Old Dog New Tricks by Roxanne St. Claire The Dogfather - Book 9 Release Date: February 15, 2019 Reviewed by PJ
Daniel Kilcannon, the veterinarian known as the Dogfather, has been widowed for four years. He's spent the time running the largest canine rescue and training facility in North Carolina and pulling some strings to make sure each of his six grown children find a love like the one he lost when his beloved Annie died.
But as the years slip by, Daniel's vow to never love again is starting to make him restless. When a woman who was pivotal to his past arrives in Bitter Bark, he wonders if her appearance is coincidence or the guiding hand of his dearly departed wife...but the truth is neither. She's about to change his life again in ways he could never have imagined. And Daniel isn't sure if his heart -- or his family -- will ever recover from the impact.
My thoughts: Get ready for a beautifully written, deeply emotional, often humorous, and always heartwarming story of two characters who, after devastating loss, relearn the joy of opening hearts to life, to love, and to the possibility of a second happily ever after. I adored this book. I devoured it in one sitting then returned to the beginning for a slower read, savoring all its delicious nuances. After coming to know Daniel over the course of this series, I was fully invested in his journey back from the depths of life-shattering grief. It was never a secret that Daniel would eventually find love again but St. Claire kept readers guessing as to the identity of the woman who would bring that love back into his life. She couldn't have created a better heroine or a better story for these two. The writing is flawless, the story realistic and deeply emotional, and the ending had my heart, and tear ducts, overflowing with joy. In my opinion, it's some of St. Claire's best work. Old Dog New Tricks is a heart-tugging, life-affirming, deeply romantic journey between two characters who may have snow on the roof, but still hold plenty of fire in their souls. I can't imagine anyone reading it and not falling in love with Daniel, Katie, and the entire Kilcannon family, including the four-legged members. Old Dog New Tricks also gives readers another look at the Kilcannons' Mahoney cousins (firefighters!) and introduces the Santorini kids, all single and ripe for matchmaking. St. Claire has announced that she has stories planned for all of them. I can't wait! As with the other books in the series, the cover of Old Dog New Tricks was shot at Alaqua Animal Refuge in Florida using rescue dogs and local men (not models). A portion of the book's sales will be donated to Alaqua to help save animals and place them in forever homes. Are you reading this series? Who did you think would be Daniel's second-chance heroine? Do you enjoy romance heroes/heroines with some life experience? I'm giving a Kindle copy of OLD DOG NEW TRICKS TO one randomly chosen person leaving a comment before 11:00 PM, February 16.
In The Dog House by Traci Hall An Appletree Cove Romance Publisher: Entangled:Bliss Release Date: February 11, 2019 Reviewed by PJ
Ten years ago, Jackson Hardy joined the Marines, leaving behind a woman he still dreams about. When he's called home to care for his ten-year-old nephew, no one is more shocked than he to run into Emma again. Or to still have those same feelings. But Jackson isn't looking for love, and neither is Emma, especially not with him. His precocious nephew, though, and a retriever named Bandit, are about to change that. So what if Emma Mercer is an overachiever? She has plans to get her doctorate in psychology and create a no-kill shelter for the EST dogs she trains. Which leaves absolutely no time for romance. She's fine with a furry family—dogs don't teach you to love and then rip your heart to shreds. But young Matty's situation tugs at her heartstrings and there's no way she can't help him…and Jackson. She may have hotter-than-ever chemistry with the soldier, but forgetting the past isn't easy.
My thoughts: This was my first book by Traci Hall. It won't be my last. I was charmed by this heartwarming tale of second chances. The characters are well developed and realistic and the dogs are adorable. I liked Emma from the get-go, admiring her devotion to the rescue dogs she trains and her determination to find them the right homes where they can use their emotional support skills for good. I understood her reluctance to open herself to Jackson again and admired her determination to help him and his nephew, even if it meant putting her heart at risk. My heart ached for what Matty was going through. He's such an awesome kid. It took Jackson a bit longer to win me over but, of course, he did in the end. I really felt for him as he struggled with his PTSD, his sister's precarious health, and caring for his nephew while dealing with guilt for being on emergency leave and not with his military unit. And then there's Emma's Aunt Pepita, a free spirit with sage advice who I absolutely adored. All in all, a well-rounded (two and four) legged cast that kept me entertained, touched my heart, and left me confident in and satisfied by the well-earned happily ever after.
My name is Traci Hall and I love to write...sounds like the beginning step of a program!However, I am not sorry that I love to write, so I guess I'm in it for the long haul. Finger cramps, slumped back and numb feet from sitting all day aside, there is nothing I would rather do than tell stories. Hearing back from readers makes it all worthwhile.
Back to You by Kimberly Kincaid A Remington Medical Contemporary Romance - Book One Publisher: Kimberly Kincaid Romance, LLC Release Date: February 12, 2019 Reviewed by PJ
His second chance is his only chance
Parker Drake wants exactly one thing—to fulfill his dream of becoming a doctor. Between his reputation as a rule-breaker and the six years that have passed since his first internship ended in disaster, he knows he’s only getting one shot at a second chance. He’ll do anything to put the past behind him and reach his goal…including work with the gorgeous ex-wife he’s never gotten over losing.
All work and no play make surgeon Charleston Becker a very happy woman. But when she’s tasked with mentoring her ex-husband through his second chance as an intern, her signature calm is put to the test. She’s not interested in re-hashing the heartbreaking circumstances that ended their marriage, and the six years that have passed haven’t made Parker less reckless. The last thing she’s willing to do is trust him—even if she does find him sexier than ever.
But familiarity breeds forgiveness, which then becomes a passion that threatens the careers Parker and Charlie have worked for. Can they turn their second chance into a happy ending? Or is history bound to repeat itself?
I loved this first book in Kimberly Kincaid's new Remington Medical contemporary romance series. It's brimming with deep emotion, complex relationships, and steamy romance, all set within the controlled chaos of the Remington Medical Emergency Department. Kincaid pulled me into the story from the first pages and held me spellbound until the very end.
Parker and Charlie haven't had any communication in the six years since their short marriage came to a quick and tragic end. When they unexpectedly come face to face on Charlie's first day back at Remington Medical, it's apparent that there are unresolved feelings, deep feelings, between them still. Okay, maybe not good feelings, at least on Charlie's part, but you know what they say about the fine line between hate and love. I felt an immediate connection to them both and couldn't wait to see what Kincaid had in store for them. I love how she tells their stories - what happened six years ago and what's occurring now - with flashbacks during the first part of the book. It gives readers a much better understanding of the deep love and commitment that was once between them and how they came to be in the adversarial position where they now reside. I also appreciate the care and time she takes with their present journey. There are no easy fixes with this couple and, given what they went through, there shouldn't be. Their bodies recognize first what their hearts are slower to accept which leads to some steamy encounters along the way. Let me just say, Kimberly Kincaid knows her way around steamy encounters! There are a lot of sexy scenes in this book but they all feel organic, never gratuitous, and they all lead to the happily ever after this couple so richly deserves.
Kincaid surrounds Charlie and Parker with a fascinating group of secondary characters and plenty simmering drama to boost my excitement for this series. I already have my favorites and can't wait to see what's in store for them in future books.
If you're a fan of shows like Grey's Anatomy, if you enjoy second-chances, both in life and love, if you want your books to snap, sizzle and introduce you to intriguing characters who will take you on an emotional journey, then I highly recommend Kimberly Kincaid's Back to You.
Back to You
all the ways Parker Drake had envisioned his first day as an intern, witnessing
a sedan-versus-bike messenger that resulted in an open tib-fib before he’d even
walked through the hospital doors hadn’t been in the top one thousand.
face to drop-jawed stare with the one woman he’d been certain he’d never lay
eyes on again, and who probably hated him as passionately as he’d once loved
to be a one in a million.
man in his arms groaned in pain, snapping time back into motion and Parker back
to reality in less than a heartbeat.
need a little help over here,” Parker called out, and fucking great, Tess was here, too?
happened?” Charlie asked as Tess hollered for a gurney and a C-collar, both of
which arrived astonishingly fast.
blinked, his brain momentarily too swamped with adrenaline to form a reply. Focus. On something other than how the hell
Charlie is here in front of you instead of far, far away in Nashville. Now
would be good, since you’re holding a guy whose tibia is sticking out of his
that did the trick to redirect his thoughts from her, at least temporarily.
Then again, work always did. “Mike Yoshida, got clipped by a Camry while riding
his bike,” Parker said, placing the man on the gurney and diving right in to
the bullet. “Obvious right lower leg deformity, GCS 12. No apparent head or
neck trauma, no LOC.” The guy’s helmet was still firmly in place. Not that it
had done his leg a lick of good, but at least that would be a hell of a lot
easier to repair.
Mr. Yoshida, I’m Dr. Michaelson, and this is Dr. Becker,” Tess said, but only
after she’d shot a micro-frown in Parker’s direction that promised nothing good
once their patient was stable. “We’re going to take care of you, okay?”
He tried to nod, but Tess placed her hands firmly over the sides of his helmet
to keep him still as Charlie grabbed the C-collar.
Becker and I are going to put this around your neck. I know it’s not super
comfortable, but we have to err on the side of caution until we can get a
closer look at your spine.”
who was in street clothes, and Tess, who wasn’t, had both gloved up to examine
the man while a nurse guided the gurney past the automatic doors and into a
didn’t think to call a paramedic instead of dragging him in here on your own?”
Charlie asked, her red-gold brows pulled low in disapproval, as Tess continued
her rapid trauma assessment on the patient.
took a deep breath and reminded himself that he deserved every degree of
chilliness Charlie wanted to offer. “I am a paramedic. Or I was for five years.
Anyway”—he grabbed a pair of nitrile gloves from the dispenser box on the wall
and slid them into place—“the accident happened less than a block away. Calling
an ambo would’ve been stupid.”
her voice enough to keep it from the patient while Tess asked him a few more
questions and examined his leg, Charlie said, “He was in an MVA, and you moved
him without a C-collar. That is
popped Parker right in the solar plexus. “Seeing as how we were in the middle
of a busy city street and the guy had already been hit by a car once, I thought
getting him out of traffic might be prudent.”
she started, but he shook his head. As much as he wanted to, arguing with her
was a bad idea for several reasons, none of them small. Anyway, he couldn’t
change what he’d already done.
“Yes, I moved him,” Parker said
quietly. “But I did an RTA in the field. He was alert and reactive, with no
signs of a head or neck injury. He was in a lot of pain and had an open
fracture, and I wanted to get him treated as fast as possible. So, I made a
If her expression was anything to go
by, Charlie remained highly unimpressed. “So he didn’t present with any outward
signs of a spinal injury,” she argued. “That doesn’t mean he’s fine. There
could be any number of things going on that you can’t see.”
“I know that.” Parker had completed
four years of medical school, nearly seven months of his first internship, and
three of his five years at Station Seventeen as a lead paramedic. He was hardly
tib-fib is pretty straightforward,” Tess said loudly enough to grab both of
their attention. She’d—damn—already cut away the patient’s jeans to reveal a
nasty break, and splinted the injured leg to keep it stable. “Let’s get head
and neck films to see what we’re dealing with otherwise.” She swung her stare
to the dark-haired nurse who had appeared with the gurney and stuck around for
the ride. “And page Dr. Sheridan, along with whoever’s on call for ortho, stat,
got the films, Dr. Michaelson,” Charlie said, her eyes on Tess’s very pregnant
belly, and Parker’s throat went tight. But then Tess had stepped out of the
curtain area and the nurse had produced two protective aprons, and Charlie was
shooting the X-rays as easily as she’d order a fucking latte.
and neck are clear,” she called to Tess a few seconds later, who returned to
the curtain area and looked at the images on the portable monitor, nodding her
just my…leg that hurts.” The man’s labored grunt punctuated the claim, and
Charlie—Christ, how was it possible that she’d gotten even prettier over the
last six years—softened her gaze, leaning in toward him.
you have any drug allergies, Mr. Yoshida?”
looked at the nurse. “Start an IV so we can get some pain meds on board while
we wait for those consults. We’re also going to need to do a full set of films
on that leg for ortho.”
can start the IV,” Parker offered, taking a step toward the supply cart beside
the gurney. Anything would be better than just standing here, useless.
arm shot out, and even through his shirt and hers, the contact sizzled through
him as if they’d touched intimately, skin on skin. “No. You absolutely cannot.”
qualified to do it,” he said. He’d started hundreds of lines. Maybe even
thousands. For God’s sake, Charlie had been there when he’d learned how.
a paramedic,” Tess said, clearly on Team Charlie, and also clearly unaware that
he’d tendered his resignation at Station Seventeen to return to medical school
and had been placed here at Remington Mem for his internship, take two. “We
have very capable nurses. You brought Mr. Yoshida in, but we’ve got it from
here, Parker. You can go.”
pulse slapped faster. “Actually, I—”
curtain moved, the metal loops shushing along the track built in to the ceiling
and stopping the rest of Parker’s words in his windpipe.
called for a—whoa, yeah. Surgical consult,” said Jonah Sheridan, who had
appeared behind Tess. Parker recognized him, both from running patients in to
the emergency department for the last five years and the semi-rare occasion
that the staff at Remington Mem came to hang out at The Crooked Angel, where
the first responders from Station Seventeen and the cops from the Thirty-Third
precinct tended to gather.
completed a quick but thorough perusal of the patient’s injury. Parker listened
carefully as Tess gave the guy a brief rundown and the nurse started the IV,
then again as Sheridan looked at the patient.
your name, sir?”
the guy groaned, leaning back against the gurney. “Mike Yoshida.”
Mr. Yoshida, I hope you like Jell-O, because you’re going to be here for a day
or two. You definitely need surgery to repair that injury to your leg.” He
turned toward the dark-haired nurse, who Parker belatedly recognized from his
first internship six years ago, and damn. How could he have changed so much
while this place had stood stock-still?
let’s get some antibiotics in that IV along with the pain meds Dr. Becker
ordered, and call surgery to book an OR.” Dr. Sheridan rattled off a few more
directives—specific medications and dosages, plus a rush on the X-rays Charlie
had already ordered—then shifted to look at Parker, blond brows lifted in
the paramedic, right?”
“Intern. Parker Drake.” Tugging off his still-spotless gloves, he extended his
hand, trying as hard as he possibly could to un-hear the twin gasps of shock
from Tess and Charlie.
Jonah said. “A new attending and a paramedic intern. The hits just keep on
comin’. Okay, Mr. Yoshida.” He turned back toward the patient while Parker
battled some shock of his own. Charlie was working
here now? As an attending? Surely, he’d misunderstood. “Let’s get you ready for
surgery, shall we?”
three is open, Dr. Sheridan,” Kelly said, hanging up the wall-mounted phone.
“They’re expecting you.”
We can do the films upstairs while I scrub in and get Dr. Mallory up to speed.
and Kelly wheeled the gurney from the curtain area. Now would normally be the
time for everyone to scatter, with the patient stable and the handoff to a
surgeon made. But since everything about the current situation was far from
normal, Tess killed the four hundred-pound silence with a long, low exhale.
sorry. Did you just say you’re…”
intern. Starting today.” He looked at Charlie, whose expression was impossible
to decipher. “Did Dr. Sheridan say you’re…”
attending. Temporarily, at least. I’m covering Tess’s maternity leave for ten
The Military Wife: Heart of a Hero by Laura Trentham Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin Release Date: February 5, 2019 Reviewed by PJ
Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.
Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.
In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.
In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?
Laura Trentham will break your heart and then stitch it back together, stronger than ever, in this poignant, heart-wrenching, and, ultimately, life-affirming story about the men and women who protect our country on the front lines and those on the home front - the spouses, children, and families - whose contributions, and trials, are no less significant.
One of the strengths of Trentham's contemporary romances is her ability to create richly complex and realistic characters into whose lives I become completely invested. The same is true of The Military Wife, her first foray into women's fiction. She brings these characters to vivid life in a convincing portrayal of honor, duty, sacrifice, fear, survivor's guilt, grief, and love. They all notched places for themselves in my heart, taking me along on each of their journeys and wringing my emotions with the challenges they face.
The writing is flawless with seamless transitions from present to past that enable the reader to fully understand the events, and people, that have brought the primary characters, Harper, Bennett, Allison, and Darren to this point in their lives. I especially appreciated the insight gained through the flashback chapters that tell the story of Harper and Noah's courtship and marriage as well as those telling the story of Noah and Bennett's close friendship. Experiencing those journeys with them makes the present journey Bennett and Harper are traveling, both individually and as a couple, all the more satisfying. The secondary characters, as well, are all vividly crafted and realistic.
Those of you who have read Trentham's other books should be aware that while The Military Wife is women's fiction and there are some serious issues dealt with, there's also plenty of sexual tension, humor, deep emotion, and, for the romance lovers among us, a happy ending. I highly recommend it. (Keep the tissues handy.)
The Good Ones By Jenn McKinlay Publisher: Berkley Release Date: February 5, 2018 Reviewed by PJ
Ryder Copeland is an accomplished architect and one heck of a father...not to mention tall and sexy. He's everything a hero should be, and Lord knows, Maisy Kelly has read enough of her great-aunt Eloise's romance novels to recognize one when she sees one. But like all fairy tales, Maisy can't help but wonder if this Prince Charming is too good to be true...
Ryder is drawn to the shy, curly haired professor who hires him to convert the Victorian house she's inherited from her aunt into a romance bookstore. Attracted to a woman for the first time since his divorce, Ryder finds himself wishing for a future with Maisy that he knows is impossible. Ryder has never wavered from his plan to leave the small town of Fairdale, North Carolina, so he can give his daughter the life she deserves. But suddenly he's not so sure. And the closer he gets to Maisy, the harder it's going to be to walk away... My thoughts: Launching her new Happily Ever After series, Jenn McKinlay brings readers a small-town romance with plenty of humor, heart, sizzle, and charm as well as an enthusiastic verbal hug for the romance books we all love to read. Maisy is at a crossroads in her life. Chucking her academic career and louse of a boyfriend, she makes the decision to turn the home and thousands of romance books she's inherited into a romance bookstore. Who among us hasn't had that dream once or twice? She's such an endearing character. I applauded her determination, cheered when she stood up to her ex, and ached with her when things took a sideways turn. I enjoyed her relationship with Ryder's daughter and, especially, with the rescue kitten, King George. And I loved her female sidekicks! Ryder is a great single dad with some lessons to learn where his teen daughter, and Maisy, are concerned. He's a nice guy and his relationship with Maisy is sweet, and sexy, but unsteady. His continued hot and cold routine throughout most of the book had me frustrated though he comes around by the end and his back story, once revealed, explains much of his behavior. I liked his sense of humor, his willingness to embrace Maisy's dream, his determination to give his daughter the best life possible, and his gentle care of the adorable King George. If you enjoy a fast-paced, fun romance with plenty of snappy dialogue, sizzling chemistry, and endearing characters, give this one a try.
Jake took off his cowboy hat and pulled her close, Claire wrapped her arms
around him and the two became one. When they kissed she knew they were making
each other a promise for today, tomorrow, and forever. Clare sighed. For the
first time in her life, she knew that no matter what happened this man, who was
her partner and her best friend, would be by her side. For all time.
Maisy Kelly closed the book and pressed it
to her chest and sighed. Jake Sinclair, the perfect man, why did he reside only
in the pages of a book? It wasn’t fair. She was twenty-nine and none of the men
she’d ever dated had been even remotely as caring or charming as Jake Sinclair.
Maisy blinked. Someone was at the door.
No, no, no. She had a book hangover and she didn’t want to deal with the world
weren’t going away.Maisy rose from
where she’d been seated on the bottom step of the stairs. In theory, she was
supposed to be cleaning out her Great Aunt Eloise’s house, in reality she was
binge reading Auntie El’s hoarder’s trove of romance novels. It wasn’t making
the task, which was heartbreaking to begin with, any easier.
“All right, all right,” Maisy grumbled.
She strode to the door and yanked it open.
Probably, if she had bothered to glance through the peep hole she would have
been prepared, but she hadn’t and she wasn’t.
Standing on her front step, looking impossibly
handsome and imposing, was a cowboy. Maisy glanced down at her book. On the
cover was the artist’s rendering of Jake Sinclair, in jeans and a white shirt,
leaning against a split rail fence, with a brown cowboy hat tipped carelessly
over his brow. Maisy could practically hear the cows mooing in the background.
She glanced back up. Jeans, white shirt,
and a cowboy hat. This guy had it all going on, except where the artist had
left Jake’s face in shadow and not clearly defined, this guy was a full on 3D
HD of hotness, with full lips, faint stubble on his chin, and quite possibly
the bluest eyes Maisy had ever seen this side of the sky. She had a sudden urge
to poke him with her pointer finger to see if he was real.
“Mornin’, Miss,” the man drawled, drawled!
she hadn’t been called “Miss” since she’d started teaching at Fairdale
University. Why would he…she glanced down.
She was wearing her favorite floral
Converse All-stars, ripped up denim shorts, and her old Fairdale University
sweatshirt, the one with the sleeves that hung down past her hands, oh, and she
had on no makeup and her hair was held back by an enormous pink headband. She
probably looked like one of her college students, possibly a freshman.
In that brief shining moment, she was
certain if it was possible to die of embarrassment, she would expire in
three…two…one. She gave it a second. Nope, still standing. Damn it.
“Listen, I’m sorry, sir, but whatever
you’re selling, I’m not interested—,” she began but he cut her off.
“Oh, I’m not selling anything,” he said.
He looked confused. “This is three-twenty-three Willow Lane, right?”
“Yes, it is. Now if you’ll excuse me, I
need to get back--,” she let her voice trail off, hoping he’d get the hint. He
“I have an appointment with a Ms.
Kelly,” he said. “Or Mrs. Kelly, I’m not sure.”
Maisy knew she didn’t have any appointments
today. That was why she’d indulged herself in a good long reading sesh. This
guy was probably a hustler, trying to con her to buy some property insurance or
new windows. Ever since she’d inherited this monster of a house from Auntie El
she’d had all sorts of scammers climbing out of the cracks in the sidewalk,
trying to get her to refinance or buy a security system. It was exhausting.
The man met her squinty stare with one of
his own. He shrinkled up one eye and mimicked her look of disbelief right down
to the small lip curl. The nerve! Then she saw the twinkle in his one open eye,
and Maisy couldn’t hold it. She burst out laughing.
He grinned at her and her ire diminished
as she noted the cowboy had a sense of humor. Okay, she decided to give him a
break and at least take his name and number.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “What was your
appointment with Ms. Kelly about?”
“It’s about the house, actually,” he said.
“My name’s Ryder Copeland. I’m a restoration architect, and you are?”
“Ryder Copeland?” Maisy’s eyes went wide.
“But our appointment isn’t until tomorrow, you know, Tuesday.”
“Today is Tuesday,” he said.
“No, it isn’t,” she said. “It’s Monday.”
“Sorry, it really is Tuesday. Wait,” he
said. “Our appointment? You’re Maisy
Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis Heartbreaker Bay - Book 7 Publisher: Avon Release Date: January 22, 2019 Reviewed by PJ
If you’re planning on falling in love…
When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s yoga pants, he’s a suit. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.
you’d better be sure…
Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.
… someone is there to catch you.
Both guarded and vulnerable, Sadie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk.
I really loved this story. Among all the books of Jill Shalvis's career, I think it stands out as one of her best with Sadie and Caleb as one of my favorite Shalvis couples. Talk about your complex characters. As their back stories began to unfold, revealing the events that have brought them to this point in their lives, I wanted to hug them both and then cheer for how far they've come. Sadie's story just about broke my heart. As it unfolded, it was easy to see why she was prickly and determined to keep her past a secret, why she was so certain revealing her true self would deem her unlovable. Caleb, of course, is much more than his appearance would suggest as well, as Sadie comes to discover. I adored him for his tenderness, patience, and staunch support of Sadie, even though he does hit a few potholes along the way. It's a rocky road to a happy ending for these two but oh, so worth it in the end.
Shalvis surrounds Sadie and Caleb with an eclectic group of secondary characters who bring an added richness to the story. Leading the pack, of course, is Lollipop, the three-legged stray dog Sadie and Caleb co-rescue. I fell just as hard for this adorable pup as they did. Joining Lollipop are the heart-of-gold motorcycle club guys at the tattoo shop where Sadie works, Ivy, the taco truck owner who gives Sadie insight into the fact that Caleb is much more than the appearance he projects with his perfect, high-dollar suits, Caleb's overprotective, if well-intentioned, mother and sisters, Sadie's misguided and dismissive family, and Naoki, an important character in Caleb's life whose contributions to this story are endearingly poignant. They all come together to create a heart-tugging, emotional, romantic journey that is going straight to my keeper shelf.
If you enjoy character-driven contemporary romance with emotional depth, humor, charm, complex issues, and hard-won happy endings, I highly recommend Playing for Keeps. This book is not only going straight to my keeper shelf, it's also going to my Best of 2019 watch list. Don't let the fact that this is the 7th book in a series scare you off. While a few previously introduced characters make appearances, this book stands on its own.
She shook her head.
“Look at me. Please?”
It was the damn please that had her opening her eyes.
He’d closed the gap so that if she so much as took a breath, they’d be
So she did just that. She took a deep breath, and then their
bodies were up against each other, his warm and hard. Everywhere. “What’s happening?”
“I believe you’re deciding between kicking me in the nuts
and kissing me.” One side of his mouth curved very slightly as he lifted their
still joined hands above her head, against the wall.
“But that last part might just be in my dreams.”
“Yes,” she whispered.
“Yes, it’s just in my dreams?”
She meant to say yes again, she really did.
She even opened her mouth to say it, because this was
insane, this incredible . . . craving she had for him. It made no sense.
Less than no sense, and yet . . .
She went up on tiptoe and touched her mouth to his.
Have you been reading the books in the Heartbreaker Bay series?
Do you enjoy animals in your romances?
Do you enjoy books where characters have to overcome significant emotional hurdles to achieve their happily ever after?
One person who leaves a comment before 11:00 PM, February 7 will receive a print copy of Playing for Keeps. (U.S. addresses only)
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.