Category Archives: HQN Books

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: 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: 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

Review: Those Texas Nights by Delores Fossen

Title: Those Texas Nights by Delores Fossen
Wrangler Creek Series Book One
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The Granger siblings thought they’d left their ranching days behind, until fate sends them home to Wrangler’s Creek, Texas—and into the passionate arms of those they’d least expect…

It’s some run of bad luck when Sophie Granger loses her business and gets left at the altar all in one day. Desperate to not appear jilted, Sophie begs Clay McKinnon, Wrangler’s Creek’s smoking-hot police chief, to pretend they’re having an affair. But Clay refuses, leaving Sophie to retreat to the family ranch to lick her wounds.

Hoping to leave his disreputable past behind, Clay moved to Wrangler’s Creek for a fresh start. But that looks unlikely when Sophie’s ex-fiancé shows up married to Clay’s impulsive kid sister. Overcome, Sophie resuggests the affair—but this time for real. Clay is hesitant. City-girl Sophie isn’t usually his type. But he can’t deny the desire she elicits—or his yearning to have her plant her cowboy roots for good.

Review:

Those Texas Nights is a sweet, sexy, funny first installment in Delores Fossen’s new series, Wrangler Creek.

Sophie Granger is in the midst of a string of bad luck when she is forced to move back to the family ranch in Wrangler Creek.  Her fiancé, Brantley Barnwell, has just left her at the altar, the family’s trusted friend and business CFO has embezzled all their money and her assets have been frozen. The last thing Sophie needs is a sizzling hot attraction to interim Sheriff Clay McKinnon.  With Clay’s sister April now married to Brantley, a relationship between Sophie and Clay would be tricky, but can they manage a secret no strings fling in a town that is rife with rumor?

Sophie and Clay are a fantastic couple but they both bring plenty of baggage to their clandestine affair.  Sophie is still trying to sort out the tangled business affairs but with the CFO in the wind, she is stuck working on the family ranch with her brother Garrett.  Clay is struggling to come to terms with the tragic incident that led to him moving to Wrangler Creek.  In addition to their own issues, Sophie and Clay have their hands full with chicken attacks, family squabbles, the town’s rumor mill and a fantasy date obsessed best friend.

With plenty of witty banter, humorous situations and  a cast of interesting but quirky characters, Those Texas Nights is a fast-paced and entertaining novel.  Sophie and Clay are appealing characters and their sex scenes are blazing hot.  The intriguing glimpses of Sophie’s brothers will leave fans eagerly anticipating the next installment in Delores Fossen’s Wrangler Creek series.  I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this engaging love story to fans of Western contemporary romances.

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Filed under Contemporary, Delores Fossen, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Those Texas Nights, Wrangler Creek Series

Review: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan

Title: Miracle on 5th Avenue by Sarah Morgan
From Manhattan with Love Series Book Three
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

It will take a Christmas miracle for two very different souls to find each other in this perfectly festive fairy tale of New York! 

Hopeless romantic Eva Jordan loves everything about Christmas. She might be spending the holidays alone this year, but when she’s given an opportunity to house-sit a spectacular penthouse on Fifth Avenue, she leaps at the chance. What better place to celebrate than in snow-kissed Manhattan? What she didn’t expect was to find the penthouse still occupied by its gorgeous—and mysterious—owner.

Bestselling crime writer Lucas Blade is having the nightmare before Christmas. With a deadline and the anniversary of his wife’s death looming, he’s isolated himself in his penthouse with only his grief for company. He wants no interruptions, no decorations and he certainly doesn’t appreciate being distracted by his beautiful, bubbly new housekeeper. But when the blizzard of the century leaves Eva snowbound in his apartment, Lucas starts to open up to the magic she brings…This Christmas, is Lucas finally ready to trust that happily-ever-afters do exist?

Review:

The third installment in Sarah Morgan’s heartwarming From Manhattan with Love series, Miracle on 5th Avenue is a delightfully charming opposites attract romance.

Eva Jordan is a bubbly, upbeat romantic who always tries to find the silver lining in every situation.  She fervently believes in happily ever after and although she has not yet met her Prince Charming, she has not yet given up hope she will find eventually find him. Eva is down to earth and although she always looks for the best in people, she is quite perceptive. She is rather chatty and she has an endearing tendency to speak whatever thought comes to mind.  Eva is a funny, kind-hearted and compassionate young woman who goes out of her way to help the people she cares about.

Crime writer Lucas Blade is cynical, jaded and has a bad habit of always looking for the worst in people.  He is still grieving the loss of his wife and he has become a virtual recluse in the three years since her death.   With both a book deadline and the holidays fast approaching, Lucas is at a very low point when he Eva enters his life.  Grumpy, rude and wanting to be left on his own, Lucas has no choice but to find a way to keep Eva by his side when she becomes the unexpected inspiration for his next book.

Despite their differences, a surprising friendship quickly springs up between Eva and Lucas.  She refuses to let his negativity bring her down and her unrelenting cheerful attitude slowly but surely begins to have a positive effect on Lucas.  With a genuine affection growing between them, they reveal the hidden parts of themselves that they have not felt comfortable showing anyone else.  A mutual attraction simmers beneath the surface but for various reasons, they try to fight giving in to their desire.  However, it is inevitable that they act on their passion but will Lucas’s complicated past prevent them from finding their happily ever after?

Miracle on 5th Avenue is a captivating addition to Sarah Morgan’s  From Manhattan with Love series.  Both Lucas and Eva are complex characters with realistic flaws and human foibles that readers will find easy to relate to.  The rapport between Lucas and Eva is instantaneous despite their somewhat unconventional first meeting and it is an absolute joy watching their friendship deepen into love.  This enchanting love story will melt readers’ hearts as it comes to a sweetly romantic conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, From Manhattan with Love Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, Miracle on 5th Avenue, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sarah Morgan