Monday, August 21, 2017

Review: Second Chance Cowboy (Road to Romance #2) by Joanne Rock

Dancer Larissa Martine is ready to start over and Las Vegas seems like the perfect city for a shiny new beginning. But first, to honor her pact with her girlfriends, she wants to make a quick stop in Cheyenne, WY to make amends with her first love, the guy she left to chase her dreams of Broadway fame. Except rancher Matt Briggs isn’t nearly as interested in her regrets as he is in keeping her in town for his sister's wedding. It’s a request she can’t deny when his family takes up the cause to make her stay for just one more week, but it’s difficult to maintain her friends-only boundaries with a man who attracts her as much as ever.

After losing his father and inheriting the family ranch in addition to the one he’d bought on his own, Matt’s life is all about obligations. But Larissa’s unexpected arrival during the wedding mayhem is a bright spot he won’t ignore, even if that means tempting her into far more than just a dance. He figures one night with her will bring them both some peace with their past, which is all she said she wanted. But one night leaves Matt wanting a whole lot more and this time, he’s willing to gamble everything to make her stay.

My Review:

Eight years ago, Larissa Martine left Wyoming to follow her dream of becoming a dancer on Broadway.  She broke up with her boyfriend, Matt Briggs, by just leaving a note.   Matt never got over the way Larissa left. 

When Larissa’s dreams came to a crashing halt after an injury left her sidelined, she decided to try Las Vegas.  But before she could go to Las Vegas, she needed to fulfill a promise she made with her friends.  She needed to make a detour to Cheyenne and make amends with Matt for how she left him. 

Larissa may only be staying longer than she planned because Matt’s sister is getting married, but Matt doesn’t plan on letting her get away so easily this time.  Will Matt’s plan along with the help of his sister and grandmother be enough to change Larissa’s mind about leaving again? 

The chemistry between Larissa and Matt was off the charts.  The story was easy to visualize from the descriptions and moved along at a good pace.  The secondary characters really added to this story too.  This is the second in the Road to Romance series, but can definitely be read on its own. 

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Review: Troy (American Extreme Bull Riders Tour #5) by Amy Andrews

Cocky, young Aussie bull rider Troy Jensen has been busted down to the pro-circuit. He needs wins and points to get him back into the big league and a shot at being crowned champ but an injury forces him off the circuit and into the arms of the woman fate keeps putting in his path.

The first time local Doc Joss Garrity meets Troy, she’s brandishing a lug wrench. The second time, he’s dragging her delinquent teen son home. The third time, he’s in her ER. How he ends up convalescing at her house she’s not quite sure. But it does make it hard to ignore him and their simmering attraction.

As Troy gets to know Joss, he starts to see a life after bull riding for the first time. But can Joss risk her heart on another man who may not come home one day?

My Review:

Australian extreme bull rider, Troy seems to be everywhere when it came to Joss.  They first met when Joss had a flat tire on the side of the road and Troy stopped to help her.  Next, Troy caught Joss’s son trying to steal from his truck and brought him home (not knowing he was Joss’s son at the time).  But the time when Troy got hurt in the rodeo and ended up in the ER with Joss as his doctor, they finally got to know each other better. 

Troy was from out of town and didn’t have anyone to help him while he recovered from his injury, so Joss decided he could stay at her house.  That’s when the temptation started.  And it just escalated from there.  They couldn’t keep their eyes off each other at first.  Then they couldn’t keep their hands off each other.  But Joss fought her feelings for Troy thinking it wasn’t right because of their age difference and him always being on the road.  Troy kept trying to convince her to give in to what she was feeling.  A couple times I thought their love story wouldn’t happen.  But just when I started to have my doubts, the author surprised me with renewed hope for them. 

I liked how descriptive the scenes and characters’ backgrounds were.  The story was fast paced and kept me glued to the pages.  Normally I don’t really get into romance books with an older woman and younger guy.  But I heard some good things about this one and needed to see for myself how good the story really was.  I have to admit, I was impressed.  It is a fantastic love story.  And the age difference really wasn’t too drastic.  There are also a lot of steamy scenes in this story.   

Monday, August 14, 2017

Redeeming the Texas Rancher (Forever Texan, #3) by Charlene Sands - Review

Falling out of love with Colby Ryan wasn't working...

There hasn't been a woman who's held Colby Ryan's heart for long, not since his teenage love went awry twelve years ago. Now, all of a sudden, Dakota Jennings, his longtime family friend and trusted wrangler on the Circle R ranch, is catching his eye. For Dakota’s sake, Colby won't ever give in to the temptation she poses.

Dakota has been secretly in love with Colby since the age of ten, but his sense of honor and the Texas code he lives by won’t allow her permanence in his heart. Up until this point, he’d never hinted at romance between them and yet, falling out of love with him just plain isn’t working.

Colby has always protected Dakota, and he isn’t about to stop now. If he gives in to his desire, she stands to lose far too much. Colby doesn’t deserve her love, he's already ruined one life, but the binds that tie them are strong. Can Dakota be the woman to redeem his broken soul?

My Review:

Dakota Jennings has been in love with Colby Ryan since she was a little girl.  Now, Cole is Dakota’s employer at Circle R Ranch and she tries hard not to let him know how she really feels about him.  When Cole starts seeing Dakota as more than just a friend and they finally give into their feelings, a big secret could destroy their fragile new relationship. 

If you like small town romances with memorable characters, this book is for you.  It is an emotionally charged story that moves along at a good pace.  My heart went out to Dakota when she learned about Cole’s secret.  Having been in many relationships with a lot of secrets, it was easy for me to relate to how she was feeling.  The Forever Texan series books are all linked, but can be read on their own. 

This was my favorite quote form the book:
That something she’d seen in his eyes wasn’t a fluke.  It was real and powerful and earth-shattering.  And she dared him to say otherwise.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Captured by Chocolate (Love at the Chocolate Shop #11) by Steena Holmes - Review

Radio DJ Dylan Morgan enjoys small town life in Marietta. Unlike his longtime girlfriend and globetrotting photojournalist Casey Michaels, he’s never been tempted to spread his wings. Until an east coast job offer at a major radio station catches his eye. He considers taking the position, but then Casey calls… She’s coming home.

After years of wandering the globe, Casey Michaels is tired and needs a break and while she didn’t plan on coming home for good, the idea is starting to grow on her. All she wants to do is spend time with her forever boyfriend, Dylan. But all she meets is suspicion as everyone waits for her to pack up her suitcase once again. To convince Dylan she’s home for good, she plans a grand gesture–a photography show celebrating Marietta life. And then, the phone rings. She’s needed in London.

My Review:

Photo journalist, Casey Michaels, was always on the move from one country to the next while her boyfriend Dylan Morgan waited for her to return to Marietta.  But he was starting to lose hope for a future between them.  He doesn’t think Casey is serious about settling down. 

Casey is burned out after her last assignment.  She is home for a break and needs Dylan to help her move past the heartbreak that she has endured while in Nepal.  Dylan has always been there for Casey, but this time might be the last.  He has an opportunity for a big job in New York City and is seriously thinking about taking it.  But he gives Casey one last chance.  When Casey leaves again, it’s the last straw.  Will Dylan be able to convince Casey that he needs her to be with him and not always traveling?

I enjoyed this story.  It’s an eye opener about putting aside something that might seem important to you and focusing on what is important for the one you love.  Sometimes you have to meet in the middle.     


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley - Review

The Descendants meets Single White Female in this captivating novel about a woman who moves her family to Hawaii, only to find herself wrapped up in a dangerous friendship, from the celebrated author of We Could Be Beautiful.

When Nancy and her family arrive in Kona, Hawaii, they are desperate for a fresh start. Nancy's husband has cheated on her; they sleep in separate bedrooms and their twin sons have been acting out, setting off illegal fireworks. But Hawaii is paradise: they plant an orange tree in the yard; they share a bed once again and Nancy resolves to make a happy life for herself. She starts taking a yoga class and there she meets Ana, the charismatic teacher. Ana has short, black hair, a warm smile, and a hard-won wisdom that resonates deeply within Nancy. They are soon spending all their time together, sharing dinners, relaxing in Ana's hot tub, driving around Kona in the cute little car Ana helps Nancy buy. As Nancy grows closer and closer to Ana skipping family dinners and leaving the twins to their own devices she feels a happiness and understanding unlike anything she's ever experienced, and she knows that she will do anything Ana asks of her.

A mesmerizing story of friendship and manipulation set against the idyllic tropical world of the Big Island, The Goddesses is a stunning psychological novel by one of our most exciting young writers.

My Review:

I was first drawn to this book because of the Hawaii setting.  But, I was also intrigued by the new friendship between Nancy and Ana.  I also wanted to see how Nancy would deal with her cheating husband and troubled sons.  The story drew me in from the start.

Nancy is devastated when she finds out about her husband’s affair, but she forgives him.  When her husband has the chance to relocate from San Diego to Hawaii for his job, Nancy sees this as a way to transform herself.  She will no longer be the typical homemaker.  She will be a new woman.  Once settled in their new home, Nancy decides to take up yoga where she meets and becomes good friends with Ana, the yoga instructor, who has cancer.  Their friendship started out good with them doing charitable things, like helping homeless people, but when Ana moves in with Nancy, things start taking a different turn.  Ana is not the woman Nancy thought she was.  Ana completely turns Nancy’s life upside down and in the end of the story, she shows her true colors.  Ana is not at all what Nancy thought. 

As a housewife, I was able to relate to Nancy’s feelings about taking care of the home, doing things she was expected to do, and her desire for a friend to hang out with.  The story was fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next.  

Thank you to Doubleday Books and NetGalley for allowing me to read this book

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby - Review

A novel of five lifelong friends who, in their sixties, decide to live together on a cocoa farm in Fiji, where they not only start a chocolate business but strengthen their friendships and rediscover themselves.

"I've planted my feet on Fijian earth and I intend to stay here until the last sunset. Why don't you join me? Leave behind everything that didn't work out!"

When Sina, Maya, Ingrid, and Lisbeth each receive a letter in the mail posing the same question, the answer is obvious. Their old high school friend Kat—Kat the adventurer, Kat who spread her wings and took off as soon as they graduated—has extended the invitation of a lifetime: Come live with me on my cocoa farm in Fiji. Come spend the days eating chocolate and gabbing like teenagers once again, free from men, worries, and cold. Come grow old in paradise, together, as sisters. Who could say no?

Now in their sixties, the friends have all but resigned themselves to the cards they've been dealt. There's Sina, a single mom with financial woes; gentle Maya who feels the world slipping away from her; Ingrid, the perennial loner; Lisbeth, a woman with a seemingly picture-perfect life; and then Kat, who is recently widowed. As they adjust to their new lives together, the friends are watched over by Ateca, Kat's longtime housekeeper, who oftentimes knows the women better than they know themselves and recognizes them for what they are: like "a necklace made of shells: from the same beach but all of them different." Surrounded by an azure-blue ocean, cocoa trees, and a local culture that is fascinatingly, joyfully alien, the friends find a new purpose in starting a business making chocolate: bittersweet, succulent pieces of happiness.

A story of love, hope, and chocolate, PIECES OF HAPPINESS will reaffirm your faith in friendship, second chances, and the importance of indulging one's sweet tooth.

My Review:

An inspiring tale about the importance of friendship.

Kat and her husband Niklas spent their life traveling and helping less fortunate people.  When it came time for them to retire, they decided to buy a cocoa farm in Fiji.  But before they could really do anything with it, Niklas passed away.  At the suggestion of her housekeeper, Ateca, Kat invites her old school friends to spend the remainder of their golden years with her.  Together they start their own chocolate company while getting reacquainted with each other.

I enjoyed getting to know each of the women and learning their secrets, fears and desires.  I also liked learning about the people of Fiji and their culture.  The story takes you on an adventure and I experienced a full range of emotions while reading it.  It was easy to visualize the scenes.  I also liked that the characters in this story were older.  They were more relatable to me than the younger characters in a lot of other books that I read.

One of many favorite quotes in the book was what Ateca said about the women.  "The ladies in the house are like a necklace made of shells: from the same beach, but each of them a little different. Each one worries for the next one on the string: Madam Lisbeth worries for Madam Sina, Madam Sina for Madam Maya, Madam Ingrid for Madam Kat, and Madam Kat for all of them.

I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley and Doubleday Books

Emerald Coast: by Anita Hughes - Review

Set on the glamorous Italian island, Emerald Coast is a touching and humorous story about marriage and the difficulty of finding love and happiness at the same time.

Lily Bristol arrives at a luxurious resort in Sardinia for the grand opening of her newest home furnishing store on the Emerald Coast. She’s a successful business woman with an international chain of stores from San Francisco to Milan. Thirty-two and newly divorced, she’s ready to handle things on her own. At least until her private butler, Enzo, escorts her to a beautiful suite where she notices a suspiciously familiar pair of men’s slippers and shaving kit.

Lily is horrified. Her ex-husband Oliver moved out of their restored Connecticut farmhouse six months ago, but they booked this trip when they were trying to save their marriage and never cancelled the reservation. Oliver, a food critic for the New York Times, is here covering Sardinia’s hottest new restaurant. The only other available room is the adjoining suite; and worse, Oliver isn’t alone. He’s brought a twenty-something named Angela with him.

Lily is determined to make do and enlists Enzo to find her a suitable man. But it’s not as easy to find new love as they both expected. When Lily and Oliver find themselves alone on a very important night, they turn to each other. Sparks begin to fly, but can they be together without breaking each other’s hearts?

My Review: 

Marriage is not always perfect.  It is something you have to work on every day.  When it comes to a strong relationship, there has to be trust and no secrets.  Lily and Oliver Bristol found this out the hard way and it cost them their marriage.   In this book we learn what happened to cause their divorce and how they have moved on.  But, is there still something between them?  Are they still in love or is it just the memories that make it seem so?

When Lily goes on a business trip to Sardinia, she had forgotten the reservation was originally made for her and Oliver.  When she finds a man’s shaving kit in her room, she thinks there is a mix up in the reservations.  She quickly asks for another room.  The only room available is the adjoining room.  Lily gets the surprise of her life when she finds out Oliver is the man who was using the room.  He was also there on a business trip, but he brought his girlfriend Angela with him.  Lily decides it’s time for her to move on and is introduced to Ricky, a local boutique owner.  They hit it off really well and spend a lot of time together.  Lily and Oliver still seem to bump into each other often and their thoughts are flooded with memories.  Will either be able to really move on and find love again? 

With the beautiful setting of Sardinia’s Emerald Coast, fashion and food, along with an intriguing story, this book is one that I will definitely want to revisit in the future.  

Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the advance copy of this book.