Category Archives: Romance

Review: When I Need You by Lorelei James

Title: When I Need You by Lorelei James
Need You Series Book Four
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 365 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Rules are tossed aside when a pro football player join forces with a spitfire cheerleading coach in New York Times bestselling author Lorelei James’s brand-new romance…

Heir to Lund Industries and ladies’ man Jensen “The Rocket” Lund has three conditions when it comes to dating:
1) No single mothers
2) No cheerleaders
3) No medical personnel
So it makes no sense that he’s wildly attracted to Rowan Michaels, who breaks all three.

Rowan didn’t pass the rigorous requirements to become an athletic trainer and Vikings cheerleader in the hopes of landing a pro athlete. Been there, done that, and she has a young son as proof that football players and fidelity don’t go hand in hand. When Rowan learns her new neighbor is Jensen Lund, the smoking-hot tight end who takes being neighborly to a whole new level, she’s grateful for the team’s strict no fraternization policy because the sexy man defines temptation.

But Jensen is intent on rushing straight to the goal line to prove to Rowan he’s much more than just a player…on and off the field.

Review:

When I Need You by Lorelei James is a sweet, yet sexually charged addition to the Need You series.  Although this latest installment is the fourth in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone but I HIGHLY recommend the previous novels as well.

It has been a very tough year of surgeries and physical therapy, but football superstar Jensen Lund has finally overcome the series injuries that have sidelined him for the past year. Although his recovery has been full of frustration and worry, Jensen has arrived at a few surprising discoveries about himself. Now content to spend time on his own or with his family, Jensen has no desire to turn back into the hard partying  playboy he was before his injuries. So why is Jensen suddenly so enthusiastic about spending time with single mom Rowan Michaels and her adorable six year old son Calder?

Between her busy work schedules and raising Calder completely on her own, Rowan has no time or desire for a man in her life.  She is quite self-sufficient with a good relationship with her parents and brother.  Rowan has absolutely no desire to become involved with an athlete, so what possible explanation can there be for her eagerness to hangout with Jensen?

In spite of the very obvious chemistry between them, Rowan and Jensen agree to a platonic relationship.  They initially go into their budding friendship with a few preconceived ideas about each other, but it does not take long to dispel these erroneous assumptions.  Their friendship is refreshingly free from conflict although they do experience a few minor ups and downs as they get to know each other. With such a sizzling  hot attraction burning underneath the surface of their easygoing friendship, will Jensen and Rowan finally give into their desire? Or will Rowan’s fears ruin any chance for a real relationship with Jensen?

When I Need You is a highly entertaining and emotionally compelling novel that old and new fans of the Need You series will enjoy. The characters are vibrantly developed with easy to relate to fears and imperfections. The friendship between Jensen and Rowan is fun and flirty and Jensen’s interactions with Calder are incredibly sweet and tender. Lorelei James once again delivers a romance with plenty of heart and steam without throwing in any unnecessary angst or drama. A truly delightful addition to a much loved series that is extraordinarily heartwarming and quite captivating.

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Filed under Berkley, Contemporary, Lorelei James, Need You Series, Rated B+, Review, Romance, When I Need You

Review: Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery

Title: Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 448 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Don’t miss this heart-warming tale about family, and the unbreakable bond between sisters. From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Daughters of the Bride comes the feel-good novel of the year!

Kelly Murphy’s life as a tulip farmer is pretty routine—up at dawn, off to work, lather, rinse, repeat. But everything changes one sun-washed summer with two dramatic homecomings: Griffith Burnett—Tulpen Crossing’s prodigal son, who’s set his sights on Kelly—and Olivia, her beautiful, wayward and, as far as Kelly is concerned, unwelcome sister. Tempted by Griffith, annoyed by Olivia, Kelly is overwhelmed by the secrets that were so easy to keep when she was alone.

But Olivia’s return isn’t as triumphant as she pretends. Her job has no future, and ever since her dad sent her away from the bad boy she loved, she has felt cut off from her past. She’s determined to reclaim her man and her place in the family…whether her sister likes it or not. For ten years, she and Kelly have been strangers. Olivia will get by without her approval now.

While Kelly and Olivia butt heads, their secrets tumble out in a big hot mess, revealing some truths that will change everything they thought they knew. Can they forgive each other—and themselves—and redefine what it means to be sisters?

Told with Mallery’s trademark heart and humor, the Tulip Sisters are in for the most colorful summer of their lives…

Review:

With a cast of complex characters, a storyline with plenty of depth and just a hint of sizzle, Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery is a beautiful novel of healing, new beginnings and love.

Kelly Murphy is a no nonsense young woman who works on the family tulip farm with her dad. She is estranged from her younger sister Olivia and their mother. Recently out of a long term relationship, she is a little surprised by how easily she has recovered from their break up. Kelly is a little nonplussed when she begins running into her high school crush Griffith Burnett everywhere she goes in their small town.  She does not know what to think when he suggests they begin seeing each other but she decides she can easily handle a no pressure relationship. However, Kelly’s world is quickly turned upside down when Olivia shows up without warning.

Olivia is at a bit of a crossroads so her boss suggests she take some time off, she decides it is the perfect time to pay a visit to her childhood home. Sent away to boarding school after their parents’ divorce, she has made peace with her father but she and Kelly slowly drifted apart over the years.  At loose ends since she has no interest in the family business, Olivia volunteers to head a fundraiser for a local business and she is pleasantly surprised by the business owners’ receptive response to some of her suggestions to help them bring in more customers. In between getting reacquainted with Kelly and her work on the fundraiser, she finds the time to embark on a no strings fling with a local hottie.

Just as Olivia, Kelly and their father Jeff are becoming comfortable with the changes in their lives, someone from the past unexpectedly shows up and puts everyone on edge.  Jeff goes out of his way to be fair but is he doing the right thing for everyone involved? Olivia and Kelly’s fragile bond is quickly tested and Kelly is not certain she can trust her sister. Olivia is more certain than ever she is ready for a change, but she is in an awkward position as she tries to figure out what she wants to do next. Kelly is not exactly at ease with certain elements of her burgeoning relationship with Griffith and a situation involving her dad  puts her at odds with the one person she trusted without reservation. With so much uncertainty surrounding them, what will the future hold for Kelly and Olivia?

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters is an absolutely charming novel that is heartfelt and engaging.  With a couple of notable exceptions, the wonderfully developed cast of characters undergo a great deal of growth as they face new challenges and repair their fractured relationships. The storyline is engrossing with believable issues for the various characters to overcome.  The romances are incredibly sweet with just the right amount of steam and it is an absolute joy watching the couples open themselves to the possibility of love.  A delightful small town story that old and new fans of Susan Mallery are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Secrets of the Tulip Sisters, Susan Mallery, Women's Fiction

Review: His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray

Title: His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray
The Amish of Hart County Series Book Two
Publisher: Avon Inspire
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational, Amish, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray delivers the next novel in her Amish of Hart County series—a suspenseful tale of an Amish man who will risk all to protect the woman he loves.

Mark Fisher has returned home to Hart County, determined to put the past behind him. Two years ago, after being wrongly accused of assault, he left the Amish community, though never forgot his home. When the one person who had helped him through his rough times asks for help, Mark returns. But it is pretty Waneta Cain who makes him want to stay…

Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn’t believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. However, his worldliness and tough exterior do make her uneasy. As she begins to see the real man behind all the gossip and prejudice, she wonders if he is the man for her.

Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta’s is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty.  But what hurts most is Neeta’s sudden wariness around him. When another woman is hurt, a woman who is close to both Neeta and himself, Mark fears he knows the real culprit. And time is running out. Will Mark be able to find him before Neeta becomes his next victim?

Review:

In His Guilt, Shelley Shepard Gray’s insightful storyline about the effects of gossip and judgmental attitudes will give readers a lot to think about. Although this latest thought-provoking release is the second installment in the The Amish of Hart County series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

Two years earlier, Mark Fisher was questioned by the Sheriff about a brutal assault on a young woman in the community. He was ultimately cleared of any involvement in the case and he moved away soon after. He has recently returned to Hart County in order to work with Henry Lehman, the one person who has always supported and believed in him. His co-worker, Waneta “Neeta” Cain is initially a little anxious in his presence, but once she gets to know Mark, will she realize everyone’s fears about him are unfounded?

Although they grew up in the same Amish community, Mark and Neeta’s life experiences are very different.Mark’s childhood was extremely dysfunctional and his parents were abusive and neglected both him and his younger brother Calvin. Unlike Mark, Neeta’s parents were nothing but loving and the three of them are still quite close. As an adult, she remains devoted to them but will their relationship withstand their quick judgment against Mark?

When another young woman in the community is attacked, Mark is once again indicted in the court of public opinion. However, gifted preacher Eli delivers a powerful sermon about the dangers of gossip and judging others, but will his flock take his lessons to heart? Fortunately there are some members who are willing to admit they are wrong but when the Sheriff fails to make an arrest and the perpetrator strikes again, will Mark be able to prove his innocence?

His Guilt is a heartwarming romance with a hard-hitting storyline that is not typically found in Amish fiction.Shelley Shepard Gray broaches difficult subject matter with sensitivity and deftly highlights the fact that not even peaceful, religious communities are exempt from violence, child abuse and malicious gossip. Mark carries a terrible burden as he tries to overcome his dysfunctional past and he struggles to feel worthy of the unconditional love and support of the people in his life. Despite her strong conviction in her faith, Neeta must face her own shortcomings as the events unfold within the close-knit community. This latest addition to The Amish of Hart County series is a beautifully delivered lesson in forgiveness that also carries a timely reminder to avoid gossip and harsh judgment of others.

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Filed under Amish, Avon Inspire, Contemporary, His Guilt, Inspirational, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Shelley Shepard Gray, The Amish of Hart County Series

Review: Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid

Title: Abiding Mercy by Ruth Reid
Amish Mercies Book One
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Genre: Contemporary, Amish, Christian, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Faith faces an impossible situation: Should she do the right thing and bring heartache to nearly everyone she knows or deny her true self and always wonder . . . what if?

Sixteen-year-old Faith has worked full-time in her parents’ restaurant since she finished eighth grade. She loves her Amish community—and the romantic attentions of her longtime friend, Gideon.

When her sister seems to be getting too friendly with Englischers, and her parents are in a buggy accident, Faith wants to escape into her dream of joining the church and getting married.

But then a local newspaper runs a story about a child named Adriana who was kidnapped fifteen years earlier, and everything Faith has held true comes into question.

Suddenly the community Faith has known her whole life seems unreal. Can she even trust her own family? And how will she ever find home again if she no longer belongs in the world she knows best?

Review:

In Abiding Mercy, Ruth Reid combines elements of mystery, faith, romance and the tiniest hint of the supernatural into an engrossing novel. This first installment in the Amish Mercies series will leave readers eagerly awaiting future installments.

Unlike other Amish teenagers her age, Faith Pinkham has no interest in Rumspringa and she is already taking classes to prepare for her upcoming baptism. She enjoys working in her family’s restaurant but her already busy life becomes quite hectic due to her sister Olivia’s frequent absences and their parents recent buggy accident. Her good friend Gideon Rohrer quickly steps in to lend a hand both in the restaurant and on their farm. Faith’s feelings for Gideon run deeper than friendship but their relationship is complicated by his history with Olivia. With Olivia’s involvement the Englisch world deepening, dare Faith hope for a future with Gideon?

Faith is wonderful, giving person who is confident of her place in the world. Despite her frustrations with Olivia’s behavior, she never loses her temper or lashes out at her. She instead prays for her sister while at the same time remaining hopeful they will repair their strained relationship.  Faith is also quite conflicted by her growing closeness to Gideon due to her loyalty to Olivia.  But is Faith’s devotion to her sister misplaced?

Unbeknownst to Faith, her world is about to collide with someone from the Englisch world as the fifteen year anniversary of a kidnapped toddler draws near. Roslyn Colepepper has never given up hoping her daughter Adriana will be found and she convinces authorities to re-examine the unsolved case. Will an age enhanced picture and extensive media coverage aid Roslyn in her search for her missing daughter? And what, if any, connection is there between Faith, Roslyn and a mysterious red-haired stranger?

With a gentle undercurrent of faith, Abiding Mercyis a heartwarming story that fans of Amish fiction are sure to love. Ruth Reid deftly weaves the various story arcs into an emotionally compelling novel that is impossible to put down.  The Amish Mercies series is off to a wonderful beginning with this utterly captivating first installment.

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Filed under Abiding Mercy, Amish, Amish Mercies Series, Blog Tour, Christian, Contemporary, Rated B, Romance, Ruth Reid, Thomas Nelson Publishing

Review: Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally

Title: Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally
Hundred Oaks Series
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Swim. Eat. Shower. School. Snack. Swim. Swim. Swim. Dinner. Homework. Bed. Repeat.

All of Maggie’s focus and free time is spent swimming.  She’s not only striving to earn scholarships—she’s training to qualify for the Olympics.  It helps that her best friend, Levi, is also on the team, and cheers her on. But Levi’s already earned an Olympic tryout, so Maggie feels even more pressure to succeed.  And it’s not until Maggie’s away on a college visit that she realizes how much of the “typical” high school experience she’s missed by being in the pool.

No one to shy away from a challenge, Maggie decides to squeeze the most out of her senior year.  First up? Making out with a guy.  And Levi could be the perfect candidate.  After all, they already spend a lot of time together.  But as Maggie slowly starts to uncover new feelings for Levi, how much is she willing to sacrifice in the water to win at love?

Review:

Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally is a sweet contemporary young adult novel of friendship and love.

As high graduation approaches, competitive swimmer Maggie King is quite contemplative as she realizes she might be a bit behind the curve when it comes to relationships and life experience. She spends so much time focused on swimming she has little time for a social life. She has a close knit circle of friends which includes fellow swimmer Levi Lucassen, cheerleader Georgia and baseball player Hunter but she has no dating experience.   Although Maggie has absolutely no regrets about the time she devotes to swimming, she is ready to explore her sexuality. Maggie decides to ask her best friend Levi to teach her how to hook up. While Levi is initially a little hesitant to agree to her suggestion, he finally agrees to her plan.  Their lessons quickly turn steamy and their relationship soon becomes complicated by unexpected emotions just as their respective swim competitions heat up.

Levi and Maggie are well-adjusted teenagers who have families who are incredibly supportive.  Their swimming schedules are pretty grueling so there is not much opportunity for typical teen activities. Levi has already made the cut to try out for the Olympics and Maggie is hoping to secure her cut as well.  Neither of them have the time or desire for a relationship and they are taken off guard when their friendship begins to change after they start making out. Maggie is open to discussing what comes next for them but will Levi be open to taking their relationship to the next level?

Coming Up for Air by Miranda Kenneally is a wonderful coming of age novel with a realistic storyline and a fantastic cast of characters. this latest addition to the Hundred Oaks series can easily be read as a standalone but I highly recommend the other books in the series as well.

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Filed under Coming Up for Air, Contemporary, Hundred Oaks Series, Miranda Kenneally, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Fire, Young Adult

Review: The Light in Summer by Mary McNear

Title: The Light in Summer by Mary McNear
Butternut Lake Series Book Five
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss

Summary:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Mary McNear brings you home to Butternut Lake and a novel filled with irresistible characters who you will want to call your friends.

It’s summertime on Butternut Lake, where the heat of noon is soothed by the cool breezes of the evening, where the pace grows slower, and sometimes, just sometimes, the summer light makes everything clearer…

For the lovely Billy Harper, Butternut Lake is the place she feels most at home, even though lately she feels the only one listening to her is Murphy…her faithful Labrador Retriever. Her teenage son, Luke, has gone from precious to precocious practically overnight. Her friends are wrapped up in their own lives, and Luke’s father, Wesley, disappeared before his son was even born. No wonder she prefers to spend time with a good book, especially ones where everything ends in perfection.

But Billy is about to learn that anything is possible during the heady days of summer. Coming to terms with her past—the death of her father, the arrival of Cal Cooper, a complicated man with a definite interest in Billy, even the return of Wesley, will force her to have a little bit of faith in herself and others…and realize that happiness doesn’t always mean perfection.

Review:

The Light in Summer, the newest addition to Mary McNear’s delightful Butternut Lake series, is another heartwarming novel of family, love and new beginnings. Although this latest release is the fifth in the series, it can be read as a standalone.

Single mom and head librarian Billy Harper is going through a bit of rough patch with her thirteen year old son Luke.  The normally co-operative and outgoing teen is hanging out with the wrong crowd, getting into trouble and refusing to talk to his mom.  So when Billy meets Cal Cooper at a wedding, she is not sure the timing is right to bring a new man into their lives, but can she ignore the sparks that are flying between them?

After Billy unexpectedly became pregnant just as she finishing high school, her parents were extremely supportive and helpful.  However, five years earlier, Billy knew the time was right for her and Luke to strike out on their own and they moved to Butternut Lake. She and Luke have always been close so she is deeply trouble by the recent changes in her soon and she is at a loss as she tries to bridge the gap between them. Billy has not dated much over the years and she is quite surprised by how much she enjoys spending time with Cal.  The timing is definitely not right for a new relationship but Billy finds Cal much too irresistible to resist.

Cal’s life is in the midst of huge upheaval when he decides to spend the summer in Butternut Lake. He is looking forward to relaxing as he contemplates the next stage in his life.  Like Billy, Cal is not really looking for love but he is quite open to exploring their unexpected attraction. His laidback and easygoing acceptance of the complications in her life is quite refreshing but will their romance last once summer is over?

The Light in Summer is an engrossing, feel-good read that old and new fans of the Butternut Lake series are going to love. The characters are multi-dimensional with realistic strengths and true to life problems to overcome. Butternut Lake is a wonderfully charming community with eclectic yet caring residents.  Cal and Billy are appealing protagonists and their relationship is an absolute joy to watch unfold. Mary McNear continues to keep this wonderful series fresh and inviting with interesting storylines and the introduction of new characters.  Another outstanding visit in Butternut Lake that will leave readers grinning from ear to ear as Cal, Billy and Luke’s story comes to an uplifting conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Mary McNear, Rated B+, Review, Romance, The Butternut Lake Series, The Light in Summer, William Morrow Paperbacks, Women's Fiction