Sunday, September 30, 2012

Where Azaleas Bloom by Sherryl Woods

Title:  Where Azaleas Bloom
AuthorSherryl Woods
My Rating:
 B



Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sweet Magnolia #10
Main Characters: Jane and Mitch
Release Date: September 2012 
ISBN: 9780778313694
Publisher: Mira
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild


Story Overview:
Single mom Lynn Morrow is determined to put food on the table for her son and daughter. Her soon-to-be-ex-husband has failed to meet his obligations time and again—but it turns out that Ed is struggling with his own demons.
Enter contractor Mitch Franklin, an unlikely knight in shining armor. A widower with two grieving sons, Mitch once admired Lynn from afar. Now he sees in her not only the sweet girl who got away, but a woman desperately in need of support. While rushing to the rescue of Lynn and her children comes naturally to Mitch, he's also wise enough to encourage Lynn to find her own way…hopefully straight into his arms.

My Review:
I really enjoyed the parts of this book that featured Lynn and Mitch. I liked them together and like that they have a bit of history...i.e. Mitch had a crush on her when they were kids, but it was unrequited because Lynn only had eyes for her soon-to-be-ex-husband Ed. I also liked that there was a bit of suspense/mystery to the story line because no one knows what is truly going on with Ed. All they know is that he's suddenly acting and doing things that are completely out of character for him. 

The problem is that most of those things are adversely affecting Lynn's life and she's about to the point of breaking with the stress of it all. She's looking at losing her house and not being able to feed her kids, but she's still trying to take care of everything herself rather than going to her friends for help.

Mitch's wife Amy died a year before as the result of a drunk driver hitting her. He has two grown boys but they are away at college. He's a construction contractor and is re-doing Raylene's house. She just happens to live next door to Lynn and Lynn has caught his eye once again...mainly because he realizes that she's in trouble. You have to love a guy with a protective streak and a white-in-shining-armor complex. Mitch definitely fits that description, but Lynn won't let him save her. She's determined to do it on her own. 

Overall, I enjoyed her story. Lynn has two kids...a ten yo boy and a fourteen yo girl. I like the perspective they added to the story and especially like the bond that Jeremy and Mitch form. I also really liked Mitch's boys when they came into the story. 

I had NO IDEA what was going on with the soon-to-be-ex until right before it was revealed...definite shocker! I liked how Lynn handled him throughout the book. It would be so easy to make her bitter against him, but the mental health of her kids takes priority for her (as it should be) throughout the entire thing...no matter how angry she is. I liked that she kept a good mothers perspective to their conflict.

Part of these books is the Sweet Magnolias and the Senior Magnolias side stories. Before this book, I've enjoyed them. But in this one, I think the Senior Magnolia story line and the romance between Francis and Donnie took too much page space....to the point where I started skipping those sections. I didn't mind the story, but I just think it ran too heavily within this book when it truly had nothing to do with Mitch and Lynn.

Overall, I have loved getting to read these three books out of this series. Sherryl Woods has a great contemporary, small-town voice and her books are just a pleasure to read. I know there's a few of the previous books from this series that I want to pick up to add to my TBR pile.

I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Catching Fireflies by Sherryl Woods


Title:  Catching Fireflies
AuthorSherryl Woods
My Rating: A



Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sweet Magnolia #9
Main Characters: J.C. and Laura
Release Date: July 2012 
ISBN
9780778313595
Publisher: Mira
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild


Story Overview:
When bullying threatens to destroy a teen's life, painful memories resurface for dedicated high school teacher Laura Reed and pediatrician J. C. Fullerton. With the support of the Sweet Magnolias, they bring the town together to ensure that a promising student's future isn't ruined. And to establish once and for all that bullying has no place in Serenity, South Carolina.
Both J.C.'s and Laura's passion for the cause is deeply personal, and their growing feelings for each other are just as strong. But with so many secret hurts to overcome, can these two vulnerable lovers find the strength to believe in happily ever after?

My Review:
This was such an amazing book, partly because it faces head-on a subject that has gotten a lot of press lately, bullying. BUT what this book does is shows the very real consequences of bullying...both with teens, children, and adults. It's a REALLY wonderful book and has such an amazing message.

In this book, J.C. (a pediatrician) and Laura (high school English teacher) are brought together by their concern for Misty, a junior in the high school. Misty is smart and talented and an all-around nice girl, but something's going on with her. She's skipping Laura's English class and went to J.C. hoping to get a note to excuse her from school, but she refuses to explain what's going on. The only person who knows is Katie, her best friend. Katie was in the last book and got in trouble for skipping school. We never did find out why she was doing that, but now it comes out....she's trying to help her friend Misty. Katie is the friend that every mother hopes her kid has...steadfast and true and willing to stand up for what is right. Katie's finally the one who finds help for Misty. It truly is just a great book. 

Already with the set-up, you know that J.C. and Laura are going to be amazing characters. They are out to protect this teenager who, at first, doesn't have many allies. But they both have such deeper stories. They both have their own harsh experiences with bullies and the mental scars from those. J.C. also has relationship scars which have put him off relationships forever. He has NO DESIRE to ever get romantically involved again and is very upfront with Laura about that from the very beginning. He's here for Misty and only Misty, but slowly that changes. I really liked the way that their relationship evolved and the morning he called Laura to go running had me cracking up. I love that they are friends first.

Again this is a series with a VERY strong small-town vibe and this whole town rallies around this issue. I've only read the book before this one even though this is #9 in the series. You absolutely don't have to read the others to enjoy any of these novels, but I have a feeling you will find, like I am, that you will want to go back and read other books from the series after starting it. They truly are just good books. I'm a big fan of Robyn Carr's Virgin River series and these remind me a lot of that one. Just an amazing cast of characters that you can't help but fall in love with!

I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Midnight Promises by Sherryl Woods




Title:  Midnight Promises
AuthorSherryl Woods
My Rating: B




Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Sweet Magnolia #8
Main Characters: Elliott and Karen
Release Date: June 2012 
ISBN
9780778313489
Publisher: Mira
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild

Story Overview:
When Elliott Cruz first courted struggling single mom Karen Ames, it it was a romance worthy of any Sweet Magnolia fantasy. The sexy personal trainer made it his mission to restore Karen's strength—physical and emotional—and to charm her children.

Now, a few years into the marriage, colliding dreams threaten to tear a few years into the marriage, colliding dreams threaten to tear them them apart. Elliott's desire to finance the business opportunity of a lifetime with their hard-earned "baby money" stirs Karen's deep-rooted financial insecurities. It's the discovery that their brother-in-law is cheating on Elliott's sister—and thinks it's justified—that puts their irreconcilable differences into perspective. Will their own loving fidelity be a bond so strong they can triumph against all odds?

My Review:
I probably never would have picked up this book on my own because I haven't read the other 7 books in this series and this particular book is about a couple who are already married. That would have been a mistake because this was a completely enjoyable book to read. Even though I haven't read any of the other books in the series, I never felt lost. This is a completely stand-alone novel and is great by itself. More than a romance novel (although there is definitely romance to it) this is a book about a small town and what it takes to make relationships (all types) work.

Elliott and Karen have been married for two years. (I need to look back and see if their's was one of the earlier books. I have a feeling it is because it doesn't sound like their courtship was an easy one.) They've been married long enough that they are having to make truly hard life decisions and are not sure how to handle the different ways that they each approach them. Elliott's immediate response is as a take charge alpha-type and protect Karen from everything (i.e. not tell her) until he has it all figured out and settles as to how things are going to work. But Karen's first marriage was filled with secrets and lies and she can't handle that from Elliott...even when what he has to say is going to send her into a panic. 

Karen has a phobia about money. Her first husband left her with a pile of debt that she knew nothing about until after the divorce. And now Elliott wants to invest in a new gym in town with a group of other men, also putting up capital. As a physical trainer, the gym would be Elliott's baby and it's most definitely his dream, but it's going to require all their savings, plus going into some major debt. I really liked them as a couple. They are most definitely having troubles communicating, but there's no doubt...ever...that they completely adore each other and want their marriage to work. They're just dealing with real pressures of learning how to become a true partner to another person. 

In the midst of all that is this great community/town called Serenity. There are a core group of women called the Sweet Magnolias who get together for girls nights and drink margaritas (my kinds of women). It's most of their men who are building the new gym in town. I really liked the variety of characters and that's before we get to the Senior Magnolias who were simply a hoot. There are a LOT of side characters in this, but amazingly, I really never got lost in who was who and the main way that they all related within the town. It was definitely just a great book for those of you who enjoy the small-town romances.

I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Flirting with Fangs by Peg Pierson

Title:  Flirting with Fangs
Author: Peg Pierson
My Rating: B-

Genre: Paranormal Romance 
Series: -
Main Characters: Bailey and Torin

Release Date: September 2012
ISBN: 978-1612172460

Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Links to Purchase:
Wild Rose Press
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:
Vampire romance novelist Bailey Hamilton believes her life is
over. Her two-timing husband dumped her. She’s developed a paralyzing
case of writers’ block that threatens to end her career. And her big
toe is bleeding.Torin Kane, vampire hero, is miserable. Chapter after
chapter he’s battled dragons and demons in pursuit of his archenemy, the
treacherous vampire queen, Lillianna. And though his author, Bailey
Hamilton, gives him plenty of bodices to rip along the way, Torin’s
secret desire is to find true love. And maybe something else to wear
besides a cape and shiny boots. With a twist of fate their worlds
collide. A magical teardrop summons the sexy fictional vampire to life.
And Bailey finds herself face to face with quite literally, the man of
her dreams.

My Review:
Flat out, this is a book meant for entertainment purposes. There was so much fun to this story line. 

In this world, characters from books are kept in an other-world green room, waiting for their author's to call them up. Torin is Bailey's vampire from her best-selling series and we get to see him as he languishes in the green room (Bailey's having issues with writers block so he's not getting much action) where he bemoans the facts that he can never have a tan or find his one true love (which would mean the end of the series). He lives within historical paranormal novels so this is a pretty formal vampire in both his speech and actions...normally. 

For Bailey, she hasn't been able to write a decent sentence since her husband left her six months ago. She's over her deadline with no hope in sight and it's her tears on her typed page which bring Torin to life....with every perfect aspect about him that she's ever written. He is her dream man...well kind of. LOL, here's just a sampling of the writing and how fun this story is:

"Bailey closed her eyes and swallowed back a scream of frustration. Damn her ability to capture masculine confidence bordering on egotistical arrogance."

The entire book is written completely tongue-in-cheek and truly is a lot of fun. I have been reading a ton of really serious stuff lately so this was nice for a fun read. That being said though, the book could have been a bit shorter. By the end of the book, it got to be a bit much and I was ready to head back to some normal reading, but it did offer a nice little respite for the night. It definitely offered more than a few giggles. Just know, going into it...this is going to be fun. This is not for serious reading.

I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Shades of Temptation by Virna DePaul

Title:  Shades of Temptation
AuthorVirna DePaul
My Rating: B+


Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: SIG #2
Main Characters: Carrie and Jase
Release Date: September 2012
ISBN9780373776740

Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot


Story Overview:

Carrie Ward understands dangerous men, and she's got the scars to prove it. These days, the Special Investigations Group detective saves her risk taking for the job. But when she's asked to pursue a high-profile serial killer, she'll have to join forces with the last man she wants to depend on—Jase Tyler, an ace senior detective who's as reckless as she is cautious. And despite her best intentions, the sparks begin to fly.As Carrie and Jase race to try to save the next victim, the passion that simmers between them ignites. But a cunning killer at the top of his game is challenging Carrie to play to the very end. Now all she can count on are her instincts—and Jase, the one man daring enough to keep her safe….

My Review:


Carrie has just come back on the job at SIG after a one-month sabbatical after she was shot in the leg and subsequently killed the 16 yo that shot her. She had a split second where she questioned shooting him because he was so young and it cost them both. Her first case back is a high-profile serial killer. It should be a dream assignment, but Carrie is having issues (PTSD) from killing the kid and doubting herself and her abilities. Added to that stress is Jase. Jase and she have been circling each other for a while, but he's gorgeous and a player. She is not that kind of girl. She's a tough cop and has worked hard to maintain that non-feminine persona so that there's no question about her abilities on the job. Carrie has a LOT of issues that she's working through in this book.

The only issue Jase is having to work through is that he wants Carrie. I loved his character although there were moments when he was almost too perfect. He refuses to push Carrie into something she will regret later and there were times when I really wanted him to push her...or get frustrated with her...or something. BUT that being said, if I could make up my perfect guy, I think that Jase would definitely fit the bill. He's sexy. He's sweet. He's completely upfront with how much he wants Carrie. He's a good cop and quite honestly, he's just an all-around nice guy. I loved how much he wants Carrie and the fact that he's not afraid to show her that.


Then there are the serial killers....yes, two of them...both equally evil and psychotic. OMG, the killings in this book are enough to give you nightmares. These guys are psychos and it's hard to tell you which one is worse.


I continue to enjoy this series. I like the SIG...5 man investigative team, although this book rocked some of the stability of the team, with their leader on his honeymoon and a couple of the members taking some serious hits. I definitely am looking forward to reading more of their stories. This is just good romantic suspense reading!


I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Fool's Gold Christmas by Susan Mallery



Title: A Fool's Gold Christmas
Author: Susan Mallery
My Rating: A


Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Fool's Gold #10
Main Characters: Dante and Evie
Release Date: September 2012
ISBN: 9780373777020
Publisher: Harlequin
Links to Purchase:
Amazon  
Sexual Intensity: mild


Story Overview:
New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery brings you a heartwarming tale for the holidays!
The unrelenting cheer in Fool's Gold, California, is bringing out the humbug in dancer Evie Stryker. She learned early on that Christmas miracles don't happen, at least not for her. And this year seems like no exception. An injury has forced her to return to the family fold, no matter that they're estranged. She won't add to the awkward scenario by being seduced by the bad-boy charms of her brother's best friend, the last man she should ever want to date. Even when she's recruited to stage Fool's Gold's winter festival, she vows to do as promised, then move forward with her life anywhere but here.
Jaded lawyer Dante Jefferson is getting used to the backwater town he now reluctantly calls home, but the pounding of little dancers' feet above his temporary office is more than any man should have to take! When he confronts their gorgeous teacher, he's unprepared for the attraction that sears him down to the soul. Evie is his best friend's sister-off-limits unless he's willing to risk his heart. Dante has always believed that love is the most dangerous force in the universe, but that was before he had to reckon with the magic of a certain small town, where miracles do seem to happen....

My Review:
What a perfect holiday romance! I loved this book. Not only did it feature two incredible characters in Dante and Evie, but it also featured so many of my favorite things about the small town of Fool's Gold in the midst of the magic of the holiday season!

These two characters have been favorites of mine for a while. Evie, just because her story is so heartbreaking. May is the perfect mother, except when it comes to her daughter Evie and everyone agrees that Evie totally received the short end of the stick there. She got pregnant with Evie during a one-night stand when she was mourning the death of her husband. Evie has never been made to feel like a true part of this family, either by her mother or her three older brothers. Then there's Dante. We've always known him as Rafe's really sexy, sarcastic business partner and lawyer. I've loved him from the very moment he landed on the page...and now, *sigh* if he wasn't perfect for Evie, I'd be fighting her for him. Another fantastic character who has some heartbreaking history that makes his (fictional) reality so much more inspiring and wonderful. This is a guy who's pulled himself out of the muck to become so much more.

There's a lot going on in this story, but mainly it revolves about Evie and her finding her way back to her family....the Stryker's who we have fallen in love with over the last three books in this series. But it's also about Evie and Dante finding themselves at home in this little town which completely embraces the Christmas season. Neither of these characters is at home in small town life and they aren't exactly comfortable with all the trappings of the holiday season either, but Fool's Gold doesn't let anyone feel excluded. Soon, both these characters find themselves caught up in all the holiday activities and finding their own holiday spirit. It's a perfect book to read in prep of the upcoming holiday season to get you in the mood.

I received a complementary copy of this book in return for an honest review.