Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey

Title:   Yours to Keep
Author: Shannon Stacey
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Kowalski's #3
Main Characters: Emma Shaw & Sean Kowalski
Release Date: June 2011
ISBNe book
Publisher: Carina Press
Links to Purchase:
Barnes & Noble- $3.99 (releases June 6, 2011)
Amazon- $3.99 (releases June 6, 2011)
Sexual Intensity: spicy

I received my copy from netGalley for the purpose of a honest review.

Story Overview:
Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he's recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother's upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn't like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma's offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there's no chance he'll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he's not planning to call home.

Emma's not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his "pretend" kisses are...

My Review:
OMG, I LOVED this book! I was literally laughing out loud throughout the entire book. The family newlywed game had me rolling! ...so darn funny! The premise is a little far-fetched, but if you just let go of that and ready the book, I promise that you will enjoy it!

There is so much to love about this book. The Kowalski Clan are awesome, but I absolutely adored Emma & Sean. These are 2 people in a really strange situation, but they handle it and each other beautifully. They don't even meet each other until 4 days before the charade begins. She gives him a users manual. He gives her post-it notes...in the bathroom. Sean's post-it notes simply made my heart melt. OMG, especially at the end...BAWLING! 

I loved that when Emma cleans, it's because she is stressed. I loved how much these two connected so that they knew those subtle little signs (like Emma's cleaning and ring twisting) that each other exhibits for a whole range of emotions. They get each other on such a deep level except for the one that really counts- neither one can see that the other is falling in love. 

This is one of those books that simply makes you feel good and happy. Emma & Sean are GOOD together and they are friends. They are in this situation as a team and attack all their issues that way...supportive of each other. Did I mention that I love this book?

I loved the cousin's ribbing especially about the sex bet. They all give each other such a hard time, but they are there for emotional support. Again, this is another Kowalski family story, so there are lots of family activities so that you can re-visit your favorites from the previous two books. This is such a great romance novel, but it's a fantastic book about family too.

I love the Kowalski's. I love Emma & Sean. I just love this series. When is the next installment coming out?!?! If you haven't read these books yet, GO GET THEM NOW!! (although this one isn't actually release until next week, June 6 2011...don't worry, I'll post a reminder for you.)

Undeniably Yours by Shannon Stacey

Title:   Undeniably Yours
Author: Shannon Stacey
My Rating: B+

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Kowalski's #2
Main Characters: Beth Hansen & Kevin Kowalski
Release Date: November 2010
ISBNe book
Publisher: Carina Press
Links to Purchase:
Amazon- $3.89
Borders- $3.89
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:

One-night stand + two percent condom failure rate = happily ever after?

Bar owner Kevin Kowalski is used to women throwing their phone numbers at him, but lately he's more interested in finding a woman to settle down with. A woman like Beth Hansen. If only their first meeting hadn't gone so badly...

Beth's tending bar at a wedding when she comes face-to-face with a tuxedo-clad man she never thought she'd see again. She tries to keep her distance from Kevin but, by last call, she can't say no to his too-blue eyes or the invitation back to his room. Then she slips out before breakfast without leaving a note and, despite their precautions, pregnant.

Kevin quickly warms to the idea of being a dad and to seeing where things go with Beth. After all, he's not the player she thinks he is. But she's not ready for a relationship and, given his reputation, it's going to take a lot to convince her to go on a second date with the father of her child...

My Review:
Another great Kowalski read- this one Kevin's- sports bar owner, former cop, great guy, seriously sexy. He meets Beth when he thinks that she's at his bar on an awful date. Instead, she's just meeting her boss to pick up some paperwork. The resulting altercation gets Beth fired- not exactly a good first impression by Kevin. He sees her again a couple of nights later at his brother Joe's wedding where she is working. He seduces her, but she thinks that he's a player so she doesn't stick around for the next morning's walk-of-shame. Then, surprise! Condom failure = pregnant!

Kevin really liked Beth and was planning for more of a relationship with her, so he's not too upset when he finds out that she's pregnant. He's a family-oriented guy who's been thinking about settling down for a while. Beth, on the other hand, is a nomad. She likes her life like that- free, independent,  on her own. A baby is not her ideal. She's also concerned because she sees Kevin as a player and is afraid that he will regret getting involved with her and eventually hate her which will be bad for the baby. She thinks that it's better for them to just maintain their friendship rather than confuse the situation with a romance. This was the most frustrating aspect to this story for me. I don't feel that she was fair to Kevin to keep putting up roadblocks for his feelings. I felt so sorry for him throughout so much of the book. 

I loved Kevin's character. He's in a really tough situation in that Beth doesn't want a relationship, but he really does. You have to admire a guy that is willing to suck it up and take whatever he can get for the good of the baby. His heart is breaking piece by piece throughout so much of the book, that you just want to cry for him. On the other hand, I had a really hard time relating to Beth's character and why she leads such a nomadic life. She didn't have a bad childhood, but her lifestyle seems indicative of really horrible emotional scarring...it just didn't seem to fit for me and she wants Kevin who proves himself over and over to be a really great guy, so I didn't understand why she fought their attraction for so long.

There was a secondary love story in this book between Paulie, the waitress/bartender who works at Kevin's bar, and her ditched fiance Sam. I really enjoyed this aspect of the story although I honestly felt like they had enough story line that they could have carried their own book. I hope that we get to see more of their story later in the series...

Overall, I enjoyed this book and I definitely continue to love the Kowalski clan!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011

Exclusively Yours by Shannon Stacey

Title:   Exclusively Yours
Author: Shannon Stacey
My Rating: A

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Kowalski's #1
Main Characters: Keri Daniels & Joe Kowalski
Release Date: June 2010
ISBN: e book
Publisher: Carina Press
Links to Purchase:
Amazon- $4.61
Borders- $4.69
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:

When Keri Daniels' editor finds out she has previous carnal knowledge of reclusive bestselling author Joe Kowalski, she gives Keri a choice: get an interview or get a new job.

Joe's never forgotten the first girl to break his heart, so he's intrigued to hear Keri's back in town--and looking for him. Despite his intense need for privacy, he'll grant Keri an interview if it means a chance to finish what they started in high school.

He proposes an outrageous plan--for every day she survives with his family on their annual camping and four-wheeling trip, Keri can ask one question. Keri agrees; she's worked too hard to walk away from her career.

But the chemistry between them is still as potent as the bug spray, Joe's sister is out to avenge his broken heart and Keri hasn't ridden an ATV since she was ten. Who knew a little blackmail, a whole lot of family and some sizzling romantic interludes could make Keri reconsider the old dream of Keri & Joe 2gether 4ever.

My Review:
OMG, I loved this book!! As a family who takes whole-family camping trips (5 campsites...taking over the campground kind of camping,) this book had me laughing out loud to the point that dh came and checked on what was so funny. There was so much about the camping that I could relate to...hehe!

The whole ensemble of characters is wonderful, but I just loved Keri & Joe. There was so much heartache for both of them when Keri left to follow her dream 18 years ago, but neither one of them would be the same today if she hadn't done it. Their chemistry is still sizzling and it was so fun reading about them trying to ignore it which they manage for a good long time esp. considering they are spending the nights together.

Everything about this book was wonderful. It was fun, well-written, with a great story line. There wasn't a single lull in the story, which is why I couldn't help but to read it in a single sitting. 

I think that one of the reasons that this book was so fun to read was because the family all has so much fun together and at each other's expense. They are a close family and a huge rambunctious bunch. They are on vacation camping so they are in a huge outdoor playground- enjoying life and having a good time just being together.

Keri works for a magazine whose editor is obsessed with getting an interview with exclusive writer Joe. Keri has never disclosed that she actually knew Joe...that they were lovers in high school, so when her editor finds out (someone sends her a photo of them in high school,) she's a little unhappy with Keri and threatens Keri's job if she doesn't get the interview. Keri is stuck between a rock and a hard place so she goes to Joe and he proposes this outrageous camping trip. If Keri can survive, then she will have her interview.

I like that Keri & Joe have their history together. They were hot and heavy in high school and that chemistry is still there, although they are both trying to ignore it. They are still totally drawn to each other, but their history and the hurt that it caused holds them both back. Keri broke Joe's heart and they both know that and neither one wants a repeat of it. The fact is that Keri is there to get something from Joe and she's not planning on sticking around this time either.

It's so easy for Keri to fall into the camaraderie of Joe's family. They are all together 24/7 for two weeks. You can feel her getting sucked in- to both the family and Joe's life, but it doesn't change the fact that her life is on the other side of the country. There is not a good compromise to find here...

I have fallen in love with Joe & Keri and the entire Kowalski clan! I cannot wait to read the rest of this series...

Sunday, May 29, 2011

McKettricks of Texas: Tate by Linda Lael Miller

Title:   McKettricks of Texas: Tate
Author: Linda Lael Miller
My Rating: B

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: McKettricks of Texas #1
Main Characters: Tate McKettrick & Libby Remington
Release Date: January 2010
ISBN0373774362 or 
Publisher: Harlequin 
Links to Purchase:
Amazon- $7.99
Borders- $6.39
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:
There are barely enough hours for divorced dad Tate McKettrick to run the Silver Spur ranch, do the suit-and-tie thing for his business and run herd on his beloved six-year-old twin daughters. But time stands still at the sight of Libby Remington. When they were high school sweethearts, the wealthy McKettrick couldn't convince Libby he loved her. But now they're both back in Blue River, Texas. And cattle rustlers, a manipulative ex-wife and a killer stallion can't keep him from trying again.

Libby has her hands full taking care of her mother—and running the Perk Up Coffee Shop. Caffeine, she needs. Tate McKettrick, with his blazing blue eyes and black hair? No. Oh, heck—yes. But can they really hope for a second chance?

My Review:
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Tate & Libby were likable characters. The story line was interesting with lots of depth. Because this is a 3-book series surrounding these 2 families, the complexity of the family dynamics is really well thought out and thorough which made for great story development. There were a few times that the dialogue or thought processes seemed over-the-top and cheesy, but overall, I could ignore those moments and continue to enjoy the story.

Molly & Tate were high school sweethearts. She always assumed that they would get married, until Tate came home from law school with the devastating news that he'd gotten a girl pregnant and that they were getting married. Now Tate is a divorced father of 6 year old twins Ava & Audrey. He and Molly have managed to avoid each other for the 5 years since his divorce, but Tate is no longer willing to accept that as the status quo.

Molly's character and issues were a little bit harder to nail down. As a female, she's a bit confused and conflicted. She's indisputably drawn to Tate, but feels that she should be smarter than to trust that. She has given up a lot of her own dreams to take care of her sisters and father...and now her mother, and now feels conflicted about exactly where she belongs in this world. She's having her own midlife-style-crisis without the complications that Tate brings into the situation. 

There were lots of details about this story that I really like:
* Tate's relationship with his brothers (which bodes well for the whole series since the next 2 books features them.)
*the book is set in a small Texas town
*Molly owns a coffee shop- one of my other passions
*the McKettricks own a large sprawling ranch- great country ambience
*the tension between Molly & Tate is really well-written

It should be fun to see where the story goes from here with all the siblings...

She Who Dares, Wins by Candace Havens

Title:   She Who Dares, Wins
Author: Candace Havens
My Rating: A-

Genre: Contemporary Suspense
Series: - -
Main Characters: Katie McClure & Macon Douglas
Release Date: March 2011
ISBN0373796110 or 
Publisher: Harlequin Blaze
Links to Purchase:
Amazon- $4.99
Borders- $3.89 (e-book)
Sexual Intensity: spicy

Story Overview:

Well, it certainly wasn't the assignment detective Katie McClure was expecting. Traveling to London to protect an old scientist who'd been receiving death threats? Too easy.

As it turns out, Dr. Macon Douglas is hot. The kind that makes Katie ponder her own kinds of experiments—namely ones that involve Mac being naked. But the death threats are real…along with the wicked chemistry that seems to sizzle and zap whenever they're together. Can Katie keep her professional thoughts in mind and keep Mac safe—or will she risk everything and dare to be bare?

My Review:
I admit a bias- I have never been a big fan of these shorter novels because I always felt like that there wasn't enough time or room for good character or story development. With this book (on top of several other good ones that I have read recently,) I think that I can put that perception to rest. I loved this book.

The story line for this one was wonderful. Katie has been sent to London to protect Mac, a professor at a local university who is doing very important, top-secret research, after several attempts on his life. Unbeknownst to Katie, her doddering old professor is actually the studly young hottie that she picked up and had a passionate night of sex with the night before.

I really enjoyed this book. I LOVED Mac who is passionate about wanting Katie and not afraid to show it. You gotta love that in a guy. He's also extremely sweet and perceptive as well as being romantic and really smart...you know, a perfect guy. Katie is worried about losing her perspective over the case when she is falling for Mac. Letting him get killed because she is distracted is NOT an option. Besides, it's not very good for her professionally to fall for the guy that she's supposed to be protecting, but she can't seem to help herself. 

Again, this is a book that I totally enjoyed, but was also inspired by the ambience. The book takes place in Londone which is a city that I love, but it also has a couple of days of a snowy blizzard. 
Snow + London + romance = PERFECTION for me.

LOVED this read!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

June, 2011

My wish list for the coming months is HUGE! 

I am going to list the May 31 releases too, because I will be buying them with June's budget money. ;o)
Here is just a glimpse of what is coming out in June that I am excited about...

Trace of Fever (Men who Walk the Edge of Honor #2) by Lori Foster
May 31, 2011

Beg for Mercy by Jami Alden
May 31, 2011

Make Mine a Bad Boy (Deep in the Heart of Texas #2) by Katie Lane
May 31, 2011

Red Heat (Men In Uniform #1) by Nina Bruhns
June 7, 2011

Deeper than Midnight (Midnight Breeds #9) by Lara Adrian
June 28, 2011

Savor the Danger (Men who Walk the Edge of Honor #3) by Lori Foster
June 28, 2011

The Rebel by JR Ward (re-release from Jessica Bird)
June 28, 2011