Friday, August 29, 2014

Nobody's Cowboy

In Nobody's Cowboy by Debra Salonen, after scandal and controversy put Austen's political and law career in jeopardy, he leaves Helena and comes home to Marietta, Montana.  Flying Z ranch is his ranch, a working ranch, but he's never spent much time there.  Now he's testing his footing as a cowboy...even if Nobody believes he can leave his life in Helena behind for good to be one.

Serena hopes she's left her own problems far behind her, and she's leased Austen's brother's ranch where her life is her herd of alpacas, a couple of llama's, and her dog.  She's put her love life on hold and is focused on her business with her animals.

When Austen appears over her fence one day, she sees a man very easy on the eyes, but too pretty to be a cowboy.  Something about Serena intrigues Austen, even if she's not his usual type of woman.  One minute he's lost, the next minute he's helping Serena with her animals.  Looking at Austen brings all of Serena's good parts to life...and the attraction is mutual.  Serena likes sex and misses it, and maybe a roll in the hay with her hot neighbor is just what she needs.

They get that and much more as they spend more and more time together, getting to know each other, and really enjoy being together.  Their bond grows stronger and even if no one expects him to stay, Serena finds herself hoping in her heart he will.  When his life in Helena intrudes on his life in Marietta, Austen will have to make some big decisions.  Should he be doing what's expected of him, or should he follow his own instincts and heart?

Nobody's Cowboy is a fast paced, fun romantic read.  Debra writes so smoothly and really brings her characters to life.  I loved Serena.  She is independent and brave, she speaks her mind, and she knows what she wants.  I love that she is not intimidated by Austen's interfering family, and neither is she deterred by them.  She thinks because of her upbringing she's different - I think she's great!  Austen is at a turning point in his life, and only he can decide what is right for him.  I liked his relationship with his family, but I found them to be way to interfering in a grown man's life!

I really liked how Austen and Serena were together, they are mature and honest with one another.  Neither of them is making demands of the other, instead they are accepting of each other and their lives.

I liked catching up with some of the secondary characters who I've seen in other Montana Born books, but Nobody's Cowboy stands strongly on it's own.

I'd recommend this entertaining, heart filling romance to any romance reader!

4/5 stars

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

It's In His Kiss

In It's In His Kiss (Lucky Harbor #10) by Jill Shalvis, Becca has always carried a lot of responsibility.  Now this city girl who writes jingles for commercials is finally getting away, and she's taking it one day at a time.  Becca ends up in Lucky Harbor and decides to stay for a while.  She's ready to try new things and have more fun!

Becca ends up renting a place to live in a converted warehouse...right beside Sam's warehouse where he builds boats.  Sam also has a business with his friends, he surfs, and he is one sexy man!  Becca is mesmerized from the moment she first sees him, and is not above doing a little peeping through her curtains.  There is a sizzling connection between Sam and Becca, and after one night with him, Becca would like more.  But when Sam hires her for his business, he is determined not to mix business with pleasure.  Becca is not quite as determined...

In different ways, neither of them has had an easy childhood.  They each have pasts they've grown from but still struggle with.  Neither is looking for forever, but the lure of small town Lucky Harbor makes Becca want to stay.  When everything Becca is escaping from finds her, she will have to decide where her future is.  And will Sam be part of it?

I loved being back in Lucky Harbor!  Jill writes small towns and romance so believably.  Becca and Sam are both realistic, mature characters whose opposites complement each other very well.  I love the laid back, fun, spontaneous Becca that Jill introduces us to.  I like that the focus is on who she is now and what she's doing now.  Jill gives us enough background to get to know Becca very well without clogging up the present day plot with her past.  Becca seemed to grow and become stronger with each page read.  Sam is easy to picture in my mind thanks to Jill's (and Becca's!) descriptions.  He's serious, focused and dependable.  He obviously cares a lot for Becca and demonstrates it well even if he can't say the words.  I like how Jill weaves his relationship with his father in, because this is very much part of Sam's present.  Once again not overwhelming, but a necessary part of the plot, giving another aspect to the characters in It's In His Kiss.

Of course there are some secondary characters we've seen before in the Lucky Harbor series, and I loved seeing them again.  (Especially Lucille and her antics!)  I loved the interactions and relationship between Sam and his friends, they add a lot of fun to It's In His Kiss!  

Jill writes entertaining, well paced romance that sizzles at times and makes my heart feel good all the time.  I was hooked from the first page, and I couldn't wait to see how Becca and Sam would end up.

Although part of the Lucky Harbor series, It's In His Kiss can easily be read as a stand alone (although I do recommend the whole series because it is so good!).  With laughter, love, and dreams, I'd recommend It's In His Kiss to any romance reader.

4/5 stars

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

No Hero

In No Hero by Mallory Kane, Reghan Connor is a reporter who has never gotten over her feelings of abandonment after her father left her mother.  She is jaded, doesn't believe in hero's or that people can live up to expectations.  She believes the public have the right to know, no matter what.  Especially regarding Detective Dev Gautier - the man whose life she almost ruined by exposing a past he's worked hard to escape.  She had "...ripped open the secrets of his past and torn a hole in his life."

In many people's eyes, Dev is a hero.  Besides being a detective, he runs the Thibaud Johnson Center for Homeless Teens - a tribute to the man who saved him.  The unthinkable is happening though - someone is killing Dev's kids.  And Reghan might hold the clues that will help figure out who and why.  Reluctantly they must work together to unravel the puzzle - before Dev becomes a target also.   Spending time together also proves to them both the attraction they once had is still there and just as strong.  As Reghan starts to understand a lot more about Dev and acknowledge mistakes made, will it be too late in more ways than one for them to start again?

No Hero is fast paced and suspenseful with great characters and underlying tension.  Although I did not particularly like Reghan, she was a strong character who Mallory does a great job with.  I liked that even though Reghan had her beliefs about Dev, she is mature enough to do the right thing when she realizes she might have useful information for him.  Reghan grew tremendously in No Hero, and her character evolvement was captivating.  I liked Dev from the start.  There was nothing not to like about this hot detective!  Mallory really made me care about Dev - his present and his past.  With her writing I felt like I knew him.  He is a powerful character with strong beliefs and values.  I liked that he was able for the most part put aside what Reghan had done and focus on the present.  The chemistry between Reghan and Dev is just as steamy as the mystery is frightening!

The relationship between Dev and Reghan is a strong part of No Hero, interwoven well into the mysterious suspense.  They balance each other and both are important parts of the plot.  Mallory carries the story along well, and kept me guessing not only about the mystery of the killings, but how the relationship between Dev and Reghan cold possibly work out.

There are a lot of secondary characters in No Hero, some who will surprise you.  They all have something to add to No Hero.

With suspense, romance and heat, I'd recommend No Hero to any romantic suspense reader.

4/5 stars

Tease Me, Cowboy

In Tease Me, Cowboy by Rachel Johns, journalist Selah is back in Marietta to cover the Copper Mountain Rodeo and catch up with her friends.  On a night out with the girls talking about their big regret, Selah confesses her regrets about her high school relationship with Levi.  He wanted what she wasn't ready to give...and Selah had big plans.  Selah has done well for herself, even if her career is satisfying but not challenging, and not one many people take seriously.

Levi is back in Marietta also.  This will be his last rodeo before he retires, and he's got plans of his own now.  Getting together with Selah was not part of his plan, but she's going to try to convince him otherwise.  Even if it is just for one night.  Will Levi indulge in their mutual attraction?  Neither one of them is looking for forever, but seeing each other again has brought back all the old feelings.  Coming home to Marietta gives them both a chance to re-evaluate their lives and where they want to go.   Will it be together?

Tease Me, Cowboy is a fun, fast paced second chance romance.  I loved the connection that Levi and Selah have, and the attraction is palpable.  Selah is mature, knows what she wants, and is going to go for it!  Selah has some issues of her own, between family and her career.  Adding a hot cowboy to the mix is not what she expected to be doing in Marietta, and I liked how all parts of Selah smoothly fused together.  Levi has grown a lot since his high school days, and in different ways he's still looking for more than Selah might be able to give.  I really like the maturity of these characters and how they deal with what's happening.

It was great to revisit Marietta and see some of the characters from previous books.  I love the small town feel and the rodeo.  Rachel's descriptions easily transported me to a place I'd love to be.

Rich with emotions and entertaining, I'd recommend Tease Me, Cowboy to any romance reader looking for a quick, well written book.

4/5 stars

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Lines In The Sand

In Lines In  The Sand (An Indigo Island Romance) by Kaira Rouda, Dorsey is starting fresh with a new place to live and  new job.  She's going to make new, happy memories and prove she can make it on he own.  Dorsey gets a job at Melrose Inn on Indigo Island as the kids club leader.

Jack has big plans.  He is also at Melrose Inn on Indigo Island, hoping to start his new career in management there.  Jack needs this job.  For the summer he's a lifeguard, but has been promised a management job at the top club after the summer.  

Jack and Dorsey are both escaping their pasts, trying to move forward.  When they meet, Dorey can feel the electricity between them as much as Jack can feel the immediate attraction.  All the ladies want Jack, but it's Dorsey Jack wants.  Despite a no dating rule between employees at Melrose Inn, Jack and Dorsey soon can't help themselves.  They try to keep things between them quiet, but their boss Steve seems to see everything.  He also wants to be in charge of everything and everyone.  Neither Jack nor Dorsey realize just what Steve can be capable of...  

With past secrets and mysteries, will Jack and Dorsey be able to keep their dream jobs and each other?  Or will they have to choose?

Lines In The Sand is a unique summer read.  Kaira's descriptivism of Indigo Island and the ocean will take you there!  Jack and Dorsey are characters who are still maturing.  Their relationship and interactions demonstrate this well, and their growth is obvious as Lines In The Sand progresses.  Their story is fun and I love the setting.  The sub plots added some mystery and I loved how Kaira brought in the island culture that is outside of the Inn.  Kaira also draw out the mystery of Jack and Dorsey's back grounds enough to keep you very interested and draw you into their lives as they struggle to overcome their pasts.  The secondary characters are really catchy and well written into Lines In The Sand.  There are a few of them I really looked forward to seeing, and I was very interested to find out what Steve was up to!

With a touch of mystery and lots of romance and conflict, I'd recommend Lines In The Sand to romance readers looking for a saucy romantic read.

3.5 stars

The Merry-Go-Round
by Donna Fasano
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 2, 2009

When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind...stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren’s personal life isn't chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can’t stay on the right side of the law. What’s a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.

What are you working on now? 
I’m currently writing two projects at once. I've never done this before, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. I’m writing a Christmas Novella entitled Almost Perfect Christmas, the story of man who enlists the help of a woman in giving his daughter a perfect Christmas. Unbeknownst to him, his little girl has every intention of playing an angelic matchmaker. The other project is the first book of a 3-book series called Following His Heart, the story of a man who is eerily drawn to a woman, and after they fall in love, they discover what brought them together, and it just might tear them apart. Yes, the description is vague, but that’s just the way it has to be for now. I’m chuckling as I type this. Both books are contemporary romance novels and are due out this fall.

What are you reading now or what do you have in your TBR pile? 
I just finished Learning to Swim by Sara Henry. I’m currently reading Love Me Tender by Mimi Barbour. On my TBR pile you’ll find A Reluctant Hero by Jackie Weger, Creatus by Carmen DeSousa, The Neighbor by Dean Koontz, Three Junes by Julia Glass, One Way or Another by Elaine Raco Chase…should I go on?

What flavor is your writing style?
I always tell people I write cotton candy for the mind. Think back to when you were a kid and you took a bite of that delectable confection. What did you do? You smiled. That’s what I’m going for in my romance novels.

Was writing always the first thing you wanted to do in life?
No, I wanted to be a teacher, but then I met and fell in love with my husband. We married and began raising a family. It wasn't until my children started school that I started writing.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters? 
I believe there’s a lot of me in my protagonists. I write about women who are strong, yet vulnerable. My main characters and my secondary characters have flaws and make mistakes (don’t we all?), but then most of them do all they can to learn, grow and become better people.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
One piece of advice I often give to writers is to READ. Don’t just read in the genre in which you write. Read everything. And then figure out what you liked and what you didn't…and then think about why. Reading and analyzing the writing of talented people can help you perfect your own skills.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
I bow down to readers! I am so appreciative that they spend their hard-earned money on my books and then take the time to read my stories. I am so blessed to have a job I love, and I wouldn't have this job if there weren't readers who love romance novels.

What inspired you to write your first book? 
I came to writing through my love of reading. I spent many a Saturday as a kid in the local library. I loved books, but I never imagined I would ever write one. My husband gets the credit for my becoming a writer. When my children started school and I decided to find a part-time job, he looked around at the piles of romance novels in our home and said, “You've read a lot of those. Why don’t you try writing one?” So, you see. It’s all his fault.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
Not my latest book, but one of my titles—Where’s Stanley?—features an ending that I didn't come up with. I handed in the completed manuscript, and my editor suggested a different ending. I wasn't happy, but I did as she asked. Personally, I think the book suffered for it, but readers seem to enjoy it.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Old Yeller, Sounder, The Bell Jar, To Kill a Mockingbird…how can people read these books and not be influenced? There are so many titles that inspired me and moved me, molded and shaped me, there isn't time to name them all. The characters in these wonderful books help young readers to decide what kind of individual they want to be.

Do you ever experience writer's block? 
There was a time when I’d have said no. I have a plant-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-the-words-will-come attitude. But I did suffer writer’s block while my dad was battling cancer. It’s difficult to write feel-good happily-ever-after when your beloved father is dying.

Do you write an outline before every book you write?
I do, yes. I equate an outline with a road made; how do you know where you’re going if you don’t have a map? I might write the first chapter or two on the fly, but I always take the time to plan out where I want the story to go. Now that’s not to say that the characters are going to stay on the straight and narrow. They decide to veer off the highway every now and then, and that’s when I have to do a quick reroute.

Have you ever disliked something you wrote? 
I've never published anything that I disliked. I have started projects that haven’t seen the light of day, either because I couldn't figure out where to take the story, or I couldn't make the protagonist sympathetic or likable. It’s a rare occurrence, and when it happens, I just set the story aside and hope I can someday come up with a solution.

USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written over 30 romance and women's fiction books that have sold 4 million copies worldwide. Look for Ehefrau auf Zeit (German Edition) due out September 16th, published by Amazon Crossing, and the first novel of the brand new 3-book Ocean City Boardwalk Series called Following His Heart, due to be released at the end of October.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Midnight Vengeance

In Midnight Vengeance (Midnight #4) by Lisa Marie Rice, Jacko is a former SEAL now working private security.  He is tough and nothing phases him.  Except for Lauren.  From the moment he first sees Lauren she enchants him.  She drives him crazy in every way.  But he keeps all of that inside because "Not one ounce of his very extensive and very expensive training gave him a clue about how to handle Lauren Dare."

Lauren has no clue how Jacko feels.  She knows there is much more to him than other people chose to see, and she feels safe with him.  Lauren has a lot of secrets.  She's not who she says she is -she's running from danger, trying to stay one step ahead of someone who wants her dead.  In Portland, she's found what she wants in her life.  But when her guard slips and she knows it's time to run again, she can't resist one night with Jacko.  

Jacko sees more than she wants him to see though, and after an unforgettable night he can't let her run off.  Jacko will do anything for Lauren.  But can he and his team protect her, while getting rid of the threat to her?  

Midnight Vengeance sucked me in and wouldn't let me go.  I loved Jacko and Lauren, how they related to one another, and just understood things without always saying them.  Jacko really stole my heart.  I felt for the boy he was, all he'd been through, and the man he is now.  He has no clue about relationships, and I loved how his character grew because of his love for Lauren...and how he allowed himself to grow, as difficult as it was for him.  Lauren sees through Jacko's walls, and just gets him.  She doesn't play games, and when she takes the chance to trust him and his team, she's all in.  She is independent, strong, and brave, but not independent enough to not realize she needs help.  She doesn't want to throw away what she's found and she's going to fight for it.  Their relationship was believable, and their interactions at times humorous and at all times heart fulfilling.  They just really worked together, and when you read Midnight Vengeance you'll understand why.

I really enjoyed the dual POV in Midnight Vengeance, this really let me into the characters heads and I felt like I really got to know them.

There are a lot of great secondary characters on the sidelines of Jacko and Lauren's story who added strenght to the plot.  I have not read any of the other books in this series and had no problem following along, because this is all about Jacko and Lauren.  The secondary characters are written in smoothly so that Midnight Vengeance can easily be read as a stand alone.

The suspense of Midnight Vengeance is very intriguing and Lisa Marie Rice expertly blends it with the relationship of Jacko and Lauren.  It's a steamy, don't put me down book.

I'd highly recommend Midnight Vengeance to romantic suspense readers whether you've read the previous books in this series or not!  I will certainly be reading the next Midnight book!

5/5 stars

Releases August 18, 2014 - purchase at Amazon

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Fair To Remember

In A Fair To Remember (Montana Born Fair Book 5) by Barbara Ankrum, Olivia has come home to Marietta to pick up the pieces of her life and move on.  Once an Olympic hopeful, her dreams ended and her marriage was a disaster.  Olivia has lost a lot of who she was in the 12 years since she left Montana.

Jake used to be her best friend in high school.  There was always an undercurrent of attraction, but it never worked out that they were single at the same time.  When Olivia rejected Jake and what they might have, he left Marietta and joined the military.  Now retired from the military, he's back in Marietta to make good on a promise to reunite on Olivia's 30th birthday.  That's not the only reason though.  "...all that desert time had shown him what was really important and, maybe even more, what he wanted out of this life."  Or more importantly, who he really wanted.

Jake and Olivia have both changed over the years, but that spark hasn't died out between them.  Olivia is determined to avoid any relationship, especially with Jake.  Jake is just as determined that they can have a future together.  Can they though?  Or will the walls around Olivia's heart keep them apart again?

A Fair To Remember was an enchanting, great romance.  Barbara gives much more than a second chance romance as Jake and especially Olivia heal from the past.  I loved seeing them get to know one another again as adults.  Jake is just wow!  He is patient but persistent and is very honest about what he wants and hopes for.  I really liked Jake!  Olivia kept things closer to her heart and it took longer to get to know and understand her.  She has a great loving family and a great example of a loving relationship between her mother and stepfather, so at times it was hard to understand why things turned out how they did for her.  Barbara really made me want to keep reading and know Olivia better.  Jake and Olivia are believable characters and they both managed to take a piece of my heart.  At times my heart ached for them, at times it laughed with them.

I loved all the secondary characters from Jake's uncle (who I'm sure has a great story!) to Olivia's family.  The interactions between Olivia and her sisters was realistic and hilarious at times!!  A Fair To Remember is a great visit back to small town Marietta, and I liked the little catch ups with some of the past characters.  The fifth book in the Montana Born Fair series, A Fair To Remember can definitely be read as a stand alone.  The story is Jake and Olivia's and Barbara keeps this well defined without background distractions.

A Fair To Remember is a well paced, captivating romance that I'd recommend to any romance reader.

5/5 stars

Purchase from Amazon

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

To Scotland With Love

In To Scotland With Love (Kilts andQuilts #2) by Patience Griffin, Cait has come back to Gandiegow, Scotland to heal and move on. Although she hasn’t lived there or even been there since she was 13, it’s where she thinks of as home and it’s where her Gran is. Cait arrives bitter, angry, and full of resentment towards not only men, but life in general. Cait is determined to get herself back on track. She gave it all up already for a man, and that did not work out very well at all! Read More

4/5 stars

She's The One

In She's The One (Island Bliss Book 2) by Kim Boykin, Melissa really is multi-talented.  She runs her Isle of Palms realty office as her paid job, but what she love to do most is play matchmaker.  She is successful in both roles, particularly the matchmaking - a gift handed down through generations.  With a total of 49 couples matched so far, Melissa really doesn't mind always being the bridesmaid.  She's not looking for true love for herself.  In fact, her aunt told her is she would lose her matchmaking gift if she ever found it for herself.

Shane, a contractor, has been attracted to Melissa since he met her a few months ago.  He is very clear about his feelings towards her, and Melissa feels that spark when they are together, but she is determined that someone else is his perfect match.  Shane knows what and who he wants though, and he is just as determined to show Melissa that She's The One for him.  At the same time, Bo, Melissa's musician friend and whose band she sometimes plays guitar with, is just as attracted to Melissa.  Melissa likes Bo, he is the safe choice, but there are no sparks.  Will Melissa play it safe and never know what could become of her and Shane?  Or will she finally follow her heart for herself?

She's The One is a little magical and a lot of fun to read.  Melissa was a little frustrating at times, but at the same time she was open and honest which I love in a character.  Shane is patient...he knows Melissa has feelings for him too, even if she keeps trying to deny it.  I felt for Shane, pursuing a woman who is determined he's not meant for her.  Bo is a great secondary character, but in no way is this a love triangle!  There are a lot of secondary characters who give great feeling to She's The One.  I particularly liked Pearl!  Kim's descriptions of the island, people, and homes made me want to be there, lying pool side with all these fun people!

She's The One has great flow and is an entertaining read that I'd recommend to romance readers looking for a sweet romance.

4/5 stars

Purchase from Amazon

Home To Stay

In In Home To Stay (Anchor Island #3) by Terri Osburn, Willow has been on Anchor Island for a few years now.  Managing and bartending at the local pub, she quietly goes about her life.  She has friends, but no one really know her, and at times she is still very alone.  She guards her heart, her past, and her secrets fiercely.  

Randy is a big man with a heart of gold.  He sees the fear in Willow's eyes when he's around, but he senses it's not a specific fear of him.  He sees a lot of Willow on the small island, and with their friends and his sister getting married, he is seeing even more of her.  Randy is more and more attracted to her, patiently trying to prove he is no threat.  As Willow warms up to him and the idea of them together, she is still not looking for forever.  Just when Willow starts to feel safe and follow those good feelings she has with Randy, her past is threatening her future.  Will Willow have the courage to stay and finally have her home in the place she's grown to love?

In Home To Stay Terri once again gives us great characters in a small town island setting I can very easily picture in my  mind.  I love Terri's descriptions of Anchor Island...especially when Willow is watching Randy on the jet ski!  

Terri draws out Willow's secrets enough to keep me intrigued but not enough to frustrate me...and there's much more to Willow's past than I first suspected.  Willow puts on a good show, and on the outside she's so strong.  On the inside she's scared and insecure.  Reading from Willow's POV really took me into her life and her feelings.  Randy is big and strong, and what you see really is what you get.  He is patient and protective, and the perfect match for Willow if she can take the chance.  I enjoyed reading from Randy's POV also.  The dual POV really added dimension and strength to the story line, and I liked seeing things through both of their eyes.

There are a lot of characters from previous Anchor Island books, but Home To Stay stands well on it's own (although I do recommend the other books because they are so good!).  With just the right mix of humor with the seriousness, Home To Stay is well paced and easy to fall into.

I'd recommend Home To Stay (and all of the Anchor Island books) to all romance readers, especially if you want that small town feel.

4/5 stars