Category Archives: Romance

Review: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz

Title: The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

They called themselves “the lucky ones”

They were seven children either orphaned or abandoned by their parents and chosen by legendary philanthropist and brain surgeon Dr. Vincent Capello to live in The Dragon, his almost magical beach house on the Oregon Coast. Allison was the youngest of the lucky ones living an idyllic life with her newfound family…until the night she almost died, and was then whisked away from the house and her adopted family forever.

Now, thirteen years later, Allison receives a letter from Roland, Dr. Capello’s oldest son, warning her that their father is ill and in his final days. Allison determines she must go home again and confront the ghosts of her past. She’s determined to find out what really happened that fateful night — was it an accident or, as she’s always suspected, did one of her beloved family members try to kill her?

But digging into the past can reveal horrific truths, and when Allison pieces together the story of her life, she’ll learns the terrible secret at the heart of the family she once loved but never really knew.

Review:

The Lucky Ones by Tiffany Reisz is a very atmospheric mystery with a slight element of romance.

Now in her mid twenties, Allison Lamarque has not seen or heard from any foster family members since leaving neurosurgeon Vincent Capello’s home (dubbed The Dragon) thirteen years earlier. Just as her current relationship is ending, she receives a letter from her foster brother, Roland Capello, letting her know that Dr. Capello does not have long to live. Conflicted about whether or not to return to the sprawling home on the Oregon coast, Allison decides to make a quick visit before doing some traveling. Soon after arriving at mansion, Allison begins to remember some of the events that precipated her  hasty departure and although Dr. Capello fills in some of the blanks, she cannot help but wonder if he is being entirely truthful. But that brings up the question: what possible reason would he have for lying to her?

Allison has no living relatives so she is a bit adrift after her long term arrangement with her older lover ends.  She is nervous about returning to Oregon due to the circumstances of her leaving, but she decides it is time to face her past. Immediately reconnecting with her long ago crush, Roland, she remains uneasy about committing to staying longer than a few days. Despite her happy memories of  her time at The Dragon,  Allison becomes a little suspicious when she becomes aware that Dr. Capello is not being truthful with her. She also learns that her foster siblings, Thora and Deacon, have been less than honest with her as well. In the course of trying to unearth the truth, Allison is shocked to learn the fate of several other foster children who were also in Dr. Capello’s care. Unraveling the web of lies, the truth about her foster siblings shocks Allison to the core and she inadvertently puts herself in danger in the process.

The Lucky Ones by is a very riveting mystery  with a bit of a gothic feel to the storyline. The characters are quite fascinating  but also somewhat mysterious due to the many secrets they are keeping. Allison’s investigation into her long ago accident takes a very unexpected turn as she uncovers very appalling information.  The mystery aspect of the storyline is completely wrapped up but Tiffany Reisz leaves it up to readers to guess what comes next for one of the couples. All in all, an engrossing mystery that fans of the genre are going to love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Lucky Ones

Review: When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham

Title: When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham
Cottonbloom Series Book Five
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Cottonbloom. A beautiful, faraway place where a woman can escape her past—and find reason to stay forever in Laura Trentham’s When the Stars Come Out. . .

Willa Brown never planned to stay in Cottonbloom. She was on the way to somewhere else when she landed there and found work at the Abbot brothers’ garage. . .and a sense of comfort and safety that she had never known. The same holds true for Jackson Abbott himself. With one glance in her direction, he can make Willa’s heart melt. But what begins as an unrequited crush turns into something far more powerful than Willa could have ever imagined. . .

Jackson’s most meaningful relationship has always been with his car—and he’s not afraid to admit it. Still, he can’t help but become emotionally entangled with his new star mechanic Willa, who is definitely hiding some dark secrets of her own beneath the hood. Jackson desperately wants Willa to trust him, and to seek protection in his arms. But even as the two slowly surrender to their shared attraction, the danger lurking in Willa’s past remains a stubborn obstacle. Can she open up enough to give them both a chance at having real and lasting love?

Review:

When the Stars Come Out by Laura Trentham is a heartfelt and engaging romance. This latest addition to the beloved Cottonbloom  series easily stands on its own, but I highly recommend the previous installments as well.

Willa Brown loves her job at the Abbot brothers garage but she has worked hard to remain under the radar for the past two years. She is more comfortable in her coveralls and blue jeans than frilly, feminine clothes and when not working, she keeps to herself. Maintaining a low profile in town, she has formed an unexpected but very touching friendship with librarian Marigold Dunlap. Willa has also been crushing on one of the co-owners of the garage, Jackson Abbot, ever since they met but she would never act on her attraction for him.

Jackson and Willa make a formidable team while working and although he knows she is clearly hiding something, he has never really tried to persuade her to confide in him. Once Jackson allows himself to really notice how attractive she is under her unflattering but serviceable clothes, he cannot stop thinking about her. Despite not wanting to cross a line that might make her feel uncomfortable, Jackson cannot resist helping her once he knows a little more about her life outside the garage.

Jackson and Willa are one of those couples who are just made for each other. They truly “get” what makes the other person tick and they both enjoy the same activities. They are also incredibly supportive of one another when it comes to the things they are dealing with outside of work.  However, Willa has deep trust issues and she is extremely reluctant to divulge her secrets. Jackson truly wants to help Willa, but in his frustration over her inability to completely open up, he makes a decision that might end up jeopardizing their future together.  Has Willa grown enough to forgive him when she finds out the truth? Or will she revert to her old pattern of running from problems instead of facing them head on?

When the Stars Come Out is an absolutely delightful romance between two emotionally damaged people. Willa is extremely closed off and incredibly skittish of making another mistake. Jackson has never quite dealt with his mother’s abandonment and he and his brothers are also facing uncertainty over the future of the garage. Willa and Jackson have a bit of an uneasy transition from co-workers to lovers but their longstanding acquaintance provides a rock solid foundation for their fledgling relationship. Both Willa and Jackson undergo significant growth individually as they finally face the baggage from their respective pasts. Old and new fans of Laura Trentham will absolutely love this newest addition to the charming Cottonbloom series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Cottonbloom Series, Laura Trentham, Rated B+, Review, Romance, St Martin's Paperbacks, When the Stars Come Out

Review: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery

Title: Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery
Mischief Bay Series Book Four
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 432 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The grass is always greener on your sister’s side of the fence…

Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can’t afford and a teenage daughter who’s pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she’s scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper’s fresh-baked cookies.

Spending half her life in school hasn’t prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn’t inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey’s husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she’s already six months pregnant.

Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

Review:

Sisters Like Us by Susan Mallery is a winsome story about three generations of women and their sometimes complicated relationships. This  fourth installment in the Mischief Bay series easily stands on its own, but I highly recommend the previous books as well.

Forty-two year old Harper Szymanski is a divorced mom who loves her sixteen year old daughter Becca but works long hours trying to keep her virtual assistant business going.  She is a people pleaser who lets people walk all over her since she has a difficult time standing up for herself.  Her relationship with her mother Bunny is a bit of a mess since Bunny is firmly stuck in the ’50s where a man is always right and a woman should always put her husband and family’s needs before her own.

Harper’s younger sister, forty year old Stacey Bloom, is a super smart and socially awkward scientist who works on the cutting edge of MS research. She and her husband Kit are about to become first time parents and Stacey is greatly concerned over her lack of maternal instincts. She is also worried about Bunny’s reaction to their nontraditional plan for Kit to become a stay at home dad while she continues  working. But what troubles Stacey the most are her fears about what effect a baby will have on her and Kit’s relationship.

Becca is a typical teen who is insecure, somewhat self-absorbed and struggling with the loss of one of her closest friend’s after she moves out of state. She is also quite unhappy with the situation with her father who makes promises to her that he never keeps. He has virtually disappeared from her life which leaves her feeling unloved. Just when Becca reaches her lowest point, she meets Kit’s nephew, Ashton, and their friendship becomes a highlight in her life.

One of Harper’s favorite clients, Lucas Wheeler, is a fifty year old cop whose dating life is an endless array of short term relationships with vapid young women in their early twenties. He is a frequent visitor in their home whose friendship she greatly treasures. Lucas is surprisingly attentive to Becca and he becomes a father figure of sorts after he spend a lot of time with her helping her get her driver’s license.  Lucas and Harper unexpectedly fall into a relationship but since she is so different from the women he typically dates, will there be a shelf-life to their fling?

Sisters Like Us is an emotionally compelling novel that is poignant yet humorous. The chapters alternate between Harper, Stacey and Becca’s points of view as each of them attempt to overcome their personal issues. Harper and Stacey are both struggling with Bunny’s negative influence in their lives as she continues to make them both feel inadequate. Becca matures with guidance and advice from Lucas and a surprise romance of her own. Lucas and Harper’s transition from friends to lovers is understated and their interactions are laugh out loud funny and quite moving. Old and new fans of  Susan Mallery are going to love this newest addition to the enchanting Mischief Bay series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Mira, Mischief Bay Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sisters Like Us, Susan Mallery, Women's Fiction

Review: Collision Course by Marie Harte

Title: Collision Course by Marie Harte
Body Shop Bad Boys Series Book Four
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

He’s always had a way with the ladies
She won’t give him the time of day
Sparks fly when two hearts in motion collide.

Florist Joey Reeves is working overtime to stay away from Lou Cortez, the ace mechanic with a reputation for irresistible charm. She’s a single mom with enough on her plate—the last thing she needs is entanglement with the hottest guy in town…

“Well, hello there.”

Joey glanced up and froze. The man who’d been haunting her sleep looked even better in the hard light of day.
“H-hello.” She coughed. The guys who worked at Webster’s Garage all looked larger than life, covered in tattoos, muscles, and that indefinable sense of danger they wore like a second skin. But this guy, the tall, Latin lover with dark-brown eyes and lips made for kissing, who had snared her.

Review:

Collision Course is the fourth scorching hot installment in Marie Harte’s sinfully sexy Body Shop Bad Boys series. This latest  addition can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend the entire series.

Lou Cortez is an all around wonderful man who is well-liked by his friends, co-workers and bosses. Although he is quite charming and rather irresistible to women, he is not interested in a long-term relationship. Lou is dedicated to his family and he has a wonderful relationship with his mom, sisters and extended family. He is relatively grounded but his childhood definitely has an impact on his view of relationships and this affects his dating life since he steers clear of single mothers. Despite his ease with women, Lou has not had much success snagging the attention of his crush Josephine “Joey” Reeves.

Joey is in her early twenties, but due to her life experiences, she is an old soul. A single mom to an almost nine year old son, Brandon, she has finally been given a well deserved promotion at work. Joey and Brandon live with her parents who have never quite gotten over their disapproval or disappointment of their only child’s teen pregnancy. Joey has not dated much over the years and she is not looking for a relationship when she tentatively agrees to go out with Lou.

The relationship between Lou and Joey is sweet but there is plenty of heat between them. Joey’s past dates have been quite disappointing so her expectations are rather low when she starts going out with Lou. The attraction between them is explosive and Joey is more than happy to let Lou take charge of their sex life.  His dirty talking and dominance hits all of her hot spots and their encounters are sizzling hot.

Although Joey and Lou are very compatible in the bedroom, trouble is waiting around the corner for the couple. Joey is stunned to discover the Brandon’s father is back in town and she is very afraid of what threat this will pose. She is also struggling with her parents’ continued negative attitude towards her and the situation between them is quickly building to a confrontation. Lou is shocked by the realization his feelings for Joey are much deeper than just attraction. He is hoping for a more permanent relationship with Joey, but his vision for their future is in jeopardy once Lou uncovers the secret she has been keeping from him.

Collision Course is a blazing hot romance that stars two extremely likable protagonists. Lou is a swoonworthy hero with a heart of gold and a commanding presence in the bedroom. Joey is an endearing single mom who finally finds the gumption to stand up to her parents in a dramatic but applause worthy showdown.  The conflict that eventually arises between Lou and Joey is realistic and quickly resolved. A sweetly entertaining and delectably steamy installment that old and new fans of Marie Harte’s Body  Shop Bad Boys series are going to love.

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Filed under Body Shop Bad Boys Series, Collision Course, Contemporary, Marie Harte, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review: Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz

Title: Promise Not to Tell by Jayne Ann Krentz
Cutler, Sutter & Salinas Series Book Two
Publisher: Berkely
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 334 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A broken promise reveals a terrifying legacy in this electrifying novel from the New York Times bestselling author of When All the Girls Have Gone.

A painter of fiery, nightmarish visions throws herself into the sea—but she’ll leave some of her secrets behind…

Seattle gallery owner Virginia Troy has spent years battling the demons that stem from her childhood time in a cult and the night a fire burned through the compound, killing her mother. And now one of her artists has taken her own life, but not before sending Virginia a last picture: a painting that makes Virginia doubt everything about the so-called suicide—and her own past.

Like Virginia, private investigator Cabot Sutter was one of the children in the cult who survived that fire…and only he can help her now. As they struggle to unravel the clues in the painting, it becomes clear that someone thinks Virginia knows more than she does and that she must be stopped. Thrown into an inferno of desire and deception, Virginia and Cabot draw ever closer to the mystery of their shared memories—and the shocking fate of the one man who still wields the power to destroy everything they hold dear.

Review:

Promise Not to Tell is another intricate mystery that revolves around the survivors of a cult leader’s attempt to murder them over twenty years ago. This latest release from Jayne Ann Krentz is the second installment in the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas series which features three foster brothers who are convinced cult leader Quinton Zane  is still alive despite evidence to the contrary.

When gallery owner  Virginia Troy learns of Hannah Brewster’s death by suicide, she turns to private investigator Anson Salinas to investigate the case. Virginia and Hannah’s connection goes beyond a business relationship; both of them were members of Quinton’s cult. Hannah’s grip on reality was tenuous so she turned to art to work through her demons and although her paintings are absolutely brilliant, no one wants to purchase the disturbing artwork.  Deeply troubled by Hannah’s last painting depicting the night Zane tried to murder his followers, Virginia teams up with fellow cult survivor and private investigator Cabot Sutter in hopes of uncovering the truth about  the artist’s death.

Both Virginia and Cabot were rescued by Anson from the barn fire that Zane set in order to kill witnesses and destroy evidence of his illegal doings. Despite the passage of time, neither of them have managed to completely recover from the anxiety and PTSD from that horrific night.  Until meeting Hannah, Virginia never suspected Zane faked his own death but once she views Hannah’s last painting, she has no doubt that he is, in fact, alive.  What she cannot fathom is Quinton’s reason for stalking Hannah, but hopefully, with Cabot’s assistance, she can figure it out.

The discovery of a murder victim at Virginia’s art gallery is quite puzzling, but considering the location of the corpse, Cabot is certain the crime is somehow connected to what happened to Hannah. With Virginia as his trusty sidekick, they begin searching for the link which leads them to a start-up company that is suffering from a few financial hiccups. Going the old-fashioned route, they decide to follow an intriguing money trail that might lead back to Zane. Startling twists and turns expose shocking correlations between past and present but Virginia and Cabot quickly learn that someone will go to any lengths to keep their brazen scheme from being exposed.

Promise Not to Tell is a bit of a slow moving mystery in which readers know the identity of perpetrator early on.  However, there is plenty suspense surrounding the motive for the crimes and how exactly everything is connected to cult leader Quinton Zane. Jayne Ann Krentz also sets up the perfect opportunity for romance to brew between Virginia and Cabot in the middle of their efforts to uncover the secret that Hannah was willing to die to protect. The novel’s conclusion perfectly sets up the next installment in the Cutler, Sutter & Salinas series which will most likely feature Anton’s very enigmatic third foster son, Jack Lancaster.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Jayne Ann Krentz, Mystery, Promise Not to Tell, Rated B, Review, Romance, Suspense, Sutter & Salinas Series

Review: Cowboy Stole My Heart by Soraya Lane

Title: Cowboy Stole My Heart by Soraya Lane
River Ranch Series Book One
Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

It takes true grit to build a billion-dollar dynasty like the Ford family ranch. But when it comes to finding love, all it takes is one handsome cowboy to steal a woman’s heart in Cowboy Stole My Heart by Soraya Lane.

SHE’S RIDING SOLO
As one of the heirs to the River Ranch fortune, Mia Ford is practically Texas royalty. But that doesn’t mean she’s some pampered princess. She can saddle up and ride a horse as well as any man, even a hard-working cowboy like Sam Mendes. For years, she’s harbored a crush on the strong, silent horseman. But how can she make a move when she’s his boss?

HE’S TAKING THE REINS
Sam Mendes is through with love—or so he thought. Still recovering from a breakup, he’s doing everything in his power to resist Mia Ford. It’s bad enough she’s the kind of beauty who drives men wild with desire. It’s even worse she’s got him so worked up, aching to kiss her lips, when he’s supposed to be working her ranch. Is this lovestruck cowboy willing to risk losing his job—and breaking his heart—to win the girl of his dreams?

Review:

Cowboy Stole My Heart is a cute first installment Soraya Lane’s River Ranch series.

Sam Mendes is a well-renowned horseman with an incredible reputation for being able to help even the most troubled horses overcome their problems. He is ready to take a break from the constant touring to promote his unique abilities when wealthy ranch owner Walter Ford wants to hire him to see if he can help his daughter Mia’s out of control and dangerous stallion, Tex. Sam is carrying a lot of emotional baggage from his dysfunctional childhood and an acrimonious break up. He has sworn off relationships and despite his attraction to Mia, his first meeting with his new client gets off to a very rocky beginning.

Mia is used to being under estimated by everyone she meets but she immediately bristles when she senses Sam has the wrong impression of her. She has quietly built a career without relying on anything except her skills and prize money. Fiercely independent with a strong emotional attachment to Tex, Mia is determined to save the horse even if it means dealing with Sam.

The relationship between Sam and Mia begins with misconceptions on both sides. Their first few interactions are tense as they somehow manage to keep antagonizing one another.  Sam is the epitome of the strong silent type and he is most comfortable working with horses. Mia is not used to showing her vulnerabilities so she is less than forthcoming with information about Tex.  When they finally work through their differences,  their sizzling attraction becomes too strong to ignore. Agreeing to a no strings fling, will Sam and Mia keep their casual relationship free from any emotional entanglements?

While Sam and Mia’s relationships with family members and friends are quite enjoyable, the romance between them is a little superficial.  They spend nearly half the novel leaping to erroneous conclusions about one another and there is a serious lack of communication between them which leads to even more misunderstandings between them.  While Mia does reveal some very personal details about herself, Sam is not one to discuss his past. With no real foundation for anything other than a casual fling, there does not seem to be much of a future for them once their relationship hits a rough patch.

Cowboy Stole My Heart is a well-written novel but the storyline is rather predictable. Mia and Sam are great characters individually but they never quite seem to mesh as a couple. Their romance feels contrived with a bit of an insta-love vibe that never feels natural or believable. The secondary characters are absolutely fantastic and these relationships feel much better developed than the romance between Mia and Sam.  The novel’s conclusion is sweet but a little rushed. The next installment in Soraya Lane’s River Ranch series looks promising since it stars Mia’s bull riding brother, Tanner.

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Filed under Contemporary, Cowboy Stole My Heart, Rated C, Review, River Ranch Series, Romance, St Martin's Paperbacks