Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gage - Delores Fossen (HI #1365 - Aug 2012)

Series: Lawmen of Silver Creek Ranch (Book 5) 

He faked his death for good reason, but CIA operative Gage Ryland has a better reason to come back from the grave. Though they had a bitter breakup years ago, Gage wants to save his ex-wife -- his very pregnant ex-wife -- Lynette Herrington from a vengeful hit man. Obviously the baby proves she's gotten over Gage. Or has she? While on the run, Gage feels the attraction between them heating up and yet he knows he must undo a decade of hurt and separation before she'll put her trust in them again. But complicating his emotions is Lynette's pregnancy…and how, as she claims, her unborn child could be his. 

Very good book.  I had a feeling from the beginning of the series that Gage wasn't really dead.  He came back in disguise to protect Lynette from the hit man, but she saw through it almost immediately.  They've been apart for ten years, but she has never forgotten or stopped loving him.  Gage faked his death to protect Lynette and his family from the drug lord that wants him dead.  They don't know if the one after Lynette is the drug lord, or her own father.  Over the few days of this book, Gage and Lynette's mutual attraction comes roaring back.  Lynette is hiding a couple secrets that will blow Gage away when he finds out what they are.  I loved the action in this book.  There is plenty for Gage to do to keep Lynette safe, and also the mind games being played by her father and his employees.  I also really enjoyed seeing the brothers welcome Gage back into the family, and the way they all came together to stop the bad guys.   I'm really looking forward to Mason's story.

New York's Finest Rebel - Trish Wylie (HR #4332 - Aug 2012)

Isn't it every girl's fantasy to have one of NYPD's finest living next door? I love a man in uniform!

Unless, of course, he's Daniel Brannigan -- older brother of my best friend, with an ego the size of Texas and a reckless streak a mile wide. To say we bring out the worst in each other is an understatement! Especially now that we know each other's secrets….

So this is one fantasy I'm refusing to indulge in. But did I mention he used to be a Marine? Apparently they like a challenge…. 

Good book.  Daniel moved in next door to Jo, not knowing that she was there.  Jo didn't expect Daniel to be moving in there either.  They have struck sparks off each other from the beginning, with snarky comments the norm whenever they are together.  There's something different this time - the sparks are accompanied by some heat.  Daniel is back home after his time in the Marines, and is happy to be back doing what he loves.  However, he brought nightmares back with him and he doesn't intend to share those with anyone.  But Jo can hear his shouts through the walls.  Jo has her own secret - she spends a fair amount of time taking care of her alcoholic father.  Daniels finds out about those visits and refuses to let her go to that neighborhood alone.  As they spend time together the snarkiness is still there, but it is gentler and more teasing.  The attraction between them increases also.  I really liked the way that Daniel was so protective of Jo, even though she was so independent. It caused some problems for them, but I loved the way that Jo came to terms with it. I also really liked the way that Jo worried about Daniel and how he was dealing with his nightmares.  I loved Liz's interference at the end.  Oh yes - and thank you to the editor of this one for realizing that Marine is always capitalized.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Doctor and the Single Mom - Teresa Southwick (HSE #2204 - Aug 2012)

Series: Men of Mercy Medical (Book 9) 

Why had she rented her upstairs apartment to another doctor? Single mom Jill Beck knew the type, especially one as handsome as Adam Stone. The M.D. would stick it out in Blackwater Lake, Montana… until the first snowstorm. And then he'd leave everyone behind. But this time she wasn't getting involved.

Yes, he thought Jill was one fine-looking landlady, but Adam knew romancing the town sweetheart wouldn't win him any points. Still, they could be friends and he could be the male influence her young son needed -- no romantic strings involved. Well, perhaps he needed to check his temperature and be certain he hadn't misdiagnosed true love as just a simple case of friendship! 

Very good book.  I really liked Adam when I saw him in earlier books.  I like the way that he wants to be a family practice doctor so he can get to know his patients and be part of the community.  He has not bowed to pressure from his highly successful family members who think he's wasting his abilities up there in Montana.   Jill has been burned twice.  First the man who is the father of her son took off, and then she got involved with the previous doctor.  He stuck around for awhile, but soon decided that small town life wasn't for him.  So when Adam came to town, she didn't trust him.  She didn't want to get to know him and share her son with him and then have him take off, leaving them both hurting.  The people of the town were also very cool toward Adam, thinking he might be the same way.  Adam wasn't looking for a relationship either.  He had been burned himself, by a wife who wanted a high profile doctor, not a family doctor.  They were both attracted to each other, but didn't want to take a chance on screwing things up.  Adam also found himself having a great time hanging out with Jill's son CJ.  The kid is enjoying having a guy to hang out with and Adam finds that they both are filling a void in his life.  I loved the way that the people of the town were so protective of Jill, but also that they did begin to trust Adam pretty quickly.  I could see the hurt that had affected Jill and loved the way that she put protecting CJ first.   I did like the way that she and Adam found themselves growing closer.  I really enjoyed Adam's arrival at CJ's birthday party.

Stay ... - Allison Leigh (SSE #1170 - Apr 1998)

Series: Men of the Double C Ranch (Book 1) 

After ten long years Jefferson Clay was back. But now he was a different man. Leaner. Mysterious. Pained. Something else had changed, too. The pint-sized tomboy who'd tagged along after him at his family's ranch had matured into a beautiful woman . . . 

Emily Nichols had been hopelessly in love with Jefferson ever since she could remember. And now this gorgeous, enigmatic man was sending her heart further into a tailspin, awakening her woman's passion as no other man could. But would Emily's love be enough to bring Jefferson's deepest, darkest secrets into the light and convince her wounded hero to stay . . . with her . . . forever? 

Very good book, very emotional.  Jefferson is back, but still just as emotionally distant to Emily as he's ever been.  She has been in love with him for as long as she could remember, and those feelings haven't diminished at all.  She can tell he feels something for her too, but he keeps pulling away.  They return to his family's ranch when his father has a heart attack, and they are thrown together even more.  Emily can see that something has put a world of pain in his eyes, and she keeps trying to help him.  Jefferson has loved Emily for years, but he feels that he is not good enough for her.  He has done things in the course of his work that he is sure would disgust her, and he doesn't want to hurt her.  I loved the way that Emily tried so hard to be there for Jefferson, and refused to give up on him.  It took a lot of persistence and stubbornness on her part before he would start to open up to her.  I cried a lot in this book because I could see the pain they were both going through.  I loved some of the things Jefferson's brothers did to try to help and the scene in the kitchen when she told off the guys was great.  I will definitely have to read more of the early books in the series.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Secret Assignment - Paula Graves (HI #1366 - Aug 2012)

Series: Cooper Security (Book 4) 

His business is protection
Shannon Cooper came to Nightshade Island to carry out a mission. But she can't do it without the mysterious Gideon Stone. The enigmatic, battle-hardened former Marine is much more than just the island's caretaker. And the powerful feelings he's awakening go deeper than fleeting desire. 

Former special ops, Gideon has seen danger up close and personal. Now, protecting Shannon from deadly mercenaries is his first priority. But who will shield him from the onslaught of emotion the beautiful computer tech is arousing? As a storm hurtles up the Alabama Gulf Coast, mirroring the passion raging through his defenses, Gideon will do whatever it takes to survive...and explore a relationship as impossible as it is irresistible.... 

Very good book.  Shannon had been sent to Nightshade Island to archive the late general's papers.  She was immediately drawn in to helping foil an attack on the island by people looking for something the general had.  Gideon had been asked by the general to protect his wife, and was serving as caretaker on the island.  He didn't want Shannon there as he thought she was just someone else for him to have to protect.  When it became obvious that she was an asset, they started to actually cooperate with each other and made some progress.  I loved the part in the diner when she was able to get a lot of information in a short time, and how impressed Gideon was with her.  Gideon and Shannon were also attracted to each other.  Gideon felt that he couldn't give in to it because he was afraid he was like his father, who abused and killed Gideon's mother.  Shannon was attracted to Gideon, but hesitated to do anything about it because she didn't want it distracting her from her first opportunity to work in the field.  I loved the way that Shannon brought out the best in Gideon and showed him that he was nothing like his father.  I also loved the way that Gideon showed Shannon that he had confidence in her abilities.  That confidence came through in the final showdown when he trusted her to do what needed to be done.  I'm looking forward to the next two books and the resolution of the mystery - and seeing Jesse find his own destiny.

My only complaint isn't with the story but with the editors at Harlequin, who can't seem to get it through their heads that Marine is ALWAYS capitalized...

Beauty - Robin McKinley (Pocket - 1979)

A strange imprisonment
Beauty has never liked her nickname. She is thin and awkward; it is her two sisters who are the beautiful ones. But what she lacks in looks, she can perhaps make up for in courage.
When her father comes home with the tale of an enchanted castle in the forest and the terrible promise he had to make to the Beast who lives there, Beauty knows she must go to the castle, a prisoner of her own free will. Her father protests that he will not let her go, but she answers, "Cannot a Beast be tamed?" 

I love this book.  It is one of my favorites and I try to reread it every couple years.  When his business went under Beauty's father moved his family to the north with his future son-in-law.  The area where they moved to is on the edge of a haunted forest.  When Beauty's father has to return to the city, he gets lost on the way home and ends up in the forest.  When he takes a rose to give Beauty, a Beast tells him that he must bring one of his daughters to the castle to live with him.  Beauty volunteers to go.  She is afraid at first because the Beast is large and the castle appears deserted.   She does get the feeling that she is not truly alone.  She finds that the time she spends with the Beast shows her that he is not the terrifying monster that she thought he was.  She discovers that they have a lot in common and enjoys spending time with him.  After a while there, she starts hearing the voices of the enchanted beings in the castle.  When she learns the fate of her sister's fiance she asks the Beast to let her go home and tell the news.  He tells her she has a week, but longer than that and he will die. I really liked the way that Beauty's family was such a loving family, not the poor little girl abused type of family.   I loved Beauty and her independence.  She seemed to be very adaptable, and handled her time at the castle really well.  I also loved the way that she was able to look past the surface of the Beast and see who he really was.  I loved the enchantments in the castle, and how real all of it felt. The library was especially awesome.  There were some really fun parts, like the argument between Beauty and the "breezes" over the silver dress was great. The ending was perfect fairytale. 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

One in a Billion - Beth Kery (HSE #2208 - Aug 2012)

Series: Home to Harbor Town (Book 4) 

The discovery that corporate mogul Lincoln DuBois had left her half his company rocked Deidre Kavanaugh's world. After all, she'd only just learned that the billionaire could be her real father. And with his right-hand man, Nick Malone, up in arms, claiming her share of the inheritance wouldn't be easy. 

Charismatic tycoon Nick Malone had his doubts about Deidre's paternity claim, but it was hard to remain aloof when all he wanted to do was kiss her! Nick couldn't seem to stop wanting to protect the rebellious beauty-or silence the desire to make her his own. And if her claim was true, Nick could lose half his inheritance. So why was he focusing on what he could gain...a lifetime of love with the woman of his dreams? 

Very good book.  Deidre was still trying to get used to the idea that Lincoln DuBois was her father, now she found out that she has been left half of his company.  From the beginning Nick has been suspicious of her claim.  He comes to Harbor Town to get to know Deidre and decide for himself if she was really Lincoln's daughter.  She doesn't trust him at first, but as they spend some time together they both learn more about the other.  Nick learns that Deidre is exactly the person she says she is.  Deidre gets to know Nick as a person and realizes that he feels a great responsibility to the company and all its employees.  They also discover an intense attraction to each other, and finally decide that they can act on it while keeping the whole paternity and business problems separate.  I really loved the way that they were able to get to know each other and discover how much they had in common.  Nick was also able to talk to her about what the company means to him.  He was also able to help her reconcile with her mother.  I could see early on that Kellermann was going to be a problem, so his activities were no surprise.  I really loved the events of Christmas Eve.  I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

His Best Friend's Wife - Gina Wilkins (HSE #2206 - Aug 2012)

He was her late husband's best friend, the man she'd been warned to avoid-the man she'd always found irresistible. Now he was back, unavoidable and attractive as ever. 

Renae Sanchez, after years of grieving what was not to be, had finally put her life back together again. She had her adorable twins, her job, her friends. It was enough-it had to be. And then Evan Daugherty walked into her office and into her life once more...making her believe that when it came to love, once-in-a-lifetime might strike twice.... 

Good book.  I liked Renae.  She had made a good life for herself and her kids after her husband's death, even keeping a good relationship with her mother-in-law who lived with them.  She was, however, stuck in a rut.  She didn't really date, and her life revolved mostly around her family.  When Evan came back into her life she wasn't quite sure what to do.  He and his business partner, Tate, had set up a scholarship in her husband's name.  They wanted her help in running the program, and asked her to meet with them to work on it.  Renae's mother-in-law holds Evan responsible for Jason's death, and does everything she can to make Renae not want to be around Evan.  But Renae has discovered that she is very attracted to him, as he is to her.  They begin a relationship that she keeps secret from Lucy until Evan wants to be more involved with Renae's life.  I really liked the way that they spent time together and got to know each other beyond their physical attraction.  I also liked the way that Evan wanted to be more involved, and how good he was with the kids when they finally got together.  I could see his frustration with Lucy's attitude and Renae's waffling.  I really enjoyed seeing him at the kiddie arcade/pizza place and how well he survived it. I thought his handling of Lucy at the end was perfect.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Forever and a Day - Jill Shalvis (Forever - Aug 2012)

Series: Lucky Harbor (Book 6) 

Grace never thought she'd be starting her life over from scratch. Losing everything has landed her in Lucky Harbor, working as a dog walker for overwhelmed ER doctor Josh Scott. But the day his nanny fails to show up, Grace goes from caring for Josh's lovable mutt to caring for his rambunctious son. Soon Grace is playing house with the sexy single dad . . . 

With so many people depending on him, Josh has no time for anything outside of his clinic and family-until Grace arrives in town. Now this brainy blonde is turning his life inside out and giving a whole new meaning to the phrase "good bedside manner." Josh and Grace don't know if what they have can last. But in a town like Lucky Harbor, a lifetime of love starts with just one day . . . 

Very good book.  I loved Grace.  She was in Lucky Harbor while she tried to get a job back in the banking industry.  That is the career she had trained for and that her parents expected her to continue.  While in Lucky Harbor she had made good friends and started to feel at home.  When one of her temp jobs is to work for Josh as a dog walker, she finds that she is attracted to him.  She also quickly  ends up doing more than dog walking, Josh ended up needing her to watch his son also.  I loved the way that she took to caring for Toby, even though she hadn't really been around kids before. She also deals well with Josh's sister, not letting her get away with attitude just because of her handicap. She is a really spunky person and has no problem standing up for herself. Josh is a terrific guy, but really overwhelmed.  He has his medical practice, his work at the hospital, he's a single father and taking care of his disabled sister.  He is a caretaker, watching over and taking care of everyone.  Grace sees how it is and finds that she wants to take care of him. Neither one of them wants to get involved, but a relationship sneaks ups on them. I loved the way that they give in to their passions and get interrupted, but it doesn't slow down their attraction.  Grace is still applying for banking jobs out of town, but she has more and more people from town asking her to do their bookkeeping, which she finds she is really enjoying.  I really enjoyed the way that Ty and Matt kept after Josh about getting balance in his life, and pointing out the way he feels about Grace when he didn't want to admit it.  I also loved the way that Mallory and Amy helped Grace to see what she needed to do. It was terrific when Josh finally realized just what Grace meant to him. I loved the scene at the jail when a bunch of the townspeople showed up and Sawyer had to bring order.  

At Last - Jill Shalvis (Forever - July 2012)

Series: Lucky Harbor (Book 5) 

Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor. 

Very good book.  Amy is a waitress in the local diner.  She came to Lucky Harbor because her grandmother had visited when she was young and had told Amy wonderful stories of her time there.  She has her grandmother's journal and is planning to follow in her footsteps, looking for the same peace that her grandmother had found.  Unfortunately, she is not an outdoors type of person and gets lost on her first attempt.  A call to her friend Mallory gets forest ranger Matt coming to her rescue.  She had noticed Matt when he came into the diner, but she has no intention of getting involved with any guy, especially one as good looking as Matt.  Meanwhile, Matt had also noticed Amy and would like to get to know her better, but Amy doesn't allow anyone to get that close.  Amy doesn't want to need rescuing, but she knows she has to accept the help.  When they end up spending the night in the woods, the attraction becomes even more of an issue.  Matt and Amy end up spending more time together as she follows her grandmother's journal entries.  They also find a teenage girl living in the woods, who Amy tries to befriend and help.  She recognizes what Riley is going through, having been there herself.  Amy and Matt decide to follow the attraction and have some fun together, but make no commitments  for the future.  Matt knows he likes Amy, and they are certainly combustible when they get together.  But he doesn't let anyone get too close, as things always seem to go wrong when he does.  Amy has trust issues from her time on the streets, and it takes a long time for her to realize that she can trust him.  Some things go wrong when she keeps a couple secrets trying to protect one person, while she angers Matt by not trusting him. I really liked the way that, although they had decided on "just sex" the more time they spent together, the more they actually liked each other. I loved seeing how Mallory and Grace work to help Amy get the life she deserves, and how Ty and Josh help Matt see what he needs to do.  And yet again I love the people of Lucky Harbor and how they take care of their own.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Lucky in Love - Jill Shalvis (Forever - June 2012)

Series: Lucky Harbor (Book 4) 

Mallory Quinn has had enough of playing it safe. As a nurse and devoted daughter, she takes care of everyone but herself. And as the local good girl, she's expected to date Mr. Right. But for once, she'd like to take a risk on Mr. Wrong. And who could be more wrong than Ty Garrison? The mysterious new guy in town has made it clear that he's only passing through, which suits Mallory just fine. Besides, his lean, hard body and sexy smile will give her plenty to remember once he's gone . . . 

For the first time in his life, Ty can't bear to leave. Helping this sexy seductress-in-training walk on the wild side is making him desire things he shouldn't - including leaving the military for good. As their just-for-fun fling becomes something more, Mallory and Ty wonder if they could really be this lucky in love. After all . . . anything can happen in a town called Lucky Harbor. 

Fantastic book.  I loved both Mallory and Ty.  They met during a storm that damaged the cafe, when he was injured.  He ended up committing to take Mallory to the hospital auction, though he didn't remember doing that until he was told about it.  I loved the immediate attraction between them, and the way that Mallory decided it was time to step outside her comfort zone. She is a person who is a caretaker.  She is a great nurse, she watches over her elderly neighbors, and she is the force behind a new health services center.  But she is tired of being the "good girl". Ty has been in town for awhile, but hasn't interacted with very many people.  He is healing from an injury before he is allowed to go back to work for a private security company.  He has kept himself apart because of his guilty feelings over being the only survivor of his SEAL team, and feels he isn't good for anyone to be around.  Ty finds that he can't stay away from Mallory.  They had decided to go for a no regrets fling for as long as he stays around.  Then he is cleared to go back to work, but keeps finding reasons to stay.  When drugs are stolen from the center, Mallory's job is on the line.  I loved the scene in the diner when people keep claiming that they took them to save Mallory's job.  It showed just how much people like Mallory.  I thought the way that Ty stepped in to help after the fire showed that he was starting to put down roots and make connections, even if he didn't think so.  I loved the way he did one more mission and realized what he really wanted to do was go home to Lucky Harbor.  I thought the final scene in the diner was fantastic, especially since their story started at the diner.  I loved the way that the townspeople were their usual interfering selves, and seeing some of the regulars and previous characters is always fun.

Puppy Love in Thunder Canyon - Christyne Butler (HSE #2203 - Aug 2012)

Series: Montana Mavericks: back in the Saddle (Book 2) 

Love me, love my...doctor?
Tongues are wagging all over town that bubbly, quirky pet therapist Annabel Cates has been spotted keeping company with Dr. Thomas North. Yes, that Dr. North-the ever-serious, oh-so-gorgeous and utterly unattainable orthopedic surgeon who has dashed the hopes of so many Thunder Canyon cowgirls.

Will Annabel really be able to domesticate the medical maverick? Folks round these parts can't understand how two such emotionally opposite people even got together. (We give the credit to an unlikely matchmaker with four paws and a winning smile!) Stay tuned, faithful friends, and find out if sexy Dr. North can stay immune to this adorable Cates sister and her irresistible pup! 

Very good book.  I loved Annabel.  When she showed up at the hospital to be there for her cousin Forrest, she refused to take no for an answer from the serious and logical Dr. North.  Not only did she get to stay for the appointment, she even got him to allow her to set up some therapy sessions there at the hospital.  He thought the whole pet therapy thing was hogwash, but he couldn't seem to say no.  And then he surprised himself and her by asking her out on a date.  I really loved the way that she brought some fun and lightness to his life.  Thomas had made some mistakes in his past that he attributed to allowing his emotions to get the better of him, so he had decided that he wouldn't allow them that power again.  The more time he spent with Annabel, the more he was amazed at how well and quickly she had fit into his life, and that scared him.  He didn't want to find himself making mistakes because he was distracted by feelings.  I liked his grandmother and the way that she explained things to him that made him finally see the light.  The final scene with Thomas at the animal shelter was so sweet.  I hope we don't have to wait too long for Forrest's story.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Out of the Depths - Pamela Hearon (HS #1799 - Aug 2012)

She isn't going down that road again
Kyndal Rawlings thought she'd learned her lesson when Chance Brennan left her to pursue his Ivy League dreams. Yet here she is, in Kentucky, falling for him all over again. Maybe it's being stranded in a cave with him...the same place they first became lovers. 

Or maybe there's still something between them.
Not that anything will change-even after four tense days of depending on each other for their very survival. Chance needs a certain kind of woman to help him with his career. And Kyndal will never be that kind. But something has changed. Something that will force the m to decide what they really want. 

Good book.  Kyndal had returned to Paducah to take photographs of a cave for her portfolio so that she can get a job with a magazine.  When she gets caught trespassing on that property, she finds out that Chase now owns it.  He decides to help her out and take her to the cave so she can get her pictures.  While they are in there, they end up getting trapped and spending four days together.  This gives them a chance to talk about what happened to their relationship and begin to be friends again.  They also have one night when they give in to their still strong attraction.  After they are rescued, they go their separate ways, but can't stop thinking about each other.  I really liked Kyndal and her determination to overcome her past and make something of herself.  She is a terrific photographer and is sure it's just a matter of time until she finds the right job.  She still has self-esteem issues though, and feels that she would never be good enough for Chase and his family.  I had a harder time liking Chase.  He did look down on Kyndal and the choices she made.  He didn't approve of her views on things (environmentalist) and couldn't understand why she gave up her ideas of being a lawyer to be a photographer.  He got a bit better at understanding her while they were in the cave.  But afterward he still thought more about his ambitions than about how being with Kyndal had made him happy.  I liked the way that talking with his mom opened his eyes a little, and then I loved when he finally let his father have it for his interference and attitudes.  The final scene with Chase and Kyndal at the pet store was fantastic.

In His Eyes - Emmie Dark (HS #1798 - Aug 2012)

Series: Going Back 

What if everything he thinks about her is wrong?
Hugh Lawson and Zoe Waters have a tangled history. But she left ten years ago and he's put her behind him. Except she's here again-just when Hugh's ready to make an offer for her family's legendary vineyard. And her version of those long ago events is enough to make him question everything he thought he knew. 

Hugh can't let the past destroy his plans for the future. Which means he has to unravel the truth. But as he does, he begins to realize that he may have been as responsible for what happened as Zoe. And that going back could be the only way to move forward. 

Very good book.  Zoe returned for the first time in ten years to settle her grandfather's estate.  She was planning to bottle the last of his wine, sell the place and leave just as fast as she could.  The last person she wanted to see was Hugh.  When her grandfather sent her away, she had tried to reach him, but never got a response.  So she moved on with her life and tried to forget him.  Now she has discovered that the winery is in worse shape than she thought, and that there's only one person willing and able to buy it - Hugh.  They had quite a few issues between them, but when they finally talked about them they discovered they'd both been lied to.  This led to a temporary truce between them as they worked to finish the wine.  It also gave the attraction between them a chance to reignite. When yet another secret was revealed, it created a storm that sent Zoe running back to California.  Zoe had to deal with a lot of emotions in this book.  Grief at her grandfather's death, and the anger she still felt at the way he treated her, the love/hate feelings for Hugh from their time as teenagers, and the hurt that he hadn't tried to find her when she left.  Hugh was dealing at first with the guilty feelings from what he had been told had happened to her back then, to the grief when the truth came out.  They both had to deal with the shock from the latest secret.  When Zoe ran, she had to decide how to deal with all the feelings churning inside her.  Hugh finally had to confront his own demons before he could come after her.  I loved the ending and how they finally made everything work.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Under the Autumn Sky - Liz Talley (HS #1788 - July 2012)

Series: Boys of Bayou Bridge (Book 2)  

College football coach Abram Dufrene won't risk destroying his career for anything. He's sacrificed too much to see his hard work and integrity go down in flames. So when an innocent but passionate encounter with a sexy stranger forces him to choose between business and pleasure, the decision should be simple.

Too bad nothing about Louise "Lou" Boyd is simple. She's had him hooked since the second he met her. But she's the guardian of the athlete he's recruiting, which puts her off-limits. With all eyes on them, it's only right to keep his distance from Lou. Yet, for the first time, doing the "right" thing feels too wrong…. 

Good book.  Abram is a recruiter for his college's football team.  He has plans to eventually be a head coach and doesn't want to do anything to wreck what he has. Abram and Lou met before Abram found out he was trying to recruit her brother for his football team.  Personal contact between recruiters and family members is against the rules, so they know that it can't go any further.  But there is something that keeps pulling them together and they have to fight it.  Their only real contact is on his weekly calls to talk to Waylon, when he also talks to Lou, and on the few occasions when he sees Waylon in person. Lou is fighting her attraction to Abram, but it's a losing battle.  She has been raising her brother and sister since their parents died when she was eighteen.  Now she's dealing with her feelings, Waylon is acting up and stressed, and she would really like to get on with her own life.  There is also a problem with the father of a competing player who is looking to cause trouble.  When he succeeds it causes repercussions for both Lou and Abram and they lose what little contact they had.  This was a very interesting look at college recruiting and the stress it can create.  I enjoyed seeing Waylon through this book and the effects that everything had on him.  I also liked the way that he straightened himself out after Lou read him the riot act.  He really showed his maturity at the press conference and I loved what he said.  I also liked the reconciliation between Abram and Lou. 

Invitation to the Prince's Palace - Jennie Adams (HR #4326 - July 2012)

Mel Watson's just a normal girl until a cab ride turns into an invitation to a whole new life. It's not until she hears her cab driver being addressed as "Your Highness" that she realizes she's stumbled into a fairy tale.…

Prince Rikardo can't believe he's collected the wrong wannabe princess. Mel's far from the cynical social climber he planned for -- the tempting softness in her eyes makes him wary. For Rikardo's long given up on love: he wants a temporary wife…and proposing to this sweet, ordinary girl feels all too real. 

Fun book.  Mel thought the car she got into was a cab she had ordered.  She was a little out of it due to some allergy medication she took, and by the time she woke up she was far from home.  When Rik realized he had the wrong girl, it was too late to do anything about it.  When he explained the problem to Mel, she agreed to help him out.  Rik needs to marry in order to get his father, the king, to go along with some plans he has to improve things for his country.  He had planned to enter into a temporary marriage with Mel's cousin.  As Rik and Mel spent time together working on Rik's efforts to help his country, they began to develop feelings for each other.  Rik had made the decision that he would never give in to love because of the mess his parents made of their lives.  He didn't want to go through that. But the more time he spent with Mel, the more he wanted her to stay - even though he refused to think of it as love.  Mel had been fighting for acceptance and love since the deaths of her parents and going to live with relatives.  She didn't want to fall for Rik because she couldn't see there being a happy ending for a prince and a commoner.  I really liked seeing how normal a guy Rik was.  He was a prince, but he was more interested in being wanted for himself, not what he was.  I also loved the way that Mel was so supportive of Rik and his efforts and did her best to help him.  I loved the fairy tale ending.  I hope that there will be stories for the other brothers and the just revealed half brother. 

On Her Side - Beth Andrews (HS #1794 - Aug 2012)

Series: The Truth About the Sullivans (Book 2) 

Attorney Nora Sullivan wants her mother's killer behind bars. To do that, she needs the help of the primary suspect's son—Griffin York. Too bad Griffin seems determined to avoid all involvement. Fortunately, Nora knows something about persuasion and sets out to convince him he's needed. It's not easy getting past his rebel facade, yet she sees glimpses of the considerate—and sexy—side he hides. Her efforts to sway him have an unexpected effect when every glimpse of the inner Griffin makes her want him more! 

Regardless of the simmering attraction, what can the future hold for them? Their differences go beyond the murder case between them. Yet when Nora needs Griffin the most, he proves he just might be on her side. 

Very good book.  When Nora went to Griffin to ask for his help tracking down his father, she couldn't believe he turned her down.  She was used to being able to talk almost anyone into doing what she wanted, and she wanted Dale to pay for killing her mother.  Griffin wants nothing to do with Nora and her quest.  He has spent most of his life trying to live down being his father's son.  He's a respectable business owner and is very careful to keep his life private.  But Nora keeps trying, especially because she can see he is nothing like his father.  And she is very attracted to him.  Then Dale comes back to town, supposedly to cooperate with the investigation.  He also tries to intimidate Nora, and then makes the mistake of making suggestive remarks to her - in Griffin's presence.  After the police are called to break up the fight, Nora takes care of Griffin and they start to spend some time together.  Nora knows she is in danger of falling for Griffin, but it doesn't stop her.  Griffin is also starting to have feelings for Nora and it scares him to death.  He keeps trying to push her away, feeling he isn't good enough for her, but she doesn't want to go. He is still dealing with his feelings of guilt from not being able to protect his mother and himself from his father's abuse, and also his anger at his mother for not leaving him earlier.  Their resolution was very emotional. When Dale tries to use Nora in a blackmail scheme, she goes to Griffin for help.  The ending was a surprise, and I'm looking forward to the third book to see if there is a resolution to the mystery.  I also enjoyed the side story of Jess (the Chief's niece from the first book) and Griffin's brother Tanner. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Secret Soldier - Jennifer Morey (SRS #1526 - Aug 2008)

Series: All McQueen's Men (Book 1) 

He won her heart -- and she didn't even know his name
The powerful stranger broke down the door and saved Sabine O'Clery from the terrorists holding her hostage. But her secretive hero was forbidden from revealing his identity. Until enemy fire forced them to crash-land....

Of all the covert military missions, being stranded on a Greek island with a beautiful woman is one that Cullen McQueen never imagined. But their stay in paradise was all too fleeting. He had to take Sabine back to America, or risk blowing his cover and losing everything he'd fought for. Yet memories of one passion-filled night haunted him... and when danger followed Sabine home, the stealth soldier knew he would break all the rules to keep her safe forever. 

Very good book.  Sabine and her fellow worker had been kidnapped by terrorists.  He had been killed and she knew she would be next.  When the stranger rescued her she was happy to be out of there.  Then they had to crash land on a Greek island and were stuck there until they could get away.  Sabine wanted to know more about him, and he couldn't tell her anything without risking his life and his work.  But when the danger to her continued, he risked it all to protect her.  I liked both Sabine and Cullen.  Sabine had some big issues with her father.  He runs a security company and in the early days was never there for her and her mother.  This caused her to distrust men in that line of business, especially because of all the secrets they keep.  It also caused her to have no interaction with her father, who she thought of as a conscienceless mercenary.  When Cullen wouldn't tell her anything about himself, what he did, who hired him, etc, she thought he was just like that.  But she was still incredibly attracted to him.  Cullen owed her father his life, and went to rescue her because of it.  He didn't expect to be so attracted to her that he sometimes lost the focus of what he was doing.  He knew that he had to be careful because his company ran many undercover operations that could not be exposed.  When she was attacked again, he didn't hesitate to step in to protect her and risk it all.  I really liked the way that he was willing to risk it all to protect Sabine.  I could also see that he was running scared of all the emotions she was bringing out in him, and he didn't know what to do about it.  I loved the scene with Odie at the end, and how she forced his hand.  The final part with Cullen and Sabine was fun.  I really enjoyed seeing the beginning of the series and how it all came to be.  I definitely need to read the others I have missed. 

Seducing the Colonel's Daughter - Jennifer Morey (HRS #1718 - Aug 2012)

Series: All McQueen's Men (Book 6) 

Passion in paradise
Raeleen Randall dumps her boyfriend after discovering he's married. Then she's kidnapped and taken to a remote lighthouse on the island of Anguilla. With a hurricane fast approaching, Raeleen needs a miracle to save her. And that miracle shows up in the strapping form of Travis Todd -- the irresistibly handsome stranger who rescues her.

When operative Travis Todd first sees Raeleen, he wants her. But getting involved with a powerful colonel's daughter is bad news. With someone out to harm her, he can't walk away. In this tropical paradise with its sultry nights, it's nearly impossible to ignore his desire. 

Very good book.  Raeleen had come to Anguilla to see her boyfriend when she discovered he was married.  From there she was kidnapped and confined to a deserted lighthouse.  When Travis showed up to rescue her, she was glad to get out of there, and very attracted to him.  But he is one of her father's men and the type she stays far away from.  What they need to do is find out why she was kidnapped and who is still trying to harm her.  Travis is also very attracted to her, but he has no intention of getting mixed up with his boss's daughter.  I liked both Raeleen and Travis, but they both had some serious issues to get through.  Raeleen resented the amount of time that her father had spent away from the family, feeling that he always put his job first and neglected them.  This caused her to have a prejudice against getting involved with military guys.  The problem is that her attraction to Travis keeps making her forget her rules.  Travis has his own issues to deal with.  He is the unit's best at extraction, having never failed a mission.  He is super protective and constantly trying to tell Raeleen what to do.  She refuses to be dictated to, and tries to find out what has made Travis the way he is.  I found it interesting that each could see what the other's problem was, but couldn't/wouldn't admit to their own.  The final showdown with the bad guy was good, and the ending with Raeleen and Travis was fun.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lyon's Bride - Cathy Maxwell (Avon - May 2012)

Series: Chattan Curse (Book 1) 

"When a Chattan male falls in love, strike his heart with fire from above..."

They call him Lord Lyon, proud, determined -- and cursed. He is in need of a bride, but if he falls in love, he dies. His fervent hope is that by marrying -- and having a son -- without love, perhaps he can break the curse's chains forever.

Enter beautiful Thea Martin -- a duke's headstrong, errant daughter and society's most brilliant matchmaker. Years ago, she and Lyon were inseparable, until he disappeared from her life without a word. Now she is charged with finding Lyon's bride -- a woman he cannot love for a man Thea could love too well. 

Very good book.  Thea is a widow who is working as a matchmaker.  Lyon comes to her to find a bride for him - one that would be a suitable mother for his children but that he is in no danger of loving.  His family has been suffering under a curse for a long time and he doesn't want to take a chance.  He and Thea had been friends as teenagers until he began to care for her and his father took him away to protect them both.  Now they find that their youthful feelings are growing.  Thea doesn't believe in curses and has come to love him very much.  Lyon knows he cares but refuses to admit it.  When circumstances force them to marry, they start a wonderful life together.  Then the dreams start and Lyon's health starts to suffer.  I really liked Thea and the love she felt for her sons.  I also liked the way she didn't want to let the curse define their lives.  Lyon finally admitted that he cared for Thea and decided to go for the love for as long as possible. I also loved how good he was with Thea's sons and how much they liked him showed what a good person he really was. In the end, they and Lyon's brother and sister decided to take measures to find out more about the curse in hopes of breaking it, which is where the next book will begin. I really liked both of Lyon's siblings also.  In both you can see the tortured effect of the curse, and want to root for them to receive their own happy ending.   

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bear Claw Lawman - Jessica Andersen (HI #1362 - July 2012)

Series: Bear Claw Creek Crime Lab (Book 9) 


When DEA agent Nick Lang came to town, even the toughest cases got closed. But his latest had become way too personal. He'd thought CSI Jennifer Prynne was just another no-strings fling, until a serial killer's attack left her battered, bruised and struggling to remember her past. Now, as the key to the entire case they'd been investigating for months, Jenn's safety became Nick's responsibility. He knew the murderer's identity was buried deep in Jenn's mind, but releasing it was dangerous -- yet necessary. The old Nick was an expert at getting answers and moving on. But his heart told him this was one case he couldn't walk away from.… 

Very good book.  Jenn and Nick were attracted to each other from the beginning.  Nick was only expected to be there for a couple weeks, so they decided to indulge in a short fling while he was there.  It rapidly became more serious than he was comfortable with, so when his stay was extended he broke things off.  Because of his work, he felt he was doing it for her.  Jenn had come to Bear Claw Creek after losing her cop husband when he was killed on duty.  Then it came out that he was a dirty cop which threw her work as a crime lab tech into question.  When Jenn was attacked by the unknown boss of local drug scene, Nick ended up taking over as her protection.  Once again they gave in to their attraction, claiming that this time they knew what they were getting into.  Nick had spent his career doing undercover work, and was very good at playing roles.  This fed into Jenn's trust issues, since her husband had also played roles.  During the time they spent together they actually started getting to know each other rather than just giving in to the physical.  When Jenn decided to offer herself up as bait, Nick was furious with her.  When the bait was taken and Nick realized how close he had come to losing her, he finally realized just how much he loved her.  I loved the way they worked out their job situations.

Jesse - C.H. Admirand (Sourcebooks - July 2012)

Series: Secret Life of Cowboys (Book 3) 

Loneliness Will Take a Man Places...
Jesse Garahan has plenty of Irish charm, but having had his heart demolished twice, he's sworn off women forever. Until the fateful day he meets Danielle Brockway and her tiny daughter on their way to their new home in Pleasure, Texas.

But There May Be Places He Doesn't Want To Go...
Fiercely protective of her little girl, Danielle isn't about to let Jesse get anywhere close enough to hurt either of them, no matter how much longing she sees in his eyes... 

Very good book.  Jesse is the youngest of the Garahan brothers and wants what his brothers have - a loving relationship with a woman.  But he's had his heart broken twice by the same woman, so has sworn off women for awhile.  Then he meets Danielle and Lacy when he rescues them on the side of the road.  He's immediately attracted to Danielle, and little Lacy steals his heart from the beginning.  Danielle is on her way to Pleasure to stay with her uncle.  Her ex-husband walked away from her and their daughter without a backward glance.  She doesn't trust men, especially cowboys, and doesn't want to let Jesse anywhere near them.  But he keeps coming around, and soon she is dreaming of what might be with Jesse.  Jesse finds that the more time he spends with Danielle and Lacy, the more he sees them as a permanent part of his life.  I loved Jesse and how good he was with Lacy.  He was just the guy she needed in her life to take the place of her good for nothing father.  I also loved his interactions with his brothers and their ladies, and the fun they all had.  His teasing of his brothers was just so much fun.  I also liked the way he was working that second job to make money for the ranch - his secrecy reminded me of Tyler's time at the club.  Jesse's growing love for Danielle was something that filled a hole in his life that he hadn't realized was there until his brothers found their loves.  I loved Danielle and how protective she was of Lacy and her feelings.  I also liked the way she fit in on the ranch and with his brothers and Ronnie and Emily.  I loved the ending with the appearances of Jesse's cousins.  I hope that they get their own books too.

Friday, July 20, 2012

An Inconvenient Affair - Catherine Mann (HD #2173 - Aug 2012)

Series: Alpha Brotherhood (Book 1) 

Hillary Wright has always been a magnet for Mr. Wrong. Her latest left her in trouble with the law, and to clear her name, she's agreed to an undercover sting—as the "date" for infamous Troy Donavan. The notorious hacker is now a government good guy…and a sexy billionaire playboy. Troy has a reputation as the sort of man she's vowed to avoid, and his secretiveness adds fuel to Hillary's distrust. But with his kisses like molten sin, her fierce resistance is melting. And being sensible in the face of such overpowering desire is just not an option. 

Wow.  Catherine Mann can sure write some hot alpha men.  Hillary has a habit of being attracted to bad boys.  The latest one was caught stealing and money-laundering, and she was suspected of being in on it.  To clear her name, she has been paired with Troy to identify one of the other participants.  Troy also fits that description.  He was caught hacking into DOD computers at the age of fifteen and sent to a military reform school (where he met other similar guys, as we'll see later).  Now he assists the government when his abilities and lifestyle are needed.  When Troy and Hillary meet, they are immediately attracted to each other, but she doesn't trust him.  When the man is identified, Troy whisks her away to keep her safe until he is caught.  I loved the Costa Rica location - so beautiful!  During that week away, she begins to see the man under the persona that the public is allowed to see.  Troy is incredibly intelligent, but had a neglected childhood and got into trouble for the attention.  He was also very much a loner until he made friends at school, and is still a very private person.   I loved seeing him open up to Hillary, even as he tried not to.  He just couldn't help it as she reached something in him he didn't know he needed.  I also loved the way that he did unexpected things for her, and listened to what she said and wanted.  When he abuses her trust, she leaves, but soon realizes that it may not have been all his fault.  I loved the way they got back together at the end, and look forward to their appearances in future books.  I also enjoyed the mentions of the Landis/Renshaw families.  I can't wait for the next book!

Honorable Rancher - Barbara White Daille (HAR #1416 - Aug 2012)

Series: Flagman's Folly

The hero of Flagman's Folly has been gone more than a year. But he still stands between Ben Sawyer and what he desires most—Dana Wright, the love of Ben's life. 

When soldier Paul Wright left for the last time, he made his best friend promise to look after his wife and kids. Ben—good, steady Ben—is honoring that promise. And it's burning him up inside.

Because Dana is shutting Ben out. She wants him—so much—but she can't afford to give in. If she does, she'll spill her secret, and the betrayal will hurt everyone she cares about—her children, who loved their daddy; her town, which loves its hero; and Ben, who loved his friend. She'll do anything to protect her secret—even give up her second chance at happiness. 

Very good book.  Dana's husband was killed overseas and she is now working at going on with her life and taking care of her three children.  Ben had been her husband's best friend and her friend since they were children, and had promised her husband he'd look after them if anything happened to him.  He had also been in love with her for years.  But it has been a year and Dana still won't let him do anything for her - she is insisting she doesn't need any help.  He can see that there are things she does need help with if she would only let go of that stubborn independence.  Dana's marriage had not been what it appeared to be to the rest of the town.  Her husband had been emotionally abusive.  He needed to be the center of attention and chipped away at her self-esteem so that she would see him as necessary to her life.  Ben became the landlord of the house she rented by buying it from the current owner.  This gave him the ability to do all the repairs that needed to be done.  While doing them he was able to spend a lot of time with Dana and the kids.  Dana realized that she wanted more from Ben, but thought he only thought of her as his friend's widow.  When it became obvious that he wanted more, she was afraid because of the secrets she was keeping about her husband.  There was a lot of emotion in this book.  The way all the problems were solved was emotional for everyone.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

A SEAL's Secret Baby - Laura Marie Altom (HAR #1415 - Aug 2012)

Series:  Operation Family (Book 1) 

Boot Camp Didn't Prepare Him For This!

Navy SEAL Deacon Murphy's tryst with Ellie Hilliard was white-hot, but quickly forgotten when she met her husband, his best friend, Tom. That was fine by Deacon. As a rule, he avoided making commitments, at least to anything other than the navy.

But when Tom died, Deacon promised that he'd watch over Ellie and her daughter, Pia -- not knowing that Pia was actually his, and never expecting that he'd fall for them both in the process.

Ellie is terrified of getting too close to Deacon, and not just because of his high-risk career. Losing Tom was hard enough. If Tom's parents knew the truth about Pia, she could lose them, too -- and they're the only family she has left. 

Wow.  This was an incredibly emotional book, with so many things going on.  Ellie was trying to cope with her husband's death.  She had loved him deeply and missed him very much.  She was also coping with a terrible amount of guilt.  She had had a one-night tryst with her husband's friend Deacon before she met Tom, and ended up pregnant with his child.  Neither he nor Tom knew the truth.  With Tom's death, she knows she needs to tell Deacon the truth, but she is afraid of what the consequences will be.  Tom's parents are the only family she has left, and she's afraid if they know the truth she will lose them too.  When she tells Deacon he is stunned and has to deal with the idea of being a father.  He had had a terrible childhood and had no idea if he knew how to be a good father.  He also had to deal with the guilty feelings of knowing his best friend's child was actually his.  As he got to know Pia, the love he felt for her was overwhelming.  He also found himself developing feelings for Ellie, and she for him.  Neither of them could deal with the guilty feelings this caused and found themselves constantly getting close then pulling away.  Thanks to his missions as a SEAL, they also spent a fair amount of time separated, so this story took more than a year.  This actually made the book feel even more realistic to me.  There were some fun parts in the book, including Deacon's first attempt at diapering.