Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Texan's Little Secret - Barbara White Daille (HAR #1510 - Aug 2014)

Series: Texas Rodeo Barons (Book 3)

Hiding The Truth

Coming home might be the worst decision Carly Baron has ever made. Each minute on her family's busy ranch is one minute closer to seeing him -- her first love -- the man who broke her heart seven years ago. While coming face-to-face with Luke Nobel again brings back painful memories, Carly quickly realizes there are other strong feelings just under the surface….

Luke would be a lot better off if Carly had stayed away. Being a single dad to an adorable two-year-old girl and managing the Roughneck is tough enough, but resisting the sparks that fly whenever he and Carly are together is near impossible. But first she must tell him her secret. The truth could heal their past…or forever destroy their chances of becoming a family.

Good story of second chances and the importance of family. Carly has come home to help take care of her dad, but she's also going to have to face Luke again. Years earlier they had parted ways when she accused him of using her to get a job on her father's ranch. Seeing him now brings back painful memories, but also the knowledge that her feelings for him never really went away.

Carly was known as the wild child in her family. Everyone saw the way she was trying new and different things, but never really settling for any one thing. What they didn't see was that it was her way of trying to figure out where she fit in her world. Being with Luke had given her that sense until it all went wrong. Now that she's back she's putting on a great show of being the tough and independent wild child, but it's still hiding a world of insecurity. She's tempted to see if there is still a chance for them, but the secret that she is hiding could ruin it all. Her fears are such that she is afraid to be around Luke's daughter.

Luke grew up on the poor side of town and worked hard for everything he got. He couldn't believe that Carly was really interested in him, especially when she wanted to keep their relationship secret. He wanted a job on her family's ranch so he could be closer to her and because it was a better job than working on cars. He was hurt when she accused him of using her, and rather than defend himself he just walked away. Years later he's got the job he wanted and is raising his little girl with the help of his mother. Having Carly back on the ranch shows him that he's never forgotten her. He really wants to see if they have a chance to get it right this time, but she keeps pushing him away. He's determined to break through her barriers and show her that they can have it all.

The search for Carly's mother is ongoing, though Carly and Savannah are the only family members who are doing it. A few more leads have come to light, and they are pursuing them as best they can. Carly's determination has her confronting her father about what he knows, and getting frustrated by his unwillingness to talk. It will be interesting to see what the other books reveal.

The Texan's Cowgirl Bride - Trish Milburn (HAR #1506 - July 2014)

Series: Texas Rodeo Barons (Book 2)


Savannah Baron is determined to turn The Peach Pit from a simple roadside stand on her family's Texas ranch into a bustling country store. She's too busy with her business to even enter many rodeos anymore, let alone date. But when a health scare prompts her to search for her long-estranged mother, she discovers more than a helping hand in an old friend.

Soldier-turned-private investigator Travis Shepard never thought he'd move on after his wife's tragic death, yet with Savannah, the walls he built around his heart begin to crumble away. But Savannah still faces a medical crisis and Travis can't bear the idea of losing anyone else. Can he find the strength to love again?

Good book. I really liked both Savannah and Travis. Savannah has taken over the family store as her contribution to the family business. She loves what she does and has great plans for expanding the business, if she can just get her father to agree. About once a month she takes some time for herself and competes in a barrel racing event at a rodeo. At the latest rodeo she runs into Travis, an old friend from high school. He is a widower and has a private investigations business. Savannah suddenly notices him as more than just a friend. Travis is there when she takes a spill and is the one to drive her to the hospital.

Travis is trying to get his life back together. While he was serving overseas with the army his wife was shot and killed during a robbery attempt. He has guilty feelings because he wasn't there when it happened. He's also filled with a lot of anger toward the young man who did it. He never expected to be attracted to another woman, but he's having a hard time forgetting about Savannah after seeing her again. He had a big crush on her in school but never had the courage to go after her. 

Savannah has been thinking a lot about her mother who left them years ago. When she has a need to find out more about her medical history she turns to Travis for help in finding her. While working together they also discover a chemistry that they can't deny. I loved seeing Travis do things with Savannah that were fun. He could see that she is so focused on business that she doesn't do much for herself. Then the stress of her health concerns adds another layer to it and he wants to see her laugh and smile. But he also worries about getting too close to her. He's put up some pretty high walls to protect his heart and the thought of losing her is something that scares him. He doesn't know if he can open himself up again. 

Savannah has her own issues that she is dealing with. She has been keeping her health concerns to herself so that she doesn't worry her family. She also feels that she can't tell them about her search for their mother. Savannah is the one in the family who tries to avoid confrontations, but things are rapidly building for her. Her feelings for Travis are growing, but she's wary of telling him because of fears of rejection. She's also been dealing with her father over the future of the store. Ever since his rodeo accident has kept him home from work he has been interfering more and more. She knows what she wants and how to get there but convincing him has been impossible. I loved seeing how her feelings for Travis give her the confidence she needs to stand up to her father and fight for what she wants. 

In the end Travis had to face his fears and decide whether loving Savannah was worth the risks. I really enjoyed the way the story finished up with a couple of really neat twists.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Texan's Baby - Donna Alward (HAR #1502 - June 2014)

Series: Texas Rodeo Barons (Book 1)

Unexpected Consequences

As a powerful Dallas oil executive, planning is what Lizzie Baron does best. But she certainly didn't plan on getting pregnant following one memorable night after a rodeo in Fort Worth. Now she needs to figure out how she's going to raise a baby with a man she barely knows.

Aspiring bronc rider Chris Miller always hoped he'd see Lizzie again, though not quite like this. The pregnancy is a surprise -- and so is finding out she's a member of the powerful Baron clan -- but the more Chris gets to know Lizzie, the more he realizes he wants to be with her. When Lizzie learns Chris works for a rival company, she feels betrayed. Can two perfect strangers trust each other enough to become the perfect family?

Very good book. Lizzie is the oldest in her family, and the one who plans everything in her life. She has one night when she wants to cut loose a little and ends up with Chris for one memorable night. A few weeks later she discovers she's pregnant and goes looking for him. She's independent and quite capable of raising the baby on her own, but figures he has the right to know. Chris hadn't forgotten her, and had hoped he would get a chance to see her again. He is stunned by the news, but adjusts rapidly. 

I loved the way that Lizzie and Chris handled the news. Lizzie knew he had to be told, so she did what she had to in order to find him. Chris was surprised at the news, but after a few minutes accepted it readily. There were no accusations of  entrapment or lives ruined or anything like that. That's not to say that both of them don't realize that there are going to be big changes in their lives. I loved the way that Chris made sure that Lizzie knew he planned to be involved in the baby's life. 

Just as Lizzie and Chris are settling in to talk about the baby and their future, she gets word that her father has been in an accident. Now, on top of a pregnancy she's not ready to tell her family about yet, she has to take over the running of the family oil business. She's always felt she's had to work extra hard to prove herself to her father and she doesn't want to mess it up. Being pregnant adds another level of stress. Having Chris's care and support means a lot to her. I loved seeing a strong friendship develop between them, and her love for him grows quickly out of that friendship. But Lizzie also has some issues from her past that have her attempting to keep some control of her emotions. Her mother abandoned them when Lizzie was younger and Lizzie fears that her own mothering skills are not up to the job. She also had a relationship in college go bad because the man was more interested in who she was that in Lizzie herself. 

Chris had taken leave from his job to spend some time on the rodeo circuit. He's not particularly happy in his work and is taking the time to try to figure out what he wants to do with his life. Lizzie's pregnancy is a huge surprise and he realizes that if he's going to be a good father he needs to get his life together. He goes back to his job, but takes a promotion that moves him closer to Lizzie. He's determined to be there for her every step of the way. I loved his sensitivity to her needs and how he seemed to be able to anticipate things. He occasionally feels like he isn't good enough for her because of their differences. I loved seeing how quickly he took to the idea of being a father and how happy he seemed to be about it. I really enjoyed watching he and Lizzie get closer together. The chemistry is definitely there, but there is so much more.

There is some trouble at the end when their insecurities create quite a misunderstanding. Lizzie gets a bit out of control there and says some terrible things to Chris. Both of them end up with some decisions to make and some soul searching to do. I loved the way it ended.

As the first in a series of six, there was a good introduction to the other members of the family. I loved their closeness and the way they support each other. They aren't too good to be true, though, and there are hints of issues yet to come. I'm looking forward to the rest.

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Family, At Last - Susan Crosby (HSE #2290 - Oct 2013)

Series: Red Valley Ranchers (Book 2)

When Karyn Lambert appears on Vaughn Ryder's doorstep, claiming to be his little girl's aunt, he can hardly turn her away. Instead, the guarded rancher invites her to stay, and soon they're engaged in a battle of the sexes, each trying to prove how good they are with little Cassidy…as well as fighting the raging attraction that blooms the instant Karyn steps over the threshold!

For years Vaughn has been focused only on being the perfect father. Now the bubbly personal shopper has taken hold of his heart, and he wonders if they might be able to create the perfect family for Cassidy -- and each other. Not just out of blood connections -- but out of true love….

Good book, though the blurb isn't entirely accurate. Vaughn is divorced from his wife who is the mother of his little girl. His wife never took to being a mother and has left Vaughn with custody, even though he's not Cassidy's biological father. He wants to adopt Cassidy and can't find his ex-wife, so he goes looking to see if he can find the father. One possibility is Karyn's twin brother, but he died in the war. Vaughn gets a DNA sample from Karyn to see if there's a match.

Karyn is excited by the idea that Cassidy may be her brother's child. She shows up in Red Valley, planning to be there when the results come back. She plans to stay in a hotel and do some sketching while she waits. Instead, Vaughn invites her to stay at his home, telling his family that she's going to be doing Cassidy's portrait. 

I really liked Vaughn. Even though Cassidy isn't his by blood, he has loved her as his own since she was born. He is a wonderful father. I loved the way he changed his entire life around so that he could take care of her.  He was trying to do the right thing when he went looking for Cassidy's biological father. He didn't expect to find himself so attracted to Karyn. Vaughn is very cautious about getting involved with Karyn. His ex had been a city girl who did not adapt well when they moved to the ranch. Karyn is a personal shopper with big name clients in LA and Hollywood. He doesn't know if he wants to risk his heart again on someone who might not stay. 

Karyn is a really busy personal shopper, but lately has been feeling a bit less enthusiastic about her job. It's coming up on Christmas which is a hard time for her since her brother died. When Vaughn arrives with news that her brother might be the father of Vaughn's little girl, she is thrilled with the idea. Her enthusiasm gets the best of her and she ends up staying with Vaughn while they wait for the results. She is incredibly attracted to him but feels getting involved would be a bad idea, complicating an already complicated relationship. Though his family has no idea of her possible connection to Cassidy, they draw her in to their warmth. It was terrific to see Karyn fit in so quickly. I also loved seeing how much fun she and Cassidy had together. Karyn finds herself wondering what it would be like to stay in Red Valley and get to know Vaughn even better. 

I loved the relationship between Vaughn and Karyn. Both of them wanted what was best for Cassidy and were very careful not to say anything about the test around her. I really enjoyed seeing the way that the two of them teased each other. The growing feelings were easy to see and I was really rooting for them to find a way to be together. The ending had quite an interesting twist.

Hard Ride to Dry Gulch - Joanna Wayne (HI #1504 - July 2014)

Series: Big D Dads: The Daltons (Book 3)

A haunting beauty with mesmerizing brown eyes is in desperate need of Dallas homicide detective Travis Dalton's help. Faith Ashburn's troubled teenage son is missing…and may be hiding secrets that could get him -- and his mother -- killed.

Faith will do whatever it takes to find her boy, even if it means turning to the rugged detective, a man shadowed by his own painful past. When the search reveals a shocking connection to the dangerous criminal Travis has sworn to bring down, Faith has to trust him with her life. And when passion flares, she has to trust him with something she vowed never again to give: her heart.

Good story with lots of drama. It's been almost a year since Faith's teenage son disappeared, but she hasn't given up trying to find him. She's gone into some dangerous situations in her search for clues, and is rescued from one of them by Travis. He is haunted by the sadness in her eyes, but doesn't see her again for months, when she shows up as a bridesmaid in his brother's wedding. When he hears her story, he has to help her. 

I liked Faith's determination to find her son, but it was a little frustrating that she couldn't seem to see him as an adult. She is certain that he is in trouble. There are things that the police are telling her about him that she just can't believe. While the missing persons case is still open, she feels that they are not giving it much of an effort. When Travis offers to help, she takes him up on it.

Travis had not been able to forget his meeting with Faith. He's not entirely convinced that her son didn't leave by choice, but he's willing to help. Things get more intense when he discovers that there is reason to believe that a dangerous criminal that Travis has been investigating might be involved. 

The chemistry between Travis and Faith is strong, but is held in check by their circumstances. Travis is still fighting the sense of betrayal cause by his father's abandonment of him when he was a child. He spent time in an abusive foster home because of it. His father is trying to make amends because he is dying of a brain tumor. Travis normally avoids relationships, but finds himself falling for Faith. He is also aware of the fact that nothing can come of it until her son is found. Faith does not trust easily, but she has to trust that Travis is doing everything he can to find her son. She still makes a couple of stupid moves at the beginning and is lucky that Travis is there for her. Travis's support and caring add to the feelings that are growing, but she's unable to think of moving forward until she finds her son.

I really enjoyed the suspense part of the story. It felt very realistic to me. I could easily see how a teenager could end up caught in a situation like that, and feel that he has no options. I loved following the leads along with Faith and Travis, and found myself entirely caught up in their search. The intensity increased the closer they got, and the finale was excellent.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Unrepentant Cowboy - Joanna Wayne (HI #1469 - Jan 2014)

Series: Big D Dads: The Daltons (Book 2)

Protecting the innocent is second nature for Dallas defense attorney Leif Dalton. So when his teenage daughter insists on visiting the Dry Gulch Ranch -- and forging a relationship with Leif's estranged father -- he's ready to do what it takes to keep her safe. And although he doesn't want another connection to the ranch, after sexy veterinarian Joni Griffin lands in a stalker's crosshairs, staying close becomes his only option.

With a serial killer in pursuit, Joni will take any measures to survive. But joining forces with Leif puts her heart at risk. As the danger rises, so does the passion flaring between them. Now trust may make the difference between life and death.

Leif is a high powered Dallas defense attorney who is feeling a bit burned out. By the end of his latest case he's gotten the feeling his client isn't so innocent after all. When his fifteen year old daughter shows up on his doorstep wanting to get to know her grandfather, Leif's estranged father, he's not very happy about it. His relationship with her hasn't been great lately, so he'll suck it up for this chance to reconnect with her.

Leif harbors a great deal of resentment toward his father because of the way RJ wasn't there for him and his brother. His dad may be trying to make amends now that he's dying, but that doesn't mean Leif has to go along with it. He's certainly not going to let his daughter spend too much time with such a crummy excuse for a father. He meets his father's vet Joni soon after arriving at the ranch. When he discovers that her home has been broken into after a murder happened near her home, he can't help but jump in to protect her.

Joni doesn't know why she seems to be the target, but she's glad for Leif's presence. Having him there makes her feel physically safer, but she's not so sure about her heart. The danger is intensifying emotions for both of them. One of the things she really likes about Leif is his obvious love for his daughter. I liked the way that she encouraged him to talk to Effie openly and truthfully. 

There were a lot of parallels between Leif's relationship with his daughter and the one with his father. It took Joni pointing them out for him to be able to see them. She lets him know that he's going to have to deal with his past before he'll be able to have a successful future with his daughter.

The suspense itself was pretty good. I enjoyed seeing the way that Leif and Joni worked together to figure out who it was. There were a couple of things going on that created some confusion. Some of the clues were buried enough that it took awhile for them to sort it out, but even then it almost got ignored. The final confrontation was good, but the resolution of the relationships felt a little rushed.

One negative about the book was the cover. Leif isn't a cowboy, he's a lawyer. He spent only a few years as a young child on the ranch. It shows him on a horse, and I don't think he rode once during the whole book.

My Darling Melissa - Linda Lael Miller (Pocket - Feb 1990)

Series: Corbins (Book 4)


Devastated on her wedding day by a shattering revelation, Melissa Corbin turned to a stranger with a brazen bargain: she would take his name in exchange for the power of the Corbin empire.

Quinn Rafferty was shockingly handsome and used to command. His bold, generous heart was quickly roused to laughter, to anger...and to white-hot desire for the headstrong, sable-maned beauty.

Quinn's caresses kindled blazing starlight in Melissa's pounding blood...and soon there was no turning back. But above their happiness loomed a bitter man's vengeance that could destroy all that Quinn most cherished. Now Melissa and Quinn would risk their very lives for the glorious heights of ecstasy...

Okay book. On her wedding day Melissa found out that her fiance has a mistress and that he invited her to the wedding. Melissa will put up with some things, but infidelity isn't one of them. She runs from the wedding and ends up on a private train car with Quinn Rafferty. She offers him a bargain - she'll marry him and he'll get the benefits of being married to a Corbin. 

I have to say that I really didn't like Melissa much. I found her to be immature and ridiculously stubborn. I understood why she ran from her wedding, and had no problem with that. But from the time she met Quinn, she seemed to think only of herself. As the youngest and only girl in her family, she has been somewhat spoiled, but she has also suffered from overprotective brothers. She is determined to stand on her own two feet, in spite of being married to a successful man. Again, no problem with the concept, but her execution was terrible. She is so set on doing things her way that she doesn't think about the effects it will have on Quinn. She is jealous of his female business partner, and shows it in petty ways like flirting with another man. She is very attracted to him, and when they are together the chemistry between them is hot. It doesn't take her long to fall in love with him, but she persists in doing things that she knows will anger him. She gets herself into situations that are dangerous because she is too stubborn to listen when he tells her something. 

Quinn was a little better than Melissa but not by much. He is a successful man, with plans for expanding his businesses. He has an on again off again relationship with his business partner Gillian. When he rescues Melissa from the train platform he is immediately attracted to her, but he's a gentleman and behaves himself. He accepts her bargain, but is most interested in getting her into bed with him. When that finally happens he is amazed by the strength of their connection. The thing that bothered me about him is that whenever things started to get wound up between them, instead of talking to her he would use sex to distract her from what he didn't want to deal with. Even when they have admitted their love for each other, they don't talk to each other about what's important. It takes a near tragedy for them to realize what they mean to each other and what they have to do.

There are some interesting secondary stories. Quinn has a secret about his sister Mary that he fears revealing to Melissa because he's afraid of her reaction. Quinn's father is creating trouble because he is a basically nasty man who abused Quinn and his mother. Melissa's ex-fiance is trying to get her back for reasons of his own. Melissa's brothers are dealing with issues in their own lives that are also affecting her. There are a couple of interesting twists that come out involving Quinn's family and Melissa's. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Blood Ties in Chef Voleur - Mallory Kane (HI #1514 - Aug 2014)

Series: Delancey Dynasty (Book 11)

As the newest member of the Delanceys, Jack Bush isn't who he claims. Eloping with their youngest granddaughter, Cara Lynn, is only the first part of his plan. With that he'd gain access to the entire family and expose them for what they are. Then he'd move on. Except Cara Lynn has charms of her own. Their initial attraction, and their torrid love affair, make it hard for Jack to maintain his distance. Hurting her soon becomes the last thing he wants to do. But once the truth about his ancestral blood ties are revealed, every family secret will come crashing down around them. And he fears no one will escape unscathed….

Good conclusion to the series. Jack has married Cara Lynn under false pretenses. While he is definitely attracted to her, he needs to get close to the family in order to get the information he needs. What none of them know is that he is the grandson of the man who was convicted for killing their grandfather. The man insisted on his innocence until the day he died and Jack swore he would find out the truth and prove him right. He planned to use Cara Lynn and then move on when he was done. What he didn't count on was how he would feel whenever he thought about what he was doing.

Cara Lynn is deeply in love with her husband. Their whirlwind romance and elopement was a thing of dreams, but ever since the wedding she feels like he has been pulling back. When she finds his notebook where he details what he has done and what his plans are, she is devastated. She'd like nothing more than to throw him out, but she can't bear to tell her overprotective family what a fool she's been. But his assertions, combined with some papers she has recently inherited, make them decide to find out the truth first. In order to do that they're going to have to work together.

I liked Cara Lynn a lot. As the youngest of the Delaceys and one of only two girls, she's been somewhat spoiled but also suffered from the overprotective actions of her brothers. As the youngest, she missed out on the bad stuff her older siblings suffered at the hands of their father, so she has a much more positive outlook on life. That optimism takes a big hit when she finds out the truth about Jack. I was very impressed with the way she handled it. But in spite of everything he did, her love for him hasn't died, though her trust is going to take a lot longer to earn back.

Jack has spent most of his life hating the Delanceys for what they did to his grandfather. His single minded pursuit of revenge blinded him to the feelings he had for Cara Lynn. Though I didn't like what he did, he certainly managed to meet his goals. I found it very interesting to see how he started feeling more and more guilty about it the longer he was with Cara Lynn. His inability to resist her should have given him a clue, but he was oblivious. I loved seeing how those feelings started to become clearer as the danger to her increased and he was determined to keep her safe.

I really enjoyed the suspense aspect of the story. From the moment Cara Lynn received her inheritance and was almost immediately attacked, to the final confrontation, my interest was captured. I loved seeing her and Jack try to overcome their distrust as they compared notes and tried to unravel the clues. While I wasn't completely surprised by the identity of the villain, there was a rather interesting twist to the mystery.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Sanctuary in Chef Voleur - Mallory Kane (HI #1508 - July 2014)

Series: Delancey Dynasty (Book 10)


From the moment he opens his door to her, P.I. Mack Griffin knows he's inviting trouble. Not only has Hannah Martin fled to New Orleans after witnessing a brutal murder, but the killer has kidnapped her ailing mother. Nothing but trouble, so…

Why does the sexy P.I. decide to help Hannah and keep her safe? Because watching her fight for justice while trying to stay alive demonstrates a bravery he finds nothing short of amazing. With criminals on their trail and everything to lose, Mack will be there for her as any professional investigator would. And yet winning this battle has suddenly turned into something much more personal.

Good addition to the series. When Hannah's mother is kidnapped and she witnesses the murder of the man who did it, she flees to the only person who might be able to help her. Unfortunately, she didn't know that her mom's girlhood friend had died years earlier, and ends up seeing her son instead. Mack is a private investigator who senses trouble the minute he sees her. He doesn't really want to get involved, but he can't turn away a woman in trouble.

Mack is a nice guy, but he keeps his emotions locked up. He saw his mother murdered when he was a kid, and never wants to feel that kind of loss again. He is still dealing with a lot of guilt over not being able to save his mother. He has to work very hard not to get emotionally involved in his clients' problems. From the time he met Hannah, he has not been able to keep his distance from her. He knows he's developing feelings for her, but doesn't trust himself to be what she needs.

Hannah is focused on trying to find her mother before it's too late. She'll accept his help to get out of the trouble she's in, but that's all she wants from him - until the killer tracks her down. Even then, she's not content to just sit back and be protected. Even when the bullets are flying she keeps her head so that she doesn't become a victim too. She grew up not trusting men, but Mack's determination to keep her safe has her believing in him. Hannah accepts her feelings, but has to convince Mack that love is enough for them.

The suspense was really good. The action started quickly with Hannah witnessing the murder, then fleeing from the killer who thinks she knows the location of missing drugs and money. Mack's initial skepticism then acceptance of her story is believable. There are some intense moments as they flee the killer and work on finding the missing items and catching the bad guys. There are a couple of interesting twists to the story involving a tattoo and Mack's mother, and an unexpected link between Hannah and the Delanceys.  

Monday, August 25, 2014

Dirty Little Secrets - Mallory Kane (HI #1464 - Dec 2013)

Series: Delancey Dynasty (Book 8)

New Orleans detective Ethan Delancey has a mission to solve a senator's murder. Putting Laney Montgomery -- the sole witness, who now has a cold-blooded killer on her heels -- under his protection? Pure instinct. Every hour pushes her deeper into danger. The only way to ensure her safety -- and capture a criminal -- is to keep her close.

Neither expects the flare of desire that pushes them over the line between professional and personal. Even as Laney's secrets start to unravel, Ethan is driven to watch over her despite the rules of his job and the threat against them. Together, they're on the verge of discovering every dirty detail of the truth…unless an unknown murderer finds them first.

Very good book. When Laney witnesses her boss's murder, it puts her in extreme danger. Ethan is one of the detectives on the case and he is determined to keep her safe, whether she likes it or not. Laney doesn't want to believe that she's in danger, since she didn't see anything that would identify the killer, but when she's run off the road she has to accept the truth.

I loved the chemistry between Ethan and Laney. They are so much alike that their conversations are a joy to read. Ethan first notices her controlled and careful answers when he questions her the night of the murder, then again the next day. He's sure that she's hiding something, and won't be content until he figures out what it is. At the same time, she fascinates him and attracts him, even though he knows getting involved with her would be a very bad idea. I loved seeing his protectiveness, even when she was unwilling to accept it. Laney is just as attracted to Ethan, but is stubborn about maintaining her independence. She is intelligent and persistent and has no qualms about doing what she thinks needs to be done, even when it puts her in danger. The growing feelings between the two of them worry them both because they're not too sure anything can come of them.

The mystery itself is a continuation of events from previous books. The senator has been a person of interest in a kidnapping, and now in blackmail. If they can figure out who he was blackmailing they might have a chance to find out who killed him. The deeper they dig into his life, the more people they find who might have the motivation to do so. Laney finds out some information that tarnishes her memories of her father, and Ethan discovers yet another disturbing thing about his grandfather. I expect his information is going to make an appearance in a later book. I enjoyed seeing them start to assemble a picture of what had happened. By the time the book was three quarters finished I had a pretty good idea of who the killer was, but there were still a couple interesting twists. Laney was a bit of an idiot to do what she did at the end, but I completely understood why she did it.

Special Forces Father - Mallory Kane (HI #1420 - May 2013)

Series: Delancey Dynasty (Book 7)


Special Forces operative Travis Delancey is glad to be back from a difficult mission. But his long-awaited homecoming turns into a nightmare when he hears that his college sweetheart Kate Chalmet gave birth to his son while he was away...and the child has been kidnapped. His skills are instrumental in rescuing the boy, but his reunion with Kate is a distraction.

Kate had her reasons for not telling Travis about his son, but now she must put her doubts aside. His strength and determination to save their child makes her realize he's different from the man he was before entering the military. Perhaps Travis is ready for a family...if he can forgive her. But she cannot get ahead of herself-first they have to save their son.

Good book. Travis is back home after his latest mission and five months in captivity. He's still weak from his treatment at the hands of his captors, but he has a driving need to see Kate. Thoughts of her had kept him sane while he was a prisoner. He wants to see if there's any chance of them getting back together.

Kate is a psychiatrist and has been tasked with determining if a criminal is mentally competent to stand trial. There are those that want her to make a decision that is most beneficial to them, and to ensure she does so they have kidnapped her four year old son. Travis shows up at her door right after this has happened and it seems that fate has sent her just what she needs. But she had never told Travis about his son and now has to face that hurdle as they race to save the boy.

Kate and Travis had been college sweethearts. They were in love, but Travis had sworn never to marry. When things went bad between them, Travis joined the military. He tried getting back together with her a couple times, but Kate finally told him that she deserved more than what he was offering.  She's not ready to think about getting back together with him until the crisis is over, but she can't deny that the chemistry is still there between them. 

Kate can see that Travis is no longer the angry young man who had a tendency to walk away when emotions got to be too much for him. He is focused and determined and swears that nothing will stop him. Travis's training has given him the skills he needs, but he has to separate the mission from his emotions and that turns out to be very difficult. 

I really liked the suspense of the story. Kate's fears for her son's safety are at the heart of her actions throughout the book. Travis's appearance and determination to help both relieve her and make her more afraid. She was told to tell no one about what happened and Travis insists on being involved. They have very different ideas on what should be done, with Kate determined to follow the kidnapper's instructions and Travis wanting to get the help that they need from the authorities. Kate is furious when he goes behind her back to involve various family members, and does something really dumb that also puts her in danger. Travis's actions both help and worsen the situation. I loved seeing the way that the family supports each other and is there to help, no matter what.  The ending was intense as the rescue operation unfolded. The epilogue was fantastic and I loved seeing how Kate and Travis finally came together.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Sinclair Homecoming - Kimberly Van Meter (HS #1935 - July 2014)

Series: Sinclairs of Alaska (Book 3)

Free from the past

Wade Sinclair knows you can't run from the past -- he's tried. After his beloved sister was murdered, he ran from Alaska to California only to discover there was no escape. So when a family crisis calls him back, he discovers therapist Morgan O'Hare knee-deep in their affairs. As soon as he meets Morgan, he feels as if there is brightness in the world again.

It would be inappropriate for them to get involved, yet the spark is irresistible. Wade never expected this kind of joy again. But is he really ready for this? Together, maybe they could find the strength to move on…if they're brave enough to try.

In the previous books, That Reckless Night and A Real Live Hero, the Sinclairs have been dealing with the aftereffects of the murder of their youngest sister. To compound their troubles, their mother's hoarding problem has reached a crisis level. Now it is Wade's turn to step up. 

Wade hasn't been home in eight years. He left because he couldn't face the memories of his sister there, but they still haunt him. Because he hasn't been there, he doesn't believe his siblings when they tell him how bad it has gotten with their mother.  When he first meets Morgan, he tells her that they don't need her, that everyone is overreacting.  It isn't until he sees it for himself that he believes. 

One thing that he does notice almost immediately is his attraction to Morgan. But there are two things that argue against getting involved with her. First, she is his mother's therapist and second, he's not staying around. One positive result of spending time with her is the fact that when he is with her he feels a happiness that he hasn't felt in years. I have to say that at the beginning I really wanted to smack him for being so obnoxious to his brother and sister. He deserved all the attitude he got from them. Seeing how bad it was gave him quite a wake up call. Listening to Morgan in her role as therapist also makes him see that he too has not truly dealt with his grief. 

Morgan is very good at her job as a therapist and she enjoys helping people. But there are times that she feels a bit like a hypocrite, as she has some unresolved issues of her own. Her husband has been dead for three years, and no one knows how happy she is about that. He had been extremely abusive, resulting in a miscarriage for her. But because he had been well liked in their town she was sure no one would believe her if she made accusations, so she hid what was happening. Even after his death, she still has not been able to shake off its effects. Wade is the first man she has had any interest in since her husband's death and she resists that attraction at first because of being his mother's therapist. 

I really enjoyed the interactions between Wade and Morgan. The invitation to join her at yoga class was fantastic and I loved seeing him there. That was the beginning of them realizing that what they had was too strong to fight. They start out with the intention of a short term relationship that quickly becomes much more to each of them. Then something from Wade's past causes both of them to have to face their demons and decide if they can find a way to be together.

The secondary story of Mrs. Sinclair's hoarding and the cause behind it has been an important part of the growth of each of the siblings. It was heartbreaking to see the way she pushed away anyone who might be able to help her deal with her grief. It really took each of them confronting their own grief before they were able to really work together to help their mother. It was interesting to see how their father also contributed to the stress. I loved seeing Wade try to reach out, then face his father with some harsh realities. The ending was excellent and felt like it could really happen that way.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Cowboy Meets His Match - Roxann Delaney (HAR #1512 - Aug 2014)

Series: Hearts of Desperation (Book 9)

One Big Secret…

Broke and in need of a job, barrel racer Erin Walker has returned home after years of traveling the rodeo circuit. But the only job available is working for the man who broke her heart and left her pregnant and alone. Not a day goes by that she doesn't wonder about the son she and Jake had, whether he's happy with his adoptive parents or what her life would have been like if the three of them had become a family.

Jake Canfield just wants to get close to Erin again and perhaps rekindle what they once had. But is that possible? It depends on the sudden appearance of the one person who could bring them closer together!

Very emotional story. Erin is back home while she trains a new horse and tries to earn enough money to go back on the rodeo circuit. She's surprised, and not very happy, to see Jake. He had left Desperation seventeen years earlier, swearing he'd never be back, and breaking her heart. She never told him that she was pregnant. She's surprised when he offers her a job on his ranch, but she needs the work, so she takes it.

Jake still feels bad about the way he ended things all those years ago, but he'd had his reasons. His attraction to her is as strong as ever, and he'd like to see if they can pick back up again. He loves having her working with him on the ranch. She gets along really well with the other hands and she's taken over training his newest hire, Jonah. Jonah is very inexperienced, but determined to learn everything he can about ranching.

I loved seeing the way that Jake and Erin came back together. The chemistry is still there, as though they'd never been apart. They had a lot of great shared memories, since Jake had been at his uncle's ranch every summer since he was nine, until he left at eighteen. I really enjoyed their back and forth as neither had any trouble speaking their mind. There was a new closeness developing between them that took a severe hit when Jonah revealed who he was. Jake was angry that he hadn't been told and had some harsh words for Erin, who had some right back at him. They had to work hard to overcome those feelings if they were going to get back to where they had been. There is also a fair amount of stubbornness on both their parts when it comes to their futures. Erin is still focused on going back to the rodeo, and refusing to think about a future with Jake. Meanwhile, Jake hates that Erin is going to leave, but refuses to stand in the way of her dreams. I enjoyed the way that Jake opened up to Erin and they finally confronted their issues.

I loved the character of Jonah. I enjoy seeing the older children in stories like this because they can have a more complicated storyline. I loved his determination to discover the truth, but also to pursue his desire to work on a ranch. His enthusiasm was fun to watch. I was impressed by the way he found out where to go to find Erin. He also seemed pretty mature, and I loved seeing him interact with Jake and Erin, both before and after the great reveal. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was getting some of his point of view. Also loved his clear sight when it came to Jake and Erin's relationship and what he said to them toward the end. It was fun seeing the epilogue through his eyes.

Friday, August 22, 2014

A Wife for One Year - Brenda Harlen (HSE #2348 - Aug 2014)

Series: Those Engaging Garretts (Book 5)

Marriage Agreement
Between Daniel Garrett and Kenna Scott
Stay married one year
Fool the family
No sex!

To claim his trust fund and launch a new career, Daniel needs to be married…and no one can tick all the "wifely" boxes like Kenna. And since she's his best friend, the celibacy part should be a piece of (wedding) cake! Or so Daniel thinks…until he hears the words that make him freeze: "You may kiss your bride." One official kiss has the former confirmed bachelor reeling…and one unplanned night with his virgin bride has him staggering. Will it be the end of an era for the two best friends, or will a surprise pregnancy make the two become three -- for keeps?

I love a friends to lovers story and this one was especially good. Daniel and Kenna had been best friends since high school. When Daniel needed access to his trust fund and could only get it by being married, Kenna was the one he thought of. Being friends, they figured that they wouldn't have any trouble avoiding sex with each other. What they didn't count on was the spark that was lit with "You may kiss the bride."

Over the ten years of their friendship, Daniel and Kenna have spent a lot of time together, but they've never had this much time in each other's company. Both are afraid of ruining their friendship, but their feelings are changing though neither wants to admit it. I loved getting bits of their history as each one remembers something special from their past, and how those memories contribute to the way they feel now. I also loved how, as those feelings grow, each one starts to remember previous feelings that they would bury so that their friendship wouldn't change.

Over the weeks and months after their wedding, I loved seeing how their relationship changed. When they give in to the sparks, Daniel is stunned to find out how innocent Kenna really was, and the way it makes him feel. Kenna had never been comfortable getting close to any man, but she had no problem with Daniel. She thought it was just because they were such good friends until she realized that she wanted more than what their bargain allowed. Kenna was the one who realized the truth of her feelings first, while Daniel was still resisting the idea that he's in love with Kenna. As it finally started to sink in, he panicked, especially with the idea that she might be pregnant, and said some things that made Kenna think they had no chance. Kenna was also pretty stubborn, and made some mistakes of her own while trying to protect her heart.

I loved the way that no one was surprised when they got married. Everyone around them had seen that the two of them belonged together, even when they didn't see it themselves. I loved seeing Daniel's mom explaining to him where he went wrong and how to fix it. What he did and said was really sweet. I loved the epilogue, especially race day/birth day.

Courting Susannah - Linda Lael Miller (Pocket - Oct 2000)

When Susannah McKittrick leaves Nantucket for the boomtown of Seattle, she is hardly looking to strike it rich; she is headed west to care for a newborn left motherless after Susannah's friend died. Although the rigorous trip depletes all of her savings, Susannah is certain she is doing the right thing. She is less sure when she meets the infant's father, wealthy businessman Aubrey Fairgrieve - who seems embittered toward love and marriage, and indifferent toward the precious baby Susannah is so eager to care for.

Gradually, Susannah discovers that Aubrey's marriage to her friend was far from perfect - and she comes to see the brusque but handsome man in a new light. But when Aubrey makes her a most practical offer, it is a far cry from the heartfelt proposal Susannah desires...If he truly wants to win her hand, he will have to learn to trust once more - and sweep her away with the bold passion of a man in love.

Very good book. Susannah had promised her friend Julia she'd look after her baby if something happened to her. When she learned of Julia's death, she left for Seattle immediately, not knowing what to expect. Julia's letters to her had changed over the course of her marriage, going from ecstatic to miserable. When she arrived, she discovered a man who had nothing good to say about love or marriage and was uninterested in anything to do with the baby.

Aubrey had begun his marriage deeply in love with Julia. But she turned out to be rather immature, selfish and vengeful. Over the months of their marriage she started behaving erratically, claiming multiple lovers, including Aubrey's brother Ethan. By the time the baby is born, Aubrey doesn't believe that he is the father and resists getting emotionally involved. When Susannah arrives she throws his life into confusion. He doesn't know if he can trust her, as she could be just like Julia. But he is also attracted to her, which he tries to fight. As he gets to know her he realizes that she is very different than Julia, and slowly begins to trust her. However, he is still unwilling to trust his heart again.

All Susannah can see at first is that Julia had been right about Aubrey. He certainly seems to be cold, and completely uncaring about the baby. It doesn't take too long before she starts to see that there is more to his attitude than she thought. The more she learns about her friend, she realizes that Aubrey may have good reason for the way he feels. She also starts to have feelings for him, which make her feel guilty, because he had been her friend's husband. 

The relationship between Aubrey and Susannah is a slow growing one. There is a physical attraction, but both have much to overcome. Susannah still believes in love and wants that for herself someday. Aubrey comes to trust Susannah, but he is unwilling to open himself up to love. He wants her and believes that they would deal well together if they were to marry. When he proposes marriage, he insists that he doesn't love her. Susannah is torn. She wants his love, but she loves him so much that she hopes maybe he will come to love her anyway. 

I really liked watching the changes they went through. Susannah becomes much more confident in herself, thanks to taking care of the baby and the friends that she makes. Aubrey's attentions make her feel more attractive than she ever has before. I also liked seeing her gain the confidence to stand up for herself. She pursues the things she feels are right to do, even if she knows that Aubrey won't like it. I also liked her determination to see Aubrey and his brother mend their relationship. Aubrey had more changing to do. He had to let go of the bitterness about his marriage if he was going to move on. This was difficult for him because of the things that Julia had said and done. I loved seeing the signs of the caring man he could be on those occasions when he'd relax. Aubrey's growing love for Susannah was something that others could see, but he refused to admit until a near tragedy opened his eyes.

I really enjoyed the secondary characters of Maisie and Ethan. They had well-drawn stories of their own that added to what we know about Susannah and Aubrey. I loved Maisie's blunt way of telling Susannah what she needed to know. She was also kind-hearted and a really good friend. Ethan's story was complicated. He was furious and hurt by Aubrey's accusations, but there for his brother when he was needed. His personal love story was heartbreaking to see, especially with what is disclosed at the end of the book. There is also an interesting twist that connects that love story to trouble that he and Aubrey encounter. The resolution of that mess is an interesting part of the book.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Protecting Her Royal Baby - Beth Cornelison (HRS #1805 - June 2014)

Series: Mansfield Brothers (Book 2)

A woman in labor. A man on a mission.

All Brianna Coleman remembers of the near-fatal accident is the hero who saved her. Not her name or the father of the baby she delivers hours later. Until news of a coup in a foreign nation triggers a memory. Her baby's father is the missing member of a royal family...and her son the next target.

After saving them, Hunter Mansfield won't abandon them. But can he defend them against international assassins who pursue the newborn? He'll do anything--pay the ultimate price if necessary--for one chance to protect the woman he loves and her little prince.

Very good book. The action and suspense started immediately and kept me hooked throughout the book. Hunter is out for a run when he is nearly run down by a speeding car. When the driver wrecks, he discovers a pregnant woman who is in labor. She is terrified, insisting that she's  in danger, but can't remember anything from before the accident. Hunter can't abandon her, and after pretending to be her husband so he can stay with her, takes Brianna and baby Ben under his wing. 

I loved Hunter's determination to keep them safe. As bits of her memory start to come back, the sense of danger grows even stronger. Attempts are made on her life that would have been successful if he wasn't with them. I loved seeing the way that Hunter is drawn to Brianna from the beginning. He has a lot of love to give, which is shown by his interactions with his family. Being the youngest, he also has some issues stemming from that. Hunter's feelings for Brianna move quickly from protective to love, but he doesn't feel like he stands a chance against a real prince. But no matter what his own feelings are, he wants what is best for them.

Brianna is terrified when she regains consciousness and can't remember anything except the sense that she is in big danger. Hunter's presence gives her a feeling of safety and she begs him to stay with her. She is so grateful for his care of them, especially when there are attempts made on her life. As her memory starts to return, she is also confused. If she was in love with her baby's father, how could she be having these feelings for Hunter? What she feels for him is so different and so much stronger. Brianna worries about doing the right thing for her son, but also wants a chance at true happiness for herself. When the ending came, she had a choice to make. I loved seeing the way she worked it all out.

I really enjoyed the suspense aspect of the book. From the start we learn little bits at a time as Brianna regains her memory. Her worries for Chris's safety, once she remembers him are strong. The video message from him seems to indicate he's alright, but Hunter is suspicious of it. Those suspicions are validated later when something he said casts doubt on the rest of the message. Brianna's fear and confusion are easy to sense as she works to recover her memories. The ending confrontation had an interesting twist and lots of intensity as they attempt to save themselves. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

One Secret Night - Jennifer Morey (HRS #1817 - Sept 2014)

Series: Ivy Avengers (Book 3)

The morning after brings dangerous consequences

After stumbling into the crossfire of a black ops mission, Autumn Ivy is saved by a dark, sexy hero -- and swept away for a night to remember. Weeks later, she discovers her secret lover is soon to be a secret daddy, but what's more shocking is when Autumn tracks her mystery man right into the path of a killer.

Part of a famous Hollywood family, Autumn comes with paparazzi who threaten Raith De Matteis's hidden identity. But it's Autumn's news that puts the lone-wolf agent in jeopardy. Now more than his client is at risk. This time it's his woman…and his baby.

Good book. It starts out as Autumn is in the wrong place when Raith is trying to stop an assassin. He saves her from danger then gives her an unforgettable night before disappearing the next morning. That's not all he gave her, and a few weeks later she tracks him down to tell him he's going to become a father. Before she can tell him, she finds herself in the middle of danger yet again.

Raith hasn't been able to forget Autumn, but there's no way he can fit her into his life. She lives her life in the media spotlight and he lives his in the shadows. But he will do whatever he has to in order to keep her safe.

Both Autumn and Raith have some serious commitment issues. As part of a large, famous family, Autumn is used to the media spotlight, but she hates it. As soon as a relationship starts attracting media attention, she ends it and disappears, using her job as a translator as an excuse. As soon as she realizes she's pregnant, Autumn knows her life is going to have to change. Her question is whether Raith can be a part of it. First she has to decide if she can trust him, then to see if he can open himself up enough emotionally. She can see the potential, if she can just convince him.

Raith has spent most of his adult life alone, which is just the way he likes it. It enables him to do his private black ops work without interference. When Autumn stumbles into his life he isn't sure what to make of her. The attraction is instant and incredible and the night they spent together was unlike anything he'd experienced before. He doesn't expect her to come looking for him a few weeks later, and isn't happy when she gets caught up in his latest case. It's worse when she starts interfering in his private life. Raith's father, who had made his life miserable as a child and teen, is trying to reconnect with him. Raith doesn't want to revisit those old memories, but Autumn insists that he will regret it if he doesn't. Being around her shows him what could be possible, but Raith doesn't know if he can open himself up to the chance of being hurt all over again. 

I enjoyed the story of Raith and his father as they learned to talk to each other. His father had a lot that he wanted to apologize for and try to make right. Raith wasn't so sure that he trusted that his father had changed, but he slowly started to accept that he had. I loved seeing him start to let go of the pain, thanks to her influence. It was great to see that it was advice from his father that opened his eyes to what his feelings really were. I liked Raith's father quite a lot, and have high hopes that he'll get to be around for awhile.

The suspense part of the story felt pretty mild overall. There were moments of intensity, such as the fight at the beginning and the car bomb later on. But mostly it seemed to concentrate mostly on investigation rather than action. There were several interesting twists, and the revelation of the bad guy was one I didn't see coming. Even that final confrontation wasn't as intense as I expected, but it did keep my attention as it all went down.

The Mighty Quinns: Rogan - Kate Hoffmann (HB #810 - Aug 2014)

Series: Mighty Quinns (Book 28)

Putting the wild into wilderness…

New Zealand adventure guide Rogan Quinn doesn't deny he's a commitment-phobe. He learned long ago that there is nothing more dangerous than love. But that doesn't mean he won't indulge in pleasure where he finds it, and his newest client looks like she's badly in need of a lot of pleasure.

Psychologist Claudia Mathison has brought five of her phobia-suffering patients into the wilderness hoping for a breakthrough, not to mention a break in her career. Instead, Rogan invites her on an adventure -- and she has no doubt that the sexy Kiwi can take her higher and further than she's ever been. But Claudia has a fear of her own…that if she takes that adventure with him, she won't be able to find her way back. Or worse, she won't want to.

Very good book. Rogan's next job as an adventure guide is to take Claudia and five of her phobia patients out into the wilderness for an adventure that will test their boundaries. Through his phone conversations with her, Rogan finds Claudia to be a bit on the intense side, trying to control everything she can. Once he meets her, he'd like to help her relax in the best way he knows how.

I really liked both Rogan and Claudia and was rooting for them both to overcome their fears enough to see what they could have together. Rogan has protected his heart for many years. He saw how devastated his mother was when his father died and swore he'd never put himself or a woman through that kind of misery. That doesn't stop him from enjoying the ladies whenever he can. He's drawn to Claudia right away, but she's a lot different than the women he's usually attracted to. He finds himself telling her things he doesn't even share with his family and it really starts to worry him. He's also interested in more than just sleeping with her. I loved watching him get to know her and her quirks. I found his actions with her patients to be so sweet and his ability to see their needs was wonderful. He and Claudia made a great team. 

Claudia had brought her patients on this adventure because after two years they seemed to be stalled in their efforts to overcome their phobias. She thought that the challenge might help them. She also thinks it might help her reinvigorate her own career. She has begun to doubt her abilities and this could be the boost it needs. Meeting Rogan puts her usually planned-down-to-the-minute life into a state of confusion. He has her throwing out her carefully laid plans as they adjust and adapt in order to make the best possible experience for her patients. She's also doing things on the personal side she's never done before, and it's beginning to worry her. Her psychologist brain is telling her that she can't trust feelings that are that intense so quickly, but her heart is telling her to seize the moment.

Both Rogan and Claudia have trouble facing their fears enough to share their true feelings with each other. I loved seeing the part that the five phobia patients play in opening up Claudia's eyes to what she is doing. The solution that Rogan and Claudia come up with is just what they need for them both to be happy.

There is a continuation of the story involving Rogan's father. In the last book his body has been found and plans are being made to climb Everest to retrieve it. There is a lot of media attention involved, and some questions as to what happened to cause his death. Rogan and his older brother don't agree on what should be done, with Rogan concealing some information about his father. This information could be devastating for the family. It has been eating at Rogan for a long time, but he doesn't know what to do about it. I loved seeing him take the chance on telling Claudia about his fears, even though he thought it could ruin their budding relationship. Though the issue isn't resolved in this book, progress is made. I'm looking forward to the next book to see how it ends.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Renegade Rancher - Angi Morgan (HI #1499 - June 2014)

Series: Texas Family Reckoning (Book 2)


It's clear to Texas rancher Brian Sloane that Lindsey Cook will be a serial killer's next victim. For twenty years someone has been systematically killing off her family in "accidents," and recently her car was deliberately run off the road. The handsome cowboy is willing to be the protector the gorgeous blonde wants -- but unwilling to act on their instant attraction. Before long, the search for Lindsey's stalker leads Brian into more trouble…and right into Lindsey's arms. After one smoldering kiss, he knows there'll be no turning back. Though never one for relationships, he'll risk his life for her…and the surprising secret her family has been dying for.

We met Brian in Navy SEAL Surrender, as the twin brother of the hero. He had taken the blame for a fire that killed a woman so that his brother, who he thought was guilty, could follow his plans to join the navy. Though he was never charged with anything, the people of the town blamed him and treated him badly. Twelve years later he discovers that neither he nor his brother were responsible and wants to find out who is and clear his name. In the process he finds out that the woman killed is part of a family whose members have been dying in accidents. There is one person in the family left and Brian attempts to warn her of the danger. Lindsey doesn't believe him, until her car is run off the road. Then she goes to him and asks for his help.

I really liked Brian in this story. I completely understood his desire to clear his name, especially after having been treated the way he was for so long. I don't understand why his brother and father didn't fully support him in his efforts, it made me lose some of the liking I had for them from the previous book. As a paramedic, Brian is in the business of saving lives, so his attempts to warn Lindsey make complete sense. He is reluctant to become her protector at first, as he doesn't feel that he is qualified to do it. But there's something about her that won't let him leave her alone. Even though Brian has avoided relationships because of the way his life is, Lindsey really gets under his skin. He tries fighting the attraction, but it's no use.

Lindsey is a strong character. Once she accepts that Brian is right about the danger she's in, she doesn't hide in fear. She's ready to find out who it is and stop him. It doesn't take her long to realize that she can trust Brian to protect her and help her find out who is behind it. I really liked her determination and loved how her persistence gave them a good lead to follow. Lindsey was also just as attracted to Brian. She, however, didn't fight it too hard. 

Their attempts to find the stalker before he could get to them was really intense. There were times when the book was told from his point of view and we could see just how dangerous he was. Just as in the previous books, Brian gets no help from law enforcement - just the opposite. This seems to play right into the stalker's hands, especially at the end. The final confrontation was one that had me glued to the pages as I waited to see how Brian was going to save the day.

The only thing that was missing for me was a little satisfaction after it was all over. I would like to have seen some sort of public acknowledgment from the town about how wrong they had been all those years. And perhaps a few months down the road to see if they saved the ranch and how everyone is doing after all the troubles are finally gone.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Navy SEAL Surrender - Angi Morgan (HI #1495 - May 2014)

Series: Texas Family Reckoning (Book 1)


Navy SEAL John Sloane thought he'd come home to Texas to save the family ranch and reconnect with his estranged twin brother. He never expected to reunite with the girl whose heart he broke. But when Alicia Adams's daughter is kidnapped, the fearless SEAL jumps into action.

However, the off-book op poses unfamiliar dangers to John, none more risky than his feelings for Alicia. To regain her trust and protect her from the kidnappers, he'll risk his career and even his life. It all hinges on one daring scheme that could prove he's the hero she needs -- or break her heart all over again….

Good story. John had come home after receiving a message that his father had had a bad stroke. He has taken leave in order to help out on the ranch and try to reconnect with his twin brother. He and Brian hadn't seen each other or spoken in twelve years, after a misunderstanding over a girl and both being blamed for a deadly fire. Brian took the blame and sent John off to join the Navy. Now he's back and seeing Alicia again is bringing back memories of how it used to be.

I felt some sympathy for John as he didn't know what to expect when he got home. His father is worse than he expected, the ranch is in bad shape, and his brother tries to beat him up. John is glad he's there when Alicia's daughter is kidnapped. He swears to her that he will find Lauren and bring her home. He's had quite a bit of experience doing rescue missions overseas, so he expects that he won't have too much trouble. He doesn't expect Alicia to be as much of a distraction as she is, and overconfidence causes him to make some basic mistakes. Those things together with some general feelings of discontent have him rethinking his future.

I had mixed feelings about Alicia. She was a fantastic mother, and had had a really bad time of things since her husband's death. Her in-laws are a real piece of work, and thanks to them she's barely making ends meet. She is terrified when her daughter is kidnapped, and goes to the only person she can think of who might be able to help. She's still mad at John for leaving without saying goodbye, but she also discovers that some of those old feelings are still there. She tries to resist them as they make her feel disloyal to her late husband. I got frustrated with her during the whole kidnapping event. In spite of everything that John told her, she spent an awful lot of time believing that if she could just get Lauren back everything would be fine. She couldn't get it through her head that everyone thought she had staged the kidnapping herself and getting Lauren into her hands would just make her look guiltier. Sometimes she would be strong and willing to do whatever John told her to do then she would turn around and turn into a horrible whiner. She did redeem herself at the end by being the one who kept her head.

There were some very interesting twists and turns with the whole kidnapping plot. We knew early on who was behind it, but some of the details only came to light bit by bit. I liked seeing John call on his friend Dev for help, and liked seeing him deal with the fact that he got more help than he originally wanted. Dev provided a calm voice of reason when things would get a little heated. 

The secondary story of the estrangement between John and Brian was very good. As twins they should have always had each others' backs, but there had also been some problems over John's feelings for Alicia. The night of the fire, both John and Brian thought the other was guilty and they had never talked about it letting their feelings fester over the years. I loved seeing the way that they finally confronted those feelings and actually talked, thanks to Alicia treating them like the children they were behaving like. Once they actually talked, there ended up being more questions than answers, creating an excellent lead-in to Brian's book.

Stormy Persuasion - Johanna Lindsey (Gallery Books - June 2014)

Series: Malory (Book 11)

James Malory sets sail for America to honor a promise he made to his in-laws: His and Georgina's daughter, Jacqueline, will have her come-out in America. Judith and Jacqueline Malory are not simply cousins; they are inseparable best friends. Refusing to miss Jacqueline's come-out in Connecticut, Judith convinces her parents to let her delay her London debut by a few weeks so she can accompany her cousin. Neither girl intends to fall in love during her first Season. But Judith's plans are overturned when aboard ship she comes face-to-face with the ghost who has been haunting her dreams.

Unknown to the Malorys, deckhand Nathan Tremayne is a smuggler with a noose around his neck. Determined to carry out a covert mission in America that could gain him a pardon, Nathan senses that beautiful Judith Malory is trouble. Somehow the minx knows his secret--and now she's blackmailing him into doing her bidding. While passions can soar on the high seas, Nathan knows this aristocratic beauty is merely amusing herself with a scoundrel like him.

When the unthinkable happens in Connecticut and the elder Malorys' hands are tied, Nathan takes command of a dire situation. Captaining his own ship, he turns the tables on Judith, as he steers them into some intense Caribbean heat where he will fight with all his mettle to win the right to her heart.

Fun return to the Malory family. Reformed rakes James and Anthony Malory must now face the fact that their daughters are old enough to be looking for husbands. Keeping an unwilling promise to his brothers-in-law, James is taking his daughter Jacqueline (Jack) to America for her come-out. Jack and her cousin Judith are best friends and Jack refuses to go without Judith being along. Being Malorys, they know how to get their way, and soon both are aboard ship, bound for Connecticut. Both intend to enjoy their first season and not fall in love.

Nathan is aboard ship, working as ship's carpenter, because it is the fastest way to America. Captured as a smuggler, he has been offered a pardon if he can find out who has been stealing British ships and reselling them. He did not expect to see Judith, who had seen him in the house next door years earlier and thought he was a ghost. He had also caught her there just a couple weeks previously, but she hadn't seen his face. Now she's using that knowledge to blackmail him into spending time with her.

I liked Nathan a lot. In spite of his previous activities as a smuggler, he seems to be a pretty honorable guy. His early childhood was pretty good, spending much of it at sea with his father. They had a falling out when he was in his twenties, and before they could repair their relationship, his father was killed. Nathan has sworn to get revenge, but it's hard to do when he's in jail for smuggling. Nathan is also the guardian of his two young nieces. His sister had married a nobleman whose family never accepted her, and when they were killed in a carriage accident the family refused to care for the girls. Nathan is determined to give them a good life, but he is very bitter against the nobility. When he's offered the chance to earn a pardon, he snaps it up. He's not happy to see Judith on board, because he doesn't need the distraction, but she is also hard to resist. Getting to know her over the course of the voyage begins to lessen his prejudice, until something happens that reinforces those feelings and drives them apart.

Judith is a little bit spoiled, but is basically a nice person. She and Jack are very close and have shared a few adventures. One of them was exploring the ruined house next door, where they had met the "ghost" when they were younger. Judith had always had a soft spot for him in her memory and when she found a man in the house again, she suspected it was the same one. She also suspected he was a smuggler, and when she found him on her uncle's ship she was ready to rat him out. She used that threat to make him spend time with her, and soon came to believe he was more than a smuggler. Her feelings for him grew, as did the attraction she felt for him. Just when things are looking promising for them, he is set up, and she jumps to the conclusion that he is guilty. I found it a little bit inconsistent that she seemed to believe the best of everyone, except when it came to Nathan, especially since she admits that she loves him.

I loved seeing James and Tony in this book and the problems they had with the idea of their daughters growing up. There was a neat scene at the beginning where they encounter Nathan, and it was fun to see him get the better of Tony. It does set up some interesting tension among the three of them as the voyage continues. That comes to a head when the jewels come up missing and things are said and done that create some hard feelings. Nathan gets a chance to get some revenge of his own when he comes to the rescue after Jack is kidnapped. I loved seeing James and some of the others on the bottom rung of that bit of fun. Judith too is dealing with Nathan's need to get some of his own back on her. There are some great instances of the perpetual back and forth between James and Tony and the Anderson brothers, but that takes a back seat when family is threatened. I love the way that, although they've mellowed a little thanks to their wives, they haven't really changed.

By the end of the book both Nathan and Judith have admitted their feelings to themselves, but still have to find their way back to each other. I enjoyed seeing their methods, and the final scene was fantastic, especially Tony's part.