Susan F. (scoutmomskf) - , - Reviews

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Abby, Get Your Groom! (Camdens of Colorado, Bk 9) (Harlequin Special Edition, No 2452)
Review Date: 2/11/2016

Terrific Cinderella story. Dylan is back in Denver after working three months with their stores in Europe. He had gone there to escape a bad engagement, and has returned knowing that he still has to repair his relationships with his family. In their quest to make amends to some people for the actions of their fathers and grandfathers it is now Dylan's turn to make that happen.

Abby is a hairstylist in a shop that also has a terrific reputation for working with bridal parties. She's thrilled when Dylan hires her to help with his sister's wedding. She can't deny that she's attracted to him, but he's so far above her that there's no chance of anything happening.

I really liked Abby. She's tough and independent. She was found abandoned at a hospital when she was two and raised in foster care. She isn't the "poor me" type, she accepts her life as it is. However, her last boyfriend really did a number on her self-confidence, treating her badly because of what he saw as the drawbacks of being a foster kid. She is surprised when Dylan tells her about her father, what had happened to him and why. She's even more surprised by his determination to help her find out more and how he stays with her for support.

I felt bad for Dylan. Yes, he had screwed up with his engagement and all that went on with his fiancee. But he was really in a no-win situation for most of it. When the truth came out he did the right thing. Unfortunately for him, most of his family members are still holding it against him and often treating him like pond scum. He hopes that taking on this quest, and its resulting help for Lindie's wedding (A Sweetheart for the Single Dad) will help him repair his relationships with them. In the meantime, being with Abby goes a long way toward making him feel better.

I really liked the relationship that grew between them. It started out purely as business, with the wedding and the revelations about her family. I loved seeing a bit of protectiveness kick in as Dylan saw the impact on her. He also has a very satisfying reaction to the things she tells him about her ex. I loved seeing him include her in family events, even though she tried to resist. Abby is also sensitive to the tension around Dylan and his family, though she tries not to pry. She gets a front row seat to the cause of the problem during a confrontation with his ex. I was really impressed with how she handled it. The heat between them builds, but both are holding back. When the passion finally explodes between them, both are overwhelmed by what they feel. Now Dylan has to find a way to overcome Abby's insecurities and convince her that they can be happy together. The final scenes were emotional and sweet as Abby lets go of the past and embraces a future full of love and family.

As always, the Camden family plays a big part in the story. I was a little disappointed that they were still treating Dylan badly after three months, but other than that they were great. I was definitely rooting for Dylan to make it back into the family circle. I loved seeing how they included Abby in their gatherings. Just by being themselves Abby eventually saw that they had nothing in common with her ex. I must admit that a small part of me would love to see her run into her ex while with the Camdens. By my count, there should be one Camden still unmarried - I just can't figure out which one!

Abduction (Killer Instinct, Bk 1) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1697)
Abduction (Killer Instinct, Bk 1) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1697)
Author: Cynthia Eden
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 11/13/2017

Good combination of second chance romance and suspense. As a teenager, Jillian had been kidnapped. Hayden had witnessed the abduction and saved her, going from town troublemaker to town hero in one evening. Jill and Hayden became good friends, and later much more. But he walked away to become a SEAL and Jill went on to become an FBI agent.

Ten years later Jill and Hayden are reunited when she returns to Hope, burned out on her job dealing with child abductions and still haunted by what had happened to her. She is determined to reopen the case and find the man who had kidnapped her and murdered another girl. She doesn't expect to find Hayden also back in town, now serving as sheriff. They hadn't forgotten each other, or their feelings and the attraction flared hot once again.

I liked both Jill and Hayden. Jill is smart, capable and very good at her job. Her past as a kidnappee has made given her extra motivation in her work but has also made some cases harder to bear than others. I ached for her and the pain she felt at each loss. Hayden was terrific. He is honorable, protective, and has a surprisingly soft heart. I loved how he had turned his life around when he met Jill, determined to be someone worthy of her.

I really enjoyed the rekindling of Jill and Hayden's relationship. It is obvious from the start that their feelings for each other had never died, in spite of the way they parted. Jill was broken-hearted when Hayden left, not knowing that he believed he wasn't good enough for her. Leaving was the hardest thing that Hayden had ever done, but he thought he was doing the right thing. I loved the bits about how they had kept track of each other over the years. With Jill's arrival back in Hope, Hayden sees it as a chance to show her that they belong together and that he isn't going to let her go. Jill is a bit more cautious, knowing that risking her heart again could have devastating consequences for her. As they worked together on the case, they also got to know each other again. I loved that they were able to talk about their past and make the decision to move forward and see where things go. I loved Hayden's big moment at the end - his vulnerability and nervousness were sweet and his words so heartfelt.

The suspense of the story was really good too. From the prologue to the conclusion, the intensity built steadily. Jill's determination to solve the mystery became stronger when she was attacked. The glimpses into the mind of the killer show that he is equally determined to finish what he started. I loved seeing the pieces start to come together and was on the edge of my seat as they raced to save another victim. Though I had figured out the bad guy, the final confrontation was intense in the way it happened.

I liked the support that Jill got from her friend Samantha. That woman was scary good at what she does. Besides her work on helping to identify the killer, I loved Sam's "profiling" of Hayden and her comments to him.

Against the Fire (Raines of Wind Canyon, Bk 2)
Against the Fire (Raines of Wind Canyon, Bk 2)
Author: Kat Martin
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
Review Date: 7/10/2015

Very good book with excellent suspense and good romance. Gabe overcame a rough childhood and has become a successful development and construction businessman. When one of his projects is torched by an arsonist, a young teen with a previous record is accused and arrested. Mattie is a successful architect and volunteers with a local Family Abuse Center. When a teen she's been working with is accused of arson, she's determined to show he's innocent.
I loved the initial meeting between Gabe and Mattie. She's passionate about her belief in Angel's innocence and that gets Gabe's attention. Because of his own past, he's willing to give Angel the benefit of the doubt. There's an immediate spark between Gabe and Mattie that he is interested in pursuing, but she is wary. Mattie avoids entanglements with men and devotes herself to her work and her volunteering. Her father passed away when she was young, leaving her and her mother with little to live on, convincing her that it is better to be self sufficient than relying on someone else. Then the man she was engaged to deserted her when she was pregnant, reinforcing those beliefs. She's attracted to Gabe, but reluctant to get involved
When Angel is cleared of suspicion he wants to help find who is targeting Gabe and ends up getting badly injured. Feeling like they're responsible, Gabe and Mattie decide to do some investigating of their own. Constant proximity to each other has the sparks burning brighter and feeling beginning to develop. Gabe hasn't been much interested in relationships and permanence in the past, but the more time he spends with Mattie, the deeper his feelings go. But Mattie's fears have her trying to keep some distance between them. I liked Gabe's patience with Mattie's fears, but he also wasn't above pushing a bit to get her where he wanted her. Mattie slowly realizes that she has fallen in love with Gabe, but trusting him with her heart is something she isn't willing to do. It isn't until their lives are in danger that she's ready to give him everything.
The suspense of the story was excellent, with the attacks on Gabe's properties escalating throughout the book. There were multiple suspects, all of whom had motive, and it was interesting to see them sort through them all. The fires start to take a heavy toll on Gabe's business and his frustration is obvious. He also became very worried about Mattie's safety as the attacks got more intense. I really liked seeing the help and support Gabe got from his brothers, especially Devlin. The final confrontation with the arsonist was intense and very scary.
I also enjoyed the secondary romance between Mattie's best friend Tracy and Gabe's foreman and best friend Sam. Tracy has her own fears thanks to an abusive childhood, and doesn't plan to ever marry. She has no problem using men for physical pleasure, but doesn't trust them. Sam is a really sweet guy who takes the time to show Tracy the respect he feels she deserves. He slowly shows her what real love is and that they can have a future together.

Agent Bride (Return to Ravesville, Bk 2) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1608)
Agent Bride (Return to Ravesville, Bk 2) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1608)
Author: Beverly Long
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 4/19/2017

Good book. Cal is on his way home for Thanksgiving after leaving the Navy. He's got a lot on his mind, not the least of which is the snowstorm he's driving through. When he spots a white flag waving in the storm, he's stunned to discover that it is the veil of a woman dressed in a wedding gown and unconscious in the snow. He carries her to safety, only to discover that she can't remember who she is or how she got there. When he witnesses two suspicious looking men searching for her, his protective instincts kick in. He calls her Stormy and is determined to help her figure out who she is.

Stormy has no idea how she ended up where she was, but she's pretty sure that the men looking for her don't have her best interests in mind. Though cautious at first, she trusts her instincts when it comes to Cal and feels safe when she's with him.

The story is fast paced and takes place over just a few days. Cal and Stormy need to figure out who she is and why they are after her. As she begins to get flashes of returning memory, Stormy is certain that there is something big that is going to happy on Saturday. Each memory gives them another clue to follow, which all begin to lead to a local college and an impending political visit. A bit of bad luck puts them both in the hands of the bad guys. The intensity of the confrontation kept me turning the pages, as I anticipated their escape. In an interesting twist, what the bad guys had planned was not what had brought Stormy to the case, but the two were linked. I loved the tension of seeing Cal do his part, while Stormy, memory restored, does hers and worries for his safety. I liked the ending.

The development of their relationship was really fast. Cal has avoided relationships because of his work as a SEAL, but something about Stormy really draws him. He is attracted to her, but because of the wedding gown considers her off limits. Stormy is just as attracted to him and is certain that no one else has a claim on her. Other than some hot kisses, at the beginning they don't have time to pursue what might be between them. I liked seeing them work together. Cal starts out be super protective, for reasons that come out later in the book, but Stormy is good at showing him that she doesn't need to be coddled. I liked seeing her stand up to him when it happened, and loved how he saw his error and changed his ways. It also gave him a chance to open up about his past and what has brought him back to Ravesville. Stormy had realized her feelings for him when he went off to defuse the bomb. I ached for her when she thought he was gone, and enjoyed their big moment at the end.

Agent Gemini
Agent Gemini
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 12/14/2016

Good book that picks up where Agent Zero left off. Holly and Reese have escaped and are moving from place to place, trying to stay safe. Cal has also gone "off the grid", away from the agency that made him what he is. He is looking for the woman who saved their lives at the end of the last book.

Trinity, or Agent Three as she was known, has also gone off on her own. In the previous book, she began as an apparent mindless drone, known for her intensely calculating brain but nothing else. The process that they all went through was supposed to have removed all emotion from them, and it appears to have succeeded with her. But as the book went on, kernels of self-will and flashes of emotion begin to appear. By the end, she has broken with her boss and has helped the rogues get away.

Now Trinity has one mission. She wants to find her files and discover who she was before the process stole her memories. She has also been suffering from headaches and other strange symptoms and believes that the viral symbiosis is failing and tha she will soon die. She wants to find her answers before that happens.

As determined as she is to remain free, the Division is even more determined to get her back. Caldwell has brought in another agent and also a computer hacker to track her down. Cal has also been looking for her ever since she saved them. Like Reese was to Holly, Cal is drawn to Trinity in ways he can't explain. All he knows is that he has to keep her safe. It's a tense time when the three groups collide, and things don't look good at all for Trinity. Cal's rescue of her was a relief, but they still had a long way to go.

Trinity has a hard time believing that Cal wants to save her. All she can think of are the things she did as the boss man's assistant, things that resulted in peoples' deaths. She holds herself responsible for the death of the woman that Cal had been seeing, and believes that he would hate her if he knew. I loved Cal's protectiveness and how he is willing to do anything to keep her safe. He is puzzled over her belief that she is going to die, as all he sees is the way the ability to feel is returning to her. I especially loved the scene with the milkshake and how it increases his desire to give her everything.

The final confrontation comes when Trinity slips away from Cal in order to continue her quest. Reese and Holly show up to support and help him in his search for her. Even the other agent and Fray the hacker get their chance to help. Trinity is caught by Caldwell, who has an agenda of his own. What he put her through before he was taken down was terrifying and it was amazing that she survived. I loved the ending and seeing Trinity and Cal together. There was an interesting twist at the end, as Trinity found out a little bit about her past and the identity of the brains behind the program was revealed. It was left a little openended because he is still loose to wreak his havoc.

Agent to the Rescue (Special Agents at the Altar, Bk 3) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1592)
Review Date: 8/29/2015

Good book. It started with plenty of action and kept up the pace throughout. Dalton is serving as best man in a friend and fellow agent's wedding (Agent Undercover) when he gets a call about a case he's been working on. Since the ceremony is over he takes off to see if he can catch the perp. Instead of the car theft ring he expects to find, he discovers a woman dressed in a bridal gown in the trunk of the car. Thanks to a blow to the head, she can't remember anything about what happened or who she is. It's believed she could be a near victim of a serial killer who preys on brides. But whoever she is, Dalton's determined to protect her.

Elizabeth has no idea what happened to her, but there's something about Dalton that makes her trust him. Each additional attempt on her life draws her closer to him. Even when a man who says he is her fiance comes forward, it doesn't feel right to her. He does provide her with news that brings a few of her memories back, including those of the little girl she is now guardian of. She'll do anything to keep Lizzie safe. I loved seeing how much she believed in Dalton and his ability to protect them. She also realized that she felt far more for Dalton than she ever had for her fiance. It was great to see her show Dalton over and over how much she cared for him.

Dalton is a man who was sure that no woman would ever tempt him into a permanent relationship. His past is too rough for him to feel worthy of that kind of love. He had grown up on the streets of Chicago, been a gang member before moving to the right side of the law. But there is something about Elizabeth that he can't keep himself from caring about. I loved seeing how protective he was, to the point of even taking her with him to follow up on leads, rather than leaving her with another agent. The appearance of her fiance created a fair amount of jealousy in him, and he doesn't think that the man deserves her, but he also doesn't believe that he is good enough either. His lack of confidence almost lets him walk away, until his friends talk some sense into him. I loved his big moment at the end.

The mystery of who was trying to kill Elizabeth was very well done. From the initial belief of a serial killer to the final conclusion, my interest never wavered. I loved Dalton's determination to get to the truth, and all the steps taken to get there. As the clues began to pile up, I especially liked his conviction that there was no such thing as a coincidence. As the attempts of Elizabeth's life increased in number and intensity, I started to suspect who might be behind them. The final confrontation was really intense and I wondered just how they were going to get through it.

Agent Undercover (Special Agents at the Altar) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1561)
Agent Undercover (Special Agents at the Altar) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1561)
Author: Lisa Childs
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 7/8/2015

Good book. Ash works for the antiterrorism unit for the FBI and is currently looking for the person selling information about how to get around government firewalls. His investigation has led him to Claire, a previously convicted hacker who now works for a cybersecurity company. He suspects she is at the speed dating event to make contact with a buyer.
Claire was convicted of hacking as a teenager and given the chance to work for the good guys instead of going to prison. Ever since then she has concentrated on her work at the expense of having any kind of personal life. When the people who mean the most to her start finding love and lives of their own, she realizes that she wants what they have. Never having had the chance to really develop some social skills, she turns to online dating to find someone of her own.
Her reaction to Ash makes her nervous and she leaves the event in a hurry. As she heads out of the hotel she is grabbed and chloroformed, but luckily Ash is there to rescue her. When she regains consciousness, she's dismayed to discover that Ash suspects her of selling secrets.
I liked both Ash and Claire, though he certainly frustrated me at the beginning. Ash was totally convinced that Claire was guilty, and it wasn't until there had been several attacks on her that he admitted he might be wrong. I liked the fact that once he was convinced, he was determined to keep her safe, even though he also wanted to use her to catch the person who was really behind it. Because he is skilled at undercover work, Ash decides that posing as her boyfriend is the best way to keep her with him. He doesn't expect to find himself enjoying the ruse far more than is wise.
I liked the fact that Claire doesn't just sit back and hide behind Ash's protection. She is determined to find out just who has set her up, and if that means pretending, she'll do it. But the longer the act goes on, the more she wishes that it was real.
I loved seeing the relationship build between Ash and Claire. He's so uptight and intense that the effect she has on him hits him really hard. He feels guilty about the danger she's in because of him, but he thinks it's the only way to save her. He's also spent so long denying that he needs anyone in his life that he has a hard time letting her in. One of the things I loved about Claire was that she had such great observation skills. She was really good at reading his moods and seeing things that bothered him. It was fun to see her call him on them, and how it sometimes made him very nervous that she seemed to know him so well. When the case was over, both had to decide what to do about their feelings. I loved the ending and seeing Ash's sweet and romantic confession of his feelings.
The suspense aspect of the book was very good. The frequent attacks kept the intensity going, as Ash and Claire tried to figure out who was really behind it all. I liked seeing Claire insist on being part of the operation. I wasn't terribly surprised by who was really trying to sell the secrets as it seemed pretty obvious to me. However, I was very surprised by who was behind the attacks. I hadn't seen that one coming at all. The final showdown was really intense, and I quite enjoyed seeing how everything turned out.
I loved the appearances of the other agents. It was fun to see Blaine and Maggie from the first book, and how Blaine could so easily see that Ash was following right in his footsteps. I also enjoyed the back and forth between Ash and Reyes, especially when Reyes caused some jealousy on Ash's part. It will be interesting to see what happens in his book, and what kind of payback he might have.

Agent Zero (Harlequin Romantic Suspense)
Agent Zero (Harlequin Romantic Suspense)
Author: Lilith Saintcrow
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
Review Date: 12/14/2016

Good story, with a bit of a science fiction feel to it, almost a combination of Spiderman and the Six Million Dollar Man. Reese is a soldier/spy who has been genetically enhanced by the introduction of a virus into his system. His senses, intelligence, and strength are all incredible. He and several others like him are all part of a secret government agency. In this book, Reese has become fascinated by a waitress at a local diner that he visits between assignments. Something about Holly soothes him after particularly rough missions. He doesn't really talk to her, just watches her and leaves.

Holly is alone in the world after her father's death and her divorce from her husband. She hasn't had an easy life. Her military father died of cancer, likely caused by his time in the military. She watched him fight both the disease and the system that should have helped him. After helping put her husband through medical school, he asks for a divorce just as she finds out that there may be something wrong with her too.

Holly is a little freaked out by Reese and the way he watches her, but he's never actually done anything wrong. She gets the feeling that maybe he's just a bit shy. One day he finally asks her to have coffee with him somewhere other than the diner. Though wary, she says yes. Their plans are interrupted when a normal check-in/check-up turns into an attempt to kill him. Worried about Holly's safety after another attempt on him, he discovers that she's been taken, drugged and questioned, and is about to be killed to cover it all up. He rescues her and they go on the run.

I liked the development of their relationship. Reese is super protective and will do whatever he must to keep Holly safe. His supersensitive nose detects a scent about her that he just can't resist, like it is calling just to him. His feelings for her grow stronger, but he worries that the things he has done will make it impossible for her to return those feelings. Ever since Holly found out that she is sick, she has kept people at a distance. She doesn't want any of them going through what she did with her father. She quickly discovers that Reese won't be pushed away, and realizes that she likes the feeling of being cared for by him. A surprise event changes her prognosis, and makes it possible to think about a future, if they can get away from those who are after them. I loved the ending, as Reese is still endearingly awkward about expressing his feelings.

The suspense of the story is really interesting and intense. The agents are supposed to do their jobs without any "emotional noise", ie. conscience, feelings of love, sorrow, guilt, etc. Anyone who develops these tendencies gets reprogrammed or "liquidated". When a doctor who knew only a small part of what was happening learns the truth, he goes off the deep end and decides to eliminate the carriers of the virus. Of course, those in charge can't have that, but their attempts to fix the problem only make things worse. One of the other agents is sent to track down Reese and Holly, but he's actually on their side and has his own agenda. There is also a female agent whose point of view we also get, who really illustrates the effects and pitfalls of the program. She turns out to be much more important than suspected at the beginning. The pursuit of Reese and Holly is intense, and the final confrontation still leaves some questions unanswered.

The Agent's Covert Affair (To Protect and Serve, Bk 7) (Harlequin Romantic Suspense, No 1964)
Review Date: 9/27/2017

A terrific book that had me hooked from the very beginning. The action started with a bang as a young woman is attacked and left for dead, and her infant son kidnapped. The victim's sister, Emma, is a PI and determined to find her nephew and bring him home. She doesn't expect to find a mysterious and sexy NCIS agent already on the case.

The first meeting between Derrick and Emma set the stage for their relationship. Both are accustomed to doing what is necessary without having to consult with someone else. There is also an undeniable zing of attraction between them that promises to complicate matters. Derrick is especially resistant to working with Emma because once before he had gotten involved during a mission and the consequences still haunt him. However, each has a different set of skills vital to the mission, so they have to figure out how to make it work. Their early interactions show Derrick's fear that Emma will be more of a hindrance than a help, and Emma's determination to prove otherwise. I loved the way that Emma quickly proved her worth and made a place for herself at his side. The chemistry between them awakens unexpectedly strong feelings between them.

I ached for Derrick, whose past mistakes still haunt him. Emma's missing nephew brings his pain back to the surface and makes this case more personal than he is comfortable with. His growing feelings for Emma also bring out an unexpected protectiveness in him that causes some conflict between them. I loved that he was honest about his desire for her, but he feared that his past has made him unable to have a permanent relationship. This was especially obvious at the end when he walked away before realizing that he needed to fight for what he wanted.

Emma has her own issues to work through. She has spent her life being very protective of her sister. It goes a little too far at some point, creating a rift between them. Her growing relationship with Derrick opens her eyes to the need for her to control things in her life. I loved her big moment at the end as she followed her heart.

The suspense of the story was intense and nearly non-stop. It was an emotional roller coaster as Derrick and Emma would get close to their objective, only to see it slip away, and have it happen several times. Though the culprit is unknown at the beginning, finding out who it is doesn't make things any easier. As the risks escalate, injury or death is a definite possibility. I was glued to the book as I watched Derrick and Emma survive ambushes, a desert escape, and betrayal. There were several twists at the end that increased the intensity until all was successfully concluded.

The Agent's Redemption (Special Agents at the Altar, Bk 4) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1597)
Review Date: 9/29/2015

Excellent conclusion to the series. Jared is the FBI agent/profiler who has been hunting the Bride Butcher serial killer for six years. When another victim is found, and there appears to be a link to the first victim, Jared pays a visit to the first victim's sister. Becca has never stopped mourning her sister, nor insisting that she knows who did it. Jared is the last person she wants to see show up at her house. Six years ago, in the middle of the tragic event, she and Jared had had a passionate encounter, but their differences kept them apart. She's had no contact with him since then, including telling him that she was pregnant.

The attraction between Becca and Jared is just as strong now as it was before, and neither one can deny it. Jared is stunned to discover he has a son, and angry that Becca kept it a secret from him. Some of those feelings have to take a back seat to the mission of finding the killer, but it isn't easy. I liked the way that Jared accepted the truth so quickly, and loved the way he bonded so quickly with Alex. The relationship between him and Becca was a little trickier. He still cared about her, and the feelings were getting stronger, but telling her how he felt would take more courage than he had. He wasn't sure he could handle hearing that she didn't feel the same way. Becca had also cared about Jared, but because he had left without saying anything, she hadn't either.

Now that they are working together to bring the Butcher to justice, those feelings have come back to the surface. Becca feels pretty guilty that she hadn't told Jared about Alex, and making him part of their lives now makes her realize just how much they have missed. Jared needs Becca's help, but his feelings for her have added a whole new level of protectiveness to them. I loved seeing how both of them had to deal with their feelings and at the same time still keep focus on what they were trying to do. I really enjoyed seeing the way that Becca stood up to Jared when it came to trying to trap the killer. When the final confrontation was over, both of them had to face those feelings and decide whether to take the risk. I loved Jared's big moment there, and Becca's surprise.

The suspense part of the story was fantastic. The tension kept climbing, from the discovery of the new victim right through to the final confrontation. I loved seeing Jared and Becca try to discover the link between the first victim and the last one. It was interesting to see how she stuck to her belief about who the guilty person was. When she started receiving threats, Jared was even more determined to discover who it is. I loved following the investigation, and how they came up with several suspects. Each one seemed to be a good possibility and it was hard to settle on any one of them. There was a very interesting twist at the end that I never saw coming. The final confrontation was intense, and I wondered at times just how everything was going to turn out.

Alec's Royal Assignment (Man on a Mission)
Alec's Royal Assignment (Man on a Mission)
Author: Amelia Autin
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/27/2015

Fantastic book with a seriously awesome heroine. Angelina is bodyguard to the queen, a position she has fought long and hard for. From the time she was a little girl she wanted more than just to be a wife and mother. She studied hard, earned a law degree, and when the new king opened the Zakharian Defense Forces to women she immediately joined. Though things have gotten better for women, Angelina still feels that Zakharian attitudes are still fifty years behind modern times.

Alec, who was one of Princess Mara's bodyguards in MacKinnon's Royal Mission, ran into some trouble on his last assignment. Expecting a reprimand and a less than desirable posting, instead he is assigned to become the regional security officer at the embassy in Zakhar. It is believed that the princess asked her brother, the king, to intercede on his behalf. When he arrives in Zakhar, he discovers that, while that may be the public story, in truth he has been selected by the king himself for another reason. There is a human trafficking ring operating between Zakhar and the States, and someone at the embassy is suspected of being involved. Alec's task is to help shut it down.

Alec and Angelina meet the first day that he arrives in the country and sparks immediately fly between them. I loved their encounter the next morning, when they meet while running. They spend a little time as they run getting to know each other. When Alec asks her if she worries about running alone as she does, her reply is priceless and surprising. I liked the respect that began to build between them from that point. A moment later they are locked in a mind-blowing kiss that shakes them both up.

I loved Angelina. She was strong willed and determined woman who worked hard to get where she was. Honor and duty are everything to her and she tries hard to avoid anything that would cast doubt on her ability to d her job. There are multiple scenes that show what she is up against, such as feeling she has to wait until the male security team members have spoken before she does. It is also evident in the way she is treated after the incident at the cathedral. She doesn't like it, but accepts it as the way things are. She gets a boost in confidence (and I gained even more respect for King Andre) when the king himself praises her actions and commends her in front of her male counterparts. I also liked the way he privately praised her actions and gave her advice on dealing with the effects of those actions. His praise and Alec's confidence in her also gave her the courage to ask to help with an interrogation. It was incredibly satisfying to her (and to me as a reader) to see her succeed where all the men had failed. There was one brief scene with the heads of the king's security detail that was kind of unresolved, and I would love to be a fly on the wall when they get the news that happens at the end of the book.

Alec is also fantastic. I loved his immediate connection with Angelina and his acceptance of who she is. It was great to see his reactions to the things that she feared would upset him, such as her throwing him at the beginning, and then her offer to drive on the trip to the cathedral. While he has great respect for her abilities, he can also see her vulnerability. As much as he wants to flaunt their relationship, he understands her need to keep it private. I loved the sensitivity that came through when he saw how the events at the cathedral affected her. It was also great to see that same sensitivity cause him to stand up for her when she won't do it herself.

I loved seeing the relationship grow between them. Alec has finally found a woman that understands him and who he is. He begins to dream of a future with her and is happier than he's ever been. Angelina has also started to believe in the possibility of a future with Alec. But when his investigation ends, Alec suddenly realizes that there are some obstacles to those dreams. His personal code of honor and duty have him unable to give up what he does, but asking Angelina to give up everything she has worked for is something he won't do. But instead of talking to her about it, he makes the decision to end things. I ached for him and wanted to smack him at the same time, because he was so miserable and had brought it on himself. Angelina had to take a good look at her own issues and make some decisions about her own future. I loved seeing how she worked through them, and how it brought her to a greater understanding of the kind of man Alec is. The resolution of the problem and how it came about was terrific. Once again the king showed just how great a man he is.

The suspense of the story was great and kept the tension going throughout. There were two main threads - the human trafficking that Alec was dealing with and the attack at the cathedral that Angelina was involved in. The intensity of action at the cathedral had me holding my breath until it was resolved. The investigation of who was behind it (though the reader already knows) was complicated and I really enjoyed seeing Angelina's participation. The information she uncovered linked it to Alec's investigation, and that's when things got really interesting. Angelina had another link to his investigation, and I loved seeing them work together on that. It seemed that they were just one step ahead of the bad guys until they got to the end of the search. That conclusion was incredibly emotional and I'm really looking forward to the continuation of that storyline.

*copy received in exchanged for honest review.

All for a Cowboy (Montana Way, Bk 3) (Harlequin Superromance, No 1928)
All for a Cowboy (Montana Way, Bk 3) (Harlequin Superromance, No 1928)
Author: Jeannie Watt
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 2/26/2015

Good book, with two people who are starting over after big changes in their lives. Jordan has come back to the one place he swore he'd never step foot on again. Jordan left when he was eighteen, to join the military, because he could no longer stand to see what his stepmother was doing to his father. Not long ago, Jordan was badly injured in the war, and while he was still in the hospital his father died. Suffering from nightmares, and feeling stifled by the dead end job he had been given, Jordan decided to head back to the ranch, which he now owns.

Shae is going through an upheaval of her own. We first met her in Once a Champion, as the spoiled sister to Liv. She was accustomed to getting anything she wanted, and things being done her way. At the beginning of this book, her fiance has called off their wedding shortly before it was to take place, no longer able to put up with her Bridezilla attitude. Then, when she goes back to work, she is fired because she spent too much of her work day working on wedding plans instead of doing her job. This leaves her with no job and no way to pay the thousands of dollars she owes for the wedding that won't take place. She's stunned when she gets no sympathy from either her best friend or her brother, who both point out that she's been a selfish bitch for most of her life. Her only hope of recovery is talking her boss into giving her one more chance. All she has to do is make it possible to turn the Bryan ranch into another guest ranch for her boss.

The problem? Her boss is the ranch owner's hated stepmother. He owns the land, but Miranda owns the lease on half the property for the next twelve years. Miranda has a long standing grudge against Jordan, and is determined to make his life on the ranch absolutely miserable, and has no problem using Shae to do it. Jordan is equally determined that he will not be driven off the land where he is hoping to start a new life. And Shae is the one caught in the middle. It doesn't help that she and Jordan have some history of their own.

I loved seeing Shae and Jordan work through their own issues by seeing how the other one has changed. She starts out blindly following Miranda's instructions, having only gotten Miranda's side of the story. Seeing the changes in Jordan has her thinking about what he must have gone through when they happened, something that never would have occurred to her before. Some of the things that Miranda is doing start to bother Shae, and she begins to see her boss through different eyes. Jordan also begins to see some changes in Shae. She doesn't seem to be quite the spoiled princess that he remembers. I loved seeing them slowly begin to get to know each other, and learn about each other's pain. Shae also learns a lot more about herself and isn't always happy about the picture she sees. I did like seeing the way that she began seeing things from Jordan's point of view, and that she really wanted him to be happy. I also enjoyed seeing the respect that Jordan started to develop for Shae. He saw the amount of work she was putting in by herself in the attempt to fix her life. He would have been happier if it weren't on his land, but he couldn't help but appreciate her efforts. Neither of them counted on the attraction that built up between them. Jordan was dealing with the scars and was certain that Shae, with her previous need for perfection, would never be interested in him. What I loved about her, was that while she was shocked by his appearance at first, it wasn't that long before she was able to look past the scars and see Jordan for who he was. I liked the way that, while she felt badly about the emotional trauma he was going through, she didn't seem to pity him. And her acceptance of his problems went a long way toward helping him heal. One of the greatest things was seeing that Jordan and Shae were able to work things out by actually talking to and listening to each other's concerns.

Miranda was a real piece of work. I could completely understand Jordan's problem with her. She had completely bamboozled his father, and because he loved his dad he couldn't bring himself to tell him what was going on. Losing his father before they were able to mend their relationship was one of the things that was so hard on Jordan. Miranda's viciousness was well hidden when anyone else was around, but one on one she was nasty. I hated seeing the way she had Shae fooled at the beginning, but loved seeing how Shae began to see the real Miranda. It was fun to see how Shae dealt with Miranda's "spy". Things were getting really bad, and I wondered if Miranda was actually going to win. I liked the way it worked out, though I would have liked to see Miranda really suffer.

All for Love (Second Chance at Love, No 375)
All for Love (Second Chance at Love, No 375)
Author: Sherryl Woods
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/11/2007

When a tragic fall shattered his dreams, tennis champ Evan Thomas sought refuge in bitter isolation ... Now feisty schoolteacher Corey Reed is determined to draw him out with her heart-melting gaze, her cheery badgering, and a passel of roughneck kids. But she doesn't realize what she's asking of him

When Corey declares war on handsome but hostile Evan, pestering him to help mold today's hoodlums into tomorrow's athletes, she doesn't expect his sensual counterattack. Soon she's surrendering to his nerve-tingling caresses and mouth-watering kisses. Though she'll do almost anything for needy youngsters, Evan's masculine demands are emotional blackmail! He doesn't realize what he's asking of her!

Great book -- loved the teenagers in this story!

All He Wants for Christmas (Kismet Christmas, Bk 4)
All He Wants for Christmas (Kismet Christmas, Bk 4)
Author: Lisa Plumley
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 12/6/2015

Good story about a man who has a little growing up to do and a woman who needs a little more fun in her life. Jason is the CEO of a toy company that he turned into national chain from its beginnings as a single store. But he really doesn't like the business side of things and tends to take long, party filled vacations. His most recent vacation put him in the center of some really bad publicity, leading his board of directors to give him an ultimatum: Clean up your image or you're out. So he's headed off on a tour of the midwest stores, starting with the one in Kismet. He's supposed to generate good publicity and behave himself, starting with the elderly store manager.

Danielle took over as store manager six months earlier. She's a divorced mother of three, determined to win a promotion that will take her out of Kismet and away from her cheating ex and his new airheaded wife. She has her own methods of making the store work, most of which involve completely ignoring the corporate guidebook. She knows they will get her in a boatload of trouble if they're discovered, but she's confident in her ability to keep the boss distracted.

I loved the first meeting between Danielle and Jason. He spent awhile just wandering the town and getting a feel for it before showing up at the store. It was so much fun to see him jump in and start working the floor like a regular employee. He has great charm and personality and soon has customers eating out of his hand. Even when a group of protesters arrive, he defuses to situation so completely that Danielle isn't quite sure what she just witnessed. When they finally meet and Jason discovers who she is, he's a little bummed. He's really attracted to her, but he shouldn't do anything about it. I really liked how Danielle tries to make Jason see that just apologizing wouldn't be so bad, but he is determined to stand his ground. Danielle thinks she's been promised a promotion if she can bring Jason into line, so she's done some string pulling on her end to make sure Jason is just where she wants him.

I really enjoyed the buildup of their relationship. The chemistry between them is strong and things build up between them thanks to little touches and unexpected emotional connections. It was fun to see Jason have fun with Danielle's two boys, especially since he's almost as big a kid as they are. Her daughter is a harder sell, and she gives Jason a hard time throughout the book. It was sweet to see the way he really wanted them to like him.

There's trouble on the horizon though, as the head of the board of directors is determined to oust Jason from the company and doesn't care how he does it. We see him using Danielle's desire for a promotion to get her to report on Jason's "progress". Danielle feels guilty about the secrets she's keeping from Jason, especially as they grow closer and she realizes that she's falling for him. Meanwhile, Jason discovers that the video he sent to Chip to show him how he's changed has become a social media PR campaign. He's furious, and worried about what she'll say when she finds out. He doesn't want to tell her because he's afraid that it will end the relationship that he's finding increasingly important to him.

I liked Jason a lot. He's a fun loving guy who really has a big heart. He loves his family and is very protective of their privacy. He doesn't publicize how poor they had been and how he got his start in the toy business. I also enjoyed the protectiveness that came out when he saw how her ex was treating her. His pretend relationship with her, to help her shut down her ex's attitude, turned real very fast. It was really sweet to see all the things he did with her and the kids, and the effect it ultimately had on him.

I also like Danielle. She had obviously been the adult in her marriage and it has made things awkward with her ex and his wife. I really understood her frustration with having to be the bad guy with her kids when it came to the things her ex did. Having Jason doing things for her, both big and small, was something so different that she couldn't help but fall for him. I loved the way that showing him around Kismet at Christmas made her realize that she really didn't want to move away after all.

When Chip came to Kismet and started manipulating both Jason and Danielle, the resulting drama was pretty intense. Both Jason and Danielle felt like they had been betrayed, and neither wanted to listen to the other explain what had happened. I enjoyed seeing each of them get life, love and relationships explained to them. I especially loved the appearance of Mr. Moosby himself in Kismet, the reason he was there, and how much he obviously cared about Jason. The solution that they came up with that worked for everyone was fantastic. The Christmas morning scene was sweet and romantic.

All I Want (Animal Magnetism, Bk 7)
All I Want (Animal Magnetism, Bk 7)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
Review Date: 4/3/2017

Very good book. Zoe is the last of the three Stone siblings and the only one who hasn't found true love yet. She pretends that she's fine alone, but really she wants what they have. Instead, she makes her work as a pilot her life, along with her dog Oreo, until she decides it's time to go after what she wants. As the book opens she's getting ready for a blind date, assisted by commentary from her sister Darcy. A challenge from Darcy has her kissing the man at the door, only to find out he's not her date.

Parker is an agent for the Fish and Wildlife Service, who is on forced leave from his job, after the death of a friend and his own injuries. He's been told to leave the case alone, but can't do it. A tip brings him to Sunshine, where he is renting a room from his friend Wyatt's sister. He does not expect the welcome that he gets.

There are sparks between Zoe and Parker from the beginning. Both try to resist, Zoe because she's looking for something permanent, which he isn't, and Parker because he'll be leaving as soon as he does what he came for. But resistance is futile as each is fascinated with the other. Zoe is smart, works hard, loves her family dearly and is also rather bossy. She did most of the raising of her siblings thanks to her neglectful parents, plus has been burned by a previous relationship, so she likes to be in control. Her favorite phrase is "I'm fine, I've got this". Parker is career driven and focused, but has a softer side that shows when dealing with a pair of kittens and his sister. He's intrigued by Zoe, but knows that he's not the one for her, because he isn't staying around.

I loved the development of their relationship. Parker is charming, sexy and has a great sense of humor. I loved the way that he could tease her out of a bad mood. Spending time with her has him thinking about things that had never appealed before, like having a permanent home and someone to come home to. It was sweet to see the little things he did to make her life easier. Zoe works a little harder to resist, but soon falls for the man she sees under the determined agent. It was fun to see them "playing house" together, with the desire for more growing between them. Some of their conversations were laugh out loud funny, while the chemistry between them was sizzling. But when his job brings danger to Zoe, Parker pulls back. It takes him a little while to see the light but his big moment at the end was great. I really loved that bit of vulnerability that was there beneath his apology.

There was a bit of suspense in this story, dealing with the poacher that Parker has been chasing for years. It shows the stubborn and somewhat rogue side of him, as he breaks quite a few rules that have been made clear to him. The confrontation between Parker and Carver was pretty intense and didn't end quite the way I thought it would.

The secondary characters always add some extra life to the story. From Darcy's advice at the beginning, that started the whole thing with Parker, to Wyatt's advice to Parker, the siblings show their love for and understanding of Zoe. The football game involving characters from previous books was a chance to catch up, and also see some of the fun interactions between them. I loved Parker's sister and how important she was to him. She was sweet and fun, and the Vegas and Glacier trip was awesome. But the one who stole the show was the dog Oreo. It was fun to see his reactions to the kittens, and how quickly he took to Parker.

All I Want Is You (Coral Cove, Bk 1)
All I Want Is You (Coral Cove, Bk 1)
Author: Toni Blake
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 5/31/2015

Good start to the new series. Christy is a sweet young woman, but things have not gone well for her lately. Her parents were killed in a house fire, leaving Christy alone except for her grandfather, who lives in an assisted living center in Florida. There had also been no insurance money, so Christy had to leave college and find a way to make a living. Not easy back home in Destiny, so she moves to the city where she is barely making ends meet. When she finds out her grandfather faces having to leave the center because of money issues, she knows she has to do something. Her roommate convinces her that it's just as easy to fall in love with a rich man as a poor one, and that's what she needs to do.

It's a solution that doesn't sit well with Christy, but she's out of ideas and she's desperate. The lead up to her first "rich guy" date is a comedy of errors, involving running late, locked doors, and clothing issues. Her inability to get into her apartment sends her to her neighbor, Jack, whom she begs to kick down her door so she can get in. While the date fizzles, her meeting with her neighbor sizzles. He's hot, he's nice, and parts of her really sit up and take notice. But he's a handyman, and therefore can't be part of her plan.

Jack is rather amused by his neighbor, who at first seems to be a bit of a mess. He can't believe what she wants him to do, but goes along with it. Then he offers his help to repair the damage, and witnesses the non-start of her special date. He hears all about her problem with her grandfather and what her solution is. Jack is really attracted to her, but he has some issues that tell him to keep his distance. He has a bit of a white knight complex and that tends to get him involved with people that end up using him. The worst of it was when he fell in love and married, only to find out that his wife was more interested in what he could give her than in who he was. Because Jack is more than just a handyman. By day he owns his own online investment counseling company, and in his spare time he renovates and sells houses. He is quite wealthy. But he has discovered that it is hard to tell these days if a woman he is dating is really interested in him. So he doesn't tell Christy everything about himself, leaving her to believe he's just a poor as she is.

It's at this point that a friendship starts to build between Christy and Jack. He offers to make some repairs to her place and they spend time together just talking. He witnesses the disasters of some of her later dates. He knows he should stay away from her because of his issues and her needs, but he just can't help himself. And when she decides to make a trip to Florida to see her grandfather, Jack's protective instincts kick in and he offers to go along for the ride. Christy is hesitant at first because of the way he makes her feel, but gives in with little persuasion. It doesn't take too long for Christy to realize that her original plan was a terrible idea. It had never felt right and the more she's around Jack the more she realizes money is the wrong thing to base a relationship on. But having told Jack her plans, she can't figure out how to tell him she's changed her mind.

I loved seeing them together in Coral Cove. Christy's past has made her a bit low on the self confidence side. She makes beautiful jewelry, but is afraid to try selling it for fear it won't do well. Jack gives her the encouragement she needs to try, and his confidence in her gives her the courage to really look at the possibilities. Because he wasn't always rich, he remembers what it's like to be nervous about going after your dreams. Jack also introduces her to the fun of simple things, like beach shows, quirky hotels and unusual restaurants. The time she spends with him has her falling in love with him a little more each day.

As Jack gets to know Christy, he realizes that she isn't really a gold-digger, she's just trying to take care of her grandfather. The attraction he feels for her gets stronger, but he also begins to like the person she is. I loved the way he called her Alice. He starts to fall for her sweetness. He had logical reasons for hiding the truth from her at the beginning, but now it's starting to eat at him. The guilt has a tendency to have him pull back just as they start to get closer, frustrating both of them. He knows he has to tell her the truth but isn't sure how she's going to react.

I understood his reasons for not telling her at first, but not really any excuse for not coming clean sooner. He held onto his secrets a little too long, and when he confessed Christy was hurt and angry. She felt he had betrayed her trust in him. At this point I felt that both of them needed to let go a little. I felt that Jack was a bit arrogant in thinking she should get over her anger quickly. The depth of her hurt and anger seemed to surprise him. But I also felt that Christy shouldn't have held on to her anger quite so long. After all, it was her actions that had made him reluctant to tell the truth to start with. I did like the way that it made Christy determined to solve her problems herself and the solution she came up with. I also loved how, with her grandfather's help, Jack was finally able to make amends with Christy and they got the future they wanted. The epilogue was great.

I loved the setting of Coral Cove. The previous series of Destiny, Ohio, was terrific and this looks to be just as good. The secondary characters are all great. I loved Christy's grandfather, and his own look into his past loves and mistakes made a great parallel to Christy and Jack. It had a nice twist at the end also. I really enjoyed meeting some of the other people, too. Reece and his iguana pet were interesting, and I'd love to see more of him. I'm also intrigued by Fletcher, the tightrope walker, and his story. I'd love to know more about him.

Along Came a Duke (Rhymes with Love, Bk 1)
Along Came a Duke (Rhymes with Love, Bk 1)
Author: Elizabeth Boyle
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 10/27/2017

Fun book, with a slight Cinderella theme. Tabitha is a vicar's daughter who, upon the death of her father, was taken in by her aunt and uncle. They didn't want her, but she was part of the deal that enabled her uncle to take over the vicar's position. Tabitha has spent the last several years as her relatives' servant. That all changes when she is left a huge fortune - as long as she marries the man her late uncle picked for her, a paragon of virtue named Mr. Barkworth. Tabitha is informed of this on the same day she told an insufferable and rakish Mr. Preston that she had no wish ever to get married. Her relatives quickly have her on the road to London and the promise of a speedy marriage.

Mr. Preston, who is actually the Duke of Preston, met Tabitha when he and his friend Roxley had an accident while participating in a bet. Preston has quite the reputation for reckless behavior, and this is just one more example. His latest antics have caused him to be shunned by society, and his aunt and uncle to try to convince him to mend his ways.

From the moment that Preston and Tabitha meet, there are sparks between them. Tabitha is a spirited young woman who has had a hard time of it but accepts it and moves on. I loved the first meeting between her and Preston, where she has no trouble pushing back against his arrogance. For his part, Preston is amused by her and finds himself unable to forget her. A chance encounter on the road has them sharing a private dinner. I loved this scene as Preston teases Tabitha and she gives as good as she gets. We also get some insight into the past that affects Preston's behavior as an adult. Tabitha knows that she isn't being wise, but there is something about Preston that she can't resist.

Their next encounter is two weeks later. Preston hasn't been able to forget Tabitha. He is stunned when they meet again, and he learns of her upcoming betrothal. He is dismayed by what he sees as her relatives' attempts to turn her into another "Bath miss" and is determined to save her from such a fate. I loved his appearance at the same function that night. His outrageous behavior is great fun to watch as he pokes at the so stuffy Barksworth. I loved seeing Preston's protectiveness as he tries to save Tabitha from a miserable marriage without realizing why he feels so strongly about it. In spite of his rakish reputation, there is a very sweet side to him also. I loved the scene with the bluebells. Tabitha can't help but compare the two men, and each encounter makes it more obvious which she would rather be with. The tension picks up when Preston learns the details of the betrothal and becomes determined to save Tabitha. His methods are effective in one way, but she isn't in the clear quite yet. There is still excitement to come as Preston finally realizes why he's so protective of Tabitha. The final scenes are great fun as both Preston and Tabitha do what they must to get the future they want.

I liked Tabitha from the start. She is feisty and independent even while stuck with her miserable aunt and uncle. I enjoyed her quick wit as she traded barbs with Preston over dinner and again in London. I would have liked to see her stand up to Barksworth and her relatives a bit sooner, but she did come through in the end.

I wasn't as sure about Preston at first. He came across as spoiled and uncaring, especially when it came to the bet that started the book. I ached for him as his past was revealed and felt that maybe there was some hope for him after all. Tabitha's effect on him was huge as she inspired him to change.

I also enjoyed the supporting characters. Preston's friend Roxley is a terrific friend and is there to support him when he's most needed. I had to laugh at his fear of his Aunt Essex and the lengths he took to avoid her. I'm looking forward to seeing his story. Preston's aunt was quite a force to be reckoned with, and I really enjoyed seeing her try to save him from himself. I'm also looking forward to seeing how Preston's uncle deals with the results of the prank that Preston and Roxley have played on him. I also liked Tabitha's friends, Harry and Daphne. Harry is forthright, and some of the things she says and does are pretty amusing. There is a history between her and Roxley, and I look forward to finding out more about it. I wasn't sure about Daphne at first because of her support of Barksworth, and her dislike of Preston. As that seems to be the result of some kind of family feud, I have a feeling that she has some surprises in store for her.

Alpha Bravo SEAL (Red, White and Built, Bk 2) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1710)
Alpha Bravo SEAL (Red, White and Built, Bk 2) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1710)
Author: Carol Ericson
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 5/16/2017

Good book. Nicole is a documentary filmmaker. She and her film crew had been captured by Somali pirates, then rescued by a group of Navy SEALs. Eighteen months later, the other members of her crew are dying under mysterious circumstances and Nicole suspects something is wrong.

One of those SEALs was Slade. He had been fascinated by her at the time, intrigued by a wealthy woman that doesn't act like the ones he's used to. Then he's assigned to protect her again, this time from deadly terrorists who are after her.

I liked both Nicole and Slade. Both have come from wealthy, privileged backgrounds, but prefer to make their own way in the world. Thanks to her work in frequently hazardous areas, Nicole is not easily flustered or frightened. She is also smart, feisty, and determined. Slade is smart, determined and protective. He has been burned pretty well by his few relationships with wealthy women and tends to steer clear of them now. I enjoyed seeing the development of their relationship. First up is the attraction between them, which simmers under the surface from the start. Neither had been able to forget the other, even though they hadn't actually met. Second was the connection between them that quickly became a friendship, then more. I liked that Nicole was strong and independent, but could lean on Slade when she needed to. I also loved that while Slade was protective, he trusted Nicole to know what she could handle. I liked how they came together at the end, with no angst or trouble, just an admission that they want to see where the relationship goes.

The suspense of the book was really good. We quickly learn that the bad guys are after some film footage, though not exactly why. They are ruthless and have no problem with leaving a high body count. Slade and Nicole follow the leads to track down the footage, but the bad guys are never far away. The intensity increases when they find the film, but Nicole is taken. The final confrontation is exciting, though doesn't go quite like I expected, but it certainly brings things into a nice neat circle, with just one loose thread. I can't wait to read the next one.

My only real quibble is with the cover of the book. It takes place almost entirely in New York City, so the African cover is a bit misleading.

Author: Lynsay Sands
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 5/16/2016

Fun book, with the author's trademark humor and bit of intrigue to spice up the romance. Rosamunde has been raised at the convent and is just hours away from taking her vows when her father shows up. He is determined to marry her off and has brought the groom with him.

Aric had just ended his betrothal to a woman who was unfaithful. He's seriously considering remaining unmarried when the king arrives. The king won't take no for an answer and Aric soon finds himself married to the beautiful but innocent Rosamunde.

The first part of the book deals with the beginning of their marriage. Rosamunde is incredibly naive and the marriage instructions she received from the nuns were heavy on the anything to do with the marriage bed is sinful. The consummation scene, where they are rushed through it by her father, was awkward for both of them and set them up for more difficulties to come. The journey to their new home is an exercise in frustration for both of them. Aric feels badly about what he did and isn't sure how to fix it, plus doing it on the journey is just too awkward. He's attracted to her, and increasingly frustrated by his inability to do anything about it. Rosamunde has gone from a life of purpose, working with the convent's animals and other participation in convent life, to being allowed to do nothing. She's bored and frustrated and wondering just how miserable her future is going to be.

Once they reach their new home, Rosamunde's frustration continues to grow. Aric is busy learning the land and people, and is gone all day. Rosamunde was never taught about housekeeping matters and feels totally useless, especially since Aric won't even let her go to the stables to help with the animals. The arrival of his father and his friend Robert, along with Bishop Shrewsbury, brings some changes. The king has died and there is the possibility that Rosamunde is in danger. She has also reached the end of her patience and is determined to return to her work in the stables. There is a hysterical scene dealing with Aric's reaction to finding her there, and the compromise his father helps him find. This doesn't work out quite the way he intended and between the horse in the hall and her veterinary practice Aric is ready to blow. It takes his father, Robert and the bishop to calm him down in a scene that had me laughing out loud.

All of this does start to open Aric's eyes to the differences between Rosamunde and his former fiancee. He has been taking out his loss of trust in women on Rosamunde, who does not deserve it. I really enjoyed seeing him try to repair their relationship. This brings them back together physically, and Aric finally gets a chance for a re-do of the consummation, only to run into the roadblocks laid by the nuns and bishop. The chemistry between them is hot, and once Rosamunde gets a taste of passion she's all in. It was pretty sweet to see the two of them begin to actually get to know each other and the feelings between them grow.

But things are about to get really complicated. There have been several attacks on Rosamunde and Aric is determined to keep her safe and discover who is behind them. Unfortunately for him, she doesn't believe that she is in danger and resists all of Aric's attempts to protect her, setting up some very frustrating times for him. Called to London for Richard's coronation, there is yet another attack, this time on Aric. When they finally reach court, Aric believes he will finally be able to get at the truth. It's really interesting that it's through an unexpected encounter that Rosamunde discovers the truth. The final confrontation is intense and nervewracking as Aric and Rosamunde have to work together to end the threat. I loved seeing them finally come together with all their issues finally overcome.

Always a Cowboy (Carsons of Mustang Creek, Bk 2)
Always a Cowboy (Carsons of Mustang Creek, Bk 2)
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
Review Date: 3/30/2017

Good book. Second in the Carson series, this book is about Drake, the middle brother. Older brother, Slater (Once a Rancher), is the producer of documentaries, and younger brother, Mace, is in charge of the family winery. Drake runs the family ranch, which is just right for him. The land and its traditions are his life's blood. Not to say there aren't challenges to go along with it. For the past year they have been losing calves to a mountain lion, and there's a herd of wild horses whose stallion has been stealing Drake's mares. As icing on the cake, he finds a beautiful woman trespassing on his land.

Luce is a graduate student working on a paper about how wild horses interact with ranch animals and humans. Drake's mom, an old friend of Luce's mom, has invited Luce to stay at the ranch while she does her research. This puts her into Drake's path far too often for either's comfort, at least at the beginning.

I loved the first meeting between Drake and Luce. He sees that wild stallion close and is determined to catch him and move him away from the ranch and his mares. He doesn't catch him, but he does scare them off, bringing on the wrath of Luce, who has been observing them all day. I loved seeing her stand up to Drake and fuss at him. At the same time, he listened but wasn't overly receptive to her rants. But underneath the confrontation is a different kind of spark, the spark of attraction, which disturbs them both. They go head to head a few times over his resistance to cooperating with his research, and her insistence that she's well able to take care of herself out on the range. They eventually work out a compromise that has them spending time together, time that brings their simmering attraction to a full boil.

I really liked seeing the two of them get to know each other and learn to respect what the other does. Once they get past their initial antagonism, Drake's true personality really begins to shine. He is funny, charming, passionate, and just a bit old-fashioned. He was very protective, especially when the mountain lion got bolder. He pretty quickly realizes what it is he feels for Luce, and is determined in his pursuit of her. Luce knows what she's feeling, too, but she has her life planned out, and staying in rural Wyoming isn't part of it. I enjoyed the realism of seeing two people who loved each other work to figure out how to make things work between them. The wedding scene was sweet, and his honeymoon plans were super romantic.

As always, the secondary characters added extra depth to the story. My favorite was ranch foreman Red. He had some great cowboy sayings, and seems pretty ordinary, until you get to see a bit of his private life. I also loved Drake's mom and her not always subtle attempts to get him and Luce together. I liked seeing more of Slater, Grace and Ryder, and how they are settling in to life together. Ryder has a couple of good scenes with Drake and Luce, too. I enjoyed the teasing that Mace inflicts on his brothers, and that they aren't slow about returning the favor. Though they bicker and snipe, they are always first in line to support each other. I also liked seeing Lettie get involved in their wild horse problem. She is a force to be reckoned with. I'm looking forward to reading Mace's story.

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