Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Review: It Happened in Scotland

It Happened in Scotland (Kilts and Quilts - Book 6) by Patience Griffin

Publication Date: 1/3/2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-100451476409
ISBN-13978-0451476401

(Received for an honest review from Berkley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Patience Griffin on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Kilts and Quilts

1. To Scotland with Love
2. Meet Me in Scotland
3. Some Like it Scottish
4. The Accidental Scot
5. The Trouble With Scotland
6. It Happened in Scotland 
The Laird and I (novella)

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from It Happened in Scotland, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

From the author of The Trouble With Scotland—a charming new romance set in the beautiful Scottish Highlands.
 
Christmas in the sleepy Scottish fishing village of Gandiegow this year is a time for quilting, patching up broken hearts, and rekindling an old flame...
 
After pulling herself out of a three-year fog of grief over the loss of her husband, Joe, Rachel is bringing their five-year-old daughter to see his hometown of Gandiegow and visit with his grandfather. But Rachel wasn’t planning on running into Joe’s cousin, the man who made her have second thoughts at the altar...

Brodie has come home to help his grandfather’s fishing business, but he’d prefer not to see Rachel. Although she did break his heart six years ago, the grip she has on him hasn’t faltered. If they can stop butting heads long enough and learn to overcome the past, they may find new love in the new year...


Thoughts:

Patience Griffin continues her series about love in a small Scottish town with her sixth book, It Happened in Scotland. Fans of the series love the quirky characters, authentic setting and the aura of romance that surround Griffin's books. Readers get everything from stubborn hero's to a little bit of mystery in this one. A great new book, in this heartwarming series.

What I liked:

This series is a favorite of mine and Patience Griffin never disappoints. Contemporary romance is a genre that had to grow on me a bit. I started out reading historical romance and it took me a while to branch out to other areas of the romance genre. With this series I get a little bit of both. Scotland is of course near and dear to my heart. And finding an author who is able to bring the highland spirit and customs into the present day is a rare find. Griffin has created a town in Gandiegow that rivals the real thing. I want to go live there. LOL!

Rachel is more than just an average character. She has a past with this village and these people. She took away one of their native sons and returned without him. The sad part is she didn't really marry him because she loved him. She married him because of her mother. She was in love with his cousin all along. It gives a whole different meaning to her reasons for bringing her daughter to meet her father's family. I liked Rachel. She knew what she wanted and she wasn't afraid to fight for it, but I also felt like she knew when enough was enough. She didn't back track but she understood her limits and that was refreshing in a heroine. 

Brodie nearly drove me crazy. And I thought I was stubborn. I realize that Rachel burned him in the past and it's to be expected that he would not want to make the same mistake twice. However, he took it a bit too far. His issues with his own family didn't make it any easier and his distrust of women, was down right insulting at times. He did however find redemption in the end. This was really a story about forgiveness and the affects of holding on to grudges as well as, a love story.

My grandmother's were both quilters. That was one of the things that originally drew me to this series as well as my own Scottish ancestry. The Quilter's Cottage is just a place of inspiration where characters in the story learn to quilt, but readers are not overwhelmed by too many terms and techniques. I like the subtle way Griffin uses the theme but doesn't go overboard with it. I always feel like I learn something about quilting and those who do it every time I read one of these books. Romance might be the main crux of the story, but there's a lot of other stuff going on in this little village.

What I didn't like:

There were several secondary stories playing out within this book. If readers are new to the series they may have a bit of a harder time seeing where all of these little things fit into the overall story. They may seem somewhat disjointed or unnecessary to some. To those of us who have followed the series from the git go, it was nice to see old friends and characters that we have read about before. So, it's not really what I didn't like, but something some readers might not.

Bottom Line:

Once again Patience Griffin took us back to Gandiegow and as I reader I wanted to stay. Griffin's characters were believable and easy to relate to. Rachel was a girl after my own heart. Determined and understanding. Brodie was not really my cup of tea, but in the end he complimented the heroine well and provided the overall theme of forgiveness. It was probably not my favorite of the series, but there are just so many good ones, you just have to read them all. A wonderful, heartwarming gem of a tale!

It Happened in Scotland is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


Patience Griffin is the author of the Kilts and Quilts novels, including The Trouble with Scotland, The Accidental Scot, and Some Like It Scottish. To Scotland with Love, her first book in the series, was a double RITA® Award finalist. She grew up in a small town along the Mississippi River and spends her days writing stories about hearth and home and dreaming about the fictional small town of Gandiegow, Scotland.

Review: Blazing Hot Cowboy

Blazing Hot Cowboy (Smokin' Hot Cowboys - Book 2) by Kim Redford

Publication Date: 1/3/2017
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Imprint: Casablanca
Genre: Western Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-101492621501
ISBN-13978-1492621508

(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks Casablanca)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Kim Redford on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Smokin' Hot Cowboys

1. A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas
2. Blazing Hot Cowboy

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from Blazing Hot Cowboy, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature

Synopsis:

"This tale will melt even the iciest heart." -Publishers Weekly, STARRED review for A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas

He's all the heat she'll ever need.
Lauren Sheridan's return to Wildcat Bluff after the death of her husband is bittersweet. Thirteen years have passed since she set foot in the place that's always held her heart...and the sizzling memories of her high school sweetheart.

Kent Duval has it all. A proud rancher and volunteer firefighter in the small town of Wildcat Bluff, he's missing only one thing from his life: passion. Kent last saw Lauren Sheridan when she was sweet sixteen and they were head-over-heels in love. Now she's back, spunky daughter in tow, and he no longer knows which way is up. As the heat between them builds, Kent can't help but wonder if past flames can be rekindled and second chances really do exist.


Thoughts

Smoking hot cowboys and firefighters to boot! What more could a reader ask for? Kim Redford's latest book, Blazing Hot Cowboy certainly hits the spot for readers looking for some heat and a great second chance love story. Redford's North Texas setting is vivid and detailed. She know's her cowboys and they way they interact with the world. This one has a little something for everyone from the firebugs to the cat lovers. 

What I liked:

It is easy to tell that this author has some experience with Texas. Redford's use of setting shows her careful attention to detail. Readers will easily be able to feel the authenticity of this author's connection to the land and those who live there. The town of Wildcat Bluff comes to life with a vividly drawn past and a cast of characters that make the reader believe in community and unity. This is the kind of place I always dreamed existed in the West and Redford does a wonderful job of making readers want to come back for more.

I'll have to say that the idea of a cowboy firefighter really drew me to this one. I liked the idea of that for some reason. It was intriguing to see another aspect of the lives of these ranchers. It wasn't all about ranch and home. It was about community and being a part of something bigger. I thought the author did a great job of making the fire fighting scenes believable and essential to the plot of the book. It didn't have that secondary feel or something that was just thrown in to draw a bigger audience. It was realistic and thoughtfully handled. 

Lauren is a spunky lady. She's been through a lot in the 13 years she spent away from Wildcat Bluff. With her return she brings her daughter and a different perspective on love and family. I liked the fact that Lauren was a physical therapist. The use of horses in therapy for disabled patients has always been an interest of mine and I enjoyed the way the author used this in her writing. It gave Lauren a more layered personality and worked with within the confines of the story.

Kent was exactly what I expected in a rancher/firefighter hero. He was strong and courageous and was a deeply caring man. He had some issues when it came to his love life, but don't we all? lol I thought he complimented Lauren well and he certainly pulled off the second chance romance vibe I think the author was going for. His interactions with Hannah, Lauren's daughter were believable and heartfelt. A very nice hero!

What I didn't like:

Everybody knows your first love never really dies. You always have this place in your heart reserved for that person, that idea of what love was in the beginning. The author relies pretty heavily on the idea that, that feeling never really goes away. When Lauren and Kent meet again their past becomes the catalyst to their future. I'm not against that idea at all, but it was one of those stories that maybe needed a little something more. Insta-love isn't really my thing in romances. Even with a shared past they needed to get to know each other again and build on that. But these two just kind of pick up where they left off and the reader is denied that process of falling in love which often makes the book. I wanted a little more for these two. Both had, had some bad experiences you don't often jump back into the fray without being a bit gun shy.

My other issue is probably a little petty. They didn't use condom's in this story. The author gave them reasons to not use them but I wasn't quite buying that. In this day and age, even in the west, and even with someone you knew for years gone by, a little bit of safety wouldn't hurt. She just lost her husband and even though she might have wanted to have a child with Kent in the past, maybe a little time should have passed before they went that route. Just saying.

Bottom Line:

This was a good book. I learned a new word: covergasm! Yeah this book definitely had a good cover. Loved the setting and the characters. Lauren was spunky and liked what she liked and Kent came across as a very good man with morals and a code. I loved little Hannah and Lauren's aunt adds some color and comedy to the story. I enjoyed the banter between the hero and the heroine but I had to suspend a lot of believablity when it came to them falling back in love in an instant. Don't get me wrong love at first sight does exist. I've seen it but it's rare and often not quite as instant as you'd think.

Blazing Hot Cowboy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!



About the Author:


Kim Redford is an acclaimed author of Western romance novels. She grew up in Texas with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and rodeos for inspiration. She divides her time between homes in Texas and Oklahoma, where she's a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider-when she takes a break from her keyboard. Visit her at kimredford.com.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Review: The Guests on South Battery

The Guests on South Battery (Tradd Street - Book 5) by Karen White

Publication Date: 1/10/2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Berkley
Genre: Women's Fiction
Pages: 352
ISBN-100451475232
ISBN-13978-0451475237

(Received for an honest review from Berkley)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Karen White on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram

Books in the series:

Tradd Street

1. The House on Tradd Street
2. The Girl on Legare street
3. The Strangers on Montagu Street
4. Return to Tradd Street
5. The Guests on South Battery

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from The Guests on South Battery, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature. 

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Karen White invites you to explore the brick-walked streets of Charleston, where historic mansions house the memories of years gone by, and restless spirits refuse to fade away...

With her extended maternity leave at its end, Melanie Trenholm is less than thrilled to leave her new husband and beautiful twins to return to work, especially when she’s awoken by a phone call with no voice on the other end—and the uneasy feeling that the ghostly apparitions that have stayed silent for more than a year are about to invade her life once more.

But her return to the realty office goes better than she could have hoped, with a new client eager to sell the home she recently inherited on South Battery. Most would treasure living in one of the grandest old homes in the famous historic district of Charleston, but Jayne Smith would rather sell hers as soon as possible, guaranteeing Melanie a quick commission.

Despite her stroke of luck, Melanie can’t deny that spirits—both malevolent and benign—have started to show themselves to her again. One is shrouded from sight, but appears whenever Jayne is near. Another arrives when an old cistern is discovered in Melanie’s backyard on Tradd Street.

Melanie knows nothing good can come from unearthing the past. But some secrets refuse to stay buried....


Thoughts:

Author Karen White continues her Tradd Street series with the fifth book, The Guests on South Battery. Readers looking for a mystery and a good old fashioned ghost story will find that in more in this wonderful new book from a gifted storyteller. Melanie Trenholm is back and the apparitions from times past are coming with her. The real estate game will never be the same. 

What I liked:

Tradd Street has been one of those places readers often want to return to again and again. One of the major players in the enjoyment of this series has always been the setting. Karen White brings the historic town of Charleston to life on every page. From the historic homes and streets to the customs of southern charm this book oozes attention to detail and some awesome research skills. White never disappoints when it comes to bringing her setting to life, as well as, her characters. The sights and smells of Charleston abound in this one. 

Melanie Trenholm is one a heroine with a few quirks. I don't often like characters that are just too perfect. I want my leads to have some flaws. To seem realistic and believable. Well, White took that to heart with this character. Melanie's personality ticks are well known by readers of the series. She has a tendency to ignore problems in hopes they may go away, but in this book she seems to be showing some growth in understanding herself better. Melanie has just had twins a little over a year ago and White uses that to explore issues with self esteem and body image and I found that part of the book very satisfying. It was more than just a mystery or a paranormal tale. It had a bit of substance that I wasn't expecting.

Sometimes an author you've read over and over becomes a bit stale, formulaic if you will. The stories all seem the same just with different names and characters involved. One of the things I like about Karen White is that each of her books has a sense of freshness about it. They remain fun and not as predictable as some. She has a very good rhythm with her writing. It has a beat, a cadence that is hard to miss. 

What I didn't like:

I can't really say this is the strongest book in the series for a few reasons. In the beginning of the series we saw a lot more of Melanie's eventual husband, Jack. In this particular book, Jack takes a back seat. Melanie is returning to work and this one focuses more on her. I was a little taken aback by White's use of Jayne as not only a client for Melanie but somewhat of an interest for Jack. I wasn't expecting that and really didn't like it. That's not to say it wasn't a good idea. I just didn't want to see that happen to a couple I have followed throughout an entire series. The ending does redeem itself, but the unexpected middle was hard to forget. 

Many of you know that I love good paranormal characters. I read not only mysteries and romances but books about werewolves and vampires and everything in between. But let's face it. The original paranormal characters were all ghosts. It has been done many different ways and with all the bells and whistles, so with these characters I always want some kind of different angle. Often Karen White delivers on that. This time I felt the ghosts got a bum wrap. The parts of the story that involved them did not seem as detailed or planned out as usual. I found them a bit tedious and not as interesting as I had hoped. 

Bottom Line:

I love Karen White's writing. Her sense of setting is simply amazing. Charleston comes alive in her writing here and I think readers will really enjoy her descriptions and details about this historic town. As usual I loved Melanie in all her neurotic glory. She's not a princess and she has her quirks. Loved the body image angle with this one, but wished her new nemesis had stayed just a client. Readers who are familiar with this series need to hold on to their hats, things are a changing. The ghosts were just your normal, average spooks in this one but they still kept me turning those pages.

The Guests on South Battery is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




About the Author:


I grew up being a voracious reader and it was a natural step to turn my interest to writing. I have published award-winning and bestselling novels including my latest release, FLIGHT PATTERNS, a multi-generational story of love, loss and mystery set along the gulf coast of Florida in Apalachicola. FLIGHT PATTERNS was released by Penguin Random House in May, 2016.

I write what others have termed "grit-lit"--southern women's fiction, as well as a contemporary paranormal mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. All of my books are set in the US South, and feature a female protagonist at a crossroads in her life. 

On January 10, 2017, THE GUESTS ON SOUTH BATTERY--the fifth book in the Tradd Street series, will be released. I'm so excited to be continuing Melanie and Jack's story--with a whole host of characters, both old and new. 

In April, 2017 THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT will be released. Set in suburban Atlanta in the fictional town of Sweet Apple, this is the book I'm calling my "Steel Magnolias" meets "The Girl on the Train." Spanning from the Depression era to modern day, it's a story of three very different women, and the true meaning of friendship.

I live near Atlanta, Georgia with my husband, two children, and two of the cutest Havanese dogs, Quincy and Sophie. Readers may recognize Quincy as General Lee in the Tradd Street series.

Happy reading!

For more about me and my books, please visit my website at www.karen-white.com or connect on social media: Facebook: Facebook.com/karenwhiteauthor, Twitter: @KarenWhiteWrite, Instagram: @KarenWhiteWrite and Pinterest: KarenWhiteBooks.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Review: The Perils of Paulie

The Perils of Paulie (Matchmaker in Wonderland - Book 4) by Katie MacAlister

Publication Date: 1/3/2017
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Imprint: Jove
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 336
ISBN-101101990686
ISBN-13978-1101990681

(Received for an honest review from Jove)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Katie MacAlister on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, GoodreadsInstagram

Books in the series:

Matchmaker in Wonderland

1. The Importance of Being Alice
2. A Midsummer Night's Romp
3. Daring in a Blue Dress
4. The Perils of Being Paulie

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from The Perils of Paulie, courtesy of 

Synopsis:

A fast and furious new Matchmaker in Wonderland novel from the New York Times bestseling author of Daring in a Blue Dress.

Sheltered by a strict father, Paulina Rostakova spends her time working for the family business and yearning for some grand adventure. So when contestants are needed for a reality show reenacting an historic 1908 car race across the US, Asia, Russia, and Europe, Paulie jumps at the chance to get behind the wheel of a vintage car.

Dixon Ainslie has nothing to lose by entering the race, except the rut he’s been in since the death of his girlfriend years ago. But as other racers begin to drop out, the producers want Dixon to join forces with Paulie—on one condition: they have to pretend to fall in love and get married.

And as their scripted courtship takes off, Dixon and Paulie will have to take a detour into reality to turn the sparks flying between them into a passion with staying power...


Thoughts:

When I think of Katie MacAlister and her writing the first thing that comes to mind is humor. This chick, oozes wit and sassiness. I'm a sucker for characters with quirks and MacAlister always seems to know just the right idiosyncrasy whether shes writing about vampires, or reality stars. Her madcap adventures always make me smile. Readers looking for a book that has both romance and comedy are sure to love, The Perils of Paulie.  

What I liked:

I love a good love story and I've read a ton. I often think there is very little variety left. Nothing new and different. But, I'm surprised again and again when I pick up a book that might have the same type of characters or setting, but there is just something unique about it. Something that gives the tale a totally different dimension. This book has that something, whatever it is, in spades. 

The humor was one of the best parts. Katie MacAlister has this knack for irreverent and off color comedy. That might not be everybody's cup of tea, I find it refreshing and fun to read. I loved the banter between the hero and heroine, in The Perils of Paulie. A conversation about STD's and unhappy crotches is an example, lol. This book is a take off an old Tony Curtis movie, called "The Great Race" that was totally boisterous and entertaining. MacAlister's book takes a spoiled American heiress who needs a little adventure in her life and pits her against a stoic Brit with an aversion to touch. What a pair! The laughs just kept coming. 

Paulie is both hilarious and erratic, while Dixon is very controlled and somewhat awkward. She's sassy and competitive and he's sweet and smooth. They weren't exactly opposites, but there was that essense of attraction to their relationship that made them good for each other. The banter between them, as they pretend to be falling in love, is rich and vibrant. I loved the way they interacted with each other and the wonderful setting of this novel. There was so much to learn about each other and their surroundings. It was a fun romp!

Dixon doesn't like to be touched. How much more unconventional and wacky can you get for a character flaw? I found that endearing and delightful to read about. His social anxiety was just a really cute and sweet aspect of the story. Paulie gets it. She doesn't have to think it over or get all upset or anything. She just gets him. That's such a perfect thing in a relationship. It made me like these characters so much more. A very prim and proper Brit who doesn't like to be touched put up against a flirtatious and outgoing American... Oh yeah! That hit the spot. 

One of my favorite things about this one was the travelogue slash journal entries from both POV's. That was unusual and gratifying. I sometimes think I miss out on not knowing what the other character was thinking and feeling during a scene and with this one I was able to see all that. I loved the way MacAlister used this technique to enhance the story and bring out things readers might otherwise miss. It was different and I found I really liked the method.

What I didn't like:

I will admit to watching a bit of reality tv. It's not what I would call deep and meaningful television most of the time and I was skeptical that I would not like that part of this book. But I was pleasantly surprised. The scripted aspect of it makes me wonder about some of things I watch, lol! It did make me contemplate the motivations of these characters. I wasn't always sure whether this was a part of the script or real feelings they were expressing. There were a few plot twists that I felt were not really resolved before the end of the novel, but nothing to break the bank. Paulie's dad and his worries about Russian interference was also a bit over the top.

Bottom Line:

I liked this one a lot. I found the balance of humor to romance to be just about right. I loved the take on the old movie and the fact that it was based on 1908 race around the world that actually did happen. I loved the vintage cars, the quirky characters and the fierce and determined competitors. I even loved the old fashioned garb the characters got to wear. There isn't much to make me think you wouldn't like this one. If you've never tried a book with a very comedic approach to love, this is the one.

The Perils of Paulie is available NOW from your favorite bookseller. 

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


For as long as she can remember, Katie MacAlister has loved reading. Growing up in a family where a weekly visit to the library was a given, Katie spent much of her time with her nose buried in a book. Despite her love for novels, she didn't think of writing them until she was contracted to write a non-fiction book about software. Since her editor refused to allow her to include either witty dialogue or love scenes in the software book, Katie swiftly resolved to switch to fiction, where she could indulge in world building, tormenting characters, and falling madly in love with all her heroes.

Two years after she started writing novels, Katie sold her first romance, Noble Intentions. More than fifty books later, her novels have been translated into numerous languages, been recorded as audiobooks, received several awards, and placed on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. She also writes for the young adult audience as Katie Maxwell.

Katie lives in the Pacific Northwest with her dogs and cat, and can often be found lurking around online. You are welcome to visit her at http://www.katiemacalister.com

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Review: Intense Pleasure

Intense Pleasure (Bound Hearts - Book 14) by Lora Leigh

Publication Date: 1/3/2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genre: Erotic Romance
Pages: 320
ISBN-101250105412
ISBN-13978-1250105417

(Received for an honest review from St. Martin's Paperbacks)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Lora Leigh on the WEB: Website, Blog, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

Bound Hearts
1. Surrender 
2. Submission 
3. Seduction 
4. Wicked Intent 
5. Sacrifice 
6. Embraced 
7. Shameless 
8. Forbidden Pleasure 
9. Wicked Pleasure 
10. Only Pleasure 
11. Guilty Pleasure 
12. Dangerous Pleasure 
13. Secret Pleasure
14. Intense Pleasure


Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from Intense Pleasure, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:


The brand new, never-before-published novel in #1 New York Times bestseller Lora Leigh's deliciously sexy Bound Hearts series, where one woman must accept--or reject--the love of a lifetime.

TOO HOT TO HANDLE
Her name is Summer, as beautiful and occasionally fierce as her name suggests. Her past has just come back to haunt her, and suddenly she’s not sure who she can trust. Her longtime confidantes Falcone and Raeg seem to have Summer’s best interests at heart. . .but it’s clear that their desire for her still burns between them. Can they find a way to keep Summer safe―or will a bitter rivalry stand in their way?

Falcone and Raeg need to work together, now more than ever, if they intend to protect Summer from an old enemy who knows her dangerous secret. When Summer’s identity as a sweet, Southern socialite gets out, the two men must find a way to draw out the ruthless assassin on her trail. . .and keep their illicit romance with her under wraps. But some passions are so intense they can’t remain hidden. What are Falcone and Raeg willing to risk for the woman they both crave like no other, in Intense Pleasure, the next Bound Hearts novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh.

Thoughts:

When many readers think erotic romance, Lora Leigh's name usually comes to mind. Her Breeds series, is one of my favorites, but I had never read any of the Bound Hearts books before. Intense Pleasure is book fourteen in the series, which means I'm starting kind of late and that likely influenced how I felt about this book. If a menage story just isn't your thing, this ain't the book for you! lol. Readers looking for a book that is both passionate and suspenseful will find this one very satisfying.

What I liked:

I really like this author. I have read a ton of Lora Leigh's books and I have to say there are very few that I didn't like. She knows her stuff. When it comes to erotic romance and what the reader needs from the genre, Leigh just seems to get it. It takes a fine line balance to make this kind of romance work. You have to have those intense sexual experiences, but you also have to have some emotional aspects and even a bit of conflict to make the story move. It's not all about the sex, at least for most readers. Leigh often has the scales balanced perfectly for me and I had great expectations for this read.

There is a lot of great stuff in Intense Pleasure, from the menage, three way relationship to psychopathic killers. Writing a great romance between two characters is hard enough, but adding a third to the mix takes some talent. The brothers, Raeg and Falcon are as alpha male as they come. Dominant, protective and very sexy. That's not what I think of when it comes to someone who is good at sharing anything, especially a woman. Leigh not only makes it work, but she makes it believable. Falcon is the charming, funny brother, while Raeg is the dark and broody one. You can guess which one was my favorite. Raeg has a lot of emotional stuff going on and provides a lot of conflict for the story. Yes, they are trying to protect Summer from a killer, but Raeg and his relationship issues still takes center stage.

Summer was my kind of heroine. She is independent and strong. She does what she has to do. Unfortunately, that involved killing someone she loved and thought was her friend. That would take an emotional toil on anyone. I loved her big southern family and the Georgia setting for this one, but more importantly I loved Summer as a character. She did seem a bit needy here and there and that did not seem true to character, but she had her reasons and they were for the most part believable.

What I didn't like:

Oh, the secrets we keep! This book thrives on secrecy. The brothers have secrets. Summer has secrets. There are underlying currents of things not being said that need to be said. I had a bit of a struggle trying to keep it all straight and then when I thought it going to be revealed I still had to wait. I'm not even sure I still have it all right, lol. It was one of those books that I really felt I would have benefited from reading the entire series. There were characters and situations that I felt completely clueless about. And then all the sudden we get a very convenient ending that pulls it all together. I suppose I wanted more revealed in small doses throughout than all at once.

There was a ton of emotional angst and general heart wrenching, shredding and shattering going on. These poor boys were a mess at times. I felt bad for Raeg. I felt bad for Falcon. I felt bad for Summer. Maybe a little less feeling bad for everyone and more feeling glad they were together. I needed a bit less emotional brouhaha and more understanding and communication. I know that without it the book would have suffered, but I still got too much of it. 

Bottom Line:

This is a good book. There are some very good points. Sexy brothers. Menage action. Great heroine. But there were some on the negative side too. Too much drama, not enough explanation. Way too many secrets. It kind of balanced itself out, which doesn't surprise me. This author is a master at balance. The sex was great by the way. I've always wondered if one person got left out in this kind of situation lol. Apparently, not! (wink)...

Intense Pleasure is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


#1 New York Times bestseller Lora Leigh is the author of the Navy SEALS, the Breeds, the Elite Ops, the Callahans, the Bound Hearts, and the Nauti series.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Review: Wyoming Brave

Wyoming Brave (Wyoming Men - Book 6) by Diana Palmer

Publication Date: 12/27/2016
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HQN Books
Genre: Western Romance
Pages: 352
ISBN-100373789947
ISBN-13978-0373789948

(Received for an honest review from Harlequin HQN)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Diana Palmer on the WEB: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads

Books in the series:

1. Wyoming Tough
2. Wyoming Fierce
3. Wyoming Bold
4. Wyoming Strong
5. Wyoming Rugged
6. Wyoming Brave

Coverart: Click the image for a larger, clearer view of the covers in this series.




Excerpt from Wyoming Brave, courtesy of Amazon's Look Inside feature.

Synopsis:


The Wyoming men are back! In their quest for true love on the range, are these ranchers bold enough to open their hearts to the women under their protection? 
Ren Colter may own an enormous ranch in Wyoming, but he scorns his wealth. He's closed himself off since his fiancée left him months ago, so he's shocked when he allows Meredith Grayling to stay with him. He tells himself it's only to protect the blonde beauty from a stalker, but Ren's alpha instincts soon kick in. 
The last thing Merrie wants is a devastatingly handsome man like Ren lurking around her. He's too experienced, too appealing for her already shot nerves. What she needs is just to get away from it all: the man haunting her waking dreams and the one hunting her like an animal. But no woman escapes this Colter cowboy!

Thoughts:

Diana Palmer is a prolific author. She has written over 100 novels. That's a huge accomplishment in the publishing world. She was even named one of the top one hundred romance writers in America and for some reason I never reviewed one of her books, though I have read several. The last few years her books have followed a more prescribed pattern that allows the reader some comfort in knowing what to expect, but unusual and sensitive characters are able to transform each book into a separate adventure. Her latest novel in the Wyoming Men series, Wyoming Brave is somewhat of a continuation from her previous novel Defender, a part of the Long, Tall, Texan's series. The crossover aspect of this book was intriguing and allows readers who have read each series to appreciate the other. A very good book, by a master in the western romance subgenre.

What I liked:

I'm a sucker for a brooding hero and Diana Palmer does not disappoint with Ren Colter. This guy has alpha male written all over him. He's very protective and sexy, if a bit overbearing at times. Ren has a broken heart that has turned him hard as stone and cold as ice. I loved his very realistic and hard nosed approach to life, but it was certainly hard to handle in the area of love. When he is faced with an innocent woman in need of his protection he relents but not very quickly and not very easily. Merrie and Ren don't find love at first sight, but it definitely grows on them.

I don't usually go for the sweet, pure heroine. I like independent, strong female characters, but there is something to be said for innocence. That idea of first love and the first sexual experience of a woman was enticing in this one and I found myself very taken with Merrie. She had a great moral compass and she had been through some tragedy in her life. To have her first experience at love with a man like Ren, experienced, wealthy, and very hesitant was maybe not the best but it was satisfying to see him let down his guard and let her in. It happened too quickly, I wanted the angst and anticipation to last, but I still loved every second of it.

One of the best parts of this book was the suspense. Merrie has a stalker, a man determined to end her in one way or another. The story starts out in Defender and ends up in Wyoming Brave. I would advise reading Defender for background on the story and for more insight into Merrie's life. There is everything from passion and love to moral dilemmas and physical danger in this one. Palmer might be known for typical small town romances but this one had a different feel to it. There was a sense of urgency that I don't usually find in her novels. It was a nice change of pace.

What I didn't like:

I have read several of Palmer's romances over the years and have enjoyed them all. However, they often follow a pattern or formula. That is perfect for some readers who want to know what they are getting when they buy a book. But a little tedious for those who want to be surprised. In most of Palmer's books you have an experienced hero and an inexperienced heroine and we do find that here in this book as well. They are usually set in small towns, most usually western in nature. We had all of that here. Her hero's are often alpha male and can be seen as overbearing. We also got that. I think what made this one different for me was the suspenseful nature of the book and I liked the coming of age, innocence of Merrie. Though, the book is similar to Palmer's other offerings I don't think that should deter every reader. Just be aware of it and know what you want to read.

Bottom Line:

I liked this book. It was enjoyable, albeit a little like most others I have read from this author. I liked the story crossover from a previous series and felt like I had something to go on before starting this one. I loved Ren, even though he might seem a little over the top to some. I like that manly man attitude. He was cynical but that paired well with Merrie's innocence and sweetness. Too much of that is just an overload for me. Pick this one up. It's a keeper!

Wyoming Brave is available now from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


I was born in south Georgia(USA), graduated from high school in Atlanta, married my husband, James, in Habersham County, and graduated from Piedmont College(Demorest, GA) summa cum laude in history with minors in anthropology and Spanish in 1995.

I worked for over 16 years as a newspaper reporter on both weekly and daily papers. In between reporting jobs, I had a son, Blayne, my greatest creative achievement. I love iguanas and most other animals, and am the biggest geek on earth. If it's electronic, and non-lethal, I probably have one. I was always the kid who was out of step with the rest of the world, and I still am. My father was a college professor, so my sister and I grew up not quite understanding what prejudice was.

I traveled a lot when I was more mobile than I am now, and I never met a person I didn't like. Writing books is more than a job to me, it's my life, next to being a wife, mother and grandmother. I am a person of faith, but I respect all religions and all cultures.

I write romantic suspense for HQN books, mass market and series contemporary romance for Harlequin, and science fiction novels for Luna Books. In my spare time, I sleep. :)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Review: Wild Wicked Scot

Wild Wicked Scot (Highland Grooms - Book 1) by Julia London

Publication Date: 12/27/2016
Publisher: Harlequin
Imprint: HQN Books
Genre: Historical Romance
Pages: 384
ISBN-100373789661
ISBN-13978-0373789665

(Received for an honest review from Harlequin HQN)

Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, itunes

Julia London on the WEB: WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram

Excerpt from Wild Wicked Scot, courtesy of the author's website

Synopsis:


Wicked intrigue unfolds as an unlikely marriage leads to a path of risky desire in the lush, green Scottish Highlands 
Born into riches and groomed in English luxury, Margot Armstrong didn't belong in a Scottish chieftain's devil-may-care world. Three years ago she fled their marriage of convenience and hasn't looked back—except to relive the moments spent in wild, rugged Arran McKenzie's passionate embrace. But as their respective countries' fragile unity threatens to unravel, Margot must return to her husband to uncover his role in the treachery before her family can be accused of it. 

Red-haired, green-eyed Margot was Arran's beautiful bride. Her loss has haunted him, but her return threatens everything he has gained. As the Highland mists carry whispers of an English plot to seize McKenzie territory, he must outmaneuver her in games of espionage…and seduction. But even as their secrets tangle together, there's nothing to prevent love from capturing them both and leading them straight into danger.

Thoughts:

Julia London is one of those author's that makes a reader stand up and take notice. Her storytelling skills are impeccable and her characters are often surprising, as well as, passionate. Her latest series, The Highland Grooms, begins with a story of political intrigue and a marriage of convenience. Wild Wicked Scot, is quite unpredictable for the genre. This is a hard fought HEA and readers will find themselves absorbed and unable to figure out just how things will shake out. 

What I liked:

I read of a lot of Scottish romances. It's a given coming from a Scottish background that any book I read from the subgenre has to meet a few criterion for me to like it. Historical romances have to have some history. It's in the name... lol. Wild Wicked Scot is set in a particularly tumultuous time in Scottish history, at the beginnings of the Jacobite Rebellion. The tension is high between the English crown and the Scottish clans. London's portrayal of a romance set smack dab in the middle of it was both satisfying and highly emotional, but it's the political climate and the underlying sense of urgency that propels this book from good to great. London knows how to use the history to enhance the romance. It's an acquired skill. 

Can't have a great romance without a sexy hero. It's part of the outline. Arran Mackenzie, fits that description to a tee. He's a laird, commanding and competent. He's a warrior, passionate and protective and he's wearing a kilt. That never hurts. I liked Arran a lot. Margot is his wife, but she isn't his partner in the beginning. It was a marriage of convenience. Her father wanted something and Arran wanted something, but Margot wasn't necessarily it. When she returns after three years he is clearly skeptical, but he doesn't let that stop him from being attracted to her. He is very open with his feelings for her and I liked that he didn't try to hide it even though he doesn't trust her. He is very much a man, but he is also a leader and that comes with responsibilities to his people. He shows caution and compassion with Margot and that was very attractive.

The plot centers around Margot's return to the highland's as a spy for her father. She is supposed to find out if Arran is in fact a supporter of the Jacobite Rebellion. In order to do that she not only has to win over a husband she deserted but also a clan who desperately needs something or someone to believe in. I loved the fact that London's plot is so unconventional. Most marriage's of convenience in historical romances follow a prescribed pattern. Most often the hero and the heroine fall in love and live happily ever after. Not so, in this one. It starts out bad and gets worse. The reader will have a hard time trying to figure out how in the world this one will work out. They know what kind of romance it is but then again maybe it's not. Are they going to stay together... yes, of course they are. But maybe they're not. Oh dear! London really keeps you on your toes with this one... loved that part. 

London brings together two people from two totally different backgrounds. They have no basis to understand each other. Nothing but attraction to bond them. They have different expectations in life. Different ideas of romance and love. I liked the idea of the spoiled English bride and the stoic Scottish laird. It really worked. Margot was certainly a hand full. Arran has his work cut out of him. When they both finally get over their own expectations and start to see each other for the unique and interesting people they have become, it's on (like Donkey Kong!)

What I didn't like:

There were a lot of things I liked about this book, but there was one thing I didn't like. And it's a big one. I didn't like Margot. I didn't like the heroine. How can I possibly say this a great book, without liking the heroine? Even though, I found her a bit spoiled and pretentious in the beginning she did grow on me. I didn't find myself falling in love with her character by any means, but the idea behind her was compelling. She was the bad girl who won the day in a sense. She had her faults and don't we all, but it just goes to show you that there's someone out there for everyone.

Bottom Line:

This was a deeply romantic book. The characters were well drawn and interesting. It felt very unpredictable and hard to pin down and that's a good thing. I like books that don't follow the norms. I like saucy, savvy characters and even though I didn't like Margot she was both of those things. Arran was a very good hero, if a bit clueless about how to make his wife happy. Pick this one up you'll be glad you did. It's a really good romance balanced with political intrigue and a lot of sexy highlanders! 

Wild Wicked Scot is available now from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!





About the Author:


Julia London is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of more than thirty romantic fiction novels. She is the author of the popular  Cabot Sisters historical series, including The Trouble with HonorThe Devil Takes a Bride, and The Scoundrel and the Debutante. She is also the author of several contemporary romances, including Homecoming Ranch, Return to Homecoming Ranch and The Perfect Homecoming.
Julia is the recipient of the RT Bookclub Award for Best Historical Romance and a six-time finalist for the prestigious RITA award for excellence in romantic fiction.

She lives in Austin, Texas.