Saturday, October 30, 2010

Shaken by Dee Tenorio: a quickie book and a quickie review

Surgeon Grant Sullivan’s once-perfect life lies in ruins. His daughter is gone—lost in a tragic accident he dare not allow himself to remember—and his beautiful wife now stares at him from across a legal table, insisting she wants nothing from him.

Julia Sullivan lost everything, especially her illusions about her marriage, after the accident. Her grief only seemed to drive Grant further into his emotional shell—except for the nights he turned to her in silent, furious passion. Unable to live like a ghost in her old life, she’s packed up what’s left of her broken heart and is ready to move on. Alone.

Determined to break their stalemate, Grant follows Julia onto the elevator just in time for an earthquake. Trapped for hours in a building pressure cooker of unspoken pain, he’ll do anything to remind her what she’s leaving behind, as deliciously as he can. But giving her what she needs to save their marriage is the one thing that could destroy his soul.  


Emotional. Deep. Heartbreaking. Raw. Uplifting. Shaken runs the gamut in an incredibly short format. Locked in an elevator together during an earthquake, Grant and Julia must face the issues that tore their marriage apart, on the very day that they are trying to work out the terms of their divorce. That they still love each other is evident from the beginning. Their fears, their insecurities, their shortcomings are all aired as Grant tries desperately to win Julia back, and she tries to get him to come to terms with the loss of their daughter.

The incredibly short format works because of the rich history between the two, and their complete isolation. Their situation was heartbreaking, and I got that clench in my chest that tells me I’m reading something powerful. Tenorio has a way of getting to the heart of the matter, and doing it with wonderfully relevant dialogue and a strong connection between the reader and the characters.

Shaken brings every parent's and spouse's worst fear to life and shows that it can be all right in the end. Tenorio writes with such depth of emotion it's impossible not to get caught up in it. I normally despise the super short format, but this book tells me that in the right hands, it can be a very rewarding experience.

Friday, October 29, 2010

YotH: Love is Blind by Lynsay Sands


He’d been warned that Lady Clarissa Crambray was dangerous. Stomping on toes and burning piffles, the chestnut haired beauty was clearly a force with which to be reckoned. But for Adrian Montfort, Earl of Mowbray, veteran of the Napoleonic wars, this was just the challenge he needed. He could handle one woman and her “unfortunate past”. Could any woman handle him?


Lady Clarissa Crambray wanted a husband, but maybe not as much as her mother wanted tone for her. Really! Doffing her spectacles might make a girl prettier, but how would she see? She’d already caused enough mayhem to earn a rather horrible nickname. Yet, as all other suitors seemed to shy away in terror, there came a man to lead her to the dance floor. A dark, handsome blur of a man.

Clumsy Clarissa was about to stumble onto true love. 


I can't believe I'm actually making a contribution to this challenge this month. Yay!!! I've been reading historicals every month, but just haven't gotten up the oomph to post a real review.

I adored both the hero and heroine in this romance. They were sweet and totally adorable together and complemented each other perfectly. Just when it seemed the wicked stepmother got too over the top, she showed some vulnerability, so that went well for me, too.

Clarissa is practically blind without her spectacles, which her stepmother refused to let her wear (and in fact broke intentionally). She is afraid that if Adrian sees her with her glasses on, he'll think she's ugly. A notion brought on by her stepmother. Adrian, in turn, is scarred from the war, and is afraid that if Clarissa sees him with her glasses on, she'll be horrified and think he's ugly. So he does what he can to delay the return of a new pair of glasses. Each of them thinking that it's just until the other falls in love with them.

Of course, Adrian thinks she's funny, and honest, and refreshing, and sweet, and yes, beautiful. And Clarissa thinks he's wonderful, open, supportive, and handsome (hey - she's not completely blind, just very near-sighted!). For all the talking these two do, and they do a lot of it, they didn't share the fact that they loved each other. Grrrrr. But still, it worked.

I guessed the whodunnit in the very light secondary mystery plot very early on, but the fact that I had to open the book back up to refresh my memory on it tells me that it in no way overshadowed the romance. And the fact that I remember almost every detail about Clarissa and Adrian's courtship tells me it was a good romance.

I loved Adrian's family and Clarissa's father. He definitely wasn't perfect, but I thought his marriage showed some of the realities of the times. And Adrian's family was supportive, nice, and fun.

I laughed out loud at Clarissa's stepmother's wedding night description (seriously, you have to read it to believe it, but it ended with "enjoy your wedding night" after a horrific description - HA!), but thought that Clarissa's reaction to it was a little much once she and Adrian were actually together on their wedding night. Especially given how far they'd gone together before then. But I also know how little that girls knew back then, so was able to overlook it.

Sweet, wonderful romance. It's not often that I adore both the hero and the heroine. I believe it was Dev who first made a note about this book and made me want to read it, so thanks, Dev!

And I've also learned: I should not be posting reviews from my iPhone. Seriously, the typos in the original post over at Goodreads was disgusting. Even after I proofed it. Not good. So if you happen to read any of my reviews there, please know they are all done on my phone, and apparently, I suck at proofing entries there.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

One more on our 5 years


Like Lori, I am supremely thankful for all that this blog started in my life.

(I am of course also grateful that I was able to remember my login credentials, LMAO.)

My friendship with Lori ranks top. She is my reading twin more often than not and my reading hero--cuz someday I will read like she reads. A lot! And with more pleasure than guilt, LOL.

Lori is also my biggest parenting blessing. Words cannot express how much her parenting experience and advice mean in my busy life. No matter the event, she is my source of compassion, perspective, encouragement and humor. No matter the issue, she is my source of myth-shattering truth, effective public school navigation, boy-to-man warning labels and humor.

Did I mention humor?

I am also thankful for Lori's commitment to this blog. She is single-handedly keeping it alive while I enjoy these wildly busy grade-school years. When life took over my reading and reviewing, she stepped in full-time--assuring me all the while that someday soon, I will get back the time for these pleasures. And she never fails to remind me to enjoy this busy while I have it--because I will miss it terribly when it's gone.

I love and appreciate you more than ever my friend! Thank you. For everything. Always.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Happy 5th blogiversary to us!

Oops. We missed our 5 year blogiversary here. It was last week. Obviously, we're pretty low key around here, LOL.

While we don't frequent the boards where we met anymore, I will always be grateful to the particular author who wrote the books we so loved at the time. Because it was on her Yahoo group that I met JenniferB. After months of exchanging emails about what we were reading, she decided to start up a blog, and invited me and a few other friends to be a part of it. Because of that, we've had the opportunity to meet so many of you, and have gotten the most awesomest book recommendations ever! More to buy, more to share, more to enjoy. I can't count the money I've spent since I began blogging and you all started recommending books to me. (My husband does not share my appreciation in this, BTW) I can't count the number of books that have winged their way across the country back and forth in big boxes and little envelopes. All because we love to read romance.

It's through blogging that the SoCal Bloggers have gotten together numerous times. Those women are absolutely fantastic, coming from all walks of life, and yet we all have the basics in common. A love of our families, a love of reading, a love of friendship, and a love of romance. And it's all because we love to read romance.

I will also forever be grateful for the experience I've gained in the blogging world. Blogging and reading romance have helped me go on tobe considered a 'trailblazer' on this and ebooks at my publishing job IRL, impressing numerous people at my company with my so-called expertise (yes, I'm so awesome, look at me LOL). And to be frank, I'm definitely not an expert; far from it. But I'm an early adopter of ebooks and blogging, and that makes a difference in my job. All because I love to read romance.

So, happy 5th blogiversary to I Just Finished Reading. I hope we get to continue to share our love of books with y'all. And I hope you'll continue to share your love of books with us.

Impulsive by HelenKay Dimon

I know I sound like a broken record, but there are reasons that I keep reading the same authors over and over. I adore HelenKay Dimon’s dialogue, sassy heroines, and intelligent heroes (even though they frequently act dumb, it makes it much more fun). In Impulsive, Eric is trying to prove to himself that he has no hard feelings when his ex gets married. So he goes to her wedding. At the wedding, he sees the caterer from across the room and next thing we know, they are getting it on in the bathroom. (Hey, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it). Katie was hired to spy on Eric to see if there is any truth to the rumor that he’s still involved with his ex. But she sees Eric, and all that flies out of her head. Eric and Katie keep getting together, and lots of hot sex ensues. And it eventually turns to love.

What I liked: I really loved Eric. He’s not a typical romance hero. He’s introspective and thoughtful, a lawyer/politician who seems to be in it for the right reasons. He has managed to realize that friendship with his ex is ok, and that he can handle it. In small doses. He keeps himself under tight control, and it’s awesome to see his control being slowly unraveled both emotionally and physically by Katie and also by the situations in which he finds himself, such as having Deana (the ex) barging into his life at all hours or his love life splattered all over in a video. He’s like that rubber band – it always contracts back to normal, but at some point it gets stretched just a little too far and breaks, or stretches so much, it loses its elasticity, becomes brittle, and breaks. That’s Eric. So patient, but eventually it’s gotta give. And he finally does, which makes him even more human to the reader. Plus, well, that man is hot with the sexin’. Seriously, I wouldn’t mind being stuck in a bathroom or in an office chair with him.

Katie: she’s a bad girl gone good. Kind of. Although she was bad for understandable reasons, she spent the majority of her teen and early adult years doing the wrong thing. And now that she’s trying to turn her life around and do the right thing, she finds constant roadblocks in the way. Once she discovered her feelings for Eric and found out her ‘job’ was going to hurt him, she ended the arrangement. Although she’s very young (and at first I thought there was no way at all Eric would have any interest in her besides sex), she goes through a maturation process that began before the book started and continued throughout. It helps put perspective on her relationship with Eric. She loosens him up and helps him laugh, and he helps ground her.

I liked that Katie was honest with Eric almost as soon as she realized she had feelings for him. It helped him to be more trusting of her when obviously someone was undermining his campaign. And I loved the way he defended her, even when he had the occasional twinge of doubt.

I loved that Deana and Josh (H & H from Holding Out for a Hero, and Deana is Eric’s ex) are such nudgeniks. They push their way into Eric’s life (although for Josh, it’s begrudgingly). I really liked that neither of them is portrayed as the ‘bad guy’, in that in my experience, most people don’t look on their exes with venom; they were just relationships that don’t work out. At least that’s how I see my exes (granted, in terms of exes, I only have the perspective of a high schooler – got together with hubby sophomore yr of college). Still, Eric is still a little raw about the breakup, and somehow it tickled me that Deana got in his face, determined to be his friend.

What I didn’t like so much: Katie’s sister. Yes, she’s quite protective of Katie when Eric comes around, but she still expects the worst from Katie, even though Katie is helping her with her catering business, taking care of her daughter, and saving money for school. She always has the first thought of “What have you done now?” Frankly, that would drive me bat-shit crazy. But I also understand how important the family they have left is to both of them.

Another hero with hidden depths, a heroine who does a lot of growing up, and a bit of a madcap election campaign (Impulsive is releasing at just the right time, I’d say). Dimon has hit just the right balance of all these things to make me happy. The last couple of books have had some darker elements to them. This one, not so much. I wouldn’t call it fluffy by any means, but it’s certainly a little more light-hearted than the last couple of books. Complete with her signature wit and terrific characters, Impulsive was a great read for me.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Squeeee!!!!!! Bradshaw's book!

It's Shaw's book!! You all know how much I adore England's Perfect Hero from Suzanne Enoch. One of my all-time favorites. Bit and Tristan Carroway from the Lessons in Love trilogy are two of my favorite heroes. Now their brother Shaw (who actually has appeared in several Enoch books since then) gets his own story. Did I say SQUEEEE?!?! (But Zephyr as a heroine name? Gotta wonder about that one!)

For proper young ladies, good behavior has always been the rule…

Captain Bradshaw Carroway loves the seafaring life—though he’d rather be battling brigands than his current assignment of ferrying a boatload of spoiled aristocrats. One passenger, however, has caught his eye: a bewitching young minx who definitely distracts him from the rules of shipboard decorum . . .

Some rules, of course, are meant to be broken.

Miss Zephyr Ponsley has traveled the world, but she’s completely innocent in the ways of love. She’s never learned to dance or flirt. But scientific observation has taught her that the laws of attraction have no rules, and that no adventure, on land or sea, is more dangerous—or delicious—than passion!

Release date is this Tuesday, October 26.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ARC: Inside Out by Lauren Dane

Blurb courtesy of
Ella Tipton is a survivor. In the wake of an attack that left her nearly dead, she’s spent each day putting her life back together. Once vibrant and outgoing, she’s needed to reclaim the best parts of who she was while retaining the hard won lessons. There hasn’t been room for any romantic entanglements, even if she were ready. Still, it didn’t mean she had to stop sneaking looks at Mister Tall, Dark and Tattooed himself.

Security professional Andrew Copeland isn’t quite sure when his jones for the lovely and decidedly skittish Ella developed. He’s known her for years, has watched her triumph over the pain she’d been dealt. Cope is no stranger to women, but he knows the nervous flush he gets every time he talks to her is different than any attraction he’s had in the past. Determined to get Ella to let him in, Andy does the one thing he can think of to get close: he offers her hands-on training in self-defense.

While Ella’s sure he’s just being nice, the prospect of being able to touch him and gain the tools to push away the last vestiges of her fear is more than she can resist. Soon enough, Cope shows Ella his feelings are far more than friendly and re-ignites something deep inside her. Before long desire and love turn them both inside out.

We first met Ella and Cope in Laid Bare, Erin’s book. Now she’s been through a traumatic time and is just really starting to put her life back together. As he watches her blossom, Cope finds himself more and more attracted, and more and more intrigued by her.

I adored how Ella saw deep into Cope. Saw him as Andrew, not as Cope. Cope was the façade that he put in place – the happy-go-lucky guy without a care in the world. Ella saw the poet, the artist, the dreamer. The romantic. The tender, sensitive man hiding behind the devil-may-care man-slut. And she loved him for all those things. And for his delightful Copeness as well.

In turn, Cope accepted Ella for who she was, and stood by her as she worked through her issues with trust and self-image. He seems to have never-ending patience in regard to Ella’s trust (or lack of it). It wasn’t that she didn’t trust him, but it was more that she didn’t trust her own judgment. She was afraid of giving herself wholly to someone again, to put herself in a vulnerable situation. To make her feel more self-confident, Cope gives her self-defense lessons. This helps to break down the barriers for them both. We see how Cope has always felt inadequate in his family, and how Ella is afraid she’s let hers down. And Cope loves the confident take-no-prisoners woman she’s becoming mixed in with that shyness that is also Ella.

Their courtship was wonderful. They sent letters to each other filled with little wonders and tiny gifts, went on dates, talked about everything, and slowly I could see them becoming a solid couple. They were open and honest with each other. They just got each other, deep down inside. As I noted in Coming Undone, there is no huge external conflict here, so if that's what floats your boat, know that going in. The closest thing might be the tension between Ben, Cope, and their father. But moreso, this is a novel about internal conflict and growth. Cope and Ella each coming to terms with who they are, who they were, and who they will be together. I found myself relating to them as a couple, recognizing silly things that I do in my own marriage. Things like objectifying my husband to his face (and vice-versa), doing silly, romantic things, and also sometimes being unreasonably moody. All these things rang true for me here as well. The one thing that did bother me slightly, however, was the frequent references to Ella’s cartoony voice. I found myself thinking that it would bug the shit out of me to constantly hear a voice like that. But to Cope, it’s part of what makes Ella who she is.

As Ella becomes more independent and more self-confident, her relationship with her parents improves as well. As Cope rediscovers Andrew within himself and learns to love who he is, he and Ben drop the buddy-buddy surfacy relationship they've maintained and become truly close, loving brothers again (not that they weren't before, this just brought them even closer). Ones who appreciate each other’s individual strengths and differences.  This book really explored the relationship between the two brothers, and showed their love for one another. Their protectiveness of each other.

Cope and Ben have had a very difficult time with their father, stemming from Ben's relationship with Erin and Todd. I liked that their mother, while likely confused and disapproving inside, has come to accept the marriage and the impending birth of her grandchild. She fosters a relationship with Erin, and that endears her to me. Their father, on the other hand, is much more firmly entrenched in his view of what is proper and not. He is truly awful to Ben, Todd, and Erin. And when Cope confronts him on the premise of trying to keep their family together, it almost devolves into a physical altercation. This has a profound effect on Cope.

One thing I really like about this series is that not everyone in their families has just accepted Ben, Todd, and Erin’s relationship. In the real world, people have their prejudices. Not everyone is accepting. Heck, just turn on the evening news. It’s no secret. Dane carefully addresses these issues while not making any true villains. The reader may vilify Ben’s father simply because we want him to accept the marriage (and quit being a douche). And frankly, yeah, he is quite the dick about it. But truly, like most of the time in real life, there’s not a villain here. Just people outside their comfort zone who don’t quite know how to handle the situation in which they find themselves, and yes, maybe a little intolerant, too (or a lot intolerant).

Which brings me to my last point. Yes, I know. Finally.

Lauren Dane has written yet another wonderful family drama. To many, family means mother, father, children, siblings, etc. To some, being pro-family might mean not having an alternative marriage or lifestyle. It might mean no sex before marriage. It might mean that you shouldn't choose to be gay. (And yes, that last one was said with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek.) But in this series, family is more than a traditional nuclear family, although Ben and Cope are brothers, and Erin, Adrian, and Brody are siblings, and Ella has a great (by the end) relationship with her parents. Together, all these friends and their spouses (spice?) and their siblings make up one big happy extended family. To suggest otherwise is just ridiculous. These people love and care for one another. They are there through thick and thin. They put each other’s needs before their own. They gossip about each other and act silly. They share all their major life events. They listen to each other being unreasonable and still love them anyway. That’s family. It sings loud and clear from the pages. This sense of family pervades every book that Dane writes, whether it be about shapeshifters, witches, small-town America, futuristic sci-fi, or (never) boring suburban life. It's one of the reasons I gravitate to her as an author.

I love a book where I really feel like I know and like the characters by the end. That satisfies all the little bits inside me longing for love, acceptance, respect, and passion. This is one such book. While this is quite obviously part of a series, it does stand on its own. But why wouldn't you want to read the other amazing books in this series first? Read Inside Out when it comes out on November 2 and enjoy watching a good old-fashioned love story blossom and grow. Oh, and yeah. It's way superdy hot, too. Happy, satisfied sigh.

Series Order:
Laid Bare
Coming Undone
Inside Out
Never Enough (Sept 2011)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fair Game by Josh Lanyon

A crippling knee injury forced Elliot Mills to trade in his FBI badge for dusty chalkboards and bored college students. Now a history professor at Puget Sound university, the former agent has put his old life behind him-but it seems his old life isn't finished with him.

A young man has gone missing from campus-and as a favor to a family friend, Elliot agrees to do a little sniffing around. His investigations bring him face-to-face with his former lover, Tucker Lance, the special agent handling the case.

Things ended badly with Tucker, and neither man is ready to back down on the fight that drove them apart. But they have to figure out a way to move beyond their past and work together as more men go missing and Elliot becomes the target in a killer's obsessive game...


When Elliot's father asks him to look into the disappearance of a friend's son at the university where Elliot is a professor of history, Elliot finds himself back in the investigations game. Doing so puts him right in the path of his former lover, Tucker. These guys have history, and it's mostly related to Elliot's inability to come to terms with his career-ending injury and feelings of inadequacy as it related to that.

I found this to be quite a compelling read, but at first it felt like Tucker did a less than stellar job of investigating the case out of residual anger at Elliot. Also, I would have liked to have seen more from Tucker's POV, but it did fit in with Lanyon's usual style, so I knew I'd get something from Tucker eventually, and I did.

I liked the way Lanyon grew their relationship, even through the phone calls, where a lot got said by staying unsaid. They communicated like men. By which, I mean that there wasn't a whole lot of communicating going on, especially on issues of import. Just lots of in-your-face one-upsmanship based on emotional response and anger and uncomfortable silences rather than actual productive conversation. (no offense to any guys out there, but, c'mon!) But I also liked that Elliot recognized that Tucker made the first move to open himself up more often than not and so he also made the attempt, even though it went against his instincts and nature. There was excellent chemistry between them. I also liked that they were two strong men, but that they weren't afraid to show their vulnerabilities in bed.

And that's one thing I really like about Lanyon's books. His love scenes are very, very intimate, but not necessarily explicit. Yes, sometimes, they get harshly explicit (he shoved tab A into hole B - hello, Jake?). But in general, he creates his love scenes through the emotions elicited from his characters, through the connections developed, and though good old fashioned "leaving it up to the imagination". I think many m/f authors could learn how to convey intimacy from reading his love scenes. There are never any gratuitous love scenes in a Lanyon book. Those that are there, need to be there. And I love that.

I also really liked the dynamic between Elliot and his dad. Respectful and loving despite their obvious philosophical differences. And his dad just cracked me up. He's a throwback to the 60s radicals, calling everyone "cat" (as in, "he's a cool cat", LOL), anything that relates to the establishment is bad, etc. But he respects and loves his son even though he doesn't respect or love his son's former job.

As far as the mystery, it was well done. I had hoped for some additional evidence gathering and to see that, but that's the thriller lover in me. It wasn't lacking, although I'd have liked some further explanation on the resolution of the Baker murder.

I liked that Elliot came to terms with his change in career by the end and came to realize that he actually liked teaching. It was a very satisfying resolution. Although I get the feeling that he'll still find himself embroiled in Tucker's cases going forward.

Another stellar book from Lanyon. And he's a great author to try if you want to dip your toes into m/m and also enjoy romantic suspense/mystery.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Bookwatch: Play Dirty by Lorie O'Clare

This sounds up my alley.

Heartthrob bounty hunter Greg King knows how to work it—and he knows that he can have any woman he wants. But there’s more to Greg than meets the eye…and he’s still haunted by the memory of his beautiful, estranged wife. Much as he’s tried to move on, he’s never been able to stopstopped wondering why Haley left him. Or what he could have done to make their marriage better—and make her stay…

After putting a vicious criminal behind bars, Haley King had no choice but to leave her loved ones behind and enter the witness protection program. Turns out that, in her new life, Haley has once again found herself in serious trouble—and needs help from the only person she can trust: her husband. Now, as old secrets threaten to tear them apart and danger closes in from all sides, it’s up to Greg to keep Haley safe…and convince her that this time, he’s playing for keeps.

Read An Excerpt.

This book is already released. Must go get.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Lori's September reads

September came and went in the blink of an eye. I read 24 books (ok, 25 really, since Castles/The Lions Lady is really two books), bringing my total read for the year up to 215 (or 216 - see above), or so Goodreads tells me. I'm fairly certain that I missed a couple books somewhere between August and September, but I'm damned if I know what they were.

My goal for next month? Get back reading the In Death books. I haven't read one in 3 months. Im starting to wonder what Eve & Roarke are up to. Of course, it doesn't help that I'm a complete and utter failure in the In Death Challenge. And although I'm reading, I'm not really reviewing much, so I'm a total failure at the Year of the Historical Challenge as well.

Anyway, here are my reads for September. Some good ones in there.

The Darkest Hour (KGI, #1) by Maya Banks: Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
Really, really liked this one. Open, honest feelings on the part of hero and heroine. Honest portrayal of drug addiction and grief. And of finding love again. Wonderful family relations between brothers, and parents and children as well. Loved it. Can't wait til the next one. I would compare this to a Cindy Gerard only more raw.

A Touch of Scandal by Jennifer Haymore: Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars
Garrett's book. Loved them together. Loved their sense of family, separately and together. I loved that there was no mistrust between them. And love Garrett's sister, whose book was just released. Dying to read that one!

Inside Out (Brown Siblings, #3) by Lauren Dane (ARC read): Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars
Review to come closer to release. But I'll tell you that I loved it. Like all of them. Lauren Dane was noting on twitter the other day that someone had said her books were anti-family. I think I've noted in every single review how much I adore her sense of family. Cope was amazing. And Ella just "gets" him. More detail to follow.

Till Dawn with the Devil: Lords of Vice by Alexandra Hawkins: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
I enjoyed this book much more than the first in the series. Most of the focus remained on the main couple for most of the book. While I found the Lords of Vice's nicknames less annoying this time, I still find them trite.

I really liked that Sophia, while acknowledging her disability, compensated and didn't allow it to get her down. She was a strong woman no matter what life, or her brothers dealt her. Although I hated the way her brothers treated her, I really liked that they came together in the end and how wonderful Gabriel was with Sophia.

This was my do or die book for the series, and I'm happy to say that I'll be waiting for Dare's book anxiously.

Two to Tangle by Leslie Kelly: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
A reread. I read it when it first came out as a Temptation, and loved it then. Once I got over the silliness of Chloe never once slipping and calling Trent, Troy, even in the heat of passion, I was able to fall in love with this sweet, passionate story. Complete with eccentrics on both sides of the families, both Trent and Chloe were down to earth, nice people, and I wanted to see them together. The imagery is wonderful. I could completely see Trent in the rain and envision their courtship played out in a display window. The date they had in the store was so romantic. I also loved that Trent could have believed the worst of Chloe but instead chose immediately to believe her explanation of a sityation he'd misconstrued.

Two nice, fun people in a passionate but incredibly sweet and romantic relationship. Love this one!

SEALed with a Promise (SEALed, #2) by Mary-Margret Daughtridge: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
This was a reread. I thought I was picking up the third book, but realized, oops! Anyway, I liked both characters. Loved seeing how Emmie grew and her perception of herself changed. Also liked that Caleb had a difficult time letting go of his grudges, but managed to do it anyway, and managed to do the right thing. They were both loyal friends. Although I hated that Caleb was using her in the beginning, even he never realized when his feelings became real. But fully embraced them anyway.

Seduced by a Highlander (Children of the Mist, #2) by Paula Quinn: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
I liked this one. Two families in a feud, brought on by a teenager's mistake, and compounded by another's. I liked the sense of family amongst Isobel's siblings. And liked that even though some of the distrust remained, they eventually saw Tristan for who he was. And that Tristan was willing to end his charade of a character and just be himself.

Love Me If You Dare (Bachelor Blogs, #2) by Carly Phillips: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Really enjoyed this one. I definitely knew the villain from the first time they appeared on the pages, but it didn't stop my enjoyment of the story. I do wish that the heroine would have let go of her issues a little earlier. I felt like she didn't quite deserve the perfection that was the hero.

Wicked Delights of a Bridal Bed (The Byrons of Braebourne, #4) by Tracy Anne Warren: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Loved the open honest friendship between Adam and Mallory, but hated that the author had him act out of character at the end.

Castles/The Lion's Lady by Julie Garwood: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Castles: I thought this one was a tad forgettable.
The Lion's Lady: Not this one! I adored Christina. She was so fresh, and what a wry, subtle, wicked sense of humor she had! Lyon was great in that he never tried to change her. This one was excellent.

Ransom (Highlands' Lairds, #2) by Julie Garwood: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Once again, loved Garwood's writing. And loved the first half. My heart broke for Gillian. I wasn't as thrilled with the past portions of the book. But overall, still a very enjoyable read.

The Sergeant's Lady by Susanna Fraser: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
What a fresh approach and such a great story. Love that the hero is not of the same class as the heroine, yet they were so in love. Seemed like a more realistic version of the war in Spain than I've read in a long time. (the only romance I can remember seeming more realistic in war is Duran's Duke of Shadows.) Simply wonderful. I can't wait to read more from her.

Texas Tangle by Leah Braemel: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
I really, really liked this one. So very much! I loved how the three weren't afraid to talk about the issues that would face them. And that they took time - a lot of it - to think seriously about whether they could handle the issues that would arise from a permanent menage. I did think that Dillon's family was a little too accepting at first. Overall, a terrific read from Braemel.

Hot Finish (Fast Track, #3) by Erin McCarthy: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
I really liked Ryder and Suzanne. I've been waiting for something explosive to happen between them, and boy howdy. I got it. What I really like is that Ryder accepts Suzanne for who she is, and doesn't expect her to change, and frankly doesn't want her to change her fiery personality.

I love marriages in trouble stories, and this one was great. They worked through their issues, and both came to realizations of how they both mistreated their spouse unintentionally and also how they could better treat the other.

Last to Die (Sheridan, #2) by Kate Brady: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
This read a little tighter than the first one. Which tells me that Brady is going to keep improving and be a hell of a thriller author. I loved Mitch as a hero, and loved his faith in his friends. And Dani was a credible detective, even if she had her own issues to deal with. I liked them together, too.

Hard and Fast (Fast Track, #2) by Erin McCarthy: Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Adored Ty and Imogen. Truly.

Deadly Intent (Mindhunters, #4) by Kylie Brant (ARC read): Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Review coming up closer to release. Suffice to say, I'm in love with the Mindhunters and can't wait for the next one. I'm waiting rather impatiently for Adam's book. Who knows when it will be published, but if Brant doesn't write it, I may have to hire a hitman.

Killing Her Softly (Griffin Powell, #5) by Beverly Barton: Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars
I really like Barton's books. I guessed the whodunnit here, but I loved how she kept all the characters guessing if Quinn was really guilty of the crimes. The main thing I didn't quite like was that Annabelle seemed so quick to jump on Quinn's bandwagon. She knew what she wanted and went for it. But her undying immediate faith in Quinn's innocence gave me pause. I understood that she recognized her cousin's faults, but still thought she should wonder about Quinn more than she actually did.

Wicked & Willing by Leslie Kelly: Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars
This reads much more like a typical Blaze would now (even tho it's a Temptation). It's the story of the brother of the hero of Two to Tangle. Troy is a playboy and it's Venus who makes this story. Still, it's got humor and passion and fun. As well as a tug-at-your-heartstrings Cinderella storyline.

Her Very Own Family (Harlequin American Romance Series) by Trish Milburn: Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars
I liked both the hero & heroine. And Brady's dad, and the compassion that Audrey showed him, was such a wonderful part of the story.

Unspeakable (Tracers, #2) by Laura Griffin: Goodreads Rating: 3.5 stars
I felt as that as hard as Elaina wanted to be part of the team, she never made much effort to do so, except complaining that she wasn't part of it. Griffin showed no real sense of teamwork, and while I understand that at first that was likely designed to show what an outsider Elaina was, it didn't work so well for me. I also am sure that had the morning team meetings been shown, I would have had a better sense of how the rest of the team worked together. In this case, I missed seeing more of the rest of the cast and felt that there was just a little too much time spent on Troy and Elaina (and I realize how strange that sounds).

I liked Troy, and I liked him and Elaina together. I never felt as though I truly understood the reasons for the crimes, though, although I knew fairly early on who the villain was (even if I didn't know his name yet).

I am looking forward to Mia's book, though. I like Griffin's voice and style very much, and that will keep me coming back until I find a book I enjoy as much as Whisper of Warning.

Married By Mistake by Abby Gaines: Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
Lots to like, but more to bother me, I think. Didn't care so much for Adam. And I hate it when the hero and heroine don't TALK to each other.

If Looks Could Chill (Passion For Danger, #2) by Nina Bruhns: Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
This one didn't suck me in as much as the other two did. And I really didn't want to have to pull out my junior high French in order to read Marc's thoughts. The Gina story was far more compelling to me than the main two romances, as well as the play between Alex and Rebel. Of course since I read out of order I already know what happens there, but I enjoyed watching it unfold nonetheless.

Strike Zone (Richmond Rogues, #3) by Kate Angell: Goodreads Rating: 3 stars
Cute. But like all the Angell books it couldn't decide who to focus on between the two couples. But still pretty cute and enjoyable.
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