Slowly but surely, I'm catching up with my reviews from June, some of them I really loved - an unexpected surprise Western from Teresa Medeiros and a quirky contemporary from Rachel Gibson set in Idaho! Also, a dazzling sequel to one of my all time series! I'm realizing I'm leaning more and more towards Westerns and contemporaries now. I'm still reading plenty of English historicals, but now I can barely get through most Scottish Highlander and Medievals. Interesting...
He Loves Lucy by Susan Donovan
Marketing exec Lucy Cunningham is thrilled when her firm lands The Palm Club account. The campaign concept for Miami's hottest fitness club was Lucy's idea: take one fitness-challenged woman, put her in front of TV cameras, and into the hands of the club's top personal trainer, Theo Redmond. And there's a big cash reward for each pound shed. It seems like a brilliant idea-until Lucy gets picked to be the guinea pig. It's obvious she needs to drop the pounds, but the idea of letting it all hang out in front of some Malibu Ken jock has her choking on her Milk Duds before she even begins!
After one meeting, Theo knows Lucy will be his toughest client and one of the most unforgettable women he'll ever meet. Smart-mouthed and stubborn, it's clear she isn't fond of marching to anyone's drumbeat but her own. But she shocks Theo by rising to the challenge like a pro. And he finds his heart in jeopardy long before Lucy starts to slim down and turn heads.
As Lucy sweats her way into a whole new life, things start to heat up between her and Theo. But trust doesn't come easy for either of them. They've both been burned by romance in the past. Now Lucy and Theo are about to discover that appearances can be deceiving-and in the end, true love lies somewhere between pizza and Pilates...
I simply loved this contemporary romance about a very overweight young woman who goes on TV as an advertising campaign to lose 100 lbs in a year. With the help of her gorgeous trainer, Theo Redmond, will she do it? Great story and the romance that develops between Theo and Lucy was sweet, albeit, far fetched, IMHO. Still, a quick and very enjoyable read. The characterizations were good and a thoughtful side story involving Theo's brother. I've liked everything I've read by this author and am definitely checking out the rest of her back list.
Stolen Kisses by Suzanne Enoch
FIRE AND ICE ...
Jack Faraday, the Marquis of Dansbury, is rich, titled, and handsome as sin. A scandalous rake who's charmed a long string of ladies, he finally meets his match in Miss Lilith Benton, known as the Ice Queen.
Intent on restoring her family's good name, Lilith wants only to make a respectable marriage. So when the tempting but notorious Jack begins to woo her, she is determined to ignore him. Then their accidental involvement in a duke's mysterious death forces Jack and Lilith to become conspirators to clear their names - and suddenly cold disdain gives way to hot desire. Now Lilith may find his passionate stolen kisses too tempting to resist ...
Not a bad early historical romance by Enoch (notice the cover) that involves the handsome scoundrel, Jack Faraday who receives the cut direct from Lilith Benton, the beautiful Ice Queen of the ton who is out to make a spectacular and respectable match. Jack vows revenge and wants to ruin her out of spite, but things get in the way, such as the death of his relative, a duke who is bent on compromising and marrying her in order to force her to marry him - only the old goat drops dead instead! In her drawing room! Jack winds up being Sir Galahad and helps her out of a pickle but only succeeds in implicating himself. Some funny bits and plenty of drama surrounding the death of the duke and the passion that erupts between Jack and Lilith as she tries to clear his name. Entertaining and frothy.
Somewhere I'll Find You by Lisa Kleypas (audio)
The toast of the town...
All London is at Julia Wentworth's feet—and anything she desires is hers for the asking. But the glamorous leading lady guards a shocking secret: a mystery husband whom she does not know, dares not mention ... and cannot love.
For years Damon Savage has been searching for the stranger his parents wed him to without his consent, hoping to legally free himself from matrimony's invisible chains. And he is astonished to discover his "bride" is none other than the exquisite lady he'd hoped to make his mistress! But though his wife by law, Julia will never truly be Damon's—until he conquers her fears, his formidable rivals ... and her proud, passionate, and independent heart.
An early Kleypas historical, it's the story of an aristocratic young woman, Julia Wentworth, who disguises herself and becomes an actress in London. Secretly she is married to a handsome duke, Damon Savage, who doesn't know who she really is. Their marriage was arranged when they were children and they haven't seen each other in years - they don't even recognize each other! There is a lot of drama (no pun intended) and back story in regard to Julia's career leading up to when she and Damon finally come together and fall in love - yet, all the while, he still doesn't realize she is really his wife! Eventually he finds out the truth but the big deal is will he require that she leave the stage and her career? He's so controlling and he keeps on calling her "mine", it was borderline annoying. Still I thought this was pretty good for an early Kleypas and I am interested in seeing what happens with her boss, Logan Scott's story in the next book in the series. On audio, well done by Rosalyn Landor, as always.
Fairest of Them All by Teresa Medeiros
She was rumored to be the fairest woman in all of England. But Holly de Chastel considered her beauty a curse. She had already turned away scores of suitors with various ruses, both fair and foul. Now she was to be the prize in a tournament of eager knights gathering from across the land, each more determined than the last to win her hand. Holly had no intention of wedding any of them, and concocted her most outrageous plan yet: to disguise her beauty from their avaricious eyes. But she never planned on Sir Austyn of Gavenmore.
The darkly handsome Welshman had come looking especially for a plain bride, and Holly seemed to fit the bill. Suddenly she found herself in the possession of this mysterious stranger, ensconced in his castle, and forced to keep up her carefully planned illusion. Why did this electrifyingly passionate male, who could have any woman he wanted, desire a homely bride—and what would happen when he learned he'd been tricked? By the time Holly found out, it was too late to avoid the searing fires of passion—and the dark curse of Gavenmore.
This is a Medieval historical romance of beautiful maiden, Holly, who has the harebrained idea of disguising herself as homely to avoid being married off by her father. Little does she realize, Austyn, a Welsh knight, is in need of an ugly wife due to a curse on the long line of men in his family (involved story) in which they've killed their beautiful wives - out of jealousy. He takes her back to his castle as his bride having no idea she's really a beauty underneath. So much of this book was far fetched and plodding, it took a long time for me to even get into it. I disliked Holly's deception from the beginning and the long drawn out disguise and expected betrayed feelings of Austyn when he learns the truth just only made me think he was so stupid he deserved what he got! Plus, his anger just went on much too long, locking her in the North Tower of his castle? All because he resented her beauty, it was so ridiculous! I just wanted to get this over with! I've found this author hit or miss - this was a miss. Read on, and you'll find a hit!
Nobody's Darling by Teresa Medeiros
Billy Darling never enjoyed being a wanted man until the day Miss Esmerelda Fine marched into the Tumbleweed Saloon and pointed her derringer at his heart. Lucky for him, she's a mighty poor shot. Instead of killing him, she hires him to find her runaway brother. He should turn down her offer. He should resist her charms. But he doesn't. Because there comes a time in every man's life when he's got nothing left to lose...but his heart.
I love, love, loved this western historical romance - it was so much fun! It has everything I love - spinster heroine, Esmerelda Fine comes to New Mexico to track down the man she thinks killed her brother. At first sight she can't stand the charming cowboy she nearly murders in the saloon, but he eventually wins her over. Plenty of laughs, sexy, heart stopping love scenes and - cowboys! A great story, one of my favorites by this author now! I wish she'd write more Westerns, this is the only she has written as far as I can tell. Remember what I said about this author and hit or miss? This is a hit! A real keeper!
Roaring Midnight by Colleen Gleason
Amid the glitzy age of Jazz, when gangsters and bootleggers control the cities, there lies another, more insidious threat ... the undead.
Macey Gardella is a typical young woman of the Roaring Twenties: she works a job, has her own flat, and loves to dance the Charleston. But when a mysterious man named Sebastian Vioget informs her she belongs to a family of vampire hunters, Macey is stunned and disbelieving.
Yet, strange and frightening things begin to happen, and when Macey comes face-to-face with one of the fanged creatures, she has no choice but to believe Sebastian. And when she learns his own soul depends on her willingness to carry forth the family legacy and hunt the undead, Macey capitulates and joins the fight.
As she begins to learn about her new life, Macey meets the handsome newspaper reporter known as Grady - who seems to know more about vampires than he should. When he begins to ask too many questions, she has to juggle her strong attraction to him with the need for secrecy.
Slipping into speakeasies and sampling bootlegged whiskeys, dodging gangster gunfire and trying to keep her nosy landlady from finding the stakes in her flat, Macey Gardella must navigate through a world of stunning violence, passionate romance, and dark betrayal...
Ah, it's nice to be back in the Gardella world again. I fell in love with Colleen Gleason's Gardella Vampire Chronicles a few years ago and I was thrilled when I found out she'd come out with a sequel to that series set in the roaring 20's! A very satisfying addition to the Chronicles, featuring Macey Denton, descendant of Victoria and Max who has now taken on the mantle of Venator in the gangster-ridden 20's of Chicago. Like her g-g-g grandmother Victoria before her, Macey has to be convinced first of her Calling. Then she undergoes her training of how to kill the vampires that are sweeping through Chicago and cozying up to Al Capone. Like Victoria, Macey is torn between her "real" world which involves the new man in her life, an Irishman reporter named Grady, and her "new" world as a Venator, where she must prowl around all night killing vampires with her new mentor Chas. There's quite a lot of similarities to the old series - but that's a good thing! We meet some old friends like Sebastian and new ones like Grady and Chas. I really loved it! Bring on some more!
The Trouble with Valentine's Day by Rachel Gibson
Dumped by her boyfriend, stressed out by her job, Kate Hamilton needs to regroup and get back some self-esteem. She moves from the bright lights of Las Vegas to the wilderness of Gospel, Idaho for some small-town fun. But when her first attempted seduction of a hunky stranger is completely rejected, she wonders what else could possibly go wrong?
Well, for starters she quickly realizes that the Mountain Mama Crafters Original Poetry reading is about as good as it gets on a Friday night. Then she comes face to face with Rob Sutter, former ice hockey madman, owner of Sutter's Sports—and the hunky stranger who told her to get lost!
Rob's been more than burned by love—but then he and Kate find themselves in an ultra-compromising position in the M & S Market after-hours, giving the phrase "clean-up in aisle five" a whole new meaning, and cause a whole lot of gossip in Gospel...
OMG, I loved this story so much of ex-NHL player, Rob Sutter, getting over some bad times and a divorce. He unexpectedly finds love in the unlikeliest of places - Gospel, Idaho, yet he's too stupid to recognize it. Great story with lots of heat, although I could kick him for being such a horse's ass after one particularly crucial moment in the book! Grr! Men! Otherwise I loved him. *grin* Lots of humor and plenty of loving and good old fashioned romance. He and Kate's courtship was a pleasure to read about. A keeper for me! Best in the series so far.