Category Archives: Romance

Review: Lilac Lane by Sherryl Woods

Title: Lilac Lane by Sherryl Woods
Chesapeake Shores Series Book 14
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

No one writes about friends, family and home better than Sherryl Woods. Told with warmth and humor, Lilac Lane is a brand-new story in her beloved Chesapeake Shores series, one readers all over the world have waited two years to read!

At the heart of Lilac Lane is Keira Malone, who raised her three children alone after her first marriage broke apart, and who, after years of guarding her heart, finally finds love again. But that love is short-lived when her fiancé suffers a fatal heart attack. Grieving and unsure of what’s next, Keira agrees to move from Dublin to Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, to spend time with her daughter, Moira, and her new granddaughter, Kate, as well as to help her son-in-law, Luke, with his Irish pub, O’Briens.

Not wanting to live underfoot, she rents a charming cottage on Lilac Lane, replete with views of the ocean and her neighbor’s thriving garden—not to mention views of the neighbor himself. The neighbor is none other than Bryan Laramie, the brusque and moody chef at the pub, with whom Keira is constantly butting heads. But things get real when Bryan’s long-lost daughter, whom he hasn’t seen since she was a baby, shows up out of the blue. As Bryan and Keira each delve into their pasts, reopening wounds, the rest of the town is gearing up for the Fall Festival Irish Stew cook-off, and making no bones about whose side they’re on. It’s Kitchen Wars meets This is Your Life—a recipe for disaster…or a new take on love?

You won’t want to miss this epic return to Chesapeake Shores, a place we’re betting you’ll want to stay forever.

Review:

Featuring a heartwarming romance, close family ties and delightful friendships, Lilac Lane is an endearing addition to Sherryl Woods’ Chesapeake Shores series.

Following the sudden death of her mother Keira Malone’s fiancé, Moira O’Brien is worried about her mom so she comes up with a foolproof plan to lure her to the US from Ireland. She convinces her mom that her husband Luke could use her help in his pub and she could use a helping hand with their baby.  Keira readily agrees to visit temporarily and while waiting for her visa issues to be fully worked out, she is working at the pub as a consultant. Keira has not had an easy life and she is not one to mince words or hold back from voicing her opinions. Needless to say, she immediately gets on the pub’s chef Bryan Laramie’s nerves, who is not always amenable to her suggestions.

Bryan is haunted by the fact that he has not seen his daughter since his wife walked out on him years ago and he has never stopped looking for her. Although he is always pleasant, he is a bit of a loner who is devoted to his job. He wants to get along with Luke’s mother-in-law, but Keira always manages to irritate him with her unsolicited advice. However, when she moves in next door to him, the unlikely pair end up spending a lot of time in each other’s company.  After his daughter unexpectedly re-enters his life, Keira is instrumental in smoothing over the rough spots in their reunion.

The relationship between Bryan and Keira is originally a little antagonistic as they bicker back and forth at the pub. Their peaceful moments are often short-lived due to their respective baggage.  Their surprising friendship paves the way for their unlikely yet incredibly sweet romance but Keira’s fears come between them on more than one occasion.  She is quick to put obstacles in their path since she is afraid of risking her heart again. Until Bryan meets Keira, his unsettled past with his wife makes him hesitant to become seriously involved but his growing feelings for the feisty Irishwoman are the catalyst he needs to take steps to resolve these issues.

Lilac Lane is an engaging novel with a fantastic cast of characters and a slow moving but heartfelt romance.  Readers who enjoy close-knit families, small town settings and clean romances are sure to love this newest installment in Sherryl Woods’ homespun Chesapeake Shores series.

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Filed under Chesapeake Shores Series, Contemporary, Harlequin, Lilac Lane, Mira, Rated B, Review, Romance, Sherryl Woods

Review: Making Home by Dev Bentham

Title: Making Home by Dev Bentham
Bay Valley U Series Book One
Publisher: Loose Id
Genre: Contemporary, Erotic, Gay, Romance
Length: Novella/Word Count: 30,000 (approx)
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by the Author

Summary:

In his real life, Manu Contrares makes a decent living as a videographer in New York. But when his mother goes into hospice, he heads home to Bay Valley to help take care of her and ends up back at his first job on the janitorial staff of the local college. It feels like a long step down for a proud Hispanic man.

Chris Hall loves teaching but hates research. That’s becoming a big problem because his third-year faculty review is coming up and if he doesn’t make something happen soon, he’ll be out. He’s spending his nights working in the lab on a Hail Mary attempt to save his job.

When the two men meet, it’s explosive. And complicated. Chris is lily-white and culturally tone-deaf and Manu’s only in town for a short stay. It’s a recipe for heartbreak. Still, the pull between them is too strong for either to ignore. Can they overcome their different backgrounds and somehow surmount the geographical problems, or is this a fling that will leave them both more exhausted and lonely than before?

Review:

With a poignant storyline, an appealing cast of characters and sizzling hot love scenes, Making Home by Dev Bentham is a captivating romance between two unlikely partners.

Manu Contrares is back in Bay Valley for a heartbreaking reason and he has enough on his plate without a romantic entanglement complicating his life. He is also not a relationship kind of guy so he is disconcerted by his strong attraction to Professor Chris Hall whose cultural insensitivity is particularly irritating. So why is Manu suddenly eager to catch a glimpse of the biology professor during his nightly rounds cleaning the college?

Chris loves teaching but he is struggling to produce the research he needs for tenure. Despite his efforts to concentrate on his current project, he finds himself too easily distracted as he waits for the nightly appearance of too sexy for words Manu.  With his professional future riding on making significant progress on his research project, the last thing Chris needs is to give in to his unexpected attraction to Manu.

While their initial meetings get off on the wrong foot, Manu and Chris cannot deny the sexual chemistry that simmers beneath the surface every time they see one another. Both men have compelling reasons to ignore their mutual attraction, but they find it surprisingly easy to eventually agree to a no strings fling.  After indulging in several explosive encounters, neither Manu nor Chris can deny their feelings go deeper than casual sex. But with Manu planning to return to New York and Chris chasing tenure at Bay Valley U, will they find  way to overcome the obstacles that are preventing them making their relationship permanent?

Making Home by Dev Bentham is a scorching hot romance that fans of the genre are sure to love. Manu and Chris are endearing characters with all too realistic flaws and imperfections. The storyline is quite emotional and both protagonists undergo significant growth.  An absolutely outstanding beginning to the Bay Valley U series that will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next installment.

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Filed under Bay Valley U Series, Contemporary, Dev Bentham, Erotic, Loose Id, M/M, Making Home, Rated B+, Review, Romance

Review: Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery

Title: Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery
Happily Inc. Series Book Two
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

From the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author Susan Mallery, read the second irresistible installment in the Happily Inc series!

Mathias Mitchell’s easy smile hides a world of hurt. After the worst kind of family betrayal, he moves to Happily Inc., California—the wedding destination town supplies a steady stream of bridesmaids, perfect for his “no promises, no pain” lifestyle. Yet he can’t stop watching for his beautiful, elusive neighbor on the animal preserve behind their homes.

Gamekeeper Carol Lund knows she’s not special enough to attract an alpha male like Mathias, so his offer to help her adopt a herd for her lonely giraffe is surprising—and his determined seduction, even more so. But just as she finally welcomes him into her bed, his careless actions crush her heart. Will she give him a second chance to prove she’ll always come first in his heart?

Don’t miss You Say It First, the first book in the Happily Inc series.

Review:

Set in a small town that caters to destination weddings, Second Chance Girl is an endearing addition to Susan Mallery’s Happily Inc. series. In this second outing, the Lund sisters, Carol and Violet, embark on romances that have their own set of obstacles to overcome on their way to happily ever after.

Carol is a gamekeeper on the town’s animal preserve and although she knows it will not go anywhere, she is crushing on her man-whore neighbor Mathias Mitchell, who favors one-night stands with visiting bridesmaids.  She knows she is not beautiful or special enough to attract Mathias so she ignores her attraction when they unexpectedly become friends.  When an evening of drinking culminates with a surprising admission from Mathias, Carol is delighted to indulge her fantasies about her sexy neighbor. However, the next day reinforces her insecurities and their once easygoing friendship becomes strained.

After a stunning revelation from his famous and temperamental artist father, Mathias feels doubly betrayed when his brother Ronan retreats both emotionally and physically. Needless to say, Mathias is unwilling to risk another emotional betrayal so he ignores his unanticipated attraction to his quiet and unassuming neighbor.  He also plays it safe when it comes to career and he confines his glasswork to creating  stunning dishware.  However, his creativity is reawakened after Mathias observes Carol’s tender interactions with her lonely giraffe, Millie.

Spending quiet evenings with Carol is a balm to Mathias wounded soul but their mutual attraction is becoming impossible to resist.  However, when things between them go awry, Carol is afraid to ask too many questions about what went wrong. At the same time, Mathias is garnering his courage to explore his sizzling desire for his lovely neighbor. Just when things are finally heating up between them, Mathias gets another reminder that love equals betrayal and he unequivocally  shuts down their budding romance. Will Carol find the confidence and courage she needs to challenge Mathias’s assumption that their relationship will eventually result in heartache?

Carol’s sister Violet also unexpectedly finds herself in a new relationship when Ulrich Sherwood, the Duke of Sherwood, arrives in town to confront her about her friendship with his grandmother. Although Ulrich has no recollection of having met Violet before, Violet has very fond memories of his kind words helping her feel better about herself when she was going through an ugly duckling stage as a teenager. Circumstances force Ulrich to remain in town and to both of their surprise, romance blooms between them. Is their relationship destined to be more than just a vacation fling?

Second Chance Girl is an enchanting romance between an emotionally damaged yet sexy man and an insecure but adorable woman.  This charming couple gradually transitions from friends to lovers but their respective emotional baggage quickly threatens to derail their relationship when an unpleasant family visit brings painful reminders of past betrayals. Despite the all too realistic problems that Carol and Mathias must overcome, this latest installment Susan Mallery’s Happily Inc. series is a light-hearted and witty read that old and new fans are sure to love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Happily Inc Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Second Chance Girl, Susan Mallery

Review: A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

Title: A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller
Carsons of Mustang Creek Series Book Four
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 256 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

It’s a Christmas affair to remember as a Hollywood mogul discovers his inner cowboy—and the woman of his dreams—amid the rugged beauty of Wyoming. 

Raine McCall would take snow-covered mountains over a star-studded premiere any day. But when hotshot movie executive Mick Branson arranges dinner on Christmas Eve to discuss a work opportunity, she’s intrigued—by the offer and the man. She’s a no-makeup, no-frills single mom, who’s happy with her quiet life. Sharing chili cheeseburgers and sizzling kisses with Mick is sure heating up her holiday, but country girl and power player don’t mix…

It’s not just work that’s brought Mick back to Mustang Creek. Since he first visited to oversee a documentary, free-spirited graphic designer Raine has been in his head. Her approach to life is as unconventional as her quirky holiday ornaments. Their attraction is undeniable—and so are their differences. Putting down roots in the Wild West wasn’t in the script. But there are some Christmas gifts you can’t walk away from, even when they turn your whole world upside down…

Review:

A Snow Country Christmas by Linda Lael Miller is a light-hearted, conflict-free holiday romance. Starring secondary characters from previous novels in the Carsons of Mustang Creek series, this fourth installment can easily be read as a standalone.

Raine McCall is a little surprised by the out of the blue dinner invitation from Mick Branson. The two have crossed paths before while he was in town working on a film project with her ex-boyfriend and daughter Daisy’s father, Slater Carson. Since it is Christmas Eve and Daisy is spending the night with Slater and his extended family, Raine asks Mick to join her for a simple meal.  Their enjoyment in each other’s company leads to a whirlwind romance but Raine is a little concerned about fully committing to Mick since they lead very different lives.

Raine is a bit of a free spirit so working from home as a graphic designer is a perfect fit for her. She is a straight shooter who speaks her mind and lives a quiet life with Daisy. While she has dated off and on since her split from Slater, she is quite cautious when it comes to relationships.  However, with Mick, Raine is a little more open to romance but she is concerned they might not be a good fit for a permanent relationship due to their different lifestyles.

With a high powered career and a privileged background, Mick is used to the finer things in life but he is ready to settle down and simply his life.  While he has a few handy excuses to explain why he is in Mustang Creek, the real reason is quite simple. Mick is interested in pursuing a romance with Raine but is she interested in dating him?

With a beautiful snow-covered setting, Snow Country Christmas is a whimsical, low-key love story.  Raine and Mick are well-developed, likable protagonists. Their relationship is easygoing and free from any angst or drama.  Linda Lael Miller’s latest addition to the Carsons of Mustang Creek series is lovely holiday romance that old and new fans are sure to enjoy.

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Filed under A Snow Country Christmas, Carsons of Mustang Creek Series, Contemporary, Harlequin, HQN Books, Linda Lael Miller, Rated B, Review, Romance

Review: Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Title: Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan
From Manhattan with Love Series Book Five
Publisher: HQN
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The perfect summer escape? 

Professional dog-walker Felicity Knight loves everything about New York…until her ex-husband starts working at her local vet clinic. She hasn’t seen Seth Carlyle in ten years, but one glimpse of him—too gorgeous, and still too good for her—and Fliss’s heart hurts like their whirlwind marriage ended yesterday. So when her grandmother in the Hamptons needs help for the summer, it seems the ideal way to escape her past.

Their relationship might have lasted only a few scorching months, but vet Seth knows Fliss—if she’s run away to the Hamptons, it’s because she still feels their connection and it terrifies her. He let her go once before, when he didn’t know any better, but not this summer! With the help of his adorable dog, Lulu, and a sprinkling of beachside magic, Seth is determined to make Fliss see that he’s never stopped loving her…

Sarah Morgan delights with more love and laughter in her acclaimed series From Manhattan with Love, which Publishers Weekly calls “engaging…[a] classic sweep-you-off-your-feet romantic experience.”

Review:

Holiday in the Hamptons is a second chance at love between a couple who have been divorced for ten years.  This fifth installment in Sarah Morgan’s From Manhattan with Love series is the second novel featuring the Knight siblings.

In an effort to avoid running into her ex-husband, veterinarian Seth Carlyle, professional dog walker Felicity “Fliss” Knight quickly seizes the chance to go to the Hamptons to help her grandmother. Despite their marriage only lasting a few short, scorching hot months, Fliss has never really gotten over her first love.  Unfortunately, she runs into Seth as soon as she arrives in the Hamptons and she impulsively goes to somewhat ridiculous lengths to try to avoid him. Scarred from her verbally abusive father, Fliss is emotionally closed off and her father’s criticism and negative remarks continue to affect her. Despite her feisty and colorful personality, Fliss is a difficult character to like due to her unwillingness to let anyone close to her. Her refusal to have meaningful discussions is understandable, but she is so emotionally crippled that getting past her defenses takes a herculean effort.

Seth is kind, compassionate and caring so it is no surprise that he is well-liked and highly respected by everyone who knows him. He has never quite gotten over Fliss and following an unexpected loss, he decides it is time to become reacquainted with his ex-wife.  Seth realizes his feelings for Fliss have not lessened over the years and he hopes if they can discuss what went wrong in the past they can start over again. He knows getting through to his ex-wife is not going to be easy and although he has quite a bit of patience with Fliss, he is no pushover.  When she continues to hold him at arms’ length, Seth is gentle yet forceful as he confronts her about her behavior.  He is also adamant they work on the emotional part of their relationship before giving in to their blazing hot passion.

Holiday in the Hamptons is a slow-paced romance  and it is not easy to connect with Fliss and Seth as a couple due to Fliss’s kneejerk reactions and unwillingness to lower her defenses.  Some elements of their present day relationship are somewhat unrealistic considering the circumstances surrounding their divorce, the short duration of their marriage and the passage of time.  While Fliss is a frustrating character, Seth is quite charming and immensely appealing. Fliss’s grandmother is also quite wonderful and the scenes with her and her friends are absolutely priceless.  Sarah Morgan’s intriguing glimpses of Fliss’s twin sister Harriet will leave readers impatiently awaiting the next installment in the From Manhattan with Love series.

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Filed under Contemporary, From Manhattan with Love Series, Harlequin, Holiday in the Hamptons, Rated C+, Review, Romance, Sarah Morgan

Review: You Say It First by Susan Mallery

Title: You Say It First by Susan Mallery
Happily, Inc Series Book One
Publisher: HQN Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Fool’s Gold romances invites you to visit Happily Inc., a wedding destination founded on a fairy tale!

Sculptor Nick Mitchell grew up in a family of artists and learned from his volatile father that passion only leads to pain. As he waits on a new commission, he takes a day job as a humble carpenter at a theme wedding venue. The job has its perks—mainly the venue’s captivating owner, Pallas Saunders.

Pallas adores Weddings in a Box. But if she can’t turn the floundering business around, she’ll have no choice but to cave to her domineering mother and work at the family’s bank. Then when a desperate bride begs Pallas for something completely out of the box, her irresistible new hire inspires her. Nick knows she doesn’t belong behind a desk, and she knows in her heart that he’s right—where she really belongs is in his arms.

Don’t miss the next book in the Happily Inc. series, Second Chance Girl!

Review:

The first installment in Susan Mallery’s new series, Happily Inc, You Say It First is a sweet yet sassy romance between a couple who are both carrying their fair share of emotional baggage.

Nick Mitchell is temporarily staying with his brothers, Ronan and Mathias, as he waits to hear if he has been selected to create a sculpture that will take him to Dubai for two years. Working as a part-time carpenter for Weddings in a Box owner Pallas Saunders sounds like the perfect way to fill his time while he waits. Growing up with his famous yet extremely temperamental artist father, Nick has decided passion is to be avoided at all costs so he resists romantic entanglements. However, since his time in town comes with an expiration date, will Nick give in to his unexpected attraction to Pallas?

Pallas always planned to work in her  family’s bank but her life took a few surprising detours and she now owns a destination wedding business. Weddings in a Box is on somewhat shaky financial ground but with plenty of weddings booked for the next several months, she is hopeful she can turn things around. When her mother finally presents her with a long anticipated job offer, Pallas’s reaction surprises both herself and her mom.  She feels like she can never live up to her mother’s expectations and she hates that she feels like she has to earn her mother’s love.  Because Pallas always falls short with her mother, she shies away from relationshops since she does not want to feel pressured to earn a man’s love. Since Nick is only going to be in town a short time, will Pallas decide to embark on a steamy no strings fling?

The romance between Pallas and Nick is slow growing and an absolute joy to watch unfold. Nick is honest with her right from the beginning that he is only interested in a short term relationship. Pallas  is relieved there is no pressure on her to earn his approval or love, so there is a decided lack of conflict as they indulge in some steamy interludes.  Outside of the bedroom, they are friends who work well together as they bounce ideas off each other after she is presented with an opportunity to stretch her creative wings for an upcoming wedding. Pallas grows both personally and professionally throughout their relationship but has Nick made any progress on conquering the demons that plague him?

You Say It First is a very heartwarming romance that is quite engaging.  Nick and Pallas are brilliantly developed lead protagonists whose foibles and frailties that make them easy to relate to. The supporting cast of characters is somewhat quirky yet immensely appealing. Old and new fans of Susan Mallery  will be absolutely delighted to immerse themselves in this first installment of the Happily Inc series.

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Filed under Contemporary, Happily Inc Series, Harlequin, HQN Books, Rated B, Review, Romance, Susan Mallery, You Say It First