Texas Rebels: Paxton by Linda Warren


Texas Rebels: Paxton by Linda Warren
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (224 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

THE COWBOY’S REDEMPTION

After years of girls, beer and a wild life on the rodeo circuit, bull rider Paxton Rebel is done being “The Heartthrob.” His brothers have already settled down and are starting families. Paxton doesn’t really believe he’s meant for love…until he rescues the slight, lovely woman with sea-green eyes on a cold, windy beach.

Remi Roberts can’t trust a charming lady-killer cowboy like Paxton—especially since he’s a Rebel, a family she’s been taught to distrust. She needs to concentrate on recovering from her accident, which is the only thing standing in the way of her adopting the baby girl she adores. Besides, fairy tales don’t exist and bad boys definitely don’t change. Only, this cowboy is determined to prove her wrong…

I finished this book, Texas Rebels: Paxton by Linda Warren a few days ago and wanted to sit on it before I wrote the review. I did love the cast of characters in this series because I feel they demonstrate what family is all about. I enjoy how the characters are incorporated in the community of Horseshoe, Texas. They are really well developed and make the story heartwarming. This story added Miss Bertie who brought a bit of humor into the book. Her granddaughter, Remi, is the heroine.

All that being said, less than a month ago I read Texas Rebels: Elias by Linda Warren which was my first time reading a book by her, and the first book for me in this series, Texas Rebels. I absolutely LOVED it. Therefore I was very excited when I got my hands on this book, Texas Rebels: Paxton. This is a classic example of why I typically avoid reading series. While I enjoyed this book, I was disappointed that it didn’t meet with the high hopes I had of it being another awesome book like Texas Rebels: Elias was. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone. I wonder, if I hadn’t read the other book first, might I have enjoyed this one more if I hadn’t had the expectations from reading the other story first? Unfortunately, I did have high hopes and now I need to write an honest review. Fortunately, Texas Rebels: Paxton does have some positives worth mentioning.

The heroine, Remi, was literally weak and strong at the same time. She was recovering from an accident that left her severely injured. As a result she was filled with the conflict of “woe is me, how will anyone love my scars?”. Yet, she possessed the determination to exercise and work hard towards getting better. I struggled with connecting with her because of the way she was written: a selfish individual with bursts of being a thoughtful person only to go right back to her “all about me” attitude. The plot thread that reveals why and how the accident happened was foolish considering we’re talking about a grown woman. However, it further established her self-centeredness. It didn’t help that her first scene in the story portrayed her as rude.

I believe in love at first sight but is it powerful enough to change a person over night? The hero, Paxton, was described as a selfish, famous lover boy rodeo champion. But, after meeting Remi, he decided he wanted to change into a family man overnight. It was a tiny bit hard to believe. Even his other brothers were calling him out on it, asking what has gotten into him. I believe people can change but I’m not sure it can happen overnight. Try as you might, it’s not as easy as this book made it out to be. It did help that his other brothers had gotten married and started having families. Paxton was starting to feel the pressure of changing his ways and meeting Remi just reinforced his decision to change. But I felt like the change was a little abrupt.

The plot thread with Remi’s brother, Ruger, could have been deleted and I wouldn’t have missed it. I didn’t connect with that development very well. I understand Remi wanted a relationship with her brother but he annoyed me. He was old enough to figure the truth out for himself and stand up to his uncle and make his own decisions. However, I understand how Ruger was a necessary character in the plot as another attempt to connect the stories in the series by reminding readers of the rivalry between the Rebels and the McCrays.

The plot thread with Annie, the baby that Remi wanted to adopt, was a struggle for me, which is sad because it was a significant plot point. I felt like it took the spotlight away from the developing romance between Remi and Paxton in the beginning by constantly making the book about Remi. However, as the story developed, Annie became less and less about Remi and more about Paxton and Remi as a couple. I imagine this string of events regarding Annie was an attempt to incorporate drama into to plot. At this endeavor I’ll admit the author succeeded.

Remi and Paxton as a couple were okay. They appeared to be compatible. Paxton grew on me to the point that I did believe that he loved Remi and was a changed man. Eventually, Remi grew on me also and I felt that they were meant for each other. I didn’t appreciate how they took some time apart near the end. I’m sure that was another attempt at pulling heart strings and drama but only succeeded in annoying me. I thought it was cute how their relationship was equated to two geese named Henry and Henny. That element was a nice, unique and appreciated touch.

It is necessary for me to mention that this was a super-fast paced book – everything happened very quickly. My interest was captured right from the start and held throughout the story until the end despite my connectivity struggles. I feel the story could have slowed down some because I felt rushed. I can’t help but wonder if that is also why I struggled as much as I did to fall in love with this story. I desperately wanted to love it as much as I did the previous book.

In conclusion, I do recommend this book for other readers to give it a try. I strive really hard to be honest in my reviews but I feel my review of Paxton is slanted or biased based on my previous experience in reading Elias.  I am willing to try another story about those Texas Rebels, though, as there are enough positives in Paxton to recommend that other readers or fans of Ms. Warren give this one a try.

What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell


What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (384 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Mistflower

Wanted: Governess for duke’s unruly children
Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have chased away half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.

Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke
Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won’t be quite so easy to control. And there’s something else she can’t seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time the duke is near.

Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny
As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she’s the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win . . .?

“What a difference a good book makes” should be the subtitle of this book! Actually it was better than good, it was amazing. Can I just sing that? A MaaaZingg!

I absolutely love when a book makes me laugh. I can recall three separate times that I cracked up. I had to re-read it a few times until I got the giggles out. I just love connecting with a book like that.

As a retired preschool teacher I really related to the heroine, “Mari with an i—it rhymes with starry.” I respected how she developed a trusting relationship with the hero’s children, Michel and Adele. For nine year old twins they were a handful. Mari demonstrated developmentally appropriate, hands-on, child process oriented art and engaged open-ended interaction. It’s no wonder the children responded to her the way they did. She treated them with respect yet held them accountable for their actions. She set boundaries and expectations with appropriate consequences and was consistent and gave love with positive reinforcement. Yes, I noticed and applaud all that accurate child development detail in a romance book! If I was looking for a governess for my children then I’d consider myself lucky to have her in my employment. Mari wasn’t the only well-developed character is this story.

I had the opportunity to bond with the hero as well. Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford was a man in need of being rescued and it obviously had to be Mari or myself but unfortunately I can’t be transported into the plot. Life is so unfair. At least I got to live it through Mari. Edgar was intelligent, kind and just made me smile. He was a tad stubborn but what hero isn’t? It’s part of their charm. It makes the reading much more pleasurable when they realize they are being stubborn and give in.

Who doesn’t grow fond of children? Okay, not everyone, but I do. Michel and Adele were adorable. After all they went through, it was heartwarming to see them in a thriving home thanks to Mari, Edgar and his entire staff. I can’t leave out Edgar’s sister, India when mentioning well developed characters. She was hilarious. I was happy to see that she is going to have a book of her own.

Of course there were a couple of characters that made me clench my fists such as Edgar’s mother and Mrs. Trilby. Ooooh, if I could get my hands on them. I’d teach them a thing or two about being nice. However, you’ll have to read how they turned out.

The plot was brilliant and honestly, refreshing. It flowed smoothly with unexpected thread plots. There is more to this story than what the synopsis says. There’s a plot twist involving Mari that is quite captivating.

The writing style as well as the plot and cast of characters is really what made the book amazing. I thought it was a unique writing style to incorporate proverbs within Mari’s conversations. It was truly entertaining. I am compelled to share with other readers that this is the first time when I’ve finished a novel that I Googled something that was mentioned in the story. I was intrigued with the plot regarding fire brigades and how they chose which fire to put out based on which insurance that property had. I didn’t know about that history nor about the steam fire engine that was invented. If you don’t know about both subjects then I’d Google those two things prior to reading this book, but it certainly isn’t necessary. The author did an exceptional job explaining it. I was more curious if it was factual.

The icing on the cake for me was the epilogue. I LOVED it. This was my first Lenora Bell novel and it won’t be my last. I’ll be looking for India’s story, For the Duke’s Eyes Only” coming out in October 2018! Until then I definitely recommend reading What a difference a Duke Makes! It’s captivating, sexy and a heartstring tugger.

Grinders Corner by Ferris Craig and Charlene Keel


Grinders Corner by Ferris Craig and Charlene Keel
Publisher: Red Sky Presents
Genre: Historical (Vintage)
Length: Full (368 pgs)
Heat level: Sensual
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Grinders Corner explores the world of taxi dance halls in the 1960s in all its raw hilarity. Saucy, sassy and sexy, but not the least bit erotic, it follows the adventures of three young women trying to survive in the glitter palaces of Los Angeles.

Like lambs led to the slaughter, Uptown, a newly divorced English major with panic anxiety disorder and no job skills, Voluptua, an out of work actress, and Mouse, a former child star trying to make a comeback all struggle to make enough tickets to pay the bills. Things get complicated when Uptown falls in love with a customer who happens to be a priest.

In Grinders Corner it was a simpler time, long before gentlemen’s clubs and pole dancers, and it happened in a place where shy, lonely men could talk to women, even dance with them, with no fear of rejection—for about fifteen cents a minute.

This book is a hoot! This is not the standard rom/com… it’s a book where misfits come together and make for themselves a new reality!

I had no idea that “taxi dancers” still existed into the 60s. I thought it was exclusive to the 20s and 30s. It was interesting to get a glimpse of a different time and a different way of living.

The story is told from the point of view of Uptown; however, it is based on true events in the life of author Ferris H. Craig (Mouse, in the book).

The characters are wonderfully drawn and some of the experiences described in the book were truly “laugh out loud”-able. Uptown starts the job as a naïve woman but under the tutelage of her new friends, Mouse and Voluptua, soon gets an education like she never experienced before.

Kudos to the authors for such a fun, entertaining work!

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Sanctity of Life by Jennifer E. Whalen


Sanctity of Life by Jennifer E. Whalen
An Enemy Loved Novel

Publisher: Lilac Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full Length (156 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Deep in the Black Forest of Germany, dark experiments have been taking place since WWII. Now the secrets are in danger of being exposed. Who will live? Who will die? Can it be contained?

Sometimes science causes more problems than it solves.

The dialogue was well done. This was a fast-paced story, so there wasn’t a lot of room for lengthy descriptions or discussions. I liked the fact that the characters’ conversations were kept as short as possible. That was exactly how I’d expect members of the military and government to behave when they were trying to contain a threat to the security of their nation.

There were so many characters in this story that I found it really difficult to remember who was who. I kept mixing everyone up, and it only became tougher to remember who everyone was once the pacing picked up and the characters began to find themselves in dangerous situations.

One of the things I always like discovering is a character who makes intelligent decisions regardless of what’s happening around him. There were several characters in this book who had good heads on their shoulders. No matter how other people reacted around them, they always paid close attention to their surroundings and thought logically about what they should do next. I appreciated that.

The time jumps were confusing to me. Some of the scenes were set in 1945 while others happened in 1918. Since I was struggling so much to remember who all of the characters were, it was strange to suddenly meet new people or to see someone in a different part of his or her life than they’d been a few scenes earlier.

My favorite sections of this story were the ones that explained what was going on with the dark experiments in full detail. I’m a big fan of science fiction about medical advancements that don’t turn out the way their creators intended them to. The author did a good job at explaining why these attempts were having such poor results and hinting at what would happen if the scientists continue to push the boundaries of what the human body is capable of.

Sanctity of Life should be read by anyone who loves the idea of science experiments gone terribly wrong.

The Pleasures of Passion by Sabrina Jeffries


The Pleasures of Passion: The Sinful Suitors Series by Sabrina Jeffries
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (387 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

When Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is forced to flee after killing a man in a duel, he expects his secret love, Brilliana Trevor, to go with him, or at the very least wait for him. To his shock, she does neither and sends him off with no promise for the future. Seven years and one pardon later, Niall returns to England disillusioned and cynical. And being blackmailed by the government into working with his former love to help catch a counterfeiter connected to her father doesn’t improve his mood any. But as his role as Brilliana’s fake fiancé brings his long-buried feelings to the surface once again, he wonders who is more dangerous—the counterfeiter or the woman rapidly stealing his heart.

Forced to marry another man after Niall was exiled, the now widowed Brilliana wants nothing to do with the reckless rogue who she believes abandoned her to a dreary, loveless life. So having to rely on him to save her father is the last thing she wants, much less trusts him with….But as their scheme strips away the lies and secrets of their shared past, can she let go of the old hurt and put her pride aside? Or will the pleasures of their renewed passion finally enable them both to rediscover love?

True love can withstand exile by choice, heartache born of misunderstandings, deception from necessity and a daring scheme meant draw out the bad guys as it draws two hearts back together forever.

Sound epic enough? This is classic Sabrina Jeffries and why this author draws me back time and again. Having said that, I’ve missed this delightful new series, The Sinful Suitors. With one book, she has me hooked and searching out the beginnings and anxiously waiting for the next installment.

Bree and Niall might be considered star crossed in the beginning but in truth, they wouldn’t have been ready to start a life together even had circumstances been different. The ups and downs, regrets and moments of joy in Bree’s life taught her to guard her heart. I loved that Niall was persistent to remind her that theirs was a soul deep connection that could heal her heart.

One of the reasons that I love a good Regency romance is all the social conventions of the time period, the absurd rules and class warfare. I know not the normal reasons but a good romance author knows how to work through or, when necessary, work around those issues and give the hero and his lady an opportunity to earn the love of lifetime. Ms. Jeffries does that very thing with Bree and Niall’s story.

Bree has learned that if she’s going to have a life for herself and her son, she’ll have to take control of their destiny and not depend of hapless, faithless men who constantly fail to see a woman’s strengths beyond her looks. She’s sometimes a little too stubborn but I was happy to see that Niall was patient and perceptive. He didn’t just tell her he thought she was smart and capable he demonstrated that he believed it, too. Smart man.

Readers who loved The School For Heiresses, The Duke’s Men, The Hellions of Hallstead Hall and all of Sabrina Jeffries other fantastic series will be thrilled to drawn into a new “family”. That’s one of the hallmarks of her series books. She creates families that aren’t always blood related but they have even deeper connections that matter and last long after the final page.

This is another fine example of the cleverness that is Sabrina Jeffries. Perfect read for any time of the year.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz


Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full length (225 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe from New York Times bestselling author, Melissa de la Cruz, is a sweet, sexy and hilarious gender-swapping, genre-satisfying re-telling, set in contemporary America and featuring one snooty Miss Darcy.

Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones―one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her family.

Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32-years-old and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?

It’s time for Darcy to grow up, heal and find love. What’s it going to take? Quite a lot actually: a family emergency, familial expectations, a best friend’s advice, jumping to conclusions and clearing the air of what was really happening during those moments in high school when Luke seemed like such a beast to her – that’s quite the list, isn’t it?

Darcy is a self-made woman. She’s strong, ambitious and assertive and knows how to enjoy the benefits of all her hard work. She works harder than anyone around her because she doesn’t have much of a life. Why that is, is slowly revealed in the course of the heroine’s visit back home. Facing her feelings about her hometown and all the memories attached to the place ends in a present reality that is nothing like she expects. She has her highs and lows, her surprises and thrills, her mistakes and her confusing triumph. The whole novel is told through her point of view. I only got to know what was really going on in Luke’s mind when she finally gave him a chance to reveal it all. It was a huge ‘Ah-ha! moment’ for both reader and Darcy.

I didn’t get a feel for Luke, the person, in this novel. I think that’s why the rating was just shy of perfect. As a story about Darcy finding happiness and love, it’s perfect. The fact that she finds it with Luke, the boy from high school, now a hunky grown-up man, whom she thought despised her, was engaging, entertaining and yet, didn’t have quite the impact I’d expect for a hero. There’s no doubt in my mind that Luke was a responsible adult with a deep capacity for commitment; look at his family. Among the things I liked about Luke was his vulnerability. He’s a character with enough emotional depth that it was easy to see why he is confused about how to go about reaching his end goal – Darcy. I’d say they’re perfect for each other because she has the same problem! It was kind of cute. What he comes up with is a diabolical little plot made possible by being in cahoots with others that love Darcy as much as he does. It is truly romantic and adorable. A little over the top, but then again, once you get to know Darcy, it’s actually perfect.

If a reader is looking for fast paced thrills and chills, this isn’t the novel. This story is more for those who enjoy romances of the heart, of second chances, of finding out that the best thing in your life is right in front of you, and that feel good moment when a wonderful epilogue wraps up the story in a nice romantic book buzz of happiness.

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe has a beautiful, poignant moment that takes place during Christmas. It brought a tear to my eye because it proved without a doubt that Darcy was truly loved. That moment when she believed, truly believed, was the most powerful of all. This is a heart-warmer – a book that makes me feel emotions down to my toes. Pemberley, Ohio is a special place to be indeed.

It’s Hard Out Here for a Duke by Maya Rodale


It’s Hard Out Here for a Duke by Maya Rodale
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (369 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Some Mistakes…

When American-born James Cavendish arrives in London tomorrow, he’ll become the Duke of Durham. Some might be ecstatic at the opportunity. Not James. He’s a simple man, fond of simple pleasures. And right now, nothing could be more pleasurable than spending his last night of freedom with a beautiful stranger.

Are Far Too Good…

One wild night, Meredith Green, companion to the dowager Duchess of Durham, said yes to a man she thought she’d never see again. Suddenly, they’re living under the same roof, where Meredith is expected to teach James how to be a duke—while trying not to surrender to temptation a second time.

To Be Forgotten

For a duke and a commoner, marriage would be pure scandal. Yet nothing has ever felt as right as having Meredith in his arms…and in his bed. Soon he must choose—between a duty he never desired, and a woman he longs for, body and soul…

One wild night and two lost souls can equal love—after a few bumps in the road.

This is the fourth book in this series, but I can tell you I wasn’t stuck or confused. Yes, I started in the middle of the series, but Ms. Rodale does a great job of not only keeping the reader up to speed on the characters, but keeping the story fresh. The nice thing about this book is if you’re not familiar with the others in the series, it reads like a standalone. That’s good since, yeah, I started this series at the end.

James, the hero, is rather bland. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to root for him or move on. I wanted to like him, but he’s almost so simple…I just didn’t connect. I didn’t feel a connection to either James or Meredith and wanted to so much. I wanted to be excited and feel some tension. I didn’t. That doesn’t mean the book was bad. Far from it. I could tell she longed for him, but I wanted more depth. I also wished she hadn’t been portrayed as quite as much of a martyr. She was a real person with real desires. If that desire had shone through a bit more…wowza.

But the longing glances and desire was there. I hoped there would be more witty dialogue and fun, but maybe that’s just because James isn’t a witty, silly kind of guy. That’s not horrible. It’s just him.

If you want a historical book that’s interesting and has characters you won’t forget, then this might be the book for you. Having read the blurbs for the other books, I’m intrigued.  I know I’ll be checking out the rest of the Cavendishes.

Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir by Lauri Robinson


Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir by Lauri Robinson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical
Pages: Full length (288 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

To claim his heir…

…he must marry his enemy!

Gabe Callaway is outraged when feisty Janette Parker lands on his doorstep with her orphaned niece—though he soon realizes little Ruby is heir to his ranch! If Janette wants money, he’ll pay her off to keep the little girl in her rightful place. But all Janette wants is Ruby… Will Gabe do whatever it takes to claim his heir—even marry Janette?

If you have not read a Lauri Robinson book then I don’t know what you are waiting for. This is my fifth one and apparently she’s written thirty four. Why didn’t I discover her books sooner? Better late than never.

Sometimes when you read multiple books by the same author they become monotonous. This can’t be said about Ms. Robinson’s novels. I’m flabbergasted at how the author has once again delivered a flawless writing style that articulated an eloquent and fluent plot. Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir is another original work of art by Ms. Robinson filled with relatable characters and heartwarming drama that left me with unforgettable memories.

Gabe Callaway, the hero, was headstrong, handsome, and responsible with an endearing sensitive side that appeared on several occasions when he was around the heroine, Janet Parker.

Janet Parker was equally as headstrong, beautiful, and capable of taking care of herself. When Janet and Gabe were together it was fun to see who could outwit the other. I was thoroughly entertained when they were ultimately both outwitted by someone unexpected – a hilarious plot twist.

There’s so much more to this story than the synopsis alludes to. There is a tiny suspense story line involving Janet. I was riveted to the book well past my bed time. It was swoon worthy how Gabe became her protector.

I emphatically implore readers to read Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir. I fell in love with Gabe and Janet and the epilogue sealed the deal.

Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch


Between Me and You by Allison Winn Scotch
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (382 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

From New York Times bestselling author Allison Winn Scotch comes an honest, touching, and funny exploration of falling in and out of love, told from two perspectives—one rewinding history, one moving it forward—and each with bias and regret.

When their paths first cross, Ben Livingston is a fledgling scriptwriter on the brink of success; Tatum Connelly is a struggling actress tending bar in a New York City dive. They fall in love, they marry, they become parents, and they think only of the future. But as the years go by, Tatum’s stardom rises while Ben’s fades. In a marriage that bears the fallout of ambition and fame, Ben and Tatum are at a crossroads. Now all they can do is think back…

A life of passion, joy, tragedy, and loss—once shared—becomes one as shifting and unpredictable as a memory. As the pieces of their past come together, as they explore the ways love can bend and break, Ben and Tatum come to see how it all went wrong—and wonder what they can do now to make it all right.

Thought provoking.

When I opened this book, I had high hopes. An actress and a screenwriter meet at a bar…has the makings of a great film noir starting point. I’m normally a fool for those film noirs. I like those stories that are a little off-beat, too.

This book, however…I struggled with it. The dual perspectives were a tad jarring. Not because the book was told by both Tatum and Ben, but the timetables bothered me. The author is a skilled writer, but I almost wish she’d have allowed both characters to recount the story at the same time. I did get confused often and had to do a lot of rereading.

Ben seems almost…lyrical in his descriptions and actions. He has the flair of a writer. I actually liked him first, but I wanted him to be stronger. Tatum isn’t a bad character. I rooted for her to have a career. She’s got it all really. But I didn’t care for her. Honestly, I didn’t get the feels when I read this.

Don’t get me wrong. This style of writing isn’t bad. The format isn’t really bad, either. If you’re willing to invest the time and want a book that reads like a television show, then this might be the one for you. Had I gone into the book thinking it was like watching a tv show, I might have enjoyed it more. It’s an interesting book and made me think about my own relationships. If you’re interested in a book that’s a little different, then this might be the book you’re looking for.

Christmas with the Best Man by Susan Carlisle


Christmas with the Best Man by Susan Carlisle
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full length (255 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

A kiss, a fling…a wedding ring?

Dr. Helena Tate still believes in love, despite her past heartbreak, and that one day she’ll have a baby of her own. Her gorgeous but brooding colleague Dr. Elijah Davenport, however, is not the man to pin her hopes on. He’s no longer interested in long-term relationships.

But being maid of honor and best man at a wedding in snow-covered Central Park heightens their attraction. Soon their Christmas fling becomes so much more! Can Helena tame Manhattan Mercy’s playboy—so they both get the love they deserve?

The first paragraph filled me with hope for an ER-style drama-filled love story and it was an immediate hook. “Dr. Helena Tate knew what a madhouse the ER could be during and after a major nor’easter but to experience it first hand was always a draining experience.” I think I’ve watched too many episodes of Code Black and Chicago Med. My expectations were set too high in regards to the emergencies I was expecting to read about. I was expecting some major car accident pile up on the snow covered highway with multiple injuries arriving in the ER all at once. There were three emergencies. One was kind of funny, one was a bit more tense like I had expected and one was heartwarming. All the incidences were relevant in demonstrating to the reader characteristics in each the hero and heroine, making them relatable.

Helena is the heroine and Elijah is the hero. As the author states, “they each have a dark past to overcome. Love isn’t an easy thing for them.” I loved how, despite Helena’s past, she still believes in love and dreams of having that happy ever after with her dream match. Helena’s dark past was much more believable than Elijah’s dark past. However that could be because I grew up with a family more like Helena’s than Elijah’s. I can’t imagine keeping the secret like the one Elijah did. Of course I can’t keep secrets to save my life. I don’t know what I would have done if I was in Elijah’s shoes. The author did a nice job justifying Elijah’s decisions and feelings to the point where I was able to go with it.

Despite their past heartbreaks, the question in my mind was “will they overcome their fears and give love a chance?” I’m happy to say that this story was written very well and never did I feel like banging my head as the couple worked towards their happily ever after. The book flowed nicely and retained my interest from beginning to end. It would have been nice to have a more developed cast of characters for the reader to bond with besides the hero and heroine, but there are honorable mentions for some of them. It also would have been nice to have an epilogue that would have shared with me how things turned out for Marcy and her baby, Olivia. As far as side characters go, the main ones were the most developed and relative to Helena’s character. I would have enjoyed a conclusion where Elijah made peace and reached closure with his parents. Mostly it would have been nice to have a more solid ending with Elijah and Helena five years down the road, perhaps sitting around a Christmas feast at his parents.

The Christmas season was nicely incorporated throughout the story and was a splendid touch to the romance budding between Elijah and Helena. I enjoyed the day they spent in New York doing Christmas related activities. I could feel the Christmas magic.

Overall this was an enjoyable book to pass away a few hours. The love and chemistry between Elijah and Helena was emotionally heartwarming. I would recommend this book despite all the things I wish were different.