Category Archives: Montlake Romance

Review: Need You For Always by Marina Adair

need you alwaysTitle: Need You For Always by Marina Adair
Heroes of St. Helena Series Book Two
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Emerson “Emi” Blake dropped out of culinary school to care for her ailing mother, but she has bigger dreams than running St. Helena’s most popular pita cart. First on the menu: upgrade to a gourmet food truck. A new part-time job as a personal chef will definitely provide the funds, but it also forces her into close contact with her one and only one-night stand, Dax Baudouin, who’s daring her to try a second taste.

Former army Ranger Dax has a clear mission: come home, get healed, and get gone. Yet Emi’s tough-girl exterior and hidden soft side are even harder to resist than her mouthwatering baklava. After years of battles, he knows better than to try and rescue anyone—not that she’ll let him get close enough to try. Truth is, Dax is starting to think that Emi’s the one person who can save him…if he can just persuade her to give him another shot.

Review:

Heartwarming, sexy and unabashedly funny, Need You For Always is the latest addition to Marina Adair’s marvelous Heroes of St. Helena series. In this outing, Dax is the latest Baudouin brother to fall in love when he returns to St. Helena temporarily while recovering from a career ending injury.

A lot has changed for Dax since he spent one sizzling hot night with Emerson “Emi” Blake at his brother’s wedding several months ago. His career in the army ended after a mission went sideways and while he might be willing to stay in St. Helena until the physical therapy on his knee is complete, his plans for the future do not include staying in his hometown. Dax is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life when he comes face to face with Emi and while he would like nothing better than to pick up where they left off, Emi shoots that suggestion down in a hurry. Emi has enough on her plate dealing with her still grieving father and sister but when a part-time job opportunity puts her career goals within reach, Emi reluctantly agrees to work for Dax temporarily.

Emi willingly put her plans on permanent hold to return home and care for her mother when her ALS took a dramatic turn for the worse. In the two years since her mother’s death, Emi has continued working on their dream of owning a food truck while at the same time assisting her dad with her now six year old sister, Violet. Emi has very little free time and the last thing she wants or needs is a man in her life. She threw caution to the wind when she agreed to spend one night with Dax months earlier, but a relationship is a complication Emi does not need in her life.

Dax has absolutely no intention of putting down roots in St. Helena. He is only biding his time until the doctor signs off on his recovery and he can begin working for a private security firm in another city. Despite his need to keep everyone at an emotional distance, Dax finds himself slowly but surely getting involved with the local community. He also cannot seem to keep away from Emi and when their lives become even more entwined, his feelings for her deepen. But will Dax allow his fears to keep him from fully committing to future with Emi?

The relationship between Dax and Emi is so much fun to watch unfold. There is no shortage of sexual tension as the two banter back and forth but Emi refuses to give in to Dax’s attempts to seduce her back into his bed. They both finally agree to another no strings fling, but as Dax commits to helping Emi achieve her dreams, she begins to see the possibilities of forever with him. However, Dax is still having trouble figuring out a new plan for his life now that it has veered so far off track and he ends up breaking Emi’s heart. Will he realize his mistake before it is too late? Can Emi forgive Dax for hurting her?

Need You For Always by Marina Adair is a sweet, steamy novel with an amazing cast of appealing characters. The storyline is heartfelt and full of laugh out loud moments that are incredibly endearing. This second installment in the Heroes of St. Helena series is a fun, flirtatious love story that tugs at the heartstrings and it is sure to be a hit with anyone who enjoys reading contemporary romances. Although it can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend the entire series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Heroes of St Helena Series, Marina Adair, Montlake Romance, Need You for Always, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Treasured by Thursday by Catherine Bybee

treasured thursdayTitle: Treasured by Thursday by Catherine Bybee
Weekday Brides Series Book Seven
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The seventh and final tale in the dazzling, heartwarming, and pulse-racing Weekday Brides series.

Gabriella Masini: She’s a woman haunted by her past, with the scars to prove it. She believes that fairy tales are for other people. An elite matchmaker at Alliance, she’s great at crunching numbers, but something doesn’t add up with her latest prospective client: a billionaire bad boy with his own secrets. When Gabi refuses to be his temporary wife, Hunter forces her hand with an offer she can’t refuse. But marriage to a man like that could never last…or could it?

Hunter Blackwell: Only his bank account is bigger than his ruthless ability to obtain anything he wants. These days, he has a secret reason to settle down, at least for a while—and he thinks the sensual and sassy Gabi will fit the bill perfectly. But when their marriage of convenience becomes downright dangerous, Hunter must decide how far to take his vow to honor and protect Gabi forever.

Review:

Treasured by Thursday, the final installment in Catherine Bybee’s Weekday Brides series, is another marvelous romance with a few suspense elements. This delightful novel pairs up Gabriella “Gabi” Masini, a matchmaker at Alliance, and Hunter Blackwell, a billionaire in desperate need of a wife. After Gabi deems him an unsuitable candidate for Alliance, the ruthless businessman does a little digging into her background and coerces her into a marriage of convenience. The sparks fly between them, but will trust issues and baggage from their respective pasts keep them from acting on their growing attraction for one another?

Beginning about eighteen months after the events of the previous book, Gabi is settled into her new life in CA and her career with Alliance. Although she has made new friends and is happy with her life, she is still a little traumatized by the abuse she suffered at the hands of her deceased first husband, drug smuggler Alonzo Picano. Her personal life still might be a bit of a mess, but professionally, she is on top of her game and Hunter’s background sets off enough alarm bells to disqualify him as a client for Alliance. Unfortunately, Gabi underestimates Hunter and she is quite alarmed by the information he finds after his investigation into her past. Realizing she has been outmaneuvered, Gabi agrees to marry him, but only if he agrees to her somewhat outrageous conditions.

Hunter is sexy and charming, but he is also a little unscrupulous when it comes to forcing Gabi to marry him. He is a loner, estranged from his family and he is all business, all the time. He is a brilliant businessman, always thinking ahead to his next venture but he is rather cold and calculating. When it comes to Gabi, Hunter does not think past what he needs and he will do whatever it takes to achieve his goal of finding a wife. His surprisingly sweet side is revealed soon after they marry and it does not take long before he is infatuated with Gabi.

Unfortunately, Hunter left out a few pertinent details about his personal life and his past eventually collides with Gabi’s with disastrous results. Despite the extra security measures, danger comes at them from all sides and Gabi inadvertently puts herself in harm’s way when she reacts without thinking things through.  This part of the storyline is a little predictable but there are enough twists and turns to keep the story moving at a brisk pace.

Treasured by Thursday is an entertaining, action-packed novel with a wonderful cast of appealing characters. Catherine Bybee puts another unique spin on the marriage of convenience plot device and the resulting love story between Gabi and Hunter is quite captivating. Old and new fans are sure to love this magnificent final installment of the Weekday Brides series.

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Filed under Catherine Bybee, Contemporary, Montlake Romance, Rated B, Review, Romance, Treasured by Thursday, Weekday Bride Series

Review: Montana Cherries by Kim Law

montana cherriesTitle: Montana Cherries by Kim Law
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 370 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

After her mother’s tragic death, Dani Wilde had no choice but to abandon her dreams. She left Columbia University and returned to her family’s Montana cherry farm, intent on being a maternal figure to her brothers. Now the kids are grown, and it’s finally her time to fly. Her sights are on New York City, and nothing will stop her—not even an old flame with gorgeous green eyes.

Celebrity photographer Ben Denton hasn’t seen Montana in years—and hasn’t spoken to Dani since “that night” so long ago. When he discovers he’s a dad to a four-year-old—and the child’s mother refuses to care for her—Montana and the Wilde farm spring to mind. The orchard is the only place that’s ever felt like home, but will the warmth of the Wilde family be enough to help Ben figure out how to be a father?

As the Wilde family gathers for the yearly cherry harvest and Dani struggles to figure out what she really wants in life, she discovers the shocking truth about her own mother—and learns that following her heart may lead her to her dreams after all.

Review:

Montana Cherries by Kim Law is an emotional, poignant and ultimately uplifting novel of healing. Although there is also a romantic element to the storyline, the main focus is on Dani Wilde’s struggle to come to terms with the wounds from her past.

Following her mother’s death, Dani gave up her dream of attending college to return home and care for her younger siblings. Fast forward fourteen years, and she is on the verge of making her long awaited move to New York. She is finalizing her plans to leave in a few weeks when the cherry harvest is over and the last thing she needs is a relationship. So when good friend (and one-time lover) Ben Denton returns to the farm with his four year old daughter, Haley, Dani tries to keep her distance from both him and his daughter. But as they resume their once close friendship, their mutual attraction is impossible to ignore and they embark on a no strings fling. After a shocking family secret is revealed, Dani retreats from her loved ones in order to heal.

In the beginning, Dani seems to be happy, well-adjusted and eager to begin the next phase of her life. But as she continues to pack her belongings, she runs across a few items that bring up some unsettling feelings about her relationship with her mother, whom she has long idolized. Unable to face these distressing memories, she pushes them to the back of her mind and keeps busy with her family and the upcoming harvest. When the rest of her brothers return home to help with the annual harvest, Dani’s foundation begins to crumble when she learns they have been keeping a huge secret from her. After their stunning revelation, she feels betrayed by her family but it is the disturbing memories that comes rushing back that destroy her. Although Ben is at her side every step of the way, Dani cannot consider a future with him until she takes the necessary steps to process the emotional damage from her past.

Ben also has a somewhat troubled past but he has come to terms with most of it. His main issue is learning how to care for his newly discovered daughter. He is definitely out of his depth, but with Dani’s guidance, he and Haley finally begin to sort out their new relationship. Their relationship is fragile at first but he gradually gains Haley’s trust and their scenes are quite touching.

The relationship between Dani and Ben is a nice blend of sweet and steamy. Despite their ten year separation, they easily pick up their friendship where it left off and they quickly put the lingering issue of their one night stand to rest. Their transition from friends to lovers is gradual and although they try to keep things casual, it is easy to see their growing affection for one another. It is also quite refreshing that Ben is willing to put his heart on the line for Dani.

Montana Cherries is a heartbreaking journey of self-discovery and healing. The storyline is quite unique and touches on a little about talked mental illness that has devastating and long reaching effects. Kim Law’s research is extensive and her depiction of the actions of the person who has the disorder is incredibly accurate (unfortunately I have personal experience with someone who has this particular illness). All in all, a beautifully rendered and achingly realistic novel that will touch readers’ hearts and remain with them long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under Contemporary, Kim Law, Montana Cherries, Montlake Romance, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Sweet As Sin by J.T. Geissinger

sweet as sinTitle: Sweet As Sin by J.T. Geissinger
Bad Habit Series Book One
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 386 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Inside a drop-dead sexy, hard-partying rock star lies a good heart…and a dark secret.

Twenty-something Kat Reid is loving life as an in-demand Hollywood makeup artist. She has absolutely no interest in rock ‘n’ roll, but in order to pay the mortgage, she agrees to work on the set of a rock video for the world-famous rockers known as Bad Habit…which brings her face-to-face with Nico Nyx, lead singer of Bad Habit and Adonis in the flesh.

However, the fiercely independent Kat isn’t impressed by the hard-living, womanizing rock star. But when Nico’s model girlfriend shows up to the set drunk and Kat is tapped to replace her as the video’s sexy bride, her combustible chemistry with Nico suddenly threatens to consume the set. Nico feels it, too–and becomes determined to win Kat over, body and soul. Yet behind his rock god swagger, Nico hides a dark secret. Can he rock Kat’s world forever, or will he just break her heart?

Review:

Sweet As Sin is the first installment in J.T. Geissinger’s rock star series, Bad Habit. This first novel starring lead singer Nico Nyx and makeup artist Kat Reid is quite steamy and full of drama.

Kat Reid is a successful makeup artist whose an ironclad rule against dating celebrities is pretty hard to remember once she meets über sexy musician Nico Nyx, the lead singer of Bad Habit. The two are instantly attracted to one another and he persistently pursues her until she agrees to consider going out with him. After careful consideration, Kat decides to give Nico a chance and the two are soon embroiled in a scorching hot relationship.

In the beginning, Kat and Nico are wonderful characters that are easy to like. Kat is feisty, independent and speaks her mind. Nico is charismatic and he is charmed by Kat’s candor and feistiness. Kat is hesitant to date Nico but he patiently waits until she is sure she wants to go out with him. She has been in abusive and controlling relationships in the past and she is upfront about what she wants (and does not want) in a relationship. Nico is also honest about his expectations and their romance is off to a very sweet beginning.

However, things go downhill very quickly after they begin dating. Nico has a lot of emotional baggage and he is very possessive and a little too over protective. He also has a few violent outbursts that scare Kat but he easily convinces her he will control his temper in the future. Nico is big on trust but he is not forthcoming about his issues. These secrets endanger Kat, but instead of giving her the information she needs that will keep her out of harm’s way, he becomes even more possessive and controlling.

Although the story starts out rather light-hearted and fun, it quickly turns dark and brooding. Kat becomes very insecure and jealous while Nico comes across as obsessive and domineering. Kat’s unease with some of Nico’s actions is overshadowed by her desire for him and she becomes so passive it is very frustrating. Their sex scenes are very sensual early on but then they take a light BDSM turn towards the end of the novel when out of left field Nico begins spanking Kat during sex.

Despite a few troubling issues, Sweet As Sin is an enjoyable read. Kat’s friendships with her besties Grace and Chloe are the best part of the story, but some of their jokes are a little insensitive. The other band members are intriguing and it will be interesting to see what J.T. Geissinger has in store for them in future installments of the Bad Habit series.

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Filed under Bad Habit Series, Contemporary, JT Geissinger, Montlake Romance, Rated C, Review, Romance, Sweet As Sin

Review: Seduced by Sunday by Catherine Bybee

seduced sundayTitle: Seduced by Sunday by Catherine Bybee
Weekday Brides Series Book Six
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

She swore off love forever…but he just might change her mind.

The sixth sweet, thrilling book in the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Weekday Brides series from Catherine Bybee.

Meg Rosenthal: Matchmaker by day, realist by night, Meg is not about to get swept away by a charming, darkly handsome businessman in a designer suit. She’s come to a beautiful secluded resort to evaluate the private island’s potential for her agency, not to ogle its owner. But there’s something about the magnetic man that’s hard to resist, even for a woman who refuses to fall in love.

Valentino Masini: A successful and drop-dead sexy businessman, Valentino is used to having the finer things in life. Yet he’s never wanted someone the way he wants Meg, who’s stirring up a hurricane of trouble in his heart. But just as he decides to convince her to stay, someone else decides it might be time to get Meg off the island…permanently.

Review:

Seduced by Sunday is the sixth installment in Catherine Bybee’s enchanting Weekday Brides series. A lush tropical setting is the beginning of the romance for Meg Rosenthal and Valentino Masini but an intriguing mystery also takes the pair to the vineyards of Italy.

When Meg learns about a secluded location that could be a perfect fit for the clientele of the company she works for, she knows she has to investigate to see if it lives up to its stellar reputation. She, along with good friend (and über famous) Michael Wolfe, make plans to spend a week checking out the resort. Valentino (Val) is dead serious about protecting the privacy of his guests so he and Meg get off on the wrong foot when he is slow to grant her access to the island.  Meg’s anger quickly turns to attraction when she finally meets the very handsome and sexy Val, but she is not looking for love. He is also drawn to Meg, but since she is there with Michael, Val keeps his distance from the sultry beauty. But it soon becomes clear that someone is violating the guests’ privacy and in order to protect Michael’s privacy, Meg and Val team up to get to the bottom of the mystery and things begin to heat up between the couple.

Meg is extremely loyal to her friends and the company she works for. She is also feisty and quite fierce about protecting the people she cares about. She is a bit suspicious that the island is not quite as safe from prying eyes as everyone believes but when things appear to be on the up and up, she begins to relax her guard. She is quickly charmed by Val’s sister Gabriella (Gabi) and his mother and she is thrilled to meet blues legend, Jim Lewis. Meg is a little dazzled by Val but she has absolutely no intention of beginning a romance with him.

Val is a shrewd businessman and the success of his island retreat hinges on providing complete and total privacy for his guests. They, along with his employees, are thoroughly vetted and he has yet to have a breach in security. But soon after Meg and Michael arrive, he begins receiving seemingly innocuous photos of him, Meg and Michael. When all remains quiet in the media, Val cannot fathom the motive for the pictures, but he quietly begins an investigation. However when Meg learns about the pictures, she jumps into action to keep Michael out of the limelight.

After Michael and Meg return to their regular lives, puzzling information about Gabi’s fiancé, Alonzo, takes Meg, Michael and eventually, Val to Italy. Things do not quite add up about Alonzo’s winery and Michael is determined to uncover the truth about his business. As the three of them are looking into the winery, Gabi finds herself in a precarious situation and soon everyone is in a race against time to rescue her before it is too late.

Seduced by Sunday is another captivating installment in Catherine Bybee’s Weekday Brides series. Meg and Val are superbly developed characters and there is no denying the chemistry between them. The storyline is a fantastic mix of romance and mystery and the novel’s conclusion is suspenseful and action-packed.   All of the loose ends are wrapped up in a sweet and very romantic epilogue.

Although Seduced by Sunday can be read as a standalone, I highly recommend the previous novels in the Weekday Brides series as well.

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Filed under Catherine Bybee, Contemporary, Montlake Romance, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Romance, Weekday Bride Series

Review: The Perfect Homecoming by Julia London

Title: The Perfect Homecoming by Julia London
Pine River Series Book Three
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: A

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julia London delivers another stand-alone, heartwarming love story in her Pine River series.

Emma Tyler’s cool exterior and penchant for sarcasm keep most people from getting too close…and an unusual compulsion drives her to steal from the few men who do. When her trophy-collecting habit goes too far, she quits her ritzy event-planning job in Los Angeles and runs away to Pine River, hiding with her estranged half-sisters at Homecoming Ranch and caring for Leo Kendrick, her ailing friend.

Thrillseekers Anonymous founder Cooper Jessup has his hands full with work and his brother’s looming prison release date. But when a client asks him to track down Emma Tyler to retrieve a stolen memento, Cooper can’t turn down the money…or the chance to see the beautiful Emma again.

When Cooper comes to collect the item, Emma refuses to admit the horrible truth. This handsome man may see right through her steely veneer, but can he get close enough to show her how love and honesty can heal a troubled heart?

The Review:

The Perfect Homecoming is the very poignant third installment in Julia London’s heartwarming Pine River series starring the Tyler sisters. In this outing, Emma flees from her seemingly perfect life as an event planner and returns the ranch she co-owns with her two sisters, Libby and Madeline. Unfortunately the past she is trying to leave behind catches up with her when Cooper Jessup tracks her down to retrieve a missing keepsake for a client.

Emma is so emotionally damaged that it is absolutely heartbreaking. Her issues are deeply rooted in her childhood but it is a horrible betrayal that leaves her trapped in an unhealthy pattern of behavior ten years later.  Growing up, Emma never quite measured up to her “perfect” stepsister and while she has made peace with what other people consider her shortcomings, she never quite fits in. She is a stunningly beautiful woman but her unflinching honesty puts her at disadvantage in most social settings. She is not deliberately hurtful but her direct answers to sensitive questions are rarely appreciated. This lack of social niceties has given her a reputation of being hard and insensitive, but in reality, Emma is incredibly fragile.

Cooper is one of the very few people who sees Emma as more than a pretty face. Growing up with a brother who is typically on the wrong side of the law, Cooper has a remarkable ability to accept people as they are without judging them. Cooper has no doubt that Emma has the object in question, but what he does not know is why she took it. He is frustrated by her vehement denials, but he still finds himself falling for her. However, trying to convince Emma that she is worthy of his love is an almost impossible task.

Emma and Cooper’s paths have crossed a couple of times in their professional lives and they have a mutual respect for each other. They are also attracted to one another, but Emma pushes him away due to her shame and general feeling of unworthiness. This does not stop her from trying to seduce him and although Cooper does desire her, he refuses to let her use sex as a distraction. Cooper also knows Emma deserves more than she is willing to settle for and until she believes she deserves unconditional love, there seems little chance of a future for them.

The Perfect Homecoming is a powerful novel of love, redemption and forgiveness. It is also a very sweet romance that pulls on the heartstrings but it is the growth of Emma’s character that makes it such an outstanding and emotional read. A very moving epilogue perfectly wraps up all of the loose ends and brings not only the novel, but the entire series, to an extremely satisfying and emotional conclusion.

Throughout the Pine River series, Julia London has not hesitated to write about very difficult and sensitive topics and each book packs a very emotional punch. Each novel in the series is thought-provoking, moving and realistic and although they can be read as standalone stories, I highly recommend the entire Pine River series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Julia London, Montlake Romance, Pine River Series, Rated A, Review, Romance, The Perfect Homecoming