Review: Royally Endowed

Review: Royally EndowedRoyally Endowed (Royally, #3) by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #3
Published by Emma Chase, LLC on August 14th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 275
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Sweet and enjoyable, this is the story of two people who have known one another for years until the time for their passion to be brought out into the open.  I found the characters likeable and I found the book a fun read.

THE STORY:  Logan St. James and Ellie Hammond met when her sister became involved with one of the royals that Logan is sworn to protect.  Set as part of a security detail to protect Ellie, Logan takes his job seriously, but over the years he has taken to liking Ellie — perhaps too much.  Now that Ellie has graduated college, she is looking to find someone and wonders if it is time to put aside her crush on her bodyguard.  Although Logan feels something for Ellie, he knows that the sister of a member of the royal family is not right for a boy from the wrong side of the tracks — especially a woman he is supposed to work to protect.

OPINION: For me, the highlight of this book were the episodes between Logan and Ellie which occurred over the years.  There was such a gentleness and sweetness that existed between the two from the first.  Unlike other books where the entire sequence of events occur within days, I completely fell into the relationship between these two which happens over the course of years.  For me, that made their eventual passionate relationship both more realistic and more satisfying.

I loved Ellie as a character.  Spunky and determined, I knew that Logan was doomed once she decided to make her move. Their relationship always felt destined — but like they were always waiting for Ellie to make her move.  I liked that both characters were good people who just trying to do the right thing.

Chase has a wonderful ability to present the male point of view. Logan’s narrative felt different than Ellie’s and I appreciated how their alternating points of view still felt cohesive and drove the story forward without feeling duplicative or conflicting.

This book also rewards fans of the series since there are lots of updates on the couples from the previous two books of the series.  I finished this book was a heartwarming feeling about the entire series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This story is told in alternating first person points of view.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ROYALLY ENDOWED is the third book in the Royally series.  This romance is independent of those books, but characters are overlapping and this story might be better if you have read the other books first just to be familiar with them.  In fact, the beginning of this story happens in the gaps of the first story in the series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: Royally Raised

Review: Royally RaisedRoyally Raised (Royally, #2.5) by Emma Chase
Series: Royally #2.5
Published by Emma Chase, LLC on June 2nd 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 36
Goodreads
four-stars

This is a short, short story that takes place 20 years after the events of ROYALLY MATCHED and gives an update on what is going on with Henry and Sarah and their family.  There is a little bit of a plot involving their eldest, but that isn’t particularly resolved (perhaps there might be a book in the future about their child!)  It is really nice to see how Henry has matured and grown into his role.  I really enjoy these stories which are just a glimpse in the lives of these characters after the pages of the book are done.  The story was free to download so I think it is perfectly appropriate as a gift to fans.

Rating: 4 stars.

four-stars

Review: The Playboy Prince and the Nanny

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 Playboy Prince and the NannyThe Playboy Prince and the Nanny (Royal Duology #1) by Donna Alward
Published by Swerve on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A sweet romance that harkens back to my days devouring category romances.  The story is pretty clean and focused on the couple. Sweet read that I enjoyed because of the characters.  This was a book I finished with a warm heart.

THE STORY:  Rose Walters comes to Marazur to take over being nanny for the two royal children whose mother just died.  While there, she ends up spending time with “the spare” Prince Diego.  Diego has been known as a playboy who flits around the world, but the family tragedy brings him back home and gives him a purpose to help his family including his brother and niece and nephew heal.  Of course, it also brings him in constant contact with the new nanny.  A woman he can’t get off his mind.

OPINION:  I found this an enjoyable read. The characters and the story was uncomplicated and really focuses on these nice people navigating external events that threaten their potential relationship.

Years before I became obsessed with dark and angst filled dramatic romances, I read just about every Silhouette, Loveswept, Harlequin, Second Chance at Love, and numerous other category romances.  The stories were mostly simple and focused on the couple overcoming plot devices that threatened their relationship.  I read hundreds, maybe thousands, of those stories and was happy with those stories.

This book is a slightly more sophisticated version of those stories.  The characters are nice and the romance is sweet.  I enjoyed the connection between the characters and the fairy tale quality of the nanny falling for the prince.  (And the playboy prince falling head over heels for the slightly wallflower nanny!!) Rose and Diego are such nice people and the real complication is their relative positions (prince versus nanny) and some external threats that I don’t want to give away.

While the story is definitely on the sweet side, I so much enjoyed the interaction between Diego and Rose which was romantic and gentle and warmed my heart.

I look forward to the companion book in this series about Diego’s brother because this book left me with good feelings.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a pretty clean romance with some kisses and one act of premarital sex off screen.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE PLAYBOY PRINCE AND THE NANNY is the first book in the Princes of Marazur series.

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 review or write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Dark Horse

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: Dark HorseDark Horse (Whitehorse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping, #1) by B.J. Daniels
Series: , , The McGraw Kidnapping #1
Published by Harlequin Intrigue on August 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 256
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Much more mystery/romantic suspense than romance, I enjoyed this book for what it is — an introduction to the mystery of the disappearance of the McGraw twins.  The romance was a nice addition, but certainly did not carry the story.

THE STORY: True crime writer Nikki St. James to write about (and intending to solve) the kidnapping of the McGraw twins.  It has been twenty-five years since they disappeared and although some believe that the twins are dead and that the mother and her lover committed the crime, Nikki wants to prove there is another explanation.  Nikki has gotten the father to agree to talk, but his eldest son, Cull McGraw, doesn’t trust Nikki and wants to protect his family.  Sparks fly and old secrets present new dangers.

OPINION:  This book is really a mystery book with a side of romance.  I thought the mystery is well set out and very intriguing.  In fact, the mystery is my favorite of the B.J. Daniels books I have read so far.  I thought the entire set up was creepy and definitely a well constructed and interesting conflict.  I felt like I was in the middle of an Agatha Christie book with all the suspicious characters and secrets.

The book really is focused on Nikki as the “detective” of the story.  She has her own secrets which have sent her into the investigation of the twins’ disappearance.  Cull is the dutiful eldest son who falls for Nikki.  There really isn’t much else about their characters, but there was enough to keep me in the game as I was far more intrigued by the mystery than the romance.

This is a short category romance so things happen quickly and I was impressed that the mystery itself was so well set out.

I look forward to the next book in the series with another romance (but knowing Daniels’ style, there will be more about the mystery than the romance and that’s okay).

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book does NOT resolve the mystery of the kidnapping of the twins in its entirety.  There are some answers, but clearly there is much more to learn.  That is the overarching story so you will have to read the rest of the series for that to be resolved.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  DARK HORSE is the first book in the Whitehouse, Montana: The McGraw Kidnapping series.  I haven’t read the other Whitehouse, Montana books so I don’t know how closely related the series are.  I didn’t feel that I missed anything, however, in starting with this book.

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 review or to write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: The Rancher’s Runaway Princess

Review: The Rancher’s Runaway PrincessThe Rancher's Runaway Princess (Larch Valley #1) by Donna Alward
Series: Larch Valley #1, Princes of Marazur #0.5
Published by Harlequin Enterprises LTD on April 1st 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 187
Goodreads
two-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Nice story, but it was uneven.  I liked the second half much more than the first half.

THE STORY: Lucy Farnsworth has come to Canada to check out a horse farm for the royal family of Marazur.  She becomes attracted to rancher Brody Hamilton, but Lucy is keeping a secret.  She is actually Princess Luciana, the daughter of the King of Marazur.  Lucy discovered this only as her mother was dying and Lucy has had her world turned upside down.  Her father has offered her the opportunity to perform this task in order to give herself some space from her new life.  But as she falls for Brody, her deception becomes more of a problem.

OPINION:  The story here was nice and for those who are looking for a sweet read, this is a nice one.  For me, however, I want more passion between the characters.  Both Brody and Lucy are too nice.  Their conflicts didn’t feel like they were something that could not be overcome.

Brody is a brooding and hurt man.  He has been burned before so as he becomes more and more attracted to Lucy, he acts out in response.  Lucy is confused about her own life and she is keeping the secret of her true identity as a princess.  (Thus, it is perfectly reasonable that Brody doesn’t trust her).

I’m not against sweet books without sex, but I didn’t think there was enough emotional passion to keep the story going.  Rather, the story is premised primarily on the secrets that both Brody and Lucy are keeping.

The story picked up in the second half and if the entire book was as compelling as the first half, I would have given it a better rating.  I thought in the second half as the two get closer, there was a more interesting and personal story.

I liked this story but there was not enough meat here to make this a book that I will think about in a month.  Rather, this is a sweet one time read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is definitely a book in the sweet category.  There is nothing more than kissing between the characters.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  THE RANCHER’S RUNAWAY PRINCESS is the first book in the Larch Valley series.  It is also the prequel to the Princes of Marazur series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 2.5 stars.

two-half-stars

Review: Until You Loved Me

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: Until You Loved MeUntil You Loved Me by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #3
Published by Mira Books on July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: My favorite book in the series. This unexpected pregnancy story moves in a direction I did not expect and I really enjoyed the quiet and personal relationship that develops between Ellie and Hudson.

THE STORY: After the betrayal by her fiance, Ellie Fisher tosses off her normal staid scientific personality and has a one night stand with a stranger. Finding herself pregnant, Ellie finds out that the stranger is actually a famous quarterback, Hudson King.  Hudson, scarred by his abandonment as an infant and his time in foster care, at first believes that Ellie planned to “catch” him. But the reality of their baby drives him to want to be a part of his child’s life.  The two agree to live together in Silver Springs until after the baby’s birth.  As these two get to know one another, they find the passion that immediately flared between them reigniting.

OPINION:  I really enjoyed this book.  The story didn’t go in the fashion I expected and I enjoy being surprised by the direction a story goes in.  Ellie and Hudson have a personal and emotional journey and I liked the slow buildup to their happy ending.

I have become a fan of these small town romance series.  Although this book has characters who both come from the big city, there is something quiet and intimate about their relationship as it takes place in Silver Springs. The best part of this book is the day to day living where Ellie and Hudson work out and work through their relationship.

Ellie is a woman who has been concerned primarily with her work. The betrayal by her fiance tosses her into Hudson’s arms. The two have a connection that goes beyond sexual but both turn away after that first night. The unexpected pregnancy brings them back together in difficult circumstances.  Ellie’s inherent decency causes her to tell Hudson of her pregnancy.  I liked that because when she discovers who Hudson is some of the details made me think that Hudson would discover the pregnancy in another manner. I was impressed that the story didn’t go for the over-dramatic plot device but rather the personal work that has to be done between these characters.

Can I say that Hudson is adorable?  He is a man who is struggling as this book goes on.  Not only do we have the unexpected pregnancy but also Hudson’s attempts to discover his origins.  There are both interesting parallels and interesting differences between Hudson’s past and the present.  Those issues are subtexts to the story which give it depth and meaning, but don’t distract from the central story of Ellie and Hudson.  (I also love a man who cares for a sick woman).  Hudson’s commitment phobia is completely understandable considering his past.  I loved how he works through his issues and demonstrates what a decent and caring and kind man he is.

The plot in the story about Hudson’s past brought some drama to the book that really takes place on the ground of two people living together and learning about one another and building a relationship.

This is the best of the series so far.

WORTH MENTIONING: I wish we had seen more of the characters from the first two books in the series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  UNTIL YOU LOVED ME is the third book in the Silver Springs series.  It can be read as a standalone because the books are only loosely connected by the location and the hero’s connection with the New Horizons Boys Ranch.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

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

four-half-stars

Review: Misconduct

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: MisconductMisconduct (Birmingham Rebels, #4) by Samantha Kane
Series: Birmingham Rebels #4
Published by Loveswept on July 25th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 288
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This was an enjoyable story and one that was well balanced in the relationship between the three characters.  Both the connection between them in pairs and as a menage worked here.

THE STORY:  Running back Tom Kelly wants a committed three way relationship (and there are several in the Birmingham Rebels organization). Carmina de la Cruz is the woman Tom would like to have as part of the relationship.  Carmina is an Army vet trying to recover from a tour in Afghanistan that resulted in a traumatic brain injury. Tom’s interest helps Carmina feel desired again, but she also has an interest in Tom’s teammate and friend Danny Smith.  Danny knows that the Rebels have a certain reputation, but he has no interest in pursuing a threesome relationship after being burned before.  But Tom and Carmina are awfully tempting.

OPINION:  This was an interesting story and not just an erotic sex fest.  Tom, Carmina and Danny are three different people — each with a different issue to work out.  Of the three, Tom is the one who is the most well adjusted and is the hinge that makes the relationship work.  He is the youngest of the three and has just discovered his bisexuality and has been enjoying exploring his sexuality.

Danny is a man who has been haunted by his actions in relation to his friend and allowing his own career to take precedence over an attempted sexual assault upon her. He believes himself unworthy of happiness and thinks about revenge instead. He is also a man who is struggling against his potential bisexuality.  He has a darker past and struggles more against the menage relationship.

Carmina is a strong woman who is struggling against both her physical and emotional injuries. Her inability to find sexual satisfaction after her accident is part of the catalyst for the relationship.

I liked how these three work through their issues and also need to figure out if and how a relationship can work between them. It’s nice that they don’t take it for granted that things will work out between them.  There are also issues of jealousy and uncertainty that are raised which seem natural.

I also really enjoyed that this book came full circle from the first in the series by resolving the lingering issues and helping close Danny’s issues surrounding the events. I’m not sure whether there will be other books in the series, but this book could be a nice concluding story.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is a menage story featuring three people working toward a long term relationship.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  MISCONDUCT is the fourth book in the Birmingham Rebels series.  This book can be read as a standalone but it is connected with BROKEN PLAY and tells a connecting story to the heroine’s past there.

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 review or write a positive review.  All opinions contained herein are my own.

four-stars

Review: Glamour

Review: GlamourGlamour: Contemporary Fairytale Retellings by A.L. Jackson, Aleatha Romig, Lili St. Germain, Nicola Rendell, Nora Flite, Sierra Simone, Skye Warren, Sophie Jordan
Series: Masterpiece Duet #1.5, Consequences #5.5,
on July 18th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica, Fantasy
Pages: 331
Goodreads
four-half-stars

This is an anthology of eight romance stories each based upon a fairy tale.  This is an excellent anthology.  Each of the stories is good and many of them were fascinating enough for me to read more of the author.  Highly recommend this if you are looking for hot and well written novellas.

MUSIC BOX GIRL by Sierra Simone (Twelve Dancing Princesses): An erotic story which involves a 39 year old private investigator who gets involved with the 19 year old subject of his surveillance. This is a super hot, super erotic fantasy story which means that one has to suspend disbelief. The story is hot and there is one orgy depicted and others suggested. I enjoyed the story but the story was more about the hot sexual situations than the characters. I wish there was more of this story because I think the characters could have been really been interesting with pages to flesh them out. Rating: 4 stars.

BEDTIME STORY by Skye Warren (Sleeping Beauty): This novella is apparently connected to THE KING (which I haven’t read).  Jessica who has a small child is on the run from a dangerous man.  She runs into Finn, who is sheriff in a small town. The novella depicts their encounter which is filled with tension both dangerous and sexual. The story ends up being a sweet one and this is a novella that I really liked but wished that there was much more to the story.  It did make me want to read more by this author.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

RIPPLES by Aleatha Romig (Prince and the Pauper): Natalie struggles against the expectations of her parents.  When she travels to visit them for Christmas an encounter with a stranger on the plane changes her life.  I don’t want to give too much away, but this is a spin-off of the Consequences series so readers of that series will know to expect a dark and twisted romance.  I was fascinated with the story but didn’t quite get it in the end.  I think it would have been better if I knew about the heroine’s parents’ story.  Rating: 4 stars.

ROYAL MATTRESS by Nicola Rendell (Princess and the Pea): Dave is a mattress millionaire who also happens to be a prince in a defunct country.  He also has terrible luck in love although he is looking for that magical connection with a woman.  On the night of an amazing storm, Lisa arrives at Dave’s home seeking shelter.  From the moment they meet, the connection between Lisa and Dave just sizzles. Although the length of this novella means that everything between these two happens almost instantly, I really liked Dave and Lisa and their connection.  Rating: 4.5 stars

IN A STRANGER’S BED by Sophie Jordan (Goldilocks): Thea is left behind in the Highlands of Scotland by her tour group.  Caught in a rainstorm, Thea finds a house which is lived in but the occupant is absent.  (It’s a Goldilocks story, you can guess what happens from there).  Thea ends up being found by a grumpy Scotsman Niall.  This story I really enjoyed.  Yes, there is insta-love, but the two are so sweet together along with some arguing and oh-so-sexy times.  I really appreciated the epilogue of this story because it gave the story a finished quality.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

BROKEN HARP by Nora Flite (Jack and the Beanstalk): As a young man, Jack is swindled by a club owner and almost killed.  Years later he is now back to get his revenge.  He meets again the woman who saved his life who is working as a stripper and raising her sister. This story is dark and exists in a seedy existence, but I really liked the characters and this was a very enjoyable story.  Rating 4 stars.

RED HOT PURSUIT by AL Jackson (Little Red Riding Hood):  Lili Redd is engaged in protecting her adopted grandmother from the Big Bad Wolf aka Brody Wolfe.  Brody, a real estate developer, wants to purchase the shop and Lili, as an attorney, is determined to do whatever she has to do in order to stop him.  Things heat up as the two correspond and when they meet, the temperature rises even higher.  I absolutely loved this story.  The characters were strong and independent and their conflict was hot, hot, hot.  I loved their conflict and banter as the two struggle with their business conflict and their personal attraction.  This is a prequel novella and introduction to the upcoming Fight for Me series.  I will definitely be checking that out.  My favorite of the anthology.  Rating: 5 stars.

KNOT by Lili St. Germain (Rapunzel):  A woman is kept captive in a tower by a Mexican crime lord before a mafia doctor comes to save her life and rescue her.  This is one dark story on so many levels.  I was creeped out by Seraphina’s Stockholm Syndrome attachment to her jailer and rapist, even as I understood her dependence upon him.  I liked that the story didn’t flinch from that complexity.  I also liked that the characters had an incredible amount of complexity in such a short novella.  I saw at the end of the story that there might be more of Seraphina and Xavier in the future and I would definitely read more.  Rating: 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Born in Fire

Review: Born in FireBorn in Fire (Born In Trilogy, #1) by Nora Roberts
Series: Born in Trilogy #1
Published by Berkley on September 3rd 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 368
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  This book is a great introduction to one of my favorite trilogies.  Maggie is difficult to understand and get to know, but that reflects her closed off nature.  The story of how she opens up and learns to trust is wonderful and fulfilling.

THE STORY:  Maggie Concannon is the eldest sister and a glass artist.  When her father dies, family secrets are revealed.  Strong and independent, Maggie wants to control her career.  Rogan Sweeney a renowned gallery owner who wants to help promote Maggie’s career.  As the two stubborn and determined Maggie and Rogan fight against one another, a deep passion arises between them, Maggie struggles with the scars from her family which have taught her to rely only upon herself.

OPINION:  This is, at its heart, the story of a family and the lasting damage that the pain and secrets in that family can have on the next generation.  Maggie is a woman who has learned from her parents’ dysfunctional marriage to keep herself apart.  She especially will not open herself up to love and trust. This prickly independent woman must open herself up to find love.  As she finds the man perfect for her, the question is whether or not she is willing to risk herself.

The characters in this story are so bold and well-defined that they are the centerpiece of a book that has a lot packed into it.  Maggie’s artistic drive, stubborn will and intense fear. Rogan’s determination to win Maggie as an artist and as a woman. The best part of this book is the connection between Maggie and Rogan.  The two battle and argue and work their way into a love that can last.

I loved the characters in this story and the quiet personal nature of the conflicts here. As the secrets in this story are revealed, this novel sets up the rest of the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This is one of the best Nora Roberts’ trilogy.  She has written other trilogies set in Ireland after this one, but I think this is my favorite of them.

CONNECTED BOOKS: BORN IN FIRE is the first book of the Born In Trilogy.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Finding Our Forever

Review: Finding Our ForeverFinding Our Forever (Silver Springs, #1) by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #1
Published by Harlequin Special Edition on March 21st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION:  A book with characters who are really likeable and caring but are dealing with the pain in their lives, I really liked this book because it didn’t go in the direction I would have expected for drama.

THE STORY:  Cora Kelly has come to Silver Springs searching for her birth mother who runs the New Horizons Boys Ranch.  But she decided not to reveal her identity until she determines whether she wants to.  Applying to be a teacher at the school, Cora meets Elijah Turner who is the manager of the ranch and one of the adopted sons of Cora’s birth mother. As Cora begins to build relationships with those at the ranch, the decision whether or not to reveal her secret becomes more difficult as she worries about destroying those relationships — especially the one between her and Eli.

OPINION:  I enjoyed this book because of the characters. There was a sense of reality and decency with these people.  The book didn’t feel like it was trying to tell an over dramatic adventure story.  Rather this story stayed small and focused on the characters.  Cora and Eli are a sweet couple.  They start out as a “scratching an itch” relationship but quickly they find in one another a companion and their attempts to keep things at a distance are not very successful.  I loved how their romance progressed in this manner.  It also served to explain how Cora could keep her secret for so long.  I really liked these characters who are always good people. They struggle with how to be a good person with their limitations (Cora’s deception and Eli’s fear of getting close), but they always act from a good place.

I didn’t enjoy this book quite as much as the other in the series I read, but this book was a good start to the series.

WORTH MENTIONING:  I read the second book in this series first and didn’t miss anything.  These books are very separate from one another even though they occur in the same place.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  FINDING OUR FOREVER is the first book in the Silver Springs series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars