Audio Review: Snow Falling on Bluegrass (Bluegrass, Book 3) by Molly Harper

molly harper snow falling bluegrassSummary: Snowed-in at a lodge on a work retreat, Kelsey will not only have to organize her work colleagues, but also her love life. First Darrell, her ex, makes her life miserable by handing her credit card debt she didn’t sign up for or enjoy. Then the cute statistician at the office, Charlie, flashes hot and cold with her. Is he interested or not? And then there’s Luke, who is running the lodge in the absence of other employees and he’s a Ranger. He’s definitely interested in her. Maybe being snowed-in isn’t such a disaster after all!

Review: Molly Harper is funny, which is no surprise as she’s a former humor columnist. It’s even funnier to hear the narrator, Amanda Ronconi, say and act some of these lines. Kelsey is a smart, funny, high energy person. She’s got a sense of humor and is willing to crack jokes at herself. You have to wonder how a girl like her stuck it out with Darrell for as long as she did. Molly does explain and it is plausible but the backstory made me feel more like I was missing a key element than filling in the blanks. Perhaps this was more readily apparent in a previous book in the series. Both of Kelsey’s crushes are good guys. I would happily see her wind up with either one of them, which is very rare for me to say so. And I would definitely read about the one who didn’t win Kelsey’s heart.

Narrator: I recently listened to Amanda Ronconi in another audio book. She did a great job then and she did a great job this time. When I first heard her speak I couldn’t place the previous audio book I had heard her narrate. I think that means she did an excellent job adapting to the character profiles and accents. I’d listen to her again. She’s definitely a great listen for contemporary romances.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Snow Falling on Bluegrass, Snow Falling on Bluegrass (Audiobook)

Review: The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman

reluctant elfHeroine: Lottie and her daughter, Mabel, are planning to visit Aunt Kate this Christmas because Aunt Kate is starting a bed and breakfast (B&B) business. When Kate is hospitalized, Lottie and Mabel leave a day early for their Christmas vacation. The B&B is in dire straights, so are Aunt Kate’s finances, and the help just absconded for a break to recuperate. Everything hinges on getting a good rating from the reviewer. But Lottie hasn’t the foggiest clue what to do to run a successful B&B.

Hero: Danny, the taxi driver, is an unlikely but most definitely needed hero. When Lottie offers him enough money to fund a trip to see his young daughter in America, he agrees to aid her in anyway he can. He helps paint, fix, repair, clean, and cook. And along the way the two find they have an affinity for each other.

Review: The B&B reviewer and his family are seriously dysfunctional. I am very glad that the creepy brother/in-law doesn’t barge in on Lottie in the bath. He was a very ignorant self-absorbed cad. His wife was a hypochondriac and couldn’t stand her children. The two kids were terrors. I’d be afraid for Mabel to hang out with them. The only one sane was the reviewer. Are you up for some crazy hijinks involving scolding plumbing, falling down ceilings, holes patched with toothpaste? Then you’re in for a treat with this wifi-less Victorian-themed holiday chick-lit. Happy ending for all. There’s definitely room for continuation.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: The Reluctant Elf

Audio Review: Sugar Rush (Cupcake Club, Book 1) by Donna Kauffman

sugar rushHero: Baxter Dunne is Chef Hot Cakes and Leilani’s former boss. When she left his restaurant Baxter realized he needed her in his life and not just for her cooking, but the woman herself. So he does what any man would do in order to woo a woman – he puts his television show on the road and themes it around bakeries just like hers and makes her his first stop.

Heroine: Leilani Trusdale quit New York City when her father became ill. Most of her city friends don’t understand, but Leilani wants to spend her time and talent on person’s who enjoy food and not their social status or figures. So she sets up shop in sleepy Sugarberry Island and is a hit with the residents. She can’t imagine moving back to NYC, he can’t imagine moving to a small town.

Review: Sugar Rush is a sweet romance in more ways than one! Each of the characters are likable. Baxter is a self-made chef and has worked in kitchens most of his life. He and Leilani get off on the wrong foot before they even start. She blames him for the stress and hard time she had professionally in his kitchen. He was trying to negate the gossip by not rising to it. In the end he’s got to win her heart by being vulnerable. My favorite aspect of the story besides the steamy kissing scenes in the kitchen, was Leilani and Charlotte’s friendship. I also enjoyed Alma – she reminded me of Betty White. There were some other characters like an assistant and a college student and a lesbian that kind of blurred in the narrating. I couldn’t tell if they were one and the same or different. In the end it doesn’t truly signify because as side characters they were supporting not staging the romance.

Narrator: Amanda Ronconi is a lovely narrator to listen to. She did an excellent job with Baxter’s and Charlotte’s accents. I’d listen to her again.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Sugar Rush (Cupcake Club), Sugar Rush (Audio book)

Review: In Your Dreams (Blue Heron, Book 4) by Kristan Higgins

in your dreamsReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Emmaline Neal is a police officer in Manningsport New York.  She has an extracurricular activity that most women don’t do.  Jack Holland puts on a brave face but he has some personal demons he has to deal with.  Right from the start this author will have you laughing and if you’re having a bad day, or even a bad week, this is a great pick-me-up.

As the story begins there are circumstances that will have you feeling sorry for these two.  Even though Em has a job most of us wouldn’t have, this author has made her a woman that you can identify with.  There’s a couples bonding scene that had me wishing I were an actual spectator.  And then the scene ends with me laughing – sorry I just couldn’t help myself.

Our author shows her readers how some of the “beautiful” people can be so self-absorbed.  She also shows how cruel people can be toward those that are “different”.  This would be a perfect book to read while you sit by a fire – jealous – having a mulled wine or cider along with your favorite throw or animal.  One thing I loved about this story is that the author didn’t create one picture perfect character.  It made them more believable and some more relatable.  There are even some readers who may also be able to identify with a few of them.  Jack is what might be called brooding and not everyone will like his character but that just adds to his persona.

This is a series that each book could probably be read on their own but it’s my hope that you are reading them in order.  It’s a town you will fall in love with and wish you could visit while on vacation.  If you do find that place and take reading material with you, make sure to take this series along for the ride.  It will be interesting to see if we get another look into the lives of the residents of Manningsport – I certainly look forward to finding out.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: In Your Dreams (The Blue Heron Series)

Review: Flirting with Disaster (Camelot, Book 3) by Ruthie Knox

flirting with disasterReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Katie Clark is in the car while her brother Caleb talks to her.  Sean Owens is sitting next to her while this conversation is going on.  They work at Camelot Security.

I love how Ruthie gives her readers a hero that is not perfect – it just makes him more human.  It’s not a physical imperfection so you can still make him as cute as you want.  He also didn’t have the storybook life growing up.  Katie’s life isn’t perfect either – she seems to be a little quirky.

There’s one scene where Sean and Katie are talking about how they read a book.  Katie’s way is very interesting.  But it begs the question, “Are you the same way?”  I have to admit that in the past sometimes I wouldn’t buy a book before I did the same as Katie.

As part of their job, Katie and Sean are to protect a singer.  This is where we’re given a little mystery.  At times you may be a little confused as to what the singer is hiding but the mystery doesn’t take away from how good this story is.

Ruthie writes some really hot and sexy scenes that fit right in with the great storyline.  Sexy movies have nothing on Ruthie.  You get better dialogue, more for the imagination, and people who are more normal than those that are so fake in the adult films.  She also shows that falling in love isn’t easy especially if it’s not the second time around.  And also that a person may be less than perfect but they can fall in love just like anyone else.

This is turning out to be a great series.  It makes me want to take a trip and find Camelot.  If you go to Ruthie’s web site, http://www.ruthieknox.com/, you can get some information about the first two books, which I hope you have read, and a sneak peek into her next book titled Making It Last. 

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Flirting with Disaster: Camelot Series

Review: Better Date Than Never by Susan Hatler

better date than neverReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Boxed Set (Books 1 – 6)

All Books are written are in the first person.

Book One:  Love at First Date

Ellen is trying to find love that will end in marriage.  In doing a favor for a friend, she has to make an emergency trip.  It’s a story where you need to be open for anything – you may just surprise yourself.  It’s a cute story where if you have a four-legged friend you might want to cuddle and it will also have you chuckling.  Susan gives you a sweet ending.  This is a great first story to start off this bundle and it’s done without any sex scenes.  It takes on the idea of online dating and shows that sometimes another option is better – so keep your mind open.

Book Two:  Truth or Date

Gina is Ellen’s friend and this is her story.  They’re getting ready for a wedding and Gina’s getting ready to move on with her life.  She’s like most of us that worry about weight and how it looks to others – even though personally I wouldn’t mind being her size.  This author has a devious mind – she puts Gina into a situation that some women wouldn’t mind having.  It may even take you back in time to what you did with your own girlfriends.

Book Three:  My Last Blind Date

This story is about Rachel, another friend of Ellen’s.  The setting for this story is Valentine’s Day.  Rachel is a woman that owns a dog that was introduced in book one.  She is a woman that’s striking out when it comes to blind dates.  This story looks at work connections – it shows that instant attraction can work.  Book three seems to be the shortest, which makes it perfect for being in the middle of the set.

Book Four:  Save the Date

Kristen is taking a vacation away from her job.  Her story seems to be about friends taking it to the next level.  She also has a hard time letting go of the past – so much so that she obsesses over it.  Book four shows that it’s not easy to turn off who you are – sometimes your job is just part of who you are and vice versa.  This author has me wondering if she actually knows women like these friends – if not she has a great imagination.

Book Five:  A Twist of Date

Mel is a woman who is full of energy.  This book is not seeing what’s right in front of you.  It shows that jumping to conclusions can hurt people.  And do you really know your friends or just what you see on the surface.  Mel’s life seems so very hectic – and I thought mine was bad.  Trying to find love under those circumstances can be very hard.  Her story seems to be the craziest out of all of them.

Book Six:  License to Date

Kaitlin is trying to start over but she can’t seem to shake her well-meaning friends.  She has an agenda but plans can change when love comes knocking.  This story teaches you that your name and your job do not define who you are.  What a great way to end this boxed set.

Each story flows seamlessly from book to book, which makes it perfect if you only have a little time and need just the right spot in which to stop.  It’s a set that can be read at any time of year and to read over and over.  Just like true friends, you’ll find that the friends don’t disappear – they continue to appear in the other books.  If you’ve enjoyed this set as much as I did, you may want to continue by reading book seven entitled Driven to Date.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Better Date than Never Boxed Set (Books 1-6)

Audio Review: A Passionate Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

passionate affairSummary: Charley Lambert wants the perfect life and thinks she has the perfect career. Which is great for her because she is a workaholic who lusts for her boss. He’s hot, they click, and he’s a damn good flirt. But it’s been seven years! So when she breaks her leg, finds out her boss is getting married, and must take time off from perfect job – Charley searches for something to fill the void. Her friends guide her to the perfect hobby – providing online dating help to the luckless women out on the web. She does their flirting for them and they get to meet the guys they think are great. Charley’s friend and roommate, Sam is an actor wannabe who loves women and junk food. They’ve friend-zoned each other long before the story starts. He helps her with her get her business started. It’s fun and smooth-sailing until Charley falls for a guy she’s helping another woman snag.

Review (with spoilers): So it was clear to me from the start of the sequence for the online-dating that Sam was going to be perfect for Charley. They both just didn’t know it. I never liked Charley’s boss (what kind of guy claims to like a woman for seven years and never ask her out and what kind of woman waits seven years to be asked out?) – and his behavior and general smarmy attitude just didn’t work for me. Sam was very immature at the start and grows into a better guy through a series of events in the novel. My favorite sequence was Charley falling in love with Sam and Sam with Charley but both thinking they were falling for a stranger on the internet and ghost-writing for a client. Loved it.

Narrator: Cathleen McCarron’s voice is very distinct and so is the Scottish accent. On one hand she was a great narrator lending Charley some maturity when needed and levity when needed. On the other hand Cathleen was sometimes difficult to listen to as it seemed like she read slower in certain parts.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger

Review: The Promise (Thunder Point, Book 5) by Robyn Carr

the promiseReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Peyton Lacoumette stops in town not realizing that she’s looking for a job.  Dr. Scott Grant is looking for some help with his practice.  Ms. Carr has a way with words – you can feel the connection as it develops between Scott and Peyton.  She also catches the readers up on some of the characters that we met in previous books.  One thing that is constant in this series is how quaint the town is and how friendly everyone appears to be.

There’s one scene that ends with Peyton making me very jealous – she has a gallon of my favorite ice cream.  That makes it definite – I’m moving to Thunder Point.  Robyn has a way of creating a sense of community in this series it’s not all about a couple falling in love.  You come to care about the people she writes about.

Women aren’t the only ones that can find love the second time around.   This author makes Scott out to be a very romantic man who thinks about the woman he’s with.  He’s also a man who’s very understanding.  He also doesn’t try to stand in the way of Peyton doing what she wants.

This author takes great care in creating her scenes, which makes it very easy to picture what’s going on.  You can count on her to help you forget the stress that for some can almost be constant.  I’m able to just sit back, relax, and get lost in a town that you want to find and get to know the people there.

If you’re looking for a story that will make you smile – you’ve found a great choice.  There are a lot of pages, not as many as some, but you will get so lost in the story that you don’t realize how quickly they go by.  The disappointment comes when you realize that you’ve come to the end.  But then you realize that there’s another book just around the corner.

Rating: ★★★★☆