Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Review: Maggie's Run (Outback Brides Book 1) by Kelly Hunter

Maggie Walker has never called Wirra Station home. Orphaned as a child, she spent more time at boarding school, and then working in the city, than she ever spent on the edge of the outback. But when her great aunt dies, Maggie inherits everything and reluctantly returns to tidy the place up before selling.

Ambitious cowboy-next-door Max O’Connor has the means and the desire to buy Wirra Station outright and return it to its former glory. But first, he wants elusive Maggie Walker to know what she’s giving up. He challenges her to live at Wirra Station for three months—with him as farm manager. Just one season–and if she still doesn’t love the place, he’ll gladly pay up and she can be cashed-up and careless, with no ties to anything or anyone.

Three months. Two hearts. One Summer. Roll on.

My Review:

Maggie Walker returned to Wirra Station, after inheriting it from her aunt.  She has no idea what to do with the land or the house until she runs into her childhood friend Max O’Connor, who is her neighbor.  Max doesn’t want Maggie to sell the property, has another idea, he will stay on as farm manager while she sorts through the homestead.  If Maggie still wants to sell after three months, Max will buy it from her.  If Maggie decides to stay, Max suggests she sell her Melbourne house and pay him back what he has put into the land.  But then, Maggie comes up with the brilliant idea of turning it into an events and wedding venue.  It doesn’t take long for Maggie and Max to give in to the growing attraction they have for each other.  But will Maggie’s fears and secrets ruin their new relationship?

There was so much more to this book than just the romance.  I enjoyed the discoveries Maggie makes as she goes through the house, especially what was in the hidden room.  There were a lot of secrets that Maggie’s aunt kept from everyone and it was fun to see that part of the story unfold.  The fact that Maggie suffered PTSD and why she has it gave the story an emotional feel.  It was an interesting and entertaining book that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Review: California Summer by Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes's California Summer is a charming and beautiful love story about a former Hollywood producer who trades her cast list in for cookbooks in the hopes of following her dreams and finding new love.

Ben and Rosie are Hollywood’s newest director/producer dream team. After hitting it big at Sundance, it seems that their ten years of love and hard work are finally paying off. Rosie is happy making independent films, but Ben wants the A-List celebrity package: a house in Beverly Hills, fancy cars in the driveway, and his name on the biggest blockbusters. He’s willing to do anything, even sleep with the most famous producer in town, to get them.

Rosie is devastated by Ben’s affair, and she decides to take a break from show business. She accepts her best friend's invitation to spend the summer at her parents' estate in Montecito. It's far away from L.A., the perfect place to start over.

In Montecito, Rosie meets a colorful cast of characters including Rachel, who owns a chocolate store, and Josh, a handsome local who splits his time between surfing and classic cars. Suddenly Rosie has new friends and a new purpose. She starts a business in the village, and her luck seems to be turning around. But Rosie knows all too well that success comes with a price, and the price might be losing love...again.

California Summer is a touching and romantic story about following your dreams but not letting them get in the way of love.

My Review:

An engaging story about friendships and starting over.

After ten years together, Rosie Keller leaves her cheating boyfriend, film career and the rat race of Hollywood behind. She starts her life over in the Montecito guest house of her best friend Angelica’s parents where she is inspired by Angelica’s mother, Estelle, to find a new dream and to go for it. Rosie has the best recipe for fish tacos and guacamole and is encouraged to open her own restaurant. Rosie’s Fish Tacos is born and becomes a huge success.

Rosie also finds a new love interest, Josh, a surfer and car enthusiast. But after the way her last relationship ended, Rosie is afraid to get too close. Josh fears Rosie will miss her old life and leave at any time. Josh has his own reasons for disliking the whole Hollywood scene. Lots of things get in the way of Rosie and Josh’s new romance, including Angelica who spews a secret without knowing all of the facts which sends Josh running once again.

I really enjoyed this book. The story was addictive, like reading a gossip magazine, not knowing what is fact or fiction because the characters have so many secrets. Along with Rosie and Josh, I also felt drawn to Estelle and the butler Morris, who became more of a best friend to Rosie than Angelica was. This is one of those books that you will want to read again and again. It’s a perfect book to take on vacation and read on the beach.

*Thank you to St Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an ARC of this book for an honest review.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Review: Beach House Reunion (Beach House #5) by Mary Alice Monroe

Whisking you back to the shores of her bestselling Beach House series, Mary Alice Monroe weaves together a tale of the struggles and triumphs of the historic Rutledge family of Charleston, South Carolina. Beautifully wrought and rich with keen insight, this is an illuminating tale of new beginnings, resilience, and one family's enduring love.

Cara Rutledge returns to her Southern home on the idyllic Isle of Palms. Everything is comfortingly the same, yet each detail is rife with painful memories. Only through reconnecting with family, friends, and the rhythms of the lowcountry can Cara release the hold of the past and open herself to the possibility of a new love, career, and hope for the future.

Meanwhile, her niece Linnea, a recent college graduate who doesn't know where her life will take her, leaves her historic home in Charleston, with all its entitlement and expectations, and heads to her aunt's beach house. On the island, she is part of the freer, natural ocean lifestyle she loves, rejoining the turtle team, learning to surf, and falling in love. Remembering the lessons of her beloved grandmother, Lovie, the original "turtle lady," Linnea rediscovers a meaningful purpose to her life and finds the courage she needs to break from tradition.

In this heartwarming novel, three generations of the Rutledge family gather together to find the strength, love, and commitment to break destructive family patterns and to forge new bonds that will endure long beyond one summer reunion.

My Review: 

One summer can change your life.

After the death of her husband, Cara Rutledge fled Isle of Palms, South Carolina.  The memories of her late husband and mother were too hard on her and she needed to try to start her life over someplace else.  But she never got past the grief.  It just followed her.  Now, Cara is finally returning to Primrose Cottage, and with her, she is bringing her newly adopted daughter, Hope.  She is ready to make new memories.  She starts a new career, is on the Turtle Team again and starts to remember what she loved most about the beach and her home.  And she just might be open to falling in love once again.  

Linnea Rutledge, Cara’s niece, just graduated college and isn’t happy living at home again.  She’s unsure what to do with her life.  She’s having trouble finding a job and her mother just wants her to marry and settle in Charleston, which is definitely not part of Linnea’s plan.  So she decides to spend the summer living with Cara and working as Hope’s nanny.  But Linnea also has a lot on her mind worrying about her family.  Her controlling father has been drinking too much and she thinks her brother might be falling in their father’s footsteps.  Linnea finds solace in her new friend, John, who is there for her when she needs someone the most.  

With Hurricane Irma is on the way, tensions are high and a lot of things come to light.  Lives are changed forever.  But will these changes bring the Rutledge family back together or tear them apart even more?

I’ll be honest and say I have never read any of this series until now.  I saw The Beach House when it was made into a Hallmark movie and fell in love with the story.  So, when I saw this was book coming out, I knew I had to read it.  I really enjoyed it and plan to go back and read the rest of the series soon.  The writer’s style is easy to follow and the characters are some you will come to think of as friends.  It’s truly a memorable story.   I also enjoyed learning more about sea turtles.  At the beginning of each chapter, there is a little bit of information about them. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Review: Recipe for Disaster (Men of the Secret Service #1) by Tracy Solheim

Secret Service Agent Griffin Keller always gets his man. And his woman. In pursuit of an international counterfeiter known only as “The Artist”, Griffin stumbles across paintings stolen from the White House and swapped with forgeries. His only clue to the thief’s identity–a dish towel from the White House kitchen.

White House pastry chef Marin Chevalier desperately needs a date to her cousin’s society wedding. Unfortunately, her busy schedule leaves her little opportunity to meet eligible men. When a sexy Secret Service agent shows up in her kitchen—and just about everywhere else she goes—Marin believes she’s finally met the perfect date. But when a series of frightening accidents and near misses plague her, Marin must rely on Griffin as more than just her “plus-one.”

As dead bodies begin to pile up around Marin, Griffin is convinced she’s the link to The Artist. Too bad the curvy chef has gotten under his skin like no other woman. When the clues finally fall into place and Griffin realizes Marin is not the suspect, but instead the target, he’ll risk everything in his arsenal to keep her safe.

My Review: 

An action packed nail biter.

Secret Service Agent Griffin Keller, is on the tail of an international counterfeiter known as The Artist, when he comes across stolen paintings form the White House.  His only clue, a dish towel from the White House, leads him to pastry chef, Marin Chevalier. 

Marin comes from a wealthy family that owns hotels all over the world.  Some have been used as drop off sites for counterfeit bills, so Griffin decides to keep an eye on Marin in case she is involved.  With Griffin hanging around so much, Marin starts to think of him as the perfect date for her cousin’s wedding.  They soon find themselves caught up in more than they expected. 

I was surprised by this book.  It started a little slow, but once I got into it, I couldn’t put it down.  I like Marin and Griffin’s chemistry and the story was filled with action.  This is the beginning of a series and I can’t wait to read the next book.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Review: Lone Star Princess (Castles of Dallas Book 2) by Lenora Worth

Annabelle Castle is a rebel without a cause…until her stepsister, the head of the glamorous Castle Department store, offers her the chance of a lifetime. Too bad the opportunity to finally play a role in the Castle’s future comes with strings attached—the man who gets under her skin.

Former cop Johnny Darrow is head of security for the Texas-based Castles. He excels at his job and nothing gets to him…except Annabelle. Even as he dragged Annabelle out of many public relations disasters with the paparazzi, he knew there was so much more to her than the headline-grabbing, rich girl. Now that she’s matured and determined to turn over a new leaf, he finds her irresistible. She’s smart, creative, and makes him feel things he hasn’t after a personal tragedy.

When Johnny’s assigned a job as Annabelle’s bodyguard, he must push his feelings aside. Can Johnny keep his focus to protect Annabelle or will his feelings for her put everything at risk?

My Review:

Rebel of the Castle family, Annabelle, has finally grown up and is working at Castle Department Store and creating eye catching displays.  With a new store about to open, Annabelle’s step-sister, Eleanor, puts Annabelle in charge of designing it.  But she will need a bodyguard with her at all times as the press is still hungry for information about her mother, Caron’s arrest.  Head of security, and Annabelle’s crush, Johnny Darrow is asked to watch over Annabelle until the job is finished and the store opens. 
Johnny doesn’t really want to work so close with Annabelle, but he will do it.  He knows he is the best person for the job.  He has had a thing for her for a long time, but he knew better than to act on it as she was his boss’s daughter.  He will have to keep his mind on the job and nothing else.  The more time Johnny and Annabelle spend together, the closer they both become.  Will they be able to keep it strictly business? 

The chemistry between Annabelle and Johnny was intense. I loved how they joked with each other all the time but when they got serious, the conversations took a different tone making the book more interesting.  It was nice to see Annabelle finally grown up and no longer the party girl she was in the first book of this series.  I also liked the setting for the book.  Being in the Dallas area, it was easy to picture the places mentioned in the book.  I could relate to Annabelle’s job.  When I worked in retail, my dream was to do displays at stores and I did for a short while, but nothing to the extent of what Annabelle did.  So, it was fun to relive those dreams through this story.  All around, I thought it was a fun and enjoyable book.  But I would definitely recommend reading Undercover Princess first to get the background on the characters in this book. 

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Review: Beautiful Wreck by Kasey Lane

For savvy programmer Gabrielle Alvarez, moving to Portland, Oregon means a fresh start with a blank screen. She wants nothing more than to erase the last traces of her old life, starting with an exotic tattoo to hide an old scar. Gabby’s instantly drawn to the enigmatic artist, who also happens to be her neighbor. Lucky she has no plans to date-especially sexy, brooding men.

Last year, Bowen Landry was the king of broken promises. He made hundreds to his sister to get clean and hundreds more to his band and his boss. But Bowen’s sober now and determined to stay that way. The last thing he needs are complications, especially Gabby with her curves, dry humor, and independent spirit. Gabby spells danger to Bowen’s peace of mind, not to mention his personal promise to stay celibate for one year.

Bowen is content keeping a firewall up between them until a stalker threatens Gabby’s safety. Alone in a new city, she has no choice but to turn to Bowen for help, moving into his apartment after hers is vandalized. While the two grow closer, Bowen can’t make any promises, and Gabby’s not asking. While the inexperienced Gabby can’t deny the charming, reformed bad boy, she’s unsure she can ever trust an addict again. If Bowen can help Gabby forgive her past and his, he may learn to believe in love again.

My Review:
An electrifying page turner.

Gabby Alvarez's life is turned upside down when her former foster father starts stalking her. After he destroys her apartment, her friend Bowen Landry, Portland's hottest bad boy rocker, asks Gabby to stay with him until she can find another place to live.

Bowen is attracted to Gabby, but he is trying to by the rules to stay sober. That meant no relationships. But he can't help thinking of Gabby in his bed every time he looks at her. Gabby didn't want a boyfriend and doesn't understand why she is so attracted to Bowen. So when Bowen suggests friends with benefits, Gabby goes for it. Even though it wasn’t part of the plan, Gabby falls in love with Bowen. But, Gabby knows, once an addict, always an addict. And she didn't need another addict in her life when she’s been dealing with her mother’s addictions all of her life.

After seeing the cover and reading the blurb, I knew I had to read this book. I have always been a sucker for bad boys. And, a bad boy rock star covered in tattoos will always get my attention. I really enjoyed the author’s writing style. She told a tale that felt real and was filled with emotion. Both, Gabby and Bowen, were damaged people who had been through a lot and were finally getting their lives on track. They didn't need any distractions. But this distraction was worth the risk. Their happily ever after was well deserved. The only downside to this book was it wasn’t long enough for me. I needed more of Gabby and Bowen and would love to find out what happens with the rest of their friends.