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.
Although Laurel seemed intolerant initially, I really liked this romance book. It's very meaningful, and Laurel and James truly love each other. I appAlthough Laurel seemed intolerant initially, I really liked this romance book. It's very meaningful, and Laurel and James truly love each other. I appreciated the vantage point of Laurel and James, during this period in history. This series reminds me of Jo Beverley's Company of Rogues in a good way.
I was not a fan of Tate. He was arrogant and narcissistic and clueless about how much he hurt Malene. Pretty much my least favorite kind of man and heI was not a fan of Tate. He was arrogant and narcissistic and clueless about how much he hurt Malene. Pretty much my least favorite kind of man and hero. But I loved Malene, and the spy action and romance was well-done. Not my favorite in the series, but still pretty good.
Loving Lord Ash does the estranged married couple theme very well. I had some happy surprises reading this book, including two main characters who I fLoving Lord Ash does the estranged married couple theme very well. I had some happy surprises reading this book, including two main characters who I found thoroughly likable. Lighter historical romance, but the tone and the storyline are very engaging.
Readers who like their contemporary cowboy romance on the spicier side might enjoy this. For me, the book seemed to have an identity crisis as far asReaders who like their contemporary cowboy romance on the spicier side might enjoy this. For me, the book seemed to have an identity crisis as far as its romance genre status. The characters are emotionally all over the place and that was wearing. Overall, pretty good.
Quite morose in tone, however I was drawn into this family drama of a novel that travels smoothly between the early 20th century and the last decade oQuite morose in tone, however I was drawn into this family drama of a novel that travels smoothly between the early 20th century and the last decade of that same century. Very emotionally involving, although certain characters were hard to feel sympathy for. Recommended to readers who are interested in the WW1 years and the 1920s.
This is my first contemporary read by Ms. Thomas, and I really enjoyed it. Feel good, small town contemporary romance populated with a host of interesThis is my first contemporary read by Ms. Thomas, and I really enjoyed it. Feel good, small town contemporary romance populated with a host of interesting characters. Works for me!
I gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously faI gobbled this book down. Seriously! I was so drawn into this story. The heroine's personality and the psychology of her character was tremendously fascinating. I think Milburne nailed Natalie. Natalie was a ball of rage, and with good reason. She is a realistic product of toxic parents who have forced an innocent child to shoulder blame for something that never should have been her responsibility. And as the author showed, this damage doesn't just disappear overnight. Instead, a hurt child like Natalie takes that into her adulthood and every relationship she has as a grown woman. I literally hurt for Natalie.
Some readers would be turned off by her comments to Angelo, which were often abusive. But to me, I could see them for what they were, a cry for help. Natalie felt trapped by her family obligations and how they had damaged and poisoned her life and her very self-esteem. She wanted to break free, but that wasn't as easy as it seemed. Honestly, I think she probably needs therapy, and I personally feel that an encounter with Jesus Christ would do a lot of good for her. He would take away those burdens and the anger and pain she carries. It hurt to see her truly hating life and having trouble even enjoying one day in her life. I was just glad she hadn't taken the suicidal route. I think she felt obligated to live because of what had happened to her when she was young. So in real life, I would have expected something more interventionist for Natalie than just a love connection with the hero. Most of the time, that isn't going to fix what is broken, although being loved unconditionally is an important ingredient. But in the context of this story, I liked how the author dealt with her issues. Angelo has truly impressed me. He make a few miss-steps along the way, but overall he showed tremendous patience, even though Natalie did things that were hurtful to him. I liked how he didn't give up on her, but kept showing her that she mattered to him and he wanted a life with her. Considering how hurt Natalie was and how damaged her family was, and his ignorance of that, I think Angelo did a great job of connecting to her. Other than one thing he does shortly after they get married, I found him to be a real hero. Just the man for this very wounded woman. Maybe not truly realistic, but still I felt the power of their connection and how it put Natalie on the track to healing.
Man, this book blew me away. I found it very enthralling and emotionally involvinhg. It also involved me intellectually as I assembled the puzzles of Natalie's tormented psyche and came up with a picture of a woman who had been wronged so utterly by her parents. They had failed her in huge ways, and that kind of damage just sets an adult up for a lot of dysfunctional relationships as they get older.
I don't normally read Harlequin Presents for a look at 'real life.' I'll be honest. But I love angst and passion and I love seeing hurting people find happiness, healing and love. And Ms. Milburne definitely delivers.
This book won't be for everyone. But I was very impressed. I just pimped it to my sister, who doesn't read a lot of Harlequin Presents. I can't wait to see what she thinks of it.
Spring Showers returns to Whispering Cypress River, Louisiana, after a ten-year absence. She left to pursue a career in the big city when thinSynopsis
Spring Showers returns to Whispering Cypress River, Louisiana, after a ten-year absence. She left to pursue a career in the big city when things didn't work out with her childhood sweetheart. She buys the old campgrounds on the river, where some of her happiest memories occurred, determined to fix it up and open it to the public again.
The man she once loved, Hackett Woods has never left, and all this time, he has regretted disappointing her and ruining their chance at a life together. He is determined to make things right with Spring, to win her trust back. They strike a bargain for Hackett to do the restoration work on the property, but Spring is determined to keep the barriers between them and deny any chance for a romantic relationship again. However, the love they felt is still there and stronger than ever.
Not everyone is happy that Spring is back. Spring has a dangerous stalker determined that she won't settle back happily in Whispering Cypress. The path to true love for these reunited lovers is complicated, and they deal with their past hurts, reconcile their lives to their faith in God, and help a troubled young woman with a complicated relationship with Hackett, along the way.
Whispering Cypress was a tough read for me. The writer clearly had good intentions to write a novel about a woman's reunion with her former love and her determination to live a life of faith in Jesus despite all the obstacles she faced. However, the end result was convoluted and rambling. Too many ideas and no clear destination in mind made for unsatisfactory reading. The characters lack depth and realism. Not because of their faith in Jesus, but because of actions that don't make sense in light of the storyline. In addition, the author tackles heavy subjects like alcoholism, adultery, promiscuity and unwed pregnancy, but seems to shy away from writing with clarity and honesty about the actions of the characters that get them into tight moral dilemmas and result in unpleasant results they have to confront. Understandably, Christian fiction has certain standards to maintain as far as content, but I feel that the author could have kept the overall story content clean but still clarify the situations faced by the characters. If there was a motivation on the author's behalf to avoid depicting the darker aspects of human nature, it didn't make sense to introduce them in the first place.
Unfortunately, this novel had promise that strong editing and a more thorough revision process could have refined into a good book. On one hand, it was free of editing and grammar errors. However, the story meandered on with the frequent introduction of conflicts that lacked intensity, and I felt that there was an overall dearth of cohesion and vision to this novella. Continuity errors that a good, thorough review during the editing process should have caught were present, leading to some confusing moments as I read.
I liked the message about faith and personal integrity, and I liked the main characters. I believed in their love for each other. They were good people. However, the villain was too underdeveloped, and seemed more like a stereotypical and one-dimensional antagonist along the lines of Snidely Whiplash than a realistic human character with a lack of moral compass.
Whispering Cypress was ultimately a disappointing read. It has a good message, but lacked in the execution. Because I liked the main characters and the message, I was able to give this two and ½ stars, but the writing quality wasn't very good, so I couldn't rate it any higher than that, unfortunately.
Confession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanizeConfession time: I passed this book by based on the blurb. It didn't appeal. I am not super-fond of second chance at love stories, or playboy/womanizer heroes, and I didn't think I would care for this story. It sounded like a lot of the shallow and plastic (to me) romantic comedies out that I avoid like a plague. I am glad my GRs friend wrote such a sterling review that I pulled it off my shelf. It was a very good book.
What did I like:
* I liked how Ms. Blake took the time to show Caleb's viewpoint. I don't think this book would have worked nearly as well just through Ava's viewpoint. I absolutely needed to see his vulnerabilities, and first-hand how Ava had always been in his heart, even if he had erected the callous, carefree armor of a slick womanizer/high finance shark. His soft spots really endeared him to me, and that's saying a lot because I didn't think much of his values, and just merely being dumped wasn't enough to let him get out of jail free for being so slick and materialistic. I don't mean to be judgmental, but those qualities don't shout out to me in a hero. For all that, Caleb ultimately won me over, especially when he came to his senses at the end. I think deep in his heart, he was always in Ava's corner, and that endeared him to me. * Let me say I loved that Ava was pursuing her doctorate in higher education. Danielle was mentally doing a fist pump. I am always campaigning for more HP heroines with higher educations and careers, and Ms. Blake gave me that! In a strange way, it worked for me that Ava was such a book-smart woman but kind of a screw-up in other ways. Her family baggage had set her on a path where she made mistake after mistake. It was realistic. Now, when I read romances, I prefer it to be about the hero and heroine meeting and falling in love with no other partners and no long years lost. Ten years is a huge time period to regret the one that got away. However, in this case, I feel that this time apart might have been necessary to shape Ava and Caleb to better appreciate life together. So, although this in not my ideal scenario, it worked for this book (although I have some pangs about it). * I loved the interactions (non-sexual) between Ava and Caleb. The relationship re-builders such as their snarky back and forth, and their flirting and just hanging out, and how they were there for each other emotionally. Moreso from Caleb's side. But Ava also helped Caleb to see that getting in deep was okay, and feeling something more was the way life should be. Are you really living if you only play life fast and loose? I firmly believe that Ava and only Ava could have taught Caleb this. *Although more time could have been spent on showing Ava with her family, I am glad that the crucial make-up between Ava and her father did occur. I think Ava can heal in some essential ways now.
What I didn't love: *Honestly, the love scenes were a bit of an afterthought for me. I wanted to know that they felt more and it wasn't just sex, and it was hard to feel that way with both scenes, to be honest. When I read romance, I hate to see sex treated casually. It might work for some, but it doesn't work for me. And when I see it in a romance book between the hero and heroine, it puts a bad taste in my mouth. Although the scene on Caleb's car might have seemed hot, deep down, it left me feeling emotionally unsatisfied, especially compared to the emotional and tender first time they made love ten years ago. However, the moments of connection outside of their sexual interactions were winners for me. Such as when they lay on the grass and caught up with each other. I wanted to knock some sense into Caleb at his actions when Ava lay her heart at his feet in his apartment, so that post-coital intimacy was ruined for me. *As much as I liked this book, I felt kind of melancholy after reading it. I felt like so much time had been wasted, and maybe that's what made it a bit of a downer in some ways. I did like the end, so that sort of makes up for what was lost, but not completely. That's probably why I couldn't rate this higher than four stars, along with the love scenes not being as emotional as I liked.
I enjoyed this book a lot. It's a good reunion romance and friends to lovers book. The heroine has a lot of emotional depths, and Caleb's soft heart beneath a callous exterior intrigued this reader. I loved his expanded viewpoint a lot. I would recommend this book with the above reservations....more
This book packs an emotional punch. From page one, I was fiercely involved with the story. I have been an admirer of Sarah Morgan for several years, aThis book packs an emotional punch. From page one, I was fiercely involved with the story. I have been an admirer of Sarah Morgan for several years, and she continues to meet my expectations. In this case, she's exceeded them. Sarah has created a story of a marriage that self-destructed, and the aftermath when this couple gets reunited by a family wedding.
I really liked the fact that the characters' emotional problems aren't solved by their love for each other. In fact, they have to work them them and communicate. Honestly though, that's one of the things I love the most about Sarah's writing. Her consistently strong use of dialogue and communication between the main characters. Communication (or lack of it) was a huge factor in the breakdown of Laurel and Cristiano's marriage, and the only way they could save that marriage. Neither of them is the bad guy. The 'bad guy' is that they hadn't developed a strong bond of communication the first time around.
Cristiano really does let down Laurel, but she could have handled the situation better. And both characters realize their faults and own up to them. But it takes some hard emotional moments and confrontations. Not to mention putting oneself out there for possible hurt, and a willingness to trust someone else.
I loved Cristiano. At first I did think he was being mean to Laurel. However, I could see his meanness was out of a broken heart. Similarly, I really felt for and admired Laurel. My heart was aching for the pain she suffered as a child and the way it had caused her to erect thick emotional walls and self-defense mechanisms that eventually lead to unhealthy emotional behavior as an adult. I tend to be self-protective like she is, so I could see the hallmarks of her behavior. I was so glad that Cristiano was willing to be a man and take her harsh but deserved criticisms on the chin. My respect of him went up a thousand notches just seeing how he truly makes amends to Laurel and is willing to move mountains to win her back. At the same time, I didn't feel like Laurel was being deliberately cruel. She was hurting bad and what Cristiano did (even through ignorance) was devastating to her. In some ways, Laurel had not developed as a mature woman emotionally, and that was a huge part of the reason their marriage self-destructed.
While I don't feel I am qualified as a marriage expert, I stand by the belief that commitment to honest and communication in a marriage is crucial, and I was very appreciative about how the author wrote this book. It's a very meaningful romantic story about an emotional journey between a married couple who loved each other deeply, but didn't understand each other well enough to keep it together the first time. While reunited estranged married couple romance will never be my favorite, I think that Sarah knocked it out of the park with this book. I am growing more stingy about five stars lately, but I can't help but give this book that rating. It's well-deserved. Bravo!
PS: I am glad to say that neither character was unfaithful to each other while they were apart. I absolutely hate that!!!...more