I wanted to like this a little more than I did, but I did find it a pleasant and enjoyable read. Readers who enjoy spinster/rogue romance, tortured he...moreI wanted to like this a little more than I did, but I did find it a pleasant and enjoyable read. Readers who enjoy spinster/rogue romance, tortured heroes with a bad reputation, and heroines who finally get their day in the sun, along with the fairy tale theme, will probably like this book.
This was a really good book. I like how Helen Brooks takes two people who have no intention of getting romantically involved and shows them falling de...moreThis was a really good book. I like how Helen Brooks takes two people who have no intention of getting romantically involved and shows them falling deeply in love.
In the case of Willow, she is recovering from a very toxic marriage, married to a man who abused her mentally, undermining every inch of her confidence in herself. She does not intend to trust any man with her life ever again. On the other hand, Morgan has no problem with sexual involvement with savvy career women who don't want any more emotional entanglement than he does. However, when they meet, the mutual determination to keep things light and to be 'just friends' doesn't work very well. Because the more time they spend together, the more they realize that nothing less than everything will qualify when it comes to each other.
I'll be the first to tell you that I don't usually go for heroes like Morgan, guys who eschew emotional involvement and settle for empty sexual relationships. However, I couldn't help but like him. He was actually a very good guy underneath all the city sophistication. More than anything, he was used to trying to control his life and compartmentalize things. He had his slick city existence, and his quiet country life, and he kept them both separate. Before he knows it, the country life and time spent with Willow (who was not at all likely to go for a light sexual affair) is what he wants more than anything. And when the time comes, he's brave enough to tell her he loves her, even knowing her emotional wounds will make her run in the other direction.
Helen Brooks writes a very romantic story. The writing felt fresh and modern, with characters who seemed relevant today. Despite that, I didn't feel like they were unrelatable. I had plenty of time to see the love develop between them, and their happy ending felt right and genuine. Willow is very down to earth, and despite his image, so is Morgan where it counts. I liked that he was generous with himself in a relationship with Willow even though he knew there wasn't going to be the usual payoff.
A good story about friends turning into lovers. I'd recommend it to people who enjoy this theme.(less)
This was a pleasant historical romance novel. I didn't have that spark of an unputdownable book, but certainly it was a nice way to spend a few hours....moreThis was a pleasant historical romance novel. I didn't have that spark of an unputdownable book, but certainly it was a nice way to spend a few hours.
This book turns out to be deliriously romantic by the end. I definitely didn't expect that, although some of my trusted HP Buddies have raved about it...moreThis book turns out to be deliriously romantic by the end. I definitely didn't expect that, although some of my trusted HP Buddies have raved about it, so I should have thought there would be some winning element here. It's ground that has been covered before: the boss and his secretary. In this case, Helen is a single mother who is is also the bread-winner for her small family of a three-year-old daughter and a sister who is just about to go to college. She has no time or inclination for romance, especially after her disastrous marriage to an abusive jerk her sister Tina refers to only as 'Pig.' She wants to keep her head down and have her safe, well-organized life.
When Ross Maclean, the owner's son, takes over the position as the head of the London office of their company, that dream bites the dust. Ross needs a secretary who can work the hours that suit his own needs. At first he plays along, but he's intrigued why she must leave precisely at 5 pm everyday. When she explains her situation, he seems angry. Helen thinks it's because she allows him to think she's an unwed mother. How wrong she is.
The tension in this story builds slowly. There are a few misunderstandings (not annoyingly so, but because both characters aren't anxious to unshield well-guarded hearts). The fact that we don't have much of a hero POV assists in us feeling like Helen, on a precipice, completely unsure about Ross' intentions. What his endgame is. Ross has a cold, calculating demeanor that makes him feel unpredictable. He plays his cards very close to his chest. While I love a demonstrative hero, I think this layout worked well for the book, leading to a beautifully surprisingly conclusion.
At the end, you realize just how desperately in love Ross is, and the reveal is rapturously romantic. Although I do have to say he showed his love in many other ways. I for one, loved how he bonded almost instantly with Tansy. It's because I am a sucker for men who love children. I also liked how he gets along so well with Helen's sister, after she realizes he's not a jerk like her sister's ex.
There is a little bit of "Other Woman" drama, but it's not overdone. Just enough to prick Helen into realizing that she does love Ross and doesn't want to share him or allow his love to go elsewhere.
Overall, this was a lovely surprise for me. A book with some very effective romantic elements, and one that takes the often overused boss/employee relationship theme and creates a distinctive and satisfying romance story. A vulnerable heroine and a tough hero, but done in a way that doesn't seem like gross mismatch, but a meant to be love story. As such, I'd give this one: 4.25/5.0 stars.(less)
Okay, I enjoyed this one a lot. I admit I was pretty annoyed at Sergios for most of the book, and highly offended that he expected a wife who would lo...moreOkay, I enjoyed this one a lot. I admit I was pretty annoyed at Sergios for most of the book, and highly offended that he expected a wife who would look the other way at his sexual infidelities but wasn't allowed to have her own. Don't get me wrong. Cheating/marital infidelity is a big, fat, huge, no no for me, across the board. But I despised his double standard. Why was it okay for him to 'get some' outside of his marriage but not his wife? No way, buddy! Surprisingly, I could understand why Beatriz agreed to his terms. She wanted to see her mother cared for and she had already started bonding with Sergios' orphaned nephews and niece. Another aspect that had the steam coming out of my ears was how the hotness of Sergios just made Bee melt like ice cream on a Texas summer day. Will power...gone! I respect that you feel an incredible sexual attraction sometimes, but, ugh, I just wish that it didn't made the heroines in these books act so marshmallowy. On the good side, she fought it longer than some do in these books. A good point in this book was Bee. She was fairly mature and grounded. I think she was a bit on the insecure side, but other than that affecting some of her decisions more than I liked, I liked her and respected her a lot. Even Sergios wasn't a total write-off. Although I wished that his feelings for Bee were a bit more obvious to me as a reader earlier on (other than lust), he was a decent guy, for the most part. Even though he started off way too smug about his attractions (a real turnoff even if he is hot), presumptuous, manipulative, and self-absorbed, I could see a discernible change in him for the better, and I loved how he lays his cards on the table near the end. Let me tell you, though, I was seething, wondering if he really did go there on his wedding night. I am pretty certain that I think I would be driven to physical violence were I some of the women in these books. It's a good thing I am not a Harlequin Presents-caliber heroine!
Final Thoughts: This was an enjoyable read for me. I know many long time Lynne Graham fans have not been happy with her newer books, I felt like this one was more or less on par with some of her older books, although it's not a favorite of mine. I like that this heroine is a bit more mature and not dizzy like she tends to do with her heroines. I liked that she knew her mind and she was an independent thinker, for the most part. The romance was good and at the end, I felt like Sergios had proven worthy of Bee. At any rate, I didn't feel like holding him off from her like a maiden aunt with a rolling pin. I'd give this one a thumbs up and a solid four stars. If you like Harlequin Presents novels, you might like this one. I did.
"Captives of the Past" was one of those nostalgic grabs I made, having remembered this distinctive cover and that it was an angsty read. I do like ang...more"Captives of the Past" was one of those nostalgic grabs I made, having remembered this distinctive cover and that it was an angsty read. I do like angsty books, and I like how the old school HPs had a lot of emotional payoff.
Robyn Donald is known for her cruel, jerky heroes, and Rafe is definitely one of them. His treatment towards Jennet was reprehensible throughout the book. Yes, he does apologize and feel genuine remorse at the end, but he didn't quite feel redeemed to me, consider the pain and anguish he put Jennet through and how he turned a blind eye to her legitimate suffering, doing it all out of selfishness because he didn't want to love her or desire her because he resented her mother so much.
Jennet inspired a lot of sympathy in me as I read this book. Her situation was much like being between a rock and a hard place, although part of me wished she never returned to her step-family's cattle station. I understand why she did it, because she was concerned for her sister Melly taking up with her ex-husband, who was abusive, and was more than likely to continue being so, despite any excuses he might make.
It was inexcusable that Rafe would rationalize Jennet's being abused by her husband out of jealousy because Derek claimed it was after she initiated an affair with his cousin. Does that matter?
Rafe comes off as phenomenally self-absorbed, caught up in his unwanted feelings towards Jennet and his rage at his father taking up with Jennet's mother so soon after his own mother died. Funny how he was not angry at Melly existing, considering that Jennet's mother got pregnant with her immediately after taking up with his father. His feelings for Jennet were never rational though. While I like my possessive/jealous heroes, I think Rafe is definitely the dark side of that kind of hero.
This book is full of intense emotions and tackles some serious issues such as spousal abuse. While Rafe's viewpoint about it was ridiculous and reprehensible (even though it was because he was believing lies), I think the author gets points for making it clear that Derek's problems are his own, and that they are not Jennet's fault for not loving or being attracted to him. Regardless of how their marriage started, Derek's responsibility was to love his wife and care for her, and love comes as a result of being loved. Maybe if he had done that, things would have turned out different. Yeah, I know that wasn't likely based on this being a Harlequin Presents romance where Jennet was eternally in love with Rafe, but in real life, things aren't so cut and dried.
Grave Mercy is a fantasy novel that feels like historical fiction. Our heroine is a young woman in 15th Century Brittany who has always been cast in t...moreGrave Mercy is a fantasy novel that feels like historical fiction. Our heroine is a young woman in 15th Century Brittany who has always been cast in the role of victim, until she is delivered to the Convent of St. Mortain, the God of Death who masquerades as a saint to appease the newer Christian church. Now she is the wolf instead of the prey. Ismae is believed to be the daughter of this god, since she even survived being poisoned in her mother's womb, although she is forever physically scarred by that poison. She seems to be resistant to poisons and heals faster. While Ismae never felt special so much as rejected, when the choice is a life away from an abusive husband, and some agency in her life, she chooses to become a novice in the convent, learning all the many skills of bringing death to those marked by her god.
Not long after her first mission, Ismae is sent to masquerade as the mistress of Gavriel Duval, the bastard brother of the young Duchess of Brittany. Her Mother Superior has tasked her with spying on Duval to see if he is faithful to the Duchy. If Mortain marks him for death, she is free to kill him. Instead of growing sure that Duval needs to die, she falls in love with him, one of the few men she has met who is decent and caring to women, when her own father hated and abused her. But love won't be easy when Ismae is surrounded by intrigue and treachery in the young Duchess's court. Will her father guide her aim true in these tortuous waters?
I enjoyed this book a lot. While the author doesn't describe every detail of the setting and appearance of the characters, I obtained a very clear picture of what was going on. Better yet, the story simmers with atmosphere, quite Gothic. While this book establishes itself as a historical fiction novel, the paranormal/supernatural vibe teases at the senses. The manner in which Ismae knows that her god has selected a target is quite eerie but doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, because the story fits so naturally in both categories, paranormal and historical fiction.
As far as Ismae's character, she is quite admirable. She's incredibly lethal, and I think a large part of her lethality is her quick mind and her observant nature. She makes a very good spy but also a bodyguard because of those skills. I liked seeing the mystery unfold through her eyes. You see that she isn't always unbiased, especially when it comes to men, considering her past painful experiences with men. I did like that her view changes as she comes to realize that not all men are bad and women aren't the superior sex, because they are just as flawed. She also comes to realize that people can use religion of any kind as a tool for power and control, but that doesn't invalidate one's personal faith in their god. While Ismae is very skilled at killing, she's not a killing machine. She has a respect for life and no desire to torture or cause suffering in others. This was necessary for the story to feel right. This reader is fascinated with assassins in literature, but she hates cruel, sadistic acts, and a good assassin should always show self control (or so this fictional assassin connoisseur believes).
Grave Mercy is a successful book, in my opinion. While this is slated as a young adult novel, it doesn't feel as though it's trying to talk down or dumb down the story. If anything, it aims for a clean feel, meaning no graphic sexuality or depictions of violence. But this book doesn't need that. The storytelling gives the reader what they would want for a story of this type. The author writes about themes that affect women, especially women in the past. How their lives and choices are restricted due to their sex, and how that impacts nearly every decision they make, even if they are allowed to have that much control over their lives.
Ismae is a heroine that a reader can cheer for. A lethal assassin with a supernatural ability who realizes the world is a lot bigger, less cut and dried place than she first assumed. And that love is definitely a possibility for the daughter of death, but her life and her choices are ultimately her own.(less)
I loved this book, from page one. Brett is such a sweetheart. He is a tough, formidable Marine, but he's also a caring, warm, emotionally vulnerable m...moreI loved this book, from page one. Brett is such a sweetheart. He is a tough, formidable Marine, but he's also a caring, warm, emotionally vulnerable man. My heart ached for him because of the way his wife treated him. It seems as though there was little of value to his marriage, but he did keep trying to be a good husband. I can't imagine how hard it was for him to go out on the frontline and have an indifferent, judgmental, unloving wife at home. Never feeling good enough for her or that he had done enough. That's so damaging to one's self-esteem. When he and Courtney make a connection, I was cheering for him. He needed a woman like her in his life. And it was on the best day possible for them to meet. It surely felt like God was answering his prayers.
I also loved Courtney. She was giving, cheerful, honest, lovable, motivated, and open. She had made some decisions that her family gave her trouble about, but I liked that she owned those choices and learned from them, and chose to be a happy person despite the low points in her young life. Considering what she was risking to be with Brett, I think she was very brave. Although Nelson doesn't pretend ignorance about the racial issue, I love the fact that this is not really the issue for Brett and Courtney's relationship. Instead it is the fact that Courtney's father and brother are officers and Brett is happily a grunt in the Marines, not to mention his emotional baggage from a toxic marriage. I liked that Nelson takes the time to show why that was an issue. The detail that Nelson gives about life in the Marines, both as a soldier and as family to Marines comes highly appreciated. There is no patriotic flag-waving per se, but merely telling it like it is. And for a person who is not directly involved in the military, but does admire what the Armed Forces do for Americans, it was welcome.
Even though I loved Dmitry's Closet, I found that this book touched me much more. While Dmitry was more of a modern day fairy tale, The Grunt is steeped in realism, but no less (actually more) romantic. Although Courtney is about Royal's age, she seemed more mature and more textured as a person. While I normally like a sexually inexperienced heroine, I think it was fitting that Courtney wasn't inexperienced in relationships, and she knew what she was getting into with Brett and his son. She had her eyes open and the staying power to see it through. Plus, it's nice to different kinds of heroines get their happy ending, and Courtney works hard for and deserves hers with Brett and Cameron.
As far as sexual tension and love scenes, this book was hot! I was like wow! I love that Brett is both vulnerable and open emotionally, not a playboy, but he definitely can give a girl a run for her money in the bedroom! Dang! That's all I'm going to say! Man I was feeling the heat there. Brett and Courtney had great chemistry, but it was also clear that Brett respected and valued Courtney as a whole person, not just a convenient body or sex object. Ms. Nelson really earned my respect with how she portrayed the sexual part of their relationship, considering the circumstances.
The family dynamics were also well done. I was afraid that Courtney's family would lean so hard on her that she'd break up with Brett, but I love that she stood her ground, and Brett stood up for her and next to her. I like that Brett told her brother like it is. I loved Courtney's mom, Diane. She was a real sweetie, but knew how to handle her husband and son. I loved that Courtney was close to her mother, and that her mother was very supportive and proud of her. I thought her dad and brother weren't as well-developed, but then Courtney wasn't as close to them. I also loved Cameron. What a sweet little boy, but also realistically portrayed. I wanted to give him a hug. (view spoiler)[The one part I still have a question about is when/how is Brett going to explain that Cameron's mom is dead? I guess he'll wait until Cameron is older. (hide spoiler)]
Although there were some mild editing issues, I continue to be impressed with Latrivia Nelson's writing ability. I loved the connection she developed and conveyed between Brett and Courtney. It felt like true love, but also realistic. Never does Nelson downplay how hard family life can be in the military, but the power of the love in the relationship between a military person and their spouse gives them the energy and the fortification to go out there and risk their life for us all. I was a very satisfied reader when I finished The Grunt!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
This was a pretty good romantic suspense. I liked that the hero wasn't all uber-alpha (I can break things with my teeth and kill all the bad guys with...moreThis was a pretty good romantic suspense. I liked that the hero wasn't all uber-alpha (I can break things with my teeth and kill all the bad guys without breaking a sweat). Dav was a normal guy (although a billionaire) who did the best he could in the dangerous situation that he and Carrie found themselves in. They were both nice people. It could have been a little more exciting as far as the suspense, but it kept me reading. And I liked the secondary characters.
This book sure did get my blood pumping. If you like your romances intense and passionate, then this book will do the trick. I had all kinds of emotio...moreThis book sure did get my blood pumping. If you like your romances intense and passionate, then this book will do the trick. I had all kinds of emotions stirring through me as I read, not all of them positive. At times I hated Alejandro. He could be a real jackass. I felt his pain at the loss of his daughter, but I resented that he wanted to blame Rebecca for everything. On the contrary, I liked and respected Rebecca a lot. She was emotionally susceptible to Alejandro, but she fought it and tried to stay in control. She was a lot more patient with him than he deserved. But for her, she had to be, because she'd never stopped loving him. At the end, I couldn't fault her for her behavior. Although Alejandro could be a real jerk, I was glad that he did apologize and try to make things right with Rebecca in the end.
This is the first book I've read by Lynn Raye Harris. I like her writing, and she definitely delivers a dramatic, sexy, passionate romance story. When it comes to Harlequin Presents, that's what I look for. So I'll be reading many more of her books (which is good, since I have a lot of her books in my pile). (less)
Crystal Hubbard has delivered a great story of a woman trying to start a new life, and break free from the prison of fear that her abusive, controllin...moreCrystal Hubbard has delivered a great story of a woman trying to start a new life, and break free from the prison of fear that her abusive, controlling ex-husband held her captive to. For readers who enjoyed movies like "Sleeping with the Enemy" and "Enough", this book will strongly invoke memories of those stories, but Ms. Hubbard has put her own spin on that storyline of an abused ex-wife on the run from her crazy, stalker ex-husband.
Ms. Hubbard teaches me as an aspiring writer how to use language to tell a story. She always stimulates all the five senses when she writes. She beautifully describes colors and imagery, that give this novel a three-dimensional feel. I liked how she uses the language of color to describe how different Cinder's relationship is with Gian to her painful marriage to Sumchai Wyatt. Whereas everything was grays, blacks, and whites with Sumchai, there is a dazzling array of colors, each vibrant with Gian. Her descriptions of food were so scrumptious, I wanted to jump into this story and start eating. And the love scenes are very descriptive and evocative, making me think about sex and how it can express the feelings that a couple has for each other to a degree that I usually don't when I read a romance. Also, I appreciated how she wrote Gian as a hero in an inspiring, appealing way, but also showed that he was just a man, not a superman. In this case, Cinder didn't need a champion in the traditional sense. She needed to find her inner champion, and Gian helped her to do that.
The characters in this story came to life, fully realized. Cinder was a deep person, not perfect. A real woman. It's really easy to cast judgment on abused women, and say, I'd never let a man do that to me. However, it happens more than not that a woman ends up in a relationship that starts out good, and then finds that her life is completely controlled by a man who doesn't know what the meaning of love is. In this book, I could see how Cinder went from point A to point B, and woke up one day realizing exactly the extent of the control and games her husband had over her. Some of his cruel tactics made me so angry, and I couldn't imagine being in that situation. Yet, I didn't feel the need to judge Cinder, because being in love with someone does give them a control over you that allows you to put yourself in situations that can be just as unhealthy as Cinder's, and there is a large component of psychological damage, steadily inflicted that allows a person's will to be weakened to the extent that they feel that this is the norm. There is also that fear and shame of speaking out and telling others what is going on. Fear for oneself, and fear that this person might hurt them as well. As with the slow procession from lover to victim that unfolds with Cinder, we see her slow healing and the psychological breakthroughs that allow Cinder to come back from that edge and reclaim her sense of self, her identity, and control of her life. I think this was written brilliantly, and unlike film media, I could see deeper into the abused wife scenario. I admit that this was a harrowing journey at times, too. You think in your mind, how could someone associate this with love. How could you deliberately hurt your wife that way. It was clear that Cinder's ex-husband was a deeply mentally ill person, but not one that I ever felt sorry for. Not when he truly didn't want to get better. At the end of this story, I was cheering loudly for Cinder, having gone along the way every step with her and seeing how hard she worked for her emotional/mental/physical victory.
Gian was a hero that I just adored. He was a very good man--a lovely mix of oh-so delicious masculinity, stability, honor, sweetness, and gentleness. Not to mention sexiness. I liked how he was a man with a military past that had colored him, but he had some conflicted feelings about the violence he had to commit as a soldier. When he told Cinder why he ran a martial arts dojo, it was a very profound thing. I know I've heard it before that martial arts helps a person to empower oneself on a level that makes it easier for them not to kill someone, but it made even more sense from the vantage point of a man who had to kill people for a living, and was subjected to the violent acts of others. There wasn't anything I didn't love about Gian. He was a fully-realized kind of hero. The one that you can drool over and respect, and think how much you'd admired and be drawn to him in real life. It wasn't that he was perfect, and no man or woman is. He was just perfectly lovable.
I loved the integration of martial arts styles and philosophy in this story. It was clear that Ms. Hubbard did her research, and she built a beautiful story around it. I never felt subjected to 'info-dumping'. Instead I found the facts and descriptions very intriguing. Of course, being a long-time fan of Asian martial arts, in the real world, and in the cinema, that gave me just one more thing to like about this story.
As one of my friends on GRs touched on, I loved the diversity in this story. You have such a beautiful mix of ethnicities, which is how I see the world being. Not one palette, but so many colors, coming together to make an intriguing society, each contributing to the world in which they live. I loved the scenes of Gian's employees at the dojo, Cinder and his mutual friends, and their trash-talking and playing around. Also how they helped each other and stood up for each other. I even liked how things worked out with one employee who really acts like an idiot over the course of this book.
This is my third book by Crystal Hubbard, and my praise for her is well-earned. She is such a good writer, and she delivers a beautiful love story, one that is more than just romance. It's fiction that hits on many cylinders, and gives the reader even more than they expected. Burn is a book I'd highly recommend.
Fire and Ice is one of Diana Palmer's older books that I hadn't gotten the chance to read until now. I loved the humor and the snappy dialogue between...moreFire and Ice is one of Diana Palmer's older books that I hadn't gotten the chance to read until now. I loved the humor and the snappy dialogue between the characters. Margie is fiesty enough to handle a man like Cal, even if he did have the ability to find her weak spots with pinpoint accuracy. However, she did the same for him. You could tell that if there was any spellcasting, they were both mutually affected. Both Margie and Cal had bad first marriages that scarred them and made the both hesitant to seek commitment. For Cal, it was a wife who cheated on him more than once; and Margie had a controlling, rapist husband who had given her fears of sexual intimacy. Now, they were both pretending to be footloose and fancy free: Cal limiting his interactions with women to one night stands with sophisticated women, and Margie, keeping men at a distance, and cultivated a notorious persona that fit her job as a romance author.
They enter each others' spheres through their mutual siblings. Cal's brother falls in love with Margie's sister. Cal's brother has to convince him that Margie's sister is suitable for marriage, which ends up with them spending time at the family's summer house in Florida. Under close proximity, the powerful feelings between Cal and Margie blossom, not only attraction, but genuine liking, leading to a love that neither feels is safe, but they can't imagine living without.
Although Margie is largely sexually inexperienced, she felt like a mature, confident woman in many ways. I liked that she was able to keep Cal on his toes. I also liked that he had to acknowledge her as a woman who he couldn't push around, a woman worthy of his respect and love, nothing like his ex-wife.
For die-hard Diana Palmer fans, all the things that attract one to her stories are there: the sizzling sexual tension, the funny dialogue, the very manly hero, and the sweet, good-hearted, and this case, fiesty heroine. Although not my favorite by this author, definitely a solid read, and it will go on the keeper shelf with all my other Diana Palmer books.(less)
This was a lovely little contemporary western romance with a prominent Gothic feel. Stormy Jones has not seen her father since she was five years old....moreThis was a lovely little contemporary western romance with a prominent Gothic feel. Stormy Jones has not seen her father since she was five years old. In fact, she was told he died. She has spent the majority of her life in her mother's women-centered commune, with little to no contact with men. Yet she feels something missing from her life. When Jonathan McBride enters her life, she is blown away by his rugged male appeal, and has a sinking feeling he is just what he was waiting for. He's like the proverbial forbidden fruit, a virile male, and the epitome of what scares her mother and her followers about men.
Jonathan came to Los Angeles to meet his employer's daughter and deliver important news. Her father is sick and wants to see her before he dies. One look at her tells her she's trouble. He saves her life and ends up in her bed. He is sidetracked by an unfortunate attraction to Stormy that leads to a night of passion. He wakes up the next day, determined to put Stormy at a distance. His experience with love in the past taught him that women could only destroy a man. He feels enormous guilt at sleeping with Hugh's daughter, and just wants to forget about it. Unfortunately, Stormy is a hard woman to forget or to push away. Plus, Stormy still needs to see her father, and when she blurts out a confession of her involvement with Jonathan, the conniving old man changes his will to require a marriage between the two at his death. Jonathan doesn't want another wife, but he does want his inheritance from her father, and marriage is the only way to get it now. Stormy feels deep inside that Jonathan is a man capable of love, no matter how hard he pushes her away. And she's carrying his child, so she doesn't want to walk away. The problem is, someone keeps trying to kill her. Stormy refuses to believe it's Jonathan, despite the cloud of rumors about his last wife's death hanging around him.
I really liked this book. It had a lot of emotion and intensity. I liked the Gothic vibe, and I enjoyed the push/pull between Jonathan and Stormy. I love when the hero is hard and rough and wants to push the heroine away, but needs her and the love she shows him. Jonathan was really quite tortured. He'd had a very rough life and it had taught him that loving and trusting others was a dicey proposition. Stormy's innocent hope and vital passion was just what he needed in his life. While he fights his love for her throughout the book, it was enjoyable to see him fall for her.
The western atmosphere was very well done as well. I felt like I was on a cattle ranch in Southwest Texas, where the land is closer to desert than anything else. This book had a lot more suspenseful vibe than I associate with the typical Silhouette Desires, with someone trying to kill Stormy, and Jonathan's dark past. I miss these old vintage Harlequins which are full of lots of drama and intensity. The newer books just don't have that zing.
I am glad I was able to read this book. Definitely worth looking up if you want a good vintage modern western contemporary romance.
Honestly, the name is unfortunate. It is like a 'kinda, sorta, nutshell' version of what the book is about. But considering that this is a fairly deep...moreHonestly, the name is unfortunate. It is like a 'kinda, sorta, nutshell' version of what the book is about. But considering that this is a fairly deep story, I think the title shortchanges the story. This title is a vestige of that time period when the Harlequin Presents titles were pretty ridiculous, and even staunch fans joked that Harlequin used a title generator algorithm or computer to come up with them. Fortunately, that's in the past, and we have moved into a period of much better titles that are poetic and they also touch on the themes of the stories and capture the sensibility of the Harlequin Presents line.
Wow, I totally digressed there. Let's get back to the review. Helen Brooks writes stories about mature men and women who have grown-up relationships, even though they struggle with some of the issues you might expect in this genre of romance. She manages to give the stories a credibility because she doesn't resort to tactics. Instead, the drama is dealing with human emotions and relationships. I like that Marianne is a whole person with a thriving career long before she met Rafe.
Marianne has no idea about the history between her mother and Rafe's father, until he explains it to her in cynical terms that she refutes from the bottom of her heart. She insists he has her mother all wrong, and they have to agree to disagree and put it aside in order to go forward with the deal to convert her family's house into a hotel (a way to save the house and keep it in the family). However, there's no way that either can settle for being merely business partners, not with the attraction and deeper emotion that simmers beneath the surface of every interaction they share. The problem is not just that Rafe has misconceptions about her mother's past relationship with his father, but the fact that Rafe has sworn off marriage and serious relationships, happy to settle for sexual affairs, and Marianne would never settle for anything but a relationship that leads to marriage.
There are things I didn't love about this story, but the quality of writing causes me to rate it four stars. I respected the depth of the characters and that they actually talk to each other and work through their issues, and not settle for drawn conclusions and decisions based on misunderstandings. I think my least favorite kind of hero is the man who goes through women as sexual playthings. I can understand that Rafe was going through a phase and acting out because of the way he was so wounded by his marriage, and I had to take that into consideration. I do like that Marianne didn't settle and didn't try to change him. Instead, she made it clear that she wouldn't change to accommodate his relationship style, and they didn't have a future together. Since Rafe had to face the fact that he had strong feelings for Marianne, he had to decide if he wanted to be with her bad enough to reevaluate his ideas about casual relationships.
So I guess this book is not really my favorite kind of story, but it was well-written and the characters were complex and well-defined. I have to give the author props for taking a tried and true theme and giving it a maturity that gives the story an appeal that is more than face value.(less)
I had a little trouble keeping my attention on this book, although it's a good story. I was impressed and kind of surprised at the level of depth to b...moreI had a little trouble keeping my attention on this book, although it's a good story. I was impressed and kind of surprised at the level of depth to both Kane and Maggie's emotional issues. Maggie was severely verbally abused by her father, and ended up marrying a man who wasn't much better. People thought she was sadly mourning her dead husband, but she was glad he was gone, not that he was dead, but that she was free. She wants a baby, but not the controlling husband or man to go with it, so she gets artificially inseminated, and the clinic accidentally inseminates her with her boss's sperm, which he deposited as a way to encourage his friend with cancer to bank his sperm. Kane finds out before she does that there is a woman out there who is pregnant by him. This book is actually part of a series in which the various women in the business Kane owns are the suspected baby momma by Kane. He has sleuthed his way through his list, and came up empty. The real woman is still a mystery when this book starts. I didn't read the other books, but I did get this one because I liked another book I read by this author. I may go back and read the others, if I get my massive tbr pile under control.
As I went off tangent, let me explain what Kane's issues are. He has two significant ones: his father was an alcoholic who died in a car accident while driving drunk. Kane never really got over losing his father, and I think it gave him a fear of loving someone in case they are lost. Secondly, he married a gold-digger, who tried to manipulate his affections for material gain. After extricating himself from this bad marriage, he swore never to marry. He assumed he wouldn't be having children either, but when he finds out that his child is out there, and it's like a piece of him is lost, and he knows he has to find his child. He's happy that he finds out that his efficient assistant Maggie is his baby's mother. At first, he's just going to support her and be on the edges of her life, but his sister-in-law gets him to see that he could end up losing contact with his baby if its mother remarries. He then proposes a marriage of convenience. Yeah, we know how those turn out, at least in romance novels.
Kane takes longer than Maggie to get his emotional baggage together. It's a bit frustrating the way he blows hot and cold. I felt bad for Maggie. Thankfully, Kane does get a clue.
This was a touching and heartwarming book. It was short, and it took a while for me to get engaged, but I think that's about my state of mind when I started reading it. This was my second book by Raye Morgan, and I'm happy to read more of her backlist. People who enjoy a quick romance in the vein of Harlequin/Silhouette, more on the traditional side, would probably like this one.
When you marry a person, you marry their family, bad and good. Both Miranda and Marcus take their share of family baggage into their marriage. Miranda...moreWhen you marry a person, you marry their family, bad and good. Both Miranda and Marcus take their share of family baggage into their marriage. Miranda's family is not good ton at all, with some quite shocking scandal in their background, and Marcus' family is full of ugly secrets and betrayal. Honestly, this book has some dark aspects to it. Marcus' brother was a real piece of work. He starts trying to destroy Marcus and Miranda's marriage from the beginning, and Miranda is naive to his schemes, and just lonely enough and unacquainted with her husband to fall into his trap. I didn't particularly like that Marcus and Miranda spend a chunk of time apart for the 1st part of this book, but I understand why this was done, in light of the plot device of St. John's machinations against the newly wedded couple. I hadn't made up my mind about my feelings about Miranda being attracted to and somewhat susceptible to St. John's charms. When the reveal comes at the end, that makes sense as well. And in a way, it made me love Marcus and respect Miranda more. She was just a normal woman, with all the feelings that women feel, and a neglected bride. And Marcus for fighting to overcome his understandable fears and insecurities due to his disastrous first marriage, and St. John's role in destroying it. In light of those aspects of realistically flawed humanity evident and a very tangled web woven around her, and how she does try to be honorable about it, I couldn't really hold what happens against her. Admittedly, I was glad that things didn't go too far, although there were some uncomfortable moments where I yelled at the page, my stomach clenched into a knot.
Overall, I think the elements that challenged me about this book made it a stronger read for me. This book falls into the darker regency category just because of the emotional tangles that exist between Marcus and St. John, and how Miranda gets caught in that trap, but untangles both herself and Marcus from it with the power of her love and loyalty for him, her strong nature tested by a rocky life prior to becoming Marcus' duchess, and her determination to stand by her husband and honor her vows, even if that was harder than she thought it would be.
I'd have to give this book four stars because it packed a punch, and I really did enjoy the journey of strangers coerced into marriage to a couple deeply in love with each other. (less)
I liked this book, but it didn't blow me away. While I appreciate Sara Craven's books, I'm not sure I was quite in the mood for it. Her heroines are k...moreI liked this book, but it didn't blow me away. While I appreciate Sara Craven's books, I'm not sure I was quite in the mood for it. Her heroines are kind of fragile and emotionally needy, and I wasn't feeling that when I read this. I think I wanted something with a little more pizzazz and chemistry between the characters, and some snappy dialogue, and that's not this book. However, it's still a good love story.
This book relies heavily on the misunderstandings between the main characters. As with many of the older HPs, we don't get much POV, so we have to decide the hero's motives solely based on his actions along with the heroine. Cass is the 'ideas girl' at an ad agency, and Rohan is the big client they are pitching to. He immediately takes a liking to her, and she doesn't get why, and she doesn't want a man in her life. Period. Been there, bought the t-shirt, and no more please. The hero Rohan wants something more, but Cass thinks he just wants sex. She doesn't stop to think that this guy could have any woman he wants, and he certainly doesn't need put in the effort to go after her. Especially when it's apparent how complicated her life is. I really liked how Rohan was totally committed to making an effort to be with Cass, even when he found out how dire her marriage had been and how troubled Cass was as a result. I liked how fast he bonded to her daughter, and how he was at Cass's bedside when she was sick. It was a loud sign that he was in this for real and for the duration.
I liked Rohan and I liked Cass, but I didn't love either of them. I felt like their bond could have been more intense. The emotions didn't jump off the page at me, which is what I love in a book. Instead, this was just a pleasant read.
One thing I didn't like was Rohan's solution to their problem as far as letting Cass's daughter know about their upcoming nuptials. I'm just persnickety about such things. Also, some readers might find Rohan a tad manipulative in his approach to winning over Cass. It didn't bother me excessively.
End Verdict: A good book by an author I really enjoy, but not a favorite and not a standout read.
This started out a bit slow, but wow, this was a very good book. I loved the interactions between Mackenzie and Emma. They had fantastic chemistry, an...moreThis started out a bit slow, but wow, this was a very good book. I loved the interactions between Mackenzie and Emma. They had fantastic chemistry, and a powerful bond that drew them back together when circumstances threatened to push them apart. Mackenzie is very much a manly man, and it was in an utterly appealing way. He didn't come off as macho and neanderthalish at all, even though Emma interpreted him that way at first. Instead he had a lot of the positive alpha hero traits that I hope to find in a so-called alpha hero but find lacking instead.
I loved the descriptions of the Outback, all the imagery that contributed to the theme of Heat and Fire. There was a drought and Mackenzie is part of the fire brigade, which plays a major part in this story, but it also underlines the fiery sexual tension between Mackenzie and Emma. Even though the love scenes aren't descriptive, there is plenty of heat because of the manner in which the author builds up the attraction between the couple. Also, you can see that they really grow to love each other. Emma's issues with marriage could have been annoying, but I could understand her reluctance, and it showed how much Mackenzie wanted to be with her, that he was willing to be patient and work through those with her. Her love for him helps her to realize that she wants more, and to consider what she might be giving up out of fear.
I found this book very satisfying, despite the slow start. I didn't want to put it down last night and go to bed. I had to finish it. And I was keyed up after I finished, so it took a while to go to sleep, but this is one of those books that's worth missing out on a little sleep for. I recommend it to readers of short category contemporary romance. I don't think it will disappoint. I also enjoyed Married to the Man and Titan'S Woman, and off to find more of her books. I can see she is really good at writing the manly type of hero, which is a definite plus!
Okay. How to write this review without the whole thing turning into a Hardy Cates droolfest. It's going to be very hard, because I love the man!
One Up...moreOkay. How to write this review without the whole thing turning into a Hardy Cates droolfest. It's going to be very hard, because I love the man!
One Upon a Time, There was a Guy Named Hardy Cates...: I met Hardy Cates in Sugar Daddy, and I have to say that I sure did fall hard for him. Big time! Hard as a young Liberty Jones did. I could see that beneath that mind-numbingly sexy bad boy veneer was a sensitive, loving, good-hearted person. My feelings never changed for him. (view spoiler)[ As much as I loved Sugar Daddy, I truly did take exception with the fact that my beloved author Lisa Kleypas was taking a shortcut to her happy ending by making Hardy seem like a bad guy so Liberty would have a reason to choose Gage. I don't think Hardy deserved that. Am I putting him on a pedestal? Nope. But Hardy could have been the guy who didn't win Liberty simply because the older Liberty knew that Gage was the man she wanted. Not because of the dirty trick he pulled. I was so disappointed with that! Naturally, I was exceedingly thrilled to see Hardy get his day in the sun in this book. And boy does he shine. (hide spoiler)]
Oh, No! Danielle's Reading a Chick Lit Book! Not Again! : Although this book is still a lot more chick lit-oriented than I normally would prefer, I found myself taking it in with an effervescent fervor that I found surprising. Although maybe that's not surprising at all in the sense that I never doubted Lisa Kleypas' ability to write a beautiful, enjoyable book. I am familiar with LK's experimental spirit that causes her to try different elements in her stories, and I admire her for that. And for this chick-lit non-fan, she did a bang up job. This is a nicely-done hybrid of chick lit and romance and it's successful on both counts.
There is much time spent on Haven's life apart from Hardy. Not too much, thankfully, but necessary all the same. Page time is spent on a marriage that turns out to be nightmare for Haven. As I read about Haven's marriage, I felt this strange kinship with her. I've never been married, nor have I been in a bad relationship like her. But I have been in situations where I felt like the intrinsic person I was didn't seem valued, like I was being absorbed and eaten away until nothing remained. I loved how visually this is illustrated with Haven's dream about being a Barbie doll whose body parts slowly fall off until nothing is left. That feeling is so real for people who have been in those toxic relationships where your identity is nothing but a reflection of that other person's. A sounding board for their brilliance, glamor, perfection. For what I call 'go with the flow' people who don't need to be the center of attention, and who often sacrifice their own needs for others', because they attract the emotional energy suckers like a vacuum. I wanted to cry bitter tears for Haven. And I did cry. I cannot get over how traumatic it was to read about the abuse that she suffered at the hands of her husband. How he took everything of value from her, and it wasn't enough. I yelled at Haven to get out, to say no. I wished that she had ran off with Hardy that night of Liberty and Gage's wedding. Unfortunately, she didn't. On the other hand, how can we skip through the bad parts of life that help us to be who we were meant to become, that make us strong, so we can get to the good parts? Life doesn't work that way. Would Hardy and Haven have lasted (as the people they were then) if they started their happy ending that night, or is their love stronger for what they experienced in the two years apart? I think the latter. Unlike my so savvy romance reviewing sisters on here, I didn't mark quotes, but I loved what Haven thinks about herself and Hardy together. That their respective broken areas make them fit together so much better. I truly believed that to be the case.
Haven was a beautifully layered character. She might have come off as the spoiled little rich girl, if not done so well. I didn't get that from her. I did see her insecurities and her desire to be loved, feel worthy, and special. I hurt for her that this led her into such a terrible situation with her husband. I hurt for her that she didn't get the love that she needed from her mother or father. Their version of love worked okay for her brothers, but it didn't really satisfy the little girl who had never felt valued by her parents. I could identify with Haven's tendency to want to make others happy, often at her own expense. I loved seeing her grow as a person. I loved her for her having the courage to confront some truly scary situations and take control of her life from the fear that held her back and caged her. She was a wonderful heroine. Liberty is a hard act to follow, but I think Haven did a really great job of claiming her own place in my heart as a heroine.
Back to Hardy:
Oh, what a man. Once again, Ms. Kleypas hits the mark in crafting her characteristic self-made hero. There is something so enduring, so distinct about Hardy's essence. He shows up the oh-so prevalent stereotypes about trailer park/small town/good ol' boy guys (I won't use the less nice terms). What others might consider unworthy, I can't help but love about him. He's down to earth, honest, real, vital, and not afraid to be a rough, real guy. That appeals to me big time, even if I didn't think I would necessarily go for that type of guy. A man who came from nothing, and pulled himself up painfully. A man with an inner drive and ambition that actually embarassed him. Like Haven, I totally didn't think he needed to feel shame about that. A person cannot choose where they come from, but they can choose what kind of person they will be in the future. Hardy chose to be about something. He had a reputation for being twisted, (view spoiler)[ and what he did to Gage in Sugar Daddy was wrong, (hide spoiler)] but I felt that Hardy had honor. He was a man that would fight and work for what he valued. And he treats women with respect and consideration. That's really important to me as a person. Although I think Hardy is one of the most physically sexiest heroes ever written, I also love his capacity for gentleness, how he loves all of Haven and values everything that she is. Haven thought that Hardy just wanted to use her to get back at her family. But I never saw it that way. Hardy wanted Haven for the unique person she was, that drew him to her like a moth to a flame, and he showed how much she meant to him through his actions. Deep down I think she believed that about him. (view spoiler)[ The fact that she calls him when she's stuck in the elevator when she could only call one person is very telling. (hide spoiler)] Even when he didn't always do things the right way or say all the fancy words, he showed it. And I was glad that Haven could see that there was something of value to Hardy even though everyone warned her away from him. I have to tell you, I am not saying this lightly. Hardy is one of my favorite heroes of all time. He's definitely going in my top ten list, and near the top five, I think. And that's an honor. I don't know how you did it, Ms. Kleypas, but you hit solid gold here.
Blue-Eyed Devil is a book that came to mean so much to me, despite its brevity. There is so much in this book that calls to my book-loving soul. Lisa Kleypas writes so beautifully. She's a very funny, and insightful person when it comes to human nature. The way in which she shows the interactions between people is very true to life. Although I love her historicals, I do feel that she has convinced me of her skill as a contemporary writer. She shows me what there is to be appreciated about the present, when I tend to be more captivated by the past and the fantasy worlds, which seem so much more tantalizing. The conversations and the confrontations that the characters have in this book are real to me. I often felt like I had been there, both in situations with my family, friends, and with co-workers or bosses. That as much as the soul-stirring, heart-melting romance won me over in this book. I loved Sugar Daddy, but I have to say that I loved Blue-Eyed Devil even more. I give this book the highest recommendation. You might not like it, and that's okay. But I love it enough that I wish you'd give it a try.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I was glad to read Molly's story, out of a group of half-siblings with a mother who 'got around', looking but never finding love. Molly was what I hop...moreI was glad to read Molly's story, out of a group of half-siblings with a mother who 'got around', looking but never finding love. Molly was what I hoped for in a heroine. She is standard Lynne Graham heroine. Young, optimistic, determined in the face of adversity, chaste, but completely unable to resist her hero when he comes along, although she does make a stand when he is not giving her what she needs in their marriage.
Leandro is fairly standard for Lynne Graham, although there were a couple of novel touches. He'd been married for several years and widowed and celibate for a year prior to meeting Mollie. I was happy to finally have a hero who wasn't as big a tomcat as usual for this author. Of course, he did his share of that in the past, but at least, he wasn't including the heroine in his revolving door of girlfriends. He does a few things that annoy me, but I found his impassioned bid for Molly's love near the end of the book to be quite irresistible. I could understand some of his control/not showing emotions issues when the reveal occurs about his so-called 'happy marriage'.
I have to be honest and say I spent a significant portion of this book waiting for Molly's siblings to show up. The romance was good and sexy, nothing lacking, but I was more attracted to the family dynamics that Ms. Graham had pumped my excitement up for in the prior books. And yes, eagerly awaiting another glimpse of sexy Nikolai from Ruthless Magnate, Convenient Wife (Pregnant Brides, #2) as Molly's older brother. What can I say??? He's Russian. I love Russians! Sorry, Leandro. Russians trump Spaniards, even though you are sexy and can be a real sweetie. I was not disappointed when Molly's siblings showed up. I loved how they closed ranks around her as a family, taking her in, and making sure that she was happy, even in her relationship with Leandro. Nikolai is just the kind of older brother I think a girl needs. At any rate, it was great to see the family together, and really sweet. And I adored Ophelia, so seeing her again was great.
The epilogue was lovely as well. Molly, who had always felt unwanted and unloved, alone in the world, had a family that loved her, and a husband who would hang the moon barehanded because of his adoration for her.
Deliriously sappy (in a good way), a bit silly, sexy, a good way to spend a few hours. Nothing ground-breaking, but I wasn't looking for that. Just a good read, and I got one with this book.