Friday, May 31, 2013

The Deputy Gets Her Man - Stella Bagwell (HSE #2265 - June 2013)

Series: Men of the West (Book 27)


Everyone knew that Tyler Pickens was the grumpiest, most reclusive rancher in town. But Deputy Sheriff Rosalinda Lightfoot hadn't realized he was also the sexiest.... When her arson investigation brought her face-to-face with Ty, she couldn't deny the flutter his green-eyed gaze ignited. But she was wary of men with secrets-and Tyler had plenty.

Tyler couldn't deny his instant connection to Rosalinda or the feelings he'd thought long dead. But his betrayed heart wasn't so easy to heal. As the excitement heated up and secrets came to light, could Rosalinda and Tyler forget their pasts and make their own future?

Good book.  When Rosa meets Ty she's aware of his reputation as a grouch.  She wasn't expecting to want to get to know him better.  She had been staying away from any kind of involvement with a man since the end of her engagement.  The man she thought she loved hadn't been able to stand up to his ex-girlfriend and her stalking and threatening of Rosa.  Now she questions her judgement and is slow to trust anyone.  As she and Ty are thrown together on the arson investigation they also spend time getting to know each other on a personal level.  I liked the confidence that Rosa had started to build up in herself.  It gave her the will to start something with Ty.  I also liked the way that she was such a good listener.  It gave her the opportunity for Ty to tell her about his family and for her to have the courage to go with him when he needed her.  With the rapid growing of her feelings for him Rosa had to decide if she could trust him with her heart or if she was going to let her past define her future.

Ty pretty much keeps to himself.  He had left his family behind in Texas after being betrayed by his wife and brother and not getting along with his father.  He started his ranch and devoted himself to his work there.  When he met Rosa he felt a connection with her that he'd never felt before.  He could see that she was wary but he was willing to take it slow.  I liked the way that he showed respect for her abilities as a deputy but also made it clear that he was attracted to the woman.  I liked the way that he was able to tell her about his problems with his family and how her presence made his visit to them less of an ordeal.  He was actually able to realize that everything had worked out the best way it could for him.  The only thing he really did wrong was to try to rush Rosa after his declaration and not actually listen to her concerns.  I liked the way that he finally realized what he had done and made sure that he fixed it.

Big Sky Summer - Linda Lael Miller (HQN - June 2013)

Series: Parable MT (Book 4)

With his father's rodeo legacy to continue and a prosperous spread to run, Walker Parrish has no time to dwell on wrecked relationships. But country-western sweetheart Casey Elder is out of the spotlight and back in Parable, Montana. And Walker can't ignore that his "act now, think later" passion for Casey has had consequences. Two "teenage" consequences 

Keeping her children's paternity under wraps has always been part of Casey's plan to give them normal, uncomplicated lives. Now the best way to hold her family together seems to be to let Walker be a part of it--as her husband of convenience. Or will some secrets--like Casey's desire to be the rancher's wife in every way--unravel, with unforeseen results?

Very good book.  There's a lot of heat between Casey and Walker as they now have to deal with their feelings for each other and with the consequences of their longstanding relationship.  Casey has been on the road for years, raising her two children as best she could.  She's tired of the lifestyle now that she has met all the goals she set for herself.  She wants to give the kids a stable home and the chance to go to school and make friends and just live a normal life.  She settles in Parable, where her "friend" Walker lives.  She has done a great job of keeping the secret of who her kids' father is, not wanting them to become part of a media circus.  But now that they have settled down Walker wants his proper role in their lives. 

I liked Casey.  She has been a terrific mother, raising Clare and Shane to be pretty good kids.  They don't seem to have any of the problems that most celebrity kids seem to have.  They have known Walker for most of their lives, but only as a family friend.  When she got pregnant (both times) she wasn't ready to settle down and convinced Walker that staying anonymous was the best way to handle things.  Now she realizes that that maybe wasn't the best way to do it.  Both kids have made it clear that they wished they had a real father.  She goes to Walker and agrees with him that it's time they tell the kids the truth.  Casey is really scared.  She is afraid that the kids will hate her for not telling them the truth.  She also knows that she still can't resist her physical attraction to Walker.  They have always been physically compatible but can't be together for five minutes without finding something to argue about.  Casey tends to start the fights as a way to keep Walker at a distance.  Casey has a lot to deal with once the truth comes out.  Her son seems to take the news well, but her daughter is having a hard time with her feelings of betrayal.  Casey decides that she and Walker should marry to protect the children, but she doesn't want to risk her heart on a real marriage.  She soon realizes that her heart is already at risk because she has loved Walker all along and wants nothing more than to be a real wife to him. 

Walker has long wanted to be a real father to his kids.  He is tired of just being the family friend and wants to tell the kids the truth.  He finally tells Casey that she has to tell them.  I liked the fact that he lets her know that they will do it together, that he is not going to try to take the kids or anything like that.  He just wants to be a real dad.  I really enjoyed seeing him become that father rather than just the cool friend.  He soon realizes that being a father is a little more complicated than he thought but I thought he handled it very well.  I also enjoyed the way that he made sure that Casey knew that he was there for whatever she needed for the kids or for herself.  I also liked the way that he finally admitted to himself that Casey's desire to keep his fatherhood secret had allowed him to not have to deal with the hard things.  Once they married he finally got a taste of the things she had had to deal with all those years, especially the tabloid reporters.  This made him appreciate her even more.  I liked the way that he finally admitted his love for her. 

One of the best things about the book was the way it showed how hard both Casey and Walker had to work to make their relationship a success.  Both of them had to learn to compromise and both of them had to learn to actually talk to the other one.  Casey also had to face up to her mistakes even though she had made them with the best of intentions. I liked both kids also.  They were both realistically done without being obnoxious or too sweet.  I also enjoyed catching up with the characters from previous books.  I'm looking forward to the next book and seeing Brylee finally get her own happy ending.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sunset Seduction - Charlene Sands (HD #2233 - June 2013)

Series: Slades of Sunset Ranch (Book 2)

The night she'll never a night he can't remember

Audrey Thomas can't forget the night of passion she shared with Lucas Slade, the man she's loved for years. But it seems the sexy, superrich rancher has no clue who warmed his bed!

The mystery seductress at his Lake Tahoe retreat was Audrey? His best friend's off-limits kid sister? Now she's back at Sunset Ranch...and having his baby! Honor bound to do the right thing, Lucas never reckons she'll say I won't to his proposal-or that she'll settle for nothing less than all this cowboy has to give.

Very good book.  When Audrey shows up at Sunset Ranch to apologize to Lucas for running out on him after they spent the night together she discovers that he has no idea it was her.  He had been doped up on pain meds and only had vague memories of what had happened.  So she accepts a job on the ranch to stay close to him until she can find a way to tell him. 

I really liked Audrey.  She feisty and independent and has no trouble going after what she wants.  She has been in love with Lucas for years even though he treats her like a little sister.  On that night she thought he had finally seen her as a woman.  She was stunned and hurt that he didn't remember what had happened but she was also determined that he would see her for the grown woman she was. I really liked the way that Logan's fiancee did her best to help Audrey with opening Lucas's eyes.  I also liked the way that she doesn't put up with his overprotective attitude.  I loved the fact that she refused to accept a marriage proposal based on honor only and held out for love.  The scene between Audrey, her brother and Lucas was a perfect example of the way that Audrey has learned to stand up for herself against the men who try to do things "for her own good".  

Lucas has spent a good share of his life looking at Audrey like a little sister.  He never really noticed her as a woman.  He wasn't sure he hadn't dreamed the encounter at the Tahoe cabin and he certainly never connected that sexy encounter to Audrey.  When he hires her to work with his horses he starts to notice her as more than Casey's little sister, but tries to resist those feelings.  It doesn't help that there is something about her that reminds him of that night.  When he discovers that it was her he is shocked and horrified at what he had done but he is also still attracted to her.  I loved watching him try to reconcile the two ideas of his best friend's little sister and the sexy woman he slept with.  It is such a struggle for him.  When he finds out about the baby and proposes because it's the right thing to do he can't believe she turns him down.  Lucas has the problem that he doesn't do long term relationships, he keeps everything light and short term so that he doesn't have to engage his emotions.  It took Audrey's refusal and departure for him to finally face his past and realize why he runs from emotions and why he can't run from his feelings for Audrey.  

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Fiancee Charade - Fiona Brand (HD #2238 - June 2013)

Series: The Pearl House (Book 4)

Some bonds can't be broken

When billionaire Gabriel Messena sees that former fling Gemma O'Neill might be settling down with another man, he knows he has to act fast. He wants her, and he'll use any excuse to get her back. Luckily, he needs a fiancée to regain control of his family's business, and he wants Gemma for the part.

Gabriel's proposition is truly unexpected, though exactly what Gemma needs to secure permanent custody of her daughter. Their daughter. Being back in Gabriel's bed is amazing, but once he finds out what she's kept from him, how long will the honeymoon last?

Good book.  Gemma has temporarily lost custody of her daughter due to lies told by a former nanny.  In order to get her daughter back she needs to show that she has steady employment - a stable relationship wouldn't hurt either.  Gabriel needs a fiancee to get control of the family bank so that business can get back to normal.  Seeing Gemma again makes him realize how much he still wants her.

I liked both Gemma and Gabriel.  Both certainly had issues that made a relationship between them difficult until those could be overcome.  Gemma had worked for Gabriel's family when she was a teenager.  She had quite a crush on him and at one point they began a romance.  They kept it secret because of their differences.  When Gabriel's father is killed and he has to take over the business they part ways.  When Gemma discovers she is pregnant she doesn't tell Gabriel because there is no way that they can be together because of the potential scandal.  She feels badly about keeping the secret but sees no other way.  She goes to work for Gabriel's cousin Zane (A Perfect Husband) and is accused of carrying on an affair with him, causing her to lose custody of her daughter.  She is stunned when Gabriel comes to her with his proposition.  It will solve her problem so she accepts.  She fights her attraction to him unsuccessfully and also realizes her love for him had never died.  She is fighting a battle within her heart.  She wants to marry him because she loves him and wants her daughter to have her father in her life.  But she is also afraid of being caught in a marriage where he has only married her because of their daughter, that he doesn't actually love her the way she needs his love.  

Gabriel has never forgotten Gemma.  When his father died the family was embroiled in scandal because his father had been having an affair with one of his employees.  Gabriel saw his father's actions as a sign of a loss of control and vowed he wouldn't succumb himself.   He left Gemma behind because, beside the fact that she too was an employee, he could see himself becoming just as obsessed as his father had been.  He kept tabs on Gemma through the years, believing the stories he read about her and his cousin Zane.  Finally he decided that he wanted her back and used his need and hers to engineer their engagement.  His attraction to her had never stopped and he took advantage of it now to get her back in his bed.  He felt that she was trying to keep a distance between them and he didn't understand why.  He was still trying to maintain control over his feelings until he realized that he loved her too but she didn't know it.  I really liked the conclusion - very romantic!  I also liked the way that he understood her reasons for not telling him about the baby and that he didn't get angry. 

Affairs of State - Jennifer Lewis (HD #2234 - June 2013)

Series: Daughters of Power: The Capital (Book 6)

American Royalty

First she discovers she's the secret daughter of the American president, then she falls for a British prince. Ariella Winthrop's life can't get much more complicated. Or can it?

Having fun with Simon Worth-passionate meetings, hiding their attraction from the public-is one thing. But getting serious? The British monarchy certainly doesn't want their beloved prince dating an American, much less one with her fair share of scandals. But when Ariella discovers she's pregnant with a royal baby, all bets are off. This woman is fighting for what is hers.

Good book and nice conclusion to the series.  As of the last book (A Very Exclusive Engagement - Andrea Laurence) the mystery of how the secret of Ariella's birth was discovered has been solved and the perpetrators have been caught.  Now it is time for Ariella to meet her father and come to terms with her new life.  She has been trying to keep things as normal as possible, continuing her work as an event planner and being with her friends.  At one of her events she meets Simon Worth, British prince, and one of the sexiest men she's ever met.  She assumes he wants to use their company to plan an event and treats him as a client.  She is attracted to him but is well aware that, as a prince, he is far out of her reach for anything permanent.  She finds herself quite comfortable with him, enjoying his sense of humor, his outlook on life, and the way that he understands what she is going through.  When she visits him in England some of his family members make her feel less than welcome.  She realizes that she's fallen in love with him and that it is an impossible situation.  When she discovers that she is pregnant she decides that she isn't going to follow in her parents' footsteps and that she will fight for what she wants.  I also really enjoyed her developing relationship with her parents and seeing the difference they make in her life.

Simon first notices Ariella at an event he is attending and makes sure to meet her.  He is interested from the first in pursuing a relationship with her, but realizes that she is very skittish.  He uses the planning of a charity event to get close to her first then makes it clear to her that he is interested in her on a personal level.  He knows that his family has been pushing for him to settle down with an "appropriate" bride, but he has always been the independent sort who does things his own way.  It doesn't take long for him to realize that what he wants with Ariella is more than just a fling.  All he has to do is convince her.  I thought that Simon was a bit on the clueless side when he failed to consider that his family would not be thrilled with his pursuit of Ariella.  I did like the fact that he did not give up on getting what he wanted and was willing to do whatever he had to do.  I really enjoyed the way that he truly listened to Ariella and was able to help her deal with her notoriety.  I really loved the ending.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Daddy for Dillon - Stella Bagwell (HSE #2260 - May 2013)

Series: Men of the West (Book 26)


Having struggled for years, Leyla Chee wasn't about to mess up her temporary job as cook on the Chaparral Ranch. That meant focusing on her work, her young son and her dreams of going back to school. And certainly not being tempted by the sexy foreman who devoured her cooking, put a smile on Dillon's face and made her own heart race!

But Laramie Jones's strong shoulders seemed ready to share Leyla's burdens. His rough hands smoothed away her cares. And his mouth...well, what he did with that mouth made her blush! Yet Laramie was a man without a real past-could she trust that what he really wanted was a future with her?  

Good book.  Leyla was filling in as cook at the ranch and saving her money to go back to school.  She didn't want the distraction of getting involved with Laramie.  Leyla had had a rough few years with Dillon's father wanting nothing to do with them, her father kicking her out, and nearly giving birth on the side of the road alone in a snowstorm.  She's determined to make a better life for herself and Dillon.  She's never met anyone like Laramie, who is not just good looking he is incredibly kind to her and Dillon.  Leyla is surprised by how quickly Dillon takes to Laramie.  She is moved by the interest he takes in her son and dreams of having a man like him in her life.  But she is afraid because nothing good ever lasts for her. It was hard to see her fight her feelings just because she couldn't trust in the strength of their love. I loved the way that she was finally able to accept his love and open herself up to the future.

I really liked Laramie.  He is attracted to Leyla from the beginning and it quickly moves to deeper feelings.  This surprises him because he has never expected to feel that way.  He was raised by a bachelor who wasn't related to him and had never been exposed to the kind of love that would be found between a man and woman.  He was taken by little Dillon and enjoyed being around him and doing the kind of things a father would do.   This just added to his growing love for Leyla.  He began to have dreams of them being a family, something he had not really had.  I really liked his patience with Leyla and her fears and how he was willing to change his life for her.  There was a very nice twist at the end where Laramie finally had his questions about his parents answered.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Falling for the Rebel Falcon - Lucy Gordon (HR #4382 - June 2013)

Series: The Falcon Dynasty (Book 4)

"Getting the scoop on the rebellious Falcon "
Journalist Perdita Hanson has a reputation for getting the best scoops in the business She's on a mission to get the gossip at the Falcons' latest glitzy wedding when she bumps into one of the notorious Falcon brothers....

In order to get behind the closely guarded doors of this infamous family, Perdita accepts Leonid's spontaneous offer of being his date. Perdita never expects to fall for the roguish Leonid, but when he discovers who she really is, their sparks of attraction turn to fireworks of betrayal Can their budding romance ever recover?

Good book.  Perdita starts out trying to get into the wedding in order to do a story on the Falcons, especially Travis.  She is thrilled when a small ruse results in Leonid asking her to pose as his date for the wedding.  During that weekend she discovers that she doesn't want to do that story on the family, that she has come to like them.  She also discovers that there is something about Leonid that she just can't resist.

I liked Perdita.  She was smart, funny and adventurous.  She also was self aware enough to realize that she wasn't happy with her business as usual way of doing things and was willing to make a change.  I especially liked the way she seemed to understand Leonid and his various issues.  As they spent more time together in the weeks after the wedding she also realized that her job as a journalist was likely to cause a problem when he found out, but she could never find a good time to tell him.  I really liked the way that she was able to connect with Leonid's mother.  I loved the way that Perdita used her talents to force Leonid's father to visit his mother.  I did feel that she was a little to forgiving of Leonid's treatment of her.

I had a somewhat harder time connecting with Leonid.  I understood his issues with feelings of rejection and betrayal, but I felt that he was far too rigid in his attitudes.  There was absolutely no room to adjust for the reasons someone deceived another person.  I did like the obvious love that he had for his mother and the way that he took care of her.  His feelings for his family were also clear, but he also kept part of himself separate from them as if he didn't quite trust that the relationships would last.  The time he spent with Perdita opened his heart somewhat, but part of him was always waiting for that moment of betrayal.  I really wanted to smack him and tell him that no one is perfect and he needs to join the real world.  I'm not quite sure that he really deserves Perdita's love and understanding.  It will be interesting to see them appear in later books and see how they are doing.

Confessing to the Cowboy - Carla Cassidy (HRS #1755 - June 2013)

Series: Cowboy Cafe (Book 4)

"The Price of Deadly Secrets..."
Someone is killing waitresses at the Cowboy Cafe. Three women are dead, and Sheriff Cameron Evans means to find out why. But as he works to solve the case, the hunky sheriff must push beyond his feelings for the cafe's owner. There's a murderer on the loose. Passion has no place here.
For Mary Mathis, the crime is personal. Not only are the victims her employees, they may be a sign of something deeper. Eight years ago she came to Grady Gulch fleeing a violent past that has scarred her for life. Now she has to discover if that history is dooming the women who work for her. She already knows it has made new love impossible--no matter what she may secretly desire.

Excellent book and conclusion to the series.  Cameron is at his wit's end.  Someone is killing the waitresses at the Cowboy Cafe but whoever it is isn't leaving any clues behind.  Mary is worried about her waitresses and now she starts to think the deaths are aimed at her personally.  Mary and her son came to Grady Gulch eight years earlier.  Shortly after that she bought the cafe and has been running it ever since.  While Mary is friendly to everyone she keeps her own life very private.  When she starts getting things that remind her of her old life she goes to Cameron and confesses her past to him. 

I really liked Mary.  She took control of her life when her husband's abuse became too much, doing whatever was needed to keep herself and her son safe.  I loved the way that throughout the series she was always there to help others who needed it.  She has been drawn to Cameron since the very beginning, but because of her past does not allow herself to pursue those feelings.  When she starts receiving reminders of her past she realizes that the murders may be related to it, so she decides to go to Cameron and tell him everything.  She is afraid she'll end up in jail and also fears Cameron's reaction to her story.  She doesn't want to lose his friendship.  When those fears are relieved their relationship starts to heat up, but Mary fears that Cameron will now become a target.  She also doesn't really trust her feelings and fears risking her heart.

Cameron has been attracted to Mary since she arrived in Grady Gulch.  He seems to be content to see her every day at the cafe and doesn't try to push a relationship.  I liked the way that he has a softer side that shows in his care for the little dog and the way he is there for Mary's son.  When the murders begin being around Mary is the only thing that relieves his stress a little.  When she comes to him and confesses her past he is stunned.  He is also angry at everything she went through and impressed by what she has made of her life.  The first thing he does is check into her story and finds that she is not guilty of what she thought she was.  He then uses that information to find out if her past has indeed come to Grady Gulch.  I really loved his determination to solve the murders and to keep Mary and her son safe. Even when Mary initially rejects his love he is intent on remaining close to her. 

The suspense itself, of discovering who was killing the waitresses was very intense.  Cameron and his deputies are stymied by the complete lack of evidence at the scenes and frustrated by their inability to make progress on the case.  As we finally discover the who, the question becomes how.  The mind games played on Mary amped up her fear.  When the final confrontation came the disclosure of the murderer was an unexpected twist.  I loved the way that Mary was able to take control and face him down.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Cowboy With a Cause - Carla Cassidy (HRS #1735 - Jan 2013)

Series: Cowboy Cafe (Book 3)

"I'd apologize for kissing you, but I'm not all that sorry."

Dancer Melanie Brooks had escaped small-town Oklahoma, giving up the country for Broadway's bright lights. Yet after her mother's funeral called her back, her own health issues forced her to stay. Now her tenant, too-hot-for-his-own-good Adam Benson, is giving her a reason to dance again. But has a killer set his sights on her, too?

Adam knows a little something about fresh starts. As for his beautiful neighbor, he doesn't see a wheelchair -- he sees a woman who understands. But as the heat grows between them, he can't avoid the feeling that more than her big-city past haunts her -- and that danger has been lurking, waiting to strike….

Very good book.  Melanie is back in her hometown.  She had been planning to leave again after her mother's funeral but she ended up staying because of her health issues.  She has spent the last seven months holed up in her house feeling sorry for herself.  But she really needs the money that renting out the top floor of her house would bring in, so she rents it to Adam.  She has resigned herself to being alone for the rest of her life, but suddenly she has an intense attraction to Adam to deal with.  She also finds that he is drawing her out of her self-imposed isolation and making her dream of a  different future.  She feels, though, that it wouldn't be fair to Adam to tie him to a woman in a wheelchair so she denies her feelings.  Melanie is a lot stronger than she thinks she is.  When she is targeted by a stalker she is able to think past her panic and save herself.  With Adam's help she is also able to start to take charge of her life and future.  I wanted to shake her a few times when she would start to accept possibilities for her future and then she would talk herself right back to her "poor me" attitude.

Adam was a great guy.  He has finally pulled himself back together after the tragedies of losing his sister and then his oldest brother trying to murder someone.  Now he wants to figure out what he wants to do with the rest of his life.  When he rents his rooms from Melanie he doesn't expect the instant attraction to her.  She is dreadfully rude to him but he recognizes the attitude of someone who is dealing with too much.  Even though he knows she doesn't want his help he can't resist her.  He really wants her to realize that just because she is in a wheelchair doesn't mean that she isn't a beautiful, wonderful woman who can do anything she wants to do.  I loved the way that his love for her grows steadily the more he is with her and that he really doesn't see her as limited in what she can do.  I loved the way that he was so steady in his love even when she was pushing him away.  He also refused to accept her attitude that she was useless and showed her that she still had a lot to give.

The mystery continues about who is killing the waitresses at the Cowboy Cafe.  When attempts are made on Melanie's life Adam steps in to make sure she is safe.  There are things about her attacks that make it seem like it is the same person, but other things just don't add up. This kept me reading well past bedtime as I tried to decide if this was the killer or someone else that had a problem with Melanie.  The sheriff is growing more frustrated with each murder and the lack of evidence that is found.  I am really looking forward to the next book and finding out who and why.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Weaver Vow - Allison Leigh (HSE #2257 - May 2013)

Series: Return to the Double C Ranch (Book 7)


When Isabella Lockhart leaves New York for Weaver, Wyoming, she's keeping a vow-to provide a loving home for her late fiancé's little boy away from the bad influences of the big city. But trouble is this kid's middle name, and right away his antics put Isabella on a collision course with handsome rancher Erik Clay.


Not that that's a bad thing! The real problem for Erik is the instant attraction he feels for this beautiful Big Apple transplant. The sworn bachelor just doesn't want to go there. But pretty soon, Erik realizes that he has a vow of his own to keep-to make this wounded woman whole again, starting with her heart.... 

Very good book.  Isabella had come to Weaver to get Murphy out of the city where he was constantly getting into trouble.  The problem is that Murphy is full of fear and anger which makes him do stupid things.  When he gets into it with Erik Isabella begs him not to send Murphy to the sheriff, so Erik sets it up so that Murphy comes to his ranch to work off the damages.  Isabella is terrified that Murphy will be taken away from her.  He is all that's left of her relationship with his father, who she still loves.  She can't imagine ever wanting someone else.  She doesn't expect this attraction to Erik and she doesn't want it.  She feels it's more important to devote her energies to Murphy.  Having grown up in the foster care system she doesn't want that life for him.  She also is very wary of getting involved with or close to anyone because in her experience relationships never last.  She doesn't quite know what to do with Erik and his family who just absorb her and Murphy into their circle without even thinking about it.  Erik tells her that he wants her in his life but that he's willing to wait until she's ready.   I felt so bad for Isabella and her certainty that nothing good in her life ever lasts.  That's why she clung to her memories of her fiance and was afraid to open herself up to Erik's love.  

Erik was great.  His introduction to Murphy wasn't the greatest, but I loved the way that he was willing to work with Isabella.  Part of that was because he saw something of himself in Murphy and part was because he was so attracted to Isabella right from the start.  He fights it a little at first because he doesn't think he wants the whole marriage and family thing yet.  But he soon realizes that what he feels for her is very different than what he's felt for anyone else.  I loved the way that he took charge of Murphy and didn't let him get away with things.  He also gave Murphy the attention that he needed.  I loved the way that Erik was honest about his feelings to Isabella but also told her that he wouldn't push.  He had a terrific way of sensing what she needed and being able to do something about it.  I loved the way he was so close to his family and how that made him able to help Murphy and Isabella.  

I love books with big families that are so supportive of each other.  There is always someone who has just what is needed to help the current hero or heroine.  

Friday, May 24, 2013

Rocky Mountain Lawman - Rachel Lee (HRS #1756 - June 2013)

Series: Conard County: The Next Generation (Book 15)


When Skylar Jamison heads to the Wyoming Rockies, all the army veteran wants is some rest. But as a stranger warns her away-off public lands-every war-torn nerve she has goes on alert.

The ranger who investigates makes her even more wary, for very different reasons. Smart, good-looking, with an inner calm Sky envies, Craig Stone sparks her interest and wakes all her fears.

Craig didn't plan on inviting Sky to stay with him. But there are armed strangers in his forest. And Sky-tough, vulnerable, sexy Sky, everything he's ever wanted-is their target. They are each trained to handle danger. It would take both of them, together, to survive this new threat....

Very good book.   Sky came to Conard County on vacation to paint and recharge her batteries.  She wasn't expecting to run into a man who tried to chase her off the park property where she was painting.  There was something about him that made her wonder what was going on.  When she meets Craig he sets her nerves on edge a different way.  She is attracted to him but worries about those feelings. The presence of armed strangers in the woods causes him to ask Sky to stay with him as they investigate.

Sky only wants to be left alone to paint.  The stranger in the woods sets her on edge and brings back some less than pleasant memories of her time at war.  Her encounter with Craig brings up some other memories that are equally disturbing and some feelings that she doesn't know what to do with.  She had just ended a relationship with a man who shredded her self esteem as a woman and she was afraid to do anything with her feelings because she thought that he might be right.  I really loved her self-sufficient attitude and ability to be happy without depending on someone else.  She was confident in her ability to keep herself safe.  I also liked the way that she was determined to stay around and help Craig and be the backup she was sure he would need.  She was cautious about sharing her feelings and it took awhile for her to be able to open up with Craig.  Once she did it changed their relationship a lot.  She had one more bout of not believing before she was finally able to accept her feelings and his, but it was just the eye opener she needed.

Craig was a man who is happy with his own company.  He has no problem spending days at a time out in the woods.  When he meets Sky there is something about her that really touches him.  With the possible presence of danger in the woods he talks her into staying with him so that he can keep an eye on her.  As he spends more time with Sky he finds that she fills a hole in his life that he didn't know he had.  Besides worrying about her safety he is concerned that she wouldn't be able to handle his lifestyle.  I really liked the way that he could see her vulnerabilities and was able to help her through them.  I especially liked the way that he dealt with the damage that her ex-boyfriend had caused.  I also liked the way that Craig was able to accept Sky's help, trusting that she was able to deal with problems that came up.  I also liked the way that he came to realize the strength of his feelings and wanted to keep Sky in his life.

The suspense itself kept me wondering what was going to happen next.  I felt badly for Buddy and the way that Cap was taking over.  Buddy was definitely not the brightest crayon in the box but he wasn't a bad person.  The premise behind the story was a bit on the scary side, though I know people like that exist. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Marriage for Her Baby - Raye Morgan (HR #4380 - June 2013)

Series: Single Mom Diaries (Book 2)

"Two strangers and a baby..."
Spontaneity might be in her blood, but walking down the aisle to wed a stranger is hands down the riskiest thing Sara Darling has ever done. But to adopt her infant niece she'll first need to say an "I do" of convenience.

As the baby's biological father, soldier Jake Martin can take away Sara's dream come true. War-traumatized Jake's not sure he's instant family-man material, but something about Sara and his gorgeous daughter makes him want to break free from the prison of his past. He might just need their ready-made family as much as she does....

Good book.  Sara is ready to take the final steps to adopt her niece when the baby's father shows up to take custody.  She is devastated at the idea of losing little Savannah and is determined to convince Jake that he isn't father material. But no matter what she does Jake always seems to be able to cope with it.  I have to say that Sara's attitude really bothered me.  She should be happy that Savannah has a father who is so intent on giving her the best life that he possibly can.  It seems that all she does is whine about how she's going to lose her and plot to undermine his confidence.  She doesn't expect to be drawn to him and have so much inner conflict.  First she wants him to fail, then she's praising him for what he does right, then screaming at him when he makes a mistake.  I wanted to shake her.  When she realized that she was falling in love with him she consented to the marriage of convenience in hopes that he would fall for her too.  I did like the way that she finally got him to open up to her about his experiences.  Unfortunately she didn't seem to understand that his feelings about his friends were a large part of who he was.

Jake was stunned to find out that he was a father.  He was worried about being a good father because he had had a very unconventional upbringing, but he was determined to do it right.  He felt bad about taking Savannah away from Sara, but he was not going to give up.  I loved seeing him tackle all the bits like diapers, bathing and feeding.  He was a bit clumsy but did his best.  He had never planned to get married and have a family, but he sure stepped up when he found out about Savannah.  I also liked the way that he understood what Sara was feeling but wasn't going to cave in.  As he spent time with her learning about Savannah, he also started to have feelings about Sara that he didn't understand.  He hadn't been exposed to love growing up and didn't really recognize it when he started to feel it.  I liked the way that he tried to explain his feelings about going back for his friends and felt bad that Sara just didn't get it.  I thought that his compromise at the end was just right.

Her Hesitant Heart - Carla Kelly (HH #1135 - May 2013)


Tired and hungry after two days of traveling, Susanna Hopkins is just about at the end of her tether when her train finally arrives in Cheyenne. She's bound for a new life in a Western garrison town. Then she discovers she doesn't even have enough money to pay for the stagecoach! Luckily for her, the compassionate Major Joseph Randolph is heading in the same direction.

As a military surgeon, Joe is used to keeping his professional distance. But, despite Susanna's understated beauty, he's drawn to this woman who carries loss and pain equal to his own and has a heart that is just as hesitant and wary.... 

Fantastic book. I was drawn into the story from the beginning. I really liked both Susanna and Joe as characters.  Susanna has come to the West to start her life over.  She fled her abusive husband who then divorced her accusing her of abandoning their son.  Divorced women are not treated well during this time period and Susanna has a miserable time of it.  She meets Joe when he gives her a ride back to the fort.  Her cousin lives there too and has told people that Susanna is a widow not divorced which causes problems later.  

I loved Susanna's strength.  She had the courage to leave her husband when he nearly beat her to death. She had to leave her son behind and that constantly wears on her.  She worries about his safety and misses his presence in her life. After her divorce she headed West to be a teacher.   She is very cautious around men thanks to her husband.  When she meets Joe she is struck by his kindness and gentleness.  On the journey to Ft. Laramie she comes to like and trust him.  Her arrival at the fort shows her the lie her cousin told and she has a feeling that it will cause problems but she doesn't know how to fix it.  She discovers that fort society is even more judgmental than her hometown was.  I really liked the way that she did not join in the snobbishness of her cousin.  Susanna is the kind of person who is good all the way through.  She spends a lot of time helping out in the hospital and with the women of the fort.  I loved the way that her own troubles made her more empathetic with the ladies she made friends with.  When her past became common knowledge and people were cruel to her she first started to give up, but thanks to Joe decided to live her life her way.  I loved the way that she and Joe started out as friends and then their feelings began to grow into love.  It is a gentle sort of love that grows, not one full of heat, but it is strong.

Joe had lost his wife in a horrendous accident and has closed off his heart ever since.  He is a good doctor and a kind person.  He recognizes Susanna as a kindred spirit who has known great loss and sorrow.   He finds it very easy to be nice to her.  He is aware of her past and it makes him understand what she has been through.  I loved the way that he is there for her in small and large ways.  He finds things for her to do that will keep her busy.  He also introduces her to women that will not judge her and who become good friends to Susanna.  I loved seeing the way that his feelings for her change and grow.  They also help him come to terms with the loss of his first wife.  Joe's life as the fort doctor is not an easy one, especially when he has to deal with a superior officer who has had it in for him since the Civil War. 

The historical detail of what life was like in a western fort during the Indian wars was fantastic.  I loved the way that Joe's activities were described and the details of what he had to do as the fort doctor were incorporated into the story.  The realism of the way that divorced women were treated was well done and made Susanna an even more sympathetic character.  I also liked the supporting cast and loved seeing the way that they related to both Susanna and Joe.  I really liked the portrayal of the lives of the ordinary men and women of the fort.  No one was perfect and everyone had things that they had to deal with.  

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

His Baby Dream - Jacqueline Diamond (HAR #1454 - June 2013)

Series: Safe Harbor Medical (Book 11)

Determined To Be A Dad

Biology teacher Peter Gladstone may have lost his beloved wife, but the tragedy only strengthened his resolve to create a family. With a donor egg and a surrogate mom, Peter is sure to be a proud papa soon, thanks to the fertility specialists at Safe Harbor Medical.

Harper Anthony seems like the perfect choice for the donor. She's smart, beautiful and a great mom to her young daughter. The problem is, Peter has recently become reacquainted with the young widow and now sees her as a friend-or maybe something more than a friend. And Peter has chosen to keep his identity a secret. If the truth comes out, the consequences may threaten their budding romance. But only the truth can turn them into a family....

Good book.  Peter really wants to be a dad.  He thought his dream was over when his wife died, but then found out it could happen after all.  When Peter sees Harper's name on the egg donor list he feels she would be the perfect one to choose.  He likes her and her daughter and would love his child to be like them.  The problem is that she doesn't know that he's going to be the father.

I liked both Peter and Harper.  Both had issues that were keeping them from having a happy future.  Harper had lost her husband a few years earlier in an accident.  He was a nice guy but she found herself giving up her dreams in order to pursue his.  Now she doesn't want to be that dependent on a man again.  She enjoys her life as a mom, a nurse and a photographer and doesn't want to give that up.  She does want to give back and decides to be an egg donor to help some other family have the children they want.  When she is chosen as a donor she is disappointed that she won't be involved with the new family but accepts it.  At the same time she gets reacquainted with Peter, who had been a coworker of her husband's.  She is surprised by how much she likes him and then by the attraction she feels toward him.  When she finds out about his involvement in the program she is hurt and angry at first but they soon move past that.  Harper is very independent and has no problem speaking up when something is important to her.  She lets Peter know how unhappy she is that he kept the secret even though they are friends.  I really liked the way that Peter was supportive of her photography and the way that they were collaborating on the book.  I also liked the way that it brought them closer together.  As much as she came to love Peter she also kept trying to keep him at a distance trying to protect her heart.

Peter was still grieving for his wife two years after her death.  He wanted to follow through on their plans for a family.  When he meets Harper again he is surprised by how much he is drawn to her.  Finding her name on the egg donor list seems like fate to him so he chooses her, not thinking at first how that could affect their friendship.  He thinks that if he keeps it secret she'll never know.  As they start to work together on a children's book Peter finds himself thinking more and more about Harper and her daughter.  But he also feels guilty about his growing feelings for Harper, and feeling that he is somehow betraying his late wife.  I really didn't like the way he kept comparing Harper to his wife.  He really couldn't see that Harper's upfront attitude and way of dealing with things was so much better than his late wife's passive-aggressive way of getting her way.  He just didn't see that she always got her way.  He has to make a decision about those feelings before he can take a chance on having a future with Harper. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cardwell Ranch Trespasser - B. J. Daniels (HI #1413 - Apr 2013)

Series: Cardwell Ranch (Book 3)


The Cardwell clan has a new, mysterious member. Dana Cardwell warmly welcomed her Justice cousin into the family fold and to the ranch for a reunion. But this cunning kin has other plans for Dana...and designs on her husband, Hud.

Hilde Jacobson has known Dana too long to let her best friend get conned-or worse, killed. Unfortunately Hilde is no match for a skilled impostor who's duped everyone in the canyon. Only Deputy Marshal Colt Dawson believes Hilde's claims about the phony relation; only his strong arms have saved her from "accidents" intended to get her out of the way. Together can they convince the Cardwells that a predator lurks in their happy home?

Very good book.  The suspense started from the first chapter and didn't stop.   Hilde has been friends with Dana for six years and they have gotten to know each other very well.  When Dana asks Hilde to go along with her to welcome a recently discovered relative Hilde is glad to do it.  Unfortunately, something about Dee Anne Justice rubs Hilde the wrong way and she doesn't trust her.  Hilde is a pretty straightforward person and she doesn't hide her feelings well.  Pretty soon strange accidents start happening to her and she suspects that Dee is behind them.  When she expresses her suspicions to Dana and her husband she is accused of imagining things or being jealous of Dana's relative.  Colt is the only one who believes her.  Colt had been asking Hilde out but she had turned him down because of his reputation with the ladies.  But as they work together to find the truth Hilde realizes that she had misjudged him.  Their romance progressed pretty quickly thanks to the stress of the situation.  I really liked Hilde's loyalty to her friend and the way she was determined to protect Dana even through Dana's bad treatment of her.  She even put Dana's safety ahead of her own.

Colt had been smitten with Hilde for some time.  He used to date some empty headed women but soon realized that he had outgrown that kind of relationship.  I liked the way that he wasn't going to give up but was willing to wait awhile before trying again.  When the trouble started between Hilde and Dee Anne he was skeptical at first but soon agreed with Hilde that something wasn't right.  He was very glad that he was around to protect Hilde.  I loved the way that he was willing to do what was needed to get to the truth, even risking his job and his friendship with Hud and Dana.  Colt was such a sweetheart with Hilde, being there when she needed him and also knowing that she wasn't making things up. 

I really wanted to smack Hud and Dana.  How Hud, as a lawman, would allow a stranger into their home without checking her out is beyond me.  Once strange things started happening he should have checked her out.  Dana really pissed me off a lot.  She had been friends with Hilde for six years and she suddenly starts taking a stranger's word over Hilde's.  She should have been at least a little concerned about what Hilde was talking about.  Both of them deserve the guilty feelings they ended up suffering.  Hilde didn't deserve the way that they treated her and it would take me a long time to forgive them.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Mighty Quinns: Logan - Kate Hoffmann (HB #735 - Feb 2013)

Series: The Mighty Quinns (Book 22)

He's just an average, irresistibly sexy guy…

It's a long, hot trip from one side of Australia to the other, but horse breeder Logan Quinn has a job to do -- sell his favorite filly, and dream of a home and a horse ranch of his own. When he stays over at a posh horse farm, however, his dreams turn to fantasies about the owner's daughter. And for just one night, he gives himself up to sweet surrender….

One night isn't nearly enough for heiress Sunny Grant. She'd be crazy to let a scrumptious bloke like Logan disappear from her bed and her life. Now she wants more -- even if it means stowing away in his camper van!

With nothing in common but a white-hot attraction, they'll travel across the Land of Oz -- together. But nothing in this journey will ever prepare them for their destination!

Very good book.  In order to pay the bills at his horse ranch, Logan has to sell his favorite horse.  As he is driving her across Australia to her new home he stops at a fancy horse farm overnight.  There he meets Sunny.  Sunny is drifting after her Olympic dreams crashed and burned, but something about Logan draws her in.  After one awesome night together, Sunny stows away in his camper so she can go with him.

I really liked both Logan and Sunny.  Logan is a really sweet guy.  He worked long and hard to get the money he needed to start his own horse ranch.  He doesn't want to sell his filly since she was going to be one of his breeders but he needs the money to keep the ranch going.  When he meets Sunny he is very attracted to her but knows she is well out of his league.  He doesn't expect her to show up at his camper and give him the best night he's ever had.  When he finds her in the camper the next day he decides to let her tag along on the trip.  I really liked the way that Logan knew what he wanted and was willing to do the tough things to make them happen.  Even though Sunny was willing to buy the horse from him he was determined to honor his commitment to the original purchaser.  I loved seeing him get to know Sunny as they traveled and how his emotions got more involved.  As much as he came to love Sunny he still had some serious issues with their economic differences.  They had a lot in common with their love of horses but he still had a hard time thinking that there could be anything permanent between them.  

Sunny had spent her life trying to live up to her father's expectations.  When her Olympic dreams tanked her father became even more obnoxious to her and she was even more lost as to what she wanted to do with her future.  Logan's arrival on her father's horse farm was just what she needed.  Her attraction to him was instant and intense.  She didn't want to stop at one night with him and decided to tag along on his trip. They started out with plans for just being together for the length of the trip and then going their separate ways. She started out as seeming pretty spoiled with not having to think about money or consequences of her actions.  The more time she spent with Logan the more she started to think about what she really wanted her life to be like.  I liked the way that she came to understand Logan and his dreams and how she realized that she wanted to be a part of his future.  I also enjoyed seeing the ways she had changed by the time she got back home.

I liked the way that the prologue set up the premise of the series.  When the elderly Ms. Quinn discovers that she has family she never knew about she sets out to find them.  Logan is the first she locates.  I love the effect that her search has on him.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Too Close For Comfort - Heidi Rice (HK #18 - June 2013)

Up close, and way too personal!

Breaking and entering is hardly her style, but Iona MacCabe needs her passport back from her ex's motel room.

Jaded L.A. private investigator Zane Montoya is staking out a con man's motel room when this pretty Scottish girl gets seriously in the way. For her own safety, he'll keep her under his very close protection....

Except independent, willful Iona is not best pleased to be "rescued"-even by someone as sexy as blue-eyed, gorgeous Zane! And when he discovers just how innocent she really is, suddenly their scorching attraction feels even more dangerous....

Very good book.  I really liked both Iona and Zane.  Iona had followed her ex from Scotland to try to recover the money he had conned out of her father.  Zane stops her just before she ruins the investigation he's been working on for six months.  She fights back, not caring about his investigation only her attempt to make amends to her father.  I loved the way that she stands up to "Detective Sexy" when he tries to overrule her on things.  Her attraction to him is intense and he uses that attraction to overcome the insecurities caused by her ex.  I loved that those insecurities would show in ways that would confound Zane.  Meanwhile she tries to understand why he always seems to hold himself apart from his family even though it is obvious how much they love him.  Her faith in his goodness is something he doesn't understand and she doesn't know how to convince him. 

Zane is a great blend of sexy and sweet.  He is a man who loves women.  He knows how to please them, he protects them, but he won't allow them to get close to him.  He is afraid of losing control and becoming like his father.  His fears have caused him to only allow himself the most superficial of relationships.  When he meets Iona there is something about her that makes him forget all his rules. She meets his family, he moves her into his home, and she distracts him from his work.  I love watching him as he fights his feelings.  When she gets to the root of his issues he is stunned when she tells him he is being an idiot and to talk to his mother about the truth, and then disappears.  I loved the way it was all finally resolved.

Deadly Pursuit - Irene Hannon (Revell - Sept 2011)

Series: Guardians of Justice (Book 2)

Social worker Alison Taylor has a passion for protecting children and seeing that justice is served on their behalf. But now it seems she needs protecting. Someone is making harassing phone calls and sending her bizarre gifts. When her tormentor's attentions take a violent turn, she calls in reinforcements. Her brother, Cole, comes to her aid, along with his new partner, Detective Mitch Morgan. As her relentless stalker turns up the heat and the danger intensifies, Mitch takes a personal interest in the case. Because protecting Alison has become more than a job; his future depends on keeping her safe.

Very good book.  I really liked both Alison and Mitch.  Alison is a social worker who is also recovering from bad injuries she received in a car accident and a broken engagement.  Alison's dedication to her job and how determined she is to help the women and children she worked with can also make her some enemies.  She has two over-protective older brothers who worry that she isn't moving ahead with her life.  Cole talks her into helping out his new partner Match by attending a family wedding with him as his date.  She hates it when Cole tries to set her up, but goes along with it this time.  She ends up glad she did because Mitch turns out to be a really nice guy that she gets along with very well.  She is also glad he is there when she gets another creepy gift left on her porch.  She feels the potential in their relationship but she is cautious about depending on another man after the way her engagement ended.  I really enjoyed seeing the way Mitch had a soothing effect on her fears and how she came to trust him. 

Mitch is back in St. Louis to take care of his dad who had bypass surgery.  He's trying to avoid the matchmaking attempts by his female relatives when he takes Alison to a family wedding.  He isn't looking for a relationship but something about her really gets to him.  Before the wedding is over he knows that he wants to see her again.  When he finds out about the threats to her his protective instincts kick in also.  I really liked Mitch's sweetness with Alison and his understanding of her feelings.  I loved the way that he knew quickly that he wanted to keep her in his life but had the patience to move at her speed. 

I usually prefer a bit more heat in my romances but Irene Hannon's books are always so good that I don't mind the difference.  She does a lovely job of developing the relationship without depending on physical intimacies. There is a lot more time spent on getting to know each other.  I really liked the epilogue.

The suspense part of the story was really good.  It showed the escalation of the stalking and the buildup of the tensions.  Part of the story was told from the stalker's point of view.  His motivations and thought processes were definitely disturbing and went a long way toward adding to the intensity of the story.  I really liked the way that there were multiple events and characters that all added to the progression of the story.  As one thing built on another it got harder and harder for me to put the book down.  By the time the end came I was wondering how it was going to happen.  I loved the intensity of the finale.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Back Where She Belongs - Dawn Atkins (HS #1841 - Mar 2013)

Sometimes you can go home again

As the black sheep of her family, Tara Wharton has done her best to stay away. That is until a car accident has a tragic impact on her family. Now she's back in town and looking for answers. And her quest reunites her with Dylan Ryland, her high school sweetheart.

Dylan is just as gorgeous now as he was then. She's so tempted to resurrect what they had, but the issues that drove them apart haven't gone away-especially the animosity between their families. Yet Dylan seems determined to get past the obstacles, even as her quest reveals secrets that change everything. Because maybe with him she's exactly where she belongs. 

 Good book, very intense in places.  Tara had left her hometown far behind.  As a teenager she had been desperate for her parents' attention and got into all kinds of trouble trying to get it.  She and Dylan were high school sweethearts with plans and dreams away from their hometown.  When it came time to leave for college Dylan's family's business was in trouble and he decided to stay and help.  Tara felt betrayed and hurt and she and Dylan said some pretty nasty things to each other.  Tara went on to start her own business and Dylan stayed in Wharton.  Now Tara is back to deal with her father's death and her sister's coma.  There is something about the accident that doesn't make sense and as she begins to investigate she spends more time with Dylan.

I had a hard time liking Tara.  I understood that she really disliked the small town life and the way it seemed that everyone was always nosing into everyone else's business.  As a teenager she was different than everyone else and seemed to rub everyone the wrong way.  The only person who seemed to understand her was Dylan, but when he refused to leave town with her she cut him out of her life.  Now that she's back the attraction is still there.  I liked the way that she and Dylan cleared the air about the past and were able to start working together.  But I was really irritated by Tara's paranoia.  She believed the worst about everyone.  I didn't like the way that she would fly off the handle and make wild accusations.  She also admitted her love for Dylan but she didn't trust him.  She had a lot of old feelings to overcome.

I liked Dylan better.  He had given up his dreams in order to save his father's business.  Part of that dream was a future with Tara.  He set himself a goal of bringing the business to a certain point and then he would leave the business and do his job as town manager full time.  He has some great ideas and plans for what he would like to do.  When Tara came back he realized that his love for her hadn't died and he would like to have her back in his life.  He wanted to help her find the answers to her questions but he had a problem with her methods.  There were several times that he had to talk her out of doing something stupid or to calm her down after she started making wild accusations.  I really felt bad for the way that she made things so hard for him.

Both of them said things to the other that were really mean and hurtful.  It was hard to see how it was possible to overcome them and find their way to a happy ending.  It was interesting to see the way that Tara's people skills worked with everyone except when she was dealing with her feelings about the town.  I found the resolution of the mystery to be interesting with a couple of unexpected twists.

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Cowboy's Pride - Pamela Britton (HAR #1453 - June 2013)

"Broken Cowboy..."
Trent Anderson's rodeo days are over. Thanks to the car accident that killed his best friend, he will never get on a horse again. But physical therapist Alana McClintock isn't listening to his protestations. She just won't let up--getting under his skin, waking parts of him he thought would sleep forever. He can sense she feels something for him, too.

Alana knows Trent's injuries aren't as extensive as he thinks, and with some hard work she's convinced he will ride again. But the problem is convincing Trent. As Alana works with the wounded cowboy, she is drawn to him in a way that is anything but professional. She's determined to help him, though--even if it means he'll walk away from her.

I really liked this book.  Both Trent and Alana felt very real to me.  Trent is angry.  His best friend was killed in the accident that injured him and ended his rodeo career.  He has made enough progress to take care of himself but will never get on a horse again.  He really doesn't want to be on this ranch for the disabled, but his mother guilted him into it.  He is in a foul mood and refuses to cooperate with Alana.  He really hates her slave driver attitude but part of him is really attracted to her.  I loved the way that Alana compared his attitude to a little boy at the beginning.  Their interactions were pretty heated as he tried his best to refuse her treatment.  His change in attitude was gradual until one of her more radical moves, then he started to believe in her.  He also had some survivor's guilt that he had to work through before he was really able to open himself up to the future he wanted.

Alana had lost her fiance in the same accident where her almost niece had lost her mother and been badly injured.  Alana used her skills to help Rana recover and walk again, and assisted Rana's father on the handicapped friendly ranch as the resident physical therapist.  When Trent arrived something about him really got to her.  I loved her determination that she would get him back on his feet.  She didn't let him get away with anything and did a great job getting him to do what she wanted.  If a straight challenge didn't work she threatened to call his mother.  I really enjoyed seeing her challenge him time and again.  She also began to see that he wasn't the rude grump that was her first impression of him and that the man inside was quite different.  She starts to have feelings for him that don't fit with her professional ethics.  She also had her own issues and fears to deal with.  She was comfortable and happy on the ranch and didn't want to leave Rana who she felt still needed her.  She also hesitated to get involved with another rodeo man and have to deal with the stresses of the separations involved. 

I loved the theme of not giving up.  Alana refused to give up on getting Trent on his feet again, and refused to let him give up.  Trent refused to give up on getting Alana to admit her love and enter into a real relationship with him.  I really liked the way that they finally worked things out.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

His For the Taking - Ann Major (HD #2235 - June 2013)

Series: Rich Rugged Ranchers (Book 6)

A Bad Girl's Secrets

Years ago, when Maddie Gray ran away from Yella, Texas, pregnant and alone, she left behind an undeserved reputation-and her young lover, rancher and oil heir John Coleman. Now she's on the edges of his sophisticated world once again, determined to keep all her secrets.

With Maddie back in his life, Cole finally has a chance to forget her for good-if he can. The single mother is more beautiful, passionate and mystifying than ever, and Cole will stop at nothing to get at the truth. Even if that means making her his wife.

Not my favorite of the series.  Maddie had come back to Yella to take care of a friend.  She neither expected or wanted to see Cole again.  The people of the town had always looked down on her and she had been happy to escape.  Cole's reappearance has shaken up her plans for her future and her desire to forget her past.

I had a hard time liking either Maddie or Cole, though I liked her marginally better.  Maddie had grown up with a mother who was basically the town drunk and slut.  She worked very hard in school and to protect her own reputation but it did no good.  Everyone thought she was just like her mother.  As a teenager she fell for Cole and they indulged in a secret relationship, but she was always sure that he still considered her beneath him.  Her attempts to contact him after she left were rejected so she made a life on her own with her son.  I liked her determination to better herself and the success she made of it.  She was a good mother and had a good life.  I didn't particularly like her approach to her future marriage to Greg - it was far to emotionless and calculated.  I understood her reasons, but it was kind of cold.  When Cole barged back into her life she tried to keep him at a distance but her attraction kept getting the better of her.  Whenever they were apart she would be able to see what she should do but she just couldn't stand up to him in person.  She also had some serious issues with really caring what the people in town thought of her instead of believing in herself.  She admitted to herself that she loved him, but she didn't have enough confidence to believe that he would be there for her.  All she really wanted was to be sure that he loved and wanted her, not just taking her because he wanted their son.

Cole just irritated me.  He blew hot and cold throughout the entire book.  When he first heard she was back he trash talked her to his brother.  He remembered how they were together but had no problem believing what her mother told him about why she left.  When he saw her again he was overcome by his attraction to her even though he was angry about the past.  But he listened to her explanation and appeared to believe her.  I didn't like the way that throughout the book he just steamrollered right over what her wishes were and only considered what he wanted.  He would seem to be coming around in his feelings but then something would happen and he would go right back to not trusting her.  I did like that he accepted some of the responsibility for their misunderstandings but it just never seemed to make enough difference to his total attitude.  He appeared to finally get it at the end, but it left me wondering if he would backslide.  I do hope that there will be a story for his brother Adam.  I liked him a lot more.

Taming the Lone Wolff - Janice Maynard (HD #2236 - June 2013)

Series: Men of Wolff Mountain (Book 6)

A Wolff in Protector's Clothing

Protecting people for a living is one thing. But wealthy security expert Larkin Wolff wants no such responsibility in his personal life. Emotional involvement with clients is strictly forbidden. Only, he's never had a client like Winnie Bellamy. The waiflike heiress is a beguiling blend of innocence and sexuality. Larkin knows the dangers of getting too emotionally involved, but when Winnie obviously needs him-personally and professionally-how can he say no? The vulnerable beauty makes him long for what he can't have. And suddenly Larkin's ready to break all his own rules.

Excellent book.  Larkin and Winnie are both wounded souls who have avoided emotional entanglements.  When Winnie hires Larkin to provide security for her after a magazine article creates problems for her she doesn't expect the intense attraction she feels for him.  Larkin also feels the attraction.  In order to provide the security he feels she needs he does something he's never done before - he takes her home to Wolff Mountain.  

Winnie is an interesting character.  She had a sheltered childhood with older parents who never quite knew what to do with a child.  She had a bad time after their deaths and ended up involved with a man who treated her badly.  This led her to a desire to help women and children who had no resources to escape abusive relationships.  When the magazine article caused her to fear for the safety of those under her care she hired Larkin.  Her attraction to him scared her because she felt that he was way out of her league.  Winnie's one sexual experience left her with deep seated feelings of inferiority.  When he took her to his home to help provide her with the safety she needed she was very nervous about what she was sure would happen.  She was also very wary of meeting his family for fear of what they would think.  She had no experience of what life was like in a family like that.  I loved seeing her watch the interactions among them and try to understand.  She did a good job of standing up for herself, especially with Larkin's father.  I also enjoyed seeing the way that she ultimately fit in with everyone.  I really liked seeing the way that her mix of boldness and shyness kept Larkin off balance.  Her self worth issues really caused some problems with the developing relationship between them.  She knew she was falling for him but was sure that nothing would ever come of it.  She had a lot more inner strength than she thought she did and it really showed at the end.

Larkin had spent most of his life in protector mode.  Even as a child he tried to protect his little sister and take care of his older brother.  When both of them found loves of their own he was finally able to relax.  He swore that he would never take emotional responsibility for anyone ever again.  When he met Winnie all his self imposed rules went out the window.  He wanted her in a way he'd never wanted another woman and this scared him.  He knew he shouldn't get involved with her but he couldn't stop himself.  He could see her vulnerability and innocence and he just wanted to make everything better for her.  I loved the way that he was so driven to be with her but was also able to be patient and give her the ability to take things at her own speed.  He kept telling himself that he had made a mistake bringing her to Wolff Mountain but his heart didn't agree. He fought his feelings so hard.  I loved the way that he was there for her at the end with the problem at her shelter.  He finally had to admit that he wasn't the lone Wolff he had thought he was.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Fatal Exposure - Gail Barrett (HRS #1757 - June 2013)

Series: Buried Secrets (Book 1)

"Silence is her only protection"
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist B. K. ("Brynn") Elliot chronicles Baltimore's grittier side with her lens--a talent cultivated from her years as a teenage runaway. A reclusive figure, Brynn lives under everyone's radar...until a photo from her past plunges her into the crosshairs of powerful enemies.

Detective Parker McCall has devoted fifteen years to trying to solve his brother's murder, and with the release of a photo implicating Brynn as a potential suspect, he feels close to finding justice. Determined to get answers, Parker must ignore the inexplicable attraction he feels for the haunted beauty in the photo. And Brynn must decide if Parker will protect her or betray her in his hunt for a killer.

This was a fantastic book from the very beginning.  Brynn is a photojournalist who zealously guards her privacy.  When she was a teen runaway she witnessed a murder that put her on a hit list.  With her two friends they have stayed out of the public eye to protect themselves and each other.  When a reporter takes her picture and publishes it she is put back into danger.  Parker recognizes her from a picture of her with his brother who had also been a runaway and drug addict and was murdered fifteen years ago.  He considers Brynn to be a suspect and goes to see her for answers.  But those answers only lead to more questions.

Brynn is an amazingly strong character.  She had run away from home as a teen to get away from her stepfather who was sexually abusing her.  She had tried reporting him, talking to counselors and other things but no one would believe her because he was a respected citizen.  While living on the streets she had made friends with two other girls and Parker's brother.  Tommy had done his best to protect them and they took care of him.  When Brynn witnessed a murder Tommy had gotten between the murderer and Brynn and died to save her.  Now she is back in the crosshairs with the murderer wanting her dead and her stepfather wanting to get his hands on her too.  He has a lot more to protect now and his ways haven't changed.  When Brynn is confronted by Parker she realizes that she is going to need help to save herself and bring her stepfather down.  She is very wary about trusting him, since he is a cop and her experience with cops has been very bad.  She is also attracted to him and that worries her even more.  I loved the way that she had taken her experience as a runaway and turned it into a talent for photographing the world of Baltimore's streets.  She also uses her knowledge to help as many runaways as she can.  She had a hard time trusting Parker at first but he soon showed that he was as determined to find the truth as she was.  She was also determined to do whatever she had to in order to stop her stepfather from harming anyone else.  Her experiences on the street gave her a different viewpoint than Parker's and between the two of them they were able to get the information they needed.

Parker had been searching for his brother's killer for years.  After their father's suicide Tommy had gotten into drugs and had run away.  Parker had tried to help him and had felt guilty that he hadn't succeeded.  When he found Brynn he thought at first that she was the killer.  He soon realized that she wasn't but that she had information that could help find him.  He also had the problem that her stepfather was his boss and had charged him with bringing Brynn in.  His problem was that what her stepfather told him and what Brynn told him were very different and he didn't know who to believe.  He was also attracted to Brynn which was messing with his objectivity.  The more time he spent with Brynn the more he believed her but he still didn't want to believe that his boss was like that.  Parker was deeply conflicted but the evidence was building up quickly.  He also had the problem of trying to tell Brynn who his boss was without her feeling betrayed and losing her trust.  I really enjoyed seeing Parker's suspicion turn to belief and then into respect for everything she had overcome.

Both Parker and Brynn had trust issues that they had to deal with in order to come to their happy ending.  That trust was essential for them to be able to work together to solve the mystery of who killed Tommy and also to stop Brynn's stepfather.  The action, both physical and mental, in the book was nonstop.  The ending was intense with a very interesting twist.  There is also a bit of the mystery left unsolved which leads into the next book.