Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Review: Holiday Games by Jaci Burton

All Elizabeth and Gavin Riley want for Christmas is a baby. Despite over a year of trying, conception hasn’t been successful. But for a high-achiever like Elizabeth, she must succeed at everything. That means making the very most of every opportunity with her husband. And when it comes to nonstop sex Gavin’s not really complaining. Exhausted, maybe...

Unfortunately, this holiday season they’re not exactly given a lot of private time. Elizabeth is hosting the holiday, Gavin’s sister is getting married, and the house is wall-to-wall with family. For Elizabeth and Gavin the nights may be chilly, but the urge is still hot. And they’re not about to let any distraction get in the way of their necessary pleasures during a holiday game that yields so many unexpected surprises.

Holiday Games is a quick dip back into the world of the Riley family.  The main focus of the novella is Jenna Riley and Ty Anderson's upcoming wedding, but I really wanted more of Elizabeth and Gavin Riley.  Liz is probably my favorite woman in the Riley family, and the fact that she's decided becoming pregnant is taking too long can only lead to interesting situations between she and Gavin.  

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Review: The Duke and Miss Christmas by Amelia Grey

Crispin, the Duke of Hurst, has never met a woman he couldn't handle--until he's hit over the head with a basketful of mistletoe by a young lady who mistakes his intentions. When he gets into a tussle with her--and she can hold her own--Crispin knows he has finally met his match.

Miss Gwen Prim is mortified that she attacked a duke, but even more concerning is the way her resolve melts when she's near him. She's never felt this way about a London gentleman in her life. And with the magic of Christmas in the air, she may end up with a proposal she didn't expect...

This novella is short, so the romance between Crispin and Gwen seems rushed at times.  There's the emergence of INSTA-LOVE, which I'm not fond of, but there's only so many pages to give the characters a satisfying conclusion. 

The Duke and Miss Christmas is strongly connected to the first book of the trilogy, The Duke in My Bed, which features Gwen's oldest sister Louisa and Bray Drakestone. 

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

Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: Home for Christmas by Lily Everett

Celebrate Christmas on Sanctuary Island, where the love light gleams. There will be snow and mistletoe...and two lonely hearts yearning for love, family, and above all, home.

Magazine columnist Libby Leeds has made a name for herself sharing heartwarming stories from her perfect life on Sanctuary Island. There's just one minor detail she's left out: she hasn't set foot on the island since her childhood. Orphaned and heartbroken, she departed years ago and never looked back-except in her fictional columns. Now a wounded war hero is returning to Sanctuary Island, and Libby's editor insists she cover the story by taking the long road back...


Army Ranger Owen Shepard is a tall, handsome single father, and now a media sensation. He wants to reconnect with his daughter, Caitlin, and make up for lost time by giving her a Christmas to remember. When "America's Favorite Homemaker" Libby Leeds offers her help, he jumps at the chance. But the sweet, reclusive writer is more intriguing, and more tempting, than Owen could have imagined. Soon, Owen and Caitlin are spending their holiday with Libby, decorating trees, making gingerbread houses, and warming up by the fire. It's the closest Libby has come to love and family since she was a child-but until she and Owen admit what is in their hearts, the home they are creating together will be only in their dreams.

Libby is a writer, but what she writes and passes off as her everyday life is complete fiction.  She's pulled into a web in order to document Owen Shepard's visit to Sanctuary Island where his sister is the sheriff.  

I wasn't sure how receptive I felt toward Owen, his trauma notwithstanding, or that our heroine, Libby, is a liar (she is!).  These are not the typical makings for a romance novel.  That Libby continually lies as we go along was very frustrating at times, but I believe we're supposed to see that lies come easy for her; the truth is what is difficult.  

Again, it's not a typical Christmas/holiday story when things are so f-ing messed up.  I suppose that's what made me continue Home for Christmas -- the narrative wasn't neat and tidy; the characters weren't perfect with "made up" or "first world" problems.  So naturally I'm glad I continued through until the end.   

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

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

I may not say it often in public on the blog, but I am certainly blessed in this life -- a job, healthy family, books, Netflix. 

May your Thanksgiving be as blessed! (And Happy Thursday to all you Canadians!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dukes are Forever by Anna Harrington

Battlefields and barrooms hold much more interest for Edward Westover, Duke of Strathmore, than a little girl's fondness for dolls and lace. When he takes possession of his enemy's estate, everything that villain held dear-including his daughter-belongs to Edward. Hire a governess, arrange a dowry, give a few reassurances, and be off on his way-that's Edward's plan. But he's in for the shock of his life. For his new ward is a beautiful, impetuous, and utterly irresistible woman . . .

. . . AND WAR
Kate Benton is stunned. Who is this arrogant, infuriating man who's invited himself into her home and taken over her life? Her vow: to do everything in her power to convince him to leave her-and Brambly House-alone. Yet as chilly days melt into sultry nights, Kate sees glimpses of kindness underneath Edward's cool façade . . . and a passionate nature that takes her breath away. There's so much she doesn't know about this man. But does she dare trust this devilish duke with her heart?

About Anna Harrington
Anna is an English professor in Chattanooga, Tennessee and a lover of all things chocolate and coffee. She's a member of RWA, and when she's not hard at work writing her next book or planning her next series, she's watching BBC and piloting her own aircrafts. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hope Springs on Main Street by Olivia Miles

HOPE SPRINGS ON MAIN STREET by Olivia Miles (October 27, 2015; Forever Mass Market; The Briar Creek Series #3)
Sometimes love is where you least expect it . . .
What do you do when your cheating husband proposes to the "other woman"? For Jane Madison, it means you keep calm, carry on, and sneak candy bars and wine for dinner. Jane's grateful for her adorable little girl, yet she yearns for the love that was missing from her marriage. Only one man ever really "got" Jane-and she's stunned when he returns to Briar Creek. But a single mom can't date her ex's best friend . . . can she?

Jane's still kind, beautiful-and far too good for the buddy Henry Birch tried to stop her from marrying years ago. Laying eyes on her now is like a much-needed ray of sunshine. Back in town to sell his family's old house, Henry wants to close a bad chapter in his life and move on. But time with Jane and her sweet daughter has him flirting with the idea of happily ever after--if he can convince her to take a second chance on love . . . 

Buy the book!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Review: The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne

Dorian Blackwell, the Blackheart of Ben More, is a ruthless villain. Scarred and hard-hearted, Dorian is one of Victorian London's wealthiest, most influential men who will stop at nothing to wreak vengeance on those who've wronged him...and will fight to the death to seize what he wants. The lovely, still innocent widow Farah Leigh Mackenzie is no exception-and soon Dorian whisks the beautiful lass away to his sanctuary in the wild Highlands...

But Farah is no one's puppet. She possesses a powerful secret-one that threatens her very life. When being held captive by Dorian proves to be the only way to keep Farah safe from those who would see her dead, Dorian makes Farah a scandalous proposition: marry him for protection in exchange for using her secret to help him exact revenge on his enemies. But what the Blackheart of Ben More never could have imagined is that Farah has terms of her own, igniting a tempestuous desire that consumes them both. Could it be that the woman he captured is the only one who can touch the black heart he'd long thought dead?

I've already professed my Cover Love for The Highwayman; what I was most surprised by is how much I enjoyed the story behind the cover.  The blurb tells part of the story, but Blackwell's true identity and how damaged he is based on his experiences aren't covered.

Blackwell is deeply scarred -- physically and emotionally -- and while he believes he needs Farah in his life, he isn't prepared to allow her to pierce the hard shell he's covered his vulnerable self with.  Watching her do just that, while watching them fall in love again as different people, changed by time and circumstance, was truly magical. 

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

Review: Heartbreak Cove by Lily Everett

Welcome to a place where love is in the air, fate is in the stars, and home is just a heartbeat away…

Sheriff Andie Shepard may be new to Sanctuary Island but, like everyone else who comes here, she's already fallen under its healing spell. Andie is determined to leave her mistakes behind her and make this scenic haven her home. But she just might have to change her plans--as well as open her heart--when an unexpected visitor shows up on her doorstep…

Heartbreak Cove

Caitlin is the ten-year-old niece Andie never knew she had. Silent, wary, and shy as can be, Caitlin only responds to the horses that run wild across the island. Andie has no idea how to deal with Caitlin--until Sam Brennan enters the picture. A tall, handsome loner who rehabilitates abused horses, Sam is able to help Caitlin break out of her shell. But that's not all: He finds a way to touch something deep in Andie's heart, opening her up to the healing power of love. Together, these three lost souls must face the darkness in their past to build a brighter future. Because here, on Sanctuary Island, anything is possible…

Heartbreak Cove is the first of the Sanctuary Island books that doesn't focus on the Preston sisters, Ella and Merry.  But that doesn't make this book any less enjoyable.  I think part of the reason I love this series is the way Ms. Everett writes: it's lush and emotional and never fails to pull me in.  (She's kind of like Tessa Dare in that respect.)

Andie Shepard is the new sheriff of Sanctuary Island.  She has no time for romance, but that doesn't stop romance from arriving in the form of Sam Brennan.  Unfortunately, Sam has secrets he's keeping from Andie.  Add the unexpected arrival of Caitlin, Andie's niece she didn't know about, and the bond she forms with Sam, and Andie is up to her eyeballs in "problems."  Though all their problems aren't solved, Andie, Sam, and Caitlin form a tight family unit, which is sure to be disrupted when Andie's brother and Caitlin's father, Owen, comes to Sanctuary Island in Home for Christmas

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ART of Heartbreak Cove.) 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Cover Love

I was very surprised to love this cover as much as I do.  As a blonde, I cannot wear yellow without looking either jaundiced or like a banana, so I'm quite in awe that Farah can have full, curly blonde hair and wear yellow.

But isn't it glorious? 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Review: It Happened One Wedding by Julie James


After a humiliating end to her engagement, investment banker Sidney Sinclair is done with commitment-phobic men. But when her sister winds up engaged after a whirlwind courtship, she’s thrown in to close contact with exactly the kind of sexy playboy she wants to avoid—the gorgeous best man. She’s stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are…


Special Agent Vaughn Roberts always gets his man on the job and his woman in bed. So Sidney’s refusal to fall for his charms only makes him more determined to win over the cool and confident redhead. Only what starts out as a battle of wills ends up as a serious play for her heart. Because the one woman who refuses to be caught may be the only one Vaughn can’t live without…
of sexy playboy she wants to avoid—the gorgeous best man. She’s stuck with him, for better or worse, until her sister walks down the aisle, but that doesn’t mean she has to give in to his smooth advances, no matter how tempting they are . . .

One cannot go wrong with a Julie James book.  There is SO much to love!!  

Sidney and Vaughn to not fall easy into their love affair; they actually don't like each other.  Yet they're stuck until her sister and his brother get married.  They spar back and forth, a Julie James character trait, and you just know they are falling in love with each insult or quip that's thrown. 

Another aspect of Ms. James's books I enjoy are the secondary characters.  You never know who is going to return! 

Monday, September 7, 2015

Review: Barefoot in the Sand by Roxanne St. Claire

When all you hold dear is taken away . . .

When a hurricane roars through Lacey Armstrong's home on the coast of Barefoot Bay, she decides all that remains in the rubble is opportunity. A new hotel is just what Mimosa Key needs, and Lacey and her teenage daughter are due for a fresh start. And nothing, especially not a hot, younger architect, is going to distract Lacey from finally making her dreams a reality.

A second chance is the only thing you have left.

Love has already cost Clay Walker everything. And if he's going to have any chance of picking up the pieces of his life, he needs the job as Lacey Armstrong's architect. What's not in the plans is falling for the headstrong beauty. Her vision of the future is more appealing than anything he could have ever drafted for himself. Will Clay's designs on Lacey's heart be more than she can handle, or will she trust him to build something that will last forever?

Lacey Armstrong moves forward after a hurricane destroys her home, and she gets more than she bargained for when she's on the hunt for an architect to design her dream B&B.  

I really liked Ms. St. Claire's first foray into contemporary romance, though at times I felt frustrated by Lacey's behavior.  I was also distracted by Clay Walker, the country singer --

who kept intruding into my mind's picture of Clay Walker, the character, but that's a minor quibble, I suppose.  

I loved Lacey's core group of girlfriends.  I'm glad each one has a set purpose and reason for being in her life.  

Barefoot in the Sand is a great summer read (or end of summer read)! 


Friday, September 4, 2015

Review: Duke of Midnight by Elizabeth Hoyt

Twenty years ago Maximus Batten witnessed the brutal murders of his parents. Now the autocratic Duke of Wakefield, he spends his days ruling Parliament. But by night, disguised as the Ghost of St. Giles, he prowls the grim alleys of St. Giles, ever on the hunt for the murderer. One night he finds a fiery woman who meets him toe-to-toe-and won't back down . . .

Artemis Greaves toils as a lady's companion, but hiding beneath the plain brown serge of her dress is the heart of a huntress. When the Ghost of St. Giles rescues her from footpads, she recognizes a kindred spirit-and is intrigued. She's even more intrigued when she realizes who exactly the notorious Ghost is by day . . .

Artemis makes a bold move: she demands that Maximus use his influence to free her imprisoned brother-or she will expose him as the Ghost. But blackmailing a powerful duke isn't without risks. Now that she has the tiger by the tail, can she withstand his ire-or the temptation of his embrace?

Artemis Greaves and Maximus Batten, the Duke of Wakefield, have tempted me since the previous book in the Maiden Lane series, Lord of Darkness.  I am so glad Duke of Midnight lived up to my expectations. 

Artemis is not a typical lady of quality.  She has a sharp mind and is a strong woman, but she's seen as lesser or lower by her companion, Lady Penelope Chadwicke.  She and Maximus match wits perfectly as she tries to blackmail him, and soon discover they are perfect for each other. 

As the story continued, the intrigue and the romance continued to build.  Some of Maximus's decisions weren't stellar, but of course he and Artemis are together at the end of the book. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review: The Governess Club: Bonnie by Ellie MacDonald

Miss Bonnie Hodges, governess to the Darrow family, is desperately trying to hold it together. Tragedy has struck, and she is the sole person left to be strong for the two little boys in her care. When the new guardian arrives, she hopes that things will get better. She wasn't expecting her new employer to be the most frustrating, overbearing, and ... handsome man she's ever seen.

Sir Stephen Montgomery is utterly distracted. He should be trying to figure out how his two best friends were killed in a suspicious accident and why the new young viscount seems destined to be the next victim. But he can't concentrate on anything but his growing infatuation with the beautiful, mysterious, and utterly captivating governess.

Together they're doing their best to save the two boys, but will Stephen's feelings for Bonnie get in the way of their search for a killer?

The Governess Club:  Bonnie is the second novella in The Governess Club series by Ms. MacDonald.  Though Claire and Jacob from The Governess Club:  Claire do make a short appearance, it's not necessary to have read any other novellas in the series. 

Bonnie has delayed her arrival to join her friends, fellow governesses, when tragedy strikes the family who employs her.  She feels guilt about leaving her young charges, so she decides to stay and see what will happen with their guardian arrives.  Bonnie and Sir Stephen Montgomery don't see eye-to-eye immediately, but the undercurrent of attraction between them is quite obvious. 

I liked that Stephen is trying to solve a mystery, and that Bonnie's story is similar in tone -- and outcome! -- but not in content to Claire's.  I am anxious to read the remaining novellas featuring Louisa and Sara, respectively. 

(A very special thank you to Avon Impulse, HarperCollins, and Edelweiss for providing me with an ARC of The Governess Club: Bonnie.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Review: Back To You by Lauren Dane

Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn’t truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly’s finally ready to move on, and she’s planning to marry another man.

But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it.

Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish—and prideful—fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly’s beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he’s had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he’s the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there’s only one way to do it….

I have read the two previous Hurley Boys books, as well as the Brown Siblings and Delicious series, all of which gravitate in the same general world.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, Back To You didn't measure up.  

I cannot put my finger on exactly why I didn't like this book.  It's a combination of Vaughan, Kelly, and comments made about Kelly (typically by Sharon Hurley) in the two Hurley Boys books.  Based on those comments, Kelly had a lot to overcome, and Sharon's opinion is something Kelly struggled with during her marriage to Vaughan.  But while Back To You is a second-chance romance, I also didn't believe in Vaughan and Kelly's reconnection.  She's engaged to another man, for Pete's sake, when Vaughan decides to tell her he still loves her.  They've been divorced for eight years.  [I've never been divorced -- or divorced with children -- and I would imagine some romantic feelings may exist between divorced co-parents; however, it seemed like Vaughan was exchanging one thing (a life touring with the band) for another (a life with his wife and kids).  I didn't get the sense that his new thing would fulfill or sustain him completely for the rest of his life.] 

Disliking a book makes it hard to write an honest review, and I feel doubly bad since I enjoyed The Best Kind of Trouble and Broken Open so very much.

(A special thank you to Harlequin and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Back To You.)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Review: A Taste of Sugar by Marina Adair

A blast from her past . . .
Charlotte Holden, Sugar's favorite pediatrician, knows better than anyone that love only leads to heartbreak. Instead, she's focused on creating the Grow Clinic, an outpatient center for children. All she has to do now is to host the best Founder's Day Parade in the history of Sugar, Georgia, to win over a big-city donor. Easy as peach pie. Then sexy Jace McGraw blows back into town and utters those three words every woman dreads: we're still married.

. . . leads to tantalizing trouble
Jace McGraw was making an offer on his dream business in Atlanta when he was told that his wife had some credit issues. Wait, his wife? The annulment went through years ago-or so he thought. He'd walked away only to keep his troublemaker reputation from ruining her dreams. But now that they have a second chance, Jace offers Charlotte a deal: he'll grant a discreet divorce in exchange for 30 days and nights of marriage. Because this time he isn't going to let her go without a fight.

We have met and interacted with Dr. Charlotte Holden several times in Sugar's Twice as Sweet and Sugar on Top, respectively.  On the outside, Charlotte seems completely together -- she gives advice to Glory, she manages finicky patients (human and animal), she is well-respected in Sugar -- but A Taste of Sugar introduces us to a different Charlotte, one who is concerning with her parents' approval at all times, one who doesn't want to let others around her down, one who doesn't go after what she wants.  When Jace McGraw returns to Sugar to tell Charlotte they are still married, she eventually has to make a choice.

Jace left Sugar after high school, but he reconnected (and married) Charlotte Holden in a fit of whimsy in Atlanta.  That was four years ago, and Charlotte returned to Sugar once they decided to annul their short marriage.  Seeing Charlotte again makes Jace realize that she is the only woman for him and he's going to fight for her.

The small-town shenanigans featured in A Taste of Sugar add silly fun, mainly because I can know people who act exactly like Darleen and Lavender and June Ferguson.  What I really wanted was for Charlotte to not let her father and mother dictate her life.  I was glad when she stood up for herself, though Jace had a hand in pushing her toward her decision.  I would still love to read a Lavender-and-Jackson romance.  *hint, hint, Ms. Adair*

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

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Review: The Earl Claims a Bride by Amelia Grey

Harrison Thornwick is the Heirs' Club's newest member. His carefree days as a reckless rogue carousing around London are suddenly behind him after the tragic death of his brother leaves him in charge of the family estate. What's more, the Prince himself has offered to secure his marital prospects. Now Harrison has no choice but to grin and bear his noble fate-and the woman who's been chosen for him.

Miss Angelina Rule is a spectacular beauty, a dream match for any man. But she is fiercely independent-and full of passion-and is all set to rebel against her royal order of marriage...until she meets the devilishly charming Harrison. With him by her side, Angelina devises a scheme that will teach her meddlesome relatives a lesson, once and for all. But little did she and Harrison expect to fall into a tempestuous attraction-and a powerful desire that neither of them can deny... 

The Earl Claims a Bride is an enjoyable entry to Ms. Grey's The Heirs Club of Scoundrels trilogy.   Thornwick is a friend of the Duke of Drakestone, the hero from The Duke in My Bed, book one of the trilogy.  However, that the men have minor mentions in each other's books shouldn't dissuade one from reading.

Harrison Thornwick didn't expect to be earl; he was the fourth son and enjoyed every moment being a fourth son entails.  Unfortunately, he is discovered in a duel by Alfred Hopscotch, the Prince Regent's emissary, and the Prince has a perfect way for Harrison to avoid prison:  marry Miss Angelina Rule.

Angelina Rule has loved Captain Maxwell since before he went away.  When Captain Maxwell returns, scarred and disfigured by war, Angelina is determined her love and their marriage can heal him.  (It should be noted that Angelina is quite adept at rehabilitating wounded creatures -- her pack of stray dogs can attest to that.)  Her father, however, has placed their family into ruin with his gambling, but the Prince Regent has a enterprising way for her father to avoid debtor's prison:  Angelina will marry Harrison Thornwick.

Harrison and Angelina have remarkable chemistry throughout, despite Angelina's assertion that she will not marry him when the Season has ended.  The moment I thought Harrison actually grew up is when he discovered Angelina might be taken away from him and how that made him feel.  That is when the earl actually claimed his bride.  

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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: The Governess Club: Claire by Ellie MacDonald

Claire Bannister just wants to be a good teacher so that she and the other ladies of the Governess Club can make enough money to leave their jobs and start their own school in the country. But when the new sinfully handsome and utterly distracting tutor arrives, Claire finds herself caught up in a whirlwind romance that could change the course of her future.

Jacob Knightly has a secret. He is actually the notorious Earl of Rimmel. He's just posing as a tutor to escape his reputation in the city. He never expected to fall in love with the kind and beautiful governess. She is the first person to love him for himself and not his title.

But when Jacob's true identity is revealed, Claire realizes she has risked her reputation and her heart on a man she doesn't truly know. Will Jacob be able to convince her that the Wild Earl has been tamed and that she is the true countess of his heart?

This novella by Ms. MacDonald begins The Governess Club series, which focuses on four friends who happen to be governesses.  All the ladies are tired of pushing back against stereotypes of their station in life and have decided to save their money for three years in the hopes of purchasing a house where they can live and work.  The first novella focuses on Claire, who proposes her childhood home, Ridgestone -- despite it having been repossessed -- as the place the ladies should purchase.  

Claire works for the Aldgate family.  Jacob Knightly, the Earl of Rimmel, arrives to tutor Michael and Peter, sons of the Aldgates.  Jacob has no idea how to survive or blend in at a lower station, so Claire gives him some tips.  They spend quite a bit of time together, and naturally, they fall in love.  Jacob keeps his true identity a secret from her.  Despite Claire discovering the truth, things work out fine:  Jacob and Claire agree to marry; the governesses leave their employ and live free.  

Some portions of the novella didn't seem possible (that Jacob could free himself of debts and purchase Ridgestone within a two-week period) or historically accurate (Jacob losing his title when his nephew is born).  However, The Governess Club: Claire was a good way to spend an afternoon. 


Monday, July 20, 2015

Review: Sugar on Top by Marina Adair

She's sassy and sweet
The last thing Glory Mann wants is to become chairman of the Miss Peach Pageant in Sugar, Georgia. Spending months hearing nothing but the clinking of pearls and judgment? No thank you! But when Glory is forced to take the rap for a scandal she didn't commit, the judge sentences her to head the committee. Even worse, her co-chairman is rugged, ripped . . . and barely knows she's alive.

He's ready and willing
Single dad Cal McGraw can't take any more drama in his life. After a difficult divorce, his little girl became a boy-crazy teenager and his hands are full. The last thing he needs is to spend his down time with the town bad girl. Glory is pure trouble—tempting and tantalizing trouble. But he can't deny the strong chemistry between them-or how her touch turns him inside out. Now as squabbles threaten to blow up the contest and the town of Sugar itself, Cal must risk everything on the sexy wild card to get a second chance at love . . .

Cal has spent his life since the death of his parents taking care of everyone:  his brothers, his grandmother, his wife (now ex-wife), their child.  When Glory, with what can only be described as her perpetual bad luck, practically falls into his lap, he sees another person he can help, despite willing himself to stay far, far away from her. 

Glory is not a popular woman in Sugar, though she's determined to turn her life around for the better regardless of what the townspeople think.  She's thankful for Cal's help -- and his interest --  but she's quite capable of handling her own problems, thank you very much.

 With Sugar on Top, we revisit Sugar, Georgia, the small town introduced in Ms. Adair's book, Sugar's Twice as Sweet.  While things tend to be a little over-the-top in small-town romances, I thought Glory and Cal were a delight as a couple.  I believed in their chemistry a little more than Josie's and Brett's, and I may have liked their pairing a little more.  They did have a MISUNDERSTANDING regarding Cal's daughter, Payton, though they were able to get to the bottom of the matter and straighten it out quickly. 

I'm glad to see Charlotte will be featured in Book 3, A Taste of Sugar, and I do hope Sheriff Jackson Duncan and Lavender Spencer will progress their mutual attraction past trading jabs and barbs at each other. 

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

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Review: A Match Made on Main Street by Olivia Miles

This kitchen isn’t big enough for both of them…

If there’s anything Anna Madison knows, it’s how to turn life’s lemons into a lemonade cocktail served in a vintage glass. So when her beloved Briar Creek café burns down, she sees it as an opportunity to start fresh. But the only kitchen available to her is in the diner down the street—owned by her sinfully sexy ex.

If Anna thinks she can take over his greasy-spoon kitchen with her high-end cuisine, Mark Hastings is about to set her straight fast. Their breakup is his biggest regret—not that he’ll ever admit it to her. Nope, he’d rather show her exactly what she’s been missing. With desire set on a high simmer, their menu is about to get a whole lot spicier…

This is my first book by Ms. Miles, and the second book in her Briar Creek series.  I didn't feel too out of place in Briar Creek, I'm happy to say, so I'm sure I'll pick up the other two books. 

My first question is just how small is Briar Creek?  Geographically speaking, Anna and Mark share "territory" on Main Street; both are restaurant owners in what purports itself to be a small town.  How has Anna been able to avoid Mark for six years?  Or has Anna been ducking and dodging into alleys and storefronts when she spies Mark around town?  The length of time that Anna and Mark have been back in Briar Creek and in the same business with little to no contact bothered me, but once I suspended belief in that respect, A Match Made on Main Street is a good second-chance romance. 

My second and third favorite parts, respectively, are Rosemary (and her matchmaking attempts) -- she is a hoot! -- and the bond Grace, Anna, and Jane share.  I look forward to reading more in the rest of the series. 

(A very special thank you to Forever Romance, Hachette Book Group, and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of A Match Made on Main Street.)

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: Wolf Bride by Elizabeth Moss

Bound to him against her will...

Lord Wolf, hardened soldier and expert lover, has come to King Henry VIII's court to claim his new bride: a girl who has intrigued him since he first saw her riding across the Yorkshire moors.

Eloise Tyrell, now lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne Boleyn, has other ideas. She has no desire to submit to a man she barely knows and who-though she is loath to admit it-frightens her more than a little.

Their first kiss awakens in both a fierce desire that bares them to the soul. But as the court erupts into scandal around the ill-fated Queen, Eloise sees firsthand what happens when powerful men tire of their wives...

I'm a fan of most Tudor fiction, and a few years ago, I read pretty much everything ever written about Henry VIII and his respective wives.  The blurb and cover for Wolf Bride drew me in, though I was disappointed in what lay after the table of contents. 

Eloise Tyrell, like most ladies-in-waiting of Henry VIII's respective queens, are at court to achieve something, typically a good marriage.  Eloise's father, a widower, wants this for both his daughters, so he contrives to match Eloise to Lord Wolf rather than the young courtier she is attracted to.  

When Wolf Bride began to depict Lord Wolf as a dominant, hard man, that's when I tuned out.  I'm sad to say this happened in the first half of the novel.  I did not read Fifty Shades of Grey -- nor do I ever plan to -- so to see Eloise submit to a man she's a little afraid of and not attracted to didn't attract me as a reader.  And when Eloise discovers she ultimately loves Wolf despite him ignoring her outside of their bedroom, keeping secrets from her, well, I skimmed from there until the end. 

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

Eagerly Anticipating -- June 2015


Friday, May 1, 2015

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

"I might be Cinderella today, but I dread who they'll think I am tomorrow. I guess it depends on what I do next."

American Rebecca Porter was never one for fairy tales. Her twin sister, Lacey, has always been the romantic who fantasized about glamour and royalty, fame and fortune. Yet it's Bex who seeks adventure at Oxford and finds herself living down the hall from Prince Nicholas, Great Britain's future king. And when Bex can't resist falling for Nick, the person behind the prince, it propels her into a world she did not expect to inhabit, under a spotlight she is not prepared to face.

Dating Nick immerses Bex in ritzy society, dazzling ski trips, and dinners at Kensington Palace with him and his charming, troublesome brother, Freddie. But the relationship also comes with unimaginable baggage: hysterical tabloids, Nick's sparkling and far more suitable ex-girlfriends, and a royal family whose private life is much thornier and more tragic than anyone on the outside knows. The pressures are almost too much to bear, as Bex struggles to reconcile the man she loves with the monarch he's fated to become.

Which is how she gets into trouble.

Now, on the eve of the wedding of the century, Bex is faced with whether everything she's sacrificed for love-her career, her home, her family, maybe even herself-will have been for nothing.

I'm a moderate fan of Ms. Cocks and Ms. Morgan's site, Go Fug Yourself.  I read their Scandal and Downton Abbey recaps, and I used to participate frequently in Fug Madness, their version of March Madness.  I had not read either of their young adult books, but I knew they wrote novels, and I knew they were Royal Watchers.  When I heard about their first adult novel, The Royal We, was a fictionalized tale of future king marrying an American, well, I had to give it a shot.

The first seven chapters, which were available for free, hooked me.  I liked Bex -- her American-ism, her foot-in-mouth disease, her lack of "proper" fashion sense -- and Nick was a ghost-like presence, flitting in and out of her life in Oxford.  The fact that they bonded over a crack-tastic television show made Nick seem human rather than Prince Nicholas of Wales.  Add in the secondary cast of friends -- Gaz, Cilla, Bea, Clive -- and this is the beginning of a humorous contemporary love story.  

I'm not sure where I started to feel disappointed.  

Maybe it was all the drama between Nick and Bex; maybe it was all the drinking Bex and crew does during her year in Oxford, and after she moves to England full-time; maybe it was the fact that Nick and Bex kept their romantic relationship a secret for FOUR YEARS before Bex decided she wanted to know what their future might be.  

I'm not sure.  

One of the things I love about William and Kate's story is that they seem to be genuinely happy together.  He's the future king; she's a commoner who happened to live on his dormitory floor.  And they fell in love.  Yes, they broke up once, maybe twice, but they seem committed now! 

Bex's life does change drastically once she and Nick become "official" in the eyes of Clarence House.  I cannot imagine the type of scrutiny and pressure this would put on a person not born to royal life.  But the last third of the book really didn't sit well for me.  Add the unnecessary melodrama with Bex's twin, Lacey, the surprising true nature of one of their friends, and the ending that didn't resolve anything, and I'm left with disappointment rather than gushing moments of squee. I do hope we get to see Freddie again, though; he was quite enjoyable. 

If you want to escape the humdrum of your normal life for a few of hours, The Royal We will certainly take you away. 

(A very special thank you to Grand Central Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of The Royal We.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Related Posts with Thumbnails