Category Archives: Romance

“Waiting” on Wednesday: The Next Always

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

The Next Always by Nora Roberts

Paperback: 352 pages
Publication date: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Berkley Trade

The historic hotel in BoonsBoro, Maryland, has endured war and peace, changing hands, even rumored hauntings. Now it’s getting a major facelift from the Montgomery brothers and their eccentric mother. As the architect of the family, Beckett’s social life consists mostly of talking shop over pizza and beer. But there’s another project he’s got his eye on: the girl he’s been waiting to kiss since he was fifteen…

The newest of Nora Roberts trilogies comes out in November! I read them, because I always read her romance. They’re usually a nice break from all the angst, heartbreak and drama that I keep coming across in YA books. I’m not too interested in this one, but I will undoubtably read it anyway.

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Misty and the Single Dad by Marion Lennox

Publisher: Harlequin (June 7, 2011)
Kindle:  192 pages / 347  KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Teacher Misty Lawrence has lived her whole life in Banksia Bay, cherishing a secret list of faraway dreams. Just as she’s finally about to take flight, Nicholas Holt—tall, dark and deliciously bronzed—turns up in her classroom with his little son Bailey and an injured stray spaniel in tow.

We start off with the elementary school teacher, Misty Lawrence, who has a list of dreams she plans on going through once her responsibilities in Banksia Bay ends. However, Misty can’t help but be a good, dependable person despite her wishes to get away and live life.

Enter Nicholas Holt. He moved to Banksia Bay with his son, Bailey, to get away from excessive excitement, adventures and dangers. He wants to put down roots and make a safe haven for Bailey. Maggie is attracted to Nicholas and it seems inevitable they end up in a relationship, especially with the not-so-subtle meddling of the town veterinarian.

For a short Harlequin novel, Lennox certainly delivers. Misty is captured perfectly. While characterized as a dependable person, Lennox is able to accurately convey Misty’s feelings of unease and dissatisfaction. She grapples with trying to settle with her life without leaving any regrets of forgoing her dreams to pursue a happy relationship with Nicholas.

Nicholas likes Misty. But in his zealous efforts to secure a safe home for Bailey, he misses Misty’s unease in her attempts to stifle her dreams. The way Lennox plays out their relationship is fast paced but not overwhelmingly so. It is easy to follow. This is a good read for anyone looking for a short, sweet romance.


Sawyer by Lori Foster

Publisher: Harlequin Special Edition (July 1, 2007)
Kindle:  224 pages / 254  KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Sawyer Hudson, the only doctor in Buckhorn County, took it upon himself to rescue the beautiful but enigmatic woman who came literally crashing into his life. Though he knew he should keep things platonic and professional, around her his body had other ideas. And his heart was no more cooperative.

Honey Malone was on the run, fleeing a dangerous predator, when she lost control of her car, drove into a lake–and found herself up to her neck in breathtaking men. After the brothers nursed her through her injuries, she tried to leave, but she hadn’t bargained on their stubborn protectiveness. Or the passionate bond that tied her to Sawyer.

Review:

A pretty quick read, I had high hopes for “Sawyer”. The premise seemed interesting and full of potential. Foster created a diverse cast of enthralling male leads for her series. The focus of this one is, obviously, Sawyer. Honey, on the other hand, is not nearly intriguing. Sure, she has that whole mysterious-woman-on-the-run thing going on for her. But it’s not nearly enough. Her refusal to confide in Sawyer and his brothers makes sense, but it goes on for so long I’m left feeling irritated with her.

The one scene where she finally got on my nerves so much that I had to put the book down and take a break from it all was when she tried to “keep them safe by keeping them in the dark”. To achieve that goal she attempted to “borrow” (read: steal) Sawyer’s car to get away. Then, in the midst of all Sawyer’s anger, their inexplicable attraction erupts and they’re making out. This entire scene felt ridiculous and forced. I can see how perhaps it was headed here.

Sure the story has potential. The pacing of the story moves at a brisk pace, which helped to keep my attention on the book. But the characters/ situations weren’t developed enough for me. If you’re looking for just a quick romance and easy read, then this book and the others in the series should be a good fit.


Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperback (February 18, 2002)
Kindle: 352 pages / 415 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Dear Reader,

Being trapped in a bedroom with a woman is a grand thing. Being trapped in hundreds of bedrooms over two thousand years isn’t. And being cursed into a book as a love-slave for eternity can ruin even a Spartan warrior’s day.

As a love-slave, I know everything about women. How to touch them, how to savor them, and most of all, how to pleasure them. But when I was summoned to fulfill Grace Alexander’s sexual fantasies, I found the first woman in history who saw me as a man with a tormented past. She alone bothered to take me out of the bedroom and onto the world. She taught me to love again.

But I was not born to love. I was cursed to walk eternity alone. As a general, I had long ago accepted my sentence. Yet now I have found Grace–the one thing my wounded heart cannot survive without. Sure, love can heal all wounds, but can it break a two-thousand-year-old curse?

Julian of Macedon

Review:

An oldie but a goodie? Maybe so. After a recommendation from a customer, I gave this book a chance. Not really knowing what to expect (sometimes I like to just jump into books without looking too far into the premise), I took the plunge into Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter series with this book.

Though a bit scandalized by the content (which, I suppose, should have been expected since the main character did summon a “love-slave” from a book), the story played a lot with Gods, Goddesses and paranormal mysticism. The concepts Kenyon came up with were interesting enough to keep me reading.

One thing that did confuse me was where the “Dark-Hunter” part was supposed to come into play. It was only with a bit of research and the start of the next book that I realized that “Fantasy Lover” was more of a prequel of sorts.

The characterizations of the Gods and Goddesses that showed up felt fitting and appropriate. Or at least, Kenyon made it feel appropriate. I enjoyed how she portrayed them and her other characters.

Definitely a recommendation for those in the mood for a steamy romance, and enjoy that bit of paranormal.


How to Flirt With a Naked Werewolf by Molly Harper

Publisher: Pocket (February 22, 2011)
Kindle: 384 pages / 629 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Even in Grundy, Alaska, it’s unusual to find a naked guy with a bear trap clamped to his ankle on your porch. But when said guy turns into a wolf, recent southern transplant Mo Wenstein has no difficulty identifying the problem. Her surly neighbor Cooper Graham—who has been openly critical of Mo’s ability to adapt to life in Alaska—has trouble of his own. Werewolf trouble.

For Cooper, an Alpha in self-imposed exile from his dysfunctional pack, it’s love at first sniff when it comes to Mo. But Cooper has an even more pressing concern on his mind. Several people around Grundy have been the victims of wolf attacks, and since Cooper has no memory of what he gets up to while in werewolf form, he’s worried that he might be the violent canine in question.

If a wolf cries wolf, it makes sense to listen, yet Mo is convinced that Cooper is not the culprit. Except if he’s not responsible, then who is? And when a werewolf falls head over haunches in love with you, what are you supposed to do anyway? The rules of dating just got a whole lot more complicated. . . .

Review:

An entertaining read, this was my first time reading anything by Molly Harper. Of all the places to move to just to get some distance from your parent, to go from southern USA to Alaska seems extreme. But as Mo elaborates on how her hippie parents are like, Alaska might not be far enough.

Mo is an interesting character who I’d probably get along with. She’s a good person, just looking for the place where she belongs after her tumultuous childhood. New to the small town of Grundy, Alaska, Mo is a novelty that has most bachelors flirting with her as she quickly finds a place for herself in their community.

The only one really against Mo’s move to Grundy is the perpetually grumpy Cooper. (As well as Lynette, who’s dislike comes from the men’s attention on Mo.) Consistently at odds with one another, Mo and Cooper can’t deny the latent attraction at work as well.

The book starts off pretty slowly. But when we finally get to the scene described in the summary, where Mo finds a naked man stuck in a bear trap, the story just takes off.

A quick, fun read, this book isn’t one to pass up.


Falling Under by Gwen Hayes

Publisher: Penguin Publishing (March 1, 2011)
Kindle: 430 KB
Rating: of 5 stars

Theia Alderson has always led a sheltered life in the small California town of Serendipity Falls. But when a devastatingly handsome boy appears in the halls of her school, Theia knows she’s seen Haden before- not around town, but in her dreams.

As the Haden of both the night and the day beckons her closer one moment and pushes her away the next, the only thing Theia knows for sure is that the incredible pull she feels towards him is stronger than her fear.

And when she discovers what Haden truly is, Theia’s not sure if she wants to resist him, even if the cost is her soul.

Review:

Such a captivating read. It was maddening, confusing and just … wonderful. The start was a little rocky. Something inside me rebelled against all the restrictions Theia had to deal with.

For the first part, up until I find out what Haden is, the book was very Alice in Wonderland-esque. I felt lost and confused, just following Theia as she searched for answers. Then as some questions get answered, more pop up. Rather than being frustrated, I was intrigued and more drawn into the world Hayes created.

By the end I was happily satisfied by the answers provided and the story’s end. In fact, I was bursting with happy energy of having read such a good book. But, of course, “Falling Under” is just the first book. I look forward to the the next installment, though, and hope it’s just as enthralling.

A recommended read for anyone who doesn’t mind more than a little confusion and a whole lot of romance. It’s a great read for any YA paranormal romance fan.


The Search by Nora Roberts

Publisher: Putnam Adult (July 6, 2010)
Kindle: 768 pages / 680 KB
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle’s coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare…

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona’s cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He’s the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon’s house, and he’s at his wit’s end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can’t handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he’s a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn’t want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona’s life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands…

Review:

It’s the latest of Nora Roberts’ stand alone novels (not counting Chasing Fire being released tomorrow).

Frequently with her novels, Roberts presents an interesting plot to explore. The idea of a search dog/ dog trainer being stalked by a convict, who’s back to finish the botched job, has potential. Added to that, we have the love interest, a new arrival in the small community, is a necessary but interesting aspect. He adds to the story because of how delightfully casual their relationship is and how it grows into something more without them really noticing. There’s a sense of ease, yet discomfort that feels natural (despite the catalyst of a stalker/killer).

Clearly a Roberts’ novel, it follows her basic formula, which tends to be a drawback for many. But as a faithful reader, there is a comfort to be found there. Combined with her interesting plot ideas and ability to make these characters real for me, I feel it balances out into an enjoyable and easy read over all.


“Waiting on” Wednesday: Vanish in Plain Sight

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Vanish in Plain Sight by Marta Perry

Paperback: 384 pages
Publication date: May 24, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin

From Netgalley.com:

Since she was a little girl, Marisa Angelo has been haunted by the image of her mother walking away, suitcase in hand, to return to her Amish roots.

Marisa and her “Englischer” father never saw or heard from her again. Now Marisa has received a shocking call from police. Her mother’s bloodstained suitcase was found hidden inside the wall of an Amish farmhouse.

Desperate for answers, Marisa heads to Lancaster County. But no one—not the police or Marisa’s tight-lipped Amish relatives—can explain what happened to her mother.
Only one man is as determined as Marisa to unravel the mystery— Link Morgan, the handsome ex-military loner who found the suitcase in the house he inherited from his uncle. Because both Link’s and Marisa’s family members are implicated in the decades-old disappearance.

The secret lies somewhere in the quaint Amish settlements. But someone will do anything to ensure the truth remains hidden forever.


Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard

Publisher: Pocket (September 1, 1997/ November 24, 2009)
Kindle: 384 pages / 562 KB
Rating: 3 of 5 stars

Roanna Davenport was raised a wealthy orphan on her grandmother’s magnificent Alabama estate, Davencourt, where she had a passion for horses, a genius for trouble, and a deep love for her cousin, Webb. But everyone expected Webb to marry their ravishing cousin, Jessie. When he did, Roanna’s desire became no more than the stuff of dreams — until the night Jessie was found bludgeoned to death.

After the shocking murder of his wife, Webb left for Arizona, abandoning the legacy that he had once believed was all he wanted. But then an all-grown-up Roanna walked into a dingy bar in Nogales to bring him home; the mischievous sprite he had known ten years earlier was no more. Gone, too, was her fire. In its place was ice that melted at his touch. Webb is drawn back to Davencourt, to Roanna, and to the killer that once destroyed his life and waits only for the chance to finish the job….

Review:

This is a pretty old romance novel. I’d been looking for something new to read now that I’ve exhausted all my Nora Roberts options. (I haven’t read any of her J.D.Robb works, but I’ll get to it sooner or later.)

I hate to sound cliched, but I read romance novels for the plots and not the smut. Since this will be my first romance novel review, I’ll explain myself a little here. They have an adult fairy tale feel for me: you can trust them to have a decent, happy ending. “Shades of Twilight” hit the limits of what I find acceptable amounts of smut. The book even starts with a sex scene! How scandalous! The smut bordered from being simply too steamy to over the top and crude. If they weren’t having sex then the characters were thinking about it.

The storyline was relatively different enough to keep me interested even when the smut made me want to go away. One issue readers may have is how seemingly incestuous the relationships in the book are. Howard pushes the lines on what is and isn’t socially acceptable, but writes it in a way to keep the reader hooked and willing to explore the possibilities.

I haven’t read any of Howard’s other works, but her ability to keep me engaged and emotionally vested in the character’s well-being, despite my discomfort, has me contemplating what else to read by her. If you able to keep an open mind and are looking for a new romance to read, do check this out.


“Waiting on” Wednesday: Chasing Fire

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted at Breaking the Spine. The purpose is to spotlight upcoming releases that we are excited for.

Chasing Fire by Nora Roberts

Kindle: 880 KB
Hardcover: 480 pages
Publication date: April 12, 2011
Publisher: Putnam Adult

From Amazon:

There’s little as thrilling as firefighting-at least to Rowan Tripp. The Missoula smoke jumpers are in Rowan’s blood: her father is a legend. She’s been fighting fires since her eighteenth birthday. At this point, returning to the wilds of Montana for the season feels like coming home-even with reminders of the partner she lost last season still lingering.

Fortunately, this year’s rookie crop is one of the strongest ever-and Gulliver Curry’s one of the best. He’s also a walking contradiction, a hotshot firefighter with a big vocabulary and a winter job at a kids’ arcade.

Everything is thrown off balance when a dark presence lashes out against Rowan, looking to blame someone for last year’s tragedy. Rowan knows she can’t complicate things with Gull-any distractions in the air or on the ground could mean the end-but if she doesn’t find someone she can lean on, she may not make it through the summer. . .