Finally have time to write this review. I was skeptical about Nalini Singh's re-embarkation into contemporary romance, especially since I am not intoFinally have time to write this review. I was skeptical about Nalini Singh's re-embarkation into contemporary romance, especially since I am not into the rock star sub-genre. I heard such awesome things about this book, and I admit I find office romance a guilty pleasure. I hate business, but an office background in a romance makes it seem a whole lot more interesting. I have to say this was a pleasure to read.
It's always a joy when you truly like the main characters in a book. I definitely loved both Charlotte and Gabriel. I think that they had phenomenal chemistry. I loved how patient Gabriel was in wooing Charlotte. I am ever captivated by a hero in pursuit who shows genuine love for his heroine. It was clear that Gabriel wasn't just trying to conquer Charlotte. He wanted all of her. And Charlotte is one of those heroines who I could definitely be good friends in real life. She's adorable. I think most of us women can admit crushing on someone who is downright unattainable. And to think her crush is crushing on her. Charlotte's down to earth and a lovely person. Her shyness is certainly understandable, and I understand how being hurt that way could make a person withdraw from life. I liked how pivotal Charlotte's friendship with Molly is to the book. It definitely feels authentic the way she would call Molly or Skype with her about what was going on in their lives.
Charlotte's past is definitely dark. I feel that it's handled sensitively and Charlotte's recovery is realistic. Seeing Gabriel gently work through her issues and understanding that certain things were a trigger for her just made me love him more. I was a bit disappointed with the love scenes. they didn't quite have the impact I wanted considering the long buildup. However the proposal was lovely! I found the narrative device of email memos fun and a great way to advance the plot and set the tone and the evolution of Charlotte and Gabriel's relationship. Gabriel was scrumptious. I wouldn't say I'm into hugely muscular guys typically, but this man is ultra fine! I loved the fact that he's not merely defined by his physicality. He's also fiercely intelligent.
Overall, this is a great book. I can't give it five stars because it didn't have the strong impact that I expect from a five star romance book. However, I was immersed and drawn into this story. Just the kind of book that you want to dive into, take a few hours out of your own life and enjoy. Rather like a book version of dessert. Speaking of dessert, that was a big part of this book, and I'm all for it. When Gabriel was being beastly, he would buy Charlotte sweet treats. Charlotte is a keen baker and she also baked for Gabriel. Dessert will always be my favorite meal, so it was like two for the price of one.
Not five stars, but definitely 4.5/5.0 stars!...more
I gave this 3.5 stars because I felt the secondary characters were a bit thin and the story lacked dramatic tension. However, I really liked the mainI gave this 3.5 stars because I felt the secondary characters were a bit thin and the story lacked dramatic tension. However, I really liked the main characters and I loved how ardent Harrison was at wooing Angelina. I think Regency romance fans will enjoy this book.
I was surprised how much I liked this one. I had been disappointed with the other book in this duology, An Heiress for His Empire. This book, it hit aI was surprised how much I liked this one. I had been disappointed with the other book in this duology, An Heiress for His Empire. This book, it hit all the right notes.
I really liked the discussions that Romi and Maxwell had. It was clear that they were actually friends in addition to lovers. I am 1000% over playboy/womanizer heroes, but I think this worked for me because Maxwell did have some vulnerability. He may have seemed like he was holding all the cards, but Romi was someone he really wanted and needed in his life, despite his fear of falling in love and his belief that love didn't exist. Romi is nicely independent and straightforward.
I did think the whole, "I'm tired of being a twenty-four year old virgin" comment was a bit eye-rolling. That really is not that old to be a virgin. If you're a virgin, it's probably for a reason. Just be honest and admit that you really want to be with Maxwell, no qualifications on it. The way that writers play virginity is either like it's a burden or some kind of special status. It's neither. It's just a state of identity that a person has or doesn't have. Yes, losing one's virginity is a momentous occasion, so treat it that way and move on.
I really liked Maxwell's Russianness (big surprise). Even though he had lived in America most of his life, it was clear this an important part of his culture. He reflects many of the values that Russian men value highly. He felt more Russian to me than Viktor in the first book. I liked him better as a person, other than his slamhound tendencies. I don't think I would have been as sanguine as Romi was about staying in his apartment where he brought all his conquests, even if they didn't share his bed (he used the guestroom).
This feels like more of a modern romance than some HPs, with a heroine who is very millennial (Not in a bad way though), and that did appeal. The wedding was really sweet and how devoted and adoring Maxwell becomes towards the end of the book really worked for me. I like that they do understand each other and accept each other as they are. The marriage between this couple feels strong, like it will last for many years.
The love scenes are steamy and descriptive, but Monroe is a bit coy about the BDSM, with Maxwell having dominant tendencies and Romi being somewhat sexually submissive. I did like that she wasn't willing to be tied up until she felt like she could trust him again. That made a lot of sense to me.
The strong bond of friendship between Romi and Madison (from the other book) is a prominent aspect of this book, which I also liked. Romi and Madison both feel like women I might have known or interacted with in my real life. It's cute that SBC (sisters-by-choice) married friends/business rivals.
Oh man, I loved the hero in this book. He was scrumptious. He reminded me of Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent from Devil in Winter in that he's a long, leaOh man, I loved the hero in this book. He was scrumptious. He reminded me of Sebastian, Lord St. Vincent from Devil in Winter in that he's a long, lean panther who talks like a panther purrs. He screams "I'm Bad For You, but I'm So Good!" He was delicious. He definitely goes on my lickable hero shelf. I fell hard for him because he is so super-sexy, and because he gave Hattie steadfast love in a way she'd never had before. At one point, he withdraws from her, and Hattie can't deal with that. He does it because it was difficult for him to deal with the fact that she refused to be honest with him. Hattie doesn't know how to deal with him not being in her life the way he's been for over ten years, and that is the impetus for change. That was when he realized she didn't know how. She didn't know what unconditional love was and the concept of being accepted no matter what. She spends most of the book pushing him away emotionally, and being a bit of a brat, so that tiptoes on the edge of being a bit tedious. Crews managed to change the tone soon enough that I was just burned out on it. I think the reveal for why Hattie has behaved the way she has so long was a pit too rapid in its delivery (and it felt a bit lightweight to be honest), and I would have liked better pacing in that regard. I did love the surprise that Nicodemus gets. I was really surprised myself. I like a good twist in a story.
This book is pretty heavy on internal dialogue and that probably wouldn't work for some. But I felt it was well done, and I think the characters are wonderfully complex. I think this is a nice mix of modern cultural awareness but with the old school intensity dynamic that makes many of us Harlequin Presents readers such advocates of the vintage novels. The sensuality is intrinsic and hot and underlined by the fact that these two people really love each other and can't imagine a life without each other.
I'm hoping that I enjoy His for Revenge, about Hattie's brother, as much as I did this book.
This was a pretty good historical romance, a story of reunited lovers, with plenty of steamy romance. However, I never felt that zing, that sense of cThis was a pretty good historical romance, a story of reunited lovers, with plenty of steamy romance. However, I never felt that zing, that sense of connection with the characters and that compulsion to keep reading. I felt like it was fine to pick this book up when I had a free moment, and to put it down when I had more important things to do.
I'm not a big fan of lovers reunited stories, but I liked that Heath and Julia are older and wiser, and have lived their lives, and know very well that what they have together is very good and it's worth committing to this time around.
There were some fun moments, especially with the salacious sketch of Heath that falls into the wrong hands. I really liked when Heath realized that he wasn't going to let Julia get away from him this time, no matter what. I love a hero in pursuit! I wasn't that into the whole "Boscastle Antics" aspect of the story. It reminds me unfavorably of how there is a tendency to wink and nod at a family in a series, and to draw readership for the later stories by reminding the reader of how crazy the family is. Of course, I love series books. No question. I just think that the author's job is to make a storyline so compelling that we can't help but race for the next book. I'm not that intrigued with the other Boscastle rogues at this point. I'll keep reading because I like this author a lot. But it's not an urgency for me right now.
This is a solid B read for me. A nice past-time with plenty of sexual tension between Julia and Heath that I'm sure many readers will really enjoy.
This was interesting and unputdownable until the end. This is the drama I was looking for in the last books by this author I read and was disappointedThis was interesting and unputdownable until the end. This is the drama I was looking for in the last books by this author I read and was disappointed with. Add a hero who has a vibe that sets you up to dislike him, and mix him with a heroine who is sweet, but sassy enough to hold her own. Put a dash of "Wow! Did they really meet that way?" and some family drama. And lastly, great sexual tension, and you have an arresting read.
Caleb didn't endear himself to me at first. I admit the butt slapping intro was a black mark. It hit my male chauvinism buttons. Plus, he has the macho air of aggression that normally doesn't work for me when it hits me in the face in a book. However, Cat was so good at facing off with Caleb, and she's no one's pushover, so they were perfectly matched. While the age difference is pretty considerable (15 years), it didn't bother as much, because Cat is fairly mature, independent, and Caleb doesn't feel way too old at 39. He reminded me of the Hollywood sex symbols of the early 80s, and since I was a wee girl and I hadn't developed my palate for actors at that tender age (although I wanted to marry Hutch on the eponymous show for some reason), I can't say I was feeling that vibe. Caleb started winning me over gradually. I think it was seeing his vulnerabilities as much as his obvious strengths. And the fact that even though he was supposed to be this confirmed bachelor hardened against woman after a divorce (except as bedmates) and jaded about women, it's clear he's crazy about Cat. There is plenty of sizzle between Caleb and Cat, but Caleb doesn't win Cat over too easy (I hate that). He has to work to earn her. I liked that he was so jealous of her deceased fiance'/childhood sweetheart.
The fact that Caleb's dad is an elusive Hollywood maven still mourning his wife's death for thirty years adds an intriguing facet to this book. I have a bit of a jaundiced love affair for Hollywood, due to the fact that I am a huge movie buff and TV-watcher, so I am always a bit drawn to a bit of Hollywood thrown into my fiction reading. Lucien's POV was sad and gruff and intriguing, and the perfect touch to help Cat get over her angst over her lost love and to gain some insight on her feelings for Caleb. And his son, Luke's bad behavior (Luke's bad behavior is why Cat and Caleb meet under such infamous circumstances), hides a sad soul that Cat connects with on a deep level because she identifies the desperation within.
Every character in this book adds something to the portrait of its main characters, from Lucien (Caleb's father), Luke (his son), Norm (his assistant/Man Friday), and a bit of Mrs. MacDonald (Caleb's housekeeper) and Vicki, Cat's flatmate. They make a short novel feel incredibly textured.
No Longer a Dream is a vintage Harlequin Presents that I think is worth seeking out. There is a lot of emotional complexity in the short length, and a story that builds on the foundation of a good romance in such a way that you feel like you get a bonus level of storytelling. I think books like this make me keep seeing out vintage Harlequin Presents books.
Thought not a five star read, it's more than a four star. Let's say it's 4.25/5.0 stars....more
Games for Sophisticates is a good name for this book, because it is about playing love like it's a game. Of course we know someone always gets hurt inGames for Sophisticates is a good name for this book, because it is about playing love like it's a game. Of course we know someone always gets hurt in that particular game. Quilla is put in the difficult situation of being asked by her brother to attract the attention of powerful businessman and ladies man Fraser McGill so that he will end his affair with her brother's wife. Quilla loves her brother and would do just about anything for him, but she knows she's out of her league making a play for Fraser. It turns out Fraser falls for the bait. His eye is on Quilla and he spends the rest of the book pursuing her, in various ways.
Quilla doesn't like Fraser at all. She has contempt for his love 'them and leave them ways' and she has to balance that dislike with the need to keep him on the hook so that her brother can repair his troubled marriage. Yet the more time she spends with Fraser, it grows harder to resist his seductive allure, and her feelings of dislike are conflicted by growing feelings of attraction to him. Occasionally, glimpses of the gentle, good man show through and gain her affection. However, she soon reminds herself that everyone knows (and he says it himself) he's incapable of staying with a woman and loving her. Quilla is a love and marriage (eventually) girl. She has no time or inclinations for an affair, even with a sexy man like Fraser. So, she makes it clear that all she feels for him is contempt as soon as she can. But Fraser is not a man to be played with. He gives her an ultimatum that ups the ante, and she has to show her hand or fold. But no one walks away from Fraser McGill.
This book is quite full of emotional/sexual tension. I liked that about the book. Set in the 80s, you can see the change in social mores and dynamics. While Quilla isn't sexually active, she doesn't come off as anachronistic in her personal morals. Instead, she's shown as a careful, somewhat introverted woman who has been focused on career and family, not playing the dating game. In that sense, it is not unbelievable that she would be susceptible to Fraser. However, she uses strength of will and cruel words to keep herself from becoming sexually involved with Fraser for most of this book. I didn't blame her for not wanting to get her heart broken by him. However, I did feel she was very mean and cruel in a lot of things she said and did to him. Usually, I feel that the hero is the one who is being mean to the heroine. In this case, Quilla takes that role. Fraser actually is quite nice to her. Of course, he's trying to get her to sleep with him, but he's not given the opportunity to truly know Quilla and her value system because she's stringing him along. He thinks she's up for the usual sort of relationship dynamic. When he finds out she won't be easily brought to heel, he resorts to some manipulations that aren't fair play, but considering the way she shuts him down continually, I didn't hold it against him. I felt that compared to how mean Quilla was to him, it was fair play.
I didn't rate this one higher because of the mind games and mean things Quilla said and did to Fraser. I understood why, but I winced at poor Fraser when he gives her something very beautiful and from the heart and she rejects it cruelly. I also didn't like how her brother was using his fairly sheltered sister against a known rake instead of manning up and saving his marriage the right way instead of manipulating his wife and her so-called lover. I felt that part was pretty immature and silly.
Overall, this is a good book. I liked Quilla's friend and business partner Nico. I couldn't quite figure out how he felt towards Quilla and wondered what his intentions were. I'm assuming he was respecting the friend barrier, but he would have taken things further if he had any indication Quilla was willing. That was one part I didn't mind, Fraser's jealousy about Nico, although it was mean on Quilla's part at the same time (she told Fraser a lie about their relationship). As I've said before, I like a jealous hero. I think that despite a lack of an on-the-page consummation, this was sensual and full of sexual tension. The end is very good, and I liked that for once, Quilla had to do the work in their relationship. Poor Fraser deserved as much.
A pretty good HP for readers who like their 80s output.
This is book feels different for a Lynne Graham, although it also has her distinctive style. The heroine is older (35). She's actually three or four yThis is book feels different for a Lynne Graham, although it also has her distinctive style. The heroine is older (35). She's actually three or four years older than the hero. She takes it harder than he does. I really liked Kat and Mikhail together. Mikhail is a good guy from the beginning. He's very Russian but not a stereotype. He's surprisingly kind and down to earth. I think because of his mother he does have a lot of respect for women. He values Kat as a strong woman who is independent and has no desire to change that about her. Although he does move mountains to bring her into his life and sphere. Kat is practical and acts very mature (much beyond her years). Probably because she had to raise her sisters from a young age. She's strongly attracted to Mikhail from the beginning, even though she knows nothing can come of it, and she needs to focus on real world things. Mikhail is a dream man in a lot of ways, and he's very willing to prove it. I just plain liked these two together, and I liked that this book has a mature tone that speaks to a woman of my age. The idea that a woman doesn't have to be barely in her 20s to find her dream man definitely resonated. And a real man appreciates a real, strong and independant woman. Mikhail is holding it up for Russians, which is what I need right now. ...more
I was rearranging my books and came across this one. It caught my eye. So I ended up reading it. This was a very good story. I actually liked both chaI was rearranging my books and came across this one. It caught my eye. So I ended up reading it. This was a very good story. I actually liked both characters. Michael was a man who had lost his mother at a young age, and ended up in the foster system, eventually at The Granger Home for Boys. Because of that loss, he had determined never to fall in love or give his heart away. For three long years, he fought feelings for his secretary, Kate, until they had too much champagne, and shared a night of passion. The next morning, he apologized and told her he wanted things to be just business. Kate never got over that night, because she'd fallen in love with Michael. She knew it was a risky thing to do, but the heart doesn't listen to logic. When she reveals her pregnancy, Michael has to campaign for her to marry him, to make sure that his child has a family and a secure future that he didn't have. But that alone isn't enough. He finds that he wants his very wary wife's heart and a chance at a real family.
This was a very good book. Banks thoroughly involves me in this relationship between Michael and Kate. This book is both emotional and sensual. I loved seeing their hearts open up to each other and connect on deep levels. I liked that Kate doesn't settle for just part of Michael, because she shows him that he can have more if he does take a chance. Category romance is such a neat way to get a lovely romance that you can read in under two hours, but get the full exposure, albeit in brief form. I like marriage and baby books, and with a hero who acts tough and detached, but really is a sweetheart, plus a heroine who is very lovable, what more can you ask for with this book?
Courtney Milan writes wonderfully. Her characters are three-dimensional and nuanced, more like real people than characters. I always feel like I wantCourtney Milan writes wonderfully. Her characters are three-dimensional and nuanced, more like real people than characters. I always feel like I want the romance to happen just as much as they do or in some circumstances more. My heart was with Grantham as he wooed Lydia, and I felt deeply for Lydia. Her terrible experience five years earlier would sour anyone on romance, and I could see why her barriers were erected so strongly. I liked that Milan did give them an opportunity to get to know each other and that they had many talks which helped them to get to know each other in the deep way they needed. Grantham is a bit of an odd duck. He's lacking in social graces in that he doesn't know how to measure or mince his words, but tells it like it is. His reasons for marrying initially are barebones pragmatism, but understandable given his situation. But he learned the hard way that he needed to deal in honesty no matter what the cost.
Somehow Milan managed to make a novella feel like a novel. By the end of the book, I did feel like an entire courtship had taken place and that these two people had plenty of reason to be committed to each other. I also liked that she includes some social consciousness such as the sad state of medicine in the late 1800s, especially in light of women's health and the angst of caring for an aging parent.
Just One Last Night is a very good and quick contemporary romance about an estranged married couple who have a very tragic event in their lives that cJust One Last Night is a very good and quick contemporary romance about an estranged married couple who have a very tragic event in their lives that causes a rift in their marriage.
Without spoiling readers, I would say that what happens to this couple was very devastating, and it would take two very devoted people in love to overcome it. Melanie is already carrying baggage from her childhood, on top of their recent tragedy, and this acts as the icing on the cake for her belief that she is poison to love. What I loved about this book is that Forde is a man who loves his wife enough to fight for her, and he loves her in spite of the way she pushes him away. When he made those marriage vows, he took them seriously, and is more than willing to fight for his marriage. A devoted hero is Helen Brooks' stock in trade, and she does it very well. One of my favorite kinds of heroes is a devoted one who will surmount any obstacle to win the woman he loves.
I could understand Melanie's emotional wounds. I could even give her some slack for how she was pushing Forde away, although she was admittedly being irrational about her past and how it affected her self-image. I mean, that's very human to be less than level-headed when it comes to emotions and their impact on our lives.
I especially enjoyed the cozy days around Christmas that Melanie and Forde shared, their feline companion(s), and the unique way that this couple becomes reunited. I'd have to be honest and admit I'm not big on stories with estranged married couples. However, Brooks acquitted herself admirably with this book. The execution was well-done, and Just One Last Night was a very good book to read in the month of December to get me in the Christmas mood.
I liked this book and I couldn't put it down. But I honestly have to say I was almost repelled by Spencer initially. I mean ugh! Even if you are stronI liked this book and I couldn't put it down. But I honestly have to say I was almost repelled by Spencer initially. I mean ugh! Even if you are strongly attracted to your best friend's fiancee', that doesn't mean you have a right to pursue that and wreck his engagement because you feel like you have a stronger bond with the woman than your friend. He didn't respect boundaries at all. Keep your octopus hands to yourself dude! I think his insistence on honesty came out of a sense of self-indulgence, arrogance and not true honor. If he was the better man he would have walked away. I wasn't sure I wanted him to be the hero of this book until well into the story. I thought Allison was much too good for him. He gave me this skeevy vibe that I couldn't get past. Towards the end of the book I felt better towards him, but I can't say I love him as a hero. He is merely okay to me. When I finished this book, I shrugged and thought, "If that's what she wants, okay." If I had a choice, I would have gone for a different hero with a lot more class than Spencer (and I'm not talking money and polish).
I really liked Allison. Despite her insecurities, she was twice the woman her sister was. Her sister had the same level of intelligence, but seemed kind of shallow, and I feel that her guilting her sister into pretending to be her with her fiance' was selfish and immature. Why would you do that to your sister? Put her in that situation, just so you could get a (view spoiler)[ surprise boob job (hide spoiler)] for your fiance' and not be sensitive to the distress you were causing her? I loved when Allison finally got fed up with both guys and came clean on the switch. That was the best part of the book. If I am going to be honest, I might as well lay it out here. My sister would never want me to go off to have a fling with a sleazy guy who was hitting on his best friend's fiancee'! I'd want him to stay far away from my sister, not helping her buy sexy clothes and unpacking her bras when she went off for her fling. Honestly, I don't find her sister's fiance' to be a deep man either. I hope they will be happy together in their shallowness. Your mileage may vary.
This book was pretty darn steamy. For a book written in 1985, I was like, wow. Very sensual. Sandra Brown knows how to write some sexy romance! I liked the voyage of discovery for Allison, and I liked that she realized that her life was a lot more open to possibilities than she could imagine. But I also liked that she did fall in love with Spencer instead of just being hot for him. That would have made the whole situation a lot more tawdry in my view than it had the potential to be. It was also a saving grace that Spencer clearly did fall in love Allison as well, instead of just being on the make. If not, I think I might have used this book as a hockey puck based on how he was acting at the beginning.
I think the fact that I enjoyed this book despite having very little respect for most of the characters is a sign of good writing by the author. If I just go with the flow, I can think of this as a fun, grown up version of The Parent Trap with a little bit of Love Potion No. 9 thrown in. A good oldie by this very popular and talented author....more
Ms. Brooke, I think we have a psychic connection. You picked up on what annoys me about too many of the Regency historicals coming out nowadays (thusMs. Brooke, I think we have a psychic connection. You picked up on what annoys me about too many of the Regency historicals coming out nowadays (thus causing me to avoid them). You took every element that annoys me and turned those conventions around and wrote a book that I enjoyed very much. Thank you!
This book called to me because I love unrequited love stories. I also like the idea of the heroine working for the hero and having a buttoned up/no-noThis book called to me because I love unrequited love stories. I also like the idea of the heroine working for the hero and having a buttoned up/no-nonsense demeanor but still getting under his skin. I have to say I was very satisfied by this book. Deb Marlowe is going on my reading list now for sure. Her sense of time and place is excellent, but so much life and feeling in her writing, her characters.
Chloe found her way into my heart. I liked everything about her. I can see a little of myself in her, that determination to fix herself so that she could handle anything that comes her way. Her situation in this book called to me deeply. Her fear and loneliness. Her loving heart, and her keen mind to match. Her struggle to face and defeat her fears and climb out of that box she had created for safety, but had grown too big for, so that it was just constricting her overall growth as a person. I really loved her, cheering her strengths and feeling for her vulnerabilities. I wanted her to get her man, and I love that her strategy did exactly that. Not only did she get her man, she let him realize for himself that she was the right woman for him. What a savvy, lovable heroine!
I found Braedon absolutely lickable, warts and all. Big, vital, strong-minded, wounded, afraid to love. What a complex mix that made for a hero I fell head over heels for. Even when he frustrated me with his stubborn determination to cling to old thought patterns that no longer would keep him safe and certainly didn't bring happiness. I felt for him and understood why. His family would make anyone afraid to love and open one's heart. Deep down though, he was a man truly worthy of loving. Even if he didn't think so. Like us all, he faced some real challenges that he had to overcome in his relationships with others, including a young boy who enters his life and raises some old demons. But like a well-made sword, he comes out of the fire even stronger as the impurities are burned away.
As I said earlier, I loved the main storylines, but also the plot threads about Braedon being a collecter of ancient weaponry. It made sense on a deep, symbolic level that a man with his emotional wounds would build himself a citadel of safety full of sharp, protective weapons. In the process, he realizes that when a man walls himself in, he builds a prison as well as a fortress. Whereas, if he allows himself to trust and to love those who prove worthy, he is much more safe in the long run, even if that requires a step of faith and going out into the danger zone of the unknown frontiers of emotion. What a beautiful, meaning-filled message. I am trying to be more strict about five star reviews, but when a book touches me this way, I have to give it the highest rating.
People regularly put down Harlequin books. To each their own. For myself, some of the best and most meaningful books I have read have been written by authors in the Harlequin imprints. They might not be long or have the dubious honor of freedom from the "Harlequin title stigma", but they are hidden treasures all the same. This is one of those books. Definitely recommend it!...more
This was a very good book. At first I thought Nick was a jerk, the way he reacted to Cory's aunt's dog knocking him over. I didn't have hopes for himThis was a very good book. At first I thought Nick was a jerk, the way he reacted to Cory's aunt's dog knocking him over. I didn't have hopes for him as a likable hero. However, I have to say that he made me eat my words. He showed a lot of consideration, patience, and caring for Cory, who wasn't an easy woman to love in some ways. I don't hold it against Cory. I can totally see why she was so reluctant to open her heart to Nick. She had some very deep emotional scars, layered on top of each other. First from neglectful parents, and then with a bad relationship. She truly believed she was unlovable. She probably should have gotten counseling, but how many of us are walking wounded from a lifetime of toxic relationships? With the full book behind me, I really appreciated Nick for his love for Cory that took him through some rough patches with her. However, I did get the feeling that Cory was worth it, and I was glad that she had someone who did love her unconditionally when she had suffered the lack of that from two people who should have given more of that then she could handle.
Maybe I am applying this to the book because I know Helen Brooks is a Christian, but it reminded me of Christ's love for me. That made me appreciate this book on a deeper level, because I can see that Christlike love in Nick (although he is a human male with human desires and emotions. However, the Apostle Paul does tell men to love their wives like Christ loves his church, so Nick isn't setting a unknown precedent here).
I can see why a Goodreads friend of mine appreciates Helen Brooks books so much. If Nick is an example of her heroes in how he treated Cory, then Helen does heroes well. He was both masculine and sexy, but also loving and gentlemanly. A very nice combination.
This was a good Harlequin Presents. It kept my interest, with sexy chemistry between Nick and Cory, paired with a deep, abiding, dare I say healing love. I look forward to reading more of her books....more
Riley Fitzgerald is a twenty-five-year-old bronc rider in the rodeo circuit who comes from Kentucky whiskey and horse-breeding money. He knowSynopsis
Riley Fitzgerald is a twenty-five-year-old bronc rider in the rodeo circuit who comes from Kentucky whiskey and horse-breeding money. He knows he is fortunate that he doesn't have to work for a living, and can pursue his love of rodeo, but his father is leaning on him to join the family business. Riley wants one more Rodeo Championship win behind him before he'll think of moving on from rodeo, even though he doesn't know what career he'll ultimately settle on. When his plane sustains in-flight damage, he is forced to land near a derelict parts warehouse outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico. There he meets Maria Alvarez, who warns him he is in gang territory.
Maria is a thirty-five-year-old Latina teacher who works with disadvantaged students to help them to get their GEDs, since she believes education is the only way to save them from the dead-end lifestyle of gangs. She is at the warehouse looking for three of her latest students at the gang hangout, and encounters Riley. He's definitely one sexy cowboy, even if she knows he's too young for her. Not to mention he is white and comes from money. How on earth can he understand her values and what it's like being raised in the Albuquerque hood, where she works to keep youngsters from befalling the same fate as her deceased younger brother? She is determined to help to save Cruz, Alonso, and Victor from the cycle of poverty and violence that led to her brother's demise.
Riley becomes a close friend and something more, as he helps her work with the young men. He arranges for them to work and live on a friend's horse ranch while they study for their GEDs. He is intrigued and impressed with the beautiful, sexy, and together older woman, and he's not bothered in the least by the age difference or their different backgrounds. Not only does Riley intend to qualify for and win the Rodeo Championship, but he also plans to win Maria's heart. Maria finds it very hard to resist Riley, because he is gorgeous, fun to be around, and has a good heart. Can she get past the seemingly insurmountable barriers of race, age, and background to find the love of her life with Riley?
A Rodeo Man's Promise was a quick, involving, fulfilling read. Marin Thomas has a breezy style that keeps the story flowing. Riley was a sweetheart. I appreciated the vigorous and vital impact of his youthful masculine energy, but also the fact that he was mature, confident and generous. I loved the fact that he didn't let issues of race and social status stand between him and the woman he wanted. Equally important was the fact that although Riley recognized he was born to privilege, he lacked a sense of arrogance and entitlement because of that. He embraced the fact that he was blessed in his background, and was willing to get outside his privileged upbringing and its accompanying mindset to help to mentor three young Latino boys from the rough part of town.
Maria was a compelling and likable character. The pain of losing her brother had driven her to help youngsters. She was realistic in her wants, needs and desires. I could understand why she would have some fears and reservations about becoming involved with Riley, considering her past hurts and their disparate backgrounds. I loved that Riley was determined and committed to win her trust and to convince her to give them a chance together.
The sparks fly between Maria and Riley and make a great romance. I felt the strong bond between them that transcends any obvious differences. Sometimes you find ‘the one' and they are nothing like you, and that can be a very good thing. In addition, the inclusion of the three teens, Cruz, Victor, and Alonso, with their troubled lives, and hopes and fears for the future, helps to round out the romance and make for a deeper read. The rodeo elements were interesting, and I loved how they became a bridge between Riley and Cruz, the most troubled of the trio of teens. Rodeo is a metaphor for hanging onto one's dreams in life, even when the going gets tough. If you can stay on the bronco for eight seconds, then you can do just about anything. That's a great take home message. A Rodeo Man's Promise is a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and would recommend to readers of romance.
Darn those first impressions. They are very hard to overcome. Lyon sees Silke for the first time in a sexy bunny outfit. He immediately starts thinkinDarn those first impressions. They are very hard to overcome. Lyon sees Silke for the first time in a sexy bunny outfit. He immediately starts thinking she's one of those kinds of women. It doesn't help that his aging playboy uncle Hal seems to take a liking to her. Then Lyon gets the impression that Hal plans to marry her. The words "Gold Digger" become a fervent part of his vocabulary when he talks to Silke. But he's gotten it all wrong. Hal doesn't want to marry Silke, he wants to marry her mother, Satin, his lost love. It's easy to get names like Satin and Silke mixed up, especially since Silke is the spitting image of her mother.
Lyon is kind of a jerk for a large part of this book. But I found that I kind of liked him at the same time. He was rather stuffy and reminded me of the characters that Cary Grant, David Niven, and Rock Hudson used to play in the 50s romantic comedies. He had the wrong idea about the heroine, and was slow on the uptake, and it took most of the movie (book in this case) to get a clue. The whole time he's falling head over heels for Silke. Silke gave me the impression of a young Shirley MacLaine in some of those movies. I love those movies, so that gave me a good feeling when I was reading.
I liked Silke. She was feisty and independent, and able to take on this big, bossy guy without flinching. I think that her falling in love with Lyon made it easier for me to like him. And I could totally see why Lyon couldn't resist her. She had that vibrant energy and joy about her that made her very compelling. Lyon was the kind of guy who took everything too seriously, so he needs a woman like Silke. I'm glad he figures that out.
I also liked the fact that Lyon's uncle Hal and Silke's mother Satin play a big role in this book, because I love books about family connections, the wackier the better. Along with the tone, these elements made this a lighter-hearted read, although there were a few more angsty bits. This book reminds me of the sort that Emma Goldrick used to write, which is a nice association, since I loved her books. I was dead tired Saturday night, but I didn't want to put this down and go to sleep. In fact, I ended up finishing it before I went to sleep. It was worth it....more
Unlocked is a fantastic short novel about a man who faces his past, and earns the love, trust, and forgiveness of the one woman he always wanted but wUnlocked is a fantastic short novel about a man who faces his past, and earns the love, trust, and forgiveness of the one woman he always wanted but was afraid to go after honorably, to break out of the mode of society's expectations for him.
I totally identified with Elaine. I was picked on incessantly growing up. No matter what I did, it was the focus of ridicule in school. I followed her plan of attack and withdrew into myself, pretending like it didn't matter. If you pretend like it doesn't matter, after a while, you can deal with it and keep your composure. The prey animal that runs gets chased by the predator. Ms. Milan was spot on with her psychology in this story. It felt therapeutic to me, that she could hit at the heart of such an issue that many of us experienced, and do it so well in the context of a love story. Although I could never imagine falling in love with one of my adolescent tormenters and settling into a HEA, she made it plausible, because she showed that Evan was just a man, a man who was too scared to be real and to be stand out from the crowd in a good way. I completely fell in love with Evan, for his honest desire and efforts to make amends and to be a better man. That took so much courage, more courage than climbing a mountain. Sometimes you have to go away to grow, and he did that, and came back to fulfill his destiny. And what a man he became. Also, Elaine showed courage. She was afraid to trust Evan, to believe he had changed. He proved that he had, and she took that leap of faith when it counted. And leapt right into his arms.
Courtney Milan clearly puts a lot of thought and heart into her stories, and that's why they resonate with me. She writes about men and women who I want to see happy, to see fall in love. They aren't cardboard, samey characters. They feel distinct and real to me. I liked that Evan is somewhat awkward and afraid but works past his fear. I like that Elaine has been a social failure with a mother who is so brilliant she doesn't fit into society. She gets the passionate aspects right too. They belong there, very organic to the story's development, showing the bond between the characters, so that I hold my breath with expectation. For a die-hard historical romance novel lover, it's been a bit depressing to see an endless ocean of new books out there with few that actually move me that way romance used to. I'm glad that I have Courtney Milan's books to do that for me. It feels good to be excited about reading historical romance again. Short but sweet, Unlocked is a delightful treat for the historical romantic. I highly recommend it.
Thanks for encouraging me to pull this off the pile, MrsJ!...more
This book was a middle of the road read. I didn't hate or love it. I ended up giving it 3.5/5.0 stars because of its good and not-so-good points.
WhatThis book was a middle of the road read. I didn't hate or love it. I ended up giving it 3.5/5.0 stars because of its good and not-so-good points.
What I liked:
*I love a good hero in pursuit. I have an issue with player heroes, so I was feeling tough towards Alessandro at first, thinking he might view Lily as another conquest. However, he proved himself that his intentions were sincere towards her. There were several moments where he could have pushed her into sexual intimacy and he refrained, knowing she wasn't ready for that. I ended up liking and respecting him a lot for that. I also liked that he was steadfast in his regard for Lily, despite her cold shoulder. I could feel that he truly loved her. Also, I liked that he was self-made with a tough life behind him. He had turned his life around with the guidance of Lily's aunt and her deceased husband. *I loved that Lily was a fully-qualified chef and actually had a job that she put a lot of time and energy in. I also liked that she was a woman of independent means. I think Bianchin managed to show that Alessandro could afford to shower her with material things (because that's just obligatory for an HP hero, isn't it?), even though she didn't need them. (view spoiler)[ It was a bit sneaky how it turns out that he owns the restaurant where she gets hired as an assistant chef and her apartment building. I had to laugh, because his tendency to own everything reminded me of Roarke from the In Death series by JD Robb! (hide spoiler)] *I loved all the food descriptions. What can I say, I'm a foodie?
What I didn't like:
*The fashion descriptions bored me to tears. It's not that I don't like fashion, but getting a list of what Lily wore every time got really old. *Normally I like how HPs will have details about the different locales, but this one didn't do much for me as far as describing Milan. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. *I just didn't get very excited about this book. It wasn't badly written. I just think she needed a little more zing in the story, and I don't mean sex. Just more tension and hop in the storyline. The annoyance factor of the continual post-mortems on Lily's failed relationship and her using that to keep Alessandro at bay was an execution issue, not so much that I don't like having the reluctant heroine who is afraid to love again. I liked that she didn't fall into bed with him immediately, so I'm not sure that insta-sex would have solved the lack of sizzle problem for me.
Overall, a decent read. Not one that I will find especially memorable, but I did like the fact that Alessandro is a solid hero who definitely shows he's worthy of love. When you have a heroine who has gone through what Lily did with her ex, you need that kind of hero. So it was a success on that front....more
I squeezed this on in between review reads. I needed a quick, satisfying romance, something I could read even though I wasn't feeling great. It did thI squeezed this on in between review reads. I needed a quick, satisfying romance, something I could read even though I wasn't feeling great. It did the trick.
Megan was a bit frustrating to me with her self-esteem issues. I understand why she had them, but I think her brain was turned off. I think that Emilio couldn't have been more clear about his feelings unless he hit her over the head with a club and drug her off to his cave. I'm glad he didn't do that. He did take her off to his penthouse and then picked her up and put her in his limo at the end, so close enough. I wanted to say, "Girl, this guy is into you!" I mean, no man goes to those extremes for a woman he doesn't care about. The other thing was her insistence on hanging onto what happened two years ago. Stuff happens, and people say mean things. You have to move on and not put your confidence in with others say about you. Your confidence has to come from within. What I did like was her concrete reasons for remaining a virgin. I am not one of those readers who scoffs at a virgin heroine. I don't find them unrealistic or dated. Nor do I doubt that a woman a certain age can be a virgin. It does happen, more than the media tries to present. What I have a problem with is the neblous-minded accidental virgin so common. Yes, that can happen too, although I think they are overrepresented in the fictional virgin arena. There are more than a few virgins due to a lack of opportunity, and I can go along with that. But at the end of the day, there are some virgins by choice. I like that Megan was one of those. I can see why she made that choice based on her parents' actions and its affects on her upbringing. I also found it realistic when she decided not to be a virgin anymore when she encountered Emilio. He was the man of her dreams, the only man she wanted. He wasn't married anymore, and she went into their encounter with open eyes. So that part was suitable to me as a reader. As I said, my major issue was her self-esteem issues. It didn't ruin the read, but definitely knocked down my rating to a four star.
I liked Emilio. He knew what he wanted and went after it. He was honest enough to realize that his actions two years ago weren't rational and were based on his jealousy and his uncontrollable love for Megan, doomed to be denied since he was married. I loved that he was determined to be faithful to his wife, even if it was a convenient marriage. Fidelity is a huge stickler for me. To have a hero who believes in it is a real plus for me. I think he was very patient with Megan, through her determined actions not to believe he wanted her for her. He sure does know how to show what he feels. Another thing I love in a hero.
Not a ground-breaker, but a pleasant read. Nice pick-me-up for a Sunday when I wasn't feeling very well and just needed something relaxing to read. I love a good love story and this one had some aspects that appealed to me despite its shortcomings....more