Our Reviews

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Another Great Winter Romance!

A WINTER WEDDING
Whiskey Creek
Brenda Novak
MIRA
ISBN:  978-1410487230
November 2015
Contemporary Romance

This is Kyle’s story in the ever popular Whiskey Creek book series.  Kyle has appeared in other novels and was always a bit of a mystery given that he looked like a complex character who, while on the periphery of other stories, deserved his own book.

In this novel the only woman he has ever loved is married to his stepbrother, this woman’s sister, Noelle, is his crazy ex-wife, and while Kyle is successfully running a business, he is stuck in a sea of marriages and babies without a significant other.  He ends up renting his house to Lourdes, a country music star trying to find herself in her music, in a geographical setting where she can remain relatively anonymous.  She is immediately drawn to the quiet strength of Kyle, a man very different from the superficiality of her entertainment world.

Lourdes would like to have one more successfull song or album and finds competing with younger talent exhausting.  Her own difficulties with her male fiancé make Kyle look very normal.

I loved this book and read it in one sitting.  These are nicely complicated characters who manage to assuage their lonely lives with a sweet relationship.  I was really rooting for Kyle who I think deserved a happily ever after.  A terrific holiday read!

Reviewed by  Jeri Neal
Rating:  4

A New Cold Creek Christmas Story for RaeAnne Thayne fans

A COLD CREEK CHRISTMAS STORY
RaeAnne Thayne
Harlequin Special Edition  
ISBN:  978-0373659258
November 2015
Contemporary Romance

Readers have met Celeste Nichols in previous books by this author.  As the librarian of the small town Pine Gulch library she has lived in relative obscurity for a long time.  This all changes when her children’s stories about Sparkle the reindeer became an instant success and she is pushed into the publishing limelight.  The youngest of the Nichols sisters, she has lived on her family’s ranch with her cat and dog and helps make the Christmas Ranch a continuing holiday tradition.

At the same time divorced hometown boy Flynn Delaney returns to Pine Gulch to clean out his grandmother’s home.  A successful businessman in California, he is trying to heal his young daughter’s physical injuries and traumatic memories associated with her mother’s murder by an unstable boyfriend. Now she is Flynn’s responsibility and he brings her back to Pine Gulch with some desperation and a wish to heal.

The delicious part of this story is the knowledge that Celeste had a wild crush on Flynn when they were children.  She knows him instantly when he returns to the small town where he spent summers with his grandmother.  Celeste has had her own brush with trauma, losing her parents as a child and being raised by her aunt and uncle who owned the Christmas Ranch.  She particularly understands what Olivia is experiencing as she tries to conquer her fears.

Flynn finds himself drawn to the quiet young woman who his daughter adores because she is the one who wrote about Sparkle.  This is a very sweet, lovely Christmas story about two very lonely people, commitment to family, and finding out what really matters in life.  A terrific holiday romance!

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:  4

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Eva Leigh's newest is a slow building romance




SCANDAL TAKES THE STAGE
Wicked Quills of London Series Book 2
Eva Leigh
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-235864-6
November 2015
Historical Romance

As a successful playwright, Maggie Delamere is on the brink of financial ruin. Her wildly successful previous play has footed the bill for a while, but now that her benefactors are pressuring her for the sequel, she finds that her creative genius has gone quiet. Without the income, she will be left with little resources, the actors and people involved in the theatre will also suffer. With a deadline two weeks away, she has little time for the bothersome and dangerously attractive Viscount Marwood.

Cameron, the Viscount Marwood, has been admiring the work of the talented Mrs. Delamere for a long time. Once he finally meets her, his curiosity turns into fascination as she rebuffs him at every turn. She clearly has no use for him, but he senses something is amiss with the talented widow. Gaining her friendship little by little, he is able to offer her his country estate to get down to writing her sequel. However, once they finally get past the barriers and hidden heartbreak, Cam finds that friendship turning into love. A future for a pair like them would be near impossible, or would it?

I found this second installment to be a bit slow in the romance department, however very interesting in the behind the scenes of a theatre group. Maggie has issues with the upper class, stemming from a long ago heartbreak. She doesn't trust Cam in the slightest and we get to see how slowly they are able to overcome the issues presented them with their relationship as well as her writing. The passion is very slow in coming and that is my only complaint. I like to see something in the first half of the book besides character building, at least a kiss or two. So if you prefer a character story, with a hint of romance, then look no further.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 3

Tuesday, December 01, 2015


HER UNDERCOVER DEFENDER
Debra Webb/Regan Black
The Specialist: Heroes Next Door Series
Harlequin Intrigue #1602
ISBN: 978-0-373-69869-1
November 2015

Having been a follower of author Debra Webb's Colby Agency series for years, I was recently stunned to read she had developed a new series with fellow author Regan Black called The Specialist: Heroes Next Door. Imagine my surprise when I started my search for this series and found out three books were already in print and the fourth was imminent. Let's just say this reviewer is enjoying the discovery of new stories and characters and is getting immersed in the Specialist via the back door, that is, starting with the last book and working my way back to the first.

In HER UNDERCOVER DEFENDER, we meet covert agent David Martin, a former member of the US Coast Guard, assigned to an elite CIA team. David has just been transferred to a medical facility in Charleston, South Carolina where research is being conducted on a device that tracks terrorist. His assignment is to provide the agency with information on the progression of the research and to get to know a nurse working in the hospital. The nurse has a close relationship with the doctor in charge of  biotech research.

Nurse Terri Barnhart works at the Medical University of South Carolina. She has a younger brother that is causing her to worry because he's dropped out of college and completely disappeared  without contacting her.  When her brother finally surfaces he does so with issues that involve terrorist activities. By now, Terri and David have met and taken a strong liking to each other,  developing a relationship that could seriously backfire if Terri ever discovers what David's background really is and why he's in South Carolina.

With criminal/terrorist activity as a backdrop, HER UNDERCOVER DEFENDER  mixes romance and suspense into a slightly homespun, small town tale. If you can get past wanting to strangle the bratty brother, you'll enjoy the story. You will definitely want to gather the other books in the series to start at the beginning, or, if you're lucky and have been reading it all along, you'll enjoy the addition.

Reviewed By Livia Holton
Rating: 4

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Another good book by RaeAnne Thayne


EVERGREEN SPRINGS (Haven Point)
RaeAnne Thayne
HQN (Kindle Edition)
ASIN:  B00U6BMB3C
October 2015
Contemporary Romance

The latest book in the Haven Point series tells us Devin’s story.  A physician, she has tended to neglect her personal life and has instead focused on the seniors she volunteers with regularly.  Cole Barrett, a local rancher, is trying to deal with his two young children and their grief at losing their mother in an accident.  Granted, Cole was divorced from her but his kids are looking at Christmas without their mother.  He meets Devin during one of her shifts in the emergency room after his sister, pregnant with twins, takes a fall.  His sister has left her husband and is helping Cole out with his children.  

In previous books we’ve read about the curative factors in the Lake Haven mineral waters.  The hot springs are on Barrett property and Devin has to talk Cole into letting her use the springs for her senior citizens, whose joints benefit from the water.  In exchange she offers to give his children a magical Christmas.  He reluctantly agrees to this.

Of course, the rest of the story is pure RaeAnne Thayne and we are transported to the magic of this small town, the kindness of the people who populate it, and the healing that happens when two conflicted people manage to find each other.  This could be a standalone book but I think it had more meaning after reading the first two novels in the series.  This is a heartwarming, fun novel that will tug on your heartstrings and remind us that Christmas is coming soon!

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:  4

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


FOREVER YOUR EARL
Wicked Quills of London Series Book 1
Eva Leigh
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-235862-2
October 2015
Historical Romance

Debut author Eva Leigh shines brightly with FOREVER YOUR EARL.

Eleanor Hawke writes the most notorious gossip in her paper, The Hawke's Eye. Zeroing in on the popular Earl of Ashford, Daniel Balfour, she is more than shocked when he shows up at her office and offers her a chance to see for herself that what she is printing is not the truth. Eleanor finds herself given access to places she never dreamed of entering, but more than that she discovers that Daniel is so much more than what he appears. The attraction simmers between them until it explodes with passion. She cannot imagine a life with him, with her being a commoner and a working woman, but her heart never asked what was proper.

Daniel knows he must put a stop to the attention these stories are generating. He has a secret mission that is threatened by all the press. Offering Eleanor a chance to see his side of things will also allow him to continue searching for his missing friend. Disguising her as a man will allow him to bring her with him, but it doesn't stop the attraction. The real obstacle is their class differences, so in the end will it cause the end of their relationship or will they go against the grain for each other?

The first book shows that Eva Leigh is an author to watch. The witty banter, unique plot elements and lovely characters will keep this book in readers hands until the end. I found some parts laugh out loud humorous, as well as the building tension between the two. Looking forward to seeing what this author brings us next.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4 1/2

Thursday, October 15, 2015

A tortured hero highlights Ranney's newest Scottish Romance



SCOTSMAN OF MY DREAMS
Karen Ranney
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-233750-4
September 2015
Historical Romance

Dalton MacIain has returned from the American Civil War, embittered, closed off and wounded. The last thing he wants or needs is an overbearing woman barging her way into his life. Since she didn't ask or take no for an answer, he seems to be stuck with her. Getting rid of her might be more than he can do.

Minerva Todd is looking for her brother, Neville, who had gone off to war with Dalton but didn't return with him. She's quite sure that Dalton knows where he is. Then she discovers that Dalton believes Neville is responsible for his condition and he's now looking for him, too. An uneasy truce is formed between them even as the attraction between them flares up. Their search for answers may lead them into more danger than either of them realized.

The latest from Ranney is filled with a tortured hero, intrigue, a willful heroine and all sorts of secondary characters that really make this an enjoyable story. Dalton emerges from his shell as he tries to heal and thwart Minerva's determination to find her brother. Finding Neville is a way for these two to be together, but ultimately there is more to the story that keeps you glued to the pages.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating 4 1/2

New western delivers a compelling romance!


HER LUCKY COWBOY
Montana Men Series - Book Three
Jennifer Ryan
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-233495-4
September 2015
Contemporary Romance

Once upon a time, Bell had fallen for Dane when he had fallen off his horse. An Illegitimate child, her grandmother made her feel unwanted, hid her away like a dirty secret, thus she never really was able to get to know him like a normal girl. Years later, she's a successful doctor and watching her favorite cowboy Dane ride at a big rodeo. To her horror, she watches as he gets trampled beneath the bull's deadly hooves, but she was able to save him once again.
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Dane remembers the young girl that helped him when he was thrown from his horse. He also knows that the beautiful doctor is that same girl. What he doesn't understand is why she was so closed off from everyone growing up and why she is so reluctant to get to know him now. Dane is a ladies man, Bell knows and is quite sure she can't compete with his beautiful women that throw themselves at him. However, Dane's last ride enabled him to retire and make a life for himself. What he wants in his life is Bell, but will she let him in her heart?

The fact that Bell is raised by her crazy religious zealot of a grandmother is what has shaped her entire outlook on herself. Treated horribly, she has deep issues with her self-worth growing up, but even more than that, she doesn't believe herself capable of competing for Dane's heart. Dane is seriously sexy, and he's persistent and strong enough to help her overcome her fears. There also is a suspenseful story line thrown in for good measure. The character driven storyline would have been enough, so this is an addition that I felt was unnecessary but was interesting at any rate. A compelling story with well-drawn out characters.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Dare's Scottish romance is a worthy read!


WHEN A SCOT TIES THE KNOT
Castles Ever After Book Three
Tessa Dare
Avon Books
ISBN# 978-0-06-234902-6
September 2015
Historical Romance

Madeline Gracechurch is painfully shy, she cannot stand to be in large crowds. So, at sixteen, she invents an imaginary suitor so she can be left alone. For years, she writes letters to what she believes is a made up name, only they actually get sent to a real man with that name. The letters become almost like a diary for her, revealing her secrets, dreams, desires and wishes. Logan, having received the letters, reads them, memorizes them, and decides to use them to his advantage when the time comes.

Captain Logan MacKenzie has read all the letters and knows this is his chance to give back to his men that have been displaced, abandoned and left alone after years of soldiering. He doesn't care what he has to do, but he needs the castle and the land to give his men a permanent home. One lying English miss isn't going to stand in his way. He wasn't prepared for how beautiful, alluring, and tempting his new wife would be, and suddenly, the prospect of having a real future becomes more appealing every day. Yet, Logan is hiding his own share of dark secrets that threaten his future.

These two together are fun to watch as their relationship develops along. Logan has his secrets that he hides and it drives a wedge between them. A wonderful character romance worth reading.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

IF YOU ONLY KNEW by Kristan Higgins is a keeper!

IF YOU ONLY KNEW
Kristan Higgins
HQN
ISBN: 978-0-373-78497-4
September 2015
Contemporary Romance

This latest from one of my favorite authors does not disappoint. Jenny Tate is a wedding dress designer who has given up the New York City scene for her small town hometown up the Hudson River. Her former husband has moved on to a new wife and baby and Jenny just does not feel in the mood to be included in their happily ever. Especially since this was supposed to be her scenario.

So, Jenny goes home and opens up a classy wedding dress designer business. She is close to her sister Rachel, who is having some significant relationship issues of her own with her philandering husband. Rachel’s plate is full with triplets and she leans on Jenny for support.

Jenny’s mom is intrusive and always reminding her what she doesn’t have. Her mom is also obsessed with her late husband, who died suddenly and wasn’t as perfect as everyone believed.

In the middle of all this is Jenny’s landlord Leo, a mysterious man who gives piano lessons and seems to have a secret. Jenny, of course, is powerfully drawn to him. This relationship forms the backbone of the book.

As always, Kristan Higgins manages to make me laugh out loud and cry all within the same novel. Her characters are so darn human and believable and readers will adore this offering. This novel is no different from all the others yet, it was so terrific that I read it a second time. It will go on my keeper shelf, along with all her other books, to provide a book friend that I know will give reading pleasure in years to come. Bravo!

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating: 4 1/2

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

EXIT STRATEGY is action packed!


EXIT STRATEGY
EXIT Inc. Thrillers
Lena Diaz
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-234908-8
July 2015
Romantic Suspense

EXIT Inc. enforcer Marcus Hunt is on a mission to eliminate a threat, Sabrina Hightower. However, there's something not quite right about his target and he suspects maybe she is innocent. Questioning his mission and everything he's built for himself, he keeps her out of harms way until he figures it out. This process is especially hard because a colleague is also after her. Marcus and Sabrina flee into the mountains, where they fight for their lives and against a powerful attraction.

From the onset, Sabrina is fighting for her life. After an intruder forces her from her house, she runs headlong into Marcus, who whisks her away for her own protection. Fighting against a powerful organization that wants her dead, Marcus and Sabrina have to stay ahead of the game in order to survive. Falling in love just gave them more incentive, but will they reach the end of the line alive?

This is an action packed thriller, complete with bad guys that aren't that bad, and bad guys that are really bad, and sexy, sultry tension that permeates the pages to keep the reader enthralled. Marcus is one sexy to the bone enforcer who has met his match in Sabrina. All these things make for a superb start to this series.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Put Up Your Duke by Megan Frampton


PUT UP YOUR DUKE

Dukes Behaving Badly Book 2
Megan Frampton
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-235222-4
July 2015
Historical Romance

Nicholas Smithfield has just been newly minted as the Duke of Gage, after the previous Duke was ousted due to an illegitimate issue some generations back. He not only inherits the Dukedom and all that it entails, but also a fiance that he must marry in order to help keep his estate solvent. Lady Isabella Sawford has been molded, preened, educated and bartered by her parents since she was born. Her parents gave the previous Duke money in exchange for marrying her, and now that duty falls to Nicholas. Neither one is happy about it, but they proceed since they really have no other choice. What ensues is a relationship that is slowly built through trust and companionship. The only thing missing is love, but can it be far behind?

When I first picked up the book, I had high hopes that this would be a romance filled with tension, angst and sizzle. Not the case, sadly enough. The plot is slow, the parents horrendous in their constant manipulation and overbearing ways towards both their daughters, and the romance is nearly non-existent. This story is about as interesting as a piece of dried bread and lukewarm water. Obviously something could have been made about the previous Duke, as he's trying to cause a conflict with regards to his ousting, but that's really all done behind the scenes as if he's just off stage and we are being told about it. Nicholas is a scoundrel (or so we are lead to believe), but as soon as he's married, he turns into this wonderful, understanding, husband who slowly woos his wife but it takes him a very long time. A scoundrel should have a few weapons in his arsenal to win over his wife, I would think. The ending is somewhat of another blah moment. By the time these two finally get around to, you know, I really just didn't care. I'm giving this a little higher mark than I should because Isabella's sister is entertaining at least.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 3

Monday, August 17, 2015

Contemporary Western from Elizabeth Lowell


PERFECT TOUCH
Elizabeth Lowell
William Morrow
ISBN:  978-0-06-232834-2
July 2015
Contemporary Romance

This latest offering by this talented author of western romance tells the story of Sara Maddox, an art dealer and owner of a design studio in San Francisco.  For months she has been having phone conversations with Jay Vermillion, a rancher and former military man who has inherited the Vermillion Sky in Wyoming from his late father.  Sara is intrigued by Jay and the contrasts presented by the smooth talking, articulate man who is the reluctant owner of a series of paintings owned by his late father.  The paintings are scattered around the ranch holdings and have to be located.

Jay is also enmeshed in a vicious battle for control of the artwork with his father’s ex-wife and her son (his half brother).  Jay hires Sara to research history and ultimately sell his father’s art and the attraction between them, from the beginning, is intense.  Sara, who agrees to stay at the ranch and work on finding and cataloging the paintings, is immediately enmeshed in the conflicts and drama of the ranch.

I have to admit that I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book in the first few chapters.  But I have to tell you that it was a compelling read, with intense descriptions of the Wyoming landscape and lifestyle.  Lowell did her trademark work with this book, drawing her characters with a fine brush and meshing these two very diverse individuals in a perfect montage of intense attraction and romance.  A fine edge of intrigue around these paintings, the artist, and the family members coveting the work, just adds to the delicious complexity of the novel.  Not to be missed!

Reviewed by:  Jeri Neal
Rating:  4 1/2

Another Hot Book from Maya Banks!


SAFE AT LAST
A Slow Burn Novel
Maya Banks
Avon
ISBN:  978-0062312501
July 2014
Contemporary Romance

In this latest in the series about Devereaux Security we are given Zack and Grace’s story.  In high school Zack had been passionately in love with a young girl from “the wrong side of the tracks.”  While his father disapproved and Zack went off to college, Grace, who became essentially homeless, cleaned rooms in a motel and waited for the weekends when Zack could get home.  Then Grace disappeared.  Completely.

Zack tries desperately to move on with his life, moves on to play pro football until an injury ends his career.  He ends up working for Devereaux Security.  A solitary, private man, few know any of his life history.  No one knows about continuous search for any sign of Grace.

Then one evening the security detail goes to a new job, at an art gallery, and Zack glimpses a painting made of a place only he and Grace knew about.  Zack becomes out of control as he confronts the gallery owner and catches a glimpse of the artist, his beloved Grace.

The story unfolds from here, with a tragic story woven into the circumstances that have torn this young couple apart.  Zack must try and understand the forces that took Grace away from him, the betrayals of people from his past, and ultimately, try and win back the woman he has always loved.

This is the third book in this series and the characters from previous books make many appearances.  While it can certainly be read as a standalone, I think it was helpful to have read the previous novels.  This author brings these characters, and especially their emotional pain, completely alive and the book is compelling to read.  The romance is hot, hot, hot!

Reviewed by:  Jeri Neal
Rating:  4

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Duran's gripping romance is a don't miss!


LADY BE GOOD
Rules for the Reckless Series
Meredith Duran
Pocket Books
ISBN# 978-1-4767-4137-6
August 2015
Historical Romance

All Lilah Marshall wants is a life for herself and her sister, away from the danger and domineering uncle who has overseen their criminal ways. Things change when her sister dies and Lilah reinvents herself to become one of the Everleigh's Girls, a hostess at their Auction House. She bargains with her uncle one last time to get out from under him. All she needs to do is retrieve some letters for him and she's done. Yet in the midst of getting the letters she is caught by Christian "Kit" Stratton, the Viscount Palmer, who instantly becomes fascinated by this sultry criminal and would be temptress.

Christian is a war hero, with a poem quoted about him all throughout London. What they don't know (or won't believe) is that he is a haunted man, with a viscous Russian General stalking everyone he cares about, who will stop at nothing to kill every last one of them. With his brother Geoff already dead from a fire, Christian knows it's just a matter of time before the man gets to his sister and mother. Christian decides to draw him out, using Catherine Everleigh as bait. When he catches Lilah red handed, he blackmails her into helping him secure an engagement with Catherine.
Lilah and Catherine form an unlikely alliance, and as time wears on, Christian feels decidedly more for Lilah than he thought possible. Now the madman has marked Lilah and Christian knows time is running out.

There are two powerful men in this book, Christian and Uncle Nick. Nick is a bit of a crime lord, with seedy connections all over town. Christian is powerful through his name, as well as his prowess as a soldier. You know these two are going to lock heads over Lilah at some point. Catherine and Lilah are the two female leads, and even though Catherine is a bit of stick in the mud at first, she does what she has to do in order to get out from under her brother's thumb. This book really builds up the two secondary characters quite a bit in order for a Catherine/Nick romance in the next book. As for Lilah and Christian, they are quite the pair, with each holding back secrets that could threaten their lives, but failing to hold much back when it comes to their attraction for each other. Christian is bent on saving his family, even at the expense of Catherine, and that is almost unacceptable even though Catherine does find this out and agrees to it. He's also hard headed not wanting Lilah (or her uncle) involved in helping find this Russian madman. He needs a few more redeeming qualities to measure up to Lilah's. Overall, this was a very gripping romance, filled with heat, suspense, banter, and lots of passion.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4 1/2

Hard Ink Finale is Hard to Put Down!


HARD TO LET GO
Hard Ink Series Book 4
Laura Kaye
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-226794-8
July 2015
Contemporary Romance

Laura Kaye's final book in her HARD INK series, this book follows a former Special Forces group as they try and finally clear their name. Their Special Forces unit had half their team and commander killed at a checkpoint in Afghanistan, but were subsequently blamed and dishonorably discharged for their deaths. Trying to clear their name has been their focus of the past books, even though it only took several weeks for the team in their time. I had not read the previous books and felt a little disoriented, so I highly recommend reading this series in order, which I may go back and do because this story is seriously hot and full of tense action.

Hard Ink Tattoo is ran by Nick Rixey, but also serves as a headquarters for their operation in clearing their name. Nick's sister, Katherine "Kat" is a Prosecutor getting away from an ex who also works in the same building. When things become a little scary, she high tails it to Hard Ink to lay low, but gets herself involved in their mission. When she comes face to face with Beckett, there is immediate sizzling attraction that soars off the charts when they give in to their instincts. There is a lot of antagonistic verbal exchanges between these two that ramp up the tension.

Beckett has closed himself off, not allowing himself to feel anything. He knows he shouldn't get involved with his best friend's sister, but some things can't be controlled, and their attraction is one of them. Beckett starts to feel things he hasn't let himself feel in a long time. He tries to stay away, but when that doesn't work, they decide on seeing where it leads. Then things begin to get dicey and the team has to pull out all the stops in order to survive. The finale of this series is heart-stopping and lays the groundwork for a very exciting end.

As I mentioned, I had not read the previous books, and even though Kaye lays out the basics at the beginning of this book, there were some obvious events that happened prior that made me feel a bit lost. That doesn't stop this book from being a seriously good read, especially with Beckett and Kat as the main characters. I probably should go and read the first books in order to get a full sense of who Beckett is and in order to appreciate what he's been through. The sexual tension is explosive and very satisfying. There were plenty of secondary characters from previous books that added to the drama, and the Ravens Riders Motorcycle Club that had a part in this are going to be featured in her next series. Fans of this series will not want to miss this one. New readers like me, I say go and get the previous books and read from the beginning because the ending is fantastic.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4 1/2

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A New Novel in the Haven Point series

REDEMPTION BAY
Haven Point
RaeAnne Thayne
HQN
ISBN:   978-0373785063
July 2015
Contemporary Romance

This second in the Haven Point romances is sure to delight readers.   McKenzie Shaw didn’t come to live in the town until she was about 10 years old.   The result of her father’s one night stand with a Latina woman, she came to his family when her mother died.   While both her father and stepmother have passed away she remains very close to her half sister, Devin, the local family physician.   Even though she is young in years, Kenzie is completely devoted to her small town and to her role as the mayor.

Kenzie is shocked when her high school crush, Ben Kilpatrick, returns to town to scope out a new setting for one of his business expansions.   His family has sold the boat building business that had kept Haven Point an economically viable community for years.   Kenzie and many other people in town have never forgiven Ben or his family.   Now a billionaire, Ben also finds himself living temporarily next to McKenzie and her beautiful poodle.

This delightful book is trademark Thayne, who is so skilled at taking everyday activities and weaving them into a story that gives us a window into life in a small town.   I only wish there had been a little more emphasis on the romance between Ben and McKenzie.   That said, this is a terrific book and I can’t wait until the next book, EVERGREEN SPRINGS, giving us Devin’s story.   A lovely end of the summer read!

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:   4

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

THE ART OF SINNING by Jeffries


THE ART OF SINNING
The Sinful Suitors Book 1
Sabrina Jeffries
Pocket Books
ISBN# 978-1-4767-8606-3
August 2015
Historical Romance

Sabrina Jeffries' new series starts off with an unlikely pair - an almost spinster and an American artist who wants to paint her. After seeing her at a wedding, Jeremy Keane knows he has found his muse for his next work of art. When he discovers that she is the sister to the Earl of Blakeborough, he is surprised when the Earl agrees to have her portrait painted in the hopes of securing her a marriage.

Lady Yvette Barlow agrees to this only because she needs to find a friend and she needs Jeremy's help in doing that. However, the more time they spend together, their attraction grows. Jeremy has secrets in his past that threaten his happiness with Yvette, who has her own trust issues where Jeremy is concerned. When Yvette discovers from his sister why he wanted to paint her, those feelings resurface. However, when everything is revealed, things are not quite as they seem for both of them.

There is a lot of sensual tension, heart-aching moments and secondary characters that keep the pace moving along. The art aspect is enticing, especially since Jeremy's known for painting some less than respectable women. I enjoyed this start to the series and look forward to the next installment. Sabrina Jeffries continues to write engaging and delightfully complex characters that keep readers returning for more.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4
1/2

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New baseball series start by Jennifer Bernard


ALL OF ME
Love Between the Bases Series - Book One
Jennifer Bernard
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-237216-1
June 2015
Contemporary Romance

Minor League starting pitcher for the Kilby Catfish, Caleb Hart, has just come off of a horrific start when he literally runs smack into Sadie Merritt. Sadie has come to deliver a petition to remove the Catfish from town. From this moment, these two have sparks between them and it takes some coercing by the team's manager to get Caleb to run some PR with Sadie and get the Catfish back into the good graces of the Mayor. After devising a plan of action, they work together in changing the image of the team.

Things get a little more complicated when these two start having to deal with their attraction to each other. Yet Sadie has a big problem of her past coming back to haunt her in the form of a despicable ex-boyfriend that is from an influential family of the town. A small town has no secrets and Caleb is about to learn Sadie's. Sadie knows that it's just a matter of time before Caleb heads off to the big leagues, and what's left behind is something she will have to deal with, including her own heart.

First off, I'm a huge baseball fan. I grew up watching it with my family, watching my son play, sitting through minor league and major league games as any die hard fan loves to do. So when a romance novel comes along that involves a baseball player, it's a win win for me! As much as I found the book charming with it's quirky look at minor league life, I didn't quite feel connected to the characters or their romance as I wanted to. Sadie's previous relationship has kept her lying low, her tail between her legs so to speak. So when Caleb comes along, he helps give her confidence a boost that is needed for her to overcome it. Caleb, a pitcher, is cute, charming and devoted to everything he does, including Sadie. I wanted to enjoy this more than I did, but it was still an alright read.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 3

Monday, July 20, 2015

          
A POUND OF FLESH
Sophie Jackson
Gallery Books
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9559-1
Contemporary Romance
June  2015
 
Kat Lane witnessed her father’s death from a gang of violent criminals when she was only nine years old. That nightmare continues to haunt her, even now at age 25; she honored her father’s death by becoming a teacher and working at Arthur Kill, a correctional facility. Her father had taught her “to give back” and working as a tutor to the facility’s inmates defines her father’s wish.
 
Wesley Carter is in trouble. As an inmate at Arthur Kill, he needs to qualify for parole. Unfortunately, his temper has made marks against him; his parole officer suggests he redeem himself by enrolling in classes at the prison. His tutor in English Literature is Kat, and Carter manages to get himself thrown out of her class on his first day. Kat manages to convince his parole officer to allow one-on-one lessons since Carter cannot keep his temper in check in a conventional class.
 
The romance between the two begins but it has to be kept a secret or Kat loses her job. The couple both have family relationship problems. With Carter, it is his brothers and for Kat, it is her mother. The two have a lot to overcome if their relationship is going to work.
 
This is definitely a romance novel; however, even though I don’t normally read this genre, there was enough of a fascinating plot to keep me entertained!
 
Reviewed by
Charlene McConnell
 


 Rating: 4

 
THE SUMMER OF GOOD INTENTIONS
Wendy Francis
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 978-1-4516-6642-7
Women’s Fiction
July 2015
 
The Herington family always spends the month of July at the family’s Cape Cod house. Maggie, the organizer, makes sure everyone has a great time  However, this summer Maggie is facing an empty nest with her youngest attending kindergarten in the fall. She wants a foster child, but she has to convince her husband, a police officer, that a fourth child is the best for their family.
 
Jess is the middle sister. She loves her job, but her relationship with her husband Tim; not so much. There are problems both she and Tim are not willing to face. Will this be the last summer on the Cape as husband and wife?
 
Virgie is the youngest of the three and single. She loves her job as a television reporter and she has finally found a boyfriend who she thinks might be the one. She also has been presenting concerning physical symptoms and her family is worried. Virgie is also her father’s favorite, however, after her parent’s divorce, she is surprised at her dad’s behavior.
 
This year the vacation “at the Cape” will prove to be unlike any other in the past. This author has written a riveting novel of life and the unknown we all must eventually face.
 
Reviewed by
Charlene McConnell
 
Rating: 4


Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Robyn Carr's Newest in the Thunder Point Series

A NEW HOPE
Thunder Point Series
Robyn Carr
MIRA
ISBN:   978-0778317364
July 2015
Contemporary Romance

In this eighth book in the Thunder Point series Robyn Carr continues the story of Ginger, the niece of realtor Ray Anne, begun in the previous book (ONE WISH, March 2015).   Ginger has lost a young child and is in deep grief over this tragic event.   Her aunt is terribly worried about her but things begin to brighten when Ginger agrees to work in a local flower shop.   She finds she enjoys arranging flowers in the quiet workroom.   Her first big assignment is helping with the Lacoumette wedding between Peyton and Scott (THE PROMISE,  July 2014), a large Basque wedding filled with ethnicity and fun.

While at the wedding Ginger is propositioned and groped by one of Peyton’s drunk brothers, Matt; she's offended and appalled.   Matt, when he sobers up, is equally disgusted with his behavior and makes a trip to Thunder Point to apologize.   When he ends up asking Ginger to dinner he isn’t really sure what motivated this.   Yet readers of this author will recognize the connection between these two kindred spirits who have suffered significant losses.   Robyn Carr always manages to bring people together within a common denominator.  She sensitively handles two difficult topics, divorce and death of a child, with sensitivity and care.

This novel is quintessential Robyn Carr.   Filled with believable characters who have depth and passion and best of all, are so human and flawed, the story is well plotted and takes us to a satisfying conclusion.   In previous reviews of her other books I’ve suggested that these Thunder Point books could be standalone.   I think this novel will have more meaning if you read at least the book before this one.   Best of all, try and read them all, in order.   You won’t be disappointed!

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rated:  4
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Friday, July 03, 2015

Insight into the works of Robyn Carr by Jeri Neal

A REVIEWER'S INSIGHT INTO THE WORKS OF ROBYN CARR

Many TRRC readers are new to the prolific and popular writing of Robyn Carr. The New York Times best selling author of nearly 50 novels, has written three distinctive series beginning in 2001 with the Grace Valley books. Before and after she penned these series, Robyn has written a number of standalone books, historical romance and women’s fiction. Yet, I think it is safe to say that her absolutely wonderful writing talent has been focused correctly on the three series we’ve all enjoyed. I will try and summarize and link the series here.

Grace Valley books were made up of three novels: Deep in the Valley (2001), Just Over the Mountain (2002), and Down by the River (2003). These books are focused on June Hudson, a family physician who has grown up in the Grace Valley area and has chosen to return to practice medicine with her father. These books are delicious and give us a snapshot of small town life. In the second book, June falls secretly in love and that book introduces Jim. The third book carries on their story and brings in all the other fascinating characters from June’s family and community.

The second series Robyn Carr penned were the Virgin River books and they are linked to Grace Valley. These books tended to be published in groups of three, all give stories of Marines who have returned home. The first, Virgin River (2007) formed the cornerstone of the series and tells the story of Jack, who owns the local bar, and Melinda, the midwife who inadvertently ends up in Virgin River. The characters flow out of this book and include John, aka “Preacher”, the cook at the bar, Paige, running from an abusive marriage ( Shelter Mountain, 2007), and Jack’s sister Brie, a prosecutor who retreats to Virgin River after being viciously attacked by a client. Her love story with decorated Marine Mike forms the basis of Whispering Rock (2007).

In 2008 Carr writes the first of several holiday books, A Virgin River Christmas, the story of Marcie, widowed, young, and in search of the soldier that tried to save her husband. When she finds Ian readers are introduced to characters that emerge in later books, namely Marcie’s sister Erin. Other holiday books have included Under the Christmas Tree (2009), Bring Me Home for Christmas (2011), Midnight Confessions (2010), and the last book in the Virgin River series, My Kind of Christmas (2012), which pulled together many of the past characters and caught us up with their lives.

The additional series of three books for Virgin River begins with Second Chance Pass (2009), the story of pregnant Vanessa, who comes to her retired general’s home as she waits for her husband to return. His untimely loss forms the basis of this book and the growing feelings emerging between his best friend and Vanessa. Vanessa’s cousin, Shelby, is featured in the next book, Temptation Ridge (2009) and readers are introduced to the Riordan brothers. Shelby falls in love with Luke, the toughest of the bunch. In Paradise Valley (2009), Rick, a young man and Jack’s protégé, is badly wounded in Iraq and comes home to recuperate, pulling away from his high school love, Liz. Forbidden Falls (2010), which Robyn Carr thought might have some controversy associated with it because it involved a young minister, actually ended up being one of her most popular novels. There is actually a novella, Sheltering Hearts, also published in 2010.

Riordan brothers figure prominently in the next three books: Angel’s Peak (2010), Moonlight Road (2010), and Wild Man Creek (2011). Promise Canyon (2011) tells Clay’s story as he works as the new veterinary assistant in town. Harvest Moon (2011) continues some of the plot started in Wild Man Creek as Jill’s sister, Kelly, a chef, comes to Virgin River and meets a widowed screenwriter with a difficult teenage stepdaughter. The following three books, Hidden Summit (2012), Redwood Bend (2012), and Sunrise Point (2012) were of more distanced characters. Yet, all were connected to the original people introduced in the first three books of the series.

The protagonist for the first book in the third series, Thunder Point is Hank Cooper, a friend of Luke Riordan from the military, who actually gets word that his good friend has died in Thunder Point, while he is in Virgin River. This first book in the Thunder Point series is titled The Wanderer (2013). Cooper ends up inheriting his friend’s beachfront property and complicating his normally transient nature is a beautiful Coast Guard pilot, Sara. Like Virgin River this town is populated with characters that figure prominently in future books. These books, the most recently published include The Newcomer (2013), The Hero (2013), The Chance (2014), The Promise (2014), The Homecoming (August 2014), One Wish (February 2015), and the newest books, A New Hope (July 2015) and Wildest Dreams (September 2015).

Interestingly, I read an interview done with Robyn Carr that was posted online. She indicated that her first two series were finished and there would be no more books about Grace Valley or Virgin River. She anticipates a long series with Thunder Point.

As you might have realized, I’ve been reading and reviewing these books for TRRC for many years. I have read every book in all three series and my all time favorites have to be the first three Virgin River books and then later the Riordan brothers novels. The compelling themes in all these novels were of military men who had overcome diversity and would find a romantic relationship with a complicated woman. Robyn Carr has touched on every imaginable human conflict and issue with these complicated, interlinked novels. The remarkable part is that she has managed to do it without preaching or lectures.

In summary, while I liked the earlier books involving Grace Valley and Virgin River the best, I have to say that her latest, the Thunder Point series have seemed more like the complicated stories of earlier books. I thought Thunder Point books started out a little slow and the novels were less affectively complicated. Of course I hated to see the Virgin River books end. In spite of these small criticisms, Robyn Carr is still one of my all time favorite authors whose books reside on my keeper shelf and who I read over and over and over….. Any mistakes I’ve made in this list were all mine to make but I hope this helps clarify the series for TRRC readers. Here’s to a talented and prolific author!

By: Jeri Neal

Welcome to July at TRRC!

We are frequently asked by readers to calendarize or put into sequence, books that are part of an expansive series. This has certainly been the case with stories by the popular Harlequin/ Mira author Robyn Carr. With the release this month of A NEW HOPE, book eight in the Thunder Point series, we decided it was to time to honor the readers' request and take an in-depth look at the thirty books that make up Robyn Carr series of books. For this perspective we have called on TRRC Reviewer Jeri Neal. Jeri has been a follower of this author from the very first series book and has an excellent knowledge of their story lines. If you've never read any of the books I'm sure after ready Jeri's take on the series you're going to want to give them a try this summer. Believe it or not all are still readily available at your local bookstore, they're that popular!

Have a wonderful month and Happy Reading!

Livia

THE LATEST FROM HELENKAY DIMON

FALLING HARD
Bad Boys Undercover (Book 3)
Helenkay Dimon
Avon
ISBN:   978-0-06-233007-9
June 2015
Romantic Suspense

This is the latest book in the series about the black ops force known as the Alliance and readers met the current hero, Weston Brown, in previous books.   A complicated man with immense physical strength and stamina, he has experienced a complicated background growing up in an armed camp of individuals fighting the US government (think Ruby Ridge).   Previously a marine who survived a deadly avalanche in Pakistan he is dismayed to be going back to this country.   His mission:   to rescue a physician who has identified what looks like suspicious arms transport.

When he and his team arrive they find that the physician is actually out of the area working with mountain climbers and they are left with his daughter, who provides medical aid to locals.   She is the one who called in the suspicious activity on her father’s coded communication lines.

Lexi has her own demons to contend with including some mental health issues and dropping out of medical school.   When she and West get separated from the rest of the team this book spirals into one complex scene after another involving very bad characters.

Interspersed with the scenes in Pakistan are scenes involving the rest of the Alliance staff members, who are dealing with their own traitors and bad guys as they attempt to rescue West and Lexi.   This is book filled with rocketing action, impossibly exciting escape scenes and over it all, the growing attraction between these two characters.

The passionate encounters were cleverly interwoven into this whole story.   My only complaint was that it took the first 100 pages for me to get a sense of the story and what was happening.   Other than that, if readers can keep reading, this is a very good book.

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:   3







Monday, June 29, 2015

A perfect summer read from Mariah Stewart!


THAT CHESAPEAKE SUMMER
(The Chesapeake Diaries - Book 9)
Mariah Stewart
Pocket Books
ISBN: 978-1-4767-9257-6
Women’s Fiction
June 2015

Jamie Valentine recently experienced the death of her mother and as an only child, the only family she has left is her Aunt Sis. As the author of several successful self-help books which promotes honesty in everyday life, Jamie has made a life for herself as an independent writer. She realizes that she needs to pack up and sell her family home before finishing her next book.

Her grief over her mother’s death is blindsided when she discovers she was adopted and neither parent bothered to inform her before they died. Now Jamie has a new mission; finding her adoptive parents. She also feels that her readers will liken her to a hypocrite when her whole life has just been defined as a lie. She travels to St. Dennis in Chesapeake Bay, determined to find some answers, but when she arrives, Jamie finds not everyone in that town wants to reveal its secrets.

A PERFECT summer read!

Reviewed by: Charlene McConnell
Rating: 4

Caroline LInden's newest thrilling read!



LOVE IN THE TIME OF SCANDAL
The Scandalous Series Book Three
Caroline Linden
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-224492-5
June 2015
Historical Romance

Readers of this series will remember Penelope and Benedict - especially how Benedict treated Sebastian Vane and courted Penelope's sister Abigail. Which is why Penelope hates Benedict. Benedict is looking for a wife to fulfill his duties as heir to the earldom. He wants a quiet, passable and calm wife, not one who is a sultry beauty that would to be too hard to tame. Fate though steps in and creates a scandal where the two must rely on each other and marry.

Penelope always liked Benedict until the unfortunate turn of events with Sebastian, and had even imagined herself in love with him. Now that she is to marry him, she resolves to at least make the best of it. Benedict too realizes what a catch he was gotten in his passionate wife. Yet as easily as it is to wish for good tidings, there is a danger lurking in a mystery surrounding Penelope's friend Olivia and Lord Clary. Even Benedict cannot presume to understand to what lengths certain people will go to make sure they get what they want.

This is easily a mix of romance, intrigue, danger and outright heated passion. Benedict and Penelope are deeply attracted to each other and once they get over their thin facade of not wanting the other, they have some pretty heated scenes. Benedict's father is a horrible person and the whole situation with Sebastian stems from it. He makes a great villain, albeit a shadowy one that looms in the dark like a spider. It was a thrilling read that I couldn't put down! The next will be even more exciting I'm sure!

Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4.5

Monday, June 22, 2015

Probst's newest is Sizzling!


SEARCHING FOR BEAUTIFUL
Searching For Series Book 4
Jennifer Probst
Gallery Books
ISBN# 978-1-4767-8009-2
May 2015
Contemporary Romance

Runaway brides are things only seen in movies, right? Not so for Genevieve MacKenzie. On her wedding day, amidst the flowers, the veil and the Vera Wang gown, she slips (ungracefully) out of a window after a sudden panic attack. Realizing she didn't love the groom, she falls into the arms of her best friend, Wolfe, who whisks her away to a secluded cabin so that she can regroup. After the noise, the commotion, and the guilt dies down, she realizes that she was losing herself and alienating her best friend the more she was with her fiance.

Wolfe has known Gen for so long, he knew something was wrong immediately. She had become distant, less talkative, making excuses to her family the more she was with David. Something wasn't right with the whole thing, and now that he has an idea of what, he will make sure she stays safe.

The more they talk, the more they realize that their friendship was a safety blanket, hiding a very powerful and deep attraction to each other. Wolfe and Gen grow closer, but they both struggle with personal issues that keep them from admitting their true feelings. When things suddenly come to a blazing climax, things just only get more complicated and confusing for them both. As Gen gets the pieces of her life back together, Wolfe has to come to terms with what happened to him and why he's so determined to keep Gen as a friend and nothing more. But it may cost him her friendship as well.

I loved this book about friends to lovers. As two people who have accepted each other at face value for years, realizing you are attracted to your best friend is somewhat daunting and scary. Wolfe has deep seeded issues that keep him from getting too serious with anyone and he does not want to hurt Gen. Gen, with the problems of her ex-fiance, slowly begins to understand how she got to where she was and where she wants to go. Watching these two face their issues and mutual attraction is all at once, heartbreaking, hopeful and downright sizzling when they do get together. I've got to say, the next in this series features a cop! I had no trouble reading this one out of order.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4.5

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

JUNE 2015

                                           SUMMER READING 2015 WITH TRRC


Today's current temperature is 89 degrees with the final temp to reach 92. The humidity is high and the heated breeze just adds to that summer feeling. There is no complaints on this end however, we've waited five months to fan and use the air conditioner, welcome summer!

The wonderful thing about summer is there is no guilt when one has to take it easy, sit in the shade and pass the time with a good book.  The authors and publishers are certainly pandering to our reading desires with releases by Maya Banks, Johanna Lindsey, Mariah Stewart, Caroline Linden and a new baseball series by Jennifer Bernard featuring the men of the Kilby Catfish baseball team. That's just to start! We have additional mysteries, romantic suspense and women's fiction galore by various authors.  We are a little behind so you will continue to see May reviews posted as well as June and July.  We ask you to keep in mind, that while we will not take our usual summer hiatus this year, we still need to allow for the summer experience of outings and family vacations.  So, as the reviews are submitted, we'll post them right away. Feel free to provide comments or reading information at any time and share with us your Summer Reading activities.

Enjoy your summer and Happy Reading!

Livia

Monday, June 08, 2015

A New One by Kate Meader

FLIRTING WITH FIRE
A Hot in Chicago Novel
Kate Meader
Pocket Books
ISBN:   978-1-4767-8590-5
April 2015
Contemporary Romance

Kinsey Taylor a media expert, has moved from the west coast to Chicago for her physician fiancé.   When he dumps her for another woman, she has already committed to another job and decides to stay.   So she is in a new city with few friends, no nearby family, and her public relations position is requiring her to rehabilitate the reputation of Chicago Engine Company 6, a firehouse populated by a group of diverse siblings, adopted as children, and fiercely loyal to each other and the Chicago Fire Department.

One of these is firefighter Luke Almeida and his most recent fight with a detective in the police department has created a public relations nightmare that requires intervention.   When she meets him and tries to work with him Kinsey is dismayed by her intense physical attraction to the dangerous and complex Luke.   Luke is not happy with her plans to rehabilitate the public’s opinion of his firehouse.   These include creating a Men on Fire calendar and staging an apology to the detective.   Luke, by the way, had a very good reason for fighting with him but that’s another book!

I have to say that it took me awhile to get through this book.   I could not read a lot of it in a single setting.   It is very emotionally complex and filled with the attraction between Kinsey and Luke.   They do a lengthy dance with each other before finally coming together.   Contributing characters include Luke’s sister and his brothers, different staff in the firehouse, and the mayor, who is Kinsey’s boss.

I’m sure there will be other books in this series and I have to say that one of the best parts was the picture of the hot firefighter on the cover!   The book delivers an erotic feast populated by interesting firefighters with angst and passion.   What more could we want in a good romance story?


Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:   3

Friday, June 05, 2015

New mystery from Elaine Viets


CATNAPPED
A Dead End Job Mystery
Elaine Viets
Obsidian
ISBN: 978-0-451-46631-0
May 2015
Mystery

The one thing celebrity Trish Barrymore and her no account accountant husband, Mort, can agree on in their bitter divorce is shared cat custody. But when Mort is found brained by a mahogany cat tower and their pedigreed Chartreux show cat goes missing, Trish calls on husband and wife PI team Helen and Phil to find the feline filcher and bring her home. Discovering that Mort had some sly dealings within the cat circles has them going under cover to find out more information. As they get closer to the killer, the next collar on the line, may be their own.

CATNAPPED is a dual themed mystery story that keeps the reader interested as they jump from plot to plot and watch as they unfold together. A nice addition to this series, Catnapped is sure to please those who love cats, as well as a learning a little about behind the scenes at cat shows. Catnapped is entertaining, the characters are like old friends and the ending is a nice wrap up.

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating: 4

A new Deep Fried mystery!


FILET OF MURDER
A Deep Fried Mystery
Linda Reilly
Berkley
ISBN: 978-0-425-27413-2
May 2015
Mystery

Talia Marby serves up delectable deep fried fare int he heart of the rectories, but she soon discovers something is amiss in the cute shops she works among. Not all of the shop owners are charming. Phil Turnbull has been pestering Bea to sign a petition against a new store opening up and she is refusing. But then she and Talia find Phil dead Bea becomes the prime suspect. It's up to Talia to reel in the real killer before the innocent pay.

FILET OF MURDER is a slower paced mystery story. You can almost smell the fish and chips covered in malt vinegar floating off the pages as the story unfolds. Although it is slower paced, that does not mean it is not enjoyable. The reader can sit back, explore every nook and cranny that the plot has to offer and really get to know the characters. It was an interesting read and I can't wait to see what happens next in Talia's life.

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating 3

Fast paced mystery from Carlisle!


THE BOOK STOPS HERE
A Bibliophile Mystery
Kate Carlisle
Obsidian
ISBN: 978-0-451-41599-8
May 2015
Mystery

Brooklyn is thrilled to be appearing on the hit TV show This Old Attic as a rare book expert and appraiser. Her first subject is a valuable first edition copy of the children's classic THE SECRET GARDEN. After the episode airs, a man storms onto the set claiming that the owner of the book, Vera, found the book at his garage sale and he wants it back. After several violent incidents occur on the set, Brooklyn's security expert boyfriend, Derek, is shaken. Then Brooklyn finds Vera's corpse and everyone knows things have gotten out of hand.

THE BOOK STOPS HERE is a fast paced mystery that will leave the reader on the edge of their chair. With plenty of suspects and a few thugs thrown in, it's anyone's guess on who killed poor Vera. But as Brooklyn gets closer to the truth, more things begin happening. You will keep a firm grasp on this book while the plot unfolds. A great addition to this series.

Reviewed by Kathy Fisher
Rating: 4

A new sizzling romantic suspense!


LET ME LOVE YOU AGAIN
Echoes of the Heart Book 2
Anna DeStefano
Montlake Romance
ISBN# 9781477829158
May 2015
Contemporary Romance

When a family emergency brings Oliver Bowman back home, he finds himself in close contact with the girl he loved and lost years ago, Selena Rosenthal. As soon as they meet up again, they are both reminded of what they had years ago before heartbreak and bad decisions cost them their love. Now, Selena is back home recovering from a bad divorce and rebuilding her life with her little girl, Camille. Oliver finds himself drawn to both of them again. He knows he has to leave and go back to his real life and job soon, yet he finds that he is unable to walk away so willingly again. Will they both be able to talk about what happened so long ago and start again, or is it too late?

This is a story about love lost and second chances. Oliver was part of the foster care system, which brought him to his current family and now he's made it his career in helping foster kids. Selena was his high school sweetheart and they were so in love, but Selena made a choice that cost them, and Oliver left. Now, we get to see how you can turn a broken heart into a new life, new decisions and the real bonds of family. I also love the foster parents and how they played a part in this story. Camille is adorable and it was nice to see things from her perspective, too. Chandlerville seems like a nice place to hang out for a while!

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4 1/2

A new western romance from Jennifer Ryan



WHEN IT'S RIGHT
Montana Men Series Book 2
Jennifer Ryan
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-233493-0
April 2015
Contemporary Romance

Gillian Tucker has done everything she could to protect her little brother from their abusive father, including a climactic moment where she pulls the trigger on him. Now her grandfather has offered her a place to call home on a Montana ranch, complete with a loving and caring family. She's still apprehensive and untrusting, even with the handsome and genuinely nice guy Blake, who is a co-owner of the ranch.

Blake fell for Gillian as soon as he saw her, but he knows how tough she's had it. Gillian should be off limits and he tries hard to stay away. He feels protective towards her and Justin and tries to help them even as he fights his feelings. The closer they get, the more he falls in love with her, and when she learns of his feelings, all bets are off. Will a new threat of danger destroy any chance of happiness the two will find together?

The abusive relationship Gillian and Justin had with their father creates a tension between them and Blake. They are wary when it comes to men and rightly so. Slowly readers get to see how their fears are put to rest and even how resilient they are in escaping their past. The chemistry is somewhat forced so I found it not quite as good as the first book. Also, with what Gillian had to go through before, the new danger thrown in seems unnecessary. Still worth picking up.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 3

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

New from Ann Stuart!


CONSUMED BY FIRE
The Fire Series
Anne Stuart
Montlake Publishing
ISBN# 9781477828472
June 2015
Romantic Suspense

Studying medieval clerical architecture in Italy, Evangeline Morrissey finds herself enamored with a handsome man she meets in the old church. After a whirlwind romance, they are married and she enjoys a few days of wedded bliss. Then she is abandoned and the thief took off with her grandmothers diamond earrings. Feeling a fool, she vows not to be so naive anymore.

James Bishop 's covert operations for The Committee was in the middle of a take down of a known human trafficker when the beautiful student unknowingly walks in on their job. Now his partner wants to take her out in order to leave no witnesses. James knows the only way to protect Evangeline is to make her his wife. He did everything by the book to make sure their marriage was valid and legal in order to keep her safe. He knows he must leave her behind or risk her life even further so he makes it look like he's a common thief. Five years later he must find her again because all bets are off and she's become a target once more.

After a failed marriage (not counting the fake one she had in Italy), Evangeline is not about to fall victim again. With her attack dog that she found on campus, she's ready for anything , except for HIM to walk back into her life, taking over, threatening her and forcing her to go to Louisiana with him in her camper. Evangeline doesn't trust the crook who said he was her husband, but as they spend more and more time together, she realizes that everything is not as it seems, least of all their undeniable attraction to each other.

James knows she doesn't believe him, but that's the least of his concerns. He's got to get to Louisiana and figure out how to protect her at the same time. As the danger increases, so do the heated battles with each other. She's become tough and independent over the years as he's kept an eye on her. However, the killer is closer than he realizes and just as he figures out how important she is to him, she might be taken out.

A wonderful suspense romance that is filled with angst, passion, anger and heat. Stuart is able to mix a dash of humor in with the action to keep this unlikely romance clicking right along. James and Evangeline are two of the most unlikeliest couples, but it works in the best way. I also loved how the dog plays a key role in this as a bodyguard and a valued pet. The bad guys are really bad, and even the good guys are bad. Don't miss this exciting read!

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4 1/2

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A New One from Andrea Kane

THE SILENCE THAT SPEAKS
Forensic Instincts
Andrea Kane
Mira
ISBN:   978-0778317371
May 2015
Romantic Suspense

I have to start this review by noting that I’ve read the previous books in this series and have loved the fast paced, edgy stories created by this talented author.   This nicely written mystery involves Madeline Westfield’s need to find out why someone wants her dead.   She has a past history with one of investigators at the firm, and turns to them for help.   Marc, who has never gotten over his feelings for her, is dismayed when they are thrown together at his workplace.

Madeline, a nurse, and her ex-husband, a brilliant surgeon, are both employed by a hospital in the middle of a merger.   The unexpected death of the administrator, after heart surgery performed by Madeline’s ex-husband, just deepens the mystery.   When Conrad seems to be psychiatrically ill and is hospitalized at a private mental health facility, the team goes into action to figure out the details and motivations.   Is Conrad being framed?   Did he really have culpability in the administrator’s death?

Like previous books, this one involves team members including leader Casey Woods, cyber geniuses Ryan McKay and his brother Aiden, and Claire Hedgleigh and her psychic abilities.   A cast of characters has motive for framing Conrad and Madeline as FI works to figure out the who and the why.

My only complaint about this story was that the plot seemed a little unrealistic when compared to previous novels in the series.   Other than this, fans of this writer will enjoy this novel even if it is not her best offering.   The romance between Madeline and Marc is steamy and the who-done-it at the end was surprisingly.     I will continue reading the Forensic Instincts novels and eagerly anticipate the next one.

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:   3

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Lorraine Heath's newest is an emotion packed romance


THE DUKE AND THE LADY IN RED
The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James Place
Lorraine Heath
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-227626-1
May 2015
Historical Romance

Rosalind Sharpe has a secret, one that she must protect at all costs - even when the cost may be her own life. Her brother Harry is born with the same deformity as The Elephant Man. She must procure funds to help him and risk her safety and morals to help him. She sets her sights on the wealthy and one man that crosses her path is the Duke of Avendale. However she didn't plan on her feelings and attraction to come into play, or the very fact that he's the one weakness in her plan.

Avendale is one of the co-owners of the Twin Dragons, a gaming establishment in London. When he spies a lady in red in the crowd, he immediately becomes obsessed with her. Getting to know her becomes top priority. Once he does, and his profound attraction to her catapults her into his private life, he also becomes aware that she's hiding something. Learning about Harry, he knows he's just touched the tip of the iceberg with her. What he doesn't know is how deep she is involved in trouble. When he finally realizes his feelings are more powerful than he believed, her past catches up with her.

THE DUKE AND THE LADY IN RED is filled with plenty of emotional development between the characters as they slowly get to know each other. Rose's devotion to her brother, and his to her, give depth and meaning to her unscrupulous actions. Avendale's character starts off a little less interesting simply because of how enthralled he is with her from the beginning. Heath shows off her writing skills in transforming him from a lust craved society man into a wonderful person despite a traumatic event from his past. The ending was quite wonderful and even brought a tear to the eye. Previous titles in this series do not need to be read to enjoy this one.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Book One in Lucy Monroe's new Alaskan series



WILD HEAT
Northern Fire Series Book One
Lucy Monroe
Hatchette Book Group
ASIN# BOOMEMMSB6
May 2015
Contemporary Romance

After an eight year absence, Kitty Grant returns home to Cailkirn, Alaska to recover from an abusive marriage and divorce. She's nursing some big issues with trust, but also guilt because she left behind her best friend, Tack MacKinnon, without a backward glance. Tack is surprised she's come back, after leaving him high and dry all those years ago, but he soon discovers why she's back home. As they struggle to get beneath the reasons for her departure and return, they soon realize that their attraction is ignited in a powerful way, and Tack decides to offer a, "friends with benefits" proposal.

Tack and his brother own a hiking tour company that relies on the tourist industry that comes in from the cruise ships. Kitty's obvious insecurities threaten their relationship, as well as Tack wanting to keep their relationship hidden. Kitty is resilient, but even the toughest cookies still have some insecurities and she doesn't know why he wants to always keep her in the dark. Tack has loved Kitty all these years and to finally be able to have her, he's a bit insecure as well. It's obvious they both care for each other, but will they both be able to trust the other and let go of the past? When Kitty's ex makes a last stand, will she be able to stand up for herself, or will he threaten everything she's tried to overcome?

The book has a lovely feel to it, with the Alaskan backdrop and the homeyness of the characters as they live and work together. The wonderful secondary characters lend this book a certain charm. Tack and Kitty are friends that both want more but are afraid to truly let go and trust each other all the way. It takes time to overcome and we get to watch these two work through their problems and face the future together. The chemistry between them is steamy and well written. As the first in the series, I look forward to the next one.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Great new offering from Lori Foster!

HOLDING STRONG
An Ultimate Novel
Lori Foster
HQN
ISBN:
978-0373779611
April 2015
Contemporary Romance

This book is the delicious
story of Denver and Cherry, featured in the previous novels of this series.
Denver is one of the fighters in Cannon Colter’s Ohio gym.  While he has signed
with the larger fighting association, SBC, he still calls Warfield home.  Cherry
is Denver’s sister’s roommate.  A consummate flirt, gorgeous, and a party girl,
Denver is convinced there is no way Cherry would be interested in him.  And
Denver wants more than a quick hook up, something that is incredibly unusual in
many romance books but very compelling in a male character.

Denver is wrong
about Cherry’s feelings.  While she may seem flirtatious with other guys her
eyes are totally on Denver and she loves him dearly.  When they finally hook up,
Denver has to be convinced that Cherry wants more than a one night stand and
would like a relationship with him.

A parallel plot involves the trouble
that Cherry is trying to escape from her past.  Denver and all his friends from
the gym come together to help Cherry out.

One of the best aspects of this
book, aside from the incredibly hot testosterone driven males and the beautiful
females, is the plot development and the various complex characters that
interact and come to life on the pages.  Like all of Foster’s books this one
leaves room for the next novel in the series and we are left wondering  what
happens to Arnie and Rissy and Stack and Vanity.  Stay tuned!  Yummy book that
will keep you reading page after page.

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:  4 1/2

Monday, April 20, 2015

Allison Brennan's COMPULSION is a must read!


COMPULSION
Allison Brennan
Minotaur Books
ISBN-13: 978-1250035028
April 2015
Mystery

Maxine Revere is a well-known New York City investigative reporter with her own television show, “Maximum Exposure”. She's just won an interview with Adam Bachman, the prime suspect in the suffocation deaths of five people. It is also theorized he could be the killer of two more missing persons, the Palazzolo’s, a couple from Ohio. Max had already interviewed Adam’s former neighbors, his professors, college roommates and his childhood best friend. She wanted the “true” Adam Bachman for her audience, plus she had a hunch this case could be the subject of her next crime novel.

The interview only serves to confirm Max’s suspicion; that there is another killer who was helping Bachman. Now she is driven to find the missing two bodies and killer. Max calls in a favor from Sally O’Hara, a cop in Queens, who is in charge of the Palazzolo’s missing person case. Before she realizes it, she finds herself questioning people who have the ability not to just cause trouble for Max; but who have the capacity to kill her. Driven to find the crucial piece of evidence to solve the case, she will find out her own life parallels that of the violent killer.

Be prepared for another bestseller by Ms. Brennan! Suspense-filled and injected with the right amount of unexpected twists, you will not be disappointed!

Reviewed by Charlene McConnell

Rating: 4

New from Eloisa James


FOUR NIGHTS WITH THE DUKE
Desperate Duchesses Book 8
Eloisa James
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06222391-3
April 2015
Historical Romance

Emilia "Mia" Carrington has been in love with Evander "Vander" Brody forever. As a young girl of fifteen, she had watched him from afar and was so smitten that she wrote a poem about him. Horrifyingly, her poem was found and given to him and read out loud for all his friends to laugh and ridicule. Enraged, she charged at him, telling him that she would never marry him even if he were the last man on earth (as well as any of his friends).

Years later though, she is desperate. She is now in charge of her young, crippled nephew and must marry a man of substance in order to retain him and the estate. With her uncle in control, the boy would suffer. Vander may not be her first choice (her first choice abandoned her on her wedding day never to be seen again), but he would do long enough in order to get guardianship and control. So she blackmails him into marrying her.

Vander remembers the young poet from years before and no amount of talk will make her see reason. She wants to marry him, so he will grant her only four nights a year with him. Once the dust settles, they both begin to realize their attraction goes far beneath the superficial. However, a devious man has other plans and a person from the past resurfaces to threaten any chance they may have at a future together.

This is one delicious and steamy read! I love Eloisa James' characters because they never are quite what they appear on the surface. Vander assumes she is only blackmailing him because she's still in love with him, but Mia is desperate and writes in stipulations which Vander doesn't even read. His surprise is comical but I loved how he deals with trying to win over his wife. This book can be read stand alone, but it would be better to have read THREE WEEKS WITH LADY X at the least.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Katharine Ashe's latest is a great ending to this series


I LOVED A ROGUE
The Prince Catchers Book 3
Katharine Ashe
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-222985-4
March 2015
Historical Romance

I LOVED A ROGUE is a continuing story about three sisters who washed ashore after a shipwreck and their journey to find out who are their real parents.

When a gypsy fortune teller tells them that one of them must marry a prince before they can find out who they are, they each set about to trying to determine their heritage. They were adopted by Martin Caulfield and he raised them as his own. He also took in a young boy, Taliesin Wolfe, and gave him the education and opportunities he would of his son. The girls and Taliesin grew up together and the oldest daughter, Eleanor, and he became very close, he sort of a protector. He was always teasing and tormenting her and she felt a little jealous of him, but also there was more than just friendship happening between them. Then, he just left and she never forgot him, nor he her. When he returns, she knows that she shouldn't trust her heart again. Taliesin had his reasons for why he left home, but he's never gotten over Eleanor. Seeing her again, he knows he will end up doing anything for her, including helping her trace her family. Their journey of discovery ends up being more than just about their past, they also learn about themselves.

Katharine Ashe continues to show why she's a great story teller. She takes characters and makes their journey full of angst and longing, which in turn makes the reader keep turning the pages. Taliesin and Eleanor love each other, but they have a lot to overcome. I enjoyed learning the entire past of the sisters, as well as Taliesin's and how it plays into the fortune teller's reading. It's a great ending to a good series. Even though this can be read as a stand alone, it would be best to read them together to get the full effect of the final pieces to the puzzle.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Robyn Carr's newest book is ONE WISH

ONE WISH
(Thunder Point)
Robyn Carr
Mira
ISBN:  978-0778317722
March 2015
Contemporary Romance

I have to admit that as this popular series progresses, it seems to get better and better!  This novel tells the story of Grace Dillon, the owner of a successful flower shop, a retired champion figure skater who has moved to Thunder Point to escape the brutal demands of her past famous and competitive life.  Troy Headly is a high school teacher who begins to see himself as the man who can be Grace’s “fun coach.”

Troy doesn’t realize that Grace was such a famous skater, who enjoys her guilty pleasure at a local ice rink in the early mornings.  He is getting over a failed romance himself and his relationship with Grace begins as all fun.  Troy works hard as a teacher and as a part time bartender at Cooper’s place on the shore.  He enjoys a woman’s company and his sexy, flirtatious banter is fun for Grace, who tends to mistrust men and close relationships.

Grace’s mom, a wealthy heiress who has put all her hopes and dreams on her daughter, figures prominently in the book.  Grace has to deal with the issues her mother presents at the same time her relationship with Troy is intensifying.

I really liked these characters.  It was such fun to watch them interact with characters from past books such as Scott and Peyton.  The ending is so darn satisfying and I look forward to more from this series.  Way to go Robyn Carr!


Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating:  4 1/2

Thursday, April 09, 2015


BROKEN Lost Series, Book # 1
Cynthia Eden
Avon
ISBN # 0062349562
April 2015
Romantic Suspense

Eve Gray wakes up in a hospital and she is not sure how she got there. She knows her nightmares feel very real and she has vague disturbing images that pop up every now and then. There is no one she can trust, so she finds herself at the Last Option Search Team (L.O.S.T.) office.  L.O.S.T. has one function, to find missing people. In Eve's opinion there is no other option, she needs help. All she wants is was to learn the secrets of her past, hoping this will help her get her life back. Eve finds herself attracted to Gabe Spencer, a decorated Navy SEAL and the owner of L.O.S,T., she feels he is the one person she can trust, not only with her life, but with her heart.


 When Eve walks into Gabe's office, she shows him a newspaper article and he notices she has a very strong resemblance to the missing heiress, one of a serial killer's victims. Clearly she can't remember anything that has happened recently but Gabe is trying to determine if she in fact does have amnesia or is trying to work a scam. He decides to take on the case and gets his team to dig into Eve's life. They find more questions than answers and as the bodies pile up, the suspect list grows. Gabe vows to protect Eve but the serial killer is closer than they think.


BROKEN is a heart pounding, page turning, romantic suspense. The attraction between Gabe and Eve is off the charts, the sex scenes are hot, and the emotion between the characters is sweet and caring. BROKEN grabs you from the very first page, and doesn't let go until the very last page. The next installment in this series is later this month . I can't wait to find out what happens next. This is a must read.

Reviewed by Gloria Gehres
Rated  4 1/2