Monday, December 31, 2012

A Conflict of Interest - Barbara Dunlop (HD #2204 - Jan 2013)

Series: Daughters of Power: The Capital (Book 1)

She tried to stay away from him….

More than once, White House PR specialist Cara Cranshaw has considered that reporter Max Gray might want her only because he can't have her. Given their work, a relationship is dicey -- and impossible now that the president has taken office.

For Max, their relationship may be a lark, a fling -- maybe she's just another woman in the long line that forms a part of his bachelor lifestyle. But for her, what they have is different. She's all but given him her heart. And now she is having his baby.

Very good book.  Cara and Max had been involved for a short time but they can't be now.  With her job at the White House and his as a reporter there is too much risk to them both (reminds me a little of CJ and Danny in West Wing).  The problem is that their attraction is too strong and they can't resist it whenever they find themselves together.  Cara is very good at what she does and doesn't want to risk her position.  She also can't stop thinking about Max and now that she's pregnant she doesn't know what to do.  Max has made no secret of the fact that he doesn't do commitments and he never wants children.  This upsets her but she doesn't want to trap him into something he will come to resent, so she doesn't know whether to tell him or not.  Max is used to brief flings but finds himself not wanting to let go of Cara.  Even though a relationship could mean the end of both of their jobs he can't stop trying to be with her.  This creates a conflict in him because of his decision to be relationship and family free.  He feels he is a bad bet because of his father's actions.  But the more that they try to do the right thing the more that Max wants to be with her.  Cara is also dealing with a crisis at work as a previously unknown illegitimate child of the president is made public.  She and Max are both trying to find out the truth.  This question is not resolved in this book and I expect it will continue through this series.  There are several great scenes in this book but my favorites are Max and the snowboarders and Max's appearance at Cara's apartment at the end.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The SEAL's Valentine - Laura Marie Altom (HAR #1435 - Jan 2013)

Series: Operation Family (Book 3)

Is He SEAL Enough For The Job?

The moment off-duty navy SEAL Tristan Bartoni meets feisty yet vulnerable Brynn Langtoine, he's a goner. He sure didn't have plans to be attracted to a recently widowed pregnant woman who is already mother to a troubled, grieving young son. Nope, the struggling SEAL came home to Ruin Bayou, Louisiana, to finally deal with his haunting past decisions-not to start a new relationship.

Brynn has enough problems without her hormones going crazy whenever Tristan is near. Her son, Cayden, constantly lashes out at her. Her baby will be fatherless. So...what does Tristan think he's doing, making her life even more topsy-turvy than it already is?

But when it comes to putting her heart on the line, who could be more trustworthy than a Navy SEAL? 

Very good book with lots of emotion.  Both Tristan and Brynn had some hard issues to deal with in their lives.  Brynn had been widowed when her pro baseball player was gunned down because of his illegal activities.  She's living in his childhood home awaiting the birth of her second child and trying to deal with her son's heartbreak.  The last thing she wants is to get involved with another man.  She can't help her attraction to him though she fights it all the way.  She knows he isn't going to stay around.  But he is very good with her son who is starting to return to normal under Tristan's friendship. Her biggest issue besides not wanting to depend on a man again was her fear of losing another loved one. Tristan came home to try to come to terms with his own past.  His marriage ended because his wife couldn't handle his job.  She has remarried and taken their son to California where he hardly ever gets to see the boy.  He blames himself completely and it has caused him to lose focus on his missions.  He finds himself drawn to Brynn and her son and starts helping out with things she needs and helping Cayden with baseball stuff.  He makes it clear to her that he won't be there for long and is bad relationship material anyway.  I really liked the way that Tristan kept helping Brynn and how good he was to Cayden.  He didn't see the boy as just a replacement for his own son but as his own person.  His biggest issue was the guilt he felt over the breakup of his marriage and how he blamed himself.  I didn't like the way that he never held her responsible for part of the problems.  I could see how much he wanted Brynn and the kids to be part of his life but that he was afraid of messing up again.   I really enjoyed the way that their relationship grew over time and how they had to learn to compromise.  I loved Tristan's solution to his dilemma.

Darcy and the Single Dad - Stacy Connelly (HSE #2237 - Jan 2013)

Series: Pirelli Brothers (Book 1)


Nick Pirelli's little girl was growing up way "too" fast. He knew she needed a mom-which meant he needed a wife. But finding the right woman in Clearville wasn't easy. The local dating pool was shallow, and the grapevine put Nick's every move under a microscope. Still, he was determined to find Ms. Right...until Darcy Dawson blew into town.

A city girl who'd never set down roots, Darcy wasn't the woman Nick needed. But no matter where he went, he couldn't escape her sexy red curls or her husky laugh-nor could he ignore the joy the beautiful stranger brought to his daughter. Yet he couldn't stop worrying about what "other" people might think. Could straitlaced Nick finally throw caution to the wind for the woman who'd captured his heart? 

Very good book.  Nick is very conscious of being a good father to his daughter.  He knows he should marry again, but wants to be very careful this time.  His first wife had not been happy living in a small town and he didn't want to risk making the same mistake.   He doesn't expect to be so attracted to Darcy especially since she's the opposite of what he's looking for.  He can't stay away from her and finds that he is happier when he is around her. He keeps trying to talk himself out of being with her. I loved the way that everyone else seems to recognize that they belong together before they admit it themselves.  Darcy has come to Clearville, where her mother grew up, to get away from the memory of a fiance who didn't appreciate her for who she was.  She didn't want to get involved with another judgmental man.  She soon realized that Nick wasn't so much judgmental as cautious after having been burned.  She melts at the obvious love he has for his daughter and envies the closeness of his large family.   I liked the way that she is so good at helping Nick with Maddie and how she can make him see things from a different angle.  I loved the small town setting and can't wait to read the other brothers' stories.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

One Whiff of Scandal - Judith Arnold (HAR #281 - Feb 1989)

Can love survive scandal?

Sex, money and power--for weeks, Griffin had been investigating what promised to be the worst scandal ever to hit the sleepy Rhode Island communities. Then Granby Record reporter Jill Bergland stumbled onto the story. Started turning up at his stakeouts. And then had the audacity to challenge Griffin Parker, hard-nosed newshound for the Providence Journal, to a race to the byline.

Would Griffin let this Jenny-come-lately rob him of an exclusive? A possible Pulitzer? Jill was talented. Jill was beautiful. But if she preferred rivalry over romance, that's exactly what she was going to get.

Good book.  I liked both Jill and Griff.  Both were excellent reporters and wanted to be the one to break the story.  I liked the way that Jill recognized that there was a potential story and went after it.  She didn't have the experience that Griff had but she had good instincts and kept turning up where Griff didn't want her.  There was a strong attraction between them but they also realized that being together while working on the same story was not a good idea.  But try as they might staying away just didn't seem to be an option.  Jill had some trouble trusting Griff and tended to jump to conclusions but she was also able to admit when she was wrong.  Griff had been working on the story for awhile and didn't want Jill's clumsy attempts at stakeouts to ruin his chances.  He also found himself wanting to spend time with her and she wasn't far from his mind at any time.  He also really appreciated the fact that being a reporter herself she understood what his life was like and how work could interfere with a personal life.  I loved the way they ended up working together and how their final stories turned out. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Nick All Night - Cheryl St. John (SSE #1475 - June 2002)

Boy-next-door Nick Sinclair had grown up into a hunk extraordinaire -- that was Ryanne Whitaker's first shock on reencountering her sexy, single-dad neighbor. The second was that she was facing this broad-shouldered Mr. Gorgeous across the barrel of a gun!

Turned out Nick was now sheriff of their Iowa hometown and had mistaken Ryanne for an intruder...but meeting him again like that had certainly unsettled her settling in....

Ryanne had planned her stay in town to be temporary. But that was before Nick kissed her! Was it time for Ryanne to trade in the bright lights of the big city for the warm glow of hearth and home?

Good book.  Ryanne was back in Elmwood to try to put her life back together.  Her ex-husband had run off with all their money leaving her in debt to the IRS.  Her pride wouldn't allow her to let anyone know how much of a failure she felt.  Meeting Nick again made her realize how much she had missed having a good friend and remembering what good friends they had been when they were kids.  But then there was an attraction developing that she didn't know what to do about.  She had no intention of staying, but she didn't want to leave either.  It was really hard to watch Ryanne struggle so hard to try to fix everything on her own when asking for help would not have been a weakness.  I really liked the way that her attitude toward the town started to change as she realized the benefits of living in a small town.  I also liked the way that she cared for Nick's son so quickly.  Nick was a pretty terrific hero.  The way he cared for everyone was obvious in everything he did.  He had some dreams of his own but had put everything aside as a way to atone for what he saw as a terrible decision on his part.  He spent so much time caring for others that he never did anything for himself.  I really liked the way that he was there for Ryanne and how his feelings just got stronger.  I also liked the way that he saw the truth of what she told him and was able to make the changes he needed to make.  I loved the way that they were able to share their dreams for the future together.

The Baby Bump - Jennifer Greene (HSE #2236 - Jan 2013)

Series: MacKinnon (Book 2)

Ginger Gautier does "not" need saving, thank you very much. Okay, she's alone and pregnant. And, yes, she's unemployed and less than trusting after her breakup with a big-city doctor, but that doesn't mean she needs to be saved by a man. Especially not by "another" doctor

Ike MacKinnon was enjoying his peaceful, easygoing small-town life-until Ginger changed everything. Tired of Southern belles, the sexy doctor realized that the feisty redhead is the only woman who ever tied him up in knots. Trouble is, she's determined to stand on her own two feet, no matter what the consequences. She won't listen to anything. Not even her own heart.

But Ike's heart is telling "him" that he and this fiery redhead "belong" together. And he's determined to make a house call that lasts forever!

Good book.   I liked both Ike and Ginger.  Ginger had come back to Sweet Valley to take care of her grandfather and get her life back together.  She is determined to stand on her own two feet and not depend on anyone for help - especially Ike.  Unfortunately he always seems to catch her when she is not at her best.  Ginger is really worried about her grandfather whose grasp of reality seems to be slipping.  The family tea farm is in trouble and she is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy.  I really enjoyed her bursts of temper.  She wasn't mean or nasty she just tended to let her opinions be known forcefully.  She did her best to resist her attraction to Ike.  She didn't want another man in her life but she wasn't able to resist him.  I liked the way she was finally able to explain her need to him and how he stepped up to help her with that.  Ike was fantastic.  He was such a laid back guy that nothing seemed to upset him.  He coped with all the emergency medical things very calmly and with a great attitude.  He did feel a little overwhelmed by the attention of all the single women in town but tried to maintain his cool.  He was stunned by the vibrancy of Ginger.  Her attitude was a breath of fresh air to him and he soon discovered that he wanted Ginger in his life permanently.  His problem was getting her to see it too.  I loved all the things he did for her and all the obvious care he had for her.  I also loved the way he enjoyed her bouts of temper so much.  I really loved the way he took her away at the end.

The Gift - Jacqueline Ashley (HAR #299 - June 1989)


Back to the land of Sweet Water, West Virginia. Mary Rose Perkins needed to get back to her roots, to the life that she was destined for. There had never been any doubt that she would return to help her people. Setting up her medical practice would be a dream come true. Or so she thought. For when she did arrive home, she found a surprise that she wasn't ready to deal with.

Caleb Anderson needed a chance to reassess his values. Sweet Water provided him with the perfect atmosphere to do just that. When his writing took on renewed vigor, he knew he'd found paradise. But there was a hitch. In order to find his happiness, he had to alter Mary Rose's life forever. The woman he was hopelessly falling in love with.

Good book.  I really liked Mary Rose's desire to go back and practice medicine in the area she grew up.  Her ability to hold on to her dream even through her time with her aunt was fantastic.  I liked Caleb's admission that he had behaved foolishly when he sold his first book.  I also liked the fact that he was able to see that he was making a mistake at the beginning of the book and fix it before it got worse.  Caleb's hiking through West Virginia and the way he found the cabin seemed to be just what he needed to get his writing back on track.  I loved the way that he felt the peace of the cabin.  When Mary Rose arrived he could see his desire to own the cabin being thwarted, but he had hopes that she would decide it wouldn't work for her. He felt guilty about misleading her about his presence there especially when he realized he had come to love her. Mary Rose was surprised by Caleb's presence but there was something about him that made her want to keep him around.  There was a physical attraction but there was also a deeper connection.  She was surprised that he also felt the same way she did about the cabin.  Falling in love with him wasn't in her plan but she couldn't stop it.  When her aunt showed up with her devious plan she nearly destroyed everything.  I loved the way that Caleb worked things out and made Mary Rose's dream come true. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Doctor's Little Miracle - Michele Dunaway (HAR #1323 - Sept 2010)

Chandy McDaniel was seventeen and pregnant when her world crashed around her. Fifteen years later, she's not -- repeat, not -- stupid enough to let Justin McCall back into her life. Especially after he and his family moved away from their Iowa hometown and he never sent so much as a postcard.

There's one small problem. She still loves him. And that's not the only secret she's keeping.

Leaving Chandy was the hardest thing Justin ever had to do. Seeing her again -- a beautiful, grown-up doctor with a soft spot for kids -- makes him realize how much he still cares. And she already seems to be head over heels for his son.

Is it too late to make things right between them? And maybe, together, create the miracle they've both been waiting for...

Good book.  I liked both Chandy and Justin.   She was stunned to see him and his son in her emergency room.  She had no intention of opening herself up to the potential heartbreak of getting involved with him again.  But Justin has never forgotten her either and wants a second chance with her.  I really enjoyed seeing them get to know each other all over again.  They still had issues that they needed to overcome.  Justin had problems dealing with their financial differences and it sometimes made him act like a jerk.  He had always felt guilty about the way he had treated her back when they were teens and dealing with the new information he had made him feel even worse.  I did like the way he was such a good father to Ben.  I also loved the way that he tried to give Chandry what she needed but was willing to take a chance there at the end.  Chandry was still dealing with the pain of their teenage breakup and the resulting problems.  Her love for Justin had never gone away and she was enjoying getting to know him again.  I liked the way she was so good with his son.  Her biggest problem was confronting Justin with the rest of the story of their past.  She was a master of avoidance and it nearly destroyed their relationship a second time.  I really liked the conclusion to the story.

Anna's Gift - Emma Miller (LI #663 - Oct 2011)

Series: Hannah's Daughters (Book 3)

Surprise Proposal in Amish Country
No one in Seven Poplars, Delaware, expects Anna Yoder ever to marry. Among her six pretty, petite sisters, big and plain Anna feels like a plow horse. But then Samuel Mast, the handsome widowed father she has secretly loved for years, asks if he can court her. Surely Anna has misheard -- Samuel has his pick of lovely brides! She's convinced he seeks a wife only as a mother for his five children. Or could a man like Samuel actually have a very romantic reason for wanting Anna by his side forever?

Good book.  I liked both Anna and Samuel.  Anna is stunned when Samuel asks to court her.  He could have his pick of any of the girls in the community, but he's asking her.  She has had a dream of being married for love but doesn't expect it.  She is a big girl who has been teased about it for years.  She doesn't see how he could truly be interested in her as a person.  She couldn't see that her inner beauty was so much more important to him.  I loved how good she was with her sister and with Samuel's kids.  She has an amazing amount of patience and deals well with the children and with her grouchy grandmother.  I didn't like the way she was treated by some of the other people but loved the way some others tried to make her see herself the way they did.  Samuel was terrific.  I really liked the way that he had waited for Anna.  He also saw the whole person not just her outward appearance.  Even though there was a pretty big age difference I liked the way that he was willing to do things that would make her happy.  He also worried a little about their different ways of looking at things but eventually saw how much difference it would make to his family.  I really liked the way that he knew he loved her and wanted her for his wife.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Zen and the Art of Knitting - Bernadette Murphy (Adams Media Corp. - Sept 2002)

Knitting has become the hip new trend among twenty- and thirty-somethings, with celebrities such as Julia Roberts, Winona Ryder, Cameron Diaz, Hilary Swank, and Julianne Moore leading the way. This book explores what virtually everyone's grandmother always knew -- that when passionate knitters become one with the craft, amazing things start to happen.In Zen and the Art of Knitting, Bernadette Murphy explores how knitting fits into the large scheme of life itself as . . .

-- Meditation

-- Creative expression

-- A way to cure writer's block

-- A gift to express love

-- A way for children to develop fine motor skills

-- A way to connect generations, past and present

Throughout this magnificent work, readers find practical advice, including a knitted stitch per chapter and a basic pattern in the appendix. For serious knitters, casual hobbyists, creative thinkers, and those seeking to discover an unexplored spiritual channel, Zen and the Art of Knitting is a unique work that will be treasured for years to come.

Pretty good book.  I enjoyed the stories from other knitters about what they made and how it linked to the way they felt.  I enjoyed reading about others who used their knitting as a way to improve concentration in themselves and others as I used to do that also.  I did find myself skimming some of the more obvious spiritual passages but overall enjoyed the book. 

Saving Christmas - Pamela Bauer (HAR #803 - Dec 1999)

Only thirty days till Christmas...

Sara Richards had one month to save the sleepy hamlet of Christmas, Minnesota, from extinction and one month to save herself from Joe Gibson. The man who'd fueled her schoolgirl fantasies was home for the holidays, and everyone in town knew there was unfinished business between her and Joe.

Joe was more desirable than ever. Just the sight of him made Sara hot all over - even in the midst of a Minnesota winter. Then the townsfolk - all 272 of them - decided to play matchmaker, and Sara wondered how her heart was going to make it till Christmas...

Pretty good book.  Sara is back in Christmas after her divorce and has gotten roped into coming up with a way for the town to retain its status.  Being pretty creative and ever optimistic, she comes up with an idea to turn the town into a Victorian Christmas Village on Christmas Eve and draw in tourists.  One of the people involved is Joe's mother who wants Joe and his daughter to come to Christmas for the holidays.  Sara had a crush on Joe in high school, but things didn't work out for them.  Now they can't be in the same room without arguing, but there's also still a strong attraction between them.  Joe hated living in the small town where he felt like no one liked him and he was being constantly watched.  When he left he swore he would never be back.  I loved Sara and her optimism and how hard she was working to help the town.  She had never really understood what Joe's problem with the town was, but she had never forgotten him.  She is fighting the attraction because he still wants nothing more than to get his mother to return to California with him for the holidays.  I loved her patience with the people around her and how good she was at listening to them. She was fantastic with Joe's daughter and tried very hard to get Joe to see the good in the town.  Joe was harder to like at the beginning.  His dislike of the town when he was a teen had given him terrible tunnel vision where it was concerned.  Every time he saw Sara he fought the attraction and hammered at her about what a waste of time her attempts were, that being absorbed by another town would be best, that he just wanted to convince his mother and leave.  He really wasn't willing to pay attention to what anyone else wanted.  It took a while but Sara was able to make a little headway in changing his attitude, but it seemed like it wouldn't be enough.  I really enjoyed his daughter's enthusiasm and the way she was able to get Joe to do some things.  I also loved the Twelve Days of Christmas theme at the end and how everything came together.  

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

A Bride for the Maverick Millionaire - Marion Lennox (HR #4360 - Jan 2013)

Series: Journey Through the Outback (Book 2)

Rachel Cotton has high hopes for her cruise through the beautiful Kimberley region -- surely this will be the perfect chance to forget her past and enjoy some much-needed rest and relaxation? But gorgeous shipmate Finn Kinnard seems much more interested in stirring her up!

Finn might make Rachel feel all woman, but he also warns her that romantically he can't be relied on. But when a high-octane adventure puts this claim to the test, Rachel discovers there's much more to Finn than meets the eye -- and that he might be just the man to entrust her fragile heart to.…

Good book.  I liked both Rachel and Finn.  Rachel is still trying to recover from the accident that caused the death of her baby and the end of her marriage.  She is on the cruise with her friend Maud (see Her Outback Rescuer) and has no intention of getting involved with any man.  She is more interested in the rock formations and cave paintings that she will see.  She doesn't expect to be attracted to Finn and she doesn't want to be.  She was treated badly by her ex-husband and has serious trust issues now.  Finn is on the ship undercover.  He owns the cruise line and is trying to find out why this particular route has problems with poor performance.  He and Rachel are constantly thrown together because they are the only young and single people on the boat.  Finn and his half brother and sister are products of shipboard romances by their father and he has a poor opinion of love.  He does his best to keep his distance from Rachel but she is shattering all his previous opinions about women.  When they end up stranded he is amazed at how capable and unflappable she is.  I loved the way that she constantly surprised him and her attitude that she doesn't need to depend on a man.  Her trust issues created a real problem for them when she found out who he really was and it took Maud pointing out some things to open her eyes.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Remember Me, Cowboy - C. J. Carmichael (HAR #1434 - Jan 2013)

Series: Coffee Creek Montana (Book 1)

How Can He Not Remember Her?
Corb Lambert is ready to marry Laurel Sheridan. She's pregnant with his baby-- and Corb is the type of guy who will do the right thing. He just wishes that he could remember the passion they shared before a terrible accident wiped his memory clean.

Laurel can't decide whether to go or stay. Corb is willing to take on his responsibility, but Laurel can't bear the thought that he doesn't remember her, especially since she fell for him, hard. She's got a life in New York-but her baby deserves a father. Could he love her all over again? Or is he just staying in Montana to give her child a name? Laurel has to know now, because one person can't do all the loving.... 

Good book. Laurel can't believe that Corb can't remember anything about their time together.  Now she's pregnant and Corb wants to marry her.  Laurel is still in love with him, but he hasn't said anything to her about love.  I really liked Laurel. I loved her closeness with her friend. She came to town to be with her friend Winnie as she prepared to marry Corb's brother Brock.  When Brock was killed and Corb hurt in an accident on their wedding day, Laurel stayed to help Winnie.  She says yes to Corb's proposal knowing that she is in love with him but not sure about his feelings.  He appears to care but has never said anything.  But as the wedding gets closer she starts to have doubts especially when he never seems to stand up to his mother on her behalf.  Corb is attracted to Laurel and when he finds out about the baby he has no trouble asking her to marry him.  There is something about her that just feels right to him.  He is trying very hard to remember the past and their time together to the point where he forgets to pay attention to his current feelings. He also feels guilty about surviving the crash when his brother didn't and goes overboard in giving in to his mother's every request.  I did not like the way he didn't put Laurel first.  I was glad to see him finally come through in the end.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the series to see how things work out with the other stories. I don't like Olive's attitude toward Winnie and Laurel and I really want someone to call her on it.  I expect that there is more to the story between Olive and her sister than Olive said, and I don't think it is all Maggie's fault.  I also want to know more about Jackson who I suspect is in love with Winnie.  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Her Rancher Hero - Ann Roth (HAR #1436 - Jan 2013)

Series: Saddlers Prairie (Book 3)

For the troubled foster boys who call it home, Hope Ranch is a last chance. For Cody Naylor, the ranch's owner, it's an opportunity to repay a debt to the foster father who saved his life. And for Autumn Knowles, it's a way to stay out of jail after a minor scrape with the law. Sentenced to a temporary job as housekeeper at the ranch, she's determined to show everyone she can be responsible.

Gaining the boys' confidence is no easy matter. Learning to trust Cody is a whole other story. But with her job, her future and the future of the boys at stake, there's too much to lose by getting involved. Autumn's not about to get burned again…no matter how perfect the guy seems!

Very good book.  I really liked both Cody and Autumn.  Cody is determined to be as good a foster father as he can be, but sometimes feels at a loss when dealing with the four boys.  It doesn't help that they've been without a housekeeper/cook and his cooking skills are pretty non-existent.  When Autumn arrives to fill in, he isn't sure what to make of her.  He's certainly attracted to her, but with four teenage boys in the house that can't go anywhere.  He is impressed by the fact that even though she can't cook she is determined to learn and to do the best job she can while she's there.  He is also surprised by how quickly she is able to relate to the boys, even though she makes some mistakes along the way.  The more time he spends with her the more he likes her but isn't sure that she'd want to stay around.  I liked the way that Cody was so willing to help her and the way he showed her that he had confidence in her abilities.  Autumn had had one too many speeding tickets and was sent to the ranch to be the housekeeper.  She is willing to do whatever is needed to do the job right.  Her willingness to accept help goes a long way to helping her fit in on the ranch.  She is very attracted to Cody but also very nervous about messing up on the job.  Her first few days with the boys are pretty rough as she learns to deal with their trust issues and teenage-ness.  Pretty soon they're doing well together as they learn that they have a lot in common with her.  Because she has made some bad romantic decisions in the past she is wary of getting involved with Cody.  She also has some real self esteem issues and thinks that he is way too good for her.  I really liked the way that she is able to meet the emotional needs of the boys.  There were some very emotional parts dealing with the boys that really made the book extra good.

Mistletoe Kisses with the Billionaire - Shirley Jump (HR #4353 - Dec 2012)

Series: Holiday Miracles (Book 3)

Free-spirited journalist Grace McKinnon is happy jet-setting from one adventure to the next. That is, until work beckons her back home for Christmas, to Beckett's Run -- the cozy winter wonderland that contains everything she ran away from years ago, including childhood sweetheart J. C. Carson….

Blazing into town in her red convertible, Grace nearly runs J.C. off the road! And working together to organize the Christmas festival, sparks fly even as their past looms between them.

But with the first snowflakes falling, will Grace be able to resist J.C. under the mistletoe…despite all their differences?

Good book.  Grace is the youngest of the three sisters and a real wanderer.  But her writing hasn't been going well lately and her boss has told her to take a break and get herself together.  So she reluctantly goes home to Beckett's Run where she immediately runs into JC.  She wants to do a story on the Christmas festival and talks her way into helping JC run it.   There is still an attraction between them, but she barely recognizes the man he has become.  As they work together they find plenty to talk about but their past keeps pushing them apart.  She also sees that JC has done the exact thing he said he would never do - become a suit wearing workaholic.  She does her best to help him see that it is possible to have fun again. Grace has her own issues to deal with.  As the youngest she was most affected by her parents' rocky relationship.  This has caused her to avoid relationships and has even caused her to pull away from her sisters.  Grace doesn't like conflict and has a habit of running when things start to get rough.  JC and Grace were friends and sweethearts when they were younger, but some things happened that separated them, each thinking that the other had abandoned them.  Now she's back and JC realizes he had never stopped caring.  He also doesn't trust that she won't just take off again.  The more time he spends with Grace the more he realizes what has been missing in his life.  The problem is that he feels responsible for so much and doesn't know if there is any way that he and Grace can find a way to be together.  Both of them will have to figure out a way to take the risks that can win them what they want.  I enjoyed the ending and seeing all three sisters together.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Something to Believe In - Kimberly Van Meter (HS #1826 - Jan 2013)

Series: A Family in Paradise (Book 3)

It's time to get her life back
Lilah Bell isn't asking for much-just a normal life. A future that's different from her shadowed, traumatic past. Maybe even a chance to start over. Instead, all she gets is the suffocating attention of her overprotective sisters, who seem to be waiting for her to break again. They don't get that helping save her family's beautiful Virgin Islands resort is definitely a challenge she can handle. But what she can't handle is a serious relationship with carefree visitor Justin Cales. After all, wanting a man who isn't planning to stick around isn't smart. 

Problem is, falling for Justin is too easy. And now life is more complicated than ever. When the truth unravels, they'll either be brought together in unexpected ways...or torn apart for good.

Very good, very emotional story.  Lilah is still trying to get herself back together after her breakdown last summer.  She feels like she is doing pretty well, but her sisters just won't stop watching her.  Justin is on the island for a last hurrah before being forced to become a productive adult.  He has been an irresponsible playboy and his father has had enough.  Justin isn't happy about it, but decides to live it up while he can.  He is floored by Lilah when he sees her and wants her.  They have an immediate attraction that they act on, but Lilah has no intention of getting involved with him.  She doesn't need that kind of stress and he isn't staying long anyway.  But he makes her feel good and she finds herself falling for him anyway. Lilah's biggest fear is that she will fail at something she does and that it will send her back into the depression that nearly killed her. She also has some serious self esteem issues, especially when it comes to her art. Justin can't stay away from Lilah.  There is something about her that makes him want to be better than he has been.  When his reputation catches up with him she pulls away and he leaves the island, going home to take up the political life his father wants him to have.  Justin finds that he actually likes what he's doing and begins to repair his relationship with his father and live up to his potential.  But he also can't forget Lilah and when he gets a break, goes back to see her.  Lilah is hiding a couple secrets that really throw him for a loop, but eventually bring out the best in him.  I loved the way that he stood up to his father and refused to walk away from Lilah.  I also really liked Justin's mom.  She seemed pretty weak at the beginning of the book, but her true strength showed up at the end when she helped Justin and Lilah.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cole's Christmas Wish - Tracy Madison (HSE #2231 - Dec 2012)

Series: Colorado Fosters (Book 1)


And that was for Rachel Merriday to realize, finally, that she was in love with him! The only problem was, he and Rachel were friends...just friends. Sure, they kissed that once-and what a kiss!-but Cole was waiting for the right time to tell her how he really felt.

But has time run out? Rachel was coming home to Colorado for Christmas with a new man! And from what Cole's been hearing, this guy might just be "the one." How could that be, when it's been so obvious from the moment Rachel first leveled him with a snowball as kids, that it's Cole she should be kissing under the mistletoe!

Maybe now is the right time to finally let Rachel know that all he wants for her.

I really liked this book.  Cole was a really nice guy though a little clueless.  He and Rachel had been friends since they were kids and had just started moving it up to the next level when he got hurt and she left him.  He's ready to try again when she comes back for Christmas, but then he finds out she's bringing a guy with her.  He is stunned and not sure what to do.  When he meets her boyfriend he makes up a serious girlfriend for himself.  He gets her to help him shop for this girlfriend all the time buying things that are actually for her.  Cole really wants to be able to tell her how he feels, but he also knows that if she is really in love with the other guy he will stay silent because he wants her to be happy.  Rachel is a nice girl but because of her parents, who fight all the time and she gets caught in the middle, really wants a loving husband and family of her own.  She has brought Andrew home with her in hopes that he will propose over the holidays.  As the time goes on you can see that the connection just isn't there between them, but the chemistry between Rachel and Cole is obvious.  Rachel has a tendency to want to avoid difficult situations of any kind so she had bailed on him before.   Rachel knows that she blew it when she left him before, but doesn't know how to make things right.  She quickly realizes that a life with Andrew is not what she wants, but doesn't want to make a move on Cole and mess up his relationship.  I loved it when she found out about the deception and the way she turned the tables.  I really enjoyed the final scene that included the visiting Foster cousins (from the Foster Brothers books).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Falling for Rachel - Nora Roberts (SSE #810 - Apr 1993)

Series: Stanislaskis (Book 3)

Landlocked in Manhattan, rough-and-ready seaman Zackary Muldoon needed a street-smart, two-fisted attorney to save his kid brother's delinquent hide. What he got was a long-legged lady lawyer clad in sophisticated silks. Public defender Rachel Stanislaki made Zack's blood boil... and his loins ache.

No endless voyage had ever had him hungering for a female the way one day in court with this woman did. He'd have to give Rachel a wide berth . . . before she trimmed his sails forever... and anchored him with unquenchable desire.

This was the only Stanislaski book I hadn't read yet and I'm so glad I finally got a copy.  Rachel is a public defender who got tagged with helping Nick.  He had been caught robbing an electronics store, but she could see that he wasn't a hardened criminal.  The judge assigned her to coguardian Nick along with his stepbrother Zack.  There were sparks between the two from the beginning, but Rachel tried to keep things professional.  Zack wasn't having any part of that - he was deeply attracted to her and made sure she knew it.  Rachel could see that Zack really wanted to do what was best for Nick, and she could see that Nick's biggest problem was that he felt alone.  Being the hardheaded guys that they were neither one was any good at expressing feeling to each other so Rachel had her work cut out for her.  She also had to deal with her growing feelings for Zack and the crush that Nick had on her.  I loved seeing how much Zack cared about Nick, but how lost he was about showing him.  I liked the way that Rachel was able to show both guys how much the other cared.  I also loved the way he was there for Rachel when she was attacked and how the tender side of him showed up through the tough guy attitude.  I really enjoyed the closeness of the Stanislaski family and how they welcomed Zack and Nick into it.  I loved the way that Rachel and her brother Alex had such a rivalry going on but their love for each other was apparent throughout.  I really liked the judge and her discussion with Rachel at the bar, and then her ruling in the courtroom at the end.  One of these days I will have to reread the other Stanislaski books.

All Grown Up - Janice Maynard (HD #2206 - Jan 2013)

Series: Men of Wolff Mountain (Book 5)

Believing Sam Ely was the only one for her, young Annalise Wolff threw herself at him. But he claimed he was too old for her…and that she was too forward. Seven years later, she's still reeling from his words, vowing never to forgive. Then she's offered a job she can't refuse.  

Although it means working closely with Sam, Annalise is determined to ignore age-old feelings. But then a snowstorm strands them together…without power…without family interference…without inhibitions. And Annalise has to decide if falling for Sam again is worth the risk of a second broken heart.

Very good book.  Annalise is the only girl in the Wolff "pack".  Because of her mother's death and their isolation on Wolff Mountain, she was never exposed to the normal things a girl would learn from hanging out with other girls.  As a result, she did things she probably wouldn't have done otherwise.  Her hurt and anger from Sam's rejection are still with her and have affected her even now.  When she is offered a chance to work on his grandparents' house, she can't say no.  When they get snowed in at the house, Annalise realizes that her attraction to Sam has never gone away.  She decides to give in to the attraction but tries to keep her emotions out of it, not wanting to risk her heart again.  Because of her upbringing and issues she feels that she will never marry and have children because she doesn't want to risk doing something wrong. This is especially hard on her when she discovers that Sam wants to find the right woman and settle down and have a family.  She would love to be that woman, but her fears make her unwilling to try.  Sam rejected Annalise all those years ago because he felt he was too old for her.  He was attracted to her even then, but unwilling to take the risk.  Since then he has regretted the way he rejected her and would really like to make things right.  When they are stranded together he has a hard time controlling his reactions to her.  He would love to have a relationship with Annalise and see where it might go, but her attitude toward having a family makes him cautious.  He discovers that her attitude covers up some deep seated insecurities and does his best to show her that they are unfounded.  Their physical relationship is explosive but their other issues are preventing them from moving forward.  I really enjoyed seeing Annalise get to know Rachel and her baby and learn that parenting is not an exact science.  The conclusion, especially with the part about the cake, was fantastic.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

All or Nothing - Catherine Mann (HD #2203 - Jan 2012)

Series: Alpha Brotherhood (Book 2)

"I can't sleep with a man who keeps secrets."
Despite the warnings that he would break her heart, Jayne Hughes fell for the bad boy. And Conrad Hughes, casino magnate, did just that with his absences and lies. Now she's ready to move on, but her husband has other plans….

Conrad's undercover work for Interpol destroyed his marriage. When Jayne comes to Monte Carlo seeking a divorce, he launches an all-out assault. Seducing his wife back into his bed is child's play; earning her trust is another matter. Yet Conrad knows the odds favor the house. And he has no intentions of losing.

Very good book.  Jayne and Conrad have been married for seven years but separated for three.  Jayne couldn't handle the fact that Conrad would disappear for weeks at a time without telling her anything and without staying in touch.  It reminded her too much of her father who had been unfaithful and had a second family that he had kept secret.  She was sure Conrad wasn't cheating, but the secrets were tearing her up.  So she left him and tried to rebuild her life.  Now she's back to get him to sign divorce papers. She is still attracted to him and still in love with him, but afraid of getting her heart broken again. Conrad knows he's been a terrible husband, but he doesn't want to let her go.  So he is determined to win her back.  Conrad has his own issues that have affected him.  His father was a white collar crook and Conrad used his own intelligence to try to get even.  It took him down a wrong road where he ended up at reform school where he met Troy, Malcolm and others who now do occasional work for Interpol.  Now he feels a need to do everything he can to make up for the wrong he did.  When something happens that may have put Jayne in danger Conrad is finally forced to open up about his work.  Communication has never been his strong point and Jayne often feels like she's pulling teeth to get him to tell her anything.  Once again his reluctance to open up nearly destroyed everything but with some advice from a friend he was finally able to win the day.

Sunset Surrender - Charlene Sands (HD #2205 - Jan 2013)

Series: Rich Rugged Ranchers (Book 1)

"You don't belong here, Sophia."
Sophia Montrose is no stranger to Sunset Ranch. Not after the scorching kiss Logan Slade once shared with the alluring Spanish beauty in high school. Now she's back—to claim a share of his family's Nevada spread. Logan wants to hate her. After all, she's a Montrose.
Sophia hasn't forgotten that stolen moment with Logan—even if it was part of a cruel bet. Fifteen years later, she's staring into the rugged cowboy's cold black eyes…and determined to stand her ground. But will she lose her footing in the quicksand of their unquenchable love-hate passion?

Very good book.  Sophia was left part ownership in the Sunset Lodge by Logan's father, who had had an affair with Sophia's mom while she was manager of the lodge.  Logan is angry because he blames the affair on Sophia's mom and thinks that Sophia is just like her.  Sophia is happy to be back on the ranch where she had been very happy growing up.   She is dismayed by Logan's coldness and attitude but is determined to make her time at the Lodge work.  Another thing she didn't expect was the strong attraction between them.  When they acted on that attraction and Logan started spending more time with her, Sophia hoped he was beginning to see how wrong he had been, especially when she realized she had fallen for him.  Logan was furious that Sophia had inherited part of the Lodge.  He held her mother responsible for the problems in his parents' marriage and felt that Sophia was just like her.  He didn't like the renewed friendship between Sophia and his brother Luke and thought that Sophia was just trying to follow in her mom's footsteps.  He used their attraction to fix her interest on him, planning to keep it to a physical relationship only.  He didn't expect to start liking her, but he still wouldn't give up his distrust of her.  He nearly blew it at the end, but finally came to his senses.  There were some pretty intense emotional moments where I could really feel what Sophia was going through.

Monday, December 17, 2012

When Chocolate Is Not Enough... - Nina Harrington (HR #4362 - Jan 2013)

A shared passion for…chocolate!
One taste of Daisy Flynn's delicious confectionery and Max Treveleyn is hooked! This quirky chocolatier is just the person to showcase the cocoa from his plantation.
Daisy jumps on the idea—she's always dreamed of having her own chocolate shop, and with Max's offer, that dream can become a reality. But Daisy finds sexy single dad Max very distracting!
Keeping focused on work isn't easy. But Daisy has learned the hard way that she's safer indulging in chocolate than in relationships. She mustn't be tempted by something even sweeter….

Good book.  I really liked both Max and Daisy.  Max was a different sort of hero in that he is basically a happy guy.  What he needs is someone willing to work with his chocolate to show how good it is and help make it a success.  As soon as he tasted Daisy's chocolates he knew she was the one he needed.  Max is serious about his business, but he can also be pretty goofy.  He finds himself doing some pretty dumb things just because he is so distracted by Daisy.  He is also a terrific dad who really loves his little girl.  He doesn't get to see much of her and that really bothers him.  I also loved the way he was so supportive of Daisy and made sure she knew how much confidence he had in her.  Daisy had a dream of opening her own chocolate shop and winning the contest would go a long way toward achieving that goal.  But she isn't quite sure what to make of Max.  He isn't very good at communicating his plans to her which results in a couple very funny scenes.  She is also attracted to him but was badly burned in a previous relationship and doesn't want to risk it again.  She finds that the more time she spends with Max the more she actually likes him.  I loved the way that she finally broke out of her shell and went after what she really wanted.  I loved all the scenes with the chocolate from the first one with the body parts to the end with the results of the contest.

Homing - Elswyth Thane (Duell, Sloan, and Pearce - 1957)

Series: Williamsburg (Book 7)

When Evadne arrived at Williamsburg as Stephen Sprague's bride in the autumn of 1938, the long family history in the little Virginia town was a new and fascinating story to her. Evadne noticed that the portrait of Grandfather Julian's wife Tibby looked exactly like her own niece Mab, who had never been to Williamsburg, but who at thirteen knew the family chronicle by heart. In this, the 1938-41 volume, we find Evadne back at her warden's post in London; Stephen with his new mobile canteen; Jeff on his job under fire as much as any soldier, Sylvia sticking to her Animal First Aid post; Virginia at Farthingale; and Mab, too young to go for a VAD (Voluntary Aid Detachment) but considering herself too old for evacuation, turning her back on the place she wanted most to be, because Jeff was in England, writing the blitz, and where Jeff was she had to stay.

This is my all-time favorite series of books.  I love family sagas and this one starts during the Revolutionary War with Dawn's Early Light and concludes with this book covering the first part of World War 2 in England.  This one starts with Stephen bringing his English bride home to meet his parents.  Evadne is from the English side of the family and not as familiar with all the family stories as her niece Mab is.  She is fascinated though slightly disturbed by Mab's resemblance to Tabitha Day, especially since cousin Jeff looks like Julian, but is married to someone else.  Upon their return to England, everyone is very careful not to make too much of Mab's fascination.  Those worries are overshadowed by the looming war as Hitler starts his takeover of Europe.  The historical snapshots of what life was like in England at this time are fascinating as they focus on individual contributions as well as the big picture.  Throughout the book there are fantastic stories of the way the British faced the impending war and then the actuality of the battles and air raids, but all with a personal and real feeling.  Everyone is affected in different ways and tragedy does not pass them by.  I have always loved the way that Mab has never hidden her feelings for Jeff and that everyone accepts it.  Even Jeff's wife is aware, but it has never made a difference to the way they deal with each other.  When multiple tragedies hit Mab, she and her grandmother Virginia go to Williamsburg, where Mab can begin to recover.  It gives a wonderful feeling of the story coming full circle.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Soldier's Sweetheart - Soraya Lane (HR #4358 - Jan 2013)

Series: Larkville Legacy (Book 7)

Larkville hero comes home!
Returning Special Forces soldier Nate Calhoun is struggling to adjust to small-town life. It's a relief to get back to the bunkhouse with only his memories and a bottle of bourbon for company.

Only Sarah Anderson can see straight through Nate's surly exterior to his pain. As childhood sweethearts they were inseparable—until he left, shattering her heart.

But hanging out like they used to—racing horses and shooting the breeze on the ranch—they begin to see that there really might be that spark still between them….

Very good book.  Nate has come home, but is hiding out from his friends and family.  He is trying to deal with the memories of what happened and not doing a very good job of it.  He won't let anyone get close - until Sarah doesn't take no for an answer.  Even though he broke her heart, she still knows him and can see how much he's hurting.  I really liked the way that Sarah kept telling Nate that she was there for him.  She was willing to risk her heart again to help him.  She was also strong enough to stand up to him when he tried to chase her away.  Her biggest problem was having the courage to share her secret with him and trust that he will stand by her.  Nate is dealing with horrific memories and guilt that just won't go away.  It gives him nightmares and he is angry all the time.  At first he doesn't want to share anything with Sarah, since he also feels guilty about the way he left her and angry about her marriage to someone else.  But he soon appreciates her persistence and is able to open up to her.  He also admits to himself that his love for her had never gone away.  I liked the way that he took the time to tell her his plans at the end and reinforce to her that he would be back.  I hope that the last book gives updates on how these later couples are doing.

His Larkville Cinderella - Melissa McClone (HR #4346 - Nov 2012)

Series: Larkville Legacy (Book 5)

The small-town girl with big dreams has finally reached Hollywood! For years, costume designer Megan Calhoun has longed to be seen for who she is, not who she isn't. But under the gaze of A-list heartthrob Adam Noble, this Cinderella begins to step out of the shadows….

Adam hides from his painful past behind every role he plays. But something in Megan is threatening to smash apart this carefully constructed facade. Will he finally take his biggest risk…throw away the script and open his heart?

Very good book.  For most of her life, Megan felt out of place in her own family with her dreams of being a Hollywood costume designer.  Now that she has graduated from college she has gotten a job as an intern in Hollywood.   She is determined to do well but feels somewhat overwhelmed.  During her first week she meets Adam who she initially thinks is a pretty obnoxious guy.  I really liked her focus on folowing her dreams.  I was pretty disgusted with her family, that not one of them could be bothered to show up for her graduation.  I don't blame her for wanting to get away from them.  I liked the way that she stayed true to herself and didn't play the stupid Hollywood games.  She did a good job trying to follow her boss's rules and just being a friend with Adam in spite of the strong attraction between them.  I also liked the way that her friends and her boss came through for her when Adam was being a jerk.  I mostly liked Adam, but there were a couple times when Megan should have really made him work to get back in her good graces.  He was basically a nice guy, though very good at playing the Hollywood game.   He used his image to help him keep his emotions safe.  There was something about Megan that he really liked and he found himself wanting to help her learn the ropes.  He also liked the fact that she didn't suck up to him but treated him as a normal guy.  Unfortunately he made two real boneheaded mistakes in the way he treated her, mostly because he was afraid of the way she made him feel.  After the second time she called him on it and pretty much told him to go away until he grew up.  It had a good ending.  I would really like to see what happens when she brings him back to Larkville with her, and what everyone's reactions are after the way she was treated.