Out of Bounds by Melissa Klein


Out of Bounds by Melissa Klein
Out of Uniform Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (225 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Avery Madigan lives by a strict code of conduct that’s helped her rise through the ranks of navy pilots. Rule number one—never mix business with pleasure.

Lt. Commander Connor St. James never met a regulation he didn’t want to break, especially if it involves making love to a certain auburn-haired woman who’s starred in his dreams since the Naval Academy.

When their worlds once again collide, the impact is nothing short of incendiary and the rule book is thrown overboard. Can a vacation hookup change the course of their lives, or will competition send their love up in flames?

Lt. Commander Avery “Mad Dog” Madigan, retired Navy and Lt. Commander Connor “Titan” St. James, retired Navy, have been competing with each other for twenty years along with fighting their dangerous attraction to each other. These two make the pages of this novel sizzle every time they get close to each. They send the reader’s heart rate sky high and pump adrenaline full speed ahead.

Now, both of them are struggling to make a success of their civilian jobs in the competitive aviation business. Each of them has family issues that threaten to devastate. Moreover, Avery fears Connor has dealt underhandedly with her—that he stepped out of bounds in order to win a contract she desperately needed to keep her job.

The foreshadowing is a steady undercurrent that flows along with the current happenings of the story. Some of it is foreboding enough to create anxiety and to bring about a thorough dislike for Avery’s ex-husband who has to be one of the most self-centered people around. The author does a super good job of showing the reader who he is, even though we don’t ever really meet him.

The back story is sifted in at just the right times to augment and add special significance to the Avery and Connor’s relationship, to family “almost” wrecks, and to tried-and-true friendships. Also a subtle humor lightens the situations from time to time.

Out of Bounds is a page-turning story that is well-written with characters that seem SO real.

GOOD READING!

The Tattered Bride by Peri Elizabeth Scott


The Tattered Bride by Peri Elizabeth Scott
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (97 pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Victoria Sparrow’s childhood traumas are deep-seated. Her father still rejects her as not being worthy, and her romantic relationships flounder as a result—until Logan Doherty. He gives her reason to believe in goodness and true love, and she commits her heart and soul to him.

No longer prey to her damaged, young self, Victoria eagerly looks forward to their upcoming marriage—until she meets Logan at the altar. He informs her the wedding is off before their assembled friends and family, and will not tell her why.

Cast back into the nightmare of rejection, a devastated Victoria undertakes the momentous task of putting her life back together, her trust broken, her worst fears realized.

Meanwhile, Logan is working equally hard to deal with the secretive events that led to that cruel rejection, and then he plans to make it up to his tattered bride…if she will forgive him.

The Tattered Bride, a short attention-grabbing and attention-keeping story, has the heart racing at breakneck speed in the prologue: then has it breaking in chapter One.

Victoria Sparrow had her self-worth shattered to smithereens by her father’s action and words years ago and has never recovered, not even with therapy, ofwith the love of her family and friends. Not even a successful career has filled the void inside her. She’d built a tall, strong wall around her heart for protection, but Logan Doherty found a way in. She loved him with a forever love, but an outside force creates a wreck of it all.

Logan Doherty worships her, but for the greater good, he betrays her trust and breaks his heart as well as hers. Determined to set things right, he puts a plan in motion to defeat the antagonist who caused the misery. However, Victoria shuts him out completely and seeks solace in her work. Both are miserable and hurting.

The secondary characters are in and out of the story in short spurts, but are people who give love and support, yet are unable to fix Victoria’s inner problem regardless of how much they want to help her realize how worthy she is of love.

Peri Elizabeth Scott does an amazing job of pulling the reader into Victoria’s inner conflict. She also writes love scenes that heat up the pages and keeps tension high enough to make this short read a real page-turner.

Sweet Southern Trouble by Michele Summers


Sweet Southern Trouble by Michele Summers
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (387 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

An ambitious Southern belle
Marabelle Fairchild knows she’s a gal who can get things done. Feeling unappreciated at the exclusive private school where she’s a kindergarten aide and varsity tennis coach, Marabelle determines to score with the next big fundraiser. What she doesn’t expect? A smokin’ hot football coach to throw her off her game…

A reclusive NFL bachelor…
NFL coach Nick Frasier is Raleigh’s most eligible bachelor, but he wants to focus on his career…not his playboy status. He doesn’t need a smart-mouthed, pint-sized kindergarten teacher pestering him. So he cuts Marabelle a deal—in exchange for Nick sponsoring a bachelor auction starring him and his gorgeous celebrity pals, Marabelle will pose as his fiancée to ward off unwanted advances.

What could possibly go wrong?

Marabelle Fairchild has a smile as innocent as a cherub, but is as tenacious as a turtle that won’t turn loose until it thunders. She wants, needs, Coach Nick Frasier and his ball players to participate in a bachelor’s auction to benefit Trinity Academy. Her independence, pride, and sense of self worth are at stake.

Handsome, wealthy Nick Frasier wants and needs tiny, feisty, tactless, atrocious-dressing Marabelle for his own personal reasons.

Sweet Southern Trouble is one of the best love stories I’ve read in a while. It blooms with captivating characters, humor that is both subtle and blatant, and the hated antagonist named self-doubt nipping at Marabelle relentlessly. Of course, other human antagonists sneak in and make one bristle at their devious ways—page-turning reading.

Michele Summers does an outstanding job. The high quality of her writing is a joy to read. Her unique, humorous expressions that enliven the story and create wonderful mental images add a delightful, extra dimension to the story: such as Marabelle separating her usual clothes from her classy clothes so they won’t breed, made me giggle, as did the mention of gathering celebrates for an auction is like herding cats.

The love scenes are of the WOW quality. They are not overdone or done too often, just enough to add the perfect spice to the unique relationship Nick and Marabelle share.

Marabelle thinks with her heart not her head and warns herself often that she is living in a fairy tale on borrowed time. While Nick thinks with a different part of his anatomy, but there is also a part of him that realizes Marabelle is his sanctuary. Life is different since the multifaceted Marabelle took on the job of his fiancée.

EXCELLENT READING!

A Piece of My Heart by Sharon Sala


A Piece of My Heart by Sharon Sala
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (280 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

She’s never had a home
Growing up in a troubled foster home, Mercy Dane knew she could never rely on anyone but herself. She’s used to giving her all to people who don’t give her a second glance, so when she races to Blessings, Georgia, to save the life of an accident victim, she’s flabbergasted when the grateful town opens its arms to her. She never dreamed she’d ever find family or friends–or a man who looks at her as if she hung the stars.

Until she finds peace in his arms
Police Chief Lon Pittman is getting restless living in sleepy little Blessings. But the day Mercy Dane roars into his life on the back of a motorcycle, practically daring him to pull her over, he’s lost. There’s something about Mercy’s tough-yet-vulnerable spirit that calls to Lon, and he will do anything in his power to make her realize that home isn’t just where the heart is–home is where their heart is.

“I don’t know how to belong to anyone.” Mercy Dane aged out of the foster care system with no memory of family. She’d learned how to survive in the system and she learned how to survive and thrive in the rough part of Savannah.

She is a Harley-riding, kind-hearted, warrior-spirited twenty-six-year-old who can take care of herself. She works hard and copes with life on her own terms. But at nineteen, when her apartment was broken into and robbed, she was almost defeated. A new, kind, and caring neighbor offered her sanctuary and more. She left before he woke, but she knew she’d left a piece of her heart with him.

How he comes back into the story made my heart happy.

The very name of the town Mercy races to hoping to save a life on Christmas Day foreshadows good things to come in her life. Blessings, a small town not too far from Savannah, has good and not-so-good people who set Mercy’s life on a new course. This makes super good reading.

Sharon Sala works magic with words as she brings characters to life on the pages of A Piece of My Heart. They bring Mercy to a place in life she never dreamed of being. Hope Talbot, the woman she gave blood to; Lon Pittman, the sheriff of Blessings; Ruby, the owner of Curl Up and Dye beauty salon, and Duke, Hope’s foot-in-mouth, old bachelor brother-in-law, are characters not to be missed. Of course there are a few antagonists that are dealt with in first class order (loved how they were all handled). Lots of others play significant parts as the plot unfolds, but the ones mentioned are the one that bring in humor, unconditional love, and shepherd Mercy into a world that promises and gives her people to belong to and with. Of course, that happy-ever-after that I’m always looking forward to, even when it seems impossible, does happen..

Excellent Reading!

The Heart of a Texas Cowboy by Linda Broday


The Heart of a Texas Cowboy by Linda Broday
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (375 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Three Brothers. One Oath.
No Compromises.
The MEN of LEGEND

The Cowboy
One bullet is all it takes to shatter Houston Legend’s world. He swore he’d never love again, but with the future of the Lone Star Ranch on the line, he finds himself at the altar promising to love and cherish a woman he’s never met—a woman whose vulnerable beauty touches his heart.

All Lara Boone wants is a name for her baby. She never expected to fall in love with her own husband—or any man—after the heartache she’s endured. Yet when her troubled past catches up with them, Houston will move heaven and earth to protect his bride…and discover depths to a marriage of convenience neither realized could be theirs.

This one is SO good!

Houston Legend will do whatever it takes to keep Lone Star Ranch in the family. His brothers, Sam, the former Texas Ranger, and Luke, the bastard son and outlaw-on-the-run, stand firm with him in a fight, but what Stoker, his father, asks of him will have to be done alone—not going to be easy.

The Legend men would stand out in any era, but they are magnificent in the time Linda Broday brings them to life on the pages of her memorable books about them. The late nineteenth century in Texas and on the trail to market in Dodge City, Kansas, was not an easy time to stay alive and thrive. The Legend men do it with aplomb.

However, Lara Boone is the character who slipped right into my heart. Her courage and determination to make a good life for her baby, Gracie, in spite of her nightmarish fears, makes for emotional reading. After the horror she had endured at the hands of cruel men, her trepidation almost defeats her at times, but never does—not in a house built for another woman nor on the trail is a chuck wagon with her baby and her mentally challenged young brother.

Amid chaos, Houston Legend and Lara Boone, inch by inch, create one of the sweetest loves stories I’ve read in a long time.

All the while the antagonist, Yuma Blackstone and his gang show themselves to be maddeningly cruel and glorying in it. They are antagonists one can love to hate and not even feel guilty.

Goodness me! Linda Broday does know how to create characters that elicit decided emotional responses as the plot unfolds with back-story, little-aside-stories, danger, hard-work, family love and loyalty, and the memorable humor and love baby Gracie brings to it all.

GREAT READING!

Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford


Nothing Like a Duke by Jane Ashford
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (335 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

A Georgette Heyer-esque tale of high society in the glittering Regency

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about Flora, but his plans are thwarted when she suddenly arrives.

Their attraction flares, but their romance becomes complicated when the sinister Anthony Durand shows up and threatens Flora. Every bone in Robert’s body says to save her…but he’ll have to learn that some damsels in distress can save themselves if he truly wants to win her heart.

Jane Ashford creates a memorable story, full of conflicts, about a brilliant young woman who wants respect for her accomplishments and wants to fight her own battle, yet longs for love. Woven into the story is a hero who finally comes to recognize the wisdom of his father’s words: “restraint and knowing when to exercise it is a far more arduous discipline than unconsidered action.” While the setting of the story may seem more-of-the-usual, the mystery, suspense, humor, revelations, and LOVE keeps one turning pages.

Flora Jennings, daughter of a scholar and trained to be acute, observant, active, to use her intelligence, does not fit into haut ton society. However, she is at a house party at the country home of the Earl and Countess of Salbridge. Harriet Runyon, a distant relative and her chaperone, tells her a smile is a tool to be used to pry information out of people, to smooth things over, and can be a wonderful substitute when one does not wish to answer a question.

Lord Robert Gresham, the son of a Duke, not the heir or the spare, but the son who is the “Pink of the ton” knows Flora from their intellectual discussions and argues, but was not expecting to see her at a house party at his friend’s country estate—a house party loaded with men who are wellborn, well-heeled, well-behaved; men, one of whom, might be a suitable husband for the Earl’s sister, Lady Victoria.

However, Victoria has her mind made up. She wants Robert and feels she has a right to him because of a childhood promise. She has no idea he is more stimulated by a fine mind than he is by a low cut neckline.

Add to that the arrival of two unwanted guests who remind Flora of one of the most terrifying experiences of her life an Flore becomes unsure of her ability to the world of the ton the way Robert had adapted to her intellectual world on Russell Street.

Probably the most interesting of all the arrivals is the little dog Robert rescued on his way to the party. He is a philosophical, wise little fellow, Robert names him Plato. I was always delighted to see him appear, because he was always in the know before anyone else.

Jane Ashford sweeps the reader into the story at once. She makes the story sparkle with love scenes that send the senses soaring, with lovers that have unfailing respect for each other, and with an altogether satisfactory tying up loose ends—a story that lets the reader sigh with pleasure at the end—delighted about how well everything turned out.

Back to Your Love by Kianna Alexander


Back to Your Love by Kianna Alexander
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (348 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

What would you give for a second chance?

Xavier Whitted has a lot on his plate. As a hardworking businessman, mentor to troubled teens, and aspiring politician in his Southern hometown, the daily demands never let up. A weekend at the beach for his best friend’s wedding is exactly what he needs. What he doesn’t need is to run into the woman who broke his heart ten years ago.

Imani Grant is more beautiful, confident and intelligent than ever, and their connection is still sizzling. But Imani harbors a secret that could destroy both their blossoming careers. She knows she has to keep her distance, but Xavier is determined to win back her heart–consequences be damned.

Back to Your Love is a gentle story with flawed but still admirable characters. The friendships and kinships are supportive and strong.

Imani Grant, now a doctor of dermatology, left home after high school graduation with determination to pursue her goals. She’d left with a broken heart that had never healed. Now, ten years later, she is home with a successful practice.

She and Xavier Whitted, who dumped her instead of proposing to her when they graduated high school, still have undeniable chemistry and caring that bring them together in a way that sends the blood racing.

Xavier, a CPA by profession and an avid social worker, sets in to regain Imani’s trust, not an easy task. He knows he handled a life-changing situation very poorly ten years ago. He is determined to correct that mistake.

Kianna Alexander filters in back-story and slips in foreshadowing that keep the reader intrigued. However, the internal conflicts Imani struggles with drive the story along a obstacle strewn path. While she tells herself, “The truth will set you free,” she can’t come to terms with guilt she carries.

For this reader, the love scenes crop up more often than needed. They are explicit but well-written. They just lose some impact by repetition.

Kianna Alexander does a beautiful job of writing about how the bad characters’ and the good characters’ lives get mixed up and influence both Imani’s and Xavier’s professional and personal lives. She does a masterful job of bringing all things together for that happy-ever-after.

Smooth enjoyable reading!

The English Duke by Karen Ranney


The English Duke by Karen Ranney
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (277 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

For years, Martha York has been fascinated by a man she’s never met—Jordan Hamilton, the new Duke of Roth and protégé to her inventor father. Could the elusive gentleman possibly live up to his brilliant letters? When Martha travels to his estate to carry out her father’s last bequest, she discovers that the answer is a resounding yes, for the duke’s scientific mind belies a deep sensuality…

Jordan was determined to complete his prototype alone, but it’s impossible to resist the alluring young woman who shows up at his door. Working together, they grow ever closer, until a case of mistaken identity leaves him bound to another. A woman’s heart may be more complex than the most intricate invention, but Jordan must find a way to win Martha’s, or lose the only woman who can truly satisfy him…

The English Duke is a delight. The characters are diverse and each of them has a mind of his or her own with no one acting the shrinking violet. Martha York will see that her dead father’s wishes are carried out. Jordan Hamilton, the reluctant new Duke of Roth, is not interested in her father’s wishes and tries to ignore Martha—not going to happen!

How the story unfolds has one turning pages, all the while giving rapt attention to the twists and turns in the plot.

The author takes the reader into the late nineteenth century of England society with remarkable descriptions of settings and advancements in technical inventions, along with the social changes that are being forced on the peerage at the time. Money is a big issue.

Josephine, Martha’s half-sister, and Reese, Jordan’s friend are soon seen as antagonists that bear watching. Also, Martha’s grandmother who is not above doing a little manipulating, is to be watched. These characters keep the cauldron bubbling with conflicts that beset Martha’s plans again and again. Josephine soon became the antagonist that I loved to hate. Her self-centeredness and amoral attitude are beyond belief.

Martha’s intellectual prowess is equal to Jordan’s. Her long working relationship with her inventive father sets her apart. She and Jordan soon work in harmony as they try to fix one little flaw in her father’s last invention—a torpedo ship.

How Karen Ranney weaves together back story, the supporting characters, a love story that seems ill-fated, and leaves no loose ends is masterful.

The English Duke is a joy to read.

You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne


You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (289 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

In an unforgettable debut, Lisa Berne introduces you to the Penhallow Dynasty—men destined to marry, but hesitant to love.

Wealthy and arrogant, Gabriel Penhallow knows it’s time to fulfill his dynastic duty. All he must do is follow the ‘Penhallow way’: find a biddable bride, produce an heir and a spare, and then live separate lives. It’s worked so well for generations, certainly one kiss with the delectable Livia Stuart isn’t going to change things. Society dictates he marry her, and one chit is as good as another as long as she’s from a decent family.

But Livia’s transformation from an original to a mundane diamond of the first water makes Gabriel realize he desperately wants the woman who somehow provoked him into that kiss. And for all the ladies who’ve thrown themselves at him, it’s the one who wants to flee whom he now wants. But how will he keep this independent miss from flying away?

A rags-to-riches story, You May Kiss the Bride is not a happy story much of the time and love seems an impossibility. How the author weaves love in among all the manipulation, gossip, conflict, and intrigue makes page-turning reading.

This is especially true since Gabriel Penhallow does not hold women in high esteem and is not looking for love. He just needs a suitable woman of society–intelligent, has substantial wealth, and in good health—to produce his heirs.

His managing grandmother met Lady Glanvilles and daughter, Cecily in Bath and declares Cecily to be good wife material for Gabriel. The two of them attend a house party at the Glanvilles, with Gabriel intending to ask Cecily to be his wife.

To escape the vacuous activities of the house party, Gabriel Penhallow rides out alone and gets lost in the forest. He sees Livia Stuart. He is entranced. She looks like a ragged but beautiful wood sprite. But his haughty elite self surfaces and he tosses coins to her for information on how to get back to the Glandvilles. BIG MISTAKE!

Livia Stuart, the poor orphan relative sent home to Ealdor Abby from India when she was very young,expects and gets nothing.more than food and shelter from her wastrel Uncle Charles and her “medicine” addlepated Aunt Bella. She has no money, no education, and no prospects; even though she’s now of marriage age. She is Lady Glanvilles and Cecily’s charity case. They, snobbish and snide, give her Cecily’s hand-me-down clothes and invite her to events at their home.

How Livia and Gabriel become betrothed and plan to use each other sets up conflict, rejection, loneliness, and heartbreak. Not until Gabriel and his grandmother come to recognize their self-centeredness and entitlement attitudes almost destroyed what they hold dear, do they come to recognize the value and joy of having Livia in their lives.

Lisa Berne creates a compelling story with great pacing that is an early nineteenth century rollercoaster ride. GOOD ENTERTAINMENT!

Texas Homecoming by Leigh Greenwood


Texas Homecoming by Leigh Greenwood
Night Riders Series

Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (419 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

She’s his last chance to find peace…

Cade, Captain of the Night Riders, is determined to lead his men home to Texas to recover from a long and brutal war. But when a fellow Rider betrays the team, Cade sets aside his hopes for peace and swears he will hunt down the traitor no matter what it takes…

He has a foolproof plan to use the feisty Pilar diViere to lure her traitorous brother out of hiding. And yet when he takes the dark-eyed beauty into his arms, Cade can’t help but remember the passionate past they shared. He would do anything for a chance to rekindle that flame…even spare her brother’s life.

The war has changed them all, and each of the Night Riders must decide what is more important: love or revenge?

Leigh Greenwood once again gives the reader an adventure with characters that come alive on the pages as they pull the reader into conflicts, joys, pains, dreams, struggles, and LOVE.

Cade Wheeler’s and the few remaining Night Riders’ lives are in shambles after the Civil War, as are the ranches in Texas that they go back to. They are hoping to build new lives for themselves. But finding the traitor, Laveau diViere, who had caused the death of so many of their comrades, is a number one priority for them all.

They find Pilar, Laveau’s sister, and his grandmother at the Wheeler ranch, routed from their ranch and opulent hacienda by squatters—an explosive situation. Pilar works like a slave, while her aristocratic Grandmother never leaves her room, but beraes Pilar continually and haes Earl Wheeler. Pilar copes with unending hours of hard work, and contends with Earl Wheeler, Cade’s grandfather, a cantankerous, mean old man, who knows no boundaries, emotional or physical. My goodness, how I wanted to throttle that old man and Senora diViere! My anger still bubbles up when I think of how they used people, even their grandchildren to try to gain what they wanted. Leigh Greenwood creates characters that are real beyond words.

The men set in to brand longhorn cattle that have run wild for all the years of the war, all the time keeping an eye out for Laveau and for thieves that would take the cattle they had gathered. As the author weaves in the unique personalities of these hardworking, war-weary men, each of them becomes so alive and adds layers of speculation to the story—who are they and what will become of them.

Neither Pilar nor Cade was reared with love; neither of them is even sure they know what love is. Moreover, the treachery of her brother, Laveau, stands between them. How they work through the tangled mess of life, at that time in history, and find love makes page-turning reading.

Leigh Greenwood is a master story teller who makes the world and the people he writes about come alive for the reader. EXCELLENT READING!