Review: No One But You

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: No One But YouNo One But You (Silver Springs, #2) by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #2
Published by MIRA on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 448
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Really enjoyable small town mixed with mystery and crime romance.  These are two wounded people who have no reason to open up and trust one another — and yet they do.  They have a sweet romance combined with an exciting storyline for each of them.

THE STORY: Sadie Harris is struggling.  She is separated from her husband who doesn’t want to let her go and is trying to sabotage her efforts to be self-sufficient in order to driver her back to him.  When a job opens up with helping Dawson Reed at his farm preparing for the possibility of his sister being returned to his custody.  Everything seems perfect about the job except that everyone in town knows that Dawson savagely murdered his parents but managed to be found not guilty.  With the whole town against her, Sadie agrees to take the job in order to support her son.  As Sadie and Dawson spend time together, they grow closer and find that there is something between them worth fighting against the whole town for.

OPINION:  I really enjoyed this book because it acted somewhat as a romantic suspense in ways that I didn’t expect when the book began.  The merging of the various storylines was done in a skillful manner.

There is a lot going on but the heart of this story remains Sadie and Dawson.  They are both people who have been damaged by their pasts and have no reason to trust one another.  But as the two spend time together they form a friendship, and alliance, and understanding that it is them against everyone in town.

I thought this book had some beautiful moments between Sadie and Dawson as both are willing to sacrifice for the other.  And there is a lot of action and excitement as they story threads play out.

I really enjoyed this book and now want to go back and read the first one in the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The premise of this series comes from men who were troubled boys at the New Horizons Boys Ranch in Silver Springs.

CONNECTED BOOKS: NO ONE BUT YOU is the second book in the Silver Springs series.  This book, however, can be read as a standalone without any problem.  (I haven’t read the first book yet and didn’t feel that I missed it.)

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Lord of the Privateers

Review: Lord of the PrivateersLord of the Privateers (The Adventurers Quartet, #4) by Stephanie Laurens
Published by MIRA on December 27th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Exciting and adventurous conclusion to the Adventurers Quartet, this is a second chance at love story. The focus here is more on the adventure than the romance, but I enjoyed both.  The only negative is that I didn’t like that the entire set up was because the two characters didn’t talk to one another for important things for years.

THE STORY: Royd Frobisher, the eldest brother, is prepared to take on the final leg of the rescue mission that his brothers have been participating in.  The brothers are working for the English government to try and find out what is happening to people going missing in the West African town. Royd’s younger brothers have discovered that the people going missing have been captured by slavers and taken to work in a diamond mine. Now it is time for the rescue to happen. Just at this moment, Isobel Carmichael comes to Royd and insists that he take her to search for her missing cousin Katherine (whose story is told in Book 3 of the series). Isobel is Royd’s childhood sweetheart, the woman who was Royd’s handfasted bride until she broke off with him. Isobel is also Royd’s current business partner. Royd ends up agreeing with Isobel’s demand in order to discover what if anything still exists between them.  When the two find a surprise aboard Royd’s ship, everything changes.

OPINION:  This was a very enjoyable conclusion to the Adventurers Quartet.  There is a lot of action in this book and readers of the series are rewarded with a full cast of characters from the series.  The only criticism is that this book is more focused on the adventure than the romance.  The romance is there, but it is less developed on a page to page basis than one might expect.

Isobel is a strong woman. She is a ship designer and in charge of her family’s shipbuilding business.  She and Royd have been connected to one another since childhood.  She also has a big secret that she has been hiding.

One of my favorite parts of Laurens’s books is that she has such tough heroines. Strong willed, smart, unwilling to be pushed aside or protected, they make their own decisions and take their own risks. Isobel and the other Frobisher women quickly build a bond. There is something special about the power of women working together. A companionship. A joint effort that shows the power that women can have working together.

Royd is a man who lost the woman he loved and is determined to not make the same mistakes again. He is a natural leader and wants to protect Isobel but recognizes that he cannot smother her. I loved the maturity of Royd. The willingness to make concessions to get what he wants — Isobel.

The biggest weakness of this book is the reason that Isobel and Royd fell apart years ago. I’m not a fan of people failing to talk and that causing problems for a couple. I really have a hard time believing that these two could have allowed so many years to go by without addressing their past. However, that is something that I could reluctantly accept in order to set the stage for this story.

I thought the strength of this story was the adventure story.  The pacing of the rescue of the captives and the revelation of the people in charge worked very well.  Using a large cast of characters from the series, Laurens neatly wrapped up all the loose ends.

WORTH MENTIONING: Fans of Stephanie Laurens will be treated to appearances by characters from the Bastion Club series and the Cynsters themselves.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  LORD OF THE PRIVATEERS is the fourth and final book in the Adventurers Quartet.  The book assumes knowledge of the prior books in the series and should be read in order.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: The Daredevil Snared

Review: The Daredevil SnaredThe Daredevil Snared (The Adventurers Quartet, #3) by Stephanie Laurens
Published by MIRA on June 28th 2016
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Pages: 464
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite of the series so far.  I loved the hero Caleb and I thought the story was active and interesting and I loved that Caleb and Kate spent so much time together falling in love.

THE STORY:  Caleb Frobisher, the youngest brother, has taken on the next part of the mission — without permission. His brothers have worked to discover the secret of the missing English people in the West African town of Freetown. People are being abducted by slavers to work in a mine.  Caleb is to find the location of the mine and send the information back so that a rescue can be mounted. Katherine “Kate” Fortescue is a governess who has been taken by the slavers to care for the captive children.  She meets Caleb and under extreme circumstances, the two find a way to bring hope to the captives and fall in love.

OPINION:  This is the third book in the series and I really think the action has picked up from the second book.  Caleb is a daredevil who might seem reckless but is actually an amazingly optimistic and flexible thinker. He is willing to change plans, to make adjustments, to work towards a goal without being deterred by setbacks.  I really loved his character which I found compelling. He seems like a guy I would like in real life. He doesn’t have an ego that demands he be recognized as the leader.  He is willing to share responsibility, work with other people and take suggestions. All of these qualities are ones that Kate admires in Caleb.  The most important thing he brings to the captives, including Kate, is hope.

Kate is a leader herself. Independent. Strong. A woman who has made the best of a horrible situation. She is willing to take the hope that Caleb’s presence provides and work for her rescue and future. She is a good match for Caleb.

One of the best parts of this book is how Caleb and Kate manage to have a relationship in midst of bad circumstances. Somehow, they have a sweet courtship and get to know one another.  There is something beautiful about love in the midst of horrible circumstances. It gives hope and also shows that things like friendship, love, community can prevail even in the most dire of circumstances.

This book has a countdown clock on it and thus the pacing was well done. Things matter in this book — every moment is important. The captives need to live through this by working together towards making it to their rescue.

This book has set up the series for a great conclusion.

WORTH MENTIONING:  Oh, oh!  I can’t wait to find out who the troublesome woman is in the fourth book.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE DAREDEVIL SNARED is the third book in the Adventurers Quartet.  While the romance is self-contained in this book, there is an overarching story which is told through all four books.  The books are meant to be read in order.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: A Buccaneer at Heart

Review: A Buccaneer at HeartA Buccaneer at Heart (The Adventurers Quartet, #2) by Stephanie Laurens
Published by MIRA on April 26th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 512
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  I generally love Laurens books, but this one was almost boring for the first half. The second half (after the hero and heroine meet) was really good, but I couldn’t help but wish that they had met earlier to pick up the pacing.

THE STORY: Captain Robert Frobisher picks up the investigation into the disappearances of people in West Africa. He travels there with the mission to find the camp of the slavers who have been kidnapping men, women and children.  When he arrives, Robert finds another person doing her own search. Miss Aileen Hopkins has come to West Africa searching for her younger brother who is one of the missing.  Robert knows that he has to convince Miss Hopkins to stop her search before she disturbs the wrong person and ends up missing as well.

OPINION:  This book was just so-so for me.  Once Robert and Aileen met and began investigating together, things heated up and the pace of the story picked up.  Unfortunately, that really didn’t happen until halfway through the book.

For the entire first part of the book Robert and Aileen are engaged in their own investigations and the investigation is the central story in the book.  What I really wanted was to know more about these characters, but instead, I got detail about the kidnapping and methods of investigations.  Those items don’t bother me in a Laurens book because the mystery is central to the story, but here, the hero and heroine spent too much time apart on the investigation.

Once Robert and Aileen join forces, the story picked up and I was happily turning pages.  The two are clearly the perfect match and there wasn’t much keeping them apart except for the adventure they are on.  Truthfully, the adventure/mystery itself was much more intriguing and exciting once they joined forces.  If there was more of that in the book and less of them apart, I would have really enjoyed this book.

WORTH MENTIONING: I usually never mention things like covers, but I have to say this one might be one of the worst I have seen.  The expression on Robert’s face on the front creeped me out every time I looked at it.

CONNECTED BOOKS: A BUCCANEER AT HEART is the second book in the Adventurers Quartet.  These book feature a continuing overarching storyline and are meant to be read in order.  That being said, the romance itself is completely self contained.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars
Rating Report
Cover
one-star
Overall: one-star

Review: The Friends We Keep

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Friends We KeepThe Friends We Keep (Mischief Bay, #2) by Susan Mallery
Series: Mischief Bay #2
Published by MIRA on February 23rd 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 402
Goodreads
two-stars

FINAL DECISION: Not a book for me.  The three story format left me feeling that each story was superficial and I couldn’t truly feel a connection with any of the characters.  This book is women’s fiction or chick lit and focused more on the personal journey of the women characters than on the romance although there are happy endings.

THE STORY: THE FRIENDS WE KEEP are the stories of three women friends experiencing different challenges with children and men.

Gabby Schaefer is a stay at home mom who can’t wait until her twins are ready for Kindergarten so that she can return to work and have time to herself.  When a problem with her stepdaughter causes a crack in her own marriage, Gabby is forced to examine her own desires and expectations.

Hayley Batchelor desperately wants to be a mom.  Multiple miscarriages and expensive futility treatments have put a strain on her marriage as Hayley’s single minded pursuit of a biological child has overtaken everything else in her life.

Nicole Lord is divorced with a young son.  What has shaken her is how little her ex-husband meant to her life. When a new guy comes into the picture, she doesn’t know if she wants to take the chance.

OPINION:  This book was well written, but not the type of book I like to read.

The book focuses on the personal issues of each of the three women and I found each of them shallow, self-absorbed and selfish as the book begins.  They don’t seem to be able to communicate with the men in their lives and selfish go around concerned with their own wants and desires.

As the book went on I saw them change somewhat but because of the shortened nature of stories, I never got attached to any of the characters.  I felt a distance and couldn’t get absorbed in their stories or care about them. The stories all end satisfactory but the entire book felt surface and obvious to me.  I could predict how each of the stories would end and they did not feel complicated at all but rather simplistic.

I liked Nicole’s story the best because it closeness to romance made it feel like a novella. It felt that the only way she could be satisfied was by finding a man without any flaws. Rich, but he really just cares about children and his disabled sister, loves her son, makes no mistakes with her.

Too much of this book was spent with me banging my head on the wall being annoyed with these women. No matter how well written, I don’t want to spend my time with people I wouldn’t like in real life.

WORTH MENTIONING: The beginning of Nicole’s story is told in book one of the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE FRIENDS WE KEEP is the second book in the Mischief Bay series.  This book can be read on its own as I did not read the first book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

two-stars

Review: What We Find

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: What We FindWhat We Find (Sullivan's Crossing, #1) by Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing #1
Published by MIRA on April 5th 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Goodreads
four-stars

“He was falling in love with her.  It was a terrifying concept.”

FINAL DECISION: I fell right into this story, but for me the most compelling part of the story was the insight into two professional people who reached a crisis in their lives that made them rethink the entire trajectory of their lives.  A story of a deeply personal journey which also includes a romance, I really enjoyed the path these characters take.

THE STORY: Maggie Sullivan is a neurosurgeon who reaches a crisis in her career and her personal life.  This leads her to come to Sullivan’s Crossing where her father resides. Sullivan’s Crossing is a small town located where the Continental Divide Trail and the Colorado Trail cross.  While there, Maggie meets a mysterious hiker named Cal Jones. Cal has his own personal struggles and the two develop a friendship and then a romance.

OPINION:  I loved this story, but the romance was only the secondary reason why.  I really felt a connection with both Maggie and Cal who had reached what they thought was success in their personal and professional lives only to have things fall apart on them.  This is the story of how these two people emerge from their shattered lives and build a new personal and professional lives, fall in love and build a new life together.

I think that Carr really nailed the inner journey of these two characters.  Lives in upheaval are sometimes prime places to build bad relationships and I appreciated that these characters know they must find themselves before they are capable to giving themselves to someone else and sharing a new life together.

Carr has a wonderful way of giving her books a special place.  Sullivan’s Crossing feels real and settled and a place that anyone can go to. I love these small town stories because it gives the books a sense of community and there is much humor to be found in small town life.

While I enjoyed the romance, this book felt like a personal journey for two characters.  I felt a connection with each of these people who is asking “what do I want of my life now”.  The romance felt real and natural and special between these two, but I think the personal journey was even more compelling than the romance itself.

WORTH MENTIONING: Carr does quirky little towns so well.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHAT WE FIND is the first book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Lady’s Command

Review: The Lady’s CommandThe Lady's Command (The Adventurers Quartet, #1) by Stephanie Laurens
Published by MIRA on December 29th 2015
Genres: Historical
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-stars

“Marrying the lady of his dreams had proved surprisingly easy.  Forging the marriage of his dreams…That, apparently was an entirely different challenge.”

FINAL DECISION: Focused on developing a mystery that will play out between four separate novels, this book features a newly married couple working to develop a marriage that satisfies both of them.  Deftly focusing on the mystery allows for more harmony between the couple than might be expected, but this allows their relationship to grow rather than be mired in pointless conflict.

THE STORY: Captain Declan Frobisher quickly wooed and wed the woman of his dreams.  He knew immediately that she was the one. When a secret mission disrupts his honeymoon, Declan hopes to accomplish his mission and return to his wife in short order.  Lady Edwina nee Delbraith (a duke’s daughter and sister of gambling king Neville Roscoe from THE LADY RISKS ALL) is pleased with her husband but as a strong, definite and strategic woman she intends of building a marriage based on a working personal relationship.  She has no intention of staying home while her husband sails the seas.  She will take risks to show her husband that the two belong side by side.

OPINION: This book is more mystery than romance. The usual romance depicted in similar books happens before this book begins.  This book is about the formation of a marriage relationship.  That being said, I really like books that are about marriage.  There is much drama to be found in two people learning to navigate together and creating a life together instead of merely two lives running parallel.  That is what is at the heart of the romance in this book. Declan and Edwina have to discover what one another want and need in their marriage.  That requires talking and understanding and compromise from both of them.

Initially, Declan expects a marriage that will feature a lady wife to manage his home and children while he sails the world.  This conflicts with Edwina’s vision because she knows that she is not delicate and she is determined to fully share her husband’s life and she intends that the two of them wllll manage their life together.  Her adventurous soul attracted Declan to her and his desire to put her in a box to protect her cannot satisfy Edwina.

That being said, the normal drama and conflict is largely missing from this book.  These two respect and love one another from the beginning and therefore there is some — but not a lot — of conflict between Declan and Edwina.  Instead, there is the beginning of a mystery that will last throughout the four books of the quartet.  Therefore, anyone expecting a solution to the mystery will be disappointed.  This book is the first part of the mystery.  Some secrets are revealed, but there is much left for other couples to discover. Indeed, it is clear that Declan and Edwina still have a part to play in future books.  The mystery itself was well developed.  Regular readers of Laurens will know that she almost always has a serious mystery element in her books. Here, the mystery takes more prominance than in, for example, the Cynsters series.

This book clearly takes place in the same world that Laurens other novels.  Making a prominant appearance is Wolverstone (from the Bastion Club series) and there are mentions of the Black Cobra Quartet. While never overwhelming the current storyline, there are many Easter eggs for fans to find.

The remainder of the series will feature Declan’s brothers and the women they find.  This book has to do the heavy work of introducing characters and developing the ongoing storyline.  This book accomplishes that while giving readers a different type of romance.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book reminds me of the relationship between Penelope and Barnaby Adair in the Barnaby Adair Mystery series that Laurens also writes.  The emphasis on the mystery is also similar to that series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE LADY’S COMMAND is the first book in The Adventurers Quartet.  This is a truly connected four book series. Each of the books will build upon the story before and therefore the books are meant to be read together.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.  I also purchased my own copy of this book.

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four-stars