Thursday, December 19, 2013

Review: Drawn Together by Lauren Dane

Tattoo artist Raven Smith is blunt and hard, broken and jaded, dark and beautiful. While she doesn't hide her painful past, she does keep a wall around her heart. She's free sexually—but no one gets to the real Raven beneath the prickly exterior.

With a voice like smoke, Jonah Warner is a smooth-talking, highly successful attorney, with a body that should never be hidden by a suit. He's the kind of man who never takes no for an answer and always gets what he wants. And what he wants is Raven. She's a survivor, and he finds that incredibly alluring.

Jonah gets under her skin in a way Raven has never experienced. He makes her break all her rules—including her no-monogamy rule.

But when a figure from Raven's past shows up at the tattoo parlor and drops a bomb into her life, their relationship will face the ultimate challenge.

Raven has flitted in and out of the Brown Siblings series.  She is one of my favorite secondary characters, so I was glad she was finally getting her happily ever after.  As with all of Ms. Dane's books in the Brown Siblings and the Delicious series, I just can't seem to put it down, so Drawn Together was finished quicker than I wanted it to be.   

The one aspect I didn't like was the use of BDSM in Drawn Together.  I realize it's a popular trope to add to erotic romances nowadays, but I thought it took away some of the passion I expected Raven to have.  She's so withdrawn and closemouthed about her life -- Erin makes a point of relaying that throughout the series -- that I wasn't expecting her to be into BDSM. 

Drawn Together was a nice way to tie up both series, and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to read it and know the Browns and their extended family will be a-okay. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Review: When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke

In the first of a dazzling new series, USA Today bestselling author Laura Lee Guhrke introduces London's most renowned matchmaker—and a scoundrel intent on seducing his way to the altar.

She's the matchmaker . . .

Lady Belinda Featherstone's job is to guide American heiresses to matrimony, and away from men like Nicholas, Marquess of Trubridge. But the charming, disreputable marquess needs a wealthy bride, and he hires Belinda to help him find one. Her task seems easy: find that scoundrel the sort of wife he so richly deserves. But Nicholas's hot, searing kiss soon proves her task will be anything but easy.

He's the perfect match . . .

Nicholas plans to wed a rich, pretty young darling to restore his fortune, and he's happy to pay a marriage broker to help him. But one taste of Belinda's lips and Nicholas's sensible scheme to marry for money goes awry, and he yearns to show his beautiful matchmaker he's the perfect match . . . for her.

Lady Belinda Featherstone married for love.  She thought the feeling was mutual with her new husband.  When he dies, she discovers love of her inheritance is what he was passionate about (that, and a string of mistresses).  A engaging American woman, she puts her gumption to the test and decides to help other young American heiresses avoid the trap she fell into.  

The Marquess of Trubridge is in search of a young American heiress and is consistently foiled by Lady Featherstone.  They kiss, however, and now the marquess can think of nothing but her. 

I really enjoyed Belinda and Nicholas's barbs.  They both protest too much concerning their mutual attraction, so it was fun to watch them finally give in to temptation. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Romance, Harper Collins, and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of When The Marquess Met His Match.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: The Rogue's Proposal by Jennifer Haymore

Lukas Hawkins, the second son of the troubled House of Trent, is on a mission: find his missing mother and her alleged kidnapper, a brute named Roger Morton. If bringing the villain to justice means breaking a few laws, then so be it. But when he encounters a mysterious stranger with the face of an angel and a body made for sin, Luke suddenly finds his task-and his heart-in peril.

Emma Curtis knows of Lord Lukas's rakish reputation-and hopes to use it to her advantage. While most men of honor would never travel alone with an unmarried woman, Luke is quite willing to take Emma on the road . . . and into his bed. As their journey carries them to unexpected places, Luke and Emma indulge their every passion and share their most private fantasies. But just when their deepest desires are finally within reach, a secret is revealed that threatens to end their love forever . . .

The Rogue's Proposal continues the storyline set in motion in The Duchess Hunt.  While I liked this book, the major mystery subplot -- finding the Dowager Duchess -- seems to develop much more slowly than necessary.  

Lukas Hawkins is the second son of the House of Trent.  His older brother, the current Duke of Trent, newly married, has assigned him to pick up the search for their mother.  Lukas does so, and he manages to pick the widowed Emma Curtis as well.  

The pacing picks up considerably in the final third of the book, when Lukas and Emma are chasing Roger Morton to Scotland, then back to London.  And though Lukas and Emma have great chemistry, their pairing seemed too convenient and easy.  Still, I'll continue this series because I want to know what exactly happened to the Dowager Duchess and how those pieces fall into place. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Review: Born Wild by Julie Ann Walker

She's got three rules:

1. Trust no one… Eve Edens has been abandoned, used, or manipulated by almost everyone she's ever met. Born into ridiculous wealth, she's dealt with the petty jealousies and sordid little resentments for nearly thirty years. But after three botched attempts on her life, she can no longer ignore the truth. Someone wants her dead.

2. Avoid the bad boys at all costs… William "Wild Bill" Reichert, the wonderfully sexy boy who abandoned her years ago, is back in town. Only he's no boy. Now he's a covert operative - and he's all man. When Eve hires Bill to help her discover who is behind the attacks, Bill soon comes to suspect it's someone much closer to Eve than she dares to believe.

3. And never fall for the same ruse twice… The search for the killer takes Bill and Eve deep into the dark secrets and strange world of the rich and famous, and into the heart of red-hot passion re-ignited by the peril that threatens to consume them both. But does Eve dare risk her heart on Bill a second time?

Finally!  The book I've been waiting for almost the entire series -- Bill and Eve's story.  There were enough sparks between Bill and Eve when they were in the same room to keep me reading each and every book, hoping for more from these two.  As drawn out as their romance was, I felt ultimately disappointed when I reached the end of Born Wild.  I didn't believe the reasons keeping Bill and Eve apart, and I kept getting tripped up over who the real villain would turn out to be. 

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

Friday, November 1, 2013

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Review: Always on My Mind by Jill Shalvis


After dropping out of pastry school and messing up her big break on a reality cooking show, Leah Sullivan needs to accomplish something in her life. But when she returns home to Lucky Harbor, she finds herself distracted by her best friend, Jack Harper. In an effort to cheer up Jack's ailing mother, Dee, Leah tells a little fib - that she and Jack are more than just friends. Soon pretending to be hot-and-heavy with this hunky firefighter feels too real to handle . . .

No-strings attachments suit Jack just fine - perfect for keeping the risk of heartbreak away. But as Jack and Leah break every one of their "just friends" rules, he longs to turn their pretend relationship into something permanent. Do best friends know too much about each other to risk falling in love? Or will Jack and Leah discover something new about each other in a little town called Lucky Harbor?

I have loved each and every one of the Lucky Harbor books, plowed through them in fact.  Couldn't wait to open them and see what Lucille would post about the prospective couple on Facebook.  While the circumstances in which Leah and Jack get together have never been used (that I can recall) in this series, the interesting and quirky characters are starting to blend together.  The things that made this series -- and the town -- special seem to be recycled.  And I hate to say that!  I hate to say I'm getting tired of Lucky Harbor, but ... I'm getting tired of Lucky Harbor.  *sigh*

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

Review: Sleigh Belles by Beth Albright

Join the Sassy Belles for Christmas, Southern style!

With her hair perfectly coiffed and a heavy trail of perfume wafting behind her, local news reporter Dallas Dubois is sure she's about to kick her career—and maybe her love life—into high gear. The director of the Tuscaloosa children's Christmas play has fallen ill, and Dallas is ordered by her station manager to take the reins. Everyone is shocked—especially the musical director, Cal Hollingsworth, who still remembers her as the Ice Queen from high school.

Dallas has never met a challenge that a little lip gloss and a Chanel knockoff couldn't fix, but she has no idea how to relate to these kids. Things are made even more complicated by the butterflies she gets whenever Cal is near….

I've really enjoyed this series thus far, and I knew in order to get to know Dallas Dubois, we would have to hear things from her point of view and not Blake O'Hara Heart's.  Unfortunately, I really missed Blake's voice and perspective on life in Tuscaloosa.  

Dallas Dubois is a news reporter trying to get ahead.  She's been portrayed as a schemer and a do-anything-to-further-her-career kind of gal, but that's not who she really is underneath the perfect hair and heavy makeup. 

While I'm glad to have heard directly from Dallas, enabling me to get to know her without Blake or Vivi's impressions and opinions, there was something missing in this final installment of the Sassy Belles trilogy, and I didn't enjoy Sleigh Belles as much as I had hoped. 

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Sleigh Belles.)

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Surrender to Sultry by Macy Beckett

Leah McMahon is back in Sultry Springs, Texas to help her dad recover from surgery. But there's a new sheriff in town and he's none other than Colton Bea, the wild-as-weeds boy who stole her heart a decade earlier. Colt's a changed man now, and the feelings between these high school sweethearts are stronger than ever. But Leah's got a secret so devastating that he may never forgive her. Can she find a way to earn absolution and build a future with the sultry man she's loved half her life?

Colton Bea isn't the same man Lean McMahon knew in high school, and when Leah returns to Sultry Springs after a ten-year absence, Colt is going to show her just how much he's changed.  Leah's changed too, though, and she's certain her reason for leaving will drive Colt away once again.  

It's unfortunate that after all the questions in the two previous books about why Leah had suddenly up and left Sultry Springs, the reason was that.  It's a favorite trope of mine, yes, but it was not the answer I was looking for in this instance.  

Surrender to Sultry was a nice ending to the series -- we were rewarded with glimpses of both couples from the previous books -- but the story was a bit of a disappointment to me. 

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

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: Cake by Lauren Dane

She won't be satisfied with just one bite….

Art student-slash-bike messenger Wren Davis pursues what she wants. And what she wants now is Gregori Ivanov, rock star of the Seattle art scene. With his tattoos, piercings and sensual sneer, Gregori is the ultimate bad boy. Wren's gotten to know the man beneath the body art, too—and it only makes her crave him more.

But Gregori loves women like he loves cake and champagne—intensely, but only for the moment. And after Wren experiences just how scorching sex with Gregori is, she's determined to show him that just one taste won't be enough….

Cake has all the elements I typically expect from a Lauren Dane romance:  sexual tension, a heroine with serious confidence, a gritty, prickly hero.   Yet despite knowing this going in, I didn't love Cake as much as I thought I would. 

Wren is an art student with a messenger job, so she gets to flirt with Gregori Ivanov from time to time as she delivers documents to him.  She knows what she wants -- both professionally and personally -- and she's confident enough make her success happen. 

Gregori is an artist with an attitude.  At least that's the persona he projects in public.  Wren, however, gets him; she sees him where he's most comfortable and real.  But Gregori has female issues, specifically his crazy ex-wife, and he doesn't want Wren to be hurt.  

As I read, I thought Cake should have been retitled to Sweet.  Both Wren and Gregori crave sweets, and Gregori always has cookies lying around the kitchen, which he uses to tempt Wren into staying longer on her deliveries.  A trivial matter perhaps, but I only recall them sharing cake once, yet they eat cookies together all the time.  Is cake somehow more significant than cookies?

Wren is certainly the more aggressive of the two.  She tells Gregori like she sees it and deals with whatever fall-out happens from there.  I wanted to get to know Gregori more to understand exactly what makes him so attractive to Wren (besides his physical appearance and artistic skills). 

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Cake.)  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Review: Color Me Bad by Sharon Sala

An original short story by New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sharon Sala links to her full-length contemporary women's fiction novel, The Curl Up and Dye.

The novella centers around the four women who run the Curl Up and Dye hair salon and their relationships with the quirky customers of small-town Blessings, Georgia. Their meddlesome efforts at match-making run awry, but there's always another makeover just around the corner.

There is nothing more Southern than hanging out in a beauty parlor.  You can hear gossip, get the latest hair trends, and meet an amazing variety of people.  That's exactly what happens in Color Me Bad: we meet the movers and shakers of Blessings, Georgia.  

And boy, does this town move! 

There's allegations of an affair with a pastor, a vindictive and revengeful wife, and bedroom secrets of another couple revealed. 

Color Me Bad is a great introduction to Blessings and its inhabitants, which segues nicely into Ms. Sala's full-length novel, Curl Up and Dye (February 2014).  I'm looking forward to returning to Blessings!

(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Color Me Bad.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: The Duchess Hunt by Jennifer Haymore

Simon Hawkins, duke of Trent, is no stranger to scandal. Rumors and innuendo have darkened the House of Trent for decades, and it has fallen to Simon to restore his tattered family name. He lives by a strict code of honor, but when he is called home to investigate his mother's disappearance, the distinguished duke will tangle with temptation. For there waits the only woman he has ever loved--and the last woman he should desire . . .

Sarah Osborne has spent her life dreaming of Simon's touch. But dukes do not long for lady's maids-or so Sarah believes, until a stolen kiss sparks a passion that could be her ultimate undoing. As the couple begins a forbidden romance, a cunning enemy plots to destroy the duke and everything he loves. Now, caught in a blackmailer's web, Simon faces an agonizing choice: sacrifice his family's future or break Sarah's heart.

The title of Ms. Haymore's latest historical romance is a play on words: Simon Hawkins, duke of Trent, has decided it's time to marry, and is on the lookout for a bride; Simon Hawkins, duke of Trent, is also on the investigative trail of what happened to his mother, the dowager duchess.  The search for the dowager duchess isn't resolved in The Duchess Hunt, however.  It looks to be fraught with twists and turns as the House of Trent rallies to find the dowager before something grim happens. 

Simon's quest for a bride is just as emotional, though this plot is seen through to fruition.  

What I love about Ms. Haymore's writing is its richness and the sexual tension she can show between two characters with a simple look.  Simon and Sarah do not have an easy path to love -- they've loved each other for years, but Simon is a duke and Sarah is from a lower class -- but it's a believable one.  Dukes don't marry beneath their station.  And while the members of the House of Trent are shown to buck convention, his love for Sarah is one issue where Simon is at war with himself. 

I'll be interested to see how long the mystery of where the dowager duchess has gone can logically continue as we move through the remaining two books of this trilogy.  But I loved The Duchess Hunt quite a bit and am eager to learn more about the House of Trent. 


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Review: Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

True Love . . .

Joan Bennet has endured four Seasons without a single suitor or serious flirtation, let alone a marriage proposal. She's had just about enough of being a respectable wallflower and is giving serious thought to embarking on a life of sin, or at least lascivious adventure like the ones described in a popular scandalous book. When she meets her brother's favorite drinking mate, Viscount Burke, it seems her hopes of adventure might be answered . . .

Is Worth a Little Scandal . . .

Tristan Burke doesn't want a wife, and one can't trifle with a friend's sister without risking marriage. Even more, Joan's the last sort of woman he would ever choose: droll, sharp-witted, and always unfashionably dressed. If only he could stop thinking about her mouth. Or what she might look like without those horrid clothes. Or the way he can only win an argument with her by kissing her senseless . . . even though that just makes him want her more. But more could lead to a betrothal, which he fears—or does he?

Ms. Linden's previous series, The Truth About the Duke, was one of my favorites.  While Love and Other Scandals was enjoyable, the plot and outcome seemed a little too easy.  I like my historicals with a bit more angst and longing. 

Woman and her brother's best friend is a trope I love in contemporary romances, but here, Tristan seemed to have an easy time of wooing Joan.  The set-up was convenient, and once Tristan and Joan were "given permission" to be seen together, the rest of their romance fell into place. 

Love is here, yes, but very little scandal. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Books, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of Love and Other Scandals.)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Review: Lady Anne's Lover by Maggie Robinson

Lady Imaculata Anne Egremont has appeared in the scandalous pages of the London List often enough. The reading public is so bored with her nonsense, she couldn't make news now unless she took a vow of chastity. But behind her naughty hijinks is a terrible fear. It's time the List helped her. With a quick scan through its job postings and a few whacks at her ridiculous name, she's off to keep house for a bachelor veteran as plain Anne Mont.

Major Gareth Ripton-Jones is dangerously young and handsome on the face of it, but after losing his love and his arm in short order, he is also too deep in his cups to notice that his suspiciously young housekeeper is suspiciously terrible at keeping house. Until, that is, her sharp tongue and her burnt coffee penetrate even his misery—and the charm underneath surprises them both. Trust the worst cook in Wales to propose a most unexpected solution to his troubles...

Lady Imaculata Egremont is a valuable commodity to The London List.  Her scandals are notorious, yet they make for great reading (and great profit).  When Imaculata is in danger, she turns to Evangeline Ramsey, who turns Imaculata into Anne Mont.

Anne arrives in Wales with very little property and even less knowledge about how to be a housekeeper.  Major Ripton-Jones, however, is struggling also.  He's literally drowning in filth and alcohol.  Anne convinces him of her real identity, and they agree to help each other and help themselves in the process. 

I was a bit surprised by how quickly Anne proposes the scheme for she and Gareth to marry so Anne would inherit and Gareth could restore his home and lands, and how readily Gareth agreed.  He didn't seem like a desperate man, just a broken one.  The murder mystery subplot with all speculation pointing to Gareth as the culprit was an interesting one and offset the romance between Anne and Gareth nicely.  

Lady Anne's Lover is a fine ending to The London List series, and I will admit I'm going to miss what problems Evie manages to solve next.  
(A very special thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Lady Anne's Lover.)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review: Sanctuary Island by Lily Everett

When Ella’s sister decides to reunite with their estranged mother, Ella goes along for the ride—it’s always been the two Preston girls against the world. But Sanctuary Island, a tiny refuge for wild horses tucked off the Atlantic coast, is more inviting than she ever imagined. And it holds more than one last opportunity to repair their broken family—if Ella can open her carefully guarded heart, there is also the chance for new beginnings.

Grady Wilkes is a handyman who can fix anything…except the scars of his own past. When he accepts the task of showing Ella the simple beauties of the island that healed him, he discovers a deep sense of comfort he thought he’d lost. But now he must convince the woman who never intended to stay that on Sanctuary Island, anything is possible—forgiving past mistakes, rediscovering the simple joys of life, and maybe even falling in love.

I will admit, I was skeptical.  I don't typically go for women's fiction books, mainly because I end up crying.  When I found out Lily Everett was also Louisa Edwards, whose romances I have more often than not enjoyed, I was willing to take the chance.  

And I'm so glad I did.  

The world of Sanctuary Island that's presented in this book doesn't really lend itself well to the novellas which Ms. Everette previously released.  Sanctuary Island is lush and rich in characters and heritage, and while, yes, at its heart is a woman struggling to reconcile her past and her relationship with her mother and sister to her future, Sanctuary Island is also about love, about forgiveness, and about moving on in the face of heartbreak.    

I inhaled this book.  I lived every moment with Ella Preston, and when Taylor burst in to Grady's house to reveal Ella's "plan" for the island, I almost screamed at the top of my lungs for Grady to slow down and think things through.  

I am so looking forward to learning more about Ella and Merry and Jo and how these three woman coexist on the island and with one another. 

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

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Wedding Belles by Beth Albright

The Sassy Belles are back… and this time, wedding bells are ringing!

Seven months pregnant and head over heels in love, Vivi Ann McFadden is busy pulling together the final details for her wedding to Lewis Heart, famous play-by-play announcer for the Crimson Tide. But with two wedding-planners-gone-wild, a psychic giving her advice, and the ceremony happening on the same day as the wildly popular Crimson Tide kickoff game, chaos reigns supreme. Luckily, maid of honor Blake O'Hara Heart is on the job. She'll tackle this wedding if it's the last thing she does!

But not everyone is cheering for the happy couple. News of the upcoming nuptials has brought Lewis's old flame back to Tuscaloosa—and she's got a secret that could mean the end of Lewis's marriage… before it even begins.

Blake O'Hara Heart's best friend, Vivi Ann McFadden, is pregnant and engaged, but that doesn't stop plans for a marriage and a birth from going awry.  When Vivi and Lewis apply for their wedding license, the couple are shocked to learn Lewis is married.  Blake agrees to help get to the bottom of this mystery. 

Unfortunately, Blake is also pretending her marriage to Lewis's brother, Harry, is fine as Harry continues his senate campaign; she's sneaking around with Sonny, falling back in love with him; and she's trying to help Sonny and Belinda solve a murder.  

Wedding Belles ends with a cliffhanger concerning Blake and Sonny's relationship, but it makes a nice segue for Sleigh Belles (October 2013), the final book of this trilogy.  I've really enjoyed this little piece of Tuscaloosa and glimpse into Blake's life, and I'll be sad to see our journey together end. 

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Wedding Belles.)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: Girl Least Likely to Marry by Amy Andrews

Samuel Tucker is absolutely the last person scientist Cassie Barclay would ever date. Yes, he's gorgeous, but he's also far too cocky for his own good and thinks that Pi is a tasty afternoon treat. So when he asks her to dance at her friend Reese's non-wedding she's wondering why on earth she says yes!

Tuck is used to people assuming he's all brawn and no brain, and amuses himself by winding Cassie up. But when he finally takes her to bed, suddenly it's Tuck who can show Cassie a thing or two! Can he convince her that love and sex have nothing to do with logic and everything to do with chemistry?

Cassie is a woman who doesn't let her physical needs overtake her brain.  She has a plan and goals for her life, and isn't about to drop what she wants to fall in love. 

Tuck is a former professional athlete, who enjoys the limelight and all the strings that came with it.  He's getting a bit tired of the groupies and hangers-on, true, but he's still having fun and making the best of the situation he's been given. 

Cassie and Tuck meet at the wedding reception of Reese Michael.  Cassie and Reese were college roommates, and Tuck is one of Reese's cousins.  When Gina, another roommate, dares Tuck he cannot get Cassie to dance with him, the groundwork is laid.  And suddenly, that's not the only thing getting laid. 

Cassie and Tuck are cute together, though the nerdy girl and jock boy trope can be a bit stale.  Ms. Andrews made them lively and fun.  Tuck shows Cassie a good time, much more than a good time, in fact, which alters both of their plans.  Girls Least Likely to Marry is the second book of The Wedding Series, though I don't believe it's necessary to have read the first book, The Unexpected Wedding Guest.  

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Girl Least Likely to Marry.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Review: Karma by Carly Phillips

New York Times bestselling author Carly Phillips presents her third novel set in the quaint upstate New York town of Serendipity, where fate, fortune and love intertwine…

Officer Dare Barron has had a crush on Liza McKnight ever since he was a teenager. But despite his lifelong attraction, the closest he’s ever come to interacting with her is watching Liza regularly bail out her brother at the police station.

Dare’s dark past with Liza’s brother, Brian, has always kept him from pursuing her. But suddenly Liza finds herself in need of protection and Dare appoints himself as the man for the job. And while the sizzling attraction between Dare and Liza draws them together, the past threatens to keep the two apart forever.

Karma is the third and final book in the Serendipity trilogy featuring the Barron brothers.   Through the two previous books, Serendipity and Destiny, we've learned that Dare has struggled growing up without his older brothers.  We finally learn what happened that has haunted Dare and also determined the path his adult life would take.  

Liza McKnight has been the object of Dare's affections since they were both in high school, but because of the night Stuart Rossman died and who Liza's brother is, Dare has a hard time reconciling his feelings for her.  Liza doesn't want to be her brother Brian's enabler, yet she's taken over the responsibility from their parents and consistently bails Brian out of jail or trouble in general when she's able.  

Both Dare and Liza have chips on their respective shoulders -- for different reasons, of course -- though that does nothing to stop their chemistry once they finally give in to temptation.   

Karma wasn't my favorite book of the trilogy, but I have enjoyed getting to know each of the Barron brothers separately and collectively throughout this series. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Firefly Cafe by Lily Everett

Pull up a seat at The Firefly Café and fall in love with the first novella in Lily Everett’s heart-tugging “Billionaire Brothers” trilogy!

For years, the Harrington family has dominated the business world.  Gorgeous billionaire brothers Dylan, Logan and Miles Harrington command the family empire, which has given them everything they could ever want…except the one thing that matters most.  Now they’re about to travel to the windswept refuge of Sanctuary Island, where they’ll discover that fortune, fame and power don’t mean a thing without someone to share it with.

Dubbed “the Bad Boy Billionaire” by the tabloids, Dylan Harrison’s playboy lifestyle is starting to lose its appeal. When he hops on his motorcycle and drives to Sanctuary Island, he’s looking for time alone to get his head on straight. Instead, he gets pulled into the warm friendliness of the island—and an intense attraction to Penny Little, waitress at the Firefly Café and caretaker of his family’s vacation home.  Trouble is, Penny doesn’t realize he’s a Harrington brother…and he wants to keep it that way until he’s sure he can trust her with his heart. But Penny has a secret of her own, and when the truth comes to light, will they still have a chance at love?

The Firefly Cafe is the first of a three-part series of novellas concerning the Harrington brothers.  The novellas are set in and around Sanctuary Island, Virginia, and tie-in (a bit) to the new series by Ms. Everett.  As I loved the majority of Ms. Everett's novels under the name Louisa Edwards, I decided to give this novella a try.

I should note that I received an ARC of Sanctuary Island and read it prior to reading The Firefly Cafe.

Because of my above disclaimer, I didn't like The Firefly Cafe as much as I had hoped.  It's still a good story, one that has the usual romance cliches/tropes, but it didn't affect me as much as the characters of Sanctuary Island.  It's not necessary to have read The Firefly Cafe or any of these novellas to understand Sanctuary Island.

I think it may have been the tropes -- billionaire brothers, unsuspecting and unknowing maid, etc. -- that took me out of the story for a little while.  There is one piece of dialogue, however, that sucked me right back in.

"You dummy. Don't you get it? What's left is all that matters." 

If you are looking for a sweet story about a billionaire who wants to mend his fences and learns the importance of people rather than the importance of things, and the maid who changed him, The Firefly Cafe is for you.  It also sets up the second novella,  The Summer Cottage, quite nicely. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: One Sweet Ride by Jaci Burton

Gray Preston was born into money, but he’s built his racing empire on hard work and muscle. And now that Gray has millions of fans, his senator father sends one of his aides, Evelyn Hill, to elicit Gray’s help in garnering votes for the upcoming national election. Gray wants nothing to do with his estranged father’s campaign, but Evelyn can be pretty persuasive. She’s willing to learn about racing, and maybe even get a little dirty.

Evelyn’s number-one goal is politics, which makes working with Gray difficult, because his only passion is fast cars. As she and Gray spend time together, he teaches her about the sport he loves, and she learns a lot about the man behind the wheel. The more she learns, the more she wants him. But any desire that threatens to derail the carefully laid plans for her future is a dangerous one.

With the passion Gray and Evelyn share running hotter than either imagined, one of them is going to have to compromise, or else run the risk of losing more than their hearts.

One Sweet Ride continues the Play by Play series Ms. Burton began with The Perfect Play.  This book, however, is the first not to feature a Riley as the hero or heroine.  There's a different feel to the story because of that, but it's still a typical Jaci Burton romance. 

Gray Preston and his father do not get along.  His father had one idea of Gray's future, and Gray had another.  Because of this, the two men don't speak or have a relationship.  Evelyn Hill works for Gray's father in Washington, D.C.  She has been tasked with bringing Gray into his father's campaign for vice president in the hopes Gray's fans will support his choice of political candidate.  Of course, sparks fly between Gray and Evelyn as she learns more about him and tells him how his father has changed. 

I liked One Sweet Ride because it is a Jaci Burton romance, and I know what to expect from those.  I did miss the camaraderie and family involvement as portrayed by the Rileys in the previous installments.  Perhaps that is the reason I couldn't connect with Gray and Evelyn as much as I wanted to.  Gray's sister, Carolina, and Gray's college roommate Drew will be featured in Melting the Ice (February 2014). 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: The Unexpected Wedding Guest by Aimee Carson

"Surprised to see me?"

Getting caught in her wedding dress by her drop-dead-gorgeous ex-husband is Reese Michael's worst nightmare. Especially when her perfect-on-paper fiancé then cancels their wedding!

Reese has spent years trying to forget how her marriage to Mason Hicks crashed and burned—yes, their chemistry was incredible, but a girl can't live on lust alone! And what's a jilted bride supposed to do when the one man she could never forget is back in her life, as irresistible as ever? Mason might be her own personal brand of Kryptonite, but surely life is meant to be lived a little dangerously…?

The Unexpected Wedding Guest is the first full-length novel in The Wedding Season miniseries.  This is the first of the series that I read, and the first book by Ms. Carson that I've read. 

As far as setting the scene for the forthcoming three books, the remaining Awesome Foursome's male partners are to be determined, though I think one could trace the paper trail and connect the couples based on the men mentioned within The Unexpected Wedding Guest.  That might make a fun game! 

Reese Michael married young -- at 19.  She had smoking chemistry with her husband, Mason Hicks, but when it came time to discuss any problems, Reese didn't (or couldn't).  She would turn to her parents for help, perhaps not realizing how that made Mason feel.  And Mason found it easier to shut Reese out, so it's no wonder they grew apart and their marriage ended.  Ten years later, Reese believes she's found her true love in Dylan, a lifelong friend who seems to be the perfect man.  What Reese doesn't realize -- until Mason shows up at the wedding site -- is that she might not be in love with Dylan.  

Reese and Mason's chemistry is off the charts.  It's easy to see why Reese was swept away by it when she was 19.  And while once Mason makes Reese question if she still has feelings for him or not, I found myself wondering if they would fall into their old patterns once they decide to give their love another try.  I hope we see glimpses of them as the miniseries progresses as I don't want them to just jump into marriage without having learned something from their past mistakes.  

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Unexpected Wedding Guest.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day, America!  Too bad it's raining here, so we won't be enjoying fireworks.  Good day to catch up on some reading though!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Review: The Sassy Belles by Beth Albright

Meet the Sassy Belles

They're strong as a mint julep, sweet as peach cobbler, and no matter what, they stick together.

There are only two seasons in Tuscaloosa—football and waiting-for-football. When Lewis Heart, football announcer and voice of the Crimson Tide, vanishes after an impromptu romp with Vivi Ann McFadden at the Fountain Mist Motel, Vivi does what any Southern woman would do: call her best friend, Blake O'Hara Heart, attorney-at-law.

With the town gossip swirling around them, Vivi and Blake are determined to find out what happened to Lewis and clear Vivi's reputation. Because after all, men may come and go, but the Sassy Belles are forever.

Not since Steel Magnolias have we fallen in love with such sexy, strong and hilarious Southern women. So grab your best girlfriends and join these Belles on the first of many joyrides through the Deep South….

Though The Sassy Belles is published by Harlequin, I don't consider it a true romance; I would label The Sassy Belles as women's fiction -- there's a declining romance, a new romance beginning, and a bit of a mystery.  

Told by narrator Blake O'Hara Heart, we are treated with life in Blake's small social circle of Tuscaloosa, Alabama: her lifelong best friend, Vivi; her husband, Henry; Henry's brother and Vivi's love interest, Lewis; Blake's mother and grandmother, Kitty and Meridee; and Blake's former stepsister, Dallas.  The crux of the story revolves around Lewis's disappearance and Blake's attempts to siphon out the mystery. 

The Sassy Belles is a fun start to what's certain to be a fun series, and I'm looking forward to Wedding Belles (July 2013) and Sleigh Belles (October 2013). 

(A very special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Sassy Belles.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Review: If The Shoe Fits by Megan Mulry

The only thing worse than being in the spotlight is being kept in the dark...

With paparazzi nipping at his heels, Devon Heyworth, rakish brother of the Duke of Northrop, spends his whole life hiding his intelligence and flaunting his playboy persona. Fast cars and faster women give the tabloids plenty to talk about.

American entrepreneur Sarah James is singularly unimpressed with "The Earl" when she meets him at a wedding. But she's made quite an impression on him. When he pursues her all the way across the pond, he discovers that Miss James has no intention of being won over by glitz and glamor—she's got real issues to deal with, and the last thing she needs is larger-than-life royalty mucking about her business...

The pairing of Sarah and Devon was hinted at in Ms. Mulry's first book, A Royal Pain, so I was interested to read how Sarah and Devon would conquer the Atlantic Ocean and achieve their happily ever after.  Unfortunately, If the Shoe Fits missed the mark for me.  

Sarah and Devon have great chemistry, so I wanted to see their relationship work.  Watching it unfold on the page, however, was not a pleasurable experience.  Sarah, while she is a successful businesswoman, appears to have come from money via her father and her maternal grandmother, who lives in France.  Devon, of course, is "The Earl".   It wasn't their money and the jet-setter lifestyle that bothered me, though; it was their personalities, especially once they decided to move their relationship forward.  When Devon's jealousy reared its ugly head in a moment that could have quickly turned very sour and Sarah simply closed her eyes, that's when they lost me as a couple.   

It's a shame I won't be continuing this series because I really would have liked to see how Ms. Mulry paired Devon and Max's younger sister, Abby (who has seemingly been in a lesbian relationship for ten years) with Eliot Cranbrook in R is for Rebel (November 2013).
(A very special thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of If the Shoe Fits.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Eagerly Anticipating -- July 2013


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