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August 21, 2014
Best Reads of August 2014
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Showing posts by: Leigh Davis click to see Leigh Davis's profile
Thu
Aug 21 2014 9:30am

First Look: Robyn Carr’s The Homecoming (August 26, 2014)

The Homecoming by Robyn CarrRobyn Carr The Homecoming (Thunder Point #6)
Harlequin MIRA / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?

I disagree with so many platitudes, but the one I can wholeheartedly embrace is “when life gives you lemons, made lemonade. Part of Robyn Carr’s appeal is she knows how to cleverly incorporate truism like this within her story. And of course the other is that she creates such pleasing, admirable characters. In book six of the Thunder Point series, The Homecoming, both Seth and Iris have learned to make lemonade as you’ll find out over the course of the book. But their appealing nature is clear from the first moment you meet them.

[We can't wait to get introduced!...]

Sat
Aug 16 2014 11:00am

First Look: D.D. Ayres’s Irresistible Force (August 26, 2014)

Irresistible Force by D.D. AyresD.D. Ayres
Irresistible Force
St. Martin's Press / August 26, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

For Shay Appleton, it’s love at first sight when a gorgeous stray dog is brought into the animal shelter where she works. She just knows he’ll make a terrific watch dog—and with an abusive ex who won’t let go, she needs all the protection she can get. But Shay never suspected that her new pet is actually a trained police K-9 named Bogart—until Bogart’s even more gorgeous, human partner shows up on her doorstep.

Officer James Cannon is one tall, strong alpha male who’s convinced that Shay stole his dog. But once he gets closer to the suspect, he realizes that this stubborn, independent woman not only needs a guard dog, she needs James as well. It seems that someone from her past is stalking her, and threatening her life. When danger meets desire, will James risk his career and his best friend…to protect the woman who’s stolen his heart?

You don’t have to be a dog lover to enjoy D.D. Ayres’s new series because she has all the bases covered with menacing antagonists, sizzling chemistry, and flawed, appealing characters.

The threat to the characters is real, and the way that plays out is intriguing, but even more than that, I enjoyed the flawed characters. Characters who have made mistakes—like getting involved with the wrong people. In Shay’s case, she put off doing something because of fear of the past repeating itself— even backing down when she should have stood her ground. But she has good reasons for the way she acts.

[Irresistible reasons?...]

Thu
Aug 14 2014 2:15pm

Drinking to Numb the Pain: Addicted Heroines in Romance

Before the Storm by Diane ChamberlainIncorporating addiction into a story can be very challenging for an author. Most of us have been around family and friends who've lost control of their life to either drugs or alcohol. And some of us have watched these individuals quit, going months or years without using their drug of choice, only to relapse, or fall off the wagon. We know that there is no cure and that many times addiction goes hand in hand with some type of mental disorder like depression or trauma, like PTSD. We know that people use alcohol and drugs to self-medicate; to feel good, to smother pain, and to escape untenable situations.

By incorporating addiction into a storyline, not only does the author have to convince us that there is a happy-ever-after in the hero’s or heroine’s future, but the author also has to create a relatable flawed character and explain why the character is acting in a non-heroic way. Most authors do this by writing situational addiction—the loss of a child, the trauma of war, the pain from childhood, etc. Many authors show the addiction in the past, making the character immediately worthy of readers’ regard.

While both hero and heroines deal with addiction, it seems to me that the majority are male. Maybe it’s a throwback to the Victorians' beliefs that women are paragons of perfection and purity, or maybe as female readers we would much rather identify with the person doing the saving rather than the person whose life has spiraled out of control. What do you think—is there a readers’ partiality for tortured heroes over heroines?

[What say you?...]

Tue
Aug 12 2014 9:30am

First Look: Catherine Bybee’s Taken by Tuesday (August 12, 2014)

Taken by Tuesday by Catherine BybeeCatherine Bybee
Taken by Tuesday (Weekday Brides)
Montlake / August 12, 2014 / $4.99 digital

He’ll do anything to keep her safe…for the rest of their lives.

Judy Gardner: College graduate Judy stands ready to conquer the world…if she can get a job. Hoping to transition from aspiring architect to famous architect as quickly as possible, the dark-haired beauty moves to LA, staying in the home of her celebrity brother, Michael Wolfe. But it’s hard for Judy to focus on work when the sexy bodyguard she fell for last summer keeps showing up in her life and leaving her breathless.

Rick Evans: With his hard body, green eyes, and easy smile, Rick could have any woman he wants. But the Marine-turned- bodyguard only has eyes for Judy and her spitfire attitude. When a faceless villain attacks Judy, Rick will stop at nothing to protect the woman who opened his heart from the monster hunting her.

Nothing is better than a bit of fantasy to take you away from the mundane. Catherine Bybee’s Weekday Bride series not only has the whimsical premise of Alliance, an elite match matching firm for the über rich—the books are also filled with appealing characters, warm family connections, and unique conflicts. Taken by Tuesday, the newest release, is an enlivening tale of romance and danger with an emphasis on the danger.

[What's love without a little risk?...]

Wed
Aug 6 2014 4:30pm

Dog Daze: Working Dogs in Romance Novels from Ayres, Kantra, and More!

The Search by Nora RobertsI am no stranger to perusing books because of dogs on the cover, or because canines are mentioned in the blurb. I discussed it in an H&H post, Must Love Dogs (and Cats): Animals in Romance Novels.  It doesn’t matter if the dog is there for comic relief, like Pooh in It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips; a woman’s best friend, like Buttercup from Kristan Higgins’s One of the Guys; or a working dog like Peck from Nora RobertsThe Search.  I love them all. But lately, I’ve noticed that animals in books are taking a more multifaceted role, becoming an intrinsic part of the plot and even anthropomorphized as characters.

Of course that’s not such a big jump, since over 90 percent of pet owners consider their pet a member of their family, meaning they let their animals sleep with them, take them on vacation, buy them Christmas presents and celebrate their birthday (ah—guilty). But it is more than that; perhaps there has been a sort of meeting of the minds between people who consider animals pets, and people who consider animals as having a job to do. Each type now seem to have a new appreciation of the ways animals enrich our lives—in both work and play.  

And our romance books reflect that. More and more, the animals in our stories have a specific job to do, maybe as a member of a K-9 police or military unit, or a therapy dog or search and rescue dog.

I have already mentioned Roberts’ The Search. How can you not love a dog who saves a boy’s life?

[Trick question, 'cause it's impossible...]

Sun
Aug 3 2014 10:00am

First Look: Beth Harbison’s Driving with the Top Down (August 5, 2014)

Driving with the Top Down by Beth Harbison

Beth Harbison
Driving with the Top Down
St. Martin's Press / August 5, 2014 / $$26.99, print / $12.99, digital

Three women, two weeks, one convertible: sometimes life doesn't take you in the direction you expect...

Colleen Bradley is married with a teenage son, a modest business repurposing and reselling antiques, and longtime fear that she was not her husband’s first choice. When she decides to take a road trip down the east coast to check out antique auctions for her business, she also has a secret ulterior motive. Her one-woman mission for peace of mind is thrown slightly off course when sixteen year old Tamara becomes her co-pilot. The daughter of Colleen’s brother-in-law, Tamara is aware that when people see her as a screw-up, but she knows in her heart that she’s so much more. She just wishes her father could see it, too.

The already bumpy trip takes another unexpected turn when they stop at the diner that served as Colleen’s college hangout and run into her old friend, Bitty Nolan Camalier. Clearly distressed, Bitty gives them a story full of holes: angry with her husband, she took off on her own, only to have her car stolen. Both Colleen and Tamara sense that there’s more that Bitty isn’t sharing, but Colleen offers to give Bitty a ride to Florida.

So one becomes two becomes three as Colleen, Tamara, and Bitty make their way together down the coast. It’s a road trip fraught with tension as Tamara’s poor choices come back to haunt her and Bitty’s secrets reach a boiling point. With no one to turn to but each other, these three women might just discover that you can get lost in life but somehow, true friends provide a roadmap to finding what you’re really looking for.

Reading about soul mates finding each other is magnificent. But in its own way, reading female buddy books can be just as inspiring. Both type of stories are based on the fact that we all need someone to care.

And that need – for someone to “just give a damn” — is at the heart of Beth Harbison’s new book, Driving with the Top Down.

Colleen Bradley is being left behind as her husband and teenage son go off together to do some male bonding—no females allowed. And she is fine with that because this will give her a chance to get her act together – to shrug off the feeling that she is second best in her business, and lacking as a mother and a wife.

[She'll learn a lot on this upcoming trip...]

Fri
Aug 1 2014 11:00am

First Look: Susan Donovan’s The Sweetest Summer (August 5, 2014)

The Sweetest Summer by Susan DonovanSusan Donovan
The Sweetest Summer (Bayberry Island #2)
Signet Select / August 5, 2014 / $7.99 print, digital

A mermaid statue could be the cause of heartbreak or everlasting romance for a practical-minded police chief and his first love—in the second of the delicious Bayberry Island trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Susan Donovan...

Every instinct told Police Chief Clancy Flynn that his island’s claim to fame was nothing but a silly tourist attraction. But now and then, he couldn’t help but wonder if his lifetime of bad romances—starting with the pretty tourist who broke his fourteen-year-old heart—could be traced back to a childhood prank involving that very statue....

Then one day the pretty tourist comes barreling back into Bayberry—all grown-up and on the run with her niece. Though Evelyn McGuinness is wanted for kidnapping, she tries to persuade Clancy that there’s more to the story. Now the by-the-book police chief must make the toughest decision of his life: to take Evelyn into custody—or into his arms....

There is just something about first love, isn’t there? If this is one of your favorite story arcs, then you will find plenty to enjoy in Susan Donovan’s The Sweetest Summer—along with a pretty unique backdrop—the magic of mermaids.

[And of love...]

Tue
Jul 29 2014 5:00pm

First Look: Shannon Stacey’s Falling for Max (July 29, 2014)

Falling for Max by Shannon StaceyShannon Stacey
Falling for Max
Carina / July 29, 2014 / $4.99, digital / $7.99, print

Max Crawford has reached the point in life where he's starting to think about settling down. Unfortunately, he's always been a little awkward when it comes to social interactions, and working from home doesn't help. He spends so much time alone, painting beautiful, historically accurate model trains that half of Whitford has begun to joke that he may be a serial killer. Not exactly prime husband material.

Tori Burns has found happiness in Maine, thanks in large part to her shifts at the Trailside Diner. She likes the work, and she loves the local gossip. When shy, geeky Max Crawford becomes a regular, she's intrigued. When she finds out he's in the market for a wife, she's fascinated…and determined to help.
Molding Max into every woman's dream turns out to be much easier than expected. But has Tori's plan worked a little too well? As she turns his comfortable life all sorts of upside down, she'll have to find a way to show just how she's fallen for him…the real him.

It is not uncommon to read a book about shy, socially awkward heroines. We love watching them blossom under the attention of the right person. Heroes for the most part are a different breed. Their vulnerabilities are hidden layers deep beneath assertive, high-handed alpha characteristics and bits of swagger. Over the book the heroine has to slowly peel back the layers, coaxing the hero into letting his guard down and admit to any type of weakness. While it is fascinating to watch this, there is a sense of uniqueness when a hero is candid and open up front. Max in Shannon Stacey's Falling for Max is one such hero.

[We wish we had more like him in real life...]

Tue
Jul 29 2014 9:20am

First Look: Pamela Morsi’s Mr. Right Goes Wrong (July 29, 2014)

Mr. Right Goes Wrong by Pamela MorsiPamela Morsi
Mr. Right Goes Wrong
Harlequin MIRA / July 29, 2014 / $7.99, print & digital

No More Mr. Nice Guy

Like a bad-choice-making boomerang, Mazy Gulliver has returned to her mom's tiny house in Brandt Mountain. But this time, she's got her teenage son, Tru, in tow and no intention of messing up ever again. Mazy’s so determined to rebuild her life she hardly minds being the new loan collector, or even working for Tad, her ex. She's not here to make friends—or fall in love.

Sweet, dependable Eli Latham has loved Mazy since they got pretend married in second grade. But after being burned by Mazy for two decades, Eli's got a new strategy. Mazy likes bad boys, so a bad boy is what he'll be. How hard can it be to act like a jerk?

Not for the first time, men are making Mazy crazy, though she's determined to do what's right for her and Tru.  But breaking old habits is hard, and if she really wants things to change she'll have to face her biggest adversary: herself.

Looking for a different type of heroine, perhaps one who is imperfect?  The heroine of Pamela Morsi's Mr. Right Goes Wrong just can’t seem to quit making the same mistake over and over again—getting involved with losers.

When Mazy was in high school she got intentionally pregnant by Tad Driscoll. Tall, dark, handsome, rich—captain of the basketball team and class president—Tad is every girl’s dream guy, except he is a first class jerk, as Mazy soon discovers. After she told him she was pregnant, he denied that the baby was his, and Mazy was left to raise her son, Tru, alone. But that one experience didn’t faze her as she bounced from one bad relationship to another.  The only time she found solace with a nice guy was when she rebounded—not once, but twice into the arms of Eli Latham.  And while she never intentionally wanted to hurt her son, her choices have done exactly that: 

[Not really anything to be proud of, until Tru...]

Tue
Jul 22 2014 4:30pm

First Look: Lauren Layne’s Only with You (July 29, 2014)

Only with You by Lauren LayneLauren Layne
Only with You (The Best Mistake)
Forever / July 29, 2014 / $6.00 print / $2.99 digital

Cocktail waitress Sophie Dalton doesn't exactly have a life plan. She's perfectly happy being everyone's favorite party girl. But when a Las Vegas bachelorette party goes awry and an uptight businessman mistakes Sophie for a prostitute . . . well, Sophie wonders if it's time to reevaluate her priorities. Swearing off her thigh-high boots for good, Sophie slinks back home with damaged pride-and a jackpot of a hangover.

Yet what happens in Vegas doesn't always stay there. On a trip to Seattle to open a new office, Grayson Wyatt meets his latest employee—who turns out to be the same woman he recently called a hooker. Wealthy and gorgeous, Gray is a man used to getting what he wants. And it doesn't take long to figure out that smart, sassy, sexy Sophie is everything he's been looking for. As their late nights at the office turn into hot morning-afters, they realize their Vegas misunderstanding may lead to the real thing . . .

One of the more critical scenes in a book is how the hero and heroine meet. Authors have free range on devising this meeting, and readers reap the benefit of authors’ fertile imagination, especially when the hero and heroine form the wrong impression. Lauren Layne definitely has a bountiful imagination:

Sophie Dalton is in Las Vegas for her cousin’s bachelorette party. Her cousin is certainly not a favorite relative, but since Sophie’s sister is in the wedding, she is obligated to attend, so when the bride-to-be declares:

I want my bachelorette party to be hella shanky and memorable. If you’re going to be on your period that weekend, fix it.

[Sounds like the beginning to an...interesting...weekend...]

Thu
Jul 17 2014 4:30pm

Travel the World Without Leaving Your Chair: Non-American Authors

I Can Read with My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss

“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.”
- Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

Each month, I scrutinize the list of new releases, searching for something novel and innovative. We romance readers can be a difficult group to please—we want more of the same, but with variation. If you are fan of shape-shifters, then you want more shape-shifters books. If you love Regency historicals, then you are looking for more books in that time period. If you are a fan of erotica—ditto, you want more of the same. Of course each author has her own voice, so even if she was writing the same plot and characterization as another author there would be differences, but most of us don’t want to settle for just that.

So what is a poor author to do? One way to make a book distinctive is the setting—to leave behind the tried and true. Another is the ethnicity or culture of the hero and heroine.

I first started reading romance in my tweens and early teens. One author who quickly became a favorite was Mary Stewart. Each and every book had a new locale, such as the South of France, or Scottish Isle of Sky, or Greece, and even Lebanon and Vienna. Opening up a book by Mary Stewart was like traveling across the world. In her books, romance and exotic locales just seemed to go together like Godiva and chocolate.

[Chocolate and travel sounds like the perfect combination...]

Wed
Jul 16 2014 9:30am

First Look: Julie Garwood’s Fast Track (July 29, 2014)

Fast Track by Julie Garwood

Julie Garwood
Fast Track
Dutton Adult / July 29, 2014 / $26.95 print / $12.99 digital

Cordelia Kane has always been a daddy’s girl—her father raised her alone after her mother died in a car crash when Cordelia was just two years old. So when he has a serious heart attack, Cordelia is devastated, and the emotion is only intensified by the confusion she feels when he reveals the shocking truth about her mother.

Cordelia can’t suppress her curiosity about the woman who gave birth to her, and when she discovers the answers to her questions lie in Sydney, Australia, she travels there to get them.

Hotel magnate Aiden Madison is Cordelia’s best friend’s older brother. He’s oblivious to the fact that she’s had a crush on him for years. When he gets railroaded into taking her along to Sydney on his company jet, he’s unwittingly drawn into a volatile family drama.

Aiden wants to help Cordelia get answers about her mother, but threats from her wealthy, high-powered family are quickly becoming dangerous. Sparks are flying between Cordelia and Aiden, but after multiple attempts are made on Cordelia’s life, Aiden realizes he must put a stop to the madness before he loses the thing he values most.

Do you remember your first Julie Garwood book? I do. It was Lion’s Lady. I was captivated by the way the heroine thoroughly confused and bewildered, and just turned the hero upside down and inside out with her feistiness, independence, honesty and honor. Lion’s Lady was released in 1988, but Garwood is still charming readers with her high-handed heroes and her spirited heroines.

[A perfect combination!]

Fri
Jul 11 2014 2:00pm

First Look: Susan Andersen’s No Strings Attached (July 29, 2014)

No Strings Attached by Susan AndersenSusan Andersen
No Strings Attached
Harlequin HQN / July 29, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Some mistakes are worth repeating… 

Tasha Riordan's one night with Luc Bradshaw was the best of her life. The following two—when he left her to be thrown into a Bahamian jail on bogus charges—were her worst. Now, seven years later, the undercover DEA agent is back. Invading her town. Her restaurant. Her fantasies. She can't trust a man who lied to her. Yet neither can she trust herself—not when their chemistry burns even hotter than before. 

Learning he has two half-brothers shocks Luc. Discovering they live in the same town as Tasha—that's a different kind of thrill. Their mutual lust is still off the charts, but he can't get her to listen to his side of what happened on that long-ago night. Good thing he's got powers of persuasion that go deeper than words. Because nothing has ever felt this right….

When you open a Susan Andersen book you know the hero and heroine are in for a bumpy ride. First comes the animosity and the unwanted sexual attraction, then a brief sort of harmony that lulls the hero and heroine to act on their sexual attraction, then a misunderstanding and finally the happy ever after.

Except her books can’t be summarized in one paragraph. Of course there is the sizzle between the heroine and hero which is a big thing, but there is also warmth and caring—between lovers, friends, family—and those elements keep me returning to her books year after year, after year.

[There's something to be said for consistency...]

Thu
Jul 10 2014 2:15pm

First Look: Kelly Meade’s Black Rook (July 15, 2014)

Black Rook by Kelly MeadeKelly Meade
Black Rook (Cornerstone Run Trilogy #1)
InterMix / July 15, 2014 / $4.99 digital

Brynn Atwood is a low-level Magus whose unpredictable precognitive powers have made her an outcast among her people—and an embarrassment to her highly-regarded father. After a frightening vision in which her father is murdered by a loup garou man, Brynn decides to prove herself by finding the killer, and stopping them at any cost.

Her target is Rook McQueen, the son of a small-town loup garou Alpha. Despite being the youngest of three, Rook is first in line to inherit the role of Alpha, a duty he isn't sure he's capable of fulfilling. When Brynn finally meets Rook, she doesn't expect the attraction that draws her to him—and him to her.

No longer believing him a murderer, Brynn and Rook strike an alliance to find her father's real killer. But when his older brother is targeted by an unknown enemy, Rook will have to choose between his growing feelings for Brynn and his duty as the future Alpha of his community.

I am one of those people that typically has to start a series with the first book. This tends to limit my book selection, so I am always excited when I see first-in-a-series announcements. Black Rook by Kelly Meade caught my attention because Meade is a new-to-me author, and this is the first book in the series— all pluses!

[Click if you love werewolves!...]

Wed
Jul 9 2014 4:30pm

Life Changes, Motherhood, and B&Bs: Women’s Fiction Roundup July 2014

One Lavender Ribbon by Heather BurchJuly provides a wide selection of women’s fiction—with settings in the U.K, Paris, and the U.S.  Most showcase the journey of stalwart women (and a few men) as they find the courage to make changes in their lives for the better. And be sure to check out the first look of Rainbow Rowell's Landine, which gives much more detailed information than what I could include here!

One Lavender Ribbon by Heather Burch

Reeling from a bitter divorce, Adrienne Carter abandons Chicago and retreats to the sun, sand, and beauty of Southern Florida, throwing herself into the restoration of a dilapidated old Victorian beach house. Early into the renovations, she discovers a tin box hidden away in the attic that reveals the emotional letters from a WWII paratrooper to a young woman who lived in the house more than a half-century earlier.

The old letters—incredibly poetic and romantic—transcend time, and they arouse in Adrienne a curiosity that leads her to track down the writer of the letters. William “Pops” Bryant is now an old man living in a nearby town with his handsome but overprotective grandson, Will. As Adrienne begins to unravel the secrets of the letters (and the Bryants), she finds herself not yet willing to give up entirely on love.

Strengths: Touching, Inspirational, Multi-generational Story Arc, Second Chances, HEA
Measure of Love: A Tablespoon
Introspective Level:  High

[Sounds like a pretty good mix!]

Tue
Jul 1 2014 9:30am

First Look: Beth Ciotta’s In the Mood for Love (July 1, 2014)

In the Mood for Love by Beth CiottaBeth Ciotta
In the Mood for Love (Cupcake Lovers)
St. Martin's Press / July 1, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

Sugar Creek, Vermont, is a world away from Los Angeles for high-powered, media-obsessed Harper Day. When she took the job doing publicity for the Cupcake Lovers, she never expected to be won over by the town’s old-fashioned charms. But that was before she moved into the Victorian vacation home of her dreams and fell in with a man whose good looks and irresistible ways are anything but small-town…

Sam McCloud is a widowed father of two. He and bossy, big-city Harper appear to have nothing in common… though the attraction they feel toward one another cannot be denied. But will their romance last longer than the day’s headlines? There’s more to Harper than meets the eye, and as it turns out, she needs to get married—fast. Little does Harper know that family-man Sam will do whatever it takes to keep her in Sugar Creek—even if that means taking matters into his own hands. And never letting her go…

In the Mood for Love by Beth Ciotta has all the characteristics that readers love in small town romance—interfering, wacky elderly seniors, lots of loveable, original secondary characters, and more than one heartwarming romance built around a unique theme (like yummy cupcakes). But wait, there is more!

[You had us at cupcakes!]

Sat
Jun 28 2014 10:00am

First Look: Kendra Leigh Castle’s For the Longest Time (July 1, 2014)

For the Longest Time by Kendra Leigh CastleKendra Leigh Castle
For the Longest Time (Harvest Cove Series)
Signet / July 1, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

For Samantha Henry, it took a ten-year absence to appreciate the close-knit New England town with an appeal all its own....

After a perfect storm of events leaves Sam high, dry, and jobless, she has to head home to Harvest Cove to regroup. Growing up, she was the town misfit, and a brief high school romance that resulted in heartbreak made her realize she was never going to fit in. But now with the support of her mother and an unexpected circle of allies, Sam starts to wonder if she’s misjudged the town all these years.

Life’s been good to Jake Smith. He transitioned from popular jock to town veterinarian without any trouble. But Sam’s homecoming makes him question his choices. The sharp-tongued beauty was never a good fit for the small community, but he’s never forgotten her—or how good they were together. While she makes it clear she’s not about to repeat the past, Jake’s determined to convince her to give him—and Harvest Cove—a second chance.

Kendra Leigh Castle's For the Longest Time adeptly shows that even misfits and dreamers can go home again. Plus, she explores a not often used conflict—allegiance to old friends or new. In many romances, the new romance interest easily fits into their significant other’s life, welcomed warming by friends and family. In real life, that doesn’t happen all that easily. You’ll love this touch of realism as Sam and Jake not only have to deal with issues of trust and forgiveness, but also torn loyalties between long trusted friends, and their new burgeoning feelings.

[What's old is new again!]

Tue
Jun 24 2014 1:00pm

First Look: Sarah Morgan’s Suddenly Last Summer (June 24, 2014)

Suddenly Last Summer by Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan
Suddenly Last Summer
Harlequin HQN / June 24, 2014 / $7.99 print / digital

Fiery French chef Élise Philippe is having a seriously bad day. Not only have the grand opening plans for her beloved café fallen apart, but Sean O'Neil is back in town and looking more delectable than ever. Memories of the electrifying night they shared last summer leave Élise very tempted, but she knows all too well that eventually Sean will be leaving…again.

Being back in Vermont—even temporarily—is surgeon Sean O'Neil's worst nightmare. Returning home to the Snow Crystal Resort means confronting the guilt he feels about rejecting his family's lifestyle years ago. But discovering that Élise is still in Vermont and still sets his blood racing is a very welcome distraction! Remembering last summer and how good they were together is going to make walking away more difficult than he could imagine….

Looking for an engaging read with lots of simmering sexual tension? Than look no further than Suddenly Last Summer, the newest release featuring Sean, one of Sarah Morgan's sexy O’Neil brothers.

[Ooh la la!]

Mon
Jun 23 2014 5:30pm

First Look: Heather Gudenkauf’s Little Mercies (June 24, 2014)

Heather Gudenkauf
Little Mercies
Harlequin MIRA / June 24, 2014 / $15.95 print / $11.99 digital

Veteran social worker Ellen Moore has seen the worst side of humanity—the vilest acts one person can commit against another. She is a fiercely dedicated children's advocate and a devoted mother and wife. But one blistering summer day, a simple moment of distraction will have repercussions that Ellen could never have imagined, threatening to shatter everything she holds dear, and trapping her between the gears of the system she works for.

Meanwhile, ten-year-old Jenny Briard has been living with her well-meaning but irresponsible father since her mother left them, sleeping on friends' couches and moving in and out of cheap motels. When Jenny suddenly finds herself on her own, she is forced to survive with nothing but a few dollars and her street smarts. The last thing she wants is a social worker, but when Ellen's and Jenny's lives collide, little do they know just how much they can help one another.

Heather Gudenkauf writes compelling, affecting books. In the back of the book she talks a bit about her motivation for the story, and what she wanted to illustrate:

[Tell us more!]

Mon
Jun 23 2014 2:30pm

First Look: Robyn Carr’s The Promise (June 24, 2014)

The Promise by Robyn Carr

Robyn Carr
The Promise (Thunder Point series)
Harlequin MIRA / June 24, 2014 / $7.99 print & digital

Scott Grant has a bustling family practice in the small Oregon community of Thunder Point. The town and its people have embraced the widowed doctor and father of two, his children are thriving, and Scott knows it's time to move on from his loss. But as the town's only doctor, the dating pool is limited. That is, until a stunning physician's assistant applies for a job at his clinic.

Peyton Lacoumette considers herself entirely out of the dating scene. She's already been burned by a man with kids, and she's come to Thunder Point determined not to repeat past mistakes. When Scott offers her a job, at a much lower salary than she's used to, Peyton is surprisingly eager to accept…at least for now. She's willing to stay for a three-month trial period while she explores other options.

Scott and Peyton know the arrangement is temporary—it isn't enough time to build a real relationship, never mind anything with lasting commitment. But love can blossom faster than you think when the timing is right, and this short visit just might hold the promise of forever.

Robyn Carr is a very prolific writer, putting out numerous books a year, all of which I read. I do have to admit, however, that I have a definitely preference for some of her heroines and plots over others. Some just seem more significant, maybe because of her heroine's upbringing, such as Peyton’s:

[Preparing her for her own HEA...]