Susan F. (scoutmomskf) - , - Reviews

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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.

An Amish Garden
An Amish Garden
Author: Kathleen Fuller, Vannetta Chapman, Beth Wiseman, 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 3.7/5 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!

Arizona Wild (Mojo, Bk 1)
Arizona Wild (Mojo, Bk 1)
Author: Linda Lael Miller
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
Review Date: 8/23/2017

Good book with a slightly slow start as all the characters get introduced. The book is categorized as a romance, but I feel it is more a romantic suspense, with more emphasis on the suspense than the romance. Still, I really enjoyed it. Mojo is trying to get her life together again. She is currently living above a biker bar and eking out a living doing medical billing from her home. Her divorce from her cheating, now dead, ex-husband Nick left her with a lot of debt that she's still paying off, and a lot of resentment toward Nick. She is beginning to remember details from witnessing the murder of her parents when she was five. Her babysitter from that period kidnapped her to keep her safe, and they spent years moving from place to place. Along the way she acquired two foster sisters, with whom she has interesting relationships. That same babysitter/foster mother is now in a nursing home after suffering a stroke, with Mojo and her sisters visiting often. She also has an on-again off-again relationship with undercover cop, Tucker, who has his own issues to deal with.

The fun starts when she wakes up in the middle of the night with the ghost of her dead ex-husband in bed with her. Understandably freaked out, she's incredulous when he explains that he has to earn her forgiveness before he can move on. Other things from her past are catching up with her. Her uncle, a state senator, reappears in her life, claiming that he's been looking for her for years. Her half-brother, Geoff, who went to prison for the murders of her parents, has been released and has been making random appearances. An ex-boyfriend's ex-wife is stalking her. And someone is trying to kill her.

I liked Mojo. She's a loyal friend who will go out of her way to help you. She's resilient, which she has had to be to survive all the upheaval she has had in her life. She has a rather quirky sense of humor which can come out at inopportune moments. She is smart, though she doesn't think so, using a whole series of "Damn Fool's" guides to educate herself on many subjects. Not satisfied with her job in medical billing, she is thinking about becoming a private investigator.

Mojo's life becomes quite the roller coaster ride. She becomes a person of interest when her friend and landlord is nearly killed during an attack at his bar. Her sister, Greer, hires her to investigate her husband, who she believes is cheating on her. Her long lost uncle wants to be part of her life, but his bodyguard and his wife don't seem to be on the same page. Then there are the death threats that she's receiving.

There's plenty of wild action as Mojo copes with everything that is happening to her. It's great fun to see Nick's ghost popping in at awkward times, though he also comes through with a few well-timed warnings. The threats against her escalate with an attempted poisoning and the murder of her foster mother. Returning memories have Mojo reliving the deaths of her parents, and questioning what really happened. Everything builds to a final confrontation that provides some surprises along with the truth of what occurred that night.

There isn't really much shown of the relationship between Mojo and Tucker. There are definitely sparks between them. He is still dealing with his divorce and Mojo isn't quite convinced that he's over his ex-wife. She's a little wary of letting herself fully commit to him, having been burned once before. I liked that Tucker was understanding of her reluctance and didn't push. I also liked the way that he believed her when she told him about Nick's ghost. Tucker the cop was also very good at being there when she needed him. I liked the ending as they seemed to be ready to pursue what they have a little more deeply.

The ghost storyline was fun. I enjoyed seeing Nick pop in and out. For someone that was so selfish and self-centered in life, he seems to have undergone some vital changes. I loved how he brought the cat to her and the effect it had on her. There are some really fun scenes when he and Mojo are together, and his revelation that she's about to become private investigator to murder victims' ghosts was hilarious. The book ends with her next case sitting in the back seat of her car. I can't wait to read the next in the series.

Arranged Marriage, Bedroom Secrets (Courtesan Brides) (Harlequin Desire, No 2453)
Review Date: 6/6/2016

I loved this book. An arranged marriage between royals is nothing new, but one in which both the heroine and hero are virgins is definitely different. Thierry had grown up experiencing the worst kind of examples of marriage. All the male members of his family, and many of the females, were known for their profligate ways. He was determined to break that cycle by honoring his wife in the most basic of ways. He has been engaged to Princess Mila for seven years, since she was eighteen. Their wedding is scheduled to take place in a month. He wants to make sure that he is able to make her happy, both physically and emotionally, so he hires a courtesan to give him instruction (without any touching) on how to win Mila's heart.

Mila's engagement to Thierry is a way for their two kingdoms to bury decades of antagonism. At the time their engagement was announced, Mila was eighteen, slightly overweight, wore braces, and had no confidence in her ability to be the kind of wife he needed. She successfully convinced her brother, the king, to allow her to go to America for her education. She spent the next seven years pursuing her studies in environmental issues because she knew that it was a cause important to Thierry. She also developed her own requirements for a healthy marriage.

A month before her wedding she seized an opportunity to see Thierry outside of any official event. She hadn't seen or heard from him since their engagement, and she wanted a chance to see the real man behind the royal facade. During their brief encounter in New York, he had no idea who she was, but the few hours they spent talking made an impression on both of them. He returned home, never expecting to see her again, but unable to forget her. On her return home, Mila heard that he had hired a courtesan before the wedding, and determined that he would not be with any woman but her, took the woman's place.

Right there you see where things can go so terribly wrong. Thierry is a man to whom the worst kind of sin is that of dishonesty, and Mila's deception is bound to come back against her. Of course, I thought that Thierry was a bit naive himself, to think that he could spend time with a courtesan and not be tempted into a physical relationship. It was great fun to see Mila's surprise when she discovered that Thierry had not hired the courtesan to sleep with, but to learn how to treat his future wife. I loved the way that she was able to use that desire to show him her own views. It was really sweet to see how eager he was to learn. There were some times when his own issues caused missteps, but he was very good at seeing where he went wrong and fixing it. As they got to know each other, their feelings for each other grew and their chemistry was hot. Not a problem for Mila, because she knew the truth, but for Thierry, it was tearing him apart. He felt that he was betraying his own values and his fiancee by falling for this other woman.

When the truth finally came out, Thierry was furious. He felt that he had been betrayed by Mila in the worst possible way. No matter what his true feelings for her were, his trust had been destroyed. It was so painful to see how unhappy they both were because of it. I liked seeing that Mila realized just how badly she had messed up and that she wanted to fix it, not just on a personal level but also because of what it would mean for their countries. I got a little frustrated with Thierry's refusal to really listen to what she had to say. Unexpected danger sends him flying to her rescue, as he realizes how much he needs her in his life. I loved that they both made mistakes and learned from them before embarking on their promising future together.

I'm really looking forward to Mila's brother's story. There is trouble afoot in his kingdom and I can't wait to see how he deals with it. There is also his need to marry soon in order to keep his throne, and the apparent twist in his plans.

Arresting Developments (Marshland Justice, Bk 2) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1614)
Arresting Developments (Marshland Justice, Bk 2) (Harlequin Intrigue, No 1614)
Author: Lena Diaz
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 1/12/2016

Good book with plenty of suspense. We first met Dex in Missing in the Glades, as Jake's partner in the new PI firm. At the beginning of this book, he is flying down to Florida to stop his friend from marrying a woman he's just met. But a frank conversation convinces him that Jake has never been happier, so he gives up that quest. Finished with his conversation, he notices that his instrument panel has malfunctioned, and then his engine quits. He crash lands in the swamp, with a cut on his leg to complicate matters.

Amber saw Dex's plane go overhead, then heard it crash. She has been hiding out in the swamp for two years, running from the trouble she's in. But she can't leave an injured man to fend for himself, especially when the cut on his leg rapidly gets infected. She gets him back to town and nurses him back to health, only to find herself arrested for the murder of her grandfather.

The first half of the story deals with Dex's determination to repay Amber for saving him by helping her out of her difficulties. Though he barely knows her, he's quite certain that there is no way that she would have killed the grandfather she loved so much. With his money he can afford to hire the best lawyers and investigators and he is determined to find out the truth. The difficulty is that he can see that she is hiding something from him, something that might be able to clear her. I loved seeing how Dex seemed to be able to read Amber so easily. Amber is very protective of those she loves, and she believes that it was an accident. I did find it a little odd that the original autopsy didn't come to the same conclusion as the second one right away, but Dex did pay for the best. We also get to know both Dex and Amber a little bit. Amber definitely comes through as a very caring young woman, willing to risk her freedom to help someone who needs it. Dex starts out more self-centered, focused on what makes him happy. He's an admitted womanizer and doesn't always think about the effect of his actions on others. He isn't mean though, and his conversations with Amber while in the swamp are pretty funny.

The story switches directions once Dex has recovered and solved Amber's legal troubles. He has discovered that his crash was not accidental, but the result of sabotage on his plane. He's staying with Amber for a few days to help her get settled in her grandfather's house, and prepare for a storm that is bearing down on them. While they are there, several local friends stop by and are stranded there because of the storm, as are four of Dex's friends. While all are trapped in the house, Dex's ex-fiancee is murdered and it has to be one of the people staying there. As Dex and Amber investigate, it is hard to tell who has the most motivation to kill Dex. Between the rising waters and the search for the killer, the intensity continues to build. I was on the edge of my seat until it was all over.

I enjoyed the development of the romance between Dex and Amber. Dex was quite a flirt, but ended up being far more honorable than I expected at the beginning. I liked his protectiveness toward Amber, even when he was trying to protect her from himself. Amber sees past Dex's flirtatiousness to the good man that he is. She is far more worried about the danger to him than any problems she might have. The attraction that flared between them was something that neither one could resist. I liked seeing how the attraction led to more. Both changed thanks to the other's influence, with Dex becoming more aware of the people around him and how he treats them, and Amber discovering that living her life according to the guilt she felt was no way to live at all. The ending was sweet and romantic. I can't wait to see what's next for the people of Mystic Glades.

The Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors, Bk 1)
The Art of Sinning (Sinful Suitors, Bk 1)
Author: Sabrina Jeffries
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.7/5 Stars.
Review Date: 4/7/2016

Good start to the new series, with characters from the previous series, The Duke's Men. We met Jeremy Keane, American artist, in How the Scoundrel Seduces, as he helped out with his cousin Zoe's problem. Now he is pursuing his art, searching for just the right model for the painting he has in mind. Nobody is right until he meets Lady Yvette, but getting a lady to pose for this particular painting isn't going to be easy, especially with her very protective older brother hovering.

Yvette is a young woman with a mind of her own. She isn't a typical English miss, having survived the scandalous behavior of her younger brother, and having a most unusual hobby of collecting slang for an unorthodox dictionary. She's intrigued by Jeremy's offer to paint her, and counters his offer with one of her own. She'll sit for him if he'll help her find her younger brother's mistress and her son.

There is a strong attraction between Yvette and Jeremy from the very beginning, but both are determined to resist it. Yvette has been burned once before by falling for a scoundrel, and barely escaped with her reputation. She no longer trusts her own judgment when it comes to men, but she's sure that Jeremy isn't a man to pin her hopes on. Jeremy knows better than to get involved with a respectable woman. Doing so could get him married to her, and he's been married once before with tragic results. He avoids any kind of romantic entanglements, usually packing up and leaving before things get serious.

I liked Jeremy a lot. He portrays himself as quite the rake, but when you look past the surface, he really isn't. He uses his reputation to keep people from getting too close to him, but working closely with Yvette makes keeping his secrets much harder. Not only is he attracted to her, he actually likes her. Trying to behave like a gentleman around her gets more difficult the more time they spend together.

Yvette is a very determined young woman. She has her mission and she isn't going to let anything stop her. I loved seeing her negotiate her requirements with Jeremy, and make sure that he doesn't try to renege. I loved her hobby of searching out street cant, and the conversations they had because of it. She also has a very curious mind and no trouble asking questions, even if they are inappropriate.

I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop, even as both tried to deny what was growing between them. Their conversations were fun, as both are quick witted and have pretty wicked senses of humor. Jeremy quickly came to look at Yvette as more than just a model. Even though he resisted telling her about his past, just her presence in his life started to change the way he looked at his future. I also loved seeing how he tried to change the way she saw herself by showing her how she affected him. I liked how Yvette didn't take long to see that Jeremy was not the scoundrel that everyone says he is. She is determined to find out why he pretends to be, and it was fun to see the way she chips away at his protective walls. When his past becomes fully known to her, she sees that until he deals with it completely they can't have the future they deserve. I loved how she saw him so clearly and called him on his actions. Facing that past and learning things he hadn't known before was very emotional, and I loved seeing that emotion expressed rather than buried. The changes in both of them by the end were significant.

As the first in the series, some time is spent introducing characters that will play parts in later books. It is in this one that the idea for a gentleman's club, devoted to the idea of protecting their sisters and female relations from scoundrels like themselves is introduced. Yvette's brother Edwin is one of those men. He seems to be quite a stick-in-the-mud at the beginning, but I warmed up to him as his love for his sister became more obvious. He also comes through quite nicely when Yvette finds the woman and child she had been looking for. Another one of the members is Warren, cousin and guardian to Yvette's friend Clarissa. Clarissa is another young woman like Yvette, with a mind of her own and no desire to forced into a mold that doesn't fit her. Other secondary characters were Jeremy's apprentice, who keeps Jeremy on his toes, and Jeremy's sister Amanda, who has been running the family business back in America.

The Art of Taming a Rake (Legendary Lovers, Bk 4)
The Art of Taming a Rake (Legendary Lovers, Bk 4)
Author: Nicole Jordan
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
Review Date: 10/21/2017

Good story of two people, burned by love, who find themselves joined in a marriage of convenience. Two years earlier Venetia broke off her engagement on the steps of the church when her fiancé showed up for their wedding drunk, disheveled, and straight from his mistress's bed. Thanks to the resulting scandal, her parents banished her to France and refused to have anything to do with her. She has returned to England after hearing that Quinn Wilde, Earl of Traherne and notorious rake, is courting her younger sister. She is determined to prevent Ophelia from suffering the same heartbreak that she did. To that end, she disguises herself and confronts Quinn in the gentlemen's club where he is playing cards. But it does not go quite as she expected.

Quinn has earned his reputation as a rake. Years ago he fell in love with a woman who only wanted him for his title and his wealth. Since that time, he has avoided allowing his emotions to get involved, limiting his liaisons to women who know what to expect. In this instance, he has the best of intentions. He has long felt guilty for his part in Venetia's disgrace and has decided that appearing to court Ophelia will raise her up in Society's eyes. He is surprised by Venetia's appearance and somewhat amused by her demands.

I enjoyed this initial confrontation. Venetia is bold and determined to do what she must to protect her sister. Unfortunately, she gets into a bit of trouble when she is accosted by a drunken gambler. Quinn, who recognized her almost immediately, comes to her rescue by claiming her as his own with a searing kiss. A short discussion and agreement to meet the next day has them leaving by a discreet back entrance. Things go a bit sideways when Quinn is attacked by three thugs, but he fights them off and gets Venetia to safety. A second attack the next day delays his meeting with Venetia, and impatient; she shows up at his home, angry at being stood up. During another contentious discussion, Venetia pulls a pistol on Quinn at the same time someone takes a shot at him. Initially implicated in the attack, to protect Venetia's name, Quinn proposes marriage.

Venetia is not easy to convince. She had resigned herself to the life of a spinster thanks to the scandal of her non-wedding. Plus, the thought of marrying a man cut from the same cloth as her ex-fiancé does not make her happy. However, to keep her sister from suffering from the effects of another scandal involving Venetia, she agrees to a marriage in name only. Quinn had never seen himself entering into marriage but finds himself very protective of Venetia. Besides wanting to save her from more scandal, he is also afraid that whoever is trying to kill him would also hurt her.

I loved the development of their relationship. Venetia is determined not to trust Quinn. Because of her attraction to him, she can see herself being hurt when his inevitable infidelity occurs. Quinn is attracted and fascinated by Venetia but refuses to allow himself to fall in love. As they leave London for a time to allow Quinn's injury to heal and his friend to investigate the attacks, Venetia and Quinn are given the opportunity to get to know each other. As they do, Venetia discovers that Quinn is not the unrepentant rake that she thought he was. Instead, she finds an intelligent, charming and amazingly kind man that slowly overcomes her trust issues. For his part, Quinn finds Venetia to be honest, vibrant, and fun to talk to. Underneath it all is a simmering attraction that draws them even closer together. Though both resist the idea that they are falling in love, they don't deny the ever-growing passion. When they finally give in to it, the result is a far deeper connection than either expected. I loved seeing the mutual protectiveness, as Quinn worried about the assassin going after Venetia, and Venetia concerned that Quinn is putting his life at risk in attempting to draw the attacker out. It's rather fun to see them try to deny the feelings that are driving them while at the same time trying to figure out how to make the other one want to continue their marriage. It isn't until Venetia is in danger that Quinn can admit his feelings to himself. I loved his big moment at the end when he exposes his vulnerability to Venetia. It was a sweet and romantic beginning to the rest of their life together.

The mystery of the attacks on Quinn was very well done. The intensity of the attacks built with each incident, along with the puzzle of who is behind them. Quinn wonders if the attacks have something to do with the jewels that were supposedly lost during his parents' shipwreck deaths, but one of which is being worn by a former mistress of his. Or perhaps it is related to his work in building a steam-powered ship. Personally, I suspected the scorned mistress. The final confrontation was fast-paced and intense. One of my favorite things about it was that Venetia wasn't the helpless damsel in distress, but took an active and quite clever role in it. I did ache for Quinn when the motives behind it all were revealed.

I thoroughly enjoyed the various family dynamics. Quinn's relationships with his family members are close and loving, but also realistic. I loved his dual motivation in "courting" Ophelia - help her, and also get his cousin and sister off his back regarding getting married. I loved that they were there for Quinn when he needed them, both in making Venetia welcome and later in catching the bad guy. Venetia's relationship with her parents was starkly opposite. Their rejection of her because she refused to marry her cheating fiancé was so wrong. Even after she married Quinn, it took some not-so-veiled threats from him to get them to loosen up even a little bit. I did like her sister Ophelia, who was sweet and loving.

At the Rancher's Request (Lone Star Legends, Bk 3) (Harlequin Desire, No 2361)
At the Rancher's Request (Lone Star Legends, Bk 3) (Harlequin Desire, No 2361)
Author: Sara Orwig
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
Review Date: 12/21/2015

Good book about two people whose past hurts keep them from wanting to risk their hearts again. Mike is the widowed father of a three year old boy. The death of his wife hit him hard and he doesn't want to go through anything like that again. Savannah was engaged to a man who didn't bother to tell her he doesn't want kids until she gets pregnant. Devastated by the realization that she hadn't really known the man she thought she loved, she breaks their engagement and leaves home to go visit her aunt in California.

Mike and Savannah meet during a rainstorm where Mike and his son Scotty have pulled into a gas station to wait out the downpour. Savannah pulls in because her car is making noises and just as she stops the engine erupts into flames. Mike puts the fire out and invites Savannah to stay at his ranch until her car is fixed. He even tells her she can call the local sheriff for a reference if she needs one. She accepts his offer, hoping it will just be for a couple days.

Neither of them expected the strength of the attraction between them. Savannah insists that they do not give in to it, as she is still healing from her previous relationship and doesn't want to make another mistake. Mike doesn't want another relationship either, but feels that they can enjoy each other without making an emotional commitment.

Because it will take time for her car repair, Savannah ends up staying longer than she expected. She started getting really attached to Scotty and liked taking care of him when Mike had to be out on the ranch. She also began developing feelings for Mike as she got to know him better, realizing that he's nothing at all like her ex. She has to keep reminding herself that she isn't staying and that she's not ready to risk her heart again. But she also finds it very easy to give in to his kisses and doesn't trust herself to be able to keep her heart protected.

Mike bugged me a little bit. He knows he doesn't want a commitment and that Savannah is still hurting from her previous relationship. She has told him repeatedly that giving in to their attraction would be a bad idea. But he keeps finding excuses to kiss her and every time he pushes for more, trying to convince her that they can keep their emotions out of it. However, even though he can't deny that his actions may cause her more hurt, he keeps doing it. It does come back to bite him though, as he discovers that being with Savannah has begun to change him more than he expected.

A medical crisis with her pregnancy delays Savannah's departure, and also brings Mike to the conclusion that he has lost his heart to her after all. Both he and Savannah have to find a way to let go of their past hurts if they want to have a chance to have a future together. I liked the way it worked out for them.

Scotty was an adorable little boy and had a big part in bringing Mike and Savannah together. My biggest issue with him was that he did not talk or act like a child just turning three. He was way too articulate and able to be reasoned with. I thought he was more like a five year old.

A Baby and a Betrothal (Crimson, Colorado, Bk 5) (Harlequin Special Edition, No 2464)
Review Date: 2/19/2016

Very good book. Katie and Noah have been best friends since they were in high school, but Katie has always felt more than just friendship for Noah. She also knows that he'll never feel the same way about her, so she's decided that if she ever wants a family of her own she'll have to move on. Finding someone in tiny Crimson is going to be a real challenge, but she's trying. Then Noah comes back to town and she's right back where she started, still hung up on him.

Noah hasn't spent much time in Crimson over the last ten years due to the memories of what he sees as his failures. He hadn't handled his father's illness and death well and the guilt of his actions still affects his relationship with his family. At the same time he discovered that the girl he loved and was going to propose to was cheating on him. Since that time he has kept all his relationships superficial, protecting his heart from any more hurt. But now he's back in Crimson for the summer, to help take care of his mother during her recovery from major surgery. The plus side is getting to spend more time with best buddy Katie.

I loved Katie, but she sure did frustrate me at times. She is a sweet, caring woman who loves to take care of her friends. Thanks to her treatment by her parents, she has always felt as though she needed to "earn" her place in peoples' lives. She's always so worried about disappointing people that she doesn't say no to anything asked of her. Even with Noah, she's there for him, listening to his woman woes, even though it hurts to hear about them. She does have a few shining moments of doing something for herself. I especially loved the swimming section.

It was fun to see Noah suddenly realize that Katie was a beautiful woman. He's attracted to her and it freaks him out. When he loses his head and kisses her he's stunned when she kisses him back and they end up in bed together. The experience is so amazing that he panics and sneaks out, heading for the woods for a few days (supposedly for his job) so he can get his head together. When he comes back, ready for round two, he's shocked when she tells him to get lost. I loved seeing her tell him flat out that she wants more than he's willing to give and that she's got a date with a man who shows promise for a real relationship.

I loved seeing the shoe on the other foot as Noah is now the one who wants more. He knows he has to prove himself and he can't depend on his old ways of getting the girl. It was really sweet to see how well he knows her and how he puts that knowledge to use to try to win her over. Katie is now the one trying to protect herself. She has to decide if she's willing to take whatever she can get and deal with the pain when he leaves, or stay with just being friends. Just when things are looking promising, an old secret and an unexpected pregnancy send Noah running again. Now both Noah and Katie have to face their fears if they want a life together. I loved Noah's big moment at the end as his love for her breaks through everything else.

I really liked Noah and Katie's friends and how they were there when they needed someone. I loved the way that Noah's friends were there to support him the day of his mom's surgery whether he wanted it or not. I also liked the way that Jase read him the riot act when he needed it. I also loved how Katie's girlfriends listened, provided ice cream and sympathy, but also reminded her that she had loved Noah for a long time and not to give up.

The Baby and the Cowboy SEAL (Cowboy SEALs) (Harlequin American Romance, No 1579)
Review Date: 1/31/2016

Good book dealing with a difficult subject. Wiley has come home to Montana a far different man than he left. Thanks to the injuries he sustained in the war, he has had to leave the service. The memories of what happened haunt him, and the pain gives him no peace. He has isolated himself on his ranch and avoids contact with everyone, until Macy forces herself into his life.

Macy is the single mother of a little boy, living on her grandparents' property next to Wiley's. She doing her own hiding after discovering that he husband was a lying cheat. She'd always had a huge crush on him, and having him back in town is like a dream come true - until a run in with him shows her how much he's changed. Common sense tells her to stay away from him, but her heart says she can help him.

I will admit to having moments of extreme frustration with both of them. Wiley has been coping with the pain in his leg by drinking instead of taking the painkillers the doctor prescribed. He has seen friends get addicted to them, so he wants nothing to do with them. Instead, he gets addicted to alcohol. When the pain is bad, he is really rude and mean to Macy when she comes by. He feels bad and apologizes, and lets her talk him into trying to help him. I liked the way that she takes his booze away and gets him to take his pills. Unfortunately, he totally forgets about his fear of getting addicted to them, and liking the way they reduce his pain, quickly starts taking too many. He lies to himself, believing that he can stop anytime, and to Macy, hiding just how many he's taking.

Macy is so happy to have Wiley back that she ignores all the things that others try to tell her. She sees that he is in pain and knows that the drinking doesn't help, so she pretty much forces her way into his life. Her husband's betrayal has done a number on her self confidence, but Wiley's presence makes her feel good again. Though she knows Wiley's problems are probably worse than he admits, she can't help dreaming and believing that being together is all that they need to overcome them. She even convinces him that marriage is the way to go.

Wiley's problems only get worse. He is so determined to make Macy believe that everything is fine, that his abuse of the pills rapidly spirals out of control. His mood swings get worse as he struggles to hide it all from her. There are also several episodes of flashbacks where he "checks out", making her worry about him even more. She senses that things aren't right, but ignores those feelings, choosing to believe him instead. It was obvious that it was all going to fall apart eventually, and it wouldn't be pretty when it did.

I did like the realistic portrayal of the problems some returning service members have. Wiley's alcohol and drug abuse aren't unusual, nor were his attempts to isolate himself. Macy's actions were also believable, as she wanted to believe that he was getting better. Ignoring her fears made it easier to do so. I ached for Wiley and Macy when he finally hit bottom and they had to face the truth. I loved that she didn't give up on him. I also liked the way that Macy's father, being a former service member himself, was able to recognize what was going on. His assistance and support were vital to getting Wiley the help that he needed. I really liked the fact that the resolution wasn't a quick or easy fix, but one they had to work at. There was a really sweet twist at the end.

I loved the part that the various animals played in Wiley's life. It was funny to see the way that the vet kept bringing more in need of rescue as a way to give Wiley a reason to face each day. I also adored Macy's llamas. Their names were especially amusing, with the male being Charlie, and the four females being Jill, Chris, Kelly and Sabrina. It didn't take too long to make the connection.

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