Sunday, March 31, 2013

A Gift for All Seasons - Karen Templeton (HSE #2223 - Nov 2012)

Series: Summer Sisters (Book 2)


Hiring Patrick Shaughnessy to landscape her new inn was strictly a business arrangement. Until April Ross got to know the war-scarred single father...and his irrepressible little girl. Patrick made it clear he wasn't looking for romance. Neither was April. But could she make him see that some risks were worth taking?

The lively, widowed blonde might be the most tempting woman Patrick had ever known, but the returning vet knew a happy ending wasn't in the cards. Still, that was before April started working her magic on his daughter...and on him. Maybe this Christmas was a time for new beginnings-if Patrick had the courage to go with the powerful feelings April had awakened in him.... 

Fantastic book, definitely my favorite of the three.  April is just about ready to open the inn, but it desperately needs to be landscaped first.  Patrick's family business is recommended to her as being the best.  She is startled at first by his scars, but immediately apologizes for her reaction.  There is an immediate connection between the two, but both have things they need to overcome before they can reach their happy ending.

I really liked both April and Patrick.  April had had a challenging childhood with parents who were always reaching for the next big thing.  As a result she found herself working as a teenager and young adult to help the family.  The best part of her childhood were her summers with her cousins at her grandmother's house.  The three of them inherited the house when their grandmother died.  April decided to buy the others out and turn the house back into an inn, with her cousins helping out.  With the death of her husband, April has plenty of capital to make her dream come true.  Her strong reaction to Patrick is unexpected, but once they over come their initial meeting both admit the connection.  She's not looking for anything permanent right now but is interested in pursuing what they feel. I loved April's open giving nature.  She sees past Patrick's scars to the man beneath, who is trying to be the father his daughter needs.  There are some fun parts as April works with her cousins and gets to know Patrick's family.  There are some incredibly emotional parts where she shares her secrets with her cousins and with Patrick.  I loved seeing the way she has gotten to the point where she isn't afraid to go after what she wants, but is also willing to give it up if she thinks it's best for the other person.  

Patrick was dealing with a lot in his life.  He had been badly wounded overseas, with months of physical and emotional rehab after that.  The love of his family and his daughter is what kept him going.  After his wife left them because she was unable to deal with it he had pretty well accepted that it would be just him and Lili.  He was surprised by his attraction to April, but had no intention of getting involved.  His wife's desertion had done a real number on their daughter and he wasn't going to allow anyone to get close enough to do it again.  However, the attraction between them was too strong and April was too determined, so they started spending what time they could together.  But Patrick insisted on keeping Lili out of it.  This caused a deepening stress in their relationship until April finally called a halt, seeing what Patrick couldn't - that his fears were making things worse.  I loved the way that everyone tried to explain things to him, but that it was Lili that finally broke through his walls.

There was so much love apparent in this book as well as the ways it was shown.  There was the support that April and her cousins gave each other and the ways they cut through the crap to make their points.  There was the love that Patrick's family had for each other and the way they all pulled together to help him.  The love that Patrick and April had for each other that made it possible for them to provide the healing that the other needed was incredibly emotional.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hot Nights in Ballymuir - Dorien Kelly (Pocket - Mar 2004)

Series: Ballymuir (Book 2)

Playboy businessman Devlin Gilvane arrives in Ballymuir secretly intent on acquiring the beloved historical landmark Muir House for a lucrative real estate venture. No one recognizes him for the threat he is -- except Jenna Fahey, the beautiful American chef who turned Muir House into an international destination for gourmands. Jenna spent years working at the finest European restaurants before establishing her own and even though the lease is coming to a close, she isn't about to give it up without a fight. But even as Jenna thwarts Dev's pursuit, she can't resist his rakish charm. With Dev and Jenna locked in a dispute -- and a game of temptation -- there are bound to be some hot nights in Ballymuir....

Good book.  I liked both Jenna and Dev.  Jenna has been working hard for two years to make her restaurant one of the finest around.  She has gotten quite a good reputation among diners.  She has also made a place for herself in the village of Ballymuir.  When Dev arrives in town she is immediately suspicious of him, especially when she catches him snooping around the grounds of Muir House.  When she overhears a phone conversation about his company's intention to buy Muir House she is not at all happy with him.  I really enjoyed her attitude about cellphones in her dining room and loved her solution to his last infraction.  Another thing she had to deal with was her unwanted attraction to him.  Jenna had rules for her everything in her life which made sure she was in control of what happened to her.  Her attraction to Dev threatens that control but he won't let up.  Pretty soon she decides to give in and have a fling but try to protect her heart.  She also intentionally closes her eyes to what is happening on Dev's attempts to buy the house.  She doesn't want to face the fact that it will probably happen and she'll lose everything.  This nearly loses her everything in the end before she faces up to her issues.  Besides her relationship with Dev I loved seeing Jenna with others in the town.  Her sister's appearance and romance are a nice counterpoint to Jenna's and they have a chance to reconnect after so many years.  I also loved Vi and her second sight and look forward to reading her story someday.

Dev was an interesting character.  He started out as this strictly business, slightly sneaky guy.  He chooses Ballymuir because that's where his mother is from and figures it's a good place to start. He's nosing around to get information on Muir House so his company can buy it and turn it into a resort.  When he meets Jenna he doesn't make the best first impression when he nearly runs her down.  He does notice her looks and an undeniable attraction.  He feels pretty sure that he can talk her into his bed and still keep his acquisition of Muir House totally separate.  He pursues her quite vigorously but soon finds that separation just isn't possible.  There is something about Jenna that fills a void in him that he didn't realize he had.  He gets to the point where he wants to tell her everything that is going on but is frustrated by her refusal to listen to any of it.  Pretty soon he realizes that he doesn't want his company getting Muir House and is trying very hard to find another site that is just as good.  He also finds himself getting sucked into life in Ballymuir, something that he never expected.  Even more happens when his mother shows up.  I loved seeing Dev deal with her and the new man in her life.  Dev also has to finally confront what he is doing and how he intends to fix it.  I loved the solution that he came up with.

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Love Shack - Christie Ridgway (HQN - Apr 2013)

Series: Crescent Cove CA (Book 3)

Globe-trotting photojournalist Gage Lowell spent carefree childhood summers in Crescent Cove. Now that he desperately needs some R & R, he books a vacation at Beach House No. 9 -- ready to soak up some sun and surprise old friend and property manager Skye Alexander. Their long-distance letters got him through a dangerous time he can't otherwise talk about. But when he arrives, the tightly wound beauty isn't exactly happy to see him.

Skye knows any red-blooded woman would be thrilled to spend time with gorgeous, sexy Gage. But she harbors secrets of her own, including that she might just be a little bit in love with him. And she's convinced the restless wanderer won't stay long enough for her to dare share her past -- or dream of a future together. Luckily for them both, summer at Crescent Cove has a way of making the impossible happen….

Fantastic conclusion to the series.  Gage and Skye had been friends since they were children.  They recently got close again when she started writing to him.  Gage has returned to Crescent Cove for some much needed recovery time.  He is also looking forward to spending some time with Skye, whose letters were a bright spot during some very dark days.  When he gets there she doesn't seem to be that thrilled to see him and seems awfully jumpy too.  Both of them are fighting demons that only the other one seems to be able to vanquish.  There is also an intense physical attraction that seems to have no possible future. 

I really liked both Gage and Skye.  I loved her devotion to Crescent Cove and its past and traditions.  She obviously takes her job very seriously.  In the previous books there are enough scenes with her to show how much time she devotes to it.  We also get to see the beginnings of the mystery of the missing jeweled collar which plays a bigger part in this book.  There are also hints of her relationship with Gage.  At the beginning of the book she is frightened by his sudden appearance as she is not expecting him.  In spite of their closeness via letter, she tries to keep him at arms length in person.  This worries Gage as it is far different than the Skye he knows from her letters.  Skye has tried very hard to keep her secret and protect herself, but Gage soon gets it out of her.  In the process their attraction burns out of control.  I loved the way that even though she was skittish around everyone else she instinctively trusted Gage.  That trust allowed her to accept the attraction they felt and to give in to it.  She still had times she wondered what she was doing because she knew he wasn't going to stay.

Gage is the twin brother of Griffin (Book 1 - Beach House No. 9). He is a photographer who works in war zones and was recently in a very dangerous position.  He has come to Crescent Cove to try to recover before he heads back for a new assignment.  He refuses to talk about it to anyone, insisting that people are imagining things, but Skye especially senses that there is a deep rooted problem.  I loved the way that Gage uses his own sensitivity to help Skye deal with her trauma.  He shows incredible kindness even as he is fighting his own demons.  Once they give in to their passions he makes sure she knows not to expect any commitments as he will be leaving again.  He says it so often that you start to wonder if he's trying to convince her or himself.  I loved the way that Skye finally cornered him and refused to let him get away with shutting her out any longer.  After that it seemed that things were slowly getting better for Gage, but he was still insisting on going back. I really loved the way that they worked together to solve their issues.  I also loved the fact that they started out as friends before they became lovers.

There was also a secondary story between Teague and Polly that was just as good.  Teague was a regular in the first two books and I was very happy to see that he was getting a romance of his own.  He and Polly had also been friends for years.  He is a bit of a party animal but always makes time for his best friend Polly.  Meanwhile Polly is about fed up with him.  She has been in love with him for years, but he just doesn't see it.  I loved the way that she finally got his attention.

The conclusion of the story was great.  I loved the resolution of the necklace mystery (I had guessed the bad guy in book 2).  The epilogue was especially fun.

The Taming of a Wild Child - Kimberly Lang (HK #6 - Mar 2013)

Series: LaBlanc Sisters (Book 2)

Waking up in a stranger's bed is not how socialite Lorelei LaBlanc planned on spending the morning after the night before.

From now on...

A) No more secret hookups with Donovan St. James-he's the last man on earth she'd want to share a room with, never mind a king-size bed.

B) Maintain a professional persona at all times. After all, he's a hard-hitting journalist who's always on the lookout for the latest scoop...and she's perfect tabloid fodder.

C) Keep friends close but enemies closer. Donovan may look like the ultimate poster boy but his intentions are anything but PG rated.... 

Very good book.  I really liked both Lorelei and Donovan.  The story starts as she wakes up in bed with him but can't remember how she got there or what they did.  She just knows that it was a bad idea.  They start out wanting to just pretend it never happened, but their attraction is too strong and they can't do it.  So they start a very quiet, very private fling, keeping their relationship secret.  They soon find that not only are they attracted they actually like each other and like spending time together.  There are reasons they don't appear together in public and those reasons could tear them apart before they find a way to overcome them.

Lorelei is beginning to overcome her reputation as the wild LaBlanc sister.  With Vivi (The Downfall of a Good Girl) off on her honeymoon, Lorelei is filling in for her at all of Vivi's social and charity obligations.  She is working very hard to keep up appearances and the last thing she needs is to be caught in Donovan's bed.  He didn't endear himself to New Orleans society when his investigation caused the ruin of two of the families of that society.  So she tries to stay away but she wants that experience again so that she can remember it.  It is just as explosive this time and they decide that they are just going to go with it.  She wants to keep it quiet so they start sneaking around to have their fun.  Lorelei worries about what will happen to her hard won improved reputation if they are discovered.  I liked the way that she had decided that it was time she stopped trying to live down to her reputation, but the way she went about it wasn't the best.  She had a rather snobby attitude toward him that didn't really mesh with the way she felt when she was with him.  I loved the way that she really started to enjoy her activities and how good it was for her self esteem when people appreciated her efforts.  I did not like the way she didn't stand up for herself against her mother's matchmaking efforts.  She was horrified when she got caught with him by one of the society snots and the confrontation she had with Donovan later was not pretty.  They both said some pretty horrible things to each other that brought out some of their deep seated issues.  Lorelei had some pretty hard self examination to do, and I loved the way that she came out of it at the end.

Donovan had started life poor and until his father made a bunch of money had been on the outside looking in on New Orleans society.  Even after the finances improved he still had a chip on his shoulder.  He went into investigative journalism and made a name for himself when he exposed the corruption in two local society families.  This made them dislike him even more but it didn't seem to bother him.  He was surprised by his attraction to Lorelei, but enjoyed being with her.  She had a sense of humor and wittiness that really appealed to him.  He wasn't thrilled at the secretiveness of their relationship but since neither was looking for anything permanent he figured he could live with it.   I really liked the way that he seemed to understand her and listened to her when she talked about her efforts to change.  He was hurt by her attitude when they were seen by the daughter of one of the men he ruined and he turned that into anger when he confronted her later that day.  He called her on her attitude but was surprised by some of the things she said back.  It turned out that he too was guilty of some snobbery of his own.  His actions at the end weren't the best but he was trying to salvage his pride.  I really liked the way he came through in the end.

I really liked the message of being true to yourself rather than trying to live your life according to someone else's rules.  Both Lorelei and Donovan had lessons to learn and the author showed those lessons in a very real way.  I'm looking forward to reading more of her books.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

No Stranger to Scandal - Rachel Bailey (HD #2222 - Apr 2013)

Series: Daughters of Power: The Capital (Book 4)

Decorum Vs. Destiny

She might be the stepdaughter of one of the most powerful media moguls in Washington, but Lucy Randall is no pampered princess-she's making her own way as a junior reporter. But when congressional investigator Hayden Black accuses her stepfather of criminal wrongdoing, she shows her family loyalty and takes Hayden on. Then, as things heat up, the sexy single dad takes her to bed! Talk about a conflict of interest. Will their illicit passion turn into something more lasting, even in the face of controversy so huge it rocks a nation? 

Good book.  I liked Lucy and the fact that she was trying to make it on her own.  Her stepfather owns the news station and offered her a job as a full reporter or anchor, but she wants to earn those positions.  She is also sure that he is innocent of being involved in the illegal phone hacking that led to the scandal of the president's daughter.  When she is called to be interviewed by Hayden she doesn't expect the overwhelming attraction that she felt.  Nor does she expect him to be just as attracted as she was.  Both of them feel that there are too many reasons that a relationship between them would be a bad idea.  Lucy is set on proving Graham is innocent while Hayden is sure he's guilty.  Lucy is ten years younger than Hayden and doesn't want another older man running her life.  I liked her loyalty to her stepfather.  I also liked the way that she decided to work with Hayden to find out the truth even though each believed the truth to be something different.  She wasn't happy when Graham wanted her to dig up dirt on Hayden especially as she got to know him better.  Both agreed that a relationship wasn't what they wanted, but they had no problems entering into a fling as long as they stuck to the ground rules they set.  It didn't take long for Lucy to realize that Hayden was more important to her than just a fling.  

I liked Hayden also.  After the death of his wife he realized that he didn't like the way she had shut him out of his son's life.  He was now going to make Josh the center of his life and not risk giving someone else the same power over Josh's life.  His attraction to Lucy is very unwelcome and distracting.  His main focus has to be on finding the truth behind the phone hacking and being with Lucy is definitely a conflict of interest.  I really loved the way that he was so intent on being a good father and how much he obviously loved Josh.  I also liked the way that he included Lucy in some of the things he did with Josh even though he was insisting that a relationship was impossible.  He was fighting his feelings hard but it became obvious to Hayden that he cared more than he should.  I also really liked the way all of his investigating was done within the law, unlike what the news station did.  

There was a really interesting twist in the investigation that I didn't see coming.  I'm also looking forward to the next book to see what happens with the news station and the continuing investigation.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Home to Laura - Mary Sullivan (HS #1837 - Mar 2013)

Coming back has just raised the stakes

A single encounter with the gorgeous Laura Cameron and Nick Jordan knows he has a lot to make up for. What he did to her years ago changed their lives dramatically. Unfortunately making amends isn't easy, especially when this sizzling attraction keeps interfering with his good intentions. He's torn between the strong urge to get out of the hometown he despises and exploring what could develop between them.

The longer Nick's in Colorado, though, the more he seems tied to this place. His daughter insists he reconcile with his estranged brothers. And the project that brought him here has hit a roadblock. But the one thing that could tip the scales in keeping him here? When Laura announces she's pregnant...with his child! 

Good book.  Nick doesn't want to come back to Colorado but he has a problem with one of his projects that he has to deal with.  When he sees Laura again he is surprised by the strong attraction he feels.  Laura is still furious with him over something that happened years ago, but the attraction is still there on her side also.  When she ends up pregnant after a passion filled encounter they have to deal with issues they never expected.

I liked Laura.  She had taken her small bakery and turned it into a successful bakery/cafe.  She was physically recovered from a miscarriage, but her fiance just broke up with her because he decided he wasn't ready for children.  She was unhappy because she really wants to have a family of her own.  When she saw Nick again she let him know just how furious with him she still was.  Shortly thereafter she also discovered that she was still attracted to him even though she didn't like him very much.  When she discovered she was pregnant she was not sure how she felt.  She was happy to be pregnant and wanted the baby very much, but she was not happy that Nick was the father.  I liked the way that she insisted she would be fine on her own and didn't try to force him into a relationship.  As she ran into problems and needed his help she saw another side of him that she did like.  As time went on those feelings deepened, but she still tried to keep those feelings to herself.  She had some issues to deal with, especially her betrayal of her first fiance who just happened to be Nick's brother Gabe.  I loved her happiness at becoming a mother and her determination that she'd rather go it alone than have a marriage without love.

I had a harder time with Nick.  I started out seeing him as a coldhearted workaholic who was more interested in making money than being with his daughter.  I soon saw that he really did love her, he just didn't really know how to relate to her or tear himself away from his work the way she needed.  I loved the fact that he took Emily with him when he went to Colorado.  When the truth about his first encounter with Laura came out it made me dislike him again, and his attitude when he was going through his old home didn't help either.  His selfishness was evident and even surprised his daughter.  I liked the way that things she said made him think, and was glad when she orchestrated a meeting between him and his brothers.  When Nick ended up being on his own for the night he found himself inviting Laura to dinner in hopes of making amends for his past actions.  Then they ended up having sex and he made some pretty nasty accusations.  I didn't like his attitude when she ended up pregnant and his insistence on having nothing to do with the child really grated on me.  He was really obnoxious about it too.  I did like the way he was there to help when she had problems.  He was really very sweet and caring about it.  It was funny the way he kept insisting he was just being a friend even when it was obvious he was falling for her.  I liked the way that he slowly started reconciling with his brothers and seeing the town in a new light.  I also liked the way that he dealt with the roadblock in his plans for the resort and how it showed another good side of him.  I did love the way his eyes were opened at the end and have hope that he's turned the corner now from his obnoxious attitudes.

One of the things that bothered me was Nick's daughter Emily.  I understand that she was finally getting the attention from her dad that that she needed.  But I didn't like her attitude toward Laura and the baby and I really didn't like the way that Nick let her get away with it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Playing for Keeps - Catherine Mann (HD #2221 - Apr 2013)

Series: Alpha Brotherhood (Book 3)

It's been eighteen years...and he still wants her

In high school, Malcolm Douglas was a bad boy who stole the heart of small-town girl Celia Patel-as well as her virginity. But life pulled them apart...and just as well, for he'd already broken her heart.

Now Malcolm is a world-famous billionaire dedicated to atoning for his sins. When he swoops back into Celia's life, he tells himself he only wants to protect her from recent threats. But the desire between them leaves them as breathless as teenagers. Will Celia ever forgive him? Maybe. If he can make today's pleasure erase yesterday's pain.

Very good book.  I liked both Celia and Malcolm.  When they were teenagers Celia was the daughter of a local judge and Malcolm was the boy from the wrong side of the tracks.  But they were in love and that was all that mattered to them.  When Celia got pregnant Malcolm started working any job he could find to earn enough money so they could get married.  He ended up getting caught in a drug raid and even though he was innocent he was sent to a reform school.  He and Celia ended up giving up the baby for adoption and they drifted apart.  When she became the target of a stalker Malcolm used his connections and swooped in to protect her.  They have a lot to overcome and none of it is easy.

Celia has been trying for eighteen years to get over Malcolm.  After the birth of the baby she suffered from depression and panic attacks and has mostly recovered though she still has the occasional panic attack.  When she is threatened she blows it off especially when Malcolm appears.  She really doesn't want to risk her heart again.  But he convinces her that coming along on his European tour is the perfect way to be protected.  I really liked the way that she had gotten her life back together after making the incredibly hard decision to give up her baby.  Her reaction to Malcolm's appearance showed her that she was still attracted to him and probably always would be.  I really enjoyed seeing her get to know Malcolm the man and how he had changed from the boy she used to know.  She discovered that she mostly liked him and really enjoyed meeting his friends. She didn't like his cynicism about the existence of love but she kind of understood his feelings.  Her decision to give in to the physical wasn't easy but she didn't regret it.  She was also finally able to let go of the guilt she felt over what she saw as her part in Malcolm being sent away.

Malcolm has spent his adult life performing his music and doing the occasional work for Colonel Salvatore and Interpol.  He sees it as a way to make up for all the stupid things he did when he was younger.  He has kept an eye on Celia from afar, wanting to make sure she is safe in a way he couldn't do when they were younger.  He saw taking her on tour with him as a way to get her back in his bed and maybe get her out of his system, but it didn't work out that way.  It seemed that everything he did just made him want her more and forever.  I loved seeing the other members of the brotherhood come to help him and also the way they tried to make him see the truth about his feelings.  I loved seeing the difference it made to his music when he did.  The ending to the London concert was beautiful.

The resolution to Celia's stalker mystery was quite a surprise.  I liked seeing the other brotherhood members and the wives from the first two books.  It was fun seeing how their changes have continued after the end of those books.  I'm looking forward to getting to know the other members and seeing how they meet their matches.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Millionaire in a Stetson - Barbara Dunlop (HD #2224 - Apr 2013)

Series: Colorado Cattle Barons (Book 4)

Keep your secrets under lock and key

One woman has the power to destroy his family and Sawyer Layton is out to stop her. Even if it means the millionaire must don a Stetson and track Niki Gerard all the way to Colorado.

But he didn't count on the gorgeous Niki having trouble of her own. She's hiding out on her family's ranch, desperate to find her mother's scandalous diary-the same diary Sawyer's after. Worse still, she's quicker to the truth. Cover blown, there's only one option left: work with Niki-and try to keep his hands to himself. 

Good book.  Niki has recently lost her mother who was rather notorious for the men she slept with.  She had also kept a diary naming names and recording secrets about them.  Before she died she told Niki to keep it safe, that "they" would be after her for it, but she died before she could tell Niki where she had hidden it.  Now she's hiding out with her recently discovered half brothers until she can figure out where the diary is.

I liked both Niki and Sawyer.  Niki had a very unusual childhood because of her mother.  By the time her mother died she knew what type of woman her mom had been and was very careful not to be like that.  She didn't know about her brothers until after her mom's death and went to them when she felt the need to hide out.  Because she didn't know them she started out by giving them a fake name.  I liked the way that she soon felt guilty about that and told them the truth.  When she met Sawyer she was still being cautious, but she was also really attracted to him.  I liked her combination of innocent and worldly, as she was well-traveled but also hadn't done many adventurous things.  Being with Sawyer gave her the courage to try some things she wouldn't have done before.  When she found out he knew who she really was she felt hurt and betrayed.  They were able to agree to cooperate to find the diary.  

Sawyer is used to being the fix it man for his family, who appear to be a bunch of rich screwups.  In this case his uncle is a senator who was one of Gabriella's lovers.  He has secrets that would cause him major problems if they came out, so he sends Sawyer out to fix the problem.  Sawyer buys a ranch near the one Niki is living on and gets to know her under an assumed name.  He is expecting a conniving, manipulative woman and is confused when Niki is none of those things.  He is also just as attracted to her but is trying to do the right thing and not get too deeply involved.  It isn't working and he's starting to fall for her.  When he blows his cover he has to do some fast talking to show Niki that she can trust him to help her.  

I liked several things about this book.  The romance between Niki and Sawyer was pretty sweet, despite the deceptions.  The attraction was pretty steamy, but they also took the time to talk and get to know each other.  I also really liked the sense of family.  Even though they weren't the best people, it was obvious that Sawyer's family meant a lot to him.  And though they had just met, Niki's acceptance by her brothers and their families was great.  I really loved the way that they were there for her from the beginning, and their defense of her against Sawyer.  I thought the solution that Sawyer and Niki came up with for the diary was terrific, and the epilogue was sweet.

The Right Twin - Gina Wilkins (HSE #2248 - Mar 2013)

Series: Bell Family (Book 1)


It's a beautiful Texas summer, and Shelby Bell's idyllic lakeside resort is tailor-made for romance. So when Shelby suggests that Aaron Walker be her pretend boyfriend to help her catch a resort thief, she is sure it's the perfect plan. Aaron is handsome, smart and understanding-everything a woman could want in a beau. So what if her perfect boyfriend is a fake?

Having grown up in the shadow of his twin brother, Aaron is enjoying being the hero for a change. Shelby looks at him as if he is number one. But the more time Aaron spends with his quirky "sweetheart," the more their charade becomes all too real. Can Aaron convince Shelby that when it comes to romance, he is exactly the right man for the job?

Good book.  I really liked both Aaron and Shelby.  Aaron is tired of being compared to his twin brother and found wanting.  He doesn't want any part of the family investigation business, but still hasn't found the career that he does want.  After yet another lecture from his brother Aaron takes off for the Bell Resort where Andrew had done a job the year before.  Once he's able to convince everyone he's not his brother Aaron settles in to figure out what he really wants to do.  In the meantime Shelby has asked for his help and he's only too happy to give it.  He's really attracted to her so it's no hardship to hang out with her.  He also discovers that he really likes her.  He appreciates her dedication to her family and the resort.  He also likes her enthusiasm.  One of the things I really enjoyed was seeing the way that Aaron fit in with the Bell family.  It was easy to see that as he helped them around the resort that it was the perfect place for him, utilizing his strengths and desires.  I also loved seeing what a really nice guy he is.  I also liked the way that he jumped in to help Shelby with her suspicions about one of the resort guest. Spending that much time together showed him that she was just what he needed though the thought of a serious relationship with her scared him.  

Shelby is the accountant for the resort.  The previous year she had discovered that her brother in law was stealing from the family, which is how Andrew got involved with the resort.  While she initially mistook Aaron for Andrew, she quickly realized that there was something different about him.  She also never felt the things for Andrew that she did for Aaron.  Now she has asked Aaron for his help with a guest that she feels is up to no good.  I really liked the way that she trusted her instincts even when the rest of the family was giving her a hard time about it.  I loved her intensity in everything she did.  She wasn't sure that she could trust her feelings for Aaron after such a short time, but she couldn't resist them either.  I loved her decision at the end that this was one "fish" she was going to keep instead of throwing back. 

I loved the various family relationships.  It was easy to see that Aaron's family and their nagging was driving him away.  Even though Andrew was Aaron's twin he seemed awfully judgmental.  Shelby's family seemed to take for granted that everyone would be happy sticking around and working for the resort.  I liked the way that Aaron and Shelby's brother Steven got along and could relate to each other so easily.  I'm looking forward to Andrew's story - sounds like he's got quite a surprise coming!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Seven-Day Target - Natalie Charles (HRS #1750 - Apr 2013)


He never meant to speak to her again. Back in Arbor Falls for a funeral, Special Agent Nick Foster has moved on. He has no plans to stay in his tiny hometown-or to reunite with the beautiful Libby Andrews. His onetime fiancée broke his heart, and what's past should stay buried.

Libby doesn't want his help. Her childhood sweetheart can never know the real reason she ended their engagement three years before. But when a serial killer targets her, she must team up with the rugged agent for her own safety. Something in her past has put her in danger, and the passion they've reignited puts their future in deadly jeopardy. 

Good book with lots of suspense.  I ended up liking both Nick and Libby, though I had problems with Libby at first.   Nick has returned to his hometown to attend the funeral of Libby's father.  He has no plans to see or speak to her.  But when his former partner on the police force called to tell him that Libby is the target of a deadly stalker, Nick decides to stick around to protect her.  

I preferred Nick to Libby.  He came to town to pay his respects to Libby's father, even though they had never gotten along.  Three years after their breakup he had started to understand that he had only been doing what he thought was best for his daughter.  Even so, Libby had been rather mean in the breakup, so he doesn't understand his compulsion to protect her.  I liked the way that he wanted to clear the air between them and even admitted to himself that their problems hadn't been all her fault.  I enjoyed the way that they worked together to try to figure out who was trying to kill her.  It gave them the opportunity to get to know each other as they are now.  

Libby was really hard to like at the beginning.  She appeared to be very judgmental and rather snobby.  I didn't like the way she was so cold to Nick at their first meeting.  Even when he and Dom explained the danger she was in she didn't want to believe it and resisted the idea that she needed protection.  Even when she was convinced she tried to keep distance between her and Nick.  We finally got so learn why she broke things off with Nick and that she still has feelings for him.  I started to like her a little better after that but still feel like she wasn't giving him enough credit.

The suspense itself was excellent.  It seemed that no matter what they did the stalker was one step ahead of them.  There were a couple really interesting twists in this story that really kept me turning the pages.  I thought I knew who did it, then something would happen to make me doubt it, then I was sure again.  It definitely kept me turning the pages.  I look forward to reading more from this new author. 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Heart of a Hero - Janet Chapman (Jove - Mar 2013)

Series: Spellbound Falls (Book 4)

Originally from the ancient mythical island of Atlantis, Nicholas has spent the last year deep in the mountains of Maine, serving as Director of Security for the Nova Mare and Inglenook resorts. Fully embracing his life in the twenty-first century, he finds himself irresistibly drawn to a trouble-prone employee, and is determined to keep her safe.

The last thing Julia Campbell needs is a man with a hero complex, especially one as handsome and imposing as Nicholas. All she has to do is keep it together until her younger sister turns eighteen, and then she can focus on her own life. But strange things have been happening at the resort -- and it’s Nicholas who keeps coming to her rescue. When Nicholas is suddenly the one in trouble, Julia realizes he’s not quite what he seems -- and that she’ll do anything to help the man who’s stolen her heart… 

Excellent book.  I love Janet Chapman's books, her strong heroes and her spunk heroines.  Nicholas and Julia are wonderful.  Nicholas spent thirty years as bodyguard to Carolina Oceanus and now that she is to marry Alec he is free to pursue his own path.  He has been the director of security for a year and has been thoroughly enjoying the life of a twenty-first century man.  Nicholas is a little unusual for one of Janet's heroes.  While he is definitely all man, he also has a sensitive side.  During his travels through time he has rescued multiple cats who have the run of his home and his life.  Now that he is free of his duty to Carolina he is ready to start looking for a wife and has pretty definite ideas of what he wants.  He does not expect to be drawn to Julia who seems to be a magnet for trouble as well as being totally uninterested in any kind of relationship.  I loved the way that he came to her rescue at the beginning and then tried to keep an eye on her.  He also ended up helping her family.  He was frustrated by the way she tried everything she could to avoid him.  I loved his persistence and the way that he tried to be sensitive to her fears.  I also loved the way that he used her thirst for knowledge to expose her to the truth about the magic.  He had his own issues regarding his background to deal with and those nearly got him killed.  

Julia was an independent Maine woman.  She had been married before to a man who used her to get through school then divorced her when he was done with her.  He then circulated nasty rumors about her to make it look like the divorce was her fault.  She was living with her father, the town drunk, so that she could protect her siblings.  All of these things contributed to her self esteem problems.  She was very attracted to Nicholas, but ashamed that he had seen her at her worst and convinced that being with him in any way would be a bad thing for them both.  She worked very hard to avoid him but Nicholas worked very hard to counter those efforts.  The more she saw of him the more she was curious about him.  Her curiosity led her to make discoveries that she was unwilling to accept at first but came to believe in.  I loved the way that she became intent on being there for him.  Except for a couple wild sex scenes, their romance was pretty sweet, with Nicholas determined to hang on until Julia was able to accept his love.

I loved the friendships in this whole series.  Julia is able to survive many of her troubles because of the support of her friends Peg (Charmed by His Love) and Olivia (Spellbound Falls).  I really loved the way Peg explained Nicholas's viewpoint and attitude to Julia.  I also loved the confidence that Olivia had in Julia's abilities even though Julia was sure that she was in no way qualified to do it.  Some of my favorite parts involved Nicholas's cats and the way they interacted with both Julia and Nicholas.  The ending was a real jaw dropper and now I really can't wait for the next book to come out.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Special Forces Rendezvous - Elle Kennedy (HRS #1749 - Apr 2013)

Series: The Hunted (Book 2)

Desire in a hot zone

Unless they stop it, the deadly virus decimating San Marquez will be unleashed on America. Fugitive sergeant Sebastian Stone and Dr. Julia Davenport have stumbled onto the shocking conspiracy behind a terrifying ultimatum-but exposing it could cost their lives.

Sparks of passion have already threatened their mission. Though both Sebastian and Julia don't "do" commitment, they rush headlong into a casual affair. On the run from both the government and terrorists, neither Sebastian nor Julia knows whom to trust. As the clock runs down, they must stop this deadly threat...and realize that some things are worth the risk....

Fantastic book with almost constant suspense.  I really liked both Julia and Sebastian.  Julia has found her calling and has spent her career working in clinics in third world countries.  This is her way of honoring her sister who died of an infection that couldn't be treated while traveling in Africa.  While in San Marquez she is visited by Sebastian, who is posing as a journalist while trying to track down a virus they found out about in Soldier Under Siege.  She is attracted to him but distracted by a missing colleague.  When she hears from him she heads out to track him down and stumbles on a village that has been decimated and is being cleaned up by a military task force.  She is captured, then rescued by Sebastian.  During the rest of the book they have to work together to find the source of the virus and stop it.  

Julia is an amazingly strong character.  She has no problem speaking her mind which seems to surprise Sebastian every time it happens.  I loved the way she was able to stay calm when she was captured and think about what she said before she said it.  She also had no problem following Sebastian's lead when necessary, but also made her wishes known at times also.  She felt a strong attraction to him from the beginning, but has no interest in a long term relationship because of her work.  I loved the way that she basically jumped him to make sure he got the picture of what she wanted.  As their search went on and they spent more time together she found that she could share things with him that she'd never told anyone before.  She also discovered that they had a lot in common, which added to the feelings that were growing stronger.

Sebastian was quite a guy.  He was a big tough man who seemed very self contained.  He also tended to look on the pessimistic side of things which occasionally drove his coworkers nuts.  When he met Julia the attraction was intense but he was concentrating on his mission.  When he found her as a prisoner in the middle of that disaster he knew he had to rescue her before she became another victim.  I loved the way that he rationalized it to himself, but the truth was that he just wanted her to be safe.  I really liked the way that his nice side peeked out just a little when they arrived at the hideout and he was greeted by Eva's little boy.  As the mission went on and he spent more time with Julia he felt his walls start to crumble.  He has always kept his emotions separate because he feels that he is cursed by having people close to him die and he blames those deaths on himself.  He is stunned when Julia points out that she is alive because of him.  I love seeing him open up to her and begin to see that he has a shot at a future.  I especially loved the way she let him have it at the end.

The suspense of the story is pretty intense with the need to find out how it is spread and who is responsible.  They also have to decide who they can trust.  I enjoyed seeing them do what had to be done and develop a great way of working together.  The premise of the story is pretty scary when you think about it and I like thinking that there are people like Sebastian who are able to do something about it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Doctor and Mr. Right - Cindy Kirk (HSE #2255 - Apr 2013)

Series: Rx for Love (Book 8)


Michelle Kearns has a simple credo she lives by: no domestic complications! But the Jackson Hole obstetrician's "no kids" rule is tested to the max when she meets her sinfully handsome new neighbor. Because there's just one thing wrong with the heart-meltingly perfect construction engineer: his teenage daughter!

Gabe Davis can't quite understand the sexy doctor next door. After all, Michelle's life revolves around babies. And the willowy blonde beauty is a natural with Gabe's young daughter. Doesn't Michelle realize that family is what it's all about? Try as she might, she can't ignore the sparks igniting between them. It couldn't be a more ideal prescription...for happy ever after!

Very good book.  I really liked both Michelle and Gabe.  There was an immediate attraction between the two but both had been hurt in the past and were intent on protecting their hearts.  Michelle had been married to a man with two teenaged daughters.  She really liked the girls and wanted to be a mother to them, but they were very resistant and had been unbelievably rude and hostile to her.  Her ex-husband hadn't been any help.  So she was determined that she would never get involved with a man who had kids again.  But when she met Gabe it was hard to remember that vow.  She fought the attraction, but living next door to him and his daughter and having many of the same friends put them in frequent contact with each other.  She also found herself growing closer to Finley and liking her a lot.  She and Gabe found their attraction too hard to resist, but agreed that neither wanted a relationship so they would indulge themselves without expectations.  Of course their feelings didn't pay attention to that decision.  Michelle was still very wary of involvement but frequently found herself dreaming of what might be.  I really loved seeing Michelle begin to get over her fear of falling for a man with a child.  She had so much love to give and she was really good with Finley.  I really liked the way that she stepped in at the end.

Gabe had become a single father at the age of eighteen.  Finley's mother hadn't wanted to be a mother at all and deserted them both when Finley was two months old.  Gabe gave up everything to be her father for real and made sure that he never got involved with someone who didn't fully accept that he and Finley were a package deal.  I really loved the relationship that the two of them had.  He was a firm but loving dad and it was easy to see the love they shared.  When Gabe met Michelle he was interested in her but not ready for a relationship yet.  He wanted to get settled into his job and new life before taking that step.  They quickly became friends but the attraction grew quickly too.  I liked the way he said he would be fine with the arrangement that they had but that he soon realized it wasn't enough for him.  

Finley was a typical teenager in some ways.  She had a fantastic relationship with her dad, but she also had some self worth issues because of her mother's actions.  She too had a need to protect herself and her father which is why she did some of the things she did.  It was heartbreaking at times to see the way she felt.

No Ordinary Cowboy - Marin Thomas (HAR #1447 - Apr 2013)

Series: Rodeo Rebels (Book 6)

Looking For Redemption...

Lucy Durango can't ever bring back her brother, killed in a drunk driving accident. But she's doing her best to honor his memory and to atone for her part in his death. She also can't seem to stop her feelings for Tony Bravo, the cowboy who broke her heart the same night her brother died. But if she gets close to Tony again, she risks losing her whole family this time-because they blame Tony for their tragic loss.

As a U.S. border agent, Tony sees his fair share of danger. But nothing stops his heart like seeing Lucy once more. Her family's anger toward Tony meant he and Lucy lost any future together. But Lucy has a hold on his heart again...and he's not at all sure he wants to let go of her this time.

Very good book.  Lucy and Tony were secretly dating at the time of her brother's death.  Afterward they drifted apart, unable to deal with their grief and guilty feelings.  Now Lucy runs a free taxi service for people who have had too much to drink.  She needs to raise some money to keep it going and decides to try bull-riding as a fundraiser, and asks Tony for his help.

I really liked both Lucy and Tony.  Lucy has loved Tony for years, but was unable to handle the guilty feelings over what she felt was her part in Michael's death.  She has poured those feelings into her taxi service.  Her parents don't approve of her efforts and give her no support.  When she decides on bull-riding she swallows her pride and asks Tony for help in learning how to do it.  I really loved her determination to do anything she can to keep her service going.  Seeing Tony again made her realize that her feelings for him had never gone away but she tried hard to keep them from affecting her plans.  It also became obvious that he still had feelings for her, but she was sure that those feelings would die if he knew about her part in her brother's death.  She also had to deal with her parents' feelings toward Tony, and her own feeling that she had never been good enough to receive her father's love.  I loved the way that she stood up to both Tony and her father to do what she felt needed to be done.  I think she was a lot stronger than either of them gave her credit for.  

Tony had been Michael's best friend.  They competed together in rodeos and hung out together when they could.  Tony felt guilty for not being there for his friend the night he died and as a result ended his relationship with Lucy.  He was sure she would hate him for that.  When she came to him for help he tried to talk her out of it but gave in when he saw her determination to compete with or without his help.  His feelings for her were as strong as ever and he was determined to keep her safe.  I loved watching him unsuccessfully fighting those feelings.  As a border patrol officer he was also investigating a human trafficking ring.  He enlisted Lucy's help to get access to her father's land for that investigation.  I also enjoyed seeing how good he was at that job.  As part of his guilty feelings he had requested a transfer away from the area in an effort to escape the memories. 

There was a lot of pain in this story as both Lucy and Tony had to deal with Michael's death and the hole it created in their lives.  They had to learn to accept that nothing could change the events of that night.  I liked seeing the way those events impacted more than just Tony and Lucy.  I loved the dog Maddie and her part in the story.  The epilogue was great - brought things to a very satisfying conclusion.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Her Highness and the Bodyguard - Christine Rimmer (HSE #2251 - Apr 2013)

Series: Bravo Royales (Book 4)


Marcus is the best man Rhia's ever known, and she's never gotten over their breakup. Now, he's practically strapped to her side. It's like a dream come true...or a nightmare. Because Marcus is as stubborn as ever: she's a Bravo-Calabretti, he's a lowly security guard, and they can never be equals. Ever.

Then a breathless night that should have brought closure brings something else: a baby. Marcus insists that no child of his will grow up without its own mother and father. Well, Rhia has her own requirement: her child will be raised on love, not the dry bread of obligation. And Marcus has made it abundantly clear that his duty to Montedoro comes before everything-especially his own desires. 

Excellent book.  Marcus and Rhia had gotten to know each other eight years before, while she was in college in California and he was taking a class on security.  It was a brief relationship because she was a princess and he was a lowly army officer with no idea of who his family was.  Now he is one of the family's bodyguards and still feels the gap.  Then, mixing one snowstorm and some memories and there is a baby on the way.  Marcus refuses to let a child go through what he did and insists on marriage, but Rhia refuses to marry for any reason other than love.

I really liked both Marcus and Rhia.  As one of the royal family, Rhia had known nothing but the love and support of her family.  Her parents tried very hard to give their children as much of a normal life as possible, and showed them what a loving marriage looked like.  When Rhia and Marcus were together she didn't see their differences only the way she felt about him.  When they parted ways she tried to move on, but no one was ever able to measure up to Marcus.  At one point she went to him and begged him for a chance to try again, but he rejected her.  This made things hard for her when he was assigned as her bodyguard.  When she became pregnant she was happy about the baby, but not so much about feeling like they were an obligation to him.  She refused his proposals because she felt only his sense of duty, not that he loved her for herself.  I liked the way that she got him to move in with her so they could get to know each other again.  She was also able to show him the importance of sharing their feelings.  I also liked the way that as Marcus began to open up to her about his past she started to understand why his attitude was the way it was.

Marcus was a genuinely good guy who suffered from a little too much pride/insecurity.  Because he felt inferior to Rhia, though not because of anything she did, he was too proud to pursue her.  In the eight years since their initial romance he has come far in the ranks of their army, but he still feels the differences.  He fought the attraction as long as he could, but lost the battle the night of the snowstorm.  When he found out Rhia was pregnant his first reaction was marriage and was stunned when she refused him - repeatedly.  I absolutely loved the scene when he went to Rhia's mother to confess.  Watching him try to reconcile his wishes with Rhia's was fun, because I could see that he loved her, but he was fighting the admission all the way.  He had also spent so long guarding his emotions to protect himself that trying to share those emotions with Rhia was incredibly hard for him.  I loved seeing him relax a little and begin to trust her.  The final scene with them was beautiful!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cloaked in Malice - Annette Blair (Prime Crime - July 2012)

Series: Vintage Magic (Book 5)

There's nothing Maddie loves more than fabulous vintage clothes, but the visions she gets while touching them are starting to wear her down. Even so, when a beautifully dressed girl comes to Vintage Magic in search of her past, Maddie isn't about to turn her away, especially since she bears a striking resemblance to her good friend Dolly Sweet.

When Maddie touches Paisley Skye's exquisitely crafted child's cloak, the vision she receives is of the ugliest sort: a decades-old case of kidnapping and murder. To give herself more time to investigate, Maddie enlists the help of her FBI Agent boyfriend Nick and takes Paisley into her home. But when Dolly suddenly skips town, Maddie realizes that uncovering the folds of Paisley's past will reveal more than one vintage crime... 

Good book.  I always enjoy the stories of Maddie and her visions and this one was no exception.  Things had been pretty calm lately when a girl comes into the shop with a cloak she wants some information about.  When Maddie touched that cloak though, she saw a scene of murder and kidnapping.  This sets her off on her inevitable search for the truth.  I love Maddie's persistence in trying to figure out how all the pieces fit together.  I was glad to see that this time she included Nick in the process.  They finally seem to be settling into a steadier relationship.  I really liked the way they were able to work together to unravel the threads of Paisley's past.  I also loved getting more of a look at the past lives of Dolly and the ghost Dante.  There were some great moments of Annette Blair humor, including the timely appearance of Maddie's brother and Nick's partner Alex.  The only character I could never quite make up my mind about was Paisley herself.  She alternated too much between totally naive and then completely comfortable with the modern world.  Overall, I can't wait for the next one.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Caroselli's Baby Chase - Michelle Celmer (HD #2226 - Apr 2013)

Series: Caroselli Inheritance (Book 2)

You can't start the New Year without a kiss."

When those words lead to a delicious one-night stand, consultant Caroline Taylor's fate is sealed. Because she soon finds out her seducer is Caroselli Chocolate's marketing director-and her new job is to overhaul his division. It leaves a bad taste in her mouth-and what if she's pregnant with Robert Caroselli's baby?

If necessary, Rob will do right and make his dreamy corporate nemesis his wife. He might even inherit millions if he produces a male heir. But his marriage plan will never succeed without the secret ingredient-true love. 

Good book.  It starts out with Rob getting talked into going out on New Year's Eve with a woman he'd been casually dating, and who ended up leaving with someone else.  He wasn't in a great mood anyway.  As marketing director for the family business he had just found out that an outside consultant had been hired to come in and make changes.  When he's approached by a gorgeous woman he decides to stick around a little while and ends up sleeping with her.   He was not too happy to find out later that she was the new consultant.  I liked both Rob and Carrie but they certainly had some issues to deal with.  

Carrie was a strong, independent career woman.  After one bad experience she has made it a rule to not get personally involved with any of her clients.  When she finds out her New Year's fling is Rob Caroselli she is not happy.  When he tries to convince her, then intimidate her, into not taking the job she stands up to him.  She makes it clear to him that it won't happen again.  At this point she doesn't like him very much but is still incredibly attracted to him.  She blames it on the fact that she always seems to go for the jerks in relationships. But as the days go on she discovers that he's not the jerk she thought he was, and that he's actually pretty darn nice.  She also found herself giving in to the attraction as she and Rob work together during the day and explore their growing feelings after work hours.  I also liked the way that she enjoyed getting to know the other members of the family.  It gave her a taste of something she had not been a part of before.  I also liked her friendship with Alice and how they were there for each other. 

Rob definitely started out looking like a jerk.  Between his sneaking out on Carrie without so much as a note, then his attitude when he saw her again, I wasn't sure I was going to like him much.  But after that first bump, especially when we find out why he's been so grouchy, his attitude definitely improves.  He still is attracted to Carrie, but he's willing to try to play by her rules.  When they finally decide to quit fighting the attraction he treats her pretty well.  I like the way he admits to his growing feelings for her and starts thinking about a future with her.  I loved his two conversations with Nick (from Caroselli's Christmas Baby) at the end.

There is also a secondary story dealing with a possible ghost in the house where Carrie was living that has not been resolved.  I hope there's more about it in the next book.

Her Man in Manhattan - Trish Wylie (HK #12 - Apr 2013)

Up close and personal-with her bodyguard!

It seems mayor's daughter Miranda Kravitz has scored herself a new and very dreamy bodyguard! Apparently the fireworks between them are scorching, but will this tabloid darling really be willing to give up her newfound taste for freedom-no matter how gorgeous Tyler Brannigan is?

Rumor has it Brannigan hates playing by the rules and has used up all his strikes with the NYPD vice squad. So now this cop's paying his dues with a temporary assignment as babysitter. If anyone can keep this Manhattan princess in check, surely it's this tough-guy detective? Hopefully handcuffs won't be necessary! 

Very good book.  I liked both Miranda and Tyler.  Miranda is tired of having to live up to the public expectations of being the mayor's daughter, and even more tired of her parents' expectations.  She has been spending an increasing amount of time ditching her security detail so that she can feel normal.  When she is saved from a potential bad situation by a mysterious and very hot guy she spends some serious time fantasizing about him.  Then she finds out that he's the new head of her security detail and a real stickler about it too.  

At first Miranda seemed a bit on the spoiled side, but I quickly saw that she was kind of stuck.  She really does love her family and wants to help her father with his campaign.  But she is also tired of not having a life of her own.  She attends so many events, but it's obvious that the ones she likes best are the ones that allow her to get close to people.  I loved the scene of her coloring with the little girl in the classroom.  Her physical attraction to Tyler was exciting to her but also scary because it was so intense.  As they spent so much time together she began to see more than the rigid bodyguard.  She also saw a man who was fighting his own demons.  I loved seeing her confusion when she met Tyler's family and how their closeness affected her.

Tyler was not happy to be assigned to bodyguard duty.  He is a narcotics cop but has been a bit of a loose cannon on his latest case, so his bosses have reassigned him for awhile.  Having spent so much time dealing with the dregs of society he tends to see the dark side of what could happen when Miranda takes off.  At their initial meeting his attraction to her warns him that he's going to have his hands full.  Trying to keep her under control turns out to be extremely difficult.  I did like the way that he realized pretty quickly that just laying out the rules wasn't going to work for her, that explanations of why would go a lot further.  He had some dark memories that were making it difficult for him to think that there was any chance of them being together.  I liked the way that he was able to open up somewhat with her but his holding back showed he still had a ways to go.  He was also able to see her vulnerabilities and wanted to do something to help her.  I loved the ending when she forced her way into his hospital room and then later when she confronted him.

I really enjoyed their interactions.  The conversations between them were fast paced and could get very intense very fast.   I also liked seeing two of the other Brannigan siblings.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Winning Back His Wife - Melissa McClone (HR #4370 - Mar 2013)

Series: Hood Hamlet (Book 4)

Her first love...

When Sarah Purcell ends up in hospital, she's shocked to find the dreamy doc by her bedside is her soon-to-be ex-husband, Cullen Grey! Sarah's reluctantly released into Cullen's care, but he's as emotionally distant as ever, and her old insecurities bubble over. Surely the new life he's forged for himself in Hood Hamlet proves he can live without her?

Their second chance?

Caring for his wife 24/7, this time Cullen won't bury his feelings. As the tremors of their old attraction erupt, he has one thing on his mind: it's time to bring his wife back by his side-where she belongs.

Good book.  Cullen and Sarah had married after knowing each other only two days.  It took less than a year for their differences to pull them apart and when Sarah suggested divorce Cullen couldn't run fast enough.  When she is injured doing her job as a vulcanologist she is released into his care since she has no one else.  I liked both Cullen and Sarah though I wanted to shake them a few times.

Cullen and his twin brother had been pretty wild as teens.  When his brother got into drugs, Cullen tried everything he could to help his brother but nothing worked.  When Blaine died of an overdose Cullen swore he would never allow himself to be so out of control as that.  This carried over into everything in his live.  Marrying Sarah so impulsively was out of character and it worried him to the point where he started to pull away from her.  When she asked for the divorce he took it as a sign and left.  When he moved from Seattle to Hood Hamlet he felt more in control with Sarah out of his life.  Bringing her there to recover created unwanted cracks in his walls.  Over the days she was there he began to realize that he felt better when she was there than he had when she was not.  When they actually talked about their lives and their pasts he started to see that he hadn't exactly been fair to her.  I liked the way that he introduced her to his friends and started including her in things they could do together.  I loved when he got hit with the realization that they belonged together and how he was determined to act on it.

Sarah was stunned to find Cullen by her hospital bed.  She couldn't believe he was there and that he stayed the entire week she was there, helping her with her recovery.  Every day she was sure he would be packing up to go back home.  When she found out she wouldn't be able to go home alone to finish her recovery Cullen offered to have her come home with him.  This made her very nervous as she felt she had already come to depend on him too much.  She had always been very independent and self reliant because she had never been exposed to a lasting love.  Both her parents had remarried several times, and her previous romantic relationship had ended when her fiance left her on their wedding day.  As a result, she didn't trust anyone to stick around, and when Cullen left so quickly the year before she wasn't surprised.  As the days in Hood Hamlet went on she started making friends and dreaming of the possibility of a future, but afraid to hope.

I loved the way they both realized that they had made mistakes and that if they wanted a future together they were going to have to work at it.  I also enjoyed seeing the other people of Hood Hamlet and the rescue teams and am looking forward to the next one.

The Sackett Brand - Louis L'Amour (Bantam - June 1965)

Series: Sacketts (Book 12)


Forty gunslingers from the Lazy A have got Tell Sackett cornered back under the Mogollon Rim. They're fixing to hang him if they can get him alive, fill him extra full of lead if they can't. But the Sacketts, they don't cotton to that kind of treatment. Hunt one Sackett and you hunt 'em all. They're coming in from all over--mountain Sacketts, flatland Sacketts, politicians, outlaws, cattlemen, bankers, tinkers. They can all fight, and their biggest worry is WE SHORE HOPE TELL DON'T KILL ALL FORTY AFORE WE GET THERE!

This is a story about the power of family.  Tell Sackett and his wife Ange were headed into Arizona to settle a ranch of their own.  While scouting ahead he was shot.  By the time he was able to make his way back to where he had left her, she and all their possessions had disappeared.  He soon discovered that he had forty men looking for him to kill him.  His motivation now is to stay alive long enough to find the man who killed Ange.  As is usual in a L'Amour book, the power of his descriptions is phenomenal.  As I read I could feel the heat and the cold and sense the anger just rolling off Tell.  I loved the details of his tracking and movement.  His thoughts of Ange and how much they had loved each other were heartbreaking.  He thought he was all alone in his fight, but was determined to make it count.  He didn't know that word of his trouble had spread and that Sacketts from all over were coming to help.  In speaking to one of the hunters Nolan Sackett said this:  "Mister, you're huntin' a Sackett, an' the one you're huntin' would, man to man, make you eat that six-gun you're packin'. Howsoever, when you hunt one Sackett, you just naturally make the rest of us feel the urge.  Now, I don't know if I'll make it up there in time to he'p, so I figured to trim the edges off, like.  You look maverick to me, so I figured to put the Sackett brand on you." 

The last paragraph said it all:  "We stopped in Globe and the lot of us lined up in O'Leary's place, all of us together, more Sacketts than I'd ever seen before...or anybody else, I guess.  Me, standing there amongst them, I looked around and I knew I was not alone, and I'd never be alone again."

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Sackett - Louis L'Amour (Bantam - May 1961)

Series: Sacketts (Book 9)


"Oldest brother to Orrin Sackett, the lawmaker, and Tye Sackett, the Mora gunfighter . . . I had to kill a man in Texas so I've drifted. Came upon a vein of pure gold in high, lonesome country. All I wanted was enough to buy me a ranch . . . but gold has ways of its own with men!"

William Tell Sackett had followed a different path from his younger brothers, but his name, like theirs, was spoken with respect and just a little fear. Where Orrin had brought law and order from New Mexico to the plains of Montana, backed up by the gunfighting talents of his brother Tye, Tell Sackett's destiny drew him to Texas and further after he had to kill a man. There, in the high, lonesome country, he came upon a vein of pure gold. All he'd wanted was enough to buy a ranch, but he soon learned that gold had ways of its own with men. 

Another excellent story by L'Amour about the type of men who settled the west.  After the Civil War he drifted west working anything from cattle drives to riverboats.  After killing a man who tried to kill him he decided it was time to try to improve his life.  On his way down to New Mexico to visit his brothers (see Daybreakers) he stumbles on a rich vein of gold.  After talking to his brothers he and Cap Rountree get the supplies together to mine that gold.  With gold being one of those things that tends to draw unwanted attention they ran into trouble almost from the beginning.  Also in the valley where he found the gold he found a young woman whose grandfather had found the gold first.  He rescued her and faced the trouble that found them.  Tell is another one of L'Amour's quiet heroes.  He doesn't go looking for trouble but he doesn't run from it either.  He has a strict code of honor and believes in the difference between right and wrong.  One of the things he was determined to do was to improve his reading which he did by reading a book about law which gave him a lot to think about.  I also liked the way that he tried to resolve issues without shooting if it was possible.  Besides the intense drama of some of the events, there were also some funny times.  I really enjoyed the shaving scene at the beginning and also his dealing with the interlopers of the town near the end.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Taken by the Border Rebel - Blythe Gifford (HH #1130 - Mar 2013)

Series: Brunson Clan (Book 3)

Tormented by her innocence

As leader of his clan, Black Rob Brunson has earned every dark syllable of his name. But, having taken hostage his enemy's daughter in a fierce act of rebellion, he is tormented by feelings of guilt and torn apart with the growing need to protect her-and seduce her!

Stella Storwick feels Rob's disdain from the first. Then slowly she starts to see behind his eyes to a man in turmoil. Something he has no words for, something that can only be captured in a heart-wrenching kiss....

My favorite of the trilogy.  Rob is the leader of his clan and must do what is best for them.  When he comes across Stella Storwick, a member of his clan's mortal enemies, he seizes the moment and seizes her.  His clan has already taken her father hostage and he finds that neither one is being searched for by their relations.  Now he has to decide what to do with her.

I really liked both Rob and Stella.  Both of them have found themselves isolated by the expectations others have of them.  Rob has been trained by his father to take over the clan, but never felt as though his father thought he was ready.  When his father died unexpectedly Rob felt unprepared for the responsibility.  Added to these problems were the demands from the Scottish king that Rob provide men for his war and the results of Rob's refusal (see Return of the Border Warrior and Captive of the Border Lord)Now he finds that he is attracted to the daughter of his enemy and can't do anything about it.  I really enjoyed seeing the way that being with Stella filled something in his soul that he hadn't realized was missing.  I also loved seeing the way that she confused him and often made him rethink his attitude about something.  The last chapters showed him finally come into his own.

I really liked Stella.  All her life she had been treated like someone too good to be exposed to other people, leaving her feeling lonely and isolated.  When she found herself a captive of the Brunsons she didn't know what to expect.  What she got was being treated like an ordinary person and she loved it.  I loved seeing her experience things like cooking and washing.  I also loved the way she took care of Wat, showing one of the facets of her personality that had never been given a chance before.  I also really liked the way that she wanted to find her place in the world.  One of the things that I enjoyed most about her was the way she came up with the perfect solution for their problems half a book before Rob and the others did.