Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Big Nate: A Good Old-Fashioned Wedgie by Lincoln Peirce

Big Nate by Lincoln PeirceNate is back in a book that mostly covers the summer. He's playing baseball again but Chester isn't their pitcher this year. Instead, Nate's dad calls one of Nate's old preschool playmates to come in and help out. Nate is crushing on her pretty hard until he finds out that Jenny has moved back to town. There is a storyline with Nate being astonished that Chad is getting so many signatures in his yearbook. Toward the end, we get a few strips with Mrs. Godfrey. Because how could this be a Big Nate book without her?

Four stars
This book comes out August 29

Monday, August 21, 2017

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah Morgan

Holiday in the Hamptons by Sarah MorganToward the end of New York, Actually, we learned that Felicity Knight had an ex-husband who had turned up in Manhattan. Felicity had married Seth Carlyle when they were both too young and divorced him soon after. She has tried to face the sexy vet but has been unable to do so. Instead, she grabs the chance to leave town and head to the Hamptons when her grandmother calls for help.
Unfortunately, (at least in Fliss's eyes) Seth was only in Manhattan for a short stint before he returned to the Hamptons where he immediately runs into Fliss who panics and claims to be her twin sister.
Seth still has feelings for Fliss and is delighted to have this chance to get to know her now. If only she'd cooperate...
And, ufda, was Seth a totally bland bulldozer. We know nothing about him except that he seems to be an all-forgiving saint who doesn't want to give up on their love. He's not an alpha-hole because he does give Fliss a little bit of space but other than the fact that he's missing his father, we really don't get to know him. Nor does he have any discernible flaws while Fliss is described as being just riddled with them (and not just in her own head). At the end, I'm really not sure that these two people are getting an HEA.
I am hoping for better in the next book because I know that Morgan can write in-depth characters and fun-to-read books.

Two stars
This book comes out August 29

Thursday, August 17, 2017

You Say It First by Susan Mallery

You Say It First by Susan MalleryThis was a charming offshoot of the Fool's Gold series. I didn't have the frustration from that series that SO MANY people recurred in the stories. Don't get me wrong, there is a LOT of sequel-bait in this book but they were woven in well, and there is a nice, built-in explanation for why we'd see some of these people again.
It seems in the 1960s, our heroine's grandfather, wanting to help the town's economy, made up a story about a stagecoach breaking down and the load of women falling in love with the men in town and opting to build the town now known as Happily Inc. Pallas Saunders knows it's a load bull but she still enjoys her role in town providing weddings in a box (or, at least I think she does. All her friends tell her so but she doesn't seem convinced). She needs help though. She's just barely breaking even and she's trying to figure out how to change that. One way is to restore the exquisite wooden panels that divide some of her rooms.
That's where Nick Mitchell comes in. We saw two of his brothers get married in the Fool's Gold series but he's not going to fall into the same trap. He's seen the marriage between his father and mother and seen how much passion can lead you to pain. So, though he's interested in Pallas (and in restoring her panels), he's not going to fall in love.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 22
Followed by Second Chance Girl

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Thief's Mark by Carla Neggers

We've learned a lot about Oliver York in the previous 6 books in this series. In this book, he comes into even more focus when one of the man who kidnapped him as a boy, returns. And then dies in Oliver's arms. Oliver is the easy person to pick as prime suspect. But there is, of course, more to the story.
Thief's Mark by Carla NeggersEmma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are on the last day of their honeymoon when the call comes in that Oliver is once again embroiled in a mystery. Also on the scene, Oliver's gardener, Henrietta, (a former British secret service agent) and a man who has been with him since childhood, Martin.
 Weaving together the characters that Ms. Neggers has created in the Sharpe and Donovan universe, the dead man visited Father Finian the day before he died. I like that there is a concrete reason for previous characters to be woven in, they're not just plugged in willy-nilly to remind you that this is a series.
Books can always be read out of order in a series but I definitely wouldn't recommend it for this one. I think regular Neggers readers are going to be pleased with this addition to the series.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 29
Follows Liar's Key

A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase

A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta ChaseI am so excited to read the rest of the books in this series. Loretta Chase, for me lately, has not been the writer I so enjoyed when reading Lord of Scoundrels. This book gets quite close. And it's mainly, again, because of the characters.
The Duke of Ripley is back from the continent for the wedding of one of his two best friends, the Duke of Ashmont. Along with the Duke of Blackwood (Ripley's brother-in-law) the men are known as Their Dis-Graces. Unfortunately, Ripley is the one that finds Ashmont's bride-to-be, Lady Olivia Hightower, climbing out the window of her own wedding. Rather than carting her back and forcing her to wed his best friend, Ripley decides to make sure she makes it to... someplace... safely so that they can regroup. And I appreciated that about him, that he seemed to understand Olivia even from the beginning. As they travel, eventually ending up with Ripley's aunt, we get to see them falling in love.
The ending, I didn't love. I also wish we had seen more of how Blackwood and Ripley came to be rehabilitated. They seem to have played all of these pranks but then there seems to be a gap in the story as to why they stopped. I also really hope that the next book in this series is the one between Alice and Blackwood. I'd love to know why she seems to be avoiding her husband and it will give Ashmont some time to grow. I'm really hoping we get either a B story or a novella featuring Uncle Fred and Julia.

Four stars
This book comes out August 22

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare

The Duchess Deal (Girl Meets Duke, #1)Oh my. This book starts with one of my favorite first chapters ever. We meet the hero, we meet the heroine, we get a nice snapshot of them both, their attitudes, their personality, and a little bit of their background. Emma Gladstone is a seamstress, a vicar's daughter, who worked for months on a dress for the Duke of Ashbury's fiancee. When he was wounded in the war, his fiancee decamped and never paid for the dress. But Emma needs that money. So she shows up at the duke's residence. In the wedding gown. And he proposes.
The Duke of Ashbury (name currently in dispute), was horribly disfigured in the war. His fiancee was horribly disgusted by him and the wedding was called off. But he needs  a wife because his current heir is... well, a prat. When he meets Emma, he's charmed by her and... well, he proposes.
The rest of the story is the two of them finding their way to an HEA with some delightful twists and turns along the way.
Emma's friends are most definitely sequel bait - animal loving Penelope, the clock winding Alexandra and the mad scientist Nicola - but not in an obnoxious way. They were handled with the lightest of touches. There are a lot of romance tropes (including a ripped "bodice") and some modern, but not overt, references (false news, anyone?). There are two potentials for One Last Big Misunderstanding and they are deftly avoided. This book is the best kind of mix of Beauty and the Beast with a touch of Batman and a soupcon of Gone With the Wind, I  read this book in one fast and furious sitting, grinning fiercely the entire time. Absolutely delightful.

Five stars
This book comes out August 22

The Ethical Slut, Third Edition by Janet W. Hardy, Dossie Easton

The Ethical Slut, Third Edition: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and LoveI've had this on my TBR list for a long time so when I saw the third edition as a NetGalley ARC, I jumped at the chance to read it. It took me a long time to get into the rhythm of the book. A lot of the things that were possibly shocking in the first book seemed a little more tame now. However, the book is open and accepting of all relationships (sexual and nonsexual; even including monogamy). All of the relationships and orientations are described in a frank, knowledgeable, non-judgmental manner that makes the book easier to read. Is this book for everyone? Probably not. It would probably best serve in a sociology class on sexuality but is also a good primer people who are starting to explore sexuality outside the bounds of one-man, one-woman.

Three and a half stars
This book came out August 14

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Druid Next Door by E.J. Russell

The Druid Next Door by E.J.   RussellI'm really enjoying the world building that Ms. Russell has put together in this series. The second book follows the first. One of three brothers has been exiled from the world of Faerie, in this case, Mal. Then the brother discovers he's in lust/love with a human. Except he's NOT a human! But even he doesn't know that.
In this case, it's Bryce MacLeod, an ardent environmentalist. He knows that Mal is a super-attractive being but he's more distracted by the fact that the man can't recycle correctly. Bryce wants to save the world and has always been connected to nature but now he's discovered that he's a druid and he's quite literally connected to Mal.
I wish we had seen more of Bryce's training. I was also irked by a trope familiar to romantic readers of "You are my one special person and I know that because everything I ever thought about sex has changed but only because of you!" Not only was this trope introduced, it was thrown at the reader over and over and over again. Am I still excited for the third book in this series? Oh yeah.

Three stars
This book comes out August 21
Follows Cutie and the Beast

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNeal

The Paris Spy by Susan Elia MacNealMaggie Hope is again fighting the Axis powers in World War II. This time, she's behind enemy lines, searching for a fellow spy who it is feared has been captured. While there, she is also looking for her sister. Interspersed are bits and pieces of Sarah and Hugh's work as well. There is a lot going on in this story. A LOT. But MaNeal is generally successful in weaving together all the plot points. Maggie is on the verge of becoming less relatable, which was one of the best parts of this series. I hope that she'll be a little more human and a little less super-spy in the next book.

This book comes out today
Four stars

Sunday, August 6, 2017

She Be Damned by M.J. Tjia

She Be Damned by M.J. TjiaHeloise Chancey is not a prostitute. She is an actress and a courtesan who helps solve mysteries on the side. And that's why she's posing as a prostitute, in the hopes that she can help figure out why these women are turning up dead, all of their sexual organs removed. It becomes personal when her maid is accused of the murders.
The book is as much (if not more) about Heloise's exploration of her past as it is about solving the murders. There is an exploration of what it was like to be a courtesan in London, the views of abortions in those times (touches on today), and racism.
I was sort of surprised to learn that M. J. Tjia was a woman. The first person point of view felt a bit uncomfortable, as though it rang a false note. At first I thought was a gender thing but I think it may be more of a time period thing. Heloise seems very much like a modern woman who was plunked into the 1800s. Not that that couldn't have existed, but it felt very odd. And it kept me disconnected from both the character and the book. I actually connected more with the Li Leen interjections than with Heloise.
I'm not sure who to recommend this book (novella? It's not even 200 pages). I feel like some people might enjoy it but it was not a good book for me. I would give it two stars but it was an interesting enough book that it made it up to two and a half.

This book came out August 1

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses by Lorraine Heath

Gentlemen Prefer Heiresses by Lorraine HeathAfter "An Affair with a Notorious Heiress," I was eager to read Gina's story. She was so sweet and so obviously in love with her sister's husband's younger brother. For his part, Andrew has quite a bit of lust for the young Gina, but he knows that he's not the right man for her. He's a younger son and she's an American heiress. It's too bad that he just can't seem to stay away. Nor to refuse her request for a little adventure.
It's an okay story but I wish Gina and Andrew had had a chance to have a little more.

Three stars
This novella came out yesterday

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Archie Archives: The Double Date and Other Stories (Volume 3)

Archie Archives, Vol. 3 by Brendan WrightI loved reading Archie in the 90s so the chance to pick up an ARC with some of the original Archie comics seemed like a great opportunity. And it was really an okay book. We get to see some of Archie's development but not really anybody else's. Except for hair color, Betty and Veronica are fairly interchangeable. We don't get to see much of Jughead or even Reggie. The character we get to see most other than Archie is his dog. There was one "game" page and several written stories that I don't remember being a part of later comics. A nice bit of nostalgia I guess but  nothing I would have wanted to read otherwise.

Two and a half stars
This book came out November 22

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Continental Crimes by ed. by Martin Edwards

Continental Crimes by Martin EdwardsI usually enjoy the stories picked out by Mr. Edwards for his anthology series. And the book started off well, I enjoyed "A Bracelet at Bruges" and "The Secret Garden." But the rest of the stories didn't really hold my attention. I think that these were perfectly fine stories, they just didn't resonate with me at this point in time.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out August 1

Monday, July 31, 2017

Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery

In the first book in this series, we learned a lot about Mathias Mitchell. He's an artist, he sleeps with the numerous bridesmaids that come through their destination-wedding town, and he's entranced by his neighbor, Carol Lund. Well, it's just a flinch, but this is a romance series so we all know what's what.
Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery
Carol considers herself a peahen (which, thank god, she let go of after the three times it was mentioned in the first chapter. She's a gamekeeper in her family's recycling center/game preserve and she has a massive crush on Mathias. But they're friends and she doesn't want to ruin that. Plus, he only goes after peacocks (which is not a good analogy, especially for someone who knows animals).
For his part, Mathias is fascinated by Carol. And also more than a little hesitant. His parents have a ... strange relationship and he doesn't want to pull Carol into the maelstrom that is sure to result if he falls in love.
Mallery often twines love stories in her shorter series and stand-alones but she did it in this book as well, linking Carol's sister to a handsome duke.
There were moments that were a little too twee and we didn't get to see as much of Carol and Mathias because of the B plot but I am very much enjoying this series and am looking forward to Ronan's story

This book comes out September 26
Four stars

Sunday, July 30, 2017

PTL by John Wigger

PTL by John WiggerI have been interested in the PTL because I live near the CUT and my interest has expanded to the wider religious field. This book was interesting but would have been better served by being cut down by about 100 pages. At least 50. There was a LOT of extraneous information that felt like filler. There were several times where I thought, "Oh, it's coming to an end" and, when I looked, there were still a hundred pages left. Other than that, this was a nice book with a lot of behind-the-scenes.

Three stars
This book comes out August 2

Saturday, July 29, 2017

An Earl by Any Other Name by Lauren Smith

An Earl by Any Other Name by Lauren   SmithI was excited to read a new-to-me author. And the blurb sounded pretty good. Leopold Graham, Lord Hampton, is saddled with a debt-ridden estate on the death of his father. The rather scandalous death of his father. He needs to marry well in order to save the family coffers. He has a woman in mind but his mother and Ivy Leighton think that she is the better choice. Of course, she's brash and loud, not what Leopold wants. Or so he thinks.
This could have been a nice book if it were only longer. At under 100 pages, we don't really get to know that much about Leopold or Ivy. I wish we had gotten to see more of Leopold's journey from rake to stolid family man. Or learned more about why Ivy was still so obsessed with Leopold years after they were children.

Two and a half stars.
This book comes out August 1

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Gone Gull by Donna Andrews

Gone Gull by Donna AndrewsThe book opens with Meg Langslow helping her grandmother Cordelia run Cordelia's artist retreat. There have been several incidents of misbehavior as well as some out right sabotage. Both Meg and her grandmother suspect the work of another artist cooperative, one that is not as well run (because Meg's family does everything flawlessly).
However, when the mischief escalates to murder, Meg is not amused. Then a second body turns up.
Regular Andrews readers will probably be delighted. I was little bummed that we didn't get a little more character development but there isn't usually a ton in these books.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 1
Follows Die Like an Eagle

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books by Martin Edwards

The Story of Classic Crime in 100 BooksThere's unfortunately not a lot to say about this book. Martin Edwards has put together several good anthologies of classic mysteries based on various themes: crimes on the continent, locked room mysteries, winter crimes. Here, he writes short descriptions of the 100 books that have helped to frame mysteries as we know them today. These are not the 100 best books by anyone's standards but it is a nice mix of names that I knew and names that were new to me.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out August 1

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules for Spying by Amanda Hosch

Mabel Opal Pear and the Rules For Spying by Amanda HoschMabel Opal Pear is not your ordinary almost-11-year-old. For one thing, her parents are spies. For another, she's a spy-in-training. She knows immediately that something is wrong when her parents disappear and her Aunt Stella, Uncle Frank, and Cousin Victoria show up. Victoria is mean, Frank is clueless and Stella is something else. Normally Aunt Gertie takes care of Mabel but she's in jail. So it's up to Mabel to not only run the family spoon museum but also figure out the mystery.
I couldn't quite get into Mabel's world. I'm not sure where the connection was missing. It seemed like a serviceable story with some interesting world-building but... not for me.

Three stars
This book comes out August 1

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast by Jerry Mahoney

My Rotten Stepbrother Ruined Beauty and the Beast by Jerry MahoneyI wasn't sure what this book would be and I think that helped me enjoy it a little bit more. It appears to be at least the second book in a series since our main characters, Maddie and Holden, get sucked into a fairy tale and quickly take it in stride.
Of course, the main lesson that Maddie learns is that beauty is on the inside and I'm not sure what the irrepressible Holden learns but I enjoyed that there was a twist on the Beauty and the Beast trope with Maddie hopping into Beauty but Holden becoming a whole new side character. One who doesn't speak French. In France.
A fun book and I look forward to reading another in the series.

This book comes out August 1
Four stars

Thursday, July 20, 2017

All or Nothing at All by Jennifer Probst

All or Nothing at All by Jennifer ProbstWhen she was younger, Sydney Green loved Tristan Pierce fiercely. She didn't have a lot of love in her life and she was able to find a little with Tristan until he unceremoniously dumped her. Now they've been working together at the Pierce Brothers Construction. And he's the only one standing between her and what she wants, a giant promotion. Well, she's damn good at her job so he doesn't stand in her way for long. It seems like a lot of their old hurts are being mended. Tristan is even taking some interest in Sydney's daughter, something he didn't seem to be able to do for a long time. Now there's just one more secret left to be told...
I didn't love how they resolved this secret. It was a bit... contrived. This was not my favorite Probst series though this actually was the best book in the bunch.

Three books
This book  comes out July 25

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Marry Me at Willoughby Close by Kate Hewitt

Marry Me at Willoughby Close by Kate HewittThis book is a very sweet romance. A very sweet romance. With a heroine that is sweet. And a heroine whose hard outer shell hides his sweetness. It was... a lot of sweet.
Alice James has just aged out of the foster care system. She has nowhere to go. Until she's hired to be the companion for a dying woman, Lady Dorothy Stokely. Too bad her nephew isn't as charmed by Alice.
I didn't feel like I needed to have read another book in this series. There weren't giant swathes that I felt like I was missing. This book was just a little too ... sweet. There wasn't a lot of depth to either the story or any of the characters. I have a feeling this will be a book that will appear to readers who like stories with young heroines and treacly romance.

Three stars
This book came out July 18

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Until You Loved Me by Brenda Novak

Until You Loved Me by Brenda NovakI read the first chapter of this book at the end of No One but You and was immediately entranced. Yes, this is a surprise baby BUT it's a result of a failed condom (which happens, at least they were being responsible) and she responsibly lets him know about the baby... as soon as she figures out his last name.
I liked watching these two fall in love. Ellie's last relationship ended when when walked  in on her coworker/fiance with his (male) best friend... who is also a coworker. The biggest problem I had with the book was how these two were portrayed. Yay for homosexual representation. Boo for making them both so thoroughly unlikable (aka The Bad Guys.)
Yay also for the representation of Hudson King, a football player who seems like a generally  nice guy, doesn't sleep around. He's got some demons-- like being left in a bush as a baby and now being blackmailed. His drama (and dramatics) were a bit overwhelming but Ellie handles it all like an adult which was incredibly refreshing.

Four stars
This book comes out July 25
Follows No One But You

Monday, July 17, 2017

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen Petersen

Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud by Anne Helen PetersenI didn't even read the description of this book; I loved the title so much I requested it from NetGalley. And really, really enjoyed it. Petersen takes aspects of what women aren't supposed to be in today's culture and applies it to famous women. Melissa McCarthy is too fat, Nicky Minaj is too slutty, etc. Then she dissects why these women (and their adjectives) are so divisive. Is it the women themselves or the norms that they're bucking?
A highly enjoyable book and a fast read.

This book came out June 20
Four stars

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Mind Over Matter by Nora Roberts

Mind Over MatterThis book was originally published in 1994 and I should have suspected that I had read it before but the description on NetGalley didn't sound familiar. Once I started reading the story, I did remember more. While it feels a wee bit dated, this book actually isn't too bad for being 23 years old. Hero David Brady is a little alpha-male-ish but it's not any worse than some of the more recent books I've read. He's a big-shot documentarian (think Ken Burns) who is doing a show on psychics.
AJ Fields is the agent for one of those psychics, Clarissa. But she's reluctant to put Clarissa to yet another battery of tests. And she's even more reluctant to explore the draw she's feeling for David. But we get to see the two of them fall in love, figure out their relationship, and find their HEA.

The ebook comes out July 17
Three and a half stars

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Women In Sports by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women In Sports: 50 Fearless Athletes Who Played to WinI really enjoyed the layout of this book. Each of the women got a page describing their feats as well as trivia around the edges of the main text. They author chose fifty women and showed how they contributed to a wide range of sports.
It got a little wearing after a while to read these short snippets. It didn't hold my attention. So while this book may not have been a good fit for me, someone who loves short, tight writing in their informative fiction might really enjoy this book.

Three stars
This book comes out July 18

Friday, July 14, 2017

Heart Stop by Radclyffe

Heart Stop by RadclyffeOlivia Price is peeved. She has narrowed down her choices for the three fellowship positions but has just been told that she must make room for Jay Reynolds. She's definitely not enthused. Especially after meeting Jay.
Jay isn't exactly sure that she wants to move into the morgue after having been a trauma surgeon. Being a surgeon was the culmination of a lifelong dream. Working with dead people. Not so much. Until she starts working with the delectable Olivia Price and Jay realizes exactly how much she can learn.
A nice short story but there is a lot of overlap from previous books in the series which means we don't get as much of Jay and Olivia's story as I would have liked.

Three stars
This book comes out July 18

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Bonnie and the Beast by Alexa Black

Bonnie and the Beast by Alexa BlackAt 26 pages, this was a really, really short book that was mostly... well, it wasn't character development, that's for sure. It would have made a nice first chapter for a book but since it was set up as being an entire book... not as enjoyable.
This is a twist on Beauty and the Beast where the Beast is a woman who actually seems to have grown to enjoy her beast-hood. Bonnie (our erstwhile Beauty), meanwhile, has a few more tricks up her sleeve than just looking good.

Three stars
This book comes out July 19

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Killer Party by Lynn Cahoon

Killer Party by Lynn CahoonJill Gardner is getting used to living with her sheriff boyfriend Greg and now she's joining him and his  high school friends at a local museum/historical site/hotel-ish type thing. Levi, it seems, is about to get married and he wants a bachelor party weekend. But Jill is not amused when it seems like the men's needs come first while the women are left to fend for themselves. And Greg's high school friends seem stuck in the past and that includes a lot of juvenile behavior. Don't even get her started on the groom-to-be. When he ends up dead in a pool, there are a number of suspects. The friend who invested with Levi and lost his life savings is one. Then there's Levi's fiancee who seems to be hiding something. There's a mysterious disappearance from the men's past that might be coming up again.
One of my frustrations with this book is that there are a lot of well-developed possibilities for the killer but the end comes out of left field. Mid-left field because I saw it coming but I really hoped that it wasn't so. And that ending? Ufda.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out July 18

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Spellbinder by Thea Harrison

Spellbinder by Thea HarrisonHow do you take the villain from the first book, and not just the villain, but, like, a super bad no good horrible very bad villain, and make him the hero of your second book? Well, somehow Thea Harrison manages.
In  Moonshadow, a gender-flipped, slightly differently spelled Morgan le Fae is a wicked wizard/lycanthrope. In this book he's revealed to be a slave to the evil Isabeau, bound to follow her every command. So when she commands him not to come into her sight until he's healed, Morgan takes full advantage and makes plans to stay injured for as long as possible. While he's "on vacation," he hears about Sidonie Martel. She is a fabulous violinist and Morgan has always been drawn to music even if he doesn't play anymore. He, like many of her audience, is completely entranced. Too bad his interest brings Sidonie to the attention of Robin/Puck who kidnaps Sidonie and delivers her to Isabeau in an effort to get even with Morgan.
Sidonie has no idea what's going on. One minute she's on the road after a concert, the next she's in Avalon, the prisoner of vindictive queen who has her hands broken. But then, a mysterious force comes to heal her and protect her. Over time, she learns to trust this man she doesn't see, but isn't sure how they can ever be together.
A lovely story that continues the world-building I enjoyed in the first book.

Four stars
This book comes out July 18

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne Brockmann

Some Kind of Hero by Suzanne BrockmannSuzanne Brockmann, in the past, has been at the forefront of contemporary authors; revamping tired cliches, showing that protection is sexy, and creating stories for the current day. And this book continues that trend. A diverse (but not forced) cast of characters come together in a story that is on the lighter end (sometimes there are some DARK themes) of the Brockmann spectrum.
I missed the novella that introduced Lieutenant Peter Greene so I did feel a little behind on the story, but that may have been because I'm used to having so much history on previous heroes and  heroines. He's struggling. Like, a lot. This isn't a secret-baby story because he knew he had a daughter, he just didn't get to spend a lot of time with her until her mother died. She's sullen and withdrawn but he doesn't realize that might be out of the ordinary until she disappears.
Shayla Whitman is a divorced romance writer (LOVE THIS CHARACTER) who is sort of peripherally aware of her SEAL neighbor but doesn't really connect with him until he's standing in the middle of the road trying to get someone to pull over and help him.
A lot of action and sexy times. A REALLY fast story and an epilogue that didn't need to happen. Overall, a highly enjoyable book that Brockmann fans will adore.

Four stars
This book comes out July 11

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan Mallery

Secrets of the Tulip Sisters by Susan MalleryGriffith Burnett knows why tulip farmer Kelly Murphy is avoiding him. After he insulted her fairly cruelly in high school, he deserves a little bit of a cold shoulder. But also wants her to get over it because he wants to get with her.
Kelly has more issues that just an overzealous suitor. Her sister is home for the first time years and Kelly has to admit that she had a large part in helping to have her sister sent to boarding school. Also in town as a surprise? The mother who had a number of embarrassingly public affairs and then walked out on them all. And then there's her best friend who's harboring a secret crush on Kelly's father....
Olivia Murphy isn't exactly loving her life either. Her father sent her away as a teenager and, though Olivia has built a life for herself, she's not really sure it's a life that she wants. Maybe going home will help her clear her head.
I didn't love the main hero, Griffith. I think he was supposed to be forceful but was mostly sort of a jerk. And Kelly has an issue that I felt was not handled well. Olivia was a nice addition but she had too many problems that got solved way too quickly without any build or tension.

Three Stars
This book comes out July 11

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Fitness Junkie by Lucy Sykes; Jo Piazza

Fitness Junkie by Lucy SykesA book of our times: an obsession with weight, a plethora of today's trends in exercising, and the bruffin that starts it all. Janey Sweet had forgotten the codicil in her business agreement that forbid her from changing size but her partner sure didn't. In fact, he's invoking it. Janey will take three months to lose the weight or she'll be kicked out of the firm that she helped build.
And for whatever reason, Janey doesn't fight back. Of course, that would have shortened the story a LOT. Instead, she throws herself into a whirlwind of exercising and self-exploration. She meets men (one younger, one older) and gurus. Janey also gets involved with one of the "it" women of fitness, Sara Strong. 
This is overall a fun story but I wish we had seen more of Hugh and that the big denouement weren't quite so crazy.

Three stars
This book comes out July 11

Monday, July 3, 2017

Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook (An Authorized Instant Pot® Cookbook) by Sara Quessenberry, Kate Merker

Instant Pot® Electric Pressure Cooker Cookbook (An Authorized... by Sara QuessenberryI love my Instant Pot and was excited to see this book come up as an option in NetGalley. I was immediately disappointed by the length (75 pages). I was further disappointed by the recipes. Who has millet in their cupboards on a regular basis? There are some with ingredients that I would consider standard but there were enough with some slightly odd ingredients as to make it not worth reading. Also, the large pages made loading on the ereader very, very slow.

Two stars
This book came out April 15

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Cutie and the Beast by E.J. Russell

Cutie and the Beast by E.J.   RussellDavid Evans is a temp who would love to work in the healing fields but so far, every opportunity has ended in disaster. In fact, he's been forbidden by his boss from helping in any doctor's office. But when she's out sick he jumps at the chance to work for Doctor Alun Kendrick, he of the hot voice, David jumps at the chance. Even if it means that he might never work again. He's just seduced by The Voice.
Alun Kendrick is only starting to get used to his hideous features. After 200 years with this curse, you'd think he'd be more at peace but every look in the mirror reminds him of the love he lost. The love to whom he brought death. Not only to the lover, but to the man's entire family. So Dr. Kendrick got some major guilt going on. Of course, that guilt leaks over to his love life. It's too darn bad he's so attracted to David. And, amazingly, David seems to feel the same attraction.
There are a lot of complicating factors. Like the fact that he has to go back to Seelie Court and swear fealty to his Queen. But only the most beautiful are allowed in and he is most certainly not that. 
A fun story that I mostly enjoyed. The writing was not my favorite but that is definitely a personal preference but I am still very much looking forward to the next book.

Four stars
This book comes out July 24
Followed by The Druid Next Door

Wired by Julie Garwood

Allison Trent is a college student. No, she's a computer hacker. No, she works for the FBI. No, she's a model. Oh wait? She's all of these things? And also, she's under fire from an aunt and uncle who want her to make money to keep her cousin out of jail? Oh, but there's also an FBI agent who's angry at her. Well, someone's trying to kill her but it could be anyone really. Good thing Liam Scott is there to keep her out of danger. Or put her in danger. Or... something?
Wired by Julie GarwoodThere was a lot going on in this story. Which is not unusual for a Julie Garwood book. And the heroine is young. Really young. Not unusual for a Julie Garwood book. And she's TSTL. Like, really. She's this hotshot computer hacker but can't figure out how to block her aunt and uncle on the phone? Again, not unusual for a Garwood. But sad that this book seems like such a cookie cutter version of every book in the Buchanan-Renard series.
I have a lot of fond reminiscences of Garwood but I feel like her more recent books are intermittently rewarding. Allison drove me nuts, I never felt like we knew that much about Liam, and there was so much going on in this book it was hard to keep up and it felt like nothing was really wrapped up satisfactorily. I don't think I can ever really quit reading Garwood because when she's good she's very, VERY good but this is NOT one of those times. The only reason this didn't get one star is because I save those for DNFs and I waded my way through this whole damn book.

Two stars
This book comes out July 4

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Incredible Crime by Lois Austen-Leigh

The Incredible Crime by Lois Austen-LeighThe beginning of this book started off so well. A feisty heroine set in amongst the dons of Prince's College, Cambridge -- catnip. And a good portion of the book is highly enjoyable. Ms. Austen-Leigh describes her characters and the setting very well. But then she introduces more characters. A lot of characters. And Prudence Pinsent turns out to be not as feisty as introduced (part of the times, I guess). The mystery was not at all fairly clued so if that is part of what you like in a mystery, this will not be the book for you. It was generally an okay book but not as good as the usual ones reproduced by the British Crime Classics.

Three stars
This book comes out July 4

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Dog Night at the Story Zoo by Dan Bar-el

Argh. I feel so bad because somebody spent a lot of time on this book and I just didn't enjoy it. I couldn't figure out who it was supposed to be geared toward. It had fun pictures and a cute premise (animals coming out for open mike night) but the stories seemed like they were more geared toward adults. It was an interesting dichotomy what one that made the stories work a little less.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain

Scandalous Ever After by Theresa RomainI really liked the first book in this series and was looking forward the second. In this book, Kate Whelan is visiting her father, hoping to borrow money to shore up the estate her late husband decimated with his gambling. While there, she sees that Evan Rhys is doing a lecture and decides to go  and see her husband's best friend. The three of them used to be great friends, but then came the steeplechase when her husband died and she hasn't seen Evan since.
Evan didn't feel like he could stay when he felt such guilt over the accident that took his best friend. But now that it's years later? He's ready to go after woman he's always loved. Of course it's never just that simple. Problems from both the past and the present rear up to make the course of Twu Lurv not so smooth.
And, while this was a nice story, there were a LOT of rocks on the path to HEA. Some of those rocks? Kate and Evan themselves. There's a lot of angst in this book. Will regular Romaine readers still enjoy it? Probably. But not as much as the first book.

Three stars
This comes out July 1

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Down Home Cowboy by Maisey Yates

Down Home Cowboy by Maisey YatesBoth Alison and Cain are familiar to regular Copper Ridge readers but I don't think you'd need to have read the whole series to dive into this book.
Alison was introduced as having been helped out of an abusive relationship by some of our previous H/H in the series. In subsequent books, we learned about her opening a bakery and reaching out to help other women in similar circumstances. This time, she's helping out the daughter of one of the Donnelly brothers. Violet's mother left her and Cain without a word and Cain then moved his daughter from Texas to Oregon. She's been sullen and withdrawn (few teenagers aren't) but Cain is only just starting to realize how much she's acting out.
Even though Cain and Alison agreed to have a no-strings affair, Violet and their own emotions are getting in the way. Can they
I didn't love the ending and there were some other plot points that bothered me but I really appreciated the adult conversations (the main characters talked to each other? No way!)

Four stars
This book comes out June 27
Follows Slow Burn Cowboy

Friday, June 23, 2017

Yellowstone Country by David Skernick

A book full of beautiful pictures from Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. The term "Yellowstone Country" is a bit of a stretch since many of the pictures come from way, way outside the Greater Yellowstone Area (yes, this is a defined area). I would suggest getting this book in print as it did not seem as impressive on an e-reader.

Three stars
This book comes out June 28

Thursday, June 22, 2017

If the Haunting Fits, Wear It by Rose Pressey

If the Haunting Fits, Wear It by Rose PresseyCookie Chanel is on the road helping a client, Danielle, dress for the Kentucky Derby. While attending one of the parties, she discovers the dead body of Danielle's jockey, Ramon. Of course, his ghost starts following her around. He joins regular ghost Charlotte and another woman who had joined earlier in the book, Maureen.
Cookie decides to stick around to see if she can help solve Ramon's murder. While there, both of her beaus (Love-triangle alert! Seriously?) follow her and try to help out. Not helping out? Heather, the woman who owns the B&B where Cookie is staying. Also not helping, the fact that Ramon doesn't seem to have been a nice guy. It makes it hard to find out who murdered you when there are a number of people lining up for the chance.
In comparison it to other books in the series, this book was just not as good. The love triangle with Cookie took up a lot of space (and didn't really add to the mystery), Maureen took up a lot of space (and definitely didn't add to the mystery), and there just wasn't enough room to develop the main mystery.
And don't even get me started on that horrible ending. I hope it gets changed before publication.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out June 27

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Duke with Benefits by Manda Collins

Duke with Benefits by Manda CollinsThis book picks up immediately after Ready, Set, Rogue. Lady Daphne Forsyth and Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, have been circling around each other. She is a genius at mathematics. She's also very wary because she's been burned by men before. First, her father who would use her to win money at cards. Then her tutor's son who... well... that's a bit of a spoiler but when he shows up, she's not happy.
Dalton is taken aback by this woman who says what she thinks and is willing to have sex with him without the sanctity of marriage. He knows that she's smart at math, but he also knows that he's a genius with people (we're told this over and over again.) Together, they are going to be able to not only solve the riddles his aunt left for them both, but discover the location of some long-lost gold.
Like the first book, this is a fast trip between introductions and Twu Lurv. We get a little more time since Daphne and Dalton met in the first book but that book didn't cover much time. We also got two characters who were nice enough but we got more "tell" than "show" in character development.

Three stars
This book comes out June 27
Follows Ready, Set, Rogue

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Day of the Duchess by Sarah MacLean

The Day of the Duchess (Scandal & Scoundrel, #3)We met Seraphina in the first book when her sister, Sophie, pushed Sera's cheating husband, into a decorative pond. I was wondering how Ms. MacLean would let a blatantly philandering husband and his (at the time) pregnant wife find an HEA. Well, it's done in flashbacks. Going from when Malcolm and Sera fell in love, why they got married (is it true that she tricked him?), when he followed her to America, all interspersed with the present day when Sera is petitioning Parliament for a divorce. But is that what they both really want?
The problem with these two is that they really hurt each other. And we get to read about that hurt all throughout the book. There is some growth but I never really connected with either. Still an interesting trope to take on and I certainly won't quit reading MacLean because of it.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 27

Monday, June 19, 2017

Death of a Bachelorette by Laura Levine

Death of a Bachelorette by Laura LevineI had read a few Jaine Austen books but ended up giving up on the series.  There are a lot of cozy series I really enjoyed and this one didn't really hook me. I liked the premise for this one though. Jaine becoming a writer for a TV show based on The Bachelor. Not far-fetched since shows seem to have been chasing that dream ever since the show started.
Jaine is on more of a "Bachelor in Paradise" show where the women are competing to marry a prince, er, a man who is 87th in line for the throne. She's replacing the last writer who gives her a cryptic warning about the show. Well, not so cryptic. Basically, Jane lands and is told that the job sucks and she better be prepared for the worst. Well, having packed up herself and her cat, Jaine is ready to dig in. Even if it means dealing with three bitch contestants. And a room on the third floor where there is no air conditioning. In a tropical climate. And the food is unused airline meals. Dessert is from a vending machine. Oh, and one of the contestants just got murdered. While dealing with all of that, Jaine has to also fight off the king of the island who wants to make her his twelfth wife (his first wife is none to happy about that).
This was a fun and fluffy story. Jaine is still just slightly annoying to me and the whole subplot of the island king seemed superfluous. For readers who enjoy the series, I think this will be a book they enjoy.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 27

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries

The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina JeffriesWe've heard about Niall Lindsey in all of the other books in this series. He was forced to flee the country after he killed a man in a duel over his sister's honor. But nobody except his sister and her husband know that. Everyone else thinks that it is because he slept with the wrong man's wife. You see, he was a bit of a scoundrel. Or, he had been until he met Brilliana (oh, I had such a hard time with this name) Trevor. But theirs was a secret affection. He tried to get her to come with him, but she stayed to be with her dying mother.
Now it's seven years later and they both have lingering resentments. Bree believes that Niall had another lover while Niall thinks that Bree was just trying to capture a rich husband with the evidence being that she married mere months after he left, rather than waiting for him. The pair will have to work together though to discover who is passing counterfeit bills. Niall owes the man asking them to do this and Bree just wants to clear her father's name since he's the person that they know has been passing around the bills.
A nice addition to the Sinful Suitors series, the romance was a little rushed for me and the Big Misunderstanding a little bit to drawn out. Definitely still looking forward to Ms. Jeffries' next book.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 20
Follows The Danger of Desire

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Big Bad Fox by Benjamin Renner

Poor fox. He just can't seem to get it right. When he goes over to the farm he's expected, but not feared. No one is afraid of him, not the pig, not the rabbit, not the chickens. And the guard dog doesn't even work up a sweat about seeing him in the farmyard. Even help from the wolf doesn't work. Until the wolf helps him distract the farmyard dog so that the fox can steal some eggs. But then the wolf thinks that they should hatch the eggs to have something more substantial to eat. Too bad the chicks think that the fox is their mother.
A cute story that went on a bit long. I thought from the cover that this was a children's book but would put it at a slightly more advanced reader. The jokes/story went on a little long but this might be fun for a somewhat reluctant reader who would be able to understand the jokes and read the short snippets.

Three and a half stars
This book comes out June 20

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The World's Greatest Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops by Ryan K. Sager

The World's Greatest Chocolate-Covered Pork Chops by R.K. Sager Zoey Kate is twelve-years-old and she's an adventurous chef combining things like chocolate and pork chops. So she's decided to take on some debt. Fifty thousand dollars to be exact. Why does she want to do this at such a young age? In order to win a prestigious cooking award. Adventures and mayhem ensue.
There was a lot of pop culture in this book. A lot. I'm not sure what felt off about this book for me but I felt a hard time connecting. It's possible that I'm not in (in fact, way out of) the age range this book is meant for but that doesn't usually bother me. Zoey was just a little too annoying, too perky, too sure of herself.

Two and a half stars
This book comes out June 20

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness by Paula Poundstone

The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness by Paula PoundstoneWith the absolute mountain of self-help books out there that are promising happiness to everyone, it seems like there are also a mountain of books offering to test those books and let you know how it goes. I love Paula Poundstone and was excited to see how she would approach the topic. I think I set my expectations a little too high.
Each chapter is set up as a science experiment with descriptions of conditions, hypothesis, procedure, environment, etc. She tries things like exercise, being positive, going into nature.
Part of my problem with the book was that it was so fragmented by chapter. Ms. Poundstone took a long time to write the book so there wasn't a lot of flow.

This book came out May 9
Three stars

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories by Ernest Bramah

The Best Max Carrados Detective Stories by Ernest BramahThe claim to fame of Max Carrados is that he is blind. Blind detective, it's been done but Max was one of the first. His adventures are somewhat interesting but some of the solutions seem like great leaps of logic. I enjoyed the first few stories in the book but then it got sort of... convoluted. Good example of the time period but maybe not my faves.

Three stars
This book came out May 17

Monday, June 5, 2017

Death Around the Bend by T E Kinsey

Lady Hardcastle and her trusty sidekick/maid Florence "Flo" Armstrong are leaving home and heading to the country estate of Lord Riddlethorpe, also known as "Fishy." He is a racing man and the two ladies are sure they can talk him into letting them drive his cars. It turns into even more fun when he sets up a ladies' race and Flo gets to take the place of one of the lady guests who doesn't want to participate. But neither lady gets a turn behind the wheel because the male guests end up racing first and one of them dies. 
The man wasn't inoffensive but he certainly didn't deserve to have his brake lines cut. Lord Riddlethorpe asks Lady Hardcastle (and his butler asks Flo) to investigate. One more person will die before the culprit is found but Flo and Lady Hardcastle prevail.
Even though the feint was obvious, I still enjoyed this book. The ending was a bit... meh.. but overall a fun, fast, and easy read.

Four stars
This book comes out June 8
Follows In the Market for Murder

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Sky Full of Stars by Samantha Chase

A Sky Full of StarsMy favorite of the series so far, this book lets socially awkward and braniac astrophysicist Dr. Owen Shaughnessy  meet his match in the beautiful former beauty queen, former head cheerleader, and former mean girl, Brooke Matthews (a lot of jokes about her being named after a famous model, never quite figured this one out). She's now an artist obsessed with the night sky. Owen is about to take some students out to Red Rock to study the stars and his mentor/her uncle thinks Brooke would not only benefit from being able to go out with a group, Owen would get a go-between to help him with the students.
The two meet and have an immediate attraction. Brooke feels an affinity to Owen right away, being able to talk to him how she would have talked to her older brother, also a genius. But she feels a little insecure because her parents pushed her and her brother so much into the roles of Beauty and the Brain. There is a swift romance that involves a whirlwind trip from Chicago (where they met) to Las Vegas and then on to meeting Owen's family in North Carolina.
And it's here that I start to have some issues with this book. I think we start to move away from Brooke and Owen's story to the set up for the last Shaughnessy sibling, Darcy. The last Big Misunderstanding also felt a little forced and unnecessary. It just dragged out the story.

Four stars
This book comes out June 6
Follows This is Our Song