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Monday, August 17, 2015

Contemporary Western from Elizabeth Lowell

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!

A Slow Burn Novel
Maya Banks
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!

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 Ink Series Book 4
Laura Kaye
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