Thursday, June 17, 2010

Beach Bag Reviews!

Sunscreen.  Check!  Swimsuit.  Check!  Beach towel.  Check!  Books.  Ooh...books!  

Yes, it's that time of year when, here in the Northern Hemisphere, the temperatures soar and we humans come out of our winter hibernation and head for the beach, the pool or maybe the back yard - wherever we can find a space to soak up some rays of sunshine.  Of course, no respectable sunbather would be caught without a good book to escape into as they soak their toes in the gently lapping surf, the cool neighborhood pool or a bucket of water on the back deck.  Hey, sometimes you have to take what you can get!  The Dishes got together recently to talk about some books we've read that we think would be perfect summer reading material.  Here's a brief Beach Bag Review of each of our picks.



Home Is Where The Bark Is
By Kandy Shepherd
Publisher:  Berkley Sensation
Release Date:  July 6, 2010


When undercover investigator, Nick Whalen walks into Serena Oakley's upscale doggy day care and spa carrying a tiny Yorki-poo, Serena's suspicion antennae start to quiver.  Not only does the tall, muscular man look ridiculous carrying the tiny dog but he doesn't seem to know anything about being a pampered pet owner.  Serena doesn't trust him, even though she's instantly attracted to him.  That's okay, because even though Nick thinks Serena is gorgeous and incredibly sexy, he also believes that she's the cold-hearted mastermind behind a series of identity thefts that have been traced back to her business.  But the more time Nick and Serena spend together, the more they fall for one another and, when Serena is threatened, it will take trust between them, plus some loyal canine friends, to bring the real culprit to justice.

Kandy Shepherd's Home Is Where The Bark Is is another fun, fast-paced story with a likeable hero and heroine, a mystery that kept me guessing for most of the book and a canine cast of secondary characters that will steal your heart (and almost steal the story!) - especially Mack, an abandoned dog with a deep devotion to Big Macs and a heart full of love to share with the lucky person who takes him home.  Pick up a copy of Home Is Where The Bark Is to take home with you!

~PJ

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Death Echo
By Elizabeth Lowell
Publisher:  William Morrow 
Release Date:  June 8, 2010
(Hardcover)

Emma Cross, former CIA agent and current employee of St. Kilda's security consulting firm has seven days to find a missing yacht and prevent the destruction of a major U.S. city. Mac Durand, former special ops sniper, was the only survivor of his team's last mission in Afghanistan and now steers clear of danger, preferring to spend his time sailing luxury yachts to their new owners, but his last job has put him smack-dab in the middle of an international power struggle with millions of innocent lives at risk. Recruited by St. Kilda's and paired with Emma, the two are thrust into a race against the clock, the CIA, the FBI and unknown Russian terrorists to find and neutralize the missing yacht and the devastating weapon she holds.

In this fifth St. Kilda thriller, Lowell takes us to the rugged northwest coast, from Seattle up into Canada, in a suspense story that will keep you on the edge of your seat and glued to the pages of the book. While suspense is the primary focus of the story, romance is also front and center with the deepening relationship between Emma and Mac and sexual tension that is explosive. With each of the seven days, as new players are introduced and power shifts among the adversaries, the stakes get higher, tension mounts and it becomes more and more apparent that, in order to save the targeted city, Emma and Mac may be required to make the ultimate sacrifice. Death Echo is a perfect book to take with you to the pool or beach but don't be surprised if you get so engrossed in the story that when you finally look up, the sun is setting and you're the only one still there!

~PJ

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The Devil She Knows
By Diane Whiteside
Publisher: Kensington/Brava
Release Date: June 1, 2010

Portia Townsend has had a crush on Gareth Lowell from the time they were adolescents. She dreams of a future together, but Gareth feels he’s not good enough for her. Portia eventually bows to her father’s wishes and marries a member of the British aristocracy, the earl of St. Arles. What should be a fairy tale marriage turns into a five-year long abuse-filled nightmare for Portia. She agrees to the divorce that St. Arles wants even though it means she admits to infidelity, which couldn’t be further from the truth. Just when Portia thinks she is free from St. Arles, he blackmails her into taking a trunk to Constantinople, which will aid him and a group of revolutionaries in overthrowing the sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Gareth works overseas for Portia’s uncle, so he comes to her aid in Constantinople. She is more beautiful than ever, but Gareth still feels she is too good for him. Portia, on the other hand, can never imagine another man more perfect for her than Gareth. They must join together to stop her villainous ex-husband, and along the way they will discover that there is nothing worth fighting for more than love. From the deserts of Arizona to the exotic palaces of Constantinople, Diane Whiteside takes readers on an epic adventure. Perfect summer reading!

~Gannon

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When Marrying a Scoundrel
By Kathryn Smith
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: May 25, 2010

Jack Friday and Sadie Moon met and fell in love at a very young age. Jack came from a prominent family and Sadie did not, so naturally his relatives didn’t approve of her. Jack defied his family and married Sadie anyway—and was promptly cut off, though he didn’t care. Despite their financial struggles, they were blissfully happy for two years. Then Jack left to make a better life for them and promised to return. After two long years of waiting, Sadie was resolved that Jack wasn’t coming back and left. When Jack did return, he found his wife gone. Both felt deserted by the other. Ten years later, they meet again when Sadie is attempting to open her own shop (she reads tea leaves) and the now wealthy Jack is one of her landlords. Can they learn to trust each other again and work together in harmony? Or will they allow past resentments to get in the way?

When Marrying a Scoundrel is a terrific reunion story and now one of my favorites by Smith. This story of love lost and found again is full of passion and drama, with the underlying theme of forgiveness set in Victorian England. After their initial and understandably heated first meetings, Jack (loved him!) and Sadie deal with their relationship with maturity and discover that each never really stopped loving the other. Both have secrets that could rock the boat all over again and even those are handled sensibly. The love scenes are steamy and the secondary characters are extremely likable. When Marrying a Scoundrel is another winner from Smith!

~Andrea

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Seducing the Highlander
by Emma Wildes
Publisher: Signet
Release Date: May 4, 2010

What could possibly be better than one hunky highlander? Not much, right! But how about three hunky highlanders? Yes, you heard me. Three. Hunky. Highlanders. Do I really need to elaborate? LOL! Seducing the Highlander is a compilation of three interconnected novellas.

In "Seducing Ian," Ian McCray kidnaps the bride-to-be of the English man who has capture and imprisoned Ian’s uncle. With only retribution on his mind, Ian soon finds himself a prisoner to the ways of beautiful Lady Leanna Arlington.

In "Seducing Robbie," Robbie McCray is visited by the lovely Julia Cameron, daughter to Laird Cameron, in the middle of night. Shocked by Julia’s proposal of marriage in exchange for funds, a near penniless Robbie if forced to agree. Robbie soon learns loving Julia makes his life richer than any money could.

In "Seducing Adain," Adain Cameron stumbles upon a carriage robbery in the dead of night. Fighting off the robbers, Adain saves Lady Gillian Lorin only to learn she is pledged to marry the evil Earl of Kleiss. When Lady Gillian steals Adain’s heart, Adain swears the only hands to touch Lady Gillian will be his own.

Seducing the Highlander would be the perfect beach companion. Three quick stories chocked full of love, romance, and sexy highlanders!

~Buffie

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Crush on You
by Christie Ridgway
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: June 1, 2010


After losing her fiancé to cancer just mere minutes before saying “I do”, Alessandra Baci has become known as the Nun of Napa. Even five years after Tommy’s death, everyone in the small town still sees her as Tommy’s girl. Determined to keep the family winery afloat with a new idea of weddings at the winery, Alessandra and her two sisters have attempted to restore and renovate portions of the winery. But when Penn Bennett, the handsome star to the hottest primetime home renovation show, appears in the valley and shows a marked interest in Alessandra, it stirs a myriad of emotions in Alessandra, including the thought that she doesn’t want to be Tommy’s girl any more. Before long Alessandra realizes Penn can fix quite a few things around the winery . . . including her heart!

Crush on You is the first in the new Three Kisses trilogy. I can’t wait to see what Christie has in store for Alessandra’s sisters, Stephania and Guiliana!

~Buffie

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Tell us about the books that will be in your beach bag this summer! 

~PJ

43 comments:

  1. Hi PJ, thank you for the wonderful review of HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. I am so pleased that you enjoyed reading it.
    Thank you also Romance Dish for the list of books to choose from for the beach bag (it's winter where I live but next month I'll be in sunny Orlando!)
    I love the cover of CRUSH ON YOU with those purple shoes, I'll definitely be reading that.

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  2. In my beach bag will be Loretta Chase's "Last Night's Scandal," Laura Griffin's "Unspeakable," Dee Davis' "Dangerous Desires" and Amy Fetzer's "Damage Control."

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  3. Hey Ladies - thanks for the suggestions. I already have Seducing the Highlander by Emma Wildes in my beach bag and can't wait to read it.

    Other notable books in my bag include:
    Dee Davis - Dangerous Desires
    Erin McCarthy Hot Finish
    Leslie Parish - Cold Sight
    Christine Feehan - Water Bound

    NOW, I just need sunscreen, a beach towel and a BEACH!

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  4. Hi Kandy! I enjoyed HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS so much! I'm glad it's being released in July because it really is the perfect summer book.

    CRUSH ON YOU is a terrific kick-off of Christie Ridgway's new series. Hope you enjoy it!

    Looking forward to seeing you in Orlando!

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  5. Hi Jane! Loretta Chase is one of my favorite authors and I've been waiting a long time for Peregrine and Olivia's book. This August release will definitely be in my beach bag!

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  6. Great list, Marisa! I think I'm going to have to invest in a bigger beach bag! lol!

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  7. Beach bag? No, I'm going to have to borrow my daughter's overnight bag with the wheels on it to transport all the books I want to read this summer!

    I am looking forward to many books(thanks to TRD), but here are just a few:
    TWICE TEMPTED BY A ROGUE--Tessa Dare
    THE MAKING OF A DUCHESS--Shana Galen
    RAVISHED BY A HIGHLANDER--Paula Quinn
    SEDUCING A HIGHLANDER--Emma Wildes
    Backlist of Suzanne Enoch
    Lisa Kleypas

    Can you see TRD influence in this list? LOL!

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  8. I've been putting off buying books so that I can have a ton to read when I go on my cruise in July. The ones I'm looking forward to are:

    Married by Morning - Lisa Kleypas
    The Forbidden Rose - Joanna Bourne
    The Search - Nora Roberts (Gannon, I can't believe this isn't the ones you called out ;oP)
    Assassin's Honor - Monica Burns

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  9. Kati, I haven't had a chance to read THE SEARCH--no ARC :-(--but it's definitely on my summer reading list!!

    Can't wait to hear what you think about THE FORBIDDEN ROSE! Fabulous!!!

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  10. Glad we can help feed your habit, Deb! ;-)

    I've read Twice Tempted by a Rogue. Fabulous! The others are all on my "books to buy" list.

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  11. Kati, those are some very good companions to be taking along with you on your cruise.

    I haven't read Leo's story yet. It's my reward for being a good girl and finishing all my reviews for this month.

    Assassin's Honor is sitting on my tbr and will be savored at some point over the summer.

    I'll echo Gannon and say The Forbidden Rose is outstanding!

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  12. Well, how the heck am I supposed to keep my TBR list and my book budget under control when y'all do blog posts like this???!!!! lol

    Home is Where the Bark Is, The Devil She Knows, When Marrying a Scoundrel, and Crush On You all sound great! And of course, there is also Nora's The Search, LK's Love in the Afternoon, the last two books in Tessa's Stud Club trilogy, and Eloisa's Kiss at Midnight to add to the mix.


    My book budget is seriously going to be out of control this summer. Seriously. ;) I blame you all for this, lol

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  13. My book budget is seriously going to be out of control this summer. Seriously. ;) I blame you all for this, lol

    Lisa, at least you know you'll be in good company! :)

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  14. My book budget is seriously going to be out of control this summer.

    Lisa, we feel your pain. At least I know my wallet does. ;-)

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  15. I am going to be away for over a month, (one advantage to being married to a teacher) And I plan to stuff my beach bag to the gills!

    I just recently won Kris Kennedy's 'The Irish Warrior' so that will be there, along with Anna Campbell's My Reckless Surrender, (Now on order) And I have Tessa Dare's books, Lisa Kleypas and Pamela Palmer also on my beach list!

    And I will be on the beach, going to Nova Scotia to visit family!

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  16. My beach bag has so many books in it that you'd hurt your shoulder to carry it. lol Out of the list i'm looking forward to HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. I love stories that star animals.

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  17. I've added a few hot books to take in my beach bag this summer:

    Ruthless Heart by Emma Lang
    Renegade by Lora Leigh
    Infamous by Suzanne Brockmann
    Corralled by Lorelei James
    Bedding the Enemy by Mary Wine

    Along with a spray bottle to keep me cooled off....Hehehe.

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  18. Thanks so much for the review of CRUSH ON YOU! Lots of great reading this summer. I'm looking forward to Poppy's story from Lisa Kleypas. Anne Stuart has a wonderful historical series coming out too.

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  19. Karyn, have a wonderful time. An entire month at the beach sounds very relaxing...and fun!

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  20. jedisakora said: Out of the list i'm looking forward to HOME IS WHERE THE BARK IS. I love stories that star animals.

    If you love animals, you'll love this story. Mack, especially, will steal your heart!

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  21. Along with a spray bottle to keep me cooled off....Hehehe.

    With that list, I think you're going to need it, Mitzi! I love Mary Wine's writing and I've been looking forward to Keir's story. I'll be putting this one in my bag too!

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  22. Hi Christie! Buffie and I both liked Crush on You so much. Can't wait for the next two books to come out!

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  23. Man, wish I was going to the beach this summer!!! Of course I would have to bury a few kids in the sand to have to read - LOL!

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  24. Thank you also Romance Dish for the list of books to choose from for the beach bag (it's winter where I live but next month I'll be in sunny Orlando!)

    Oooh, can't wait to meet you in Orlando, Kandy! PJ just raves about your books!

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  25. Hey Jane! Great list you have there!! Did you read Dee Davis' DARK DECEPTION? It was really good!

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  26. I already have Seducing the Highlander by Emma Wildes in my beach bag and can't wait to read it.

    Marisa -- it is such a fun read! I really enjoyed how each story feeds the next one.

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  27. Beach bag? No, I'm going to have to borrow my daughter's overnight bag with the wheels on it to transport all the books I want to read this summer!

    LOL, Deb!!!! So funny and yet SO TRUE!

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  28. Kati -- have a blast on the cruise!! I'm sure you will get all those books read, probably more!

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  29. Well, how the heck am I supposed to keep my TBR list and my book budget under control when y'all do blog posts like this???!!!!

    Lisa, good luck in keeping it under control. When you figure out how to do it, please let us know ;-)

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  30. Karyn, sounds like you have got your reading covered. Enjoy!

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  31. My beach bag has so many books in it that you'd hurt your shoulder to carry it.

    Jedi -- I think you can buy bags with wheels on them :-)

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  32. Mitzi -- LOL @ the spray bottle!! I've done that a few times.

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  33. Hello Christie!!! I thoroughly enjoyed Crush On You!!! Such a wonderful story (Penn is so hot!). I can't wait to read the rest in the series.

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  34. Fun post, y'all! Any bag I pack is going to have some boom in it, so I'll be looking for paranormals and RS, mostly--things like Gena Showalter's newest, The Darkest Passion, Dee Davis's Dark Deceptions, Ava Gray's Skin Game, S.M. Stirling's The Sunrise Lands (fantasy/alternate history, not romance) and Ilona Andrews' Magic Bleeds (also shelved in fantasy), for starters.

    Though my getting to an actual beach this summer looks doubtful. *sigh*

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  35. Though my getting to an actual beach this summer looks doubtful. *sigh*

    Same here, Nancy. I guess the back deck, or the sofa, or the bed with have to suffice. I'm about as far as I can get from a beach. :-D

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  36. And I will be on the beach, going to Nova Scotia to visit family!

    That sounds lovely, Karyn!

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  37. Though my getting to an actual beach this summer looks doubtful. *sigh*

    Hey Nancy! Sounds like there are quite a few of us in the same predicament.

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  38. I'm telling you, the back yard and a bucket of water works just fine when you have a great book! *g*

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  39. I'm telling you, the back yard and a bucket of water works just fine when you have a great book! *g*

    PJ can I pull up a bucket next to yours?

    And I have to throw my three cents in with Gannon and PJ - The Forbidden Rose is must read this summer.

    Buffie I'm so glad you enjoyed Seducing the Highlander. I'm really excited about Emma Wildes' writing; I enjoyed her last 2 books so much.

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  40. I'm telling you, the back yard and a bucket of water works just fine when you have a great book! *g*

    Necessity is the mother of invention!

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  41. I have more books than I can read, as usual. The four on top at the moment are:
    RAVISHED BY THE HIGHLANDER by Paula Quinn
    BY FIRE, BY WATER by Mitchell James Kaplan
    THE FORBIDDEN ROSE by Joanna Bourne
    STRANGE NEIGHBORS by Ashlyn Chase
    MY RECKLESS SURRENDER by Anna Campbell
    I'll throw in some suspense novels and it is a good start.

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  42. For my porch swing, in the evenings after work, I'm reading Erin Quinn's Haunting Warrior. It's a great escape for someone who can't afford a vacation this year. :( It's absolutely wonderful!

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  43. Thank you for reviewing "Home Is Where the Bark Is". As I am prone to pick up a book solely for the dog on its cover, I'm glad that this one is worth it. :)

    Other books I'm looking forward to: the rest of the Stud Club trilogy by Tessa Dare, Lisa Kleypas' "Love in the Afternoon", Christina Dodd's "Chains of Ice" and Jayne Castle's "Midnight Crystal" (it'll come out at the end of August - does that count?).

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