Monday, March 31, 2014

Taken with You by Shannon Stacey

Image linked from Goodreads
Reading the Kowalski stories made me an instant Shannon Stacey fan. She does not disappoint with a book about Hailey (who's been introduced in other bookds), the Whitford librarian and Matt, the new game warden.
Matt's a scarred hero (because, what else?). One of his exes not only objected to his erratic hours and coming home muddy and smelling of animal urine, she absolutely tried to change him. I didn't really get where the deep scars were coming from just based on these descriptions, but then again, I live in Montana where stuff like this is the norm, so... It seemed more like he was being super-rigid about women having to appreciate him and his lifestyle and even went out of his way to try and scare subsequent girlfriends.
Hailey is looking for a man who will appreciate opera and five-star restaurants. When she meets a bewhiskered man who hasn't showered in several days while lost in the woods, she's not immediately attracted to him. But when he cleans up so nice and seems like a rational human being... he might actually might make a good companion. For awhile.
Mild spoilers ahead:

I did not like that Matt was being such a baby about the outdoors thing and I very much liked that Hailey was willing to be more compromising about how they spent their time. She was right to be pissed when he acted like a child in the French restaurant. I had to appreciate the end of the book when it looked like they were going to create a better balance of what they both loved. Just because they didn't have the exact same tastes didn't mean they couldn't be together.

I absolutely loved that there was a five year age gap (she's 40, he's 35) and there were no mentions of cougars, no argument over "she's too old", or any of the things that you might expect from an older female-younger male-type relationship. Instead, it's simply Matt and Hailey falling in love.

This book goes on sale tomorrow and I definitely would recommend picking it up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister

Image lined from Goodreads
Huh. When I got this book from NetGalley, I had no idea it had originally been published over ten years ago. 
When the book opened, I was scared. "Oh, great. Another clumsy heroine" because, you see, our heroine, Gillian Leigh, has set the curtains of a duchess on fire. Not an auspicious start to her season, especially for someone who already has a black mark by being half-American.
But that's okay for someone who's on the fringes of society himself, the Black Earl, also known as Lord Wessex. Semi-accused (only in whispers, don't ya know) of murdering his first wife, it's also known by most of the ton (though not Charlotte) that he has a bastard son that he openly acknowledges. However, he needs to find a wife to preserve the line and he figures Charlotte will do just as well as any other, assuming that she really is the timid spinster that she appears on first sight.
So Charlotte and the earl marry, very, very quickly. She immediately becomes the bright spot in his life... and his son's. And she sticks by him even when it becomes preposterous to do so. There is, of course, a requisite bad guy who is causing the trouble and he's fairly easy to spot but it doesn't take away from enjoyment of the book.
Yes, there are a lot of things that could be annoying in this book but I quite enjoyed the romp and MacAlister's writing. My first thought on turning of my Nook with a sigh, "I can't wait to read the next book in the series."

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Always on my Mind by Bella Andre

Image linked from Goodreads
Finally, an Andre book where the hero isn't so much an alpha as an asshole.
This is the last book of the original Sullivan family. It's finally time for Lori (Naughty), one of two sisters, to get her man. She's finally fed up with her boyfriend indiscriminately cheating on her and using her to climb the ladder. She's flown back to California in a fit but doesn't want her family to know. So she rents a car and decides to go to Pescadero based on the fact that it's the clerk's favorite place to get away. Of course, Lori hasn't stopped to change (really?) so she's still wearing her dance outfit which causes quite a stir in the sleepy town of Pescadero. While in the general store, she sees an ad for a ranch hand and decides to answer it, because, why not?
Upon getting to the ranch, she immediately crashes into a fence pole. Because that's how you show that you're a capable ranch hand. But Grayson Tyler feels sorry for her. Or something. She just worms her way right into his house by picking up the chickens and making him dinner.
That's the first part of the story and by now, you can tell that you will have to suspend a lot of disbelief to get through this story. And while my recounting of the story may sound a little sarcastic, I was able to get through the whole book and not just because I needed to review it for NetGalley.
If you are an Andre fan, I think you will enjoy this book.

Monday, March 17, 2014

When we met by Susan Mallery

Image linked from Goodreads
While Susan Mallery is usually a straight three-star author for me, I really enjoyed this book. The main characters could have been a little better about protection (though they did at least back up and do it right eventually, and she actually addressed the issue.) We also get to see some great character development with both our hero and heroine. His is a little faster than hers (lightning at the end, there, but believable).
Taryn Crawford has been introduced earlier in the series as a smart, capable woman who takes guff from no one, not even the three former professional football players she works with. While not super-stoked about moving their company from L. A. to Fool's Gold. 
It has it's perks though. One of them is Angel Whittaker, a chiseled man with a scar across his throat. A man who intrigues Taryn in a way that no banker or businessman ever could. 
Both have their pasts and it seems like their relationship could be perfect - Taryn doesn't believe in love and Angel no longer has a heart to give. But could working together with eight seven-year-old girls as well as getting to know each other better start to crack even the hardest of hearts?
I have to note that it's getting easier for me to suspend my disbelief about this tiny, little mountain town having so many people and festivals and huge companies. I live in a tiny, little mountain town with just under 900 people so it's been very difficult for me to read this series but... 13 books in and I'm getting there. 
Still way to many previous characters showing up and breaking my reading flow (Isabel? which one was she? Does it really matter? Maybe, Why can't I remember? Maybe I should just keep reading this one) but this is to be expected in this series.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Harlow Hoyden by Lynn Messina

Image linked from Goodreads
I seem to be on quite the kick of "hellion/hoyden" books right now. I was on a kick one day, requesting books that had interesting covers from NetGalley. This, was one of them. Being a new-to-me author was a bonus here. Another bonus? I quite enjoyed the story.
The Duke of Trent is quite bemused one afternoon to find a young woman assaulting one of his prize orchids (she was going to snap it off at the flower, rather than at the route). He's even more bemused to find out that his intruder is the well-known Harlow Hoyden, Miss Emma Harlow.
Emma is delighted to make the acquaintance of the Duke of Trent. She thinks that he's the answer to her prayers. Her prayers to find some libertine to seduce her sister away from a fiance that Emma wholly disapproves of.
Okay, there was a totally pointless scene at the end
the killer had to come back and strangler her a second time? Why? To eke out a few more pages?
And, DEAR GOD IN HEAVEN, I hope the typos are fixed before this book goes to print. I ignored them because this was an ARC but the duke's "think smile" and drinking of "ail" were... whew. If this were a published book, I would have been annoyed enough to mark this book down two stars.

UPDATE: The follow-up, The Other Harlow Girl, is about Vinnie finding her own HEA. Not as good, but still worth reading.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Passionately Yours by Cara Elliott

Image linked from Goodreads
I didn't read the first two books in the series but didn't feel like I had to because the only characters that seemed to travel to this book (refreshingly!) were the main characters with little diversion to updates or other nonsense.
I seem to be on a reading stretch where all of the young women are "hellions" of some sort. And in this book, Carolina Sloane is the youngest and most headstrong of three sisters who have been labeled as such. Again, I haven't read the first two books in this series so I don't know what went previously but, when this book opens, she's met our hero, Alec McClellan, Lord Strathcona, before. And it was an exciting adventure and these two were sparking off each other something serious.
We do get to see them connect more in this book as well as going on a grand adventure. Okay, it's more of trying to not get killed because of Alec's anti-British-togetherness stance (he's Scottish, which is actually fairly contemporary considering what's going on over there right now).
A good book and if you like Cara Elliott, you'll quite enjoy this book.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Kiss the Bride by Lucy Kevin

Image linked from Good Reads
The Wedding Dress
Anne Farleigh's life is about to change and investigator Gareth Cavendish is the one to do it. But how can he break this beautiful dressmaker's heart?
The Wedding Kiss
Rose Martin is about to get married to a dreamy doctor. So why does best friend RJ, the gardener at The Rose Chalet, make her heart go pitty-pat?
Sparks Fly
Angelina is a life organizer and she's just been hired to get Will Scott's life in order. His ex-wife hired him when she read that Angelina's clients had a habit of getting married right after she worked with them. Angelina knows Will's ex wants him back, which makes it just that much harder for her to ignore the feelings he's producing in her own heart.

Oh, Dear God-in-Heaven. If this hadn't been a NetGalley book, I would have stopped after the first story. Mary Sue was beyond TSTL. Between that and the lightning-fast romance which made absolutely no sense with the characters we were given, I was ready to give up on the story. 
The second story was okay but the third story, again, was one that I would have DNFd if I had the chance.
If you like stories with little "on-screen" sex and characters that are just a bit twee, you will like this story. Otherwise, steer clear.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins

Image linked from Goodreads
I've been looking forward to this book for awhile. Colleen O'Rourke, local bartender (bar owner, really), has been a B character in other Blue Heron books but she has seemed like a confident woman who is comfortable in her own skin. Even better, it's hinted that she has had "relationships" with many of the men that come into the bar (though Higgins does have to mention that her reputation is hugely inflated. Why can't we just have a confident woman who actually deserves her reputation?) but her friends don't think less of her for it and she doesn't think less of herself.
For four years, she dated Lucas Campbell while they were in high school and even while starting college. Then
she found out that he knew her father was cheating and didn't tell her. Also, he had issues saying "I love you" and just sharing emotions in general
her world fell apart and so did their relationship. While she hasn't lost faith in love, she's lost the idea of it for herself.
This book was three stars for me until the ending. I didn't love
that Joe was such a douche about Colleen sleeping with his cousin but you do have to factor in that his world had just shifted with the loss of his uncle
but the fact that he sort of figured it out on his own was a nice touch and, oh, the feels.
This book comes out on March 25, 2014 and is most definitely a book worth reading.