Thursday, September 15, 2016

Rum & Raindrops by Jean Oram

From Goodreads:
One nature guide. One accidental forest fire. And one steamy investigator hot on her tail.

Jen Kulak's good at running from her problems, so when she finds her best friend and boyfriend in bed together she burns rubber, never looking back. When Jen finds the quirky town of Blueberry Springs, she finally feels as though she's found a place she can call home, settle in, and get to know herself. With help from her boss, she rediscovers her love of nature and begins giving wilderness tours, which would be perfect if it weren’t for the fact that she may have accidentally just burned down the forest she depends upon for her fledgling business. And it would figure that Rob Raine, the man of her dreams, also happens to be the fire investigator hot on the case.

Can Jen find the strength to fight the accusations that could cost her everything? Or will she run again, ignoring the sparks that fly between her and Rob, and torching her chances at a happily ever after?

My Take:
I really like Jean Oram's style. Her books are easy to read, easy to get lost in someone else's world and troubles. This one was no different. I immediately liked Jen and Rob.

Jen is a bit of a mess. She doesn't trust anyone, and yet she's still this likable person. You can feel the hope she still has that she will one day find something better than what her history tells her is life. She struggles to stay in Blueberry Springs when everything starts to fall apart. It feels like home, but she feels responsible for the fire. She's certain she didn't start it, but she figures everyone else thinks she did.

Rob is just an all around good guy. He makes you smile in spite of yourself. He's serious about his job though and he knows getting involved with Jen would make things even worse. His heart doesn't quite listen though. The two of them investigate the fire and things just get worse and worse.

The ending to this one was realistic and worth the wait.

I give Rum & Raindrops a solid 4.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Friday, September 9, 2016

Louisiana Longshot by Jana Deleon

From Goodreads:
It was a hell of a longshot...

CIA Assassin Fortune Redding is about to undertake her most difficult mission ever--in Sinful, Louisiana.

With a leak at the CIA and a price on her head by one of the world's largest arms dealers, Fortune has to go off grid, but she never expected to be this far out of her element. Posing as a former beauty queen turned librarian in a small, bayou town seems worse than death to Fortune, but she's determined to fly below the radar until her boss finds the leak and puts the arms dealer out of play.

Unfortunately, she hasn't even unpacked a suitcase before her newly-inherited dog digs up a human bone in her backyard. Thrust into the middle of a bayou murder mystery, Fortune teams up with a couple of seemingly-sweet old ladies whose looks completely belie their hold on the little town. To top things off, the handsome local deputy is asking her too many questions. If she's not careful, this investigation may blow her cover and get her killed.

Armed with her considerable skills and a group of old ladies referred to by locals as The Geritol Mafia, Fortune has no choice but to solve the murder before it's too late.

My Take:
First off, I've read this one two or three times. That's how much I love it. It's a fast paced hilarious ride! Seriously, not a ton of romance in this first book in the series, but there is some simmering potential. I'm hoping it has a chance to blossom in the next books.

So you may be wondering why I'm posting this on my clean romance blog. Well, sometimes I need a light hearted read full of suspense and the utterly ridiculous. This book was just too fun not to share!

What I really love is the Geritol Mafia. These gals are funnier than any crazy group of women I've ever seen. It doesn't take long before you realize Fortune fits in with them better than anywhere else she ever has. These ladies introduce Fortune to Sinful by telling her to bring her running shoes to church. Then there are the alligators, the secrets, and menthol. You'll just have to read!

Fortune is a hoot. No matter how hard she tries, she just can't lay low. I mean, the whole reason she has to go into hiding is because the guy she was investigating ticked her off and she killed him with her stiletto. My favorite scene is when she sneaks into the deputy's yard and leaves a few pieces of weave behind. Or maybe it's the one where Ida Bell and Fortune get pulled over by Deputy LeBlanc and Fortune is only wearing a garbage bag.

Are you curious yet?

I give Louisiana Longshot a solid 5 because I have read it multiple times, and will read it again. I'm waiting for my reading pile to shrink so I can buy the next few books in the series.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Protective One: A Billionaire Bride Pact Romance by Cami Checketts

From Amazon:

Betrayed by an FBI agent while in protective custody, MacKenzie Gunthrie escapes a crime lord and is left hiding from the authorities and her enemies. She finds solace in the peaceful mountain town of Crested Butte, Colorado. With help from a longtime girl's camp friend and a new identity, she's starting to feel safe. The only problem is the overconfident and much too good-looking Isaac Turnbow. Protecting identity has become second nature, but Isaac poses a threat to her heart.

Isaac Turnbow has an undeniable need to convince MacKenzie he’s someone she can trust and kiss, but when well-armed men arrive to disturb their budding relationship, he must prove to her and himself that he can protect her.

This fast-paced, clean Billionaire Bride Pact Romance is a fun and touching read you won’t be able to put down.

My Take:

Here's another clean romance from Cami. She's back to what I think she does best. Suspense! I loved how MacKenzie is skittish throughout the book. There's none of this everything is okay feeling going on--she has anxiety throughout even though she has moments of feeling safe with Isaac. Even Isaac gives her moments of fear. Especially when he's giving Brad exactly what he needs!

Brad is a character we first met in THE INDEPENDENT ONE, another of the billionaire bride pacts. He is a real piece of work and I'm glad he finally gets some of what he deserves by the end. I highly suggest you read that book to appreciate all the Brad scenes in this one.

Back to Mac and Isaac...

Isaac is dreamy in that, cowboy artist, will always watch out for you, kind of way. The fact he's insecure about his abilities. He knows Mac is keeping something secret, but he also knows he needs to slowly gain her trust.

There is great romantic tension and the suspense is just as great. The writing is clean and the fear Mac feels is realistic. I loved the story and read it in one sitting.

The Protective One gets a 4.5!

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Monday, August 29, 2016

She Sins At Midnight by Whitney Dineen

From Goodreads:

Lila Montgomery, thirty-two-year-old Hollywood assistant extraordinaire, has a secret. On the outside, she’s a hard-working dedicated employee, a good friend, and a loving daughter. But above all else, she’s been raised to be a lady, which of course is why she’s determined to conceal her secret life. If her straight-laced friends and family back home ever discover that she is really the smashing new author of a steamy romance novel, their disapproval would shame her forever! That’s why Lila has chosen to publish her sexy narrative under the nom de plume, Jasmine Sheath.

With her fifteenth high school class reunion on the horizon, Lila finds herself at a crossroads. More than anything she wants to go home and see her childhood friends but is embarrassed that she hasn’t accomplished the things she feels she should have by this time in her life; mainly marriage and children.

After another brutal run-in with Melinda Forrester, Oscar nominated actress and client of her boss, Josh Furber, Lila decides that fleeing Hollywood for a month is the best thing for her. Lila packs her bags for her childhood home of Bentley Hills, sure that her friends and family will be the touchstone of normalcy that she so desperately needs. What she doesn't expect is that Melinda will follow her and a tabloid media circus will ensue!

Not only does Lila discover that her home is nothing like she remembers, but she meets and falls in love with the very man that inspired the hero in her novel.

She Sins at Midnight is full of laugh out loud hi-jinks that will make you never look at Hollywood the same way again!

Author, Whitney Dineen, swears that this novel is based purely on fiction and that any characters bearing any resemblance to any celebrities you know are completely and totally fictitious; even though she spent eighteen years in La La Land, with a celebrity client base for her real job…

My Take:

This was a really fun book! Lila gets herself into all kinds of predicaments that had me laughing out loud. It was also surprisingly clean. Okay, I'd give it a PG-13 rating because Melinda has no qualms about walking around naked. And, Lila writes erotica, but we never see that. There is a fade to black scene, but nothing that I'd be embarrassed for my teen daughters to see.

I kept laughing at how Lila was embarrassed for everyone to know she wrote a book, and yet everyone is reading it. It's also funny how even Melinda reads it and thinks the Countess is the heroine of the story.

Seriously, this was just a fun read. I give this a 4.5.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure

Friday, August 26, 2016

Rocky Mountain Search and Rescue by Katie Ruggle

Most of the romances I review fall into the clean category. That's my goal, to share great clean romance because I know they are hard to find. This series doesn't fall into that category. I wanted you to know that up front. However, I loved these books so much I had to share them with you. I also appreciated that although Ruggle has sex scenes, they are not the purpose of the story. They don't happen just because it needed to be thrown in. And there is usually just one that is easy to skip (which is what I do so I can't comment on the quality of those scenes).

So, here are the three books in the series that are currently available.

Book 1--Hold Your Breath
 I loved this book for the suspense and the growing romance. But seriously, the suspense and the mystery is what sucked me in, held me by the throat, and convinced me to click buy on book 2 in the series. Ruggle writes clean compelling stories. There is a mystery slowly unfolding over the course of the series, but there is a secondary threat/suspense line for each individual book as well.

In book one we meet Lou and Callum of the rescue dive team. Lou is a hoot! She says what she wants and has a tendency to find trouble. I mean, come on, she's practicing dive and rescue techniques when she kicks a headless body in the frozen lake! She's fairly new to the Colorado town, having finally left home and the controlling parents and ex-fiance. She'd determined to stand on her own two feet and make her own choices. She'll learn that letting the dive team become her new family, who has her back, is invaluable.

Callum is the quiet brooding type, but even he can't resist Lou's crazy energy. He's drawn to her and wants to make sure she stays safe at all costs. They just have to survive the line up of bad guys lurking in the shadows. (Having read the next two books, I'm going to stop there because I don't want to let any spoilers slip!)

Book 2--Fan the Flames
We still don't know who killed Willard Gray (the headless guy from book 1), but the killer is doing all he can to frame firefighter Ian Walsh. Ian might be a firefighter, but some people can't forget or forgive the fact he grew up as part of the local motorcycle gang. To top it off, the "family" can't forgive him for moving toward the lawful side of things. Poor Ian doesn't seem to fit anywhere.

Neither does Rory. She runs her own gun shop and tries to keep all sides happy. In order to survive she has to sell to the motorcycle gang as well as the more trustworthy locals.

I have to admit I really loved all the gun talk. Who knew! Rory wants to be tough, but she needs Ian as much as Lou needed Callum. Rory's fears have her trying to keep him at arms length, but she's really been his since her 12th birthday when he bought her a pink cupcake. I love her social awkwardness and the way Ian keeps storming through her walls.

This book has guns, bombs, more fires from our serial arsonist, a few clues, but no real progress on Gray's killer. We do however take care of the people after Rory, and she learns to let a few more people into her solitary life.

Book 3--Gone Too Deep
Holy cow! I'm still reeling from the reveal at the end of this one! Okay, let me try to go back to the beginning...

Okay, Ellie and George. Ellie is Baxter's estranged daughter. For those who haven't read the first two books, Baxter was a war buddy of Willard Gray, the headless guy from book 1 (Hold Your Breath). Everyone is trying to find him in the hopes he can shed some light on the murder. He however has a lot of mental issues, the least of which is his inability to trust anyone. And the truth is, what he knows is reason enough to not trust anyone! Ellie comes to Colorado in an effort to find him and get him the help he needs. She doesn't really believe that bad guys are after him.

George agrees to lead Ellie to a cabin through miles of snow covered wilderness. The great thing about George is he is as anti-social as Rory, but worse because he only communicates in grunts. It's a product of being alone for so long. He's impressed with Ellie. She keeps going without complaining even though she's blistered and tired. He finds he likes taking care of her and entertains thoughts of "keeping her". Although that might sound creepy, coming from George it's really sweet.

The Anderson brothers are following the two through the wilderness in the hopes of being led to Baxter. They are trouble with a capital T, but the scarier part is they were put on the trail by the killer from book 1. At the end, we learn his identity.

I'll be honest, I was crushed! I've been secretly chanting "don't let it be ??" for a book and a half and now that I know I'm so sad! I read the teaser for book 4 and can't wait until it's available. There is a good reason given, but it's still sad that someone who seems so good could be the bad guy. I'm looking forward to seeing how the whole thing wraps up!

I give this series a 5 because I actually shelled out money for books 2, 3, and plan to buy the final book in the series. 

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure
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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Reluctant Bachelorette by Rachael Anderson

From Goodreads:

Luke Carney has no idea what possessed him to move back to Shelter Springs, Colorado, to set up his veterinarian practice. His parents have long since left, the small farming community is on the brink of extinction, and only one close friend from his childhood remains--Taycee Emerson, his best friend’s little sister, who isn’t so little anymore.

Then there’s the matter of Shelter’s Bachelorette, an online reality dating show created to raise some much needed funds for the town.

Unwittingly cast as the bachelorette, Taycee wants out, especially when she discovers that Luke, her childhood crush, is back in town and will be one of the bachelors. To make matters worse, it's up to the viewers--not her--to decide which bachelors stay or go. And they all seem to like Luke.

Unwilling to let him break her heart again, Taycee launches a subtle attack on Luke’s good name with the hope of getting him voted off the show. But she’d forgotten that Luke's an eye-for-an-eye kind of guy, and when he discovers what she's up to, it means revenge.

My Take:
This was one fun ride! I thought I might get bored watching Taycee date all these different guys when I knew she really liked Luke, but I didn't. Anderson does a great job making all the scenes exciting and balancing them between the reality show and the real romance. Taycee tries so hard to deny how much she has always (and still does) prefer Luke. And Luke struggles to understand why he feels so different about Taycee this go around.

I found myself laughing a lot in this book. The shenanigans Taycee gets herself into are hilarious! And I have to say, with friends like Jessa, who needs enemies! There were times I thought Jessa was over the top and completely unfeeling toward the pressure she was placing on Taycee. In the end she redeems herself...a little bit.

The writing and editing are great, nothing pulls you out of the story and I felt the emotions and situations made sense. That's one of the greatest compliments I can give to a story!

I give The Reluctant Bachelorette a 4.5.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure
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Monday, August 15, 2016

Kisses Between the Lines: An Echo Ridge Anthology

Welcome to Echo Ridge, New York, where romance finds its way into the lives of the people who walk the streets of the close-knit community. In these five novellas, listeners will experience the power a book has to change a life, make dreams come true, and bring two hearts together.

My thoughts are in italics after each summary.

The Kiss Thief by Rachelle J. Christensen - -The old Echo Ridge library is in desperate need of a renovation. Librarian Britta Kleins heart refuses to be swayed by musician Milo Geissler and his irresistible dimpled smile. But when he helps her find a key classic book, Britta wonders if there is more to life than books and order.

There were parts of this story that I loved simply because my dad is German. Sadly, he didn't have the accent because he's full-blooded German born and raised in America. :) Anyway, Britta is so determined to never get involved with a German boy because of the way she was teased growing up that she almost misses out on the love of her life. I loved how being around Milo brought out the little bits of her childhood that she did love until finally she was willing to take a risk. I also loved the music metaphors throughout. Lovely!

I give this one a 4.

The Lion, the Witch & the Library by Lucy McConnell - - Jennifer Solomons birthday wish is to have the one person shes been too shy to go after: Kirke Staples, her best friend. Friend, as in don't fall in love with the man. But its too late. In her efforts to win Kirkes heart, Jennifer is forced to decide what type of woman she wants to be.

Jennifer was a lot of fun from the very beginning. The story starts with her realizing she wants more from her best friend. Unfortunately, he's been actively trying to get the attentions of Bay Barrington (an actress who comes to visit and causes a TON of trouble!). Kirke is a bit frustrating to me. He's attracted to Jennifer, but he keeps thinking that since he put so much time and effort into meeting Bay that he needs to follow through with that. Stupid clueless men! There's some great drama as both of them go back and forth trying to figure out what they really want.

I give this one a 4.

The Last of the Gentlemen by Cami Checketts - - Working nights and struggling through life, Emma Turner doesnt leave much time for romance. But when her sons good-looking lacrosse coach takes an interest in her children, Emma has to fight off desire and banish her daydreams. If only she could tell that to her heart.

Chayton finally gets his chance at love! I really liked him as a character in the Christmas stories. He might not have been right for Chelsea, but he was just such a good guy you couldn't help hoping he found love soon. And Emma is such a sweet and deserving recipient of his attentions. I love how he does everything he can to make Emma and her girls smile simply because he likes to see them smile. He truly is like a knight in shining armor riding in to save the day.

I give this one a 4. 

Much Ado about a Kiss by Heather Tullis - - The one thing Fay doesn't need right now is a guy in her life, especially her brother's irritating best friend from high school, whose kiss made her heart flutter. Why does he have to upset her just-fine world? Not this time. Not if she can help it. But can she?

Oh! This story made me so sad for Fay. She's been stressing over a kiss for years not knowing what was really behind it. I love Fay and her artistic approach to life and the cafe. Austin remembers the kiss quite differently than Fay. They both have to come to a new understanding of what happened then in order to move forward with their feelings now. 

I give this one a 4.

Pride & Persuasion by Connie E. Sokol - - Lindy Marchant is roped into the Echo Ridge library fundraiser to become an assistant for Armand D. Beaumont, a bestselling detective writer. While Armand inadvertently assists Lindy with the shop, she uncovers his painful truth and an inconvenient growing attraction.

After getting a glimpse of Armand from The Kiss Thief, it's nice to see what was going on with him and Lindy. We've got two strong personalities butting heads and they don't even know why! There are some fun surprises along the way and both find their futures are more hopeful with each other in their lives. 

I give this one a 4.

I really enjoyed the collection as a whole. It was clean, sweet, and all the stories were well written. I give the entire thing a solid 4.

1-5 scale and what it means:
1: I couldn’t even finish it / just plain bad
2: I hope I didn’t pay for this / disappointing
3: I didn’t hate it, but it was still missing something / forgettable but inoffensive
3.5: On the line between good and ok / like, not love
4: Solid mind candy / worth reading
4.5: So very close to perfection! / must read
5: I could not put it down and I’m still thinking about it! / a true treasure