Book Review: Everything I’ve Dreamed Of by Norah Bennett

everything i've dreamed of

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

I have just finished reading a beautifully written, plotted and emotionally charged contemporary romance that has given me a book hangover that I do not want to end! EVERYTHING I’VE DREAMED OF (Love In Lake Crossing, Book 2) by Norah Bennet is a romance that introduces two broken individuals that this author brings to life and shares their journey of realistic emotional growth and healing.

Kate Willowbrook has grown up experiencing physical and sexual abuse, hunger and fear. She runs away after witnessing a rape and murder in her high school and ends up on the streets. Kate is eventually taken in by an elderly, feisty woman in Texas and given love and stability for the first time and taught how to take care of herself. With the death of her mentor and the end of a bad relationship, it is time to find a place to call home.

Kate settles down when she finds her dream of an old bookstore for sale in Lakes Crossing, NJ. She turns it into a bookstore for children called “Dreamscapes” with her apartment above and her cockatoo, Shakespeare. After a year of living here and making only casual acquaintances, Noah Reed walks in to find books for his niece’s birthday and Kate can’t believe her reaction to him.

Noah Bennett grew up in Lakes Crossing, but lives and works in New York City. His wife was killed in a car accident while he was in London on business and he has never forgiven himself. He throws himself into work and occasionally dates, but is not interested in a relationship until he meets Kate. Kate makes him laugh again and every encounter makes him want her more and the more he wants her the more protective he becomes. This causes problems with Kate from her past and somehow they have to learn to balance both of their needs against their fears to have a chance at love.

I cannot recommend this book enough. Kate and Noah both have to learn to open up and share their past lives, learn to overcome their fears and learn to balance the needs of each other to make this relationship work. What makes this romance so special is that the H/h actually talk to each other and work through their problems. They do have an instant attraction, but after that the pacing of the romance is realistic. This book is part of a series, but can easily be read a standalone. Well written sex scenes and a few external problems make this book a wonderful contemporary romance read. I’ll be looking for more from this author.

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

Book Review: When It Hits You by Nicki Elson

when it hits you

RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

WHEN IT HITS YOU by Nicki Elson is listed as Book 1 in the ‘It’ Series, but it was a previously released book with a different title. It is more of a Chick Lit book with a small amount of romance in the last 40 pages of the story, than Contemporary romances like books two and three in this series.

Lyssa Bates is a 26 year old financial analyst who has chosen her vibrator over her boyfriend when given that final ultimatum, the vibrator or me. She has decided her vibrator has everything she needs for now. As her love life takes a new turn, so does her work life. She is assigned to work on a major corporate account with the hottie, Hayden from estates.

Hayden King is a rising star in the investment company and this new opportunity is very important to him. He is also a man who believes in dating several woman and not committing to one, until if ever he meets the ‘one’. At first, Lyssa finds him conceited and overbearing, but as they work together for long hours, she begins to realize there is a difference between what you see and how Hayden really is.

I enjoyed Lyssa and Hayden and the banter that went on between the two, but to be honest I went into this thinking I was getting a Contemporary romance. The story ended that way, but was pure Chick Lit in the majority of the story. The dialogue was crisp and entertaining. It was interesting to learn why Lyssa and Hayden each behaved the way they did, also. Good story, but not what I was looking for in this series.

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

Book Review: Liz: The Montana McKennas by Jan Scarbrough

LRH Liz

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

LIZ: THE MONTANA McKENNAS (The Montana Ranchers #7) by Jan Scarbrough is a wonderful read to wrap up the blended McKenna family series of romances. I enjoyed reading James’ children and stepchildren’s romances and was very happy Ms. Scarbrough has also written a HEA for his widow.

Liz McKenna has watched her children and stepchildren fall in love and start to live their own lives after the death of her beloved husband James eighteen months ago. She has taken up hobbies, moved into a smaller cabin, and run the dude ranch for the season, but she still has a deep feeling of unhappiness.

Liz’s daughter-in-law, Stephanie’s ebook “Under Montana Skies” is semi-autobiographical about everyone’s lives on the ranch since James death and has become a best seller. Her agent wants the best screenwriter/producer in Hollywood to turn it into a movie or cable TV series. The girls conspire to get Charles Kingston to read the book and visit the ranch.

Charles “Chaz” Kingston has become fed up with the Hollywood lifestyle. His ex-wife is trying to get their daughter on her reality TV show and his younger brother has committed suicide after his divorce and declining career. He wants a change and the offer of two weeks in Montana on a closed for the season dude ranch sounds perfect. What is he is not expecting is the beautiful and down to earth widow who runs the ranch.

I loved Liz and Chaz! A mature romance always has so much extra baggage, both mentally and externally, that can complicate the story and Ms. Scarbrough added just the right amount of both. As in the other books in this series, it is short and yet not short on romance. I truly enjoy all of these books for a quick, but heartfelt romance read. The sex is behind closed doors, but the affection is not. Another wonderful addition to the series.

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

Book Review: Mercer:The Montana McKennas by Jan Scarbrough

LRH mercer

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

MERCER: THE MONTANA McKENNAS (The Montana Ranchers, #5) by Jan Scarbrough is an overall enjoyable, short contemporary cowboy romance. Part of a series, each book is based on one of the blended family McKenna children, but they can also easily be read as a standalone without confusion.

Mercer McKenna is the youngest child and is always trying to be the peace maker in her blended family being the only child of both James and Liz McKenna. Everything in her world is changing. The death of her father has left everyone devastated, but has also brought everyone back home and face to face with their true loves. Mercer always had a childhood crush on her brother’s best friend, Drake and when he comes to the ranch to be Brody’s best man, Mercer is all grown up and feeling more than an adolescent crush. Mercer takes a chance on love, but Drake may not be ready.

Drake Hawkins is a professional bull rider on the downside of his career, but he doesn’t know anything else to do for the money he needs. He has a secret that could derail his chance for Mercer’s love and believes he is not ready for the responsibilities of a permanent home and relationship. Drake has some life changing decisions to make if he wants Mercer’s love.

Mercer’s story is another entertaining addition to this series. Even though each book is short, Ms. Scarbrough brings her characters and their emotions to life. The plot includes extended family dynamics, but the H/h are always the focus. The sex scenes are well written with mild heat. A solid contemporary cowboy family romance series. I’ll be looking forward to reading more in this series.

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

Book Review: Hidden In Laguna by Cheryl Phipps

hidden in laguna

RATING: 3 out 0f 5 Stars

LAGUNA BEACH: HIDDEN IN LAGUNA by Cheryl Phipps is an extremely short novella that is easily read in one sitting. It is part of the Laguna Kindle World.

Tania Patterson has settled in Laguna Beach to build a career as a wedding planner after an injury that destroyed her future as a professional ballerina. The injury was not an accident. She was betrayed and feels she will never be able to fully trust another man again. She has built a wall around her emotions, but she starts to feel again when she listens to Braden play the piano.

Braden Dorn is an extremely talented piano player, who gave up his career and shattered when he could no longer take his step-father’s abuse and exploitation. He is a serial dater and never believes he will find a woman to tell his secrets and love like his two older brothers. Something is different when Tania is around and he isn’t sure how to handle these new feelings.

This novella is only 98 pages long and is packed with Tania and Braden’s romance, both characters back stories, some emotional growth on both their parts, sex scenes and the emotional reconciliation between all of the brothers. I just feel it was way too short for all the subplot threads. Braden is more fully formed in my opinion than Tania, but the lack of a substantial emotional feeling for either left the story two dimensional for me.  I felt the sex scenes were well written, but overall, I was not emotionally invested in their romance.

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

 

Book Review: Claiming Dane by Pauline Allan

claiming dane

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

CLAIMING DANE (A Hot Southern Nights Novel) by Pauline Allen is a well written romance that takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions. The hot Dom from Gilded Lily gets his story told as he fights for forgiveness and redemption in the arms of a big, powerful ex-Marine and his cute little daughter. The story can be read as a standalone even with the ties to Gilded Lily.

Tony Moretti is ready to stop running from his demons and face his family at his brother’s annual memorial. He gave up his destructive lifestyle, but he hasn’t found anything to fill up the emptiness inside his soul that he tries to fill with meaningless sex. When he stops at a hotel on his way home, he isn’t prepared for the gorgeous and shy owner. Something about this man, his love for his daughter and his family of friends pulls at Tony to stay, but his demons may be more than Dane can handle.

Dane McNeil has been to war, lost friends and come back to find his small daughter in a drug house, hungry and dirty. He will do anything to protect her now. He has built up his own security company and has rebuilt a historic hotel that he runs with the help of his best friends. When a dark, handsome doctor shows up and needs a room, he knows he will probably regret it, but he puts his heart on the line for a chance for more than a night of meaningless sex.

When Tony’s secret past becomes known, Dane feels as though he can no longer trust him and wants him to leave, but Tony has already left because he is afraid his darkness will destroy the first person he has ever loved.

This is a well written romance with a plot that pulls you into the story and developed characters that are realistic and make you want to keep reading. There is explicit M/M sex that is never gratuitous and is handled openly by the secondary characters. Dane’s daughter, Caroline is too cute and precious. She is a wonderful addition to the story. An enjoyable M/M romance read.

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