Susan F. (scoutmomskf) - , - Reviews

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Almost a Bravo (Bravos of Valentine Bay, Bk 2) (Harlequin Special Edition, No 2648)
Review Date: 8/30/2018

Captivating and emotional story. What do you do when you discover that everything you believed about yourself is a lie? Five years earlier, Aislinn had briefly worked as a ranch hand for Martin Durand, where she developed a huge crush on the man's adoptive son, Jaxon. Now she's been called to attend the reading of Durand's will. She is shocked and horrified to be told that she was switched at birth with his daughter, meaning that she doesn't have a drop of Bravo blood in her. To top it all off, Durand made it a condition of his will that Aislinn and Jax must marry or Jax will lose his inheritance.

The opening scene in the lawyer's office sucked me into the story and grabbed me by the heart. Aislinn's disbelief and pain at hearing the story of her birth was heart-wrenching. Her meltdown was understandable and believable. Getting the news that she also had to marry Jax was one more blow. Though she claimed that her crush was long over, it was obvious that something was still there. And as much as she hated the circumstances, she still likes and respects Jax and doesn't want to be the cause of him losing the ranch. She struggled over what to do, but the outcome was really never in question. Jax is just as stunned over the will's conditions. To lose the home that has been in his family for generations is unthinkable, and he'll do whatever he must to keep it. After all, it's only for three months.

I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Jax and Aislinn. The sparks between them were undeniable right from the start. Jax was a bit wary at the beginning, slightly suspicious that Aislinn had found a way to get to Martin and manipulate him. Those feelings didn't last long, as he got to know and like her. I loved the way that he did everything he could to make her feel welcome on the ranch. He's also a pretty straightforward man, and as his attraction to Aislinn grew he made it clear that he wanted her. Aislinn has a harder time of it. Spending time with Jax deepens her feelings for him. Giving in to the desire isn't hard, but believing in a future together is another matter. I ached for Aislinn and the panic attacks she would have each night, and for Jax, who tried to understand but was hurt by the way she pulled away. It was pretty clear that she was fighting against the feeling that she had no control over her life, but she didn't know how to fix it. When the three months are up, both Jax and Aislinn know that they are in love, but Aislinn is still fighting for identity. I loved Jax's patience with her fears and that he never gave up hope. I admit to being somewhat frustrated with her at the end, but I also could feel her pain. Her conversation with Percy and Daffy at the end finally helped her put her fears to rest. I loved seeing Aislinn and Jax come together at the end. There was a sweet little twist involving Martin, also.

I loved the importance of family. The love and care that Jax had received from Claudia and Martin made a great foundation for the love he had for Aislinn. For all the love he had for Martin, Jax was also well aware of Martin's faults, and tried hard to help Aislinn see the good side of the man. The closeness of the Bravo family is a huge part of Aislinn's identity, and the news about her birth threw her into a tailspin. She wasn't sure what the news would do to her relationship with her siblings, and that added to her stress. I loved the unquestioning support she received from all of them, especially as she tried to come to terms with her marriage. I really enjoyed seeing her sisters Haley and Harper playing devil's advocate, to get Aislinn to see the truth. I'm looking forward to seeing what happens when the family finally gets in contact with Madison.

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 3.7/5 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.

Always a Lawman (Blue River Ranch, Bk 1) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1749)
Always a Lawman (Blue River Ranch, Bk 1) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1749)
Author: Delores Fossen
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
Review Date: 12/24/2017

Exciting start to the new series. Nearly non-stop attacks, multiple suspects, and a simmering attraction kept me glued to the pages from start to finish.

Ten years after the murder of his parents, Gabriel is the sheriff of Blue River. He isn't very happy to find Jodi, the daughter of the man convicted of those murders, at the scene of that crime, and where she had also nearly lost her life. He's even less happy to discover that she is receiving threats and has made herself a target to try to draw the attacker out. Both of them get quite a shock when they find a knife like the one used in her attack and a dead body in his parents' old house. Having a masked man shoot at them just adds to the tension.

I liked Jodi a lot. She is independent, determined, but also vulnerable. The attack that nearly killed her continues to affect her. She has learned to protect herself so that she can keep herself safe. She is determined to discover the truth of what happened that night and clear her father's name. She is also haunted as much by what she doesn't remember of that night as by what she does remember. If she can find out who it was, maybe she can finally move on with her life.

I also really liked Gabriel. He is honorable, protective, and has his own regrets from that night. Ten years ago he had turned away the young Jodi who had shown up at his place with seduction on her mind. In his opinion she was too young, so he turned her down and sent her away even though he wanted her too. Now that she's back, he is determined to keep her safe.

The suspense is fantastic. Jodi's actions have stirred up a veritable hornet's nest. There is attack after attack on Jodi; attempts to silence her before she can fully remember and expose the person who tried to kill her. With each attack, someone different rose to the top of the list of suspects. Is it Hector, who was there to pick up the pieces after Jodi's attack? Or her uncle August, who doesn't think she's trying hard enough to clear her father's name? Or her ex-boyfriend Russell, who claims that his association with her has put him and his family in danger? Through most of the book I couldn't decide who I thought was the actual culprit. The final confrontation was intense as the bad guy had Gabriel and Jodi cornered. The resolution was heart-pounding as Jodi faced her attacker and came out on top this time. Though the mystery of who tried to kill Jodi is solved, there is doubt now over whether her father is truly the one who killed Gabriel's parents. I can't wait for the next book to see what new information is revealed.

I loved the development of Jodi and Gabriel's relationship. Jodi had thought that in the intervening years her crush on Gabriel had diminished. She was not very happy to realize that her feelings for him were as strong as ever. Gabriel also wasn't happy to feel that same attraction that he had found so hard to resist before. I loved seeing the strength and determination that Jodi had developed. It was great fun to see her stand up to Gabriel's attempts to keep her out of the line of fire. His protectiveness was sweet, but it sure did frustrate Jodi. I also liked his sensitivity to her wariness about being touched. I loved seeing them finally realize that they were meant to be together. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in later books.

Always Faithful (An Angel's Touch)
Always Faithful (An Angel's Touch)
Author: Julie Miller
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 3/2/2015

Very good book and possibly my favorite of the three. Jonathan is introduced in Shadow of the Hawk, as the man that Hawk had been unable to save. At the beginning of this one we see what happened to him and the effect it has on others' lives.

Jonathan loves his wife and daughter and when his life ends prematurely he begs for it to be restored. The guardian angel who was in charge was new to the job and made a mistake when she snatched him. In trying to remedy the error, she messes up again. Fast forward five years and things are about to get really strange.

Emma Ramsey has spent the last five years raising her daughter and running LadyTech, the software company she owns with two friends. She has never given up hope that her husband is still alive. A chance encounter with a man gives her renewed optimism that Jonathan is out there somewhere.

Drew Gallagher is a PI working on the case of a child molester. He spots the man at a museum, just as he lures a little girl away from her school group. He steps in to get the girl away, and in the process meets her mother, Emma. Something about the woman seems familiar, but he doesn't know why. Drew has no memory of his life past five years ago, when he woke up in a hospital recovery from injuries received in an explosion. He's determined to get to know Emma and figure out the connection.

Emma is leaving the museum when she is grabbed by a man who says he knows where her husband is and will tell her for $25,000. But before she can get more details, he is taken by the stranger from the museum. When she explains why the man had stopped her, Drew offers to find out more for her. Not being a very trusting person, Emma is wary, but desperate for information. And there is something about Drew that tells her she can trust him.

Drew discovers a connection between the man with the information and a shadowy figure who is trying to buy up shares of Emma's company. As he delves deeper into his investigation, he starts to get a really bad feeling about who is behind it. He is determined to keep Emma and her daughter safe, even at the risk of his own life.

The connection between Drew and Emma is immediate, but Emma fights it. She is still in love with her husband and loyal to his memory. She doesn't understand why she is so quick to trust Drew and allow him into her life and her daughter's. But his kindness and gentleness fill a void in her life and she finds herself growing closer to him. Drew is quick to fall for her, but knows that he has no chance with her, since she still loves her husband. Because he wants her happy, he will do his best to find Jonathan and then he will bow out of her life. Fate has other ideas, and I really liked seeing the way that Emma's trust and growing feelings have her turning more and more to Drew.

The suspense of the story is fantastic. I loved seeing Drew use his talents to help Emma, both with the search and with what is happening in her company. His early encounters with Brodie, the security man for the company and one of Jonathan's friends, were pretty amusing. As Drew uncovered more information, the intensity grew. I liked seeing the way that Jonathan's old team came together when it came time for the rescue mission, and how it was Drew who was the leader. As the rescue and its aftermath played out, more questions were raised than answered. Though it's obvious to the reader what happened, the people in question have a harder time with it. The conclusion was gripping, and I couldn't wait to see how it all worked out. I loved how it was done.

Emma's daughter Kerry was a huge part of the story, from her part in bringing Drew and Emma together, to the "imaginary friend" that seemed to be directing her actions. She was a sweet kid, center of her mother's world, but also determined when she was trying to make a point. Her quick acceptance of Drew puzzled Emma, especially Kerry's insistence on who Drew was. I loved Kerry's conversations with her "friend" and their frustration when the adults wouldn't pay attention to what she was trying to tell them.

Ambush at Dry Gulch (Big 'D' Dads: The Daltons) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1647)
Ambush at Dry Gulch (Big 'D' Dads: The Daltons) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1647)
Author: Joanna Wayne
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 7/8/2016

Good conclusion to the series. Carolina is the mother of the men from the first three books of the Big D Dads series. She is also the neighbor of R.J. Dalton and a good friend of his. She was instrumental in reuniting him with his estranged children, Jake being the only holdout. She has tried several times to get Jake to visit R.J. without success, and considers him to be a cold-hearted man to ignore his dying father. She's surprised when Jake offers his ranch as a training site for her at-risk teen program.

Jake is the widower father of a teenage girl. He has a successful ranch and a good life. However, he is tired of Carolina's nagging attempts to get him to reconcile with his father. He has his reasons for his attitude, and she isn't going to change his mind. He figures that a rich socialite like she is has her own motivations and he isn't interested in helping her with them. He's surprised to discover that she's in charge of the at-risk program and isn't too sure about having her on his ranch. But he figures he can stay out of her way for the short time she'll be there.

Things change when he witnesses Carolina and her friend Mildred being threatened by Mildred's ex-husband. He steps in to protect them. When he later learns of further threats against Carolina, he discovers an unexpected determination to keep her safe. There is also an attraction that he hasn't felt for another woman since the death of his wife.

I really enjoyed the development of the relationship between Jake and Carolina. Both of them had had definite opinions about each other, based on the few meetings they'd had. It didn't take long for them to discover that the truth was vastly different. I liked seeing Jake get surprised by each new thing he learned about her and start to see her in a new light. Carolina has not been involved with anyone since her husband's death, certain that he had been the only one she would ever love. Jake was never on her radar that way until she spent time with him. I liked seeing him demolish her opinions of him with the way that he cared for his daughter and his relationships with others. Both of them were strong individuals with their own way of doing things. I loved seeing them cooperate and compromise during their efforts to track down Thad. That also extended to the feelings that were growing between them, as they both dealt with the strength of them. Both were a bit tentative about trusting what was happening, but willing to see where it would go. In the end, both realize that life can be too uncertain and embrace what they have found.

The suspense of the story was good, with the looming danger of the man who had a grudge against Carolina. The danger is obvious from the beginning as his actions and thoughts are revealed. Jake and Carolina are determined to find him and put an end to his threats. I liked that they didn't go it completely alone, that they involved the sheriff and others all along the way. Everything that they found out just added to the sense of impending danger. Even when it looked like he was far away, there was still enough uncertainty to keep me turning the pages. The final confrontation was intense and fast paced with a very satisfying resolution.

One of the things I enjoyed most of all was that Carolina and Jake were older than the usual romance couples. It was great to see that, at fifty-five, she is still considered to be a vibrant and sexy woman. Though I don't recall Jake's age being mentioned, it seems to be close to that of Carolina's. He is also still quite attractive to the ladies.

I also enjoyed the secondary characters of Lizzie, Edna and Mary. I felt bad for Jake as he was trying so hard to be a good dad for Lizzie, but was out of his depth dealing with her actions and attitude. I thought she was portrayed quite well, and the cause of her behavior was believable. I loved Edna's running of the ranch house and how everyone hopped to her bidding. Her awe of Carolina was pretty sweet. Jake's mom Mary was fun with her stories of her travels. I also liked seeing her with R.J. at the end of the book.

The only problem I had with the book was that there were several places where the wrong man's name was used. This was jarring enough to pull me out of the story for a moment as I'd have to reread to see if I had missed something.

An American in Scotland (MacIain, Bk 3)
An American in Scotland (MacIain, Bk 3)
Author: Karen Ranney
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 8/8/2016

Good book, though a little slow at the start. Rose arrives in Glasgow at the end of her rope and the end of her resources. The Civil War has hit her family hard back in South Carolina, and she has come to see if the Scottish branch of the family will brave the blockade and purchase the last of their cotton. She's taken some liberties with the truth in order to ensure that she'll be listened to.

Duncan is a mill owner who is struggling to keep his business going. The war in America has made it difficult to get the cotton necessary to do so. The arrival of his cousin's beautiful young widow gets his attention, especially when she faints at his feet. Her proposition is interesting, but could it be even more dangerous than it appears?

There were sparks between Rose and Duncan from the very beginning. It was fun to see the effect that they had on each other. Duncan was constantly finding himself distracted by her beauty. He was so intrigued by her that he would come home for lunch every day and leave work earlier than usual, just to be able to spend time with her. Rose is just as intrigued by Duncan, and begins to regret her deception. Duncan had previously decided not to accept Bruce's offer to sell him the cotton. He didn't care for the impression he got of Bruce's character and lifestyle from the letters he received and was reluctant to support it. His conversations with Rose only reinforced that decision. Rose is desperate to get Duncan to buy their cotton. She needs that money to support the few people that are left living at the plantation. I loved his surprise at finding himself giving in to her pleas.

Rose has a mind and will of her own. When she sets out on a course of action there isn't much that can get her to change. As hard as Duncan tried to get her to stay in Scotland while he retrieved the cotton, he could not get her to agree. Nor would she agree to remain in Nassau. It was fun to see Duncan start to respect and expect Rose's willingness to express her opinions and stick to her decisions. Forced into close quarters on the voyage, it isn't long before their attraction gets the better of them. I enjoyed seeing him realize his feelings first, and express them in an incredibly romantic way for such a previously controlled man. It took Rose a little longer because of her fears, but she too is eloquent in her expressions of love.

Things take an unexpected turn when they arrive in South Carolina and discover that Bruce is back home from the war. He has lost a leg and his cruel nature has become even worse. I ached for Rose as she learned the heartbreaking truth about her sister's attitude toward her. Things got a bit intense when Bruce tried to exact his revenge upon Rose. Help came from an unexpected source, and Bruce ends up as the focus of someone else's revenge. That was very satisfying. Duncan and Rose also receive some unexpected good news that contributes to the success of their trip.

I enjoyed the epilogue and seeing where everyone is a few months later. I loved the teasing that was going on among all the family members. Their love and support is obvious, but there is also a great sense of fun now that they have all found their loves.

American Pie (Century of American Romance: 1890's) (Harlequin American Romance, No 345)
Review Date: 6/5/2015

Excellent book about the dreams of two newcomers to America. Lucie and Jamie meet on Ellis Island the day they arrive. Their connection is immediate, but they are separated before they even have a chance to exchange names. Lucie has come from Poland to join her brother, hoping for a better life than she had there. She gets a bit of a shock when she discovers that jobs are hard to find and the living conditions are deplorable. But she won't give up hope that things can be better.

Jamie has come to America from Dublin, also looking for a better life. He has a dream of having his own architectural and construction business someday, but first has to find a way to make a living. This isn't easy for an Irishman in New York, where the Irish are looked down on. He manages to fight for a position on a building site, but it comes at a price.

Lucie and Jamie found each other again, only to discover that the man that Jamie fought and beat for his job was Lucie's brother. As a result, Stefan refuses to give Jamie permission to call on Lucie. Stefan is still set in the old ways, where he has the right to dictate who Lucie can see. Lucie wants to embrace the ways of her new land, and when she has the opportunity to spend time with Jamie she takes it. She feels guilty about deceiving Stefan, but not enough to stop seeing him. Jamie feels the same, but also continues to lobby for Stefan's permission. I loved seeing the way that they used the time to really get to know each other. They also spent a lot of time sharing their dreams with each other.

The slow growth of Lucie and Jamie's feelings was beautifully done. All of it was true to what was permitted at the time. I loved Jamie's persistence in his quest to court Lucie, and how he refused to give up hope. I really enjoyed seeing how he finally earned Stefan's respect and they were able to court openly. But things don't go so smoothly, as Lucie finds a way to make some money on her own, which threatens Jamie's sense of what is acceptable and right. The question becomes one of which is more important to him, his pride or the future they could have together. I loved seeing Lucie stand up for her dreams.

I loved the realistic look at what life was like for new immigrants. The search for work and the prejudices they faced made the pursuit of their dreams so much harder. The difficulties of day to day life did much to kill the dreams of so many, but there were also those who kept their dreams alive. This book also showed the huge differences between the people with money and those who served them.

The secondary romance of Stefan and Greta was sweet and heartbreaking. The reality of Greta's factory work and its physical effects was hard to witness, but Greta maintained a wonderful attitude to the end.

Amish Christmas Abduction (Amish Country Justice, Bk 3) (Love Inspired Suspense, No 649)
Review Date: 2/13/2018

Good second chance romance combined with excellent suspense. The action began immediately as Irene accidentally stumbled into a child kidnapping ring. One of the kidnappers, determined to silence her, chases after her, shooting at her car and running her off the road. If not for the timely arrival of police chief Paul Kennedy, Irene would likely have died. Both of them were shocked to discover a little Amish girl in the backseat of Irene's car.

I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Paul and Irene. There is tension between them from the very beginning. Irene was Paul's high school girlfriend and is also the widow of one of his officers. He still cares for Irene but believes that he isn't good enough for her. He is determined to keep her safe, even as he struggles to keep his feelings in check. Irene is dismayed to realize that she still has feelings for Paul. It is difficult for her to trust him after the way he broke her heart. On top of that, getting involved with another cop, with the risk of loss to herself and her sons, is something she isn't willing to do. As they worked together to find the parents of the little girl, Paul and Irene had the chance to put the past behind them. I ached for Paul, who had continued to love Irene, but believed she could never forgive that which drove him away from her. I loved his protectiveness toward Irene and little Mary. He melted my heart with how sweet he was with Mary as well as Irene's sons. I liked seeing Irene get to know Paul as the man he has become. She still sees some of the boy she loved, and the man he has become appeals to her more every day. But when Paul is injured, Irene's fears come crashing back, and she pushes him away. I ached for her and wanted to shake her, all at the same time. I loved her big moment on Christmas Eve, as she finally put her past behind her and seized her chance at love. I loved seeing Paul go from despair to joy. The epilogue was a beautiful wrap-up.

The suspense of the story was fantastic. From Irene's first encounter with the bearded man to the final confrontation, the menace from the kidnappers leapt off the page. Each attempt on Irene's life increased the intensity until that final encounter. I was on the edge of my seat waiting for Paul to find Irene. I also loved the fact that Irene wasn't a passive victim but had a hand in her own rescue. I was also wholly invested in Paul and Irene's search for Mary's parents. Each lead had me holding my breath to see if that would be the one, and oh, the happy tears when they found the right one.

I also enjoyed catching up with characters from previous books. Irene's brother Jace and his wife Melanie were a big part of this story. There were also Dan and Maggie, Jess and Seth, and Miles and Rebecca. I look forward to seeing more of Paul and Irene in future books, as well as getting to know new couples.

Amish Country Ambush (Amish Country Justice, Bk 4) (Love Inspired Suspense, No 695)
Amish Country Ambush (Amish Country Justice, Bk 4) (Love Inspired Suspense, No 695)
Author: Dana R. Lynn
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/22/2018

errific book that grabbed my attention from the first page and didn't let go until I'd finished it. Elise is a 911 dispatcher whose worst nightmare comes true. She's at work when a call comes in, describing a home invasion and attack - and it's her house. By the time she gets home, her babysitter is dead and her nephew and the cleaning lady have disappeared, and her brother-in-law is waiting for her. My heart was pounding as he attacked Elise, screaming about something she has and wanting his son. My relief was intense when he was chased off by the sound of approaching sirens. This was just the beginning of a roller coaster ride of action and emotion.

Ryan was the first officer on the scene. I liked his calm intensity as he took care of Elise and started the search for Mikey and Leah. That sense of calm was exactly what Elise needed later when he came to question her at the hospital. In spite of everything she'd been through, Elisa quickly came to trust Ryan and believe in his desire to help her.

I liked both Ryan and Elise. Ryan is a truly nice guy who is a cop because that's what he really wants to do. He isn't Supercop, with perfect instincts, but he is smart enough to know when he needs help. He has a deep love for his family, even though there is some tension with his father. Those tensions create occasional bouts of self-doubt, but those don't last long. Elise is an amazingly strong woman. She and her sister made it through a difficult childhood by supporting and watching out for each other. It was Elise who gave her sister the courage to get out of her abusive marriage. I ached for Elise's pain over her sister's murder, and loved the way that her nephew Mikey became her focus. Elise also has some self-worth issues thanks to a jerk of an ex-fiancé.

I loved the development of the relationship between Ryan and Elise. It began with Ryan's natural protectiveness, which quickly became personal. He was surprised at how she moved into his heart and mind. I loved how well he understood her and her need to stay involved in the search for Mikey. Elise was equally drawn to Ryan. For her, just being able to trust him was a huge deal. I loved seeing them open up to each other about their fears and vulnerabilities, and how sharing those things made them stronger. It was sweet to see Ryan start to think about a future with Elise and Mikey in it. I ached for Elise as she let her fears push Ryan away, believing that it was for his own good, and for Ryan as he tried to figure out what was wrong. A pep talk from an unexpected source gave him the courage to go after what he wanted. I loved seeing him confront Elise and her stunned reaction at what he told her. The epilogue was sweet and romantic with Ryan's big moment. I also loved his conversation with his father.

The suspense of the story was outstanding and had me glued to the pages from start to finish. The fear for the safety of Leah and Mikey was palpable and always at the forefront of every step that Ryan and Elise took. There were also several twists and turns that kept them on their toes. The final confrontation was heart pounding as I wondered how it was all going to end. Now I can't wait for the next book!

I also enjoyed catching up a little bit with characters from previous books. I especially liked seeing Miles and Rebecca and the important part they played.

An Amish Garden
An Amish Garden
Author: Beth Wiseman, Vannetta Chapman, Kathleen Fuller, Tricia Goyer
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/22/2017

Rooted in Love by Beth Wiseman

Rosemary Lantz is doing her best to run her family's household. She excels at all her tasks except one: gardening. Saul Petersheim has pursued Rosemary for years, but Rosemary keeps turning him down. What Saul doesn't know is that she has good reasonâsomething no one can knowâespecially not him.

Good story. Rosemary and Saul had dated when they were teens, until Rosemary abruptly broke things off. Now she takes care of her widowed father and her three brothers, and dreams of what might have been. Saul has never given up on the love he felt for her and keeps asking her out. When Rosemary's dad and Saul are injured in an accident, Saul insists on helping out, in spite of his own injuries, hoping for another chance.

I loved Saul. He's true in his love for Rosemary and doesn't give up, even when it seems hopeless. His sense of honor insists on him helping out because he was the one who caused her father's injuries. It was a bit amusing to see that he didn't handle his own injury too well.

I had a bit more trouble with Rosemary. She doesn't treat Katherine very well because she's jealous of what appears to be the other woman's perfect life. I admired the way that she has taken care of her family since her mother's death, especially since she is often overwhelmed by it all. But she is also a little bitter about having missed out on the husband and children she wants. She is still in love with Saul, but doesn't treat him very well. The reason she broke things off haunts her, and she wonders if it was worth the loss of the man she loves.

I got pretty frustrated with her because she was so inconsistent with her treatment of Saul. I was glad to see her talk to her friend about what happened and that it gave her the motivation to actually talk to him about it. When she finally got up the courage to do so, it was to find that it had been a misunderstanding of what she heard. If she had only taken the time to talk to him about it, so much time wouldn't have been lost. However, I liked Saul's philosophical look on the lost years.

There was also a secondary story involving Rosemary's dad, Wayne, and Katherine. Rosemary's treatment of Katherine nearly ruined the blossoming of their romance. I ached for both Wayne and Katherine and their unhappiness. I was happy to see Rosemary see her mistakes and try to fix things.

Flowers for Rachael by Kathleen Fuller

Rachael Bontrager's flower garden is beautiful, but at twenty-four, she's lonely. Gideon Beiler fell in love with Rachael almost at first sight. After her grandfather has a stroke, her days are filled with caring for him, and one day Rachael finds her garden in shambles. However, she won't accept Gideon's offers of help. Will she realize she doesn't have to do everything on her own and that God is in control?

Good story. Rachael has come to Ohio to take care of her ill grandfather. When she isn't caring for him she is working in her garden. She's rather lonely because she doesn't allow herself much time away from Eli. However, she is intrigued by neighbor Gideon, though he doesn't seem to share her interest. Gideon is rather shy and awkward around women. His one attempt to ask one out ended badly and he hasn't tried since. He has fallen hard for Rachael, but has no idea how to proceed.

Gideon and Rachael have become friends, though each wants more. It was fun to see Gideon's sister get involved and try to help him along. The idea she came up with was pretty sweet and he pulled it off well. It certainly got Rachael's attention as she tried to figure out who was doing it. His shyness almost ended things before they began, but an assist from Eli got things going again. Gideon was still afraid he was relegated to friend, until a crisis with Eli gave him a chance to show Rachael how much he cared. Rachael has spent so long doing everything herself that she has forgotten how to accept help from anyone. Between his help with Eli and then when her garden is damaged by hail, Rachael finally learns that a burden shared is much easier to bear. The ending was really sweet, with Rachael delivering her own floral message.

Seeds of Love by Tricia Goyer

Sadie Chupp finds her greatest joy in the greenhouses in her Montana community. A company is interested in buying her heirloom seeds, but they are the only thing she has left from her deceased parents. Eli Plank is a traveling bachelor who believes he can help Sadie, but a misunderstanding leaves her heartbroken. Will she trust him again, and let the seeds of a new relationship take root?

Sadie moved to Montana to escape her overwhelming grief over the loss of her parents and the sometimes smothering attentions of her older siblings. She plants the heirloom tomato seeds that are all she has left from them, hoping to continue the tradition. She meets Eli, a newcomer to the community, who is a traveling writer. Eli has enjoyed his travels, but something about the community feels right to him.

Sadie and Eli are drawn to each other and connect over her garden. Nurturing the garden does the same to their feelings. I loved seeing Eli's desire to ease her grief as they worked together. There are some sweet scenes as they cope with several issues. A misunderstanding drives them apart, but a marauding bear and destroyed garden helps bring them back together. Then a message from the past brings peace to Sadie and hope for her future.

Where Healing Blooms by Vannetta Chapman

When Widow Emma Hochstetter discovers a run-away teenager in her barn, and the bishop asks her to provide a haven for a local woman and her two children she finds her quiet life has been interrupted. Then, her mother-in-law, Mary Ann, reveals one of her garden's hidden secrets, something very unexpected. Will Emma continue alone or will she accept the gifts God has given her?

Good second chance story. Emma and her mother-in-law have both been widowed within the last year. Mary Ann finds great comfort in her garden, though she can no longer work it the way she used to. That is left to Emma, whose own children are grown with families of their own. She is left feeling a bit at loose ends, wondering what purpose she has now. Also plaguing her is the return of a former beau, whose presence in her life brings back memories of what they once had. Danny left the community as a young man, wandering the country and experiencing life in other towns. He recently returned to the family farm, where he now writes and watches over Emma and Mary Ann.

Then Danny and Emma find a teenage boy hiding out in her barn. Mary Ann and Danny suggest they give him refuge, a place where he can feel safe and wanted. Then the bishop asks them to open their home to a woman and two children escaping from an abusive situation. Suddenly Emma has a full house again and a feeling of usefulness. There's also a reawakening of the feelings between herself and Danny. When Mary Ann reveals a long kept secret of her garden, a world of possibilities is opened, if only Emma has the courage to take it.

I liked the close relationship between Emma and Mary Ann. There was love and respect and a deep understanding of who they are. I liked the way that Mary Ann had of making gentle suggestions to Emma, helping her to look at things from a different perspective. I loved Danny's patience as he waited for Emma to be ready to accept his love. I liked their plans for the future.

An Amish Miracle: Always Beautiful / Always His Providence / Always in My Heart
Review Date: 12/27/2015


Hope Bowman believes God is punishing her for giving up her firstborn son when she was a teenager. She's hidden this secret from her husband, who is thankful for their daughters but longs for a son. Hope prays desperately, but the son God sends her isn't a new baby but the fifteen-year-old boy she gave up years ago.

Good story about facing your past. Hope has spent years wishing that she could have a son for her husband, but so far has had four daughters. She believes she is being punished because she gave up her firstborn for adoption. She had been sixteen when she was assaulted by a drunk Englischer, and her father believed the entire family was shamed by the event. He gave her no choice in the matter, and even forbid her to tell the man she eventually married. She has never gotten over the guilty feelings for not raising him herself.

She finally decides that the only way to make things right is to confess to her husband and then try to find her son. She had no idea how he would react, but hoped for his understanding and forgiveness for keeping such a secret. The reaction was not what she expected at first, but I loved seeing how their love and faith helped get through it quickly. The timing turned out to be very good because it wasn't long after that her son showed up at their house, wanting to find out about his birth mother.

I ached for Hope as she discovered that he wasn't adopted as she had been told, but has spent his entire life in a series of foster homes. This made her feel even more guilty. I also hurt for James, who had felt unwanted, and wanted to know why he had been "given away". It was very sweet to see how the Englischer boy was exposed to the Amish way of life, and the family's attempt to understand someone so very different. I loved the immediate acceptance they showed for him, and James's willingness to live by their rules while he was there.

Of course, he was only able to stay for a visit and had to go back to his foster family. But seeing James only strengthened Hope's desire to keep him in her life. I loved seeing her determination to make it happen and the support she got from her husband. I also liked that it wasn't resolved quickly and neatly, but had realistic obstacles to overcome. Hope also had to deal with her feelings of resentment toward her father and his part in the situation. His attitude was very harsh and I wasn't sure how things would work out with him. I thought that James had a very mature attitude toward him, and handled himself very well.


Widow Rosa Hostetler has one month to pay her delinquent taxes before the county auctions her farm. She's prepared to sell whatever is necessary to pay the lien, but she isn't willing to request money from the community's widow fund. She's embarrassed and refuses to admit she needs help. Rosa depends on income from selling eggs, but when that income is threatened, only a miracle can help Rosa accept the kindness of a neighbor.

Good story about not letting pride keep you from getting the help you need. Rosa's husband died in a fire that destroyed a neighbor's barn. At the time, she didn't know that he hadn't paid the property taxes on their farm. She supports herself by raising chickens and selling eggs, but getting enough to pay the taxes just isn't happening. If she doesn't come up with it soon, the county will take her land and sell it. Her neighbor Adam, who had been her husband's best friend, has been trying to watch out for her, but he doesn't know the trouble she's in.

Adam had also been in love with Rosa for years, but she had fallen for her husband first. Now Adam is also fighting guilty feelings, because his friend had died while saving Adam from the barn fire. Adam would really like to marry her, but is certain that she holds him responsible for her husband''s death. He senses that something has Rosa very worried, but he can't get her to tell him what it is. When a dog starts attacking and killing her chickens, it threatens what little income she has. Suddenly her chances of paying the taxes are severely diminished.

I got very frustrated with Rosa's refusal to let anyone know that she was in trouble. The Amish community is very good at taking care of their own, but her pride wouldn't let her ask for help. She also had to deal with the neighbor on the other side, the Englischer whose dog is responsible for the deaths of her chickens. I understood her frustration at his uncooperative attitude. When she finally confessed her problem to Adam, he was determined to find a way to help her.

I loved seeing how he was able to get her to allow him to help her, by getting her to participate in what he was doing. It also gave him the chance to spend more time with her and start giving her an idea of his feelings. There was a lot of tension as they raced to find the funds to save the farm. The resolution was not what I expected, and assistance came from an unexpected source.


Becky Byler is eighteen and overweight. She is overwhelmed by the embarrassment she feels when comparing herself to other girls her age. Having lost all hope, she considers taking her own life. As she stands before rushing water, unable to swim, Becky begs God for a miracle. In just several months, Becky sees her prayers answered as food and temptation lose their hold over her. She's finally pleased with how she looks, but does she like the person she has become? And has the man she has dreamed of been right beside her all along, loving her exactly as she is?

Good story about learning to like yourself. Becky has been a character in the previous stories. She is always spoken of as being sweet and helpful, but also heavy. There were times when she was obviously unhappy. In this story, we see that her weight has affected the way she feels about herself, to the point where she is thinking about ending it all. Fortunately she doesn't take that step, but she finds the motivation to take control of her eating habits and starts losing weight.

She has always felt that her weight kept her from having any boyfriends. The only young man in her life is her friend Elam, with whom she spends quite a bit of time. But she looks at him just as a friend. As she begins to lose the weight, she gains the attention of a handsome young man that she has had a crush on.

Matt has been interested in Becky for awhile, but she never seemed interested in him. He has dated other girls, but nothing really stuck with him. He liked the fact that Becky seemed to be different than the others, not always so concerned with her appearance. As they started going out together and she continued to lose weight, the changes in her attitude began to bother him.

Becky's friend Elam is also interested in her as more than a friend, and is disappointed when she only wants to be friends. He had always liked her just as she was and tried to tell her that often. It hurts him to see her going out with Matt. He spends time with other girls, but really misses being with Becky.

Becky had a lesson to learn. She lost the weight she thought she had to, which gave her the confidence to believe that someone like Matt would want to date her. As she continued to lose weight, and her relationship with Matt went on, she discovered that it didn't make her as happy as she thought it would. It was interesting to see the reactions of the people around her and the effects it had on the way she felt. I liked the way that she began to realize that being happy with herself is what made her most appealing to others. She had quite a wake up call at the end when she realized that her insecurity may have lost her the one she really loved.

An Amish Year
An Amish Year
Author: Beth Wiseman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 4/22/2017

Rooted in Love

Rosemary Lantz is doing her best to run her family's household. She excels at all her tasks except one: gardening. Saul Petersheim has pursued Rosemary for years, but Rosemary keeps turning him down. What Saul doesn't know is that she has good reason--something no one can know--especially not him.

Good story. Rosemary and Saul had dated when they were teens, until Rosemary abruptly broke things off. Now she takes care of her widowed father and her three brothers, and dreams of what might have been. Saul has never given up on the love he felt for her and keeps asking her out. When Rosemary's dad and Sauk are injured in an accident, Saul insists on helping out, in spite of his own injuries, hoping for another chance.

I loved Saul. He's true in his love for Rosemary and doesn't give up, even when it seems hopeless. His sense of honor insists on him helping out because he was the one who caused her father's injuries. It was a bit amusing to see that he didn't handle his own injury too well.

I had a bit more trouble with Rosemary. She doesn't treat Katherine very well because she's jealous of what appears to be the other woman's perfect life. I admired the way that she has taken care of her family since her mother's death, especially since she is often overwhelmed by it all. But she is also a little bitter about having missed out on the husband and children she wants. She is still in love with Saul, but doesn't treat him very well. The reason she broke things off haunts her, and she wonders if it was worth the loss of the man she loves.

I got pretty frustrated with her because she was so inconsistent with her treatment of Saul. I was glad to see her talk to her friend about what happened and that it gave her the motivation to actually talk to him about it. When she finally got up the courage to do so, it was to find that it had been a misunderstanding of what she heard. If she had only taken the time to talk to him about it, so much time wouldn't have been lost. However, I liked Saul's philosophical look on the lost years.

There was also a secondary story involving Rosemary's dad, Wayne, and Katherine. Rosemary's treatment of Katherine nearly ruined the blossoming of their romance. I ached for both Wayne and Katherine and their unhappiness. I was happy to see Rosemary see her mistakes and try to fix things.

A Love for Irma Rose

The year is 1957, and young Irma Rose has a choice to make. Marry the man who loves her? Or go after Jonas, the high-spirited, yet noncommittal man her heart loves?

Good story. Irma Rose is sixteen and finally old enough to date. She has two young men who are pursuing her. Jake, an upright, serious and handsome fellow. And Jonas, a rascal of a guy with a taste for speed and cigars. She feels that she's being led toward Jake, otherwise why would her hands be clammy and her stomach churn around Jonas? But Jonas won't give up, even when she chooses to date Jake instead. She thinks she has her life all planned, but something happens that has her rethinking.

I really liked Jonas. Yes, he's a bit reckless and wild at times, but he's also steady and loving. He had first seen Irma Rose three years earlier and knew right then that she was the girl for him. He just had to be patient. I enjoyed his confidence that things would eventually work out. His father died three years ago, leaving Jonas to take care of his mother and four sisters. He works hard and sometimes makes poor choices when he gets a chance to take a break. In this story he ends up with some Englischers who are arrested for drag racing and drinking. Because he can't pay the fine, he ends up in jail for two weeks, just after his mother is hospitalized.

I liked Irma Jean too, though she seemed to be a bit hard on Jonas. She was so intent on dating Jake that I had to laugh a little over the date itself. It didn't go quite as she expected. She is a kind person at heart, and when Jonas's mother is in the hospital, she's one of the people that brings food to help the family. When she goes back later and discovers the girls there alone, she steps right in to help. It was fun to see the things she learned about Jonas from his sister (always a good source).

Both Irma Jean and Jonas learn something about themselves and their choices during this story. I liked seeing Jonas realize that he's in control of his own life and his choices affect more than just himself. Irma Jean discovered that perhaps she likes a little more adventure in her life than she thought. I also liked that she realized she was still pretty young and didn't need to decide her whole life right away. I loved the segment at the end showing she and Jonas as grandparents.

There was also an interesting bit between Jonas and his cellmate, when Theo was talking about his life. Jonas tried to help him. It turned out that there was an unexpected connection between the two of them. I liked knowing what happened to Theo after he got out of jail too.

Patchwork Perfect

Eli Byler has been a widower for two years when he chooses to make a fresh start in Paradise, Pennsylvania. Eli's children are determined to keep their family the way it is, but they aren't in Paradise long before the available ladies begin to show an interest in Eli. As Eli juggles the admiration of two women, he meets Miriam Fisher--the most unconventional Amish woman he's ever met. She doesn't fit the mold for what Eli is looking for, but it isn't long before Eli realizes that Miriam is everything he wants. But with two children constantly trying to sabotage his efforts, will he ever be happy again?

This was a good story. Eli has moved to Paradise with his two children two years after his wife's death. He wants to marry again, but his district is small with few available women. Two widows, Ruth and Elizabeth, notice him right away and make their interest plain. He also meets another woman, Miriam, who is nothing like he expects. She has made it plain to everyone that she doesn't intend to marry. He is fascinated by her, even though she doesn't cook, garden, or do the other things expected of an Amish woman.

It was fun to see Eli trying to find his way through the dating world. Both widows are appealing to him at first look. But a meal with each of them shows him that perhaps they aren't quite what he's looking for. It doesn't help anything that neither of his children is exactly enthusiastic about the prospect of a new mother.

Eli's daughter Grace is having her own problems. At almost sixteen, she's caught the eye of Wayne, a seventeen year old with a reputation as a heartbreaker. She's happy about his attention, until he starts to want more than she's willing to give. Several times they are interrupted by Miriam, who knows Wayne's reputation. Grace soon realizes that Miriam is someone she can go to for help if she needs it, and she soon does.

I loved Miriam's understanding and compassion when she talks to Grace. She opens up a little to Grace, sharing some things about herself that helps the girl. I liked how she talks to Eli for Grace, and his own understanding about Miriam comes out of that talk. I loved how Eli showed Miriam that she too deserves a chance to be happy.

When Christmas Comes Again

Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.

Good story, though not a romantic one. Katherine and her children are all having a hard time dealing with their grief after Elias's death. Katherine is a little disturbed when a strange man starts following her around. Then he delivers a box of photographs of her husband and she and the children, with an invitation to meet for coffee so he can explain. Who he is comes as a surprise to her, and she continues to meet with him.

Mary Carol and her boyfriend Abe meet the same man at an abandoned farmhouse. There is something about him that Mary Carol finds interesting, and the two befriend the man.

I liked how James had such insight into the grief they felt and an amazing sense of how each would deal with it best. I also enjoyed his stories and wondered, along with the others, how much of it was true. His actions were occasionally bizarre and I had a feeling there was a story behind them. I loved the ending, with the way that the family embraced him.

The Angel Wore Fangs (Deadly Angels, Bk 7)
The Angel Wore Fangs (Deadly Angels, Bk 7)
Author: Sandra Hill
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.2/5 Stars.
Review Date: 8/4/2017

Good book. Cnut is the last of the brothers to have his story told. Each of the brothers was guilty of embodying one of the seven deadly sins. Cnut's was gluttony. The story starts in 850 AD, with Cnut showing just how far he has fallen. He weighs more than 400 pounds, constantly eats even though his lands are suffering a famine and his people are starving to death. He also overindulges in drink, sex, gathering wealth, anything that can be done to excess. Then the Archangel Michael shows up to let Cnut know just how much trouble he is in, but also giving him a chance for redemption. All it takes is becoming a vampire angel in God's fight against evil. Though he might have wanted to reconsider after Michael's first decree is "you're going on a diet."

A thousand years later, Cnut is a lean, mean fighting machine who has been tagged with defeating ISIS and the Lucipires that egg them on. He just isn't sure how to start, until a woman arrives at his security agency, looking for help getting her sister away from a Montana cult that is recruiting for those same terrorists. Andrea is a pastry chef who has spent her entire life watching out for her beautiful but flaky younger sister. However, this escapade is the worst she's had to deal with, and she's grateful for the help of the sinfully sexy man. Not so grateful, though, that she's willing to stay behind.

There are sparks between Cnut and Andrea from the moment they met, sparks that neither wants to admit to. Those sparks lead Cnut to take Andrea with him to Montana, even though he's sure that it's a bad idea. I loved Andrea's determination and refusal to back down, even though she knows she's out of her depth. Their trip to Montana was pretty funny, with her nerves making her chatter and getting on Cnut's nerves. His forebodings are borne out when they arrive to find the place apparently deserted except for some puddles of slime - until he spots hordes of lucipires converging on the lodge. The only way to escape is to teletransport out of there, but something goes wrong, and they end up back in Cnut's homeplace and time.

I really enjoyed this part of the book, as Cnut is forced to face his past and poor example of a man he had been. Unable to contact his brothers or Michael, he realizes that maybe he is meant to make amends for the sins of his past. I ached for him because even though he is so different in looks and behavior now, he still sees himself as the fat glutton and selfish bastard that he used to be. Andrea has her own self-esteem issues after years of comparing herself to her beautiful and vivacious younger sister. Both of them have some interesting and amusing inner dialogs wondering what the other sees in them. I liked the way that they grew closer as they worked together, and understood each other's fears. The heat that grows between them is explosive and when they finally give in their connection is undeniable. I loved seeing the trust that makes it happen.

I loved the way that Andrea took her arrival in the past in stride, once she got over the shock. She's determined to help Cnut save his people from starvation, and I enjoyed seeing her team up with the castle cook to do it. There are some terrific cooking scenes -- soup! turnips! -- and I loved the use of menus at the beginning of some of the chapters. There are also some really funny insertions of modern life into Viking times, such as "Save a longship - Ride a Viking!" and teaching Viking women about birth control.

It's not all fun times though, as Cnut discovers that there are lucipires lurking in the woods around his home. Though easily dealing with those he finds, there's more to come. A woman from his past unexpectedly appears, bringing trouble with her. It was interesting to see him try to deal with her when all he wants is to be with Andrea. It doesn't help things that the woman and her traveling companions all carry the scent of rancid lemons, a sure sign that the lucipires have struck. This is confirmed by the unexpected arrival of Zebulon who has been given direct orders by Jasper regarding Cnut. There's a great deal of angst as Cnut tries to do the right thing as he sees it and still protect Andrea. I ached for him as things don't go the way he expected and the guilt tears at him. I had a hard time liking Michael at this point. Though things ended well for the vangels, poor Zeb is left to face the music. I can't wait to read his book, as he surely deserves to have his own happy ending.

Anything for You (Blue Heron, Bk 5)
Anything for You (Blue Heron, Bk 5)
Author: Kristan Higgins
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
Review Date: 4/19/2016

Good book. I've been waiting for Connor's story and I was so happy to finally get it. Connor is the chef and co-owner of his restaurant, and always seems so happy and carefree. At the beginning of the book, he is really nervous, because he is about to propose to Jessica. He's been in love with her since he was a kid, and they've had a relationship of sorts for ten years. It's been a secret one for various reasons but he's ready to share it with the world. Unfortunately for him, Jessica's not of the same mind. She likes things the way they are and sees no reason to change anything. This doesn't make Connor very happy because he wants more, and is ready to pursue it with her or someone else.

I loved Connor. Throughout the series I have enjoyed his teasing relationship with his sister Colleen. Their conversations, with the insults the throw back and forth, are always fun. There is always an undercurrent of love and support there, and it really showed when Colleen discovered that Jessica had turned him down. As a determined matchmaker, it was fun to see her setting him up with dates, and even more fun to be present at those date. His inner dialogue during them was hysterical. I also quickly suspected that she had an ulterior motive. Though he is a marvelous chef and restaurant owner, he also has some issues with confidence in himself. He tends to feel that he stumbles around when he's talking, especially when it's something important. We see his thought processes, but what comes out of his mouth never quite matches up. This creates some majorly awkward moments, such as his presentation to possible investors. He's also really sweet, and a scene with an old lady at a rest home is funny, sweet and adorable.

I had a little more trouble warming up to Jessica. I thought her response to Connor's proposal was pretty mean, and I really wanted to smack her. As the book went on and I learned more about her I did feel better about her by the end, but she's not one of my favorite heroines. Jessica's parents were alcoholics and from a very young age she was the responsible one in the family. When her little brother was born, he suffered from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and has many challenges because of it. She has always taken care of him, and he lives with her now. Davey has always been her first priority in her life, often to the detriment of other things. Because she has grown up being able to depend on no one but herself, she never asks for help from anyone. She has done things in the past that she isn't proud of but seemed necessary at the time. She has worked hard to improve her life, and now has her dream job at Blue Heron Winery.

Their relationship is a complicated one. Because of something that happened when they were kids, Davey hates Connor, making Jessica unwilling to have a public relationship with Connor. Every time Connor tries something to push them along, something happens that makes Jessica break things off with them, but they end up getting back together. After the proposal, Connor says he's had enough back and forth and they are through for good. Though he really tries, it doesn't last, and soon he's trying to figure out how to overcome her objections. Jessica has spent so long depending only on herself and protecting her brother, that she has trouble with even the idea of letting someone else in, even if that person is Connor. She cares about him, but she's really afraid of what could happen if she said yes to him.

Both Connor and Jessica have some growing to do in this book. Connor realizes that Davey will always be a part of Jessica's life and that if he is going to have a chance with her, he has to find a way to deal with her brother. I loved the way he finally learned just how complicated Davey's situation was. I loved seeing how he went about gaining Davey's trust. He may have made a few misteps along the way, but overall it was well done. Jessica has her own issues to face. Her guilt over her brother's condition has made her very protective of him, and she tends to go overboard with it. She has been so focused on him and his needs that she has ignored her own and pushed away the one person who can give her what she needs. I loved seeing her learn to let go a little. She also has to learn to let go of her past before she can fully embrace her future. I loved her big moment and the twist it put on the way things are usually done. The epilogue was fantastic, and the last line was the perfect cap to it.

Also in the book is the secondary storyline of Jessica's new coworker, Marcy. The woman is an irritation from the start. She seems intent on undermining Jessica every chance she gets, and Jessica starts to worry about her job. I was really hoping that Marcy would do something to get herself fired. I had a feeling about what she was doing and it was so satisfying to see that I was right. The scene where she gets found out was great, and the additional twist just added to it.

As always, I loved the inclusion of characters from previous books. In this one especially, I loved the parts with a very pregnant Colleen. She always has a wicked sense of humor, and it had even more zing now. I also loved the support that Jessica got from the various Hollands.

APB: Baby (Precinct: Bachelors in Blue, Bk 1) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1642)
APB: Baby (Precinct: Bachelors in Blue, Bk 1) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1642)
Author: Julie Miller
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4.5/5 Stars.
Review Date: 6/26/2016

Very good book that starts out with a bang. When his sister's wedding to Gabriel Knight (Kansas City Cover-Up) is interrupted by gunfire, medical examiner Niall Watson finds himself in the middle of trying to find out why. After all of the stress of the day, he comes home to find an abandoned baby in his neighbor's apartment. Lucy suspects that the baby belongs to her former foster daughter, and that Diana is in trouble. She's grateful for Niall's help.

I loved Niall and Lucy. Niall is part of a cop family. Rather that becoming a street cop or a detective, Niall's talents sent him in another direction. He is a medical examiner, the quiet, loner part of the family, best known for his calm and logical mind. He's much more comfortable around dead bodies than live ones. I loved his considered approach to hearing the baby, his logical steps, and then determined action. I loved seeing him take the baby, and then how his mind walked him through what to do next. Lucy's arrival on the scene throws him into a bit of turmoil. He has taken quite a bit of notice of her, being a man, but is a bit awkward around people, so has had few conversations with her.

Lucy is a social worker who is worried about the former foster daughter she hasn't seen in more than a year. A recent call from Diana gave her the feeling that the young woman is in trouble. Finding Niall at her apartment is quite a surprise, as is the reason he is there. Lucy is determined to protect little Tommy, and happily accepts Niall's help. Though he doesn't know it, she has had quite a crush on him. Lucy also has an ex-boyfriend who has become a problem for her.

I loved the development of their relationship. Niall is very drawn to Lucy and frequently confused by the effect she has on him. I really loved seeing his thoughts as he tried to make sense of what he is feeling. I loved his protectiveness toward both Lucy and Tommy. It was sweet to see Niall taking care of the baby. Lucy's crush has been going on for quite a while, and spending time with him now just deepens her feelings for him. I loved the contrast between his nerdiness and her bubbly, outgoing nature. They balanced each other very nicely. I loved the way that she could read him so well. It was really fun to see her explain his feelings to him, especially at the end.

I enjoyed seeing the closeness of the Watson family and their support for each other. All of them are there to be with their grandfather, who was shot at the wedding. I loved seeing how each brother dealt with things according to their personality. I also enjoyed seeing the way that they pulled Lucy and Tommy into their circle. It was something completely out of her experience, and I loved seeing her soak it in.

The mystery of the baby and his missing mother was really good. Diana is missing and someone is trying to get to the baby. I loved seeing Niall's methodical ways bump into Lucy's emotional defense of Diana. Things got rather intense when someone attacked Lucy in an attempt to get to the baby, while someone else is telling her to keep him away from everyone. A dead body adds to the puzzle. The final confrontation is a nail-biter, as Lucy and Niall try to protect Tommy and save Diana.

There is also a little bit about who the shooter was at the wedding. Someone appears to have a grudge against the Watsons and the attack at the wedding seems to be just the beginning. I am looking forward to the next book and seeing what else is revealed.

The April of Her Age: The Buried Treasure of Robert Louis Stevenson & Princess Victoria Kaiulani
Review Date: 11/14/2009

There is utterly no basis for the idea that Robert Louis Stevenson and Crown Princess Ka'iulani had anything other than the briefest and most innocent of friendships. She was a child when Stevenson knew her, and they never had contact - not even letters - again after she went away to school in England.

It ignores many known facts about Ka'iulani's life, including the central fact that her health was broken by the trauma her country's take-over by the U.S. caused her.

Robert Louis Stevenson and Ka'iulani were not lovers! The Princess was not the sexually precocious stereotype the author presents, but a schoolgirl barely in her teens, and an Ali'i of great dignity besides.

If you want to read a good book about the princess try these instead:

"Kaiulani, Crown Princess of Hawaii" by Nancy and Jean Francis Webb

Princess Kaiulani of Hawaii: The Monarchy's Last Hope by Kristin Zambucka

Princess Ka'iulani: Hope of a Nation, Heart of a People (Women of Spirit) by Sharon Linnea

Arizona Heat (Mojo, Bk 2)
Arizona Heat (Mojo, Bk 2)
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 8/24/2017

Good sequel to Arizona Wild. This one picks up where the previous book left off, just after the murder of seven-year-old Gillian. Mojo is attending the funeral for the little girl, which feels especially odd to her, as the child's ghost is sitting next to her. Mojo is determined to do her best to find out who murdered the child, with or without the help of her cop boyfriend, Tucker.

This investigation isn't the only thing Mojo has going on in her life. She is also worried about her sister, Greer, who is being blackmailed over something in her past. Greer also has a philandering husband who is missing. Mojo's other sister, Jolie, is in the midst of a career change that doesn't make much sense, so she worries about that, too. Add in random other dead people that pop in and out of her life, and it's no wonder that she frequently doesn't know which way is up.

Mojo also has a stressful relationship with Tucker. The chemistry between them is smoking hot, which means they have a hard time keeping their hands off each other when they are together. But Tucker's divorce wasn't that long ago, and Mojo isn't all that certain that Tucker is completely over his wife. When his two children freak out over the death of their friend Gillian, Tucker moves back into the family home to reassure them. Unfortunately, that just adds to Mojo's fears.

I liked the relationship between Mojo and Tucker much more in this book. Mojo is able to express her fears to him, rather than just push him away. I thought that Tucker was pretty darn patient with her fears, and that he did everything he could to show her where his heart belonged. I liked the teasing that went on between them, especially over her addiction to the "Damn Fool's Guide" books that she constantly refers to. I loved the fact that he believed her about seeing dead people, and that he would listen when she would tell him what they said. His protectiveness was great, and he had an excellent track record of showing up just when he was needed. I hurt for him at the end, when his son ended up in the hospital, and he needed Mojo so badly. I loved how it worked out, and the end was pretty sweet.

The suspense of the story was really good. A fair amount was going on. There was Gillian's murder, and the search for who did it. When Danny was also hurt, the question became one of whether the two were connected. I had my suspicions about the culprit, and the final confrontation was intense and very scary. If it hadn't been for one of Mojo's other ghosts, it would probably not have ended well. Then there was Greer's story. She was being blackmailed over something from her past before she joined Mojo's family. She didn't know who was behind it. To meet the blackmailer's demands, she was sucking her husband's accounts dry. He had also spent money himself, trying to buy off the blackmailer. Then he turned up dead, shot multiple times and left in the desert, and Greer was a suspect. At least, until his ghost showed up in Mojo's house, wanting to clear her name. Though he didn't know who did it, he had some ideas. There was also some surprise information provided by his first wife, which sent Mojo off to Greer's hometown, just in time to save Greer's life. That confrontation had a couple of interesting twists to it that I didn't see coming.

I loved the various ghostly characters (okay, MOST of them). The teenager, Justin, just about broke my heart with the way that he was so worried about his mom and his dog. I loved that he took little Gillian under his wing and was able to interpret her signs for Mojo. I laughed a bit at the way he teased Mojo about her relationship with Tucker. The security guard who took care of Mojo's dog was cute with the way he enjoyed sitting in her car and pretending to drive. But the one who surprised me the most was the one who showed up at the end and offered to be her partner at the bar. I didn't realize he was a ghost the first time he appeared - and neither did she!

I'd really love to see another Mojo book!

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