Review: Aefle and Gisela by Libby Malin

Reviewed by Carla F.

The heroine is DeeDee McGowan who is the owner of a car dealership in the very small town of Oyster Point. She is all ready to settle for and marry Buck Bewley, but the night before the wedding she finds out he is cheating on her.

The hero is Thomas Charlemagne, a Medieval Studies professor at a university in Baltimore whose special area of study is Aefle the Minuscule (a poet monk of the twelfth century). He is back in Oyster Point to attend the wedding of his cousin. At the bachelor party the guys dare Thomas to stand up at his cousin’s wedding and object to the marriage. He agrees in order to finally stop everyone from calling him his nickname since childhood, “Timid Tommy”. The next morning hung over and unable to find his glasses, he does stop the wedding. It is just that it is not his cousin’s but the one of his former lover DeeDee.

This is a satire of both higher education and small time life. There many laugh-out-loud moments most of which came from Thomas.  One happens when he and DeeDee are running from the wedding and a beating of Thomas by Buck. DeeDee tells him to get into her SUV.

“Oh, sorry, I don’t ride in SUVs,” he said. He’d signed a pledge at the university against the gas guzzlers. He was still working on what to do about the one he occasionally drove, his father’s big Jeep Cherokee. Megan had insisted he take over its care. At least he’d put a “Greed Kills” bumper sticker on it.”

The titles of Thomas’s papers were all funny (and realistic). I especially liked:

“My Heart Is a Turnip in God’s Cellar: Platonic Romance in Aefle’s Monastery”

At first Thomas and DeeDee were a little bit over the top for me. Thomas is definitely a nerd. His social unawareness made me squirm at times, and I would have to put the book down for awhile. DeeDee took whatever Thomas said as a slight at her intellect/small town life. However, as the book went on and the characters grew and changed they both (especially Thomas) became very appealing. They were definitely characters who were better together than the sum of their parts.

Overall: A hilarious look at higher education, small town life, and of course, love.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Aefle and Gisela

Review: Bring Me Home for Christmas by Robyn Carr

Reviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Bring Me Home for Christmas is book 16 of the “Virgin River” series.

Rich Timm and his sister Becca have just arrived in Virgin River to hunt and fish. Rich is there for a “guys” get-together and Becca has invited herself along. Robyn starts us off with a great interaction between brother and sister. If any of you have brothers, you can just picture them saying the same things that Rich says to Becca. This story will help you to laugh and reminisce at the same time. But Becca isn’t using this trip as a bonding excursion between siblings. She has an ulterior motive that Rich knows nothing about.

Denny Cutler is a farmer and Becca’s old boyfriend. He also works part time at a bar. Denny’s an ex-Marine and happy with the life he has in Virgin River. Or is he?

Robyn does a great job of giving her readers some good chuckles throughout her story. You have to love, and laugh, at some of the interactions that Becca has with the “guys”. I’ve always passed up reading books by Robyn Carr in the past. I didn’t think that I would like her work. Boy, did this book change my mind.

Robyn gives us characters that have gone through a lot, have ties to the military, and also know the meaning of helping your neighbors. She also gives her readers ideas on how to decorate for the holidays. I love her idea of getting the whole town together to decorate the town’s Christmas tree – what a lovely tradition.

Fate steps in and Becca’s days have suddenly changed. As the saying goes “when one door closes another one opens”. We get to see Becca mature and she also finally understands what Denny is about. Becca has also found her niche in Virgin River. Will she stay or will she go back to San Diego? You will have to read this story to find out.

Robyn will also pull at your “heart strings”. There’s a little girl named Megan. She has a lot going against her but she has a strong personality for one so young. If you’re a teacher – you will feel her pain. I’m glad that Robyn made Becca a teacher with a heart.

You will also love the military theme that runs through this book. Bring Me Home for Christmas is a great story that will have you smiling and eagerly awaiting for the next book in the series to come out. If you have never read another of her series before, this may change your mind – I know it did mine. It will also make you wonder if there are towns out there just like Virgin River.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Bring Me Home for Christmas (Virgin River)

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Review: Just One Taste by Louisa Edwards

Wes Murphy was the son of a conman and was raised to be one too. A con gone wrong when he was younger landed him in a halfway house and changed his life. There Wes discovered he loved to cook. Now he’s studying at a great school and working toward being the top of his rotation in hopes of landing the best externship. Unfortunately he’s flunking Food Chem. Why should he learn to take something as creative as cooking and turn it into something as lifeless as science?

Dr. Rosemary Wilkins was a child prodigy. She loved chemistry and hated germs. A bit of a hypochondriac and a total Star Trek dork there was nothing she loved better than the clean sterile environment of her lab. When Wes Murphy rescues her on her first day lecturing on Food Chemistry 101 and winds up in trouble with the dean, she can’t help but offer her support of his story… and somehow finds herself agreeing to supervise his project on of all things, aphrodisiacs.

There’s a side romance between two men, who both work at the restaurant where Wes does his externship. It’s pretty sweet how every one of their friends tries to get them back together and help fix what went wrong between them.

Rosemary is a lot of fun to read. She bounces all over the place, uses big words, over analyzes, curses in the language of Star Trek and Buffy, and finds her best friend in a dog.

Wes is a very sensitive hero. He’s determined to do right but winds up in a pile of lies and soon the mess is out of control. He wants Rose, Bunsen burners and all. If only he took his own relationship advice, he might just be able to keep her.

I especially loved the sex in Central Park, but the sex between them is always smoking hot. Edwards certainly knows how to set the mood!

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Just One Taste (Recipe for Love)

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Review: Regularly Scheduled Life by K. A. Mitchell

by Carla F., guest reviewer

Summary: Sean Farnham and Kyle DiRusso have been together for six wonderful years. Then suddenly their lives change when schoolteacher Sean is hit when tackling a school shooter. Sean and Kyle must deal with Sean being in physical and emotional pain, but that is only part of what they must face. Once Sean insists on not hiding his sexuality by having Kyle join him in a television appearance, a PR rep approaches Sean wanting to market him as a gay hero. When Sean agrees, the TV appearances, magazine articles, and other attention (some of course negative) slowly unravel Sean and Kyle’s relationship.

Review (perhaps spoilers): You can really feel for these two men as they try to keep their relationship together. They are desperate to hang on to each other, but they are not sure how to go forward since the dynamics of their relationship has altered.

Sean the control-freak doesn’t like the idea of someone, especially Kyle, having to take care of him.  He wants to take action and do the public appearances so that perhaps something good can come of the shooting. Kyle wants to avoid the spotlight and conflict in general. He knows that as long as Sean continues his crusade (and is around the handsome PR rep), their lives will never get back to “normal”. I could understand both characters’ perspectives.

Overall: A great book for those who like to read stories with sympathetic characters dealing with serious issues that threaten their relationship and finally reaching their HEA.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Regularly Scheduled Life

Review: Getting Lucky by Carolyn Brown


By Susan S., Guest Reviewer

Brown’s novel will warm your heart, and bring you characters so real, you’ll swear they’re flesh and bone. Getting Lucky will move to the top of everyone’s list of new comfort reads.

Getting Lucky is book three from Brown’s Lucky Trilogy. It stands alone, here’s why: In this novel the hero (Griffin Luckadeau) tells the heroine (Julie Donavan) fate stories. These stories will retell Milli and Beau’s fate in Lucky in Love. Griffin also goes on to retell Jane and Slade’s fate in One Lucky Cowboy.

Do we have “small” cameo appearances in Getting Lucky? Not just no, hell no! We got the whole family together!

In book three, which tells the story of another hunky Luckadeau cowboy named Griffin, we’ll stumble upon a chockfull of clichés, idioms, silly sayings, and similes. Here’s a glimpse:

Cliché: Don’t get your panties in a wad.

Idiom: The pot calling the kettle black.

Silly saying: One legged chicken at a coyote convention.

Simile: Her heart thumped in her chest like a bass drum.

This book reminded me of my first romances, First Love from Silhouette. I’m recommending this novel to anyone who enjoys romances, HEA’s, and heart-warming stories which leave you smiling.

Julie moves from Jefferson, Texas to St. Jo. As a single mom raising a daughter named Annie, she hopes to leave the gossip-mongers behind. She’ll soon realize she’s jumped out of the frying pan, and straight into the fire. Julie’s first day as a kindergarten school teacher has left her stupefied. Her new student Lizzy, is the exact double of her daughter Annie.

Lizzy’s single father Griffin feels perplexed over the girls’ similarities. While the story unravels, the reasons for these similarities will begin to surface.

Getting Lucky gives us plenty of new characters to fall in love with. My favorite of these? Alvie, the love-stuttering rancher.

What will you love? References to Wild Sex Anonymous, bumping headboards, bull riding, women making bets, and the six sheets to the wind stories.

What did I love? In the barn, Julie’s heel gets caught on a loose board. She trips, Griffin grabs her, but ultimately they both fall to the floor. Is there more to this? Maybe.

Fundamental themes: Friendships are to be cherished, and fate will not be ignored.

Julie thinks Griffin’s egotistical, domineering, and too young for her (she’s six years older.)

He thinks all women are shrewd, conniving, with ulterior motives.

They certainly feel the attraction, but will they overcome prejudices, and stop letting their past cloud their judgments? Maybe.

This is a 5 Star Comfort Read!

Buy: Getting Lucky

Contemporary Romance, ARC, Trilogy, Sourcebooks, Inc., Casablanca, January 2010, Mass Market Paperback, Print Pages 393. ISBN# 978-1-4022-2436-2.