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.

Book Review: Hold ‘Em: A Gambling Hearts Romance by Jacquie Biggar

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

HOLD ‘EM: A GAMBLING HEARTS ROMANCE by Jacquie Biggar is a contemporary romance that has a cast of characters that are heartwarming, caring, funny and just all around wonderful! The hero and heroine find they have an instant attraction and even though they are opposites, they both have caring hearts and strong family attachments.

Matthew “Matt” Shaughnessy is a high-stakes poker player winning his way up to the World Series of Poker. Just when he thinks he may have lost a huge stakes game, his opponent cannot cover his makers. What Matt needs is a fiancée to make his dying grandmother happy so a deal is struck.  Gardner offers in payment his daughter’s heirloom wedding ring and one week of Cassandra playing his fiancée on his family’s Texas ranch.

Cassandra Gardner knows her father has a gambling problem, but she never imagined it would lead to her playing the part of a finance on a ranch with a stranger, when she is supposed to be getting married in two weeks in Las Vegas to someone else. She is a city girl through and through and knows nothing about ranching or the great outdoors. She also has very strong feelings against lying to Matt’s grandmother, family and friends who accept her on sight.

Matt has one week to convince his grandmother he is settling down and found the love of his life, which if he keeps enjoying Cassandra’s looks and spirit may be true in reality, but can he keep her on the ranch? Cassandra cannot believe the intense feelings that started as annoyance and now are so much more for this cowboy, but she has a fiancée waiting in Vegas.

Ms. Biggar has written an easy to read, heartwarming, sexy and funny, opposites attract hero and heroine that could walk right off the page and into your heart. There is sexual tension throughout, but Cassandra never breaks her promise to her real fiancée and there is no sex in the story. Matt’s grandmother, brother and sister and his care of them all and the ranch at a young age shows the depth of his character, while they are all interesting characters on their own.

Right now this book is a standalone, but the story definitely is set up for Matt’s brother and sister to have their own stories in the future. I really hope they get them because this is a family that I want to check back in with in the future.

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

Book Review: One Wrong Turn by Deanna Lynn Sletten

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

Sometimes an author can take the simplest plot and it will pack an emotional punch that resonates with the reader to their core. You follow normal, flawed people and you cry, get mad, become disappointed, have empathy, have sympathy, laugh and feel joy. That was the journey I took with Deanna Lynn Sletten’s novel ONE WRONG TURN.

Jess Connors is renovating her grandparent’s old home into a B&B as she raises her two daughters, Madison “Maddie”, age twelve and Jilly, age seven. She has become a friend to many in the community over the last two years, but all it took was one wrong turn of her steering wheel as she was rushing to pick up her daughters after school to change all of their lives. Now Jess lies in the hospital in a coma.

Clay Connors has been estranged from his wife and daughters for two years until he receives the call notifying him of his wife’s accident. Clay is a talented studio and live musician, but he also let his alcohol addiction destroy his family and his own personal belief in himself. After this third try at rehab and AA, Clay knew it was his last chance to prove himself to Jess. He was afraid to join them at the B&B and lose them forever, so he kept convincing himself to put it off for another day. Now he has to earn the trust of his oldest daughter once again, reintroduce himself to his youngest and remain sober under this stress while reuniting his family and waiting for Jess to wake from her coma, if she does.

The author writes Clay and Jess’ meeting, courtship and family life up to their separation in flashbacks told by Clay interspersed throughout the story. Clay’s alcohol addiction is written with truth and empathy. All his fears and failings are exposed, along with his daily battle to remain sober. The interactions between Clay and Maddie are extremely emotional because she was so close to her father and yet she was too young to understand what addiction is and so she has a severe lack of trust and a huge feeling of abandonment in regards to her father. The author offsets the difficulties with her father, with the care and understanding she shows her younger sister. Jilly is lovable, happy child who is trying to deal with all that is happening.

This book has the story of a couple that has always loved each other, but addiction divides them. For me though, the main characters that I empathized with and cheered to a happy ending were Clay and his daughter, Maddie. The dialogue is realistic as well as the emotions. All of the secondary characters were perfectly placed to add to the story, but never took the main focus off of Clay, his sobriety and/or his daughters as they dealt with their family in crisis.

This book is an emotional roller coaster that is beautifully written. The strength, love, perseverance and forgiveness of the characters will stay with me long after I finish this review. I am looking forward to reading more of Ms. Sletten’s books in the future.

Book Review: A Drop of Paradise by Alex L. Michaels

RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars

A DROP OF PARADISE by Alex L. Michaels is a contemporary romance that has a fun premise and is set in paradise, but also has a few problems that some may not be able to ignore.

Jessica Slade is a librarian turned successful romance writer. After ten books, she is having trouble finishing her current book and believes that maybe taking herself out of her comfort zone will help. A Drop of Paradise was supposed to give her quiet and island beauty, but it turns out to be a crowded resort.

Mike Stone looks like a romance cover model brought to life. He moved to the island and stayed as captain on his own ship that transports tourists around the other islands for day trips. When he sees Jessica, he knows he has to have her.

On a group day trip that Jessica gets coerced into taking, she and Mike end up stranded on a deserted island and the battle begins between these two. Mike likes to rile Jessica and Jessica thinks Mike is nothing, but a muscle bound, overbearing jerk. Can these two see beyond the surface and turn anger and lust into love?

The first portion of this book has a lot of fun banter and quips between Mike and Jessica. Think Taming of the Shrew or War of the Roses. It was fun and entertaining, but for me lasted a little too long before transitioning into the next portion of the book even when you find out why Jessica was holding out for so long. No sex in this part of the book. Then it suddenly turns into an erotica romance that is all about explicit sex scenes with no emotional investment or discussion.

Throughout this book there are quite a few grammar, word usage and spelling errors. Even with these problems, it was a fun read. I feel it would be an even better read if it was proofread and/or edited again and transitioned more smoothly between the battling and sex portions of the book. The H/h and the secondary characters saved this from receiving a lower rating.

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

Book Review: Second Chance Cowboy by Joanne Rock

RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

SECOND CHANCE COWBOY (Road to Romance Book, #2) by Joanne Rock is a second chance contemporary romance that demonstrates this author’s seamless ability to immediately allow you to become emotionally invested in her characters and immerse you in the beauty and uniqueness of her settings. Even though this is the second book in this series, it is easily read as a standalone.

Larissa Martine left Cheyenne, Wyoming eight years ago for the bright lights of Broadway and a career in dance. It was a promise she made to her dying mother. But as she leaves, she also devastates the boy she loves in a text message.

After a possible career ending injury and on her way to an audition in Los Vegas, Larissa is detouring to her hometown to honor a pact between girlfriends, to make peace with past wrongs and hopefully clear the future to turn bad luck to good.

Matt Briggs thought he had it all. He purchased Split Fork Ranch next to his family spread and was ready to move ahead with the girl he loved. That was not how it worked out. Now Larissa is back and he does not want to hear about her regrets, but he does want her stay for his sister’s wedding next week. The intense attraction is still there and maybe if they have one more night together it will give them both the peace with the past they seek, or they could repeat past mistakes all over again.

Larissa and Matt are both trying to live up to what they perceive that others wanted for them. The love and attraction has always been an easy part of their relationship, but the emotional communication between the two is difficult and lacking. Even though eight years has passed, they almost repeat their past and the author leads them towards their HEA in a realistic and believable way. The sex scenes are steamy and also emotional. The secondary characters where as well fleshed out and entertaining as the H/h. This is a quick read packed with emotion and what I expect when I read a book by this author.

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

Book Review: Scorched by Paula Quinn

RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

SCORCHED (Rulers of the Sky, #1) by Paula Quinn Is an original dragon shapeshifter paranormal romance that BLEW ME AWAY! The world-building, all of the characters and the love story were all completely engaging.

Marrkiya is a beautiful, arrogant and proud Drakkon. He is of the Aqua line and is the last of his kind. He is hunted and transformed into a human against his will by the Council of Elders led by Padgora, who has control of the Phoenix Amber. Padgora wants Marrkiya’s treasure. As a human, Marrkiya is now called Marcus Aquara. He can still bring forth his wings to fly and communicate using telepathy, but none of this is good enough. Marcus wants to be in his dragon form again, which he is promised if he brings his hoard to the Council.

Samantha Montgomery is a historical romance writer who has fled to England after a failed romance. She has purchased a rundown castle which is her first real home. Samantha writes about knights and finding true love even though she is not sure she knows what true love is. She survived the New York State foster care system and now she wants her own forever love and family. Oh, yeah and she is a virgin.

From the moment Marcus falls through the roof of Samantha’s barn, the two of them begin a well plotted and paced romance. They start off with Sam not believing in Drakkon and thinking Marcus is mad or she is even though he is the most beautiful man she has ever seen while Marcus smells a virgin and wants to take her essence. Sam has to open her mind to accept this new reality and open her heart. Marcus is portrayed brilliantly by Ms. Quinn. He has to go from being an unfeeling, arrogant dragon to a human man with understanding of others feelings. The author makes you feel the loss and love of his dragon form, all while he is learning the benefits of his human life.

This story will stay with me and I will definitely recommend it to others who enjoy this genre. I cannot wait to get the next book in this series!

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