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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A New Novel in the Haven Point series

Haven Point
RaeAnne Thayne
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 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

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

New baseball series start by Jennifer Bernard

Love Between the Bases Series - Book One
Jennifer Bernard
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

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

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

Thunder Point Series
Robyn Carr
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


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!



Bad Boys Undercover (Book 3)
Helenkay Dimon
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