The Wyoming Kid by Debbie Macomber


The Wyoming Kid by Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (256)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Rancher Lonny Ellison has never known a woman like Joy Fuller. She doesn’t seem very interested in him, and as a former rodeo cowboy, the Wyoming Kid is more used to being mobbed by women! And he and schoolteacher Joy seem to argue constantly. But it doesn’t matter, because he’s not interested in Joy, either. Except…maybe he is. Now he just has to convince her that opposites attract!

Fans of cowboys falling in love even when they don’t think they want to but end up falling hard and fast and then stumble around trying to figure out what to do with all those ‘feelings’, are in for a fun experience when they meet Lonny Ellison. Lonny gets stirred up by his nemesis, Joy Fuller. The fun starts right away with one of them running a newly installed stop sign. As you can imagine, emotions run high in the middle of a crisis and in The Wyoming Kid it opens the door for a romantic adventure to being and for readers to enjoy.

The chief instigator in the book is Lonny’s sister, Letty. I liked her and the love she has for her brother beams from the pages. It’s perfectly natural for someone who has found love to wish the same happiness on those they love and care for so I felt her role was natural and believable. I also liked her relationship with Joy. It’s a forgone conclusion that not every little manipulating tweak works out quite the way Letty wished for her brother. But when it works? It works.

Secondary characters abound and a couple are just plain adorable, namely Cricket. Ms. Macomber has a way of writing that makes it easy to fall in love with them, both secondary and primary.

The passion that overtakes both Lonny and Joy sometimes ended up being cute and funny when it overwhelmed and consumed them in the most unlikely places. I had no doubts their chemistry was combustible. Those scenes were entertaining and well written. There was no doubt that love was in the air.

There’s a background drama that revolves around Lonny’s ranch hand and a girl in town. It’s typical and yet it’s not. By that I mean, do places in our country still resolve testosterone clashes the old fashioned way, by letting them ‘work it out’? These days, it seems everyone likes to analyze, judge, opinionize and advise, and adults try to fix everything without the kids ever learning their own way in dealing with adversity, challenge and personal relationships. It was rather refreshing to see adults letting kids be kids while, as adults, monitor it so it doesn’t get out of hand but allows the lesson to be learned. Our current generation has it drilled into us that there’s never an excuse to fight, so this scene now seems like a fantasy, a distant memory of times past when people looked into each other’s eyes, and had it out, fist to fist – not text aspersions and Snapchat gestures and being buffered from consequences. I really respect how Ms. Macomber wrote the entire scene and I feel she made her point about why the characters had to do what they did. :: slow clap::

The romance is practically perfect and I grinned when the beginning came around to the end. Lonny might not be eloquent but he knows enough to get the point across. Love needs no translation.

The Wyoming Kid is a winner of a romance with a sweet HEA. This is a definite recommend.

The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz


The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Time Travel)
Length: Full Length (380 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

She has nothing to live for in the present, but finds there’s something worth dying for in the past…

From Tiffany Reisz, the international bestselling storyteller behind The Bourbon Thief and The Original Sinners series, comes an enthralling new novel about a woman swept away by the tides who awakens to find herself in 1921, reunited with the husband she’s been mourning for four years. Fans of Kate Morton and Diana Gabaldon will fall in love with the mystery, romance and beauty of an isolated South Carolina lighthouse, where a power greater than love works its magic.

Love comes in peculiar ways, but if we’re willing to embrace it we’ll win.

Tiffany Reisz has a way with words. I can’t lie. The author is a true story teller. As soon as I read the blurb, I wanted to devour this book. Who doesn’t like a time travelling romance? Who doesn’t want a happy ending?

I’m glad to say I got what I wanted from this book. The characters are interesting and the landscape fascinating. The descriptions of the lighthouse and what Faye sees are breathtaking.

But…as much as I liked the book, there were a few quibbles. The writing is good, no doubt, but I put the book down a handful of times and getting back into it was difficult. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good book. It was. But it had a hard time occasionally holding my interest. I also had a bit of a time with the jumps in time back and forth to 1921. I had to go back and reread to make sure I knew what was going on. Still, it was good.

I liked Faye, the heroine, too. She’s been through hell and come back. I didn’t always agree with her decisions, but hey, that’s fine. She’s a very twenty-first century woman and seeing her with a very twentieth century man–Carrick, was good. The thing was, I had a hard time connecting with her. I kept expecting more from her. But that doesn’t mean she was a bad character or it was an unsatisfactory read. Far from it. The author deviated from what I thought would happen and that’s fantastic. I’d rather be surprised and I was. Carrick was my favorite character. Strong, quiet and very Irish, I could practically see him whenever he was on the page. He’s the best part of the book for me.

If you’re looking for a book that spans time frames, that’s written eloquently and is not the norm, then this might be the book for you.

Haunted by Heather Graham


Haunted by Heather Graham
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (297 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Love is everywhere. . .

When does a gift become a curse?

Matt Stone doesn’t believe in ghosts. But there are those who are convinced his home, a historic Virginia estate that dates back to the Revolutionary War, is haunted. Pressured to get at the truth about some strange happenings at Melody House, he agrees to let Harrison Investigations explore the house. But he isn’t ready for beautiful, intriguing Darcy Tremayne.

As a paranormal investigator, Darcy has learned to believe in the unbelievable. And she’s given Matt fair warning: sometimes people don’t like the skeletons she finds. She never dreamed that the warning would apply to herself. For she’s about to discover that Melody House holds much more than a simple mystery form the distant past. What it holds is a very real and lethal danger, one that will cast her into a struggle against the worlds of both the living and the dead.

I love a gripping mystery with a convincing dose of romantic complications to make things interesting. This is my first foray into the writing of Ms. Graham and I think I made a lucky pick because this book knocked my socks off. Talk about an edge of your seat mystery where anyone or anything could be the killer. Is the killer a ghost? A disturbed entity from the town’s many onsite battles come to right a wrong? Enter an intrepid paranormal investigator with a past as fascinating as any ghost. Darcy is not a typical heroine and I was completely enthralled. When I first met her as a teenager, my sympathies were engaged almost immediately. They were firmly in her corner right after the funeral. The rest is a journey like no other.

Matt, the sheriff and male lead opposite Darcy is a facts man. He doesn’t believe in the paranormal and is a firm believer that everything can be explained by science, and usually a human is behind any crime. But he was forced to admit something weird was going on so he called a good friend in for help. First, he didn’t expect Darcy in place of his friend; his reaction was fun to watch. Second, the poor guy had a real hard time coming to grips that maybe, just maybe, his house wasn’t as safe and benign as he believed. Watching him slowly face the unimaginable was both painful and kind of funny, in a dark kind of way. He liked Darcy, but didn’t want to; he trusted her but didn’t and he wanted to believe her and in her, but that meant that he has to accept that he, as sheriff, and a take charge alpha male, did not have all the answers. Not only that, but you can’t cuff a ghost. Poor Matt. He was a bit discombobulated. The plot sure got interesting when he could sink his law teeth into something he could understand and deal with, but it wasn’t enough to solve the mystery. There was more, much more to come and I was glued to this book’s pages.

I enjoyed the slow buildup of tension, the red herrings and the challenge of trying to figure out just what or who could be behind all the weirdness at Melody House. I liked meeting all the secondary characters and Ms. Graham imbued her cast with unique and individual characteristics that contributed to the feel and flow of the novel. By the time I read three fourths of the book, I finally had an inkling as to a possible motive, victim and culprit. I was right on only one account which meant I was taken by surprise. I loved it!

Another treat were the sparks that ignite between Matt and Darcy. Of course it reached a flashpoint and their coming together was ever so satisfying. It wasn’t smooth, easy or without its bumps but it sure was romantic and passionate. Eventually, Matt comes around and a happy ever after is guaranteed. It’s who helped Matt past that final hurdle in believing that made me sniffle a time or two. I was filled with a lot of emotions at that point and I credit that to the excellent writing skill of Ms. Graham.

If readers have yet to discover Ms. Graham, then they are missing out. I was missing out. No more. Haunted has whet my appetite for more books by this author. This was an amazing read that’s made an indelible impression and I can’t wait to read more. I can wholeheartedly recommend this novel to romantic suspense/mystery readers everywhere. It’s a winner.

Mending Fences by Sherryl Woods

fences
Mending Fences by Sherryl Woods
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (377 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

For ten years Emily Dobbs and Marcie Carter have been the closest of friends. They’ve raised their kids together, shared joy and heartache, exchanged neighborhood gossip over tea. But when Marcie’s son, now a college freshman sports star, is arrested for date rape, the bond between the families could be shattered forever.

As the Carters try to deal with the unthinkable, Emily discovers her daughter has been hiding a terrible secret…a secret that threatens the futures of both families. Recently divorced, Emily struggles to keep it all together—to support her terrified daughter, to maintain her friendship with Evan’s mother and to have faith in the detective who could change all of their lives.

When things seem darkest, both she and Marcie discover that sometimes the first step toward a better future is mending fences with the past.

A whole lot of angst and emotion wrapped up in one story.

I hadn’t read a book by Sherryl Woods…until now. Talk about starting with a whopper! Oh my! This book is ripe with emotion, sadness and strength in the face of adversity. It’s well written and kept me in my seat througout. I had to know how the tale would shake out.

Two friends, two families entwined and lots of secrets. Marcie’s son has been accused of doing a horrible thing–date rape. I appreciated how Ms. Woods tackled a hard topic, especially in this day and age. Sports stars sometimes think they are above the law. Ms. Woods handles this topic well, but a little easily. Still, the author tugged at my emotions. I didn’t like Evan at all. Then there is Marcie and Emily–the mothers. Marcie definitely grows through the story. She starts off meek and put down. While this might seem like fluff to some readers, it might be a little tough for other readers. It definitely made her more human to me. I rooted for her. Emily grated on my nerves. I could understand her hesitancy to admit the truth–we’re human and we make mistakes–but I’m not sure I could take the same path Emily did. The ending seemed a little too neat for my taste, but that doesn’t make this book a pass. It’s enjoyable and breezy in spots.

There’s a touch of romance to this book, but the angst and mystery portion is the bigger part of the story.

If you want a book that will make you think and characters that are interesting, then this might be the book for you.

Fair Juno by Stephanie Laurens

JUNO
Fair Juno by Stephanie Laurens
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (210 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

When the Earl of Merton suddenly finds himself playing the knight in shining armor to a damsel in distress, he knows his days as a notorious rake are numbered. But though the lady seems grateful for his assistance, she flees the scene without revealing her name. And though past scandals and present dangers threaten his pursuit of the mysterious lady, he knows she is to be his destiny.

I had a ton of fun reading this novel. A man no one thought would amount to much comes back as a man of worth. A man who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, a man of action and restraint yet inside, still alive in kicking, is his reputation as a rake. He has to balance the two but he’s stymied by people’s perception of him, and that includes his own mother. Talk about a great internal conflict. I really appreciate how Ms. Laurens handled it with grace, aplomb and charm. Martin, the hero, is an alpha personality tempered by his truly caring for the people in his life, no matter how difficult they can be.

His caring about others close to him eventually encompasses the very feisty, fascinating and slightly adventurous Helen, the heroine. Her personality, quirks and situation slowly get under Martin’s skin, and he’s hooked. Helen eventually falls in love with the hero but through the machinations of one of Martin’s relatives, she decides on martyrdom. On one hand, it’s predictable, and I was disappointed. On the other, Martin’s determination and unquenchable desire for her wears her down and his perseverance and stubborn conviction that she belongs with him serves him well.

I enjoyed the progression of the romance, the slight intrigue of why she was kidnapped in the first place and what the real reason was that the other guy wanted to marry Helen. It was almost what I expected, yet not. I really liked that surprise because it elevated my high estimation of Martin even higher. He’s a very smart and practical man when all is said and done.

What I also found endearing was Martin’s relationship with his mother. I enjoyed seeing it change and mature and seeing them come together as a family. Their relationship ended up sweet with a tart and cheeky twist. I liked it.

I liked many of the secondary characters and I enjoyed how they fit into the plot. I liked the dialogue in the novel and of course I enjoyed how all that sensual buildup finally came to fruition. Helen sure made Martin dance a merry tune.

As for Martin’s brother, he really needed a swift kick. As far as I’m concerned, the hero let him off lightly. I l liked Hazelmere though; he really tried to help but truly, he was as clueless about Helen as Martin was. Ferdie was the only one that seemed the most intuitive. I liked his character. My favorite scene was the one at the church. I love it when an HEA comes together.

All in all, Fair Juno” is a great historical romance and is undeniably entertaining. There is an interesting internal conflict with just the right amount of external conflict to keep the main characters on their toes, and a reader flipping pages. I’m a satisfied reader.

Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr

DREAMS
Wildest Dreams by Robyn Carr
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (361 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Blake Smiley searched the country for just the right place to call home. The professional triathlete has travelled the world, but Thunder Point has what he needs to put down the roots he’s never had. In the quiet coastal town he can focus on his training without distractions. Until he meets his new neighbors and everything changes.

Lin Su Simmons and her teenage son Charlie are fixtures at Winnie Banks’ house as Lin Su nurses Winnie through the realities of ALS. A single mother, she is proud of taking charge and never showing weakness. But she has her hands full coping with a job, debt and Charlie’s health issues. And Charlie is asking questions about his family history—questions Lin Su doesn’t want to answer.

When Charlie enlists Blake’s help to escape his overprotective mother, Lin Su resents the interference in her life. But Blake is certain he can break through her barriers and be the man she and Charlie need. When faced with a terrible situation, Blake comes to the rescue and Lin Su realizes he just might be the man of her dreams. Together, they recognize that family is who you choose it to be.

Emotional wounds and restless souls find healing and home in the small town of Thunder Point.

Blake Smiley, rich and famous in the triathlon world, never really had a stable home of his own until he bought the house next door to Winnie, Grace and Troy that overlooks the beach and Pacific Ocean at Thunder Point. Deeming it a good place for his needs, he soon found it did for more than meet his needs. It connected him with people and community and with Lin Su and her son Charlie. If you’ve read the previous book in this series, you already know these two as survivors with tremendous potential.

Lin Su is a private nurse who tends Winnie, who has ALS but refuses to give in to it with every ounce of strength she has. Charlie and Winnie have bridged the gap of generational difference and are wonderful friends. Lin Su is secretive, stubbornly independent, and super protective of Charlie who has health issues. His taking to Blake with such enthusiasm does not make her happy.

Of course, all the caring, meddling characters of Thunder Point are woven into this compelling story of the birth and growth of love that brings the struggling, stubborn Lin Su and Blake, who learned to run for survival, together. Charlie is very much a part of it all as are Winnie and Mikhail, Winnie’s true “knight in shining armor.”

Robyn Carr, with her usual skillful crafting, creates a compelling story line, manages a huge cast of humanlike characters, and gives the reader realistic drama with humor and heart. Her ability to create believable and unique characters and situations pulls the reader into the action and emotions and gives a vicarious journey to be remembered. GOOD Reading!

A New Hope by Robyn Carr

HOPE
A New Hope by Robyn Carr
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (330 pages)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

After losing her child, Ginger Dysart was lost in grief. But since moving to Thunder Point, a small town on the Oregon coast, and with the help of her cousin Ray Anne, Ginger is finally moving forward. Her job at the flower shop is peaceful and fulfilling, and she’s excited to start her first big assignment, assisting with the Lacoumette wedding.

In spite of her lasting heartache, Ginger finds herself swept up in the pleasure of the occasion. But the beauty of the Lacoumette farm and the joy of the gregarious family are ruined by an unfortunate encounter with the bride’s brother, Matt. Struggling with painful memories of his own recent divorce, Matt makes a drunken spectacle of himself and Ginger when he tries to make a pass at her, forcing Ginger to flee the scene in embarrassment.

But when Matt shows up at the flower shop determined to make amends, what started out as a humiliating first meeting blossoms into something much deeper than either of them expected. Discovering they have a lot in common, they form a solid friendship, though everyone around them worries that Ginger will end up with a broken heart yet again. But if Ginger has the courage to embrace the future, and if Matt can finally learn to let go of the past, there may still be hope for a happy ending.

Ginger Dysart’s and Matt Lacoument’s emotional wounds are still raw when they meet, in a notably inauspicious manner. Matt, intoxicated to ease his pain, makes a “you-know-what” of himself. Then a HUGE apology is in order. His big sister Peyton reads him the riot act about his manner with Ginger, who is her friend.

A New Hope, a Thunder Point novel, invites the reader to meet new people who become a part of a village of people who support each other, accept each other “warts and all,” and certainly share information freely about everyone. While a novel that stands alone very well, A New Hope is richer and more delicious if blended with other Thunder Point novels.

Robyn Carr weaves together remarkable human relationships that encompass all level of love. Emotions run strong and often hot, as life problems are dealt with and love, with its innate wisdom, makes itself at home, even when it doesn’t seem to have been invited in. Family love, love for fellow human beings, and love between a man and a woman that sizzles at times, keeps A New Hope bubbling and bustling with activity.

If you’ve read earlier Thunder Point novels, you’ll get to revisit Grace who is moving her wealthy mother, who has ALS, to Thunder Point, while all the time planning to marry Troy, her love. You can catch ups with Cooper, Raye Anne, and so many others in the previous novels. They add depth and strength to the story.

Matt’s and Ginger’s exes, who don’t want to stay exes, create their share of conflicts, but they also help Matt and Ginger resolve to face the future with courage as they work to let their wounds truly heal before making a commitment.

Matt and Ginger share fun, simple pleasures, gentle caring, mutual interests, and finally love that is patient, kind, and enduring as they gain emotional good health and best of all the reader get to share their journey to a happy-ever-after and be a part of the endearing community of Thunder point.

Delightful reading!

Against the Sky by Kat Martin

SKY
Against the Sky by Kat Martin
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (400 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

ALASKA
In America’s last wilderness, there are no limits to what a man can do.

For detective Nick Brodie, that means keeping the perps off the streets of Anchorage 24/7. Nick has never backed down from danger, but after the horrors he’s seen, he’s definitely in need of a break.

Samantha Hollis never thought she’d meet anyone like Nick, especially in a place like Las Vegas. But after one reckless, passionate night, she discovers the charismatic stranger is everything she wants in a man. But can he ever be anything more than a one-night stand?

When Nick invites her to Alaska, Samantha decides to find out, never guessing the depths she’ll discover in him or the tangle of murder, kidnapping, and danger about to engulf them both…

Against the Sky is an absolute classic suspenseful romance; fans of the genre will find themselves captured by the events as much as by the personalities of the leading characters.

The intrigue begins before we’ve even met our leading characters.   Nick and Samantha are from different worlds, one rough and tumble, one ‘ day at the spa,’ thank you. Nick impresses from the first. He’s obviously a sympathetic, caring person. Samantha is quicker–quicker to decide, quicker to anger, yet, quicker to laugh too. She’s a very savvy professional, but also pretty quick to toss the heels and put on something comfortable. Its the little moments that make her character…while Nick is simply, incredibly manly and protective. Their clashes never fail to entertain. Quick-witted conversation is fast, believable and engaging and does not manage to hide their mutual attraction. The chemistry is real! Former cop Nick is strikingly handsome, while Samantha is lovely. One thing leads to another and…romance readers really must read! No giving the game away here, although I will say that Ms. Martin does not disappoint with the bedrooms scenes.

While Nick and Samantha’s romance might charge along as one might expect, events will keep readers guessing throughout. That unpredictable quality makes this a page-turner. While we know, from the first, about Nick’s young friend’s suspicions, it’s a while before it’s investigated.

Alaska provides a lovely backdrop for this tale, too; it’s a bit stereotypically the wilder world; fun, mysterious but somehow, still home. The limited point of view works, but irritatingly changed a bit too much for reader comfort. On the other hand, I liked the author’s attention to some details; this really is fun to read for more than one reason.

In Against the Sky Kat Martin has turned out of the recent bests in this popular genre.

Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts

EX
Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (308 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Christmas in Icicle Falls…

Cass Wilkes, owner of the Gingerbread Haus bakery, was looking forward to her daughter Danielle’s wedding—until Dani announced that she wants her father, Cass’s ex, to walk her down the aisle. Seriously? Even worse, it appears that he, his trophy wife and their yappy little dog will be staying with Cass…

Her friend Charlene Albach arrives at their weekly chick-flick night in shock. She’s just seen the ghost of Christmas past: her ex-husband, Richard, who left a year ago when he ran off with the hostess from her restaurant, Zelda’s. Now the hostess is history and he wants to kiss and make up. Hide the mistletoe!

And bring out the hot buttered rum, because the holidays aren’t easy for Ella O’Brien, either. Ella, newly divorced, is still sharing the house with her ex while they wait for the place to sell. The love is gone. Isn’t it?

But watch as Christmas brings all kinds of surprises…

Merry Ex-mas, ladies!

Talk about walking on egg shells and the potential for disaster. Having all your exes showing up for the holidays sounds like a total nightmare but Ms. Roberts proved that for some, divorces for the wrong reasons are extra hurtful when it’s discovered the marriage was for all the right reasons in the first place. But who will the lucky couple be?

The one thing I’ve discovered about Ms. Roberts’ writing style is she likes her stories busy. It’s very similar to a real community where lives overlap and everyone affects someone else because there’s a history. I don’t know everyone in Icicle Falls but I’ve read a few books written after this one and what I find interesting is that they are solidly standalone books. There might be a few extra characters that don’t really have anything resolved but they help out the ones that do in the current book. That’s sort of the case here and yet, their POV is just as an important contribution as the main characters.

The cast is varied but it comes down to Cass, Ella and Charley. Ella’s I could figure out, Charley was a heart wringer and Cass was fascinating. I cracked up about Cupcake the dog and yet, the dog’s antics provided insight between two characters that come to terms. It’s amazing how the author took every day mundane events and made them relevant and heavy with substance and meaning.

I enjoyed how the ladies had each other’s backs and how they were there for each other through thick and thin. Not everyone has those types of friendships but I know they exist and if a person is lucky to have them, they more than probably resemble the ladies from Icicle Falls. I also like how the role of pets assists with the storytelling. It gives the novel an everyday feeling making the characters relatable.

Inasmuch as I liked Cass, her story was a bit unbalanced. By that I mean that it seemed to play a huge role but there wasn’t a true role yet I was made to believe there was something that was going to happen but her involvement wasn’t the forefront but more her daughter’s. It came across like Cass was the narrator of the story but lived within the story, was affected by it and affected it but wasn’t the true focal point – if that made any sense.

Merry Ex-Mas is most definitely a character driven romance novel. It’s about family, one broken made whole, relationships in all their complicated glory and yes, a happy ever after that makes the story worth reading. Ms. Roberts has made Icicle Falls a wonderful place to visit with characters readers want to come back and visit with. They have faults and flaws like most people and that’s what makes reading about them so special. Happiness comes in different flavors and each novel about Icicle Falls is a unique treat.

Merry Ex-Mas has its moments of romantic genius and is a must read for fans of family/friends centered romances. It’s a novel about love and life and is worth checking out.

Echo Lake by Carla Neggers

ECHO
Echo Lake by Carla Neggers
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (342 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

In snowy Swift River Valley, unexpected romance is just around the corner…

Heather Sloan has landed her dream job—the renovation of Vic Scarlatti’s stately 1912 country home overlooking the icy waters of Echo Lake in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts. It’s the perfect project for the family business, but for once, Heather is in charge.

Diplomatic Security Service agent Brody Hancock left Knights Bridge at eighteen, a few steps ahead of arrest and the wrath of Heather’s older brothers. Though Brody had never planned to return, Vic, a retired diplomat and friend, needs his help.

Staying at Vic’s guest house makes it impossible to avoid running into a Sloan at every turn—especially Heather. Seeing her again has affected Brody more than he wants to admit. But Heather is wary of Brody’s sudden interest in her, and she suspects there’s more to his homecoming than he’s letting on…

Set against the scenic backdrop of a New England winter, Echo Lake is a captivating tale of family, friends and the possibility of new love.

Romance, secret intrigue, regrets, and redemption fuel emotions on multiple levels in Echo Lake. Carla Negger’s unique writing style sparkles and entices a reader into a memorable interlude with the people of Knights Bridge, Massachusetts during the cold, cold winter.

Heather Sloan is no longer the twelve-year-old girl who challenged the boys to a game of “Risk” and played with a “take-no-prisoners” attitude. Now, she is definitely a grownup, curvy, pretty woman with a “can-do” attitude. She is good at her job with Sloan and Sons. Her professional footing is solid. She’s in charge of a major renovation of an old home that retired diplomat Vic Scarlatti owns.

Her emotional footing hits a slippery place when diplomatic security service agent Brody Hancock, once the town’s bad boy and her secret love, visits his old friend Vic Scarlatti.

The change in both Brody and Heather is subtly and enticingly revealed as they interact, with the reader getting to enjoy the humor, the undercurrent of caring, the misgivings, the undeniable love that has abided so many years and now demands its place in their lives.

Family love and dynamics, the pains and adjustments in retirement, the hurts of bad decisions made long ago, along with community’s meddlesome caring take the reader on a vicarious cold winter experience that is thought-provoking, heart-warming, and sensory rich.

If the reader has read previous Swift River Valley novels, getting to catch up on what is happening in well-remembered characters is an added bonus in Echo Lake. This novel is a super good addition to the other novels that take place in this unique environment.

Carla Neggers, with a great plot and interesting, well-developed characters, delivers excellent reading once again.