Monday, December 31, 2012

Review: Under the Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis


There's no place like home for the holidays. And the Lucky Harbor Bed & Breakfast is bursting with festive lights and good cheer. But for Mia, Christmas is turning out to be anything other than merry and bright. Her recent break-up with her boyfriend Nick has made her return bittersweet. But then a surprise arrives, when Nick follows her to town bearing gifts-and asking for forgiveness.

Nick grew up without a family of his own so he's overwhelmed by the love that Mia receives from all her relatives, gathered together to celebrate the season. Under their watchful eyes, Nick finds earning back her trust the hardest thing he's ever had to do. If he succeeds, he will receive the greatest gift of all, Mia's love for a lifetime.

Just a tiny glimpse of the grown-up Mia, Tara's and Ford's daughter readers met in The Sweetest Thing, but it's a good one.  She's dealing with young adulthood (or is it called new adulthood now?), and she's found a man she loves very much in Nick.  There's a little bit of angst, a little bit of a Big Misunderstanding, though everything works out as it should in the end.  The original Lucky Harbor trilogy is my favorite, so I was pleased to get to revisit the sisters once again. 

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Hachette Book Group and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Under the Mistletoe.)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Review: Deck the Halls with Love by Lorraine Heath

Christmas is a time for miracles … and second chances at love. In her dazzling first Season, Lady Meredith Hargreaves gave her heart to Alistair Wakefield, the Marquess of Chetwyn, only to have it shattered when he proposed to another. And now that he's free to pursue her? It matters little, because she's on her way to the altar, heartbreak be damned.

Chetwyn once set aside his dreams in favor of duty and honor. But as Christmas approaches, he is determined to put his own desires first and lure Lady Meredith back into his arms, where she's always belonged.

First he steals a dance; then he steals a kiss. But when they find themselves alone in an abandoned castle during a snowstorm, reignited passion consumes them both. And Chetwyn will have one last chance to steal back Meredith's heart, once and for all.

We are introduced to Alistar Wakefield, the Marquess of Chetwyn, in the second book of this series, Lord of Temptation.  He seems to be stuck in doing what's right, and it's making him miserable.  Of course, his heart never belonged to Lady Anne, so he would have been miserable in their marriage.  Chetwyn is determined to show the woman he truly loves, Lady Meredith Hargreaves, that they would completely suit. 

For such a short story, Deck the Halls with Love packs a punch.  I never cared for Chetwyn in Lord of Temptation; that's not to say I disliked him as a character.  I was merely apathetic to his presence.  But here, he commands the narrative.  He's seen what he wants -- Meredith -- and he goes after her.  Thank goodness Meredith responds in kind, and the two of them are a perfect match for each other. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Books, Harper Collins, and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of Deck the Halls with Love.)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review: A Cowboy for Christmas by Lori Wilde

It's Christmastime in Jubilee, Texas, but Lissette Moncrief is having a hard time celebrating . . .

Especially after she accidentally smashes her car into Rafferty Jones's pick-up truck. Yes, he's a whole lot of handsome—from the tips of his boots to the top of his Stetson. But he's no Christmas present. Lissy's not about to let herself get whisked away by his charming ways and words . . . only to watch him drive away in the end.

But what Lissy doesn't know is Rafferty's in town just to meet her—and to give her a share in a windfall that doesn't rightly belong to him. At first, he just wants to do his good deed and get out. But one look at this green-eyed beauty has him deciding to turn this into a Christmas to remember . . . making promises he's determined to keep—whether she believes in them or not.

A Cowboy for Christmas was my favorite book of this trilogy.  Because I enjoyed it so much, I'm sad to say good-bye to Jubilee, Texas. 

Lissette Moncrief is a woman at the end of her rope.  Her husband, whom she didn't want to return to Iraq, was killed, their child has recently been diagnosed with degenerative hearing loss, and Lissette has about $1,000 in the bank.  When she accidentally hits a pick-up truck in the grocery store parking lot, she looses control, rightfully so.  What she doesn't know is the man whose truck she hit is Rafferty Jones, her deceased's husband's half-brother and the man who inherited benefits which should have gone to her son. 

Lissette has a weakness for cowboys; it's the main reason she married Jake, her deceased husband, in the first place.  She cautions herself against falling too fast and too hard for Rafferty, especially given their confusing relationship, but she's unable to keep that promise.  

A Cowboy for Christmas is a feel-good contemporary romance and a great addition to this trilogy, though it can be read as a stand-alone book. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Books, Harper Collins, and Edelweiss for the ARC of A Cowboy for Christmas.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: Trouble in Texas by Katie Lane


Inheriting the most notorious house of ill repute in Texas can spell trouble for a girl's reputation . . . especially when she's Elizabeth Murphy, Bramble's prim and proper librarian. Yet when she discovers a buck-naked cowboy handcuffed to a four-poster bed, she forgets all about the town gossips. Elizabeth has sworn off men, but the stranger's kisses melt her resolve faster than ice cream on a hot summer day.

Waking up in Miss Hattie's Henhouse isn't how Brant Cates reckoned on getting to the bottom of his great-granddaddy's murder. The plan was to solve the centuries-old crime, then get the heck out of Dodge. But after meeting Elizabeth and discovering that the buttoned-up beauty is a sexy siren in disguise, he just can't pull himself away.

Now Brant needs Elizabeth to finally put his past to rest, but is she willing to risk her future on Bramble's newest bad boy?

While this is the fourth book of Ms. Lane's featured in the small town of Bramble, Texas, I think it stands alone very well.  We meet some of the residents of Bramble, though not like in past books, and we are introduced further to the Cates boys (Billy Cates was featured in Catch Me a Cowboy). 

Elizabeth Murphy is a woman who avoids sex.  She lives alone (except for her cat), dresses like a school marm, and firmly identifies as a spinster.  She has no use for a flesh and blood man, especially when none of them have lived up to fictional characters.  When one of the hens from Miss Hattie's Henhouse -- a house of ill repute that Elizabeth owns -- calls and Elizabeth ventures out of the city limits, she's surprised to find an unconscious and handsome and naked man handcuffed to the bed. 

Brant Cates is on the trail of a mystery: his great-great-grandfather's murder.  The trail leads him to Miss Hattie's and ultimately to Elizabeth.  

Elizabeth and Brant have great chemistry; add eldest hen Minnie to the mix as a matchmaker and general pain in Elizabeth's a-s-s, and you've got a great romance.   Trouble in Texas takes all the romp and fun of the previous books and adds some oomph with a well-thought-out plot.   This was my favorite  in the series by far. 

(A very special thank you to Hachette Book Group, Forever Romance, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Trouble in Texas.)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Review: Destiny by Carly Phillips

Nash Barron may be cynical about love, yet even he likes a good wedding. But the only good thing about his brother's wedding is Kelly Moss. Nash can't help but admire her confidence and beauty, but he's forced to keep his distance because getting involved with Kelly could destroy his relationship with his newly discovered half sister, Tess...

Kelly came to Serendipity to give Tess--her half sibling as well, thanks to an illicit affair--a second chance at life. She learned long ago not to rely on anyone but herself. Besides, she doesn't want to upset Tess's life by pushing for a fling with Nash. Except the more she gets to know him, the more vulnerable she becomes to the kindness beneath his gruff exterior, and the less she's able to stay away. But she has other reasons for keeping her distance. Like the secret from her past she knows Nash will never forgive...

In Serendipity, the first book of this series, Nash Barron comes as moody and difficult, unwilling to move beyond the past to accept the future he now has.  Destiny was about him growing as a character, hopefully taking to heart what's done is done and make the best of the path he has chosen.  But while Nash and his eventual relationship with Kelly Moss is the romance of Destiny, the book is also about the entire Barron family moving forward together.  In the second half of the book, we watch Nash and Kelly fall in love and we see Nash finally make peace with his past.  

Destiny is a very good addition to this series, focusing not only on the romance of Nash and Kelly but the Barrons as a whole and how they live together as a family. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase

From the Journals of Sophia Noirot: "A dress is a weapon. It must dazzle his eye, raise his temperature . . . and empty his purse."

A blue-eyed innocent on the outside and a shark on the inside, dressmaker Sophy Noirot could sell sand to Bedouins. Selling Maison Noirot's beautiful designs to aristocratic ladies is a little harder, especially since a recent family scandal has made an enemy of one of society's fashion leaders. Turning scandal to the shop's advantage requires every iota of Sophy's skills, leaving her little patience for a big, reckless rake like the Earl of Longmore. The gorgeous lummox can't keep more than one idea in his head at a time, and his idea is taking off all of Sophy's clothes.

But when Longmore's sister, Noirot's wealthiest, favorite customer, runs away, Sophy can't let him bumble after her on his own. In hot pursuit with the one man who tempts her beyond reason, she finds desire has never slipped on so smoothly . . .

I could not put this book down.  The plot -- the eventual pairing of Longmire and Sophy -- was obvious from the first book of the series, Silk is for Seduction, but I still enjoyed every moment of Scandal Wears Satin.   

"I thought you were going to leave me here," she said.
"You talked me out of it...a moment ago...when you were against the wall, under Lady Flinton's window."
 "Oh, yes--and speaking of that--"
"Oh, good," he said. "We're going to discuss it now."
"We certainly are," she said. "I had all my clothes on this time, so don't try to use any excuses about my being mostly naked."
"I don't need an excuse," he said. "But it might be that you have too many clothes on."

While Scandal Wears Satin was not as sensual a romance as Silk is for Seduction, I do think it's still a very good addition to the series.  Longmire's sister, Clara, causes some headaches along the way, but I think those moments were supposed to draw Longmire and Sophy closer.  Regardless, I'm anxious for the third Dressmakers book, Vixen in Velvet (August 2013). 
(A very special thank you to Avon Books, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of Scandal Wears Satin.)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Review: Rev it Up by Julie Ann Walker

He Never Misses a Target

Jake "the Snake" Sommers earned his SEAL codename by striking quickly and quietly - and with lethal force. That's how he broke Michelle Carter's heart. It was the only way to keep her safe - from himself. Four long years later, Jake is determined to get a second chance. But to steal back into Michelle's loving arms, Jake is going to have to prove he can take things slow. Real slow...

She Aims to Make Him Beg

Michelle Carter has never forgiven Jake for being so cliché as to "love her and leave her." But when her brother, head of the Black Knights elite ops agency, ticks off the wrong mobster, she must do the unimaginable: place her life in Jake's hands. No matter what they call him, this man is far from cold-blooded. And once he's wrapped around her heart, he'll never let her go...

Rev It Up likens back to book one of this series, Hell on Wheels, and I was pleased to spend a couple of days with Michelle and Jake.  Every aspect of the plot and characters congealed in Rev It Up.  I admit I was disappointed the third book of this trilogy didn't feature Billy Reichert and Eve Edens, whose interactions in In Rides Trouble help me to overlook a heroine/main character I didn't care for, but Michelle and Jake more than make up for it.  Rev It Up also gives readers a taste of Rock and Vanessa, the hero and heroine of Thrill Ride (April 2013).    

 (A very special thank you to Sourcebooks Casablanca and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Rev it Up.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Review: The Second Seduction of a Lady by Miranda Neville

Enter the thrilling, sexy world of Georgian England in this splendid Miranda Neville novella—and catch a glimpse of Caro, the heroine of the upcoming The Importance of Being Wicked, on sale December 2012.

Eleanor Hardwick and Max Quinton shared one night of incredible passion . . . that was shattered the next day, when Eleanor learned of a bet placed by Max's friends. Now, five years later, Max still can't get Eleanor out of his head or his heart. He has a single chance to make a second impression—one that will last forever.

I have a feeling The Second Seduction of a Lady was conceived as a set-up for The Importance of Being Wicked, and this short story achieves that task admirably.  So much so, that I found myself becoming irritated at the older Caro who is so unlike the Caro portrayed here.  What I immensely enjoyed was the brimming sexual tension between Eleanor and Max and watching the two former lovers fall in love again. 

(A very special thank you to Harper Collins, Avon Books and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of The Second Seduction of a Lady.)
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