Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Sugar Cookie Sweetheart Swap--Anthology

Image from Goodreads
Where There's Smoke by Donna Kauffman

Clara Parker is not at a good point in her life right now. She's just been dumped (while on speaker phone, in the local grocery store.) Her job as a dating advice columnist is, quite obviously, not going to be an option. Her boss's suggestion that she do a baking column isn't going well either (she set her kitchen on fire.) Luckily, her old buddy, Will Mason, was nearby. He's a hunky (like, in a calendar, causing riots in a bookstore type hunky) firefighter. He and Clara never quite hooked up, though both wanted to. Maybe now is their second chance...

An interesting story, best of the group in my opinion.

The Gingerbread Man by Kate Angell

Abby is one of Clara's closest friends. She lived withher grandmother who has passed away. Lately, she's been amusing herself with an online business making erotic gingerbread cookies. During the local fundraiser, a stranger comes in, buys a box of her cookies, and then disappears. Well, at least until Abby finds his car off the road and takes him to her house. Lander Reynolds is grateful to Abby Denton for saving his life. And as they spend more time trapped in a snowstorm, they start to get to know each other, in a romantical type way.

An okay story. I liked Abby and Lander and this reminded me of Christmas shorts from the nineties but it was a little... slow.

Sugar And Spice by Kimberly Kincaid

Lily Callahan is a caterer who wants to expand her business. And winning the local bake-off is an easy way to do it. But she's up against Pete Mancuso (the guy who dumped Clara in the first story) who is a pastry chef who has dreams of his own. The sparks that fly between them in a partnership round make the ratings go through the roof. It's an attraction that the sponsors want to exploit and one that the two of them can't deny.

A bit to syrupy for me but an okay story.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Take Me Home for Christmas by Brenda Novak

As always, Brenda Novak writes a fiercely compelling book with hard-to-deal-with themes.
I've been wondering about Sophia's story. She was the golden girl of high school, the bitch who treated everyone with disdain, including Ted Dixon. But in past books, she's been working her way back into the group of friends Novak has been centering her books around.
And that's what I didn't love in this book. She's obviously been abused and is trying to make amends but everyone seems to still blame her for not only what she did oh so many years ago but also for the pyramid scheme her husband set up.

Now, it seems that her husband, Bill, a real jerk who has defrauded most of the town with a Ponzi scheme, had died and Sophia's left holding the bag. She has no working skills and a daughter to care for.
The only person semi willing to help is Ted, a guy she unceremoniously dumped in high school. He, and his mother both still hold a grudge. Besides, he's dating another girl in their group of friends. But that doesn't mean that he is completely heartless. He gives Sophia a job as his housekeeper (did I mention that he's come up in the world?).
A familiar romance trope with a uniquely Novak-spin. The characters are fully-developed and evoke a feeling of camaraderie in the reader. It can be heartbreaking but definitely worth the read.

Friday, September 13, 2013

The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins

The Perfect Match (Blue Heron #2)Wow. I have to say, I was predisposed not to like this book when it opened with a family friend/gynecologist telling Hope that, at 35, her eggs are dying and she has to have kids now!!!!! Um, okay. This sends Hope into a spiral and she decides that the guy that she’s been having a friends-with-benefits-relationship with for almost 20 years is going to her one and only. Really? She’s known for a looooong time that he’s not interested in being in a real relationship but now she’s going to leap into the marriage question?
Granted, she’s pushed into asking by a frenemy who really wants said guy for herself but… okay

It’s a testament to Kristan Higgins writing skills that I not only kept reading the book but really, really enjoyed it. And that as I write this review, I keep thinking of more and more things about the book that bothered me but I still have warm fuzzies and will re-read this book before the gods of NetGalley push its expiration date.

Hope is kind of in a rut. And we’ve all experienced this, where we think life is going okay and suddenly it’s x number of years later and we haven’t at all accomplished what we thought we were going to.

I also liked her hero, Tom. He desperately needs to stay in the country in order to remain physically close to the boy who was almost his stepson. However, he finds out that the university where he’s teaching can’t afford to renew his greencard
another peeve here-even though there’s a last minute change and suddenly there’s no need for Hope and Tom to marry… unless it’s truly love…-why hinge the whole book on a premise that’s gone at the end?
He’s got issues (ahem, the drinking) but he’s aware of and working on many of them. And he really loves his stepson.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sometimes a Rogue by Mary Jo Putney

Image from Goodreads
Oh. I liked this book. I've been waiting to read Sarah's story since her twin got married in Loving a Lost Lord. And Sarah starts out the book as a heroine.
She's walking with her sister, Mariah, a duchess about to give birth. They hear some men planning to kidnap Mariah and Sarah bravely takes her place. She's a spinster with nothing to lose while Mariah is living a very happy life.
It's a good thing that Rob Carmichael is just arriving on the estate. He's a Bow Street Runner (though noble born) and is still recovering from his some-time bedmate falling in love with, and marrying, a man that Rob doesn't particularly like (another good book, No Longer a Gentleman.) He thought they were in a committed relationship but the same wasn't true for the woman with whom he was involved.
But now he gets his HEA. If only they can escape the men who have kidnapped Sarah.
I loved that Sarah could ride horses so well but really disliked that Putney kept calling her a "tomboy who ran wild." It's great for the first description of Sarah as a girl, but after about the third time... eh. It was also interesting to me that Adam's aunt came back into the picture, though it was plain she was the villain but I am very happy that they killed her off.
I also enjoyed Rob's grandmother. She is cruel to him at first but then realizes that she is backing the wrong team by continuing to believe the lies of his dead half-brother and quickly starts to help Rob start cleaning up the mess left by the last two earls.
A major relief was that Rob's first love didn't turn out to be alive. The bastard daughter was an interesting spoke but I was so afraid that her mother was going come back and I just didn't see how Sarah could compete or how Rob could turn her away without being a complete jerk, even if she had "changed."

I loved the character development of the major characters and the minor characters were also fun. The villain was... maybe an unnecessary wrinkle but it was minor in an otherwise highly enjoyable book.

Friday, September 6, 2013

So Tough to Tame by Victoria Dahl

Image from Goodreads
Dahl has been one of my favorite contemporary writers for quite some time and I've even <gasp> bought a few of her books new in the past few years (much preferring library and used books).  But this latest series has been nothing but infuriating. I had high hopes for this book but it didn't start off well.
Walker Pearce is a real cowboy. Even down to the part where he's sleeping with his boss's wife. Well, he's sort of trying not to, but he's actually just been fired so now he can start sexxxing her up. But the thrill is gone so... maybe he won't now. What the what? This is the hero we're supposed to be impressed with? Maybe the heroine will be somebody better.
Charlotte, Charlie, Allington has had something go wrong her in her life. Something that caused her to come home to Jackson Hole where she was once part of a promising clique of girls. A clique that now delights in looking down on her. And doesn't she feel sorry for herself? Yes, yes she does. Because we get to hear about it through her POV. Nope, not really loving her either.
And unfortunately, the description of Jackson is off as well. I'm sure if you didn't live close by, you would enjoy the description. But actually knowing the town... Meh.
So Charlie is rebuilding a life, Walker is helping her while she helps him. Just not a book that I connected with.
But I love Dahl and I can't wait for her next series. Hoping it's better than this one.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Butterfly Cove by Christina Skye

Just gotta start of with... WHAT THE HELL? Major plot point ends NOT tied up? (Okay, technically it sort of, kind of is resolved, but not really and not well) Bad Christina Skye! Bad Christina Skye's editor! That was just ridiculous. I spent thirty minutes reviewing to see if I had missed a paragraph somewhere. Nope. We're just left hanging. Maybe to be resolved in the next book in the series... But we're sure as hell not told that. At least in the ARC.
What happened to Olivia's father's money? And hers? And what was in the envelope his lover left him? And why include the fact that he had an... interesting... sex life?
Rafe Russo was the town bad boy and Olivia Sullivan was the good girl. A familiar story. They're both returning home with varying degrees of success. They meet up when a newly unemployed Olivia swerves to avoid a bus full of children and ends up in an accident herself. She's still pissed at him for leaving without a word and he's not sure that he wants to stay.
It's a testament to Christina Skye that SO MANY things pissed me off about this book (major cliches included) but I still hesitate at giving it less than three stars. The majority of the book had well-drawn characters who were slowly finding their way back into the normal world (and having protected sex while doing it.<oops, bad pun. But I'm keeping it>) there were characters from earlier books (we get to see Jilly and Walker again) but not so many that your head spins and their story is only a little intrusive.