Review: To Win Her Heart

Review: To Win Her HeartTo Win Her Heart by Brenda Novak
Published by Harlequin Books Genres: Contemporary

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.


Review: Cowboy’s Legacy

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

Review: Cowboy’s LegacyCowboy's Legacy (Cahill Ranch #3) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Cahill Ranch #3
Published by Harlequin Books on November 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense

FINAL DECISION: This might be my favorite B.J. Daniels book I’ve read. I really liked the combination of the romance and the suspense story. This book is more suspense than romance, but I really liked the “romance in review” way of going through Flint and Maggie’s story.

THE STORY: Sheriff Flint Cahill’s girlfriend Maggie disappears just as the two are moving in together. Flint knows that his crazy ex-wife must be involved, but Flint is forbidden from being involved in the case. The question is whether or not Maggie will be found in time.

OPINION: This book covers the kidnapping of Maggie. The focus is primarily on the search for what happened to Maggie and Flint trying desperately to find her. As might be expected with B.J. Daniels’ stories, there is a strong focus on the suspense and mystery aspects of the story.

But there is also an interesting method of exploring how much Flint and Maggie mean to one another as they are separated. Through flashbacks, thoughts and explanations, the relationship between Flint and Maggie is explored and experienced by the reader. I don’t think I’ve ever read a romance I liked so much where the main characters spend so much time apart.

The drama and suspense works really well here and for readers of the series, quite a few stories are nicely wrapped up by the end.

As a matter of full disclosure, this book isn’t a romance in the sense that most people might expect. While the story explores Flint and Maggie’s story, they are already together as the book begins and there is quite a bit of their story in the prior books in the series (although reviewed here for new readers).

I just liked the whole sense of the book. It’s construction felt different than others I’ve read and I liked that about it.

WORTH MENTIONING: This book seems to wrap up the overarching storylines from the series so it seems in some way as the end of the series. However, there are a number of characters who are available for their own stories so I hope we see more of them in the future.

CONNECTED BOOKS: COWBOY’S LEGACY is the third book in the Cahill Ranch series. This book can be read as a standalone, but this story has been percolating in the prior two books so reading those will give the background to this one. I think that this book should be read as part of the series to get all the nuances.

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


Review: Cowboy’s Reckoning

Review: Cowboy’s ReckoningCowboy's Reckoning (Cahill Ranch, #2.5) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Cahill Ranch #2.5
Published by Harlequin Books on October 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 70

FINAL DECISION: I liked these characters and their interaction. I just wish the story was longer because I found these characters very interesting.

THE STORY: Billie Dee Rhodes has come to Montana from Texas running from her past and looking for a new start (and maybe a cowboy). Taking the job as the cook for the Stagecoach Saloon, Billie Dee has enjoyed her daily talks with Henry Larson, a retired rancher. When danger from Billie Dee’s past comes to town, it is a question whether they will have time to have anything else develop between them.

OPINION: I loved these characters. It is rare for there to be a good romance with more mature characters. My biggest disappointment with this story is that it is too short. I could have read an entire full length book with these two. They are sweet and funny together.

Henry is a widower with three grown children and the scene where he is getting ready for his first date with Billie Dee was so funny. I loved seeing them get to know one another and also begin to reveal their secrets.

There is a short suspense plot incorporated in this story which worked very well. I really liked how Billie Dee and Henry start out their romance. I only wish we had some heat in the story and for things to go further than it did in this book.

I would definitely read another “part two” novella about these two and I wish there had been more pages to read.

WORTH MENTIONING: This is a short novella.

CONNECTED BOOKS: COWBOY’S RECKONING is book 2.5 in the Cahill Ranch series.  While there are small appearances by characters from the series, this novella can be read on its own.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.


Review: Wyoming Winter

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

Review: Wyoming WinterWyoming Winter (Wyoming Men, #7) by Diana Palmer
Series: Wyoming Men #7
Published by Harlequin Books on October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416

FINAL DECISION: A more complex version of Palmer’s standard formula which I enjoyed with the exception of the too quick resolution of the problems between the hero and heroine.

THE STORY: Colie Jackson falls hard for her brother’s friend J.C. Calhoun. Colie ignores, however, J.C.’s differing values and his distrust of women. While the two get close, J.C.’s past keeps him waiting to be betrayed. When he is told that Colie has been cheating on him and is pregnant, J.C. rejects Colie. Years later, Colie returns to town and again sees J.C. The two have to work through their past while Colie is in danger from a criminal gang because of secrets only she knows.

OPINION: This book has Palmer’s standard formula: innocent woman misjudged by man angry and mistrusting because of lies and a past woman’s actions; he breaks her heart and then realizes he was wrong and they reconcile. One thing I really liked about his book was the time it took in J.C. in reforming himself. That was different than what I have seen in Palmer’s books in the past.

Longtime readers of Palmer will recognize one of her enduring formulas. These characters are what you might expect except that Colie has more determination and self-reliance than I expected.  J.C. is the expected jerk as the book begins, but he also goes through a three year struggle to change himself.

I am also a big fan of how the story works out through both J.C. and Colie working through their own faith struggles. (Readers who don’t want to read about characters who have religious backgrounds and struggle through life and try and connect it to their faith and God should probably skip this one).

The problem that kept this book from being rated higher was that, for me, the resolution between J.C. and Colie was too quick. There needed to be more time or more discussion or more groveling. Everything between them seemed to be fixed within only a few pages and I needed more to resolve the years that these two spent apart and the magnitude of what occurred.

Despite this, I enjoyed this book as a whole.

WORTH MENTIONING: I enjoyed seeing characters from prior books.

CONNECTED BOOKS: WYOMING WINTER is the seventh book in the Wyoming Men series but can be read as a standalone. The book is also connected with the Long, Tall Texans series if you have read the series otherwise the connection is slight.

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.


Review: Outlaw’s Honor

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

Review: Outlaw’s HonorOutlaw's Honor (Cahill Ranch #2) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Cahill Ranch #2
Published by Harlequin Books on May 30th 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION:  The series improves as the characters fall into their places. I enjoyed this book as part of the series and I especially loved Darby who is sweet and honorable.  The story slowly unwinds the motives of the characters and I enjoyed the journey.

THE STORY:  Darby Cahill has a quiet life running the bar he and his twin sister own in a small town in Montana. While attending a fair, he sees a woman who shakes his foundations.  Ironically, that same woman tries to pickpocket him later. He is even more shocked when that woman, Mariah Ayres arrives at his bar asking for a job. He hires her while the two dance around what actually happened and what Mariah’s motives are.  Darby becomes more concerned when he discovers that Darby is running and is in danger.

OPINION:  This is a slowly developing romance that is combined with a suspense story.  The story unfolds as the characters motives become known.  The way that Daniels structures this series there is development on various storylines (upcoming romances and overarching mysteries).  A lot happens in this book on various levels.

I enjoyed the mystery in this one and the continuing storyline of the series.  My favorite part of this story is Darby who is simply adorable as a hero.  He is a good man who falls for Mariah instantly — love at first sight — and despite all the circumstances, Darby cannot help but do everything he can for Mariah.

Mariah’s story is complex and only revealed later in the book.  I won’t disclose her story here because part of the development of the story is the questioning of her motives. The romance here is sweet and most of the drama of the series is from the mystery and the external danger.

This book advances the overarching story in the series and I can’t wait to find out more.

WORTH MENTIONING:  The story about Darby’s brother is the one I have been waiting for. More happens here for those who have been following the story.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  OUTLAW’S HONOR is the second book in the Cahill Ranch series. While the story here is independent as to the romance, there is an overarching storyline mystery that continues from the first book.  It’s better to read this series as a whole because there are unanswered questions after this book as well.

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.


Review: Undaunted

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

Review: UndauntedUndaunted: A Western Romance Novel by Diana Palmer
Series: ,
Published by Harlequin Books on June 27th 2017
Genres: Contemporary

FINAL DECISION:  I enjoyed this book as a one time read.  There are some extreme moments in this book that make the hero hard to like, but that is not unfamiliar for Palmer readers.  My complaint is that I think the hero needed to grovel more because of his horrendous behavior.

THE STORY:  Kate Martin has done something terrible. She accidentally hit the jet ski of the local billionaire, Garrett Carlton, with her employers speedboat.  As a result, Garrett was injured and is now blind.  Kate feels a tremendous amount of guilt and secretly takes on the role of Garrett’s assistant in order to help him.  Garrett is very bitter and coldhearted, distrusting women but finds himself drawn to the sweet young woman who he meets.  The problem is that sooner or later he will find out about Kate’s deception.

OPINION:  Diana Palmer has a certain type of story that she tells.  There is often a young, innocent woman who falls for a bitter older man.  The man believes that the woman is more sexually experienced and eventually treats her poorly.  This book has a variation on that story, but the bones remain intact.  I’ve been reading Palmer for 30 years and I enjoy her stories.  This book is good, but I had two problems with it that reduced my rating somewhat.

Kate is a nice person but incredibly naive.  I understand that she comes from a conservative and sheltered background, but it is impossible for me to believe that someone could be so silly in modern America.  She is a nice person but too naive for me.  That, however, didn’t lower my rating.  What did was Kate’s reaction to injuring Garrett.  She is a liar and is in fact deceiving him. She is also guilty of a crime and hiding out.  If anyone doubts that, consider that hit and run would be obvious if she were driving a car instead of a boat.  That bothered me throughout the whole book.  Her behavior didn’t match with her character.  This was too big a problem for me to set aside.

Garrett is a man with a soft heart who has been battered so much that it has made him bitter and hard.  While he longs for belonging and love, he has convinced himself that he doesn’t want it because he has been hurt and disappointed.  My complaint about him is that he is incredibly cruel to Kate because he is attracted to her.  He is the one who hired her.  He could have her leave if he doesn’t want to have her around.  Instead, he treats her terribly.

One of the biggest complaints about Garrett in online reviews is what happens when he finds out about Kate causing his accident.  Actually that I didn’t mind as much because at least there was a reason for his anger and behavior.  My biggest complaint was that I thought that Garrett needed to grovel a big more because of his actions.  I think he deserved it.

There was, however, something I really enjoyed about this book.  I thought that the characters were well constructed and I felt their intense longing for connection. I also enjoyed the construction of the conflict between these two.  I am definitely not disappointed that I read this book and especially for fans of Diana Palmer, this is a good read.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a large age difference between the hero and heroine. He is 38 and she is 23.  While this is not that unusual in historicals, it is not as common in contemporary books these days.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  UNDAUNTED takes place in the Long,Tall Texans world.  At this point it is difficult to determine which book in the series this is, but several characters will be familiar to readers of that series.  For new readers, however, the prior book in the series are not necessary.  This book acts as a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3.5 stars.

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


Review: Renegade’s Pride

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

Review: Renegade’s PrideRenegade's Pride (Cahill Ranch #1) by B.J. Daniels
Series: Cahill Ranch #1
Published by Harlequin Books on February 28th 2017
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 384

FINAL DECISION:  A perfectly adequate book that fails to be completely engrossing because of the number of characters and storylines introduced.

THE STORY:  For nine years Lillian Cahill has thought about the man who left her.  Trask Beaumont ran out on Lillian under suspicion of murder.  He’s now returned to clear his name and get back the only woman he has ever loved.  But strange things are now happening in town with women disappearing and the question is whether these things are connected with Trask’s reappearance or Trask himself.

OPINION:  The story of a couple who gets a second chance at love, RENEGADE’S PRIDE introduces readers to a town where there are many secrets.  During the book, we are introduced to many characters — especially the Cahill’s — who have secrets which will be revealed in the series.

For me, this book spent a lot of time on introducing all the characters.  As a result, the relationship of the main couple failed to be compelling.  My first problem was that I just couldn’t get over the nine year gap in their relationship.  Because the building of the relationship of Trask and Lillian took place years ago, it is considered established as the book begins while I didn’t really get the connection between them.  While the relationship progresses as the book goes on, it takes a long time for these two to truly feel like they belong together.

The focus here in the mystery of what happened nine years ago.  But with so much going on, the relationship got a little lost.  That being said, the story as a whole was good enough to keep me interested and make me want to read more about the people in this town.

WORTH MENTIONING:  There are many unfinished storylines as typical of Daniels series.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  Renegade’s Pride is the first book in the Cahill Ranch series.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 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.


Review: Puppets

Review: PuppetsPuppets by Jenna Ryan
Published by Harlequin Books on December 1st 1992
Genres: Contemporary, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 250

“Today I’m a teller of tales. Tomorrow, who knows? I live in the vaults beneath the Puppet Theater, but no one know exactly where. Sometimes I go up and wander through the streets of Paris, but not so much now as when I was young.

“Now I will tell you a story, and maybe when I’m finished, I’ll be wiser than I am at this moment.”

FINAL DECISION:  Seemed like a great idea, but most of the story was the mystery with little in the way of romance.  The couple seemed already set immediately and there was no real story between them. An okay read, but not one I would pick up again.

THE STORY:  Raul Sennett lives in an underground lair beneath the Paris Puppet Theater. He spends his time watching the new human puppet Katarina Lacroix. He wants her and lures her beneath the theater.  But Raul has secrets which keep him confined in his lair. Katarina has her own secrets and tragedies which sent her fleeing to Paris. Now the two navigate the secrets and shadows surrounding them.

OPINION:  I was disappointed in this book because I expected something more than I got. The entire book is mystery with little romance involved.  I’d term it a suspense book with a small smattering of relationship.  The description seemed like it would be moody romance based on the Phantom of the Opera theme, but instead, the story was all mystery.

I just didn’t care enough about the solution of the story.  The book was well written and had some creepy vibes to it as it tilted between mystery, suspense and paranormal.  I just wish there was more romance involved.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This book has a strange paranormal vibe to it.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  This book is a standalone.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.


Review: Calamity Mom

Review: Calamity MomCalamity Mom by Diana Palmer
Published by Harlequin Books on April 25th 2016
Genres: Contemporary

FINAL DECISION:  This is a sweet story but fairly forgettable.  I read it once and thought it was fine, but I didn’t see anything special about the story or the characters.

THE STORY:  Faulkner Scott’s twelve year old son wants a mom and has set his eyes on Shelly Aster.  Although Faulkner believes Shelly is too young, too poor and too inexperienced for him, he can’t seem to stop spending time with her.  As both Faulker and his son fall for Shelly, she has secrets of her own which might make her perfect match for them both.

OPINION:  This is a straightforward and sweet story.  For a story like this, to be a really good story, I think that there have to be memorable characters.  For me, the story was nice, light and easy to read and enjoy, but there was nothing special about it or its characters.  I like Diana Palmer’s books, but this story isn’t one of the best.  Nice one time read but nothing about it was lasting for me.

WORTH MENTIONING: This novella was originally published in 1993.


STAR RATING:  I give this book 2.5 stars.