Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak

Image linked from Goodreads
Eve isn’t the kind of woman to wake up next to a stranger, and yet, on the morning of her 35th birthday, she does just that. It’s embarrassing enough but she has the complicating factors of Noelle Arnold (vindictive gossip) dropping them off at her house and the man staying at her B&B. Rex isn’t in a place to create relationships. He really just wanted a night to forget about his problems. But Whiskey Creek seems like a place that he can not only hide out from his own problems, but also protect Scarlet Jones, a photographer with a stalker. I liked Eve. She was aware of the fact that her parents might hear about her escapade, and rather than create some kooky plan to prevent them ever hearing it, she ‘fesses up immediately. Rex... was a little more mysterious and hard to nail down. He was a nice enough guy "with a past" One minor comment. I liked the name Brent. I wish that had been his real name and Rex the alias. It makes more sense in my head. But I did have some larger issues
I like Novak's books so much better when everything isn't SUCH A BIG DEAL. And how many times could she point out that Cheyenne's baby was her husband's brother but she wasn't going to tell and only four people knew? Good freaking lord. Maybe that will change before the book goes into print. I certainly hope so. And what was up with the Scarlet Jones subplot? Was it there to get Rex back to his house? It made no sense for this long build up and then nothing actually happens.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Maybe this Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Image linked from Goodreads
If you are looking for a story with a slow build, this will certainly satisfy your urges. If you aren't, this could be something of a slog.
I was very much looking forward to Brenna and Tyler's story. They have been minor characters in the last two books and everyone has commented on Brenna's love for Tyler. One that he doesn't seem to reciprocate.
They are both good people. Tyler was sliding toward not being a very good person but, one bad turn on the ski hill, and the champion skier became a "former." He can still ski, and still do hard hills, but he isn't up to championships.
Brenna has always loved Tyler. And not in a "friend" way. But she doesn't want to push any harder, afraid that she'd lose even that tenuous connect.
But everyone else is tired of seeing both Tyler and Brenna unhappy. They all think that the two are perfect for each other. So... some machinations ensue. For as many people that are pushing these two, it is a long, slow story where the tension is dragged out for far too long. Great character development and nice to see the characters again.

Previous Books in the Series: Sleigh Bells in the SnowSuddenly Last Summer

Friday, October 24, 2014

One in a Million by Jill Shalvis

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While the last few books in the Lucky Harbor series haven't exactly tripped my trigger (they were okay, but not my favorite Shalvis books), this book finally got back to the things I love about this author, her character development and their witty banter. I could have used less shoehorning of characters from early in the series (Shalvis has remarkably avoided this in the past) but overall, I really did like this book.
 Callie Sharpe is back in the town where she grew up. Though the proprietor of a very popular wedding site as well as being a wedding planner, Callie doesn't believe in true love. Not since her first crush left her at the altar on the day of their wedding. Now she's checking up on her grandmother (town gossip and social media maven, Lucille) and starting to develop some majorly grown-up feelings about her high school crush.
For his part, Tanner Riggs is not in a good place for love either. His fifteen-year-old son, one conceived in a heated night of high school sex, is back in town. And, not only does he have the regular teenage mulishness, he has his dad's bad attitude. I absolutely adored the morning meetings that Callie and Tanner were having. Doughnuts and coffee while Callie is professionally dressed for Skype conferences and in comfort clothes from the waist down? Majorly cute.
Boy, was I getting ticked toward the end of this book. Callie, who protested throughout the book that she didn't believe in love was ticked off that Tanner didn't introduce her as his girlfriend. When Lucille pointed out this hypocrisy (and Callie admitted it), I could have cheered. An absolutely awesome way of dealing with a trope that needs to Go The Fuck Away.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Change of Heart by Jude Deveraux

The best thing I can say about "Change of Heart" is that, between this book and "For All Time," I'm finally ready to give up Deveraux as a Must-Read. I will probably never be able to give her up fully (Sweet Liar alone keeps my hopes up) but the last few two and a half miler books have gotten rounded up to three stars based on sentiment alone.
I actually squeed and did a happy dance when I realized that Eli and Chelsea were getting a story. Children from an earlier Deveraux short story, the two drifted apart but are now ready to find each other and their own HEA.
Wow. Just. wow. I kept reading to see if Chelsea would really put up with all of Eli's shit. I was so hoping that she'd just pop him one. I mean, Eli heads straight past Alpha and sails into Asshole. He sees Chelsea in a picture, decides she's not happy and that he's going to fix her life. She's too skinny, so he changes her restaurant order. She hates camping so he takes her into the woods (and then gets pissed off when she complains). He pours the guilt on her for their childhood friendship ending and her never noticing him as a male, when he never stepped up to show her how much he loved her. And then tells his teenage doppelganger Scully that he knows she would have just laughed at him. And she puts up with all of this shit. I wasn't too impressed with Chelsea either. She complains that no one ever expected anything of her because she was so pretty. This is after Deveraux has clearly shown that her parents did expect more of her and then goes on to explain that Chelsea wasn't even the prettiest of her sisters. Pilar- she doesn't want to work with Eli and doesn't really like him but then they're portrayed to be friends. She helps out disconnecting lights and stealing papers but then tells Chelsea that she's never given any responsibility. And what school in this day and age would let unknown adults attend prom? I just... I can't even... My level of suspended disbelief was so beyond stretched at that point that I... argh.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Pretty Mess by Carla Caruso

Image linked from Goodreads
This was on the low end for a three-mile book for me. I can't quite remember what was annoying to me about this story since most of the parts I can remember were things I would have liked (thus the three stars) but the main character was irritating to me. She was a stereotypical "klutzy mess" but was supposed to be a big-time organizer? Eh. Celeste Pretty has just opened her new business, "Professional Organizer on Pink," the initials of which she only just realized. And her first huge client is a fitness professional, Natalia Samphire. But Natalia's life is not all the peaches and cream it seems to be. In fact, Celeste finds blackmail notes that threaten to unveil the truth of Natalia's past.
And the ending... should have been triumphant and climactic with Natalia outing herself, but it felt sort of felt flat. I also wasn't feeling the romance. Was this book a mystery with romantic elements? Or a romance with some cozy mystery added? I guess it doesn't really matter but both aspects suffered from trying to be in equal parts.
Definitely the ending is sequel bait. Secondary characters were pretty good, though.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Once Upon a Christmas Kiss by Manda Collins

Once Upon a Christmas KissI didn't realize this was a novella when I requested it from NetGalley. I keep thinking that I'll like Manda Collins but her stories have never really gotten above "Meh" for me. Until this one. I really liked this story. I was grateful that Sir Lucien Blakewell and Miss Winifred Nightingale were given a really complete back story. I got about 60 pages into it and was thinking about how most short stories weren't so thorough about establishing a prior relationship, and only then noticed this was only 126 pages. So anyway, Sir Lucien has gotten to know Winifred since she is the governess at his friend's house. The differences in their positions has been a little awkward, so when she's a guest at his other friend's Christmas house party, he's excited that they are closer to being equals. Winifred, on the other hand, isn't so sure. Her parent's marriage was one where they came from different classes and it ended badly. But when threats start popping up, she's grateful to Lucien for his help. And their relationship has a chance to grow. This book came out on the 14th. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On the Naughty List (anthology)

Image linked from Goodreads
Christmas Bonus by Lori Foster
Eric Bragg is worried that his boss won't realize that he's a desirable man. He's been in lust with the long-legged Maggie since she was nineteen, but of course that was just too young. But, just when he thought he might make a move, her father died and now she's in charge. But he's ready to make his move.
This story irked me and I kept thinking that it was old-school and that I had read it before. It's not as old as I would have thought given the character ages and the "Me he-man, I'm right" attitude of the hero (2000). Can't remember how I felt when I read it the first time but this time I flew through the pages, just trying to get done so I could read something else. Probably would have skipped if it hadn't been and ARC.

Naughty Under the Mistletoe by Carly Phillips

And... I've read this one before too! I hate when they repackage books and don't put on the cover that these are reprints. 
Antonia Larson is ready to make a play for her boss (sound familiar) but ends up kissing his twin instead. Good thing the twin, Max, is eager to be kissed.
I know this is a short story but the whirlwind romance of it didn't appeal to me. They knew each other barely 24 hours and are in "Twu Lurv"? Meh.

Some Kind of Wonderful by Beth Ciotta

Daisy Monroe, cupcake baker extraordinaire is back in her home town to celebrate Christmas. And her childhood best friend, Zach, is also back. Will visits from a few ghosts and an unexpected storm help them to reconnect in a more visceral manner?
Liked that the penpal confusion didn't last. No Big Misunderstanding for the whole story. But the ghost aspects left me cold. 

Have Yourself a Curvy Little Christmas by Sugar Jamison

I loved the first book in this series but the second book left me cold and the third, disgusted. Again, I probably wouldn't have read this story if it hadn't been an ARC. And I would have missed the story that dragged this book into three star territory for me (well, high two but I'm rounding up).
We learned about Dina Gregory in the first book. She was the mean and evil sister of that heroine and now she's getting her own HEA. I was a bit irritated by her seemingly quick turnaround ("I had a baby! I'm wonderful (and somewhat pudgy) now!"). It would have been nice to learn about more of her hardships that led to this attitude change. 
But, now she's calling on the man who impregnated and then dumped her. But he's gone and his widower brother is there in his place. And Ben doesn't want to let her go.
Again, a fast falling in love and a lot of big emotions that were dealt with impossibly quickly, but I rather enjoyed the story.

Lems Sweet Jane Cordova

Okay, I haven't talked much about sportwear (or, at all) on this blog, but thought I'd branch out. Now, these shoes aren't technically sportwear, they're for everyday.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Christmas Wedding Ring by Susan Mallery

Image linked from Goodreads
A Susan Mallery book that isn't set in Fool's Gold? No shoehorning every ex-hero/heroine into the book by hook or by crook (hee, I rhymed)? If this story had had better protection worked in (and Goodreads allowed it), it would've rated a four and a half.
Molly fell in love Dylan when he was dating her older sister. He was the bad boy who left when her sister married someone else. As he was heading out of town, he gave her the wedding ring he had bought, and promised that, when she grew up, they could have a grand adventure.
Well, now she's grown up and having a REALLY crappy life at the moment. When the ring pops out of her lingerie as she's packing, she figures, "Well, why the heck not?"
Dylan, now a super successful motorcycle designer, is at a crossroads himself. A two week vacation seems like a great way to clear his mind.
There were many things about this book that should have annoyed me but
I really like the way the breast cancer scare was handled. Molly does a monthly check (which we ALL should be doing) and, granted, she ends up not having it but that has happened to a couple of my friends now so I could buy it. Also, these two fall in love so fast but it wasn't insta-lust, at least on Dylan's side.
Published on Oct. 7, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Season of Desire by Theresa Romain

Lady Audrina is NOT having a good day. She's been drugged and kidnapped by the same man who took her only commodity.
Giles Rutherford isn't exactly in a good mood either. His father has dragged him across the Atlantic after a puzzle box that supposedly holds a diamond parure owned by Giles' mother. And Giles is starting to feel the same symptoms of arthritis that crippled his mother.
But the two are forced together when Audrina's father forces Giles and his father to help rescue her and then to take her to the wilds of York so that he can ensure her kidnapper arrives in London separately and she can arrive later, suitably chaperoned by the sharp-tongued Lady Irving.
But while in York, Audrina and Giles get to know each other in a way they couldn't have if they were merely highly-ranked lady and brash American.
It was lovely to see a heroine who was bold about what she wanted and a hero who was willing to hold back. Their story was fun as were the secondary romances (though one was really only hinted at.) All of the characters were well-rounded and this was just a fun read.
Comes out today!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

He's So Fine by Jill Shalvis

Image linked from Goodreads
Oh man, I think I'm going against the grain by not giving this five stars. At least for the Advanced Readers. But I can say that regular readers of Jill Shalvis will like this book.
When the story opens, Cole Donovan is working on one of his company's boats. He gets distracted and slightly electrocuted and ends up in the water. That's when Olivia sees him, assumes he's drowning and jumps in to save him.
She's in town to disappear. See, Olivia Bentley isn't the name she was born with. Or even the name she's known by. But it is the name she's using to rebuild her life. Which could be a problem since Cole is incredibly rigid... especially about people lying to him.

I just couldn't connect with Olivia. She never really grew as a character. And we didn't really see past growth either. She was a child star, then a wild child, then, magically, she's an adult. An adult who keeps her lips sealed every single time Cole reveals something.
Cole, who we're shown (and told) over and over, is an easygoing guy... until we're told he's really actually very rigid. Wha huh?
And, oh, I'll probably get some comments from this... I thought the opening scene was over the top. And for me, not in a cute way. More in an excruciating sort of "people don't really do this" kind of thing.
The thing I like about Jill Shalvis is that not all of her endings are over-the-top, massively public proposals. Except... that they have been for this series. It's like each boating partner has to outdo the last.

Previous Book in this Series: It's in His Kiss