I write book reviews, I also write books, and occasionally I write about myself!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #305


Roccanti's Marriage Revenge - Lynne Graham 
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890464











My rating




From the back cover:

"Engaged heiress risks all with mystery man!
Vitale Roccanti's plan was simple - sleep with the daughter to get to the father. What could go wrong? But staring at the black and white headline that announces the success of his plan doesn't feel half as satisfying as Zara did beneath his touch.
Zara Blake is shattered by the public expose of the night she risked it all - and lost. She betrayed her father, and his plans for her marriage, for one chance at passion. But that's nothing compared to the headline that will come in nine month's time!"


This is the latest from Lynne Graham, and I have been both excited and worried about reading this...

The heroine Zara has lived in the shadow of her controlling and abusive parents all her life, never having the confidence to stand up for herself. Her father wants her to marry an important business associate of his, and Zara thinks that a marriage of convenience will suit her. She meets the hero Vitale when he hires her company to design the garden for his Tuscan villa. Zara is surprised by the desire and attraction she feels towards Vitale, a bad experience in her youth has left her weary of men, and she begins to rethink her marriage plans. Vitale has only one thing on his mind and that is revenge against the man responsible for his beloved sister's death - Zara's father. He plans to seduce Zara and make it publicly known therefore ruining her father's business merger. However he is not expecting Zara to be innocent, in every sense, or that he would not be able to forget her. Zara is kicked out of her home and family for what happened with Vitale but tries to make the most of her new freedom even if it is a struggle. But then Vitale comes back into her life and they discover she is pregnant, and suddenly Zara once again feels trapped.

I had a difficult time trying to rate this one, I really liked it but at times it did annoy me a little bit. Overall though, I really liked it, it is certainly much more 'Lynne Graham-ish' than her last couple.
Let's get the stuff I didn't like out of the way first - Firstly, the hero! His whole plan is a little darn cruel, and it didn't sit well with me, and also at 29 years old he seemed a little too young to for his situation in life. Secondly, I do wish this hadn't been an accidental pregnancy plot, it feels a little too convenient and there is enough story to create another form of conflict that wouldn't be as clich├ęd. And thirdly, I am getting slightly bored of the whole 'hero thinks the heroine is some kind of tart so that is a good enough excuse for his behaviour' thing.
Now for the good stuff! The writing is flawless, very evocative, and it drew me into the story almost from the start and kept me interested throughout. I enjoyed the actual story as well, it surprised me how much I did! The chemistry between he hero and heroine is awesome, it bounces right off the pages. Lastly, the bunny who watches MTV is a nice little charming touch, and made me grin - I always like the inclusion of animals in Lynne Graham's books!

Despite some details not being great, I did really like this one. Does deserve a better title though.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #304


Claimed by a Cowboy - Tanya Michaels
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 2012
ISBN: 9780373753925












My rating





From the back cover:

"Sam Travis doesn't like to be tied down. He's used to picking up work all around the Hill Country, including odd jobs for Wanda Keller, an older woman who treats him as a son. When Wanda suddenly dies, her estranged daughter shows up…and Lorelei Keller turns out to be more than he bargained for. 
Polished—some might say uptight—Lorelei left Fredericksburg in the dust years ago. Coming home for her mom's funeral sends her into a tailspin of regrets. But that's nothing compared to the shock of learning that Sam has inherited her mother's B and B. Did the sexy cowboy manipulate his way into her mother's heart? Lorelei is determined to clean up this mess, and then get the heck out of Texas. For good this time. 
Because there's nothing to keep her there now…except maybe Sam?"


Back to another trusty cowboy story, I am a little obsessed with them at the moment!

The heroine Lorelei is pulled away from her comfortable corporate/city life when she hears that her mother has passed away. She travels back to her small Texas home town rather reluctantly, not wanting to be reminded of her unhappy childhood and her very difficult relationship with her mother. When she gets there she is surprised to find Sam, the hero, at her mother's home. Sam had built a strong friendship with Lorelei's mother and saw her as the mother he never had. But no one is more surprised than he when it turns out Lorelei's mother has left everything, including her inn, to Sam. Lorelei, though, is more than a little annoyed. Sam knows that he doesn't have space in his life for running an inn, but also doesn't want Lorelei to just sell it. He also knows how much her mother adored Lorelei, so he asks her to stay until after the town's annual festival, as a sort-of tribute to her mother, and then he will give her the inn. While Lorelei stays she and Sam spend a lot of time together and become very close, she also begins to realise that her life is not as perfect as she thinks, but neither she or Sam are willing to give up anything to have a future together.

I quite enjoyed this book, there is a nice 'real' feels to the story, and it is written really well. However, that's not to say it didn't get on my nerves a little as it did! I didn't really understand why the heroine has such a problem with her mother, it wasn't really explained enough and the impression I did get seemed a little shallow. The hero makes this book; he is perfect in every way - complex, yet open, and very romantic.
The relationship that develops between them is nicely portrayed, it managed to be both tender and steamy, and makes the eventual HEA worth it.

Enjoyable.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #303


The Man from Texas - Linda Style
Mills & Boon Superromance
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2008
ISBN: 9780263861693












My rating




From the back cover:

"One passionate night…one baby! 
Raised by adoptive parents, Jack Parker is determined to discover everything about his biological family. His sensual connection with Taylor Dundee is just getting in the way! 
Jack’s investigation uncovers a shocking secret about her mother and Taylor never wants to see the handsome man from Texas again. But only Jack can help her understand the truth. And then she’ll have to tell him she’s carrying his baby. 
When Jack finds out, he’ll put the past behind him…because nothing is more important than being a husband to Taylor and a father to his child!"


My husband found this for me recently on a used book stall, and it sounded quite interesting so I thought I would give it a go.

The heroine Taylor is still trying to come to terms with her mother's recent death when she meets the hero Jack, whom wants to ask her questions about her mother's past. Jack has been trying to unravel the mystery that surrounds his birth father's imprisonment for a murder he claims he did not commit, and he feels that Taylor's mother is key to the investigation. However, Taylor knows nothing about the stuff Jack tells her, and worries that her mother has hidden things from her all her life. Taylor wants to find out the truth, so she agrees to work with Jack. As they uncover more and more information about the events of 30 years ago, Taylor and Jack grow ever closer to one another, and pretty soon they are acting on the chemistry between them. But when Taylor discovers that Jack has been lying to her she feels very betrayed.

Hmmm, this is another difficult book to review and it is completely different to what I was expecting. I like the Superromance line as it deals with real life issues and is usually quite gritty, but this book was more suited to the suspense range. It focuses so much on the mystery that the romance feels like an afterthought that has been crowbarred in. The accidental pregnancy plot is both unnecessary and unbelievable, and again felts like it was forced in only as a bit of romantic conflict.

Overall, the mystery element is interesting but the romance is completely flat, and that lets this book down. A little disappointing.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #302


Dangerous Dowry - Catherine O'Connor
Mills & Boon Romance
Mills & Boon, 1992
ISBN: 9870263778007












My rating




From the back cover:

"Alone in a strange country, Jamesy was relieved to have help from one of the locals - and particularly one as attractive as Ross Stewart. But that was until he discovered who she was. Their ancestors had always been sworn enemies - and it seemed as though nothing had changed. But, despite their differences, Jamesy felt drawn to the arrogant laird - even if he did despise her. Would they ever be able to put the past behind them?"


I had to read this one for the hilarious title alone!

The heroine Jamesy has travelled to the small Scottish village where her ancesteros one hailed from, to research her family histroy. On her first day there, she meets the hero Ross and there is an immediate spark between them. But when Ross realises that Jamesy is an ancestor of his family's bitter rivals his whole attitude towards her changes and he makes it clear that she is not welcome. Jamesy tries her best to ignore the pain Ross's scorn causes her, and vows to find out the truth behind the rivalry. However much he protests to not wanting her around, Ross can't seem to stay away from Jamesy and it's clear that the more time they spend together the more they begin to fall for one another.

I must say this is an odd book, on one hand I quite liked it and no the other I though it was just plain silly. The good stuff first; The hero and heroine are good characters, well written and they work well together, plus there is plenty of chemistry between them. The writing is OK, very descriptive and the actual story has a nice flow. But the whole conflict was based on something that happened 200-or-so years ago! Seriously, who gives a damn, the hero acted like the heroine was the person to actually commit whatever was done those many years back... it's long past. In my opinion this ruined the book and left me, well, baffled, that is not romantic conflict, it's silliness!

Anyway, an odd but sort of OK book.

Xx

Friday, 27 January 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #301


Adam's Law - Claudia Jameson
Mills & Boon Romance
Mills & Boon, 1986
ISBN: 9780263754315












My rating




From the back cover:

"Kate's life was in tatters. Once a top London Model - now her face was scarred and her self-confidence broken. She was more than glad to hide herself away on picturesque Guernsey, as the guest of her lovable scatterbrained Aunt Dolly. Kate had envisaged a peaceful, isolated convalescence - she hadn't bargained for Adam. She found him devastating - how could anyone be so deliberately and persistently cruel? Could she endure him for long enough to discover the sweet and loving characteristics that her aunt insisted he possessed? It seemed unlikely."


Another oldie from my bookshelf.

The heroine Kate travels to Guernsey to stay with her aunt in order to rest and recover from her recent car accident. Kate is feeling very delicate emotionally, trying to come to terms with the fact that her face is badly scarred and her modelling career may be over. For the first few days of her stay all Kate does in mope around feeling sorry for herself, and this infuriates her aunt's stepson Adam, the hero. Adam regularly tells Kate what he thinks about her behaviour and doesn't pull any punches, at first this upsets Kate but she soon begins to fight back. Adam spends time with Kate pushing her out of her comfort zone and making her do things. They grow closer and closer and as Kate's confidence returns she falls for Adam. But she is regularly left confused over Adam's rather hot and cold attitude towards her. When the time comes for Kate to return to her life, she knows she has Adam to thank for her recovery but she is left heartbroken by Adam's sudden scorn.

This is a difficult review to write as on a couple of levels I really liked this book, but the details really let it down. I felt sympathy for the heroine and her issues over her scarred face, but at first it was made out as though the scars were really bad, and permanent, but then she had plastic surgery (once) and they completely disappeared... this is confusing as surely they couldn't have been as bad to start with?! The hero and heroine had a lot of chemistry, and I enjoyed reading how the hero constantly pushed the heroine and helped her face her problems in a 'tough love' sort of way. No POV from hero so his rather up and down moods were difficult to understand.
I didn't like the pacing of the book, the time scale moved so fas that there was hardly any room for depth.

The plot idea is good, but unfortunately the execution is not so great.

Xx

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #300


The Deception Trap - Ann Charlton
Mills & Boon Romance
Mills & Boon, 1986
ISBN: 9780263755107












My rating




From the back cover:

"Even six years after it had all happened, Teressa still hadn't forgiven Ashe Warwick for walking out on her and her family when they lost their money. Now she had grasped the opportunity to level the score - and, with her appearance drastically changed, had insinuated herself into Ashe's life again. But it was disturbing to find that the mercenary, self-seeking man she had once know actually appeared to have some good qualities after all! Until Ashe discovered her deception, and Teressa realised she had been playing with fire..."


This is an oldie that I found on my bookshelf.

The heroine Teressa is helping out her elderly neighbour with her cleaning business when she see's Ashe, the hero. Ashe was once engaged to Teressa's sister but had seemingly abandoned her and Teressa and their father when their father was in financial trouble. As a teenager at the time, Teressa has idolised Ashe and took his betrayal hard. She has imagined being able to get revenge on him, so when her neighbour needs her to go to Ashe's home as a housekeeper for a weekend party he is holding, she sees this as her chance. But Teressa is disconcerted when Ashe turns out to be nice, and especially surprised when she is extremely drawn to him and he seems to share the attraction. When Ashe discovers her web of lies he is angry and vows to make Teressa sorry for deceiving him.

This is an interesting book, and I enjoyed reading it. I liked the plot and it is well written, but I wasn't too keen on the heroine. She seemed a little too flaky and immature in my opinion. There is no POV from the hero so I found it difficult to understand him and his character, but I liked the impression I did get, especially that he is actually a nice guy and not the 'villain' he starts out being.
This being an older book, the passion level is quite low (compared to what I'm used too!) but there was no lack of sizzle between the characters.

As I said, an enjoyable book.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #299


The Impatient Groom - Sara Wood
Harlequin Presents
Harlequin, 1999
ISBN: 97803737120543
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459252066










My rating




From the back cover:

"Marrying in haste! 
No sooner had Sophia Charlton discovered she was the descendant of an Italian count and heiress to a fortune than she was whisked away to Venice by the sultry Prince Rozzano di Barsini—having consented to be his bride! Dazed by the strength of his desire, she'd also agreed to a lavish wedding in just four weeks' time! 
Once she could catch her breath, however, Sophia began to question Rozzano's impatience. Rumour had it that he urgently needed an heir. Was she to become his beloved wife—or just a means of making babies?"


This is another book the Harlequin Treasury line.

The heroine Sophia is shocked when she is called to meet her local solicitor and learns that she is the granddaughter of an Italian count. The hero Razzano is also there, he is a good friend of Sophia's grandfather and fills Sophia in about her mother's family. Razzano is intrigued by Sophia's innocence and honesty, and he wants to protect her from the shallow, almost seedy society she is about to become a part of. Razzano has spent his life hiding his true feelings from the cruel world he inhabits, but Sophia makes him feel happiness like he has never felt before. He decides to get Sophia to marry him, therefore not only will he be able to protect her, he also gets a 'suitable' marriage. Their whirlwind romance sweeps naive Sophia off her feet and she falls completely in love with Razzano. But when he finally takes her to Venice, she is overwhelmed by her new life, as well as confused by Razzano's constant distance from her.

There were moments in this book that I really didn't like, but overall I really enjoyed it. The hero and heroine work well together and there is a lot of entertaining interaction between them. Sara Wood's dialogue and interaction between her characters is something I have found particularly enjoyable in the two books of her's that I have read. The hero is a little bit manipulative and this did not sit well with me, as a result I didn't truly believe his love for the heroine. The heroine is a great character; refreshingly naive and amusing and at 31 years old, a much more relatable age - in my opinion!
The plot is well written and absorbing. plus there is plenty of passion. One tiny moan though - the heroine wanted to sleep with the hero but didn't want to get pregnant so she kicked him out of her bed ... ever heard of contraception?!

Anyway, a good read.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #298


Cowboy Pride - Anne McAllister
Silhouette Desire
Silhouette Books, 1996
ISBN: 9780373760343
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459279094









My rating




From the back cover:

"'BRENNA NEEDSA A HUSBAND,'
Jed McCall's nephew Tuck told him. Pregnant and alone, Brenna Jamison was back—trying single-handedly to run her father's ranch. 
'WE NEED A WIFE,' 
Tuck said. If footloose cowboy Jed McCall didn't do something drastic, he would lose custody of the boy. But marriage? 
'WHY NOT?' asked Tuck. There were reasons that only Jed knew. And marrying Brenna—becoming a father to her child—would be like jumping from the frying pan into the fire."


This is another book from the Harlequin Treasury line, and one that came highly recommended.

The heroine Brenna has returned to her family home newly widowed and pregnant. She desperately misses her late husband, whom was he best friend although she never loved him - she has always been in love with her teenage sweetheart Jed, the hero. Jed has also never had anyone else touch his heart and has never forgotten Brenna. But even though she is back he doesn't want to see her, that will remind him of his shame over his betrayal and reasons he ended their relationship ten years ago. However when he discovers she is pregnant, and after he gets over his all consuming jealousy, he can't seem to stay away. Jed is also having problems, he has pressure from social services around his custody of his nephew and needs to show a more settled existence. His nephew suggests that Jed marry Brenna and Jed asks her, surprising himself. Even more surprising, Brenna agrees. Now they both have what they wanted all those years ago - to be together -  but Jed refuses to open up or allow anything remotely intimate to happen between them.

This is an incredibly emotional and touching story. The writing is pretty much flawless, it's so evocative and descriptive. The plot is also very brave of the author, but beautifully done. The hero and heroine are wonderful characters, both their past and presents are full of tension and pain, yet they so belonged together. I really couldn't see how these two would get their HEA. The hero's secret is shocking, but well thought out. I particularly liked that his secret was linked to a, er, 'problem' that makes his reasons a little more understandable (I asked my husband for his opinion on it!).

I have read a lot of Anne McAllister's Modern/Presents and I'm not crazy about them, from this books example I much prefer her style in these Desire's.
I loved this book, thoroughly recommended.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #297


Rancher and Protector - Pamela Britton
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 2011
ISBN: 9780373753772

N.B. This is a North American Release










My rating




From the back cover:

"Amber Brooks took the job at Camp Cowboy to find a way to reach her special-needs nephew—not to go gaga over the best-looking guy she's ever laid eyes on. True, Colt Sheridan can teach her a thing or two about horses, but Amber knows better than to trust anyone with her secret. And yet…just what is it about cowboys?
Going undercover at the camp is Colt's way of finding out where "Aunt Amber" has hidden his buddy's little boy. In exchange, his friend's promised him a prize-winning horse. And what this rodeo rider really wants is a shot at the national championship. Unfortunately, what he's got is a crush on the softhearted equine intern. But if Amber is such a good person, how can she keep a man from his own son?"


I think this has to be one of the best covers I have seen on an American Romance book, it's much less cheesy than others!

The hero Colt arrives at a children's therapeutic ranch to help out with the horses, however he is really there to find out where one of his friend's son is. The heroine Amber is the guardian of the little boy and she is working as a therapist at the ranch, so Colt plans to get to know her then hopefully get her to open up to him. Amber is desperate to try anything to help her severely autistic nephew, both with the therapy through the ranch program as well as keeping him away from his imprisoned father. Colt approaches Amber and helps her learn about horses, pretty soon he begins to realise that his friend's description of Amber as a cruel, heartless woman is wrong. Instead Amber is a warm and caring woman, whom he is undeniably drawn to. Amber is also very attracted to Colt and they grow closer and closer. As much as he hates lying to her, Colt still tries to find out where her nephew is but is only left frustrated when she doesn't give anything away.

This is a really deep and moving story. There is quite a bit of sadness in the book, but it's weaved through the book with some fun moments. The issues raised around children's learning disabilities are handled with honesty and sensitivity. Both the hero and heroine are complex characters and perfectly portrayed, they fit together well and I felt that there is a lot of depth to their relationship. I loved the inclusion of the hero's dog, it added such charm to the story!
The only moan I have is that the little boy's father was made out to be the baddie throughout the whole book yet in the closing pages he had completely reformed and was the nicest man possible - it felt weak and a little shallow.

There is angst, emotion, and passion in this book. I really liked it.

Xx

Thursday, 19 January 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #296


An Indecent Proposition - Carol Marinelli
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890372











My rating




From the back cover:

"A scandalous offer she can’t refuse 
Zander Kargas developed his drive to succeed first from his father’s cruel fists, then from living on the streets. He’s fought for everything, and few challenges remain…or so he thinks! Charlotte is the best secretary Zander has ever had the pleasure of dealing with, and the only woman to fire his blood in a while. But she works for his bitter rival… 
Zander, assuming he can acquire her the way he does with most things, reaches for his wallet – except Charlotte can’t be bought. So Zander must entice her…beginning with a very indecent proposition! The Secrets of Xanos Two brothers alike in charisma and power; separated at birth and seeking revenge…"

I have been looking forward to reading this book. This is the second part in Carol Marinelli's duet, I loved the first part (A Shameful Consequence).

The heroine Charlotte and the hero Zander have been in contact with each other for a while, Charlotte is trying a arrange a business deal with Zander for her boss, but the phone calls they share have also become friendly and she has begun to treasure them. She uses them as a way to escape from the difficulties in her life, caring full-time for her alzheimer's suffering mother is getting more and more difficult. When Charlotte must travel to Greece to help assist her boss Nico, her guilt over having to place her mother in temporary care is lessened by her excitement that she will meet Zander for the first time. Zander has waited a lifetime to get revenge on the twin brother he has never known, whom led a far better life after they were separated, and he plans to use Charlotte as part of this. When they meet on the beach one night Charlotte is shocked to see that Zander is the mirror image of Nico, yet his personality so harsh and different. She is drawn to him as much in person as she was on the phone, and wants to help him with his proclaimed excitement about meeting his twin for the first time. Zander feels something for Charlotte, and not just intense desire, but even though he hates lying to her, he needs to go along with his vengeance plan.

I have tried not to give too much away in this review, there are so many secrets and revelations in this book that I don't want to ruin the explosiveness of it! This is a brilliant book, I couldn't read it fast enough. The passion and depth of feeling between the hero and heroine is simply phenomenal. Individually these characters carry so much pain, and it is heart wrenching to read. Just like the first book in this duet (A Shameful Consequence) the narrative is very distinct, almost hypnotic, and creates a very moving atmosphere.

This is a book that is powerful and brimming with passion and secrets. Recommended.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #295


A Devilishly Dark Deal - Maggie Cox
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin UK, 2012
ISBN: 9780263890396












My rating




From the back cover:

"A deal with the devil
Having made his fortune from nothing, billionaire Marco Aguilar has wiped the dirt of a poverty-stricken childhood from his expensive shoes. Now he can have anything he wants – and his next acquisition is beautiful charity worker Grace Faulkner. He’ll finance her beloved orphanage if she agrees to become his mistress! 
Only Grace’s sweet, selfless nature – and the fire she ignites with her touch – shakes his iron defences to the core. Tortured Marco has been driven by demons for so long – can he be saved by this innocent angel?"


The title of this book is great, nice bit a alliteration!

The heroine Grace is on holiday in Portugal when she hearts that the well known businessman Marco, the hero, is due to arrive. She decides to try and arrange a meeting with him to ask for a donation to the charity she works for - the charity needs backing in order to build a new orphanage for children in Africa. Although Marco is initially annoyed at Grace's interruption her passion for her cause moves him and he agrees to listen to her proposal. Marco also realises he is very drawn to Grace, both for her passion as well as her honesty. He asks Grace to spend the rest of her holiday with him, and Grace agrees. At first she is nervous and flustered by Marco's attentions but soon realises the attraction is entirely mutual. They start a passionate affair, which quickly becomes more, but Marco is afraid that Grace's refreshing openness will cause him to let down his very guarded heart.

I wanted to like this book, I really did. But I have to be honest and say that I just found it boring. The actual story only takes place over a few days but the pace of the book made it feel like forever, it became a little tedious after a while. I found the heroine to be a little too uptight, way too puritanical, and a bit of a martyr. The hero is a good character though, very complex.

This story just didn't have enough kick to make it really enjoyable, in my opinion. It is a little disappointing.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #294


Tempted by His Target - Jill Sorenson
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
Harlequin, 2011
ISBN: 9780373277483












My rating




From the back cover:

"Wanted for the murder of a Mexican drug lord's son, party girl Isabel Sanborn fled to Oaxaca. Now she owes her life to Brandon Knox, a passing tourist who just saved her from a hit man. But Knox is no accidental hero—he's an undercover U.S. marshal assigned to bring Isabel to justice. Instead, wanting to protect her, he joins her on the lam…with cartel goons and corrupt police in hot pursuit! 
And as the danger escalates, sexual tension sizzles. For the first time in his career, Brandon considers jeopardizing his mission to safeguard his target. And though Isabel can elude the authorities,she can't escape her feelings…"


I have been eyeing up this one from the Harlequin ebook store for a while and decided to give it a go.

The hero Brandon is a U.S. Marshall whose newest assignment is to find and escort back to the US fugitive Isabel, the heroine. Isabel has been on the run for two years, from both the US authorities and a dangerous Mexican drug cartel. After spending most of her adult life jumping from party to party, drinking, and doing drugs, all to escape the disappointments in her life, being on the run has enabled her to clean up and reform her ways. Waking up next to the dead son of the cartel leader and having no idea of what happened, caused Isabel to flee in fear, and she has had to grow up a lot in the last two years. Brandon manages to make contact, despite her prickliness, and also gains her trust. However when members of the cartel find her they are forced to flee together. Brandon and Isabel grow close as they try to make their way through Mexico, Isabel begins to trust Brandon enough to tell him her story, and Brandon soon begins to wish he could help her rather than his eventual betrayal.

When I started reading this book I actually didn't like it. The use of a lot of surfer slang kind of put me off (!) and the hero was a little too young for my liking. BUT, I kept with it and ended up really loving it. The suspense in this book is pretty much perfect, there is plenty of edge-of-your-seat action, as well as mystery. The passion between the hero and heroine is intense, it jumps off the pages. The rushed nature of the relationship is very exciting, and reads well. Although I do think the HEA is a little too 'wrapped up', if you know what I mean.

But overall, this is an exciting, fast paced, and emotional book.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #293


Secret Son, Convenient Wife - Maxine Sullivan
Mills & Boon Desire 2-in-1
Harlequin UK, 2011
ISBN: 9780263890853











My rating




From the back cover:

"Tate Chandler had never wanted a woman as much as he'd wanted Gemma Watkins—until the day she'd betrayed him. Yet when he learned they had a son, he demanded Gemma marry him, or he'd fight for custody. Tate was a man of honor—he'd create a family for his heir, even if it meant marrying a woman he couldn't trust. 
Their marriage was about duty, nothing more. But Gemma's beauty tempted him to make her his wife in every way. Could he lure her back into his bed without letting her back into his heart?"


This is my first Maxine Sullivan book, I was looking forward to reading this. I am always interested in new-to-me authors!

When the hero Tate sees the heroine Gemma in a ward of the hospital wing that has just been dedicated to his affluent family, he is immediately reminded of her betrayal. Gemma tries to hide her reason for being in the hospital, but Tate soon finds out about her son - his son. Tate can't believe that on top of Gemma's betrayal with his best friend she has also kept his son from him. He knows he can never trust Gemma again but for his son's sake, as well as his family's name, he insists they marry. Gemma loved Tate with all her heart and was deeply hurt when he believed his devious best friend over her. But knows she can't deny her son his father. After they are married Gemma soon realises that Tate has no intention of taking their marriage further than convenience, despite desire that is still between them.

This was a good read; enjoyable and well written. The story has a nice flow and there is plenty of emotion weaved into the book. The hero and heroine fit well together and there is a nice bit of chemistry. The hero's trust issues became a little tedious after a while, and a ruined a little bit of my enjoyment of the story. I wanted the heroine to stick up for herself a but more, but generally she was quite a good character.
I had two problems with this book; first is that there wasn't really enough explanation of the motive of Tate's best friend for betraying him - the reason given was that Tate dated one of his ex-girlfriends at university, surely that can't be it? It seems rather petty. The second is that again there was lack of explanation around the heroine's parents and why they didn't like her. Because of these things, I felt that some of the conflict felt a little flat.

Apart from that, I enjoyed it!

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #292


Carrying the Rancher's Heir - Charlene Sands
Mills & Boon Desire 2-in-1
Harlequin UK, 2011
ISBN: 9780263890853











My rating




From the back cover:

"The passionate, impulsive evening Tagg Worth had spent in the arms of brown-eyed beauty Callie Sullivan was madness. Visions of their tryst still haunted him, but their one-night stand was a mistake the wealthy rancher swore he would not repeat. Hawk Sullivan's daughter was strictly off-limits—especially since Hawk's main goal in life was to put Tagg out of business. 
Then, suddenly, there was a baby on the way. His baby. Tagg vowed to do the right thing, no matter what it cost him. But his inconvenient new bride tempted his solitary heart down a path a Worth didn't dare follow…."


I bought this book a couple of months back but couldn't motivate myself to read it, I'm not sure why!

The hero Tagg and the heroine Callie spent an unforgettable night together a few weeks back, that in Tagg's opinion should never have happened. Callie is the daughter of his family's biggest rival, and they could never be together - for that reason and the fact that Tagg will never love another woman, after his late wife died. Although he has tried to forget her he has found it difficult and it gets even more difficult when Callie begins working at his family's ranch. Callie has always been a little bit in love with Tagg, but her father's over-protectiveness and plain dislike for Tagg and his family has always stopped her from approaching. Her one wild night with Tagg has left her pregnant and she decides to go after what she wants - her, Tagg, and their baby as a family. Tagg can't deny his fierce desire for Callie and they soon reignite their affair. But when Tagg finds out about the baby he insists they marry but makes it clear that he will never give Callie his heart.

I enjoyed this book, there is plenty of chemistry between the hero and heroine, as well as an interesting, well written story. The hero's grief for his late wife is very poignant and handled well, but I do feel that he hadn't fully gotten over it and this took a little bit of shine away from the central relationship. The heroine is a nice character; very gentle and reasonable.
I loved the setting, it is very vividly described and I felt a real sense of place.

This is a nice story.

Xx

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #291


Just One Look - Mary McBride
Silhouette Intimate Moments
Silhouette Books, 1999
ISBN: 9780373079667
Reissue - Harlequin Treasury, 2011
eISBN: 9781459259171










My rating




From the back cover:

"SOMEONE TO WATCH OVER HER 
One look at the rugged, denim-clad, 100% man in her doorway told Sara Campbell she wasn't dead yet—only dreaming. She'd met detective Joe Decker just yesterday, when he'd scooped her off the pavement after the South Side Ripper had tried to kill her, and held her hand until she woke up. Now he was back to protect her, because Sara, all alone in her mansion, was the only living witness to the maniac's face. But she couldn't remember that face! And that meant she was in danger, with only this one man to keep her safe. But even if he kept the maniac from harming her, what would happen to the heart that was already his?"


This is another book I got from the Harlequin ebook store.

The heroine Sara is driving home when her car is hit and she is attacked and knocked unconscious. When she wakes up in the hospital she finds the hero Joe, a detective, sitting by her bed side. Joe informs Sara that she was attacked by a serial killer and her action of pulling away his ski mask before she was hit means she is the only surviving person to have seen his face. Unfortunately for Joe, Sara can't remember anything, she also refuses to go into protective custody admitting she suffers from agoraphobia. Joe is frustrated by Sara's lack of cooperation and he is initially insensitive towards her problem. But he is determined to catch the killer and protect Sara, so he virtually moves in with her. As he gets to know her he begins to fall for the strong woman that she is underneath her fears. But with the threat against them never far away, Joe knows he can't act on his feelings fearing his guard will drop and the worst could happen.

I enjoyed the book, it is well written and interesting, with plenty of spark in the central relationship. I liked that the suspense plot didn't overshadow the romance, but it was no less exciting. The hero is a good character; very 'normal' and his crankiness was quite amusing! I was intrigued by the idea of the agoraphobia heroine, but it didn't work for me. It seemed rather half-hearted - the heroine actually went out quite a bit but a true agoraphobic would not be able to leave their safe place.
There wasn't really an explanation of motive for the culprit, it just didn't make sense. Oh, and the culprit was pretty obvious from early on in the book.

But the author's writing style is funny and flows nice, and this is an enjoyably oldie!

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #290


Pregnant: Father Needed - Barbara McMahon
Mills & Boon Tender Romance
In 'His Pregnant Bride' Mills & Boon By Request
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2009
ISBN: 9780263871333


My rating




From the back cover:

"Seeing that unmistakably blue line staring up at her from a pregnancy test should have been the happiest day of Amber Woodworth's life. But it was also the same day she discovered she was a widow.... 
Now Amber is making a new life for herself, as an independent, single mom-to-be. Her new neighbor, Adam Carruthers, is a sexy fireman who's devoted his life to rescuing people. Amber's determined not to get involved again - especially with a man who puts his life on the line - every day...."


This is the third book in the By Request omnibus, as above.

The heroine Amber is trying to come to terms with the fact that she is newly widowed and pregnant. The highlight of her rather worry filled days is seeing the very sexy man out running during her daily walks. The hero Adam has also noticed Amber and decides to approach her. Amber doesn't know what to make of Adam's approach, she admits that she is attracted to him but she is still grieving plus her pregnancy, she knows nothing can ever come of their meeting. However, surprising them both they begin to bond and form a solid friendship that Amber begins to rely on more and more. Adam is confused by his feelings for Amber, he certainly isn't ready for commitment but there is something about her that he finds irresistible. He slowly begins to accept that he wants more with Amber and her baby, but Amber doesn't want to risk her heart on another man, especially one with a dangerous occupation, and she often pushes him away.

I didn't expect to like this book as much as I did. It is a really lovely story. So real and relatable, and the storytelling is flawless. I loved the way the hero and heroine first see and meet each other, it is so fun yet romantic. The friendship that grows between the two of them is very heart warming, and the eventual romance is made even more sweet. The conflict is written well, and is believable.

Simply put, this is a really nice read. I liked it.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #289


His Pregnant Princess - Robyn Donald
Mills & Boon Modern
In 'His Pregnant Bride' Mills & Boon By Request, 2009
ISBN: 9780263871333

My rating




From the back cover:

"Hunter Radcliffe is like no other man Princess Lucia Bagaton has ever met. Giving herself to a commoner could cause a royal scandal. But then Lucia finds she's expecting Hunter's child! 
Hunter is insistent that they should marry; it will be just one more union of convenience for the royal house of Bagaton -- the first with a pregnant princess!"


This is the second book in the By Request omnibus, as above.

The hero Hunter is travelling to the small Mediterranean island of Dacia in order to visit his good friend, whom has recently married the Prince of Dacia. He is met at the airport by Lucia, the heroine, the cousin of the Prince and a Princess herself. Hunt believes her to be a cold hearted temptress and makes his dislike of her obvious. Cia recognises this dislike but she does her best to welcome him to her country. Ever since her cousin married, Cia has been feeling lost. No longer needed as a royal figure, as the island now has a new Princess, she has planned to leave and attend university. Although Hunt doesn't want to like Cia he ends up spending time with her and they are undeniably attracted to one another. Hunt takes Cia to his cattle station home in New Zealand for a break, where their relationship begins to bloom. When they realise Cia is pregnant Hunt wants them to marry but thinks Cia will refuse as he is not royalty, and Cia believes that Hunt feels nothing towards her.

I have to be honest and say that I found this book really boring. It doesn't have the usual intensity of Robyn Donald's books, and it seems to drag a bit. The hero and heroine are OK characters but I didn't really 'believe' either of them, the heroine in particular was a little too whiny. Also the conflict between them, such as the reason the hero doesn't initially like the heroine feels a little flimsy. And, Dacia + Lucia/Cia ... comes off as a bit lazy to be so similar.

I don't really know what else to say about this book, it's just a bit blah!

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #288




Pregnant by the Greek Tycoon - Kim Lawrence
Mills & Boon Modern
In 'His Pregnant Bride' Mills & Boon By Request
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2009
ISBN: 9780263871333


My rating

From the back cover:

"After a whirlwind marriage to Greek billionaire Angolos Constantine, Georgie was pregnant - and was sure Angolos would be delighted. Instead, he told her to "go away and never come back." So that was exactly what she did. 
Angolos has never seen his son - until now! In fact, Angolos Constantine didn't think he could have children, and now he's not prepared to let this miracle go. Even though Georgie seems to hate him, he'll have what's rightfully his...by whatever means possible!"


This is the first book in the By Request omnibus, as above. 

The heroine Georgie is shocked when the husband she hasn't seen in four years - ever since he kicked her out of his life - turns up demanding to see his son. The hero Angolos has spent five years believing that Georgie had betrayed him and that her son was not his. Now he has been confronted with the truth that not only did he abandon Georgie but also his precious son. Georgie initially thinks that Angolos is there to get a divorce, and although this brings her hurt she is only too happy to agree. But she's even more shocked when he tells her that he wants them to be a family. She agrees but knows she will never forgive him for the way he treated her, and Georgie refuses to let him take over and change the life she has built for herself and her son. Angolos is surprised by the new more assertive Georgie, and pleased that the all consuming passion that was always between them is still there. However, as much as he wants Georgie to forgive him he still can't make himself completely trust her. 

I have read quite a few of Kim Lawrence's books and I find them a little hit and miss, so I didn't actually expect to like this one as much as I did. There is so much emotion and tension weaved throughout this book that makes it totally absorbing to read. The hero's background is so sad yet he behaves badly towards the heroine, but this somehow works and is very entertaining to read. The heroine is strong and independent, and not at all silly. I loved reading the snippets of their past, it really added depth to the book. 

This is an engaging and riveting read. Recommended. 

Xx

Monday, 16 January 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #287


Forgotten Mistress, Secret Love-Child - Annie West
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263877601











My rating




From the back cover:

"He's forgotten their past, but not her body. 
A lavish masquerade ball is no place for plain-Jane receptionist Carys Wells. Used to being unnoticed by the glitterati, Carys feels vulnerable and exposed by the searing gaze of a dark masked man. Little does she know he's the man she ran from two years ago, whose wicked touch is about to become her undoing once more. 
Alessandro Mattani cannot remember Carys, but his body does - intimately. And the red-blooded Italian is determined to claim all that he believes is his..."

This is another book I bought for kindle ages ago and never read.

The hero Alessandro is still coming to terms with the retrograde amnesia he has been suffering from ever since he was involved in a car accident. He comes across a brochure for a hotel in Australia and is immediately struck with the feeling that he knows the woman in one of the photographs. Unable to shake of the feeling, he travels to Australia hoping that maybe he will be able to regain some of his memory. The heroine Carys is shocked to see Sandro, she has never forgotten the way he threw her out of his life and refused her later attempts at contact. Even though she is devastated to learn about the accident, she can't help worrying about what will happen when he discovers that her baby son is his child. Sandro is rocked to the core when he meets Carys, he feels an instant connection to her and somehow knows she is telling the truth about their past relationship, and that her son is his. A life of being surrounded by avaricious people makes Sandro initially suspicious of Carys, but for their son's sake he insists they marry. But as time passes, and with revelations about the forgotten part of his life, Sandro begins to realise that what he and Carys had, and has, goes much deeper. He only wishes that Carys would trust him.

There is something special that Annie West does to what are quite well used plots to make them really enjoyable, and she has certainly done this here. I really enjoyed it. The relationship between the hero and heroine feels very natural and it is full of passion, as well as tinged with sadness. The amnesia plot could be a bit trite, but I was so pleased that there wasn't a sudden 'I remember everything just from one look in your eyes' moment. And I think Annie handled the hero's slow acceptance of his memory loss really well. The heroine is a brilliantly developed character, so strong despite all her problems.

This is a fabulous book; passionate, absorbing, and powerful. Recommended.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #286


Having the Billionaire's Baby - Sandra Hyatt
Mills & Boon Desire 2-in-1
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263881837











My rating




This is the second book in the Desire 2-in-1, as above.

The heroine Callie and the hero Nick spend a night together, but Callie flees the next morning when she discovers exactly who Nick is. They met at the wedding of Callie's business partner, who is also her ex-fiance. Callie had spent the whole wedding convincing herself she needs to live in the now, hence the one-night stand. However, she didn't realise that Nick was the bride's brother, or that he is her company's newest client. She tries to forget about Nick, but finds it difficult especially as their one-night has left her pregnant. Nick has been searching for Callie as he has not been able to get her out of his mind, but he has had no luck finding her. His sister asks Nick to check out her new husband's business partner, as she is jealous, and Nick is delighted to discover it's Callie. He ends up taking over his brother-in-law's side of the business with Callie, and he hopes to explore what is between them. But Callie needs to prove that she can be independent and turns him down. However when Nick finds out about the pregnancy he sees this as his chance to get what he wants.

This is a well written and interesting book, I enjoyed it. The relationship between the hero and heroine is very sweet and there is plenty of chemistry. Their story is told well and is very engaging, as well as believable. The conflict and the story is a little 'well-used' but it is executed well and the story feels very modern.
This is my first Sandra Hyatt book (I believe this was also her first book) and I really enjoyed it, I will look to read her other books in the future. Sadly she passed away last year, I'm sure she will be greatly missed.  RIP.

Xx

Thursday, 12 January 2012

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #285


The Magnate's Baby Promise - Paula Roe
Mills & Boon Desire 2-in-1
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263881837











My rating




From the back cover:

"For billionaire businessman Cal Prescott, there was no question. He'd marry and produce the requisite heir. And he wouldn't have to look far for the right bride—his one-night affair with Ava Reilly had left Cal's senses riled and Ava pregnant with his baby. 
Sheer desperation had Ava agreeing to marry without love. She wanted her land as much as Cal wanted his corporation…and they both wanted their unborn child. Surely that would be enough to build a marriage on. That, and the burning passion that longed to be reawakened…."


I found this Desire 2-in-1 in the Kindle store recently.

In order to gain control of the company he has worked so hard for, the hero Cal needs to marry and have children before his stepbrother does. Although this condition has angered him, he luckily has a solution. He has tracked down the woman he had an unforgettable one night stand with a couple of months ago, and she is pregnant. The heroine Ava is doing her best to keep her Outback retreat afloat, but with the financial problems and her recently discovered pregnancy she is struggling to cope. When Cal comes to see her and offers her marriage as well as help for her business she reluctantly agrees. Although Cal still fiercely desires Ava, as far as he is concerned it is a marriage of convenience, for both of them, for business purposes as well as their baby. But that doesn't stop them from growing closer, even though each of them have past hurts that stop them from truly opening up to each other.

This is my first Paula Roe book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked reading how the relationship between the hero and heroine developed, it has a nice flow and feels very natural. The heroine is a good character, I really responded to her. Her flaws and conflict are well written and relatable. The hero is a little more difficult to understand, he seemed to vary in temperament a bit. But they worked well together, and there is plenty of sizzle.

Well written with a good, solid plot. I liked it. Deserves a better title though!

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #284


Cowboy with a Secret - Pamela Browning
Harlequin American Romance
Harlequin, 2001
ISBN: 9780373168743
Reissue - Harlequin Special Releases, 2011
eISBN: 9781459282711








My rating




From the back cover:

"Bethany Burke was intrigued by her new ranch hand—a man she'd ordered from a catalog! Strong, quiet Colt McClure had a way with animals and a past he never spoke of. The mystery only deepened when a baby girl arrived on the ranch doorstep—addressed to Colt! 
Colt's lovely boss made him want to reveal his secret past—especially because Bethany thought he was the baby's father! True, the cowboy had a few closely guarded secrets, but being somebody's daddy wasn't one of them. The wrangler was desperate to reveal the truth—but baring his soul could mean losing his heart."


This is an older American Romance book that has recently been reissued as an ebook.

The heroine Bethany has been struggling to keep her ranch afloat, her new ranch hand Colt, the hero, arrives not a moment too soon. Although she recognises that Colt is a hard worker as well as a genuinely nice man, she also realises that he is keeping secrets. Colt begins to treasure the new life he has built for himself at Bethany's ranch, and he also feels an intense attraction towards Bethany. But after spending the last few years in prison, he is reluctant to open his heart or let his past out. However, the peace he has found on the ranch and with Bethany is shattered when an old friend leaves her baby Alyssa on Bethany's doorstep asking Colt to care for her. Bethany thinks Alyssa is Colt's baby and this upsets her as she was beginning to fall for him. But rather than tearing them apart, caring for the baby together brings Colt and Bethany closer and closer. Only Colt's secrets and past stand in the way of their happiness, and he doesn't know what Bethany's reaction will be.

I really enjoyed this book, I couldn't put it down. There is a really nice spirit to this book, a sort of family feel. The secondary characters are great and they help rather than hinder the progression of the story. Both the hero and heroine are well developed, complex, interesting, and flawed characters. They fit together perfectly and are able to grow as the story progresses. The plot itself is very compelling and beautifully written, the pace is flawless.

A great book.

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #283


The Spaniard's Virgin Housekeeper - Diana Hamilton
Mills & Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2009
ISBN: 9780263869903











My rating




From the back cover:

"Innocent maid – taken by the billionaire! When Izzy Makepeace refused her lecherous boss’s advances he threw her out. Now vulnerable Izzy’s only hope is a housekeeper job with the powerful Garcia family! 
Spanish billionaire Cayo Garcia thinks he’s seen Izzy’s type before – out for all she can get! But then her innocence surprises him – sweet Isabel is ripe for seduction. Cayo is used to having his demands met – and her position as housekeeper places her directly at his beck and call!"


I started reading this book a while ago but never got very far into it, but I thought I would give it another go...

The heroine Izzy finds herself alone in Spain and out of a job, her previous boss fired her after she refused his advances. Not willing to admit her predicaments to her family fearing their reaction she hopes to find another job. Izzy comes across an elderly man who looks in need of help, he eventually offers her a job as his housekeeper. Izzy enjoys her work, even though she gets paid very little, she also likes her new found independence and confidence, and she and her employer have become good friends. The hero Cayo is the grandson of Izzy's employer and he is not pleased when he hears about Izzy's employment. He immediately thinks she is a good digger taking advantage of his lonely grandfather. When he meets Izzy, Cayo is surprised by how much he likes her and wants to protect her as well as keeping her by his side.

Urgh, this is a bad book, really bad. The heroine and her actions are written as though she is some silly girl, she is totally juvenile in her actions and mannerisms and so frustratingly, er how to say this, dim! The way the heroine is portrayed I find a little insulting towards women. And the hero, groan, simply put he is an arrogant jerk. I couldn't warm to him at all.
I have no idea how the hero and heroine actually managed to fall for one another, as they barely spent any time together.
The writing is also a little difficult to like; it is quite unflattering towards the heroine and the pace feels very jumpy.

No sorry, I didn't like it. YMMV. Awful title too!

Xx

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... Book #282


Every Girl's Secret Fantasy - Robyn Grady
Mills & Boon Modern Heat
Harlequin Mills & Boon, 2010
ISBN: 9780263877465











My rating
From the back cover:

"Mechanic Pace Brodrick has stepped straight out of prim Phoebe's wildest fantasy - oil slicked and dangerously sexy, he's her perfect Mr. Right Now! Phoebe's long overdue on some excitement - and Pace's wicked smile guarantees she'll have the thrill of her life! 
Then Pace discovers the temptress behind Phoebe's good-girl facade! She drives him wild - but will she want their fling to last forever when she discovers Pace has been lying to her all along? For this bad boy is actually a secret millionaire…."


I have had this book on my shelf for a while and never got round to reading it, so I thought I would give it a go.

The hero Pace spends his days working as a mechanic for an upmarket car manufacturer, but he is much more than a simple mechanic - he is the co-owner, an engineer, as well as a millionaire. The heroine Phoebe is a host on a local TV show and has met Pace a few times as his company, or the company he works for as she thinks, is one of the show's sponsors. Pace is very attracted to Phoebe and has asked her out a couple of times but disappointingly she has always turned him down. Phoebe is also very attracted to Pace, but a couple of bad relationships in the past has made her a little hesitant. She does eventually agree and she is wined, dined, and seduced in body and mind by Pace. The chemistry between them is fierce and their relationship moves pretty fast, Pace soon realises he wants more from Phoebe. But he still hasn't told her exactly who, and what, he is and with Phoebe's fear of being heartbroken again he doesn't know how to tell her.

I enjoyed this book. There is a really nice blend of aspiration (as you would expect from a Modern) and realism. Both the hero and heroine are likeable and strong characters, and their relationship is built beautifully by the author making it believable. It's also chock full of passion! There is also a bit of sadness in the book, which adds real depth to the story.

Overall this is a nice story that is an interesting read.

Xx