Category Archives: Harlequin

Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

Title: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Review:

The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz is a very atmospheric mystery with a slight element of romance.

Now in her mid twenties, Allison Lamarque has not seen or heard from any foster family members since leaving neurosurgeon Vincent Capello’s home (dubbed The Dragon) thirteen years earlier. Just as her current relationship is ending, she receives a letter from her foster brother, Roland Capello, letting her know that Dr. Capello does not have long to live. Conflicted about whether or not to return to the sprawling home on the Oregon coast, Allison decides to make a quick visit before doing some traveling. Soon after arriving at mansion, Allison begins to remember some of the events that precipated her  hasty departure and although Dr. Capello fills in some of the blanks, she cannot help but wonder if he is being entirely truthful. But that brings up the question: what possible reason would he have for lying to her?

Allison has no living relatives so she is a bit adrift after her long term arrangement with her older lover ends.  She is nervous about returning to Oregon due to the circumstances of her leaving, but she decides it is time to face her past. Immediately reconnecting with her long ago crush, Roland, she remains uneasy about committing to staying longer than a few days. Despite her happy memories of  her time at The Dragon,  Allison becomes a little suspicious when she becomes aware that Dr. Capello is not being truthful with her. She also learns that her foster siblings, Thora and Deacon, have been less than honest with her as well. In the course of trying to unearth the truth, Allison is shocked to learn the fate of several other foster children who were also in Dr. Capello’s care. Unraveling the web of lies, the truth about her foster siblings shocks Allison to the core and she inadvertently puts herself in danger in the process.

The Lucky Ones by is a very riveting mystery  with a bit of a gothic feel to the storyline. The characters are quite fascinating  but also somewhat mysterious due to the many secrets they are keeping. Allison’s investigation into her long ago accident takes a very unexpected turn as she uncovers very appalling information.  The mystery aspect of the storyline is completely wrapped up but Tiffany Reisz leaves it up to readers to guess what comes next for one of the couples. All in all, an engrossing mystery that fans of the genre are going to love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Lucky Ones

Review: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery

Title: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery
Mischief Bay Series Book Four
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The grass is always greener on your sister’s side of the fence…

Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies.

Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.

Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

Review:

Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery is a winsome story about three generations of women and their sometimes complicated relationships. This  fourth installment in the Mischief Bay series easily stands on its own, but I highly recommend the previous books as well.

Forty-two year old Harper Szymanski is a divorced mom who loves her sixteen year old daughter Becca but works long hours trying to keep her virtual assistant business going.  She is a people pleaser who lets people walk all over her since she has a difficult time standing up for herself.  Her relationship with her mother Bunny is a bit of a mess since Bunny is firmly stuck in the ’50s where a man is always right and a woman should always put her husband and family’s needs before her own.

Harper’s younger sister, forty year old Stacey Bloom, is a super smart and socially awkward scientist who works on the cutting edge of MS research. She and her husband Kit are about to become first time parents and Stacey is greatly concerned over her lack of maternal instincts. She is also worried about Bunny’s reaction to their nontraditional plan for Kit to become a stay at home dad while she continues  working. But what troubles Stacey the most are her fears about what effect a baby will have on her and Kit’s relationship.

Becca is a typical teen who is insecure, somewhat self-absorbed and struggling with the loss of one of her closest friend’s after she moves out of state. She is also quite unhappy with the situation with her father who makes promises to her that he never keeps. He has virtually disappeared from her life which leaves her feeling unloved. Just when Becca reaches her lowest point, she meets Kit’s nephew, Ashton, and their friendship becomes a highlight in her life.

One of Harper’s favorite clients, Lucas Wheeler, is a fifty year old cop whose dating life is an endless array of short term relationships with vapid young women in their early twenties. He is a frequent visitor in their home whose friendship she greatly treasures. Lucas is surprisingly attentive to Becca and he becomes a father figure of sorts after he spend a lot of time with her helping her get her driver’s license.  Lucas and Harper unexpectedly fall into a relationship but since she is so different from the women he typically dates, will there be a shelf-life to their fling?

Sisters Like Us is an emotionally compelling novel that is poignant yet humorous. The chapters alternate between Harper, Stacey and Becca’s points of view as each of them attempt to overcome their personal issues. Harper and Stacey are both struggling with Bunny’s negative influence in their lives as she continues to make them both feel inadequate. Becca matures with guidance and advice from Lucas and a surprise romance of her own. Lucas and Harper’s transition from friends to lovers is understated and their interactions are laugh out loud funny and quite moving. Old and new fans of  Susan Mallery are going to love this newest addition to the enchanting Mischief Bay series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Mischief Bay Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sisters Like Us, Susan Mallery, Women's Fiction

Review: Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt

Title: Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

How well do you really know your best friend?

Kat Grant and Alice Campbell have a friendship forged in shared confidences and long lunches lubricated by expensive wine. Though they’re very different women—the artsy socialite and the struggling suburbanite—they’re each other’s rocks. But even rocks crumble under pressure. Like when Kat’s financier husband, Howard, plunges to his death from the second-floor balcony of their South Florida mansion.

Howard was a jerk, a drunk, a bully and, police say, a murder victim. The questions begin piling up. Like why Kat has suddenly gone dark: no calls, no texts and no chance her wealthy family will let Alice see her. Why investigators are looking so hard in Alice’s direction. Who stands to get hurt next. And who is the cool liar—the masterful manipulator behind it all.

Review:

Best Friends Forever by Margot Hunt is an intriguing mystery about two best friends and the suspicious death of one their husbands.

Alice Campbell’s normal day with her husband, Todd, and their two children Liam and Bridget, is quickly interrupted  when the police take Alice in for questioning about the death of her best friend Katherine “Kat” Grant’s husband, Howard.  Three days earlier, while Kat was out of town, Howard fell from their balcony to his death. Despite the fact he was extremely drunk at the time of the fall, a new witness casts doubt his death was accidental.  The police want to know very intimate details of Kat and Howard’s marriage that only her closet friend might know and Alice is the logical person to answer their probing questions.

Alice is a former math professor turned stay at home mom who met the very wealthy Kat three years earlier and despite their very different socioeconomic backgrounds, she considers Kat her best friend.  Alice is slightly uncomfortable with Kat’s wealth but their connection easily outweighs her misgivings.  Both women are slightly unhappy in their marriages but for very different reasons.  Alice and Todd are always one unexpected emergency away from financial ruin since they are living well beyond their means. Kat’s unhappiness stems from her Howard’s infidelities and she is somewhat trapped in her marriage due to the lack of a prenup.

As the police investigation gains traction, Alice has very good reason to wonder whether or not she knows Kat as well as she thought especially since her friend has not responded to any of Alice’s phone calls or texts.  She is further thrown off balance when Kat’s family hires a lawyer for her, and  Alice soon realizes, her new attorney might not be acting in her best interest. With one of the detectives on the case convinced she killed Howard, Alice begins to look back on her friendship with Kat with new eyes and quickly becomes convinced that she might not be able to trust anything her friend has told her.

Weaving seamlessly weaving back and forth in time, Best Friends Forever is a riveting psychological mystery. The glimpses of  Alice and Kat’s three year friendship are quite insightful and Margot Hunt effortlessly keeps the tension high with cliffhanger endings to the chapters.  A chilling portrait of manipulation begins to emerge but readers will be completely stunned by the jaw-dropping revelations at the novel’s conclusions. An absolutely brilliant debut that fans of the genre are sure to love.

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Filed under Best Friends Forever, Harlequin, Margot Hunt, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins

Title: Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

New York Times bestselling author Kristan Higgins welcomes you home in this witty, emotionally charged novel about the complications of life, love and family

One step forward. Two steps back. The Tufts scholarship that put Nora Stuart on the path to becoming a Boston medical specialist was a step forward. Being hit by a car and then overhearing her boyfriend hit on another doctor when she thought she was dying? Two major steps back.

Injured in more ways than one, Nora feels her carefully built life cracking at the edges. There’s only one place to land: home. But the tiny Maine community she left fifteen years ago doesn’t necessarily want her. At every turn, someone holds the prodigal daughter of Scupper Island responsible for small-town drama and big-time disappointments.

With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant, a wild-child sister in jail and a withdrawn teenage niece as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was, Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the family. Balancing loss and opportunity, dark events from her past with hope for the future, Nora will discover that tackling old pain makes room for promise…and the chance to begin again.

Review:

Now That You Mention It by Kristan Higgins is a laugh out loud, tear inducing journey of healing and redemption.

Needing a place to recover after an accident, Dr. Nora Stuart heads back to Scupper Island, Maine where she hopes to salvage her distant relationship with her mother, Sharon and niece, Poe.  Since she left the island fifteen years earlier under a cloud of controversy, not many of the residents are happy to see her. Even worse, many of them do not even know who she is since apparently her mom talks only mentions her younger sister, Lily. Once she is well enough to live on her own, Nora moves onto a beautiful houseboat which puts in her close proximity to Sullivan “Sully” Fletcher, his lovely teenage daughter Audrey and Sully’s twin brother Luke, who is still holding onto a long term resentment towards Nora. With her return to Boston fast approaching, will Nora remain on the island where she has unexpectedly found peace, healing and possibly love?

Nora and Lily were never quite the same after their father unexpectedly abandoned them when they were kids. Lily turned her back on her sister and became a part of the popular crowd where she turned into a mean girl who ran wild. Nora comforted herself with food and after becoming an overweight social outcast, she concentrated on academic achievements in hopes of receiving a coveted scholarship.

Reinventing herself after entering college, Nora has rarely returned to Scupper Island over the intervening years which results in a distant and unemotional relationship with her pragmatic Maine mother. She also mourns the lack of any connection with Lily but Nora refuses to give up trying to reach salvage their fractured relationship.  She is determined to forge a bond with her niece Poe but Poe is not exactly willing to forgive and forget her aunt’s protracted absence from her life.

Nora is a wonderful protagonist who has endured more than her fair share of tragedy and adversity yet she remains upbeat and positive. She has not fully resolved her guilt from winning the scholarship that changed her life but she is proud of her successes. Nora is a survivor who does not let life defeat her and she is tenacious as she tries to repair her familial relationships. She has a snarky sense of humor and her zingy one-lines and inner monologue are often laugh out loud funny.

With several memorable scenes that are absolutely hilarious, a heartwarming yet understated romance and a sweet reconnection with Nora’s estranged family,  Now That You Mention It is a truly captivating story of healing and reconciliation. Kristan Higgins brings the characters and settings vibrantly to life through descriptive prose and an incredibly engaging storyline.  Readers will savor every word of this humorous and poignant novel.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Kristan Higgins, Now That You Mention It, Rated A, Review, Romance

Review: The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander

Title: The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger by Victoria Alexander
Lady Travelers Society Series Book Two
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 404 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Join the Lady Travelers Society in their latest romantic misadventure, from #1 New York Timesbestselling author Victoria Alexander

She must secure her future

A lady should never be obliged to think of matters financial! But when Lady Wilhelmina Bascombe’s carefree, extravagant lifestyle vanishes with the demise of her husband, her only hope lies in retrieving a family treasure—a Renaissance masterpiece currently in the hands of a cunning art collector in Venice. Thankfully, the Lady Travelers Society has orchestrated a clever plan to get Willie to Europe, leading a tour of mothers and daughters…and one curiously attentive man.

He must reclaim his heritage

Dante Augustus Montague’s one passion has long been his family’s art collection. He’s finally tracked a long-lost painting to the enchanting Lady Bascombe. Convinced that the canvas had been stolen, he will use any means to reclaim his birthright—including deception. But how long before pretend infatuation gives way to genuine desire?

Now they’re rivals for a prize that will change everything

Willie and Dante know they’re playing with fire in the magical moonlit city. Their common quest could compromise them both…or lead them to happily-ever-after.

Review:

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger  by Victoria Alexander is a giggle-inducing and heartwarming historical romance. This second installment in the Lady Travelers Society series can easily be read as a standalone.

Lady Wilhelmina “Willie” Bascombe is finally ready to return to society after living in seclusion for the past two years following her husband George’s tragic loss.  George’s unfortunate death has been a huge wake-up call for Willie who enjoyed but never questioned their carefree, frivolous and lavish lifestyle. She has paid off all of George’s debts except for one: unbeknownst to  Willie, he used a painting her grandmother left to her as collateral for a loan from an Italian art collector. Now destitute, Willie is hosting a group of mothers and daughters on a small European tour that will take her to Italy where she plans to pay off the debt and reclaim the painting.  Upon her return to England, she will auction off the painting and live off the proceeds.

However, Willie is unaware that Dante Montague also has a vested interest in locating the painting since he believes it rightfully belongs to his family. After he convinces his sister Roz and her daughter to sign up for the tour, he accompanies them so he can keep an eye Willie while he schemes to swoop in and snag the painting from under her.

Dante is intrigued by his beautiful, intrepid tour guide right from the beginning, but Willie initially thinks Dante is staid and stuffy. After her shocking discoveries about her and George’s finances, Willie has no intention of ever depending on a man to take care of her. She is fiercely independent and afraid of making another mistake so she is very cautious about acting on her surprising attraction to Dante. Dante gets up caught up in their mutual desire for each other and he makes a huge error in judgment that puts the couple’s future in jeopardy when Willie stumbles onto his secret. Even with the helpful advice of her new group of friends, Willie’s fears prevent her from  giving up on her plan to ensure her financial future.

The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger is a fun-filled, zany adventure that takes Willie, Dante and the rest of the tour to many exciting and romantic locations.  Victoria Alexander easily captures readers attention in this engaging historical romance that has a cast of lovable characters. The enchanting descriptions of the various stops on their journey bring the story vibrantly to life. The banter between the various characters is often laugh out loud funny yet also interspersed with thought-provoking observations. The romance between Willie and Dante is sizzling hot but full of complications. Another wonderful installment in the delightful Lady Travelers Society series that old and new fans are sure to love.

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Filed under Harlequin, Historical, HQN Books, Lady Travelers Society Series, Rated B, Review, Romance, The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger, Victoria Alexander

Review: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

Title: Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan
From Manhattan With Love Series Book Six
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Sarah Morgan is back with more love and laughter in her acclaimed series, From Manhattan With Love, which Publishers Weekly calls a “sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic experience.” 

Determined to conquer a lifetime of shyness, Harriet Knight challenges herself to do one thing a day in December that scares her, including celebrating Christmas without her family. But when dog walker Harriet meets her newest client, exuberant spaniel Madi, she adds an extra challenge to her list—dealing with Madi’s temporary dog sitter, gruff doctor Ethan Black, and their very unexpected chemistry.

Ethan thought he was used to chaos, until he met Madi—how can one tiny dog cause such mayhem? To Ethan, the solution is simple—he will pay Harriet to share his New York apartment and provide twenty-four-hour care. But there’s nothing simple about how Harriet makes him feel.

Ethan’s kisses make Harriet shine brighter than the stars over moonlit Manhattan. But when his dog-sitting duties are over and Harriet returns to her own home, will she dare to take the biggest challenge of all—letting Ethan know he has her heart for life, not just for Christmas?

Review:

Moonlight Over Manhattan by Sarah Morgan is a heartwarming novel of love and new beginnings. Although this newest release is the sixth in the From Manhattan with Love series, it can be read as a standalone.

With both of her siblings finding love, Harriet Knight knows it is time for her start fighting her own battles. In order to do just that, she devises a “Challenge Harriet” plan to help her conquer her fears (of which there are quite a few).  Since she has always been shy and lacking self confidence, Harriet’s twin sister and brother protected during their tumultuous and dysfunctional childhood and this habit has continued well into adulthood.  She continues to avoid confrontation and situations that make her uncomfortable, but Harriet knows if she is to find happiness, she has to be the person in control of her life.  Although a little naive, Harriet is a kind, compassionate woman with a big heart and a soft spot for dogs. Which is exactly why she finds it so difficult to say no when Dr. Ethan Black asks her to temporarily stay with him while he is pet sitting his sister’s rambunctious dog.

With a demanding career as an trauma doctor in the ER, Ethan puts in long hours so he does not have much of a personal life. He also discovered early on that he must shut down his emotions in order to effectively deal with the drama that comes with some his patients. This need for emotional distance coupled with his failed marriage have led him to the conclusion that he should not be in a relationship. Ethan is quick to surmise that Harriet is not one for casual dalliances, so he tries to tries to ignore his attraction to the very charming dog walker.

Their acquaintance is off to a bit of a rocky beginning due to Ethan’s angry outburst and his uncomfortable questions about a very personal aspect of Harriet’s life.  His insistence she stay with him to help take care of his sister’s dog is also rather heavy-handed and insensitive due to her insecurities.  However, Harriet is unexpectedly feisty when her back is against the wall and she does not allow her discomfort to stop her from dealing with these challenges. Ethan also learns a lot about of himself when she calls him on his behavior. Harriet is surprisingly open to exploring their mutual desire and she has the self-respect to walk away when her emotional needs are not being met. With the future of their relationship in his hands, will Ethan find the courage to admit his feelings for her?

With an adorable canine, a gutsy heroine and a gruff hero, Moonlight Over Manhattan is an uplifting holiday romance.  Harriet and Ethan are endearing  characters who bring out the best in each other despite their rather inauspicious beginning. The romance between them is heartfelt and moves at a realistic pace. The inevitable conflict that threatens their future is believable and thankfully, short-lived. Old and new fans are sure to enjoy this latest addition to Sarah Morgan’s delightful From Manhattan with Love series.

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Filed under Contemporary, From Manhattan with Love Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, Moonlight Over Manhattan, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sarah Morgan