Category Archives: Forever

Review: Sugarplum Way by Debbie Mason

Title: Sugarplum Way by Debbie Mason
Harmony Harbor Series Book Four
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

“Heartfelt and delightful!” -RaeAnne Thayne, New York Times bestselling author

Romance writer Julia Landon knows how to write a happily-ever-after. Creating one for herself is a whole different story. But after a surprising–and surprisingly passionate–kiss under the mistletoe at Harmony Harbor’s holiday party last year, Julia thought she might have finally found her very own chance at true love. Until she learns her Mr. Tall, Dark, and Broodingly Handsome has sworn off relationships. Well, if she can’t have him in real life, Julia knows just how to get the next best thing….

Aidan’s only priority is to be the best single dad ever. And this year, he plans to make the holidays magical for his little girl, Ella Rose. But visions of stolen kisses under the mistletoe keep dancing in his head, and when he finds out Julia has written him into her latest novel, he can’t help imagining the possibilities of a future together. Little does he know, though, Julia has been keeping a secret that threatens all their dreams. Luckily, ’tis the season for a little Christmas magic.

Review:

Sugarplum Way by Debbie Mason is an endearing holiday themed romance.

Julia Landon is upbeat, positive and always has a smile on her face. With the holidays fast approaching, she is stretched to her limits as she frantically attempts to get her latest novel turned in on time. Juggling many duties, she nonetheless never tells anyone no when they for help. For rather mysterious reasons, Julia is determined to ensure everyone in the Gallagher family is blissfully happy and she has her hands full trying to ensure her last matchmaking attempt succeeds.  She is also doing everything she can to make sure her secret crush Aidan Gallagher has everything he needs to win custody of his daughter Ella Rose. Unfortunately her attempts to secure his future with the Harmony Harbor Police Department run into numerous problems with the police chief, but Julia is undeterred as she continues her attempts to “fix” things for Aidan.

Aidan is extremely suspicious of Julia which has resulted in quite a few inauspicious run-ins between them.  Despite knowing she is keeping secrets, he is also very attracted to the quirky, perky darling of Harmony Harbor.  But with his divorce behind him, Aidan is concentrating on improving his relationship with Ella Rose while also trying to gain custody of her.  Although he is frustrated by Julia’s interference in nearly every aspect of his life, he is also charmed by her.

Despite feeling a little lost due to not reading the previous novels in the Harmony Harbor series, Sugarplum Way is an enchanting holiday love story. Julia is a likable character despite being just a tad too perfect. Aidan is realistically depicted and it is wonderful watching his scenes with his daughter.   The romance between Aidan and Julia is slow moving and peppered with witty banter and laugh out loud humor.  Although the storyline is rather busy due to several story arcs, Debbie Mason beautifully weaves the various threads into a cohesive and entertaining novel.  Readers of the previous books will enjoy this latest addition to the series whereas newcomers will most likely feel confused by the first few chapters. All in all, a charming love story with a few mystical (and magical) elements.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Contemporary, Debbie Mason, Forever, Harmony Harbor Series, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sugarplum Way

Review: Back in the Game by Erin Kern

Title: Back in the Game by Erin Kern
Champion Valley Series Book Two
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

WHEN YOU PLAY FOR LOVE, YOU PLAY FOR KEEPS

Stella Davenport wasn’t made for small-town life. Sure, teaching ballet in Blanco Valley, Colorado, is great, but she longs for the chance to perform in a big city. Stella swore she’d never let anything get in the way of her dream-until sexy, broad-shouldered Brandon West walks back into her life. Stella is determined to resist him, even if arguing with Brandon is sexier than any foreplay.

For Brandon, it’s always been just him and his son, Matt. Knowing that love only leads to heartbreak, he isn’t looking to expand his family any time soon. Stella, with her long, gorgeous legs and infectious laugh, is a breath of fresh air he didn’t even know he’d been missing. But when she’s offered her dream job in Chicago, will he be willing to put his heart on the line?

Review:

Back in the Game by Erin Kern is a somewhat angsty romance between two protagonists who are both carrying A LOT of baggage. This second installment in the Champion Valley series can be read as a standalone but the failed date between the couple in this outing occurred in the first book in the series.

Respective events from both Stella Davenport and Brandon West’s pasts continue to affect them well into adulthood. Stella’s childhood with her flighty and inattentive mother and a traumatic event that occurred when she was a teenager have left her with claustrophobia and anxiety. Following a career ending injury and a shocking break up, she moved to Colorado where she  has built a thriving business as a ballet instructor. Although it has been a year since Stella’s disastrous date with Brandon, her attraction to him burns hotter than ever.

Single dad Brandon is struggling with his son Matt’s plans to leave Colorado after graduation to attend college and play football in Texas. He is desperately hoping Matt avoids some of the missteps he made at the same age so Brandon is a little overprotective of his son.  With little time, energy or desire to date since his long ago divorce, he finds it impossible to stay away from Stella but will his unresolved issues from his relationship with his ex-wife prevent him from giving a relationship with Stella chance?

Stella and Brandon are interesting characters but readers will have to suspend disbelief to enjoy their romance. They have not spent much time in each other’s company yet, with just one glance, Brandon seems to magically “know” about Stella’s struggles with anxiety and panic attacks. While their banter is initially amusing, it becomes extremely frustrating since they both use humor and sarcasm to avoid discussing their respective issues which gives their scenes together a superficial feel. Their inner monologues also lack much depth since they mainly focus on their sizzling hot desire for each other.  They do not date in the traditional sense because their interactions mainly consist of accidental meetings around town. Overall, Stella and Brandon’s romance feels superficial and somewhat rushed due to the reliance on contrived encounters instead of actually dating. It also does not help that the novel takes place over a rather short amount of time.

Although the romance element in Back in the Game is underwhelming, both Stella and Brandon undergo tremendous character growth. Brandon’s son Matt is brilliantly developed and he manages to steal every scene he appears in.  Erin Kern brings the novel to a heartwarming conclusion that will satisfy old and new fans of the Champion Valley series.

1 Comment

Filed under Champion Valley Series, Contemporary, Erin Kelly, Forever, Rated C+, Review, Romance

Review: Maybe This Love by Jennifer Snow

Title: Maybe This Love by Jennifer Snow
Colorado Ice Series Book Three
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 304 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

THE GAME OF HIS LIFE

Hockey player Ben Westmore has some serious skills—on and off the ice—and he’s not above indulging in the many perks of NHL stardom. When a night in Vegas ends in disaster, he realizes two things: 1) it’s time to lie low for a while, and 2) he needs a lawyer—fast. But the smoking-hot woman who walks into his office immediately tests all his good intentions.

Olivia Davis doesn’t need anyone derailing her career—or her dreams of starting a family—least of all a skirt-chasing player like Ben. But soon he’s unleashing a full-court press to convince her that he’s the real deal. She’s slowly falling for his sweet, rugged charm, but with so much on the line, Olivia has to decide whether Ben can truly change—or if he’s just playing the game.

Review:

Maybe This Love by Jennifer Snow is an utterly charming and extremely heartwarming romance. Although it is the second installment in the Colorado Ice series, it can be read as a standalone.

Professional hockey player and MVP Ben Westmore does not need any distractions since his team is about to begin the playoffs. Unfortunately, what happens in Vegas does not necessarily stay in Vegas and Ben’s playboy ways has landed him in a very tricky problem. Desperately trying to extricate himself from the situation without attracting any publicity, Ben also has to deal with his unexpected attraction to opposing attorney Olivia Miles.

When the two first meet, Olivia is on the cusp of making some huge changes in her personal life. Professionally, she is a well-respected divorce attorney who represents the wives who are divorcing their professional athlete husbands. Olivia is also a little lonely since she recently moved to Denver from LA and her only living relative recently passed away. After meeting Ben, she begins to have a few doubts about a recent decision, but she does not let her misgivings stand in the way of pursuing her dream.

Ben cannot stop thinking about Olivia and although any type of relationship is completely inappropriate, he arranges a couple of “accidental” meetings between them. Neither of them can deny their attraction to one another but ethically, Olivia should not be seeing him since she is on the other side of his legal situation. However, once she disentangles herself from the case, Olivia and Ben are free to date. Despite her reservations, Olivia agrees to go out with Ben, but is there any chance for a future together once she makes a surprising announcement?

Maybe This Love is an entertaining romance with a wonderful cast of lovable characters. The premise of the story is rather unique and Jennifer Snow skillfully inserts a few obstacles for Olivia and Ben to navigate on their way to happily ever after. This newest addition to the Colorado Ice series is a captivating love story that old and new fans do not want to miss.

1 Comment

Filed under Colorado Ice Series, Contemporary, Forever, Jennifer Snow, Maybe This Love, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: Toughest Cowboy in Texas by Carolyn Brown

Title: Toughest Cowboy in Texas by Carolyn Brown
Happy, Texas Book One
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The Spark of an Old Flame

Last time Lila Harris was in Happy, Texas, she was actively earning her reputation as the resident wild child. Now, a little older and wiser, she’s back to run her mother’s café for the summer. Except something about this town has her itching to get a little reckless and rowdy, especially when she sees her old partner-in-crime, Brody Dawson. Their chemistry is just as hot as ever. But he’s still the town’s golden boy-and she’s still the wrong kind of girl.

Brody hasn’t had much time lately for anything other than ranching. Running the biggest spread in the county and taking care of his family more than keeps him busy. All that responsibility has him longing for the carefree days of high school-and Lila. She may have grown up, but he still sees that spark of mischief in her eyes. Now he’s dreaming about late-night skinny dipping and wondering how he can possibly resist the one woman he can never forget…

Review:

The first book in Carolyn Brown’s Happy, Texas series, Toughest Cowboy in Texas is an entertaining second chance at love romance.

Twelve years ago, Lila Harris left Happy, Texas with a broken heart courtesy of her secret boyfriend Brody Dawson.  Now a well-respected school teacher, Lila returns to Happy to sell her mama’s cafe but she cannot escape the town’s long memory.  Considered the town’s “wild child” because of her fun-loving, spirited antics, the townspeople still refer to her by her former nickname and she is the object of an awful lot of mean-spirited gossip. And woo whee!  Two of the Lila’s biggest detractors are Brody’s mama and Grandma and they are hoping he stays far away from her while she is in town.

Brody’s life changed direction dramatically due to circumstances beyond his control and he now has his hands full running the family ranch with his brother Jace.  He harbors quite a few regrets for the way he treated Lila while they were dating and as an adult, he is quick to apologize for his mistakes. Brody is also ready and willing to fight for her once he realizes he is still attracted to her.

The sparks fly between Brody and Lila once they are reunited but there is plenty of internal and external conflict to prevent them from acting on their attraction. With the townspeople convinced she is nothing but trouble, Lila cannot wait to leave Happy again. She is also rather reluctant to trust that Brody will not break her heart again. Brody knows that Lila is the woman for him, but his mama and grandma are dead set against them becoming a couple. Will Brody fight for Lila no matter what his family thinks? And will Lila be able to work through her reservations about living permanently in a town where she is nothing but fodder for  gossip?

Although Brody and Lila are likable characters, their relationship has a bit of an insta-love feel to it. The townspeople are rather judgmental and quick to think the worst of Lila despite the fact that they really do not know her.  It is also rather frustrating that both Lila and Brody’s families are dead set against them seeing another. The reasons are ridiculously overblown and have absolutely nothing to do with either Brody and Lila.

Toughest Cowboy in Texas  is a sweet yet steamy small town romance with a cast of eclectic but likable characters. While there are a few frustrations with some elements of the storyline, this first installment in the Happy, Texas series is an enjoyable read that I recommend to old and new fans of Carolyn Brown.

1 Comment

Filed under Carolyn Brown, Contemporary, Forever, Happy Texas Series, Rated C+, Review, Romance, Toughest Cowboy in Texas

Review: The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes

Title: The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes
Windham Brides Series Book One
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: C

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

THEY CALL HIM THE DUKE OF MURDER…

The gossips whisper that the new Duke of Murdoch is a brute, a murderer, and even worse—a Scot. They say he should never be trusted alone with a woman. But Megan Windham sees in Hamish something different, someone different.

No one was fiercer at war than Hamish MacHugh, though now the soldier faces a whole new battlefield: a London Season. To make his sisters happy, he’ll take on any challenge—even letting their friend Miss Windham teach him to waltz. Megan isn’t the least bit intimidated by his dark reputation, but Hamish senses that she’s fighting battles of her own. For her, he’ll become the warrior once more, and for her, he might just lose his heart.

Review:

The Trouble with Dukes by Grace Burrowes is an entertaining, sweet historical romance.  While this is  the first novel in the Windham Brides series, I strongly encourage readers to read the Windham series since MANY of the secondary characters from these previous books figure prominently in The Trouble with Dukes.

Hamish MacHugh is dismayed to discover he is now the Duke of Murdoch. He wants nothing more than to return to his beloved Scotland but alas, he must put the needs of his family first.  He is hoping his stay in England will be brief as his beloved sisters, Edana and Rhona, replenish their wardrobe and enjoy as many social gatherings as possible.  Hamish’s wartime reputation precedes him which makes him quite uncomfortable at the numerous balls and parties he must attend with his sisters and brother, Colin.  Gruff and plainspoken, Hamish makes quite a few social gaffes as he tries to navigate the complicated world of the British aristocracy but he is also rather softhearted when it comes to the people he cares about.

Megan Windham  is a lovely young woman with poor eyesight and a giving heart. She finds herself in the unenviable position of fighting off the attentions of Sir Fletcher Pilkington, a loathsome suitor  from a suitable family.  She is grateful to Hamish when he steps in to aid her during an unpleasant encounter with Pilkington and her respect for the troubled war hero grows deeper each time they meet. Megan is quite taken with the attractive Scotsman but she is caught in an untenable situation with Pilkington that could ruin her and her sisters’ reputations if the truth about her youthful mistake were ever to be revealed.

Megan and Hamish are a wonderful couple who find it quite easy to confide in one another.  Their scenes together are a wonderful mix of delightful banter and thoughtful exchanges about their lives and simmering attraction. However, with Hamish planning to return to Scotland as soon as possible, he sees no future for the two of them.  But Megan’s extended family makes it impossible for him to say no to their “invitations” and the more time he spends with her, the more smitten he becomes.  After she confesses the mess she has gotten herself into with Pilkington, Hamish comes up with a plan to get her out of trouble.  After executing their scheme to rescue her from her detestable suitor’s clutches, Hamish and Megan’s relationship deepens but is Fletcher truly out of the picture?

While The Trouble with Dukes is an overall enjoyable novel, it is difficult to understand why Megan would not tell her family about the situation with Fletcher.  The Windham family is obviously quite close and they are also very influential so it would make sense for her to ask them for their assistance with her problem.  Pilkington’s interest in other heiresses is well-known so it seems impossible that NO ONE in her family is the least bit suspicious about his motives when he sets his sights on Megan.  Even more unbelievable is the fact that her parents seem to be encouraging the match!  This entire part of the storyline is fairly ridiculous and somewhat unbelievable.

The inclusion of the other Windham characters is rather bewildering if you have not read the Windham series.  Between the use of proper names, titles and numerous nicknames, it is virtually impossible to keep up with who everyone is and who their spouses are.  While fans of the other series will enjoy catching up with favorite characters from earlier novels, newcomers might them hopelessly confusing.

The Trouble with Dukes is a charming historical romance with a cast of appealing characters.  The storyline is interesting but the pacing of the novel is a little slow. Although a bit flawed, it is a nice beginning to Grace Burrowes’ Windham Brides series.

1 Comment

Filed under Forever, Grace Burrowes, Historical, Rated C, Review, Romance, The Trouble with Dukes, Windham Brides Series

Book Review: Winner Takes All by Erin Kern

Title: Winner Takes All by Erin Kern
Champion Valley Series Book One
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

THE LOVE OF THE GAME

Money. Fame. Endorsements. Blake Carpenter had it all — before his professional football career spiraled out of control. Determined to rebuild his life, he takes on coaching the high school team in his Colorado hometown. Despite a few fumbles, Blake knows he can lead these boys to victory. As long as he can keep his eyes on the prize and off the team’s distractingly gorgeous physical therapist.

Annabelle Turner knows all about the scandal that cost Blake his NFL career, and she’ll be damned if she’s going to let his mistakes hurt her team. What she doesn’t count on is the intense attraction that turns every heated run-in they have into a wildly erotic competition. Point by point, play by play, kiss by kiss, they try to keep things professional for the good of the team. But when the score is this close-and the passion this fierce-it’s anybody’s game.

Review:

The first installment in Erin Kern’s Champion Valley series, Winner Takes All is a wonderful romance between two protagonists with plenty of emotional baggage.

Blake Carpenter retired from football under a scandal laden cloud then returned to his hometown in Colorado.  Recently hired as the high school football coach, he is under intense pressure to get his losing team into this year’s playoffs.  With his job on the line, Blake is not at all happy when physical therapist Annabelle Turner shows up at practice and begins giving him (in his mind) unwanted advice about his team.  She is equally dedicated to the team but the players’ health is her first priority so she does not hesitate to voice her opinion about the teenagers in her care.  Underlying their somewhat acrimonious conversations is a sizzling hot attraction Annabelle and Blake try to ignore, but with their paths crossing on a fairly regular basis, is it just a matter of time before their passion becomes too powerful to resist?

Annabelle is dedicated and loyal to the people she cares about and she a selfless caretaker who puts everyone else’s needs ahead of her own. In between working long hours at her thriving physical therapy practice, she spends a lot of her free time caring for her aging mom. With a failed marriage behind her, Annabelle has no interest in a casual relationship and she has plenty of walls in place to protect herself from heartache.  She likes being in control of any given situation and she never has any problem whatsoever telling people what to do. Annabelle often sees what other people miss and she can be relentless as she tries to help those in need.

Blake is very careful about what he reveals about himself to the people around him.  He has kept many of the details surrounding his retirement to himself and he is also struggling with issues related to his last knee surgery.  With one shot at keeping his coaching job, Blake is a hard but fair taskmaster as he tries to whip the team into shape.  Not everyone is willing to overlook his tarnished reputation so he is fighting an uphill battle trying to hang on to players.  While the team has a lot of heart, not all of his students are naturals when it comes to football, so Blake is very protective of his most promising players.  He is initially not receptive to Annabelle’s participation in practice but they eventually reach a compromise to work together for the good of the team.

Blake and Annabelle’s animosity on the field carries over into their personal interactions as well.  Blake is a little uncomfortable with her astute observations and Annabelle sometimes pushes a little too hard when she wants to fix something.  Once their professional relationship is less contentious, they form an uneasy friendship that is fraught with sexual tension.  However, since Blake only indulges in casual flings, Annabelle has no trouble resisting his efforts to seduce her.

Once Annabelle finally convinces Blake to open up about his past, unwanted emotions are stirred up as they get to know each other.  Problems arise as Blake tries to concentrate all his attention on getting the team to the playoffs and Annabelle feelings are hurt when she misconstrues one of Blake’s comments.  The fate of the team and their relationship hangs in the balance as the football season winds down.  Will Blake get the team to the playoffs?  Will Blake and Annabelle open their hearts to the possibility of a future together?

Winner Takes All is a beautiful novel of healing, redemption and love.  With a leisurely paced romance between two emotionally fragile characters, the story is sometimes a little slow paced, but the reader’s patience is well rewarded in the end.  Erin Kern’s delightful Champion Valley series is off to a great start that will leave fans eager to read the next installment.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

2 Comments

Filed under Champion Valley Series, Contemporary, Erin Kern, Forever, Rated B, Review, Romance, Winner Takes All