20 February 2018

Part Time Cowboy (Copper Ridge, Book One)


Synopsis from Goodreads: Sadie Miller isn't expecting any welcome-home parades on her return to Copper Ridge. Least of all from part-time rancher, full-time lawman Eli Garrett. The straight-laced, impossibly hot deputy sheriff glares at her like she's the same teenage hoodlum who fled town ten years ago. But running from her demons has brought Sadie full circle, ready to make a commitment at last. Not to a man, but to a B and B. On Garrett land. Okay, so her plan has a tiny flaw…

Eli works too hard to let a blonde ball of trouble mess up his town. But keeping an eye on Sadie makes it tough to keep his hands off her. And if she's so wrong for him, why does being with her feel so right?

Stats for my copy: Mass Market paperback, Harlequin Books, 2015.

How acquired: Bought

First line: Whoever said you couldn't go home again had clearly never been to Copper Ridge.

My thoughts:  After my first Maisey Yates experience, a book I did not particularly enjoy, several members of a Facebook group I'm in recommended her Copper Ridge series. I happened to already have this book, the first in the series, in my massive TBR, so I gave her another chance. And boy, am I glad I did.

Sadie and Eli argue whenever they're in each other's company, and their bickering is almost juvenile, yet hilarious.
That's funny, Sadie, because I feel like I end up irritated every time I'm around you.”
I just think your irritation is contagious,” she said.
Maybe you're so irritating you irritate yourself.”

On on the same page:
I'm going to go now. And I'm taking the beer. And the water. Thank you. Again. I'll try not to bother you anymore.”
He snorted. “Good luck.”
Oh, I don't need it. I don't mind bothering you. You are clearly the one who is bothered by being bothered. So...you're the one who needs the luck, not me.”

Of course, you know what all this arguing is going to lead to. I do love the enemies to lovers trope!

I liked Sadie very much, and I loved Eli. He ticked so many of my boxes: lawman, cowboy, rancher, grouchy, stoic. In control until the right woman comes along to break that control. They both have some serious baggage, and I enjoyed watching them slowly unpack it and share it piece by piece with each other. Yep, high angst level here.


I also liked Eli's sister and brother – Connor is even more of a grouchypants than Eli - and I'm looking forward to their stories. Now I understand why Ms. Yates is so popular, and I'm so glad I didn't give up on her after that first book of her I read!

04 February 2018

The Rancher's Baby (Texas Cattleman's Club: The Imposter, Book 1)

MAISEY YATES

Synopsis from Goodreads: When a torrid, possibly dangerous scandal comes to Royal, Texas, Selena Jacobs is nearly caught in the middle. Until her best friend Knox McCoy ensures her safety—by moving in! Selena has loved Knox for years, but she’s never had the courage to tell him. Now the sparks she’s tried to smother burn out of control…and leave her pregnant. But with the pain in his past, will Knox finally take a chance on love…with her?.

Stats for my copy: Mass Market paperback, Harlequin Desire, 2018.

How acquired: BookishFirst

First line: My fake ex-husband died at sea and all I got was this stupid letter.

My thoughtsI entered to win a copy of this book on BookishFirst because I see Maisey Yates' name all the time, and my aunt is a fan of hers, and we like a lot of the same authors, so I'd been wanting to try her for awhile. I was excited to win a copy, and waited very impatiently for the book to arrive. Unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations.

On BookishFirst, to enter for a book you have to read the first few pages, and then write a brief paragraph about your thoughts. The first page grabbed me immediately (the first line!). The book opens with Selena attending the funeral of her ex-husband, having received a letter telling her she was named as his heir. At the funeral there are several other women with the same letter. Also in attendance is Selena's best friend, Knox, who lives in another state and who she hasn't seen in a long time, and it's an awkward reunion between them. And then Will walks in. Not dead. Selena and Knox leave, but later a relative of Will's invites them to a gathering, along with everyone else who attended the funeral. At the gathering there is just a brief mention of the mystery surrounding Will's supposed death, and that someone may have been using his identity, and Knox fears that Selena could now be in danger, so he insists on going home with her and staying with her to protect her.

That mystery is never really revisited, and is never resolved, which really irritated me. Was it just a plot device to throw Selena and Knox together? The book is part of a multi-author series, so will a future book in the series feature Will and that mystery? It was as if this very interesting situation was introduced, and then just abandoned.

We learn from the beginning that Selena and Knox have been best friends since college. And the fact that they are best friends is constantly reiterated to the point of also being irritating. They kiss and then one of them marvels to themself that they just kissed their best friend! They marvel to themselves that they are lusting after their best friend! Selena becomes pregnant and marvels that she's carrying her best friend's baby!

I never really connected with either Selena or Knox. They are both damaged souls, which usually appeals to me, Selena having had a bad childhood with an abusive father, and Knox having a marriage fall apart after the death of his daughter. The angst level is mile high. The ending of course is happy and satisfying. But the journey to that ending was a bit tedius.

Halfway through the book I posted about it in a Facebook group, and several other members recommended Yates' Copper Ridge series, and I just happened to have the first book, PART TIME COWBOY, which I had picked up at a library sale. So I started it after finishing this book. And you know what? Five chapters in and I am LOVING it! I love the characters, I love the story so far, and I have laughed several times. Out loud. One conversation between the hero and heroine made me laugh so much I had to reread it twice and laughed out loud each time. If I didn't know who the author was, I wouldn't have believed the two books were written by the same person. Maybe THE RANCHER'S BABY being a category romance* and having a shorter word count meant the book had to be edited down too much, or didn't allow the author to flesh out as much detail. I don't know. But despite not particularly caring for this book, I will continue to read Ms. Yates' books, and I'm glad that I finally tried her.

*Not that's there's anything wrong with that! I've been a Harlequin fan and reader for many many years.


EDIT: After writing this review, I saw on Goodreads that the book is listed as Texas Cattleman's Club: The Imposter, and is book 1, and that the second book is about one of the other women who were at Will's funeral. So apparently that mystery will be a running theme through the series. However, that knowledge does not change my thoughts about it. 

28 January 2018

Bounds of Passion (Bound, Book 1)


Synopsis from Amazon: Popular erotica writer Lucia Jordan brings you the first short story in her new 'Bound' series. This short story (approx. 4,400 words) contains adult content, hot sex and mild BDSM themes so only check it out if you are ready to get very, very excited.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, 2012.

How acquired: Amazon freebie

First line: Lydia could feel the man beneath her weakening and he was silently mouthing at her to stop – wait, to give him a minute, but she couldn't – not when she was so close to her own climax.

My thoughtsA very short, quick, hot read. Some suspension of disbelief required - girl has to be crazy to meet a stranger on a BDSM website, then meet him in a coffee house and immediately go home with him - but it's fiction so I can get past that pretty quickly. Some shades of that shades book what with the contract she had to sign before they got down to business. But if you have a little time to kill and want to be tantalized a bit, this is a good choice. 

23 January 2018

The First Kiss of Spring (Eternity Springs, Book 14)


Synopsis from Goodreads: Spring has come to Eternity Springs in the newest installment in this New York Times bestselling series by Emily March. 

When Josh Tarkington gets stuck on a gondola with the lovely Caitlin Timberlake, he thinks his consistently bad luck might have changed. 

After their blossoming romance is interrupted, Caitlin realizes that her encounter with Josh was a sign that she needed to make a major life change. So she packs up her things and moves to Eternity Springs, opens a day care, and sets her cap for the town’s mechanic—Josh. 

But Josh is hiding a well of secrets that would ruin him, and his relationship with everyone in Eternity Springs—especially Caitlin. When tragedy strikes, Josh and Caitlin find themselves, and their relationship, tested beyond imagining. Will they be able to find their way back to each other?

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, St. Martin's Paperbacks, expected publication date 2/27/18.

How acquired: NetGalley

My thoughtsI'm usually pretty anal about reading series books in order, but when I received an email from NetGalley that this book was available for forty-eight hours I immediately downloaded it. I've not previously read anything by this author, but I've heard good things about her, and one friend compared her to Robyn Carr, so I was excited to give her a try.

Each chapter is prefaced with a short “Journal Entry”. We don't know at first which character is journaling, but they threw me a little off kilter at first with hints of past child abuse. Once I got past that though, I enjoyed the story. And not having read the previous books in the series wasn't an issue at all. I suspect some of the supporting characters might have been the heroes/heroines of previous books, but this one can definitely stand on it's own.

Caitlin meets Josh, and his dog Penny, who is in a little doggy wheelchair, while in Telluride for a wedding, when they are trapped together in a gondola. Like Caitlin, that first meeting with Josh had me hooked on him immediately. He's good looking, he's funny, and who wouldn't fall for a man who loves a little dog like Penny?

In a lot of romance novels the hero is the dogged pursuer. He meets a woman and knows right away that she's the one, and he sets out to convince her of that, while she resists because she's been burned before. Here, it's Caitlin who decides early on that Josh is the one. The last thing he wants is a relationship, and he's not a happy camper when he learns that Caitlin has moved to Eternity Springs to be near her parents and brother.


Of course you know how it will all end, because it is a romance, after all. But the journey to that ending was very enjoyable. The writing is a bit breezy, and I especially enjoyed Caitlin's interactions with her brother. The subject matter does get a little deep, as Josh has a lot of baggage, but it was never sensationalized and was thoughtfully handled. I'm going to have to look for the first book in the series and then go on from there! 

09 January 2018

A Basket Brigade Christmas

JUDITH MILLER
NANCY MOSER
STEPHANIE GRACE WHITSON

Synopsis from back of book: With the country embroiled in civil war in 1862, a group of women formed the Basket Brigade and boarded trains to minister to Union soldiers transferring from overflowing hospitals in the South to northerly locations. The Basket Brigade offered fried chicken, pickled peaches, pound cake, and other dainties to men who hadn't eaten a home-cooked meal since enlisting. The women of Decatur, Illinois, served nearly two thousand meals to wounded warriors.

Three bestselling authors were blessed and inspired by the words written by the actual women who organized and participated in relief efforts during the Civil War. They have penned their stories in honor of them.

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Barbour Books, 2015.

How acquired: Via BookCrossing.

My thoughtsThree separate stories, from three new-to-me authors. While each story is about a different woman in Decatur, Illinois, there are several characters who appear in all three books, most notably Mrs. Collins, who reminded me of a less offensive Little House on the Prairie Mrs.Oleson. In each story she was a spiteful, self-centered, full of herself woman, who then exhibited some humanity at the end of the story.

The first story, “A Stitch in Time”, by Stephanie Grace Whitson, centers around Lucy, whose deceased father left her a dry goods store and a small fortune thanks to some savvy investments. While volunteering with the Basket Brigade one day, she is appalled that the soldiers traveling on the hospital train don't have enough blankets or socks to keep warm, and she comes up with the idea to open her home as a meeting place for any of the women of Decatur who want to volunteer to sew socks and make quilts and blankets to be distributed on the trains. Jonah is the manager of her store, and has been in love with Lucy forever, but because of a leg injury that keeps him from enlisting, and the differences in their stations in life, he doesn't expect his love to ever be reciprocated. While this was a sweet story, I didn't really connect with Lucy, who was completely oblivious to Jonah and his feelings until the very end.

The second story, “A Pinch of Love”, by Judith Miller, was my favorite. Sarah's mother is one of the organizers and leaders of the Basket Brigade, and when she falls ill, Sarah has to take her place. Sarah has avoided volunteering, as she doesn't think she can deal with seeing the wounded soldiers, but she sucks it up and does her duty. Jacob wants to be fighting at the front, and is disappointed to be assigned to travel with the hospital trains to look out for the wounded soldiers. Until he meets Sarah, of course. I very much liked both Sarah and Jacob, and they slowly get to know one another and develop feelings for each other. Their growing relationship appealed to me more than the non-existent until the end relationship of the previous couple, and the obstacles they had to overcome – another young man who wants Sarah for himself and pretty much stalks her and lies to her, and Jacob's still hurtful memories of his former fiance who turned around and married someone else – were very well written and more realistic for me.

The third story, Endless Melody, by Nancy Moser, seemed to drag on too long, but I think that had less to do with the length of the story and was more because the main characters were living completely separate lives, withe him in another city, and were kept apart for most of the story. Zona and Cardiff were planning to marry fifteen years ago, when Cardiff suddenly left to fight in the war between Texas and Mexico, leaving Zona angry and heartbroken. Cardiff wrote many letters to her, but she never replied, which left him angry and heartbroken. As the story progressed, I kept waiting for them to be reunited, and in the meantime I didn't find either character particularly appealing. I was a little more sympathetic to them as the reasons behind their behavior was revealed, but they never fully resonated with me, and when they did finally meet again, the story was suddenly and abruptly over.


Despite the book's title, this isn't really a Christmas story, or rather Christmas stories, as the season wasn't mentioned that often. The third story does have Zona putting together a Christmas musicale, and some of her group of singers serenading the hospital trains with Christmas carols, but there isn't much else Christmas related. 

03 December 2017

Second Chance Pass (Virgin River, Book 5)

ROBYN CARR

Synopsis from Goodreads: In the space of a few months Vanessa buried her husband, Matt, and gave birth to their son--breaking her heart while filling it with a whole new kind of love. But the one man she longs to share this love with now acts as if she doesn't exist. Paul Haggerty lives by the marine motto: Semper Fi. Ever faithful to his best friend, he's done right by Matt's widow as best he can...considering he's been secretly in love with her for years. Now, just as he's about to make his move, another woman has staked her claim on him--a claim that will be tough to escape.

With courage, humility and not a little meddling from the good folks of Virgin River, Vanni and Paul might just get a second chance to have the love they both desire and deserve.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Mira Books, 2009.

How acquired: Via Book Mooch.

First line: Paul Haggerty was finally back in Grants Pass after almost six months in Virgin River and there was an ache in his chest he just couldn't ease.

My thoughtsI loved the first four books in this series, giving three of them five stars on Goodreads, and one of them four stars. But this one was almost a three star. I just didn't love Vanessa and Paul the way I loved Jack and Mel, Preacher and Paige, Marcie and Ian. I'm not sure why, other than I didn't connect with Vanessa the way I did with the previous heroines. But as with the other books, while the main couple are the focus, the narrative still winds out among other residents of Virgin River, so there was plenty of Jack and Mel. In fact, I enjoyed their storyline more than Vanessa and Paul's. I was also happy that one of my favorite characters, the mystery illegal grower, made another brief appearance, and like me, Mike Valenzuela has come to the conclusion that there is more to the grower than what appears on the surface. I'm so hoping to learn more about him and that he gets a book somewhere down the line.


And then Joe came to town, and met Vanessa's friend Nikki, and oh my god I wish this had actually been their book! I loved loved Joe! I love a good grovel, and Joe groveled with the best of them. Joe singlehandedly bumped my rating up to four stars and the book is worth reading for his story alone. 

18 November 2017

Nightsong (Song, Book 3)


WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS.

VALERIE SHERWOOD

Synopsis from Goodreads: Living in exile on the island of Jamaica, Rye Evistock, better known as Captain Kells, and his beautiful wife, Carolina Lightfoot, are waiting for Kells to be cleared of a trumped-up treason charge in England. Kells decides to return to buccaneering one last time in order to gain enough money to settle down in peace. After anxious months of waiting for her husband to return, Carolina finally sights his ship on the horizon, but at that moment, catastrophe strikes in the form of an earthquake that destroys the harbor town and leaves Kells and his ship nowhere to be found.

Devastated, Carolina leaves for England, but her ship is captured by the Spanish at Havana and she is given to the governor's aide as a slave. To her utter amazement, the “aide” is none other than Kells, suffering from amnesia, and believing himself to be Spanish. Desperate to regain his love and convince him of his true identity before their hated enemies discover it, Carolina hatches a dangerous plot that could free them both...or seal their death warrants...

Stats for my copy: Hardback, Pocket Books, 1986.

How acquired: Via Book Mooch.

First line: Beneath a pale moon that shed its light upon Jamaica's southern coast, a slender curving sandspit cut like a scimitar into the deep dark sapphire of a night-silvered sea.

My thoughts:  I loved the first two books in this trilogy (LOVESONG and WINDSONG), so I was very much looking forward to NIGHTSONG. The first two books both started out slow for me, and took a little while for me to get caught up in. NIGHTSONG was the opposite. I was caught up right away. When the earthquake struck I was completely mesmerized. And then Carolina, believing Kells dead, finds herself in Havana, with her sister Penny, and from that point on I struggled to stay interested.

In Havana, Carolina is reunited with a very much alive Kells. As a slave bought by the governor and gifted to his friend Kells, who everyone, including Kells himself, believes is Don Diego Vivar. Normally I love an amnesia plot (Sandra Brown, THE WITNESS!). But this one just got ridiculous. Carolina tries to convince “Diego” that he is really Kells. He's insulted and angered that she would dare to compare him to a notorious buccaneer. Carolina suddenly seems convinced that he's not Kells, he's really Diego, and just looks like Kells. At which point I almost threw the book across the room. Then she realizes that he is indeed Kells, and if anyone else in Havana recognizes who he really is his life will be in danger.

Penny. In the second book I was thrilled to get to know their sister Virginia. I did not care for Penny nearly as much. And Robin Tyrell...ugh. He and Penny deserve each other.

Toward the end I seriously wondered if Carolina and Kells would ever have an HEA. And I didn't even really care. I just wanted it to be over.


Will I read this author again? Yes. But maybe not for awhile.