03 December 2017

Second Chance Pass (Virgin River, Book 5)


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)



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. 

14 November 2017

Sweet Tea and Sympathy (Southern Eclectic, Book One)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Beloved author Molly Harper launches a brand-new contemporary romance series, Southern Eclectic, with this story of a big-city party planner who finds true love in a small Georgia town.

Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. (What, you have a problem with one-stop shopping?) Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes 
everybody’s business.

Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. She’s riding high until one event goes tragically, spectacularly wrong. Now she’s blackballed by the gala set and in dire need of a fresh start—and apparently the McCreadys are in need of an event planner with a tarnished reputation.

As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects. Elementary school principal Kyle Archer is a fellow fish-out-of-water who volunteers to show Margot the picture-postcard side of Southern living. The two of them hit it off, but not everybody is happy to see an outsider snapping up one of the town's most eligible gentleman. Will Margot reel in her handsome fish, or will she have to release her latest catch?

Stats for my copy: ebook, Gallery Books, releasing November 21, 2017.

How acquired: NetGalley.

My thoughtsI previously read SAVE A TRUCK, RIDE A REDNECK, Book 0.5 in this series. I’m not a big fan of novellas, just because I like to get more story, more characterization, than the shorter form allows. But I enjoyed it, so I was eager to try one of Ms. Harper’s full length novels and see how much deeper she can go. And she did not disappoint. 

Our heroine this time is Margot, a big city event planner who finds herself out of a job and shunned by the event planning community after a disastrous flamingo incident. We met Marianne, and her brother, Duffy, in SAVE A TRUCK. Margot is their cousin, though she’s never met any of the family. Her mother left her father when she was three years old, and her father has been completely out of her life since then. But Tootie McCready,, her father’s aunt and the matriarch of the McCready clan, contacts Margot out of the blue and offers her a job in the family business, McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. With no other prospects on the horizon, and about to not have anywhere to live, Margot reluctantly accepts.

I very much liked Margot. She’d pretty much had the rug pulled out from under her, and her whole world turned upside down. Settling down to life in Lake Sackett, Georgia, was quite a culture shock for her. Not to mention meeting her biological father, for whom she, understandably, harbors a lot of resentment. She didn’t plan to stay permanently, just until she found a job that would take her back to Chicago or some other civilized city. Watching her navigate her new life was at times eye-wincingly funny.

I loved Kyle, a widower with two young daughters. After a scorching make out session in his truck, he thereafter runs hot and cold with Margot. He doesn’t date much, and he never brings his dates around his daughters. Which is fine with Margot, for while she lusts for him she has no intention of becoming emotionally involved with him. She doesn’t know how to talk to children, and of course she plans on leaving town at the first opportunity.

The first time Margot saw Kyle, she was drawn to his sad eyes and haunted countenance. It was a great way for Ms. Harper to introduce him, because he ticked my boxes also. Of course Margot ends up spending more time with Kyle and his daughters than planned, and some of her interactions with young June were hilarious. I also enjoyed her interactions with Marianne and another cousin, Frankie, who also worked at the funeral home. I really hope Frankie will be the heroine of a future book.

As with the novella, I sometimes had a little trouble keeping all the family members straight at times, but that didn’t really impede my enjoyment of the story. There’s plenty of humor, which I love in a romance, but there was also some angst and ultimately some soul searching for Margot when she finally has an opportunity to leave Lake Sackett.

Very enjoyable, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for other books by Ms. Harper.

26 October 2017

Save Me


Synopsis from Goodreads: Save Me will have readers wondering just how far they would go to save the ones they love. Lisa Scottoline is writing about real issues that resonate with real women, and the results are emotional, heartbreaking and honest.

Rose McKenna volunteers as a lunch mom in her daughter Melly's school in order to keep an eye on Amanda, a mean girl who's been bullying her daughter. Her fears come true when the bullying begins, sending Melly to the bathroom in tears. Just as Rose is about to follow after her daughter, a massive explosion goes off in the kitchen, sending the room into chaos.

Rose finds herself faced with the horrifying decision of whether or not to run to the bathroom to rescue her daughter or usher Amanda to safety. She believes she has accomplished both, only to discover that Amanda, for an unknown reason, ran back into the school once out of Rose's sight. In an instance, Rose goes from hero to villain as the small community blames Amanda's injuries on her. In the days that follow, Rose's life starts to fall to pieces, Amanda's mother decides to sue, her marriage is put to the test, and worse, when her daughter returns to school, the bullying only intensifies. Rose must take matters into her own hands and get down to the truth of what really happened that fateful day in order to save herself, her marriage and her family.

In the way that Look Again had readers questioning everything they thought they knew about family, Save Me will have readers wondering just how far they would go to save the ones they love. Lisa Scottoline is writing about real issues that resonate with real women, and the results are emotional, heartbreaking and honest.

Stats for my copy: Hardback, St. Martin's Press, 2011.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: Rose McKenna stood against the wall in the noisy cafeteria, having volunteered as lunch mom, which is like a security guard with eyeliner.

My thoughtsThis author is one who I see a lot of but had never read until now. She seems to be popular, and it's definitely an easy read, requiring no thought or concentration. But it wasn't a particularly compelling read.

Rose's dilemma was an interesting one. When there's an explosion in the kitchen and a fire breaks out while she is volunteering for lunch duty at her daughter's school, she has to quickly decide whether to save the three girls in the cafeteria, or rush closer to the fire where her daughter had retreated to a handicapped bathroom. Torn, she takes the other three girls to a doorway leading into a hall, where a teacher is ushering kids out, and tells them to run outside. Then she goes back to save her daughter, and she literally does save her daughter's life.

I did not connect with Rose at all. Her daughter has a birth mark on her face, and is constantly teased and bullied, and apparently the only reason Rose volunteered for lunch room duty was so she could spy on her daughter and her daughter's bullies – the three girls mentioned above, with Amanda being their ringleader. After watching Amanda tease Melly, and the other two girls laughing, Rose confronts them as the lunch period ends and the rest of the kids head out to recess, which is why she and the girls are in the cafeteria when the fire starts. Rose is hailed as “Hero Mom” by the press, until it comes out that Amanda, despite Rose taking her to the doorway, was seriously injured, and for most of the book it's not known whether she will live or die.

I was interested to see how the bullying would play out, but after the fire not much happened with that. I don't have much personal experience with bullying, so I can't say for sure how I would react if I were Rose and Melly were my daughter. I don't think I would react the way Rose did. I don't think I would volunteer at my daughter's school just so I could look out for her. Melly is obsessed with Harry Potter, often reciting different incantations from the books, and Rose hates that. She thinks that Melly's love of all things Potter makes her different from the other kids, and brands her as being weird, contributing to why she is being bullied. I found that incredibly frustrating. At one point she tries to force Melly to read an American Girl book, because the other girls, Amanda included, are crazy about them. Honestly, I felt like Rose was a whiner who felt as sorry for herself as she did for her daughter.

Then the story turned a corner and became more about Rose investigating the cause of the fire. It's ruled accidental, but she is convinced otherwise. And then an incident from her past becomes public knowledge, an incident that she never confided to anyone, including her husband and her best friend. And then other people die, and she begins snooping around like an investigative reporter, even going undercover, trying to connect everything.

The best part of the book was Rose's husband, Leo. He's not Melly's biological father, but he adores her and she adores him, and his conversations and interactions with Melly were fantastic and charming.

One other minor irritation that started to get to me – when Rose was in her car driving and accelerated, which she did a lot, she was constantly described as feeding the car gas. The phrase “fed the car gas” was used so much that at one point I stopped reading to take a picture of the page and post on Instagram and Litsy that if I read those words one more time I might scream. Coincidentally, the phrase did not show up again in the following pages. Instead, Rose began constantly hitting the gas. In fact, she hit the gas twice on one page, making me think that after the second time she must be going around 120 mph.

The resolution was nice. The book was ok. Didn't love it, didn't hate it. 

20 October 2017

One Night of Scandal (Fairleigh Sisters, Book 2)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Proper decorum has never come easily to Carlotta Anne Fairleigh --- not even tonight, when the lovely, impetuous miss is finally making her debut. As she waits to make her entrance, she can't help wondering about the darkened house next door, the supposedly abandoned home of Hayden St. Clair, the man society has dubbed the "Murderous Marquess." Certainly one small peek through his window before the festivities would be harmless...

And, naturally, this latest "adventure" ends in disaster, thoroughly compromising the budding debutante's reputation and leaving her suddenly, unthinkably ... 
betrothed! Soon she's en route to the wilds of Cornwall in the company of the handsome, mysterious marquess whose name the ton whisper with fear and loathing.

Yet there is something thrilling --- and surprisingly tender --- about her dark, unreachable groom, and the desire in his eyes is undeniable. But before Lottie will surrender to the yearnings in her heart, she must unlock the secrets of Hayden's past, no matter how scandalous --- or perilous --- they may be.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Avon Books, 2003.

How acquired: Via Book Mooch.

My thoughts: My thoughts are still in a bit of a jumble about this book. Where to start? Oh, Hayden, of course. Dark and brooding, curt, not arrogant really, though he probably was before he became known as the Murderous Marquess, the nickname given to him after his first wife took a dive from a cliff. Of course he was wildly attracted to Lottie as soon as he met her. Of course after inadvertently putting her in a compromising position he gave in and married her, even though the last thing he wanted was a wife. Of course he didn't bother to tell his new wife about the horrid little girl she was now step-mother to. I loved Hayden pretty much from the beginning, despite everyone believing he murdered his wife and his best friend. 

I read the previous book, A KISS TO REMEMBER, eight years ago, which was about Lottie's older sister, Laura. I remembered very little about that book or about Lottie, but since ten years have passed, ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL is basically a stand alone, and Laura and her husband are peripheral characters for the most part.

Lottie was a fun, spunky heroine. After being seen with Hayden through a window, her family are in despair over her reputation now being ruined, and afraid she will have no decent prospects now. Therefore, her brother-in-law and guardian, Sterling, demands that Hayden marry her. When Hayden refuses, Lottie takes matters into her own hands and, suffice it to say, gets Hayden to agree to the marriage.

From there the story moves from Lottie's home with Sterling and Laura to Hayden's home, and what is pretty much a whole new, dreary, world for Laura. And that's when it really got good. I loved Lottie's interactions with Hayden's daughter, Allegra, and appreciated that Lottie didn't magically win her over and quickly become her best friend. Allegra was a bit overly dramatic at times, and with mysterious music playing behind the closed door of a locked room and the servants all convinced the house was haunted, the story began to have a gothic feel to it. Which was just fine by me.

And the kittens! Oh my, I loved how the kittens always seemed to be in Hayden's way and he was forever nudging one aside with his foot or prying another's claws out of his pants leg or sitting down only to jump back up at the sound of a squeak coming from beneath him.

This book was just perfect for me, with plenty of laughter amid the gloomy gothicness, not to mention the sexual tension between Hayden and Lottie. The night I finished it I read past my bedtime because I couldn't put it down, and I literally cried over it. It was wonderful. 

11 October 2017

Save a Truck, Ride a Redneck (Southern Eclectic, Book 0.5)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Carl and Marianne were high school sweethearts, loving the way only teenagers can—with no thought to logic or pride, just a bone-headed, optimistic frenzy of unicorns and hormones. That was all they needed. Or so Carl thought.

Scared of being stuck in Lake Sackett, Georgia, like so many of her friends—without a real shot at a future or achieving her own dreams—Marianne panicked and bolted to college after stomping Carl’s heart into the high grass. But when she returns to Lake Sackett for the summer with her family after years away, she and Carl are drawn together like moths to a flame. As they rekindle their old romance and remember what it was like to be in love, they have to wonder: is this, finally, their real chance at happiness?

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, Pocket Star, releasing October 16, 2017.

How acquired: Netgally.

My thoughts:  This is my first time reading Molly Harper, but I've seen her name here and there. Browsing Netgalley one day the title caught my eye, and when I saw the author's name I decided it was time to try her out so I requested it, and a big thank you to the publisher for accepting my request!

This is a sweet second chance romance. Marianne is interesting and self-deprecating. She hightailed it out of her small town to go to college, and Carl was left behind with a broken heart. It's been many many years since I was Marianne's age, but I could relate to the feeling of needing to get away from the place where you grew up. Lately my catnip is small town stories and/or cowboys. Carl isn't a cowboy, but he had many of the attributes that those heroes usually have, though I wasn't sure at first how I felt about him. Wearing shirts with the sleeves torn off...he didn't exactly appeal to me. But he quickly grew on me. Marianne has a lot of family and I had a little trouble keeping track of them all, but I really liked her brother Duffy and her cousin Frankie. I'm hoping that future books in the series will feature them.

I'm not generally a big fan of novellas, just because I like to get more story than the shorter form allows. Marianne and Carl's new, or resumed, relationship was a bit sudden, and I would've liked to spend more time watching them get to know each again after being apart for four or so years. But I loved their interactions, and I laughed out loud a few times.

A quick and enjoyable read, and I'm interested now to see how much deeper Ms. Harper goes into her characters in a full length novel. She certainly seems to be popular, with over four thousand followers on Goodreads! I'm glad I gave her try.

07 October 2017

Always a Cowboy (The Carsons of Mustang Creek, Book 2)

Synopsis from Goodreads: Drake Carson is the quintessential cowboy. In charge of the family ranch, he knows the realities of this life, its pleasures and heartbreaks. Lately, managing the wild stallions on his property is wearing him down. When an interfering so-called expert arrives and starts offering her opinion, Drake is wary, but he can't deny the longing—and the challenge—she stirs in him.

Luce Hale is researching how wild horses interact with ranch animals—and with ranchers. The Carson matriarch invites her to stay with the family, which guarantees frequent encounters with Drake, her ruggedly handsome and decidedly unwelcoming son. Luce and Drake are at odds from the very beginning, especially when it comes to the rogue stallion who's stealing the ranch mares. But when Drake believes Luce is in danger, that changes everything—for both of them.

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, HQN Books, 2016.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: The weather just plain sucked, but that was okay with Drake Carson.

My thoughts: I loved the first book in this series, ONCE A RANCHER, so when I stumbled across this book I snatched it up and started reading it almost as soon as I was back home.

Drake definitely appealed to me. Cowboy, cares about animals, stoic, stubborn. I liked Luce, but I understood completely why Drake was exasperated about her suddenly being on his ranch, interfering with his life. But I loved that when Luce wanted to wander around on her own, thinking she was immune to the everyday dangers of ranch wilderness, Drake resigned himself, gritted his teeth and took time out of his day to be sure she was safe. 

They both fell hard a little too fast. I would've liked the story drawn out a bit more so they could actually have time to get to know each other better before suddenly realizing they loved each other. But I loved the descriptions of the wild stallion and his herd, which included several mares stolen from Drake. And I loved how the tough cowboy was such a softie when it came to his dogs. As in the first book, the banter between Drake and his two brothers made me laugh, as did several other scenes.

Not quite as good as the first book, but still very enjoyable, and I look forward to the next two books in the series, both of which I've already ordered. 


01 October 2017

The River at Night

Synopsis from Goodreads: Winifred Allen needs a vacation.

Stifled by a soul-crushing job, devastated by the death of her beloved brother, and lonely after the end of a fifteen-year marriage, Wini is feeling vulnerable. So when her three best friends insist on a high-octane getaway for their annual girls’ trip, she signs on, despite her misgivings.

What starts out as an invigorating hiking and rafting excursion in the remote Allagash Wilderness soon becomes an all-too-real nightmare; a freak accident leaves the women stranded, separating them from their raft and everything they need to survive. When night descends, a fire on the mountainside lures them to a ramshackle camp that appears to be their lifeline. But as Wini and her friends grasp the true intent of their supposed saviors, long buried secrets emerge and lifelong allegiances are put to the test. To survive, Wini must reach beyond the world she knows to harness an inner strength she never knew she possessed.

With intimately observed characters and visceral prose, 
The River at Night “will leave you gasping, your heart racing, eyes peering over your shoulder to see what follows from behind” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author). This is a dark exploration of creatures—both friend and foe—that you won’t soon forget. 

Stats for my copy: Trade paperback, Gallery/Scout Press, 2017.

How acquired: Bought.

First line: Early one morning in late March, Pia forced my hand.

My thoughts: I don't even know where to start. I'm not an outdoorsy person. I have a phobia of water that is over my head. I can't swim. I have no desire to camp out or commune with nature. I would never in a million years even consider going white water rafting. I would never survive in the wilderness. And this book just reinforced and justified all of that. But I do love to read survival stories, and this one is absolutely gripping. Not just the story, though. I loved the author's voice, her evocative way with words.
The hunter took us in one by one, as if we were words in a sentence he was trying to understand.

The narration is in first person POV by Wini, the most reluctant member of the trip. She'd much prefer to bask on a beach in the sun somewhere, but Pia, the natural leader of the group, enthusiastically drags them all to Maine, where they meet up with their guide for the trip. All four of the women are beautifully written, as are the descriptions of the terrain over which they must first hike, and of course the main character of the story, the vast, tumbling river.
In the distance, our destination: smoke-blue mountains obscured and then revealed by morning fog. I felt equally pulled and repelled. What did the mountains care about our plan to climb them, rafting the waters that divided them? They had eternity before us, and eternity after us. We were nothing to them.

The river isn't the only danger the group faces over three long days. But I feel like anything else I say would be a potential spoiler. So I'll just say this book is terrifyingly terrific.  

24 September 2017

Down & Dirty (Lightning, Book 1)

Synopsis from Goodreads: This hard-bodied football star is used to scoring. But he needs all the right moves to get past a fiery redhead’s defenses in a steamy standalone novel from the bestselling author of Ruined.

Emerson: Talk about bad first impressions. I have too much riding on this job to show up late on my first day looking like the winner of a wet T-shirt contest, all thanks to an arrogant quarterback who drives like he owns the road. Hunter Browning thinks that because he’s famous, he can fix everything with a smile and a wave of his hand. He’s too bronzed, buff, and beautiful for his own good. Or mine. I can’t let on that I’m a fan . . . no matter how much fun we’d have in the sack.

Hunter: Hitting that puddle was my best play since winning the Super Bowl with a touchdown pass. Sure, it’s not my preferred way to get a girl wet, but I’ll make an exception for Emerson Day. She’s got a sharp tongue and a red-hot temper, even with her soaking clothes plastered to her every curve. Now I know exactly what my next play will be: hire Emerson as my personal real-estate agent, save her job—and see if I can take her off the market.

Stats for my copy: .pdf ARC, Loveswept, 2017.

How acquired: Instafreebie.

My thoughtsThis story combined elements that I like with elements that I'm not crazy about, and it all worked. I love an alpha hero. Cocky, arrogant, bring it on. Professional football player and star quarterback Hunter delivers. Witty, cutting banter will always draw me in, and Hunter and Emerson delivered. I laughed out loud several times at their exchanges. A hero who enrages the heroine. Score another point for Hunter. A hero with young kids. Ok, they aren't actually Hunter's kids, but a niece and nephew are close enough. A heroine who turns her nose up at the hero's money and fame. While secretly awed (because she is a football fan), Emerson refuses to let that show, which of course makes her different from every other woman Hunter knows, and therefore more desirable. (Although there is a scene involving a hundred dollar bill that was hilarious.) Characters falling deeply in love in a very short period of time. Not a big fan of instalove, as I like watching a relationship grow, but doesn't bother me too much. First person point of view, present tense. My least favorite tense. But Ms. Wolff does it so well it didn't bother me at all. So score one for her.

Throw in some mega sexy times, and a lot of heart. I cried. More than once. Hunter is the kind of man I would find insufferable in real life, but as I got to know him, and to understand him, I adored him. The narrative alternates between Hunter's and Emerson's points of view, but I felt it was a little more his story than hers. Which was just fine by me. I loved this book. 

16 September 2017

His Runaway Son (Harlequin Superromance No. 699)



Synopsis from Goodreads: Burke Wheeler. Undercover cop. Devoted father. Ex-husband. For the past few years Burke's had very little to do with his ex-wife, Abbie except insofar as she's the mother of his sixteen-year-old son, Justin. Then comes a day every parent fears and dreads. Something Burke's faced as a cop but never as a father. Justin is missing. A runaway. Burke and Abbie know they have to confront their own conflicts, lay aside old animosities, if they're going to find their son. In the process of looking for Justin, they find each other, too.They find each other all over again.

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Harlequin Enterprised, Limited, 1996.

How acquired: From a BookCrossing member.

First line: “Mrs. Wheeler, I know you're upset, but if we're going to find your son, I need a few questions answered.”

My thoughts: Not the best Harlequin I've read, not the worst. Didn't really care much for the heroine. During the marriage she wanted the hero to give up being a cop. Now they're divorced, and she still wants him to give up being a cop. Not that he was blameless in the marriage falling apart, but he went through a character transformation and realized where he'd gone wrong and I felt like he grew as a person and would not make the same mistakes. She, on the other hand, is still basically the same person she was when the book started, though less naive about what her teenage son has been up to. At the end he never said he was going to give up being a cop, so I'm not sure how long the new remarriage will last before she starts in again about that.

01 September 2017

Summer Doctor


Synopsis from Goodreads: This is a novel about a very unusual kind of a doctor. Daniel van Dine, M.D., is inclined to wear coveralls, a flannel shirt, and hip-length fisherman’s boots, and he has a sense of humor. He is a nonconformist and a humanist with a keen sense of history. His religious inclinations are rather strong. He is constantly seeking the reason for human suffering and pain. He feels that a deeply personal doctor-patient relationship is more important than the glamor of medical progress.

Dr. Dan decides to locate on a remote island off the cost of Maine. Here, he will be very busy ten weeks out of every year, for Juniper Island is a summer resort. Here, also, he will be lonely, for the conditions in the winter are primitive and the island is inhabited then only by stubborn and cantankerous fishermen.

This is Dr. Dan’s own story of his first three years on Juniper Island. He treats his patients with compassion and individual understanding. He discovers that a doctor can learn more from his patients than he is ever taught in medical school.

Among his patients and neighbors are a much-married millionaire, a fisherman with a curious sense of ethics, a gloomy anthropologist, a violent artist, and a displaced cleric. Among the women who influence him are a city fashion editor, an ex-chorus girl, a spinster librarian, a gin-loving Indian midwife, and an unusual adolescent. One of these manages to marry him. Also, he owns a dog, a mangy hound answering to the unlikely name of Slob.

Dr. Dan tells his story with wit and wisdom. His career is one of growth, and he reaches certain conclusions of interest to doctors and patients alike.

Stats for my copy: Hardback, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1963.

How acquired: From my mom.

First line: “Where is this Juniper Island?”

My thoughtsYoung doctor is discharged from military service after serving as a medic in the Korean war, and finds he has no desire to begin his civilian life practicing medicine in a big city where doctors and patients maintain a purely professional relationship and don't actually get to know each other. He remembers vacationing on Juniper Island as a child one summer, and decides to relocate, showing up on the island with no plans in place, nowhere to stay, and no way to actually get back and forth between the island and the mainland since the only bridge was washed away. But with the help of an local he quickly finds himself trading his brand new Thunderbird for an old rusty boat and a fixer upper of a house.

Dr. Daniel van Vine, or Doc as he becomes known, didn't really know what he was getting into, but I loved the way he just barged ahead practically on a whim and set up shop, or rather practice, in his new home on the island. The locals are all pretty colorful characters, and Dan's first person narrative about his interactions and exploits with them are amusing, and filled with lots of slightly philosophical ruminations on life. Some of the conversations about women and their role in society were quaint and antiquated, but the book was written over fifty years ago, so it didn't bother me. I am glad, however, that doctors today do not share Dan's belief that:
...far too much attention is paid, by doctors and patients alike, to the problem of high blood pressure. I could practice just as good medicine, and my patients would live just as long, and more happily, if I threw away my blood pressure machine, but I don't dare.”

When my prescription for my blood pressure medication expired and I wasn't able to get it renewed right away I went off my medication for almost two weeks, and by the end of that second week I felt like I was going to have a heart attack if I did anything that required the least exertion!

Overall I really enjoyed this chatty and engaging book, and I think I'll look around for the author's other books.

15 August 2017

The Art of Hiding

Synopsis from Goodreads: What would you do if you learned that the life you lived was a lie?

Nina McCarrick lives the perfect life, until her husband, Finn, is killed in a car accident and everything Nina thought she could rely on unravels.

Alone, bereft and faced with a mountain of debt, Nina quickly loses her life of luxury and she begins to question whether she ever really knew the man she married. Forced to move out of her family home, Nina returns to the rundown Southampton council estate—and the sister—she thought she had left far behind.

But Nina can’t let herself be overwhelmed—her boys need her. To save them, and herself, she will have to do what her husband discouraged for so long: pursue a career of her own. Torn between the life she thought she knew and the reality she now faces, Nina finally must learn what it means to take control of her life.

Bestselling author Amanda Prowse once again plumbs the depths of human experience in this stirring and empowering tale of one woman’s loss and love.

Stats for my copy: Kindle edition, Lake Union Publishing, 2017.

How acquired: NetGalley.

My thoughts: After reading, or starting and giving up on, too many not good books, I stepped back from accepting review books for awhile. Granted, most of those not good books did not come to me via NetGalley, but were offered directly from the author or his/her representative. I felt so soured on the experience that I stayed off NetGalley for quite some time, and instead devoted my reading to books that were already in my massive TBR pile. But when I received a notification from NetGalley that I was auto approved for this book, I thought it sounded intriguing, so I accepted it. And I'm glad I did. 

It's a bit depressing at times, but ultimately quite uplifting. Nina's perfect life comes crashing down around her when her husband is killed in an auto accident. As if losing her husband wasn't enough, she soon learns that his business was in financial ruin, and before she has time to prepare she and her two sons are suddenly homeless and broke. She transitions from living in a huge house of splendor, ferrying her sons back and forth to their exclusive private school and spending her days mindlessly spending money left and right to living in a tiny flat in a bad neighborhood, getting a job, walking to work, and learning to live on a tight budget. It's hard on her, and hard on the boys. But along the way Nina learns to appreciate life and the small joys that come with it if you can keep your mind from being closed off. I enjoyed taking the journey with her, and watching her blossom from pampered housewife to confident working woman. The characters were all well written, with the boys being realistic kids. I loved how Nina and her sister reconnected, and there were a few times when I laughed out loud at their conversations. 

A really nice story about loss and love and learning to pick yourself up and find happiness in everyday life. 

23 July 2017

Honeymoon Baby (Do Not Disturb No. 2; Harlequin Presents No. 1985)


Synopsis from Goodreads: Jennifer had taken drastic measures to become pregnant, and she was saving every ounce of love she had for her baby. There was no room in her life for marriage -- only now the father of her unborn child had turned up on her doorstep.

Jennifer's first problem was that her entire family believed Raphael Jordan was actually her husband -- and that, at last, the happy couple could have a honeymoon! Her second was that Raphael was delighted with the idea -- and suddenly Jennifer found herself sharing a bed with her gorgeous, sexy, pretend husband!

Stats for my copy: Mass market paperback, Harlequin Enterprises Limited, 1998.

How acquired: Via BookCrossing.

First line: Jennifer was filling a vase at the kitchen sink when the sleek, low-slung dark green car came gunning around the tree-lined curve of the driveway, almost fish-tailing into a bank of ferns as the driver belatedly realised the bend was a lot sharper than it looked.

My thoughts:  A convoluted plot that slowly unfolds, revealing secret after secret. A recently widowed and pregnant heroine, running a B&B with her mother in the shadow of a once dormant but now awakening volcano. An angry stepson who barges in and, upon being mistaken for her husband by the heroine's mother and other household members (who did not know she was widowed), smoothly steps into that role, forcing the heroine to follow along or tell her family she lied to them. There's so much going on in this book, while not a lot actually happens for a good part of it. Jennifer is likable, but Rafe stole the show, despite the majority of the book being from Jennifer's POV. I was glad I started this book on a Saturday so I had the time to pretty much read nonstop. Sometimes you have to suspend belief and just enjoy the ride, and for me this was one of those times.