Monday, November 5, 2018

Review: A Season of You by Emma Douglas

It's Christmastime in the quaint island town of Cloud Bay, where love is always in season... 

Will Fraser has believed in love at first sight since the day he first laid eyes on Mina Harper five years ago. There was only one problem: She was happily married. Then, when Mina's husband was killed by a drunk driver, Will figured she'd want nothing to do with a guy who owns a whiskey distillery. So he's kept his feelings locked away, knowing that not even a Christmas miracle would be enough to melt Mina's heart. . . 

Mina believes her days of true love are behind her. Since losing her husband she's kept to herself, content to do her own painting and stay out of the limelight that comes with her famous family. But when, after a freak accident, Will comes to her rescue, Mina can't quite get him out of her mind. As curiosity turns into a fling during Cloud Bay's first Christmas Festival, she finds it harder to convince herself that her feelings for Will are just mistletoe-inspired. Could Mina be ready to lay the past to rest and finally admit that what she really wants for Christmas--and forever--is Will?

This is the second book in the Cloud Bay series, but I actually read it last.  It makes no real difference, except you know Will and Mina are firmly together whereas in A Season of You, they are only making strides to come together as a couple.  

Mina Harper is the youngest of Grey Harper's children and as such, she's maybe a little more protected than Zach or Faith.  Mina is also guarded because of her husband's death.  She's happy with her little life in Cloud Bay, although she is exploring outside the safe realm through her art (under an assumed name).  

Will is a patient man -- very patient.  He's been interested in Mina for several years, but she was first married and then a widow.  

A Season of You has a very even tone and slow pace.  Because I already knew that Will and Mina were a couple, I almost didn't read it, but once I start a series, I typically have to finish it.  I almost believe Will and Mina's relationship could have been handled better in a novella.  

Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: Sweetest Scoundrel by Elizabeth Hoyt

Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother's investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London's premier pleasure garden, Harte's Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can't be controlled.

Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn't have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden's larger-than-life owner, he's already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He's not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.
In spite of her lack of theatrical experience-and her fiery clashes with Asa-Eve is determined to turn Harte's Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There's no denying the smoldering fire between them-and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all . . .

I finished Dearest Rogue, the previous novel in the Maiden Lane series, two years ago.  I have picked up Sweetest Scoundrel a couple of times but have never been able to finish it.  I think Eve's character as she's depicted in Dearest Rogue prevented me from really being excited about her love story with Asa Makepeace.  

Asa, however, is the most elusive of the Makepeace siblings; he is just now appearing in the ninth book of the series.  I wanted to know what about him made the other siblings maintain their distance following their father's disowning of Asa (and their father's death).  

As proprietor of Harte's Folly, Asa wants to restore the pleasure garden to its former glory.  The only roadblock to his dream is Eve Dinwoody, who is acting on behalf of her brother, the Duke of Montgomery, and his investment.  I know they will fall in love, but their relationship didn't have the same structure and oomph as Hoyt's prior books.    

Ultimately, Sweetest Scoundrel may be my least favorite of the series, but it does a good job of propelling the new sub-series -- the Lords of Chaos -- to the forefront.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Set the Night on Fire by Laura Trentham

From award winning author Laura Trentham comes Set the Night on Fire, a novel about starting over, finding your way back home—and falling head over heels. . .
Ella Boudreaux has a lot to prove to her family, friends, and foes—and to herself. So when her marriage ends she decides to invest her energy and money into a place that brings back some of Ella’s happiest memories: the Abbott brothers’ garage. Maybe, if she puts her mind to it, she can teach skeptical, stubborn Mack Abbott how to make the business a true success. Which would be a lot easier if the hunky mechanic didn’t make her motor run quite so fast…and hot.
Mack was furious when his brother, Ford, sold his share of the business. He’s in no rush to team up with a wealthy divorcĂ©e who shows up to the garage in stilettos—and the longest, sexiest legs he’s seen in forever. But Ella’s grit and determination won’t quit…and soon Mack can see that she’s been down a few rough roads herself. Neither Mack nor Ella can deny the fierce attraction that’s revving up between them. Could it be that true love has been in the backseat all along…and they’ve finally found the key?


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Review: It Takes Two by Jenny Holiday

All's fair in love and war
Wendy Liu should be delighted to be her best friend's maid of honor. But after years spent avoiding the bride's brother - aka the boy who once broke her heart - she's now trapped with him during an endless amount of wedding festivities. Luckily she's had time to perfect her poker face, and engaging Noah Denning in a little friendly competition might just prove that she's over him for good...

Noah Denning is determined to make his little sister's wedding memorable. But it seems Wendy is trying to outdo him at every turn. Challenging each other was always something he and Wendy did right, so when she proposes they compete to see who can throw the best bachelor or bachelorette party in Sin City, Noah takes the bait - and ups the stakes. Because this time around, he wants Wendy for keeps. And when you're fighting for love, all bets are off. 

Wendy has a LOT of feelings to process:  feelings for Noah, feelings about Jane's wedding, feelings about her teenaged self.  As someone who keeps my baggage pretty close to the vest, I understood exactly where Wendy was coming from.  She doesn't want to rock the boat, she doesn't want anyone else to get hurt.  

Noah is a Wendy's missing puzzle piece.  

Whereas Wendy keeps things to herself, Noah worries about those around him:  his mother, his sister, Wendy (to an extent).  He and Wendy haven't seen each other in a while, but once they are back in close proximity, those feelings jump back to the surface.  

I thought Noah and Wendy had great chemistry here, perhaps even better than Jane and Cameron in One and Only.  Then again, I love "best friend's brother/sister" romance trope, and Wendy and Noah were ridiculously easy to root for.  

(A very special thank you to Grand Central Publishing, Forever Romance, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of It Takes Two.)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Review: One and Only by Jenny Holiday

Miss Responsibility meets Mr. Reckless
With her bridezilla friend on a DIY project rampage, bridesmaid Jane Denning will do anything to escape - even if it means babysitting the groom's troublemaker brother before the wedding. It should be a piece of cake, except the "cake" is a sarcastic former soldier who is 100% wicked hotness and absolutely off-limits.

Cameron MacKinnon is ready to let loose after returning from his deployment. But first he'll have to sweet talk the ultra-responsible Jane into taking a walk on the wild side. Turns out, riling her up is the best time he's had in years. But what happens when the fun and games start to turn into something real?

Jane is super dependable, which is why one of her best friends ask her to babysit the groom's younger brother prior to the wedding.  And Jane agrees!  On the plus side for her, since she's involved with "watching" Cameron, she cannot fall for the bride's latest DIY wedding idea (there were a LOT of those). 

I knew Jane and Cameron would fall for each other (it's a romance -- of course they will!), but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed their playful banter and their friendly conversations.  Jane puts Cameron at ease, even though he is irritated to have a babysitter.  They also have crazy chemistry once they both look a little closer at the other.  It was very enjoyable to watch them fall in love.

This was my first book by Ms. Holiday, but I'm certain it won't be the last!  

(A very special thank you to NetGalley, Forever Romance, and Grand Central Publishing for providing me with an ARC of One and Only.)

Monday, March 12, 2018

Review: The Highlander by Kerrigan Byrne

Can the fiercest master of battle conquer a woman’s heart?

They call him the Demon Highlander. The fearsome Lieutenant Colonel Liam MacKenzie is known for his superhuman strength, towering presence, and fiery passion in the heat of battle. As Laird to the MacKenzie clan, the undefeated Marquess has vanquished his foes with all rage and wrath of his barbaric Highland ancestors. But when an English governess arrives to care for his children, the master of war finds himself up against his greatest opponent... in the game of love.

Defying all expectations, Miss Philomena is no plain-faced spinster but a ravishing beauty with voluptuous curves and haughty full lips that rattle the Laird to his core. Unintimidated by her master’s raw masculinity and savage ways, the headstrong lass manages to tame not only his wild children but the beast in his soul. With each passing day, Liam grows fonder of Miss Mena—and more suspicious. What secret is she hiding behind those emerald eyes? What darkness brought her to his keep? And how can he conquer this magnificent woman’s heart... without surrendering his own?

The previous books in this series -- The Highwayman and The Hunter, respectively -- featured broken heroes; The Highlander, however, features a broken heroine.  

Mena St. Vincent was rescued from the asylum by Dorian Blackwell and Christopher Argent and sent to the Highlands under a false identity to protect her from her husband and his family.  Mena has a lot of fire and grit, and despite her past, she is stronger than she knows.  

Liam and Mena have instant chemistry, but there was something off about this novel that I didn't experience while reading the first two.  I didn't inhale it; it took longer to finish.  I cannot really articulate what that "something" was, only that I didn't enjoy The Highlander as much as I had hoped I would.  

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Highlander.)
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