Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Review Tour - - The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen


The Lady Travelers Guide to Scoundrels and Other Gentlemen
By Victoria Alexander
Publisher: HQN Books
Release Date: May 23, 2017
Reviewed by PJ
       





Really, it's too much to expect any normal man to behave like a staid accountant in order to inherit the fortune he deserves to support the lifestyle of an earl. So when Derek Saunders's favorite elderly aunt and her ill-conceived—and possibly fraudulent—Lady Travelers Society loses one of their members, what's a man to do but step up to the challenge? Now he's escorting the world's most maddening woman to the world's most romantic city to find her missing relative. 
While India Prendergast only suspects his organization defrauds gullible travelers, she's certain a man with as scandalous a reputation as Derek Saunders cannot be trusted any farther than the distance around his very broad shoulders. As she struggles not to be distracted by his wicked smile and the allure of Paris, instead of finding a lost lady traveler, India just may lose her head, her luggage and her heart.

For more than twenty years, I have enjoyed the novels penned by Victoria Alexander. Her rich descriptions, intriguing characters, lively banter, depth of emotion, and sense of humor frequently land her books on my must-buy list. I've been looking forward to her new historical romance series about lady travelers since first hearing about it last fall.

Derek Saunders has thoroughly enjoyed his single lifestyle but it's time to pay the piper. His uncle, the Earl, to whom Derek is heir, has reined him in. It's time to learn how to manage the earldom and leave scandal behind. Thus, when Derek discovers his elderly aunt and her two best friends, all widows, are running a lady travelers organization that might be just a wee bit shady and one of their travelers has gone missing (a scandal in the making), his first thought is to find the missing woman and steer the ladies back onto the straight and narrow before their misdeeds become public knowledge and land them in jail. He doesn't expect the missing woman's annoying cousin to be part of the deal.

India Prendergast is a self-righteous, uptight, independent, opinionated, woman who is always right, at least in her own mind. She's also worried sick about the cousin who took her in and raised her after India's missionary parents died. India is also highly suspicious of the Lady Travelers group that planned her cousin's trip and certain that Derek Saunders is the behind-the-scenes mastermind who is taking advantage of his sweet, elderly aunt while stealing money from the group's unsuspecting members. Even though India sees no good reason for anyone to ever leave England, her cousin did, and she's not about to let Derek embark on a search for her cousin without her, dishonest rogue that he is...or so she believes.

The first half of this book is a little slow and, I have to admit, I found the heroine extremely unlikable early on but don't give up. Once we hit the mid-point, things really pick up and we begin to discover the hidden facets of both India and Derek. India, in particular, embarks not only on a journey to Paris to search for her cousin but on a much more important, though unplanned, journey of self-discovery. At several points along the way, through interactions with others, some poignant and others, humorous, she's forced to view herself as others see her and, slowly, she begins to evolve and change, a butterfly emerging, both externally and internally, from a cocoon of her own making. 

Derek has always been a charming scamp but he too evolves during their time in Paris and discovers that the most important things in life often are those that require the most effort. He has a good heart and protective instincts. I loved his relationship with his family as well as the slow, organic progression of his relationship with India. I also thoroughly enjoyed the snappy banter between Derek and India. Each gives as good as they get!

The secondary characters are a delight and add much to the story: from the elderly ladies to Derek's stepbrother, Val (I do hope we see more of him in a future book), to their mother, her husband, and Derek's uncle. It was especially enjoyable, after reading this book, to then meet Derek's mother, uncle, aunt, and her friends in their younger years in the novella prequel, The Proper Way to Stop a Wedding (in Seven Days or Less)

As a lady who loves to travel, I'm looking forward to the next installment in Victoria Alexander's Lady Travelers series, The Lady Travelers Guide to Larceny With a Dashing Stranger, due to be released this November. This one features a desperate widow, a determined bachelor, and a search for a missing masterpiece amidst the romance of Venice, Italy. I'll be there!





Monday, May 22, 2017

On Second Thought - - Gallant Waif





Gallant Waif
By Anne Gracie
Publisher: Harlequin/Harlequin Historical Classic
Release Date: April 15, 2014
(Originally published as
Harlequin Historical #557, April 1, 2001)
Reviewed by Janga






Major Jack Carstairs returned from the Peninsula War with a bayonet scar across his face and a crippled leg that left him unable to ride or dance, activities in which he had been proficient before the war, only to face more losses at home. His father is dead, and his disapproval of Jack’s choice of a fiancée led him to disinherit Jack, leaving him only “whatever is found in my pockets on the day I die.”  Since the deed to a dilapidated country estate, Sevenoakes, was in the senior Carstairs pocket at the time of his death, Jack, who is too proud to accept help from his relatives, at least has a home of sorts. His fiancée, beautiful but shallow and heartless, is unprepared to be the wife of a man who has lost both his looks and his fortune. Jack jilts her after overhearing her plans to jilt him. Wounded by his father’s unforgiveness and disillusioned by his fiancée, he retreats to Sevenoakes with a single man servant, prepared to drink himself into oblivion.

Lady Cahill, Jack’s grandmother, refuses to give up on him and resolves to beard the recluse at Sevenoakes, but first she makes a stop to rescue the penniless, orphaned daughter of her goddaughter. Kate Farleigh is determined not to be rescued; she is prepared to accept a position as a maid and surrender forever the position to which her birth entitles her. Kate’s upbringing has been unconventional in every respect. Her father, who could not forgive his only daughter for the loss of his beloved wife in giving birth to Kate, left her “to run wild as a weed.” Kate not only “never learned to be a lady”; she learned cookery and housekeeping skills no lady of her class would ever know. At seventeen, she accompanies her father as he follows her two brothers who, like Jack, are fighting in Wellington’s campaigns. Kate has three happy years, despite the deprivations and suffering of war, using her unladylike skills to care for the men of her family. However, when her father and brothers are killed, Kate becomes another victim of war.

Kate is too proud and too frightened of her reception in London to accept help from Lady Cahill, but the grande dame refuses to accept Kate’s refusal. She kidnaps her and takes her to Sevenoakes where Kate finds a role she can accept as a much-needed housekeeper for Jack. The two strike sparks off each other as they argue about Kate’s role and Jack’s choices and try to resist their attraction for one another. What follows is sometimes comic, sometimes poignant and always compelling as these two wounded survivors heal one another.

I first read Gallant Waif the year of its U.S. release because it was a big buzz book on All About Romance, and I fell in love not only with the characters but also with the author’s voice and the world she created. I read Tallie’s Knight within weeks of reading Gallant Waif and I haven’t missed an Anne Gracie book since. My romance-reading friends who know me best have all heard me rave about many Anne Gracie books over the past sixteen years, but Gallant Waif remains my favorite—and the one I have reread most often.

One of the things I like best about this book is that, despite obvious differences in economic status and family support, Kate and Jack are very much alike. Both are veterans of a cruel war that left them scarred. Jack bears some of his scars visibly, but both bear irrevocable scars on their souls. They also share the experience of having their illusions about their “beloved” brutally shattered by the way the object of their affections responds to the war wounds. Jack’s anger and grouchiness cannot hide his fundamental decency and kindness, and Kate’s pride and temper cannot hide her vulnerability and courage. I loved both characters from the beginning and was invested in their HEA from their first meeting.

I also adored Lady Cahill. The older woman, often indomitable and managing, is a Gracie trademark, and she creates a gem in Jack’s grandmother. She is one of my all-time favorite secondary characters because she refuses to surrender to the seeming inevitable. When Amelia, Jack’s sister, bemoans his broken heart, her grandmother responds, “Nonsense! He's got a fine strong heart. He's got my blood in him, hasn't he? When you're my age, you’ll stop prating of broken hearts and other such nonsense. Bodies mend and so do hearts.” And when her granddaughter reminds her that Jack’s broken body has not healed perfectly, she retorts, “Don't let me ever hear you speaking such rubbish, do you hear me, gel? Never! That boy is as fine a lad as ever he was, you mark my words! He's got a fine fighting spirit in him.”  One of her best moments comes when Amelia suggests Jack may refuse her admission to Sevenoakes, as he did his sister: 


Lady Cahill gave her granddaughter a look of magnificent scorn. "Don't be ridiculous, Amelia!" 
she snorted. "I have never in my life been denied entrée to any establishment in the kingdom. I 
go where I choose. I was a Montford, gel, before my marriage to your grandfather, and no one, 
not even my favourite grandson, tells me what I may or may not do!
 

This book also contains one of my all-time favorite scenes. Kate's worst fears are realized when she is snubbed at a ball and whispers about her circulate. Her partner abandons her on the dance floor, which has emptied.  



Her body began to shake. She could do nothing. There was no standing up to insubstantial whispers from people who would not even look her in the face. She forced herself to keep walking, desperately hoping the trembling of her body was not visible to the observers.

Was there ever a room so long? Only four more steps.

Three...two...

A powerful black-clad arm snaked out of the dense crowd and pulled her into the centre of the circle again.

“What—”

“I think you must have forgotten me, Miss Farleigh,” said Jack. His normal tone of voice carried in the watching hush.

Kate blinked up at him.

“My dance, I believe. Did you forget it?" He smiled down at her bewildered face, his casual manner belied by the implacable grip on her arm.

“But...” With everyone listening, Kate couldn't say it. She hadn't promised him a dance. He didn't dance. Not since he was wounded, anyway. He only leaned against walls and columns, glaring at her. So why would he seek her out now? Now, when the world was turning against her again and she wanted nothing more than escape. Kate tried to pull away, but his hold on her was too powerful.

Ignoring Kate's glance of pathetic entreaty, Jack moved steadily back through the crowd, towing her beside him, greeting acquaintances in a cheery tone as he went, for all the world as if they were not in the very heart of a major scandal, their every movement watched by hundreds.

His uneven footsteps echoed as he led her out on to the deserted dance floor. He finally released her arm, but took her hand instead. Bowing, he kissed it lightly. Kate stared at him in a daze. He grinned at her, a wicked, tender grin.

“Courage, love," he whispered as he straightened up. “Let's show them that an old cripple and a gallant war heroine are not beaten by a paltry bit of gossip.”

By the end of the scene with Jack, Kate is weeping. So am I, no matter how many times I read this. My tears continue through Kate’s dances with Jack’s friends, and I am ugly crying by the time she dances with two more young aristocrats: a one-armed man and a blind man, both recipients of Kate’s nursing and nurturing on the Peninsula. But I am smiling when Kate takes a “turn around the room” with the guest of honor, Wellington himself. My smile has changed to laughter a few pages later as Kate and Jack achieve their HEA in a fashion true to their relationship.

Perhaps that’s what I love best about this and other Anne Gracie books: they evoke tears and laughter. And I agree with Lady Cahill’s words to Kate: “A good cry and a good laugh. That’s what the doctor ordered.”





Friday, May 19, 2017

Winner - - Vanessa Kelly & The Dukes of Vauxhall






The randomly chosen winner of a digital copy of 
Christi Caldwell's latest book 

and

one book each from Vanessa Kelly, Shana Galen, 
and Theresa Romain
(winner's choice of digital or print) is:

Diane D

Congratulations!

Please send your full name and mailing address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review - - Finding You


Finding You
By Jo Watson
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Reviewed by Maria Lokken

  





It wouldn’t surprise me if most readers didn’t equate a quest to find one’s birth parents with a romantic journey, but they’d be wrong. Ms. Watson uniquely tackles the subject of adoption while delivering a quirky, romantic trip to an Island in the Mediterranean.

In Finding You, our heroine, Jane Smith, wakes on her 25th birthday to an unsettling feeling she can’t place. But she follows that emotion out the door and straight to a travel agent’s office where she books a ticket to Santorini, Greece. Jane is going to find her birth father.

In its essence, this isn’t so much a destination novel as what the destination does for the main character, Jane Smith. Yes, that’s her name, I’m not making it up, the author already did. Jane has spent a lifetime pushing away her adoptive family who she feels is better, prettier, and livelier than she is. Through her search to find her father she stumbles into a romance, and equally important, she discovers who she really is.

The author loosely works within the ‘ugly-duckling’ trope. The heroine’s ditzy, apologetic, I’m-not-beautiful mantra became tiresome until I realized the author had a plan. The self-deprecation was finally dropped and our heroine transforms into woman who is self-aware and confident.

As for the hero, well, I have a litmus test he must pass.  Above all things, he needs to be a man who can say the right thing when everything around him is going to hell. Particularly when he’s attempting to win back the heroine in the middle of the third act after he’s done some unspeakably stupid thing.  So, I judge.  Don’t we all? In this novel, Dimitri, the hero, gets high marks from this reader on how to win back the woman he loves.

The journey Jane Smith travels isn’t a simple one. There’s heartbreak, but there’s also a great deal of growing, and this is one heroine that needed a serious adjustment. But that’s what keeps us romance readers going, how our heroes and heroines change and grow and love.


This novel takes place in the romantic country of Greece. So for a few minutes I’ll ask you to forget the fact that you may have a family and twelve children, or a job you can’t leave. Instead, just let your mind wander and imagine a fortune teller has told you your one true love is out there waiting for you. Where in the world would you want to find him?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review - - Lethal Lies


Lethal Lies
By Rebecca Zanetti
Publisher: Forever
Release Date: May 16, 2017
Reviewed by Nancy Northcott
  


The brothers in Rebecca Zanetti’s Blood Brothers and Sin Brothers series were genetically modified before birth to be super-warriors.  The Sin Brothers series is complete at four books.  Lethal Lies is the second book in the Blood Brothers group but can be read alone.  Characters from the Sin Brothers series make very brief appearances but play no major role in the book.

Working as the Lost Bastards investigations agency, the Blood Brothers, who use the surname Jones, make most of their contacts over the internet or the phone.  They live under the radar and on the move because the doctor who created them and the abusive sheriff who ran the home where they were raised are continually searching for them.  The doctor wants their DNA to breed more advanced soldiers, and the sheriff wants revenge for the death of his brother, whom the boys killed when he was abusing one of them.

The heart of the book, however, is the romance between Heath Jones, the lawyer among the brothers, and criminal psychology professor Anya Bast, sister of an FBI agent kidnapped by a serial killer.  Heath has been working with Anya’s sister.  He wants to catch the killer and protect Anya, a task made harder when Anya taunts the killer in the press.

The FBI is also investigating this killer, and the agent heading their task force is involved with Anya’s sister.  He also wants to protect Anya,  but he and Heath don’t agree on how best to do that.

In addition, Anya’s televised taunt at the funeral, with Heath at her side, has brought him into the very limelight he seeks to avoid. Heath’s brothers and the woman who will soon be his sister-in-law set up fake offices, a fake residence, and a hidden, safe apartment so they can use Anya as bait to draw the killer in.

A soldier working with the doctor and the sheriff is tracking Heath and his brothers, drawing ever closer, and he has unique abilities of his own.  In general, the story moves at a great pace. The tight relationship Heath and his brothers share is very appealing, and Anya displays courage and resolve that are admirable. The book has a lot of action and wrenching emotion.






Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review Tour: Slow Burn Cowboy


Slow Burn Cowboy
By Maisey Yates
Publisher: HQN
Release Date: April 18, 2017
Reviewed by Hellie







Slow Burn Cowboy begins and ends with a casserole. You know the kind. A mashup up of all the favorite things: pasta, cheese, meat, and enough sauce to spice things up. This book is very much a casserole, putting together all the things a romance reader loves and leaving you so satisfied and content, you immediately want another serving, if you’re the kind of glutton I am.

Rancher Finn Donnelly and store-owner Lane Jensen have been best friends since she came to Copper Ridge ten years ago--Platonic with a capital P. They’re happy to continue on this relationship of mutual convenience: he’s her handyman and she cooks, until that is Finn Donnelly’s idyllic life goes in the crapper. The ranch he’s work on for twenty years, his grandfather’s, has just been left to him and his three half-brothers. Half-brothers who haven’t set foot on the farm in years and certainly haven’t poured the blood, sweat and tears he has into it. To make matters worse, his half-brothers aren’t content to just take the money Finn is offering to go away, each having their own reason for needing to stay at the ranch.

To say the control-freak, suffer-in-silence Finn is unhappy with his new roommates and life is an understatement. So much so that his ability to keep Lane at arm’s length gets flung to the wayside. Now he wants to be friends with benefits, starting immediately. Lane, who depends on Finn’s stability and friendship, is desperate to keep their relationship strictly without sex. She needs the one true thing in her life to stay true, especially since she keeps seeing interviews of her ex-boyfriend, Senator Cord McCaffrey, on TV, reminding her of a past that isn’t buried nearly deep enough for her peace of mind.

What unfolds is one devastating emotional wild ride as the two friends-turned-lovers break down each others’ walls, walls they’ve both spent nearly half their lives putting up and keeping in place. When these two fight, they go down swinging. Both Finn and Lane have tragic pasts that leave you understanding why they don’t want to risk everything again, but hoping that they will be able to finally reach each other for a much deserved happy ending. Every love scene that unfolds is necessary and leaves each of the lovers in a different place than they were before, forever changed. They are naked with each other a lot, and not just for the sex.

This book is a great addition to the Copper Ridge series, and an opening to a new quartet of stories featuring the Donnelly brothers. With meaty emotional scenes, cheesy good familiar tropes (i.e. friends to lovers, two broken people healing each other’s wounds, girls’ night out scenes, brotherly bitch-fests), and a familiar beloved setting in Copper Ridge with other characters we’re familiar with (i.e. pasta), this book is one tasty casserole.

To those who might be as nitpicky as me, I did rather question at first Lane’s hesitation to move the relationship to a non-platonic one, even after her deep dark secret is revealed. Eventually, through more scenes where Lane and Finn have their fights (and reveal deep things), I understood her better and felt it worked. (And I imagine there will be those who will look at Finn’s deep dark secret and wonder why he played so close to his chest.) They are their own people; and Maisey Yates crafts them well. But the thing that actually bugged me were the typos. If typos don’t bother you because you have better things to be mad at, this critique isn’t for you--it’s for those of us who do get mad enough that we’ll set a book aside and move on. I just want to say, typos aside, the story is worth the read. The fight scenes and real emotional talks Finn and Lane have are some of the best I’ve ever read in romance. It’s real and it’s moving. There are those who say romance novels ruin readers--women who want to be in relationships, that this is not how real life is--but I think they teach us how to be better communicators and show us how risking everything is worth it, for love and for yourself. This is definitely one of those books.


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Other stops on the Maisey Yates Slow Burn Cowboy Tour:

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review - - A PIece of My Heart


A Piece of My Heart
By Sharon Sala
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: May 2, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
 
 

At twenty-six, Mercy Dane, who aged out of Georgia’s foster care system at eighteen, has spent five years in a dead-end job as a waitress at the Road Warrior Bar in Savannah. Although Mercy’s boss and co-workers have become her friends, it is a limited friendship because Mercy’s protective shell is thick enough to be almost impenetrable. She is very much a cat who walks by herself. That begins to change early one Christmas morning when Mercy gets a phone call asking if she can come to Blessings, Georgia, to give blood to a woman critically injured in an automobile accident and in desperate need of RH negative blood. With no hesitation, Mercy hops on her Harley and hits the interstate. Slightly over an hour later, she arrives at the hospital, pursued by the local police chief who thinks she is a stranger speeding recklessly through his town. Chief Pittman will discover that he is wrong on both counts: her speed is not prompted by recklessness, and she is not a stranger to him.

As Jack Talbot and his brother Duke, the husband and brother-in-law of Hope Talbot, the accident victim, are thanking Mercy for her help, Duke notices a resemblance between Mercy and his sister-in-law. He also notices that Mercy has an unusual birthmark, the same birthmark Hope has described as an identifying mark on her long-lost younger sister. Mercy scoffs at the idea that she could be that sister, but Duke persuades her to agree to a DNA test. As if that were not shock enough, Police Chief Lon Pittman turns out to be the man who befriended Mercy eight years ago when she was robbed and had nowhere to turn. Lon represented safety to her that night, and the two became lovers. Mercy fled the next morning, and Lon, who never forgot her, was never able to find her.

Once the results of the DNA test confirm that Hope and Mercy are sisters, Mercy moves to Blessings to get to know her sister. She also discovers that the persistent Lon, who is all that he appeared to be when he rescued her eight years ago, is difficult to resist. But not everyone welcomes Mercy to Blessings, and she has some battles to fight before she can claim the small town as home. Despite the cruelty of the adult equivalent of teen mean girls, Blessings with its familiar cast of characters proves that it can take care of its own and that it considers Mercy one of them.

A Piece of My Heart is the fourth book in Sharon Sala’s Blessings series, and it has the heartwarming appeal of the earlier books. Mercy, who is both tough and vulnerable, emotionally needy and independent, is an interesting, sympathetic heroine, and Lon is courageous, honorable, and patient enough to deserve her love. Unfortunately, the number of coincidences pushed the story into the unwilling-to-suspend-disbelief zone for me. The lost-sister plot and the reunion of the one-time lovers was one coincidence too many for me to accept as plausible.  I was also bothered by the inept villains that seem to be a recurring motif in these books.

Nevertheless, I still find Blessings, as insular as it seems at times, an amusing place to visit. The colorful Ruby Dye (Sorry. I could not resist that pun) continues to pull strings, accomplish good deeds, and win the hearts of readers.  I like Ruby, and I am intrigued by the ongoing Ruby-Peanut Butterman thread. I hope they get their own book soon. A Piece of My Heart is not the strongest book in the series, but fans of the earlier books will find it rewarding despite some flaws. If you are new to the series, I suggest beginning with You and Only You (originally titled The Curl Up and Dye), the first book in the series, followed by I’ll Stand by You and Saving Jake.



Sunday, May 14, 2017

Winner - - Regan Black






The randomly chosen winner of a $10 gift card and digital editions of

The Escape Club and Safe in His Sight by Regan Black is:

Lil

Congratulations!

Please send your email address to:

theromancedish (at) gmail (dot) com



Saturday, May 13, 2017

Spotlight & Giveaway- - RIPTIDE, A Renegades Novel







RIPTIDE, A Renegades Novel
By Skye Jordan (a/k/a Joan Swan)
Publisher: Cygnet Books
Release Date: May 12, 2017


When pro surfer Zach Ellis isn’t traveling the world-wide competition circuit, he works as a Renegade stunt double for the hit TV series, Hawaiian Heat. After years of tangling with the ocean, his body has paid the price. So when he gets a shot at a star roll on the show, Zach’s all in. He celebrates the career opportunity by taking a chance on a woman who’s not his usual island-girl type, only to discover he can’t bear to let her go. 

Tessa Drake belongs mired in legislation battles in Washington DC, not standing on the sidelines of a filming set in Maui like a wannabe starlet. But even more important than her law career, Tessa needs Zach Ellis's signature on legal papers. Papers that relinquish his parental rights so Tessa can adopt the girl who already calls her mommy. When she discovers Zach has slipped out of town before she makes contact, Tessa takes solace in the sexy star of Hawaiian Heat. A man whose warmth and dazzling grin makes her Mensa-level IQ vanish into thin air.  

After an electrifying night together, Tessa is horrified to discover just who rocked her world.  Zach is stunned to learn he’s a father. And both find themselves caught in a riptide pulling them in the opposite direction of their dreams.

*All books in the Renegades series may be read as stand alone books.

Based on the blurb above and the rave reviews I've been reading all over the internet, this sexy, emotional, contemporary romance sounds like the perfect addition to my summer reading list. 

How about you? What types of books do you enjoy reading during the lazy, hazy days of summer? 

Have you read Skye Jordan/Joan Swan yet? Any favorites you'd recommend?







Friday, May 12, 2017

Blog Tour - - Making it Right by Catherine Bybee





MAKING IT RIGHT
Most Likely Series, Book Three
Montlake Romance, Contemporary
May 09, 2017, First Edition
Paperback & Kindle
Reviewed by PJ
  



In the final book in bestselling author Catherine Bybee’s Most Likely To trilogy, River Bend’s rebel follows in her father’s footsteps to become sheriff. But it might be time to forge her own path…


Some kids inherit a family business; Jo Ward inherited a badge. Once voted Most Likely to End Up in Jail, the town wild child has become sheriff—hell-bent on uncovering the truth about her father’s mysterious death. Life is quiet in rustic River Bend, but Jo longs for something beyond her small hometown and the painful memories it holds. All that keeps her sane is the support of her best friends, Melanie and Zoe.

But when Jo signs up for an expert law enforcement training seminar, she meets Gill Clausen, whose haunting eyes and dangerously sexy vibe just may challenge her single-minded focus. Commitment-phobic Jo can’t deny her attraction to the arrogant federal agent, and when odd things start happening around River Bend and danger surrounds her, she realizes she’ll need his help to discover who’s out to remove her from River Bend…permanently.

As Jo and Gill work together, it’s clear they make a great team. But can Jo loosen her grip on the past enough to let love in and reach for the future?

Making it Right is another stand-out novel from an author who has become one of my contemporary favorites. With heart-tugging romance, chemistry off the charts, fully fleshed characters, and a mystery filled with twists and turns that kept me guessing until the very end, this book is a worthy conclusion to Bybee's wonderful Most Likely To series. 

I've been waiting for Jo's story since she walked onto the page in the first book of the trilogy, Doing it Over and Bybee did not disappoint. We know she's a woman haunted by her father's death, ruled accidental, which Jo is convinced was murder. We know she is fiercely protective of her two best friends, women more like sisters. And, we get hints that she's not entirely happy as her hometown's sheriff. In Making it Right, Bybee delves beneath the surface, pulling back the layers, and showing readers just who Jo is, as a protector, a law enforcer, a mentor, a stalwart friend, and a sexy, take-no-prisoners, woman who, while unafraid to go after what she wants sexually, shows her insecurity and vulnerability by believing she's not cut out for a lasting relationship.  

Gill is all kinds of awesome. Big, muscled, tattooed, Harley-riding, and full of take-me-now sex appeal, he had me tingling at hello. When his law and order side is revealed, he had me intrigued. But, when this caring, gentle, patient, loving, supportive, and sexy as all get out man lays his heart at Jo's feet? Well, let's just say I was ready to lay myself at his!

The mystery that weaves its way through this story is exceptionally well crafted, keeping me on the edge of my seat and guessing which turn Bybee would take next until, finally, all is revealed at the end. I'm usually very good at solving mysteries and delighted when an author keeps me guessing, as Bybee did in this story. 

At the heart of this trilogy has been the bond between the three heroines - Mel, Zoe, and Jo - childhood friends whose closeness has only strengthened through the years and the challenges life has thrown at them. Mel (Doing it Over) and Zoe (Staying for Good) and their heroes are all prominent in Making it Right, as are other characters from the first two books like Miss Gina, a 60-something hippie mother figure who gave them all shelter and guidance at various times of their lives. We learn more about FBI Agent Shauna Burton, who helped solve a mystery in a prior book and has an instrumental role in Jo's happy ending, and are introduced to a young man who has an unexpected impact on Jo's life. I'd love to see more of both of them in future stories!

If you haven't yet read Catherine Bybee's books, this trilogy is a great place to begin. It's brimming with all the things I love in romance and comes with my enthusiastic recommendation. While each of the books can stand on its own, for maximum pleasure, I encourage you to read them in order. 


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

Do you have friendships that have stood the test of time?

Do you like mystery with your romance?

Do you melt at the thought of a hero like Gill or does a different kind of hero make you tingle?

Have you discovered Catherine Bybee's books yet?






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New York Times  & USA Today bestselling author Catherine Bybee was raised in Washington State, but after graduating high school, she moved to Southern California in hopes of becoming a movie star. After growing bored with waiting tables, she returned to school and became a registered nurse, spending most of her career in urban emergency rooms. She now writes full-time and has penned the Weekday Brides Series and the Not Quite Series. Bybee lives with her two teenage sons in Southern California.  

CONTACT LINKS:
www.catherinebybe.com
catherinebybee@yahoo.com
catherinebybee.blogspot.com
facebook.com/AuthorCatherineBybee
twitter.com/catherinebybee
pinterest.com/catherinebybee
instagram.com/catherinebybee

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Review - - Making Waves


Making Waves
By Laura Moore
Publisher: Ballantine
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Reviewed by Janga
       
 



Dakota Hale, the illegitimate offspring of a wild child mother, was the bane of the Hales, an old-money family for whom the word “dysfunctional” could have been coined. The Hales barely tolerated Dakota, and her mother, Piper, is too immature and self-absorbed to be a nurturing parent. Forced to take on adult responsibilities far too early, Dakota was only in middle school when she began to earn money as a plant-waterer and dog-sitter to establish her independence from her trust-fund socialite mother who is the dramatic center of her self-scripted world. Fifteen years later, Dakota owns Premier Service, a personal concierge service that caters to wealthy East Hampton residents. The business is growing, and Dakota is about to land a plum client.

Max Carr, a successful venture capitalist, has recently purchased Windhaven, the Hales’ family “cottage,” a mere six-bedroom residence, in East Hampton, from Dakota’s uncle for $28,000,000. Max may tell himself that he bought Windhaven to impress his clients, but he knows that his primary reason for buying it was to impress his estranged father, who would never see it. Upon the recommendation of Alex Miller, an associate and friend, Max hires Dakota to redecorate his new home and keep it ready for his use. Dakota’s family sees Dakota’s agreement to work for Max, whom they view as the nouveau riche Midwesterner who purchased the family property, as a betrayal.

The chemistry between Max and Dakota is off the chart from the beginning, but Alex is leery of emotional entanglements. Nevertheless, the two are soon engaged in a no-strings affair, all fun and great sex. It ends abruptly when Dakota recognizes that she has crossed a line and chooses to bid Max farewell before he ends their relationship. But when what Dakota thinks is a virus turns out to be a pregnancy, Max is adamant that marriage is the next step. But with Max’s baggage and enemies on every front, even the love growing between them may not be enough to overcome all the obstacles.    

Making Waves is the first book in Laura Moore’s Beach Lane series. Dakota and Max are complex characters who have responded in very different ways to the blows life handed them while they were still very young. Both are driven to succeed, but Dakota has formed friendships that provide her with emotional connections while Max has isolated himself. Readers will find themselves invested in seeing Dakota bridge Max’s defenses and accept that he can give and receive love. The cast of secondary characters, some of whom readers will love and some of whom they will love to hate, are also interesting. I particularly liked Hendrick Daube, a gay professor of psychiatry, who gives Dakota her first job and becomes a father figure for her. I also loved seeing Gen Monaghan and Alex Miller years into their HEA (In Your Eyes, 2004).

If you like contemporary romance that offers compelling characters and a captivating plot played out against an uber-rich setting, I think you will like this one. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I will be keeping an eye out for the next book in the series.