Category Archives: Contemporary

Review: Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery

4th streetTitle: Christmas on 4th Street by Susan Mallery
Fool’s Gold Series Book 12.5
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length:336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

There’s nowhere better to spend the holidays than with New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery in the town of Fool’s Gold, where love is always waiting to be unwrapped…

Noelle Perkins just got a second chance at life, and she intends to make the most of it. That’s why she’s opening her own store in Fool’s Gold, California. The Christmas Attic celebrates everything that’s magical about her favorite season. Business is booming, and as a bonus, gorgeous army doctor Gabriel Boylan has offered to help out during the holiday rush.

Gabriel’s memories of Christmas past contain more sour grapes than sugarplums, thanks to his drill sergeant father. Spending the holidays with his family while he recuperates from an injury sounds as appetizing as last year’s eggnog. Still, there are some enjoyable distractions in town, including sunny, sexy Noelle…and the red-hot mistletoe kisses they can’t stop sharing.

Gabriel didn’t think he was made for happily-ever-afters. But when fate hands you a love as sweet and surprising as this, only a fool could refuse….

This edition is a reprint and includes the bonus story, Yours for Christmas (reviewed HERE).

The Review:

Christmas on 4th Street is a charming and very heartwarming addition to Susan Mallery’s delightful Fool’s Gold series. In this outing, relative newcomer to Fool’s Gold Noelle Perkins is paired up with Gabriel Boylan, an Army doctor who is only in town for the holidays. What makes this romance so fascinating is the fact they both went through similar experiences, yet their outlook on life is completely opposite. Further complicating their relationship is the fact that Gabriel is not planning on remaining in Fool’s Gold permanently. Will a little holiday magic bring this couple the happily ever after they so richly deserve?

Noelle has experienced more than her fair share of loss, but she embraces life to the fullest. Needing a life change, she moved to Fool’s Gold to open her Christmas shop and the town and its inhabitants welcomed her with open arms. Now with a large group of friends providing emotional support and unconditional friendship, Noelle is eager to move on to the next stage in her life: falling in love and settling down.

Gabriel has avoided spending the holidays with his family for several years, but an injury finds him stateside while he recovers both physically and mentally. In Fool’s Gold to reconnect with his twin brother Gideon, Gabriel is unpleasantly surprised to learn their parents will also be in town for Christmas. His relationship with his father remains contentious, so Gabriel offers to fill in at Noelle’s shop over the holidays.

Gabriel and Noelle share an easygoing friendship, but they both resist giving into the passion that simmers between them. Gabriel is honest that he does not want a long term relationship and Noelle is not willing to settle for a quick fling. Agreeing to ignore their attraction, they enjoy working together and with mutual acquaintances, they also spend time together socially as well.   The shift in their relationship from platonic to lovers is gradual and realistic, but their conflicting viewpoints on love quickly become a point of contention between them.

Christmas on 4th Street is a warm and inviting holiday story that old and new fans of the Fool’s Gold series are sure to enjoy. Despite some series topics, it is mostly a light-hearted romance between two very engaging and likable characters. Susan Mallery fully captures the spirit of the season with a storyline that is very endearing, but it is the fantastic cast of characters and loving community that make it such an outstanding read. Another emotional filled and uplifting novel that I highly recommend.

A quick note to readers: this edition is a reprint and includes the bonus story Yours for Christmas.

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Filed under Christmas on 4th Street, Contemporary, Fools Gold Series, Harlequin, HarlequinHQN, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Susan Mallery

Review: The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard

fragile worldTitle: The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Summary:

From the author of stunning debut The Mourning Hours comes a powerful new novel that explores every parent’s worst nightmare…

The Kaufmans have always considered themselves a normal, happy family. Curtis is a physics teacher at a local high school. His wife, Kathleen, restores furniture for upscale boutiques. Daniel is away at college on a prestigious music scholarship, and twelve-year-old Olivia is a happy-go-lucky kid whose biggest concern is passing her next math test.

And then comes the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes everything. Daniel has been killed in what the police are calling a “freak” road accident, and the remaining Kaufmans are left to flounder in their grief.

The anguish of Daniel’s death is isolating, and it’s not long before this once-perfect family finds itself falling apart. As time passes and the wound refuses to heal, Curtis becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge, a growing mania that leads him to pack up his life and his anxious teenage daughter and set out on a collision course to right a wrong.

An emotionally charged novel, The Fragile World is a journey through America’s heartland and a family’s brightest and darkest moments, exploring the devastating pain of losing a child and the beauty of finding the way back to hope.

The Review:

The Fragile World by Paula Treick DeBoard is a heart-wrenching, poignant and at times, humorous, novel. This compelling story about the Kaufman family and the aftermath of a tragic loss is an intense and emotional journey for parents Curtis and Kathleen and their daughter Olivia. The plot is mostly character driven novel but the final chapters are action packed as the story races to a suspenseful (and very surprising) conclusion.

The Kaufman’s happy life ends with a devastating phone call about the death of their oldest son Daniel. Each of the family members grieves and copes with his death in very different ways: Curtis is obsessed with bringing the man responsible for the terrible accident to justice while Kathleen is proactive about getting the family into therapy and copes by keeping busy. Twelve year old Olivia becomes anxiety ridden and overwhelmed with fears about anything and everything that could go wrong. Fast forward a few years and their lives completely implode when Curtis receives a letter that puts in motion a chain of events that culminate in a cross country trip that ends in a way that no one could possibly imagine.

The Fragile World is written in third person and alternates between Curtis and Olivia’s perspectives. Curtis is a sympathetic, yet frustrating character and it is impossible to fully like him as his continued obsession turns dangerous. Olivia is a heartbreaking character as she battles her anxiety by compulsively recording her fears in her notebooks and eventually disengaging from normal life. She is the keeper of her father’s secrets and although her efforts might be misguided, she is trying to protect him the best way she knows how.

The overall pacing of the novel is rather slow until Curtis and Olivia embark on their road trip. Curtis’s behavior is almost manic during the journey and although he has a few reservations about what he plans to do, he never wavers from his decision. Olivia is almost panic stricken as she is forced from the safe cocoon she has created for herself but as she faces her worst fears, her anxiety becomes more manageable. But it is her chance meeting with a young man in Wyoming that proves most healing as she steps briefly steps out of her crazy world and into normal teenage life.

The Fragile World is a well-written and absorbing novel that is quite thought-provoking. It is an intriguing character study that will surprise, frustrate and sometimes, delight, readers as they join Curtis and Olivia on their life-altering journey. Paula Treick DeBoard brings the story to a pulse-pounding conclusion that is rather shocking and while the overall ending is hopeful,there are a few lingering questions that remain unanswered.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Harlequin, Mira, Paula Treick DeBoard, Rated B, Review, The Fragile World

Review: Yours for Christmas by Susan Mallery

for christmasTitle: Yours for Christmas by Susan Mallery
Fool’s Gold Series Book 15.5
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 98 pages
Book Rating:

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Step out of the winter chill and into the warmth of Fool’s Gold, California, the charming small-town setting for a new holiday novella from New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery

Famous former NFL stars don’t date single working moms like Bailey Voss. She’ll allow herself to daydream about Kenny Scott’s muscles and killer smile, but wanting more would lead to post-holiday regret. Then Kenny volunteers to run a toy drive with Bailey, and she learns that he’s not just hot…he’s also generous, funny, nice. The whole package—tantalizingly out of reach.

The ache of past loss reminds Kenny why he needs to avoid getting too close to anyone. Especially to a gorgeous redhead and her adorable little girl. Mess it up, and he’d lose them both. Yet Kenny can only resist Bailey for so long. And as festive spirit spreads throughout the town, he’s all wrapped up in Bailey’s sweet, sexy kisses and determined to make this the first of many Christmases together…

Yours for Christmas can be purchased as a novella (HERE) but it can also be found in the re-release of Christmas on 4th Street (HERE).

The Review:

Yours for Christmas by Susan Mallery is the much anticipated romance between retired football player Kenny Scott and single mom Bailey Voss. Fans of the Fool’s Gold series are going to love this sweet and sigh-worthy love story that brings together two favorite characters in this captivating series.

Thrown together working the Fool’s Gold toy drive, Bailey and Kenny enjoy an easy friendship that also includes Bailey’s daughter Chloe. There is also a simmering attraction between them, but Kenny has an ironclad rule that he has no intention of breaking: he does not date single moms. He is upfront with Bailey that he does not want anything more than friendship and although she is disappointed, she understands his position. Of course, it does not take long before they are hanging out together on a fairly regular basis, and their feelings soon go much deeper than friendship.

Bailey has been interested in Kenny for quite some time, but she feels like she has nothing to offer a man who has dated super models and movie stars. Although she cannot help yearning for a little more with him, she is a practical woman and she is happy with his friendship. She steps out of her comfort zone when Kenny invites her to some rather posh events, but Kenny is still the same down to earth man she has always known.

Kenny has a very good reason for not wanting to get seriously involved with Bailey and by extension, Chloe. His fear of getting hurt and some major trust issues are the driving force behind his decision but he does not let that stop him from caring about both Bailey and Chloe. He continues to help Chloe with projects and Christmas shopping for her mom and it goes without saying that this super nice man is first to volunteer to help Bailey when she needs a helping hand. But a sudden realization that his heart is at risk causes Kenny to withdraw from both Bailey and Chloe.

Kenny and Bailey’s relationship slowly evolves from their friendship but most of their interactions include their mutual friends and Chloe. The gradual shift in emotions is believable given their longstanding acquaintance and various encounters from earlier books in the series. Their conflict is also understandable considering Kenny’s fears and I really like how Bailey was not afraid to speak up about her feelings when he pulled away.

Yours for Christmas is a very charming romance that fans of Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series are going to love. This enchanting story is quite engaging and full of heartwarming holiday cheer. As always, it is a true delight catching up with characters from previous novels and in true Fool’s Gold fashion, the whole community pulls together and works a little holiday magic when needed. It is another warm and entertaining addition to a beloved series that I highly recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fools Gold Series, Harlequin, HarlequinHQN, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Susan Mallery, Yours for Christmas

Review: Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman

perfect girlTitle: Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman
Publisher: Notting Hill Press
Genre: Contemporary, Humor/Satire, Fiction
Length: 326 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Summary:

Cinderella meets Falling Down in this wickedly funny tale about having it all

Carol is perfect… at least that’s what everyone thinks. In reality she’s sinking fast – her family treats her like their personal assistant and her boyfriend is so busy with work that he’s got her single-handedly running their relationship. Not that her job is any easier. As the only woman on the bank’s trading floor she spends twelve-hour days trying not to get sworn at or felt up by colleagues who put the “W” in banker.

How long can she go on pleasing everyone else before she snaps and loses it all?

With humour and empathy, Perfect Girl lays bare the balancing act that working women face in a man’s world

The Review:

If you have ever felt pulled in far too many directions, then you do not want to miss Perfect Girl by Michele Gorman. Heartfelt with (mostly) charming characters, this novel provides a humorous but realistic perspective that is sure to resonate with anyone who has found themselves overcommitted due to other people’s expectations.

Carol Colbert is in her mid-twenties and while she is extremely likable, she lets everyone take advantage of her. With a high pressured job as an investment analyst, her boss and co-workers are sexist, condescending and refuse to give her credit for her hard work. Carol’s family is just as bad-her mother and sister are incredibly demanding and they browbeat her into the tasks they do not want to be bothered with. Her boyfriend of two years is working long hours and overall, he is neglectful, forgetful and leaves the planning of their social life in her capable hands. Adding to Carol’s already hectic schedule is her friend Harriet’s foray into online dating and with her abysmal track record, Carol finds herself vetting Harriet’s perspective dates for her. Stretched way too thin, it is only a matter of time before Carol snaps and discovers that perfection is not only exhausting but extremely overrated.

Carol is the perfect daughter, friend and employee. Although she has little free time, she finds it impossible to resist the requests from her family and friends. Throughout the course of the story, Carol halfheartedly tries to refuse everyone’s increasingly outrageous demands, but she has learned it is easier to give in rather than say no. It is frustrating watching her give in time and again, but that makes it all the more gratifying when she finally says enough is enough. Carol takes the time to examine how she reached this point in her life and most importantly, she takes full responsibility for allowing herself to become everyone’s doormat.

Perfect Girl is a fantastic novel that is fast-paced and engaging. Carol is an endearing protagonists and it is impossible not to like her despite how exasperating she is at times. The plot is well-executed and although Michele Gorman takes a humorous approach to a serious topic, she raises valid points that readers will be able to relate to. I highly recommend this vastly entertaining and thought-provoking novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction.

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Filed under Contemporary, Fiction, Michele Gorman, Notting Hill Press, Rated B+, Review, The Perfect Girl

Review: Loving Him Off the Field by Jeanette Murray

loving himTitle: Loving Him Off the Field by Jeanette Murray
Santa Fe Bobcats Series Book Two
Publisher: InterMix (Penguin Group)
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 255 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Sometimes the best defense is a good offense…

Aileen is a sports reporter trying to make a name for herself without relying on her looks, And what better way to do that than to break a scandal about one of the fastest rising stars on the Santa Fe Bobcats? Killian seems too good to be true, so she knows he must be hiding something…

It’s hard enough breaking into the NFL—even more so when you’re a single dad. Killian isn’t proud that he’s keeping his son a secret, but his ex has a reputation that could tarnish his squeaky clean image for good. So when Aileen starts sniffing around, Killian decides to distract her by any means necessary.

But Aileen is more than capable of giving as good as she gets…

The Review:

Loving Him Off the Field, the second installment in Jeanette Murray’s Santa Fe Bobcats series, is a very engaging love story between an up and coming journalist and a publicity shy pro football player. This wonderful novel features a slow-burning romance, a refreshing storyline and genuine, likable characters, and it is an positively delightful read.

Killian Reeves is quiet and unassuming, and he keeps his private and professional lives completely separate. Unlike the typical highly paid athlete, he does not have an over-inflated ego nor is he interested in groupies or the limelight. Instead, he leads a quiet, solitary life and although he likes his teammates, he keeps to himself. Much to Killian’s surprise, he is intrigued by reporter Aileen Rogers, but he is dismayed when she begins to dig into his background in pursuit of a story.

Aileen is an excellent reporter but she is frustrated that her boss won’t assign her to any stories except fluffy human interest pieces.  She is thrilled to finally get a serious assignment, but she soon discovers that getting Killian to consent to an interview is next to impossible.   Aileen’s tenacity quickly pays off and he agrees to co-operate with her, but their professional relationship is soon complicated by their unexpected attraction to one another.

Killian and Aileen are both wonderfully developed protagonists and neither of them are the stereotypical characters. Killian is not the typical jock with an over-inflated ego. Instead he is very humble and down to earth. Aileen has integrity and she does not use sleazy tactics to get ahead. She is upfront and honest and she is always respectful of everyone’s right to privacy.

The sparks fly between Killian and Aileen right from their very first meeting but neither of them is looking for a relationship. They try to ignore their attraction, but once Killian kisses Aileen senseless, it is difficult for them to maintain a professional distance. They give in to their passion, but he has a few skeletons in his closet that he does not want her to uncover. When Aileen does finally learn Killian’s secrets, will their relationship survive Killian’s lack of trust?

Loving Him Off the Field is a steamy, sweet and humorous romance between two delightfully charming characters and I absolutely loved watching them fall in love. The plot is well-executed and the characters are easy to like. It is a fun, flirty and sexy addition to Jeanette Murray’s Santa Fe Bobcats series that old and new fans are sure to enjoy.

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2 Comments

Filed under Contemporary, InterMix, Jeanette Murray, Loving Him Off the Field, Rated B, Review, Romance, Santa Fe Bobcats Series