Book Review: Embattled SEAL by J.M. Madden

embattled SEAL

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

EMBATTLED SEAL (Lost and Found #4) by J.M. Madden is a character driven romance that had me reading straight through the night, crying sad tears and then happy tears.

Harper Preston was a Navy SEAL sniper and nearly fatally wounded on Lost and Found’s last operation. As his boss and friend wait for him to wake from surgery, a woman shows up and takes control. She is Harper’s estranged wife that no one knew existed.

Catherine “Cat” Preston has come to Harper’s hospital bedside once again. She has always understood what she signed up for by being a SEAL’s wife. His job would always come first, he couldn’t talk about his time away and she would basically be a single parent, but 18 months ago he left his family and cut all communication thinking he was doing what was best for them. Cat disagrees and she has plans to abduct her husband and settle the future of their marriage and family once and for all.

I loved that so much of this story was told from Cat’s point of view. She loves and understands her husband. She was strong and took care of their home and children while he was away. She took care of him when he was home, so when he just left, she was devastated. She knew he was having problems adjusting to civilian life, but he didn’t communicated how bad it was and he wouldn’t go for help until LNF hired him and made it mandatory. LNF saved his life and now he wants to save his marriage.

This story delves into the mind and marriage of a military man that his country has turned into a killing machine that has seen and lived through the horrors of war. Injuries, PTSD in all its forms and the fear of accidentally hurting those he loves are discussed. The stigmatism, even if it is only in his own mind, of seeking psychiatric help is also discussed. I feel this book handled the communication issues between Cat and Harper realistically and with a lot of mutual love.

Another great addition to the LNF series!

Book Review: Fire and Midnight by Sandra Renee Appet

fire and midnight

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

WOW! My new book boyfriend’s name is Ryan “Reyo” Zeigler. Half Mexican, half German, beautiful, sexy, smart and loving. This story has everything I want in a romance!

FIRE AND MIDNIGHT by Sandra Renee Appet is a beautifully written contemporary romance about a divorcee who is all work now that she has an empty nest and she believes her time for love has passed her by and a gorgeous ex-escort who was very successful, but only did the job for the money to realize his dream of his own restaurant.

Janes Keegan’s divorce is final and her son is off to college. When she has to take a trip to San Antonio from NY for business, her BFF informs her she set her up with an account on “The Cowboys”, an exclusive, high-end escort service. She is not comfortable with this idea and is about to delete her account when she views a blue-eyed, dark haired arresting man and she presses “Book”.

Ryan “Reyo” Ziegler’s dream has always been to open his own restaurant on the San Antonio River Walk. He has stripped and then been an escort, always working towards his dream and now that Vine is open and doing well he is done with that empty life. He told his old boss he was done, but she left his profile up and she now asks him to do this one last job. He is intrigued by Jane’s picture and bio and agrees to this last escort.

When Jane and Ryan meet in person, there is an instant attraction, but also the feeling of being comfortable with each other. Ryan doesn’t want Jane to think he is only interested in the money and makes a deal with her – no strings, a fun relaxing weekend and her payment refunded. When their weekend is up, Ryan wants to continue to see where their relationship will go. Jane has to decide if she truly believes Ryan wants her or if this is just a beautiful dream that has to end.

This romance had my emotions all over the place. Ryan is a hot, sexy hero, who is everything a woman could want and Jane has all the insecurities and strengths of a middle aged divorcee trying to put herself first for a change. Ms. Appet brings this H/h to life with realistic situations, extended family and friends, and a love that survives and strengthens with every trial. This is a beautiful romance!

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

Book Review: In A Ranger’s Arms by Donna Michaels

in a ranger's arms

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

IN A RANGER’S ARMS (The Men of At Ease Ranch, #1) by Donna Michaels has a ranch full of hard bodied, ex-military men, a curvy and intelligent heroine, smart, snappy and flirty dialogue and a love struck cow named Lula Belle.

Former Army Ranger Stone Mitchum has big plans for the Texas ranch and construction company he, his brother and two of their Ranger friends have bought to help ease the transition for ex-military men back into society. Stone is a born leader who personally shoulders the guilt for any problem and especially when one of their close buddies tries to commit suicide. He has put his own personal life on hold to devote all his attention to the ranch and men, until he has a run in with his new tenant. His mind might say no, but his body is ready to go.

Jovy Larson is in a contest with her cousin for control of her Grandfather’s company. She has four weeks to show the most profit, but there is more to this contest. Jovy has to run a gluten-free, vegan restaurant in Texas cattle country. As she is hanging her sign for her restaurant, The V-Spot, a crazy cow comes charging towards her ladder. Luckily Stone is there to catch Jovy and save her from harm. Jovy wants her surly, and sexy landlord immediately, but she wants to win control of her Grandfather’s company, too. They both know she will be gone in four weeks. Surely they can keep their hands off each other for that long.

What makes this romance POP is the dialogue. It is completely natural and true to life. Every snarky, sweet, emotional, funny comment fits the character and that moment in the story. Jovy is a strong, intelligent business woman who has a heart of gold and is open and honest. Stone is the strong leader who takes too much responsibility for things he can’t control. Ms. Michaels brings these two together is a heartwarming and sexy hot romance that has you cheering them on throughout the story. I am looking forward to the other men of At Ease Ranch meeting their perfect matches.

Book Review: Isabella: Bride of Ohio by Debra Parmley and Robert Arrow

bride of Ohio

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

ISABELLA: BRIDE OF OHIO (American Mail-Order Brides Series, #17) by Debra Parmley is part of an interesting writing project. Fifty authors are writing a fifty book American Mail-Order Bride series that releases one book a day for fifty days.

Isabella Britta Stolt arrives from Sweden with her parents only to have them quarantined on Ellis Island and die. On her own at seventeen, she hears of work in a factory in Massachusetts. It is long and tiring work, but she has a roommate from Sweden and a few friends. Then the factory burns down. Luckily Isabella and her friends make it out alive, but now they must all make decisions for their futures.

A mail-order bride paper is passed around the factory girls and they decide to try their luck with the gentlemen they find to write to. Isabella writes to Donald Jenks, who seems to be a successful accountant in Yellow Springs, OH looking for a wife. His description of his home and life is everything a future bride would want, so she begins her journey to Ohio.

On the train to Ohio, Isabella meets two men; one who will try to kidnap her and one who will save her more than once. Thomas “Tom” Allenby is an undercover Pinkerton man working a case of missing women from the train. He is instantly taken with Isabella and comes to her rescue. He knows she is taken, but he will cross paths with her again in her future home.

This is not the typical mail-order bride romance where they live happily ever after. This groom is not who he seems and the story takes a major twist. There is a forced sex scene, but it is mostly described and not played out in present time description. Isabella is a woman of her time with few choices, but she has the resilience and strength to always move forward. I loved Isabella and was so glad she got the HEA she deserved in the end.

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

Book Review: Strike Fear by Beth Rhodes

strike fear

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

I have anticipated reading STRIKE FEAR (Hawk Elite Security Book 2) by Beth Rhodes after having read and reviewed Strike Back, the first book in this series.

Tancredo “Tan” Byrne has been made head of the new Personal Safety Department for Hawk Elite Security. He enjoys the excitement of the overseas operations, but he feels he has to stay close to what is left of his family. Growing up poor, the service saved him from the streets, but his mother has always had substance abuse problems, his brother committed suicide in prison and his sister is autistic and mainly left on her own. Not many know of his family’s past and current problems and he wants to keep it that way.

When Tan is hired by Elizabeth’s father to make sure Elizabeth knows how to stay safe and to continue her personal security training, he feels it will be an easy job since she was a world class athlete. He feels she is a spoiled, rich princess that has been given everything until he spends more time with her and starts to realize his mistake.

Elizabeth “Liz” Whitney was a world champion skater until she was attacked. It took a year of healing and rehab to get back on her feet, but the fear has always remained. It is a daily effort to live on her own and get her skate costume design business going. She has refused help from family and makes sure Tan realizes her accomplishments have been hard earned on her own.

What starts as a training assignment turns into the need for a personal bodyguard when Liz is attacked and she resembles the victims of a killer on the loose. There are plenty of suspects and until the killer is caught, Liz is in constant danger.

I enjoyed this installment to the Hawk Elite Security series. It is a typical bodyguard romantic suspense story that while having no new twists, was well written. I was impressed that Ms. Rhodes included instances of racial prejudice that most interracial stories avoid. There is a lot of sexual tension between Tan and Liz as he fights to maintain his distance, but when they do get together, the sex scenes are hot and steamy. A very satisfying addition to the series.

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

Book Review: Mistletoe Mischief by J.M. Madden

mistletoe mischief

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Once again I am in tears over the men of Lost N Found! In only one short novella and two very short stories I had to grab the tissues three times. Oh, and they were heartfelt, happy tears!

MISTLTOE MISCHIEF (Lost and Found, #5.5) by J.M. Madden is worth every minute. I rarely give a novella more than 4 stars because they are just too short to either satisfy you emotionally or have a strong enough story to tell to stand on its own. These stories are those rare exceptions and worth a full 5 stars. Ms. Madden knows how to bring these wounded warriors to life and to match them to their perfect mates.

Roger just cannot believe the vision of a woman that he is set up with as a blind-date for the LNF Christmas Eve party. She doesn’t seem to be bothered by his scars and prosthetic arm. Cassandra is a plus-sized woman, who has pulled herself out of poverty to become a graphic designer, but still has body image problems and no luck with good men. At first, she has a hard time believing the flattering things Roger says to her. Instantly though it becomes apparent that they both can be what the other wants and needs if they are willing to believe.

The next story revisits Gabe and Julie and the continuing struggle for Gabe to be more present in the now and remember, but let go of his time with his SEAL team. Time seems to be helping with them.

The last story revisits Zeke, Ember and little Drew. Their first Christmas together and everything is moving along, but Zeke is still hesitant about his scarred face until his run in with another student from Drew’s school.

I love all of the LNF guys so much and all I want is happiness for them all, but that J.M. has to put them through their paces to get it. This is one of my favorite series and group of true heroes. I highly recommend all of these books!