Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Lancaster County Christmas - Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell - Sept 2011)

Jaime and C. J. Fitzpatrick began their married life as most couples do--in love and looking forward to a bright future together. But four years later they've drifted apart and are almost ready to call it quits.

Mattie Riehl was hoping to give her husband Sol the Christmas gift they have both longed for--news that a baby was on the way. But as usual, she is disappointed. The holidays bring an acute awareness to Mattie that her dream of a big family isn't likely to become a reality.

Then a winter storm raging outside blows the Fitzpatricks into the Riehl home--and into a much slower pace of life. Can these two couples from different worlds help each other understand the true meaning of love this Christmas?

Excellent book.  I really liked all the characters in this book, even though they all had their issues.  Jamie was so involved in her grief over her mother's death, and trying to be the daughter her father wanted, that she couldn't see what it was doing to her marriage.  CJ loved Jamie, but he was having trouble reaching her anymore, and was afraid that he was losing her.  Mattie was so filled with despair over her inability to get pregnant that she was trying to control everything around her.  She was being overprotective of her son and critical of her husband.  Sol couldn't make Mattie see what she was doing to Danny, and was frustrated by her inability to see that Zach was going further down the wrong road.  Zach was confused about what he wanted, and kept getting into trouble just for the attention.  Thanks to the snowstorm, they were all thrown together.  Because of a crisis, each was able to move ahead and see where they belonged to each other.

A Plain and Fancy Christmas - Cynthia Keller (Ballantine - Oct 2011)

Raised in a Pennsylvania Amish community, young mother Rachel Yoder has led a simple life within her close-knit family. Widowed three years ago, she has moved back in with her parents, attempting to raise her daughter, Katie, without further emotional upheaval. Meanwhile, four hours and a whole world away in New York City, Ellie Lawrence is laser-focused on a high-powered public relations career, with too little time for her family, her friends, or even her boyfriend.

Then one fateful day, these two very different women receive shocking news of a mistake made three decades earlier and long kept hidden: Shortly after their births, the two were accidentally switched in the hospital. Shaken to the core by this momentous news, Rachel and Ellie are plunged into an exploration of who they are and where they really belong. While Ellie is eager to learn more about her Amish family and their life in the countryside, Rachel cannot help but feel jealous as she watches the only mother she has ever known bonding so easily with her natural daughter. But Rachel also knows that her own biological family is out there, and with Katie at her side she heads for Manhattan, where she establishes a connection with the raucous, spirited Lawrences.

As Ellie and Rachel make their way through unfamiliar landscapes, they face life-altering challenges and grapple with a crucial question: Will their old conventions and desires give way to new customs and yearnings? With the Christmas holidays fast approaching, it takes the love of two families for Rachel and Ellie to discover their own paths to fulfillment and happiness.

A different twist on the switched at birth story.  It was very interesting to see how the two women coped with the idea of having a different family, and one so different than the way they were raised.  After the initial shock, both families welcomed the "new" daughter.  Meeting her Amish family gave Ellie a sense of herself that had been missing for awhile, and gave her the courage to make a major change in her life.  Rachel had also frequently felt like she didn't quite fit in with her family.  Ellie left her job and moved to Pennsylvania to spend time with Rachel's family.  There she began to live a simpler life that felt much more rewarding to her.  Rachel took Katie and went to live in Ellie's apartment in New York, and spent time with the Lawrence family.  It was very hard for them in the city, especially Katie.  Rachel also learned some things about herself.  I really enjoyed seeing the two women as they grew and adapted to their new families.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Norse King's Daughter - Sandra Hill (Avon - Oct 2011)

Series: Viking 1 (Book 10) 

Hell Hath No Fury Like a Princess Scorned!

Princess Drifa can certainly see why Sidroc Guntersson is a living legend -- on battlefield and in bedchamber both. But the King of Stoneheim’s willful daughter pitches a royal fit when she learns of the true reason for the virile Viking’s passionate attentions. A third-born son with no hope of inheriting the family jarldom, scheming Sidroc must marry and is interested in Drifa only for her father’s land and money. The barbarian is lucky she just cracks him on his fool head with a pottery pitcher!

Five years later, Drifa needs Sidroc’s protection -- in Byzantium, no less! -- though revenge holds more appeal for this man she left for dead. ’Tis a pity two such perfect enemies match each other so well, passion for passion. So much so that the bold Viking berserker is soon thinking marriage again . . . only this time it will be on his terms! 

Good book.  I always love Sandra Hill's Viking tales -- the characters are always so colorful.  In the beginning Sidroc comes to ask for Drifa's hand in marriage.  She is ready to say yes until she overhears him make some obnoxious remarks, so she hits him over the head with a pitcher and knocks him out.  When he come to, six weeks later, she is gone so he leaves.  Five years later they meet again.  He is ready for some revenge, and plans to use her passion to get it.  When she is kidnapped he rides to the rescue.  As time goes on, they develop feelings for each other, but neither will admit it.  I love the back and forth dialog of the two as they work through their issues.  I also like the secondary characters, and seeing those from earlier books.

Slow Ride - Erin McCarthy (Berkley - Oct 2011)

Series: Fast Track (Book 5) 

As a tribute to her late journalist father, Tuesday Jones is planning a cancer benefit, auctioning off racing memorabilia and meet-and-greets with drivers. Donating a vintage stock car is ex-racing star Diesel Lange. When Tuesday looks into his piercing blue eyes, she feels like it would be so easy to lose herself -- but can she trust him with her fragile heart?

Diesel Lange has had his own brush with death. After his accident, he knows he's lucky to be alive, and he's determined not to waste another minute of his life. Even though he's retired, he still loves a thrill -- and no one has set his heart racing like Tuesday Jones. He wants nothing more than to shift their romance into high gear, but he knows her heart is still aching with grief. Can Diesel do the one thing he could never do on the track -- take it slow?

Good book, though not quite as good as the previous books in the series.  Tuesday is planning the cancer benefit and dealing with her grief over her father's death.  She meets Diesel at Kendall and Evan's wedding, and is drawn to him right away.  He is attracted to her also, but won't do anything about it right then because she is drunk.  She has several episodes during the book when she drinks too much -- seems once she starts she can't stop.  This was her biggest issue during the book, and nearly causes the end of her relationship with Diesel.  He is a really nice guy.  I loved the way he took care of her when she needed it.  He also was a good foil to her general crankiness -- he just didn't rise to her bait.  He did have his own issues with dealing with his past and his emotions.  I liked the way the book concluded.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hidden Summit - Robyn Carr (Mira - Dec 2011)

Series: Virgin River (Book 17) 


When Connor Danson becomes an unwitting witness to a violent crime, he is forced to leave Sacramento and keep a low profile until the trial is over. He arrives in the tiny mountain town of Virgin River with a chip on his shoulder and an ache in his heart.

Leslie Petruso didn't want to leave her hometown either. But she can't stand another minute of listening to her ex-husband tell everyone that his new wife and impending fatherhood are the best thing that ever happened to him. Virgin River may not be home, but it's a place where she can be anonymous.

Neither Connor nor Leslie is remotely interested in starting a new relationship ... until they meet one another. Even they can't deny they have a lot in common -- broken hearts notwithstanding. And in Virgin River, no one can stay hidden away from life and love for very long...

Very good book.  When he came to Virgin River to wait to testify, Connor was so angry at everything that had happened to him.  Leslie was happy to be there because it got her away from her ex.  Connor went to work for Paul and rediscovered his love of working with his hands.  He also started to get to know Leslie. She found that the more time she spent in Virgin River the more of her old self she got back.  Her self-esteem had been very low thanks to her ex.  There were several times he showed up in Virgin River, trying to convince Leslie that they could still be friends.  I loved the way she dealt with that.  She and Connor didn't intend to fall in love, but the more time they spent together, the closer they got.  He was even able to tell her why he was there.  I loved seeing characters from previous books.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Texas Chance - Jean Brashear (HS #1763 - Feb 2012)

Series: MacAllisters (Book 1) 

After a scandal torches her career, hotelier Sophie Carlisle vows to rise from the ashes. She pours her all into turning a run-down house in Austin, Texas, into a fabulous boutique hotel. Now, with the opening mere weeks away, Sophie is running out of both time and money!

So when Cade MacAllister swoops in and offers to help, it seems like a godsend. And yet Sophie is leery. Why would Cade, a hotshot adventure photographer, want to spend his days swinging a hammer for her? Sophie has learned the hard way that everything has a price -- especially trust. With so much on the line, can she risk her career -- and her heart -- on a wanderer with secrets?

Really good book.  Cade and Sophie were both self-sufficient loners.  When her friend Jenna volunteers her brother Cade to help her out, Sophie is unwilling to accept the help.  But something about Sophie draws Cade in and helps him forget his problems.  As they spend time together, both find themselves opening up to the other, telling things they'd never told anyone else.  When a bad publicity story came out about Sophie, Cade called in his family to help Sophie get ready to open and counteract the negativity.  Sophie had never been exposed to anything like the MacAllister clan, and couldn't believe that they were so willing to help her.  I loved the way everything turned out, and how it was accomplished.

Their Miracle Twins - Nikki Logan (HR #4294 - Feb 2012)

Series: Baby on Board 


Belinda Rochester has fought to be a surrogate mother to her late sister's embryos. But, just as success seems certain, in bursts a tall Australian cowboy, gray eyes shadowed with emotion -- he, too, has a claim on this precious life!


This baby offers Flynn his only hope of redemption, and he'll do anything to win custody...even propose marriage!

It's an extreme solution, and yet Belinda must admit her convenient husband-to-be is inconveniently gorgeous. But then comes not one but...

Two babies in the baby carriage!

Emotional book.  Belinda desperately wants to be the one to carry her late sister's embryos.  They are all that she has left of her sister.  Just when that is about to happen, Flynn arrives to stop it from happening.  He thinks that Belinda is just like her sister, who he saw as a snotty rich woman who kept his brother away from his family.  He doesn't trust her not to take the baby and disappear, so he forces her to marry him and return to Australia with him while the courts decide who will have custody.  But when they get to Australia, he begins to see her in a different light, as she fits in to his life.  But they have lied to his family about who she really is, which doesn't bode well for any future they might want to have.  Flynn must reconcile her identity with the loss of his relationship with his brother.  Belinda has to be able to convince Flynn that she loves him, not just for the babies.  The last few chapters were incredibly emotional.

Friday, January 27, 2012

One For the Money - Janet Evanovich (HarperCollins - Sept 1995)

Series:  Stephanie Plum (Book 1) 

Trenton native Stephanie Plum is out of work, out of money, and her car's in repo-hell. So who does a hardly working girl turn to when the going gets tough? Meet cousin Vinnie, bail bondsman. Stephanie figures it's nice work if you can get it - shagging bail jumpers for $10,000 a pop. So she joins up. Her first assignment: nail Joe Morelli, a former vice cop on the run from a charge of murder one. There's also a cranky ex-prize fighter dogging her and a nasty habit she has of leaping first and looking later. If Stephanie doesn't wise up fast, the first dead body she sees could be her own.

Before going to see the movie next week, I decided I should reread the book, since I had last read it more than ten years ago.  It was still just as funny as the first time I read it.  I loved Stephanie's determination to do the job, even though she wasn't very good at it.  All the characters are a riot to read about, and remember the beginnings of the relationships. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

On Common Ground - Tracy Kelleher (HS #1762 - Feb 2012)

Series: School Ties (Book 1) 

When Lilah Evans graduated from Grantham U, she was ready to leave college behind and change the world. Now, at a crossroads, she's doing something she never wanted to do: attending her ten-year reunion. And that means running into Justin Bigelow.

A decade ago, Justin was the big man on campus -- Mr. Self-Involved himself. So why did he nominate Lilah for the Distinguished Alumni award? One thing that's clear this nostalgia-filled weekend, he isn't the partying jock she remembers.

What's also clear is that the attraction that used to simmer between them is now more intense -- and impossible to ignore. With the stakes higher, do they finally have the courage to go for it?

Good book.  I liked Lilah very much.  When she left college she had a goal and a purpose and she made it happen.  She came back to Grantham because she was being honored, even though she didn't feel she deserved it.  She came, though, so she could make the contacts necessary to continue the work.  Justin had nominated her because he felt she deserved it.  He was also looking forward to seeing her, because he had cared for her back when they were in school, even though she was his roommate's girl.  As they spent time together, they both came to realize that they had changed and started to care for the person the other had become.  Both had challenges to meet during the time they were together, and had to learn that they had to share the bad with the good.  I loved the other characters in the story, and I'm looking forward to their stories.  I also enjoyed seeing Matt from "Falling for the Teacher".

His Plain-Jane Cinderella - Jennie Adams (HR #4296 - Feb 2012)

Series: In Her Shoes

Stacie Wakefield is sick of playing second fiddle. When her gorgeous older sister steals her man, it's the last straw. She leaves and is definitely happier on her own. Until she meets her new boss -- brooding ex-soldier Troy Rushton....

After an injury cost him everything, Troy's too busy putting his life back together to worry about his heart. Plus, Stacie deserves the complete fairy tale, not damaged goods like him.

Troy has shown Stacie the woman she could be -- so now it's time for her to show him she needs her Prince Charming by her side!

Good book.  I really liked both Stacie and Troy.  Stacie had moved away from her family to try to move on from her broken heart.  She had her job at the almond processing plant and her home business of making dog clothes.  She had decided that would be enough - she had no need for a man in her life.  Troy had purchased the plant and the farm next to Stacie's as a new career after the loss of his army career.  He felt that he didn't have the emotional capability to care for anyone, so he too was going to be content alone.  As they were thrown together by work and the antics of their dogs, they began to become friends.  Then the friendship started to turn deeper.  As things turned more serious, neither thought the other truly cared.  Troy was also worried that Stacie couldn't care for him because of his injury.  I loved the conclusion, and the dogs were adorable throughout the book.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sleigh Bells for Dry Creek - Janet Tronstad (LI #667 - Nov 2011)

Series: Dry Creek (Book 20)

Rodeo rider Wade Stone never thought he'd step foot in Dry Creek, Montana, again. Not with his family's harrowing past. But nine years later, he's back on the Stone ranch and getting stared down by the townspeople. Except by Amy Mitchell, whose heart he broke after one sweet kiss. Wade knows she's afraid he'll leave again, but surely there's no second chance for them.

It seems the whole town -- and her family -- is against them. Until one beautiful Christmas sleigh teaches everyone the true meaning of the holiday.

Good book.  I liked the way Gracie came back to Dry Creek after her release from prison.  Wade wasn't comfortable at first because he was worried about how his mother would be treated.  When he saw Amy again he realized that he still had feelings for her.  Amy had loved Wade from the time she was a teenager.  She wasn't sure if he returned her feelings.  She also was having trouble with some of the revelations that had come out since the Stones came home.  I did like how she stood with Wade at the end of the book.

The Christmas Child - Linda Goodnight (LI #661 - Oct 2011)

Series: Redemption River (Book 4)

Who Is Little Davey?

In Redemption, Oklahoma, a young boy is found huddled in a Dumpster, clutching a Christmas book. Scared and refusing to speak, he captures undercover agent Kade McKendrick's guarded heart. Kade brings the child home until he can track down his family -- and his story. All Kade has is a name, Davey, and the boy's trust of sweet, pretty teacher Sophie Bartholomew. With her kindness and faith, Sophie helps both the boy and the battle-scarred cop to smile again. And as they uncover the mystery of a very special child, a family is formed -- just in time for Christmas.

Good book   I really liked the way that Kade and Sophie immediately took care of Davey.  Kade was a cynical cop who was determined to find out why Davey was found all alone in a dumpster.  Sophie was a loving woman who just wanted to care for him.  She also saw something in Kade that appealed to her.  Kade was sure that he didn't deserve to be loved, especially by her.   As they worked to uncover Davey's story, they grew closer, and Sophie's faith began to have an impact on Kade.  I loved the way the town came together to help Davey.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bad Boys Do - Victoria Dahl (HQN - Oct 2011)

Series: Donovan Brothers Brewery (Book 3)

Olivia Bishop is no fun. That's what her ex-husband said. And that's what her smart bob and glasses imply. So with her trademark determination, Olivia sets out to remake her life. She's going to spend time with her girlfriends and not throw it all away for some man. But when an outing with her book club leads her to a brewery taproom, the dark-haired beauty realizes that trouble -- in the form of sexy Jamie Donovan -- may be too tempting to avoid.

Jamie Donovan doesn't mean to be bad. Sure, the wild streak in his wicked green eyes has lured the ladies before. Now it's time to grow up. He's even ready for a serious romance. But how can that be when Olivia, the only right woman he has ever met, already has him pegged as wrong?

I loved this book.  Jamie has been my favorite character so far.  I loved the way he is so comfortable with being around people, and how easily he talks to them.  I also really liked the fact that there was much more to him than the easy going bartender that everyone saw, and the screwup that his brother always sees.  Olivia first sees Jamie as a way to learn how to have fun.  She figures he is the perfect person to help her.  But the more time they spend together, the more she sees the man beneath the facade.  And with his help, she rediscovers the fun-loving  woman in herself.  They also work together on a dream of Jamie's, and try to get his family to see it too.  Tessa was ok in this book, but still too much the peacemaker.  She also couldn't seem to see past Jamie's old mistakes to the new man.  I just wanted to smack Eric upside the head with a 2 by 4.  He kept throwing Jamie's past in his face and made no attempt to list to what Jamie had to say.  It took a combination of Olivia's presentation and Jamie walking away just to get his attention.  I'm really looking forward to the next book, and seeing Eric fall.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Captain's Call of Duty - Cindy Dees (HRS #1684 - Dec 2011)

Series: Kelley Legacy (Book 6)

"Mendez? What happened to you?"

Captain Jim Kelley was thunderstruck. Suddenly Alexandra Mendez had gone from one of the guys, kid sister and tomboy to all woman. Alex was under his command on a dangerous undercover mission, but Jim had to keep reminding himself they were only pretending to be lovers.

Alex had loved Jim all her life, but they'd always been just friends. Now working together to thwart an assassination plot, their cover required her to unearth her femininity. Jim's sudden attention was unexpected...and thrilling. But was Jim just infatuated by her looks, or was it her he wanted?

Fantastic conclusion to the Kelley Legacy series.  I loved the way that Alex was so very good at what she did.  Jim and Alex had know each other for most of their lives, but Jim had never really looked at her before.  When Alex got assigned to his unit, she found herself being treated as "one of the guys", even though she longed to be seen as a woman.  Jim was floored when she appeared for a DC fundraiser all dolled up.  As they got further into their investigation of the assassination plot, their relationship moved into a whole new level - one Jim wasn't sure he was comfortable with.  I loved the way Alex was able to do so many of the things that needed to be done that she constantly amazed him.  The climax of the story was suitably tense, and I loved the way it went down.  I also enjoyed the interweaving of the Kelley and Colton families throughout the series.

Baby, Don't Go - Stephanie Bond (Mira - Nov 2011)

Series: Southern Roads (Book 3)

The hardheaded Armstrong brothers are determined to rebuild their tornado-ravaged hometown in the Georgia mountains. They've got the means, they've got the manpower...what they need are women! So they place an ad in a Northern newspaper and wait for the ladies to arrive....

Eldest brother Marcus Armstrong considers the estrogen-influx an irritating distraction. He's running a town, not a dating service!

Reporter Alicia Randall thinks the Armstrong brothers are running a scam and she intends to prove it -- even if it means seducing oh-so-sexy Marcus in the process. Sizzling sex and a hot story? Win-win!

At least it is, until she falls for the guy. Will love trump betrayal when the truth comes out?

Really good book.  Now it is Marcus's turn to find love.  He mostly considers the women in town a necessary evil.  Without them, the men won't stay.  His main concentration is finishing the things that need to be done so that the town can get the grant they need to move on.  He is determined that it will be done.  Alicia comes to town, undercover, because she is sure there is something fishy going on.  She hits town and ends up as the manager of the diner as they try to get it up and running properly.  The more that Alicia talks to people, and the closer she gets to Marcus, she begins to realize that the town of Sweetness is something special.  I loved all the interactions between the townspeople, and with the brothers and their girls.  The relationship between Alicia and Marcus was pretty cool, since neither one had any interest in falling in love, but they just couldn't help it.  Homecoming Day in the town was incredible, and I loved the way everything turned out.  I'd like to see more stories from the town.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Rancher's Perfect Baby Rescue - Linda Conrad (HRS #1692 - Feb 2012)

Series: Perfect Wyoming (Book 2)

Susannah Paul had been grateful to the Devotees for helping her when she was pregnant and alone. But when her baby was born with a minor defect, she discovered the horrible truth about Cold Plains. And she ran. Desperate and exhausted, she found refuge at the Pierce ranch...and a savior in surly Nathan Pierce.

Nathan had plenty of reasons to distrust the Devotees...and Susannah had been one of them. But as the delicate beauty insinuated herself into his life and his heart, Nathan realized she was different. And very much in danger. Soon nothing mattered more than protecting Susannah and her child from the evil closing in around them.

Good book.  At first, Susannah didn't believe that Grayson had any idea of what was going on with his followers.  She wanted to believe that he was as good as she believed.  When she found out what was suspected, she took the baby and ran.  When Nathan found her in his barn, at first he wanted nothing to do with her.   As he got to know her, he wanted to help her break free of the Devotees' brainwashing.  And then he started to have feelings for her and the baby.  Susannah also fell in love with Nathan, and would do anything to keep him and the others on the ranch safe.  When she had a chance to do some investigating she took it.  The conclusion of this one was satisfying, while leaving the greater story going strong.

His Duty to Protect - Lindsay McKenna (HRS #1691 - Feb 2012)

Series: Black Jaguar Squadron (Book 3) 

"Why the hell are you here?"

Captain Ty Hamilton knows the woman hates him, especially since he'd tried to sabotage her military career. All those years ago, the formidable Rachel Trayhern had fought back and won.

Ty paid a high price for his arrogance. Now they're stationed at the same base in Afghanistan.

Worse, she's been assigned to his unit. In five years, he's changed enough to feel ashamed of how he'd behaved. He wishes he could apologize, but Rachel's steely demeanor holds him at bay.

 Suddenly, a mission gone awry leaves Ty and Rachel stranded in enemy territory. And with their lives at stake, old hatreds become trivial -- and new, unexpected feelings awaken.... 

Good book.  I have always liked Lindsay McKenna's Morgan's Mercenaries/Trayhern books, and this one did not disappoint me at all.  Ty was assigned to the same base, and Rachel had to work with him.  She was still furious with him, and refused to give him more than the barest civility necessary for her job.  She kept waiting for him to be the same anti-woman jerk he had been before.  As she worked with him, she realized he had changed.  She also found herself attracted to him.  Ty had had five years to learn from his mistakes, and he had learned his lesson about the capabilities of women in the military.  Now, all he wanted was the chance to apologize to Rachel and prove to her he had changed.  When their chopper was shot down and they found themselves stranded in enemy territory, they had to depend on each other.  And with the end of their hatred, their new feelings became more apparent.  I loved the way they were able to talk to each other about the past, and put the old feelings to rest.  I liked seeing Khalid and Emma again, too.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Just Desserts - Jeannie Watt (HS #1761 - Feb 2012)

Series: Too Many Cooks? (Book 3)

Always proper Layla Taylor never expected to need her childhood nemesis. But when she's stranded in a blizzard after breaking up with her cheating ex, Justin Tremont is exactly what she's missing. Well, Justin and his car's snow tires.

Justin's more than okay being the rebound guy. A little fun, no strings -- that's his kind of relationship. But Layla Taylor? She's by the book, to put it mildly. Justin, on the other hand, hardly ever follows his own recipes for the spectacular cakes he's become known for. This woman is making him feel protective and possessive, of all things. And she sees right through him. That he can't have. After all, no chef likes to tell all his secrets...

Really good book.  I loved seeing Justin finally find someone to love.  He had been so intense through the other two books, that I was happy to find out why.  He was so determined not to get close to anyone, that having Layla see right through him was freaking him out.  He couldn't understand why she got under his skin and why he felt so protective of her.  I loved the part at the school.  Layla was so used to doing things by the book, and having a plan, that when she decided to break out of that mold, she wasn't quite sure how to do it.  Her time with Justin gave her the chance to be different.  She was amazed by the fact that she ended up feeling so much for him.  I loved the way that she was there for him without judging him.  I loved her part at the awards dinner.  I just wish the school had backed down.

Future Perfect - Suzanne Brockmann (Bantam - Nov 2011)

Bed and Breakfast

Juliana Anderson had carved out a pleasant life running a bed and breakfast in rural Massachusetts. Dressed in Victorian garb to match the old mansion, Juliana kept the place tidy, cozy, and running like a charm. Guests were treated to an old-fashioned home away from home, and "Miss Anderson" found a few vicarious thrills in their stories of travel and romance.

Unfortunately, not all visitors were model guests. Some, like Mr. Webster Donovan, came too close for comfort. From the moment this rough, handsome stranger waltzed into her kitchen, Juliana felt as if he'd taken over her home. His crystal blue eyes seemed to see through her gowns. His long, lean physique overpowered her senses. It was impossible to maintain proper etiquette with a man like Web around.

Web Donovan was captivated by the elusive Miss Anderson. With upswept red-gold curls and a fair complexion, she was a picture-perfect lady. He had booked a six-week stay at the B&B, hoping that the change of pace would end his writer's block. But every time he thought he heard the call of the muses, it was Miss Anderson's voice. Her face filled his daydreams. Her image haunted him at night. What would it take to seduce a reluctant beauty?

Good book.  Web was really obnoxious when he arrived.  I think part of it was that he was getting sick.  He was also completely captivated by Julianna, and just didn't know what to do.  Meanwhile, Julianna was completely floored by him.  She couldn't believe the way he made her feel. As it turned out, he was a really sweet guy.  I loved the way that he helped her out by dressing in Victorian clothes with her.  As they spent time together, and got to know each other, their feelings grew stronger.  Web realized that he didn't just want to sleep with her, he was happy just being with her.  Julianna knew she was in love, but didn't want to give up her independence.  It took quite a lot of work for them to finally work things out between them.

Friday, January 20, 2012

His Most Important Win - Cynthia Thomason (HSE #2172 - Feb 2012)

Bryce Benton is back: back living in his small hometown; back coaching his old team; and back in love with his high school sweetheart, the girl he never got over.

But this time around, Bryce is playing for keeps. He's determined not to lose the heart of Rosalie Campano ever again. Only problem is, Bryce's first love has been keeping a big secret from him all these years. And when he discovers the son Rosalie never told him about, the betrayal may just be too painful for all three of them.

Then again, true love can be a real game changer.

And if Bryce has anything to say about it, this is a game that they'll all win...together.

Good book.  It was nice to see a teenager as the "secret baby" - it brings a whole different kind of dynamic to the story.  When Bryce came back to town, he wanted to get to know Rosalie again.  She was still having trouble getting past her grief over her brother's death and Bryce's involvement in it.  She also had kept their son's existence a secret from him.  As they got to know each other again, they both realized that their love had never died.  But when the truth came out, there were feelings of betrayal all around.  I loved the way Rosalie's mom got everyone talking.

Scandal at the Cahill Saloon - Carol Arens (HH #1068 - Jan 2012)

Series: Cahill Cowboys (Book 4) 

Leanna Cahill: Guardian Angel or Scarlet Woman?

Leanna Cahill, once the pretty, spoiled darling of Cahill Crossing, is coming home to a very different sort of welcome. As an unwed, single mother with a band of former ladies-of-the-night in tow, her reputation is in tatters!

Cleve Holden, itinerant gambler and inveterate charmer, seems intent on seducing Leanna. But he has come to town for one reason and one reason only: to take back his abandoned nephew from the scarlet woman pretending to be his mother.... 

Very good book.  I really liked the way that Leanna returned to town -- with her head held high and great plans for her future.  She set up her saloon as a place for her ladies to learn how to lead a better life.  She also had her son, who she was planning to raise near her family so he'd have good influences.  Cleve came to town to take the boy away from her, thinking she was not fit to raise his sister's child.  Once he got to know her, he realized that she was not the bad influence he had thought she was, and knew he couldn't take Cabe away.  He also found himself falling under her spell, and decided the best thing he could do would be to marry her and take care of them both.  But, he still hasn't told her that Cabe is his nephew. She also was hiding the identity of Cabe's father, and had sworn that he would never know.  Leanna and Cleve also were trying to get more information on the murder of her parents.  I'm really looking forward to the next book.

The Lady Confesses - Carole Mortimer (HH #1069 - Jan 2012)

Series: Copeland Sisters (Book 3) 

Having run away from home to avoid an unwanted betrothal, Lady Elizabeth Copeland must keep her disguise as an elderly lady's companion at all times. 

Even when she's called upon to nurse the lady's nephew -- who rather infuriatingly happens to be the most incredible-looking man she's ever seen....

Elizabeth yearns to break out of Betsy's drab dresses to reveal that she's of the same blue blood as the rakish Nathaniel. But she must not! Unless Nathaniel gets under her guard, and elicits a confession.... 

Good conclusion to the series.  I liked the way all three books took place at approximately the same time, but from completely different viewpoints.  There wasn't too much overlapping.  I loved the back and forth between Elizabeth and Nathaniel -- she kept forgetting that she was supposed to be a companion to his aunt, and kept talking back to him as if she were her normal self.  She can't understand why she is so drawn to him when she considers him to be so obnoxious.  Meanwhile, Nathaniel knows that she is hiding something.  He just can't figure out what.  He gets glimpses of what he feels is the real Elizabeth, but isn't sure just who she is.  And then there is the neighbor, Sir Rufus, who creeped me out from the very beginning.  I loved the conclusion, including the mystery of her mother's death.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Marry Me, Marine - Rogenna Brewer (HS #1759 - Feb 2012)

Series: In Uniform 

Like any good mother, Angela Adams wants a better future for her little boy. And the one way she can provide that is to enlist with the Marines. Unfortunately, there needs to be a husband on the scene for that to happen. Fortunately, her recruiter connects her with "Hatch" Henry Miner -- a wounded former Navy SEAL willing to help out a fellow soldier. Problem solved.

But marriage, even to a stranger, is complicated. Especially when beneath the gruff exterior, there's a man with a heart of gold. It doesn't take long for Hatch to prove he's a good dad...and has the potential to be an even better husband. Suddenly Angela has a hard time convincing her heart this is a temporary operation! 

Really good book.  We met Angela in "Mitzi's Marine" when she showed up wanting to sign up for the Marines.  Calhoun sent her to Hatch, which is where this book begins.  Hatch originally had no intention of marrying Angela, but ended up doing it anyway.  Then he ended up with custody of Angela's son whenever she was deployed.  Over those six years they became friends, and Hatch became a wonderful father to Ryland.  Whenever Angela came home there was always an adjustment period, but Hatch was always able to smooth it over.  Angela always appreciated what Hatch did for her and Ryland, but knew there would be an end to it.  When she came home the last time, after leaving the Marines, she had met a man and gotten engaged - just when Hatch was ready to see if she wanted to make a go of their marriage.  Those last chapters of soul searching were somewhat painful to read, but very real.  I also liked the realistic portrayal of the difficulties of the single parent in the military.

And though I know the authors have no control over it, when in the heck are the cover artists going to take the time to get the uniforms right?  Marines don't wear those patches on their uniform sleeves -- that's an ARMY thing!

Christmas Gifts - Gail Gaymer Martin, Brenda Minton (LI #669 - Nov 2011)

Small Town Christmas by Gail Gaymer Martin

When seven-year-old twins act up in temporary teacher Amy Carroll's class, she meets their very apologetic widowed father, Mike Russet. The handsome man has his hands full - but can two mini matchmakers and holiday cheer open his heart to Christmas romance?

Series: Cooper Creek

Her Christmas Cowboy by Brenda Minton

After being jilted a week before her wedding, Elizabeth Harden attends a bull-riding event for her dad, where she tries - unsuccessfully - to avoid bull fighter Travis Cooper, a too-handsome heartbreaker. But could her first impression of Travis be mistaken? A Christmas wedding just might be in her future, after all...

Good stories.  In the first one I really liked how good Amy was with the twins.  She was able to relate well to them, which helped their dad get better with his relationship with the girls.  In the second story, I really liked the whole Cooper family and the way they sucked Elizabeth into the family celebration.  It also helped open her eyes to what family can really be like.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Most Dangerous Profession - Karen Hawkins (Pocket - Oct 2011)

Series: Hurst Amulet (Book 3) 

For beautiful, seductive Moira MacAllister, the stakes have become terrifyingly high. Her daughter has been abducted, and a priceless ancient relic -- an onyx box -- is the ransom. Moira must acquire it at any cost, even if it means confronting the man she tricked into marriage and then left years ago. A man who still doesn't know she has a child ... and that he is the father.


Robert Hurst, an operative in the King's service, has never forgiven the mysterious, beautiful spy who once seduced him into marriage and then disappeared without a trace. Now, as he pursues the onyx box he needs to save his brother's life, their paths cross again. But Robert isn't sure which he longs for more -- to satisfy his lust for revenge, or to quench his relentless hunger for this bewitching woman.


When Moira reveals to Robert her long-kept secret, he realizes his burning desires must wait as he and Moira race to stop a treacherous foe who is threatening their child, their lives and their second chance at love.

Really fun book.  Both Moira and Robert need the artifact.  Moira needs it to rescue her daughter from a man who kidnapped her.  Robert needs it to fulfill another step in finding the Hurst Amulet.  I loved the beginning where they kept getting the better of each other.  It was even better when they started working together.  They had trust issues with each other that had to be overcome, as each one expected the other to run off with the item once they got it.  Robert was upset that Moira hadn't told him about Rowena, and he wasn't sure that he could believe her when she told him things.  Moira was still angry that he'd had her arrested at one point.  She also didn't like that he kept trying to protect her, rather than believe she could take care of herself.  I loved some of the situations they were in and how they took care of them.  I also liked the letters that began each chapter, giving insight into the background of the story and the characters.  I can't wait for the concluding story.