Category Archives: Harlequin

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

Review: Find Me by J.S. Monroe

Title: Find Me by J.S. Monroe
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A sighting of a woman who supposedly died years ago sparks a desperate search for the truth in this breakout suspense thriller, perfect for readers of The Good Girl and The Widow

Sometimes we choose to see only what we want. Sometimes what we see changes the way we look at everything… 

Jarlath “Jar” Costello’s girlfriend, Rosa, committed suicide when they were both students at Cambridge, and Jar has thought about her every day since. It’s been five years, yet Jar is still obsessed with the idea that Rosa, the one true love of his life, is alive. He’s tormented by disturbingly real sightings of her—experiences the psychologist treating him describes as “post-bereavement hallucinations.”

When Rosa’s aunt uncovers an encrypted file on her laptop that she believes is Rosa’s diary, she gives Jar the hard drive, sending him on a frantic quest to unlock the mysterious document and finally make sense of the suspicious circumstances surrounding Rosa’s suicide. But the deeper he digs, the more confused he becomes as he is pressed into a dark underworld where nothing is as it seems and no one can be trusted. When a startling discovery convinces him more than ever that these are not just hallucinations—that Rosa really is alive—Jar is thrust into the heart of a larger intrigue that may finally shed some light on Rosa’s death…even as it dangerously threatens his own life.

Review:

With plenty of suspense and unexpected twists and turns, Find Me by J.S. Monroe is a spectacular yet chilling psychological thriller.

Jarlath “Jar” Costello lost his girlfriend, Rosa Sandhoe, to suicide five years earlier.  However, due to the fact her body was never recovered, he is convinced she is still alive.  His life has gone steadily downhill as he works a job that he hates, drinks to excess and ends up having meaningless one night stands.  Jar is also continuing to experience “post-bereavement hallucination” where he sees Rosa in a variety of different locations and situations.  After Rosa’s Aunt Amy stumbles onto a what is believed to be her niece’s computer diary, Jar discovers grows more convinced Rosa is still alive and he intensifies his search for her with the help of his friend, Carl.

Although their relationship had barely started when Rosa vanished, there is never any doubt she and Jar were deeply in love.  It is not until Jar begins reading the diary entries that he realizes how deeply she was still grieving the death of her father but Jar still does not believe she was suicidal.  With each diary entry he reads, Jar becomes aware there was a lot going on in Rosa’s life that she kept hidden from him.  He is also more certain than before that she is still alive and in fact, some of this newly discovered information helps explain some of the odd events that have been happening to him recently.  Although Jar learns valuable details about what might have happened to Rosa, he has no idea how he will find her.

Broken into two parts with chapters alternating between Jar’s perspective and a hodgepodge of diary entries, there is an incredible sense of urgency as Jar uncovers the truth about Rosa. The diary entries are non-sequential since they are decrypted in random order but each chapter is clearly marked with the correct date so they are easy to follow. Initially, Jar appears to an unreliable narrator who is seemingly paranoid since he certain that someone is following him. However, as part one comes to a close, there is little doubt that Jar is on the right track about Rosa.

The pacing of part two is even more frantic as Jar’s investigation intensifies and the diary entries are now written from two characters’ perspectives.  The truth about Rosa’s disappearance is still a little murky, but the details that begin to emerge are completely horrifying.  Jar makes an absolutely shocking discovery that he first finds impossible to believe.  Will he find irrefutable proof to prove that his suspicions are, in fact, correct?

Find Me by J.S. Monroe is an utterly engrossing mystery that is part crime drama and part spy novel.  With unspeakable acts of violence committed by a thoroughly sick and twisted individual, there is a high degree of suspense as Jar uncovers the grisly  truth about what happened to Rosa.  This high octane novel moves at breakneck speed and has no shortage of breathtaking twists, turns and stunning revelations.  All in all, it is an incredibly well-written mystery with an original storyline that tackles some fascinating yet very dark subject matter.

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Filed under Contemporary, Find Me, Harlequin, JS Monroe, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery

Title: A Million Little Things by Susan Mallery
Mischief Bay Series Book Three
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From the bestselling author of The Girls of Mischief Bay and The Friends We Keep comes a twisty tale of family dynamics that explores what can go terribly, hysterically wrong when the line between friendship and family blurs… 

Zoe Saldivar is more than just single—she’s ALONE. She recently broke up with her longtime boyfriend, she works from home and her best friend Jen is so obsessed with her baby that she has practically abandoned their friendship. The day Zoe accidentally traps herself in her attic with her hungry-looking cat, she realizes that it’s up to her to stop living in isolation.

Her seemingly empty life takes a sudden turn for the complicated—her first new friend is Jen’s widowed mom, Pam. The only guy to give her butterflies in a very long time is Jen’s brother. And meanwhile, Pam is being very deliberately seduced by Zoe’s own smooth-as-tequila father. Pam’s flustered, Jen’s annoyed and Zoe is beginning to think “alone” doesn’t sound so bad, after all.

Friendship isn’t just one thing—it’s a million little things, and no one writes them with more heart and humor than book club sensation Susan Mallery!

Review:

A Million Little Things is a delightfully engaging and captivating addition to Susan Mallery’s marvelous Mischief Bay series.  Although this latest release is the third installment in the series, it can be read as a standalone but I highly encourage readers to pick up the previous two novels in this wonderful series.

Zoe Saldivar has not noticed how solitary her life has become until she is accidentally locked in her attic.  Vowing to make some changes, she tries to reconnect with her best friend Jen Beldon, but with Jen obsessing over her eighteen month old son, Jack, there seems to be little room for friendship in her life.  She is also friends with Jen’s widowed mother, Pam Eiland, who, after listening to Zoe’s problems, decides to play matchmaker between her young friend and her son, Steven.  Their budding romance is going surprisingly well when Zoe receives very unexpected and life-altering news. This complication has a surprising effect on virtually everyone’s relationships including Pam’s relationship with Zoe’s dad, Miguel Saldivar. Will Pam continue to alienate the people her life? Or will she figure out a way to repair her mistakes before it is too late?

Zoe has recently ended her five year relationship and she is regretting some of the choices she made based on where she thought their romance was headed.  While she misses some aspects of her former career, she is not sure she wants to return to it.  While she mostly enjoys her current job, Zoe is uncertain whether working from home is right for her.  She would like to begin dating again, but she has few opportunities to meet men.  When Steven offers to help her with a home repair, she is surprised by how attractive she finds Jen’s brother.  Their relationship is off to an uneventful beginning when Zoe gets very unexpected news that leaves her very uncertain about her future with Steven especially after Pam’s shocking reaction.

Jen has been a stay at home mom since giving birth to Jack and while she has her son’s best interests at heart, she is extremely over-protective of him.  Although Jack is a happy, healthy and well-adjusted little boy, his failure to reach a certain milestone has Jen desperately searching for answers.  She is also quite worried about her husband, Kirk’s new job with the LAPD and she dislikes everything about his new partner, Lucas.  With her anxieties reaching a new high, Jen resents everyone’s suggestion to relax and not worry so much about everything.  She receives advice from a very unexpected source but will she act on it?

Although Pam has been widowed for two years, she still feels married to her beloved husband.  She has a busy, fulfilled life and she loves to travel.  She has a great relationship with her children, but she is very frustrated with Jen’s obsession over keeping Jack safe from anything that could possibly harm him.  When Zoe receives news that turns her life upside down, Pam’s first concern is for what this information could mean for Steven.  Instead of her loving support, she stuns everyone with the advice she gives to her son.  With several of her relationships on very shaky ground, Pam stands by her opinion, but will she eventually change her mind?

A Million Little Things is a touching novel with three interwoven storylines that are heartwarming and thought-provoking.  All of the characters are well-developed with realistic strengths and weakness that are very easy to relate to.  The story arcs are quite diverse and it is quite fascinating watching the various characters try to overcome the problems they are facing. The romance between Zoe and Steven is very sweet and despite outside conflict and a stunning development, their relationship lacks unnecessary angst or drama. Another outstanding installment in Susan Mallery’s  Mischief Bay series that old and new fans are going to love!

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Filed under A Million Little Things, Contemporary, Fiction, Harlequin, Mira, Mischief Bay Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Susan Mallery

Review: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Title: On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Following in the footsteps of her critically acclaimed novel If You Only Knew, multi-bestselling author Kristan Higgins returns with a pitch-perfect look at the affection—and the acrimony—that binds sisters together

Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is for Eric to blindside her with a tactless breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her half sister, Kate, who’s already struggling after the sudden loss of her new husband.

Kate has always been so poised, so self-assured, but Nathan’s death shatters everything she thought she knew—including her husband—and she learns that sometimes the people who step up aren’t the ones you expect. With seven years and a murky blended-family dynamic between them, Ainsley and Kate have never been overly close, but their shared sorrow dovetails their faltering worlds into one.

Despite the lifetime of history between them, the sisters must learn to put their differences aside and open their hearts to the inevitable imperfection of family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

Review:

On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins is a sad but witty, heartbreaking yet uplifting novel about two sisters whose bond is strengthened after they experience life altering events.

At thirty-nine, Kate O’Leary has finally come to terms with her single status so she is somewhat bemused and wary when Nathan Coburn asks for her phone number. Convinced she’ll never hear from the handsome architect, she is pleasantly surprised to find herself in a whirlwind relationship. Married just a few months after they begin dating, Kate is barely used to being a wife when she is widowed after a tragic accident.

Unlike Kate, her thirty-three year old half-sister, Ainsley has been with her boyfriend, Eric Fisher, since college.  Ainsley has been anxiously awaiting for Eric to pop the question and after discovering an engagement ring, she is chomping at the bit for his proposal now that he is fully recovered from testicular cancer. So imagine her surprise, when Eric asks unceremoniously dumps her then publicly humiliates her  on his blog.  With no place to go, Ainsley temporarily moves in with Kate which turns out to be a huge blessing in disguise for both women.

Kate’s struggle to grieve Nathan’s loss is surprisingly complicated since they were only together such a short time.  She treasures her precious few memories of them as a couple but she cannot help but wonder if she would have been better off never marrying him since he died so soon after their life together begins.  After hearing other people’s memories of the man she is just realizing she barely knows, Kate begins questioning their entire relationship.  It certainly does not help that Kate’s friends from her single days are not exactly supportive although she is pleasantly surprised by the one person who does make an effort to be there for her.

Ainsley first comes across as an empty-headed ninny but behind her unfailingly cheerful and positive facade, she is unexpectedly intuitive and insightful.  She certainly has blinders on about her self-absorbed, selfish boyfriend and even after Eric uses their break up to find his fifteen minutes of fame, she still wants to reconcile with him. Which is why  Ainsley is a little confused when she begins to notice her uptight, seemingly emotionless boss is an attractive man with a surprising amount of depth.

Between their age difference and their complicated family dynamics, Kate and Ainsley were never overly close even though they genuinely care about one another.  Kate is quite shocked at how much she appreciates Ainsley once she moves in with her.  Although some of their interactions are somewhat awkward due to Ainsely’s uncanny ability to put her foot in her month, Kate appreciates her sister’s emotional support.  Equally surprising is Ainsley’s no nonsense advice as she gently coerces Kate to return to “normal” life.  Both sisters discover new and surprising things about one another and to the delight of both women, they finally close the gap in their once distant relationship.

On Second Thought is an emotional novel of love, loss and new beginnings.  The characters are beautifully developed with relatable flaws and true to life issues to overcome. The touching storyline will resonate with anyone who has experienced a break up or loss of someone they love. Kristan Higgins deftly balances the more sorrowful elements of the plot with wry humor, witty banter and laugh out loud scenes. Fans of contemporary women’s fiction are going to laugh, cry and ultimately rejoice as Ainsley and Kate forge a close bond while helping one another recover from their personal tragedies. A poignant, yet heartwarming novel that will touch reader’s hearts and linger in their minds long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Kristan Higgins, On Second Thought, Rated A, Review, Women's Fiction