Category Archives: HQN Books

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With a tough islander mother who’s always been distant, a wild-child sister in jail and a withdrawn teenage niece as eager to ditch the island as Nora once was, Nora has her work cut out for her if she’s going to take what might be her last chance to mend the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

Review: Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery

Title: Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery
Happily Inc. Series Book Two
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Susan Mallery, read the second irresistible installment in the Happily Inc series!

Mathias Mitchell’s easy smile hides a world of hurt. After the worst kind of family betrayal, he moves to Happily Inc., California—the wedding destination town supplies a steady stream of bridesmaids, perfect for his “no promises, no pain” lifestyle. Yet he can’t stop watching for his beautiful, elusive neighbor on the animal preserve behind their homes.

Gamekeeper Carol Lund knows she’s not special enough to attract an alpha male like Mathias, so his offer to help her adopt a herd for her lonely giraffe is surprising—and his determined seduction, even more so. But just as she finally welcomes him into her bed, his careless actions crush her heart. Will she give him a second chance to prove she’ll always come first in his heart?

Don’t miss You Say It First, the first book in the Happily Inc series.

Review:

Set in a small town that caters to destination weddings, Second Chance Girl is an endearing addition to Susan Mallery’s Happily Inc. series. In this second outing, the Lund sisters, Carol and Violet, embark on romances that have their own set of obstacles to overcome on their way to happily ever after.

Carol is a gamekeeper on the town’s animal preserve and although she knows it will not go anywhere, she is crushing on her man-whore neighbor Mathias Mitchell, who favors one-night stands with visiting bridesmaids.  She knows she is not beautiful or special enough to attract Mathias so she ignores her attraction when they unexpectedly become friends.  When an evening of drinking culminates with a surprising admission from Mathias, Carol is delighted to indulge her fantasies about her sexy neighbor. However, the next day reinforces her insecurities and their once easygoing friendship becomes strained.

After a stunning revelation from his famous and temperamental artist father, Mathias feels doubly betrayed when his brother Ronan retreats both emotionally and physically. Needless to say, Mathias is unwilling to risk another emotional betrayal so he ignores his unanticipated attraction to his quiet and unassuming neighbor.  He also plays it safe when it comes to career and he confines his glasswork to creating  stunning dishware.  However, his creativity is reawakened after Mathias observes Carol’s tender interactions with her lonely giraffe, Millie.

Spending quiet evenings with Carol is a balm to Mathias wounded soul but their mutual attraction is becoming impossible to resist.  However, when things between them go awry, Carol is afraid to ask too many questions about what went wrong. At the same time, Mathias is garnering his courage to explore his sizzling desire for his lovely neighbor. Just when things are finally heating up between them, Mathias gets another reminder that love equals betrayal and he unequivocally  shuts down their budding romance. Will Carol find the confidence and courage she needs to challenge Mathias’s assumption that their relationship will eventually result in heartache?

Carol’s sister Violet also unexpectedly finds herself in a new relationship when Ulrich Sherwood, the Duke of Sherwood, arrives in town to confront her about her friendship with his grandmother. Although Ulrich has no recollection of having met Violet before, Violet has very fond memories of his kind words helping her feel better about herself when she was going through an ugly duckling stage as a teenager. Circumstances force Ulrich to remain in town and to both of their surprise, romance blooms between them. Is their relationship destined to be more than just a vacation fling?

Second Chance Girl is an enchanting romance between an emotionally damaged yet sexy man and an insecure but adorable woman.  This charming couple gradually transitions from friends to lovers but their respective emotional baggage quickly threatens to derail their relationship when an unpleasant family visit brings painful reminders of past betrayals. Despite the all too realistic problems that Carol and Mathias must overcome, this latest installment Susan Mallery’s Happily Inc. series is a light-hearted and witty read that old and new fans are sure to love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Happily Inc Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Second Chance Girl, Susan Mallery

Review: A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

Title: A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
Carsons of Mustang Creek Series Book Four
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

It’s a Christmas affair to remember as a Hollywood mogul discovers his inner cowboy—and the woman of his dreams—amid the rugged beauty of Wyoming. 

Raine McCall would take snow-covered mountains over a star-studded premiere any day. But when hotshot movie executive Mick Branson arranges dinner on Christmas Eve to discuss a work opportunity, she’s intrigued—by the offer and the man. She’s a no-makeup, no-frills single mom, who’s happy with her quiet life. Sharing chili cheeseburgers and sizzling kisses with Mick is sure heating up her holiday, but country girl and power player don’t mix…

It’s not just work that’s brought Mick back to Mustang Creek. Since he first visited to oversee a documentary, free-spirited graphic designer Raine has been in his head. Her approach to life is as unconventional as her quirky holiday ornaments. Their attraction is undeniable—and so are their differences. Putting down roots in the Wild West wasn’t in the script. But there are some Christmas gifts you can’t walk away from, even when they turn your whole world upside down…

Review:

A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller is a light-hearted, conflict-free holiday romance. Starring secondary characters from previous novels in the Carsons of Mustang Creek series, this fourth installment can easily be read as a standalone.

Raine McCall is a little surprised by the out of the blue dinner invitation from Mick Branson. The two have crossed paths before while he was in town working on a film project with her ex-boyfriend and daughter Daisy’s father, Slater Carson. Since it is Christmas Eve and Daisy is spending the night with Slater and his extended family, Raine asks Mick to join her for a simple meal.  Their enjoyment in each other’s company leads to a whirlwind romance but Raine is a little concerned about fully committing to Mick since they lead very different lives.

Raine is a bit of a free spirit so working from home as a graphic designer is a perfect fit for her. She is a straight shooter who speaks her mind and lives a quiet life with Daisy. While she has dated off and on since her split from Slater, she is quite cautious when it comes to relationships.  However, with Mick, Raine is a little more open to romance but she is concerned they might not be a good fit for a permanent relationship due to their different lifestyles.

With a high powered career and a privileged background, Mick is used to the finer things in life but he is ready to settle down and simply his life.  While he has a few handy excuses to explain why he is in Mustang Creek, the real reason is quite simple. Mick is interested in pursuing a romance with Raine but is she interested in dating him?

With a beautiful snow-covered setting, Snow Country Christmas is a whimsical, low-key love story.  Raine and Mick are well-developed, likable protagonists. Their relationship is easygoing and free from any angst or drama.  Linda Lael Miller’s latest addition to the Carsons of Mustang Creek series is lovely holiday romance that old and new fans are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under A Snow Country Christmas, Carsons of Mustang Creek Series, Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Linda Lael Miller, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: You Say It First by Susan Mallery

Title: You Say It First by Susan Mallery
Happily, Inc 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 #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool’s Gold romances invites you to visit Happily Inc., a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale!

Sculptor Nick Mitchell grew up in a family of artists and learned from his volatile father that passion only leads to pain. As he waits on a new commission, he takes a day job as a humble carpenter at a theme wedding venue. The job has its perks—mainly the venue’s captivating owner, Pallas Saunders.

Pallas adores Weddings in a Box. But if she can’t turn the floundering business around, she’ll have no choice but to cave to her domineering mother and work at the family’s bank. Then when a desperate bride begs Pallas for something completely out of the box, her irresistible new hire inspires her. Nick knows she doesn’t belong behind a desk, and she knows in her heart that he’s right—where she really belongs is in his arms.

Don’t miss the next book in the Happily Inc. series, Second Chance Girl!

Review:

The first installment in Susan Mallery’s new series, Happily Inc, You Say It First is a sweet yet sassy romance between a couple who are both carrying their fair share of emotional baggage.

Nick Mitchell is temporarily staying with his brothers, Ronan and Mathias, as he waits to hear if he has been selected to create a sculpture that will take him to Dubai for two years. Working as a part-time carpenter for Weddings in a Box owner Pallas Saunders sounds like the perfect way to fill his time while he waits. Growing up with his famous yet extremely temperamental artist father, Nick has decided passion is to be avoided at all costs so he resists romantic entanglements. However, since his time in town comes with an expiration date, will Nick give in to his unexpected attraction to Pallas?

Pallas always planned to work in her  family’s bank but her life took a few surprising detours and she now owns a destination wedding business. Weddings in a Box is on somewhat shaky financial ground but with plenty of weddings booked for the next several months, she is hopeful she can turn things around. When her mother finally presents her with a long anticipated job offer, Pallas’s reaction surprises both herself and her mom.  She feels like she can never live up to her mother’s expectations and she hates that she feels like she has to earn her mother’s love.  Because Pallas always falls short with her mother, she shies away from relationshops since she does not want to feel pressured to earn a man’s love. Since Nick is only going to be in town a short time, will Pallas decide to embark on a steamy no strings fling?

The romance between Pallas and Nick is slow growing and an absolute joy to watch unfold. Nick is honest with her right from the beginning that he is only interested in a short term relationship. Pallas  is relieved there is no pressure on her to earn his approval or love, so there is a decided lack of conflict as they indulge in some steamy interludes.  Outside of the bedroom, they are friends who work well together as they bounce ideas off each other after she is presented with an opportunity to stretch her creative wings for an upcoming wedding. Pallas grows both personally and professionally throughout their relationship but has Nick made any progress on conquering the demons that plague him?

You Say It First is a very heartwarming romance that is quite engaging.  Nick and Pallas are brilliantly developed lead protagonists whose foibles and frailties that make them easy to relate to. The supporting cast of characters is somewhat quirky yet immensely appealing. Old and new fans of Susan Mallery  will be absolutely delighted to immerse themselves in this first installment of the Happily Inc series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Happily Inc Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B, Review, Romance, Susan Mallery, You Say It First