Friday, November 30, 2012

Espresso in the Morning - Dorie Graham (HS #1823 - Dec 2012)

The coffee's not the only thing that's hot...
The last thing Claire Murphy wants is a man in her life. Things work best with just her and her son, Grey, a solid team of two. Yes, some days are chaotic, but she's confident Grey doesn't know why she needs that chaos-until he brings home the local cafe owner, Lucas Williams, to help. How could Grey? Having someone as good-looking as Lucas around doesn't feel right.

Or does it? It turns out there's more to Lucas than the ability to brew a great cup of coffee. And sure, she knows she's benefiting from his knowledge about recovering from trauma. But she also knows that she's falling for Lucas and she's not sure she's ready for that!

This book was okay.  I liked Lucas a lot.  He is a very nice guy who is strong but also caring enough to want to help people.  He has people working in his cafe that are helped by having a job with him.  He has noticed Claire and her son Grey when they come in every day, and recognizes that Claire is fighting something.  He first gets involved with Grey who is having a hard time with his mom's frenetic lifestyle.  He recognizes the symptoms of PTSD and doesn't want to lose someone else to it.  As he spends time with them he comes to care for them very much, but Claire's refusal to accept that she needs help drives him nuts.  Every time he tries to help her she pushes him away.  I loved the fact that he stuck with her and that he was so wonderful with Grey, especially during the crises at the end.  I had a much harder time with Claire.  I just couldn't understand how she could go on like she was even though she could see what it was doing to her son.  I got to the point where I wanted to smack her and tell her to do something for God's sake.  I really didn't like her mother and sister at all.  She had tried to tell her mom what happened and was blown off.  If her mom had been supportive Claire might not have suffered the way she did.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Wish Upon a Christmas Star - Darlene Gardner (HS #1822 - Dec 2012)

The odds are about a million to one. But after eleven years, P.I. Maria DiMarco jumps at the possibility that her brother might still be alive. And when she makes a wish on a rare pre-Christmas shooting star, well, it could be a sign. Logan Collier doesn't think so. Not that Maria should put her trust -- or hope -- in her ex-love, who long ago left her heart in pieces.

Yet here Logan is in Key West, helping Maria chase down leads and, like her, trying -- and failing -- to ignore the attraction heating up between them. Even if her search takes her nowhere, Maria isn't giving up. Not on finding her brother…or on a second chance with Logan.

Good book.  I liked both Maria and Logan.  Maria has never given up hope that her brother is still alive, so she heads to Key West to follow up on a lead.  As a PI she never gives up until she has checked out every possibility.  Logan is far more pragmatic, but follows her there to help even though they were over long ago.  Both of them are trying to ignore the attraction that still affects them both.  Maria follows lead after lead, always hoping they will bring the result she wants.  Whenever she is disappointed Logan is there for her.  Logan is very sure that Mike is dead, but hates to see Maria hurt each time.  He doesn't want to get involved with her again as he still remembers his feelings after their breakup, but he can't stop wanting to be there for her.  Both of them were hurt by their breakup, but each blamed the other one for it.  Neither seemed to be able to see that it was a lack of being willing to compromise on both their parts - most likely because they were so young at the time.  I liked the way that they were able to work together even though they had differing viewpoints.  The conclusion was terrific.  I also enjoyed the secondary story with Kayla, the rookie PI that Maria was helping.  She had some good instincts and the motivation and enthusiasm that she needed.  I liked the way she solved her case and dealt with the perpetrator.

Impulsive - HelenKay Dimon (Brava - Nov 2010)

Series: Men of Hawaii (Book 5)

Trouble In Paradise...

Katie Long was supposed to be undercover. She was just supposed to watch Deputy Prosecutor Eric Kimura at his ex's wedding and gather intel on his campaign for prosecutor. But he's a lot hotter in person, and the kind of intel they accidentally shared in the hotel bathroom might lose both of them their jobs. Especially since it seems to be a recurring incident. Is it possible for a one-night stand to last ten days?

Kimura isn't usually the impulsive type. He's driven, he's ambitious, and he knows what he wants -- a respectable future in Hawaii politics. Which means wild half-public sex with a beautiful stranger in a short little caterer's skirt is just tabloid fodder waiting to happen. Conveniently, just as his campaign is coming under attack. Sabotage, media gossip, and an insatiable desire for a woman he just met? If he's not careful, Counselor Kimura might lose all control...

Really good book.  Katie and Eric just can't stay away from each other.  I really liked both of them.  Katie was a wild child that is finally getting her life on track.  She didn't expect the immediate attraction to Eric. She also didn't expect to actually like him. She wants to end her job following him so she can just be with him on her own, but ends up staying on to keep someone else from doing it.  She finally confesses to Eric what is happening which naturally creates some conflict between them.  Because of things in her past she has some trust issues which feed into her relationship with Eric.  I liked the way that they always managed to talk things out. Katie started out seeming kind of immature, but did a lot of growing up in this book.  Eric is older and more settled. He is also a nice guy at heart.  He has political ambitions and is worried that his encounters with Katie could be a setup.  Their chemistry is incredible and he just keeps going back for more.  He really likes her and when some bad stuff starts happening he doesn't want to believe she is behind it.  They figure out that there is someone else is and they need to find out who it is.  The final confrontation was very good.  I loved the dialog between the two of them.  She is pretty sassy, which is something that Eric is not used to.  Their relationship also causes Eric to look at his workaholic ways and realize that he wants more balance in his life.  This was a really fun book to read.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Warriors in Winter - Michelle Willingham (HH #1118 - Dec 2012)

Series: MacEgan (Book 7)

In The Bleak Midwinter
It's a year since Brianna MacEgan's husband was killed, and she remains coldly obsessed with avenging his death. But Arturo de Manzano is intent on distracting her with his muscled fighter's body -- and the ice around her heart is soon in danger of melting….

Brianna has been unable to move past her grief over her husband's death and is planning to avenge him.  When Arturo, who is part of the group escorting his sister and Liam home, arrives he is immediately drawn to her.  Having lost his wife he understands her pain and wants to help her through it.  Brianna has a tremendous amount of guilt to overcome as she falls for him.  Arturo is wonderfully patient as he tries to show Brianna the happiness that could be hers.

The Holly and the Viking
Lost in a snowstorm, Rhiannon MacEgan is rescued by a fierce Viking. Her lonely soul instantly finds its mate in Kaall, but can they ever be together? For not only is Kaall blind, he's also her beloved cousin's most hated enemy….

Rhiannon really wants to find a love of her own, but her father is extremely overprotective.  When she gets lost in a snowstorm she is rescued by Kaall.  She is immediately attracted to him, but there are obstacles to her happiness - he is blind and is also the warrior responsible for Brianna's husband's death.  For all of his blindness he has an inner strength that is just what Rhiannon needs.  And Rhiannon is able to see the caring man under the surface of the warrior and is able to help him cope with his blindness. 

A Season to Forgive
Adriana de Manzano is betrothed to Liam MacEgan, a man she absolutely adores. But she's hiding a terrible secret. To save Liam's life in the Holy Land she was forced to betray him. If she tells this proud warrior the truth, can he ever forgive her?

Adrianna and Liam are very much in love.  Since leaving the Holy Land to return to Ireland Liam has sensed that there is something bothering her.   She has terrible nightmares and he sees pain in her eyes whenever he touches her.  Liam is also feeling guilt over the loss of his men in battle and doubts that he can take his father's place as king when the time comes.  When the secret comes out Liam has to decide if he can understand and forgive.  I loved the help that Adrianna got from the other wives in this one as they showed her how to deal with a MacEgan man.

All three stories were closely related.  They took place during the same period with overlapping events.  I enjoyed the glimpses of their holiday traditions and their way of life.  I also liked the strength of the women who could hold their own without losing their identities as women.  The men are the perfect blending of strong and sensitive. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oklahoma Wedding Bells - Carol Finch (HH #1115 - Dec 2012)

Independent Josephine Malloy is determined to stake her own claim during the latest Oklahoma land run. But to fend off the countless suitors seeking a wife and homestead she needs a fake fiancé for cover. Enter horse trader Solomon Tremain…

As an undercover Deputy U.S. Marshal investigating land fraud, Sol should probably keep his distance from this firebrand. But when Josie gets in trouble with the law it's Sol to the rescue -- although he'll need to make their marriage for real. If only she'll stay out of hot water long enough to say "I do"!

Good book.  I liked both Josie and Sol.  Josie had the independence and determination to go after what she wanted.  She also seemed to be something of a magnet for trouble.  I enjoyed seeing the way her mind worked and the lengths she went to to reach her goals.  She is rather cynical about men and this causes some trust issues between her and Sol.  Meanwhile, Sol has his own trust issues with Josie, but he can't stay away from her.  He also can't tell her who he really is, which causes its own set of problems.  I loved the interactions between these two as they tried to protect themselves, but were unable to resist their feelings.  There were some really fun parts, as well as some moving parts when Josie began to realize what opening the lands to the settlers meant to the Native Americans.  I liked the way that Sol's mission was intertwined with Josie.  I loved the way that she was able to help rescue herself, and how it all made she and Sol realize what was important.

Head Over Heels - Susan Andersen (Avon - Jan 2002)

Series: Marine (Book 1) 

Who said "you can't go home again"? In Veronica Davis's case, who'd want to -- especially when you hail from Fossil, Washington? But now she's back among the good-ol' boys who think she's fair game just because she's in a waitress uniform.

The truth is, Veronica's the boss -- at least until she can sell the family saloon and skip town again as fast as her feet can carry her-and nobody knows that better than Cooper Blackstock. From behind the bar, the ex-Special Forces Marine sees all. And his undercover agenda has made the feisty boss-lady's troubles his own.

And her troubles are considerable, what with a family in turmoil, a pseudo-bartender with dangerous secrets, a murder investigation, and death threats. Though the town surprisingly rallies in support, it's still a good thing that Cooper will be there to catch Veronica if she stumbles -- if he doesn't start falling himself.

Good book.  I liked both Veronica and Cooper.  Veronica has come back after her sister's murder to take care of her niece and take her back to Seattle with her.   First she has to sell the bar and house.  When she arrives, she meets Cooper who is working as the bartender.  There is an immediate attraction between them, but there are other issues that are keeping them apart.  Veronica left Fossil, swearing never to return and put up with the misery of working in the bar.  But she has to fill in when a waitress quits and deal with the less than pleasant memories it brings back.  She also gives in to her attraction to Cooper, knowing that nothing can come of it.  She refuses to follow in her mother's footsteps and fall for a man with no apparent ambition.  Cooper is working at the bar while he tries to figure out who really killed Veronica's sister.  The man accused is Cooper's half brother and he knows that Eddie couldn't have done it.  He hasn't told anyone who he is and wants to keep it that way.  He doesn't expect the intense attraction to Veronica, or the way she makes him feel.  He's had to rethink his attitude toward her.  Even when they confess their love to each other, their baggage from the past continues to create problems for them.  The solving of the mystery works well and makes Cooper and Veronica realize that love overcomes those other issues.

Monday, November 26, 2012

An Irish Country Wedding - Patrick Taylor (Forge - Oct 2012)

Series: Irish Country Books (Book 7) 

Love is in the air in the colourful Ulster village of Ballybucklebo, where Dr. Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly has finally proposed to the darling of his youth, Kitty O’Hallorhan. There’s a wedding to be planned, but before O’Reilly can make it to the altar, he and his young colleague, Barry Laverty, M.B., must deal with the usual round of eccentric patients -- and crises both large and small.

Being a G.P. in a place like Ballybucklebo often means more than simply splinting broken bones and tending to aches and pains. It can also mean helping a struggling young couple acquire their first home, clearing the name of a cat accused of preying on a neighbor’s prize pigeons, and encouraging a bright working-class girl who dreams of someday becoming a doctor herself. And, if you’re Barry Laverty, still smarting from a painful breakup, there might even be a chance for a new romance with a lovely school teacher, if her passionate political convictions don’t get in the way. 

I love this series and this book was just as good as the others.  I feel as though I am visiting with old friends. One of the things I love most about this series is the reality of the way the characters are portrayed.  The medical parts are spoken of in a way that makes them completely understandable without feeling like I'm reading a textbook. The main theme, of course, is the upcoming wedding of Kitty and Dr. O'Reilly.  Before that can happen there are all the happenings that a pair of country doctors must deal with.  First is the illness of the housekeeper, Mrs. Kincaid.  Kinky ends up in the hospital, leaving Fingal and Barry to muddle through on their own.  But in the way of small towns, their neighbors are there to lend a hand.  They do have to reassure Kinky that she is missed and that her place with them is secure.  She is also dealing with the worry that things will change for the worse when Fingal marries Kitty.  I loved seeing how Kitty manages to win over Kinky.  There is also another run-in with the local councilman Bertie Bishop, when the doctors come out on top yet again.  While Kinky is out sick they hire Helen Hewitt to lend a hand in the house and find out that she has dreams to become a doctor.  This is not an easy thing for the daughter of a working class family in the mid 1960s and we see Fingal work his magic to help her.  And then there is Barry Laverty who is finally starting to recover from his breakup with Patricia.  He is getting to know Sue Nolan, a lovely school teacher who he likes very much.  The only difficulty is that she is very involved in the politics of Northern Ireland and Barry is very carefully neutral. This causes some conflict between the two of them. He is also preparing to leave Ballybucklbo to pursue specialist training and comes to realize just how much he will miss the people he has come to care for.  I am looking forward to the next book, though I expect it will be this time next year before it will be available.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Some Like It Wicked - Carole Mortimer (HH #1116 - Dec 2012)

Series: Daring Duchesses (Book 2)

Rupert Stirling, Duke of Stratton, has long since acquired the nickname Devil. And with outrageous exploits both in and out of ladies' bedchambers, my, has he earned it!

Risqué behavior is beyond Pandora Maybury, widowed Duchess of Wyndwood -- although with her dark secret she's far too well acquainted with being the subject of ribald gossip for her liking. If only the Ton knew just how innocent she really was…including Rupert who, after rescuing her from a compromising situation, seems intent on wickedly compromising her himself!

Very good book.  I really liked both Pandora and Rupert.  Pandora's husband was killed in a duel the year before and she was blamed for it.  This has set her up to be treated badly by men of the ton. Rupert saves her from an attack and then appears to be pursuing her for himself.  She is very wary about trusting Rupert.  I liked the way that she stood up for herself when she wanted to.  It is also apparent that she is a very kind person at heart, who watches out for the people she cares about.  I loved Rupert.  He seemed very arrogant at first, especially when Pandora overheard him talking to his friend.  I loved the way he came to Pandora's rescue and then how he took care of her and got her home.  I loved his protectiveness and the way he was so fascinated by her.  He was surprised by the depth of his feelings for her, beyond just the attraction.  I loved the way they would be getting along just fine, then arguing, then giving in to passion.  My favorite part of the book was the confrontation with Rupert's stepmother - Pandora was fantastic!  I also enjoyed the mystery of the break-ins at her house and the revealing of the villain.

The Deeper the Passion - Jennifer Lewis (HD #2202 - Dec 2012)

Series: Drummond Vow (Book 2)

Tropical tryst...with a twist

To find an heirloom lost for centuries, Vicki St. Cyr must enlist the help of former flame, nautical treasure hunter Jack Drummond. Working in close quarters, Vicki is in danger of taking her eyes off the bedding the only man to ever break her heart.

Six years ago, Jack Drummond ran from love. But he cannot deny the desire he still feels for Vicki. Their nights together are hot and passionate. But if Vicki recovers her heirloom, will the flames die out once more...or will Jack persevere and discover the treasure of true love?

Good book.   Vicki has come to Jack to find the second piece in the missing Drummond Chalice.  She needs his help to find it.  She is sure that the attraction between them is still there and suspects she will end up sleeping with him.  What she doesn't want to do is risk her heart again.  Jack is looking forward to renewing their relationship.  It had gotten very intense six years earlier and he wasn't able to handle it.  Now he is sure that he can and might even want to take it further.  I really enjoyed the interactions between Vicki and Jack.  Because of their history they already knew a fair amount about each other, but there were enough differences to keep them both intrigued.  I liked the way they worked together on the treasure hunt.  They made a great team as they worked on finding the wreck and then recovering the contents.  Spending as much time together as they did it was soon obvious to Vicki that she still loved Jack.  Jack also discovered that his feelings were even stronger than they had been which sent him running again until he came to accept what he felt.  I enjoyed the ending and am looking forward to the final book in the series.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Run the Risk - Lori Foster (HQN - Oct 2012)

Series: Love Undercover (Book 1) 

Nothing can shake a cop from pursuing justice-except a beautiful witness marked for death...

When Detective Logan Riske goes undercover to find Pepper Yates, a potential link to his best friend's unsolved murder, he vows to gain her cooperation by any means necessary. But the elusive beauty is more suspicious-and in far more danger-than he expected. And the last thing Logan needs is to start caring for her.... 

Pepper has spent years dodging the corrupt club owner who will stop at nothing to keep her silenced. She can trust no one, not even the handsome new "construction worker" who's moved in next door. The heat between them is undeniable. But will surrendering to passion bring her the safety she so desires-or will her feelings for Logan draw them both into a killer's crosshairs? 

Good book.  It started out a bit slow for me, as the previous series books seemed to jump right into the action.  Pepper is hiding out as manager of an apartment building, trying to stay safe from the man who wants her dead.  She has disguised her looks and mannerisms and is pretty darn dull.  When Logan moves in and starts trying to hit on her, she is really confused but definitely attracted.  Logan is undercover trying to get close to her so that he can catch her brother.  He is determined to do whatever it takes.  He doesn't expect to be intrigued, attracted and just plain liking Pepper.  His single minded focus at the beginning makes him seem pretty obnoxious.  The initial interactions between the two are pretty strange, with Pepper wanting him but needed to maintain her disguise.  When the action heats up and Pepper and Logan are no longer in disguise their relationship gets more intense.  Pepper is furious at Logan's deception and feels used and betrayed.  She also still wants him.  I really enjoyed some of the things she put him through as they were working out their new relationship.  She also has to decide who she can trust to keep her and her brother safe.  Logan starts to feel really bad about his deception as he gets to know Pepper better, but he has to do what is necessary to bag her brother.  I found the interactions between Logan and her brother very interesting.  They also threw some interesting twists into the story.  When the disguises are done with Logan has to try to find a way back into Pepper's good graces as she has come to mean far more to him that he ever expected.  I liked the fact that while he is very alpha and protective, he also is able to acknowledge his feelings and the fact that Pepper really confuses him.  The final showdown was excellent with a couple surprises thrown in.  I enjoyed the mystery, continuing with the theme of drugs and human trafficking from the Edge of Honor series.  There was also the problem of police corruption causing doubt over who could and could not be trusted.  I also enjoyed the set up for the next book starring Logan's friend and coworker Reese and his neighbor Alice, and Rowdy with maybe the redhead.  I'm not sure who Dash will end up with but I'm sure he'll be in there too.

Friday, November 23, 2012

O'Halloran's Lady - Fiona Brand (HRS #1733 - Dec 2012)

"It's been nine years. I still want you."
World-famous writer Jenna Whitmore has her share of fans. She just never thought one would be out for blood. There's only one man she can trust with her life, VIP security expert Marc O'Halloran. He left her years ago without a word, so how can she ask him for help now?

Marc had failed to save his wife and child once. There's no way he's letting anything happen to Jenna. Whatever their relationship had been, or is destined to become again, he's keeping it all about maintaining Jenna's safety. Marc will protect the woman who's given him something to live-and die-for. 

Good book.  I liked both Jenna and Marc.  Jenna has become a bestselling author since she had dated Marc.  Now she has someone stalking her and trying to kill her.  When she decides she needs protection she goes to Marc and his security firm.  She had broken up with him because she couldn't handle his dangerous profession as a cop.  Now that she is older and spending more time with him, she realizes that she had never forgotten him.  As the danger increases and they are together constantly their attraction escalates and they give in to it.  I liked seeing the way that Jenna accepts that she has changed her attitude toward Marc.  I also liked seeing the way her mind worked and how some of the things she said helped Marc figure out the bad guy. Marc had spent the last six years trying to solve the mystery of who had been responsible for the deaths of his wife and son.  He didn't really want to provide Jenna's protection because he thought it would be a distraction from his search.  Jenna herself was the biggest distraction for him.  He also realized that he had never forgotten her.  I liked the way he was such a closet fan of her books and how he was able to make the connections between her latest book and her stalker.  He also had a surprise twist for her at the end that I really enjoyed. 

The Perfect Hope - Nora Roberts (Berkley - Nov 2012)

Series: Inn Boonsboro (Book 3) 

Ryder is the hardest Montgomery brother to figure out -- with a tough-as-nails outside and possibly nothing too soft underneath. He’s surly and unsociable, but when he straps on a tool belt, no woman can resist his sexy swagger. Except apparently Hope Beaumont, the innkeeper of his own Inn BoonsBoro…

As the former manager of a D.C. hotel, Hope is used to excitement and glamour, but that doesn’t mean she can’t appreciate the joys of small-town living. She’s where she wants to be -- except for in her love life. Her only interaction with the opposite sex has been sparring with the infuriating Ryder, who always seems to get under her skin. Still, no one can deny the electricity that crackles between them…a spark that ignited with a New Year’s Eve kiss.

While the Inn is running smoothly, thanks to Hope’s experience and unerring instincts, her big-city past is about to make an unwelcome -- and embarrassing -- appearance. Seeing Hope vulnerable stirs up Ryder’s emotions and makes him realize that while Hope may not be perfect, she just might be perfect for him… 

Excellent conclusion to the series.  I really liked both Hope and Ryder.  Hope is very focused and detail oriented which makes her an excellent innkeeper.  She is also very independent. She is not looking for love as she was badly burned by the last guy she was involved with.  However she couldn't deny that there was definitely something between her and Ryder.  Most of the time they were pretty snarky to each other.  At the beginning of this book the attraction is starting to win out over the snarkiness.   Once they give in to the attraction their interactions are great.  I love the way Hope keeps trying to convince herself that what they have is just sex, even as it becomes obvious that she's in love with him.  Ryder is fun to watch.  He is so gruff and surly around Hope that she feels like he just doesn't like her.  The problem is that he's attracted to her and doesn't want to be.  He likes being with women without worrying about commitment. He doesn't understand why he is attracted to her.  He enjoys their physical relationship, but finds his fascination with her outside that relationship disturbing. In spite of his attitude around Hope it is easy to see what a good guy he is by his relationships with his family.  I really enjoyed seeing him with his nephews.  Outside of the romance, I loved the ongoing mystery of the ghost and finding out her story.  It is resolved by the end of the book with a pretty interesting twist.  I loved the way that she assisted in the romance between Ryder and Hope.  There is also a really great middle-of-the-night scene involving her and an obnoxious guest.  There is also a wonderful scene in which Ryder gets involved when Hope's ex-boyfriend's wife comes to town and he goes into protector mode.  It causes things to get a little rough between Ryder and Hope as they learn to accept the way each other deals with problems.  Yet again Lizzy helps them sort things out.  I also really enjoyed this trilogy because of its return to Nora Roberts' romance roots.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Defender - Lindsay McKenna (HQN - Nov 2012)

Series: Jackson Hole Wyoming (Book 6) 

After escaping her troubled past, all Katie Bergstrom wants is to put down roots on her raptor rehabilitation facility outside Jackson Hole. She doesn't count on reconnecting with her estranged birth mother -- or the recent appearance of a sexy ranch hand. 

Former Marine Joe Gannon is used to a life of risk. Working on the ranch, life is simpler…except for the undercover work he's been asked to do. Getting too close to Katie could damage his current operation. Yet despite his orders to remain suspicious, he knows she's innocent -- and in danger. As he does everything he can to protect her, Katie can't help but fall for him. But after a lifetime of betrayal, is this too-secretive, too-seductive rancher someone she can trust? 

Very good book.  I really liked both Katie and Joe.  Katie was running a raptor rehab facility.  She got into raptors as a foster teen and they have been her life ever since.  She has also wondered about her birth mother and when she finds out about her she makes contact.  Her mom isn't what she expected but she wants to know her anyway.  Katie also hires Joe to help at the raptor center.  She is attracted to him and feels that he is a man she could fall for - he seems to be a very good guy, honest and honorable, and the birds like him.  For all her rough childhood Katie is a very optimistic, sweet young woman, who tends to see only the good in people.  Joe is back in Jackson Hole after being injured in Afghanistan.  He got interested in falconry while he was in rehab and the FBI recruited him to check out Katie and see if she is involved in her mother's illegal activities.  His first impressions of Katie are that she is innocent.  He finds himself very attracted to her and feels very guilty about hiding his true purpose.  He worries that their new relationship won't make it when she finds out. I loved his protectiveness towards her.    The first half of the book had some great information about the birds and the rehab process.  I really enjoyed reading about them.  The second half had more action as the drug trafficking heated up.  It definitely kept me turning the pages.  I enjoyed seeing characters from previous books, including Iris and Kam.  I did not like Joe's FBI boss much, I thought he could have been a bit more proactive where Katie's safety was concerned.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Staking His Claim - Tessa Radley (HD #2199 - Dec 2012)

Series: Billionaires and Babies 

A sister's betrayal.  
When her flaky sister abruptly backs out of their surrogacy agreement, Ella McLeod is left with a newborn she's in no position to care for. She'll have to give the baby up for adoption. Enter Yevgeny Volkovoy-her sister's bossy billionaire brother-in-law.

Yevgeny won't let a Volkovoy be raised by strangers; he wants custody now. How can Ella be so cold as to deny him? Even worse-why does this woman warm his steely heart? He may be staking his claim on the baby, but Ella may stake a counterclaim on his bachelorhood.  

Good book.  I liked both Ella and Yevgeny, though Ella was a little hard to warm up to at first.  She had agreed to be the surrogate for her sister who couldn't have kids.  But when her sister changed her mind, Ella was left holding the baby.  She'd had no intention of ever having children and felt completely unable to care for a baby.  So she decided to give the baby up for adoption.  When Yevgeny showed up he stated his intention of raising the baby, she was surprised - and not happy about it.  She considered him a bad bet for a parent because of his workaholic ways and lack of a wife.  She didn't expect to see him fall in love with the baby and be willing to make major changes in his life because of it.  As they spent time together taking care of the baby, she began to see that there was more to him than she thought.  She still seemed to be intent on giving the baby up, though that thought was getting harder to accept.  She had tried to stay emotionally distant, but the baby managed to find her way into Ella's heart - as did Yevgeny.  He had come running as soon as he heard about the plans for the baby.  He had no desire to let his niece be raised by strangers.  He also couldn't understand how Ella could be so coldly distant around the baby.  All he wanted was to be able to take his niece home with him and Ella kept throwing up roadblocks.  When he was able to spend time with her and the baby he saw a different side of her start to come out.  I loved the way that the two of them had of dealing with each other.  The ending was terrific with a surprise twist. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Unforgiven - B. J. Daniels (HQN - Nov 2012)

Series: Beartooth Montana (Book 2) 

In Beartooth, Montana, land and family are everything. So when Destry Grant's brother is accused of killing Rylan West's sister, high school sweethearts Destry and Rylan leave their relationship behind in order to help their families recover from tragedy.

Years later, Destry is dedicated to her ranch and making plans for the future. Plans that just might include reuniting with the love of her life…until her brother returns to clear his name and the secrets of the past threaten her one chance at happiness.

Rylan is done denying his feelings for Destry. But when clues begin to link her brush with death to his sister's murder, will discovering the truth finally grant them their chance at love or turn them against one another for good? 

Excellent book.  Eleven years after his sister's murder and the end of his romance with Destry, Rylan has returned to Beartooth.  He's tired of living on the road.  When Destry's brother Carson, who was suspected of Ginny's murder, returns, Rylan is determined to find the proof to put him behind bars.  This puts him in conflict with Destry yet again, as she is still certain of Carson's innocence.  I liked both Rylan and Destry.  Rylan had some real tunnel vision when it came to Carson, he was so sure that he was responsible.  When he saw Destry again, he realized that he still loved her, but was just as convinced that there was no future for them.  I liked the way that he actually started to listen to her when she told him that maybe he hadn't looked at all the facts.  It didn't take long before he and Destry started working together to try to find out the truth.  I liked the way that Destry was so comfortable in her role on the ranch.  She knew that she was happy there. She also had a very rocky relationship with her father, the reason for which comes out later in the book.  When her brother returns she is determined to prove him innocent.  She also has to find a way to help him deal with his other problems.  As she and Rylan work together she admits that she has never stopped loving him.  They have to decide if their love can overcome all the obstacles.  I liked the longer length of this book.  It allowed for more characters and more depth of character.  There were quite a few twists and turns that had me guessing as to the identity of the murderer.  I'm really looking forward to the next book.

Becoming Dante - Day LeClaire (HD #2200 - Dec 2012)

Series: Dante Legacy (Book 9)

A secret Dante
All his life, Gabe Moretti has denied his Dante heritage-but when he meets Kat Malloy, his late wife's cousin, the Dante Inferno cannot be ignored. He tells himself it's only business-her hand in exchange for a necklace his mother created. But when one touch leads to another-and a kiss leads to more-Gabe realizes he's in over his head. Because Kat has secrets he needs to uncover. And now he'll have to do the one thing he's sworn never to do-go to his Dante relatives to find out the truth about this powerful passion....  

Good book.  Gabe is the illegitimate son of a Dante, but wants nothing to do with them after being ignored his whole life.  When Gabe and Kat meet, their first touch ignites the Dante Inferno.  Gabe heard about it from his mother but ignored it as nothing but a fairy tale.  He is stunned and very unhappy to feel this overwhelming passion for a woman he feels betrayed his late wife.  He goes to the Dante patriarch to find out the truth about the Inferno.   I loved Gabe's interactions with the Dantes once he finally meets with them.  Over the next few weeks his feelings grow for Kat and things come out that cast doubt on the betrayal.  Kat has been paying for her actions for five years.  Now she wants to come home and reconcile with her grandmother, but she needs Gabe's help for that.  She doesn't like the passion she feels for Gabe, but after awhile of trying to fight it she decides to give in and enjoy it while she can.  She also doesn't expect that passion to turn to love.  When information comes out about the events of five years earlier she has to decide whether to trust Gabe with her heart.  This is Day LeClaire's last book for Harlequin Desire, so I don't know if Gabe's sister will get a story or not.  I hope she does!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Colton Showdown - Marie Ferrarella (HRS #1732 - Dec 2012)

Series: Coltons of Eden Falls (Book 4) 

"You're safe from those monsters now."
It's supposed to be the final confrontation. Philly detective Tate Colton will go under cover to bust the sex trafficking ring targeting young Amish women. He doesn't count on his sting operation falling apart-or being forced to escape with the breathtaking key witness he's sworn to protect.

Hiding in New York City with a handsome detective? Amish seamstress Hannah Troyer's more than a little out of her element. The big city-and men like Tate-are part of a world that's nothing like what she's used to. As danger inches closer, he's her only route to safety...and a forbidden attraction she dares to indulge in. 

Very good book and conclusion to the series.  Tate is determined to bring down the sex trafficking ring and rescue Hannah Troyer and the other girls.  When his cover is blown, he and Hannah go on the run until the mastermind can be captured.  Tate is drawn to Hannah in a way he's never been to anyone before.  There is something about her that speaks to his heart.  I loved the way that Tate protected her.  I also enjoyed seeing his delight when he took her shopping, when they saw the decorated store windows, and the Rockefeller Center tree.  Tate fought the attraction because Hannah is not from his world and he fully expects her to return to hers.  I loved the ending when he just couldn't let her go.  We didn't see much of Hannah in the first three books, but I did get the impression that she didn't behave like the typical Amish girl.  When Tate first sees her he can tell that she hasn't had her spirit broken.  I really liked the way that she was able to follow along with what Tate needed when they went on the run.  I enjoyed seeing her as she was exposed to things outside her community.  Hannah felt amazed at everything that was out there, but even more amazed at her growing feelings for Tate.  I loved her confidence in Tate, that he would be able to keep her safe.  The hospital scene at the end was great.  I loved the epilogue also.

Cold Creek Noel - RaeAnne Thayne (HSE #2228 - Dec 2012)

Series: Cowboys of Cold Creek (Book 10) 

Caidy Bowman had been the apple of her family's eye-until a devastating tragedy forced her to hide from the world. She was used to devoting her time to the animals on her family's ranch. Then widower Ben Caldwell and his two adorable children arrived in Pine Gulch, and suddenly, Caidy wanted more than a life in the shadows....

As the town's new vet, Ben needed a place to stay for the holidays-and for his family to heal from their own loss. He absolutely wasn't looking for love again! But Caidy Bowman's sparkling green eyes and sweet smile touched Ben's broken heart, giving him hope for a new future. Their future-if he could convince the beautiful cowgirl that Christmas was a time for new beginnings....  

Good book.  Ben had come to Pine Gulch to help his family recover from the loss of his wife and to get his children away from the bad influences of his in-laws.  He wanted to concentrate on his children.  He did not expect to be attracted to Caidy and didn't want it at this time.  I liked the way he was so kind and caring with the animals, though his attitude toward Caidy the first time they met didn't show it.  I also liked the fact that he did apologize to her for the way he had acted.  Coming from the city, Ben was not used to the openness and friendliness of the small town atmosphere.  Besides his immediate attraction to her, the way the Caidy took care of him and his kids went a long way toward making Ben think there was a future for them together.  Caidy had basically been hiding out on the ranch since her parents' murders eleven years earlier.  She was carrying a lot of guilt since she felt it was her fault they had been at home that night.  At first she didn't like Ben at all, but the more she got to know him the more she liked him.  She fought the attraction, but it was a losing battle.  I liked the way that she was able to overcome her dislike of the Christmas season to help make the holiday better for Ben and his kids.  The way that she was able to open up to Ben about her parents also showed that she felt more for him than she thought she did.  I loved the closeness of the Bowman family and the way that there is always room for more to be included.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The SEAL's Stolen Child - Laura Marie Altom (HAR #1430 - Dec 2012)

Series: Operation Family (Book 2) 

A Man On A Mission
He's defended his country and upheld the code of the navy SEALs, but Garrett Solomon has never faced a mission quite like this. As teenagers, he and Eve Barnesworth were passionately in love. Eve's unplanned pregnancy only deepened his commitment to her. But Eve's powerful father, fearing a scandal, whisked her away. As far as Garrett and Eve knew, their baby had died-and with it, their love. Years later, the loss and betrayal still pain Garrett deeply.

Then comes shocking news: the child is still alive. Determined to find their stolen son, Garrett and Eve join forces. Working together is strictly business...until it isn't. Because it seems their powerful attraction-like the child they once thought was gone forever-is still very much alive. 

Good book.  Garrett was home for the holiday and stunned when Eve's dying father dropped that bombshell on them.  Garrett had spent the last eight years trying to forget his feelings for Eve and cope with the loss of the son he'd never had a chance to see. Now he and Eve have to work together to find out what happened to him. Being this close to Eve brings back the feelings of powerful attraction, but also the sense of betrayal he felt because she'd never contacted him after she left.  Now he doesn't trust that, if they do get involved, she won't disappear on him again.  He has to decide if he's willing to take the risk.  Eve had grown up idolizing her father who had always been good to her.  She was horrified by his revelation, and more so as she and Garrett found out more about him in their search for their son.  In spite of their still strong physical attraction she feels there is no future in a relationship between them.  She doesn't think he loves her, plus the distance between their homes would make it impossible.  It takes a life changing event for them to realize that they can have the future they both want.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Christmas Promises - Lynne Graham, Carole Mortimer, Marion Lennox (Harlequin - Oct 2012)

The Christmas Eve Bride by Lynne Graham
Rocco thought he was done with Amber after her betrayal two years earlier. But when he unexpectedly runs into her, the attraction is still strong - so he asks her to become his mistress! Amber only accepts so her baby boy can have a better Christmas. But Rocco's plan for revenge changes as he begins picturing a future with Amber - and their son.

Originally published in Christmas With a Latin Lover.  Okay story.  I liked Amber.  She was doing her best to get on with her life after being dumped by Rocco then having his baby.  When she runs into him again, he is out for revenge and wants her to be his mistress.  But she has a surprise for him when she moves in, and he is stunned.  I never really warmed up to Rocco.  Yes, he took to being a father very well, but I never really got the feeling that he accepted his part in their breakup.  He finally admitted his love, but I didn't see much improvement in his attitudes.


A Marriage Proposal for Christmas by Carole Mortimer
Cally Turner thinks Noel Carlton is an egotistical playboy! The only reason she's agreed to work for him is so she can give her daughter a Christmas to remember. But as she spends more time with Noel, she begins to wonder what's more irritating - his infuriating arrogance or unexpected tenderness?

Originally published in Mistress to a Millionaire. I liked this story better.  Noel started out pretty obnoxious, with his demands and his flirtatious attitude.  But as he and Cally worked together to get his house ready for the holidays and his family's visit, the better side of him became more apparent.  He had a good sense of humor and an innate kindness that showed in the way he treated Cally's daughter.  Cally didn't trust him at first because of her daughter's father, but he soon overcame those issues.  I liked the way Noel turned out to be pretty much of a sweetheart.

A Bride for Christmas by Marion Lennox
Wealthy businessman - and contented bachelor - Guy Carver is in Australia to take ownership of Jenny Westmere's wedding salon. It's strictly business. So no one is more surprised than Guy himself when he realizes that the deal he really wants to ink is making Jenny and her little boy his family by Christmas!

Originally published in Christmas Proposals. This was my favorite of the three stories.  Guy started out as cold and aloof and really looking down on Jenny and her salon.  Though he had started his wedding and event planning business from scratch, in recent years he had become removed from the personal touch.  I loved the way that Jenny called him on his snottiness and then made him work to get her to help him.  She was a warm and caring woman who knew what she felt was most important in her life.  Guy found that being around Jenny and her family started to wear away at the walls he had around his heart.  He fought his developing feelings for her, and nearly lost it all when he tried to make her part of his life without thinking about her needs.  I loved the weddings that the two of them planned.  The humor in both made the story.

Leaving Blue Bayou - JoAnn Ross (Zebra - Oct 2012)

"Cajun Heat" - Movie star Gabe Broussard has come back to his Louisiana hometown for some peace, but things only heat up the minute he reunites with Emma Quinlan. With her lush body and hearty appetite, she's no Hollywood matchstick, and oh cher, does he like that. Emma just has to stop thinking about her former Cajun crush, so she makes a list of all the things she wishes he would do to her and buries it in a graveyard at night. Except it's the wrong list - Gabe finds the right one, and he intends to fulfil every blissful one of them...

Originally published in Bayou Bad Boys. I really liked Gabe and Emma. Gabe has escaped to Blue Bayou from Hollywood after ten years away.  There he is reunited with Emma, who had had a major crush on him when they were teenagers.  I loved the way that he was immediately attracted to Emma and appreciated her just the way she was.  It started out as just physical, but became an emotional attachment very quickly as he learned that he actually liked the woman she had become.  Emma had some self esteem issues thanks to her over critical petite and skinny mother.  Her immediate attraction to Gabe, even after all these years was a surprise, but his attraction to her was an even bigger surprise.  She initially didn't believe it was possible, and tried to convince herself she wanted him to go away.  When he discovered some of her fantasies, he was only too willing to fulfill them.  I loved the final scene and the way Gabe stood up to her parents.  This story was definitely hot, but had great emotion too.

"Love Potion No. 9" - It's bad enough that Hollywood hotshot Sloan Hawthorne's knowledge of Roxi Dupree's witchcraft comes from comic books and fairy tales. What's worse is that she's falling hard for the outrageously sexy hunk. Pretty soon they're both finding that the steamy Savannah nights are perfect for conjuring up some mischievous magic of their own...

Originally published in Bad Boys Southern Style.  I liked Sloan and Roxi.  Sloan had come to Savannah for two reasons: one, to do research for his next movie and two, to see Roxi who he had seen as picture of at his friends Gabe and Emma's house.  He had been drawn to her and seeing her in dreams.  His attraction only grew when he met her in person.  He used that attraction to get close to her and the movie to get to know her better.  I liked the way he ended up being open to who and what she was in spite of his initial disbelief.  I also liked the way that he didn't try to bulldoze her at the end but left her to make her own decision.  Roxi was a cool character.  I've had a soft spot for Wiccan characters in romances ever since I read Nora Roberts' Three Sisters trilogy.  Roxi was very comfortable with who she was.  She did have commitment issues and had a rule that she wouldn't have more than three dates with any man.  She was very attracted to Sloan and fully intended to enjoy her three dates and the passion that sparked between them.  She did not expect an emotional attachment to happen so quickly and it made her very nervous.  She was stunned when Sloan left after two dates and told her to let him know when she was ready.  Another hot story with believable emotions.

"Dear Santa...": Mystery author Holly Berry's SUV has broken down in the little hamlet of Santa's Village, Washington. Holly hates the holidays - that is until lodge owner Gabriel O'Halloran and his five-year-old daughter rekindle her belief in passion, magic, and Christmas wishes...

Originally published in Silver Bells.  I liked Holly and Gabriel.  Holly got lost in a snowstorm then had a wreck in her car.  She was rescued by Gabe and ended up staying at his family's inn while her car is repaired.  Holly has not celebrated Christmas since her father's Christmastime murder when she was seven.  The over-the-top Christmas town bothers her at first, but the more time she spends with Gabe and his daughter, the more she gets into the spirit.  I liked the way that she started to get involved in everything, even though parts of it she still didn't believe in.  Gabe was surprised to be so quickly attracted to Holly.  There was something beyond the physical that also appealed to him and he was determined to see it grow.  I loved his sense of humor and the way very little seemed to bother him.  I also liked seeing the way he had rearranged his life so he could be a better father to his daughter.  I loved the final scene in front of the Christmas tree - it definitely had overtones of Miracle on 34th Street.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Rancher's Christmas Princess - Christine Rimmer (HSE #2229 - Dec 2012)

Series: Bravo Royales (Book 3) 

Arabella Bravo-Calabretti came to Elk Creek, Montana, with a secret to deliver and a job to do. Being a Bravo Royale, she was going to do it right. Before she handed her best friend's darling son, Ben, over to his unwitting father, they would all spend Christmas together. Only then could she be absolutely sure that rancher Preston McCade was ready to be a dad.

Or...was that really the reason Belle was hanging around? She and Preston were practically from different planets, yet the attraction was undeniable. Before long, someone was utterly in love with a rancher-and Christmas in Montana was presenting one surprise after another.  

Very good book.  Belle has come to Montana to bring Ben to his father who had no idea that he had a son.  Belle planned to stay around until she was sure that Preston could handle it and then go home.  I really liked both Preston and Belle.  Preston was stunned to find out that he was a father.  At first he was angry that he hadn't been told, but immediately accepted that Ben was his son.  He did not expect to be so attracted to  Belle.  When Belle and her group moved to the ranch so that he could get to know Ben, he also had the chance to get to know her.  Belle rapidly became an important part of his life, but Preston felt it could go nowhere because their lives were so different.  Belle was attracted to him also.  The more time she spent with him, the more she wanted to be with him.  It didn't take long for her to realize that she was in love with him.  She knew he had problems with their differences but she wasn't afraid to go after what she wanted. She also knew that she would have a hard time convincing him that a life together was possible.  I really liked seeing them together as she showed Preston how to care for Ben.  There were some wonderfully heartwarming scenes with Ben and Preston.  I also liked the way that Preston was so sensitive to Belle's feelings of loss over the death of her friend, Ben's mother.  There was a great secondary romance involving Preston's father and hints of the people involved in the next book in the series.  I can't wait!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Prince She Had to Marry - Christine Rimmer (HSE #2221 - Nov 2012)

Series: Bravo Royales (Book 2) 


Cold, distant Alexander Bravo-Callabretti was the "last" man Liliana of Alagonia had ever imagined marrying After all, even a princess longs for happily-ever-after. But when a one-night fling with her nemesis led to a royal baby-on-the-way, only a wedding would satisfy their disapproving families. So with a fast, secret ceremony, they were joined for life. 

Alex had agreed to make an effort for the sake of the baby, even though letting the lovely Lili close was a threat to the barriers he'd long struggled to maintain. But the future of the throne-and his royal honor-was at stake. And when he and Lili posed as happy newlyweds for the paparazzi, he found himself wishing that their marriage could be for real after all.... 

Very good book and very emotional.  Alex and Lili had been adversaries since they were children.  Then one night their sparks took a different path and now Lili is pregnant.  Because of their positions they have no choice but to marry.  They have to learn to live with each other and make it look good.  But Alex is emotionally closed off and does everything he can to avoid being around Lili, while she would really like to have a good marriage.  When Alex's parents insist on them taking a public honeymoon and making it look like they are happy, he knows he has no choice.  I really liked both Lili and Alex.  My heart ached for Alex.  He has always felt apart from his family, like he doesn't quite fit in.  Then he was kidnapped in Afghanistan and spent four years in captivity, losing his best friend who was there with him.  He was drowning in guilty feelings because his friend wouldn't have been there except for him.  When he returned home he avoided being around people whenever he could, spending time training the palace security forces.  His night with Lili was something unexpected and unwelcome because being with her made him start to feel again.  So he avoided and ignored her until confronted with her pregnancy.  Even after the wedding he tried to avoid her until they were forced on their trip.  When they snuck away one night and then were stranded on an island, Alex found himself letting go of his unhappiness.  I loved seeing him start to come back to life and enjoy being with Lili.  He also finally talked to her about his experiences and found that it helped him.  He still didn't feel that he could be the husband that she needed until he dealt with the last of his past.  His refusal to accept her help nearly cost him everything and he had to work to win her back.  Lili was quite a strong character.  She appeared to be naive and shallow, but she had an inner core of strength that she needed when dealing with Alex.  She didn't want to marry him at first because she really wanted to marry for love.  When she realized she had no choice, she went to Alex and got him to agree to try to make their marriage work, not knowing he was lying to her to make sure she would go through with it.  I loved the way that she kept trying to get through to him, even on their trip.  When they made their escape and then got stranded, I loved the way that she made the best of everything.  She also did a fantastic job of keeping after Alex and eventually got him to open up.  When they returned home and he left her to deal with his past, she was hurt and angry.  She finally decided she was done being the one making all the effort and left him to come after her.  I loved seeing what he did and how he got her to see him.  It was great to see Alex finally overcome the darkness that had been a part of him for so long.

Christmas Confidential - Marilyn Pappano, Linda Conrad (HRS #1731 - Dec 2012)

Holiday Protector by Marilyn Pappano
The last person Miri Duncan wants to see on her first day out of jail is P.I. Dean Montgomery - the man who put her there. But when their cross-country drive turns dangerous, she can't deny that Dean's protection is good for her. But is it good for her heart?

Very good story.  Miri went to prison for embezzlement and when she was released, Dean was waiting for her.  They had been dating when he turned her in and she was still furious with him, thinking that he had used their relationship to get closer to her.  Now he has two reasons to see her.  First, he had missed her and felt bad about his part in it.  Second, he had been hired by her former boss to find the money and turn it in earning a hefty finders fee.  Miri didn't want anything to do with him.  She was still hurt by his actions and just wanted to collect the money and continue her plans for it.  As the story goes on we see her motivation for stealing the money.  I couldn't help but root for her.  Dean started out mostly wanting the money, but it soon became obvious that Miri was more important.  I loved the way that he protected her and then helped her see her sister.  I really liked the tension of the trip across the country, watching for the bad guys, and the developing feelings between Miri and Dean were great.  Dean was a great hero and I loved seeing him as he helped her.  I'd love to know if she met up with her other two siblings and what she was going to do next. 

A Chance Reunion by Linda Conrad
Who is the mysterious woman who looks so much like his dead wife? Gage Chance doesn't know, but he has to find out. And when bullets begin to fly, he'll risk his life to save hers and get to the bottom of things. Will the truth be more than he can handle?

Gage was in Pinon Lake following up on a lead about the sister who went missing when she was a baby.  While there he saw a woman that looked like his dead wife.  There were many things that made him think she was, but others that he wasn't sure about.  When Elana was afraid of the people after her, Gage stuck around to help her.  Gage was very confused about Elana.  His heart and body reacted to her as if she was his wife, but his head said it couldn't be.  When he learned the truth he was hurt and furious at the same time. He didn't want to believe what she said but when she was hurt in the showdown he realized just how much he still loved her.  Elana had been on the run for years when she met Gage.  She had high hopes that she would be safe with him, but ended up faking her death to protect him.  She was terrified for him when he found her and did her best to convince him that she was not his wife.  Eventually she told him the truth and was heartbroken when he refused to believe her and threatened to take their child.  The showdown was nerve wracking and the conclusion was terrific.  I liked the story behind how Gage ended up there.  The story was fast paced and intense and kept me reading far too late at night.