Review: Marry Me by Sundown

Review: Marry Me by SundownMarry Me by Sundown by Johanna Lindsey
Series: Callahan-Warren #3
Published by Gallery Books on July 10, 2018
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368

FINAL DECISION: Just okay for me. The characters were nice, but the story was really, really slow to get into. Things ended up nicely and I enjoyed it overall, but not a book I would look to read again.

THE STORY: Violet Mitchell traveled from London to her family’s home in Philadelphia to find that her father has gone west to try and solve the family’s looming money problems. Violet follows and find that her father is dead and needing to find his mine to save the family. Morgan Callahan doesn’t believe the woman who has come snooping around is his deceased partner’s daughter. So he kidnaps her to find out what she is really doing.

OPINION: There wasn’t anything in particular that I didn’t like about this book. It just felt a little flat to me and it took a long time for me to get into the story. By the time the story picked up in the last half of the book, it was too late for this to be a great book for me.

The characters were nice and I liked reading about the western setting, however, I didn’t find the characters compelling and vibrant such that I would want to read their story again. I especially had a problem with Morgan who remains a mystery in his thoughts and motivations for almost the entire book. It made him feel too distant and indistinct to be a fascinating character.

I also really didn’t feel the connection between these characters for most of the book. They didn’t clash, it just didn’t feel like a deep passionate connection either.

Overall, I liked the book, and I liked the story in a general way — meaning that when I finished it I didn’t feel that I had wasted my time reading it, but I don’t think I’d pick this book up again wanting to revisit these characters or their story.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book explores mining in the west. For me this was the most interesting part of the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MARRY ME BY SUNDOWN is the third book in the Callahan-Warren series. Although there are some appearances by overlapping characters, this book operates as a complete standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.



Review: Beautiful Tempest

Review: Beautiful TempestBeautiful Tempest (Malory-Anderson Family, #12) by Johanna Lindsey
Series: Malory Family #12
Published by Gallery Books on July 11th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION:  I completely satisfying book that I approached with trepidation.  I love, love, love the book about Jack’s father and I feared that this book wouldn’t live up to my expectations.  Instead, this book went in a different direction than I expected, but I loved these characters and their adventurous romance.

THE STORY:  Jacqueline Malory is the darling daughter of James Malory.  When Jack returns from escaping her kidnapper, James and his family are determined to take care of their enemy and sail for the West Indies to confront an old enemy.  Jack is angry that her father has left her in London while he confronts the man that kidnapped her. When a mysterious man approaches her at a masquerade ball, she is intrigued but realizes that he might actually be her kidnapper.  Instead of capturing him, Jack once again ends up in his clutches at sea.  But this time, things are different between them.

OPINION:  This is a book that I approached with trepidation.  GENTLE ROGUE (the story of Jack’s parents) is my all time favorite romance book.  Whenever an author extends the story of characters there is always the possibility of a letdown.  My concerns: Will Jack’s book be as compelling as her parents? How will the characters of James and George be presented? Will this book diminish my enjoyment of the original?  I’m glad to report that I was completely satisfied by this book.  As good as James and George’s book? No, but this book is filled with adventure and strong active characters — including Jack who seizes her own destiny.

Johanna has been writing for a long time (and I’ve been reading her for most of that time!).  Her books began in the time of bodice rippers and I found this book to be an interesting flip of many of those books.  Scenario:  heroine kidnapped and taken on the high seas as part of revenge against her father, hero is attracted to her and she is reluctantly attracted to him. The book also contains threats of rape, adventure and exotic locations.  In a prior book, the heroine would be a woman to which the action happens.  But those heroines of the past are not Jack Malory.

Jack is a woman who takes the reigns of her sexuality. She is determined, and takes all the autonomy that her brother does.  While she has a different sensibility, she refuses to be shamed or deterred by her male family members.  Ultimately, she navigates respect and care for her father and brother with her own self-determination. I really liked her own sense of self and her active nature.  Even as the times and protective nature of her male relatives dictate that she should be submissive, she (and the women of her family) are strong and independent.

Lindsey knows these characters so well and it was a joy to get an update on Malory family which contains a very colorful collection of characters that has engaged me since I was a teenager.  These characters are larger than life. While the story doesn’t have emphasis on historical accuracy and detail, I have always enjoyed how Lindsey places her iconic characters in the tapestry of history without becoming overly engaged in that history.  (There are other authors who are masters of weaving their characters into time, but that is clearly not Lindsey’s goal).

The hero Damon is an interesting contrast to Jack.  He has murky motivations but as things become clearer, I loved him more — and so did Jack!  I thought he was an interesting match for Jack. Sweeter in many ways — although he is definitely not a beta hero.  I love these shipboard romances and this one has some twists that kept me reading quickly to find out how things were resolved.

I loved this book and think that anyone who follows the Malory series will be especially pleased with this entry.  Probably my third or fourth favorite in the series overall…which says a lot considering how much I love this series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book brings up characters that are candidates for future books in the series.  One can hope!

CONNECTED BOOKS:  BEAUTIFUL TEMPEST is the twelfth book in the Malory Family series.  The book is a standalone, but is connected with its immediate predecessor STORMY PERSUASION and, of course, the heroine Jack is the daughter of James Malory from GENTLE ROGUE.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 5 stars.


Review: Make Me Love You

Review: Make Me Love YouMake Me Love You by Johanna Lindsey
Published by Gallery Books on July 5th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

“You are as stuck with me as I am with you, no matter how much we both hate it.”

FINAL DECISION:  Rather bland characters and story make this a book that was okay to read but not one I will rush to pick up again.

THE STORY:  Brooke Whitworth is ordered by the Prince Regent to be sent to marry Lord Dominic Wolfe, the enemy of her hated brother in order to settle a dispute which has led to three duels between the men.  If either family does not participate, their lands and titles will be forfeit. Brooke’s brother is happy to send her believing that Lord Wolfe will reject her as a bride.  The Wolfe, however, intends on frightening her away. What he doesn’t expect is that Brooke is happy to marry a man far away from her hated family and she will do everything to make him accept her.

OPINION:  I am a big fan of Johanna Lindsey. I’ve been reading her books for thirty years, but this one was a disappointment.  There was nothing bad about the book, it just consisted of such a bland story and bland characters that it is utterly forgettable.

I liked Brooke as a character.  She refuses to be cowed by her circumstances or her unhappy fiance. She is determined to make things work for her.  She is clever and kind.  Unfortunately, she was the best part of the book and was not unique enough to support the entire book.

Dominic was the biggest disappointment. His character was just bland and unimpressive. There didn’t seem to be anything to his character except his vendetta against Brooke’s brother.  My reaction to him was just a big yawn.

The story was resolved in too pat a manner. Too much easy happy endings where things were too broken to be so easily resolved. I just felt a big lack of any intense emotions, even passion in this book. There was one obligatory love scene that wasn’t particularly interesting either.

The story wasn’t horrible, but just so bland that I would just recommend reading one of the amazing Lindsey books instead of this one.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The funniest part of this book is when Dominic keeps getting his face slapped “propositioning” new mistresses.


STAR RATING:  I give this book 2.5 stars.


Wildfire in His Arms

Wildfire in His ArmsWildfire In His Arms (Callahan-Warren, #2) by Johanna Lindsey
Series: Callahan-Warren #2
Published by Gallery Books on June 16, 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 400

A Slow Start But Great Middle and End

THE STORY: Degan Grant is a gun for hire. When he agrees to do a favor for the US Marshall who saved his life, he finds himself searching out three wanted outlaws. When he starts his search looking for Max Dawson, wanted for murder and bank robbery, he is surprised to discover that Max is actually Maxine and that she claims to be innocent. He also discovers that his heart, that he believed immune, is taken by the sweet outlaw.

OPINION: I didn’t believe that I would like this book when I began it. I thought the story was slow to develop and I didn’t feel engaged with Degan, who felt distant and aloof. That changed once Max and Degan encounter one another. Their romance is sparkling and their journey funny and sweet and completely engaging.

Max is strong and yet intensely vulnerable. She is not damsel in distress. She has been taking care of herself in dangerous circumstances for years and yet has not become hard and jaded. She is smart and sneaky and a good match for Degan.

Degan was distant and difficult to like in the beginning…but that is precisely who he is. He has built walls around himself to protect himself from pain. A quiet man who does what needs to be done and is fair and honorable, Degan is not effusive about his emotions or his thoughts. He is a good man and I ended up liking him tremendously as the book progressed.

Once the story really started flowing, I was enthralled. The plot worked and everything felt balanced and proper. I especially liked how the romance was slowly developed and these two wary characters got to know one another and found out by the end that they were meant to be together.

WORTH MENTIONING: I am hoping for more stories about the Callaghan brothers.

FINAL DECISION: I ultimately really liked this book because I liked Degan who I found to be quiet and responsible and a good man. I also really liked how the relationship between Degan and Max developed. It felt natural and sweet.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WILDFIRE IN HIS ARMS is connected with ONE HEART TO WIN although it can be easily read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.25 stars.


Review: One Heart to Win

Review: One Heart to WinOne Heart to Win by Johanna Lindsey
Series: Callahan-Warren #1
Published by Gallery Books on June 11, 2013
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384

One of the Least Angsty Heroes Ever

THE STORY: Tiffany Warren is being sent to the father that she doesn’t remember in order to marry her family’s enemies to finalize the peace between them. She doesn’t want to leave civilized New York for the wilds of the west. When she arrives in town, she is mistaken as the housekeeper coming to work for her family. As a result of the mistaken identity, Tiffany ends up working in the house of her fiance, Hunter Callahan. Tiffany believes that impersonating the housekeeper will allow her to find out the truth about her fiance’s character. Tiffany doesn’t intend on staying in the west, but she ends up liking Hunter more than she expected.

OPINION: This story was not what I expected primarily because the hero was so incredibly fully of humor and cheer and is a nice guy. Hunter is one of the nicest heroes I have ever read about. In the beginning, Tiffany was rather annoying. She appeared spoiled and self-centered. When she arrives at the Callahan ranch, however, and takes on being the housekeeper, she redeemed herself by working hard, being creative and open minded. Because everyone ended up being so nice, there was little drama between the couple and thus I didn’t feel that the romance worked as well here as I would have expected.

WORTH MENTIONING: I tend to prefer angsty heroes and therefore was initially attracted more to Degan Grant, the gunslinger, than to Hunter, the hero. Hunter, however, is such a nice guy that it is hard to hold out against him.

FINAL DECISION: What made this story for me was the smiling, friendly, nice hero who doesn’t really have problems and issues.

CONNECTED BOOKS: ONE HEART TO WIN is followed by WILDFIRE IN HIS ARMS but the books can be read independent of one another.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.