Category Archives: Harlequin

Review: Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery

Title: Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Don’t miss this heart-warming tale about family, and the unbreakable bond between sisters. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Daughters of the Bride comes the feel-good novel of the year!

Kelly Murphy’s life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing’s prodigal son, who’s set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone.

But Olivia’s return isn’t as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future, and ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She’s determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now.

While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters?

Told with Mallery’s trademark heart and humor, the Tulip Sisters are in for the most colorful summer of their lives…

Review:

With a cast of complex characters, a storyline with plenty of depth and just a hint of sizzle, Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery is a beautiful novel of healing, new beginnings and love.

Kelly Murphy is a no nonsense young woman who works on the family tulip farm with her dad. She is estranged from her younger sister Olivia and their mother. Recently out of a long term relationship, she is a little surprised by how easily she has recovered from their break up. Kelly is a little nonplussed when she begins running into her high school crush Griffith Burnett everywhere she goes in their small town.  She does not know what to think when he suggests they begin seeing each other but she decides she can easily handle a no pressure relationship. However, Kelly’s world is quickly turned upside down when Olivia shows up without warning.

Olivia is at a bit of a crossroads so her boss suggests she take some time off, she decides it is the perfect time to pay a visit to her childhood home. Sent away to boarding school after their parents’ divorce, she has made peace with her father but she and Kelly slowly drifted apart over the years.  At loose ends since she has no interest in the family business, Olivia volunteers to head a fundraiser for a local business and she is pleasantly surprised by the business owners’ receptive response to some of her suggestions to help them bring in more customers. In between getting reacquainted with Kelly and her work on the fundraiser, she finds the time to embark on a no strings fling with a local hottie.

Just as Olivia, Kelly and their father Jeff are becoming comfortable with the changes in their lives, someone from the past unexpectedly shows up and puts everyone on edge.  Jeff goes out of his way to be fair but is he doing the right thing for everyone involved? Olivia and Kelly’s fragile bond is quickly tested and Kelly is not certain she can trust her sister. Olivia is more certain than ever she is ready for a change, but she is in an awkward position as she tries to figure out what she wants to do next. Kelly is not exactly at ease with certain elements of her burgeoning relationship with Griffith and a situation involving her dad  puts her at odds with the one person she trusted without reservation. With so much uncertainty surrounding them, what will the future hold for Kelly and Olivia?

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters is an absolutely charming novel that is heartfelt and engaging.  With a couple of notable exceptions, the wonderfully developed cast of characters undergo a great deal of growth as they face new challenges and repair their fractured relationships. The storyline is engrossing with believable issues for the various characters to overcome.  The romances are incredibly sweet with just the right amount of steam and it is an absolute joy watching the couples open themselves to the possibility of love.  A delightful small town story that old and new fans of Susan Mallery are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Secrets of the Tulip Sisters, Susan Mallery, Women's Fiction

Review: The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander

Title: The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander
The Lady Travelers Guide Series Book One
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 544 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Embark on the breathtaking romantic adventures of The Lady Travelers Society in the brand-new series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Victoria Alexander 

Really, it’s too much to expect any normal man to behave like a staid accountant in order to inherit the fortune he deserves to support the lifestyle of an earl. So when Derek Saunders’s favorite elderly aunt and her ill-conceived—and possibly fraudulent—Lady Travelers Society loses one of their members, what’s a man to do but step up to the challenge? Now he’s escorting the world’s most maddening woman to the world’s most romantic city to find her missing relative.

While India Prendergast only suspects his organization defrauds gullible travelers, she’s certain a man with as scandalous a reputation as Derek Saunders cannot be trusted any farther than the distance around his very broad shoulders. As she struggles not to be distracted by his wicked smile and the allure of Paris, instead of finding a lost lady traveler, India just may lose her head, her luggage and her heart.

Free bonus story included in this volume! Don’t miss The Proper Way to Stop a Wedding (in Seven Days or Less), a The Lady Travelers Guide novella.

Review:

Brimming with humor and set against the backdrop of Paris, The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen by Victoria Alexander is a highly entertaining historical romance. The Lady Travelers Guide series is off to a strong beginning with this first full-length novel that stars a marvelous cast of characters.

India Prendergrast is incredibly worried when she stops receiving letters from her cousin Lady Heloise Snuggs. Heloise booked her adventurous trip through the Lady Travlers Society and when her inquiries about her cousin go unanswered, India is convinced the society is defrauding its members of their money.  She is also certain the widows who run the organization are a front for the real mastermind of the nefarious scheme.  When she discovers Derek Saunders discussing Heloise with the club’s founders, Lady Guinevere Blodgett and her two best friends, India is convinced her suspicions have been confirmed. However, unbeknownst to India, Derek has figured out what the ladies are up to and he is determined to protect his aunt and her friends from any legal repercussions from their actions. India and Derek join forces to find Heloise and their first stop is Paris, but locating the missing woman amongst the crowd of visitors enjoying the World’s Fair is a daunting task. Will Derek be able to stall India long enough for his uncle’s detectives to locate her missing cousin?

India is a very independent and no nonsense young woman. Unlike most women of the time period, she has no interest in marrying so she works for Sir Martin Luckthorne as his secretarial assistant. She is extremely well-organized with a fairly rigid viewpoint of life.  Convinced she is always right, India tends to rub people the wrong way with her propensity to speak her mind and her unbending attitude.

Derek is in line to inherit his family’s title and he has recently begun to change his rakish ways.  In order to clean up his reputation, he has been working on his uncle’s estate and much to his surprise, he finds he is enjoying his new duties. Very protective of his great aunt, he will do whatever it takes to prevent the truth about her scam from becoming known.

Derek and India rub each other the wrong way right from their very first meeting. Derek thinks she is opinionated and unbending; India views him as an unrepentant scoundrel. As they begin their search for Heloise, they bicker endlessly as they trek from one hotel to another. Derek convinces India to take time to savor the beauty sights of Paris and slowly but surely, she begins to realize that she might have misjudged him.   Over the next several weeks, India becomes much more self-aware once she recognizes how narrow her viewpoint is. Her once adversarial relationship with Derek gradually turns into a friendship as he challenges her to broaden her horizons.  A mutual attraction also simmers under the surface but will Derek and India take their relationship to the next level?

The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen is an absolutely charming historical romance with an eclectic cast of likable characters. The story’s premise is refreshingly unique and the storyline is quite engaging. Delightfully witty banter will keep readers laughing as Derek and India set off on an adventure that leads to a journey of self-discovery for the erstwhile heroine. This first installment in Victoria Alexander’s The Lady Travelers Guide series is an exciting and fun-filled romance that is sure to be a hit with fans of the genre.

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Filed under Harlequin, Historical, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Lady Travelers Guide Series, The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels & Other Gentlemen, Victoria Alexander

Review: The Swallow’s Nest by Emilie Richards

Title: The Swallow’s Nest by Emilie Richards
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 496 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Three women fight for the chance to raise the child they’ve all come to love 

When Lilia Swallow’s husband, Graham, goes into remission after a challenging year of treatment for lymphoma, the home and lifestyle blogger throws a party. Their best friends and colleagues attend to celebrate his recovery, but just as the party is in full swing, a new guest arrives. She presents Lilia with a beautiful baby boy, and vanishes.

Toby is Graham’s darkest secret—his son, conceived in a moment of despair. Lilia is utterly unprepared for the betrayal the baby represents, and perhaps more so for the love she begins to feel once her shock subsides. Now this unasked-for precious gift becomes a life changer for three women: Lilia, who takes him into her home and heart; Marina, who bore and abandoned him until circumstance and grief changed her mind; and Ellen, who sees in him a chance to correct the mistakes she made with her own son, Toby’s father.

A custody battle begins, and each would-be mother must examine her heart, confront her choices and weigh her dreams against the fate of one vulnerable little boy. Each woman will redefine family, belonging and love—and the results will alter the course of not only their lives, but also the lives of everyone they care for.

Review:

The Swallow’s Nest by Emilie Richards is an emotional novel of forgiveness, motherhood and second chances.

Lilia Swallow and her husband Graham Randolph’s lives were turned upside down by his cancer diagnosis. A year later, they have cause to celebrate after his cancer goes into remission following aggressive treatment.  However, Lilia’s joy quickly turns to devastation when Graham’s business associate Marina Tate shows up with a three month old baby boy named Toby.  Marina hands Lilia the baby and delivers a stunning blow with her vindictive announcement that Toby is Graham’s son.  Understandably upset and furious, Lilia leaves Graham and Toby to visit her family in Hawaii where she tries to figure out what to do next.  Despite her anger and hurt, Lilia cannot bring herself to walk away from her marriage until they are out from under the massive debt from Graham’s medical expenses.  Will Lilia’s tangled emotions about the circumstances of Toby’s birth prevent her from loving the baby?  Is there any possible way for their marriage to survive Graham’s betrayal?

Lilia’s decision to return to Graham is not arrived at easily nor does she know what the future holds for them as a couple.  She cannot in good conscience walk away from him considering their staggering debt. Despite Graham’s remission, he is not psychically strong enough to work long hours and they are relying on Lilia’s income to help them recover financially.  Needing to keep expenses to a minimum, she and Graham continue living under the same roof but they lead separate lives. Toby slowly but surely works his way into Lilia’s heart and without hesitation, she becomes his primary caregiver.

Marina’s abandonment of Toby is not for his well-being; it is completely self-serving and rather spiteful.  While Graham’s decision to begin an affair with her is selfish and uncaring, she entered into the relationship with her eyes open and completely aware of his marriage. Marina is entirely self-absorbed and lacks any empathy for the impact his cancer diagnosis and treatment has on his life.  She never regrets her decision to leave Toby in Lilia and Graham’s care and Marina feels nothing but relief that he is no longer her responsibility.

Just as Lilia, Graham and Toby are well on their way to becoming a family, tragedy strikes and Graham’s estranged mother, Ellen, sees her grandson as an opportunity to make up for her mistakes with her son. She sets in motion a plan without giving any thought to Toby’s well-being or her daughter-in-law’s feelings.  Gaining Marina’s cooperation is instrumental to bringing the plan to fruition and after some consideration, Marina agrees to help Ellen. Will Ellen’s reprehensible scheme succeed?

The Swallow’s Nest is a beautifully rendered novel that quite poignant yet ultimately uplifting.  Emilie Richards tackles very difficult subject matter with ease and the resulting story tugs on readers’ heartstrings. Lilia and Toby are wonderfully developed characters who are easy to like and root for. The secondary characters are marvelously developed and provide a wonderful support system for Lilia. Marina and Ellen, however, are not likable or sympathetic but they do undergo a great deal of growth by novel’s end.  A truly captivating story that I absolutely loved and highly recommend.

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Filed under Contemporary, Emilie Richards, Harlequin, Mira, Rated B+, Review, Women's Fiction

Review: New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan

Title: New York, Actually by Sarah Morgan
From Manhattan with Love Series Book Four
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

One man. One woman. Two dogs. 

Meet Molly—New York’s most famous advice columnist, she considers herself an expert at relationships…as long as they’re other people’s. Still bruised from her last breakup, Molly is in no rush to find happily-ever-after—the only love of her life is her dalmatian, Valentine.

Meet Daniel—A cynical divorce lawyer, he’s hardwired to think relationships are a bad idea. If you don’t get involved, no one can get hurt. Until he finds himself borrowing a dog to meet the gorgeous woman he sees running in Central Park every morning…

Molly and Daniel both think they know everything about relationships. But as they try—and fail—to resist their undeniable chemistry, they’ll soon discover they just might have a lot left to learn…

Review:

New York, Actually introduces readers to the Knight siblings, who will star in the next three installments of Sarah Morgan’s delightful From Manhattan with Love series. This fourth installment pairs up oldest brother Daniel Knight, a cynical divorce lawyer, with Molly Parker, a psychologist with an über popular relationship blog. While this newest release can easily be read a standalone, I highly recommend the previous novels as well.

After a scandal destroyed her both personally and professionally three years earlier, Molly decides to relocate from England to New York. She avoids romantic entanglements since she is convinced she does nothing but hurt the men she dates. Keeping busy with several classes, Molly is very close friends with her neighbors Mark and Gabe. Her steadfast companion is her rescue dog, Valentine, and together, they jog in Central Park every day where, unbeknownst to her, she has caught the eye of Daniel Knight.

A very successful lawyer with a thriving practice, Daniel works long hours and while he dates, he does not do relationships. With vivid memories of his parents’ acrimonious marriage, he is dedicated to helping his clients escape their unhappy unions. Daniel is surprised by his interest in the jogger he sees every day in the park and he devises a clever, if dishonest, scheme to meet her: he borrows a dog from his twin sisters, Fliss and Harriet.

Daniel’s plan comes to fruition to some degree since he does manage to engineer a meeting with Molly. However, he is stunned when she turns down his invitation to go out with him. The pair continue to run into each other but eventually, Daniel’s persistence begins to feel vaguely stalkerish. Molly uncovers his deception about being a dog owner and she finally ends up providing him with her address. The situation which finally brings them together feels contrived and it is quite annoying how easily Molly falls apart during a crisis.

While Molly and Daniel’s romance finally does take off, their individual issues and unresolved baggage continue to plague them. Given her career as a psychologist, Molly’s reasons for avoiding a relationship just do not ring true. Daniel’s past experiences from his childhood provide a valid basis not wanting to fall in love and in are refreshing change of pace, he is more open to taking their relationship to the next level.When Molly’s past is uncovered, will it bring her and Daniel closer or will it derail their fragile romance?

New York, Actually is a very slow moving but enjoyable romance between two extremely cautious protagonists. While this latest release has a few flaws, Sarah Morgan’s enticing glimpses of Fliss and Harriet will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next installments in the From Manhattan with Love series.

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Filed under Contemporary, From Manhattan with Love Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, New York Actually, Rated C+, Review, Romance, Sarah Morgan

Review: Any Day Now by Robyn Carr

Title: Any Day Now by Robyn Carr
Sullivan’s Crossing Series Book Two
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating:B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The highly anticipated sequel to #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr’s What We Find transports readers back to Sullivan’s Crossing. The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you’re looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life. It’s a wonderful place where good people face their challenges with humor, strength and love.

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan’s Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She’s put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn’t yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet.

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she’s always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it’s a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan’s Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

Review:

Any Day Now by Robyn Carr is a captivating novel of new beginnings, healing and love. This second installment in the Sullivan’s Crossing series can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the first book in the series as well.

Sierra Jones has finally gotten her life back on track and moving closer to her older brother Cal and his new wife Maggie provides her the opportunity to leave her troubled past behind. She quickly finds a new job but when she needs a less stressful place to live, she takes Sully (Maggie’s father) up on his offer to live in one of the cabins at his campground. In exchange for her living accommodations, she is more than happy to fill in wherever Sully needs an extra hand.  Easily settling into the slower pace of life and forming new friendships, Sierra is not looking for love but will meeting firefighter Conrad “Connie” Boyle change her mind?

Sierra has worked hard to leave behind her poor choices and concentrate on turning her life around. While at first, she was just trying to escape from a truly horrifying experience, she instead discovered she had more problems than she imagined. Through hard work and determination, she manged to overcome several of her demons but she continues to work on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Needing a fresh start and wanting to reconnect with Cal, Sierra is looking forward to her new life in Sullivan’s Crossing. Despite her past troubles, she is well-adjusted and upbeat with a refreshingly positive attitude. Living one day at a time, Sierra is not looking too far in the future when she meets Connie.

Having his heart broken in the past, Connie is not looking for a serious relationship when he is introduced to Sierra. He is rather wary when their paths continue to cross but he is also quite drawn to her as well. Once their friendship begins to deepen, Connie is surprisingly open to exploring his unexpected feelings for her. He is content to let Sierra control the direction of their surprising romance, but he does become a little impatient over her reluctance to fully confide in him once she is ready to fully face her past.

A secondary story arc featuring Tom Canaday and Sierra’s co-worker Lola will delight readers who are fond of older characters unexpectedly finding love. Although it has taken a while, Tom is finally moving on from his divorce and he is suddenly viewing Lola in a whole new light. However, Lola’s life is plenty busy and lacking self-confidence when it comes to dating, she is not exactly looking for a relationship. Once they realize how much they have in common, an easy friendship springs up between them, but Tom never gives up hope Lola will eventually be open to taking their relationship to the next level.

Any Day Now is a heartwarming novel with a wonderful cast of charming characters and an engaging storyline. Sierra and Connie are an appealing couple and they are refreshingly well-adjusted despite the issues they have dealt with in the past. Their friendship provides a firm foundation for their slow growing romance and their relationship is delightfully free from unnecessary angst or drama. The issues from Sierra’s past are serious and provide the storyline with plenty of depth. Robyn Carr deftly handles this difficult subject matter in a sensitive and realistic manner. Old and new fans will absolutely love this latest addition to the Sullivan’s Crossing series.

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Filed under Any Day Now, Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Rated B+, Review, Robyn Carr, Romance, Sullivans Crossing Series

Review: The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

Title: The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Time Travel, Women’s Fiction
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From the bestselling author of The Bourbon Thief comes a sweeping tale of loss and courage, where one woman discovers that her destiny is written in sand, not carved in stone.

Faye Barlow is drowning. After the death of her beloved husband, Will, she cannot escape her grief and most days can barely get out of bed. But when she’s offered a job photographing South Carolina’s storied coast, she accepts. Photography, after all, is the only passion she has left.

In the quaint beach town, Faye falls in love again when she sees the crumbling yet beautiful Bride Island lighthouse and becomes obsessed with the legend surrounding The Lady of the Light—the keeper’s daughter who died in a mysterious drowning in 1921. Like a moth to a flame, Faye is drawn to the lighthouse for reasons she can’t explain. While visiting it one night, she is struck by a rogue wave and a force impossible to resist drags Faye into the past—and into a love story that is not her own.

Fate is changeable. Broken hearts can mend. But can she love two men separated by a lifetime?

Review:

The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz is a captivating novel about a women who travels through time where she discovers hope and healing.

Faye Barlow has suffered heartbreaking losses and fate steps in just as she is on the verge of making a much needed change.  Accepting a job offer to take pictures for a “Journey Through Time” calendar, she temporarily settles in Beaufort, SC.  Intrigued by the history of the lighthouse on Bride Island, Faye begins her project by taking dazzling photos of the lighthouse.  Inexplicably drawn to the island, she makes a stunning discovery during her subsequent research of the lighthouse and Bride Island.  As Faye tries to uncover more information, she meets retired priest Patrick Cahill who has surprising ties to the former lighthouse keeper.  Faye ignores his warnings to keep her distance from the decaying lighthouse and she is shocked when she is mysteriously transported back in time to 1921, when tragedy struck on Bride Island.  Will Faye’s presence on the island change history?

Faye has been unable to move past a tragic loss but she is finally ready to put an end to an unhappy situation that is not healthy for anyone involved.  Having made that first major step, she is excited about her upcoming photo project and after her arrival in Beaufort, Faye makes another decision that is surprisingly helpful.  Although she has no idea why she is so mesmerized by Bride Island, she cannot resist learning more about its history.  When Faye is struck by an urgent need to visit the island, she has no choice but to find a way to act on the unstoppable urge.

After she travels back in time to 1921, Faye is immediately immersed in life on Bride Island.  She is fascinated by the people the people she meets and the hardships they must endure.  As she becomes comfortable with her new circumstances, Faye is surprised by her sudden feelings of hope as the darkness that has surrounded her for so long begins to lift.  Experiencing happiness for the first time in years, Faye is uncertain whether or not she wants to return to her former life in the present.  But as events continue to unfold, will Faye have a choice in what happens next?

The Night Mark is a completely enthralling novel that is heartbreaking yet ultimately uplifting.  The time travel aspect is quite imaginative and cleverly executed. The characters are beautifully drawn with realistic strengths and weaknesses.  The storyline is complex and Tiffany Reisz brilliantly keeps readers guessing how this wonderful story will end.  This spellbinding novel is as educational as it is entertaining. All in all, an absolutely delightful gem that I positively loved and highly recommend!

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Historical (20s), Mira, Rated B+, Review, The Night Mark, Tiffany Reisz, Time Travel, Women's Fiction