Saturday, August 31, 2013

Conveniently His Princess - Olivia Gates (HD #2255 - Sept 2013)

Series: Married by Royal Decree (Book 2)

Only one thing stands between Aram Nazaryan and the high-powered position he craves: the proper wife. Although this billionaire would do anything to return to Zohayd, the desert kingdom he considers home, marrying Princess Kanza Aal Ajmaan is too high a price to pay. Or so he thinks -- until he meets Kanza…and she turns his world upside down.

After claiming Kanza as his princess, everything falls into place. But then she learns the truth. She may have married for love, but his vows are tainted by ambition. Will doubt, betrayal and mistrust end this too-convenient union?

Pretty good book.  Aram is a high-powered financial wiz.  His best friend and brother-in-law is Minister of Finance of Zohayd but would like Aram to take that job.  In order to do so he would have to be a citizen and the best way to achieve that is through marriage.  Shaheen suggests Kanza, but Aram wants nothing to do with her.  He remembers her as a teenager, with obnoxious behavior and even more obnoxious fashion taste.  When Shaheen and his wife, who is also Aram's sister, throw them together, Aram is smitten.  Their romance is fast and furious, but what will happen when Kanza discovers the truth?

Aram is forty years old and alone.  There were many things that led to it, but lately his loneliness has become overwhelming.  Even his friend and sister have no real effect because they are so wrapped up in each other.  Shaheen wants Aram to take over his minister's job so that he has more time for his family and suggests marrying Kanza to pave the way but Aram is having none of it.  When he and Kanza are tricked into meeting, he doesn't recognize her at first and is delighted by the razor wit of the woman before him.  When he does finally recognize her he is still enchanted and determined to have her for his own.  I liked the fact that Shaheen's suggestion didn't really come into his decision at all.  I enjoyed his utter fascination with Kanza's attitude and his appreciation for her intelligence.  He realized quickly that making his desires known would send her running so he went for developing a friendship first. They also developed a good amount of trust which showed most when he was telling her about his past.  I really liked seeing the fun they had together.  I also liked the way that he kept his desire under control for so long.  I thought the way that he considered her happiness important was just what she needed.  I did think that the wedding itself was a bit too much and took away from its importance.  I did like his actions at the end and how he made things work for both of them.

Kanza was quite a character.  She was pretty much the forgotten one of her father's nine daughters, so her actions as a teen were her way of being noticed.  She had been drawn to Aram even then, but felt that he was way out her league.  Then when he was briefly engaged to her sister and broke it off, she only got her sister's side of the story and spent years hating him.  She went on to become almost as brilliant a financier as Aram, and started working with his sister.  She never realized that their meeting was a setup.  I loved the way that she blasted Aram with her accusations, but also that she had the ability to recognize the truth when she heard it.  She wasn't very happy with his pursuit of her at first.  When he didn't try to seduce her she thought that he was just looking for a friend and was willing to settle for friendship.  When their mutual attraction burst into being she was overwhelmed.  His proposal was a dream come true for her.  One of the things I liked best was her satisfaction at the reactions of her sisters - it had to be immensely gratifying.  Then she went from such happiness to such misery that I just ached for her.  Her misery matched his, but making it come right was perfect for both of them.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wanted: A Real Family - Karen Rose Smith (HSE #2277 - Aug 2013)

Series: Mommy Club (Book 1)

In the first book of her new miniseries The Mommy Club, Karen Rose Smith introduces readers to down-on-her-luck single mom Sara Stevens -- and the sexy photojournalist who just might be her knight in shining armor…

Two years ago, Sara helped to heal Jase Cramer's injured body -- and his soul. Now, with their home destroyed in a fire, she and her daughter are the ones in need. Accepting Jase's offer to stay at his family vineyard is a temptation the widowed physical therapist can't resist. But can she put the brakes on the sparks flaring between them?

Jase never forgot Sara's tender loving care -- or the attraction that couldn't go anywhere. Now she's back in his life, awakening feelings that bring back memories of heartache. With the help of Sara's little girl and The Mommy Club, the volunteer group that's transforming their California community, Jase just might be ready for a second shot at love…and the family he always wanted! 

Good book.  Two years ago Sara had used her skills as a physical therapist to help Jase heal from physical and emotional wounds.  Now, thanks to a fire, she and her daughter need a place to live.  Jase takes the chance to repay her by offering the guest cottage at his family's winery.  Sara accepts the offer, but is worried about the attraction that is affecting both of them.  Her marriage before her husband's death hadn't been a happy one and she is reluctant to get involved with anyone.   Jase is also reluctant to get involved in anything permanent.

Sara is still in shock over the loss of her home when Jase offers the use of the cottage.  She remembers him well from when he was her patient and is glad to see that he's doing so well.  What she doesn't expect is the burst of attraction she feels toward him.  Her focus right now is on her daughter and on recovering from the fire.  Her husband also left a lot of debt when he died.  She had trusted him when he said everything was fine and now she questions her actions.  Jase doesn't hide his attraction to her but tries to give her space.  As she gets to know him better she likes the way that he acts with her daughter but worries that he will go back to his traveling ways and they will be hurt by his absence in their lives.  She also sees him renewing his love of photography and writing as he starts a series of articles about the Mommy Club.  She is hesitant to be interviewed because of her preference for privacy but Jase convinces her.  I liked the way that she waited to get intimate with Jase until she was sure of her feelings.  I also liked that she was honest with him about the fact that she doesn't do "just sex" that there has to be an emotional connection.  She has to decide at the end if she's willing to take a chance on them.

When Jase first met Sara she was his physical therapist.  In the course of his treatment she had also helped him deal with his emotions after the breakup with his fiancee and the things he had seen during his last photo shoot.  He had felt a connection with her but she was married so he knew it wouldn't go anywhere.  He was happy to be able to help her after the fire.  He also discovered that his attraction to her hadn't gone away.  Now he's working at the family winery and finding any excuse to see Sara and her daughter.  After his breakup he had put aside any thoughts of having a family of his own.  Between the problems with Dara and his own rocky relationship with his adoptive father, he felt that he wasn't emotionally suited for long term like that.  I loved seeing him with Sara's daughter Amy, and how great he was with her.  He loved playing with her, reading to her, just being around her - it was obvious to everyone what a great Dad he would be.  Being around Sara also started to break down the walls he had built up.  He was starting to remember the good things about his photojournalism not just the bad memories from the last trip.  He put those feelings to use in a series of articles about the Mommy Club that ended up bringing him a chance to go back to doing the work he used to love.  He has to decide if he wants that enough to leave everything else behind or try to find a way to have it all.

I also liked seeing Jase's dad.  He comes across at first as kind of a cynical grouch.  He and Jase don't have a close relationship and it has affected Jase's personal life.  Through some conversations he has with Sara it becomes obvious that he loves Jase but never learned how to express it, leaving Jase with the feeling he doesn't care.  I loved the way that Sara helps them connect with each other.

I'm looking forward to more stories about the members of the Mommy Club.  I love the idea of the club and the way they help each other.  This looks like it will be a very good series.

High Country Rebel - Lindsay McKenna (HQN - Sept 2013)

Series: Jackson Hole Wyoming (Book 8)

Will a new love summon old enemies?

Battle-weary former Navy SEAL Talon Holt's top priority is to defend his own. With a military dog to care for and his traumatized soul to mend, he hitchhikes from California to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, hoping for a fresh start and to be with his ailing mother. But he can't outrun the ghosts of war-especially when a ferocious storm forces Talon to accept the help of paramedic Cat Edwin. The gorgeous rescuer wants to heal his wounds inside and out, but the fear in her arresting blue eyes calls to his instinct to protect.

Trust just doesn't come easy to Cat, who, thanks to a troubled past and a violent ex, tries to keep Talon at arm's length. Yet attraction draws them together despite the very real danger each of them brings to the other. Now Talon is driven to save Cat, even when it leads to a high-country showdown that could cost them love...and their lives. 

Fantastic book.  Cat rescues Talon and his dog Zeke from a bad spring blizzard as he is on his way home to Jackson Hole.  While nursing him back to health they admit to a strong attraction to each other, but both also have severe issues to deal with.  To top it all off Cat is being stalked by her abusive ex-boyfriend.  

When Cat finds Talon and Zeke on the side of the road, Talon is near death from exposure and pneumonia.  She gets them to the Bar H ranch where she nurses Talon back to health.  As a firefighter/paramedic she is accustomed to helping all kinds of people, but something about Talon touches her the way no one else has.  Cat was abused by her father as a child and because of it has severe trust issues with men.  She has had a couple short relationships with men that turned out badly so she has no confidence in her ability to choose a good man.  As she and Talon get to know each other, frequently in late night talks as they fight insomnia, Cat finds that she trusts him completely.  She sees the passion he feels for her in his eyes, but she isn't quite ready to deal with it.  She accepts his offer of friendship as the building of their relationship continues.  When Talon comes to her rescue after her ex attacks her, Cat can no longer deny the attraction she feels for him also.  I loved Cat.  In spite of her horrific childhood she has become a caring and compassionate woman.  In her work as a paramedic she is able to direct that caring in a worthwhile way.  With great effort she has developed friendships with her fellow firefighters and doesn't feel threatened by them.  I loved her instant connection with Talon as she sensed another soul who was hurting too.  I really liked her empathy and how she was able to tell when to talk to him and when to just be with him.  As she grew closer to Talon she was also able to share things with him that she hadn't been able to do with anyone else.  It was so emotional seeing her trust him enough to cry in his arms.  As their relationship deepened she knew that she loved him but wasn't ready to tell him yet.  When things went really bad with her ex Cat was afraid she had waited too long.  I loved the way that Cat's new confidence in herself helped her at the end.

Talon was a hurting man.  His last mission as a SEAL had left him broken in body and spirit.  Because of his PTSD and the presence of his combat dog he wasn't able to travel by conventional means, so he was walking and hitchhiking from California to Jackson Hole.  He was headed home to care for his sick mother when he was caught in a spring blizzard.  Already sick with pneumonia, the storm has been the last straw.  If it weren't for the presence of Zeke he would just lay down and die.  When Cat pulls over to help him he thinks he is hallucinating the presence of an angel.  He stays conscious long enough to explain how to command his dog then passes out as they head for the Bar H.  He remembers ranch owner Miss Gus and is grateful for the refuge and care he receives.  He is also thankful for the offer of a job on the ranch.  He worries that his PTSD will cause him to harm Cat or the others on the ranch but discovers that Cat's care has begun a slow healing process within him.  I loved seeing his instant connection with her and how it enables him to help her.  He can see the shadows in her eyes and is determined to make them go away.  In spite of his intense attraction to her, which he does not hide, he has the patience to go at her pace to develop their relationship.  I loved seeing his care for her and how he is able to build her confidence.  Talon is fighting his own battles with his ghosts and appreciates the way that Cat doesn't push him to talk.  He knows that she is there when he's ready.  Just being there with her gives him a peace he hasn't felt in years.  He also discovers that being with Cat creates feelings in him that he doesn't recognize.  As a SEAL he has had a fair number of encounters with women but nothing has been like it is with Cat.  He has no experience with romantic love and hesitates to say that's what he's feeling.  But as his protective instincts kick in he realizes that it is love that he feels but thinks it's too soon to bring that up with her.  When his abilities as a SEAL are needed to rescue her, he fears he has left it to late.

I loved the way the relationship between Talon and Cat developed.  Both of them realized that their issues were something that had to be dealt with.  The way that they discovered that helping each other was a key to helping themselves marked a big step for each of them.  I loved the way that Cat's past helped her have an empathy for peoples' pain that was unusual.  I also liked the way that they took time before making their relationship physical.

Zeke was one of my favorite characters in the entire book.  His focus on Talon, especially when Talon was so sick, was so moving.  I loved the way he was described as having such expressive eyes.  The descriptions of his training and his role in Talon's SEAL unit were great and really gave me a good picture of how important the combat dogs are.  I really liked seeing him make Cat part of his "pack" and loved his begging for marshmallows.  

Having the book take place on the Bar H was wonderful because I love seeing previous characters.  It's lovely to see Griff and Val doing so well.  Miss Gus is as wonderful as always.  Loved the way she took Talon in so easily and gave him the security of knowing he had a job.  Also loved her friendship with Talon's mom and the way she and so many others helped take care of her.  Her actions at the end showed just how big of a heart she really has.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Nanny Trap - Cat Schield (HD #2253 - Sept 2013)

Series: Billionaires and Babies

Billionaire Blake Ford has one summer to get what he wants. He trusted country-bred beauty Bella McAndrews as his surrogate. Now she's agreed to be his infant son's temporary nanny. It is only a matter of time before he convinces her to capitulate to his true desire: becoming his wife.

Blake believes his son deserves a mother's love. And Blake is determined to win this woman's love for himself, too…until a deep secret emerges, turning every truth upside down.

Good book.  Blake has come to Bella for help.  She was the surrogate who gave birth to his son.  He and his wife have divorced and his nanny is recovering from a broken leg, so he has asked Bella to fill in as Drew's nanny.  He also has the ulterior motive of wanting Bella to be his wife.  The catch is that he has no intention of falling in love again, as the first time turned out so badly.  

Bella came to New York to be a surrogate as a way to earn some money to help her family.  She didn't expect it to be so hard to give the baby up.  Now Blake wants her help for the summer to care for Drew.  She is hesitant because she is afraid of how hard it will be to leave Drew again, and also because she had been attracted to Blake.  He had been married so she kept it to herself.  Now he is single again and she's worried about being alone with him.  But she needs the money again, so she gives in.  Bella is surprised when he makes no secret of his attraction to her but tries to resist.  She doesn't want to get involved in anything long term.  She is the oldest of eight children and spent most of her childhood and teen years helping her mom take care of them.  She has no intention of having a family of her own while she is young enough to enjoy her freedom.  I really understood Bella's feelings.  She felt so overwhelmed and tied down by her responsibilities that when she had a chance to escape she took it.  She couldn't cut herself off completely and her siblings were very good at tugging at her heartstrings when they asked for help.  As Blake devoted more time to his pursuit of her she realized that she had fallen for him after all.  Between that and her love for Drew her resistance to a relationship diminished.  But there are still a couple things that could derail the happy ending that she wants.

Blake had wanted to be a father very much.  When his wife didn't get pregnant they hired a surrogate to carry a baby for them, inviting her to their home during the end of the pregnancy.  Blake found himself spending a lot of time with Bella who was very easy to be with.  He never thought of her in a personal manner, but did want her to be involved in Drew's life. He was surprised when she walked away after Drew's birth.  His own mother had left when he was eight and he didn't want any of the same issues he had to affect his son.  This became even more important when his wife left him.  He knows he wants to find a good mother for his son but he has no desire to fall in love again since he had been burned so badly by his first wife. When he needed a fill-in nanny he went to Bella to ask her to do it.  He also was planning to talk her into marrying him and becoming Drew's mother.  He didn't expect an immediate and strong attraction to her, though he certainly wasn't going to complain about it.  He couldn't understand her resistance to the idea of spending more time with the baby.  As he learned more about her life he understood a little better and began to see that she took care of everyone else but no one stepped up to take care of her.  Blake found himself wanting to do more for her than just sleep with her. Blake is a man who doesn't give up when he wants something. After a couple revelations that made him realize just how much Bella meant to him he had to find a way to convince her before they could have the future they both wanted.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

A Navy SEAL's Surprise Family - Laura Marie Altom (HAR #1466 - Sept 2013)

Series: Operation: Family (Book 4)

He Needs Her

Fatherhood is the last thing on navy SEAL Calder Remington's mind. On the job, he's a hardworking hero; in civilian life, he's a carefree bachelor. When he finds a baby -- his baby -- on his doorstep, he's got no choice but to be a dad. He needs help, and that's where super-nanny Pandora Moore comes in. She's perfect in every way. Calder can't deny that he's powerfully attracted to her.

But she's his employee, which puts her strictly off-limits. And though Pandora may seem perfect, she becomes evasive whenever talk turns to her past. Calder can't help wondering if she's hiding something. He never imagines that the truth may tear them apart -- just as they dare to imagine a future together.

Fantastic book with a lot of emotion.  Calder is desperately trying to cope with being a father, and engages the help of Pandora as Quinn's nanny.  She does a fantastic job and soon has the household running smoothly.  He is attracted to her but knows that's inappropriate since she works for him.  He also senses she's keeping something from him.  When her past comes out he reacts badly and things fall apart.  Once he has calmed down he realizes that he needs to regain her trust to have any kind of a future.

Pandora is finally getting her life back together.  We first met her as one of the girls that Ellie was counseling in A SEAL's Secret Baby.  Now she's sober, employed and trying to regain custody of her daughter.  I love her determination to get it right, but her desire to do it on her own keeps her from the support she could have.  She loves her job as Quinn's nanny and does a great job at it.  She's fascinated by Calder but knows that anything between them would be wrong.  The more time they spend together as they care for Quinn the more she grows to like him.  When she tells him about her past she is devastated by his reaction.  I loved the way that she picked herself up and started over.  I also liked the way that she didn't give in to Calder's persuasions when he came back to her, but did work out a compromise.  It gave them more time to get to know each other.  I loved the realism of Pandora's struggle to redeem herself and get her daughter back.  I ached for her at her hearing and loved Calder's actions as he tried to help her.  It was great to see how the friends she made came through for her.

Calder was great.  He was so used to his carefree bachelor life that he was especially thrown when he found out he was a father.  I liked the way he stepped up and was trying to do his best.  He wasn't going to hire Pandora because she was young, but when she saved Quinn from choking he decided to give her a chance.  Seeing how good she was with the baby made him really notice how he wasn't so good.  He was still having a hard time really bonding.  He wasn't having any trouble bonding with Pandora.  The more he was with her the more he felt like they were a family.  Finding out about her past he over reacted and really messed things up.  I loved the way that his mom pointed out that he jumped all over Pandora because then his faults didn't look so bad.  I loved the way that he was so surprised when she didn't agree to come right back to care for Quinn.  I enjoyed his reaction to the compromise and loved seeing him finally really connect with Quinn.  He really did a lot of changing during those weeks.  I loved his statement to her at the end "Woman, if you're going to be in a relationship with a SEAL there's one thing you need to learn up front.  We never quit.  We're like human bulldozers - mowing down anything - anyone - in our way to make the seemingly impossible happen."  I loved the ending and the epilogue.

Bringing Home the Bachelor - Sarah M. Anderson (HD #2254 - Sept 2013)

Series: Bolton Brothers (Book 2)

Jenny Wawasuck knows that "Wild" Billy Bolton is all wrong for a good girl like her. But then she sees the bond Billy forms with her son -- and feels how Billy's touch burns her skin, how his kiss ignites desires she's long ignored. So she brings him home from the charity bachelor auction.

Now Billy has one night to stake his claim. But in a world filled with blackmailers and gold diggers, can a millionaire bad boy and a sweet single mom turn one chance into forever?

Very good book.  Billy is the oldest of the Bolton brothers and the least "civilized" of them.  In Straddling the Line all three brothers got involved with a charter school on the reservation.  Now Billy is committed to building a motorcycle with the older kids and auctioning it off to raise money for the school.  The building process is also being filmed for a web production.  Billy hates being the center of attention like that but he's putting up with it.  On the first day at the school he runs into Jenny who refuses to let the filming affect her or her classes.  One thing that does affect her is Billy himself.  For the first time in years she's attracted to a man, but what chance does she have of having something that lasts?

I loved both Billy and Jenny.  Jenny is a single mother who is a teacher at the school.  She has devoted her life to teaching and helping the kids on the reservation and to raising her son.  With the Bolton brothers' involvement with the school she has learned to put up with them.  Ben is ok, she doesn't trust Bobby because of his player attitudes, and she really doesn't trust Billy.  His bad boy image, tattoos and attitude are not what she wants around her students.  One of the things I liked best about her was the fact that, in spite of his size and everything else she isn't afraid of him.  One of my favorite parts comes right at the beginning when she tells him "You listen to me - I don't care how big or scary or rich or famous you are - you are at my school, on my rez, mister.  You make one mistake - touch one student, say something inappropriate - I'll personally grind you up into hamburger and feed you to the coyotes.  Do I make myself clear?"  She keeps a close eye on him and when her son starts hanging out with him, she gets very protective.  But she soon realizes that in spite of his bad boy exterior there is a caring man inside.  She sees the interest he takes in Seth and it softens her toward him.  She also discovers that she has an intense attraction to him that is like nothing she has ever felt before.  As they spend more time together that attraction grows.  She's not so sure that there is any chance of a future for them and when his past comes back to haunt him she's sure there isn't.  I thought she was a little hard on him at that point but she was standing up for what she believed.

Billy is my favorite of the three brothers.  His bad boy exterior actually hides a pretty soft inside that he doesn't show to anyone.  When he first met Jenny at Ben's wedding he was so blown away by her beauty that he couldn't really speak, cementing her perception of his scariness.  When he saw her again at the school he was surprised again at his reaction to her.  He was also amused by her attitude toward him "Billy stood there thinking that his day had taken a turn for the better.  Had that pretty little cousin of Josey's really threatened to feed him to the coyotes?"  He wasn't used to anyone standing up to him.  I liked the way that he also made friends with Seth even before he knew Seth belonged to Jenny.  He recognized a lot of himself in Seth and took an interest in him the way that someone had done for him.  I liked the way that he treated Jenny also.  He wanted to do things for her that he'd never done for anyone else.  He also wanted to take care of her the way no one else had.  His attraction to her had quickly moved to something stronger but he wasn't sure that it was possible for them.  I loved the way that the bachelor auction went and how he went so far to give Jenny such a great evening.  It was fun seeing him putting Jenny first and the effect it had on her.  Everything was going well for them until a woman from his past showed up.  His problem and how he fixed it was not something that Jenny could accept.  I loved the way that Seth confronted Billy and then how Billy made things right with Jenny.  His scene with her girls was fantastic.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

In the Line of Duty - Ami Weaver (HR #4392 - Sept 2013)

A risk worth taking?

Ever since Callie Marshall's husband died in the line of duty, leaving her and their sons behind, the boys have become her absolute priority. She's doing her best to minimize any risk to their carefully ordered world….

Ex-soldier Matt Bowden's middle name is "risk." Struggling to cope with his return to civilian life, he channels his energies into his adventure company. Callie has always been able to knock the air from his lungs, but she was his friend's wife and he's used to burying his feelings.

Now everything's changed, and Callie needs someone to step up…. Is Matt the risk she's been holding out for?

Very good book.  Callie has managed to put her life back together after the death of her firefighter husband.  Her sons are the most important things in her life and she is doing everything she can to make sure they are safe.  When her husband's best friend moves in across the street, things begin to change.  Being around him begins to wake feelings in her that she never expected to feel again, and she's not comfortable with that.  Plus he runs a high adventure company which puts him in a high risk category she has sworn to avoid.  For the most part I really liked Callie.  She's pulled herself together and is slowly getting on with her life.  Her reactions to Matt scare her and she pushes him away as hard as she can.  But that doesn't hold up as she finds him getting involved with her sons and coming to her rescue during a storm.  She worries about what will happen if the boys get close to him and then he leaves.  She has gone a bit overboard in trying to protect her boys from risk and gets defensive when she gets called on it by Matt and others.  Her growing love for Matt is something she doesn't want to admit to herself especially with her blind spot concerning his work.  Watching her work through everything was satisfying and felt very realistic.

I loved Matt.  He was surprised to find that he had moved in across from Callie.  She'd always appealed to him but as his best friend's wife he had buried those feelings deep.  Now Jason's no longer there, but even thinking about Callie that way makes him feel very guilty.  I love the way that he has so much fun with Callie's kids.  It  shows that he has the potential to be a great father even though he doesn't think that's possible for him.  I loved the way he had Callie and the kids stay at his house when hers was storm damaged.  It was great seeing the way that having them there changed his life so much.  I also liked the way that he saw Callie's issues and tried so hard to show her what she was missing.  I loved the story behind his dog Aldo and how it contributed to the man that Matt is.

One Heart to Win - Johanna Lindsey (Pocket - Feb 2013)

Some young ladies marry for money and social standing, a few lucky ones marry for love, but Tiffany Warren is marrying to end a feud. Honoring her mother’s wishes, Tiffany reluctantly travels west to meet her estranged father and his enemy’s eldest son, rancher Hunter Callahan. Once the Warrens and the Callahans are united by marriage, both clans will stop squabbling over a disputed strip of land. But in the chaos of a train robbery Tiffany seizes a golden opportunity: By assuming the identity of her father’s new housekeeper she can live with the father she never knew and assess his true character, as well as that of the neighboring cowboy to whom she is betrothed. But, too late, Tiffany discovers that the rivalry between the Warrens and the Callahans has escalated when the Callahans steal the Warrens’ “housekeeper” as soon as she steps off the train!

Now Tiffany, masquerading as Jennifer Fleming, finds herself living in the enemy camp, under the same roof as her fiancé. All too soon she learns her intended is a handsome, sweet-talking charmer whom she has to fight off because he can’t keep his eyes -- or his hands -- off Jennifer. After Tiffany’s charade is exposed, she refuses to marry Hunter, not even to end the hostilities between the families. How can she wed a man who is in love with another woman? As Hunter goes about claiming his rightful bride-to-be, he knows that although he loves two women -- proper, elegant Tiffany as well as spunky, passionate Jennifer -- he has only one heart to win.

Good book though not as good as her older books, especially the Malory series.  Tiffany has been living in New York City with her mom for the last fifteen years.  She knows she's engaged to Hunter, but she has no interest in going to the wilderness and marrying a cowboy.  Mom tells her she needs to go out there and spend at least two months getting to know the man before she decides.  When she arrives she takes advantage of a mistaken identity to become the housekeeper at the Callahan ranch.  This gives her a chance to see Hunter in his natural environment, not making nice because he has to.  It took me awhile to warm up to Tiffany.  She came across as a spoiled brat in the first few chapters.  Once she got to the ranch she really had to step up and act like she knew what she was doing.  This made for some pretty funny moments as she learned to cook, deal with farm animals, and do things she's never had to do before.  She also doesn't quite know what to make of Hunter.  He's handsome, charming, funny and showing an inappropriate interest in her. He admits the engagement, but also that he's not enthusiastic about it.  Tiffany finds herself more and more attracted to him, but also not happy that he's making moves on the housekeeper while he's engaged to another woman.  She also discovers that she has no resistance to his advances.    Tiffany also has to deal with her feelings about her father who she hasn't seen in all these years.  She thinks he just doesn't care about her and takes out those hurt feelings in her attitude toward him.   She is determined to end the feud without being the sacrificial lamb to do it.  

Hunter is the oldest of the Callahan boys and the one chosen to marry Tiffany to end the feud.  He's not happy about it and really hopes that she'll break it off when she arrives.  That becomes even more important to him when "Jennifer" the housekeeper arrives.  He falls hard for her very quickly and spends a lot of time teasing her and flirting with her.  I enjoyed the way that he liked flustering her.   He also challenged her because his teasing made her want to be able to do the things she should be able to do. It was pretty neat to see the way that Hunter really started to care for her and see that he wanted her, not his fiancee.  His shock and anger when he found out about the deception was pretty realistic.  He also didn't let it throw him for long before he realized that he could end the feud and have the woman he wanted all at the same time.  I liked the way that he didn't back down from confrontations with the miners even when he was outnumbered.  I liked the way that the younger generation dealt with the feud with mostly harmless pranks. 

The story had two things going on besides the romance.  There was the feud, what caused it and how to end it.  This was more important to the fathers than to the sons.  There was also the mystery of why Tiffany's mom had left Montana and refused to have anything to do with her husband.  That was resolved in a neat package at the end without too much difficulty.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Sheltering Hearts - Robyn Carr (Harlequin - May 2010)

Series: Virgin River (Book 11.5)

New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr takes readers back to her beloved Virgin River country in this heartwarming tribute to Rhonda Clemons, founder of Zoë Institute and a winner of a Harlequin More Than Words award.

"Dory Finn is a single mother, trying to make ends meet and raise her two young children. Coming off an abusive relationship, she has sworn off men, and that includes her do-good neighbor Clay, who just happens to not only be a nice guy, but good-looking to boot! Dory works at the local supermarket but also does volunteer work at local women's center, a place where single women can get the support and help they need to move on with their lives. Can Dory overcome her issues and let in Clay? Is Clay willing to give Dory time to adjust to the possibility of being involved with another man?"
Always With a Book

Lightly linked with the Virgin River series by the appearances of a couple VR characters, this is a good story about moving forward.  I really liked both Dory and Clay.  Dory is trying to move on with her life after escaping from an abusive marriage.  After getting the help she needed in Oklahoma, she moved to California where she has built a new life.  She has a job to earn a living and is taking care of her kids.  She is also giving back by helping single mothers the way that she was helped.  With the assistance of a social worker and a bunch of volunteers they are doing great things.  When Clay moves in next door she is a little bit nervous.  He's a big guy, very good looking and obviously interested in her.  She's wary because she doesn't trust her instincts about men anymore.  When Clay starts doing things for her like cutting grass, moving trash cans and playing with her kids, she freaks out a bit seeing it as controlling.  She finally relaxes a bit and starts to get to know him, finding him to be a truly caring man. As she opens up more to him her feelings grow and she discovers that she can have a loving relationship with a new man.

Clay was a sweetheart.  He is a firefighter, so right there you see that he is a naturally caring man.  When he moves in next to Dory he is interested in her right away.  He sees that she is a struggling single mother and starts trying to help out.  He is surprised when she accuses him of being controlling but manages to convince her he is just being friendly.  He backs off on the pursuit a little and tries just being friends with her and her kids.  I really loved his patience and how he was willing to take as long as she needed.  I liked the way that he had a better idea of what she had been through after the incident in the grocery parking lot.  I loved the way that he got involved with her organization and got his friends involved too.  Loved seeing how his patience paid off in the end.

This was a part of the More Than Words series of books.  I liked the way this one highlighted the trials of being a single mother and showed how there are resources out there to help.  I thought it was very well done.  The only thing that would make it better would be for it to be longer.

Bound by a Baby - Kate Hardy (HR #4391 - Sept 2013)

Can a baby bring them together?

Becoming guardian to her orphaned godson is a heartbreaking honor for Emmy Jacobs. The real challenge will be sharing that honor with godfather Dylan Harper! Having got off on the wrong foot with him, Emmy must now somehow get along with the brooding -- and gorgeous -- Dylan….

Dylan has never wanted a family. His own childhood was bad enough, so how can he ever be a father? But he promised his best friend he'd be there and he's going to be. Caring for baby Tyler with a beautiful but emotional woman will test him to the limit. However, watching Emmy with Tyler shows Dylan a new side to her -- and a new side to himself….

Sweet book.  Emmy and Dylan have been named co-guardians for their godson Tyler.  They were good friends with Tyler's parents, just not with each other - more like total opposites.  Emmy is emotional and creative and open-hearted.  Dylan is a workaholic who thanks to a bad childhood has never wanted a family of his own.  She thinks he's an uptight grouch and he thinks she's a flake, so how are they ever going to be able to raise Tyler together?

I really liked both Emmy and Dylan.  In spite of their feelings toward each other they were willing to do whatever was best for Tyler.  Emmy is a talented jewelry designer who tends to see the good things in life.  Unfortunately she also has really bad luck in relationships so has pretty much written off getting involved with anyone until Tyler is grown.  As she and Dylan settle in to their new lives she discovers that he's not as bad as she had thought.  She sees his willingness to learn how to care for Tyler and also that he's more open to compromise.  It isn't long until she is also noticing his good looks and that there's a buzz of attraction whenever she's around him.  I really liked the slow growth from adversaries to friends to more.  It wasn't a flash bang attraction but very real development that dealt with their different personalities and the problems that occasionally came up.  Even with their growing feelings Emmy still had some issues left over from her previous relationships that nearly derailed their future, but talking it out solved the problem.  One of the things I really liked about her was her happy outlook on things.  Besides the playing with Tyler that she did, I loved the way she looked at the world around her.  Seeing the butterfly gardens and the seaside through her eyes was great.

Dylan was a darker personality.  He hadn't had a happy childhood, with no father and a mother who was constantly trying to "find herself".  It also made him sure that he never wanted to have children because he would have no idea how to care properly for them.  This caused the end of his marriage, which only reinforced his feelings.  In spite of that he was willing to do his best for Tyler.  I really liked the way that he had no trouble asking Emmy to teach him what he needed to know.  I also liked the was that he realized that he had misjudged her by comparing her to his mother.  He fought his attraction to her because he didn't want it to impact their care of Tyler, but more and more he saw the ways he had changed and thought that a future could be possible.  I thought that his "lunch date" with Emmy was just the sweetest thing and more romantic than I had expected from him.  I loved the way he went after her at the end. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Rancher to the Rescue - Jennifer Faye (HR #4386 - July 2013)

Damsel in a wedding dress!

Jilted at the altar, celebrity chef Meghan Finnegan flees the scene--and the baying press--only to run straight into the muscled torso of Cash Sullivan.

The former rodeo champion knows what's it like to have your life crumble in the spotlight, so he offers Meghan a place to lie low at his ranch.

Fresh air, no paparazzi and the brooding rancher's lazy smile are making Meghan not want to leave her sanctuary. But she and her unborn baby can't stay here forever...can they?

A very sweet romance between two people who are vulnerable but do their best not to show it.  Meg is at the altar to marry her fiance and the father of her baby when he tells her he doesn't want her or the baby.  As a celebrity chef, the ceremony was being filmed, and as she fled she was followed by photographers.  She managed to hide in Cash's truck and begged him to take her away.  Having some experience with paparazzi he helps her out by taking her to his ranch to hide out.  They are drawn to each other but both have issues that make it hard to contemplate a future with anyone else.

I really liked both Cash and Meg.  Meg was a rising star in the tv cooking world and looking forward to her marriage and her future.  Her pregnancy was a surprise but there was no way she was going to end the pregnancy.  When her fiance waited until they were at the altar to break things off, she ran.  She was thankful that Cash was willing to take her to his ranch while she tried to think what to do.  She is certain that part of her troubles are because she let her fiance take charge of everything she is now determined to handle everything on her own.   She makes a deal with Cash that she will cook and clean in exchange for staying there.  As the days go on she discovers that she is attracted to Cash.  She also sees a kind, caring man who is hiding some pain of his own.  As her attraction grows into love, she starts dreaming of a possible future with him, until he tells her there is no way it can happen.  She has continued to try to get her life and career back together on her own, refusing to let Cash help at all even though he has offered.  She is hurt and furious when he goes behind her back to help, even though his intentions were the best.

Cash was a sweetheart of a guy.  Even though he doesn't like weddings he took his grandma to her favorite tv cook's ceremony.  This is why he was outside and witness to Meg's attempt at escape.  Having been on the receiving end of paparazzi attention himself, he helped her get away.  He also invited her to stay at his ranch though he had some trouble understanding why he felt such a need to help her.  I loved his obvious care for his grandmother and how he wanted to make sure that Meg didn't hurt her feelings.  As the days went on he found himself more and more attracted to Meg but trying to resist.  Cash has ghosts from his past that make him sure that he is unfit to even think about having a relationship with Meg.  Even when he tells her about his past he can't conceive of her being willing to tie herself to him.  Even though she has said she doesn't want help finding a new job, he puts his own fears aside to work behind the scenes to help her.  I loved the ending when he truly faces down those fears to claim her as his own.

I thought both characters were very well done.  Each one had believable issues and dealt with them in ways that made sense.  I also loved Cash's grandmother and the role she had in his life past and present.  She also had no problem speaking her mind.

How to Pursue a Princess - Karen Hawkins (Pocket - May 2013)

Series: Duchess Diaries (Book 2)

An innocent lost in the woods . . .

The sensible solution to her family’s dire financial woes is for Lily Balfour to marry the Earl of Huntley, a wealthy widower handpicked by her matchmaking godmother, the Duchess of Roxburghe. Huntley is pleasant and attractive, the perfect candidate in every way. But Lily knows she’s in big trouble as soon as passionate, unprincipled Prince Wulfinski sweeps a hot, possessive glance over her.

Powerful and sexy, Wulfinski declares he will make her his -- no matter the cost.

By his own account, Wulf is a pauper, barely able to afford his own cottage. Yet nothing will stop him from pursuing the elusive beauty with every cunning trick he can muster. But which is more important: power and money . . . or love everlasting? To make the right choice, both Wulf and Lily must trust their hearts, not just their heads, to lead them to the happiness they desire.

Neat take on Little Red Riding Hood.  Lily's father has put them in debt and she feels the only way out is for her to marry a rich man.  Her godmother finds the perfect candidate and sets up a house party for them to get to know each other.  This gets interfered with when Prince Wulfinski sets his sights on Lily. He portrays himself as poor because he's tired of being pursued for his money not himself. She is drawn to him but determined to save her family.  The fun comes as he tries to persuade her that loves matters more, she tries to resist, and her godmother and his grandmother try to keep them apart.

I liked Lily and Wulf.  Lily's decision to help her family is commendable, but she goes into it without having truly looked for any other solution.  Her meeting with Wulf shakes her up because he stirs feelings in her that she's never had before.  She isn't really looking forward to meeting the Earl of Huntley because she wanted to marry for love, like her sister (How to Capture a Countess).  She was sure that if she spent enough time with him she would fall in love with him.  The problem is that every time she turns around Wulf is there scrambling her senses.  He states his love for her early on but she refuses to believe that love that quickly is possible.  She fights him all the way determined to stay on her course to save her family from ruin.  It was interesting watching Lily cope with the two men.  She couldn't help comparing them and the one she was chasing never measured up to the one she really wanted.  The times she spent with Huntley were pretty darn boring, especially since she couldn't even get him to kiss her.  Times with Wulf usually involved some lively conversation, some kisses and him still trying to convince her.  She spent a lot of time wishing it were possible but still not trying to find a solution herself or asking Wulf to help her find one.  Her use of the tea that Wulf's grandmother gave her surprised the old lady and went a long way toward changing her attitude toward Lily.  I saw her actions at the end coming but they were satisfying anyway.

Wulf was quite a character.  He is handsome, wealthy and confident.  He's also tired of women coming after him because he's rich.  He's come to the area to live as if he is poor to see if someone will love him just for himself.  When he rescues Lily after she's fallen from her horse he is immediately smitten by her.  He sets out to woo her and is surprised when she denies him.  He is not accustomed to being denied something he wants and pretty much ignores her demands.  I really enjoyed seeing him run up against society's rules and how Lily won't ignore them.  It only increases his determination to win her.  I liked the way that he is so open about his feelings to her. He is very protective of her and always seems to be around when she needs rescuing. I also enjoyed his scheme to distract both Huntley and Lily from each other.  I loved his frustration with her and how it made him change the way he looked at some things and eventually understand her a little better.  I had great fun reading the ending and how it all worked out.

The Duchess and her friend Charlotte were also instrumental in this story.  She was so sure that she had everything under control and that it was going the way she wanted.  Loved seeing her take credit for the ending even though it wasn't her original plan.  I also loved her feud with Wulf's grandmother.  The two of them were so much alike that it was fun seeing them butt heads.  I also enjoyed the secondary character of Emma and how she helped Wulf along with his plans. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Falcon's Run - Aimee Thurlo (HI #1442 - Aug 2013)

Series: Copper Canyon (Book 4)

Detective Preston Bowman had a Navajo gift for sensing danger. And the danger stalking Abby Langdon was undeniable. But nothing could force her off the Sitting Tall Ranch she'd built for disabled children -- not even her own near-death experience….

Alone on her isolated ranch, she had no one to trust -- no one but Preston. And as the risk intensified, so did her desire for the strong, silent lawman. But Preston was from a different world. Even if he could keep everyone on the ranch safe…she couldn't say the same for her heart.

Very good book.  One of Abby's employees has been murdered and Abby herself was attacked.  Preston is the detective who arrived in time to save her.  Abby was very worried about the effect the murder would have on the ranch which she built to help disabled and at risk children.  She immediately feels that she can trust Preston as he assures her that he won't give up until he's solved the murder.  At the same time there is something about Abby that stays on Preston's mind. 

I really liked both Abby and Preston.  Abby has a great passion for the work she does with the children.  She has made the ranch her whole life and the threat to it has her very worried.  She really appreciates Preston's quiet confidence that he will find who is behind the murder.  Abby trusts the people who work with her and can't believe one of them is behind the trouble.  She is also a pretty optimistic person who tends to bring out the best in the people around her.  I really enjoyed seeing the way that most people rallied around her to help keep the ranch going.  She was also attracted to Preston.  I really liked the way that she let him know how she felt but also that she didn't expect anything.  I liked the way that she  accepted Preston just the way he was and didn't try to change his attitude about her or anything they had together.  I loved her independence and the way that she stayed involved in the investigation.  I enjoyed her relationship with Bobby and the way that she understood Bobby's needs and fears.  

Preston was an excellent detective.  One of his abilities was to be able to focus on things that other people missed.  He loved his work and devoted most of his time to it.  He felt that because of the things he has seen and experienced that love is not in his future.  He fears that the darkness he experiences would bleed over into any relationship.  When he meets Abby he is struck by her beauty and also the lightness of her spirit.  Although he always gives his cases his best effort he finds himself wanting to do even more for Abby.  I loved his protectiveness and how he went the extra steps to help her, calling on his brothers' help in a way he usually doesn't with other cases.  I also loved his way with Bobby and how he showed respect for the boy's abilities and desire to help.  It was fun watching him fight his growing feelings for Abby, even as he tried to convince his brothers he was just doing his job.  I loved the way that he shared things with her that he didn't talk about with anyone outside his family.  I liked the way that he committed to both Abby and Bobby at the end, even though he never actually stated his love to her.

I liked the way that their love was a relatively slow development rather than an instant thing.  It gave them a chance to actually get to know each other.  It was also balanced well with the mystery of who was behind the murder.  While I guessed part of it early on there was also a surprise element involved.  As in the previous books I really liked the Native American information included.  It felt like a natural part of the story not something that I was forced to read.  I'm really looking forward to the stories for the last two brothers.

Callahan Cowboy Triplets - Tina Leonard (HAR #1465 - Sept 2013)

Series: Callahan Cowboys (Book 12)

His Callahan Destiny?

Tighe Callahan is wild and free as the wind, until he starts chasing the beautiful River Martin. After he catches her -- in a midnight seduction he'll never forget -- Tighe learns he's about to become a daddy…three times over! Not even an ornery bull can stop him from making River and their babies-to-be his.

Standing down isn't in River's vocabulary. Tighe can insist on doing the honorable thing all he wants -- she isn't tying the knot until the cowboy says he loves her. Only, now her wounded warrior's on some dangerous, life-changing quest.

Tighe's finally ready to heed the message of his ancestors: defend his land and claim his woman. Because it's never too late to become the Callahan he was destined to be!

I enjoyed this one, especially seeing footloose Tighe get roped himself.  He has fancied himself in love with River ever since she came to Rancho Diablo as nanny bodyguard to Sloan's kids.  I found that a little hard to swallow, since he had never even been able to get her to go out with him much less been able to really get to know her.  As the book starts he is getting ready to ride a bull that no one has been able to ride yet, and everyone is trying to talk him out of it.  But Tighe is competitive and stubborn and refuses to give up.  River goes to him that night in hopes of distracting him and ends up pregnant with triplets for her trouble.  Tighe is thrilled and sets out to convince River to marry him.  The family is also still trying to keep their uncle from causing trouble on the ranch as he tries to find out where their parents are.  He succeeds in kidnapping Fiona, and then takes River hostage when they try to rescue Fiona.  Tighe has a tendency to just jump into things and having to sit back and wait for the right time to rescue the two women grates on him.  I loved the way the rescue mission went down.  Tighe also becomes very protective of River and the babies when they are born, rarely letting them out of his sight.  I enjoyed seeing him change from the brash cowboy to the man who watches out for his family and their home.  

River was quite a character.  Fiercely independent, she is a very capable bodyguard. She has been interested in Tighe but has no intention of becoming another notch on his bedpost.  She wasn't sure how she got roped into the plot to stop him from riding the bull, but she was more than happy to put her own twist on the plan.  I loved the way that she admitted the pregnancy but wouldn't be railroaded into a wedding.  She also fully understood Tighe's stubbornness and didn't try to talk him out of his guard duty plan, even though he was injured.  When they went on the rescue attempt for Fiona she refused to be stuck waiting in the background and did her own thing.  It backfired somewhat and she ended up a prisoner along with Fiona.  I loved the way that she and Fiona worked their own plan on Wolf and his thugs and then she took care of her own rescue.  I also loved her encounters with the magic wedding dress and its effect on her.  She admitted to herself that she loved Tighe but was really hoping for a confession of love from him.  I enjoyed her reaction to his constant presence and wish that he would lighten up some.  She was touched by his desire for a second wedding ceremony so that she could wear the dress.

Things are starting to get more desperate with Uncle Wolf and his desire for the whereabouts of the older Callahans.  It will be interesting to see what else he does and how he is stopped.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Business Engagement - Merline Lovelace (HD #2256 - Sept 2013)

Series: Duchess Diaries (Book 1)

When the glossy magazine where Lady Sarah St. Sebastian works as an editor names Devon Hunter one of the Ten Sexiest Single Men, he is besieged by embarrassing attention. The perfect revenge? Force Sarah to play his fiancée during a business trip to Paris. Because of a recent family indiscretion, Sarah must agree if she wants to protect the St. Sebastian name. But in the City of Lights, their fake engagement unexpectedly leads to real desire -- and dangerous complications….

Fun and fast paced book.  I really liked both Sarah and Dev.  Dev's life has not been the same since Sarah's magazine named him one of the Top Ten Sexiest Single Men.  He can't go anywhere without women accosting him and now it's impacting his business also.  He's a very private guy and all the attention is making him really grouchy.  To top it all off he has video of Sarah's sister stealing an artifact from his home during a party.  He needs help countering the female attention and he has picked Sarah to provide that help.  To keep him from going to the police, she is going to have to act as his fiancee for the next six months.  I loved the way he started out intending a strictly business arrangement but quickly decided he wanted something far more.  The conversations between the two of them were great and the chemistry was explosive.  He didn't take long to declare his love for her, but also ended up making her doubt that love.  When he discovered a photographer from her magazine taking pictures, followed by a kidnapping attempt, he accused her of using their engagement for publicity.  He quickly realized his mistake, but the damage was done.  I really liked the way he thought about it and went into romantic courtship mode to show her his feelings.  And I loved the way he showed up in Switzerland.

Sarah is a fairly reserved woman who works hard at her job.  When she is confronted by "Number Three" Dev Hunter, she can't deny the attraction.  She is dismayed to hear about the trouble that Gina is in and will do whatever she can to prevent distressing her grandmother.  She consents to the fake engagement and rapidly finds that part of her wishes it were real.  I really enjoyed their interactions.  It was fun seeing her step in to protect him from one female on the first night they had dinner together.  She was a reluctant participant at first but was beginning to enjoy it while they were in Paris.  Things were going well for them and they decided to make their relationship real.  The next day someone attempts to kidnap her and Dev accuses her of participating in a publicity stunt.  She is devastated by his accusations and tries to break things off.  When Dev apologizes the next day she lets him know her feelings.  She thinks they rushed things and should back off and try to get to know each other better before going any further.  I loved the way that she was willing to work with him over the disagreement.  I also loved the way she had been standing up to her boss and how the latest bit was the final straw.  Things were starting to go better with Dev when she finally heard from her sister and went tearing off to see her leaving Dev behind.  Loved those scenes in Switzerland - now I can't wait to read Gina's story!

To Sin With a Viking - Michelle Willingham (HH #1150 - Aug 2013)

Series: Forbidden Vikings (Book 1)


Caragh O Brannon defended herself bravely when the enemy landed -- only, now she finds herself alone with one very angry Viking….

Styr Hardrata sailed to Ireland intending to trade, never expecting to find himself held captive in chains by a beautiful Irish maiden.

The fiercely handsome warrior both terrifies and allures Caragh, but he is forbidden territory. He is the enemy…and he is married. Yet Styr harbors a secret that just might set them both free…. 

Very good book with a different sort of theme.  Caragh and her people are slowly starving to death.  She has been left in charge of her younger brother while her two older brothers go trade for supplies.  One day a Viking ship is spotted landing.  Her brother and his friends decide to attack the ship and take its supplies.  Styr and his wife and men have come to Ireland for a fresh start.  Theirs is an arranged marriage that is not doing well.  They have no children and Elena is withdrawing more from him every day.  When they are attacked the Irish take Elena and his men captive and sail away and Styr is taken prisoner by Caragh. 

I really liked both Caragh and Styr.  Caragh was doing her best to keep herself and her brother fed,  but finding food had become increasingly difficult.  During the fight when Brenden and his friends attacked the Viking ship she used all the strength she could summon to stop Styr from attacking her brother.  When she took him prisoner she felt bad about chaining him but not for protecting her brother.  She has a soft heart and cares for the people of her tribe.  She also treated Styr's injuries and made sure he had food, such as it was.  She was attracted to him but fought it because of who he was, and even more when she found out he was married.  Her fiance had cheated on her and she has a hard time trusting men now, but finds herself trusting him.  I liked the way that she worked with him over getting food and then making sure that he takes her along to find Brenden and Elena.  She had a pretty good understanding of what makes men like Styr the way they are and was able to use it to get what she needed.  I liked the way that she respected his vows even as she fell in love with him.  Their love grows slowly, but always with the knowledge that nothing can come of it.  I also enjoyed her ability to get the men in her life to behave around her.  She broke up several altercations between the various male characters.  Her heartbreak was obvious when they finally caught up with Elena, but she had the strength to do what had to be done.  I enjoyed the ending and look forward to Elena's story to see how it all turns out.

Styr was an interesting hero.  He and Elena had married young.  It was an arranged marriage where they had been friends but there was no love between them.  In the five years they had been married she had never gotten pregnant and was growing to resent Styr because of it.  He was determined to do whatever necessary to save their marriage and planned to start a new life with her away from the bad memories.  Styr was frustrated because no matter what he did for Elena nothing seemed to help.  It had gotten to where what little affection they had for each other was gone.  When they were attacked and Elena was kidnapped, Styr was furious that he hadn't been able to protect her.  When he regained consciousness he was stunned to find himself chained and captive of Caragh.  Her care of him was something completely outside his experience.  He found himself intrigued by her and wanting to help her.  I liked the way that he tried to help her without her being aware of it.  Her kindness to him touched something in him that he hadn't even been aware he was missing.  As they worked together to find his wife and her brother, Styr found himself caring for her more than was wise.  He fought very hard to resist his feelings as he refused to dishonor his vows to his wife.  I really liked that sense of honor that caused him to fight against his own happiness.  I loved seeing his protectiveness toward Caragh.  He really wanted to find a way for them to be together.  It hurt to see how unhappy he was once he found Elena and that he had to give Caragh up.  I loved his surprise at Elena's actions and the difference it made to his life.  Also loved the way that he still had to make things right with Caragh and that her brothers weren't pushovers. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Something About the Boss... - Yvonne Lindsay (HD #2252 - Sept 2013)

Series:  Texas Cattleman's Club: The Missing Mogul (Book 3)

Ever since Sophie Beldon's boss vanished, she's been working for Zach Lassiter. But Zach's been acting mysteriously, and Sophie can't help wondering what he's hiding. Could he be involved in the disappearance?

The trouble is Sophie's had a red-hot yearning for Zach from the moment they met. So when she decides to seduce him to uncover his secrets, perhaps she's kidding herself about her reasons. Because the soul-searing passion she discovers in his arms has Sophie praying that her mistrust is unfounded.

Very good book.  Sophie is Alex's assistant, but since his disappearance she has been working for Zach.  Between the two of them they have been keeping Alex's part of the business going.  Sophie has been attracted to Zach from the time they met, but she hasn't done anything about it.  Now she's seriously considering seducing him to get close enough to figure out why he's been so secretive lately.  I loved Sophie's no nonsense attitude toward her work.  She has been used to keeping track of many things since she was a child as she and her mom struggled to survive.  It has worked well for her in her job.  She has kept her attraction to Zach under control until they go out to dinner for business and he kisses her.  The passion burns hot and motivates her to try seduction.  While that was her initial motivation, her feelings for Zach quickly overtake her suspicions and she really hopes that he is innocent of her suspicions.  When he catches her snooping their newfound relationship is wrecked and Sophie realizes that it is her fault.  She also believes that he is still in love with his ex-wife and when she discovers a secret about Anna she thinks that there is no way she and Zach can ever have a future together.  

Zach is worried about his best friend.  There are rumors that Alex lied about who he is, but Zach doesn't want to believe that's possible.  He is also dealing with guilty feelings over the mental state of his ex-wife, so he spends a lot of time on the phone with her. I loved the way that he cared for her even though the marriage was long over. Sophie's presence in the office has been a lifesaver for the business and a personal challenge for him as he fights his attraction to her.  When he discovers that it's mutual, nothing can stop them from taking advantage of it.  I like the way that Zach feels so peaceful when Sophie is with him.  She has a great effect on his stress levels until the night he finds her snooping on his computer.  He can't believe he'd been so wrong about her and the feelings of hurt and betrayal are strong.  It takes a little while before his logical side makes him feel that he over reacted and he wants to get back together with Sophie.  His reaction to Sophie's news about Anna was great.  I loved the way he was finally able to convince Sophie of the truth regarding the state of his relationship with Anna.  I liked the way he and Sophie finally talked about everything and the decision they made about their wedding.

Deep in a Texan's Heart - Sara Orwig (HD #2246 - Aug 2013)

Series: Texas Cattleman's Club: The Missing Mogul (Book 2)

As a card-carrying member of the Texas Cattleman's Club, Sam Gordon is conservative to the core. Discovering Lila Hacket -- the woman he'd shared a passionate night with -- is carrying his baby? Heck yeah, he means to marry her! Never mind that marriage is not what she wants.

With a budding career, Lila has no intention of changing her life to become Sam's idea of the perfect wife. So if he wants their baby to wear the Gordon name, he needs to change his ideas about what he really needs from Lila…and just what he's willing to give her in return.

This is a story of two stubborn people, neither of whom wants to give up on or compromise on what they want in life.  Lila is a production designer for a movie company who is only back in her hometown because of a film she is working on.  She is also pregnant with Sam's baby and isn't looking forward to telling him.  They have opposite points of view on many things, especially the role of women.  She knows that he will try to pressure her into marrying him and giving up her job and she isn't willing to do that.  I had mixed feelings about her.  I liked the way that she went after the job she wanted and was independent enough to do it.  She was confident in her ability to be a single parent while doing the job she loved.  I had a hard time with her constant waffling around Sam.  She knew he was a chauvinist who didn't believe in women working after they were married.  He had been adamantly against women being admitted to the TCC and against the building of the childcare center.  But every time he asked her out and basically steamrollered her into agreeing, she caved in.  She was sure that she was falling in love with him but that there would only be heartache because they were too different.  She wouldn't accept his idea that they marry for the baby's sake because she refused to marry without love.  She also wasn't sure that even love would be enough to counteract such different views.

Sam was definitely an old fashioned kind of guy.  He had thoroughly enjoyed his one night with Lila and wanted more.  When she refused to take his phone calls he tried to move on but he couldn't forget her.  When she returned to town, he tried again.  He kept pursuing her, even when she told him no.  He saw that she was still attracted and figured that was enough to ignore what she said.  He kept trying to figure out why she said no, even though she explained that she didn't agree with his viewpoints and that she saw no future for them.  When he discovered she was pregnant he was even more determined to get his way, but he tried to appear reasonable to get her to go along with him.  When he finally understood what her job meant to her he backed off and tried to accept that it wouldn't happen, but suddenly realized that the reason he hadn't been able to forget her was that he did love her.  That got him thinking about her accusations and wondering if he could change enough to give them a chance.  As much as he really irritated me through most of the book, I thought he ended up making far more of a change than she did.

There was a little bit of new information on the missing TCC member, and acknowledgement that people are getting nervous the longer he is missing.  There was also some vandalism at the childcare center that hasn't been resolved.  I have a feeling I know who did it, but I guess it will be a later book before we find out.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Maverick and the Manhattanite - Leanne Banks (HSE #2281 - Sept 2013)

Series: Montana Mavericks: Rust Creek Cowboys (Book 3)

Rust Creek Ramblings

Ever since volunteer coordinator Lissa Roarke rolled into town with her fancy luggage and metropolitan attitude, Sheriff Gage Christensen has been fit to be tied. Everything about Lissa seems to rub Gage the wrong way. She talks too fast, she's too bossy, she's just too…darned…irritating. And readers, you know what that means. It's only a matter of time before these two squawking opposites find their way -- together!

But there's a rough road ahead for Rust Creek's sexy sheriff and his do-gooder girl. Can Big Sky and Big Apple make it past the first frost? Just how much will a city girl sacrifice for the strong arms of the law?

Very good book.  It's been a couple months since the flood that wrecked half the town and repairs are going well.  They're about to go even better as Lissa arrives in town to coordinate a volunteer effort from back east.  She gets under Gage's skin right away as he tries to fight the attraction by ignoring her.  Lissa has come to do a job and though she feels the attraction also she refuses to be ignored.  It isn't long before they're working very closely together.

I really liked Lissa a lot.  She is determined to do a great job in her first time as project coordinator.  Gage's condescending attitude toward the "city girl" irritated her and made her more determined to do the best she can.  I loved the way she didn't let him ignore her and made sure that let him know she wasn't happy with his attitude.  When he apologized she accepted it and got him to give her the help she needed.  I really liked the way that she threw herself into the work and motivated her crews so well.  It was also fun to see how the townspeople took to her right away and treated her just like one of their own.  Lissa had always been fascinated by cowboys and getting to know Gage was a dream come true.  She knew she was going to be leaving but being with him was something she couldn't resist.  I loved the way that she was so obviously becoming part of the community, but neither she nor Gage could see it.  I also liked the way that she could see his pain and guilt and and also the protector that he is.  She wanted to stay in Montana and be with him and the rest of the town, but thought he didn't want her when he pushed her away.  I loved her statement "I'm going to tell Gage that he can't fool me.  I have him figured out from head to toe.  I'm not backing down this time."

Gage is the sheriff of Rust Creek Falls.  He works 24/7 for the people of his town.  He feels terribly guilty because he was away on a rare day off the day of the flood.  Now he puts everyone else's needs ahead of his own.  When Lissa arrives in town he is attracted to her.  But she is a city girl and he knows that city girls never stick around in rural Montana.  He tries to solve his problem by ignoring her until she calls him on it.  As he works with her he sees the good she is doing and is drawn to her.  He is certain she won't stick around but is unable to keep from enjoying being with her while she's there.  I loved seeing how his subconscious kept picturing her staying with him.  Gage is so down on himself that he can't see that everyone around him considers him to be one of the town's greatest heroes.  When Lissa arranges for his house to be one of the ones repaired he has a hard time accepting it and tells her that it should have been someone else to get the work done.  In spite of her wanting to stay he just can't believe that a city girl will be able to stand staying and pushes her away.  I really wanted to smack him for being so blind.  I loved it when he finally realized he was being an idiot.

I loved some of the dialogue between Gage and Lissa as Montana met Manhattan and learned to communicate with each other.  I also loved the whole episode of Lissa's misadventures driving in the snow and how references to it ran throughout the book.  I enjoyed Gage's solution for a couple of the troublesome teens, and how one of them ended up showing a lot of heart.  I'm looking forward to the ongoing mayor's race and seeing how it turns out. 

From This Day On - Janice Kay Johnson (HS #1867 - Aug 2013)

Series: Wakefield College (Book 2)

A new beginning…from this day on

Jakob Nilsson has tried to keep his distance from Amy. Like a forbidden temptation, he's always known his weakness where she's concerned. Then an unexpected weekend brings them together. Despite the torture of being so close to her, Jakob is glad he's there…especially when the opening of a time capsule reveals a confession that upends Amy's world. Nothing is the way it was.

But that revelation also means the barriers between Jakob and Amy are gone. Finally he's free to pursue the woman who has always fascinated him. The challenge now is to convince her to look beyond their past. And to consider a future that includes him.

This was a very emotional book.  Jakob and Amy had spent their lives thinking they were half siblings.  Jakob had made Amy's life miserable and Amy had felt unloved by everyone.  When a time capsule confession reveals that they are not related at all, both their lives are completely changed.

I liked both Jakob and Amy though both had their moments when I wanted to shake them.  Amy is living in her mom's house while her mom and stepfather are in Australia teaching for a couple years.  Amy is hoping that this time will give her an insight into her mother's life and why she had never been a warm and loving mother.  When an invitation to a time capsule opening comes from Wakefield Amy decides to go.  Jakob offers to go with her, which she finds a little strange since they have never gotten along, but she accepts his offer.  Now that they are adults there seems to be a better chance for a civil relationship.  When the contents of the time capsule reveals the truth of her birth, Amy is devastated.  Jakob is the one who helps her deal with the news and is there for her as she comes to terms with it.  The news also frees them to pursue a different kind of relationship.  For the most part I really liked Amy.  She had had a pretty strange childhood with a mom that was pretty cold and withdrawn, a father that after they divorced seemed to treat her differently, and a brother that truly tormented her.  Although she had some serious self esteem issues, other than that she was a funny, independent and intelligent woman.  I liked the way that she was able to start an adult friendship with Jakob, but also didn't pull any punches when she let him know just how he had made her feel when they were growing up.  When their relationship stepped up, she still had some trouble believing that his attitude toward her had changed and kept waiting for him to abandon her the way everyone else did.  I loved the way she called him on his attitude toward the end and pointed out the way he had been treating her.  She knew they would have to get over their memories of the past if they were going to have a future.  I also liked the way that she confronted her mother over the revealed truth and then worked hard to forge a new relationship with her.  I loved the way she supported her mom at the end with the visit to her biological father.

Jakob was reluctant at first to get in contact with Amy.  He was still fighting feelings of guilt over some things he overheard as a child.  Seeing her again after many years only reinforced the feelings from when he was younger, but he couldn't resist offering to go with her to the time capsule opening.  I loved the way he was determined to support her.  When he didn't hear from her after she read the contents of the envelope he got worried and went to see her.  His immediate actions to help her showed the kind of person he really was.  Finding out that they aren't related at all, it was a big relief to him.  It also made it possible for him to look at her in a whole different way.  He confessed to her why he had treated her the way he did when they were younger and was horrified to find out just how damaging his actions had been.  While his attraction to her was real, as were his growing feelings, he also had a bad habit of treating her like he needed to "fix" the damage he had caused.  He got really angry when she accused him of it to his face but later had to admit that she was right.  I really liked the way he was there when she needed him, even when they had been arguing.  I loved his admitted fascination with everything about her and how much he enjoyed getting to know her.  I also liked the way that he realized that she had been right about the way he had been treating her and that he had to change if they were going to move forward..

I really liked the way the entire date rape issue was handled.  Not just showing what Michelle's reactions and feelings were at the time, but also the long term effects on her.  I also liked seeing the effects of the revelation on Amy and Jakob and how it changed their feelings toward Michelle..  It was also emotional to see them confront Amy's father and see the effects his actions had had on him and his life.