My Book Reviews
4 Stars
Night Moves - Stephanie Tyler (Dell - Oct 2011)
Night Moves  - Stephanie Tyler

Series: Shadow Force (Book 4)

Anything can happen under the cover of darkness.


Kell Roberts has walked the thin line between life and death for so long that it now feels like home. He is a soldier, a survivor, and a loner. Still, Kell cannot turn his back on the beautiful woman caught in his firefight against the drug lords of Mexico. She says her name is Teddie, but Kell senses there’s much more to her story -- and it’s about to pull him into a mission he didn’t sign on for: keeping her alive.


Teddie knows this lean, mean rescuer just saved her life, but the steel glint behind those soft gray eyes seem to be hiding something deep. The men after Teddie are deadly, but the man who holds her life in his hands and tempts her with his wicked touch is even more dangerous. He could make her dream about living and loving again. And if they can survive, maybe, just maybe, they can stop fighting the world and each other -- and simply surrender.


Good book with lots of action. Kell and his friend Reid are in Mexico on a black ops mission to take out a drug cartel leader. Just as they are ready to do so, a woman comes between them and their target. They take her captive until they can complete their mission, then plan to let her go. That is, until they hear her story.


Teddie has been in witness protection since she witnessed her father, stepmother and two half sisters get murdered. Disgusted with the lack of progress in solving their murders, she takes off on her own mission to do so. She has a good idea who is behind it and decides to face him on her own. But she has taken on more than she can handle and finds herself on the run from the same men who murdered her family. Getting captured by Kell was not in her plans, but she can't deny she needs his help.


The relationship between Kell and Teddie is a volatile one from the beginning. Neither one trusts the other. Kell senses that Teddie isn't being totally honest about everything that is going on, and that something is going to come back and bite them. Teddie doesn't trust anyone after everything that has gone on and his initial treatment of her didn't help. She quickly sees that he has demons of his own that are driving him. Added to the stress of their situation is an explosive attraction that threatens to bring down their respective protective walls around their hearts.


I really liked Kell. He's had a rough life and has really made something of himself. He's always had a protective nature, evident from the time he and Reid were in foster care together. They went on to join the military together, and with their friends formed their own black ops group. Kell is haunted by his last mission, which went horribly wrong, resulting in the capture of his friends and the death of one of them. He feels it is his fault and the guilt is eating him up. That protective nature is what has him taking on Teddie's problems. I liked Teddie also. She is an incredibly strong and independent woman. She realizes that she's outmatched when it comes to her plans, but she is determined to try. I liked seeing her sometimes get the better of Kell. I liked seeing them begin to open up to each other, as both attraction and trust started to build. I especially liked seeing how Teddie was able to help Kell deal with his guilty feelings.


The action of the story is very good. The initial mission that Kell and Reid are on doesn't go quite as planned, thanks to Teddie, but we get to see how easily they are able to adapt and overcome. Getting involved with Teddie is a complication they don't need, but Kell refuses to walk away from her. Teddie has two groups after her. The man who she thinks is responsible for her family's deaths, and the marshals whose witness protection she ran away from. The first wants to kill her and the second wants her back in their custody. Kell and Reid discover that they are in the crosshairs of a man who has it in for their boss, and plans to get there through Kell and his teammates. The trio is constantly under attack from one group or another. While all the confrontations are intense, there are some that have an amusing side also. I loved the encounter between Reid and Marshal Grier, when she caught up with him. I also enjoyed seeing the other members of the team as they all came together to bring down the man that's after them. The final confrontation is especially intense as the two bad guys combine forces. The conclusion is terrific, with a little bit of a hook for Reid's story.

5 Stars
Becoming a Cavanaugh - Marie Ferrarella (SRS #1575 - Sept 2009)
Becoming a Cavanaugh - Marie Ferrarella

Series: Cavanaugh Justice (Book 15)

A gruesome killing spree hits the streets of Aurora


Someone was murdering the city's elite, and anyone could be next. Assigned to the case was Detective Kyle O'Brien, whose new partner was the blond, blue-eyed Jaren Rosetti, as sunny as Kyle was dark. Not to mention too irresistible for her own good. But their growing attraction had to be pushed aside as the horrific killer swept through the urban landscape. Kyle knew he was falling hard for his obstinate partner, who had a will of her own. While they deciphered the psychopath's code, the killer prepared to strike again -- this time dangerously close to home.


Another exciting visit to Aurora, California. Detective Kyle O'Brien is having a rough day, which only adds to the rough several months he's been through. His partner of five years has retired, leaving him stuck with a new one. For a man who doesn't like to talk, and prefers to work in quiet and alone, a bubbly chatterbox is his worst nightmare. Jaren has had difficult partners before, but Kyle is one for the books. He may be a tough nut to crack, but she's willing to be patient.


Kyle has been having a hard time dealing with the bombshell that his mother dropped on him and his siblings just before she died. Far from being the children of a war hero, as they'd believed all their lives, it turned out they were the children of a cop who hadn't married their mother because he already had a wife and family. This has thrown his whole sense of who he is into turmoil. To top it off, his father was part of the Cavanaugh family, a family that has embraced them rather than rejecting them. Trying to cope with all the changes seems to have put him in a permanent bad mood. Dealing with Jaren is just one more pain in his butt. It was rather amusing to watch him try to handle her perpetually sunny attitude. He wasn't convinced that she could handle the types of cases they saw, but he didn't have any choice in the matter.


Jaren left the Oakland police department to come to Aurora after her father died. She no longer had anything to keep her there and was looking forward to a fresh start. She is used to people not taking her seriously until they get to know her, so Kyle's attitude isn't really a surprise. I loved her determination to tough out his treatment of her and earn his respect. It was also fun to see her purposely push some of his buttons.


I really liked seeing their relationship go from unwilling partners, to tentative friends, to much more. I loved seeing their differing investigative styles adapt and adjust to working with each other. It really made a point about how men and women look at things. Kyle rolled his eyes at some of the scenarios she came up with on their latest case, but as the investigation went on, he ended up having to admit she knew what she was doing. The more time that they spent together, it also became obvious that there was an intense attraction between them. They really try to resist, but Kyle finds her getting under his skin. I loved seeing the way that her lack of family got to him, considering that he often felt that he had too much of it. Their attraction is just part of the connection that Jaren feels to Kyle, and as the case goes on it just gets stronger. Opening her heart to those feelings is something she resists because the pain of loss is something she doesn't want to experience again. When everything was over, Kyle had something to say, but he didn't do it very well. I loved seeing Jaren then have to track him down to have her say. 


The case they were working on was intense and creepy. Someone was going around killing people as if they were vampires, driving wood stakes through the victim's heart. The team had a hard time figuring out what the connection was between the victims. I liked seeing the way that Jaren's mind worked and the theories that she came up with. One of the victims made solving it very personal to to the police, and the ramped up intensity kept me glued to the pages. I got really frustrated with Jaren when she ignored Kyle's directive that no one go off on their own to investigate, as I could see that things could go wrong very quickly. The ending was heart-pounding as I wondered how close the danger was going to get. I loved seeing it all come together.


Once again, the Cavanaugh clan plays a huge supporting role in the story. I loved the way that Kyle dragged Jaren to Andrew's house for a meal, and how Jaren quickly became part of them. I loved seeing how Kyle was still trying to adjust to being part of the family, and how their support became so important to him when Jaren ended up in the hospital.

5 Stars
Cavanaugh Pride - Marie Ferrarella (SRS #1571 - Aug 2009)
Cavanaugh Pride (Silhouette Romantic Suspense) (Cavanaugh Justice) - Marie Ferrarella

Series: Cavanaugh Justice (Book 14)

"I don't want to be alone tonight."


Julianne White Bear prided herself on never needing anyone. Ever since the detective teamed up with fellow cop Frank McIntyre, she found herself opening up. The proud, irresistible member of the Cavanaugh clan clearly didn't want her invading his territory. But both were helpless to resist their simmering attraction....


Frank needed to find out what drove the beautiful loner--it was obvious Julianne had a secret past. Now their hunt for a serial killer threatened her future. All Frank wanted was to keep Julianne safe. How could they predict the passion that swamped their senses, exposing them to feelings far more dangerous?


Very good book with plenty of tension, both personal and professional. Julianne is a detective in a neighboring town. When the death of a woman there matches those of a serial killer in Aurora, she is sent to work with the Aurora department's task force. She immediately clashes with Frank, who isn't thrilled to have an outside officer assigned to his group. 


Frank is dealing with a lot of frustration over the lack of progress in finding the killer. He first takes Julianne's presence as an indictment of his work, though a conversation with the chief of detectives relieves him of that worry. Then he has to face the unwelcome attraction he feels for Julianne. Getting involved with a coworker would be a very bad idea.


Julianne isn't going to sit back and let Frank dismiss her or her abilities. She doesn't expect special treatment, but she won't be ignored either. What she hasn't told anyone is that she also has a personal reason for being there. Her younger cousin left home and Julianne has traced her to Aurora. She's determined to find Mary before something bad can happen to her. Julianne had grown up with parents who never showed affection to her or each other. Her best friend was her cousin Mary, who was living with a secret no one should have to deal with. She feels responsible for Mary's disappearance.


I loved the relationship that developed between Frank and Julianne. Frank has a reputation as a ladies man and Julianne wants no part of it. He's attracted to her, but determined to resist. He's also intrigued by her. He sees a woman who is strong and independent, but who also has a lot of pain in her eyes. She keeps to herself and resists his attempts to get to know her. Though they clash at first, working on the case together, they make an excellent team. I loved Frank's persistence as he finally got Julianne to tell him about Mary, and his support of her when Mary became one of the killer's victims. Julianne's walls start to crumble under his attentions, but the things she begins to feel frighten her. She's never before allowed herself to depend on someone else. Frank is also taken aback by the strength of his feelings for her. I loved seeing him admit his vulnerability, and also his determination to see where it might lead. He had his work cut out for him in the end as he tried to convince her of his love. Julianne had to decide if she was willing to trust that he would always be there for her.


The search for the serial killer was really well done. The team's frustration was obvious as they tried to find the link between the victims. There was a terrific scene with a visiting profiler that really showed Julianne's abilities to her new teammates. It was interesting to see the way that they would start over with each new victim, trying to find the connections. I really liked seeing how it was an unexpected bit of trivia that finally cracked the case. Julianne's undercover sting was intense, and what happened to her kept me on the edge of my seat until it was all over. I loved how it was all resolved.


I really enjoyed seeing Andrew Cavanugh bring another lost soul into the Cavanaugh circle. Julianne tried really hard to avoid getting involved with them, but no one can stand up to him for long. It was really sweet to see the way that she got sucked in at the anniversary party without really realizing it until it happened. I loved Frank's big moment at the end, and Andrew's satisfaction at witnessing it.

5 Stars
Protecting His Witness - Marie Ferrarella (SRS #1515 - June 2008)
Protecting His Witness (Cavanaugh Justice, #13) - Marie Ferrarella

Series: Cavanaugh Justice (Book 13)

The woman had secrets no cop could ignore


Undercover police officer Zack McIntyre couldn't make sense of the beautiful, mysterious stranger who had saved him from death. She cared for him with skilled, gentle hands, awakening passions within him, but her haunted eyes spoke of secrets, lies and terrible fear. And he knew he couldn't rest unless he kept her safe from harm--and made her his own.


Endless months in the shadows, hiding from a killer, had taught Dr. Krystle Maller to trust no one. This strong, compelling man made her long to take shelter, just for a little while, in the circle of his arms. But could she trust even him with her deadly secret?


Very good book. Zack is on an undercover job when he gets shot. Desperate to get away from those who are after him, he ends up collapsing outside Kasey's back door. Startled by the body blocking her door, her medical oath won't let her ignore him, but neither can she bring herself to call the authorities. So she takes him into her home and treats his injury, determined to send him on his way as soon as she can. When Zack regains consciousness, he's grateful for the beautiful woman who saved his life. In spite of the pain he's in, he can't deny the spark of attraction he feels for her. He also gets the feeling that she is hiding something from him.


There was an instant connection that Kasey and Zack felt to each other, but each of them had reasons to resist. Zack has kept himself from getting close to any woman because he fears that he might be like his father, who had physically and emotionally abused his family. So Zack keeps his relationships casual. Kasey is on the run, hiding from the mob boss who wants to kill her. She and her fiance had witnessed him murdering another man. Then, while under police protection, a dirty cop had killed her fiance and gone after her. She left behind her job and identity as a doctor, going so far as to stage her own death. Now she spends her time looking over her shoulder, always ready to run again.


I loved seeing Zach's protectiveness as he became more aware of Kasey's fear. He was sensitive to her skittishness, and tried very hard not to rush her with his interest in her. But he also wasn't shy about letting her see that she had an effect on him. I also liked seeing the effect that his interest had on Kasey. She had kept herself so closed off and so hyper-alert that having the interest of a strong and protective man made her want to lean on him for just a little while. She also found it increasingly difficult to resist her desire for him.


Things started getting really interesting when he invites her to his mother's wedding. Until that time, Kasey had no idea that Zack was a police officer, and that his mother was marrying into a family heavily involved in law enforcement. I loved seeing how all the Cavanaughs so readily accepted her. She was really worried at first about being surrounded by so many cops, but relaxed when she realized that she would be safe from any attacks while there. 


When Zack decides to run a check on her fingerprints and turns up some unexpected information, he is hurt and angry that she didn't trust him. But he doesn't let that stop him from doing his best to help and protect her. Things got really intense at the end when her past shows up at her door, determined to finish what he had started. I loved seeing her fight back, holding her own until Zack arrives. The ending was fun, with Zack's brother Frank providing some lighter moments to relieve the tension.


As always, the Cavanaughs are the epitome of a close knit family. Andrew likes nothing more than taking care of all of them. He also discovers that their black sheep brother had had another family that they knew nothing about. I loved seeing him draw the new members into the fold. He also makes sure that Zack and his siblings know that, even though their name is McIntyre, they are also part of the Cavanaugh family now.

5 Stars
Breaking Bailey's Rules - Brenda Jackson (HD #2407 - Nov 2015)
Breaking Bailey's Rules (The Westmorelands) - Brenda Jackson

Series: Westmorelands (Book 30)

Rule number one for Bailey Westmoreland: Never fall for a man who would take her away from her tight-knit family's Colorado home. So why is she following rancher Walker Rafferty all the way to Alaska? Bailey tells herself she owes the sexy loner an apology, and once she gets there, it's only right to stay and help him when he's injured…isn't it? Before long, Bailey realizes home might be where you make it -- if Walker is ready to take all she has to offer.


Very good book. Bailey is the youngest of the Denver Westmorelands and deeply attached to her family, to the point where she refuses to consider falling for a man who would take her away from them. That resolve is tested when she meets Walker Rafferty.


In previous Westmoreland books, the family discovered that their grandfather had another brother. As family is so important to them, they have been searching for that brother and his family. They discovered that he had been adopted by a family named Outlaw who run a successful business in Alaska. When the book opens, the Outlaw patriarch has informed his five sons that he wants nothing to do with the Westmoreland's claims. Those sons, however, are not so quick to dismiss the obvious connection and ask their friend Walker to meet with the Westmorelands and see what he thinks. 


The first meeting between Bailey and Walker has the sparks flying right away. Bailey is not pleased that some stranger is coming to essentially spy on them and makes her displeasure known. As the youngest in the family, she and her three youngest cousins had been considered hellions when they were younger. She still tends to be blunt in her opinions and Walker rubs her the wrong way. There is also an undeniable attraction between the two of them, demonstrated by a hot kiss that nearly gets out of hand. Bailey is upfront about her rules with men, and that one like Walker, who is tied to his own property in Alaska, would never fit in with her plans.


Both Bailey and Walker have things in their pasts that drive their attitudes toward those of the opposite sex. Bailey has seen many relationships come and go, many in heartbreaking ways, but family is always there for you. She has sworn that no man will tempt her away from her home. Walker was betrayed in the worst way by the woman that he changed his life for, and lost that which was most important to him. Now he is content with his solitary life on his ranch, with a few close friends, and no intention of allowing another woman that kind of power over him.


As the youngest in the family, Bailey is a bit spoiled. She also tends to be outspoken and judgmental. Her attraction to Walker has her somewhat discombobulated, and she finds herself being less than polite to him. One encounter leads to a misunderstanding that angers them both, though Bailey freely admits it when she finds she's wrong and apologizes. A second argument occurs when Bailey makes a request of him that shows that she really doesn't understand him or his motivations. This time he leaves Colorado before she can apologize, and she feels the only thing she can do is follow him to Alaska and make amends.


Walker is not happy when Bailey shows up uninvited at his ranch. He can't get rid of her immediately because of an incoming storm, so he is stuck with her for a few days. The tension continues to build between them, though both are determined to resist. Forced together by circumstances, they begin to get to know each other a bit, but Bailey will be leaving as soon as the storm passes. Then a ranch emergency has them rushing off to rescue a ranch hand. This event is intense and Bailey plays a huge and unexpected part in it. Walker is injured and Bailey is determined to take care of him, keeping her in Alaska for awhile longer.


I loved seeing Bailey fall under the spell of both Alaska and Walker. Though her rough edges are still there (I loved the descriptions of what happens when she loses her temper), there's a bit of maturing that goes on. Walker also begins to realize that though he enjoys his solitude, there is also some loneliness that he doesn't want to admit to. I loved seeing his friend Garth Outlaw calling Walker out on his refusal to own up to his feelings. When Bailey overhears something that makes her feel that Walker's feelings don't match her own, she runs for home, leaving Walker to decide if he cares enough to go after her. I loved seeing his big moment and how he went about making it happen.


There are several things I am looking forward to in future books. First is the last of the Denver Westmorelands, Bane, comes home. It is time for him to go after the woman he loves and has been apart from for years. There have been bits of their story mentioned in previous books, but this one ends with a surprising revelation that should make Bane's story even more interesting.


There is also the new branch on the Westmoreland family tree, The six Outlaw/Westmorelands are puzzled by their father's refusal to admit the connection between the two families. There seems to be some mystery behind it, and they are determined to find out what it is. I loved the little bits we learned about the new family members and I'm really looking forward to finding out more.

4 Stars
Merry Christmas, Baby Maverick! - Brenda Harlen (HSE #2445 - Dec 2015)
Merry Christmas, Baby Maverick! (Montana Mavericks: What Happened at the) - Brenda Harlen

Series: Montana Mavericks: What Happened at the Wedding (Book 6)





There's no place like home for the holidays. But Trey Strickland's house is about to become a bit more crowded than he anticipated. Merry Christmas, Baby Daddy! The sexy Thunder Canyon rancher has no idea he will soon be a father.


But just who is carrying Trey's baby? Dear readers, the answer may shock you! Let's just say that it is someone well-known to this reporter. Our mystery mama can't figure out how to tell Trey she is in the family way after their one night together. What will happen when the truth comes out? Will her cowboy crush race off for parts unknown, or will he deliver the perfect Christmas proposal in a tiny velvet box?


Good conclusion to this year's Montana Mavericks series. In the previous book, The Maverick's Holiday Masquerade, we discovered that Kristen's twin sister Kayla also had an encounter with the infamous spiked wedding punch, and is pregnant. She has kept the secret for five months, not sure how to tell Trey what is happening. She isn't even sure that he remembers it.


Trey was a little fuzzy about the events when he woke up the next morning, especially since Kayla was no longer there. Finding her earring has him pretty certain about what happened, but when he sees Kayla again she pretends nothing happened and he follows her lead. He heads back home to Thunder Canyon, unaware of what's in store.


I liked Kayla a lot, but I also got a bit frustrated with her. Trey had been her brother's best friend and she had had a huge crush on him when they were younger. Their encounter at July's wedding had been a fantasy come true for her. Once she gets over the shock of finding out she's pregnant, she knows she has to tell Trey. She doesn't feel right about breaking the news over the phone, so she puts it off until he returns to visit his grandparents for the holidays. She happy and nervous to see him again. Happy because it's obvious to her that the attraction from the wedding wasn't just the punch, and spending time with him is a dream come true. But the need to tell him about the baby weighs heavily on her mind. Rather than come right out and tell him, she tries to sound him out on his views of kids and families, and isn't happy with what she hears back. She doesn't consider that there could be a difference in his opinions about an abstract idea and a reality.


I really liked Trey. He's a nice guy who realizes that he's interested in his best friend's little sister, a big no-no in the "bro-code". But the spiked punch lowers inhibitions and his feelings overcame his common sense. I loved the way he was so careful the next morning to make sure that no evidence remained that would damage Kayla's reputation before leaving to go home. It was sweet to see how much he was looking forward to seeing her again when he came back for the holidays. 


I liked the development of their relationship as they spend as much time together as they can. Kayla quickly realizes that she is in love with Trey and becomes even more nervous about telling him about the baby. She doesn't want to lose what is growing between them. It was frustrating at times to see her chicken out of telling him so many times. Trey is really getting into spending time with Kayla. I loved the part where he realizes that he's not interested in the women who come onto him at the bar, and that with Kayla is where he wants to be. He's a little thoughtless in his remarks about families and babies, but he's still young and not really thinking about that part of his future. I completely understood his anger and hurt when she finally told him. 


I thought Trey's reactions were pretty realistic, and liked the way he worked through them pretty quickly. Being the honorable type of guy he was, his proposal was also understandable, but not what Kayla was looking for. She doesn't want "the right thing", she wants to be loved the way that she loves Trey. The question then becomes one of whether Trey can convince Kayla that he really does love her. I loved his big moment at the end. 


The series also concludes with two surprise revelations. First, the culprit in the punch spiking makes a confession in an unusual way. The story behind it is pretty amusing. Second, the identity of the Rust Creek Rambler is revealed. That too was pretty interesting, as is the contents of the Rambler's final column as shown in the epilogue. I'm looking forward to seeing what's next for the people of Rust Creek Falls.

4 Stars
An Amish Miracle - Beth Wiseman, Ruth Reid, Mary Ellis (Thomas Nelson - Dec 2013)
An Amish Miracle - Beth Wiseman, Ruth  Reid, Mary  Ellis




Hope Bowman believes God is punishing her for giving up her firstborn son when she was a teenager. She’s hidden this secret from her husband, who is thankful for their daughters but longs for a son. Hope prays desperately, but the son God sends her isn’t a new baby but the fifteen-year-old boy she gave up years ago.


Good story about facing your past. Hope has spent years wishing that she could have a son for her husband, but so far has had four daughters. She believes she is being punished because she gave up her firstborn for adoption. She had been sixteen when she was assaulted by a drunk Englischer, and her father believed the entire family was shamed by the event. He gave her no choice in the matter, and even forbid her to tell the man she eventually married. She has never gotten over the guilty feelings for not raising him herself.


She finally decides that the only way to make things right is to confess to her husband and then try to find her son. She had no idea how he would react, but hoped for his understanding and forgiveness for keeping such a secret. The reaction was not what she expected at first, but I loved seeing how their love and faith helped get through it quickly. The timing turned out to be very good because it wasn't long after that her son showed up at their house, wanting to find out about his birth mother.


I ached for Hope as she discovered that he wasn't adopted as she had been told, but has spent his entire life in a series of foster homes. This made her feel even more guilty. I also hurt for James, who had felt unwanted, and wanted to know why he had been "given away". It was very sweet to see how the Englischer boy was exposed to the Amish way of life, and the family's attempt to understand someone so very different. I loved the immediate acceptance they showed for him, and James's willingness to live by their rules while he was there.


Of course, he was only able to stay for a visit and had to go back to his foster family. But seeing James only strengthened Hope's desire to keep him in her life. I loved seeing her determination to make it happen and the support she got from her husband. I also liked that it wasn't resolved quickly and neatly, but had realistic obstacles to overcome. Hope also had to deal with her feelings of resentment toward her father and his part in the situation. His attitude was very harsh and I wasn't sure how things would work out with him. I thought that James had a very mature attitude toward him, and handled himself very well.





Widow Rosa Hostetler has one month to pay her delinquent taxes before the county auctions her farm. She’s prepared to sell whatever is necessary to pay the lien, but she isn’t willing to request money from the community’s widow fund. She’s embarrassed and refuses to admit she needs help. Rosa depends on income from selling eggs, but when that income is threatened, only a miracle can help Rosa accept the kindness of a neighbor.


Good story about not letting pride keep you from getting the help you need. Rosa's husband died in a fire that destroyed a neighbor's barn. At the time, she didn't know that he hadn't paid the property taxes on their farm. She supports herself by raising chickens and selling eggs, but getting enough to pay the taxes just isn't happening. If she doesn't come up with it soon, the county will take her land and sell it. Her neighbor Adam, who had been her husband's best friend, has been trying to watch out for her, but he doesn't know the trouble she's in.


Adam had also been in love with Rosa for years, but she had fallen for her husband first. Now Adam is also fighting guilty feelings, because his friend had died while saving Adam from the barn fire. Adam would really like to marry her, but is certain that she holds him responsible for her husband''s death. He senses that something has Rosa very worried, but he can't get her to tell him what it is. When a dog starts attacking and killing her chickens, it threatens what little income she has. Suddenly her chances of paying the taxes are severely diminished.


I got very frustrated with Rosa's refusal to let anyone know that she was in trouble. The Amish community is very good at taking care of their own, but her pride wouldn't let her ask for help. She also had to deal with the neighbor on the other side, the Englischer whose dog is responsible for the deaths of her chickens. I understood her frustration at his uncooperative attitude. When she finally confessed her problem to Adam, he was determined to find a way to help her. 


I loved seeing how he was able to get her to allow him to help her, by getting her to participate in what he was doing. It also gave him the chance to spend more time with her and start giving her an idea of his feelings. There was a lot of tension as they raced to find the funds to save the farm. The resolution was not what I expected, and assistance came from an unexpected source.





Becky Byler is eighteen and overweight. She is overwhelmed by the embarrassment she feels when comparing herself to other girls her age. Having lost all hope, she considers taking her own life. As she stands before rushing water, unable to swim, Becky begs God for a miracle. In just several months, Becky sees her prayers answered as food and temptation lose their hold over her. She’s finally pleased with how she looks, but does she like the person she has become? And has the man she has dreamed of been right beside her all along, loving her exactly as she is?


Good story about learning to like yourself. Becky has been a character in the previous stories. She is always spoken of as being sweet and helpful, but also heavy. There were times when she was obviously unhappy. In this story, we see that her weight has affected the way she feels about herself, to the point where she is thinking about ending it all. Fortunately she doesn't take that step, but she finds the motivation to take control of her eating habits and starts losing weight.


She has always felt that her weight kept her from having any boyfriends. The only young man in her life is her friend Elam, with whom she spends quite a bit of time. But she looks at him just as a friend. As she begins to lose the weight, she gains the attention of a handsome young man that she has had a crush on. 


Matt has been interested in Becky for awhile, but she never seemed interested in him. He has dated other girls, but nothing really stuck with him. He liked the fact that Becky seemed to be different than the others, not always so concerned with her appearance. As they started going out together and she continued to lose weight, the changes in her attitude began to bother him.


Becky's friend Elam is also interested in her as more than a friend, and is disappointed when she only wants to be friends. He had always liked her just as she was and tried to tell her that often. It hurts him to see her going out with Matt. He spends time with other girls, but really misses being with Becky.


Becky had a lesson to learn. She lost the weight she thought she had to, which gave her the confidence to believe that someone like Matt would want to date her. As she continued to lose weight, and her relationship with Matt went on, she discovered that it didn't make her as happy as she thought it would. It was interesting to see the reactions of the people around her and the effects it had on the way she felt. I liked the way that she began to realize that being happy with herself is what made her most appealing to others. She had quite a wake up call at the end when she realized that her insecurity may have lost her the one she really loved.

5 Stars
Trapped With the Tycoon - Jules Bennett (HD #2424 - Jan 2016)
Trapped with the Tycoon (Mafia Moguls) - Jules Bennett

Series: Mafia Moguls (Book 1)


One snowbound night with the boss…


Braden O'Shea needs access to Zara Perkins -- to her life, to her house. So he hires the stunning event planner to keep her close. But after one magical dance, he finds himself driving her home in a snowstorm -- only to be stranded by her side. And now that he's had a taste of her, seduction is his only goal… Zara stirs his blood like no woman he's ever known.


But the commitment-shy beauty knows she must keep her distance from a man with such a risky reputation. He's her boss! He's off-limits. Now if only she can keep her hands to herself until the snow melts…


Very good story about a man who gets more than he expects when he schemes to get close to a woman, and the woman who discovers that love really does exist. Braden became the head of his family after the death of his father. The O'Sheas have been known to be ruthless in business, and not always on the side of the law, but Braden is determined that things will be different now. One thing that he promised his father was that he would find the set of scrolls that once belonged to the family but went missing years ago. Their last known location was in the house that Zara now owns.


Zara owns a party planning business that is just starting to take off. She was thrilled to be hired by Braden to plan their holiday party, knowing that if she did well it could open doors for her. Being attracted to her boss is not something she wants, but she can't deny its existence. She's determined to resist because sleeping with the boss is a bad idea all around.


I loved seeing the relationship develop between Braden and Zara. Braden was attracted to her from the moment he met her, which made his goal of getting close to her that much easier. Actually getting his hands on her during the dance was more intense than he expected, but he was sure that he could handle it. He thought that luck was really with him when, after driving her home during a snowstorm, he ended up getting stranded in her house with her. It's just the opportunity he needs to look for the missing scrolls. Zara is very nervous about having Braden staying at her house. She's not sure she can resist the temptation he offers for very long. 


As the hours went on, Braden found himself more and more drawn to Zara and feeling more and more guilty about his deception. Zara is no longer just a means to an end. I loved how he learned more about her past and how that made him want to protect her and take care of her. Zara has never witnessed the kind of love and caring that Braden shares with his family. The closest she came was her relationship with her grandmother. Though she tries to resist his advances, Braden slowly wears her down. She tries to convince herself that she can give in to his advances without risking her heart, but the connection between them is too strong. 


The pain that both experience when the truth is revealed just about destroys them. Braden had hoped that his love would be enough for her to forgive him. Zara is devastated by her feelings of betrayal when she finds out what he did. She had started to believe in him and the feelings she thought they shared. I ached for her, but also loved seeing her stand up to him and blast him for his actions. I liked the ending, especially seeing Braden have to grovel a bit to get back in Zara's good graces. 


The mystery of the scrolls is not answered in this book, so I can only assume that it will be a theme in the series. I loved seeing how the determination to find them shows how important family and tradition is to the O'Sheas. I loved seeing how they are always there for each other, though they also have their moments of disagreement. I especially liked Braden's protectiveness toward his sister, and how that was woven into this story. I have a suspicion about who she is going to end up with, and I can't wait to see if I'm right. There was also a hint of what will be going on with Braden's brother Mac. I'm looking forward to his fall after the way he gave Braden a hard time over his.

5 Stars
A Very Crimson Christmas - Michelle Major (HSE #2441 - Nov 2015)
A Very Crimson Christmas (Crimson, Colorado) - Michelle Major

Series: Crimson CO (Book 4)



For years there'd been only one woman in Liam Donovan's life -- his beloved nanny, who'd raised him as her own. But someone is clearly taking advantage of Ruth, which brings the studly CEO back to Crimson, the place he was all too happy to have left behind. And there Liam finds Ruth has live-in help -- in the form of his high school love, Natalie Holt, and her adorable son… He better not fall for Nat a second time -- because what if she is the cause of his nanny's missing money?


If Natalie had time for any guy besides her son, it would not be Liam Donovan, who'd broken her heart once, and now seems to think she could add thief to her long list of job titles! She could prove easily enough that she can be trusted with the money -- but can Natalie trust Liam with her heart…again?


Lovely story of Christmas and second chances. Liam has come back to Crimson to check up on his old nanny. He believes that someone is stealing from her and wants to put a stop to it. He doesn't expect to find his old girlfriend and her son living there, too, and possibly the source of the missing money. Natalie is equally unhappy to see Liam, especially when she finds out about his suspicions. She's far too busy trying to make ends meet to deal with him right now, but he isn't going away any time soon.


Liam and Natalie each blame the other for the end of their high school romance. Both had had reasons for their decisions that the other either didn't know or didn't understand. Now that they are back in contact, all those old memories and feelings are coming back, but neither is ready to trust their hearts again. 


I liked Liam a lot. I felt badly for him because he has always felt that Ruth was the only one who ever really loved him. He spent years working for his father, trying to win his approval, and has now decided to go out on his own. Even now he thinks that people are only nice to him because they want something from him. Though he is initially suspicious of Natalie, he really doesn't want to believe that she is guilty of stealing from Ruth. Liam is also dealing with a bunch of guilty feelings, from the death of a friend ten years earlier to feeling like he's been neglecting his relationship with Ruth. The walls that he's built up over the years start to crumble under the influence of her love and from being around Natalie again. There were times when he seemed to be trying too hard, such as decorating the house, and others when things seemed to come naturally. I really liked seeing him with Natalie's son Austin and how easily they got along. He also has to face his fear of whether other people in town hold him responsible for his friend's death. I loved seeing him reconnect with old friends, and his surprise at how they treat him.


Natalie was great. She has dealt with so much over her life that she feels that she can only really count on herself. She divorced her husband when he became controlling and abusive, but is still dealing with him and his demands because she wants to protect her son. She works multiple jobs just to make ends meet. She also has a neurotic mother to contend with, one whose influence on her she only started to recognize recently. Liam's return has her looking at her past decisions with different eyes.


Neither Liam nor Natalie expected their old feelings to make a comeback. Both were determined to protect their hearts from being broken again and tried hard to resist what they were feeling. Liam tried very hard to believe that Ruth was the only reason he was staying in Crimson for so long, but it was obvious to everyone around that Natalie still meant something to him. His growing feelings for her scare him, especially when he's sure that she's hiding something from him. When it comes out, what he feels is her lack of trust in him makes him feel rejected all over again. Natalie's feelings for Liam are also growing, aided by the way he treats her son. But she's ashamed of the mistake she made by marrying her husband. She also suspects that her problems with him have something to do with Ruth's missing money, which is something she really doesn't want to admit to Liam. The confrontation between them leaves them both hurting. I loved seeing Liam's friend Tanner be blunt with him about what he sees Liam doing. I loved Natalie's big moment at the end and seeing both of them move forward with their future together.


*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

4 Stars
His Housekeeper's Christmas Wish - Louise Allen (HH #1257 - Nov 2015)
His Housekeeper's Christmas Wish (Lords of Disgrace) - Louise Allen

Series: Lords of Disgrace (Book 1)

'Tis the season for mischief!


Accidentally colliding with Tess Ellery on the icy streets of Ghent is definitely not how resolute bachelor Alexander Tempest, Viscount Weybourn, intended to start the festive period. He may have mistaken her for a nun, but there's nothing innocent about his reaction to Tess's delicious curves…


When Tess is left stranded, Alex is honor-bound to take her home…as his housekeeper! And despite his long-held rule of spending Christmas alone, Tess's vivacity soon has this brooding lord determined to make all her Christmas wishes come true!


Good book. Tess went to live with her aunt at a convent in Ghent when her parents died. It wasn't a pleasant upbringing, but her needs were met. When her aunt died, it was made clear to her that if she wasn't planning to become a nun herself, it was time to go. She was given the option of returning to England where a job would be found for her. As she was making her way to the docks and the ship that would take her there, she was run into and injured by Alex Tempest.


Alex felt guilty about hurting the lady he first thought was a nun. He took her back to his inn and his friends to take care of her injuries. In his attempts to take care of her, he caused her to miss the boat she was supposed to be on, so he promised to get her where she was supposed to be. Though he's trying to do the right thing, he doesn't think about the consequences of a young woman traveling with a single man. When the convent in London refuses to help her because of it, Alex promises to help her.


I liked Tess a lot. She's a very practical young woman thanks to her time at the convent, but she also looks for the good in people. She accepts Alex's help because she really has no choice, but plans to start looking for a position after the holidays. When she ends up filling in for Alex's ill housekeeper, her strengths really start to show. She is incredibly organized and soon has Alex's household running smoothly. She also has her own agenda, having discovered that Alex is estranged from his family and doesn't celebrate Christmas at all. She is determined to bring him into the Christmas spirit and is relentless in that pursuit. She is also attracted to him, but knows nothing can come of it. Her parents may have been well born, but she is illegitimate and therefore not eligible for a man like Alex. 


Alex is something of a self made man. At the age of seventeen he had a falling out with his father over a buildup of events culminating in the death of a friend. He hasn't been home or spoken to his father since. Instead he has a thriving art dealer business, good friends, and an absolute distant for the fuss of the Christmas holidays. Though he's a bit cynical, at heart he is a good man, and when he collides with Tess he is determined to take care of her. He knows he has to be careful of her reputation, and does everything he can to protect her. He is also attracted to her, but tries to control himself around her.


I loved seeing the relationship grow between Alex and Tess. He is determined to help and protect her, especially from himself. He is known for keeping his cool under all circumstances, but something about Tess really gets under his skin. It was fun seeing him agree to do things with and for her that he never would have done before. In spite of her innocence, Tess has a way of seeing what people really need, and she sees that, contrary to what he says, Alex really misses his family. She's determined to give him a real Christmas because of it. And though she knows nothing can come of it, Alex finds a way into her heart.


Things get really interesting when Alex receives a letter from his mother, begging him to come home. His father is ill and Alex is needed on the estate. He's more nervous about going home than he will admit and asks Tess to go with him. Next thing he knows, the entire household is going, with Tess no longer the housekeeper but a friend he is helping. I loved seeing how they rearranged everyone's roles. Once they arrive at Tempeston, the reader begins to get the background of the issues between Alex and his father. It was fun to see Alex's satisfaction in showing off his success. With a few little prods from Tess, he makes progress in repairing his relationships with his father and brother. 


The attraction between Tess and Alex grows stronger. I loved seeing the way that Tess tries to draw him further into the Christmas preparations. Both are fighting the attraction but it is a losing battle. Tess doesn't want to miss out on the experience she could have with him, so she goes after what she wants. Alex doesn't resist too hard, but there are still some guilty feelings over what he sees as his less than honorable actions. In his attempts to take care of her he makes some rather significant mistakes, causing a rift between them. How he makes up with her is unusual, and almost makes things worse before it gets better.


I liked the realistic view of what kind of life Tess could expect as an illegitimate woman. Life wasn't easy for women such as her. I liked her rescue of Dorcas and Daisy, as her kind heart saw a way to help them at the same time they could help her. I also enjoyed the look "below stairs" during the time Tess was acting as housekeeper. Alex was also honest about what might happen after they marry.

5 Stars
Evergreen Springs - RaeAnne Thayne (HQN - Oct 2015)
Evergreen Springs (Haven Point) - RaeAnne Thayne

Series: Haven Point (Book 3)

Christmas is the last thing on Cole Barrett's mind this year. He's barely hanging on trying to care for his two grieving children since his ex-wife died in a tragic accident. For the reclusive Cole, this is no time for gift-giving and celebration -- and certainly not for a sunny-natured optimist to blow into his screwed-up life.


Physician Devin Shaw has long researched the curative powers of Lake Haven's mineral waters. Unfortunately, the hot springs are on Barrett property, forcing Devin to strike a bargain with the ranch's attractively gruff owner: she'll give Cole's children a magical Christmas, and Cole will allow her patients access to the springs. But can she work her holiday magic to heal the Barrett family's battered hearts -- and her own?


Very good book about redemption and second chances. Devin is one of Haven Point's doctors and is working in the ER when Cole brings in his very pregnant sister. She has fallen and is in premature labor, so she is ordered to bedrest at the hospital. This leaves Cole, a single father who has recently gained custody of his children, without any help. Devin steps in to give him a hand.


Devin is a woman who is a fixer at heart. She is a cancer survivor who has found meaning in helping other people. There is something about Cole and his children that has her getting really involved in their lives. I loved seeing how she mobilized her friends to make meals that she delivered to him, and how she stayed to build snowmen with the kids. She sees that Cole is overwhelmed by everything going on and offers to help him prepare for his first Christmas with the kids. Though he seems rather cold and grumpy at the beginning, she soon discovers that there's a good man underneath, one she'd like to get to know better.


Cole came back to Haven Point to try to put his life back together. When his mother died and his father abandoned him and his sister, Cole reacted by going a bit wild. He became a rodeo cowboy, and lived a life filled with booze and women. He married a buckle bunny who got pregnant, later divorced and had to deal with her erratic behavior. He ended up spending some time in prison for an event he can't even remember. Since getting out, he has worked to get his family ranch back in working order, avoiding most people while he was at it. When his ex-wife is killed in an accident, Cole gets custody of his children, but is at a loss on how to deal with them. Losing his sister's help makes things even more difficult. He's stunned when Devin shows up at his door and doesn't understand why she is so determined to help him.


I loved seeing the relationship develop between them. Devin has found an outlet for all the love and mothering she has in her heart. She is cautious at first, knowing that she could get really attached to the whole family. Her attraction to Cole is strong, and she finds herself unable to resist getting closer. The more time she spends with him, the deeper she falls. Devin has doubts about her ability to win the love of a man because of her inability to have children. Cole is very attracted to Devin, and also drawn to the love she shows his children. But he believes that there is too big a gulf between the beautiful town doctor and himself, as a recovering alcoholic and ex-con. When the strength of his feelings gets to be too much, he tries to drive her away. It was an emotional scene, as Cole does everything he can to make his point. Devin is initially devastated, but I loved seeing her natural optimism and intelligence come through as she realizes the truth of what happened. The ending was sweet as Devin finally gets Cole to accept that he's a much better man than he wants to admit. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in later books.


There were a couple of secondary stories in the book also. First is the story of Cole's sister Tricia and why she is staying with Cole. They are very protective of each other, as is shown by her concern over what will happen to Cole and the kids while she's in the hospital. Cole is also worried about her and her separation from her husband during her pregnancy. There were times I wanted to shake her and tell her to suck it up and talk to her husband. As the story went on, her reasons and motivations are explained. It all came to a head as she went into labor for real, and the drama was quite riveting. I liked seeing how it worked out. There was also the story of Cole's father, who returned to the ranch a few months earlier. He wants to mend his relationship with Cole, and Cole wants nothing to do with him. Cole harbors a lot of bitterness about his father, and he doesn't believe the man can change. I loved seeing the slow thaw of the ice between them, and how it's the kids who start the process.


I liked the group of seniors that Devin brings to Cole's hot springs. They are a very fun group. Devin's friends "The Helping Hands" were also great. All of them showed the positive aspects of life in a small town, where everyone watched out for everyone else.

4 Stars
At the Rancher's Request - Sara Orwig (HD #2361 - Mar 2015)
At the Rancher's Request (Lone Star Legends) - Sara Orwig

Series: Lone Star Legends (Book 3)

Pregnant, abandoned and stranded in a Texas blizzard, nurse Savannah Grayson is grateful when billionaire rancher Mike Calhoun rescues her. The widowed father offers shelter -- and only shelter -- at his vast ranch.


Determined to never love another woman again, Mike tries to do the right thing and resist his attraction to his vulnerable guest. As they spend cold days building snowmen with his son and long nights talking and kissing by the fire, Mike fights the thaw of his heart…a battle he just might lose.


Good book about two people whose past hurts keep them from wanting to risk their hearts again. Mike is the widowed father of a three year old boy. The death of his wife hit him hard and he doesn't want to go through anything like that again. Savannah was engaged to a man who didn't bother to tell her he doesn't want kids until she gets pregnant. Devastated by the realization that she hadn't really known the man she thought she loved, she breaks their engagement and leaves home to go visit her aunt in California.


Mike and Savannah meet during a rainstorm where Mike and his son Scotty have pulled into a gas station to wait out the downpour. Savannah pulls in because her car is making noises and just as she stops the engine erupts into flames. Mike puts the fire out and invites Savannah to stay at his ranch until her car is fixed. He even tells her she can call the local sheriff for a reference if she needs one. She accepts his offer, hoping it will just be for a couple days.


Neither of them expected the strength of the attraction between them. Savannah insists that they do not give in to it, as she is still healing from her previous relationship and doesn't want to make another mistake. Mike doesn't want another relationship either, but feels that they can enjoy each other without making an emotional commitment. 


Because it will take time for her car repair, Savannah ends up staying longer than she expected. She started getting really attached to Scotty and liked taking care of him when Mike had to be out on the ranch. She also began developing feelings for Mike as she got to know him better, realizing that he's nothing at all like her ex. She has to keep reminding herself that she isn't staying and that she's not ready to risk her heart again. But she also finds it very easy to give in to his kisses and doesn't trust herself to be able to keep her heart protected.


Mike bugged me a little bit. He knows he doesn't want a commitment and that Savannah is still hurting from her previous relationship. She has told him repeatedly that giving in to their attraction would be a bad idea. But he keeps finding excuses to kiss her and every time he pushes for more, trying to convince her that they can keep their emotions out of it. However, even though he can't deny that his actions may cause her more hurt, he keeps doing it. It does come back to bite him though, as he discovers that being with Savannah has begun to change him more than he expected. 


A medical crisis with her pregnancy delays Savannah's departure, and also brings Mike to the conclusion that he has lost his heart to her after all. Both he and Savannah have to find a way to let go of their past hurts if they want to have a chance to have a future together. I liked the way it worked out for them.


Scotty was an adorable little boy and had a big part in bringing Mike and Savannah together. My biggest issue with him was that he did not talk or act like a child just turning three. He was way too articulate and able to be reasoned with. I thought he was more like a five year old.

4 Stars
Smoke River Family - Lynna Banning (HH #1256 - Oct 2015)
Smoke River Family (Harlequin Historical) - Lynna Banning

Series: Smoke River (Book 2)

A baby to bring them together…


When Dr. Zane Dougherty swept Winifred Von Dannen's sister off to Smoke River, Winifred was resentful, but now she wants to be part of her late sister's baby's life. That means dealing with Zane and the shadows of loneliness -- and incredible hunger -- she sees in his eyes.


Zane knows he and his infant daughter are truly blessed. But he wants more. He wants Winifred! Is there a way he can mend this broken family and care for them forever?


Sweet, slow-moving romance. When Winifred's sister ran off to marry Zane, she wasn't happy. She and Celeste had an excellent career as a concert pianist duo and she didn't understand how her sister could just throw it all away. She was heartbroken when Celeste died before they could make up, and knew that she wanted to be part of her niece's life. That means a trip to Smoke River and dealing with Zane. Zane isn't sure what to make of Winifred at first. She's cool and composed and very different than his late wife. There's something about her that wakes up the emotions that have been buried since Celeste's death, but he has no intention of following through on them. He doesn't intend to marry again. 


But Winifred has come to Smoke River with more than just getting to know Rosemarie on her mind. Her desire is to take the little girl back to St. Louis with her, as she feels that Smoke River is no place to raise a little girl. Taking her back to the city will give her many more benefits than growing up in such a backward place. She is stunned by Zane's reaction, as she thought he'd be happy to see her have all the advantages. But Rosemarie is the center of Zane's life and losing her would remove his will to live. After exchanging harsh words, then avoiding each other for a few days, Zane and Winifred come to an understanding. Winifred has some time before she has to return to St. Louis, and that time is spent getting to know both Rosemarie and Zane. 


I have to say that Winifred really irritated me at the beginning. She had the stereotypical Easterner/city dweller attitude toward the West. Nothing was as good as what the city had. I didn't like the way that she looked down on the town, or questioned Celeste's reasons for marrying Zane. By the time she left to go back home, her attitude had begun to change enough that she wanted to come back for Christmas. On the other hand, I loved Zane from the start. He obviously loves his little girl. I loved the way that he cares for her himself when he isn't working, rather than leave her to a servant. He also cares for the people that he doctors, paying attention to more than just their medical needs. He is still mourning the loss of his wife, and because of that doesn't see ever caring for someone else.


By the time Winifred leaves, she and Zane have begun a tentative friendship. They exchange a few letters while she's gone. Over the holidays, Zane begins to notice Winifred as a woman, but the guilt prevents him from doing anything about it. Winifred has also taken more notice of Zane, but she has her career to think about. More letters are exchanged over the spring, and both find themselves thinking about each other quite a lot. Zane especially starts to think of what it would be like for Winifred to stay. Her return for the summer months starts out rough, as she arrives quite ill. As Zane labors to save her, he can no longer deny his feelings for her. Their attraction draws them closer together but unfortunately for him, Winifred is still focused on her career and refuses to consider giving it up to stay in Smoke River. But this time, when she heads back home, she can't stop thinking about Zane. I loved seeing the way that she started looking at her life in St. Louis differently, and accepting that maybe there is more to life than she had believed before. When a crisis sends her speeding back to Smoke River, she has a decision to make about her future. I loved seeing her come into her own as part of the town and Zane's life.


The secondary characters were good too. I especially loved Zane's servant Wing Sam and the way that he took Winifred under his wing. He had his own ways of working to see that Zane and Winifred ended up together. I also really enjoyed seeing him get his own happy ending. He was really adorable with his nerves over the arrival of his bride. I also liked seeing how Winifred helped the young lady, even though she didn't speak any Chinese herself. The other doctor was great, especially at the end when Zane needed him so badly. There was also the woman who wanted Zane and wasn't going to let anyone get in her way. I loved seeing Winifred deal with her.

4 Stars
Special Forces Savior - Janie Crouch (HI #1613 - Jan 2016)
Special Forces Savior (Omega Sector: Critical Response) - Janie Crouch

Series: Omega Sector: Critical Response (Book 1)

He has to shut down the terrorists or lose everything. Including the woman he can't admit means the most to him.


Omega Sector: Critical Response agent Derek Waterman is hunting the architects of a lethal terrorist bombing. After weeks of chasing cold leads, he has finally found the evidence that could expose the perpetrators. But in order to take them down, he needs help from Dr. Molly Humphries, Omega's lead forensic scientist.


Shy Molly works to retrieve the data--and overcome her debilitating crush on the sexy agent. Derek carefully suppresses his mutual smoldering attraction, sure that his dark past will drive Molly away if she knows. But when Molly's kidnapped, he will stop at nothing to save her. Even if a lethal enemy will do everything to keep him from doing so.


Good mix of romance and action. Derek and his fellow agents Jon and Liam have been working hard trying to find out who is behind a recent terrorist attack, but every lead so far has been a dead end. Then they find some evidence that could be just what they need, if someone can recover the data. This is where Molly comes in. She is the lead forensic scientist for Omega Sector and brilliant at what she does. 


I loved Molly. She is fantastic at what she does, but she is also a bit shy and especially awkward around Derek. She has had a crush on him for years that has her stuttering and stumbling whenever she is around him, and that really frustrates her. But there's little she won't do for him and she promises to work on his project as soon as she can. She and Derek had had a fantastic night together three years earlier, but ever since then Derek has kept his distance. She's not sure he even remembers it.


I liked Derek too. He is just as attracted to her, but is determined to protect her from getting involved with someone like him. He is very protective of her, and I really enjoyed how he fussed at her about eating and also at his friends for their teasing. He cares about her, but doesn't want his past having an effect on her.


Derek's feelings for Molly become obvious to everyone when there is an explosion at the lab and then she is kidnapped. I loved the look at the methods used to find her, and the intensity of Derek's determination. The rescue itself was exciting and Molly really showed how strong she was. When they return it is to discover that Molly is still being targeted, and Derek's protective instincts continue to show. As much as Derek wants to keep Molly safe from others and from himself, Molly is equally determined to show Derek that who he is now is different than the one that haunts his dreams. 


The suspense of the story was great. Derek, Jon and Liam's frustration is obvious as all their efforts come to nothing. I could feel their excitement when they found that one piece of evidence, and their confidence that Molly would be able to get the necessary information. The lab explosion and Molly's kidnapping ramped up the intensity, as did the bad guy's attempt to frame Molly for it. It was pretty clear from the beginning that there was someone on the inside working against them, and following along with the investigation kept me hooked. There was an unexpected twist at the end that brought more danger to Molly and some intense action before it was all over. I'm looking forward to Jon and Liam's stories.

5 Stars
The Highlander Next Door - Janet Chapman (Jove - Sept 2014)
The Highlander Next Door - Janet Chapman

Series: Spellbound Falls (Book 6)

Legend has it love is carried on the rising mists of Spellbound Falls, and not even time-traveling highlanders are immune to its magic...


Birch Callahan has seen the trouble men can cause. After witnessing her mother’s four marriages, Birch now runs a women’s shelter and doesn’t want a man in her life. But there’s something about her neighbor, Niall MacKeage. Birch can’t figure out how the cop can be so big and gruff and yet so insightful and compassionate -- and sexy. Or how she’s falling for a man who acts like someone from the twelfth century.


Niall knows that Birch is attracted to him, even if she seems to distrust all men. Yet he also knows she has a secret -- something that drives her to place herself in harm’s way for the women of her shelter. Niall would gladly rush to Birch’s side to protect her from harm, but with their secrets standing between them, he’ll have to reveal his own truth if he wants to keep her...


Another fun trip to Spellbound Falls. Here we have Niall, twelfth century Highlander, brought forward in an earlier book as a possible suitor for Titus's daughter. He lost out on that one, but decided he liked the current time, so he stayed and has become the town's first police chief. One of the benefits of the job is free housing, next door to the local women's shelter, with the understanding that he will watch out for them. This puts him in frequent contact with Birch, the shelter director, a woman with very definite opinions about men.


Birch is new to Spellbound Falls also. She has brought her mother with her to help run the shelter. She is of the opinion that men are more trouble than they are worth. After witnessing her mother's four disastrous marriages, plus the ones she sees in her work, she has decided that marriage is not for her. Currently at the top of her list is her neighbor. She needs his cooperation in support of the work she does, and she isn't getting it. There's something about him that rubs her the wrong way, but that may just be the attraction she refuses to admit.


I loved the relationship that built between Niall and Birch. Niall freely admits that Birch aggravates the heck out of him, but that very feistiness is one of the things he likes about her. He also senses that beneath her frequent confrontations, she is just as attracted to him, which amuses him a lot. Their encounters are fun to see as they deal with situations with very different methods. As they begin to work together, Birch starts to realize that Niall is someone she can trust and her attitude begins to change a little. However, she's still stubborn about what she does and tends to get herself into trouble that Niall has to save her from. Niall reverts somewhat to his medieval Highlander persona, as his protective nature kicks in. That clash with Birch's modern attitude makes for a few interesting situations. The intensity of his first rescue of her kicks their attraction up a couple levels. I loved seeing Birch go after the comfort she needed afterwards. As their relationship progressed, Niall was able to understand Birch and her ways better as he learned more about her background. I liked seeing Birch learn to trust that Niall would be there for her, and Niall convince her that he loved her just the way she was. The only thing I wonder about is that he hadn't yet told her the truth about who he was. I missed that because it has always been a fun part of previous books.


There was some mystery included in the book as something from Birch and her mother's past creates trouble for them. Starting with a strange car that runs her off the road, Birch and Niall try to figure out who is after her and why. When the final confrontation comes, I have to say that I was impressed with Birch's ability to stay calm and focused. I loved how Niall was able to get help and support from his friends, and how it all came together at the end. 


The secondary characters were terrific, especially Birch's mother. Though the initial impression was one of something of an airhead, but it turned out she was anything but. I understood Birch's need to protect her, and loved seeing their close relationship. It was great fun to see Hazel really come into her own as Niall's secretary and Girl Friday. She was really quite a powerhouse. I also loved seeing her with Sam, and then with Birch's father Claude. It will be interesting to see if anything happens with them in future books.


Also present throughout the book are appearances by a new deity, one that was brought forth in a previous book, The Heart of a Hero. The question everyone has is whether he'll be a good one or a bad one. I quite enjoyed the way he appeared to Birch, and the conversations she had with him. I especially liked her talk with the eagle who ate her pie. Eventually we have a name for him, and I get the feeling he'll come down on the side of good. It was fun to see the differences between a "modern" deity and the ancient ones like Titus and Mac. I'm looking forward to seeing more of him in later books.

4 Stars
Triplets Under the Tree - Kat Cantrell (HD #2414 - Dec 2015)
Triplets Under the Tree (Billionaires and Babies) - Kat Cantrell

Series: Billionaires and Babies (Book 64)

This Christmas, he'll meet his three babies for the first time…and desire their mother in a whole new way!


After a plane crash robs him of his memory, billionaire fighter Antonio Cavallari comes home for the holidays to find triplets -- and their "mother" -- waiting. Antonio doesn't remember surrogate Caitlyn Hopewell, but he has triplets depending upon him. Who else can he turn to except the woman raising his children…and making him burn with desire?


Caitlyn has longed for Antonio secretly for years. Now she's living in his home, loving his babies…living the life with him she's always wanted. But then Antonio's memory returns. And the secrets he's forgotten will change everything…


Good book about a man who gets a second chance at life and love. The book opens with Antonio, going by the name Falco, on an island in Indonesia. He has no idea how he got there, and no memory of life before he was dragged from the ocean. All he knows is that he can fight, so that's what he does, until a blow to the head knocks one memory loose, sending him to the address he sees in his mind.


Caitlyn is living in the home of her sister and brother-in-law, taking care of the three babies she bore for them. She considers them her children now and is doing her best to raise them while protecting their inheritance. She is stunned to answer the door one day to find an Antonio she barely recognizes on the other side. She can't give up her children, and it's obvious that he needs her help.


Caitlyn has always had feelings for Antonio. She had met him first, but it was her starlet sister that he married, so she kept her feelings to herself. Those feelings give her an extra sensitivity toward him, and she steps in to help him adjust to being back. Antonio often feels like Caitlyn is the only thing keeping him sane. Neither of them had expected the desire that burned between them. Antonio is fully prepared to pursue it, but Caitlyn experiences some guilty feelings over having a chance at what she always wanted only because her sister is dead.


Antonio struggles with the frustration of not being able to remember his former life. He begins to get some of his memories back in small chunks, but not the ones he really wants. He feels that there is something important about his marriage that is just out of reach. There are also times he that he seems to be fighting his memories of himself.


I liked seeing the relationship that built between Caitlyn and Antonio as she tried to help him adjust to his life. I loved the way that she supported him, helping to keep others from realizing his memory loss. She was wary of getting involved with him, but Antonio wasn't going to give up once he'd made up his mind. He did show a fair amount of patience while he waited for her to make up her mind. Things were going along pretty well for them as they built a nice little family together, until one particular memory returned. That memory creates a rift between them, as Caitlyn discovers that Antonio is the perfect man she had thought he was. A second blow comes with the discovery of her sister's journal, and Caitlyn isn't sure how to deal with the knowledge.


While I was a little disturbed by Antonio's past actions, it is pretty obvious that his accident and amnesia has allowed him to make some major changes in his life. I thought that Caitlyn was a bit hypocritical in her attitude toward his transgressions considering her envy and jealousy of her sister. Fortunately, both of them were able to overcome their more negative traits to build a better future together.