it happen. I loved seeing him reading the romances and trying to use the heroes as role models, though he is also confused by some of the things he sees as contradictions. It looks like he's making good progress until something happens that makes him question whether he knows her at all. Ellery is fighting her feelings for Axel from the beginning. The attraction is still there, but she doesn't want to risk her heart again. She isn't convinced that he has changed. But the more time they are together, the more she wants to give in. She starts to think that she hadn't been fair to him all those years ago, and when he steps up to help her with a problem with her sister, she finally admits her feelings. I loved the ending and how everything worked out for them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tamed - HelenKay Dimon (HI #1585 - Aug 2015)

Series: Corcoran Team: Bulletproof Bachelors (Book 3)

SHE WAS OFF-LIMITS UNTIL HER LIFE WAS ON THE LINE…

Agent Shane Baker has denied his attraction to his best friend's younger sister for years. But when computer guru Makena Kingston's latest online investigation stirs up a series of break-ins, Shane isn't about to let the vulnerable beauty fend for herself. Makena refuses to be seen as anything but the alpha male's equal…even as she finds comfort in his protective arms. But soon they uncover the threat to Makena is closer than either of them expected. With Shane's bodyguard instincts on overdrive, he knows keeping his professional distance will be nearly impossible. Because even the most highly trained operative has his breaking point.

Excellent conclusion to the Corcoran Team series. Shane is the last of the unattached team members. He expects to stay that way, as his family history stinks when it comes to relationships, plus he's already failed at marriage once. The only bright side to his life is his friendship with his best friend's younger sister. He refuses to admit to himself that he feels more than friendship. 

Makena has been in love with Shane for years, but she hasn't been able to get him to notice her. She keeps hoping and trying. When the book starts, she's invited him to dinner, as she often does. While she's waiting, she sees her neighbor's house broken into. One of the men sees her looking and comes after her. She's fighting back but losing when Shane arrives and rescues her. A search of the attacker reveals that Makena, not her neighbor, was the target, sending Shane into protector mode.

It doesn't take long for Shane to get Makena to admit that she works for a website that exposes people who lie about their military service. Some of those people don't take it well, and Makena seems to be the focus of their rage. But as Shane and the other members of the team try to find out who is responsible, the attacks escalate. The more information they uncover, the more complicated things become. There were several people it could be. The final confrontation was intense, with a bit of a twist as to who was behind it and why.

I loved seeing Shane and Makena together. Once Shane is forced into bodyguard mode, it brings his feelings roaring to the surface. He tried to fight it, but with Makena determined to take advantage, he didn't have a chance. One of the things I really liked about Shane, was that even while protecting her he didn't try to coddle her or hide things from her. He showed her that he believed in her. At the same time, Makena was trying to show Shane that he can be loved in a lasting way, and that his past doesn't have to affect his future. He has his moments of doubt at the end, but does come through it. It was really fun to see the other team members giving Shane a hard time, because they've always known his feelings for Makena. The only thing missing was getting to see the actual conversation between Holt and Shane. I did love the ending.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Kansas City Secrets - Julie Miller (HI #1582 - Aug 2015)

Series: Precinct: Cold Case (Book 2)

This was one cold case a hard-nosed detective had every intention of solving…with or without a beautiful victim's help…

Six years ago Rosie March's fiancé was murdered. Now someone is stalking her, intent on stopping her memories of the murder from being revealed. And Detective Max Krolikowski, her protector, only wants her alive for the truth she might be hiding.

But Max is hiding his own secrets, such as the acute PTSD the ex-solder lives with. As part of Kansas City's Cold Case Squad, the officer's work should have been simply investigative. But with his potential key witness's life jeopardized, he must keep her safe at any cost. And keep himself from falling for a woman who could be a true innocent…or a killer waiting to strike again.

Very good book that held my attention from the very beginning. It opens with Rosie talking to her brother about the murder he had committed years ago, when he killed Gabe Knight's fiancee (Kansas City Cover-Up). He claims he did it to protect her, which would indicate that it may somehow be linked to her fiance, though we don't know what that connection may be. 

Rosie herself was considered to be the most likely suspect in her fiance's murder, as he had been very abusive to her. But no proof was ever found so she wasn't charged. Now the KCPD has reopened the case, thanks to the possible connection to the other murder. To make matters worse, someone has been leaving threatening messages for her, claiming that she will pay for Richard's murder.

Max and his partner were sent to question Rosie, and it did not go well. Max is not the smoothest of men on his best day, and this was not one of those. He's got preconceived ideas of who she is and what she is like, and is all but convinced she's guilty without even talking to her. That day is also the anniversary of the death of a friend, one he feels responsible for, so he isn't in a very good mood. He and Rosie butt heads from the moment she answers the door, and she isn't inclined to cooperate with him. I really enjoyed their confrontation, because Max is used to people backing down in the face of his moods, yet Rosie gets in his face instead. Max and Trent leave having gotten nowhere, and Max goes off to be miserable on his own. 

But when Rosie's stalker strikes again, this time causing damage to her home, Rosie goes looking for Max. The police have been no help to her before, but she appeals to Max's military honor. She calls on him as the daughter of another Army vet, and asks for his help that way. What neither expects is the attraction that flares between them. As the attacks on Rosie escalate, Max becomes convinced that she is innocent after all, and is determined to protect her.

I loved seeing these two opposites come together. Rosie is the quiet, ladylike woman who calls Max out on his foul mouth and rough manners, but who also has a passionate side that has been well buried. Max is a blunt-spoken man with a past that haunts him, but who is also amazingly sensitive to Rosie's fears. There was a protective side to Max that Rosie brought out in him, one that really surprised him. There were several times when he was really sweet in the way he treated her. At the same time, Max's blunt honesty helped show Rosie that there was a passionate woman inside her, one that he appreciated. I loved how he gave her the confidence to go after what she wanted from him. I also liked seeing her help Max deal with his ghosts, and show him that he's far better than he believes. I loved seeing them come together in the end, accepting each other's flaws, and loving each other in spite of and because of them.

I really liked following along as Max, Rosie and his team worked to find out who was stalking her and if there was a connection to her fiance's murder. There were several possibilities, and each one was equally strong. It was very interesting to see how one lead would create a link to something else that hadn't been suspected before. One connection was not too much of a surprise, but the final confrontation contained a twist that I didn't see coming. There was also an assist from a surprising source at the end and I'm looking forward to learning more about that.

Welcome Back to Apple Grove - C.H. Admirand (Sourcebooks Casablanca - Dec 2013)

Series: Apple Grove (Book 3)

There's No Place Like Home...

Grace Mulcahy thought she'd finally gotten Apple Grove, Ohio, out of her system. Then she's lured back for a family barbecue and spies a broad-shouldered hottie hanging out at the grill. He somehow seems utterly at ease, whether flipping burgers or horsing around with her hellion nephews. Why didn't her brother-in-law tell her he had such gorgeous friends? Suddenly her mouth is watering for more than her best friend's famous pie.

Some fires aren't meant to be fought

When firefighter Pat Garahan sees Grace, it's like a five-alarm bell goes off and he's the one ablaze. She says she wants to leave Apple Grove, but he will do whatever it takes to keep her around. The life of a firefighter isn't an easy one though, and he'll have to prove their immediate spark can have a lasting chance at love..

I loved this book. This author does a lovely job of making these characters feel very real. Grace grew up in Apple Grove, but had moved away a couple years ago, pursuing her dream of working in the city instead of her small town. She visits her family occasionally, but she's happy where she is. Then on one visit home she sees her brother-in-law's friend Pat Garahan again, and suddenly home is looking a whole lot better.

Pat moved to Ohio from New York to try to escape the memories of something that happened to him on the job. He's done pretty well at suppressing them, but has never really dealt with them. He's made some good friends and is pretty content with his life. Seeing Grace again hits him hard, and he's suddenly seeing something entirely different in his future.

I loved seeing the way that Grace's friends and family decided that they were going to play matchmaker between Grace and Pat. They were all certain that they were perfect for each other and it turned out they were right. There were sparks that flew between them from the beginning, and fortunately both were willing to see where it might lead. Grace is a little cautious at first because she finds it hard to believe that Pat is truly attracted to her. She has gained some weight since she moved away and it has caused some issues with her self confidence. Her cheating ex-boyfriend added to those problems. I loved Pat's honest appreciation of her curves and how he had no trouble making sure she knew it. 

While their connection started out as attraction, it swiftly deepened into something more. They take the time to get to know each other, with Grace taking vacation time to extend her visit at home. This lets her and Pat spend time together and figure out how to move their relationship forward. I loved the way that Grace had seen so much promise in Pat, with the way that he is so comfortable with her niece and nephews. She also sees that there is something that is wrong, and worries about their chances if he won't open up to her. With the amount of time that Pat has spent around his friends' families, he has come to realize that he wants that for himself. It doesn't take long for him to realize that Grace is exactly what he is looking for. But he was hurt in the past when the woman he loved walked away when he needed her most, and he is afraid that the same thing could happen again.

There were so many wonderful emotional moments in this book. Grace faces the facts that while she loves being in the city, it hasn't really lived up to her expectations. She misses her home and family more than she expected and has to decide if she wants to come back home. There were fun times with her family and friends. She also had some scary moments as a result of helping a friend. I loved seeing her deal with her dad and the family business, and the realization of where she is truly happy. But mostly I loved seeing her fall for Pat and want to be the woman that he needs. Pat has his own ups and downs. I loved his happiness when he's around his friends and their families, and how it brings back memories of happy times with his own family. There are fun moments, such as his assistance to Grace's father, Joe, in hiding some "evidence". But there are also some really heartbreaking times, when Pat's past rears up and causes him problems. He's caught in a vicious circle of wanting to share with Grace, but being afraid she'll leave if he does. I seeing his friends rally around him and finally able to get through to him. Grace's refusal to give up on him makes it the perfect ending.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Sinful - Joan Johnston (Dell - May 2015)

Series: Bitter Creek (Book 14)

WHILE HE SEEKS A HAVEN,
SHE SEARCHES FOR A PLACE TO CALL HOME

After a tragic accident leaves Delta sergeant Connor Flynn a widower, he faces the toughest fight of his life: battling his in-laws for custody of his two young children. To win he’ll need a make-believe bride to take care of the kids while he runs his Wyoming ranch. Who better than a woman he already knows and likes -- his late wife’s best friend?

Ruthlessly forced from her home by her powerful father, King Grayhawk, Eve needs somewhere to go . . . and so does the herd of wild mustangs she’s rescued. Connor’s offer sounds like the answer to a prayer. But Eve has a guilty secret she’s guarded for years: She’s always been in love with Connor.

Now forced to live under the same roof as her heart’s desire, Eve must hide the love that has never died, while Connor vows to resist his growing need for a woman who was forbidden fruit during his marriage. Can two lonely people set adrift by fate and haunted by guilt find redemption in the healing embrace of love?

Very good book and story of a second chance at love. Connor and Eve come from two feuding families. Eve's father had been married to Connor's aunt until she died of a drug overdose. Connor's father blamed Eve's father for the death and their feud carried over to their children. Connor and his brothers (the Wild Flynn Boys) and Eve and her sisters (King's Brats) spent a lot of time as they were growing up pulling pranks on each other. One prank the Eve pulled on Connor ended up with him dating and then marrying her best friend Molly. 

During his last tour in Afghanistan, Connor's wife was killed in an accident. Molly's parents took care of Connor's two kids until he came home, but then refused to give custody back to Connor. Strangely enough, it is testimony from Eve, who is also the kids' godmother, that results in Connor's success. But his kids don't know him any more, so he has to call on Eve for help getting the children settled. When it looks like he's going to need more than expected, he makes Eve an offer she can't refuse - marry him and she can have it all.

Eve is a wildlife photographer and recently rescued a herd of wild mustangs, which are currently living on her father's ranch. Thanks to the return of her estranged half brother, Eve is about to lose her home and a place to keep her horses. When Connor offers her a place for herself and her horses in exchange for her help, she can't say no. She loves his kids as if they were her own and will do anything for them.

But both Eve and Connor have a secret. Eve has been in love with Connor since they were in school, but because of their families she had never acted on it. Then he was married to her best friend, making him even more off limits. Now that Molly is gone, Eve feels guilty about being able to act on those feelings. Connor had also had feelings for Eve back during high school. He'd gone out with Molly to teach Eve a lesson, but over the next couple years had actually grown to love her. He was happy in his marriage, but there had always been something about Eve, even though he never acted on it. Now that there's no barrier between them, he has to fight his own guilty feelings. 

I really liked the way that they both admitted their attraction to each other, even though they weren't quite ready to admit their feelings at first. They had the maturity to talk to each other about it. The chemistry between them was hot, and they were very willing to give in to it, even though fate seemed to make them work for it. They also get to know each other very well outside the bedroom. Eve helps Connor to deal with some of his memories of the war and supports his work with veterans on the ranch. Connor understands Eve's love of her photography work, and what she wants to have happen with her horses. I loved how they grew to trust each other with their hearts, and wanting what was best for the other person. I loved seeing the surprise each one had for the other at the end, and how those surprises came about.

As the first book in this part of the series, there's quite a bit of time spent on set up. The book started with Eve's father, King, finding his estranged son and working to get him to come back to Wyoming. There must be reasons for what he did, but the results make him even more unlikable. His son, Matt, is another man who seems cold and selfish, especially regarding his half sisters and what's to happen to them. I'm looking forward to finding out more about what caused their rift. Then there is Connor's father and brothers, who have their own parts in the drama. His father's actions when Connor married Eve were manipulative, and I loved seeing Connor stand up to him. Angus also seem to have some kind of revenge plot going on that will affect the Grayhawks. There are also some extra tensions between one of his brothers and one of Eve's sisters that I am looking forward to finding out more about. There also seems to be some mystery involving Connor's brother Devon. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series to see how all of these play out.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lone Star Baby - Cathy Gillen Thacker (HAR #1561 - Sept 2015)

Series: McCabe Multiples (Book 5)

PRACTICE MADE PERFECT

Suddenly finding herself a foster parent to an infant girl definitely shakes things up for Doctor Violet McCabe. Especially because her attractive and pragmatic colleague, Doctor Gavin Monroe, is little Ava's co-guardian. Gavin has doubts about the arrangement, but idealistic Violet is certain they can work together to care for Ava while they find the perfect adoptive family.

Gavin secretly crushed on sexy, irrepressible Violet for years, but after losing her fiancé, Violet's heart was impenetrable. Ava changes everything. For once, Violet is ready to embrace the unpredictable…maybe even love. But Gavin fears he's not the father Ava needs or the man Violet deserves. In their search for a perfect home for Ava, will Violet and Gavin miss that the best family for her is the one they've already created?

Sweet story. After the death of a former patient, Gavin and Violet find themselves named as foster parents for a newborn baby girl. They've been coworkers and friends for awhile, but this is something entirely different. The question is whether they can co-parent the baby without getting emotionally involved with her or each other. Violet is certain they can, Gavin is not so sure.

Violet came home to Laramie to work in the hospital there, after she lost her fiance to cancer. She's put her heart and soul into her work and avoided any kind of personal relationships until little Ava worked her way past Violet's walls and into her heart. Added to the attraction she feels for Gavin, Violet's life has gotten very complicated. She started out convinced that the best thing for Ava was to find the perfect set of adoptive parents for her, but was soon dreaming of making Ava her own. Having a pseudo-family with the three of them has her wishing it could be real.

Gavin came home to work in the hospital in order to be closer to his family. He's carrying some guilty feelings over not having been there enough after their parents were killed just as he was starting medical school. Being named as guardian for Ava just reinforces his fears that he doesn't have what it takes to be emotionally responsible for another human being. He's determined to keep things practical while they search for the perfect family for Ava. He doesn't count on falling for the little girl himself. 

I loved seeing the connection between Gavin and Violet and how it grew. Gavin had been attracted to Violet for awhile, but saw that her grief for her fiance wasn't letting her move on. Being forced into close proximity with her gave him the chance to show her what she was missing. Unknown to him, Violet had finally reached the point where she was ready to move on. Her attraction to Gavin gives her the perfect stepping off point. They first agree that they will have a "fling" for as long as they are caring for Ava, but soon realize that they don't really want it to end. I loved seeing how quickly they became a family. Ava has brought them together and shown them how much love they have to give, both her and each other, but they have to be willing to accept it.

But they have a big obstacle between them to overcome. Violet is ready to open her heart and take a risk again, to keep Ava and raise her, even without Gavin by her side. Gavin refuses to believe that he has what it takes to give Ava everything she needs and insists that giving her up is the best thing to do. I loved seeing Violet stand up for what she wants and what she needs from Gavin, finally putting her past behind her. Gavin takes a bit longer and it takes a pretty straight conversation with his younger brother to show him the truth. His actions at the end are quite romantic and sweet for a guy who considers himself pragmatic. The epilogue was a nice glimpse at their future.

I liked the inclusion of the issues Gavin and his family were having with his younger brother Nicholas. It was a good way to show the effect of his parents' deaths on all of them, and how each dealt with it. Nicholas's actions showcased the changes that Gavin was going through thanks to Violet's influence. My only problem with the story was with Violet's parents. In each book of this series I have been very disappointed in their attitudes towards their daughters. They always seem to have poor opinions of the girls' abilities to make the right decisions regarding their relationships. I also felt that Violet's father crossed a line when he talked to Gavin, since he is also Gavin's boss. I know it works out in the end, but I'd rather see them supporting from the beginning.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Only on His Terms - Elizabeth Bevarly (HD #2400 - Sept 2015)

Series: Accidental Heirs (Book 1)

Meet Gracie Sumner, reluctant Cinderella. When the down-to-earth Midwesterner learns her deceptively humble neighbor left her fourteen billion-with-a-b dollars, she doesn't know what to do. Especially when said neighbor's shunned heir, Harrison Sage III, stakes his claim.

Harrison is not amused, especially when the quirky gold digger gets under his skin. How can the sophisticated New Yorker let himself be attracted to the woman who stole his father's fortune? Soon a contested will turns into a contest of wills -- one whose outcome could very well be determined in the bedroom!

Very good story. Gracie was stunned to discover that her neighbor was actually a very rich man who'd left her fourteen billion dollars in his will, with very specific instructions on what to do with it. Things got more complicated when his estranged son made his displeasure known.

Harrison is convinced that Gracie is a gold digger who conned his father out of his money, at least until he meets her. Then he's not sure what to think. She doesn't seem like the gold digger type, but what other explanation could there be?

There is a strong attraction between them from the beginning, but both try to resist it. Harrison doesn't trust her, and he's just too money oriented for her. Gracie is stuck in New York for awhile while things are finalized, and she ends up invited to stay at the home of Harrison and his mother. I loved seeing how that came about and Harrison's reaction to it. This begins a period of Harrison and Gracie getting to know each other.

Harrison grew up rich. For the first fifteen years of his life, his father was there, but not there. Harry the elder spent all his time working to make more money. The his father walked out on Harrison and his mother, disappearing from his life completely. Harrison followed in his father's footsteps, starting his own company and making boatloads of money of his own. He has a very cynical view of others, expecting everyone to be out for what they can get. Meeting Gracie completely confuses him. 

Gracie is wonderful. Her love of vintage clothing just adds to her uniqueness, and I loved her effect on Harrison. She is the type of person who sees the good in other people and has a deep desire to help those in trouble. It made her perfect for what Harry wanted. 

I loved seeing Gracie and Harrison showing each other the things each of them knows about Harry. Gracie had a hard time picturing the kind man she knew as a ruthless businessman. Then it was her turn to show Harrison the man she knew. I loved seeing her open Harrison's eyes to a whole different world. It was fun to see how her outlook on life began to change his. The dancing scene while they were in Cincinnati and how it pushed their attraction to each other over the top was wonderful. The heat and emotion they created that night was amazing. But the next morning, Harrison begins to panic over the intensity of what he felt, and when he finds out some information about Gracie, he confronts her about it. He makes the mistake of falling back into old habits and believing the worst, creating a rift between them. He knows he's being a jerk, but he can't seem to help himself. I loved seeing Gracie stand up for herself, even through the pain of what he says.

The ending is fantastic, with Harrison making amends in a really great way. I loved seeing how he changed. His words to Gracie were sweet, and he was so worried that she wouldn't forgive him. The epilogue was terrific and the perfect wrap up for the story.

Friday, August 21, 2015

One Night in Weaver... - Allison Leigh (HSE #2420 - Aug 2015)

Series: Return to the Double C (Book 10)

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER?

One night was all they'd had…or had they? Hayley Templeton prides herself on keeping a level head in life and love. But her recent passionate encounter with Seth Banyon turned her world upside down. Hayley knows she planted a kiss on the sexy security expert, but she can't even remember how much further that lip-lock went. This is one dilemma the psychologist can't analyze her way out of…

Seth has plenty of secrets that he doesn't need Hayley prying into -- least of all, what he's really doing in tiny Weaver, Wyoming. So he's got to get the irresistible woman out of his system…before he is tempted to make himself at home right there in her arms…

Good book,with good romance and a bit of mystery added in. Hayley is normally a level headed woman, but after dealing with some family stress she overindulged a bit at a local bar. There she encountered Seth Banyon, a man she's been noticing around town for several months. With the alcohol affecting her judgement, she ended up leaving with him, but ended the encounter hours later with no memory of what did or didn't happen.

Seth is in town, undercover as a security guard, but actually working for a local secret security company. He is among those watching a man suspected of killing his partners on a mission, but who is claiming to have amnesia. Seth isn't buying it, and wants the truth as the two dead men were friends of his. To determine whether the man really has amnesia, he is being treated by a local psychologist - Hayley. He's tempted to get closer to her to see if she'll spill anything about her patient, but knows that could create all kinds of problems. Unfortunately for him, he hasn't been able to get her off his mind. Another encounter with her just reinforces the attraction.

Hayley can't remember what happened that night, and is embarrassed about her behavior. This has caused her to avoid Seth, until they run into each other at a party for mutual friends. She finally faces up to him and resolves the issue, But this still leaves her with the attraction that is sizzling between them.

I loved seeing the relationship as it developed between them. Hayley tends to be a bit awkward around him, often saying things that don't come out quite right. But she really likes him and wants to get to know him better. Seth also wants to get closer to Hayley, and ignores his boss's orders to stay away from her until their prisoner is dealt with. Seth sees himself as a man who isn't truly worthy of Hayley, but he shows himself to be much better than he thinks. He's sweet with her grandmother, and sensitive to the problems that Hayley is having. He is also very protective of her, which is wonderful to see, but gets him in hot water with her and his boss. Hayley's feelings for Seth continue to grow, but she has trouble getting him to accept them. I loved seeing her stand up for what she feels. It takes a conversation with her grandmother for Seth to see that he has to deal with everything in his past before he can hope for a future with Hayley. I loved seeing the results of that and the difference it made to his whole outlook. His reunion with Hayley was really sweet.

I loved the story line with Hayley's grandmother. The old lady was a definite character with some really interesting viewpoints on a variety of subjects. It was really fun to watch her leave her reclusiveness behind, and seeing some of her antics was pretty funny. I loved the bits with the car, especially when she got Seth to drive it. I liked how she owned up to her mistakes and is trying to repair her relationships.

My only disappointment was feeling like the part with the prisoner was left hanging. I'm hoping that he will reappear later, since Hayley's friend seems intrigued by him.

Having Her Boss's Baby - Maureen Child (HD #2390 - Aug 2015)

Series: Pregnant by the Boss (Book 1)

Billionaire game designer Brady Finn's latest business plan doesn't include a feisty Irish lass who challenges him at every turn. But Aine Donovan, the stunning manager of the hotel he just purchased, is as determined to prevent Brady from ruining tradition as Brady is to have her in his bed. When a no-strings fling leads to an unexpected pregnancy, Aine runs from her sexy, stubborn boss. What Brady doesn't know won't hurt him, right? But Brady won't give up on claiming her -- and their child -- so easily…

Very good book. Brady and his two coworkers own a successful video game design company. They have decided to branch out and have bought a castle/hotel in Ireland. They plan to turn it into a themed hotel, based on one of their most successful games. To work as his liaison on the castle renovations, Brady has sent for the hotel manager to come to California and meet with him. Aine isn't sure what to expect from Brady. All she knows is that she won't allow him to turn a stately old castle into a tacky theme park. 

Sparks flew between Brady and Aine from the moment they met. Aine is a red-headed Irishwoman with a bit of a temper (reminded me of Maureen O'Hara) who wasn't real happy with the feeling that she's not getting any respect from him. Underlying those feelings was an intense physical attraction that she can't deny, but won't accept. She's got enough going with the hotel, starting something with her boss is a bad idea, and it couldn't go anywhere with the distance between them. Brady is just as attracted to her, and even more unhappy with the idea. He doesn't get involved with employees, and he sure as heck doesn't do relationships. 

Brady is a man who keeps tight control over his emotions. He's never had a family of his own and doesn't believe that he ever will. Having never experienced that kind of love, he believes himself incapable of feeling it. As he and Aine spend more time together, working on the plans for the hotel, he becomes more fascinated by her and can't keep her off his mind. The attraction intensifies, but he keeps trying to push her away, until the night neither can resist any longer. But the strength of the experience and what he feels for her sends Brady into a panic, causing him to say some things that aren't very nice. Aine has realized that she is in love with Brady, but it is a love that won't be returned. She sees that he is a good man who is capable of love but she is unable to convince him. She goes home to Ireland the next day, ready to move on with her life.

The pregnancy is a surprise, but she is thrilled to have that piece of Brady. After everything he said to her, she decides not to tell him about the baby, believing that he wouldn't care. Five months later, Brady shows up, supposedly to check on progress, but in reality because he's been unable to forget her. He's furious she didn't tell him about the baby, and determined to do the right thing. But Aine refuses to be an obligation. She doesn't want his money or his duty, all she wants is his love.

I loved seeing Brady get absorbed into Aine's world. It was great to see the cold and distant man disappear under the onslaught of Irish cheer and hospitality. As he works to get Aine to see his point of view, his actions show the changes he is going through, but he doesn't see it himself. The confrontation between Brady and Aine, as she tells him what she needs from him and he refuses to believe that he can provide it, was heartbreaking. I loved the lecture he got from his friend Mike, and how he finally started to see the truth. His return to Aine was sweet and romantic, and seeing him let go of the past so he could have the future he wanted was fantastic.

I loved the setting of the castle and following along with the plans for what they are trying to do. Even though I'm not a gamer, it sounds like a place I would go to. I loved Aine's mother, Molly, and her unwavering support of Aine. I also enjoyed seeing her take Brady into her heart and give him the mother-like love he had never had. I'm looking forward to the next book with Mike and Jenny. He had such a clear eye for what was happening with Brady and what he needed to do, and he seems so blind to what is happening with himself. Should make another interesting relationship.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What She Wants - Lynsay Sands (Leisure - Sept 2002)

WOOING WILLA

Earl Hugh Dulonget of Hillcrest was a formidable knight, used to getting what he wanted. This time, he got himself into a bind. His uncle's will had a codicil: He must marry. And Hugh had just insulted his would-be bride by calling her a peasant! How could he win back her esteem--and her hand?

Everyone seemed to have advice. Some men-at-arms thought that Hugh could win the fair Willa's love by buying her baubles. The old witch who was her guardian wanted Hugh to crawl back on his belly. And his castle priest proffered De Secretis Mulierum, a book on the secrets of women. But Hugh had ideas of his own. He would overcome every hindrance--and all his friends' help--to show Willa that he had not only what she needed, but what she wanted. And that the two of them were meant for a lifetime of happiness.

Very good book with the author's trademark humor, independent heroine and a hero who is strong but somewhat inept with the ladies. Hugh has just inherited the earldom and has discovered that he must marry his uncle's ward. Before listening to the entire will, he goes rushing off to try to get out of this marriage that he doesn't want. He believes her to be his uncle's bastard daughter with a peasant woman and is careless enough to say so in front of her. When he discovers that he's wrong about her, and that he must marry her to receive his full inheritance, he has to find a way to get back into her good graces. He has the "benefit" of advice from several people, and his attempts to follow it do little to advance his cause. He does gain the prize, but things still do not progress smoothly.

Though Willa was already half in love with Hugh thanks to her daydreams, reconciling the fantasy Hugh with the real thing was a bit of a challenge. He isn't a smooth talker and trying to figure out how he feels frustrates her. When it comes to consummating the marriage, nothing goes the way it should. From an exhausted and ill groom to a bride suffering from a dose of poison, then each getting advice that works against them, it's a wonder they were able to get together at all. But once all those obstacles were overcome, the heat between them is scorching. I loved seeing Hugh's determination to make things good for Willa. It was wonderful to see the way that she healed the hurts of the betrayals he'd suffered in the past, and he came to realize just how much she means to him.

There are questions about Willa's identity that are unanswered, as they seek a letter from her guardian that is supposed to reveal all. Apparently linked to this mystery are several attacks, obviously meant to end her life. Hugh is determined to keep her safe, even though her independent nature sometimes makes it difficult. Once her identity is revealed, the question becomes one of who is carrying out the attacks. Each one is different, and their resolutions do nothing to reveal the instigator. One of the best things about the attacks was the way they made Hugh and Willa work together to survive them, causing them to grow emotionally closer. The final resolution of the mystery was very well done, with one of my suspects being cleared and the other definitely being proved guilty.

I enjoyed the secondary characters and their parts in the story. Willa's foster mother, the witch Eada, had some great moments with her various predictions. She was also quite funny with her treatment of Hugh's boil. I loved Hugh's friend Luccan and how he was always there when Hugh needed him, but could also call Hugh out when he was being an idiot. Hugh's foppish cousin was hilarious with his fussiness and way of talking, but came through like a champ during one of the attacks. It was really funny to see some of the reactions. The final scene of the book, with the men's reactions to her labor were hysterical.




Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Wedding for the Greek Tycoon - Rebecca Winters (HR #4488 - Sept 2015)

Series: Greek Billionaires (Book 2)

The tycoon's new hire

Zoe owes her life to the Giannopolous Foundation. Now she wants to pay them back by working for them! She hasn't bargained on millionaire Vasso Giannopolous offering her a job. Soon she's smitten not just with the beautiful Greek island she's working on, but also the gorgeous tycoon who inhabits it…

Vasso has kept his heart on lockdown after suffering the ultimate betrayal. But beautiful, courageous Zoe reminds him that some things are worth risking everything for…especially walking down the aisle!

Good book. After losing her parents in a fire and being diagnosed with cancer within days of each other, Zoe's life is finally looking up. After being helped through her treatments by the Giannopolous Foundation, she is determined to pay them back by working for them. Thanks to a set of lucky circumstances, Zoe is offered a job at the center in Greece by none other than Vasso Giannopolous, one of the founders. 

I really liked Zoe. She realizes how lucky she is that she is cancer free and is determined to make the best of the rest of her life. Her personality is bright and cheerful and she seems to always look on the bright side of things. I loved watching her settle in on Paxos, making friends and coming up with ideas to make the patients' lives better. With her experience as a patient herself, she has a unique perspective, which makes her very empathetic to the people who are there.  The one drawback is that she seems convinced that the cancer will return, in spite of what the doctor told her, and therefore doesn't allow herself to believe in a normal future.

I thought Vasso was terrific. He and his brother grew up poor, as the sons of a fisherman. When their father died of cancer because they couldn't afford medical care they swore they would do something about it. After making their fortunes, they started centers to help those who couldn't afford the care. Vasso has made his work his life after losing his heart to a woman who broke it. He has protected his heart ever since.

There was a connection between Zoe and Vasso from the moment they met. Vasso was blown away by Zoe's beauty, but also by the courage he saw in the way she has overcome her problems. He felt a need to do anything he could to get her to Paxos. Zoe felt the connection also, but was determined to keep it strictly professional and friendly. 

I really liked the way that Vasso realized so quickly what his feelings for Zoe were. He was so sweet and romantic with all the things he did for her. I ached for him when she kept pushing him away, because it hurt him so much. I got really frustrated with Zoe when she wouldn't tell him why. She was so in love with him, but too afraid to take a chance. I wanted to shake her when she ran away. I loved the way the doctor talked to her and finally made her see what she was doing. I liked the ending with her big moment and how she surprised Vasso. 

In Your Wildest Scottish Dreams - Karen Ranney (Avon - Feb 2015)

Series: MacIain (Book 1)

Seven years have passed since Glynis MacIain made the foolish mistake of declaring her love to Lennox Cameron, only to have him stare at her dumbfounded. Heartbroken, she accepted the proposal of a diplomat and moved to America, where she played the role of a dutiful wife among Washington's elite. Now a widow, Glynis is back in Scotland. Though Lennox can still unravel her with just one glance, Glynis is no longer the naïve girl Lennox knew and vows to resist him.

With the American Civil War raging, shipbuilder Lennox Cameron must complete a sleek new blockade runner for the Confederate Navy. He cannot afford any distractions, especially the one woman he's always loved. Glynis's cool demeanor tempts him to prove to her what a terrible mistake she made seven years ago.

As the war casts its long shadow across the ocean, will a secret from Glynis's past destroy any chance for a future between the two star-crossed lovers?

Good second chance story with a bit of mystery and a different background than most historical romances. I really enjoyed the setting of Glasgow and the merchant classes as a break from London and the nobility. I also learned some things about the American Civil War that I didn't know before. I love it when an author does the research to ensure that their stories are accurate.

Glynis and Lennox had grown up together as neighbors, with Lennox being her brother Duncan's best friend. When she was eighteen, she gathered her courage and told him how she felt and kissed him, only to have him stare at her in shock. To make matters worse, she heard that he was going to marry someone else. She fled to London, where she accepted the proposal of a British diplomat, then going with him to America. Seven years later, she returns to Glasgow as a widow, happy to be back home with her family.

But things have changed. Her family has fallen on hard times thanks to the war. Their cotton mills have been hit hard by their inability to get shipments from the South. Her father died right after she married, and her brother is trying to keep the business going. On the other hand, Lennox and his family have done well with their shipbuilding business. His crafts are in high demand by Confederate blockade runners. She is surprised to find out that he has never married.

The first time that Lennox and Glynis see each other after her return, there are sparks. But Lennox notices changes in her, ones that seem to have beaten down the spirit he remembers. He's missed her and thought of her often over the years. He's intrigued by and attracted to the woman she is now, and is determined to get to know her again.

She is still just as attracted to him, but she can't give in to it. There is too much that she has seen and done that keeps her from believing that she could ever deserve having him back in her life. Her life with her husband hadn't been a happy one. The man she thought he was turned out to be very different. The more I learned about him, the less I liked him. Everything she went through made her a stronger person, even though she didn't always see it. She hopes that being back home will enable her to move on with her life, until someone from her past shows up with plans of his own.

I really enjoyed seeing the rekindling of the relationship between Lennox and Glynis. She had never doubted her love for him, but because of her past she is determined to stay away from him now.  The problem is that Lennox isn't cooperating, and the effect he has on her makes it hard for her to stick with her intentions. Lennox hadn't realized his feelings for her until it was too late, and now that she's back he's determined to get his way. I enjoyed their interactions; thanks to the long history they have together they are frequently very amusing.

There's one scene between them that gets witnessed by a rather nasty woman, who then proceeds to attempt to destroy Glynis and Lennox's reputations, which only forces them together. But both of them let their pride get in the way of sharing their feelings, leading to misunderstandings and a lack of trust. Lennox is also protective of Glynis, if only he could find out just what he's protecting her from. 

Both Glynis and Lennox were dealing with the effects of the American Civil War. Lennox and his shipbuilding business have been very successful at building ships that are capable of running the Union blockade of the South. Though Great Britain was technically neutral in the war, there were quite a few businesses that ignored the government's position. There is someone who seems very determined that Lennox not be able to fulfill his latest order. When his purchaser is murdered right there in the shipyard, he's determined to find out who is responsible. Glynis has someone from her past who is blackmailing her, trying to get her to spy on Lennox and his business. She's ashamed of some of the things in her past, and is afraid of what could happen when Lennox finds out. I loved seeing how she found the courage to do what she had to do, and how she went about doing it. There was an interesting twist to the identity of the murderer and it wasn't who I expected it to be.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Her Favorite Cowboy - Mary Leo (HAR #1564 - Sept 2015)

Series: Briggs Idaho (Book 4)

BACK IN THE SADDLE

Gage Remington needs a place to start over, and Durango, Colorado, is it. By reconciling with his rancher grandfather, Gage hopes he can begin repairing past damage. It doesn't occur to Gage that his heart needs fixing, too, until he meets gorgeous doctor Cori Parker. And he's sure his troubled past will send the single mom running.

Since her husband's tragic accident, Cori's been focusing on her family. Though she's deeply attracted to the banker-turned-buckaroo, Gage is a wild card, and Cori can't let anyone bring her life crashing down again. Still, she realizes Gage's finally ready to be the man -- and the cowboy -- he always wanted to be. But will Cori be part of his future, or one more regret from his past?

Good book about two people with some serious issues who find out that troubles are easier to deal with when they are shared. Cori left her high stress, busy job in a Manhattan ER, when she realized that she wasn't spending enough time with her daughter. She had also started questioning her abilities when she nearly missed a diagnosis because of her extreme fatigue. She has moved herself and her daughter out West, to be with her grandmother and make some decisions about her future.

Gage has taken a leave of absence from his high-powered Wall Street job. He realized that his drinking and workaholic ways destroyed his marriage and his relationships with his family, including his grandfather. He's decided to start his fence mending with his grandfather, where he has some great memories but who he has treated badly in the last ten years. But his grandfather is a far cry from the loving man he remembers, and has turned into a grumpy old man. It seems that Gage can't do anything right where the old man is concerned.

Both Gage and Cori end up accompanying their grandparent to a Zane Grey convention in Durango. They encounter each other when they are trying to get some space, and sparks fly immediately. There's a desire to get to know each other a little better, until they discover that their grandparents can't stand each other, This makes spending time together difficult. Then some other issues crop up that have them reconsidering.

I liked Gage, but there were times that he didn't make it easy. I liked the way he was determined to make up for his past neglect, but at least at the beginning he was going about it all wrong. He had spent so long at the top of the corporate world that he was trying to use those methods on his grandfather. Gage had never met a problem that couldn't be solved by throwing money at it, but his grandfather didn't want that. Buck wanted Gage to remember the cowboy values that he had been taught. Every time Gage thought he was making some progress he'd do something to screw it up. Gage was also dealing with the knowledge that he was an alcoholic, and trying to get used to life without drinking. I had a lot of respect for his determination to succeed. Being around Cori and her daughter made him experience feelings that had been numb for many years and he's not sure he likes it.

I got a bit frustrated with Cori also. She had lost confidence in herself and was looking for a new life with her grandmother. She had burned out on her job, thanks to the long hours and stress. She had also lost her husband to a drunk driver and is trying to raise her daughter on her own. She was attracted to Gage as soon as she met him, but when she discovered he was a recovering alcoholic she tried to step back from him. She didn't want to risk her heart on someone who could easily slip back into his old ways. So she would push him away, but then she would be drawn back to him by his charm and wit and the way he was so good with her daughter.

I liked seeing the way that Cori and Gage brought out the best in each other. Cori was very good at seeing past Gage's surface and showing him that he was still capable of being the kind of man that his grandfather needed him to be. Gage made a point of showing Cori that it was possible for her to relax and have a good time. Both of them had to learn to trust, not just each other, but also themselves. It was fun to see them try to find ways to be together once they had made the decision to see where their attraction might take them. The ending was funny and sweet, and the epilogue was an excellent peek at their future.

The secondary characters were great. I really liked Cori's daughter Hailey. She was a sweetheart and had a great way of cutting through the complications her mom would come up with to get to the heart of the matter. I liked the way she took to Gage and showed him a different side of himself. But it was the two grandparents who nearly stole the show. Both are pretty blunt in their sunset years and have no trouble telling their grandkids when they don't like something that's being done. They were creating some pretty significant sparks of their own and I was wondering when something was going to go up in smoke. There was a really interesting little twist when Gage's grandfather fell and broke his hip. I loved the scene in his hospital room.