Thursday, October 31, 2013

Expecting a Bolton Baby - Sarah M. Anderson (HD #2267 - Nov 2013)

Series: Bolton Brothers (Book 3)

First comes the baby…and maybe then comes marriage?

He'd never expected to see Stella Caine again. After one wild night, she'd walked away -- right after revealing that her father was the one man who could threaten the biggest business deal of Bobby Bolton's career. So Bobby left her alone.

Until now.

Now Stella is pregnant and staying in his condo. This is a complication that can be solved only one way: marriage. Bobby wants to do the right thing. Hell, he wants her -- has never stopped wanting her. Surely he can convince her to say yes, even without those three little words….

Good book.  Bobby hadn't forgotten his encounter with Stella, but respected her wishes to leave her alone.  Then she came back to see him and tell him that she's pregnant.  Bobby is stunned but determined to do the right thing, if only he can convince her.

I really liked Bobby.  I wasn't sure about him in the earlier books, as he seemed a bit like the typical smarmy salesman.  In this book we get to know him better.  Bobby is a people person, which is why he's so good at sales.  He has a great talent at being able to read most people.  As the youngest brother he feels like he needs to prove himself, which is why he's gotten involved with building the resort.  He found out after the fact that Stella is the daughter of his biggest investor, the same one who is super conservative and not likely to take his daughter's pregnancy well.  I really liked the way that Bobby is not upset about Stella's pregnancy, but is actually kind of excited about it.  He has been a bit of a player before, but since meeting Stella hasn't been interested in anyone else.  He is surprised when she turns down his proposal but he's not going to give up.  One of the things I liked best about Bobby was the way that he actually listened to Stella and tried to do things that would make her happy.  I loved it when he took her to the shop and got the two ladies to get her the supplies she needed to do her work.  It also showed how comfortable he was with babies when he was playing with Josey's little girl.  I loved the way he wanted her more with every day they were together, but he sure was an idiot when he neglected to tell her that he wanted her to stay.  It was great when his two sisters-in-law sat him down and pointed out where he'd gone wrong.  I loved seeing him stand up to her father in public before going after Stella.

Stella had a terrible relationship with her father ever since her mother died.  He was a cold man who never paid any attention to her unless he was putting her down.  She has become an excellent fashion designer but still gets no approval from her father.  Her designs are a bit out there and her ultra conservative father doesn't approve of them at all.  I liked the way she does her own thing anyway.  When she met Bobby she was drawn to him because he actually noticed her and talked to her, something that didn't happen to her often.  She only was with him that one time because she didn't want to cause him trouble.  When she discovered she was pregnant she went to him because she wanted to find out if he would be involved with the baby or distant like her father.  She was stunned to find out just how involved he wanted to be.  She wants nothing more than to have a family of her own, but she doesn't want a marriage of obligation.   She wants to be wanted and loved for herself.  The more time she spends with Bobby the deeper she falls for him.  I felt really bad for her with the way that her father treats her.  I liked the way that Bobby supports her and backs her up so she can get what she needs.  I had high hopes for her when she stood up to her father at the end, but then she backed down and I wanted to smack her.  I hope that Bobby's love gives her the strength that she needs to be her own person.

A Little Bit of Holiday Magic - Melissa McClone (HR #4400 - Nov 2013)

Series: Hood Hamlet (Book 5)

A new family…for Christmas?

All widow Grace Wilcox wants is a fresh start for her and her young son, Liam. When her truck spins off the icy road, her rescuer turns out to be the hottest firefighter in Hood Hamlet, and even wary Grace can't say no to his offer of help!

Bill Paulson has stuck to his no-dating rule so far this Christmas, but having Grace in his home is testing his chivalrous side to the limit! Her little boy is melting his heart, even asking for a new daddy from Santa….

But Grace has already loved and lost one hero. Can she really let herself get close to another?

Very good book with some intense emotions.  Grace left Georgia to move to Oregon, looking for a new life for herself and her son.  The memories of her husband, killed in the war, were too strong back there.  When her truck spins out during a snow storm she ends up on Bill's doorstep.  Bill is a ladies' man who doesn't do relationships, especially during Christmas time.  Something about Grace and Liam compels him to offer them a place to stay while her truck gets repaired.  Spending time with them changes him in ways he never expected.

I really liked Grace.  With her husband's frequent deployments she was the one left to do everything at home.  She often felt that his job was more important to him than their family.  After his death the memories were so painful that she packed up her son to move across country.  When she wrecked on the way through Oregon during a snowstorm she only had herself to depend on.  Her caution when she ended up at Bill's house was understandable.  She was surprised by her son's quick acceptance of Bill which went a long way toward reducing her fears.  I loved seeing her start to relax in his company and get to know him.  The attraction that she initially felt for him began to change the more time she spent with him.  She knew that he wasn't a long term kind of guy, but seeing him with her son made her heart melt even more.  Because of his job as a firefighter and in search and rescue she also feared losing her heart to another man with a dangerous job.  Her fears made it very hard for her to think of a future with Bill.  I loved the way that her fears were relieved - such a cool thing to happen.  It reminded me of the end of Miracle on 34th Street!

Bill is a man with a fear of commitment.  His father has a job that takes him all over the world and Bill has always felt somewhat resentful of the fact he was never around.  This makes him  determined that he will not get involved in anything permanent until he's ready to actually settle down.  When Grace and Liam show up on his doorstep after their accident, first his rescuer instincts kick in.  Once he's sure that they're okay he really starts to notice Grace and her beauty.  While it's logical to keep them at his house that night he doesn't understand his compulsion to keep them there as long as he can.  I loved seeing him with Grace's son Liam.  He has an immediate connection with the little boy and I loved how sweet they were together.  His attraction to Grace has him tied up in knots because what he feels for her is different than anything he's felt for another woman.  He gets really nervous when he find her creeping into his thoughts at odd times and pictures her as a permanent part of his life.  This says it best:  "with Grace, he'd found something more, someone who not only understood and accepted him, but also made him want to be a better man."  I loved his epiphany on Christmas Day and how he went about making his dream come true.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Cadence Creek Christmas - Donna Alward (HR #4401 - Nov 2013)

Series:  Cadence Creek Cowboys (Book 5)

Taylor Shepard has come to Cadence Creek to organize her brother's Christmas wedding. Organizing such a special event might be a little bit stressful -- but she can't deny she's swept away by the town's holiday charm…and by brooding rancher Rhys Bullock.

Loner Rhys has been burned far too many times in the past. He's sure he has city girl Taylor all figured out -- she'll be hightailing it straight back to the city in a few days! But as the snow starts to fall, Rhys and Taylor embark on a tentative winter romance. Could Taylor be the Christmas present Rhys never even knew he wanted?

Very good book.  Taylor has come to town to plan her brother's wedding and she's a bit stressed over it.  Dealing with one of the groomsmen adds stress of a different type.  Rhys seems to know just what buttons to push to rile her up.  But there is also an attraction there that she can't deny.

I liked Taylor.  She is very good at event planning and she really wants to do a good job on her brother's wedding.  When some minor glitches occur and she starts to stress it's Rhys who tells her what to do to fix them.  Taylor is used to being independent and only counting on herself and isn't terribly appreciative at first.  Her attraction to him is also throwing her off kilter.  Besides just trying to avoid the distraction, she sees no future in it since she's headed back to the city right after Christmas.  Once the wedding is over and she can relax a little she finds that spending time with him is changing her priorities.  Taylor had also been feeling a bit burnt out from her business and was hoping to get her enthusiasm back. She also feels somewhat unappreciated by her family.  Being in Cadence Creek gives her a different perspective.  The interactions between Taylor and Rhys were good.  I loved the way that she would react to something he'd say and he'd just smile because he knew he'd gotten to her.  The more time she spent with him the more she fell for him, but she couldn't figure out how to make it work with her responsibility to her business.  I loved the way she figured it out.

Rhys had come back to Cadence Creek after the death of his father to help his mom.  After having to close his business he is now working as a hired hand and helped his mom buy the diner where she works.  When he meets Taylor he thinks she a bit of a big city snob but he can't resist getting closer to her.  He sees her intensity when it comes to her job and it reminds him of himself.  He understands what she is going through.  His attraction to her is strong and he tries hard to ignore it.  I loved the way that he ends up being with her, willing to take whatever time he can get with her.  I liked the way that  he opened up to her about his past and the effect it had on him.  Rhys's own insecurities had him settling for just a short time with Taylor when he really wanted her to stay.  I really loved the ending and seeing how ready he was to support Taylor in whatever she wanted to do.

Marry Me Under the Mistletoe - Rebecca Winters (HR #4402 - Nov 2013)

Series: Gingerbread Girls (Book 2)

When you wish upon a star…

After single dad Rick Jenner and his little daughter stumble upon Andrea Fleming's toy shop one snowy evening, he can't get Andrea's beautiful eyes out of his head. But with Christmas coming up, he can't afford any distractions.

Andrea is no stranger to heartache, and Rick has it written all over his face. Her head tells her to stay away, but nevertheless she is irresistibly drawn to this twosome in need of a miracle.

With a few festive sparks, a little girl's yuletide delight and a toe-curling kiss under the mistletoe…this Christmas, anything could happen!

Good book.  Andrea is still recovering from the death of her husband three weeks after their wedding.  Rick and his daughter Tessa come into her toy shop and Andrea is immediately drawn to them.  Rick lost his wife and is dealing with being a single dad.  He had no plans to get involved with another woman but he couldn't get Andrea out of his mind.  Once he accepted his feelings nothing was going to stop him from pursuing her.

When Andrea first sees Rick and his daughter outside her shop she is drawn to him.  She is still mourning her husband and doesn't understand how she can be attracted to Rick.  When he lets her know he is interested in her she tries to discourage him, but her own actions show that she is just as interested as he is.  Andrea is afraid to get too involved because Rick is a firefighter and she fears what would happen to her if she were to lose another man she loved.  Andrea also comes to care for Rick's little girl Tessa although they did get off to a bit of a rocky start.  Because the accident that killed her husband also injured her, Andrea isn't able to have children.  She sees this as a drawback and is sure that no man will be able to love her if she can't have kids with him.  I loved seeing Andrea start to open up with Rick and see the possibilities.  

Rick had lost his wife to leukemia and is coping as a single dad.  For awhile after his wife's death everyone indulged his daughter and she is beginning to be rather spoiled.  So when she pitches a fit in the toy shop he isn't exactly happy with Andrea's actions, but he is also attracted to her.  He hasn't felt like that in a long time and he isn't sure at first if he wants to be.  I liked the way that he decided to risk it and started pursuing Andrea.  He was frustrated by her reluctance, but he wasn't going to give up.  When she finally confessed her fears about his work he was stunned, especially when she explained that she saw the same kind of fears in his daughter.  I loved how he found a way to continue doing what he loved while at the same time relieving their fears.

There was also a concurrent storyline about an arsonist in the area.  It was interesting to see how they figured out who was doing it.  The connection of the arsonist to Andrea and Rick made for a nice bit of suspense.  It also helped move the romance along.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Justice is Coming - Delores Fossen (HI #1461 - Dec 2013)

Series: Marshals of Maverick County (Book 5)

The armed and dangerous woman trespassing on federal marshal Declan O'Malley's Texas ranch isn't a killer. She's Eden Gray, and the P.I. is trailing trouble and unfinished business. He's the last person she wants to visit, but now a vengeful enemy is targeting them both.

Eden's orders were very clear: kill Declan, or her sisters die. Sworn to find out who's after her and why, she's forced to team up with the devastatingly attractive lawman.

As desire flares, a decades-old secret erupts, turning everything Declan believed into a lie. Everything except the passion driving him and Eden to fight for a future they might not live to see.

Revenge, jealousy, secrets and passion - this book has them all.  Eden has been sent to kill Declan or her sisters will die.  She doesn't want to do it, and manages to convince Declan of the danger to them both.  As they begin investigating who is trying to kill both of them, the suspect list grows and gets more complicated.  Add to that an attraction between the two of them that won't go away and you have a recipe for disaster - or an incredible future.

Eden doesn't want to kill Declan, so she lies in wait for him to warn him what's going on.  She doesn't blame him for his initial skepticism, but events soon show him she's telling the truth.  Because she has a motive, in that Declan arrested her father for murder, she has to work extra hard to get him to trust her.  She is also incredibly attracted to him, but knows that doing anything about it right now would be a very bad idea.  I loved the way that she stays an active part of the investigation, even when Declan tries to protect her.  She is also pretty quick to learn his moods and is great at defusing some of his more volatile reactions.  I liked her loyalty to her father, but that she also had no illusions about what he was like.  I loved the way that she was there for Declan as he learned more about his background, not pushing but available when he was ready to talk.

Declan is the youngest of Kirby's boys.  He's very good at his job as a marshal and loyal to his family.  When he finds Eden waiting for him he isn't inclined to believe her at first, given her relationship to one of the people he's arrested.  He can't deny the danger they both are in and finds himself compelled to protect her.  He's wary about trusting her at the beginning, but it doesn't take long for his instincts to kick in and tell him that he can.  I loved the way that he didn't deny or hide his attraction to her.  The more they investigate who is after them, the more it seems to be very personal to both of them. I loved his protectiveness toward Eden and his frustration when she wouldn't do what he said when he tried to keep her safe.  Eden's presence was helpful to him as secrets kept by Kirby and Stella about his background rocked his world.  I loved the way that he was able to lean on her.  I loved his caution at the end and how she reacted to everything he said.

There is still no resolution of the ongoing question of who killed the former director of the children's home where the boys grew up.  There were a couple possibilities mentioned in this book, but nothing conclusive.  I'm looking forward to the next book which should wrap it all up.

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Colton Bride - Carla Cassidy (HRS #1772 - Oct 2013)

Series: Coltons of Wyoming (Book 4)

Ranch foreman Gray Stark and heiress Catherine Colton may live together on Dead River Ranch, but they're from different worlds. She made that clear when she broke his heart years ago. With their passionate, complicated past, marriage is not an option. Until he finds out that she -- and her unborn baby -- are targets.

Making Catherine his wife is the best way to ensure her safety. But as desire resurfaces, it wars with the danger that hovers close. Is Gray ready to face his biggest threat yet to keep Catherine safe…and by his side…forever? 

Very good book.  After a couple months of relative quiet things are heating up at the ranch again.  Catherine is pregnant by a man who only wanted her for her inheritance so she broke it off with him.  Now she's a doubly attractive target for kidnapping and ransom.  Stepping up to protect her is Gray.  As teenagers they were in love with each other until Gray left the ranch without even saying goodbye.  Though he's been back for several years they avoid each other whenever possible.  Gray can't stand the idea of Catherine being in danger and decides that marrying her would make it possible for him to be with her 24/7.  Neither expects their old feelings to resurface.

Catherine had been heartbroken when Gray left without telling her why.  She has moved on with her life, and tells herself that she no longer has feelings for him.  But when he is the one who rescues her from the first kidnapping attempt she discovers that maybe those old feelings aren't dead after all.  She tries to ignore the danger, but after another attempt she realizes that it is real.  She doesn't want to endanger her pregnancy so when Gray suggests a temporary marriage so that he can better protect her she says yes.  She doesn't expect to start seeing more of the boy she fell in love with in the man he has become.  She tries to remind herself that the marriage is only temporary, that when the danger is gone Gray will be also, but she still finds herself dreaming about making it real.  I loved seeing the way that they worked together, from the ranch chores they did to their investigation into Dylan's background for him.  All of it brought them closer together.

Gray is a great guy who has a few insecurities when it comes to Catherine.  He had loved her as a teen, but after hearing part of a conversation thought that she didn't care the same way.  Added to his father's assertion that a Colton would never marry a mere ranch hand, Gray decided he needed to leave the ranch.  Several years later he returned to take his father's place as foreman, but did his best to avoid Catherine.  When he rescues her from a kidnapping attempt he is reminded of the way he used to feel about her.  He can't bear the idea of something happening to her so he makes it his job to keep her safe.  When another attempt is made from inside the house he suggests that they marry as a way for him to stay by her side.  It doesn't take long for him to realize the downside of all that togetherness - his feelings for her are growing again.  He still feels that there is no future for them and tries to keep his distance, but it is a losing battle.  I was really rooting for him to finally try to fight for her and tell her how he really felt.

The mystery of who is behind the troubles on the ranch is ongoing.  There is a glimpse at the end of the person who may be behind it, but they are masked so it's just an impression.  My one guess may have already been eliminated, but there are still other options.  

Dylan also asked Gray and Catherine to help him find out the truth behind who he is.  Some of his (murdered in the first book) mother's information has been called into question and he needs to know the truth.  Some of the things they find out create even more questions.  Hopefully those will be answered in the next book, which is Dylan's story.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

How to Marry a Princess - Christine Rimmer (HSE #2294 - Nov 2013)

Series: Bravo Royales (Book 5)


Alice Bravo-Calabretti was expected to conduct herself like a proper princess. No more impulsive jaunts to neighboring countries. No more tabloid escapades. But the hot new stable-hand was a scandal waiting to happen. His bold blue eyes and come-hither smile could tempt a Bravo Royale to misbehave. Until Alice discovered her "penniless groom" was an American tycoon looking for a princess bride.

Alice was everything Noah Cordell wanted in a wife. But his royal heartthrob refused to say "I do" until he gave up his most carefully guarded secret. And she wouldn't settle for anything less than everything he had to give. Only then could they share a true meeting of minds and hearts -- Bravo-Cordell style.

Very good book. Both Alice and Noah have fears that they must overcome in order to have the love that they need.  Alice has decided that it's time to stop being the wild child of the family, so she is trying to curb her impulsive behavior.  Being attracted to a good looking stable hand is not the way to do it.  And then she discovered that he's no stable hand but an American tycoon looking for a wife.  Noah decided it was time to marry and that he wanted a princess.  After deciding what he was looking for he settled on Alice and nothing was going to stop him from getting what he wanted, least of all her desire to have it all.

I really liked both Noah and Alice, though Noah was certainly frustrating.  Alice had made the decision to change after her latest escapade earned her mother's disappointment. She is afraid of giving in to her impulsive side again. She is trying very hard to be good, to the point where even her family members are worried about her not being herself.  When she first sees Noah she is so tempted to indulge herself but talks herself out of it.  When she discovers that he was just playing a part she is furious with him for the deception.  She accepts his apology but is not inclined to have anything else to do with him.  When she finally gives in to seeing him again he makes it clear that he's interested in getting to know her better as he invites her to visit him in California.  Once she's there she is stunned to find him proposing marriage, but without any mention of love.  The more time she spends with him, the more she comes to care about him, but she is bothered by his excessive control.  I really liked the way that, as much as she came to love him, she refused to settle for less than she felt she deserved.  I loved the way that she tried so hard to get him to see what she needed while showing him how she felt.  I also liked her friendship with Noah's sister Lucy and how she tried to get Noah to see how wrong he was in his overprotectiveness.  It was this problem that was the straw that sent her home, wondering if Noah would ever be able to give her what she needed most from him.

Noah is very upfront with Alice about what he wants.  He wants her to be his wife.  They have a lot in common and their attraction to each other is hot.  He admits to her that he made a mistake at the beginning by hiding who he was, but he had done it because his research had indicated that type of thing would appeal to her.  He didn't know about her resolve to change her ways.  Once he did, he set about trying to win her.  When he invited her to California his intent was to propose right away and get married as soon as possible.  He was stunned when she turned him down, claiming that until she had all of him there would be no engagement.  Noah has never intended love to be part of the equation.  When he was a boy he saw his mother give up after his father's death, no longer having the heart to go on without him.  After his mother's death his sister had to go to foster care until he was able to care for her.  Lucy had heart problems and Noah was the one who made sure that everything was done to get her healthy.  Now he still fears losing her and can't let go of his control over her.  Even Alice can't make him see that he is driving Lucy to do something desperate.  Noah finds that things are changing with Alice and he doesn't know how to deal with those changes.  It takes his housekeeper/friend reading him the riot act for him to finally admit his feelings, overcome his fears and go after Alice.  I really loved what he did at the end.

Forsaken - B. J. Daniels (HQN - Sept 2013)

Series: Beartooth Montana (Book 3)

Danger runs high and passions burn hot in Montana's wild country

Big-city detective Bentley Jamison is a long way from home in the Beartooth wilderness when one of local rancher Maddie Conner's ranch hands goes missing. Towering mountains and a small, tight community are as unfamiliar to Jamison as herding sheep, but he's never shied away from a challenge. As the new deputy sheriff, he's sworn to protect every inch of this rough terrain -- starting with unraveling a mystery that has left Maddie a wide-open target.

Maddie's as beautiful -- and untamable -- as the land around them. Like Jamison, she won't back down from danger. But desire that flares hotter than their tempers only raises the stakes when a fierce storm traps them in the high mountains. Caught in a killer's sights, Jamison and Maddie must trust one another, because now survival…and love…are all that matter.

Good book with three storylines.  There is the developing romance between Jamison and Maddie,  the drug runners trying to recover their drugs, and the sheriff's ongoing problems with his ex-wife.  The romance was at times intense, but also believable as Jamison and Maddie have to let go of their pasts and learn to trust each other.  The drug runners are determined to recover their loot but, not knowing the Montana wilderness, need to get some help without giving away their reasons.  And Sheriff Frank Curry has to figure out how to stop his apparently unbalanced ex-wife from attacking him and going after the woman he cares for.  There is enough going on that I couldn't put it down until I had finished it.

I liked Jamison and Maddie.  Jamison is a former homicide detective from New York City who has come to Montana to get away from his memories back home.  He is recently divorced from a wife who ended up not respecting what he chose to do with his career.  She left him feeling like he hadn't been good enough for her.  Montana is a whole different world and when he is called on to investigate the disappearance of Maddie's sheepherder he is somewhat out of his element.  Maddie herself is unlike any woman he had ever known before.  He is attracted to her but tries to fight it because of the circumstances.  Though he knows nothing of sheep ranching, he has to go with Maddie to the high pastures to investigate.  I loved the way that he constantly surprises her with his ability to adapt to his surroundings.  Even though he is a "greenhorn" thanks to things in his own past (thank you Boy Scout camp!) he is able to keep up with her and be of real help. Jamison starts to think less about what is back in New York and to appreciate and enjoy the Montana wilderness.  By the end he has to decide whether to return to his old life or embrace the possibilities of a new one.

Maddie is very independent and doesn't want to rely on anyone.  She lost her husband and son in an avalanche four years earlier and has buried herself in her ranch work ever since, not letting anyone get close.  With the disappearance of her sheepherder, she has to accept Jamison's presence as they look for him.  She looks down on him quite a bit at first, thinking that there is no way he will be able to do what needs to be done to get to the high pastures where the sheep are and Branch disappeared.  She is surprised at how capable he turns out to be.  She is also attracted to him, which really surprises her.  As they work together she discovers that there is more to him that she thought and the attraction grows stronger.  I loved seeing her let go of some of her iron grip on her feelings and lean a little bit on Jamison's strength.  By the end she had to decide if she was going to hold on to her grief or move on to a happier future.

The suspense portion of the story, with the disappearance of the sheepherder and its connection to the drug runners kept me turning the pages until the end.  As we see more and more of them through the book the danger grows more intense to everyone who comes in contact with them.  Their connection to a Beartooth native creates danger for him also as he is pulled unknowlingly into their problems.  It was interesting to see the interactions among them, giving new meaning to the phrase "no honor among thieves".  There were a couple interesting twists at the end.  I'll be interested to see if there is any continuation of the storyline in the next book.

Sheriff Frank Curry is still trying to help his daughter, continuing his story from Redemption.  When his ex-wife shows up in Beartooth and attacks him he worries about what she might do to his friend Lynette.  Pam is able to avoid any charges and makes it look like she is a victim instead.  Frank tries to pull away from Lynette to protect her, but doesn't tell her that's what he's doing.  This creates mixed signals to her, creating tension between them.  I'll be interested to see how this story progresses.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Redemption - B. J. Daniels (HQN - Feb 2013)

Series: Beartooth Montana (Book 2)

"The hunt for justice...and love...begins"

Jack French has had two long years of prison- ranch labor to focus on starting over, cleaning up his act and making things right. When he comes home to close-knit Beartooth, Montana, he's bent on leveling the score with the men who set him up. The one thing he doesn't factor into his plans is beautiful Kate LaFond.

With adventure-seeking in her blood, Kate's got big dreams to chase and a troubled past to put to rest. And even though a red-hot connection to a woman with her own set of secrets isn't part of Jack's plans, he just can't resist Kate and the gold cache she's after...even if it comes at a price.

But when Kate is accused of murder, he realizes she's not only a suspect, but a target. In the Montana wilderness, he'll do whatever it takes to keep her safe from a killer on a quest to rob them of their chance for a new, passionate life with each other. 

Good book with plenty of suspense. It kept me turning the pages as I wanted to find out what would happen next, both with the mysteries and with the relationship between Jack and Kate.  Jack is back home in Beartooth after getting out of prison for a crime he didn't commit.  He had been fairly wild before but is now determined to make a better life for himself.  He also wants to find out who set him up.  He doesn't expect to get involved with Kate.  Kate was left the diner and is using it as a base for her treasure hunt.  She has a bunch of secrets that she doesn't plan to share with anyone, but she didn't count on her connection with Jack.  When those secrets bring danger to her door Jack is the one who steps up to protect her.

I liked both Jack and Kate.  Jack just wants to start his life over.  He grew up while in prison and realizes that being a hell-raiser is part of what got him in trouble.  He's not sure if he'll stick around or sell his ranch and move on.  When he hears a woman being attacked he can't help but step in.  Her attacker runs off, but Kate isn't too pleased with his interference.  He backs off and plans to stay away from her but keeps finding their paths crossing.  He can't get her off his mind and is soon helping her with her treasure hunt.  He also wants to clear his name by finding out who set him up.  He has his suspicions but he needs to find the proof.  I liked the way that Jack protected Kate, even as she was fighting him about it.  He was attracted to her but fought it because he didn't want to deal with her secrets. In spite of it all, his feelings for her kept growing.  I liked their solution to the treasure hunt. I also enjoyed seeing him figure out who set him up and the way that he ended up getting the proof he needed. 

Kate was a very independent woman.  She didn't like to rely on anyone else for help.  When she was approached by the owner of the diner and told about it and her past she wasn't sure she wanted anything to do with it at first.  She soon came to care for Claude and accepted what he told her.  After his death she followed his instructions but soon found herself in trouble.  As she searched for the treasure supposedly left to her by her mother she was attacked on several occasions by men who were her stepbrothers and also looking for the treasure.  Jack is the one who keeps coming to her rescue.  She doesn't want to get involved with him but she finds she can't stay away from him.  She finally trusts him with her secrets and together they try to find the treasure before her brothers do.  There were times I wanted to shake her for pushing Jack away when it was obvious he was coming to care for her.  She was also beginning to settle in to life in Beartooth, even though she kept thinking about leaving.  I liked the way she finally accepted that she loved Jack and didn't really want to leave.

There was also a secondary story starring Sheriff Frank Curry.  He is still nursing his feelings for Nettie Benton.  She is still technically married so all he can do is continue their friendship.  She rents an apartment to a young woman who seems obsessed with watching Frank and it begins to worry her.  Frank talks to the young woman and discovers that she is the daughter he never knew he had.  She is exhibiting a lot of anger toward him, having been told a bunch of lies by his ex-wife.  Frank really wants to have a relationship with her but her actions are very erratic.  There is quite a shock at the end.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Perfect Fit - Carly Phillips (Berkley - Jan 2013)

Series: Serendipity's Finest (Book 1)

Always feeling like the odd man out in his family, Michael Marsden wanted to make it on his own. So he escaped Serendipity to become an undercover cop in Manhattan, where the Marsden name wasn't known. But Michael's independence is compromised when he returns home to replace his sick father as chief of police. Back in the shadow of his family, he's as lost and restless as ever, until he's challenged by someone he never anticipated.

Cara Hartley is the Serendipity cop with whom Mike had a one night stand three months earlier. Neither expected anything more but fate has other things in store. When Mike returns as Cara's boss, the sexual tension between them is impossible to ignore - and the unexpected emotional connection continues to grow. But Cara's a small town girl while Mike has a wanderer's blood in his veins.

Together their chemistry explodes but ...
Both are convinced a future together is impossible. Until Mike's real father's secrets come back to haunt him and he realizes there are some things worth staying and fighting for. Including Cara.

Very good book.  Mike is back in Serendipity to fill in as police chief while his dad recovers from cancer treatments.  He can't wait to get back to the city where his restlessness isn't a problem.  But he soon finds that restlessness is lessened by the presence of Cara, with whom he had one awesome night three months earlier.  The attraction is still there and just as hot as it was before.  As they start a short term relationship both are convinced that anything long term is impossible.

I really liked both Cara and Mike.  Cara is a straightforward woman who doesn't play games.  She enjoyed her night with Mike but really didn't expect to see much more of him.  When he came back to town to fill in as police chief, he became her boss.  It was awkward at first until they cleared the air between them and admitted that the attraction was still there.  Cara knows she is risking her heart, but she can't resist Mike.  I really loved Cara's honesty.  She tells Mike straight out that she doesn't expect commitment from him, that she will take what he's willing to give her for as long as he's around.  Things are going pretty smoothly until her work on a cold case unearths information about his biological father.  The more time they spend together the more she feels an emotional connection to Mike and that connection has her understanding a lot more than he is sometimes comfortable with.  I loved seeing the way that she understood so much of what Mike was feeling and was able to give him just what he needed.  When she finally admits her feelings to herself she knows she has to be true to her own needs, even if that means not seeing Mike anymore.  Cara also has some family issues of her own.  She grew up with an abusive father which has caused her to have some trust issues with men.  She has to feel that they will keep their promises, unlike her father who would constantly promise to stop the abuse, but then keep on doing it.  She has tried to get her mother away from him and is frustrated by her refusal to do so.  Cara uses her knowledge to help other abused women which helps her deal with it. 

Mike has always felt a little out of place in his family.  His dad is actually his adoptive father and Mike feels like he doesn't really fit in.  He knows his biological father ran out on his mom and feels like he has inherited those same tendencies.  He has never been able to truly settle down anywhere and doesn't have real relationships with women.  He does love his family and when his dad asks him to come fill in as police chief he does it.  He figures he can handle staying in Serendipity for as long as needed because he knows there is an end to it.  He does have to face Cara again, knowing that she's the one woman he hasn't been able to stop thinking about.  When they admit their attraction is still as hot as it had been, he makes sure she knows that he doesn't do commitment, that there are "no hearts involved".  As they work on a cold case together that involves his biological father Cara is the one who helps him deal with the things he is feeling.  He is also starting to feel things for her that he's never experienced with another woman, things that make him wonder if maybe he's not as much like his old man as he thought.  I really loved seeing the softer side of him that came out when he was with Cara.  When he finally admitted his feelings to himself he panicked and disappeared, leaving Cara exactly as he had said he would.  I loved seeing his brother try to help both Cara and Mike, and how he made Mike see what was important.  I loved Mike's "go big" moment.

The Perils of Pleasure - Julie Anne Long (Avon - Feb 2008)

Series: Pennyroyal Green (Book 1)

A rescued rogue . . .
Scandal has rocked the city of London. Colin Eversea, a handsome, reckless unapologetic rogue is sentenced to hang for murder and, inconveniently for him, the only witness to the crime disappears. Then again, throughout history, the Everseas have always managed to cheat fate in style: Colin is snatched from the gallows by a beautiful, clever mercenary.

A captivating captor. . .
Cool-headed, daring Madeleine Greenway is immune to Colin's vaunted charm. Her mission is not to rescue Colin but to kidnap him, and to be paid handsomely for it. But when it becomes clear that whoever wants Colin alive wants Madeline dead, the two become uneasy allies in a deadly race for truth. Together, they'll face great danger--and a passion neither can resist.

Fun book.  Colin has been convicted of a murder he didn't commit and is moments from hanging.  But Everseas have the reputation of being able to cheat fate and Colin is rescued in a puff of smoke and disappears.  Madeleine has been paid to rescue him and  then hold him for the person who paid her.  But when someone takes a shot at her, Colin saves her and they go on the run to discover who wants her dead and him alive.

Colin wants nothing more than to prove his innocence and make it back to Sussex in time to keep the woman he loves from marrying his brother.  The only way he can do that is by working with Madeleine to discover the truth behind his rescue.  He is fascinated by her and her cleverness and the way she can resist his blatant attempts to charm her.  He soon discovers that she understands him far better than anyone else he knows.  He also begins to understand her the more he learns of her past and seems to know just what to say to her to revive her spirits when they start to wear down.  I really enjoyed the banter between him and Madeleine as they have to first overcome their distrust of each other, then deal with their growing attraction.  He seemed to be pretty oblivious to the fact that he was falling for Madeleine at the same time he was obsessed with getting back to Louisa. Colin is basically a nice guy who uses humor to hide his own insecurities while doing nice things for other people.  Even as he was on the run he was still polite even to the people who were involved in his troubles.  I liked the way that he realized what was most important to him at the end, though frustrated by the way he didn't pursue it.

Madeleine is a widow who has made a career out of "planning" rescues for people.  Her rescue of Colin is simply a way to earn the money she needs to move to America.  When the planned turnover of Colin is interrupted by someone trying to kill her, they go on the run to find out who is behind the rescue and murder attempt.  I really liked Madeleine's intelligence and ability to think on the fly.  It was really nice to read a book where the heroine rescues the hero.  Madeleine is attracted to Colin but has no intention of doing anything with it.  She spends the first part of the book not trusting him because she isn't sure that he is truly innocent of the charges.  As they have to work together she begins to get to know him and trust a little bit.  She also sees that he uses his humor and charm to hide behind when he feels vulnerable.  Having been on her own for several years since the death of her husband she is moved by Colin's protectiveness.  Her feelings begin to change even though she knows that he is far above her.  As they get closer to solving the mystery she admits her feelings to herself, but refuses to allow herself to think of a future with him.  She denies herself what she really wants because she wants him to be happy.  I loved seeing her face her fears at the end and allow herself to go after what she really wanted.

The mystery itself was pretty interesting, though certainly convoluted.  As Colin and Madeleine pursued their investigation they only got small pieces of information at a time.  Each bit that they got came from interesting occurrences, from a lady and her footman to gravediggers.  There was also an interesting revelation about Colin's parents that rocked his world. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Cowboy Crazy - Joanne Kennedy (Sourcebooks Casablanca - June 2012)

Series: Cowboy (Book 5)

From stable to boardroom...

Sarah Landon's Ivy League scholarship transforms her from a wide-eyed country girl into a poised professional. Until she's assigned to do damage control with the boss's rebellious brother Lane, who's the burr in everybody's saddle. He's determined to save his community from oil drilling, and she's not going back to the ranch she left forever. Spurs will shine in this saucy romp about ranchers and roots, redemption and second chances.

Good book.  Sarah was very happy to leave her small town behind and reinvent herself.  Now she's a public relations professional working for Carrigan Oil.  Everything is great until her boss's older brother makes it known that he doesn't want them drilling on the family ranch and wrecking the small town he calls home.  Now her boss wants her to go there and convince Lane and the townspeople that drilling will be a good thing.  Her mission gets derailed when the attraction between the two of them takes over.

I had a bit of trouble liking Sarah, especially at the beginning.  She came across as rather snobby, looking down on the small town people.  Her initial opinion of Lane was that he was a footloose cowboy with no ambition and no interest in making things better for the people of his town.  She also discovered that she was incredibly attracted to him, which was not in her plan at all.  When her boss, who is also Lane's brother, tells her to get close to him and change Lane's mind about opposing the drilling, she is not happy.  Going to a rodeo with Lane brings back unhappy memories for her.  It also feeds the attraction she feels for him.  The more time she spends with Lane the more he succeeds in making her remember the good things about her life in Two Shot, but she still has issues with things from her past.  Lane's influence has her allowing the real her to come out more and more.  I liked seeing her relax and start to have some fun with Lane.  She also has her eyes opened about the truth behind some of her worst memories of her youth.  Sarah has been helping out her sister whose got problems with her ex, but later learns that things aren't always like they seem there either.  She has a bad habit of judging first before getting the whole story and then it takes a lot to convince her that she was wrong.  When she finally opens up to Lane about her past she also confronts him about his rosy view of small towns and shows him what it can be like for the real people.  She has a lot of anger and hurt to overcome before she can allow herself to be happy with Lane.

I liked Lane a lot.  He is a pretty laid back kind of guy, happy with his rodeo work and running the family ranch.  He's content to leave the running of the family oil business to his brother until Eric makes the decision to start drilling on the ranch.  Lane doesn't want the ugliness of the drills on his land and he doesn't want the changes that the drilling would bring to his hometown.  He's seen what happened in other small towns and has vowed to fight it.  He isn't impressed by Sarah when he meets her, just seeing a stuck up city girl who has no idea what ranching and small towns are like.  He is surprised by the difference in her when he takes her to the rodeo and by the attraction he feels for her.  It doesn't take long for him to see beneath the citified surface to the country girl that is still inside her.  As he finds out more of her story he wants Sarah to accept the person she really is.  He is persistent about it, but he is gentle about it.  He doesn't try to browbeat her into accepting his viewpoint.  He also finds the attraction he feels for her growing into something much more.  I liked the way that he accepted his feelings for her and wanted to do whatever necessary to bring her around to his side.  They still had their differences about life in a small town, and when Sarah's sister became ill and it was an hour's drive to a hospital he finally started to understand her assertion that the town needed the income that the drilling would bring in.  I liked the way that he worked out a way for both sides to be happy.

Both Lane and Sarah had somewhat unrealistic views of life in the small town of Two Shot.  Lane's view was on the rosy side, seeing only the good things like neighbors watching out for each other, knowing almost everyone, and not having to deal with the stresses of city life.  All Sarah could see were the negatives such as judgmental small town people, lack of jobs and money needed for the comforts of life, and the dangers of not having basic services.  By getting to know and love each other they also were able to re-evaluate what they wanted from life and come out on the other side as happier people.  The attraction and passion between them helped to open up their hearts and minds to the potential for real happiness.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Would-Be Christmas Wedding - Debra Webb (HI #1456 - Nov 2013)

Series: Colby Agency: The Specialists (Book 3)

Emmett Holt was laying everything on the line. The deputy director of Mission Recovery had gone way undercover to bring down a criminal mastermind. It had to appear, even to his own people, that he was involved in a plot to kidnap his boss's sister. But Cecelia Manning wasn't what he'd expected. 

Emotional entanglements made him vulnerable in his line of work. So Emmett made his heart as cold as a Christmas blizzard. But as Cecelia collaborated in his risky ploy, his admiration for her was surpassed only by his raging desire. He'd known from the start he could lose his career, but never imagined he could gain a wife.

Wow.  This was a fantastic conclusion to the trilogy.  Emmett has been playing the part of a traitor in order to bring down an international terrorist.  He's done such a good job that his own people are beginning to doubt him.  When the final step is to kidnap his boss's sister he knows he's in trouble.  Cecilia isn't anything like what he expected.  When she offers to help him he is amazed by her talents.  He always knew that he could lose his career if this went wrong, he hadn't realized he could lose his heart.

I loved Emmett and Cecilia.  When he first learned of Isley's plans to release a deadly virus in the world and to punish Thomas Casey for his role in Isley's father's death he knew that he had to do whatever it took to stop him.  He spent months building his role as a traitor in order to get close enough to take him down.  He did it all on his own, not telling anyone about it in order to make it look more credible.  Emmett has always been a loner, not cultivating friendships or relationships because those could make him vulnerable.  He also found that keeping secrets as he must is hard on any kind of relationship.  When he got word of the plan to kidnap Cecilia and use her against Thomas he started taking steps to protect her at the same time he would have to use her.  I loved the way that their first meeting/date totally surprised him with her beauty but also her intelligence.  When they were attacked her coolness under stress  made him reevaluate the plans he had made, making it possible to be a little more inventive.  He also didn't expect the intense physical attraction he felt for her.  He knew that nothing could come of it because of his actions but he found his mind going there anyway.  I really liked the way that he ended up telling her everything and accepting her help.  He was surprised by some of her insights.  He was also very nervous about the way that she could see past his walls and seemed to understand a lot more about him than he was comfortable with.  I also liked how he was so supportive of her future plans and told her that he was very confident in her ability to carry them out.  

Cecilia is ready to move on past her husband's death.  She has been working in an admin job for the CIA but recently put in an application to become an operative.  She was accepted and is excited about it, but her daughter and brother don't think she is able to do it.  She is frustrated by their attitudes but isn't going to let it stop her.  She has also joined an online dating site, where she met Emmett.  Before they go on their first date she is warned about him by her brother, who is Emmett's boss.  When Emmett protects her from several attacks that first night, she is sure that he isn't the bad guy he's being accused of being.  She tries to be somewhat cautious about those feelings,  worried that the attraction she feels for him might be coloring her view.  But thanks to her experiences with her various operative family members, she can also see past the role he's playing as a bad guy to the white knight that is his true self.  I loved the way that she refuses to sit back and let him do everything.  By the time she gets the whole story from him she knows that she is going to do everything she can to make sure he survives the operation with career and life intact.  She has a great way of standing up to him and making sure he listens to what she has to say.  She also discovers that the emotions she thought had died with her husband are alive and well when it comes to Emmett.  When the final showdown came I loved her part at the very center of it.

Over the three books, Emmett's part wore on him more and more.  Trying to run an operation like that completely on his own was incredibly stressful.  In the second book it was really hard to tell if he was a good guy or had really gone over to the dark side.  As he took center stage in this book it all became clear but the tension was really strong.  I loved the mutual respect that Emmett and Cecilia had for each other even before their emotions took over.  The final showdown was intense, and the culmination of the romance was fun.   

Ready, Aim ... I Do - Debra Webb (HI #1449 - Oct 2013)

Series: Colby Agency: The Specialists (Book 2)

He awoke with a ring on his finger. Only problem was Specialist Jason Grant couldn't remember a wedding. But he did recognize the beautiful woman in his Vegas hotel suite as CIA operative Ginger Olin.

Being newlyweds was the perfect cover to expose whoever was targeting Jason. Then Gin laid down ground rules. Passion and affection were for the public only. In private, it was hands off. But as Jason's hunger for his make-believe wife battled with his professional dedication, their "just for show" behavior had him yearning to make Gin his wife for real. 

Very good book as the tension for the Mission Recovery team increases.  Jason is on assignment in Las Vegas as he waits to make contact with another agent.  The last thing he remembered was having a drink that a lady had bought for him.  Now he's woken up with a ring on his finger and in bed with Gin Olin.  Gin in there to track a vial of a deadly virus that's due to be sold on the black market.  When she saw Jason acting strangely at the same time she needed some cover she used him to provide that cover.  She and Jason then agreed to maintain the illusion in order to find out who was targeting Jason and to help her with her mission.  Neither of them expected the attraction between them or the growing desire to make their Vegas marriage a real one.

I really liked both Gin and Jason.  Gin is used to working alone, but she needed some help fast when she was spotted by the man who had the virus she was tracking.  She recognized Jason and thought he'd be perfect to help her.  But when she reached him he was behaving in an uncharacteristic way.  She soon realized that he'd been drugged so it was up to her to save them both.  I loved her method which ended up with them married to each other.  Once Jason had recovered they realized they could help each other.  Gin's mission of tracking the virus was fairly simple, which enabled her to spend time with Jason while they figured out what was going on.  I loved the way that she took charge while Jason was out of it.  The next morning was fun as she teased him about their wedding, but also pretty intense as they were attacked and had to try to find out why.  I liked seeing Gin be her usual capable self while at the same time dealing with Jason's growing protectiveness.  Thanks to the stress of their situation Gin feels her attraction to Jason growing stronger, but she knows better than to fall for another operative.  I loved seeing her internal struggle as she fought her feelings.  I also liked the way that she saw that he was being set up sooner than he did.  The two of them worked together very well as they escaped several potentially deadly situations.  Her part in the ending was fantastic.

Jason was a little confused about his mission.  It is very unusual to be sent somewhere just to wait and the inactivity is driving him nuts.  He accepts the drink sent to him because the woman looks familiar and that's the last thing he really remembers.  When he wakes up in the morning in bed with and married to Gin he is stunned.  He's not so sure about her theory that he's being set up for something, but as the day goes on he has to admit that she may be right.  I liked the way that they decided the cover of their marriage will enable them to do more to find out what is happening.  Though marriage has not been in his life plan, Jason discovers that he really likes being married to Gin.  Besides the fact that they work well together, the attraction between them is amazing.  I loved the way that, in spite of knowing just how good she is at her work, Jason is very protective of her and worries about keeping her safe.  The more time he spends with her the more he thinks about making the marriage a real one.  I loved his solution at the end.

The suspense part of the book is great.  We see that Jason is definitely being set up in a way that would make the Mission Recovery team look really bad.  The only thing keeping the heat off him is the fact that being with Gin and out in public provides him with perfect alibis.  The attacks on them are pretty intense and it pushes them even closer together.  By the end of the book it is looking really bad for the head of the team as he appears to be working for the bad guy.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What the Duke Desires - Sabrina Jeffries (Pocket - June 2013)

Series: Duke's Men (Book 1)

They are The Duke's Men -- an investigative agency born out of family pride and irresistible passion ... and they risk their lives and hearts to unravel any shocking deception or scandalous transgression!

Maximilian Cale, the Duke of Lyons, accepted long ago that his kidnapped brother was dead. When a cryptic note from investigator Tristan Bonnaud claims otherwise, Max seeks out Tristan's sister, Lisette -- and is infuriated to learn that Tristan has mysteriously vanished. Have the siblings perpetrated an elaborate hoax? Or is the fiercely protective beauty as innocent as she claims?

Fearful that the powerful duke will destroy Tristan's career in his zeal for the truth, the clever Lisette convinces Max to accompany her to Paris in a joint search for their loved ones. But their journey takes a seductive twist when they pose as an ordinary husband and wife -- not an English duke with a tarnished family name and the illegitimate daughter of a viscount -- and discover an exhilarating passion free from the damning secrets of the past. With the line between danger and desire enticingly blurred, they discover that some mysteries, like those of the heart, are answered tenfold in the bliss of a true and trusting love.

Very good book with some great interactions between Max and Lisette.   Lisette's brother Tristan sent Max a note claiming he has information about Max's presumed dead older brother, but never showed up at a scheduled meeting.  Max shows up at Lisette's home and family investigation agency threatening dire things if Lisette doesn't tell him where Tristan is.  She doesn't know but will help Max find him, as long as she goes with him.  They travel disguised as husband and wife and have a hard time keeping their hands off each other. Both have secrets that make them unwilling to engage their hearts, but they may not be able to resist.  

I loved Lisette.  After the death of her father she, her brother and her mother were kicked out of their home by their legitimate half-brother who hated them.  He also accused Tristan of horse-stealing, causing him to have to flee England for France.  Her other half-brother was also cut off by the heir and he took care of Lisette and her mother.  He also started his detective agency.  Lisette would like to work as one of the detectives but her brothers won't allow it.  Neither is there when Max comes pounding on the door, threatening Tristan if he doesn't get some answers.  Lisette will do anything to protect Tristan and refuses to tell Max where he is unless she can go along to make sure Max doesn't ruin things.  I loved the way that she has absolutely no trouble standing up to Max.  He may be a duke but that doesn't matter to her.  She doesn't put up with his arrogance, but she doesn't put him down either.  I laughed when she told him "You got off on the wrong foot. I merely watched you shove it into your mouth."  She also is attracted to him, but having seen what happened to her mother when her father would marry her, she has vowed that she will never put herself under the control of a man.  There are a lot of sparks between them, but they know that a match between them is impossible.  Once they are on the road together they start getting to know one another.  Lisette sees that Max hides a lot of pain and is eventually able to get him to talk about it.  I loved the way that she was willing to risk her heart even if she couldn't be with him.  She tried to protect him from her brothers and from being hurt by her circumstances.

Max had become the heir when his older brother was kidnapped and later  died.  Many people have tried to convince him that they were his brother so he is wary of anyone who claims to have such information.  He is furious when Tristan makes such a claim but then disappears before Max can talk to him.  When Max confronts Lisette he is definitely acting like an arrogant duke and makes several really obnoxious remarks.  He is surprised when Lisette stands up to him, which makes him actually stop and listen to her.  He isn't at all happy when she won't tell him where Tristan is and doesn't want to give in to her demands that she go with him on the search.  He doesn't really have a choice and they take off together for France, posing as an ordinary husband and wife.  This is fun to watch as Max has never been ordinary in his life and it is a real eye opener for him.  He also discovers a strong attraction to Lisette that begins to grow into more.  But he refuses to allow himself to let love enter a relationship.  He watched his mother suffer when his father went mad and will not put anyone else through that.  He is convinced that he is doomed to follow in his father's footsteps.  I really liked the care that Max took to protect Lisette's reputation throughout their trip.  He really wanted to have more with her but was afraid of what would happen years later.  I liked the way that the two of them were able to work so well together to track down Tristan and get to the bottom of the mystery.  The ending was fantastic and I loved the way that Max came to the rescue.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

A Rancher's Christmas - Ann Roth (HAR #1472 - Oct 2013)

Series: Saddlers Prairie (Book 5)

A Holiday Change Of Heart

Gina Arnett comes home to Saddlers Prairie to say goodbye to her uncle and sell the family ranch she's just inherited. Her focus is on getting back to Chicago and her high-powered job. Two things change her plans: a sudden blizzard that causes the town to be snowed in, and Zach Horton -- the ranch foreman who tries to convince her to stay.

Gina's boundless ambition is something Zach understands all too well. He's kept his past a secret, and to uncover it, she'll have to reveal her own uncomfortable truths -- and her growing feelings for Zach. He's not the kind of man she dreamed of falling for. But at the Christmas season, all dreams seem possible…. 

Good book.  Gina has come back to Montana to sell the ranch she just inherited from her uncle.  She has no interest in staying there, she wants to get back to her marketing job in Chicago.  She's not happy when she gets snowed in by a blizzard.  Plus, the ranch foreman promised her uncle he'd try to get her to stay.

I had a hard time with Gina for most of the book.  I understood her desire to get back to her job, that wasn't the problem.  What I didn't like was the way she was looking down on Zach because he was a ranch foreman and didn't seem to have the ambition to do anything else.  She realized she was attracted to him right away but since she'd only be there a week she didn't plan to get involved with him.  Plus she figured he wasn't her "type".  She also didn't really appreciate the way he kept trying to talk her into keeping the ranch.  After getting snowed in together she realized that they had more in common than she thought and the attraction between them was growing.  She sensed that he was keeping some secret from her since he wouldn't talk about his past.  This frustrated her but since she was keeping her own secrets I didn't have much sympathy for her.  I did like the way that she started to think more about keeping the ranch.  I thought the solution she eventually came up with was great.

Zach had promised Gina's uncle that he would try to convince her to keep the ranch and stay in Montana.  He and Zach had come up with an idea for a dude ranch that would make it possible.  But Gina was so determined to go back that Zach could barely get her to listen.  He understood her attitude since he used to be the same way.  When one of his deals had unintended consequences he sold his business and looked for a new direction.  Eventually he ended up getting hired on the ranch and found that he really enjoyed it.  He gets a lot of grief from his family about his decision which just adds to his reluctance to talk about his past.  His attraction to Gina is getting stronger the longer she stays but he doesn't want to get involved with someone who doesn't accept him for who he is. I thought he was a really nice guy and loved his non-judgmental reaction to her secret.  I liked the way they finally got together and his part in the ranch solution.

I liked seeing some of the characters from previous books.  I also loved the portrayals of Gina's relatives, especially her aunts.  The two of them with their bickering were so realistic I could practically hear them.  I also loved their obvious attempts at matchmaking.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Deadly Contact - Lara Lacombe (HRS #1778 - Nov 2013)

It's a race against time--and a fatal outbreak--
In one passionate night Special Agent James Reynolds and scientist Kelly Jarvis went from friends to lovers. Then Kelly walked away with only an apology. Now James is charged with solving a bioterrorist attack--and Dr. Jarvis works at the suspected lab. 

Is Kelly an accomplice or a victim? Just what are her secrets that drove her from James's bed? Soon one thing becomes clear: The ghosts of her past have nothing on the terrorists targeting her and Washington, D.C. Another threat bathes the city in red alert, and now there are lives at stake, in addition to hearts....

Fantastic first book from this author.  The suspense is both physical and mental as they have to outrun and outwit the bad guy.  Kelly and James had been friends for about six months when they spent one night together.  The next morning Kelly panicked and walked away, cutting off all contact with James.  Now he's investigating an apparent bioterrorist attack and the lab she works at is in the middle of it.  When her boss disappears Kelly becomes a target and James has to decide if she's a victim or part of the problem.

Kelly and James became friends first, then one night gave in to the attraction that had been building between them.  The next morning she panicked and ran away.  Kelly no longer trusts her judgment in men because her last boyfriend had been abusive.  Now she wonders if James could be like that and just hides it as well or if she made a mistake in running away.  The next time she sees James he has come to take her in for questioning about her boss's activities.  She can't believe that he thinks she could be involved.  When she's attacked and nearly kidnapped she is thankful for James's rescue.  She realizes that she never stopped caring about him and wants to mend her relationship with him.  She is nervous about telling him about her past because other people have treated her differently afterward.  She notices a difference in him also and tries to think of their relationship as strictly business but has a hard time doing that.  I did like the way that she stayed pretty calm throughout all the things that happened to her - including getting shot twice.  I loved how she was the one who saved the day at the end.

James had gotten to know Kelly through meeting her for drinks every Friday for six months.  He enjoyed their friendship a lot but was also wondering if it would be possible to have more.  When they had that one night together he was happy about it, until she ran out the next morning and refused to talk to him again.   He was worried that he had done something wrong.  When her name came up during his investigation he didn't want to believe she was capable of doing something like that.  He had had two bad experiences with that kind of betrayal - first his father and then his best friend turned out to be dirty cops.  So he is hesitant to assume that Kelly is innocent even though he feels that she is.  It doesn't take long past the first attack on her to make him pretty sure she's ok, but that little sliver of doubt hangs on for a long time.  I did enjoy his protectiveness, even when he wasn't sure about her.  I also liked his friendship with Thomas and how that friendship helped James keep Kelly safe.  I also liked the way that Thomas straightened James out at the end.

I loved the Washington DC setting also.  Having lived in the area for most of my life I recognized so many of the places in the book that it made the story that much more realistic to me.  The premise of the story also felt very realistic, also because of the location.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Proposal at the Lazy S Ranch - Patricia Thayer (HR #4399 - Nov 2013)

Series: Slater Sisters of Montana (Book 2)

Driving through the Lazy S Ranch after ten years away, the first person Josie Slater sees is the gorgeous-as-ever Garrett Temple The memories of her first love and her first broken heart come flooding back. 

She doesn't have time for old attractions, as the Lazy S needs her help But when a snowstorm blows in, Josie and Garrett are left stranded together. With nowhere to run, the feeling that they still belong together is undeniable....

Good story about second chances.  When Josie left the ranch ten years ago she left behind a father who had no time for his daughters and the memory of her first broken heart.  She has come back to help one of her sisters with the guest lodge they are building and to reunite with her father.  She doesn't expect to see Garrett, the one who broke her heart.  She isn't interested in starting anything new with him, she'll be headed back to California soon.  But it's hard to resist the attraction that is still strong between them.  

When Josie comes back she's not sure if she's ready to see her father.  She's been told that he's changed but she can't quite believe it.  While putting it off a little longer she drives over to see how the construction on the new guest lodge is doing and runs into Garrett.  Seeing him again makes her want to head right back to California but she's committed to helping for a couple weeks, so she can't avoid him.  She doesn't want to accept his apologies for the past, but being thrown together with him they have to deal with their past.  Part of her wants to be with him again, but their lives are too far apart for anything permanent and she doesn't want to lose her heart again.  I was a bit frustrated with Josie.  She was still angry about the fact that Garrett had married someone else and had a child, even though she was the one who had broken things off with him back then.  She had gotten mad at him because he accepted an internship that would keep him away for the summer, but be important experience for him.  I thought it was selfish of her then, and worse now because she didn't seem to see how selfish she had been and was still holding a grudge.  I did like her relationship with Garrett's son, she was very good with him.  As she and Garrett worked together their old feelings started to come back.  Josie saw that she was falling for him again, but she was still thinking inside the box about how to have a relationship with him.  I liked the way that it was Brody that came up with the perfect fix.

Garrett had moved back home with his son in order to help his father with his ranch and be able to give his son Brody more of his time.  He is also keeping his building business going.  He's given the Slaters a good deal on his work.  He is surprised to see Josie.  He has moved on past their history but still feels it's important for her to see his side of the story.  He gets pretty frustrated with her attitude but keeps it under control so that they can work together.  It doesn't take him long to realize that he's still interested in her.  He knows she's supposed to leave but hopes he can convince her that they should at least try to see if they can make it.  I loved the way that he even went back to California with her and helped her at one of her events.  He was impressed with her abilities and made sure she knew it.  His feelings deepen for her but she keeps pushing him away.  I loved the way that he and Brody teamed up to convince her to stay.

The storyline with the girls' father is moving along also.  Colt is recovering from his stroke and realizing even more how much he missed when the girls were young.  I like the way he isn't trying to force reconciliation but let Josie know that he's sorry and wants to make things different now.  I love seeing her reactions to the new Colt.  There is also an interesting development at the end of the book that I'm anxious to see how it turns out.

Renegade Guardian - Delores Fossen (HI #1457 - Nov 2013)

Series: Marshals of Maverick County (Book 4)

With two infants already missing, Maya Ellison worried that her son would be targeted next. She would guard him with her life, but for once she wouldn't have to do it alone. Slade Becker went beyond the call of duty and sequestered the single mother and her son on his ranch. 

Slade guaranteed their protection, and soon Maya learned there was no place safer than within his embrace. Just as she knew there was no place in Texas that the kidnapper could hide from the imposing U.S. marshal--and nothing on earth that could break up their new family....

Very good book.  Someone is kidnapping adopted baby boys in the Maverick County area.  Maya was unaware of this until Slade was assigned to protect them.  There is something about him that puts her on edge but she can't deny that he can protect her son.  As the attempts escalate their attraction also grows.  Then Maya discovers that Slade's protectiveness is a lot more personal than he let on.  

I liked Maya's independence and determination.  She had survived a brutal attack that left her unable to have children and cautious around men.  She took control of one of her dreams and adopted a baby boy, only to find out that he could be the target of a kidnapping.  When Slade is assigned to be their protection she is nervous around him at first.  He's tall, serious and very intense.  It becomes obvious pretty quickly that he can keep them safe from whoever is after them.  Once she learns to trust Slade the initial attraction she felt starts to grow.  Because of her scars from her attacker she is very self conscious around him.  I liked the way that he showed her that the scars don't matter.  She also becomes concerned about the intense way that he watches her son.  When she finds out why she is worried that she could lose the baby to him.  I loved her determination during the confrontations with the kidnapper and the way she was part of the solution.

Slade is one of six marshals who are working the kidnapping cases.  He has volunteered to be the protection for the one infant who has not yet been kidnapped.  He is determined to keep them safe and is tested from the very beginning.  First he has to overcome Maya's reluctance, which doesn't take long after the first attempt is made.  He also has to fight his attraction to her which is a distraction to his mission.  This is something he doesn't do too well at as Maya fascinates him. I loved the way that the attraction grew deeper and he began to think of having her in his life permanently. He also has to contend with the fact that one of the three babies is possibly his son from a one night stand.  Being around Evan is an eye opening experience for him.  He discovers a kind of caring he'd never experienced before.  I really loved the scenes where he was caring for the baby and his family just stared at him like they didn't know who he was.  The confrontations with the kidnapper at the end were very intense and had a couple interesting twists.  

There wasn't much mention of the ongoing series mystery of who all was involved in the murder of the former director of the children's home where Slade and his brothers grew up.  Their foster father isn't seen at all and barely mentioned.  I'm looking forward to finding out how it turns out.