Book Review: It Happened at the Park by Ryan Jo Summers

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

IT HAPPENED AT THE PARK by Ryan Jo Summers is a contemporary romance that gives all your emotions a workout. The workaholic heroine inherits her deceased sister’s dogs. The hero prefers his dog and laidback lifestyle over women at this point in his life for a good reason. Adorable dogs, grief, secrets and a witty love story all come together in this realistic romance.

Cassidy Grant is always the consummate professional. A workaholic city planner who is structured, career-oriented and polished. When Cassidy’s sister dies, Cassidy inherits her two dogs, Tessa and Remi. Her world is thrown into turmoil, not just by the doggie invasion, but also the realization that her loving younger sister is gone and she feels guilty for not spending more time with her.

Ethan Sheppard and his best friend, Jake run in to Cassidy at the dog park. Cassidy realizes this easy-going, handsome guy knows how to handle dogs and makes an offer to Ethan for help learning about her new charges. Ethan is intrigued that this woman is the first to interest him since his ex and agrees to help.

Their feelings grow, but their careers may stop this romance before it begins. Cassidy is told by her boss in the city planners office that she has to uncover the secret identity of the newspaper cartoonist, The Salty Kid, who keeps lampooning the mayor and could jeopardize his reelection. The Salty Kid is closer than Cassidy can imagine and has to make a choice between the girl or his career.

The H/h are very realistic. Both have to go through some very tough soul searching. I had a little trouble with how Cassidy could lose her career over not finding out who The Salty Kid was and her devotion to a mayor who seemed very dictatorial, but the author made it work out in the end. The dogs were all great secondary characters that I loved. This is a sweet and smart contemporary romance with no sex scenes.

Reviewed for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.

Book Review: The Santa Bargain by Robin Michaela

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

If you want a quick to read, feel good, contemporary Christmas romance, then you have to read THE SANTA BARGAIN: A Small Town Christmas Romance by a new-to-me author Robin Michaela. It is festive, sweet, funny, sad and steamy all wrapped up to a HEA in just 257 pages.

Maria Thompson is starting over in a small Colorado town of Copper River. She is starting her own coffee shop, raising her 5 year old son, Zach and has sworn off all men after her son’s father walked out on them two years ago. Maria is talked into organizing the first Christmas festival to bring tourists to town after devastating wildfires nearly destroyed it. When the sexy carpenter working on the town’s shops runs into Maria, she may just have to rethink her no men policy.

Joe Sinclair was raised in the foster care system after the death of his parents. He learned never to get attached to anyone because they all just left you. There seems to be something different about the coffee shop owner though that attracts him against his better judgement. She is smart, curvy and loves Christmas. She has a small child. He should be running in the other direction, but he just cannot stay away.

Maria makes Joe a promise that if he will play Santa for the Christmas festival, she will be his naughty elf afterwards. Their pasts may get in the way of their new relationship unless Santa can bring them together for a Merry Christmas.

Maria, Joe and Zach are wonderfully real characters that worm their ways into your heart. The sex is hot and steamy, but never gratuitous. There is nothing new in this plot, but the characters and dialogue make it memorable. An enjoyable standalone read for the holiday romance lover.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.

Book Review: Tell It Like It Is by Stanalei Fletcher

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

TELL IT LIKE IT IS (Northstar Security #5) by Stanalei Fletcher is the newest addition to this fantastic romantic suspense series! I believe Ms. Fletcher consistently produces realistic and strong heroes and heroines, interesting suspense plots and romance to heat up the sheets on these chilly winter nights.

Justine Shelby is an agent for Northstar Security who lives and works in California for the D.C. based company. Tiny, white haired and honest to a fault, Shelby has a past that she has worked hard to overcome. Her latest assignment is to be a personal bodyguard/assistant to world famous author Rosalee Kane. Rosalee is writing her memoir and has started to receive death threats. Shelby begins to care for the author as more than just a job and does not want to lose jurisdiction to Rosalee’s FBI Special Agent nephew.

FBI Special Agent Nelson Kane has many reservations about Northstar handling his aunt’s case from a previous encounter. As the threats escalate, he must put those reservations aside and trust in Shelby to help him keep his aunt alive.

With each turn of the page, you become even more involved with the mystery, suspense and action. Most romantic suspense stories center mainly on the H/h and protagonist, but this book also has a feisty, elderly author/aunt, who is just as smart, young at heart and entertaining as the H/h. Ms. Fletcher’s dialogue between these characters is intelligent, funny and sassy. The romance is there and happens without sexual intercourse. I was more focused on the suspense plot and Rosalee. (Not a slight, I just was not as completely into the H/h’s romance in this book.) I was able to predict the villain of this tale, but it did not ruin the story for me.

If you have not tried this author or this series, you really should! This book can be read as a standalone, just like the others in this series, but I think once you finish this story, you will want to read the others, too.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.

Book Review: Last Rights by Ava Bradley

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I have just finished a story by another fabulous new-to-me author who had me on the edge of my seat in suspense, crying and laughing, morally debating cloning and hot and twitchy with short, but steamy sex scenes.

LAST RIGHTS by Ava Bradley was a romantic suspense set in the future that starts from the very first page at jet speed and does not let up.

P.I. Fallon Monroe is sent by her sister to retrieve her nephew’s clone for life saving heart transplant surgery. Fallon soon comes to realize this clone is not just a lump of cells, but an exceptionally gifted little boy who calls himself, Jamie. The cloning company does not want people to know the true reality of the clones and a terrorist group wants to set this child up as a symbol to get the country to change the cloning laws.

Special Ops Lieutenant John White is awakened from a medically induced healing coma as Fallon and Jamie burst into his hospital room attempting escape. He does not know why, but he knows he has to protect these two above all else. John and Fallon will do anything to protect Jamie, but each is also harboring a secret that they fear could change the feelings that are beginning to blossom between them.

I did not want to put this book down. The chase and suspense were always constant. Fallon, John and Jamie are wonderfully realistic characters that I fell in love with. Cloning is debated, not just in the hypothetical, but by making you fall in love with characters it effects and makes you think about what you would do and how you feel. I never felt it was preachy because the author made you feel Fallon’s heart wrenching decisions as she made them.

This story had everything I am looking for in a romantic suspense and more. I highly recommend this story and I will definitely be looking for more from this author.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

 

Book Review: Wicked In a Kilt by Anna Durand

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

WICKED IN A KILT (Hot Scots #2) by Anna Durand is an extremely steamy contemporary romance! It seems all the MacTaggart brothers are wickedly hot and irresistible in their kilts.

Aidan MacTaggart has decided to come to America to find himself a wife. His brother, Jamie is now happy and settled and he wants that for himself. He intends to follow every step his brother took to find his own American bride.

Calli Douglas has come out of her self-imposed five year seclusion to be in her cousin’s wedding. Calli mistakes Aidan for the stripper that is supposed to be preforming at her cousin’s bachelorette party. Well he was in a kilt and too beautiful to be true. What she does not expect is her instant attraction. Callie has sworn off love and romance and is bound by a promise to someone else, but everything changes when faced with one very determined Scot.

Callie and Aidan are both instantly attracted, but because each harbors a large secret that could destroy their budding relationship completely, the pace of their relationship is slow and steady. Both have many obstacles not just with their new relationship, but with trust issues, past relationships and family that I feel this author handled very well. The sex scenes are frequent, extremely hot and explicit. This is one determined Scot out to seduce his American beauty!

Written for and posted first for The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: A Covert Affair by Susan Mann

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

The second book in the Librarian and the Spy Escapade, A COVERT AFFAIR by Susan Mann is just as much fun as the first! Quinn and James are wonderful together once again on their new adventure through India.

I really feel these books fill an interesting niche. They are action spy thrillers with romance, adventure and interesting, intelligent plots, but they are not as violent or strictly action driven as most in this genre. I like to call these books “cozy spy thrillers” and just what I am looking for to curl up with for an afternoon adventure.

Quinn Ellington has moved to D.C. and is now a reference librarian at the CIA. She will be training at The Farm to become an agent like her boyfriend, James Bond Anderson. Their relationship is progressing and it is because they are close and Quinn has a passionate love of books and knowledge that they are both sent on a mission as husband and wife to the Punjab district in India. To save a kidnapped ambassador’s life, they have to find and return a stolen Sikh library of historic and religious books.

Ms. Mann had me completely engrossed in the descriptions of India and especially the Punjab district. Her information on the Sikh culture and history displayed extensive research and it was well paced throughout the story without feeling like an info dump. The Indian characters were believable and empathetic.

Quinn is an empowered female heroine, who uses her intelligence as well as her physical prowess. James is her perfect hunky, spy hero who is also learning to not be overly protective and let Quinn investigate avenues on her own. Their banter is fun and entertaining. The sexual relationship is hot, but not overly explicit. This book can be read as a standalone, but Quinn and James’s relationship changes and grows in each book.

This is a series to follow!

Thanks very much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review.