To Love and to Cherish by Leigh Greenwood

CHERISH
To Love and to Cherish by Leigh Greenwood
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (354 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

After her husband’s death, widow Laurie Spencer is left with nothing but the money she finds in the saddlebags of a dead soldier. Determined to be independent, she invests it in a ranch with Jared Smith, but when she doesn’t have enough for a full partnership, she reluctantly throws herself in as part of the deal.

Playing housekeeper means plenty of time in close quarters with the sexy cowboy. Soon, they’re in each other’s arms, but personal demons keep Jared from admitting he’s falling in love. When he finally sees what was right in front of him, it’s going to take more than a lasso to get her back into his arms where she belongs.

Yes! To Love and to Cherish is another western historical love story that is a keeper—another Leigh Greenwoods novel that shows his artistry with words.

If you’ve read A Cactus Creek novel, you may recognize some names like Naomi, Colby, Noah, Dr. Keesling, and Norman (yuck).

But, there’s a new man in town, a rancher, Jared Smith, recently out of the army and now furnishing beef for the fort near Cactus Creek. He’s not well-known; however, he shows up to offer his condolence when Noah Spencer, the banker’s brother and Laurie Spencer’s husband, dies. Jared does not go unnoticed. His handsome, eagled-eyed appearance, his sensuality, and his air of self-possession and purpose cannot be overlooked.

Even though, her body quivers when she sees him, Laurie, the young widow, has no interesting in ever having another husband. First controlled by a strict father that makes her ashamed of her body and later controlled by the man her father forced her to marry when she was seventeen, Laurie thinks she will now be independent since her husband died. She can make her own decisions and control her own life.

When things do not work out as Laurie thought they would, she finds that she and Jared Smith have the same enemy. They conspire so they can each get what they want. The obstacles, risks, and conflicts mount up to what seems like an insurmountable level.

Intriguing, compelling events paced just right, subtle character development, a touch of humor, and a hint of secrets kept this reader turning pages. The subplots are like icing on a cake. They enhance the total flavor of the story. Best of all, the love story sparkles with both tears and laughter.

Many of the secondary characters grab the reader’s attention. Fifteen-year-old Steven, Jared’s nephew, won my heart. Then there is Norman Spencer, the banker; he really raised my hackles. He is an antagonist that lives up to the title.

Leigh Greenwood’s Cactus Creek is inhabited with flawed characters (some good, some not so good) whose lives are entwined and tangled. The reader gets to vicariously share in their resolute efforts to build their lives in Arizona after the Civil War AND also gets to enjoy a memorable love story.

Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick M Garry

FLIPPER
Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick M Garry
Publisher: Kenrick Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (263 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Walt Honerman has just about given up on life. He is thirty-eight years old and lives alone in a small apartment above a hardware store in Billings, Montana. But because of a promise made to a dying uncle, Walt embarks on a cross-country driving trip with two passengers: Moira Kelly, a young woman who had befriended Walt’s uncle during his recent hospitalization; and 76-year-old Izzy Dunleavy, a loquacious nursing home resident who wishes to return to his hometown of Crawfish Bay, Maryland.

During their trip, Izzy entertains Walt and Moira with elaborate tales of the grand resort he once owned in Crawfish Bay—a resort with a mythical reputation for being a place of good luck. But when they arrive in Crawfish Bay, a suddenly confused Izzy is arrested on a decades-old embezzlement charge.

After Moira insists on staying to help Izzy, she and Walt discover that most of Izzy’s stories are pure fiction. More discoveries occur when they meet Felix, Izzy’s former business partner, and Emily, a single mother who worked at the nursing home in Billings and who came to Crawfish Bay because of Izzy’s promise of a job at his fictional resort.

This mismatched group, thrown together as much by anger as by nostalgic affection, begins investigating the money Izzy supposedly embezzled when he disappeared from Crawfish Bay years ago. And despite his retreat from life, brought on by a past tragedy, Walt finds himself being pulled into the wake of wild dreamers.

Have you ever been around old people? They remember before like it was yesterday but might not know your own name. They can be crabby, stubborn and insistent. They’re often unhappy. So why would someone take them on a road trip 2,000 miles across country?

This was a surprising book. I expected it to be sort of a farcical tale. Instead Mr. Garry turned this into a look at humanity. He puts odd characters together, they travel and enjoy themselves for the most part, and they grow as they go.

Izzy is the old man. He’s going back to where he started. He fantasizes about his old business, how palatial it was, a lost love, and looks forward to seeing his old partner. Walt is the man whose uncle has just died. That’s how he got stuck with Izzy. It seems his uncle told him about going to Baltimore to see the game, and now he wants to hitch a ride. Walt has given up on life. He lost his fiancé in silly trick he and a buddy pulled and he doesn’t believe in love or life anymore. So what does it make if he takes Izzy along for the ride? Then, he suddenly has another passenger. A young woman visiting the nursing home wants to go, too. What’s one more?

As they travel, Izzy entertains them. Walt gets a bit irritated here and there, but he lets it go. Nobody is exactly what they appear to be. Izzy has some secrets (he may have forgotten them but they haven’t forgotten him), so does Moira, and Walt is still trying to find a spark to keep going.

I really enjoyed reading the escapades of Izzy and the budding romance between Moira and Walt. What bothered me was that death was waiting in the shadows. It goes with the story line and has a good message even if it’s a bit sad. The author handled it well. He has a clean writing style that is easy to read. He also made you really care about his characters. That’s what really matters in the long run.

You can take this trip across the country, too, just grab a copy of this book now. When you set it down, you won’t forget it quickly.

Embrace the Night by Caris Roane

Bella Media Management
Embrace the Night by Caris Roane
The Blood Rose Series: Five
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (122 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

He ignored his deepest needs for a hundred years…

Mastyr Vampire Jude has kept his distance from all women because he lost his wife and daughter to an enemy attack a hundred years ago. He won’t go through that kind of loss again. And he won’t jeopardize another woman’s life while the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs still pose a threat in the Nine Realms. But when Hannah saves his life by creating unexpected fire from the palms of her hands, he knows that something ‘very realm’ is going on with her and he can no longer ignore his long-suppressed desire for the beautiful owner of the Gold Rush bar. When his cravings for her blood and her body drive him to take her to bed and tap into her vein, his world shifts forever. But can Hannah make the adjustment to a life lived on the frontlines of an ongoing war? And if anything should happen to her, how could he ever live with himself?

There is something compelling about this series that keeps me coming back for more. Ms. Roane has created a world that mixes a drop of contemporary with a whole lot of ‘other’ and comes up with a new and fascinating twist for the vampire romance genre. So far, I’ve read every short and novelette that she’s written regarding the nine realms and none have let me down.

First, Embrace the Night is a standalone. There are some references to characters that I’ve met in the past but they show up like listening to a one-sided telephone conversation; they provide clues and information but don’t interfere with the main focus of the story: the romance between Mastyr Jude and Hannah.

The talent that Ms. Roane wields is formidable. Every story, no matter the length, always makes me feel like I got a full story, complete with emotional and sentimental undercurrents, action, drama, some humor, amazement and even some very sexy loving – emphasis on sexy. This tale is no different. The hero has experienced loss in the past that hurt him so bad, he’s adamant that he’ll never succumb to love again. The heroine is a woman who prides herself on her independence and is doing fine but finds herself wanting something that she should not, Jude. When they get together, passion simmers and pops until they succumb and something is unleashed that catches them both by surprise. What happens then is a journey. Jude and Hannah have to balance their newfound knowledge with finding acceptance in their new roles. What complicates the matter is the villain.

The villain and her horde are not explored too thoroughly here. That was done in Embrace the Mystery when the ‘who’ was finally revealed. In this story, enough is shared with a new reader to understand the danger without making a reader feel lost. The powerful fae sends a new kind of threat to attack Jude’s realm and the menace becomes personal when she targets Hannah. Jude has to make a choice, embrace his potential relationship with Hannah or lose her forever. Hannah has to decide how much her independence is really worth and what is she willing to lose to keep it. Both internal conflicts play nicely off of each other and provide a wonderful backdrop for an adventurous, romantic novelette.

The secondary characters that come to play are always interesting, helpful and give flavor to the storytelling. The one component that I believe the author relies heavily upon is Davido and his wife. They are nice people and interesting but they are a powerful couple who the author has used as a tool to get her main protagonists from point A to B. I believe that they are the glue or the facilitators that allow such short stories to flow in the cohesive manner I’ve come to expect. Not that it’s a bad thing, far from it, because it works. However, sometimes it comes across as too perfect or too helpful and I had a sense of that in this story. Then again, it’s also a way to keep the angst level low and the reading enjoyment high and smooth flowing. It’s a tricky balance.

Embrace the Night is a must read for vampire romance fans that are looking for something new, vibrant and fascinating. The concept of the Blood Rose is intriguing and the world Ms. Roane has created is full of nuances, fantasy folklore characters, vampires and lots of dire and interesting predicaments. Hannah and Jude made for a wonderful couple and their romance was delightful. If a reader hasn’t had the experience of reading this series before, this is a fun one to start off with. If anything, it might even intrigue a reader enough to read the previous books in the series. And that would be a great thing because a couple are even better than this one. Which is me saying – go forth and read. The Blood Rose series is pure entertainment and Embrace the Night is a great addition to the tales of the nine realms. I’m glad I read it.

Under Starry Skies by Judy Ann Davis

Cover_UnderStarrySkies

Under Starry Skies by Judy Ann Davis
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical (Early American)
Length: Full (306 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Hired as the town’s school teacher, Maria O’Donnell and her sister Abigail arrive in the Colorado Territory in 1875, only to find the uncle they were to stay with has been murdered.

Rancher Tye Ashmore is content with life until he meets quiet and beautiful Maria. He falls in love at first sight, but her reluctance to jeopardize her teaching position by accepting his marriage proposal only makes him more determined to make her part of his life.

When their lives are threatened by gunshots and a gunnysack of dangerous wildlife, Tye believes he is the target of an unknown enemy. Not until Maria receives written threats urging her to leave does she realize she is the target instead of the handsome rancher.

With the help of Tye, Abigail, and a wily Indian called Two Bears, Maria works to uncover her uncle’s killer and put aside her fears. But will she discover happiness and true love under Colorado’s starry skies?

A fun trip back in time to post-Civil War era America!

Abigail and Maria O’Donnell have hit on some hard times. Their father’s death left them in great debt and have few options other than to head to Colorado to live with an uncle. All well and good until they discovered he was murdered.

I have to be honest and say I didn’t read the blurb to this story before I picked it up, and I honestly believed the heroine was Abigail. The first few chapters are from her point of view and from Tye’s and Maria is barely a blip on the radar (and it was a rather unfavorable blip for me … she came across as weak and whiny). Imagine my surprise when the story veered off from my expectations, and Maria was our heroine! Thankfully, as time passes, Maria grows a spine and by the end of the book is a woman to be admired.

There is a secondary story with Abigail and a potential beau, and I suspect she will be the lead in the next story of this series. Speaking of which, this is apparently the second book in a series, but I had no problem at all sorting things out. Honestly, had I not checked (and had Abigail’s story not been so open-ended), I might not have realized it was part of a series at all, so fear not if you worry about reading it on its own.

The mystery in this story is fairly weak, so if you’re a mystery buff this might not be the best choice. There was never any real doubt as to who killed Uncle Henry, so it’s mostly about trying to prove it and understand why it happened.

I enjoyed the secondary characters, especially Two Bears and Millie, and I also appreciated how relatively independent so many women in this story were (which made it harder for me to believe Maria was that worried about losing her job if she married Tye). Honestly, the conflicts here weren’t that strong, but my fondness for the characters and the writer’s skill at writing kept me turning pages. Yes, the author has remarkable talent with her words. Plot blips aside, her talent for characterization, description, etc., kept me well engaged.

I might not have picked up Under Starry Skies on my own, but I really enjoyed it. More, I really liked Abigail and do hope the author selects her as the heroine for the next book. I’d truly like to see how things turn out for her!

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A Rake by Any Other Name by Mia Marlowe

RAKE
A Rake by Any Other Name by Mia Marlowe
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (345 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

When his father, Lord Somerset, tumbles off the roof, Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, is called home from his Grand Tour to take the reins of the estate while the marquess recuperates. Somerset is in serious financial difficulty, which can only be remedied by marriage to an heiress, Miss Sophie Goodnight, lately arrived from India with her nabob father.

Unfortunately, Richard believes he has already lost his heart to Lady Antonia Pruett. And Miss Goodnight isn’t too keen on becoming Somerset’s purse with feet, so she foils their families’ attempts to throw her and Richard together at every turn. To make matters worse, the reason Lord Somerset fell off the roof in the first place is a secret that threatens to upend all their lives.

Mia Marlowe’s marvelous magic with words involves the reader in A Rake by Any Other Name from page one. Two strong personalities square off in a way that made me smile. They see the world from very different points of view. That the heroine, Sophie Goodnight, is no shrinking violet is quite clear. No pampered young lord is going to intimidate her.

Family machinations and social pressure of the ton have Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, boxed in a corner that seems impossible to escape. His life is no longer his own. He’s come from flitting around the Continent spending money to shouldering the heavy financial burden of saving the family estate. The first thing he sees on his arrival home is some unknown young woman viciously pruning a rose bush his grandmother had planted years ago. Even worse, she shows no obsequiousness toward him. His friend Lawrence Seymour is amused but Richard is furious, which seems lost on the mutilator of his roses.

The symbolism of Sophie cutting away the dead and entangling canes of the rose bush so, hopefully, new growth can flourish sets the tone of her role in the unfolding drama that takes place at Somerfield Park. The old ways that worked at one time to keep the estate viable no longer get the job done. New ways must be embraced and she helps Richard find a new way, even though his elders are sure it will taint the family name. Her sharp mind and sharp tongue cut to the chase often as she and Richard spar.

Many characters that seem minor have much to do with how the plot unfolds. How Ms. Marlowe weaves them in keeps the reader totally involved in the many levels of doings at Somerfield Park. The reader needs to keep them all in mind, from the lowest level servant girl to the high and mighty Antonia Pruett that Richard planned to marry.

The changing times of the early 1800s in England, with tradesmen getting wealthy and the peerage finding it hard to maintain their holdings while struggling to hold on to a social structure that shows signs of decay , sets the scene and the temperament for A Rake by Any Other Name. There’s intrigue, secrets, evil intent, deception, humor, and, of course, the love scenes sizzle. EXCELLENT READING!

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper

NGS
Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs by Molly Harper
Publisher: PocketStar
Genre: Urban Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (355 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Maybe it was the Shenanigans gift certificate that put her over the edge. When children’s librarian and self-professed nice girl Jane Jameson is fired by her beastly boss and handed twenty-five dollars in potato skins instead of a severance check, she goes on a bender that’s sure to become Half Moon Hollow legend. On her way home, she’s mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead. And thanks to the mysterious stranger she met while chugging neon-colored cocktails, she wakes up with a decidedly unladylike thirst for blood.

Jane is now the latest recipient of a gift basket from the Newly Undead Welcoming Committee, and her life-after-lifestyle is taking some getting used to. Her recently deceased favorite aunt is now her ghostly roommate. She has to fake breathing and endure daytime hours to avoid coming out of the coffin to her family. She’s forced to forgo her favorite down-home Southern cooking for bags of O negative. Her relationship with her sexy, mercurial vampire sire keeps running hot and cold. And if all that wasn’t enough, it looks like someone in Half Moon Hollow is trying to frame her for a series of vampire murders. What’s a nice undead girl to do?

Being mistaken for a deer, shot, and left for dead wasn’t even Jane’s worst day. The fact that it all happened on a day she was fired from her dream job and given a gift certificate for potato skins at the local dive bar did not help matters. However being turned into a vampire certainly gave Jane’s life, now unlife, new perspective. Now she has a sexy but somewhat unstable Sire to contend with along with small details such as blood sucking, flameablilty in sunlight, and the usual quagmire of crazy relatives of both the living and ghostly kind. Trying to navigate her new undead existence is not easy and that all happens before she starts to be framed for a series of vampire murders. A girl just can’t catch a break.

Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs is book one of the Jane Jameson series by Molly Harper. The main character of Jane is well developed and three-dimensional. She’s snarky, witty, and irreverent. The highlights of the book for me are not the female leads, since they are predictable, but the fun plot and use of secondary characters. Here the idea that Jane is bumping off other vampires and has to figure out who is framing her actually works because while the culprit is obvious very early on, Jane herself seems to go about the detecting work in a reasonable fashion. She’s clueless until the long monologue revealing exactly who did what and how by the “bad guy”, but I forgave her.  She’s intelligent but lacks serious common sense and the ability to put clues together. The writing relies on quips and Jane’s sense of humor to really carry the book, which works decently well even if it’s slightly repetitive.

I’ve read other books by the author set in Half Moon Hollow that revolve around the same group of characters but star different female protagonists. Now having read numerous books by Harper, both set in HMH and others, they are all remarkably similar to the point of formulaic. The heroines are almost exactly the same in each book. They are in their late 20s, single without significant past relationships, hard working, beautiful but they don’t think so, quirky, witty, sassy, and all have a penchant for a different kind of junk food which is usually a variation on candy. The females in the books are interchangeable and have few differences but the male leads are no different. They are all sexy, mysterious, rich, and totally enamored of the heroines to the point of silliness even as the heroine never believes it can be true. It’s classic romance and clearly is exactly what Harper’s readers want. I admit I find her sense of humor entertaining and I enjoy the books but I need long periods of time between them so I can forget that I already know everything about the book before I even start it. They’re predictable down to the details so I think your enjoyment hinges on whether that kind of formula romance appeals to readers.

I think Nice Girls Don’t Have Fangs works well because the mystery carries the book since the romance is more lukewarm. Jane and her sire, Gabriel, don’t really have a solid happy ending but they are together and there are more books in the series. The vampire lore is basic and nothing special, even if all the good parts and very few drawbacks are included. For first time readers of this author that like humor in their vampire romance, I think this will be a real treat. For repeat readers it all depends on how much repetition is tolerable. I find the author’s voice and books nearly identical to one another but at least I always know what I’m getting.

Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton

EYES
Cover Your Eyes by Mary Burton
Publisher: Zebra Books
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (392 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Don’t Look

At first, they struggle to escape. Then a torrent of blows rains down upon their bodies until their eyes cloud over in final agony. The killer shows no remorse–just a twisted need to witness each victim’s last terrified moments.

Don’t Speak

Public defender Rachel Wainwright is struggling to reopen a decades-old case, convinced that the wrong man is in prison. Homicide detective Deke Morgan doesn’t want to agree. But if Rachel’s hunch is correct, whoever fatally bludgeoned young, beautiful Annie Dawson thirty years ago could be the source of a new string of brutal slayings.

Just Prepare To Die

Rachel’s investigation is about to reveal answers–but at a price she never thought to pay. Now she’s become the target of a rage honed by years of jealousy and madness. And a murderer is ready to show her just how vicious the truth can be. . .

I’ve never read a Mary Burton book I didn’t like and Cover Your Eyes was no exception. It had all the necessary elements of a first rate romantic suspense novel, secrets, danger, and of course, a budding romance.

I liked the character of Rachel, while tough; she showed a vulnerability for helping the people she believed in. Ms. Burton certainly kept me in suspense knowing if the DNA from a previous crime matched that of her now client, Jeb.

Deke was at times a little arrogant but you like him nevertheless because you know in the back of your mind he’s going to be right about his beliefs and maybe save the day.

I enjoyed the way this story unfolded. A clue here and there, another character thrown in just to keep you on your toes about guessing the story’s outcome. And while I did guess correctly on some of the clues, the ending was perfect for a die-hard mystery reader like myself.

And speaking of other characters, all the secondary ones in this story drew you into their tale. Ms. Burton made them as well rounded as Rachel and Deke.

I also liked the setting. So many stories feature New York, LA , New Orleans or Atlanta but I can’t think of a romantic suspense I’ve read that’s set in Nashville and the music industry. It was a refreshing change which I felt added another layer to the story.

Pacing is actually fast despite this book’s length and I think the “I have to turn the page” quality of Cover Your Eyes had something to do with that.

If you’re looking to add a romantic suspense story to your upcoming winter reading list, I’d recommend this one.

A Pretty Mess, An Astonvale Novel by Carla Caruso

MESS
A Pretty Mess, An Astonvale Novel by Carla Caruso
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (247 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Sometimes, to come clean, you’ve got to get your hands dirty …

Celeste Pretty, a self-confessed neat freak, has found the job she was born to do: a professional organiser, de-cluttering people’s homes and workplaces. Her new business gets off to a cracking start when she lands her first client, health and fitness guru Natalia Samphire, in the well-heeled suburb of Astonvale. But things get messy at Natalia’s mansion when Celeste finds a blackmail note and other mysterious items. And then there’s Lenny Muscat, the sexy builder renovating the place, whose constant presence is muddling Celeste’s usually organised brain.

When things get decidedly suspicious at the mansion, she and Lenny have to team up to investigate. But will Celeste emerge with her heart and professional reputation unscathed?

Celeste, a neat freak, and Lenny, the man with a plan, learn that sometimes the best decisions are the spontaneous ones. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they don’t try staying in control at all cost, until they realize it’s simply not worth it.

In their case, letting life surprise them is a good thing. It does take the whole novel for them to realize it, though. But it’s a fun read and I loved following them as they struggled, trying to keep a balance between what they thought they wanted from life and what life was actually offering them. Their romance developed slowly, and I appreciated how Celeste was not willing to rush things even after she dumped her sort-of boyfriend Mitchell. She was content staying single, which showed her strong character and independence. I loved that.

I really liked the characters of Natalia and her fiancé Mike and I would love to read more about them. Same goes for Celeste’s assistant, Flip. Celeste herself was a good character as far as characterization goes, but a smidgen too tidy for my taste. Obviously, Lenny wasn’t hard to warm up to, despite his occasional arrogance. The sparks between him and Celeste — or fireworks, as Lenny described them — were fun to watch. Their relationship was far from boring.

The suspense of the blackmailing plot helped keep the fast pace of the novel and also helped describe Natalia’s character. It was, however, a bit too predictable; a twist or two would make the story more original. I also stumbled over a handful of syntactical mistakes that had me re-reading the sentences a few times before I got the meaning.

This novel is far from a mess – it’s an enjoyable read with wonderfully written protagonists and a bunch of quirky secondary characters that make for a compelling read.

Lassoing A Groom by Jacquie Rogers, Kirsten Lynn, Tracy Garrett, Kristy McCaffrey, Linda Hubalek, Kathleen Rice Adams

GROOM
Lassoing A Groom by Jacquie Rogers, Kirsten Lynn, Tracy Garrett, Kristy McCaffrey, Linda Hubalek, Kathleen Rice Adams
Publisher: Prairie Rose Publications
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full Length (229 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

How is a woman supposed to catch a husband? In the wild, wild west, she’s got to find a way to Lasso a Groom! Some of them are lawmen…some are outlaws. Ranchers and homesteaders are fair game, as well—none of ‘em safe from love’s lariat, or the women who finally manage to rope ’em in!

DON’T GO SNARING MY HEART by Jacquie Rogers
Can rancher Dex Madsen get past loner Betsy Lynch’s goats and killer chicken to help save her mining claim and win her heart?

RACE TO MARRY by Kirsten Lynn
He’s in town to tame a man-killer. She’s accused of being one. When she proposes marriage the race is on.

WANTED: THE SHERIFF by Tracy Garrett
He’s a confirmed bachelor…but she’ll capture his heart.

CANYON CROSSING by Kristy McCaffrey
In search of her brother, Annabel Cross enters Grand Canyon. When U.S. Deputy Marshal Angus Docherty rescues her from a cliff side, her most guarded secret might save them.

THE PERFECT HOMESTEAD BRIDE by Linda Hubalek
Will a dangerous man from Gussie Hamner’s past sabotage the future she’s building with Noah Wilerson?

THE WORST OUTLAW IN THE WEST by Kathleen Rice Adams
An inept bank robber and a bossy spinster team up to rob an empty vault. What could go wrong?

This is a nice collection of western romance stories that include everything from snaring a man to being dragged off a horse by the man who won you in marriage. There’s a sheriff, an outlaw, a bronc rider and an Indian in this collection. Sometimes it’s the man catching the woman; sometimes it’s the woman catching the man!

These ladies know the west. They have their historical references down, make their characters believable and have sweet romances for you to read about. Some of these romances are whirlwind, others take longer. I wasn’t bored a bit reading this.

I particularly enjoyed the first story in the book by Jacque Rogers. It’s titled: Don’t Go Snaring My Heart. She’s a young woman who is trying to survive in a cabin in the wild. Her dad is a miner and looking for silver. She’s selling goat cheese. When her dad dies from being ambushed, she doesn’t leave. She sets snares. When he’s hunting and finds one of her traps, he’s slung in the air and has to negotiate with her to get free. She’s end up with part of his pronghorn. Then she starts selling him goat cheese…

The last story by Kathleen Rice Adams is also special. I think it’s because there’s a spinster in it. Titled: The Worst Outlaw in the West, she manages to barter with a bank robber to stop robbery. She creates a plan that will help the bank and get even with her brother. The problem is that she’s not the only one who has that idea…

These were fun to read and some of them made me laugh outloud. One thing about it, if your marriage began the way these did, you’d have some good tales to tell the grandkids! You did a great job, lady authors.

Danube in Candlelight by Stephanie Burkhart

Cover_Danube in Candlelight

Danube in Candlelight by Stephanie Burkhart
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full (202 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Morgan Duma has always known she’s different. Her eyes have unusual gold rings around her irises, a trait she’s inherited from her father. She’s faster and stronger than most. Her endurance and stamina allow her to complete tasks in a quick and efficient fashion. Since she was a little girl, she knew there was only one man for her — Adam Varga.

Morgan learned to dance in Adam’s arms. They grew up playing the piano together. Adam’s calm, soothing presence was the perfect compliment to her restless soul. Not only that, he shared her differences down to his feral eyes.

Enter Zoltan Kristos, Hungary’s Minister of Reconstruction. He shares those same golden eyes that Morgan possesses. After Zoltan carries her mother out of a blazing fire, Morgan’s life takes a turn she doesn’t expect. She discovers the reasons for her differences, and questions her very identity. Is Adam strong enough to be the man she needs him to be?

Book three in the Budapest Moon series, and the best one yet!

I really enjoyed seeing the next generation of these families who started out as enemies, but have since become very good friends and all but family.  I strongly recommend that you read the other books to understand all the nuances and intertwined relationships here.  I imagine this book would stand alone, as Ms. Burkhart does weave in some backstory, but it will be so much richer if you are following the series.

Adam and Morgan were fun characters, feeling quite youthful and impetuous… they have both completed their educations and are ready to settle in to the lives they’ve chosen.  But as in any good book, things happen to make that road a bit bumpy.  Morgan has an intense, powerful and unwelcome new suitor and both Adam and Morgan have trust issues.

I loved revisiting everyone, including Emily who was only a few years old the last time we saw her, and the only fully human offspring in this story.  She’s turned out to be a lovely, stable, admirable young woman.  And the staff of both families (who are now joined by marriage) had their moments here as well. It was like visiting an old friend.

While I didn’t always thing Morgan behaved in a manner that was completely understandable–after all, Adam is her best friend who she’s known forever.  Yes, he made an error in judgment, but I think she overreacted just a little. Of course, she’d suddenly gotten quite a lot on her plate, so it may have been a matter of overload or the last straw.

Danube in Candlelight was a bit less dark and gothic, and had a lot more going on.  With the other books, there were times I wanted to set them down and go looking for something more exciting, but this one never made me feel that way.  Definitely the best in the series so far, and if the author keeps improving with each book I’m going to be one very happy reader.  Ms. Burkhart’s strengths are her characterizations and setting as character, as well as well composed prose and clean writing.  Yes, her plots are interesting, but what keeps me hooked is how attached I become to the population in each book.

Danube in Candlelight was filled with an interesting series of events and a fascinating stroll through Hungarian history and, even more, a set up to the next book.  I’m looking forward to reading it.

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