Saturday, February 24, 2018

Review - - Spring Forward


Spring Forward
By Catherine Anderson
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: January 2, 2018
Reviewed by Janga


More than six years ago Tanner Richards headed his own accounting firm and enjoyed a six-figure annual income, but his wife’s death in an automobile accident left him with a determination to live in the moment and a need to spend time with his two young children, then three and five. He sold his business and moved his family to Crystal Falls, Oregon, so that his mother could help with the children, and he took a job as a deliveryman for Courier Express so that he would have more time with Tori and Michael, now eight and eleven. For the past three years, he has enjoyed a plum assignment on a rural route that allows him to be home by the time his kids are out of school. He has developed a genuine fondness for some of his regulars, particularly Tuck Malloy, an octogenarian, rough-edged former rancher. When Tuck, who has landed in an assisted living facility after a fall that left him with broken bones and required hip-replacement surgery, calls and asks him to smuggle in contraband beer and chewing tobacco, Tanner knows it is unwise but can’t deny the old man his pleasures.

Crystal Malloy is struggling to keep her upscale beauty salon functioning at optimum level and to care for her grandfather and Rip, the Australian cattle dog who is her grandfather’s boon companion. Tuck is the one person who has always been there for her, and she is determined not to fail him. She is doing all she can to prepare for the time when he has recovered enough to move into her home, but in the meantime the level of help he requires means an assisted-living apartment is the best place for him. Crystal panics when the rigid, mean-spirited administrator threatens to evict Tuck because of his beer and tobacco.   She allows herself to be blackmailed into filing an official complaint against the deliveryman who brought the contraband.

Tanner and Crystal meet when he is demoted to a Mystic Creek route. An apology and the withdrawal of Crystal’s complaint prevent any antagonism between them. There is no reason they cannot act on their immediate attraction. They share a commitment to Tuck, basic values, and an unpretentious approach to life, but both are wary of long-term commitments, Tanner because of his kids and Crystal because of the trauma in her past that has left her terrified of love. Meanwhile, Tuck has found a romantic interest of his own and the confident, take-charge Essie has shown him that life in assisted living can be more rewarding than he thought possible. These relationships play out against a background of warm community, the complications of family, and pets with personality to give readers a rewarding, feel-good read.


Anderson’s fourth Mystic Creek book is a strong addition to the series. There’s a lot going on in this book, and the pace may seem slow in the opening chapters. But the characters are endearing enough to make these concerns small ones. All the adult characters bear scars, but Crystal’s problems are complex and deep-rooted. They are not rendered simplistically. Nor, despite the suggestion of an HEA, are they resolved with a single, miraculous counseling session. Anderson makes it easy for readers to become invested in the lives of her characters and to root for their happiness. I think the lingerie-stealing burglar could have been omitted with no loss, and I thought the “spring forward” theme was rather overdone at the end. Nevertheless, overall, I found this an engaging read. It can easily be read as a standalone. I recommend it for fans of contemporary romance with more sweetness than sizzle and lots of family and community contexts.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Harlequin Highlights


I've been catching up on some new Harlequin category books by a few of my favorite authors this month. Here are my thoughts on the first two.  


Stranded with Her Greek Tycoon
By Kandy Shepherd
Publisher: Harlequin Romance
Release Date: February 1, 2018
Reviewed by PJ





Hayley and Cristos were probably too young when, after a whirlwind courtship, they married against both of their families' wishes but they were deeply in love and determined to be together. Two and a half years into the marriage, a crisis tore them apart and, with the help of her family, Hayley disappeared from his life without a word. Two and a half years after that, while Cristos is attending a family celebration on a Greek island, she reappears just as abruptly...with divorce papers in hand. Desire and deeper feelings still simmer between them but Hayley has buried the past and has no desire to face the emotions that are sure to arise from revisiting it with Cristos. She's made a new life far away to which she plans to return as soon as she gets Cristos' signature on the papers. Will a freak storm give Cristos the time he needs to convince her to give them a second chance? 

Shepherd brings a lot of emotion to this second-chance love story, touching on sensitive topics such as depression, self-worth, and cross-cultural marriage. She makes her characters work for their happy ending in a satisfying romance that is sometimes heartwarming, sometimes heart-wrenching, and carries enough humor, sexual tension, and uncertainty to keep me engaged from beginning to end.


Note: If you like your covers to match your characters, check out the UK cover for this book. It's exactly how I pictured Cristos! 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Rodeo Sheriff
by Mary Sullivan
Publisher: Harlequin Western
Release Date: February 1, 2018
Reviewed by PJ





Sheriff Cole Payette has had a crush on bar owner Honey Armstrong since arriving in Rodeo, Montana several years ago but has never acted on it. In fact, he barely talks to the beautiful, free-spirited woman. But when he suddenly leaves town then returns, grief-stricken, with two grieving young children in tow, it's to Honey that he turns for help. After the death of her deputy fiance, Honey has vowed to never become involved with another lawman but the more time she spends with Cole and his young niece and nephew, the more that vow is tested. Both Cole and Honey have their reasons for avoiding relationships but when two of Cole's reasons, his estranged parents, show up in town with unreasonable demands, working together may be their only hope of protecting his niece and nephew. Will it also be what opens their eyes to the joy to be found in a life together? 

I've thoroughly enjoyed the first four books in Sullivan's Rodeo, Montana series and have become invested in the lives of these characters and the future of their small town. Her characters are fully developed and relatable, leaving me with the sense of having made new friends with each story I read. Children have had key roles in many of these books, including Rodeo Sheriff, and Sullivan has a particularly deft hand in creating these young characters who bring an endearing, sometimes humorous - but always realistic - quality to the pages.  The sense of community, depth of emotion, and complexity that she brings to these characters and their stories has made Rodeo Sheriff another addition to my keeper shelf and Mary Sullivan one of my auto-buy authors. 


Do you read Harlequin category romances? Do you have a favorite line?  I'm so disappointed that the Harlequin Western line has been cancelled. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all of my favorite Western authors will find a new home for their wonderful stories. 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Review - - The Sea King


Review ~ The Sea King
By C. L. Wilson
Publisher: Avon Books
Release Date: October 31, 2017
Reviewed by Nancy



In The Sea King, C.L. Wilson returns to Mystral, the intriguing world she created in The Winter King. Her worldbuilding continues to be rich and textured, offering different cultures and settings with depth and resonance.  In The Winter King, the hero’s culture was based on Nordic traditions. The Sea King offers the beauty of tropical Calberna and its matriarchal culture as a counterpoint.

The heroine of The Sea King, Gabriella Coruscate, is one of four sisters known as the Seasons of Summerlea.  All of them have power over the weather and are highly sought after as brides. Nicknamed Summer, she shows the world a gentle, even meek countenance while struggling to control the magic inside her.  She has not only weather magic but something much more volatile.

Only her late mother knew how powerful and dangerous Summer’s magic was, especially when she experienced extremes of emotion.  Summer and her mother worked on meditation and other techniques to calm her and control the power when it threatened to erupt.

Because of that need for calm, Summer believes she can never fall in love.  If she loses control of her emotions, she could kill those most dear to her.  She knows that her duty as a princess of Summerlea is to marry to the benefit of her homeland, but she is determined to marry someone for whom she could feel no more than mild liking.

The hero, Dilys Merimydion, is the son of Calberna’s queen and a skilled commander at sea. When he arrives to court one of the Seasons, they don’t know that his royal mother’s advisors, believing Summer to be too meek and less powerful then her sisters, want him to choose either Spring or Autumn. Dilys intends to comply, but sparks fly between him and Summer from the moment they meet, and he becomes determined to win her.

Dilys’s courtship is romantic and touching, yet Summer’s reasons for resisting him remain compelling. Her fears are very real because her powers have gotten out of hand in the past, with tragic results. When they break free again, Dilys and his Calbernans are drawn to that eruption of magic.  Dilys uses his water magic to dangerous extremes, risking his own life to save Summer.  His Calbernan comrades, recognizing her power as an ancient one lost to their kind, resolve to protect her.

Dilys carries his own guilt in the losses of his childhood betrothed and men under his command. His grief for him makes him doubly determined to protect Gabriella, whether or not he can win her.

Unfortunately, not everyone in Calberna wants Dilys to return with a foreign bride. A traitor lurks in the Calbernan court. As though that were bad enough, a pirate known as the Shark is attacking Calbernan shipping everywhere he can. And a mysterious buyer wants the Seasons of Summerlea.

The multiple threats provide plot twists and spur action. The descriptions of Dilys’s water magic are superb, and his powers are extensively developed without slowing the pace of the story.

When cornered, Gabriella draws on her family magic and on her internal power. It doesn’t always work, and that’s another plot twist. When it does work, however, the results are spectacular and are also vividly described.

The Queendom of Calberna is not merely mentioned as a matriarchy.  It has a range of customs that fit this status, some with particular words to describe them. There is a Calbernan lexicon, which is sometimes problematic, as many of the words are multisyllabic and not in letter patterns familiar to English speakers. This makes some of the longer ones difficult to pronounce mentally. For readers who don’t feel the need to conquer the pronunciation, however, and are content to recognize the word and move on, this won’t be a problem.

When the story moves to Calberna, the surroundings are efficiently and beautifully described, as well as being very different from Summerlea or the Winter King’s realm of the Crag. This is clearly a culture devoted to the sea.

Fans of Khamsin and Wynter from The Winter King will enjoy the peeks at them here as a married couple.  These bits are woven in a way that helps move the current plot forward.

There is one note that won’t bother some readers but is worth mentioning because it may trouble others. At one point, Gabriella is subjected to a repeated intimate assaults by a villain. It’s not rape, and it’s not belabored. It’s a brief segment, mostly summarized, though there are some explicit details.  Readers will need to decide for themselves how they feel about this part of the story.

I suggest that readers who would rather not see this very brief section skim past it. When Dilys and Gabriella are reunited, his goal is to help her through the aftermath, and the tenderness and devotion he displays, along with her courage in facing her memories, are heart-warming. Into that, Wilson mixes the effects of the experience on Gabriella’s magic. It’s extremely well done.

Dilys and Gabriella are a romantic couple, and their struggles and concern for others give them depth.  The story moves at a good pace overall, and the plot is never predictable.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Review - - The Sins of Lord Lockwood


The Sins of Lord Lockwood
By Meredith Duran
Publisher: Pocket
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Reviewed by Janga




Liam Devaliant, fifth Earl of Lockwood, is a man with a mission: to see justice served and exact punishment on the man responsible for Lockwood’s abduction, imprisonment and torture. With the help of his friends Julian, Duke of Auburn (The Duke of Shadows), and Crispin Burke, MP (A Lady’s Code of Misconduct), he will achieve his goal, but his plan requires careful attention. He believes that he will have time later to consider his wife whom he has not seen since their wedding night almost four years earlier. He is confident that she won’t know he is back in England for at least a month.

When her husband disappeared on their wedding night, Anna Winterslow Wallace Devaliant, Countess of Forth and Countess of Lockwood, concluded that he had left her. Because being left has been a pattern in her life, Anna accepts that Liam is just another person she loved who abandoned her.  She retreats to her home on the Isle of Rawsey, but when she learns indirectly that her husband has returned, she goes to London, filled with anger over his abandonment, her weakness in loving him, and his failure to inform her of his return. To make matters worse, he has been in London for eight months, although she learned that fact only when she read it in a newspaper. What she finds in London adds more fuel to her anger.

For a variety of reasons, Liam is not pleased that Anna is in London and planning to stay in their house. He knows that the young man Anna married is dead, and he has no plans to tell her what happened to him. He cannot bear the thought of her pity nor the memories her presence evokes. There is also the problem of Lockwood’s fellow survivors, men who have no family, no resources, and no place to go except the home he has given them. Anna, ignorant of the true circumstances, sees them only as incompetent staff who need to be replaced.

The first words Anna and Lockwood exchange after their long separation are revealing.

He says, “You should not be here.”

She responds, “And you should be in hell. . . . Alas, few of us end up where we belong.”

Anna refuses to leave until she achieves her goal. As Countess of Forth, she holds a Scottish title that descends through her, and she wants an heir. Anna feeds her anger with reminders of Lockwood’s desertion, and he plays the role of the dissolute aristocrat, hiding his broken self from Anna. When he does tell bits of his story, he does so in a manner that convinces Anna he is lying. Although they share rare moments of passion and of connection beyond the physical, for the most part, they hold to their entrenched positions. But when Anna sees the brutal reality of Lockwood’s experience, she becomes his defender and champion, as determined as he to see the man behind his torment punished. But are the demons that haunt Lockwood too powerful to allow him to give and receive love?

The Sins of Lord Lockwood is the sixth book in Duran’s Rules for the Reckless series. It is the darkest and the strongest novel in an extraordinary series. Duran uses flashback chapters to show Anna and Lockwood’s meeting and marriage. The contrast between these younger, more innocent characters and the wounded survivors they have become is stark, making the wrongs done to them more heinous. Anna is independent, assertive, and frank. She demonstrates impressive strength while remaining a woman of her time and circumstances. Her love for Rawsey and its people is real, but, as she comes to realize, Rawsey has also served as refuge where she could hide from her pain. Anna and Liam are both damaged people, but his physical and psychic wounds are deeper and more pervasive than hers. Liam has survived hell and has been irrevocably changed by it. The loyalty he inspires in Julian and in his fellow prison camp survivors is a testament to his courage and honor, but he is a man who faces life without joy or hope. Anna’s presence forces him to realize that once his need for revenge is satisfied, his life will be without purpose. The battle he and Anna fight together to move him from mere physical survival to a rebirth as a full, functioning self is fiercer than his struggle with his enemy.

There are so many exceptional things about this novel that no one review could list them all. I loved the gender reversal with Anna as the one demanding an heir. I loved the way Duran handles the love scenes. They could serve as textbook studies on how to write a highly sensual scene that also reveals character, exposes vulnerabilities, and moves the story to the next level. And each one is distinct and exactly right for that moment in the story. I love than even in a book that is almost unbearably dark, there are flashes of light and laughter. And, as always, Duran’s prose is lucid and powerful. Perhaps to a greater degree than any author I know, her prose beautifully demonstrates the effect of simplicity and conciseness.  Note the preponderance of single-syllable words in Anna’s response to Liam’s shame over his scarred body and emotional punch of “triumphant” in contrast.

“You tried to hide them? Why, you should walk naked in the street to boast of what you survived.  Other men would learn then what it means to be a man – to survive all that, and to come home triumphant.”

And then she claims him: “You are mine and I am keeping you.” Not a wasted syllable. That’s good writing!

It is difficult for me to separate this book from The Duke of Shadows where Anna and Liam’s story begins and to which parts of this book run parallel. I think The Sins of Lord Lockwood can be read as a standalone, but I think the reading will be a richer experience for those who have read The Duke of Shadows, Duran’s debut novel.

If romance with angst is your preference, you do not want to miss this book. I confess that I had to take a break a few times when reading it became too difficult for me. I often choose the light-hearted over the darker romances, but I never miss a Meredith Duran book. This one required me to re-order my favorites by her, and it is a sure bet for my Best of 2018 list. If you like historical romance with complex characters, a compelling plot, and a total impact that leaves you questioning the claim that there are no perfect books, I highly recommend The Sins of Lord Lockwood.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Winner - - Valentine's Day






The randomly chosen winner of a 

box of books from the Valentine's Day post is:

Emily

Congratulations!


Please send your full name and mailing address to


theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com


Monday, February 19, 2018

Review - - Things to Do When it's Raining


Things to Do When It’s Raining
By Marissa Stapley
Publisher: Harlequin/Graydon House
Release Date: February 6, 2018
Reviewed by Janga
  


Things to Do When It’s Raining is a book that begins with endings. Mae Summers awakens one morning in her New York City apartment to discover that her fiancĂ© is missing, their office has been cleared, and FBI agents are on his trail and the trail of the money that he defrauded from investors. Mae is not implicated in his crime, but discovering that her life, personally and professionally, was founded on lies is traumatic. In the same city, Gabriel Broadbent leaves the restaurant where he has just signed the papers ending his marriage to seek solace in a bottle. In Alexandria Bay, New York, the town where Mae and Gabe grew up as childhood best friends and first lovers, Mae’s grandfather, George Summers, has left Lilly, his wife of sixty-seven years, and their once successful inn, to take up residence in a local hotel.

It is also a book about secrets—secrets between husband and wife, parent and child, friend and friend, secrets that protect and secrets that destroy. Mae returns to her hometown on the St. Lawrence River to find the stable ground of her childhood shifting. Gabe returns reluctantly, summoned home by George Summers because Gabe’s abusive, alcoholic father is dying. Mae and Gabe reunite in the face of tragedy, but just as it seems that they may have the future they once dreamed of, complications test their relationship. Gabe’s sense of unworthiness pushes him to leave Alexandria Bay and Mae again. Can they overcome the effects of the past and trust their love to endure through the vicissitudes that are an inevitable part of life? These events play out against the backdrop of the river that is both a powerful part of the story and a metaphoric thread linking past, present, and future.

First, romance readers should be aware that this novel is not romance fiction.  Mae and Gabe’s love is intense, but it is just one part of the story that includes their separate journeys and the stories of their parents and of Mae’s grandparents. Parental love and its failures is as much the emotional center of the novel as romantic love is. Some readers may find the structure and the large number of characters confusing, but others may enjoy the novel’s greater complexity. One of my favorite things is Mae’s realization that she can save herself and that, although she loves Gabe, she can survive on her own. Stapley’s prose is another of the book’s strengths. Some passages possess a lovely, haunting lyricism. And the epilogue should please readers who want the reassurance of a conventional happy ending.

I wavered on the ranking for this book. Objectively, I can see its merits, and I know many readers will find it a rewarding read. I’m not a fan of Nicholas Sparks, but I think if you are a reader who appreciates his books, you will probably enjoy this one. Frankly, I think Stapley’s prose is superior. But this book was just not the kind of read I am looking for these days. I hope the three stars reflects my appreciation for the book’s clear strengths and my conclusion that it is not my cup of tea.





Friday, February 16, 2018

Review- - The Story of Our Lives


The Story of Our Lives
By Helen Warner
Publisher: Harlequin / Graydon House
Release Date: February 13, 2018 
Reviewed by Janga
  

Sophie, Melissa, Amy, and Emily meet their first year as university students in London and establish a friendship that endures across two decades as they grow from girls to mature women, sharing their lives and supporting one another through triumphs and tragedies, through life with good men and with jerks and worse. As is common in women’s fiction—and perhaps to some degree in life--each character is a distinct type. Sophie, the center of the group, meets the love of her life at an early age, enjoys success in her career, and is the most stable of the foursome. Melissa, the child of divorced parents who have second families, is a lost girl and something of a wild child. Amy begins as an effervescent optimist and seems set for a fairy-tale life when she marries a rich, handsome, devoted man, but the darkness beneath the perfect surface almost destroys her. Emily, the most intellectual and the most reserved, becomes pregnant just before she graduates. The identity of her son’s father remains a secret until late in the novel.

The story opens in 1997 when the women, twenty-five at the time, gather for a girls’ weekend. Sophie, living with the boyfriend whom she met the same year she met the other women, is excited about her career in television production but is wondering if steady Steve, who seems boring when compared to her male colleagues, is really right for her. Melissa, who works in the music industry, is drinking too much and hooking up indiscriminately. Amy has met her Prince Charming and announces her engagement. Emily is a devoted mother, rearing her young son Jack alone, with help from her loving parents.

Over the next fifteen years, the friends share each other’s lives through marriages, motherhood, postpartum depression, miscarriage, infidelity, addiction, and domestic abuse. Their annual reunion is sacrosanct, and as they grow more affluent, so do the sites where they gather. Their holidays include time in Ireland, Sophie’s native soil, and Los Angeles, where Melissa’s work takes her. Their love can be tough when necessary; they band together to call Melissa on her self-destructive habits and to save Amy from the marriage that is destroying her. But when another looming tragedy forces Emily to reveal her son’s father at last, the truth may shatter the bonds of their long friendship.

The Story of Our Lives is a well-written novel that falls somewhere between chick lit and women’s fiction, probably closer to the former. Sophie, Melissa, Amy, and Emily are flawed but generally likeable characters. Their romantic lives are a substantial enough part of their story that romance readers will likely enjoy the book. I found Sophie the most appealing of the four friends, and I adored her boyfriend, later husband Steve, a classic beta hero. And the ending will certainly please romance readers. Warner prefaces each chapter with a snippet of headline news from the real world, a strategy that allows the reader to see the lives of the four women within the contexts of a larger world of tragedy, scandal, and hope.

If you like chick lit/ women’s fiction, particularly with an English accent, I think you will find this book a rewarding, entertaining read. 


Thursday, February 15, 2018

On Second Thought - - Venus in Blue Jeans / Konigsburg Series




Venus in Blue Jeans
By Meg Benjamin
Publisher: Entangled
Release Date: August 21, 2017
(Originally published by Samhain,
January 27, 2009)
Reviewed by Janga
 






Back in late 2009, I received a book from my friend and fellow Romance Vagabond Lindsay Faber, then an editor with Samhain, with a note saying she hoped I would enjoy the novel because she imagined how much I would like it when she acquired it. That book was Venus in Blue Jeans, the first book in Meg Benjamin’s Konigsburg series. I fell in love with the characters, the setting, and the author’s voice. A desire to read the next book in the series as soon as it was released rather than wait several months for a print edition pushed me to buy my first ereader. The Konigsburg books remain high on my list of all-time favorite contemporary romance series.

This is what I wrote in my Goodreads review after that first reading:

Dialogue so real and funny you'll wish you had overheard it at a local bar; Texas-size H/H in Docia Kent and Cal Toleffson (although he's a transplant from the Midwest), who have jobs they love that don't involve spies, corporations, or law enforcement; a suspense plot that gives a new wag to an old dog without detracting one iota from the romance; sexy love scenes that are hot and tender and sometimes even humorous; and a small town filled with individuals, some of them flawed and foolish--these are just some of the reasons I loved this book.

Venus in Blue Jeans is the first of Meg Benjamin's Konigsburg books. I'm thrilled that she has written/will be writing the other Toleffson brothers stories. Count me among those who will definitely be returning to Konigsburg.

Although I love every book in the series, after several rereads, the first book is still my favorite. Cal, a veterinarian, and Docia, a bookstore owner, are likable and believable and anything but cookie-cutter characters. Their attraction to one another is powerful and immediate, but lust does not consume their every thought. They are adults who are engaged with their work, find time for their friends, and deal competently with life despite their insecurities and family issues. I’ll confess to a shallower reason for loving Cal: Benjamin has Docia describe him as “Kris Kristofferson, circa 1976.” The book also has a vividly drawn cast of secondary characters including Nico, Docia’s cat with an attitude.

Much of the humor stems from Benjamin’s clever turn of phrase. A cagey dealer in Texas memorabilia has “the ethics of an Enron executive.” Cal mentions his mother and considers “throwing a pinch of salt over his shoulder. But that was to keep the devil, not your mother, off your back.” Docia’s father wears a “suit whose retail price could probably have fed a large contingent of suffering orphans for a couple of weeks with enough left over to buy them all iPods.”

Between 2009 and 2014, Benjamin wrote another seven Konigsberg novels. The three that immediately follow Venus in Blue Jeans feature the other Toleffson brothers. In Wedding Bell Blues, Pete Toleffson, a county attorney in Des Moines, is in Konigsburg to serve as best man when he tangles with (in both senses of that idiom) Docia’s maid-of-honor Janie Dupree. In Be My Baby, “ninja accountant” Lars Toleffson, a recently divorced single father, moves to Konigsburg and hires Jessamyn Carroll, a widow with an infant son, to take care of Daisy, his precocious two-year-old. The combination proves a perfect balance. Long Time Gone, the darkest of the Toleffson stories, pairs oldest brother Erik, Konigsburg’s new police chief, with Morgan Barrett, who is struggling to learn all she needs to know about how to run her father’s winery. The suspense thread in this one is the most effective in the quartet, and Erik and Morgan’s romance develops gradually and convincingly.


The next four novels in the series feature other members of the community: ex-gambler bar owner Tom Ames and temporary barmaid Deirdre Brandenburg in Brand New Me; restaurant manager Kit Maldonado and assistant police chief Nando Avrogado in Don’t Forget Me; chicken farmer MG Carmody and Joe LeBlanc, head chef at The Rose in Fearless Love; and sous chef Darcy Cunningham, a Nebraska transplant who is bewildered by the Texas obsession with barbecue, and Harris Temple, “the Barbecue King,” in Hungry Heart, which also features a second romance, a match against type between Faro bouncer Chico Burnside (who is much more than most of Konigsburg knows) and scientist Andy Wells. Fearless Love gets my vote for funniest in the series, but Don’t Forget Me, a reunion story, is my favorite in the second quartet.

When Samhain closed its doors at the end of February 2016, this series became unavailable, but Entangled reissued the full series last summer. If you like contemporary romance with characters who feel like friends, a community with flaws and quirks and strengths, and prose that is lucid, smart, and funny, I highly recommend these books. I’m betting that if you begin with Venus in Blue Jeans, you won’t be able to resist the rest of the series. Just writing about them has me primed for another reread.

Winner - - Kat Martin







The randomly chosen winner of a copy of

Into the Fury by Kat Martin is:

cheryl c

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com