Can’t Bear to Hide by Lynn Red

BEAR
Can’t Bear to Hide by Lynn Red
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (170 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

For a regular girl to be the sheriff of a town full of werebears, she needs spunk, grit, and the ability to deal with rowdy drunks eight times her size.

In the three years since Raine Matthews escaped an abusive relationship by clocking her husband with a baseball bat, she’s been through a lot – she ran, she hid, and she fell in love with Daxon Mark, alpha bear of Kendal Creek. She’s got spunk and grit to spare, but she’s also constantly reminded of the past she can’t undo.

Dax, is one bad-boy alpha werebear who takes what he wants, and isn’t shy about bending rules, which has gotten him in trouble more times than he can count. Raine’s calmed him down though… a little. And he’s mellowed with age… a little. But when an old rival resurfaces and threatens not only his town, but his mate? Dax isn’t just angry, he’s mad enough to kill.

With Raine’s darkest shadow coming back to haunt her, and Daxon’s rival breathing down his neck can the love the two of them built survive the hell of their past?

Only one thing is for sure – when she can’t bear to run, and can’t bear to hide, Raine sure as hell isn’t gonna go down without a fight.

I wish all self-published books were as well done as Can’t Bear to Hide. Not only was the editing perfect but the story, the writing, the romance and car chases and action all came together for a wonderful reading experience. I practically devoured the book in one sitting.

First person point of view is hard to pull off sometimes but I loved reading the story from Raine’s perspective. She was so fascinating! I mean, she makes these great pop culture references that sometime falls flat with other characters in the book and she has to deal with a dud audience, and other times it works and I could share in her giggles and humor. Then, when she deals with stress, I could relate to her grandiose fantasies on how to finagle a way out, but understood her acceptance of the restrictions of reality. Even with reality, she got a few good zings on the bad guys. I got the biggest kick out of the paper towel dispenser reference. Even the Top Gun scene was really cool. And all of this is explored through her internal dialogue. The heroine’s mind is such a trip. The one thing that stood out is her feelings for the hero, Dax. The words the author used to describe her love for him fits the definition of romance to a T. I could feel her love, her devotion, her belief that she’s the luckiest woman on the face of the earth because Dax loved her. And because of that certainty, she had the strength and determination to fight the bad guys every step of the way.

This story focused on Raine but Dax is no slouch. Even though I never got into his head, the author used his dialogue and actions to get across any point that needed to be made. He is her mate and even when she comes clean about a secret that she’d been keeping from him, his reaction was everything I could have wished. No silly over the top reaction but an acceptance that she’s human, that everyone makes mistakes and it was the past. How he chose to express that to her proved to me his devotion and that was enough to make me swoon. Dax is an awesome hero.

As for the conflict, it was very much external. There was so much going on and that sleazy weasel, in my estimation, should have been punished. I was not happy that it looked and sounded like he was going to get away with being such a jerk but I guess there were bigger, meaner and nastier thugs to deal with. One of the pieces of trash was from the heroine’s past. I know that the author sort of addressed the issue a bit; werebear marriages are not the same as human marriages, but I kind of hoped there would have been a more permanent solution to her ex. Call me bloodthirsty but after finding out what he did to her? She and Dax showed remarkable restraint. I wanted her to at LEAST get an official human divorce. Raine might, only the author knows, but that bugged me that it wasn’t done in this story. Then again there was Gregs – talk about a twist! I give Ms. Red two thumbs up for what she did with him. I count it as another high point in the book.

I’m recent to fandom of Ms. Red, but every book I’ve read of hers leaves me wanting more and more. I feel like a true romance junkie, and Can’t Bear to Hide was my latest fix. I can’t get enough of her were-bears, the world she’s created and the romances that occur within it. Paranormal romance readers can’t go wrong when reading stories by Ms. Red. They’re that good.

Energized by Mary Behre

ENERGIZED
Energized by Mary Behre
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (299 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

She’s searching for a sign…

Hannah Halloran has always believed in her gift. The things she sees through her psychic touch have never led her wrong before. Not when they led her to an unforgettable night with a sexy marine at a bar. Not when she felt a need to leave her home and find the sisters she barely knows. And not now, when she is an unwilling witness to a brutal murder…

He’s ready to show her…

All Niall Graham wants is some peace. He’s recovering from the horrors of war, struggling to save his family’s restaurant, and desperate to forget Hannah, the beautiful woman who left him with memories of a mind-blowing night together and a bogus phone number. But a quiet life is hard to manage—especially when Hannah strides back into his restaurant with the news that a serial killer is on the loose and lurking closer than anyone could have guessed…

The previous novella, Harmonized, had a mystery and drama too, but it was more like the calm before a storm. It was a great lead in for this next book. Energized is like a hurricane of storytelling; with so much action and amazing clues being tossed my way, it was hard to put the book down. And I didn’t want to. What an amazing read!

The first chapter doesn’t really clue a reader in on what is going to happen but it does present some wonderful snappy dialogue, great man/woman flirting and insight as to the hero’s frame of mind. The author showed a reader two people who, although strangers, ignited a special spark of … something … that romance readers will interpret correctly. There’s a lot of emotion packed into that first chapter but the best is yet to come.

The conflict, referenced very briefly in Harmonized, takes on an ominous and freaky turn and becomes a full blown murder mystery with time being of the essence. Thing is, no one knows. The author clues a reader in who just might be the next victim and it gave me goosebumps. At no time did I guess who the villain was so I was just as shocked and horrified as the heroine.

I know I should be sharing about how wonderful Niall and Hannah are together, because they are. They are awesome. But what really stuck with me was how the author had me in the villain’s head, reliving memories of youth – all the pain, the horror and the twisted forms of abuse received. It was like a train wreck – hard to look away from because it’s so stunning and unexpected. And when the clues finally came together, I was dumbfounded. Hannah was shocked and totally grossed out. As well she should be. I wanted to feel sad for the villain because the bad person was as much a victim as the future victims of the resulting personality the villain became. I am having a hard time not giving spoilers here because it’s really incredible. Let’s just say that Ms. Behre created a villain that was truly irredeemable. I can’t see how romantic suspense fans can be anything else but wowed by this novel. I know I was.

On the lighter side of things, Hannah is finally reunited with her sisters. How it happens in the course of the story is another amazing feat of storytelling. The author did not do it simply or easily, which added to my being unable to put the book down. Every time I thought it was going to happen, something else did and I was thrown for a loop every time. Especially at the wedding reception where I believe I yelled at the book, ‘Seriously? Now? Oh, come on!” – in the best possible way. I thought for sure Hannah was a goner. How exciting!

Getting back to the man/woman thing between Hannah and Niall, it was many things: sweet, funny, tender, exasperating, sexy, okay, VERY sexy, exciting, thrilling, sad, happy – pick an emotion, it’s all there, including fear. The one thing that stood out for me was Hannah’s calling Niall, Marine. It’s one word but it carries a wealth of meaning in this story. You’ll see when you read it. For me, it was extremely romantic and sweet – eventually.

There is a great happy ever after wrap up and for all the drama there is quite a bit of humor sprinkled throughout the novel. There are family issues, job issues, electrical issues and cooking issues. There is a great supporting cast and it was fun to see Karma still giving Zig some zings and kisses. There’s even a couple of dramatic rescues that almost led to hyperventilation – the writing was that tight and strong.

All in all, Energized knocked my socks off. It’s a powerful, well written mystery with a romance that made me melt. It’s a keeper, it’s a solid recommend and it’s a testament of Ms. Behre’s storytelling talents. Romantic suspense readers can’t go wrong when they read books by Ms. Behre – she delivers solid high quality novels that are well worth the time spent reading. Energized is a winner. And, I’m a very happy reader.

Tremain’s True Love by Grace Burrowes

TREMAIN
Tremain’s True Love by Grace Burrowes
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (403 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Tremaine St. Michael is firmly in trade and seeks only to negotiate the sale of some fancy sheep with the Earl of Bellefonte. The earl’s sister, Lady Nita, is pragmatic, hard-working, and selfless, though Tremaine senses she’s also tired of her charitable obligations and envious of her siblings’ marital bliss. Tremaine, having been raised among shepherds, can spot another lonely soul, no matter how easily she fools her own family. Neither Tremaine nor Nita is looking for love, but love comes looking for them.

Once again, Grace Burrowes delivers a captivating story set in a memorable time in England. The characters engage the reader immediately and intrigue every step of the way to a happy-ever-after that seemed impossible for a time. Ms. Burrowes’ beautiful writing, with a flavor all its own, makes this story, like her many other novels, a joy to read.

Tremaine St. Michaels, a wealthy man of commerce, uses his French title and Scottish heritage only when they serve him well, At Belle Maison, where he arrives to do business with Nichols Haddonfield, Earl of Bellefonte, he has no need of either. What he needs is all his business acumen to maneuver his way through the maze of the young Earl’s family—four single sisters and one brother. Tremaine has come to bargain for a herd of fine Merion sheep, but he soon finds himself “a person-of-interest” for more than a possible buyer of sheep.

The undercurrents of subtle humor, manipulation, loving family squabbling, and deep- seated convictions about responsibility keep Tremain’s True Love vibrating with life. The love between a man and a woman adds sizzle, as well as a fair share of anxiety, to the story as it unfolds. A, seemingly, irresolvable conflict of values about responsibility threatens to consign Lady Nita to spinsterhood and a broken-heart. How this gets untangled makes page-turning reading.

Lady Nita, the oldest of the four sisters, is a healer like her deceased mother had been. Nita managed the Belle Maison for many years after the death of her mother and tended her father during his last days. She continued to manage the household for her brother until he married. Since his marriage, Lady Nita’s energy is used on tending the sick who cannot afford the inept Dr. Horton in the village. She drives the Earl to his wits end at times. She is a strong-willed, intelligent woman, who puts herself in danger of contracting contagious diseases, as she refuses none who ask for her help.

Every character in Tremain’s True Love is attention-keeping. Each has his or her own story, making this reader hope Grace Burrowes brings each of their stories to life in still-to-come books.

This one is a keeper to enjoy more than once.

Wolf Trouble by Paige Tyler

WOLF
Wolf Trouble by Paige Tyler
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (327 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

He’s in trouble with a capital T…

There’s never been a female on the Dallas SWAT team and Senior Corporal Xander Riggs prefers it that way. The elite pack of alpha male wolfshifters is no place for a woman. But Khaki Blake is no ordinary woman.

When Khaki walks through the door attractive as hell and smelling like heaven, Xander doesn’t know what the heck to do. Worse, she’s put under his command and Xander’s protective instincts go on high alert. When things start heating up both on and off the clock, it’s almost impossible to keep their heads in the game and their hands off each other…

I really enjoy it when I find a book that has a new twist on werewolf physiology and a unique situation to showcase it. That’s what Wolf Trouble did for me and I fell in love with the genre all over again.

Ms. Tyler’s interpretation is clever, interesting and vastly intriguing. It’s like all of us could have hidden werewolf DNA, it just needs to be triggered. And the catalyst is on par with what romantic suspense stories are known for. What an amazing concept.

Once Xander and Khaki meet, life sure got interesting for both of them. I liked how the author presented the heroine in the first chapter. It was a pivotal moment in her life that led her to a new beginning. I also liked that the hero was so out of his element with Khaki that he simply couldn’t seem to do anything right. Because they had certain roles and responsibilities in their job description, they both tried to act like nothing was wrong and assumed the opposite about each other than what the truth was. Denial makes people do strange and crazy things so it was entertaining watching them dance oh, so carefully around their attraction. It wasn’t until they were shocked by what their noses scented, and upon realizing what it meant that they finally took a chance on sharing their true feelings. That’s when things really heated up and the fun began. It was like watching two kids in cahoots trying to pull a fast one on the adults in charge. It doesn’t work for long and I really enjoyed the whole process.

In the background is a crime spree that the SWAT team was asked to assist the FBI with. That provided the book with many a suspenseful and dramatic moment and I had a hard time putting the book down, even for something as necessary as eating. What I never expected was the loose cannon thrown into the mix. The result of which is a chapter that brought things to head. It was full of action, emotion, fast paced dialogue and a really exciting wrap up. Best of all was an HEA for a different kind of canine.

When Xander and Khaki succumb to their wolfie passions, it was fun and fascinating. The physical romance scenes were well placed throughout the book and even introduced some great moments of blushing and close calls. I enjoyed myself.

Best of all were all the yummy secondary characters. If all the guys end up finding their ONE, and are as well written asWolf Trouble, then I believe I have a lot more awesome romance books to look forward to. I loved the action, the romance, the intrigue, the meaty plot and my absolute favorite funny part in the whole book, the yoga scene. I giggled through the whole event. I enjoyed Ms. Tyler’s storytelling voice and her world building for these amazing heroes. I highly recommend Wolf Trouble to paranormal romance fans, or even fans of romantic suspense. This novel has a lot to offer both groups and I’m thrilled I read it.

Secret Relations by Sheila M. Goss

RELATIONS
Secret Relations by Sheila M. Goss
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (185 pgs)
Heat level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Business and pleasure don’t mix…until emotion enters the scene.

Women in Hollywood, Book 1

Charlotte Richards didn’t get to be one of Hollywood’s top talent managers by dating her clients. When it comes to her career, her heart is not part of the contract—no matter how enticing the star.

From the moment she steps into Sean Maxwell’s fabulous home, though, the cool, professional persona she’s worked so hard to build threatens to melt in desire hotter than Sean’s sexy R&B lyrics.

Sean’s attraction to Charlotte is nothing new, at least not to him. He fell for her the moment he spotted her at a celebrity gala years ago. Now, with his old manager kicked to the curb, it’s the perfect time to bring her into his life.

The sparks between them blow Sean’s plan to take things slow right off the charts. And his determination to win her runs into overtime when the ghosts of his past threaten to destroy their one chance at love.

Warning: Contains a reformed playboy determined to do things right this time, and a career woman equally determined to keep her eyes off his sexy-as-sin body. Oh well, their intentions were honorable…

Book one in the Women in Hollywood series shows that secrets don’t remain secrets for long. Charlotte Richards a talent manager is well known with the stars. R & B singer, Sean Maxwell also known as Mr. Naughty is in need of a manager but finds that’s not the only service Charlotte is willing to provide.

Darryl is a prior client who nearly ruined Charlotte’s career.  This could be why Charlotte could be so cautious in pursuing a relationship with Sean. Charlotte tests the waters with Sean and then wanted to hesitate when he wants to disclose them as a couple. The story wasn’t original and it kind of played out too long. Charlotte knew what the consequences could be but she still slept with Sean. I’m not sure if she thought she could just sleep with him and keep it moving, there still was a risk of the public finding out or a repeat of what happened with Darryl.

The characters in this book weren’t visual to me as a reader. A profile wasn’t given of the characters. Also, they seemed well set in their careers giving the impression that they were older but their actions seem those of a younger person.

Dana Reliford known for managing high profile musicians, was found dead. With no leads or suspects they aren’t sure if her death was foul play or suicide but for certain reasons Sean is being brought in for questioning. This brings a little twist to the plot but is kind of downplayed with Charlotte and Sean’s relationship being top priority in the novel. For one moment I thought the case had been forgotten about. But towards the end of the book the case takes priority and is neatly solved.

Even though the book was predictable it was still readable and I still wanted to see how the ending would play out. The relationship with Charlotte and her friends are promising and well developed. The ladies share a sisterly bond that I enjoy reading about. The bedroom scenes are hot!

If you enjoy romance with a happy ending it would be a great idea to give this new series of Women in Hollywood a try.

Hot Point by M. L. Buchman

HOT
Hot Point by M. L. Buchman
A Firehawks Novel
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: contemporary
Length: Full Length (343 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

THESE AIRBORNE HEROES BATTLE MORE THAN FLAMES
The elite firefighters of Mount Hood Aviation fly into places even the CIA can’t penetrate.

FROM WILDFIRE TO GUNFIRE
Master mechanic Denise Conroy-with a reputation for being as steel-clad as the aircraft she keeps aloft-shuns useless flyboys who don’t know one end of a wrench from the other.

Firehawk pilot Vern Taylor-known for unstoppable charm and a complete lack of mechanical skills-proves his talent for out-of-the-box thinking with every flight. He’s a survivor and a natural-born heli-aviation firefighter.

When Denise and Vern crash together in the Central American jungle with wildfire on one side and a full-fledged military coup on the other, their newly forged partnership is tested to the max. They have each other, but not even their formidable skills combined can protect Denise and Vern from the conflagration sweeping the jungle…and their hearts.

Action-packed and love-laced, Hot Point takes the reader into the hot, dangerous world of firefighting with a helicopter; even into a “wildfire tornado” that takes one’s breath away. Best of all, Hot Point is laced with sizzling, refining attraction that comes through the heat to be pure love.

Vern Taylor, an ace helicopter pilot and new to Mount Hood Aviation (MHA), knows he’s in trouble, big-time, with hot-tempered Denise Conroy, lead mechanic for MHA. She does not like to see her “birds” crippled, and he seems to cripple his Firehawk regularly. How these two rub along together is pure joy to read.

M. L. Buchman, with all his acronyms, dumps the reader right in the middle of action with characters that thrive on danger, whether it is in the form of killing a deadly fire or in pulling off a death-defying rescue of people. And, oh, yes, there are secrets to keep. The author gives the reader all kinds of reasons to keep turning pages.

I’m always thrilled to catch up with Emily Beale, Mark Henderson, and many characters from previous books. They never fail to keep the reader involved in the personal, public, and secret happenings as they risk their lives to do good, day in and day out.

If you have not read previous books in M. L. Buchman’s series, Hot Point is a good one to start with, then you can go back and read earlier books about these characters that have dangerous, scary, adrenaline-pumping adventures while love finds them and invites the reader along for incredible love scenes. The humor, sometimes blatant and sometimes subtle, threads through the stories at just the right times to give the reader a breath-catching moment, before emotion-stoking action starts again. Great entertainment!

Her Sexy Skunk by Virginia Nelson

SKUNK
Her Sexy Skunk by Virginia Nelson
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (49 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Christine Jarrods wants to be a writer of paranormal young adult fiction so she’s pursuing a degree in English. By day, she tackles Chaucer. By night, she stalks the streets looking for something magical to inspire her muse. Finding a thread that suggests one of her profs might be some flavor of shifter, she decides to dig…even though she’s been warned to let it go.

Oliver Standish has a secret. Like a lot of guys his age, he’s scraping by, delivering pizzas, trying to pay off loans from a failed attempt at school, and crushing on Chrissy—the one that got away in high school. Only his family knows he’s also trying to deal with being a shifter…he sure can’t tell Chrissy. With her fascination with magic, he knows she’d want to know more about it—but how do you tell a girl who wants to find a monster that you change into a skunk?

The title alone made me giggle, the blurb intrigued me but the story thoroughly entertained me. I really liked the whole progression of Her Sexy Skunk.

For readers who like the premise of friends turned lovers, Her Sexy Skunk delivers. For those that like geeks turned heroes, this little book has that too. There is so much to like in this tale, I totally enjoyed myself.

Chrissy is a wannabe romance writer, specifically a paranormal romance author, but there’s a couple of roadblocks to her dream. She doesn’t know a thing about actual romance because she’s never been in love, and she can’t seem to put her own stamp on a paranormal theme because she doesn’t have anything to research. It’s all fantasy, right? The heroine doesn’t count on the fact that shifters are real and they intend to kill her. How did a bookish heroine become embroiled in were-politics? I really liked what Ms. Nelson came up with.

Ollie is not a common name but it fit the hero. He certainly comes across as timid initially, but when Chrissy is in danger his inner beast isn’t afraid of protecting the woman who he believes is his own. Personally, I adore skunks – I think they’re cute, cuddly and I love how they waddle as they walk. But, I also know that they are not passive little bundles of fur – their spray can blind and their claws can rend and tear with efficiency. So, a wereskunk isn’t that far of a stretch for a hero – it just means he’s doubly cute and impressively aggressive when he needs to be.

The only thing that I wished was different would be how Professor Snipper was handled. References about the teacher are what started the plot moving along but that thread got dropped midway and was not picked up again. Why would Chrissy’s comments cause her the problems they did? What was really going on with Mr. Snipper and why would anyone mention anything on a public forum if humans weren’t supposed to know anything at all? Those loose ends and unexplained relationships plagued me but as this was a short story, I’m guessing they were sacrificed so that the story remained focused on the growing romance between Ollie and Chrissy.

I enjoyed the sensual buildup and the start and stops of their relationship. They’re both unsure, yet it’s clear the attraction is simmering and about to boil over. When it finally does, I was tickled with the vehicle the author chose to get them together. Childhood games aren’t always restricted to kids and the results were fun and sexy.

Her Sexy Skunk is cute, sensually pleasing, sultry yet amusing and is a book easy to recommend to other readers. The ending is a happy for now because I think there’s a bit more hanky-panky that needs to happen before the final HEA. I’m left in no doubts that it’s going to happen though. Ollie and Chrissy are good together. Her Sexy Skunk is lighthearted and charming and a nice story to spend an afternoon with. I’m happy I did.

Hands Full of Ashes by Kim Hotzon

BookCover_HandsFullofAshes

Hands Full of Ashes by Kim Hotzon
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Womens Fiction, Contemporary
Length: Full (247 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Rose

Olivia promises her dying husband that she will spread his ashes around the world. Landing in Africa, Olivia begins volunteering at an orphanage. After a weekend excursion viewing mountain gorillas, Olivia is unaware of how drastically her life is about to change. Love was never part of her plan . . .

This is an intriguing story about one woman’s journey to fulfill a promise she made to her dying husband, but it becomes so much more than that. It becomes the story of Olivia finding herself and finding a new passion for her life.

Although listed as “spicy” as a heat level, there is only one sexual scene, and it is not descriptive. It is, however, pivotal to the plot of the story. It’s hard to go into detail without getting into spoilers, but suffice it to say that Olivia doesn’t always make the best choices in this story.

The story is told not only from Olivia’s POV but at times from different character’s POV as well. A few of those could have been left out without hurting the main plot, in this reviewer’s opinion. But, they were not enough of a distraction to take away from Olivia’s story.

There is one decision Olivia makes towards the end of the book that some readers might find questionable.  It’s understandable given the circumstances and it’s very much in character with Olivia’s personality, but still made me raise an eyebrow. It was a hard decision.

Over all, the book was easy to read and gave me a new appreciation of Rwanda and Uganda and the troubles they have gone through. Good job.

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Made For Us by Samantha Chase

MADE
Made For Us by Samantha Chase
Publisher: Sourcebook Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (334 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

The Shaughnessy brothers—Aiden in particular—have spent the years since their mother’s untimely death taking care of each other and trying to make their father proud. And Aiden has managed pretty well so far. But his father is starting to worry he’s neglected himself. At the age of thirty-four, he is successful and handsome, and he still has no grandchildren!

Aiden’s met plenty of attractive women over the years, but who has the time? It isn’t until he meets Zoe, a designer on one of his jobs, that he starts realizing he wants something more…

Who knew that being detailed to the point of obsession would be a turn on for a hero? It helps that he’s a control nut too but to find a woman who ‘got’ him was something the hero, Aiden, simply wasn’t ready for. Zoe blind-sided him and it was beautiful. Poor Aiden, he simply didn’t know how to let go and let someone else who wasn’t family, in. His body sure knew what to do; it just took a while for his brain to catch up. The wild winds of change challenged the hero and made this novel an easy and fun read.

I’d say that Aiden is the character with the most challenges to overcome and they’re all in his head. The family history and dynamic was fascinating. It was the history of the Shaughnessy family that helped me understand what shaped the man that Aiden has become. There’s a lot to respect about the hero and he earns every accolade given. However, he has earned other less than flattering monikers from the townspeople and I was greatly entertained. I liked that aspect of this book – that the community loves the whole Shaughnessy clan, yet they certainly aren’t blind to some of the eccentricities of some of them and that certainly applies to Aiden. There’s no doubt they are cheering for him to fall in love and Zoe is the perfect choice.

I liked Zoe because she doesn’t take any guff from the hero. She puzzles him, confounds him and inflames him, all by just being herself. I liked how she fit in with the Shaughnessy family and her dialogue and actions reflected that.

Aiden sort of runs from his feelings and avid romance readers will recognize that ploy, yet it works in this book. He has this huge chip of responsibility on his shoulders that he’s afraid to let go of. Zoe has no problem with stepping up to the plate and knocking it right off. The internal conflict that results from that is predictable but no less effective and entertaining.

The story includes some heroic acts, blossoming friendships, and a temporary canine that played a role in making the hero imagine a different kind of future, one with his own family. Only the power of the flower will know for sure. I realize that last statement was enigmatic, but it’s a powerful component of the romance.

I liked the family dynamics, the secondary characters, the dialogue and the romance. For the most part, this is a lighthearted story and it’s filled with sweetness, humor and heartfelt emotion. Made For Us is a classically styled romance that is a winner and a definite recommend.

Unleashed by Rachel Lacey

LEAASHED
Unleashed: A Love To The Rescue novel by Rachel Lacey
Publisher: Forever
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (311 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

What happens when you find the right one at the wrong time?

Cara Medlen has a serious case of animal attraction. And it’s not because of all the foster dogs she’s rescued. She’s got it bad for her incredibly sexy neighbor. Her one rule: Don’t get attached. It’s served her well with the dogs she’s given to good homes and the children she’s nannied. Yet the temptation of Matt’s sexy smile might just convince her that some rules are made to be broken.

Matt Dumont doesn’t need his skills as a private investigator to detect disaster on the horizon. Cara is everything he thought he’d never find-gorgeous, funny, and caring. But there’s no way he can start a relationship just as he’s about to move to another state. Talk about bad timing. As their attraction sizzles too hot to deny, they’ll have to make a decision: forget the consequences and let loose, or forget each other and let go…

Cara is probably the most kind hearted woman I have ever read about. What immediately attracted me to the story was her love for animals and dogs particularly, as I am the same way. I had not realized she would be so compassionate, while putting her own life aside. She truly is a remarkable women and very enduring as a character.

Matt is everything you want in a man. He is kind, caring, strong, and a protector of those he loves. He is absolutely adorable both inside and outside. He too has a code of honor just like Cara that is unwaivering. Even when a bit misguided he is doing what he thinks is honorable. He even puts himself out just to try to take care of Cara because he does not want any harm to come to her. This is a couple you will root for from beginning to end.

Cara’s history is not a perfect one, but that along with the case Matt is working play a vital role in the plot of the story. She keeps herself guarded from people, and instead throws herself into rescuing animals. Matt is always looking to find justice for those who have been wronged, no matter the consequences. These facts really help to push these two together in a remarkable way. Now they both just need to open up to one another and realize what they need most in the world is right under each other’s nose.

The romantic development was definitely more important that the physical connection in this story. I appreciated that you could feel the chemistry leaping off the pages without it being overly erotic. It was the simple things that made me realize how much they grew to care for one another. I have always felt that it is the little things that matter in a relationship and these two just prove my theory. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good romance novel. I for one plan on starting the second installment to this series right now.