Beauty and the Best Man (The Lassiters, Book 0.5) by by Maureen Child

beauty best manSummary: Matt Hollis would never let a woman get between him and his first mistress, his career. Except there was one once that wanted to commit and he let her get away. He’s been thinking about her ever since. His best friend is marrying her best friend and they’re thrown together once again. Kayla is conflicted and unsure if she should open to hear to Matt again. Tables are turned as Matt tries to prove commitment is worth it.

Review: It’s a novella and very short. On one hand it felt long because of the constant circling of will they-won’t they arguments that generally felt the same, but then the romance falls into place much too quickly. Definitely a story for readers who’ve seen these two in action in another book.

Liked the tag line – May the Best Man Win……the Maid of Honor?

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: Beauty and the Best Man (Dynasties: The Lassiters)

Audio Review: Midsummer Magic by Catherine Coulter

midsummer magicHero: Philip Hawsbury is no longer the second son. When his older brother died, he became the next Earl of Rothermere. Now his father is on his deathbed and Philip must fulfill a longstanding promise his father made to impoverished Alexander Kilbracken, the Scottish Earl of Ruthven. He must marry one of the daughters – Viola, Clare, or Frances.  He has no desire to wed anyone and would prefer to stay in London with his mistress. Now how can he proceed to do both?

Heroine: Frances does not want to be married off to Philip or really anyone sight unseen. She’s certain he’s going to be an arrogant Sassenach. She’s the apple of her father’s eye and has a premonition that her father would like to see her marry the man. Since she must be present and participate, she decides to do so in the worst way possible. While her sisters, Clare and Viola, vie for the young earl’s attention, she’s going to make herself ugly, aloof, and a shrew. Little does she know that she presents the perfect image of a wife for Philip – who wants to fulfill his father’s promise, but leave the missus behind at Desborough Hall while he pursues his London life unchecked and unencumbered.

Review: This book comes from the era of the “bodice-ripper” / “forced seduction” and has the flaws that associate with that period of romances. The hero for instance is not a worthy hero by today’s standard’s. He’s shallow and doesn’t learn to love the heroine in her disguise, but rather falls for her [beauty] when it comes off. He’s also either a product of his times or an idiot because he doesn’t think wives should be treated like mistresses and in so believing makes zero attempts to please his bride when he and she do their “duties” to conceive.  But it’s supposed to be acceptable and tolerable because both characters don’t know any better. Baloney. He also likes to pretend he’s the wounded party in all of this, which is very aggravating.

When he’s not being an irritating jerk he at least remembers the cream (which is not saying much.)

It should be noted that the heroine’s characterization starts off great – she’s feisty, stands up to her father, and tries to trick the hero with a “clever” ugly duckling disguise. But then this tom-boyish, heart of gold (she walks miles to visit her father’s tenets,) strong heroine gets replaced by someone else entirely during their “honeymoon” stage. She’s uncertain, quiet, mousey, and timid – and not just for the appearance of keeping up her disguise.

So what did work for me was the beginning and the initial set-up.

Narrator: Anne Flosnik as usual had a wonderful performance. She is one of the reasons I stuck with the story to the end.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Midsummer Magic (Magic Trilogy), Midsummer Magic (Audiobook)

Audio Review: The Tattooed Duke (The Writing Girls, Book 3) by Maya Rodale

tattoed dukeHero: Sebastian Digby, the Duke of Wycliff, is in need of a wealthy bride. His newly inherited dukedom is full of responsibilities and short on cash. All he wants to do is travel and discover Timbuktu. Unfortunately for him, all his dirty laundry is being aired by The London Weekly negating any chance he has at finding a suitable bride. He can’t prove who it is, but he suspects either his cousin or an employee.

Heroine: Eliza Fielding hasn’t had much to write about for her boss at The London Weekly. She’s about to be fired unless she can produce some scandalously meaty prose. Her undercover disguise as a housemaid in the duke’s household is perfect for getting close to the duke… in more ways than one. But as she gets to know this tattooed duke, Eliza has to wonder if getting her own dream – a column of her very own — is worth more than helping Sebastian obtain his dreams.

Review: This historical romance has a very modern edge. It worked for me where it might not work for others. I bought this book as an audiobook and I enjoyed the narrator, Carolyn Morris, immensely. Her accent work really placed me in the story and gave a sense of sophistication and Regency glamor. Sebastian Digby (whose last name, I must have missed… ha!) is a different duke than you’re used to meeting. He doesn’t want the duchy if it means curtailing his own desires for adventure, but it’s not exactly something you can just pretend isn’t yours. The scene where Eliza sees his tattoos for the first time was deliciously steamy (pun intended.) Eliza is a feisty heroine, who because she’s not gentry, can do things most well-bred young ladies can’t… like hide in plain sight of the hero she’s covering for her newspaper. Sebestian thinks the leak in his household is Eliza, but refuses to really give it credence because he doesn’t want it to be true. Overall a great listen!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Tattooed Duke

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Review: Come Home to Me (Whiskey Creek, Book 6) by Brenda Novak

come home to meReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Aaron Amos and Presley Christensen are in a bookstore. They are reconnecting after she left the area for a couple of years. This is a will they or won’t they kind of story as well as one about second chances.

Presley is starting a new business as well as providing for her son. Riley Stinson is going to do a little work for her and Aaron doesn’t seem to be happy about that – this will make you sit up with interest. Brenda has created quite the conflict so you have no choice but to pick sides and see who “wins” and hope the “loser” shows up in another book.

I don’t read the blurb ahead of time because I don’t want to go in with any expectations – I was one of those bad readers that would read the ending first. If I didn’t like the ending, I wouldn’t buy the book. So in order to get the best experience possible, I go in with no expectations. And my review is more honest.

I find that with this book I have to think a lot more – I question, “What would I do?” Also, what would a woman go through to get something she desperately wants? Sometimes an author can put into perspective what we only hear about but never experience. The reader gets to see how awkward things can feel when you see an old flame. As well as see the effect secrets can have on a relationship.

This is one book that will be hard to put down. You will find that you will not know the outcome almost until the very end. So you will want to get comfortable. I found it a book that was hard to take to appointments – once started; I didn’t want to stop reading. It’s not like you can tell the doctor “I’ll be with you as soon as I finish this chapter!”

It’s interesting to watch and read how this author develops her story. It makes you wonder what the process was. Where did the idea come from? There’s just something about her writing style that I love – everything just seems so believable. She is one of those authors that I love to read anything that comes out. You won’t be disappointed if you add this book, or even the series, to your library.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Come Home to Me (Whiskey Creek)

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Review: You Belong to My Heart by Nan Ryan

you belong to my heartReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

The setting is Civil War-era Tennessee.

Mary Ellen Preble goes down to the river but gets a surprise when she gets there. Clayton Knight grew up alongside Mary Ellen. As you read this story, you will find that it is linked with actual historical figures. It shows the amount of research or love for the time period that went in to developing this story.

If you like setting your ambience as you get into the mood for reading, I can almost picture reading while sitting on a swing under a huge tree. There would be a gentle breeze and the dress would have to be one from that time period – and don’t forget the bonnet. Or maybe you’re even sitting on a blanket under said tree waiting to enjoy a picnic with your true love.

Maybe you like to travel. Why not take this book and travel around the state of Tennessee and learn about some of the state’s history. It may sound a little morbid but why not go to an old cemetery and find a comfortable spot to sit, read, and try to think if some of those people around you were friends with our couple.

I had no trouble picturing everything in my mind because this author’s descriptions are that good. Nan shows the reader how two people can go from first love, to summer love, and then to a forever love. But with any first love, life and parents can get in the way.

We also see the sad parts – one being a female during that time period. Women had few choices back then and it seemed as if it was always the wife’s fault if the husband didn’t get the things he wanted – just a big bully. It’s also a reminder of how far we have come with a lot of things. But pain doesn’t change no matter if it’s the 1800’s or now.

It also must have been a hard book to write since we know how some of it ends. But you can still feel the emotions that come alive with Nan’s words. If you love(d) the film “Gone With The Wind”, this would make a great follow up. It helps to fill in some of the more romantic scenes that they couldn’t shoot back in the 1930’s.

As you get toward the end, just like the family members of the military, this author has the reader holding their breath until they find out for sure if the main characters got their happily ever after. But you have to keep reading because you want to know if you’re going to be right or wrong. I’ve been reading all types of romance novels for a long time and it’s sad to say that this is the first Nan Ryan book I have ever read. Now that I have, I know it won’t be that long before I read another one. And I hope you won’t wait as long as I did. And if you love a good historical romance, you will get your money’s worth with this book.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: You Belong to My Heart

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Review: When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men, Book 2) by Sabrina Jeffries

When the Rogue ReturnsHero: Victor Cale just recently learned of his wife’s whereabouts after she abandoned him and said their marriage was a mistake. She left him to face the consequences of the crime she and her family colluded to and executed so effortlessly under his nose. He plans to confront her and seek justice for all the injuries they and she inflicted on him through their perjury. His broken heart is at the top of that list.

Heroine: Isa Cale, hiding under an assumed name, Sofe Franke, is angry and frightened when her husband shows up in Edinburgh ten years after he deserted her. Why is he there? Why now? What does he want? Does he know of their child? Does he want to trick her or force her into illegal activities again? Well, he’s about to find out that Isa is not the timid little mouse he married. She’s got teeth and she’s willing to do what it takes to protect her daughter.

Review: It’s clear from the beginning that the hero and heroine are laboring under a big misunderstanding. A decade spent apart and a series of lies has torn their fledging marriage into two and two hearts are grieving for the loss of a love they both thought was true. Their double-speak when they first meet again is quite entertaining. Victor’s reaction to Isa’s feelings, about the pet name he gave her, is particularly heart-wrenching. He did not realize he’d been so misunderstood! He’s quick to come up with an alternative. Both are unique to the heroine and I love that. What great about this novel is that Sabrina Jeffries knits both hearts, both characters, slowly back together. Trust is a big issue for them both and it’s a delight to see them work through the fabrications and make amends for back judgments in the past. It’s also nice to know that even while they trust, they did both still have doubts and had to fight to overcome them time and again. It made for a realistic read. I also enjoyed that the story took place outside of the usual London setting. Not a book to be missed!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: When the Rogue Returns (The Duke’s Men)

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Review: Getting Rowdy (Love Undercover Series, Book 3) by Lori Foster

getting rowdyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Avery Mullins is head bartender at a bar owned by Rowdy Yates. The mystery in this book seems to revolve around Avery. Since we can only use our imagination, Lori does a great job of showing the tension between the two. She also shows the reader what Rowdy had to deal with while he was growing up – what made him the adult he is today.

This is a story that will tug at your heartstrings. We have two people that have some personal demons but it doesn’t stop them from getting close – they may fight it but you just can’t stop love.

Lori has introduced a character by the name of Cannon. She has me curious to find out if he’s going to have his own book. I went to Lori’s web site, http://lorifoster.com, but can’t find anything for him yet. She had me hooked on him, from the time he stepped into the pages, and I’ll just have to keep my eyes open to see what she has in store for the Love Undercover Series.

Our author also shows the reader how hot near sex can be – pass around the fan or crank up the air conditioning. My favorite sentence that describes Rowdy is “…he’s outrageous and downright sinful”. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Lori creates a character that you will just hate. Rowdy gives him the perfect nickname – “Fish”.

I loved the suspense in this story – it kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see that everything was going to be all right. And yes, Lori does give you your happy ending (you’ll actually get more than one). She also reminds you that family is important – cherish them while you have them.

This is a series where I’ve loved all the books so far and I would suggest that you read them in order. You could read this one as a stand-alone but you will miss out in learning about some of the characters if you don’t read books one and two first. If you’re a fan of Lori Foster’s, you’ll be happy to know to know that the next book titled Dash of Peril will be coming out in March 2014.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Getting Rowdy

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Review: Frosted by Wendy Sparrow

frosted wendy sparrowHero: In Jack Frost’s kingdom he is all powerful and he loves bringing winter to Earth. When a prophecy led him to a lake to wait for his future queen, he was calm and expectant. When Kate fell through the ice and into his world, he was pleased and excited, but he came on too strong, too fast and lost her.

Heroine: Kate Finley used to love the winter months and all the winter activities that came with it. But seven years ago that changed and now she lives in Florida and tries to never leave the sunny state for any reason. It’s too bad for her that her boss expects her to hop on a plane to cater to a new client interested in snow skies… and the client? Jack Frost, whose myth was larger than life, whose myth would eventually claim her life too.

Review: One word: underwhelming. I know, ouch, but I was excited to read this and the potential was there. The story didn’t meet expectations. The silent frost pixies, isolated world, what would be the draw to become the queen? Jack wasn’t enough of a reason. He didn’t make the heroine (or me) feel like he was everything, sun and moon, etc. Both characters could have been fleshed out more. I felt like I was reading a plot/character synopsis instead of the full story. Too much tell, not enough show. The cover, however, is simply gorgeous. Wow! Also, I really liked the explanation of global warming. That was really clever.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: Frosted (Entangled Ever After)