Category Archives: HQN Books

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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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

Review: Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne

Title: Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne
Haven Point Series Book Five
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

There’s no place like Haven Point for the holidays, where the snow conspires to bring two wary hearts together for a Christmas to remember

It’s been two rough years since Andrea Montgomery lost her husband, and all she wants is for her children to enjoy their first Christmas in Haven Point. But then Andie’s friend asks a favor—to keep an eye on her brother, Sheriff Marshall Bailey, who’s recovering from a hit and run. Andie will do anything for Wyn, even park her own misgivings to check on her grouchy, wounded bear of a brother.

Marshall hates feeling defenseless and resents the protective impulses that Andie brings out in him. But when a blizzard forces them together for the holidays, something in Marshall begins to thaw. Andie’s gentle nature is a salve, and her kids’ excitement for the holidays makes him forget why he never wanted a family. If only he and Andie can admit what they really want—each other—their Christmas wishes might come true after all.

Review:

With a heartwarming small-town setting, two adorable children and a wonderful pairing of a widow and a sheriff, Snowfall on Haven Point by RaeAnne Thayne is an absolutely charming holiday romance. This fifth installment in the Haven Point series can easily be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the previous novels as well.

The past two years have been quite challenging for Andrea “Andie” Montgomery but she is determined to make this Christmas memorable for her children, six year old Chloe and four year old Will.  A policeman’s widow who was betrayed in the worst possible way by her late husband’s partner, she refuses to let the events of the past define her.  When her good friend Wynona asks her to help out with her injured brother, Sheriff Marshall Bailey, Andie is reluctant to spend time with the gruff man who makes rattles her every time she sees him.  With her kids by her side to act as a buffer, she quells her nerves long enough to deliver meals to her housebound  neighbor.  Watching the gentle way Marshall interacts with Chloe and Will provides Andie with a new perspective of the taciturn sheriff and she is shocked to discover she is attracted to him.  Is there more to her sudden interest in Marshall than just attraction?  If so, will Andie risk her heart on another man in law enforcement?

Andie has had more than her share of tragedy in her life but she has proven to be surprisingly resilient in the face of adversity.  Nothing is more important to her than her kids and their happiness and she hopes this Christmas will help them recover from the traumatic events from a few months earlier.  Although she is good friends with Wyn, she and Marshall have not spent much time in other’s company. Despite her anxiety when she is around him, Andie refuses to be intimidated by his insistence he does not need her help. This provides her the opportunity to really take charge of her fears and as a result, she truly begins to heal from the misfortune she has experienced and she becomes much stronger and secure.  However,  she refuses to relinquish her desire to protect herself from future heartbreak so Andie refuses to give in to her growing feelings for Marshall.

Marshall is a workaholic whose devotion to his career is admirable but his long hours leave him little time for friends or family.  Not wanting to admit to any weakness, he never stops trying to push Andie away but she gently yet firmly ignores his request to let him deal with his injury on his own.  Suddenly and inexplicably, Marshall finds himself looking forward to visits from her and the kids but he is sure this is due to the extended amount of time on his own. He has plenty of distractions to keep him occupied but Andie is never far from his thoughts.

Despite the somewhat rocky beginning to their relationship, Marshall and Andie have a mutual respect for each other and their uneasy friendship is underscored by an unexpected mutual attraction.  Andie is quite observant and she sees more than Marshall is comfortable with, but she quickly becomes a trusted confidant as he tries to work through the complications in both his personal and professional lives.  As Andie spends time with Marshall, she realizes that she will eventually begin dating again, but she clings to her assertion she won’t become involved with another cop.  There is a little bit of a push/pull between them as they grow close only to have their unresolved issues prevent them from fully committing to one another.  Marshall is the first to envision a future together but will he convince Andie to give him a chance despite her fears?

Snowfall on Haven Point is an absolutely marvelous addition to the Haven Point series.  The characters are multi-faceted with realistic strengths and weakness. The novel is well-written with a slight suspense element in addition to the developing relationship between the lead protagonists. The romance between Marshall and Andie is believable and despite the obvious chemistry between them, their interactions are limited to some very steamy kisses.  Old and new fans of RaeAnne Thayne are going to love this sweet holiday romance that takes place in a wonderfully inviting, close-knot community.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Haven Point Series, HQN Books, RaeAnne Thayne, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Snowfall on Haven Point

Review: Blame It on the Cowboy by Delores Fossen

Title: Blame It on the Cowboy by Delores Fossen
The McCord Brothers Series Book Three
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Every cowboy has a wild side—all it takes is the right woman to unleash it… 

All of Logan McCord’s carefully laid plans erupt the day he walks in on his would-be fiancée getting…well, not so carefully laid. Tonight, just once, Logan is acting on instinct. And that instinct is telling him to say “Happy to oblige” to the cute stranger looking for a no-strings fling with a Texas cowboy.

When chef Reese Stephens made her bucket list, she mistakenly thought she had weeks to live. Not that she regrets her one-night-stand with the gorgeous rancher. But she does regret leaving an heirloom watch as a parting gift. Tracking Logan down is easy. Walking away again is another matter. Because Reese’s crazy past and Logan’s battered heart are no match for the kind of chemistry that could turn one night into the start of a passionate lifetime.

Review:

Blame It on the Cowboy is an entertaining addition to Delores Fossen’s The McCord Brothers series.  Although it is the third installment in the series, it can be read as standalone but I highly recommend the previous books as well.

After finding his girlfriend of eight years in a truly cringe-worthy compromising situation, Logan McCord is drowning his sorrows when he meets Reese Stephens.  After playing a few drunken word games, Reese makes him an offer he cannot refuse and they spend one incredibly hot night together.  The next morning, they both return to their normal lives with no plan to ever see each other again.  Three months later, Logan is shocked to discover Reese is the newly hired cook at a local diner and naturally, he is very suspicious about why she has moved to his small hometown.  Reese’s reason for finding Logan is on the up and up but she understands why he might be mistrustful of her. Her plan to remain in town a few days is quickly derailed and Reese and Logan further complicate things when they give in to their simmering passion. Is there any chance for this mismatched couple to live happily ever after?  Or will Reese’s troubled past tear them apart?

Reese might not have many physical possessions but she has a ton of emotional baggage.  The most of her problems are not of her making, but she cannot escape the guilt she feels for other people’s actions.  A previous relationship has left an indelible mark on her and Reese blames herself for how things finally ended between her and her ex.  She has steered clear of romantic entanglements ever since, but her attraction to Logan is too strong to resist.  As their lives becomes more entangled, Reese becomes more certain than ever that her somewhat sordid past will ruin Logan’s reputation.  When someone from her past tracks her down, her first reaction is to run away, but will Logan convince Reese to stay?

Having taken over the family business after his parents’ tragic deaths when he was 19, Logan takes his responsibilities very seriously.  He is a little staid  but well-respected by his business associates and the people in his hometown.  Surprisingly, he is not overly concerned what anyone thinks about his relationship with Reese and he is quick to try to convince her to stay in town.  When his ex returns to try to repair her ruined reputation and win him back, Logan is willing to hear her out but he is not at all keen to renew their romance.  As Reese’s troubles continuing to spiral out of control, will he remain with her? Or will he decide to reunite with his philandering ex?

Reese and Logan’s relationship often takes a backseat to the various shenanigans of people from Reese’s past.  At first amusing, these antics soon become tedious and a little over the top as they continue to snowball.  Logan’s ex is also determined to win him back so be prepared for some scheming as she tries to come between him and Reese.

When the story focuses on Reese and Logan, there is no denying the chemistry between them and their scenes together are absolutely delightful.  Despite the sometimes ridiculous exploits of everyone else, things between Reese and Logan are a little intense due to Reese’s rather traumatic past.  They genuinely like one another and Logan is respectful of Reese’s privacy once he gets to know her.  Reese and Logan are a wonderful couple and it is frustrating that their romance is overshadowed by the subplots involving people from their respective pasts.

Blame It on the Cowboy is a lovely romance between two wounded protagonists. Reese and Logan’s road to happily ever after is full of detours and unforeseen obstacles but in the end, love prevails as they help one another overcome the problems that have haunted them for so long.  Old and new fans of Delores Fossen are going to love this latest addition to The McCord Brothers series.

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Filed under Blame It on the Cowboy, Contemporary, Delores Fossen, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B, Review, Romance, The McCord Brothers Series