Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Running Wild: The Men From Battle Ridge, by Linda Howard and Linda Jones

Carlin Reed (Named after George Carlin) is on the run from a police officer she had two dates with, that turned him into a stalker. Carlin loaned her pal Jina her coat, and police officer Brad kills her, thinking Jina is Carlin. Carlin feels she has no recourse since Brad is a cop, so goes on the run. She picks up odd jobs along the way, working for cash for a few weeks, and then she’s off to another town. She ends up in Wyoming at Zeke Decker’s huge ranch, hiring on as his cook/housekeeper. 

There is a lot of humor between Zeke and Carlin, along with a lot of sexual tension. They both think they don’t like each other, and at times they are like oil and water. Zeke was burned by his x-wife, so is leery of all women. He is drawn to Carlin though, and this provides for plenty of humorous banter between them. Carlin does not share any of her past with him, but it’s obvious to Zeke and the ranch hands that she is hiding something major. Carlin falls in love with the land, and winter is approaching. She decides that Wyoming is a safe distance from Houston, Texas, so plans to stay for the winter. 

Carlin insists that Zeke install new locks on the ranch house doors, that must be kept locked at all times. There are several episodes of events that frighten Carlin, so eventually Zeke gets her to talk to him about what she fears, and is running from. He insists he can help her put an end to Brad stalking her once and for all. After Jina’s murder, she does not want to risk anyone else being involved with her. However, over the course of time that oil and water thing turns to much more between Zeke and Carlin. She dreads the fact that she must move on again once spring arrives….and leaving Zeke. 

Libby, the retired cook/housekeeper, returns for a visit. She has heard about the budding romance between Zeke and Carlin, and wants to find out for herself what this girl is all about, and to make sure she isn’t out to take Zeke for all he’s worth. The innocent Libby sets the stage for the final showdown, and the suspense once again takes off full force. 

This story is king of a switch up for Linda Howard, who usually has cops as the good guys. This time around we have the cop as the stalker. The rancher/Wyoming setting is also uncommon for Howard. Since I am a lover of rancher/cowboy books, this was a definite home run for me. 

This book is what a lot of Linda Howard fans have been waiting for, a return to her roots of romantic suspense. A thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying read. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Run the Risk, by Lori Foster

Logan Risk is a detective, working undercover as a construction worker. He lives in an apartment next to Sue Meeks, Aka: Pepper Yates who is passing herself off as a dowdy woman, in baggy clothes, no makeup and skinned back hair in a ratty ponytail. Her brother Rowdy is believed to be a witness to the murder of Logan’s best friend. Logan is prepared to use Pepper in any way he can, to get to Rowdy, and solve the murder.  There is some corruption on the local police force too, so Logan isn’t really sure who he can trust, other than his partner Reece.

Logan and Pepper have dinner together at the apartment.  At this point, Pepper feels something for Logan.  We know early on that Logan is going to use Pepper, but the uninspired sex that results from this dinner together left me wondering what was wrong with Logan, that he found it to be amazing and can’t wait to come back for more.  What was even more confusing to me was why Pepper went to such extremes to totally change her naturally bodacious body (picture Kim K here for a minute) to the frumpy woman she appears to be. Then, on top of that she has zero personality.  Seriously, early on Pepper has trouble stringing an entire sentence together when Logan is around. There are those who probably think it’s funny she is so tongue tied around Logan, but given the woman she morphs into at the halfway point led me to believe that she just wasn’t going to be all that great of a heroine.  Sadly, not much changed for me there as the book goes forward.  She has her share of TSTL moments, especially when she voices her opinion to Logan that she would have taken down all the bad guys.  How she would accomplish that, I really haven’t a clue.  And last but not least, I’m still not convinced that Pepper loves Logan more than Rowdy!  She thinks she loves Logan because he realizes how much her brother means to her. Just because “the only Risk Logan wants her to take is his last name” means she loves him.  I need to be convinced!

We are looking at criminal, Morton Andrews, with mob ties, as the killer.  There are some pretty good suspenseful moments, once Pepper and Rowdy’s cover is blown.  Reese lends much support to his partner in solving the crime, along with dealing with corruption within the police department.  For many chapters, you have no idea who to trust, and that includes Lt. Margaret Peterson.  Another unrealistic character, who at the ripe old age of 32 is a ball buster who has seen and done it all!  Another eye rolling moment for me was the fact that Rowdy and Pepper mosey 40 miles down the road, the next county over, to hide from Morton.  You know, the guy with mob ties, who is also suspected to be in on human trafficking too.  Wouldn’t you move to the east or west coast to get as far as possible from this guy??    

Reese , Logan’s partner, and his brother Dash are both intriguing secondary characters.  Reese befriends quiet Grace, who lives in his apartment complex.  She agrees to watch Reese’s dog since he works such long hours, and very slowly over the course of the book they become friends.  Dash owns the construction business Logan pretends to work at.  Both Dash and Logan come from a wealthy family, but they prefer to work for their living.     Dash is the guy to die for, so I certainly hope he gets a book of his own!  Rowdy probably will too, although the way he ran Pepper’s life, I am not really overly endeared enough to him to want to read an entire book about him. 

All in all, the second half of this book redeems it – somewhat.  I had to suspend my belief too many times for me to tag this with a higher rating.  I have been a Lori Foster fan since her first book, many years ago.  None of the primary characters in this book came close to what I know to be her best work.  After I finished The Perfect Storm, I had some serious misgivings about the heroine in that book, and wondered if she is trying to appeal to new age group of readers?  I know our reading choices differ from time to time, but I am not being totally sucked in to Lori ‘s books like in the past.  And that makes me really sad!   

Copy provided by NetGalley for review.
Ratiing:  3 stars                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Until There Was You, by Jessica Scott

Feisty red haired Claire believes you can bend some rules to get the job done.   Then we have Evan Loehr, dubbed Captain America by Claire, who is by the book.  A few years ago they shared a steamy kiss that neither of them has ever been able to forget, and ever since then, they find it hard to be in the same room with one another.  Now, they face each other in the cold winter in Colorado, where they have been sent to prep a company, including a good friend of Claire’s, for deployment.

Evan has a hard and fast rule to never date military women, and Claire has a rotten record in the romance arena.  Both are hiding demons that mostly have nothing to do with war, but has molded them in to the people they are today.  So when they meet again in Colorado at a get together event, neither is thrilled to see each other.  You know, due to that steam factor from a few years ago, that is still thick in the air!  I have to admit, the push and pull of these two is hot and steamy.  There are some great moments of humor thrown in too, with reference to Captain America.
The book revolves around Claire and Evan, learning to trust each other with life situations that have caused them to be so closed off to relationships.  I especially liked the way Evan approached Claire, when he learned of her painful past.  Claire really softened towards Evan when his secret was revealed to her.  It becomes very understandable why these two joined the military, because there they were kept so busy they were able to bury their pasts, and it’s a profession where a lot of people are in and out of your life in a short time.  No time to make lasting friendships, especially where Claire is concerned.

The military aspect sucks you right in too.  It would seem that a few of the higher ups are more concerned with advancing their careers, than properly training their troops for deployment. The training ops are really interesting, most likely due to the author’s own military background.  They play a huge part too, because that is where Evan and Claire disagree, which in the end could bring them down. The training ops were laced with tension,due to the inexperience of the troops. There are a few interesting reveals regarding Lt. Mallory Engle as  well.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Secondary characters are wonderfully drawn out.  Sgt. Reza Iaconelli is one of Claire’s dearest friends, and his demon is alcohol.  Reza manages to tie a good one on at the reception, and Evan helps Claire get the all but passed out Reza back to his room.  Evan has great concerns about the seargent’s drinking, and challenges Claire throughout the book to get him in to treatment.  This part with the addiction was well written, giving a very realistic view of dealing with an alcoholic, and why Claire is resistant to pushing Reza too hard. 
Jessica Scott is able to cram a lot in to a short page count book, without leaving out pertinent scenes. .  I was surprised this book didn’t pick up where Because of You left off, but that was not a make or break point for me. This is one of the best military books I have read in a long time. 

Loveswept Contemporary Military Romance
Date Read:  9/17/2012
Publication Date:  10/8/2012
ARC provided by NetGalley for review 
Rating:  4.5 stars

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens

See what happens when The Lady Risks All

Neville Roscoe, notorious and enigmatic, lives resolutely outside society, bound only by his own code of honor—until challenged by his desire for the one woman he cannot have.
Miranda Clifford is a lady imprisoned by rigid respectability—until tempted by a passion beyond her power to deny.

Flung together in peril, through danger and intrigue, they discover a love impossible to ignore . . . or keep.

This is a delightful new read from one of my favorite comfort authors. I was worried when I started this book that my expectations would be too high and I would be disappointed, I'm happy to say that I wasn't.

Miranda is not your typical heroine -- she is 29 years old, never married and lives with her aunt and brother. Roderick who is 24 years old. Her aunt is a stickler for not causing any scandal and has raised Miranda and Roderick to "fear" the ton because of the way their family made their money.

Roscoe/Justin is 39 years old and owns a string of gambling halls. He has given up much for the sake of his family who he holds dear to his heart. He comes from a long line of gamblers.

Miranda first meets Roscoe when she follows her brother one night to see where he is off to. She follows him to Roscoe Neville's house and she decides to find out if he's gambling or not and follows him in. She is caught by Roscoe and when asked what she is doing, she answers, "I'm here to rescue my brother." He questions her on the type of "entertaining" she thinks he's running in his own home and suggests that she follow him. She listens in on the meeting and finds out that all the men there including her brother are members of the Philanthropy Guild. Miranda realizes that she owes Roscoe an apology.

A few days later Roderick does not come home and Miranda's worry that something has happened to him and goes to Roscoe house to see if he knows anything about her brother. It's then that they realized after asking questions that Roderick had been kidnapped.

Miranda insists in helping search for her brother especially if he is hurt. The story continues with them tracking down leads and finally finding him and rescuing him. Roscoe decides to take him to his family estate....were we learn who Roscoe really is. His family opens their home and their hearts to Miranda and Roderick who when they found him has a broken foot and a collarbone. Miranda wonders why everyone is calling Roscoe - Julian, but it's not for his family to tell his story. When they return to London, Roscoe and Miranda go their separate way but he will continue to look for the man who kidnapped Roderick. I do not want to give too much away on whom the villain is but I love the way Miranda decides not to be afraid of scandal and surprises Roscoe by proclaiming her love for him first.

This is truly a wonderful love story with the Roscoe denying his true feelings for Miranda and Miranda fighting for what she wants. There are numerous sex scenes that were well written and a secondary story between Roderick and Sarah who is a cousin to Roscoe. The Delbraith family is outgoing and friendly and everyone truly loves Julian. His sister-in-law Caroline who we meet in the Prologue has a totally different opinion of Julian now and her son Henry is a young man wanting to learn everything he can from Julian who is his joint guardian. Ms. Lauren's again does not disappoint me and brings back several members of the Bastion Club.

I received an ARC of this book for an honest review.

Lord of Temptation by Lorraine Heath

Second book in the Lost Lords of Pembrooke Series

This had to be one of the best books that I read this year.....I really enjoyed it.
Tristan is the younger twin, his brother Sebastian's story is told in She Tempts The Duke.

When we first meet Tristan he is a frighten 14 year old boy who is locked in his family tower with Tristan and his younger brother, Rafe. Tristan is sold as a cabin boy by Sebastian because he fears for their lives because their uncle wants to kill them and become the next Duke of Keswick.

The story picks up 14 years later and Tristan is now known as Capt. Jack Crimson and he captains his own ship.

Anne wants to hire the Captain to take her to Scutari. Scutari is where her finance has died from the war and Anne feels that she can not go on with her life until she says good-be to Walter her dead fiancĂ©.  Capt. Jack agrees to take Anne for a payment of one kiss when he wants it and not before then.

While on the trip, Anne's opinion slowly changes of Capt. Jack and ever so slowly she shares her story. Capt. Jack tells Anne that his real name is Tristan.
The first time that they make love is so touching and overwhelming.

At the end of the trip their parting is oh so hot but Anne knows that she must now marry and come out of mourning for Walter. Once on land, Tristan can not stay away from Anne and is stubborn of his true feelings for her. He doesn't want to make a commitment but yet he wants no one else to have her.

Besides fighting his feeling for Anne, I feel he wants to get closer to his two brothers but just doesn't know how. There is a potent scene near the end of this book were Tristan finally goes back to the tower and comes to terms with his life.
Anne also has to overcome her personal demons and her overbearing father and brothers who want her to marry Chetwyn, Walter's brother.

The ending is one that I do not want to give away...but let me tell it will leave you breathless and I love the epilogue for the man that Tristan has become thanks to love of Anne.

I do see a budding romance between Anne's brother Jamison and Lady Hermione, who fancy herself in love with Tristan and causes a problem.
I'm so looking forward to Rafe's story.

Received an ARC of this book for an honest review.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Accidental Bride, by Christina Skye

DATE READ: 9/12/2012;     RATING: B, WARM

PUBLISH DATE: 9/25/2012


High profile chef Jilly O’Hara is on the fast track to success, when a heart attack at the age of 27 changes her life. Her friends are concerned for her, and send her to a mountain knitting retreat. They tell Jilly it is actually a cooking retreat to convince her to go, so Jilly is a bit surprised and thrown off her game when she arrives in Montana, and realizes her pals have set her up. She is at the small town airport in Lost Creek, waiting for transportation to the lodge when she meets Walker Hale.and his service dog Winslow, who served together in the military. Walker is a broken man, but for Winslow it is love at first sight when he meets Jilly.  Dogs know best, don’t they???

Jilly despises knitting, but is drawn in to the retreat, and decides she can make something for Winslow. Before long, the knitting relaxes Jilly, and she starts to understand the tranquility of the craft. Needing to make some major life changes, Jilly starts to understand some of the things her doctors are talking about when they tell her that she has to change her fast paced life.

There are a few tense moments when Jilly has some issues with her health, and she isn’t really up front with Walker about her heart problems. Jilly and Walker do fall hard for one another, so the pretense of a wedding between them is not a difficult to imagine.

The town of Lost Creek is a quirky little town, and everyone there loves their hero Walker, and his dog. Mamie, the aging owner of the resort Jilly is visiting, has a dream of a wedding for Walker, and before you know it, the entire town is busy planning the pretend wedding between Walker and Jilly, all to please Mamie. Of course, things aren’t always as they seem, and as sparks fly between Walker and Jillie, the vacation comes to an end.

The ending is a bit rushed, and I was not happy that we did not get a complete resolution to Jilly’s health problems. It started out as a major plot line, and was pushed aside by the wedding, and a very brief conversation with Walker about It towards the end. Walker was a to die for hero, along with his service dog, Winslow. Not much mention of Summer Island in this story either, so I do hope we get back to that a bit more in Olivia’s story, due up next.

All in all, a very good book. Christina Skye knows a thing or two about service dogs, as we know from some of her previous books, and hot heros!

**Note**   Since I have an ARC, the only blurb I have to go by is from Amazon, which is sort of correct, and the blurb from Goodreads, which is totally off base and not even close to what the actual book was about.