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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dare to Love by Catherine Stang



Dare to Love by Catherine Stang
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (256 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Jessica Monroe is up to her neck in problems when her father dies leaving her with a house full of orphans, a widow and her twins, an ex-madam, and a horse farm to run. She wants her brother, Caleb, to come home from the war to help her. She should have been careful what she wished for because Caleb didn’t come back alone. He brought with him a band of raiders he’d been running with. Now they expect her to look the other way while they use the edge of her farm as a base to commit their crimes. Well, she won’t do it. While trying to help a neighbor fend off the raiders, she ends up bringing home a wounded stranger who appeared out of nowhere to help them. Just her luck handsome, Tyler Beaumont, is a marshal intent on bringing down her brother and his outlaw friends.

“Can you promise you won’t ride off?”

Too many people Jessica Monroe cared for and came to love have left her. Jessica, reared in a man’s world by a strict military doctor, picks up the reins of responsibility when her father dies and her brother Caleb leaves to “find himself." With eight people taken in by her father, Jessica keeps the Missouri farm going, trains horses, and asks no quarter. She does what must be done to take care of her “family.” Jessica is a strong character with just enough flaws to make her a memorable heroine. When Caleb returns with his outlaw running mates, her life turns topsy-turvy.

Marshal Tyler Beaumont, wounded and thought to be an outlaw, wakes up in bed at Jessica’s farm. Uprooted from his Southern home, he’d moved westward in search of a new life. His pulse quickens when Jessica comes to see how he is. Even though she is dressed in men’s clothing, her hazel eyes, honey blonde hair, delicate beauty, and fierce independence make him think she is one who needs to be cherished. How can a woman resist a man who calls her “angel darlin’”?

Dare to Love hums with life. It is set in Post Civil War days, when nerves were raw and many men sought meaning to life after being set at odds with the life they’d known before the war. Women struggled to maintain hearth and home while doing work that had once been done by men and they often had to stand against the outlaw element and the greed that the war fired in some men.

The multitude of characters, sub plots, and subterfuge make Dare to Love a novel hard to put down. Many of the secondary characters like Stella and Wolf have remarkable stories of their past, present and their hopes for the futures. Megan and Molly, six-year-old twins, had a delightful touch of humor, as does Harriet; while Drew, Willy, and Kajika show all the growing pains of teenage boy growing to manhood.

Catherine Stang does a great job of weaving the lives, actions, and emotions of all the characters together making for some intense moments as well as some “true love” moments as the antagonists are dealt with. Out of pain, suffering, and doubts, good things emerge making Dare to Love a heartfelt love story.

This is the second in a series of books that would be great for the historical romance reader’s library.



The Mountain Man by Jan Minter



The Mountain Man by Jan Minter
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (302 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Rosemary thinks the mountain man’s a quack, because he says he can heal with his hands. After her plane crashed, she is stuck on his mountain with no rescue until the road is repaired. Rosemary comes to love the people of the mountain. If she’s not careful, the mountain man will steal her heart.

So special! Selfless love—a treasure beyond price—makes Nathan’s and Rosemary’s story a joy to read.

Dr. Rosemary Frazier, top-notch orthopedic surgeon and wealthy, suffers culture shock when she is stranded in the Ozark Mountains where people live without frills, so different from the affluent, high-society, highly competitive culture in which she functions. Known as “Dr. Ice” she melts under the magic hands of Nathan aka Son. This irresistible, charismatic bear of a man touches her spirit with his gentle ministrations and peaceful demeanor. She feels a special connection at their first encounter when she is in shock from a plane crash. She had prayed (something she hadn’t done in a long time) so when he shows up she thinks he may be God. She invites him to “come fly with me”. Her metamorphosis makes for “feel good” reading.

Nathan, a gifted healer, has a rule to heal only if asked. But he foregoes his rule when he finds Rosemary bleeding to death in a wrecked plane. His attraction to her is strong but he is sure she is out of his reach even though he had prayed for God to send him a true mate. He considers her “his butterfly” to admire and protect until she flies away. His mother told him long ago that his “man instincts” can get in the way of his “gift”; so he prays for divine guidance in his healing. Nathan’s relationship with his neighbors and friends is giving, respectful, and unassuming. They depend on him with an absolute faith that he can help when they come to him in pain.

The secondary characters add rich texture and contrasts to the story. They highlight the vast differences in the two cultures that exist so close together yet so are so far apart. Clark Wintrop (Rosemary’s want-to-be fiancĂ©) and her parents are completely opposite to the people in Tucker Settlement and surrounding area. Tensions run high as Rosemary makes decisions for her future concerning these two cultures.

Each culture has much to recommend it but each could profit from mingling of their ways, something Rosemary wants to do. When Rosemary says, “Ah-h-h, the wonders of modern day plumbing” she highlights just one of the comforts of her world that could be transplanted to Nathan’s world that would serve them well. However, she feels the caring, respectful, non-competitive ways of the mountain people far surpass the snobbish attitudes of the people she’s always known.

Jan Minter’s writing style invites the reader into the story to become a part of the actions and emotions that enthrall. The Mountain Man is a novel to be enjoyed more than once. It is a KEEPER!

The Ghost Downstairs by Molly Ringle



The Ghost Downstairs by Molly Ringle
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Paranormal; Fantasy; Suspense; Contemporary
Length: Full (284 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Poinsettia

After making a fatal mistake on the job, Lina Zuendel seeks shelter in a Seattle assisted-living facility as their live-in nurse. But peace is not what she finds. She soon hears tales of ghosts haunting the house, and of two tragic deaths that took place in the 1930s. Unexplained events send her to ask questions of the handsome resident houseboy.

Ren Schultz, a seemingly young live-in houseboy, tries to avoid his growing attraction to the new nurse. His secrets are too dangerous to share, no matter how lonely he has become. But Lina is persistent, and soon uncovers dark truths that no one else has dared to face.

As their attraction grows, so does the intensity of the paranormal activity. Can their love survive the mysteries that lurk in the old sorority house?

Lina Zuendel knows there is something strange about Ren Schultz and the assisted living facility where they both work. Despite the mystery surrounding him, Lina can’t help but feel attracted to Ren, but once she starts digging into the past, will she be able to handle what she discovers?

Lina’s life is full of regrets, but making a tragic mistake at Everglade Hospital tops them all. This prompts Lina to decide she needs a change of scenery. When she reads an ad in the newspaper for a live-in nurse at an assisted living facility called Drake House, it seems like the perfect opportunity to tend her bruised spirit.

Lina falls in love with Drake House immediately. The staff and residents are equally charming, and soon Lina begins to hope she’ll find the peace that’s eluded her for so long. Unfortunately, there is much more to Drake House then meets the eye. It seems that the building is haunted by a ghost. After being assured that the ghost is harmless, Lina decides to stay at Drake House.

Curiosity about the ghost and the history of Drake House leads Lina to Ren, the handsome houseboy, but it seems that Ren has some dark secrets of his own. Though Lina and Ren try to deny their growing attraction, the soon realize they’ve fallen in love. As their relationship intensifies, the ghost at Drake House becomes increasingly active and more violent. It seems the ghost might not be so harmless after all.

I thought Ms. Ringle created a great heroine in Lina Zuendel. She is one of the most down-to-earth characters I’ve read about in a long time. Sure Lina has made some mistakes (haven’t we all), but she’s also smart, thoughtful and caring. Lina is so relatable that it was easy to empathize with her.

As a hero, Ren was also very likable. He genuinely cares about the residents at Drake House, he’s handsome, and a great cook. What more could a woman want? I soon suspected what Ren’s secret was, but I enjoyed watching Lina discover more about him as their romance blossomed.

The Ghost Downstairs literally kept me on the edge of my seat. Not only was the supernatural activity truly spine-tingling, but I was constantly kept guessing at how Lina and Ren were ever going to find their happily ever after. Anyone who enjoys a moving romance with tons of suspense needs to get a copy of The Ghost Downstairs today.



Allura by Christine Young



Allura by Christine Young
Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

With her golden hair and cobalt eyes, Allura McClellan was a trophy beyond compare. Her hand in marriage given to any man who could discover her secret, she set out to bedevil every man who answered the ad her father placed in the London Times until Hunter Gray and Englishman, discovered her island and banished all other men from her life. Burning with indignation and passion, she was determined to keep her secret from the arrogant Englishman and to keep her independence at any cost.

The bastard son of an English earl, he made a name for himself in the service of his country. Hunter Gray vowed no one would keep him from winning the hand of the fair Allura and in doing so realizing his dreams. He was stronger and more cunning than the men who had come before. The man who had fought many a war against the French swore he would capture the heart of the passionate young woman he came to Scotland to claim.

In early 1800s Scotland, women are often considered chattel with no control over events that affect their lives. Allura, her sisters, and cousins are misfits for this age. They want to develop their talents and control their own lives.

Their magical island represents the unquenchable desire they have for freedom and it plays a major role in the story as Hunter Gray accepts the challenge Allura’s father issues in regard to winning her hand in marriage and all The McClellhan’s wealth.

Hunter, a macho English soldier who believes no woman can be trusted, wants the material gain enough to wed Allura regardless of her good or bad attributes. Can you believe he says “all women are alike in the dark”? Mercy, is he in for a surprise.

The secondary characters, especially Blade and Aiden, slip in and out of the conflicts between Hunter and Allura. They inevitably make matters worse even though their intentions are good. Guy, the antagonist, certainly plays havoc with their lives. He seems to have no redeeming qualities.

The situation and characters are somewhat stereotypical, but Allura and Hunter are so well depicted, the reader can relate to them as if they are real people. People the reader hopes fervently will find some way to bridge the wide gap between their beliefs and values, thereby creating a way for the love they each feel to find a path that will lead Allura and Hunter to a happy-ever-after.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trusting Delilah by Diana Castilleja



Trusting Delilah: Aiza Clan Book One by Diana Castilleja
Publisher: Tease Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Action/Adventure
Length: Short (68 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Review by: Tiger Lily


Roman Aiza is the second born son of the Aiza clan. He also owns and operates a private security company and has an ongoing contract with one of Florida's most influential residents. He is patrolling at a party when he encounters a woman who will haunt him. A woman who at their first meeting, manages to walk right out of his hands when he follows her for trespassing. She manages to do this without giving Roman a single reason why she is in the depths of the house he is protecting. When he does finally locate her days later, his goal is to prove that his instincts are wrong. She is not the woman that all of his senses are clamoring for.

Yet when the daughter of Roman's largest and closest account is kidnapped and held for ransom, will they be able to build a trust between them? Or will their own secrets keep them apart?

She’s a lone wolf – she works alone and moves with deadly accuracy. He’s a securities specialist and a wolf – a wolf shifter, that is. Both are trained to rely only on themselves. What happens when they have to work together to save the life of a young woman? Read Trusting Delilah and find out.

I love a story where there is more going on than meets the eye, a story that makes the reader think and get involved with the characters. This is one such book. Ms. Castilleja writes with such poignant detail, that you can’t help but read on. Her descriptions are rich and her characters very relatable.

Roman exists with a secret. Only the right woman – his mate – can unlock that secret. When Delilah enters the picture, she’s not interested in Roman at all. She’s there to find out about an unfaithful spouse. When they clash, sparks literally fly and she pins him. I liked that she stayed a strong woman, who could take care of herself. I also liked that Roman knew when to push and when to let her move at her own pace. Very classy.

If you want a powerful read with sexy characters and a great plot, then Trusting Delilah is the read for you. I give this novella 4 ½ books.

A Reason to Rebel by Wendy Soliman



A Reason To Rebel by Wendy Soliman
Publisher: Samhain
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (176 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Vervain

After one daring act, two worlds collide.

Duty has always been Estelle Travis’s byword. But every woman has her limits, even a recently widowed one with few prospects. Her father’s coldly calculating plan to force her into another marriage is the final straw. In an act of rebellion, she takes up a position as companion to Lady Crawley. She soon realizes she may have just exchanged one peril for another, in the guise of Alexander, Viscount Crawley.

Alex is beguiled by the aura of mystery that surrounds the beautiful new governess. Her air of vulnerability brings out his protective instincts in spades. He discovers her well-hidden reckless streak when her sister goes missing and, rather than do what’s expected and return to her father’s austere household, Estelle embarks on her own search.

Amid a thickening cloud of suspicion and whispers of murder, what choice does a gentleman of honour have other than to offer his assistance? Then there’s the allure of her company, even if it exposes him to dangers that have little to do with her sister’s plight…

Warning: This title contains a Regency heroine who abandons conventional behaviour, breaches the social divide and renounces her inhibitions.

Estelle Travis is finally free! Forced into a marriage with an older man, she is now widowed, free to live her life as she sees fit. Or so she thinks, until her father arrives and demands that she return home to marry a man she despises. Unable to bear going through another loveless marriage, Estelle flees with her best friend, setting herself up as a companion to Lady Crawley.

Alex Crawley is mesmerized the first moment he sees his mother’s new companion. She has the most amazing eyes, lovely and arresting. He’s stunned at the reaction he has every time she’s in the same room with him, but knows he can’t act on his desires. Thinking her to be a Miss Tilling, he’s surprised when a Mr. Winthrop comes to call, claiming that his daughter, Estelle Travis, is hiding in his home. Suddenly intrigued by his house guest, he sets out to discover the truth.

Estelle immediately draws sympathy from the reader, having lived under first her father’s stringent rule and later being firmly under the thumb of a husband who clearly had no regard for her; a man who thought only of his own pleasures and took delight in belittling her. The first time Estelle stands her ground against a man you want to cheer her on. Watching the heroine grow from being scared and abused to a vivacious, outspoken, independent woman is remarkable. The hero is dashing, wanting to protect Estelle at all costs. Regardless of what is expected of his station in life as Viscount Crawley, he comes to realize that he’s falling in love with Estelle and is determined to do whatever is necessary to win her.

While I found some of the sentences a bit stilted, the book as a whole was well written. It took me a chapter or two to really get into it, but once I did I couldn’t stop reading and finished the book in one sitting. The descriptions used during the more emotional scenes leapt off the pages, leaving me awash in whatever sensations the heroine was currently experiencing. This tale is full of heartache, hope, and most importantly – love. It was a book worth reading and I would easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good historical romance. You won’t be disappointed!

Your Roots are Showing by Elise Chidley



Your Roots Are Showing by Elise Chidley
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (384 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Hibiscus

Lizzie Buckley is having doubts about her picture-perfect world. She does love her country estate, precocious three-year-old twins, and handsome husband, James. But nobody warned her about postpartum depression and the toll it would take on her marriage. Or how she'd fantasize about chucking it all for a box of chocolates and an uninterrupted bath.

Lizzie vents these frustrations in an e-mail and her life is shattered: James gets the message by mistake. Lizzie soon finds herself uprooting her children to start over in a ramshackle garden cottage. Now facing life - and the twins - alone, Lizzie struggles to reinvent herself and forget about her soon-to-be ex. But when thoughts of James still haunt her, she begins to wonder if the best part of marriage starts after the fairy tale ends . . .

Your Roots Are Showing is a must read story for all young mothers and any woman who is married or contemplating getting married. It opens the door to a taboo subject and outlines steps for achieving the help one needs when dealing with this sensitive issue.

Lizzie Indigo Buckley is a young mother who is dealing with a very real problem that she doesn’t even realize she has. Following the birth of her twins, she fell into what I would call post partum depression. Overwhelmed by not only the day to day occurrences that happen in her life, Lizzie loses her sense of self-worth. I could feel her frustrations as her mother-in-law would continually put down everything about Lizzie, from her looks to the way she cared for her family. Lizzie let herself go but she did not know the reasons her subconscious was doing what it was. When she sends an email detailing her frustrations about her husband and her life to her husband James instead of her sister, a marriage on self-destruct was revealed and Lizzie is set adrift in a world she is not ready for.

I loved all the characters in this story. Each one helps Lizzie on her journey to self love and healing the rift within herself. I enjoyed how her best friend helped her jog, her gardener helped her grow into a woman deserving of love, and her neighbor was there to listen or lend a helping hand or daughter. They all contributed to Lizzie’s transformation.

James Buckley is a distant character in the story. I learned more about him from Lizzie’s flashbacks than his presence in the here and now of the story. I did love how he opens up to Lizzie at the end of the story and allows her to make the choice that will affect her future.

Ms. Chidley seems to be a very caring writer who deals with this sensitive issue in a realistic story that adds just the right amount of humor to make me smile at times as I read this fantastic book. I cannot believe that this is Ms. Chidley’s first book. I definitely recommend Your Roots Are Showing as must read for everyone and cannot wait to see what subject she tackles next.





Another Time Another Place by T. Sue VerSteeg



Another Time Another Place by T. Sue VerSteeg
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical; Fantasy
Length: Full (184 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Hibiscus

Tessa Garrett has had less than an interesting life. Forgotten and abandoned as a child, her life consisted of foster homes and self-reliance. Her only escape from reality was her dreams; dreams of a castle she thought only existed in her mind until she woke up within its walls in the thirteenth century.

Eric Bartholomew Hadley had found no time for love, unless it became necessary to lure the opposite sex into his bedchamber. As future lord of his castle, Eric will honor his father's last request and marry a shrew. Knowing the loveless union will provide his castle with a lady and hopefully an heir, he reluctantly agrees to the upcoming nuptials until he discovers Tessa in his courtyard.

Can true love overcome all odds and bridge the gap of eight centuries?

Bouncing from foster home to foster home, having a cheating boy friend and having a backstabbing best girlfriend can all combine to really bring a person down. Tessa Garrett’s lifelong dream of a castle helps her on a journey that spans centuries and makes her dreams come true.

I liked the character of Tessa Garrett. So many bad things have happened to her in her short life that I just wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be alright. Tessa has always dreamed of a castle and I wished, like Cinderella, her dreams would one day come true. Her “best friend” Libby finds Tessa’s castle and buys her a ticket to visit it. Unfortunately, this is out of guilt for sleeping with Tessa’s boyfriend.

I love how Tessa was transported to thirteenth century Hadley Castle. It meshed seamlessly with the action in the story. When Tessa awakes she believes she is dreaming, after all, Lord Eric Bartholomew Hadley looks exactly like her cheating boyfriend Scott and he is betrothed to Gretchen. Gretchen is a shrew who connived her way to becoming the future Lady Hadley and causes difficulties for Tessa.

There are many minor characters that enrich to this wonderful tale and help move the storyline along. Some of my favorites were Gretchen’s brother, Joseph of Brookshire, who is nothing like his sister and Matilda, Tessa’s maid, who made me smile.

Another Time Another Place originally came out in 2006 in paperback and I am glad it was reissued as an eBook. It gave me the opportunity to enjoy this story of finding one’s true home even if it is eight hundred years in the past. Another Time Another Place really is a dream come true.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Enchanting the Beast by Kathryne Kennedy



Enchanting the Beast by Kathryne Kennedy
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Heat Level: Spicy
Length: Full (320 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Peony

Grimspell castle. With its dark, imposing stone walls, it certainly looked haunted. As a ghost-hunter, Lady Philomena was accustomed to restless spirits. But she found the dark, imposing nature of the castle’s owner far more haunting than any specter. London Society might not approve of shape-shifters such as Sir Nicodemus Wulfson, but firmly-on-the-shelf Philomena rather enjoyed the young baronet’s sudden interest in sniffing around her skirts. She’d even consider giving in to him altogether if not for a murderer on the loose—a beast that might just be Nico himself.

Kathryne Kennedy's third installment in the Relics of Merlin series, Enchanting the Beast, is, in a word, amazing. This talented author enchanted not only the beast, but this reviewer as well. Filled with magic, shape-shifters, fairies and ghosts that inspire as well as frighten, this is a tale I could not set aside until every word had been read.

Lady Philomena is a ghost-hunter, a woman adept at performing seances and merging with the apparitions of those who emerge from Heaven...or Hell. She is fearless, so when an achingly handsome Baronet approaches her she is intrigued, in more ways than one. Sir Nicodemus propositions Phil, asking that she go to Grimspell castle and convince his brother that she has vanquished any lingering ghosts. But when Phil arrives at the castle she learns there is more to this handsome shifter's story than he initially lets on. Phil becomes entangled in a web of deceit and murder, but once she's fully involved she knows there is no easy way out of any of it.

I enjoyed the way Ms. Kennedy pulls unlikely characters into situations and, even though they seem oppositional on the surface, makes them all work together. Even tiny, tickling fairies have their place, becoming amusing and unforgettable characters. The dialogue between Phil and Nic is laced with innuendo; there is no denying their attraction but there is also no way around the situations they must navigate before they might be free to fully act on their feelings.

I'm completely hooked on this series. Enchanting the Beast is as delightful a read as the other books were, and makes me wonder how long I'll have to wait to read the next installment in The Relics of Merlin. Honestly, however long the wait is, I know it will be worth it!



Bayou Magic by Marilee Crow



Bayou Magic by Marilee Crow
Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary; Inspirational
Length: Short (138 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Orchid

When Baylee Mitchell's full-blooded Choctaw Indian friend is arrested for poaching, she will do anything to help him. But she wasn't counting on being in close contact with Dane Winslow, a Texas DA. Dane has come to Louisiana to help his father build a case for John Belvue. While Dane's father is recuperating from a heart attack, Dane agrees to gather information and evidence his father can use to build a case. But a Texas history teacher, Baylee Mitchell seems to be the only one who has a good rapport with the people living along the Dorcheat bayou, and John Belvue has disappeared. It's not long before Dane not only wants to gain her trust, but her love.

Like books about the Louisiana bayous? If you answered yes, you’ll love this story.

Baylee Mitchell’s photography hobby draws her into the mystique of the bayou and introduces her to the Choctaw Indians who live there. When one of her Indian friends is wrongly accused of killing an alligator, Baylee steps forward to support him. She is unprepared for the effect the defense lawyer has on her emotions. Remembering how badly she’s been hurt in the past, Baylee tries to distance herself from any involvement with the gorgeous Dane Winslow.

Dane is strongly attracted to Baylee, but he can see she’s not ready for any sort of relationship. He tries to keep their interaction on a friendly basis, not willing to frighten Baylee by revealing his intense longing for her. His good intentions are put under extreme strain when Baylee is rushed to hospital. The only way the hospital will allow her to leave is if she agrees to stay with Dane for a few days.

The mystique of the bayou and Baylee and Dane’s unhappy past experiences in the love stakes blend together to make a strong, tender and emotional connection between the two. I only found one thing to take the shine off my enjoyment of Bayou Magic. While Dane expected Baylee to trust him and accept his explanations when misunderstandings arose, he was not willing to trust or believe in her in similar situations. While this slightly irritated me, it did not stop my enjoyment of the story and I would love to read more books by this author.

Best Laid Plans by Isabel Martens



Best Laid Plans by Isabel Martens
Publisher: Awe-Struck E-Books, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (270 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Lilac

Beejay Milliston has a fail-safe plan for acquiring the perfect husband and there's no place in it for love. Every clear minded person knows that love turns sensible people into muddle-headed starry eyed idiots. She refuses to be among their number. What she doesn't plan for are her own run-amok hormones, broken water pipes, a useless Home Owner's association, appendicitis, and a deliciously handsome bachelor with a plan of his own and five orphaned nieces and nephews to provide for.

In this fun and entertaining tale, a woman finds love and a family in the last place she expected.

With her biological clock ticking, Beejay Milliston comes up with a plan (and questionnaire) to find the perfect husband. She finds her plans disrupted by Web Klein and his brood of orphaned nieces and nephews. Working for the IRS, Beejay originally enters Web’s home office to audit the accountant, but chaos ensues as she finds herself dealing with mini-crises involving Web’s family and finds they have wormed their way into her heart.

Web and Beejay are interesting characters who both seem to have a plan for their futures. Beejay wants a husband and family, but her plan does not include love or a ready-made family. Meanwhile, Web realizes that he needs a maternal figure for his nephews and nieces. I enjoyed watching them realize that their priorities are a bit out of order and what they think they want might not necessarily be what they need. I found their relationship to be interesting as they cross a line that changes their relationship from being impersonal and professional into something more. Their relationship starts as a strong friendship which I found interesting and it is obvious that they grow to care for one another.

As for the plot, the story starts out strong, but kind of felt rushed toward the end as Web and Beejay both make decisions that I didn’t quite agree with and which felt a bit out of character for them considering their growing feelings. But I really enjoyed the adventures and unexpected events throughout the story as Beejay faces many things that disrupt her orderly life from a flooded townhouse to an unexpected visit from her parents. Several of these unexpected events are quite touching.

The children of the story really stole my heart and every scene that they appeared in. I loved watching Web and Beejay interact with them. Beejay learns a lot about herself from dealing with the children and it was interesting watching her relationships develop with them as well as they bonded.

Featuring characters who learn a lot about themselves and each other as they grow closer, this was a fun story full of the unexpected.

An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell



An Offer You Can't Refuse by Jill Mansell
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (408 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

Nothing could tear Lola and Dougie apart, except his mother…

Seventeen-year-old Lola has no intention of accepting when her boyfriend's snobbish mother offers her a huge bribe to break up with him. Then Lola discovers a secret that makes her think again, and the only way she can help one of the people she loves most in the world is to take the money and break Dougie's heart.

Ten years later, when Lola meets Dougie again, her feelings for him are as strong as ever. She'll do almost anything to get him back, but she can never tell him the truth. Can she overcome his bitterness and win his heart? She's attractive, persuasive, and endlessly optimistic, but even Lola's got her work cut out for her this time.

Seventeen-year-old Lola Malone pays a high price to protect her working-class stepfather who is the only father she’s ever known. After ten years with lots of growing up experiences in Majorca and England along with an unexpected turn of events, Lola is manager of the Regent Street Branch of Kingsley’s Bookshop. She enjoys a busy professional and social life but the vacancy in her heart has never been filled since she gave up Dougie Tennant, her first love.

Dougie, with no clue about his mother’s meddling to get Lola out of his life, is bitter and cutting toward Lola when they find themselves in situations where they must interact. Privileged, rich, SO handsome, and a little spoiled, he does a lot of growing up himself, making for some interesting reading.

The unique British humor and exclamations are classic—so good. Quite often it is used to set off the social class differences in stark relief but more than anything it reveals the indomitable spirit of the characters who are so loyal to and supportive of friends and family. The humor in Lola’s inner thoughts gives the reader a look into her personality and a look at the people and events from her point of view in a delightful way.

A multitude of diverse characters that create many twists and turns in this comedy of errors make it hard to put the book down for fear of missing something. The pace is fast and fun with settings and events that range from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Jill Mansell charms the reader with wit and creates scenes with such vivid description it feels as if the reader is amid all the chaotically humorous happenings as well as the heartbreaking and heartwarming ones.

An Offer You Can't Refuse is a delight to read – SO British! Loved it!



Monday, April 27, 2009

The Valentine Edition by Robin Shope



The Valentine Edition by Robin Shope
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary; Holiday (Valentine’s Day); Inspirational
Length: Full (232 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Lilac

The last place in the world Jodi Williams wanted to live was Turtle Creek, Wisconsin, but when her stepdad refused to put in a good word for her at the Chicago paper, she had no other choice than to accept the first job offer that came her way. Josh Thomas was Turtle Creek's veterinarian, but he also happened to be single and quite handsome. His life was pretty peaceful until a pretty, young stranger came to his clinic with a dog that had been hit by a car. While his first reaction was to care for the injured animal, he couldn't help a few glances at this unique young woman. That day was one of quite a few new beginnings. Jodi came to the aid of an injured animal, earning her the respect of a handsome man, she started a new job as a reporter for The Turtle Creek Newspaper, and she gained the wrath of the vet's receptionist. Della had her sights set on Joshua, and she wasn't about to let anyone come between her and the man of her dreams.

In this charming tale, an enterprising young reporter and a handsome veterinarian find love, but face some difficulties as they work toward their happily-ever-after.

Jodi Williams reluctantly moves to Turtle Creek to start her job at the local paper, but soon is glad she did when she meets veterinarian Josh Thomas. When a small dog is hit by a car, Jodi comes to its rescue with the aid of Josh and soon the pair find themselves spending more time together and growing closer. But the two face some trouble in the form of Della, Josh’s assistant who just happens to have an obsession with him.

This was a very sweet story and I really enjoyed the relationship Jodi shared with Josh. Both of these characters are so nice and likeable that you want the best for them. They were perfect for one another and they almost seem too good to be true or real. But Jodi has some trust issues thanks to an incident from her past which added some realness to her character. As for Josh, he is an all-around nice guy who is determined to earn Jodi’s trust and love and work through the barriers that she has put in place. However, Jodi’s doubts and insecurities could hamper her relationship with Josh.

In addition to a strong lead couple, there are also several interesting secondary characters from Della, Josh’s obsessive assistant to Jodi’s co-workers at the newspaper, who are like a little family. Each character brought something different to the story and I loved how they fit in the story. Many of the characters go through quite a transformation, which was quite interesting to see and really fit the tone of the story.

The Valentine Edition is a sweet story with characters you can’t help but like.



Winter of the Heart by E.G. Parsons



Winter of the Heart by E.G. Parsons
Publisher: Createspace
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (311 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewee by Lilac

Brutalized by a man she can never love, Megan Connors flees her Virginia home to start a new life as a schoolteacher on a South Carolina ranch. Steeped in the serenity of her new surroundings, Megan feels her dreams of a good life are finally coming true. Indeed, life would be perfect if not for her infuriatingly rude employer, the wealthy ranch owner Charles Donavan. Unable to deny her growing attraction to Charles, Megan soon discovers the chilling secret behind his grim existence. Determined to help Charles free himself from the ghosts of his past, Megan soon finds herself a target for the wrath of another who stakes a claim to Charles' love. Megan must defeat a powerful enemy, and confront the demons of her own past if she and Charles are to find happiness and escape the dark shadow that falls across them both.

This touching historical takes readers on an emotional journey that is hard to forget as a woman in an abusive relationship seeks to make a better life for herself and finds a love she never expected.

The story gets off to a heartbreaking start as get a glimpse of the past that haunts the hero, Charles Donovan. Still haunted by this past, wealthy rancher Charles has hired Megan Connors to teach the children who live on his ranch not knowing that the lovely young woman is running from a past she is trying to hide. And when that past catches up to her it could ruin the budding relationship that exists between Megan and Charles.

I was captivated by this story and I could not wait to see what would happen next. It was a very emotional read and my heart ached for both Megan and Charles. They made an interesting couple, but there are several obstacles standing in their way of happiness. As they seek to overcome these obstacles they both take an emotional journey full of heartache and misunderstandings that threatens to destroy the love they feel for one another.

The secondary characters of the story greatly affect Charles and Megan’s relationship. These characters include the ghost of Charles’s first wife, a scheming neighbor who wants Charles for herself, Megan’s abusive husband, and a young preacher who helps Megan in her time of need. Each character really enhanced the story making it quite enjoyable.

I wasn’t too fond of the ending of the story as I felt it was a bit abrupt and rushed. But it does hint at the possibility of more to come and I would truly love to see that.

Although I felt there were a few loose ends, as a whole the characters and story came together to form a very entertaining read.