Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: Missed Connections by Tamara Mataya

Missed Connection: I saw you standing there, and I was struck by your eyes. Gorgeous, but not as gorgeous as your smile.

What should have been a sizzling NYC summer has been hijacked by demanding bosses. To cope, I spend my nights cruising Missed Connections, dreaming of finding an uber-romantic entry all about me. Of course, the moment I finally find that Missed Connection, real life comes crashing down in a night of unbridled passion with totally off-limits Jack.Best. Hookup. Ever.Gorgeous and wealthy, hot as sin, Jack can give me everything I need-except an emotional connection. That I get from my Missed Connection, the romantic stranger who never fails to make me swoon. But there's only so much of me to go around. Torn between the bad boy I can't keep and the sensitive stranger who bares his soul online, my heart and body are caught in two very different relationships...or are they?

A new-to-me author with an intriguing cover.  I took a chance on this book, and I didn't like it as much as I thought I would.  While the dialogue seemed appropriate for Sarah's age, her behavior  -- and the fact that she stayed in a job where she was seemingly gaslit (I really wanted to find out what would happen there, but since she quit, a resolution was unnecessary) -- and Jack's deception really took me out of the story.  

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Review: Along Came a Rogue by Anna Harrington

Major Nathaniel Grey is free to bed whomever he wants, whenever he chooses, and that's exactly how he likes it. His only loyalties are to country and the two friends he served with-brothers he'd do anything for. So when one of them is gravely injured and asking for his little sister, Grey will move heaven and earth to bring her home. He's greeted not by the gangly girl he remembers, but a stunningly beautiful woman holding a loaded musket. And he's utterly captivated by her . . .

Once upon a time, Emily would have loved nothing more than a stolen hour with her brother's best friend, the dashing officer who captured her heart and soul. But things are different now-and so is she. Gone is the eager young woman who believed in love. In her place is a widow weighed down with secrets who desperately needs to disappear before they're revealed. But Grey's sinfully sexy smile offers protection unlike anything she's ever known, tempting her to risk everything . . . even her heart.

Best friend's little sister is one of my favorite contemporary romance tropes, so I was surprised to see it in an historical romance.  But I loved it!

When one of his best friends, Thomas, is injured and near death, Grey agrees to bring Thomas's sister, Emily, home.  Grey doesn't find the girl he remembers, however; he finds a young widow with secrets.

I enjoyed everything about Along Came a Rogue:  the sexual tension between Emily and Grey, the mystery surrounding Thomas's injury, even the secrets Emily is keeping from her family.  Once I started, I could not put the book down!

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Review: Once a Rake by Eileen Dreyer

All he wants is her help . . .
Colonel Ian Ferguson may be a rake, but he's no traitor. Accused of trying to kill the Duke of Wellington, the disgraced Scotsman is now a fugitive-from the law, the army, and the cunning assassin who hunts him. Wounded and miles from his allies, Ian finds himself at the mercy of an impoverished country wife. The spirited woman is achingly beautiful . . . and hiding some dangerous secrets of her own.

All she needs is his heart . . .
She was a child nobody wanted. Now for Lady Sarah Clarke, holding on to her vanished husband's crumbling estate is her final chance to earn respectability. She knows that hiding the devastatingly handsome Ferguson will jeopardize her home. Common sense demands that she turn him in. But a single, delirious kiss shatters her resolve . . . and awakens a passion that neither of them can escape.

Another book from my Goodreads "Currently Reading" stash.  I received an ARC of Once a Rake but couldn't get into it to finish in a timely manner.  I've also checked this book out a couple of times from my public library. 

Reading the three previous books aren't necessary to understand the grand scheme of the entire series:   Revolutionaries who seek to place Princess Charlotte on the British throne -- the Duke of Wellington the main block in such a move -- and Drake's Rakes must foil it.

Colonel Ian Ferguson is a member of Drake's Rakes, as well as a newly found heir to a marquess, and has been named a wanted man for attempting to kill the Duke of Wellington.  Ian is injured during his escape and finds himself on Lady Sarah Clarke's property.  Sarah is the illegitimate daughter of a duke who was sent to "Last Chance Academy" (where she became friends with Ian's sisters), then given to marriage.  Sarah's husband used the last of her dowry to purchase an army commission, so Sarah manages the household of her mother-in-law, her mother-in-law's companion, and her sister-in-law while doing most of the hard labor as well.

The majority of the action takes place at the Clarke farm, since Ian is convalescing there, with the final third at the Duke of Dorset's estate.  Sarah manages to involve two of her friends from "Last Chance Academy" -- Lizzie and Pippin -- and we see several members of Drake's Rakes who have been secondary characters in previous books.  Chuffy Wilde is my favorite!   The assassination/revolution plot is somewhat squashed, though one of the traitors escapes.  Otherwise, the book focused on Sarah denying her attraction for Ian before finally giving in.      

Monday, June 20, 2016

Review: Win Me Over by Nicole Michaels

Callie Daniels is a singular sensation. She owns and operates her own bakery, contributes to a popular lifestyle blog, and is the dance team coach at a local high school. She lives by her own design and is much too busy to consider dating. Mr. Right will have to fit into her life when the time is right...

Football coach Bennett Clark always plays by the rules. He knows that his new colleague Callie is off limits but she's so beautiful-and irritating!-that Bennett can't get her off his mind. She wants him to participate in a charity dance contest, and won't take no for an answer. Soon, what begins as a festive athletic endeavor turns into a heated flirtation on and off the dance floor. Could it be that the free-spirited Callie has finally found a way through Coach Clark's line of defense?

Win Me Over picks up almost directly where Start Me Up ends, except through the point of view of Callie Daniels.  Callie is a driven, competitive person.  She is a bakery owner, helps her friends Anne and Lindsey with their lifestyle blog, and has recently been hired as the new dance team coach for the high school.   She is approached by the principal to enter a local dance competition with the head coach as her partner.  She reluctantly agrees when she believes the coach will be an older good ol' boy.  She wasn't expecting Bennett Clark.

Bennett Clark is a former professional quarterback whose career ended due to a car accident.  He's content being a science teacher and coach and kind of keeps the life he once had a secret.  Callie certainly has no idea who he used to be.  She just thinks Coach Clark is cute -- and stubborn -- but she likes trading jabs with him on the dance floor as they prepare for the competition.  

Their back-and-forth teasing (and sexual tension) can only lead to them falling in love, although it took a little bit of coaxing on both their parts.  Win Me Over also introduces Lindsey and Derek, who we meet in the final book of the series, Draw Me Close

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Darling Beast by Elizabeth Hoyt

Falsely accused of murder and mute from a near-fatal beating, Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne has escaped from Bedlam. With the Crown's soldiers at his heels, he finds refuge in the ruins of a pleasure garden, toiling as a simple gardener. But when a vivacious young woman moves in, he's quickly driven to distraction . . .
London's premier actress, Lily Stump, is down on her luck when she's forced to move into a scorched theatre with her maid and small son. But she and her tiny family aren't the only inhabitants-a silent, hulking beast of a man also calls the charred ruins home. Yet when she catches him reading her plays, Lily realizes there's more to this man than meets the eye.
Though scorching passion draws them together, Apollo knows that Lily is keeping secrets. When his past catches up with him, he's forced to make a choice: his love for Lily . . . or the explosive truth that will set him free.

Darling Beast is a book I've had on my TBR pile since it's release.  Why I couldn't get into it, I'm not sure.  Usually, I have to make myself s-l-o-w d-o-w-n when reading Ms. Hoyt.  And since I have declared the Summer of 2016 "Finish Your Goodreads Currently Reading List," I sat down and starting this book -- again.

We first met Apollo Greaves, Viscount Kilbourne, in Duke of Midnight.  His now brother-in-law, Maximus Batten, Duke of Wakefield, helped him escape Bedlam.  Apollo has aligned himself with the mysterious Mr. Harte and is reconstructing Harte's Folly.  Little does he know actress Lily Stump, her maid, Maude, her son, and their dog are living in the burned theatre.

Apollo and Lily are both keeping secrets in hopes of keeping themselves and those they love safe.  I found their attraction interesting yet not unexpected, and I really loved Apollo's first spoken words are in relation to Lily.   Valentine Napier, the Duke of Montgomery, a new secondary character introduced here, overshadowed the main characters and others we have come to know throughout the course of this series.  I can't figure Napier out, so I'm definitely intrigued by him.    

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Review: The Beast of Clan Kincaid by Lily Blackwood

They call him the Beast—a hardened mercenary whose heart seems as cold as his icy blue gaze. They do not know his true name: Niall Braewick, son of the Laird of Kincaid. It has been years since he escaped into the forest the night his father was murdered. Now he has returned, ablaze with a vengeful hunger. He will gain the MacClaren chief’s trust, gather his clan, and take back his lands. And take the MacClaren’s daughter as well…

Though he pulled her from the river, saving her life, Elspeth has been warned to keep her distance from her father’s hired warrior. He is a barbarian—a shame, as he is far more compelling than the lechers and fools competing for her dowry. Little does she know that, like the castle itself, she is a prize Niall intends to claim…but will he extract blood for blood and possess what is his, or will his enemy’s beautiful, innocent daughter tempt him to forsake his dream of conquest?

I was very glad to pick up The Beast of Clan Kincaid.  It was a perfect way to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon!

Revenge books are hit-or-miss with me, but I have to say the set-up for Niall's revenge against Clan MacClaren was very good.  It was obvious that Niall returned to his home with the strict purpose of revenging his father's death and reclaiming his clan.  Unexpectedly, Elspeth MacClaren causes distraction and disruption of Niall's agenda.

My only complaint is Elspeth seemed to forgive Niall's deception/betrayal easily.  Niall saved Elspeth's life at least three times during the novel, and they always managed to sneak in a kiss or two before being discovered by other parties, but she seemed very hurt and upset when Niall's true name was revealed.  I never believed Niall would intentionally hurt or use Elspeth; for all his plans of revenge, he seems like a pretty good guy.

I am quite interested to see what will happen in book 2, The Rebel of Clan Kincaid, now that one of Niall's brothers has been found. 

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

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Review: Kiss Me That Way by Laura Trentham

A river divides Cottonbloom in two: the upscale enclave on the Mississippi side and the rundown, rough and tumble side in Louisiana. They’re worlds apart—but nothing can build a bridge like love…

Cade Fournette never had it easy Cottonbloom. He stuck around long enough to raise his orphaned siblings and then hightailed it out West—and never looked back. Even though he’s made a success of himself in Seattle, Cade never lost the toughness and the angry edge that helped him survive down South. His only weak spot: the girl he left behind…

Monroe Kirby came from the wealthy side of town, but that didn’t protect her from her mother’s drinking—or her mother’s boyfriend. It was Cade who did that, on a long-ago hot September night, before he disappeared…along with a piece of her heart. Now Monroe is a physical therapist who can fight for herself, and it’s Cade who could use some conditioning when he makes an unexpected return back home. Will he and Monroe pick up where they left off and finally explore their mutual passion—or will the scars and secrets of the past divide them once more?

Small-town Southern romances may be my favorite.  I grew up in a small town -- at least it felt small -- so these kinds of stories really speak to me. 

Both Monroe and Cade have scars and problems in their past, yet their joined past, something that remained private, keeps them connected.  The main difference between them really is that Cade left his side of Cottonbloom while Monroe stayed on hers. 

Monroe and Cade may have connected when they were younger, but theirs is a mature romance, one that grows from mutual respect and love in the here and now.  Cade certainly doesn't expect to stay in Cottonbloom, although Monroe -- and his family, possibly in equal parts -- keeps pulling him back.  I am glad he decided to go with his heart. 

(A very special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of Kiss Me That Way.)

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Beast of Clan Kincaid by Lily Dalton


 As a twelve-year-old Niall Braewick watched his home burn. In a desperate attempt to save Niall and his two brothers, his father, the Laird of Clan Kincaid, ordered his sons be disguised and whisked from the castle to safety. Amidst the night's chaos the brothers are separated and forced to leave their old identities behind...  

Fifteen years later, Niall returns to his boyhood home as a skilled mercenary and an outsider, but he's thirsty to avenge his parents' deaths.  And Elspeth of Alwyn, the daughter of the very man who destroyed his clan, is his best tool for revenge.  But Elspeth's beauty and spirit prove a more formidable match for the clansman's heart than any warrior. Will what started as a quest for revenge turn into something more?

Buy the book!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

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