Category Archives: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review: A Piece of My Heart by Sharon Sala

Title: A Piece of My Heart by Sharon Sala
Blessings, Georgia Series Book Four
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 320 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

She’s never had a home
Growing up in a troubled foster home, Mercy Dane knew she could never rely on anyone but herself. She’s used to giving her all to people who don’t give her a second glance, so when she races to Blessings, Georgia, to save the life of an accident victim, she’s flabbergasted when the grateful town opens its arms to her. She never dreamed she’d ever find family or friends—or a man who looks at her as if she hung the stars.

Until she finds peace in his arms
Police Chief Lon Pittman is getting restless living in sleepy little Blessings. But the day Mercy Dane roars into his life on the back of a motorcycle, practically daring him to pull her over, he’s lost. There’s something about Mercy’s tough-yet-vulnerable spirit that calls to Lon, and he will do anything in his power to make her realize that home isn’t just where the heart is—home is where their heart is.

Review:

A Piece of My Heart is a cute addition to Sharon Sala’s small-town Blessings, Georgia series.  Although this latest release is the fourth installment in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone.

As someone who grew up in the foster care system, Mercy Dane is a self-reliant, tough as nails waitress who works in a biker bar.  When she gets an emergency phone call requesting a blood donation for a car accident victim, she immediately jumps on her Harley and rushes to Blessings.  Her good deed yields surprising benefits as Mercy is reunited with Lon Pittman, a man whom she shared one incredible night with several years earlier. But most shocking is the discovery that Mercy is the long lost sister of Hope Talbot, the accident victim to whom she donated blood. The sisters were separated as children after Hope was adopted out of foster care. Mercy does not hesitate to move to Blessings to become better acquainted with Hope, her brother-in-law Jack and his brother Duke. Despite the years that have passed since they last met, Lon would like nothing better than to date Mercy, but will she let down her guard enough to give their fledgling romance a chance?

Mercy is a refreshingly straight forward woman who does not play games nor does she hesitate to speak her mind. With no family of her own, she has forged close ties with the bar owner where she is employed but the chance to get to know Hope is too tempting to pass up. Although she is a little uncomfortable living with complete strangers, she is delighted for the opportunity to reconnect with her sister.  While Mercy is a bit wary, she also quickly agrees to renew her acquaintance with Lon in order to see if there is the potential for a relationship between them.

Lon never forgot the night he spent with Mercy and he is stunned when he recognizes her at the hospital.  Determined not to let the opportunity to date her slip through his fingers, Lon wastes no time letting her know he is still interested in her. Lon is a steady, reliable man who is not afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and he is quick to reassure Mercy he will give her all the time she needs to decide how she feels about him.

Despite Lon and Hope’s easy acceptance of Mercy, some of the townspeople are not as quick to welcome her to Blessings. Mercy’s reaction to an ill-spirited verbal attack is quite unexpected and exposes her well-hidden vulnerabilities. Hope’s brother-in-law Duke is quite judgmental but Mercy never hesitates to put him in his place.  Some of the residents are quick to stereotype Mercy based on her appearance and the fact she rides a Harley.

The relationship between Lon and Mercy is free from conflict but there is a bit of an insta-love quality to their romance. This is most likely due to the fact that although they have a few dates, their time together is short and often interrupted by a variety of dramatic events. It is also not much of a surprise when someone from Mercy’s past resurfaces although the ensuing situation is rather surprising.

With an eclectic cast of endearing characters and a sweet romance A Piece of My Heart is an engaging novel with a delightful small town atmosphere.  Longtime fans of the Blessings, Georgia series will enjoy catching up with their favorite characters from previous installments.  Sharon Sala provides enough background information on the various characters that new readers can easily begin the series with this latest installment.

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Filed under A Piece of My Heart, Blessings Georgia Series, Contemporary, Rated C+, Review, Romance, Sharon Sala, Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review: Zero to Sixty by Marie Harte

Title: Zero to Sixty by Marie Harte
Body Shop Bad Boys Series Book Three
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

BAD BOY SAM + GOOD GIRL IVY =
LEARNING TO LOVE AGAIN

After her last disaster of a relationship, Ivy Stephens is content being single. She has her job, her apartment-and the cute little puppy she’s seen hanging around. When he escapes, she finds her search efforts aided by a big, burly, devastatingly handsome man. One who claims a prior claim on her dog.

Sam Hamilton is at loose ends since his best friend fell in love. He finds a sense of purpose in rescuing strays. The puppy who’s stolen his heart just happens to run into blond, beautiful Ivy. And Sam can’t help hoping she’ll take in one more stray-him-for good.

Review:

Zero to Sixty is a super cute, sweet and delectably steamy addition to Marie Harte’s fabulous Body Shop Bad Boys series.  Although this is the third installment in the series, it can be read as a standalone, but I HIGHLY recommend the previous two books as well.

Hottie auto mechanic Sam Hamilton is feeling a little lonely and left out now his bestie Foley Sanders has fallen in love. Rough, tumble and prone to fighting when stressed, he has a very soft heart beneath his gruff exterior.  In recent months, Sam has been rescuing stray animals on the down low and he is very concerned over his latest find, an adorable puppy he calls Scruffy who has been taken in by a very attractive shop owner. Worried his appearance will frighten the lovely lady who has caught his eye, Sam takes great pains to make himself appear non-threatening when he stops by to check on the pup.  Although he is certain massage therapist Ivy Stephens won’t be interested in dating him, he proposes they share custody of the puppy she has dubbed Cookie.  A surprising friendship quickly springs up between them and both are quick to acknowledge their simmering attraction to each other, but will Sam and  Ivy be willing to take a chance on love?

Sam is extremely loyal to family and friends and he is completely devoted to Foley and his mom Eileen.  He is deeply scarred by his abusive and dysfunctional childhood and he is incredibly grateful to Eileen for the love she showed to him while he was growing up.  Sam cannot quite bring him to cut ties with his addicted mother, Linda, although he is always wrecked after giving in to her pleas for him to help.  His new relationship with Ivy is, hands down, the best thing that has ever happened to him, but will Sam let the baggage from his past ruin his chance at happiness?

While Ivy is mostly happy with how her life has turned out, she carries a few emotional wounds from her childhood. Although she has mostly made peace with the situation with her family, she is saddened by the distance between them.  After a failed engagement and a string of bad dates, Ivy has decided to focus on her career.  Initially a little wary of Sam, she quickly realizes there is a lot of tenderness beneath his tattoos and muscles.  She is a little taken aback by his somewhat rough life but Ivy cannot resist agreeing to share custody of Cookie.   

Despite a bit of a misunderstanding following a heated kiss and unexpected make-out session, Ivy is surprisingly eager to spend time with Sam.  While a little impatient to take their relationship to the next level, she is enjoying getting to know him and his friends.  When Sam shuts her out, will Ivy be content to let him work through things on his own?  Or will she risk her heart by admitting how much he means to her?

Zero to Sixty is an absolutely heartwarming romance that old and new fans of the Body Shop Bad Boys series are going to love.  Sam and Ivy are endearing characters with interesting backstories and easy to relate to issues and flaws.  Their easygoing friendship is a wonderful foundation for their transition to lovers and the chemistry between them is palpable. The banter between Sam and his friends is delightful and their support for him is unwavering. This latest release from Marie Harte is a joyful and entertaining read that I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend.

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Filed under Body Shop Bad Boys Series, Contemporary, Marie Harte, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Casablanca, Zero to Sixty

Review: Tangled in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell

Title: Tangled in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell
Texas Rodeo Series Book Two
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

It took 32 seconds to end his career.
But it only took 1 to change his life.

Thirty-two seconds. That’s how long it took for Delon Sanchez’s life to end. One minute he was the best bronc rider in the Panhandle and the next he was nothing. Knee shattered, future in question, all he can do is pull together the pieces…and wonder what cruel trick of fate has thrown him into the path of his ex, the oh-so-perfect Tori Patterson.

Tori’s come home after her husband’s death, intent on escaping the public eye. It’s just her luck that Delon limps into her physical therapy office, desperate for help. All hard-packed muscle and dark-eyed temptation, he’s never been anything but a bad idea. And yet, seeing him again, Tori can’t remember what made her choose foolish pride over love…or why, with this second, final chance to right old wrongs, the smartest choice would be to run from this gorgeous rodeo boy as fast as her boots can take her.

Review:

Tangled in Texas by Kari Lynn Dell is a delightfully charming second chance at love romance between an injured bronc rider and a physical therapist. Although this latest release is the second installment in the Texas Rodeo series, it can be read as a standalone, but I HIGHLY recommend the previous novel as well.

With his rodeo career hanging in the balance, Delon Sanchez is determined to do whatever it takes to regain mobility in his injured kneee.  Stunned to discover that his new physical therapist is Tori Patterson, the woman he had a fling with seven years earlier, he tries to put aside his reservations in order to achieve his goals.  At the same time he is trying to rehabilitate his knee, Delon is trying to come to terms with the fact that Violet Jacobs, the mother of his son, Beni, is involved in a serious relationship with bullfighter Joe Cassidy.  Watching his dream of the three of them eventually becoming a family disappear, Delon is already angry and bitter as he tries to understand where he fits in his family-owned trucking business.  With so many difficult changes occuring his life, is Delon in any position to act on his still simmering attraction to Tori?

The daughter of a well-liked Texas Senator, Tori managed to escape the limelight when she married Wyoming roper, Willy Hancock.  A year and a half after Willy’s death, she moves back to the TX Panhandle in order to live a quiet life out of the public eye while she still continues grieving his loss.  In her years away from Texas, Tori has really come into her own and she is now a little outspoken and a whole lot more confident.  Still a little numb from the sudden death of her beloved husband, she is shocked out of her comfortable and rather sterile life when she becomes reacquainted with Delon. Tori is no longer content to sit back and quietly accept whatever he is willing to give but is Delon ready to stop playing it safe and risk his heart?

Although both Delon and Tori have moved on since their relationship abruptly ended years earlier, they are both quite stunned to discover their burning hot desire has not waned.  However, when they first meet again, neither of them is ready to do act on their passion. Tori is still picking up the pieces of her life, but emotionally, she is in a much better than Delon is at this point. He is not much for introspection so Delon ignores his feelings about the things that are bothering him.  However, with so many changes in his life out of his control, his anger is eating away at him.  Unwilling to concede that his expectation of becoming a “real” family with Violet and Beni has always been unreasonable, Delon is feeling displaced and out of sorts as Violet’s relationship with Joe continues.

Meanwhile, an unexpected situation with Tori’s family thrusts her back into the public eye just as she and Delon begin dating.  As they find themselves falling back into a familiar pattern, Tori continues to coast along without making too many changes to her life.  She is much more outspoken about what she wants but her inertia is doing just as much harm to their fledgling romance as Delon’s unconscious decision to play it safe is.  Their unresolved issues, individual insecurities and an unwillingness to honestly and openly discuss their needs and desires eventually becomes a huge obstacle.  Will Tori and Delon be able to repair the damage to their relationship before it is too late?  Or will their emotional baggage prevent them from making the changes they need to live happily ever after?

Tangled in Texas is another well-written and charming addition to the Texas Rodeo series.  Once again, Kari Lynn Dell pairs up  two emotionally wounded and somewhat vulnerable characters with realistic problems to overcome. Flawed yet immensely appealing, Delon and Tori are endearing protagonists that are easy to like and root for. Old and news fans are going to absolutely love this sweet yet very sensual contemporary Western romance.

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Filed under Contemporary, Kari Lynn Dell, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Casablanca, Tangled in Texas, Texas Rodeo Series

Review: Reckless Hearts by Heather Van Fleet

Title: Reckless Hearts by Heather Van Fleet
Reckless Hearts Series Book One
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Three alpha men and a baby.
What could possibly go wrong?

From boot camp to the Iraqi desert, best friends Collin, Max, and Gavin have been through hell and back. But these rugged Marines might need help facing their biggest challenge: raising Collin’s nine-month-old daughter, Chloe.

After the death of his girlfriend in an accident, Collin Montgomery has sworn off serious relationships. His buddies have his back-and convince him it’s okay to cut loose sometimes. Enter the hottest, smartest girl he’s ever met. But what he really needs is a nanny.

Addison Booker needs a job desperately-and fast. She shows up to interview for the nanny position only to find the sexy, cocky man she can’t get out of her head. Collin knows hiring her is a bad idea-they disagree about almost everything-but Addison is so good with little Chloe. And there’s no substitute for chemistry, right?

Review:

The first release in the Reckless Hearts series, Reckless Hearts by Heather Van Fleet is an enemies to lovers romance that is a little angst-ridden and full of conflict.

Single dad Collin Montgomery is raising his infant daughter Chloe with the help of his sister Lia and his two best Marine buddies Max Martinez and Gavin St. James. After Lia gets a new job, he finds himself needing a nanny and Lia is convinced she has found  THE perfect woman to take over Chloe’s care. The only problem? His prospective employee is the hot woman who unceremoniously shot him down recently when he was celebrating with his rugby team at a local bar.

Preschool teacher Addison Booker might be a bit worried about finding a new a job but there is NO way she is going to accept a position working as a nanny for the sexy man she recently crossed paths with.  Feeling a twinge of regret for refusing his job offer, she instead ends up working as a waitress in a local diner. When her witch of a boss fires her after an altercation between Collin and another rugby player one evening, Addison accepts the job as cute little Chloe’s nanny but she is certain she can ignore her attraction to Collin.  Getting to know Collin just makes him that much more desirable but Addison tries to keep their relationship strictly professional.

Although there is never any doubt that Collin and Addison are attracted to each other, Collin’s baggage turns him into a complete jerk when he is around Addison. Addison brings her own unresolved issues to the relationship and Collin’s insecurities and over protectiveness certainly do not help the situation between them. Their relationship is antagonistic and volatile right from their first meeting and halfway into the story, they are still at each other’s throats.  If there had been a little less animosity between them, their abrupt change from barely tolerating each other to lovers would have been much more believable.

While some conflict in a romance can be positive and help move the storyline forward, in Reckless Hearts, Collin and Addison clash so often it makes for a very irritating read.  Throw in misunderstandings, jealousy and drama, and it makes it difficult to become invested in Collin and Addison making a go of their relationship.

The banter between Collin, Max and Gavin is initially fun but it eventually becomes a little too over the top and disrespectful towards women.  Collin does try to dial it down once Addison is in the picture and Gavin is always sweet and respectful. Of the three men, Gavin appears to be the most troubled but he is genuinely a nice guy and readers will be eager to read his story. Max, on the other hand, is a player and his comments are extremely crude and derogatory. He is always upbeat and positive but it is going to take a lot to redeem him into a likable character.  It will be interesting to see what Heather Van Fleet has planned for both men in the next installments of the Reckless Hearts series.

Reckless Hearts is a somewhat drama-filled beginning to the Reckless Hearts series. A well-written novel with vibrantly developed characters, this entertaining story is sure to be hit with readers who like emotionally damaged Alpha men and the women who love them.

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Filed under Contemporary, Heather Van Fleet, Rated C+, Reckless Hearts, Reckless Hearts Series, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Casablanca

Review: Sweet Southern Bad Boy by Michele Summers

Title: Sweet Southern Bad Boy by Michele Summers
Harmony Homecomings Series Book Three
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: C+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

HE’S GOT SOMETHING SHE WANTS
When Katie McKnight gets lost location-scouting for her father’s TV studio, she stumbles upon the perfect setting for their angsty new teen vampire series-a remote barn house unfortunately occupied by a grouchy, disheveled, and incredibly sexy man who instantly mistakes her for the new nanny. Should Katie tell him the truth, or get her foot in the door?

SHE’S GOT EVERYTHING HE NEEDS
Bestselling author Vance Kerner doesn’t just have writer’s block-he’s been run ragged ever since he was saddled with taking care of his brother’s three kids, an adopted kitten, and a runaway mutt. The last thing he needs is a teen drama defiling his property, but with fascinating and unconventional Katie underfoot charming the entire Kerner household, Vance is finding it harder and harder to say no.

Review:

The newest installment in Michele Summers’ Harmony Homecomings series, Sweet Southern Bad Boy is a charming romance between a California cutie and a grouchy Southern author.  This latest release can be read as a standalone, but I highly recommend the previous novels as well.

Twenty-eight year old Katie McKnight is hoping that finding the perfect location for an upcoming miniseries will finally impress her impossible to satisfy father.  The youngest of three siblings, she has never quite measured up to her parents’ unrealistic expectations and as a result, she gave up her teaching job in order to work in the family business.  With extremely low self-esteem due to her mother’s disparaging comments about Katie’s appearance and her loathsome (sort of ex) boyfriend Tad’s equally withering observations, Katie is a bit of a doormat who finds it impossible to stand up for herself.  Absolutely convinced she has found the right place for her father’s next project, Katie has her work cut out for persuading the owner to sign the contract.

Novelist Vance Kerner is under deadline but temporarily caring for his brother’s rambunctious children leaves him little time or energy to work on his novel.  Initially mistaking Katie for his newly hired nanny, he agrees to listen to her proposition in exchange for her taking care of the kids.  Vance has no intention of allowing her father film on his property but Katie hopes that over time, she’ll convince him change his mind so she agrees to work for him temporarily while he writes his novel.   Vance has a serious case of lust for Katie, but this bad boy is really a Southern gentleman in disguise so he tries to keep his distance from his curvaceous nanny.

On paper, Vance and Katie are perfect for each other but their relationship follows a formulaic pattern with very predictable external conflicts and betrayals.  Katie’s self-doubts quickly become repetitive and since she loved her career as a teacher, it is impossible to understand why she allowed her father to manipulate her into giving up her job to work for him.  It is also a little incomprehensible that Katie allows her self-absorbed and shallow mother’s comments to have such a negative effect on her self-image.  Katie’s relationship with Tad is also a little hard to believe since she clearly sees that he is using her as a stepping stone in his career.  Why she does not cut him loose is a complete mystery and it is incredibly frustrating that she continues to let him get to her.  Her father’s sneaky behind the scenes maneuvering is also a source of irritation and it is extremely maddening that Vance allows himself to get sucked into his scheme.  It is very easy to guess how Katie is going to react once she learns the truth about what has been happening behind her back but thankfully, this is just the impetus she needs to finally discover her backbone, confront her parents and  make decisions about her future that are based on what is best for her.

Despite some frustration with overused plot devices, Sweet Southern Bad Boy is a cute romance between two very likable characters. Insta-lust quickly turns to  insta-love which results in a very fast progression of Vance and Katie’s relationship.  With plenty of witty banter, cutsey nicknames and a cast of  quirky characters, this latest outing in Michele Summers’ Harmony Homecomings series will appeal to readers who enjoy small-town romances.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harmony Homecomings Series, Michele Summers, Rated C+, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Casablanca, Sweet Southern Bad Boy

Review: Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin

Title: Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin
Magnolia Brides Series Book Three
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Third in the heartfelt and charming Magnolia Brides series from Lynnette Austin

One mistake can change everything…forever

Beck Elliot and Tansy Calhoun were inseparable-until Tansy left Misty Bottoms, Georgia, promising to come back after she finished school. Beck stayed behind to save the family business, dreaming of the day when Tansy would return. Instead, his trust and his heart were broken when she inexplicably married another man and bore his child.

Five years later, Tansy comes home, a sadder and wiser woman. Despite his anger, Beck finds it hard to avoid her and her adorable little daughter-especially with all the busybodies of Misty Bottoms going out of their way to throw him and Tansy together, hoping a lingering spark will reignite their enduring flame…

Review:

Picture Perfect Wedding by Lynnette Austin is a delightfully heartwarming second chance at love romance.  Although this latest release is the third installment in the marvelous Magnolia Brides series, it can be read as a standalone but I highly recommend the previous novels as well.

Following her divorce, Tansy Calhoun Forbes moves back to her small hometown of Misty Bottoms, GA with her four year old daughter, Gracie.  Her homecoming is bittersweet as she reconnects with old friends and tries to avoid her former fiancé, Beck Elliot, whose heart she broke when she suddenly married her now ex-husband.  A little battered by her unhappy marriage but relieved to put this chapter of her life behind her, Tansy is looking forward to opening a bakery but the only building that suits her needs is chock full of memories of her teenage romance with Beck.  Knowing this is her chance to make a better life for herself and Gracie, she goes forward with her plans to purchase Beck’s grandparents’ house despite his unhappiness with her decision.  Tansy’s plans to keep her distance from Beck are thwarted by some well-meaning matchmaking and the renovations she needs for her new business and home.  Will spending time with Beck heal the wounds from their past?  Or will Tansy find herself heartbroken by his inability to forgive her for her mistakes?

Beck is a genuinely kind-hearted and helpful man but he is still quite hurt and angry over Tansy’s marriage to another man.  While he has dated plenty of women since their painful break up, none of his relationship lasted beyond a few dates.  Tansy’s return stirs up painful memories of their past and Beck’s lingering resentment spills over every time their paths cross.  After his beloved grandfather gives him some helpful advice after sharing a surprising memory from his past, Beck begins wondering if he should give Tansy a second chance.  Before he can seriously entertain the idea, he knows he will have to come to terms with her betrayal, but will rehashing the past help or harm their fragile truce?

Tansy and Beck’s interactions are fraught with tension after her return to Misty Bottoms.  While it was easy for them to avoid each other during her visits over the years, they are constantly thrown together as she settles into her new life.  It soon becomes apparent there is some well-meaning matchmaking going on, but neither of them are receptive to these efforts.  Beck’s hurt and anger are understandable but his animosity soon wears thins as he resists Tansy’s efforts to smooth things over.  Initially she does not help the situation between them since she does not want the truth about her marriage or divorce to come out.  When Tansy sees how attached Gracie is becoming to Beck, she is rightfully concerned that her daughter might get hurt if she gives him a second chance and things do not work out between them.  But as Tansy and Beck spend more time together, their simmering attraction becomes too powerful to resist.  However, if they have any chance at lasting happiness, Beck will have to make peace with their past.  Will Beck set aside his bitterness long enough to learn the truth about why Tansy married another man?

With plenty of small-town charm, an adorable little girl and a passionate romance, Picture Perfect Wedding is a splendid addition to Lynnette Austin’s wonderful Magnolia Brides series.  Tansy and Beck are vibrantly developed characters whose pain and regret over their painful past is palpable.  Both are quite cautious about resuming their relationship which results in a delicate push/pull of emotions as they try to avoid tempestuous topics that could destroy their fledgling romance. This sweet second chance at love romance has a meaningful storyline and a fantastic cast of alluring characters that will appeal to readers who enjoy contemporary romances.

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Filed under Contemporary, Lynnette Austin, Magnolia Brides Series, Picture Perfect Wedding, Rated B+, Review, Romance, Sourcebooks Casablanca