Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Zane - Brenda Jackson (HD #2239 - July 2013)

Series: Westmorelands (Book 25)

No woman walks away from Zane Westmoreland. But when Channing Hastings does just that, it leaves the rancher reeling -- and then she returns to town, engaged! Zane will do whatever it takes to show her that there is no man for her but him.

Good book.  Zane and Channing had been together for nine months.  He had made it clear at the beginning that he doesn't do commitments, he doesn't fall in love.  Even though Channing felt there was more to what he felt for her, when he refused to consider a future she cut her losses and left him.  Two years later she comes back wearing another man's ring.  Even though he still is anti-commitment he doesn't want her with anyone else.  

I liked Zane though he was certainly frustrating.  He likes women - a lot.  He has frequent relationships though they are all short and he makes sure that they know he doesn't "do" love.  His time with Channing had been different.  He still refuses to commit to a future but he found himself treating her differently than anyone else.  He frequently reminded her that he doesn't fall in love and is stunned when she finally gives up on them and leaves.  When she comes back he gets the brilliant idea of showing her that he's the only man for her but still insists on his unwillingness to love.  This time when she leaves he finally starts to realize that maybe there's something to his feelings after all.  It took a conversation with one of his brothers for him to realize that his refusal to love was a way to protect himself from a loss like the one when his parent and anunt and uncle died. I wanted to smack him when he got to Channing and announced that he loved her and expected everything to be okay.  Really?  After months of telling her he doesn't love she's supposed to believe he suddenly loves her?  I'm so glad she didn't cave in.  I loved watching him grovel and have to do things that showed how he had changed.  I love the closeness of the Westmoreland family and how they support each other.  I also loved the scene when Zane's sisters tore into him over the way he had treated Channing.

I really liked Channing.  She was independent and knew what she wanted.  She loved Zane and felt like he had feelings for her even though he was still insisting he doesn't.  When she finally had enough she moved away.  She had to come back for a seminar and pretended an engagement to try to protect herself.  When Zane confronted her about it and insisted she was his but still wouldn't promise a future she fled again.  She was stunned when he showed up and suddenly started claiming that he loved her.  She figured he was just saying it because he still wanted her physically.  I loved the fact that she didn't just accept his declaration.  I liked the way she slowly began to accept that his love might be real as he opened up to her more about his life and his feelings.  There was a brief relapse on her part but the ending was certainly dramatic.

Miracle in Bellaroo Creek - Barbara Hannay (HR #4389 - Aug 2013)

Series: Bellaroo Creek (Book 2)

One small town…

Whoever said a broken heart was the end of the world had never met Milla Brady! In desperate need of a distraction, she sets her sights on reviving her parents' bakery. But when a tall, handsome blast from the past turns up, Milla's calm feathers are distinctly ruffled!

One big miracle!

Ed Cavanaugh could only watch when his brother walked all over Milla's dreams -- he always knew she deserved better. So, seeing her looking beautiful and content, he promises not to leave Bellaroo Creek until he tells her what he wanted to say all those years ago….

Good story of second chances.  Milla has returned to Bellaroo Creek to recover from a marriage gone bad.  With the town intent on saving itself Milla decides to renovate and reopen her parents' old bakery.  It's going to be a lot of work but she's really excited about it.  When her brother-in-law arrives to deliver some bad news he's surprised by Milla's plans.  He thinks she's making a mistake but can't help staying for awhile to help her.  Pretty soon he has a lot more than help on his mind.

Milla had left home dreaming of a bigger life to live.  After several years of moving around and working in the hotel industry, she met Ed.  She was attracted to him but thanks to a past event his intensity scared her off.  She ended up meeting and marrying his brother who was an immature cheating womanizer.  She left him and returned home to decide what to do next.  Finding out about the revitalization efforts was the answer to a prayer and she threw herself into the bakery.  When Ed showed up she was upset by his news but had no intention of returning to the US.  I loved the way that Milla took charge of her future.  Having grown up working in the bakery she knew she could run it.  She let Ed know that this was her dream and he had no say in it.  She wasn't going to let him talk her out of it.  With him staying around for a few days she began to realize that the attraction she had felt for him hadn't gone away.  She was also certain there was no future in it so she resisted.  I loved her confusion when he kept coming back since she couldn't figure out why.  I liked seeing the way that they were able to talk about things and come to understand each other's lives.  I loved the way that Milla worried about Ed's decision at the end, the way he had worried about hers at the beginning.

Ed was a really nice guy at heart.  He was running the family business when he went to see Milla and try to convince her to come back.  He had fallen for her when he first met her but hadn't pursued her when his brother cut in.  He especially regretted it when he discovered how bad their marriage was.  When he found her in Bellaroo Creek he thought she was crazy for trying to start the bakery back up and tried to convince her to give up.  When he couldn't he found himself doing everything he could to help her.  I loved seeing the way he constantly found himself thinking about her and how he started to reevaluate his own life.  I loved his solution and how everything worked out for them.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Real Men Last All Night - Lora Leigh, Lori Foster, Cheyenne McCray, Heidi Betts (Griffin - June 2009)

Cooper’s Fall by Lora Leigh
Former ranger turned bar owner Ethan Cooper never expected to get an eyeful of prim Miss Sarah Fox from his attic window one hot summer afternoon. But now his blood is on fire for the delicious little minx.

OK story.  Didn't really seem to be much of a plot, just lots of bedroom action.

Luring Lucy by Lori Foster
All Lucy was looking for when she went to her vacation home was in innocent fling to quell the yearning she had felt since her husband died four years ago. She never expected her longtime friend Bram to lure her into a love affair so hot.

I liked this one a little better.  Lucy is ready to move on after her cheating husband's death and is looking for a short fling.  Family friend Bram has been in love with her all along and is determined she won't be "flinging" with anyone but him.

The Edge of Sin by Cheyenne McCray
Zane Steele lives a life of extraordinary danger as a government agent and has never let anyone get too close. Then he sees the one woman who changes his life forever.

Zane has avoided any kind of relationships because of the dangers of his job.  When he meets Willow that starts to change right away.  He can't get her off his mind.  I really liked her attitude that she's quite capable of making up her mind who to be with and how to protect herself from danger.  I really loved the basketball game with Zane's brothers and sister. 

Wanted: A Real Man by Heidi Betts
Claire left her high school sweetheart Linc, in search of a better life. Ten years later she needs his help as a U.S. Marshal to find her missing daughter…Linc's daughter. Reeling with the knowledge of a daughter he’s never known, Linc sets out to claim what’s his.

This one seemed to have the most plot to the story rather than just an excuse to get the characters into bed.  Claire's ex-husband has taken her daughter threatening to arrange to get sole custody even though he isn't her biological father.  Claire goes to Linc, who is the father though he doesn't know it, for help finding her.  Though justifiably angry he immediately enlists fellow marshals to help.  Spending time with Claire makes him realize he's never forgotten her.  I liked the fact that they actually did some talking to resolve their pasts.

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Kiss to Die For - Gail Barrett (HRS #1766 - Aug 2013)

Series: Buried Secrets (Book 2)

Sullivan Turner doesn't see a hero when he looks in the mirror -- he sees only a hollow shell of the man he used to be. But redemption comes when he rescues a woman with a dark secret. Teenage-runaway-turned-social-worker Haley Barnes knows firsthand how savage Baltimore's streets can be.

Years ago, Haley witnessed an event that changed her life. Now, when the teenagers she guards are targeted, she seeks protection from a cynical army veteran. It isn't long before passions ignite between Haley and "Sully." Can he be the hero Haley needs, the hero who will protect her when a ruthless murderer comes calling?

Fantastic book that started out with a bang and just kept going.  Haley runs a shelter for pregnant teens and while looking for one of them is targeted by a gang.  Sully comes to their rescue and helps get the girls to safety, making himself a target also.  When they discover that Haley is the subject of a gang hit Sully makes it his mission to protect her and discover who is behind it.  He's not sure he's up to the task, but he's going to give it his best shot.  

I really liked both Haley and Sully.  Both had some serious issues that affect their ability to have relationships. I loved the way that they were portrayed realistically and not overcome easily. Haley had run away from home at the age of fifteen.  Her parents were cold position conscious people who only cared for their "perfect" daughter, not the one who wasn't.  When Haley got pregnant and wouldn't get rid of the baby like they wanted, she ran and lived on the streets with two friends she made there.  The three of them witness a murder that has put them in danger.  She is grateful for Sully's rescue of her and confident in his ability to help.  She can see the pain he is feeling but has more confidence in him than he has in himself.  She is also intensely attracted to him even though she knows there is no future for them.  I loved the way her growing feelings for him make her all the more certain of how good he is in spite of his protests.  Because of her own past issues she can't see herself deserving a future with him and pushes him away so he can have what she see as the life he deserves.  

Sully is living with terrible guilt from his last tour in Afghanistan.  He feels that he is responsible for the deaths of his men and best friend.  Between that guilt and his PTSD he has become an alcoholic and loner.  But he can't stand by and watch Haley and the teen get gunned down so he rushes to their rescue.  He doesn't want to be responsible for Haley's safety but there isn't anyone else to trust so he takes her on the run.  They soon decide the only way to stop the problem is to find out who is behind it.  I loved seeing how well they worked together.  Sully also tried fighting his attraction to her but it was a losing battle.  One of the things I loved best about Sully was how he showed Haley how great he thought she was.  He really fought against telling her about his past but couldn't resist the pull he felt toward her.  I loved seeing how opening up to her brought him some of the peace he had been craving.  Their trip to see his family was incredibly moving for me, even as it made me want to shake Haley.  I was so glad to see them both come to some peace with their pasts.

The suspense portion of the story was great.  It seemed at times as if they just couldn't get a break.  Every time they thought they'd have a chance for a break the bad guys would catch up with them again.  The power of the person behind it all was obvious as they got closer to finding out who it was.  I made a couple guesses as to the culprit but the identity was revealed in an interesting twist.  I really can't wait for the third book!

Her Secret, His Baby - Tanya Michaels (HAR #1463 - Aug 2013)

Series: Colorado Cades (Book 1)

Surprise! You're A Daddy!

Life's been full of surprises lately for rancher Garrett Frost -- and not in a good way. His mother has just dropped a bombshell about his past, so Garrett takes some time away to come to terms with family secrets. And who should he run into but Arden Cade, the beautiful photographer who shared a single night of passion with Garrett six months ago. He is even more shocked when he discovers she's pregnant -- and he's the daddy.

To make matters worse, Arden hadn't even planned on telling Garrett about the baby. Despite her lies, Garrett is determined to be a good father. He's not the type to cut and run, and he can't deny that he's falling for Arden all over again. But he'll have to find a way to forgive her betrayal…and make peace with that skeleton in the family closet.

Good book.  Arden and Garrett had shared one fantastic night together and not seen each other for six months.  When he did see her he was shocked to find out she was pregnant with his baby and hadn't intended to tell him.  On top of problems at home this is one more feeling of betrayal and he's furious.  He has no problem letting Arden know that he's going to be very involved.  He doesn't expect to want to be involved with more than just the baby.

I liked both Arden and Garrett though both had their less likable moments.  As a photographer Arden was working at a wedding that Garrett was attending.  It was the anniversary of a major loss for her and she was feeling pretty low when Garrett approached her.  He made her feel better and she ended up staying all night with him, but panicking and sneaking out in the morning.  When she discovered she was pregnant, at first she was too sick to even think about contacting him.  After that she started thinking up reasons not to tell him and never did - until she encountered him unexpectedly.  She came clean with him but feels horribly guilty for not telling him when she sees what it means to him.  Now she has to let him in but still try to protect herself.  I sort of understood why she didn't tell Garrett but that still didn't make it right.  She had had so much loss in her life that she was making the baby a way to deal with it and didn't really want to share.  When Garrett confronted her I'm glad she told the truth and tried to make it up to him.  She understood his anger but really began to hope that he could forgive her.  I loved seeing her include him in everything from that point on and begin to get to know him.  She was afraid of her growing feelings because she was certain it wouldn't last and didn't think she could handle another loss.  I also loved seeing her deal with her two brothers.  The scene where she told them about Garrett was fantastic especially when she lit into them for being so obnoxious.

When Garrett met Arden at the wedding he had been feeling a little out of sorts and envious of his friend.  I loved how well they connected.  Garrett was a little smug the next morning but he didn't really deserve to have her sneak out.  Six months later he gets some unwelcome news from his mother which sends him off to stay with his friends for a few days.  Seeing Arden and discovering that she's pregnant without telling him just put the icing on the cake of his crappy day.  He's furious at what he sees as a betrayal by another woman and not too nice in his initial reaction.  He calms down a little bit and lets Arden know that he intends to be very involved.  I loved his reaction when she took him along to her doctor's appointment and how he began to soften just a little in his attitude.  I enjoyed seeing him getting to know Arden better and how much he tried to protect her.   I enjoyed how sweet he was with her once he got over the shock.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Waters Run Deep - Liz Talley (HS #1776 - May 2012)

Series: Boys of Bayou Bridge (Book 1)

Getting attached to someone nearly sidelined agent Annie Perez's career. So she's not about to make the same mistake twice. This latest undercover assignment in Louisiana -- acting as nanny for a famous couple under threat -- suits her perfectly. She can investigate quietly and under the radar. That is, provided she can stay clear of way-too-suspicious detective Nate Dufrene.

Easier said than done when Nate seems to be around every corner. And with each encounter, Annie is tempted a little more by this son of Bayou Bridge. Yet regardless of their chemistry, they are worlds apart, and she's not willing to compromise for love again. But when she needs an ally, Nate has her back. And that could convince her to get very attached!

Good book.  Annie is in Louisiana posing as a nanny to help protect a little boy.  She is also investigating who is making the threats against the family.  When the threats continue in Louisiana Nate gets involved.  He's pretty sure she's hiding something but he's certain that she isn't involved in the threats.  Neither one expects the intense attraction between them and Annie is especially wary.  The more time they spend together the more each one starts to hope for a future together.

I liked both Annie and Nate.  Annie was wary of getting attached to anyone.  She had allowed herself to get close to a man and his daughter at a time she was vulnerable and it nearly ruined her career.  Now she is trying to concentrate on her job and leave emotion out of it.  She has been assigned to act as a nanny to five year old Spencer while she investigates who is making threats against him.  She feels completely out of her depth while caring for him but she is doing the best she can.  When Nate gets involved in the investigation she debates whether to tell him the truth about her status.  As the investigation heats up, so does their attraction.  I really loved seeing Annie with Spencer.  She starts out really unsure of what she was doing with him and determined not to get too close to him.  But the more she is with him the more comfortable she gets and the better she is able to deal with him.  I really liked seeing the way that she really started to care about him.  Her relationship with Nate was very interesting.  Both of them pride themselves on their control but around each other that control disappears.  They worked well together on the investigation but also had some control issues there as neither one really likes to play backup.  I really liked the way that Annie came to love Louisiana and Bayou Bridge and dreamed of the possibility of staying there.  I really enjoyed the way that she balanced head and heart at the end.

Nate was a driven man.  Twenty five years earlier his little sister had been kidnapped and was believed to be dead.  He felt responsible and has spent his free time as an adult working on solving cold cases as a way to deal with his guilt.  He is attracted to Annie as soon as he meets her but is suspicious of her at first also.  Once they start working together that attraction really takes off.  Besides working on the case with Annie, there is also a new lead in his sister's disappearance.  I really liked Nate's obvious love for his somewhat flaky mother.  I also liked the way that Nate was so supportive of Annie in her role and nanny to Spencer.  He did a great job of showing her that she was much better at it than she thought she was.  I loved seeing the way that she worked her way under his barriers and he began to believe that it was possible for him to have a happy future for himself.  His feelings for her became clear to him at the end with the discovery of the person making the threats.  I loved seeing the way that he accepted Annie exactly the way she was.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

What Happens Between Friends - Beth Andrews (HS #1866 - Aug 2013)

Series: In Shady Grove (Book 2)

Friends…with benefits?

For Sadie Nixon, life is one big adventure with something new around the corner. And anytime she needs a break, she can always rely on James Montesano -- the best guy she knows. This time when she arrives in Shady Grove, however, something is different. There's a little extra between her and James that has them crossing the line of friendship into one steamy, no-holds-barred night.

Afterward, no matter how hard she tries, Sadie can't erase the memories of James that way. He's so hot, so tempting…. But his life is here and hers isn't. She needs his friendship, but she doesn't do commitment. So where does that leave them? Suddenly what happens between friends is more complicated than ever!

Good book that was very emotional.  Sadie is the proverbial rolling stone.  She doesn't stay anywhere for very long.  She had spent most of her childhood in Shady Grove, with James as her best friend.  Even after she left she could always count on James to be there for her.  When she came back this time something was different and she found herself not sure if she wanted to stay or go.

I loved James.  He has always been Sadie's best friend, but lately he's had to admit that he wants more.  When she comes back to Shady Grove he gives in to those feelings and kisses her.  The result is an explosive night together that turns to ashes the next morning.  He is stunned when she tells him that they should forget it happened, that it will ruin their friendship and he knows she doesn't do commitments anyway...  He lets her know that just being friends isn't enough anymore and if that's not good for her then their friendship is done anyway.  I really liked the fact that James finally took a chance and let Sadie know how he felt.  His reaction was also completely understandable.  He was protecting himself.  Over the next few weeks he tried really hard to move on but his heart was still stuck on Sadie.  There were several times when he just couldn't maintain his distance and let her get close again, only to wind up hurting again.  The last time he finally laid it all out for her and told her what he really thought and what his dreams were.  I ached for him but loved that he stood up for himself.  His problems with Sadie also made him see that he was having some job dissatisfaction working for his dad and opened up about that, though perhaps not in the most constructive way. 

I had a hard time with Sadie.  Throughout the book she seemed to be incredibly selfish, only thinking about her own needs and not how her actions impacted others.  I felt that she was something of a lost soul with James being the thing that made her world right again.  This was the story of her journey to finding herself, but I had some trouble really connecting with her.  When she returned to Shady Grove and was with James that first night I had high hopes that she was going to see what she had been missing.  Instead, she threw James's love back in his face and wanted to pretend everything was the same as always.  She expected that in spite of it all he would still be there to pick up the pieces whenever she screwed up her life again.  It also bugged me that she had no problem going to stay with her mom even though she considered her to have settled for a boring life instead of the fun one they'd had when her dad had been alive.  She was so judgmental that I really wanted someone to tell her what a witch she was being.  There were a few pages later when I thought she was finally starting to get it, but then she went right back to her selfish actions again.  She was self aware enough to realize that her lifestyle was her way of remembering her father but it took some straight talk from her mother to really open her eyes.  She really felt battered at the end but it seems that's what it took to wake her up.  She came around at the end (of course) and James seems to believe in her now. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Mighty Quinns: Jack - Kate Hoffmann (HB #746 - Apr 2013)

Series: The Mighty Quinns (Book 23)

A forbidden fling…

Jack Quinn has always been his widowed mother's fiercest protector. So, when his mom decides to reunite with her childhood sweetheart all the way out in California, there's no question -- Jack's going with her, and to hell with the consequences….

Mia McMahon isn't exactly thrilled about her wealthy father dating a woman from his past. She smells a gold digger. But once she meets Jack, she forgets all about getting his mother out of the picture -- and focuses on getting him into bed!

The attraction between Mia and Jack is intense, irresistible…and breaks every rule in the book. Then again, everyone knows that the most delicious affairs are the forbidden ones….

Good book, though not my favorite of the series.  Jack's mom and Mia's dad had been friends as children.  Both are alone now and have reconnected.  When mom is invited out to California to visit there is no way that Jack is letting her go alone.  When they arrive, Jack is immediately taken with Mia, who isn't too thrilled with her dad dating someone new.  Mia is pretty quickly distracted by her attraction to Jack.  As they spend time together their parents' romance starts to take on less importance.

I liked Jack a lot.  He was protective of his mother having been the man of the house since he was nine.  He goes along with his mom to make sure that she is safe.  When he meets Mia the attraction is undeniable, but he isn't very happy with her accusations against his mother.  Fortunately he is able to talk her down somewhat as they agree to keep an eye on the older couple.  I liked the way that he is pretty good at making Mia see reason regarding their parents.  Pretty soon he's much more interested in the relationship that is growing between him and Mia.  I liked the fact that he seems much more open to the possibility of a real relationship between the two of them.  He was willing to take his mom's advice and start thinking about his own wishes for a change.  He also wasn't going to give up when Mia's insecurities would get the better of her.

I had a harder time liking Mia.  She seemed far more interested in keeping her father to herself because she was still grieving for her mother than allowing him the chance to find a new happiness.  I thought she was being terribly selfish.  She admitted her attraction to Jack but again wasn't interested in falling in love, certain that it would end and she would get hurt.  She was obviously trying to protect herself but it just rubbed me wrong.  She and Jack decided to go for a no-strings fling and I got the feeling she was keeping one foot out the door for most of the time.  She did start to relax some with him as they got to know each other.  I liked some of the activities they did together that showed her what they had in common.  It took awhile but I did like the way that she finally saw that her father would not forget her mother but that he deserved to find some happiness.

As You Wish - Eloisa James (Avon - Apr 2013)

Series: Happily Ever Afters (Book 4.5)

Seduced by a Pirate

After years at sea, Sir Griffin Barry comes home to claim his wife. But is Phoebe his wife if their marriage was never consummated?

As an infamous pirate, Griffin claimed and kept gold and jewels . . . but this is one treasure that will not be so easy to capture.

We met Griffin in The Ugly Duchess when he returned to England with his cousin and fellow pirate.  It's past time for him to return to the wife he left fourteen years ago after a disastrous wedding night.  Phoebe has been quite content with her life and has no desire to add Griffin back into the mix.

I really liked both Griffin and Phoebe.  Griffin has come back and knows he must reconnect with Phoebe and make his marriage real.  He doesn't expect to be confronted with a woman who has three young children and every intention of dissolving their marriage.  But Griffin is fascinated by her and attracted to her.  He has no plan to let her go and every intention of seducing her to his way of thinking.  I really liked the way he didn't get mad when he thought Phoebe had been with another man even though he did admit to some jealousy.  I loved seeing how much he actually liked Phoebe as well as being attracted to her.  I also loved seeing how much he liked the children and enjoyed being around them.

I loved Phoebe's independence.  She had been married to Griffin because her merchant father wanted her to marry a title.  When Griffin ran off on their wedding night she took the opportunity to live her life the way she wanted to.  She wasn't interested in society doings and was quite happy at home.  When the children came along she was even happier.  She is not happy when Griffin returns to England and intends to ask him to dissolve the marriage.  She is stunned when she sees him because he is nothing like the seventeen year old boy she married.  She is confused by the feelings he stirs in her.  I loved her independence and how she was quite happy to live life on her terms.  I really enjoyed her reaction to the changes in Griffin's appearance.  Seeing her try to deal with her feelings was fun to watch.  I loved seeing her decide to go with it and see what happens.  She ended up taming the pirate - but not too much.

With This Kiss

Lady Grace Ryburn is in love with a dashing young lieutenant, Colin Barry, but she turns away, thinking that Colin is in love with her sister.

Should Colin throw propriety to the wind, imitate his pirate father, and simply take what he most desires?

Good book.  Colin, oldest of the Barry children from Seduced by a Pirate, finally got his wish and went to sea.  While he is glad to be there parts of it aren't what he expected.  He confides in his young friend Grace that hearing about the ordinary things from home helps him forget so she starts writing to him.  Over the next several years she continues to write, even though he rarely answers.  She sees him when he comes home on his rare visits, but they are still just friends.  But as her feelings start to change she has to deal with the disapproval of her family and Colin's sudden interest in her younger sister.

I liked both Grace and Colin.  As the oldest of her siblings, Grace is the responsible one who follows all the rules.  When her family gets together with that of the Barry's on their yearly holiday she spends a little time with Colin who she notices is quieter than usual.  She is pleased when he confides in her and offers to write to him while he is gone.  Over the years she wishes he would write back more often but is happy he talks to her when he visits.  Once she is older her parents decide it is no longer appropriate for her to write to him, so she must stop.  About this time Colin sees Lily on one of his visits home and suddenly thinks he's in love with her.  This breaks Grace's heart, but she isn't going to stand in the way of her sister's happiness.  Eventually she succumbs to the courtship of another man, until Colin arrives back in England having been wounded.  I really liked Grace's sensitivity to Colin's difficulties even as a child.  She seemed to see more than anyone else did.  Just as she was ready to confess her feelings to him, she saw his reaction to Lily.  While I appreciated that her love for her sister made her withdraw, I wished she had been a bit more aggressive in making her feelings known.  I really wanted to smack her for settling for someone else.  I loved it when Colin came back and she threw all the rules out the window.  She didn't care about his injuries she just wanted to be with the man she loved.  I really loved seeing them get to know each other as adults.

I loved Colin from the time he was a kid.  Once he was grown and had started his career in the navy he showed the effects of his upbringing.  He was very good at what he did, but he doesn't enjoy the death and destruction.  He can feel it eating away at his soul until he finds himself confiding in Grace.  Something about her makes it easy to talk to her.  Over the years her letters are a lifeline for him.  He has sent an occasional brief responses but can never find the words to truly respond.  He doesn't want to inflict the horrors he's seen on her.  Back in England on leave he attends a ball hoping to see Grace, but is dazzled by Lily.  He spends the next few days with her when possible and even asks her father for her hand.  He is denied and heads back to sea.  He comes to his senses and realizes it is Grace he really wants, but then is injured.  He is discharged from the navy and sent home to recover.  I loved seeing Colin's connection with Grace.  It was obvious how much he cared for her, but because of the age difference he just didn't see it.  I wanted to smack him when he got distracted by Lily.  I was glad to see him come to his senses about her and realize that he loved Grace.  After his injury he just wanted to go home and avoid everyone.  I loved the way that Grace took charge of him.  His dreams of her were very interesting and that last "dream" was especially vivid to him.  I loved seeing him finally able to convince Grace that it was her that he really wanted.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Haley's Mountain Man - Tracy Madison (HSE #2279 - Aug 2013)

Series: Colorado Fosters (Book 2)

Gavin Daugherty has made every attempt to ignore Haley Foster. But the feisty hometown sweetheart of Steamboat Springs is simply not having it.

Why won't she accept that he just wants to open his business and be left alone? Isn't it enough that she's already forced her way into his work; must she also force her way into his heart? Plus, he could also do without the rest of the Colorado Fosters! Who needs three overprotective brothers breathing down your neck?

Of course, none of this seems to deter Haley Foster. No. She learned long ago that you have to follow your heart to get along in this world. And that's a lesson she's about to teach Gavin, too!

Very good book.  Gavin has come to Steamboat Springs with plans to eventually open up a camp for foster boys.  In the meantime he's working at the hardware store and starting his own guide business.  He meets Haley when she horns in on his attempt to advertise his business.  Haley senses that he's struggling and just wants to help.  There's also a personal aspect in that she is really attracted to him.  She doesn't listen when he tries to keep her away.  He's fascinated with her too but is desperate to protect his heart.  

I liked both Haley and Gavin but I admit there were times I wanted to shake them.  Haley is the youngest of the Fosters.  She doesn't date much, having two problems.  First, she's known most of the men all her life and just can't get excited about any of them.   Second, her three older brothers have a habit of butting in and wrecking her relationships.  When she spots Gavin in a local coffeehouse she senses some awkwardness in what he's doing and sees that his flyers could use a little work.  Being impulsive she tries to help but only succeeds in running him off.  Feeling bad about it she follows him home and manages to get  herself invited to stay.  Over the next few weeks she is able to talk him in to including her in several activities but she still senses a distance in him.  At one point he tells her she's too much of a distraction and stops seeing her altogether.  After she tricks him into seeing her once again they start to make progress until her brother interferes and he's gone again.  This time she has to decide if she's willing to continue her pursuit or if she's going to finally give up.  There were times that it bugged me that she tended to ignore Gavin's wishes and do things the way she wanted to.  I know it was because he was hiding out but it still bothered me a little.  I liked the closeness of the relationship she had with her family.  I also loved it when she told Reid off for his actions, she really let him have it.  There were things that came out then that were very emotional to read.

Gavin had spent most of his life in foster care because his alcoholic mother didn't take care of him.  She would come in and out of his life as she tried to straighten out.  He got used to moving around a lot from home to home and learned to protect his heart.  This caused him to keep everyone at a distance.  He was stunned by Haley's actions at the coffeehouse and had no idea how to react.  When she followed him home he tried to get her to leave but somehow managed to invite her to stay for lunch.  There were several times she simply appeared and he ended up letting her stay.  He enjoyed the visits but still tried to protect himself.  The problem was that he could feel her breaking down his barriers.  He found himself thinking about her a lot and distracting him from his plans which  made him very nervous.  He also could see the suffering in his future were things not to work out so he tried to stop it before that could happen.   I could see how confused he was and what he was trying to do but I wanted to tell him to take a chance for goodness sake.  There was a related side story with him and his mother that had to be resolved before he could open himself up to Haley.  The issues between Gavin and his mom were heartbreaking but very realistic in my eyes.  I also enjoyed his interactions with Haley's brothers and how even that changed his perceptions about people.  I loved the way he reconnected with Haley at the end.

I really enjoyed seeing Gavin and Haley as they got to know each other.  Gavin especially had parts of his past that were very difficult for him to share with Haley.  Both of them had to learn to respect the other's boundaries and wishes.  I really loved the epilogue.

One-Night Alibi - Kara Lennox (HS #1862 - July 2013)

Series: Project Justice (Book 7)

Walking away is not an option

It was one night. And it might have stayed that way for Elizabeth Downey if her steamy evening with Hudson Vale hadn't been the same night her estranged father was murdered. Now she and Hudson -- a cop who had arrested her father -- are the prime suspects.

Forced to work together to clear their names, Elizabeth and Hudson must deal with their wildly different approaches. Worse, the simmering attraction between them won't go away. As they race to untangle a web of deceit, the stakes get higher. Because not only do their lives depend on finding the truth, but so does this passion that's turning into so much more....

Very good book.  Liz had approached Hudson at a wedding they were both at, simply wanting a chance to talk to the man who had  the courage to take on her father.  She wasn't expecting the intense chemistry that gave them a steamy night together.  Then her father is murdered and both she and Hudson are considered suspects.  The only way to get out of it is to find out who really killed him.  With the help of the people at Project Justice they set out to do just that.

I liked both Liz and Hudson.  They have very different ways of looking at things but they end up working pretty well together.  Liz had cut ties with her father when she was eighteen because he wouldn't stop interfering in her private life.  He was so controlling that she couldn't even have a boyfriend.  When she heard about Hudson's arrest of her father she was impressed that he hadn't caved in to the pressure and wanted a chance to talk to him.  Her attraction to him was unexpected but she went with it, figuring it would be just one night, and she never told him her last name.  When she discovers that they're both suspects in her father's murder all she can think of is to appeal to Project Justice for their help.  For all that Liz is a talented social worker I thought she was kind of naive.  She spends a lot of time coming down on Hudson because of his negativity but she has a hard time seeing the bad things that could happen to them.  I did enjoy her strength in standing up to Hudson in order to protect her clients and how she did have something of an effect on his attitude.  She knew that she was falling for him but she didn't trust that they had a chance of any kind of future because of how different they were.  There were a couple times that she did some really stupid things but that was all part of her personality.  I liked that she did finally see that there was room for hope for them.

Hudson has been a cop/detective for long enough that he mostly sees the down side of people and what they do.  When he sees Liz's father trying to force money on and threatening a prostitute he places him under arrest.  He then ends up suspended because of the accusations made by the powerful man.  He's going a bit stir crazy when he attends the wedding where he meets Liz.  Something feels off about their meeting but the attraction is enough that he ignores it.  The next day he ends up a suspect in the murder and he has no idea who his alibi is.  When he tracks her down and discovers that she's as much a suspect as he is he's not sure that he wasn't set up.  As they decide that their only option is to clear themselves he has to decide whether to trust her.  There were times I wanted to smack him for being such a downer but it certainly kept them out of trouble a few times.  I enjoyed his partnership with Project Justice, especially as he had to reconcile his attitude toward them as a cop with his gratitude as a victim.  He was certainly impressed with their resources.  I really enjoyed the discussions he and Liz got into over their differing viewpoints.  I also liked the way that he was so open to the idea of a future for them even with their differences and how frustrated he was with her certainty that it wasn't possible.  It was his ability as a detective that came to her rescue at the end.

I loved seeing the Project Justice team at work again.  It's always fun to see how they are able to push the boundaries and get the job done.  I really enjoyed seeing Daniel and how much happier he is now.  I'm looking forward to the next one in the series.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Maverick's Summer Love - Christyne Butler (HSE #2275 - Aug 2013)

Series: Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys (Book 2)

Rust Creek Ramblings

The Great Montana Flood has brought all sorts of interesting menfolk to Rust Creek Falls. At the Ace in the Hole, they're all talking about hunky out-of-towner Dean Pritchett. They say the green-eyed carpenter from Thunder Canyon is in town to help rebuild the elementary school. But we've got the inside scoop!

Rumor has it that Dean has a special interest in our Shelby Jenkins. Yes, that Shelby Jenkins -- the single mom who found herself in a "family way" back in high school. She's been fending off the town gossip forever, but Dean actually got into a fistfight trying to defend her honor! Sweet Shelby fears his love won't last. Just what are your intentions, Mr. Maverick?

Very good book.  Shelby is a single mother who got pregnant in high school and then trash talked by the father of the baby.  She has worked very hard to give her daughter a good life.  She has earned her college degree as a teacher and would like nothing more than to leave the gossipy town behind.  She meets Dean while working her job as a bartender.  Because of her past she is very wary around men.  As much as she is drawn to him she has no plans to get involved with another man.  I really loved her independence and how she took charge of her life.  She has also learned to deal with the haters.  She fully expects Dean to leave her alone after he hears the gossip about her and is surprised when he doesn't.  I loved the slow building of their relationship and how Shelby finally accepts that she is worth loving.  I also liked seeing her finally stand up for herself to one of the worst of the gossips.

Dean and his brother have come to Rust Creek Falls to help out with the rebuilding.  Dean is a very quiet kind of guy.  He had health problems as a kid and spent a lot of time alone becoming something of a bookworm.  Many times he'd rather stay home and read instead of going out.  One one of those rare nights out he sees Shelby as she's working at the bar.  He is immediately smitten.  Dean is usually pretty cautious after having been hurt by a woman pretending that her baby was his.  There's something about Shelby and little Caitlyn that fills the void in him.  I love the way that Dean doesn't let the gossip influence him he just gets to know Shelby as she is..  He doesn't really push Shelby he is just there for her all the time.  It doesn't take long for him to want them in his life forever and he starts to look at a permanent move to Rust Creek Falls.  I really loved his thoughtfulness, not just with Shelby, but with so many others also.  

For all that the town is gossipy and into everyone else's business, they are also there to help out when it is needed.  I love all the flood help going on and also how everyone steps up when Caitlyn is missing.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

His Long-Lost Family - Brenda Harlen (HSE #2278 - Aug 2013)

Series: Those Engaging Garretts (Book 2)

"You're a father." The very words struck terror in Jackson Garrett's soul. He had a daughter -- the result of the best weekend of his life thirteen years ago with the woman he never forgot. Kelly Cooper was the one he let get away…and now she was back.

Kelly only wanted her daughter to know Jackson -- she wasn't looking to rekindle their romance. But five minutes after landing in her hometown, she realized her mistake. Her first love was a girl's infatuation; now she knew a woman's desires -- and she desired Jackson. But could the confirmed bachelor give their daughter and Kelly what they'd always wanted: a family?

Very good book.  Kelly had come back to Pinehurst so that her daughter could get to know her father - once he knew he was a father.  She had been in love with Jackson since she was sixteen, but after that weekend together he got engaged to and then married another woman.  She never told him about Ava, but she feels guilty about that now.  She's concerned about his reaction because he had never made a secret about his lack of desire for kids.  It doesn't take long for her to also realize that she still wants Jackson but doesn't know if she can trust him to stay around for them.

I liked both Kelly and Jackson.  Both of them had made mistakes but they were trying to give Ava what she needs.  By the time Kelly had realized she was pregnant, Jackson was engaged to another woman.  He hadn't tried to contact her after their weekend, so heartbroken she decided not to tell him.  She finally admits to herself that she misses her hometown and that Ava needs to know her father, so off they go.  Telling Jackson isn't easy, especially when he doesn't believe her at first.  By the time he is convinced he has also made it clear that he still wants Kelly, but she has no desire to be part of the parade.  I liked Kelly but she definitely had a bit of a blind spot when it came to Jackson.  It had been thirteen years since she had seen him but she couldn't see that he was different now.  She also worried that he wouldn't be there for Ava the way she wanted, but was pleasantly surprised by how quickly he took to being a father.  I loved seeing the way that her eyes were opened to the man that Jackson has become and how much harder it made it for her to try to resist him.  I loved the scene where she found the woman in Jackson's apartment - it definitely showed where her heart really was.

Jackson was great.  He had started noticing Kelly when she was sixteen, but knew better than to do anything about it.  When they had their weekend together he could see her feelings in her eyes, but knew he was no good for her so he shut her out.  His marriage had happened for business reasons and also because he was trying to forget Kelly.  It didn't work.  When she arrived back in Pinehurst he realized that the attraction had never gone away and he was determined to have her again.  Then she hit him with his fatherhood and his knee jerk reaction was to deny it and make some unfounded accusations.  Once he accepted the truth he was terrified.  He had no idea how to be a father and was afraid of really messing things up.  I loved seeing his first attempts and how nervous he was.  It was great to see him gain confidence and even cope with a crisis or two.  It also took him awhile to admit that he was in love with Kelly and had been for a long time.  I liked the way that he realized that part of Kelly's issue with him was a fear of being left by someone else that she cared for and that he had the patience to wait it out.  It was great to see how all three of them ended up getting what they wanted.

Hunk for the Holidays - Katie Lane (Forever - Sept 2012)


Always putting business before pleasure, Cassie McPherson works hard for her family's construction business. That might explain why she doesn't have a date for the company Christmas party. But it doesn't quite explain why she's crazy enough to hire an escort for the event or - crazier still - why she's dying to unwrap him like a present . . .

With whiskey-colored eyes and a killer smile, James is one gorgeous hunk who really knows how to fill out a tuxedo. He charms everyone, including Cassie. And when the night ends, the party doesn't stop. As Cassie falls, literally, into his bed, James falls head over heels in love. Now he has to figure out a way to tell her the truth: he's not an escort. He's her family's fiercest business rival. But all he wants for Christmas is her . . .

This was a really fun book.  Cassie is a workaholic who doesn't have time to date. Because she's tired of her family constantly trying to fix her up she has resorted to hiring escorts to go with her to social functions.  She is surprised by the man who shows up as her date for the Christmas party..  He's older than the ones she's had before and a lot better looking.  He's perfectly charming at the party and afterwards when they continue with their own private party.  James is totally hooked on her and wants to get to know her even better.  Unfortunately, he's pretty sure the feeling won't be mutual when she discovers he's not the escort she thought he was but her family's detested business rival.

I really liked both Cassie and James.  Cassie is pretty much running the company since her father's heart attack. She's not real happy that she's stuck in an office job because she the girl in the family, but she's doing it anyway.  When she sees the man in the office lobby she assumes he's her escort for the evening and starts letting him know what she expects.  I loved her assertiveness, but it sure came back to bite her when she wouldn't give him the chance to correct her assumption.  There was a definite chemistry between the two that was obvious from the beginning.  Cassie wasn't going to do anything about it, but then decided that since she had "paid" for it, why not?  Over the next couple days they spend time together and she discovers a lot to like about him.  But before she can really wrap her mind about what that means the cat is out of the bag.  She is angry, hurt, humiliated and in love.  Cassie definitely has some control issues that come out in her dealings with James.  Those and her aggressiveness are a result of having to deal with her father and four older brothers.  I enjoyed seeing the way that James brought out the more feminine and softer side of Cassie.  The final chapters are a comedy of errors with them and lots of fun to read.  I loved seeing Cassie finally stand up to her dad.  

James is at M & M to meet with Cassie's father, who isn't there.  He is surprised and amused to be mistaken for an escort by Cassie.  With his immediate attraction to her he's more than willing to go along with it to spend some time with her.  He has a great time with Cassie at the Christmas party and has high hopes for the rest of the night - until she has too much to drink.  He's all ready to come clean just before she passes out.  I loved the way they spent the rest of the weekend together.  He is really a nice guy and obviously really into her.  He's really trying to figure out how to tell her who he is when she finds out.  From there he is dealing with her reactions to the news and has his own hurt to deal with when she has some things to say to him.  I really enjoyed his immediate fascination with Cassie.  He obviously was trying to do everything right while attempting to figure out how to save himself and the relationship he wants with her.  

I loved all the humor in this story.  Besides some of the interactions between Cassie and James, the family members were great.  Cassie's brothers had some great "older protective brothers" lines but also some wonderful times of their own.  I especially liked Rory's dealings with his own romance and Matt's obvious enjoyment of stirring things up when he found out James's identity.  My absolute favorite character (other than Cassie and James) was Aunt Wheezie.  She was really quite the schemer and an absolute hoot.  I sure hope there will be stories for Matt snd Patrick.  I'm sure Wheezie will have her fingers in their business too. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

His Forever Valentine - Marie Ferrarella (HAR #1462 - Aug 2013)

Series: Forever Texas (Book 7)

A Real Cowboy. A Real Home?

Rafe Rodriguez never reckoned on playing hero to a beautiful, big-city stranger. But when he saves Valentine Jones from a charging bull, this Rodriguez brother's fate is all but sealed. The Hollywood photographer is on location in Forever to scout out an authentic dude ranch. And nothing could feel more real -- or right -- than the fiery feelings Val's awakening in Rafe. And he knows just how their real-life romance should end!

Haunted by tragedy, Val knows life isn't like the movies. Still, a girl could get used to having a sexy protector like Rafe around. The Texas rancher is wreaking havoc with her credo of never settling in one place. Is Val headed for heartbreak again? Or has she finally found a place to belong with this cowboy who's starting to make her believe in forever?

Very good book.  I love my visits to Forever.  Rafe never expected to see a beautiful woman in one of his pastures, much less rescue her from a charging bull.  Once he does, he is a goner.  Everything about Val fascinates him.  Val is intrigued by Rafe also, but holds out no hope for a happy ending.  She tried that once and doesn't want to take that risk again.  

I really liked both Val and Rafe.  Val loves her job as a location scout.  It keeps her busy and on the road enough that she isn't tempted into another relationship.  When she finds the perfect location for her boss's next movie she also finds Rafe who makes her feel things she hasn't felt in a long time.  Once the movie crew comes to town they end up spending a lot of time together and her feelings only grow stronger.  I really liked Val's forthright attitude.  She doesn't have the fakeness that so many Hollywood type do.  She relates very well to the people of Forever.  I loved seeing the way that she gets Miss Joan on the movie's side and how she gets along so well with Rafe's father.  When her feelings for Rafe get to the point where she can no longer deny to herself that she loves him, she gets scared and retreats, fearing that she'd never survive losing him.  

Rafe starts out the book admitting to himself that he is a little envious of his siblings' happiness.  This leaves him open to the impact that Val has on him when he meets her.  He is fascinated by the way she is able to make friends with everyone and how well she fits in with Forever.  As the filming takes off Rafe gets to spend more time with Val and starts to dream of what it would be like if she stayed.  But he has no reason to think that she would give up her fast paced and successful Hollywood life for one in Forever.  I loved the way that Rafe was so drawn to Val from the beginning.  He didn't fight his feelings and really wanted a future with her.  He was stunned and hurt when she suddenly withdrew and wasn't sure what to do about it.  I loved seeing even his family avoid him until Mike finally called him out on his attitude.

It's always fun to visit Forever and see the regular residents and what's happening with the previous couples.  Miss Joan remains one of my favorites.  I love the way that everyone looks to her for direction.  It was fun watching her direct the chaos at the diner when the movie crew was in town.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Copper Lake Encounter - Marilyn Pappano (HRS #1763 - Aug 2013)

Series: Copper Lake (Book 4)

Nev Wilson believes in dreams -- because hers come true. Her latest nightmares are worrisome enough to draw her to Copper Lake, where a frightening truth awaits. Luckily, she's under the protection of hunky detective Ty Gadney.

As the only black cop in town, Ty has faced his share of hardship. When Nev needs his help untangling mysteries of her past, he discovers that hatred and fear are very much alive today. But as they work together, he feels he's met the woman of his dreams -- if her dreams don't get them both killed. 

Very good book.  Nev has been having frightening dreams that have led her to Copper Lake.  Once there she isn't sure what to expect.  She doesn't anticipate meeting the oh-so-attractive Ty Gadney, who comes to her aid.   He is there for her when she is attacked.  With his support Nev has the courage to look for the truth about her visions and her past.

I really liked both Nev and Ty.  Nev had grown up in Atlanta and still lived with her grandmother, mother and sister.  I really liked the way that she was so close to her grandmother even as her mother and sister were so cold to her.  When she started having those frightening dreams it was her grandmother who helped her locate where they were taking place and encouraged her to go there.  She didn't know what she was looking for but hoped to find out something that would help her.  She was surprised by Ty's offer to help and his obvious interest in her.  She had been put down by her sister and mother for so long that she didn't realize how beautiful she is.  I loved the way that she was so kind to everyone she met and how much they liked her too.  I especially liked the way that Ty's grandfather took to her.  She was very cautious about revealing her dreams to him, being accustomed to people's disbelief, but eventually knew that she could trust him.  I really loved her strength of self and character and the way she was able to pursue the truth of her past.

Ty was just plain wonderful all around.  Being the only black cop in town he was used to facing difficulties.  He noticed Nev right away and quickly realized that there was something about her that appealed to his heart and soul.  I really loved the protectiveness that he showed to her from the very beginning.  I also enjoyed seeing the way that he made her part of his life immediately, especially the way that he introduced her to his grandfather.  He was a real sweetheart of a man and he treated her so well - something she really wasn't used to.  He worried about the attacks on her and tried to find out who was behind it as they began to escalate.  I loved the way that he accepted her abilities so easily.  He also recognized quite early that she was the woman he had been waiting for and he had no trouble picturing a life together with her.

I enjoyed the suspense part of the book, even though it wasn't as intense as some others I have read.  I figured out the secret of Nev's past pretty quickly, but the person behind the attacks came as a total surprise to me.  I was also surprised by the reason behind it.  I enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Ty's grandfather and Nev's grandmother.  Both of them were lots of fun.  I liked the part that Anamarie played and how much she helped Nev with the acceptance of her gift.  I'd like to know more about what happens to Daisy and Dahlia and also Sophy.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Anything But Sweet - Candis Terry (Avon - June 2013)

Series: Sweet Texas (Book 1)


If Charlotte Brooks thinks she and her TV makeover show can turn Reno Wilder's hometown upside-down, he'll be happy to prove her wrong. The ex-Marine has seen too much turmoil and he likes Sweet, Texas, just the way it is. Traditional. Familiar. A little dull. Everything Charli isn't. But instead of backing off from his scowls like everyone else, Charli digs in her skyscraper heels.


Reno Wilder is a one-man unwelcoming committee, but Charli isn't budging. It's clear the gorgeous cowboy needs an overhaul just as much as Sweet. Someone needs to break him out of that gruff shell and show him how fun and rewarding a little change can be.

They're about to find that love is anything but predictable. 

I loved this book.  I have a soft spot for small town stories anyway and this one was particularly good.  Charli has come to town with her makeover show to help give some of the businesses a boost.  One of the businesses she wants to do is Reno's hardware store and he wants absolutely nothing to do with it.  He likes his store and his town just the way they are and he has no problem telling her so.  But Charli isn't going to give up - on the town or on Reno.

I loved both Charli and Reno.  Charli is the daughter of a military man.  Her mom died when she was eight and her dad was never around.  They constantly moved around and she was left with a longing to belong somewhere.  She never expected to have a job that also kept her on the move.  One of the things that she loves about her job is spending time in the small towns and getting to know the people there, even though it always hurts to leave.  She liked Sweet as soon as she arrived and couldn't understand what Reno's problem was.  She won't give in to his refusal to change and finds ways to get him involved even as he resists.  The more she gets to know him the more she realizes that there is more behind his resistance than just grouchiness.  She knows she is falling in love with him, but she too worries about the risk to her heart.  One of the things I like best about Charli is the way that she is so upbeat about her work.  She can see the best in almost anything she looks at.  Her love for small towns shows in everything she does, from the changes she makes to the way she makes friends with so many different people.  I especially loved the way that she bonded with Reno's mom.

Reno is content with his store and his town just the way they are.  He doesn't need some big city woman coming in and changing things around.  He's had all the upheaval in his life he can stand and wants nothing more than for Charli to pack up and leave town.  He does his best to be uncooperative, but somehow she always seems to get her way.  Pretty soon he finds himself enjoying their interactions and the sizzle between them really starts to take off.  But Reno refuses to think of a future between them.  He uses his refusal to change as a way to protect himself.  He clings to the memories of his father, brother and fiancee, thinking that keeping everything the same is the way to honor their memories.  I loved seeing the way that Charli starts to chip away at his walls.   Sometimes he'll think that a future is possible, but mostly he thinks he doesn't deserve to be happy.  I loved seeing him finally let go of his fears.

I also loved the secondary characters.  No one was perfect and no one was all bad.  Everyone had their own lives and issues both good and bad.  I loved Reno's mom and the way that she kept her boys in line when she needed to.  She seemed to have that southern velvet covered steel that got her just where she wanted to be.  I'm really looking forward to the next one.

Stranger on Raven's Ridge - Jenna Ryan (HI #1411 - Mar 2013)

Series: Raven's Cove (Book 2)


Returning to her ancestral home, Raven Blume needed a new start. So she opened a medical clinic in order to escape the danger that had torn her life apart-and claimed her husband's life. But local legend spoke of a ghost, a reincarnated soul haunting her house, the one high up on Raven's Ridge....

Lurking within the mist was the man she thought dead. Aidan McInnis remained out of sight, venturing close enough to touch his Raven, but not daring to. The moment he did, he put a target on her back. Time was running out and Raven was quickly becoming familiar with danger. Aidan would die again if he had to-especially if it was the only way to protect her. 

Very good book, action packed from the beginning.  Two years after her husband's death, Raven is ready for a change.  She plans to go home to Raven's Cove and open a much needed medical clinic.  Once there she stumbles upon a man hiding in her family home and is stunned to discover that it is her "dead" husband.  He had staged his death to protect her from the family of a man he had killed.  Now it's a race against time to find the killer before they become the next victims.

I really liked both Aidan and Raven.  Raven was doing her best to move on from Aidan's death, but she was still reeling two years later.  To find out that he was still alive both thrilled her and really made her angry.  She was furious that he had put her through that misery and wouldn't have told her if she hadn't shown up in Raven's Cove.  Once she has recovered from the shock it's obvious that her love for him is just as strong as ever.  I loved watching her work with Aidan as they tried to find Demars before they were found.  She was not about to stay in the background and be protected, she was going to be part of the solution.  

Aidan had staged his death to protect Raven when he discovered Demars's plan to kill her to make him suffer.  Even though he wasn't with her he still managed to keep an eye on her though he wasn't expecting her to show up in Raven's Cove.  Raven's finding out he was still alive put a large kink in his plans.  I liked his protectiveness and completely understood why he did it.  I did like the way that once he was found out he didn't try to weasel out of the consequences.  I really enjoyed seeing him cope with Raven as she is now and how well they worked together.

I loved all the quirky characters there in Raven's Cove, from Raven's great-grandfather to the various attendees to Ravenspell.  There were a lot of things to sort through to find out if they were related to the problem or not.  There was quite an interesting twist at the end.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Forbidden Touch - Paula Graves (HI #1046 - Feb 2008)

Series: Browning Sisters (Book 3)


He was a hardened former Marine with a guarded past...until one touch from Iris Browning became his undoing. Thanks to the raven-haired beauty, reclusive millionaire Maddox Heller found himself back in the line of fire, chasing down an elusive killer who'd made Iris his next target. She claimed not to know why, and every instinct told Maddox to believe her. Still, trusting this virtual stranger seemed risky, especially as their relationship grew increasingly personal. Now, as ghosts from the past threatened to destroy the present, would one forbidden touch bring pleasure...or pain?

Very good conclusion to the Browning Sisters trilogy.  Iris has arrived on the island to meet a friend, only to find that the friend signed them up for a conference about paranormal abilities and is now missing.  While searching for her friend Iris meets Maddox who calls himself a beach bum but seems to have appointed himself her protector.  Someone is after Iris and she doesn't know why.

I really liked both Iris and Maddox.  Iris is a healing empath who is suffering from a bit of burnout.  Every time she takes on someone's pain it exhausts her and it is taking her longer to recover.  She's hoping that some time away will give her a break.  Discovering that her friend is missing just adds to her worries.  She meets Maddox when she asks him if he's seen her friend.  She moves on when he hasn't but he worries about the way she looks and follows just in time to catch her when she collapses.  She hesitates to accept his offered help, especially when she senses a darkness from him, but she also feels she can trust him.  As they work together their attraction only grows stronger.  Iris begins to feel more of Maddox's emotional pain and wants to help him, but he resists.  When she finds out what is going on at the conference she insists on helping feeling a need to do something to stop what is happening.  I really liked her attitude of wanting to help even though Maddox was telling her to leave.  She had an amazing amount of strength of will to be able to do what she does even though she is also afraid.  I loved the way she brought people together at the end to save the day.  

Maddox is still recovering from things that happened in his past.  He has terribly guilty feelings which prevent him from letting anyone else depend on him.  When he meets Iris there is something about her that he just can't stay away from.  I loved the way that he used his connections to help her find out what happened to her friend.  He was also there to help her when she was attacked and insisted on continuing to protect her.  He doesn't understand the "hoodoo" that she does but can't deny that it exists.  The more time he spends with Iris the more he comes to care for her, but he feels that the things in his past make it impossible for him to have any kind of relationship.  When parts of that past show up on the island he has to face them to get the future that's waiting for him. 

Forbidden Temptation - Paula Graves (HI #998 - June 2007)

Series: Browning Sisters (Book 2)

Hot-shot criminal profiler Daniel Hartman was looking for a man called Orion. Leading a manhunt through Birmingham for the killer, Daniel was trying to put old ghosts to rest. But this time Orion's target was Rose Browning, a matchmaking wedding planner with a gift for predicting true love. 

Tempted by secrets she couldn't reveal, Daniel insisted on offering some very personal protection. He would get her to open up, but at a price. Would he be able to safeguard this raven-haired beauty before his desires for revenge became an obsession?

Very good book.  Rose moved to Birmingham to escape the memories in her hometown.  For a long time her gift enabled her to match up soulmates.  Then one of her best matches ended in tragedy and she lost confidence in her ability.  Now instead of seeing love matches she's seeing death on young women's faces.  When she takes it upon herself to try to find the killer she meets  Daniel who is trying to do the same thing.  He goes at it from a scientific and logical viewpoint and doesn't believe in her "death veils".  But he also can't deny that there is something going on there.  

I liked both Rose and Daniel.  Rose is feeling lost without the ability she had for so long.  Add in the fear that she is feeling after seeing the deaths of several women and she feels the need to try to find the killer.  She meets Daniel when he is doing the same thing.  She tries to explain what she sees but he doesn't believe her and wonders if she is mentally ill.  In spite of his disbelief she feels safe when he is with her.  Even through that disbelief she was attracted to him.  That soon grew to be even stronger as they worked together to find the killer.  Without her old ability to see the true love veils she wasn't sure she could trust what she felt. I liked the way that she tried several ways to get women she knew to be safe and wouldn't give up.  

Daniel had been chasing this killer for thirteen years, ever since his fiancee was murdered.  This is the closest he's ever gotten and he doesn't want anything messing it up.  He thinks Rose is a pretty flake and doesn't believe her story about death veils.  But the more time he spends with her the more he is drawn to her.  When she becomes a target he is determined to keep her safe.  I really enjoyed the way he checked into her past and how it led him to talk to McBride, her sister's husband (Forbidden Territory).  I loved the conversation between those two.  Daniel had a hard time believing in her abilities but he couldn't deny the feelings that were growing between them.

I had my suspicions about the killer, but there was a point where I began to doubt myself.  There was an interesting twist concerning the killer that I hadn't expected.  I did enjoy Daniel's moment of awakening and belief.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Forbidden Territory - Paula Graves (HI #926 - June 2006)

Series: Browning Sisters (Book 1)


"Help me!" For Lily Browning, there was no escaping the visions that had haunted her all her life. And now a little girl's desperate cry for help had brought enigmatic, disturbingly masculine Lieutenant McBride to her door....

McBride didn't have time for psychics. He had a kidnapper to catch. But the honey-haired woman with the golden eyes seemed to see things no one else could -- including his own tragic secret. With a child's life at stake, he had to trust Lily...even as each step plunged them deeper into danger and into the uncharted territory of irresistible desire....

Very good book that had me hooked from the first page.  Lily has had visions all her life, usually of missing children.  Now she's receiving cries for help from a little girl who has gone missing after her mother was murdered.  One of the officers investigating is McBride.  He has no trust in psychics having had a bad experience with one in his own tragic past.  He can't deny that she seems to know things no one else does, but is she for real or is she part of the problem?  

Lily hates the "gift" of having the visions that she does.  All they seem to bring her is pain.  But she can't walk away from the little girl she sees in her mind, even if that means dealing with Lieutenant McBride.  She can sense a darkness and a lot of pain from him, but also a more personal connection.  The chemistry between them is intense.  As Lily's visions continue she feels that they are getting closer to finding Abby, but McBride is still fighting the idea that Lily sees what she say she sees.  She is also confused by the presence of another little girl in her visions.  I loved Lily's confidence in her visions and how she's determined to follow through on them.  I also enjoyed the way that she stood up to McBride when she needed to.  She had a great capacity for love which showed even as she used her visions to help both Abby and the other little girl Casey.  

McBride is a rather bitter and pessimistic man.  After his own daughter was kidnapped and never found he has lost himself in his work.  His gut feeling on hearing of Abby's kidnapping is that she is already dead.  I really ached for his unhappiness.  His initial reaction to Lily was mistrust especially concerning her visions.  He considers all psychics to be fakes out for money or attention.  But things with Lily don't add up that way.  Plus his attraction to her really confuses him.  I loved seeing the way that Lily's confidence slowly works on his disbelief.  

The intensity of this story was fantastic.  The descriptions of Lily's visions made me feel like I was right there with her.  There were places that I couldn't read fast enough to find out what was going to happen next.  I loved the twist at the end with the second little girl.

The Cowboy Who Caught Her Eye - Lauri Robinson (HH #1143 - July 2013)

The Shopkeeper's Shame

Pregnant and unmarried, Molly Thorson knows her livelihood is under threat. The last thing she needs is a distracting cowboy swaggering into view. Especially one who knows she has a secret and still looks at her with desire in his eyes.

The Cowboy's Secret

Carter Buchanan knows all about secrets. It's his job to know. And Molly sure has something to hide. But the fear in her eyes touches a place he thought long-ago dead -- and now this cowboy can't help but consider exchanging his pistol for a band of gold.…

Carter has come to Huron in search of money stolen in a train robbery.  As a Pinkerton man he is used to working undercover.  When some of the stolen money turns up in Molly's store he wangles a job there so he can keep an eye on her and try to discover where the money is.  He doesn't expect to be drawn to the prickly Molly.  Meanwhile Molly is trying to keep her store running while trying to conceal her pregnancy from everyone.  She doesn't want Carter with his all-seeing eyes involved in her business but she can't deny that he's making a difference.  

I liked both Carter and Molly.  Molly is really stressed because of trying to keep her business running.  She got pregnant when she listened to a man's promises and then he ran off and left her in the lurch.  She knows that when her pregnancy is revealed she is going to have problems with the people of the town judging her.  She is worried that she'll lose the business and have no way to care for her two younger sisters.  Carter's appearance worries her.  She is drawn to him but afraid of risking herself again.  She is also ashamed of what happened to her and sure that no decent man would want her now.  Over the days that he is there, Carter slowly eases some of her stress and she begins to feel a little like her old self.  She comes to care for him a lot, but his intention to move on to Montana makes her question the possibility of a future for them.  I really liked Molly's determination to make a success of her business even against all the odds.  She is understandably worried about repercussions but equally determined to give her baby the best life possible.  I loved the sparks that flew between her and Carter.  

Carter has been on his own for most of his life.  Working for Pinkerton has given him a purpose for his life, though he is beginning to plan for life after Pinkerton.  He is going to buy a ranch and enjoy a life of peace and quiet.  Having no experience with love he doesn't plan to have a wife and family.  For this job he goes undercover as a cowboy looking for a temporary job.  He knows that some of the stolen money has shown up at Molly's store and he wants to find out if she was part of the robbery.  Her prickly attitude amuses him.  When he discovers her pregnancy he understands the fear that he has seen in her eyes.  He doesn't expect to be so drawn to her that it begins to overshadow his search for the money and thief.  I loved seeing his protectiveness toward Molly and her sisters.  I also enjoyed his confusion because he didn't understand what was happening to him.  I liked seeing the way he was with the various customers to the store and what a difference it made to Molly's business.  I really enjoyed the ending to the story.