Review: Repeat

Review: RepeatRepeat by Kylie Scott
Published by Independently Published on January 17, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 302
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This is a fresh, sexy and emotionally compelling story of a woman who has to find out who she wants to be in the face of a past she can’t remember but surrounded by people who can’t forget. Everything about this story feels different and new.

THE STORY: Clementine Jones wakes from an attack with no memory of herself. Starting again and trying to discover who she was leads her to Ed Larsen, the man she broke up with a month before. Now Clem has to build a new life for herself and finds herself attracted to the man where the past that stands firmly between them and yet is hidden from her.

OPINION: I really enjoyed this book. The brain injury/amnesia story seemed too far fetched when I read the blurb, but this book really takes the storyline seriously and it works really well. The story is told solely from Clem’s point of view which means that the reader is kept in the dark about much of the past and that works really well too. It keeps the reader as uncertain and questioning as Clem is.

This book ends up an interesting combination of a second chance book and a woman dealing with a man’s past as Ed was hurt by Clem in the past. This combination makes the journey these two take compelling and different. Clem is getting a clean slate in her own mind but can’t escape the past that it all around her. I loved seeing her navigate all the relationships from her prior life.

Ed is adorable. Although he has been hurt, his caring nature is clear every step of this book. I really loved how these two build a different and better relationship. One based on communication and understanding.

Sexy and fresh. This is a quick read that I really enjoyed and will certainly read again.

WORTH MENTIONING: I think I want to read more about the supporting characters in this book specifically Ed’s brothers.

CONNECTED BOOKS: REPEAT is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: At the Pleasure of the President

Review: At the Pleasure of the PresidentAt the Pleasure of the President (The Perfect Gentlemen #5) by Lexi Blake, Shayla Black
Series: The Perfect Gentlemen #5
Published by Black Oak Books on April 9, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 450
Goodreads
five-stars

FINAL DECISION: Entirely satisfying conclusion of this series with plenty of appearances by everyone important in the series. Wraps up everything nicely including all the romances you expect and need.

THE STORY: This book picks up immediately after the conclusion of SMOKE AND SIN. The dangers are surrounding the Perfect Gentlemen and their women as the conspiracy around the President Zach Hayes becomes more open. Zach is also torn as the woman he has wanted for years, his Press Secretary Elizabeth Matthews. Liz has been operating as Zach’s de facto First Lady after the murder of his wife on the eve of the election. Just when it seemed like Zach and Liz might give in to the passion between them, Zach has taken steps to protect Liz from those who threaten him. And now it seems like Liz might be involved in the conspiracy against Zach and the United States. Yet Zach can’t stop wanting Liz.

OPINION: This review is difficult to write. Not because this is not a wonderful book — it is — but because almost everything about it could be a spoiler. The fifth and final book in the Perfect Gentlemen series finally exposes everything that has been going on. Therefore, almost everything about it gives away plot lines.

The best thing about this book is that it answers all the questions. After it was done, I felt that I finally understood the entirely of the events of the series. The only negative of the book is that the construction of it means that you have to have read the prior books in the series to enjoy this one. AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is packed full and it could be overwhelming for someone who isn’t familiar with the characters, events and plots of what has been happening in the series. The positive is that it richly rewards those who have read the series with a satisfying conclusion.

There is a lot in this book and yes — what you want and expect will be included (even if I don’t want to give anything away here).

Zach and Liz have been circling around one another throughout the series. Zach was born and bred to be president and thus has by circumstances lived a more restrained life than his “brothers in arms”. What I really enjoyed in this book is that Zach begins to break through his lifetime of restraint and really reach out for what he wants in this book. Liz breaks through all his discipline and he can’t be the intellectual and objective person that has been working to fulfill his ambitions. She kinda breaks him in important ways. I loved that Liz, who has been on the side for much of the series, refuses to be sidelined any longer. She insists on being in the forefront along with the other women of the series.

The plot of this book is big and crazy and so much fun. I especially loved that we get to see all the Perfect Gentlemen and their ladies together. This series really has energy when the characters interact. The relationships — both romantic and essentially a family built of friendship are essential here and really make this series worth reading.

This felt like this book was written for the fans because just about everyone and everything I could have wanted was included. I loved this book and really didn’t want it or the series to end, but now I am satisfied that everything ended on a high note.

WORTH MENTIONING: Epilogue my friends!

CONNECTED BOOKS: AT THE PLEASURE OF THE PRESIDENT is the fifth and final book in the Perfect Gentlemen series. This series must be read in order and it is necessary to read the prior books in the series to enjoy this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

 

five-stars

Review: Pray for Silence

Review: Pray for SilencePray for Silence (Kate Burkholder, #2) by Linda Castillo
Series: Kate Burkholder #2
Published by Minotaur Books on June 22, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Goodreads
five-stars

Everything You Could Want in a Crime Thriller/Mystery

“Some cases are more complicated than others.”

FINAL DECISION: A satisfying mystery combined with continued revelations and painful parallels to Kate’s past and those of her lover John. PRAY FOR SILENCE is a worthy sequel to the first book in this series.

THE STORY: Chief of Police Kate Burkholder straddles two worlds. Having grown up Amish, she understands and respects the people, but she also rejected the life and now lives apart from them. Ten months after the horrific events in SWORN TO SILENCE, things have returned to normal except that Kate has an on again off again lover in John Tomasetti and Kate’s own demons seem closer to the surface. Painters Mill is struck by another horrific event as a whole Amish family is brutally murdered. The Platt family had moved to Painters Mill only a year ago and now an entire family is wiped out. Although the family seemed normal, Kate knows that every family can harbor dark secrets.

OPINION: This is one scary book. There are many twists and turns which make is a great mystery. What makes is a great thriller is how haunted Kate is by her own past and how that intertwines and makes more immediate the murders here. Not only is there a difficult murder mystery to solve but readers also get more revelations about Kate’s own past, her shaky mental stability and the way that the past seems to bleed into Kate’s work. More about John’s own problems are revealed as he has weaned himself from his addiction to prescription drugs but instead suffers debilitating anxiety attacks. I loved how these two closed people warily circle one another wanting and fearing a connection between them. The emphasis in this book is always on the crime but it is always shown through the first person narrative of Kate. The personal connection is what makes these crimes especially relevant and keeps them from being intellectual exercises.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some graphic depictions of violence involving murder and rape.

CONNECTED BOOKS: PRAY FOR SILENCE is the second book in the Kate Burkholder series. It can be read independent of the first book in the series, but there are ongoing stories that make this book richer and for that the books should be read in order.

STAR RATING: I give this book 5 stars.

five-stars

Review: Unforgettable You

Review: Unforgettable YouUnforgettable You (Silver Springs, #5) by Brenda Novak
Series: Silver Springs #5
Published by MIRA on February 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: I liked a lot about this book, but I felt the heroine was a weak personality. It took too long for her to take control of her life from her manipulative mother, by the time she did, I wanted a grander gesture.

THE STORY: Jada Brooks returns to Silver Springs with her daughter after her divorce. Twelve years after a youthful mistake tore apart her world and her family’s, Jada is trying to do penance by caring for her ill mother and her disabled younger brother. What she doesn’t expect is the return to town of Maddox Richardson — the man she loved whose decisions helped destroy her family’s world, and the man who unknowingly left her pregnant. Maddox has returned to Silver Springs as the head of the new girl’s school in town. The decisions that led to the injuries to Jada’s brother are something he still regrets and he doesn’t want to bring any more pain to that family, but he has never been able to forget Jada.

OPINION: First what I liked about this book. There is a great message here about forgiveness and healing. Apart from the issues with the heroine that I discuss below, I would have really loved how these two have a second chance at love and are able to move beyond the past to grab it.

The hero in this book is amazing. Maddox is a kind man who is working hard to make up for one mistake in his life that had serious and lifelong consequences. He has turned his life to something good and yet manages to care for his drug addicted mother and his brother who is getting out of prison. I found him caring and adult and sweet.

Which made the heroine even harder to take at times.

The heroine really annoyed me at times in this book. Her decision to keep the truth about her daughter’s father from her and then state that she is doing it because she worried about her daughter rejecting her if she told the truth made me almost actively dislike her. She should care about what is best for her daughter. And that is the truth — not what makes Jada’s own life more convenient. In fact, Jada seems pretty week as a person. She is not a child; she is thirty years old and has a twelve year old. No matter her guilt over what happened, she doesn’t seem to be able to be concerned about anything other than herself. It’s like she is saying “Oh, please mom, please forgive me. I will sacrifice my life and my daughter’s life if you will just love me more.” I don’t really respect her and it takes too long in this book for her to make any changes. By that time, I just didn’t care anymore. I could only hope that Maddox found out the truth and would be able to show his daughter that people can care about their dysfunctional family and still have limits.

I wanted to like this book more but I needed more from the heroine.

WORTH MENTIONING: There is an Easter Egg for fans of the Evelyn Talbot series.

CONNECTED BOOKS: UNFORGETTABLE YOU is the fifth book in the Silver Springs series. The romance is self-contained and thus this can be read as a standalone. There are some overlapping characters, but they are only background in this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

 

three-half-stars

Review: Misadventures with My Ex

Review: Misadventures with My ExMisadventures with My Ex (Misadventures, #18) by Shayla Black
Series: Misadventures #18
Published by Waterhouse Press on March 26, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Erotica
Pages: 196
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: A second chance at love story with lots of sexy times, a manipulative prospective mother-in-law and two people who love one another even through years of being apart.

THE STORY: Three years ago, Eryn Hope fell hard for Weston Quaid but her heart was broken when he walked out on their wedding day. Three years later, he walks back into her life with a proposition: he will take care of the bills regarding her closed restaurant if she spends six weeks with him in Las Vegas. They have an agreement with different goals: Eryn wants to sex Weston out of her system so that she can finally forget him; Weston wants Eryn back.

OPINION: What didn’t work for me? I really never accepted the events that led to the breakup of Eryn and West three years ago. But that is the setup for the story so putting that aside, I really enjoyed this book.

There was a real sense of emotion between Eryn and West which is heightened by the alternating first person points of view allowing the reader to really trust in these two characters motivations even when the events seem to point to something else. A story that might be exploitative without understanding that West really loves Eryn and wants to get her to listen to and believe him ends up working and being sexy. I enjoy a good second chance story and these two characters have to get through their mistakes. They are both young (just in the mid 20s) when this book begins so the serious mistakes of three years ago makes a little more sense.

What really worked for me? The connection between these characters and their desperation for one another even amid all the mistakes of their past.

WORTH MENTIONING: I hope we get another book about Eryn’s sister Echo and her superhot best friend.

CONNECTED BOOKS: MISADVENTURES WITH MY EX is the eighteenth book in the Misadventures series. This series, however, is by different authors and doesn’t have a common storyline or characters so they can generally be read as standalones. However, this book is connected with MISADVENTURES OF A BACKUP BRIDE which is the story of Eryn’s sister Ella. This book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

NOTE: I received an ARC of this book from the author. 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 Best of Us

Review: The Best of UsThe Best of Us (Sullivan's Crossing, #4) by Robyn Carr
Series: Sullivan's Crossing #4
Published by MIRA on January 8, 2019
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
four-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: A triple romance, I loved the sense of community in this book. The stories feel so normal and what happens with each couple upends a lot of expectations of what will happen with the stories. Heartwarming romances.

THE STORY: Dr. Leigh Carver enjoys the more relaxed pace of her medical practice in Colorado after leaving her big city practice. She starts a small romance with Rob, a widower with two teenage sons. Leigh’s beloved aunt comes to visit. The two of them have always been one another’s family. But the new men in their lives bring compromises and questions regarding what each really wants.

OPINION: I really loved this book. The characters have real and complex problems and there are no magic solutions. Things have to dealt with in an adult manner and require compromise on all sides.

One of the things I really loved about this book is the three generations of romance. We have a teen romance, a thirties romance and a senior romance. Each of them defies stereotypes. Sometimes multiple storylines mean that something gets shorted, but not here. Each of these stories felt appropriate and well done.

The central story is Leigh and Rob. Each of whom is a successful adult who has lived a bit of their life. There is an attraction between the two complicated by their current life states (Rob has raised two boys alone for years and is done with children; Leigh has a demanding career).  Around them working out whether they want to be together and how the pieces of their lives will fit, there are the other two romances which expand and even complicate their own romance.

There was nothing in this story that was so exciting that it just grabbed me. Rather I slowly sank into these characters, this town, ad this story. There is a real sense of community that makes me think about abandoning everything and moving to a small town.

WORTH MENTIONING: There are some nice updates on the characters from the series so far.

CONNECTED BOOKS: THE BEST OF US is the fourth book in the Sullivan’s Crossing series. The story here is self-contained and so it is not necessary to read the prior books in the series. However, there are appearances by characters from the series.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4.5 stars.

four-half-stars

Review: Ain’t She Sweet

Review: Ain’t She SweetAin't She Sweet? by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Published by Avon on January 25, 2005
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384
Goodreads
five-stars

Book of Redemption, Forgiveness and Love

AIN’T SHE SWEET is a dangerous book. I started reading it at 11pm intending on only reading a chapter or two…next thing I knew it was 4:30am and I wanted to read it again. The story was complex and deeply satisfying with characters that were original and fascinating.

It is the story of dealing with pain and loss, complex motivations, revenge and forgiveness and how we all change. It is also the story of how the past changes depending on your perspective. Amazingly, it is also an incredibly funny book with witty dialog and one of the most amusing dogs.

Colin Byrne’s world was destroyed when he was in his early twenties. He had come to the US to write a novel and so he got the job as a teacher at a high school in the small town of Parrish, Mississippi. While he wasn’t the best teacher, he felt acceptance in the town for the first time in his life. Unfortunately, his life was destroyed by the queen bee of the high school who lied and accused him of sexually accosting her.

Ten years later, Colin returned to Parrish and now he has found a place in the community. He is a writer and is writing a series of non-fiction books about the history of the town. Everything is going well until the queen bee returns.

Sugar Beth Carey seemed to have the perfect life growing up in Parrish. She was the richest, most popular girl in town. She had the best looking guy. All that has changed in fifteen years. She has returned to town having been married three times. She is broke and is desperate to find a painting that is her only inheritance. The people in town who loved her now despise her but she is too proud and guilty to let them defeat her. Worst of all, her childhood home has been sold to Colin Byrne.

Colin begins the book wanting revenge. He hopes to humiliate Sugar Beth. As he gets to know her, however, he begins to begrudgingly respect her. There is no easy resolution to the pain that Sugar Beth caused others especially Colin. Colin’s character is the real center of this story. While Sugar Beth has changed through the years, it is Colin who has to accept and acknowledge her change. Sugar Beth cannot get on with her life without the forgiveness that Colin gives. The scene where Colin works his revenge upon Sugar Beth is the true turning point in the book. The subtle transformation of his thoughts in that scene make it a powerful moment in the book.

The complexity of this book is centered upon the characters. In order to see that Sugar Beth is not a bad person, we also need to see that all the other characters react, act badly, have their own prejudices and bad experiences that make them react in fearful and hurtful ways. Just as Colin has to forgive and understand what the driving forces are that form Sugar Beth, the reader goes on that same journey.

Honestly, I’ve had this book on my to read list for several months and while it was highly recommended the synopsis of the story repelled me. Sugar Beth sounded just like the type of character that I hated in high school and I really couldn’t imagine that I would be sympathetic to a character like her. I was so wrong. In many ways, my journey as a reader mirrored those of the characters in the book. I was introduced to a strong woman who had been hurt so much that she only knew how to protect herself from more pain. She hurt other people, but they had hurt her as well.

The secondary characters are essential to this story. The nice thing about the book is that ultimately all of the living characters are likeable. Many of them hurt each other and so they journey mirrors that of Sugar Beth and Colin. The book for me is about perspective. The more we understand others, the more their actions make sense. There is no justification of behavior. Sugar Beth knows that she had done horrible things. Colin knows that his revenge upon Sugar Beth is wrong. The secondary characters also have that journey to take. It is a redeeming book to see that all the characters can recover from mistakes and make a better life for themselves.

My ultimate determination is that this book is one that instantly is on my all time favorites. Sometimes I read a book that I keep thinking about and that I want to reread instantly. This is one of those books. When I awoke from my much delayed sleep, there were scenes and sections that just drew me again: Colin’s dinner party revenge, the repartee between Sugar Beth and Colin, Colin’s unfortunate marriage proposal, Colin’s ultimate plan to win Sugar Beth, and the wedding and honeymoon (which is at the same time both the saddest and the funniest ones I have ever read).

five-stars

Review: Logan

Review: LoganLogan (Steele Protectors 1) by Carole Mortimer
Series: Steele Protectors #1
Published by Carole Mortimer on January 25, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 146
Goodreads
four-stars

FINAL DECISION: Enjoyable start to the new series. The story and characters will be familiar to Mortimer fans but it was a nice version of her typical story.

THE STORY: August Harvey comes to the Steele brothers because her roommate (and the brothers adopted sister) is missing. There she meets Logan Steele who is recovering from being shot. When August is found to be in danger, Logan must protect her.

OPINION: Putting aside the quick turn to love in this book, I really enjoyed the interaction between these characters. The story was simple and compact which allowed the characters to have some interesting interactions with one another.

These book tend to be premised on an intense event which thrusts the characters into close proximity for a short time. That pattern is followed here, but I enjoyed the rude and annoying Logan being taken to taste by the feisty August.

This book is of a shorter length so there isn’t really much character development, but I enjoyed it as an introduction to all the characters in the series and some really hot moments between Logan and August.

WORTH MENTIONING: Atticus and Jenna almost stole the book.

CONNECTED BOOKS: LOGAN is the first book in the Steele Protectors series about six brothers.

STAR RATING: I give this book 4 stars.

 

four-stars

Review: When Snow Falls

Review: When Snow FallsWhen Snow Falls (Whiskey Creek, #2) by Brenda Novak
Series: Whiskey Creek #2
Published by MIRA on October 23, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 446
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION: Mixed feelings on this one. I really loved the blue collar romance between Cheyenne and Dylan. I didn’t like almost everything else around the romance. The story of the sister’s drug addiction was over the top. The mystery woman story was only a mystery to Cheyenne so it wasn’t a mystery at all. The friend and other man story wasn’t convincing.

THE STORY: Cheyenne Christensen is struggling caring for her mother who is dying from cancer. Cheyenne also seems to have childhood memories about a caring woman who is not her mother. On top of this, her best friend has decided to ask out the man who Cheyenne has secretly been in love with for years. Determined not to interfere with her friend’s potential romance, Cheyenne finds herself in the company of Dylan Amos, the oldest of the troublemaking brothers. Even the possibility of the man of her dreams can’t seem to get Cheyenne’s mind off the bad boy.

OPINION: This book was made up of so many different plot lines that it felt disjointed to me. I wanted more of the Cheyenne and Dylan romance and less of the 50 other side stories. The first half of the book makes such a big deal of the Cheyenne/Dylan/Joe/Eve plot and then it just dropped.

I really liked the Cheyenne and Dylan romance. It was nice reading a blue collar couple for a change. I really liked how Cheyenne begins to see that Dylan is more than what he did in his past. While I thought the beginning of their romance was strange because it occurred so quickly and without any real connection between the characters, I quickly enjoyed their growing and complicated relationship.

I wanted to like this book more because I liked the romance, but I thought that the book lost focus and kept diverting from a good romance to cover a bunch of other stories that just weren’t that interesting to me.

WORTH MENTIONING: I don’t really like that the heroine keeps secrets from the hero even at the end of the book. It’s not a good start for their marriage.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WHEN SNOW FALLS is the second book in the Whiskey Creek series. Although there are characters from the town in each book, this book can be read as a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3 stars.

three-stars

Review: To Win Her Heart

Review: To Win Her HeartTo Win Her Heart by Brenda Novak
Published by Harlequin Books Genres: Contemporary
Goodreads
two-stars

FINAL DECISION: This story didn’t work for me because I really didn’t see any relationship between April and Gunner. Having both their relationship and the parents in the same short story was just too much ground to cover and not enough development for either.

THE STORY: April Ashton wants to help get her separated parents back together again. So she schemes to bring her mother to the company getaway, but part of that plan ends up being Gunner Stevens, a former race car driver who wants to buy her father’s business. But the scheme necessitates April and Gunner to pretend to be in a relationship.

OPINION: There was nothing horribly wrong with this story, it was just that the short nature of the novella combined with the two romances in the story overloaded the story and meant that I just didn’t get the development of the April and Gunner romance. The beginning of the story between them was really good, but once the time came for them to get emotionally close, I thought the story faltered. Things happened too quickly and without any real development between them. Gunner fell too fast and I just didn’t buy that part of the story.

WORTH MENTIONING: This story was originally published under the title WHAT A GIRL WANTS in the MOTHER, PLEASE! anthology.

CONNECTED BOOKS: This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING: I give this book 2 stars.

two-stars