Betting on Kincade by Devon McKay


Betting on Kincade by Devon McKay
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (228 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Everyone Cassie Wilcox loved is gone. And now, thanks to her drunken stepfather, her house and family business will be taken from her, too, unless she can find a way to buy back the ranch from the new owner. With less than two months to come up with money she doesn’t have, her options are running out, and apparently, her common sense as she rents out rooms to an eclectic group of strangers.

Returning home for Dalton Kincade is bittersweet. Not a damn thing has changed. Two years on the rodeo circuit weren’t able to shake free the memory of the feisty redhead who’d broken his heart into a thousand pieces. Nor the sting of her parting words…Never trust a Kincade.

Winning her beloved ranch in a drunken bet is the last thing he expected to happen, but at least he saved it for her. Now, he has to figure out how to break that news to a woman who never wants to see him again. Renting a room in the house he now owns might be a risk, but it’s nothing compared to betting his heart on winning back the love of his life.

This is purely a feel good book that is quick and easy to read. I have read a huge amount of contemporary western romance stories so I recognized a lot of familiar tropes; some I liked, some were just okay. There was one scene that I can safely say was unique and I know beyond of a shadow of a doubt that I’d never read this in a story before because I’d sure remember that particular scene. Despite relying on a lot well-worn storytelling techniques, I can classify this novel as an entertaining read that was worth my time.

Dalton Kincade is the hero in this romance and he carried the momentum for me in this story. He had his reasons for leaving the heroine, Cassie Wilcox, to join the rodeo for two years. Cassie should have understood. Yes, she suffered a broken heart when he left but under the circumstances, she should have had a less selfish perspective, especially after two years. It obviously hurt him to leave too.

Cassie’s stubbornness and pride was borderline annoying. For that reason I had a hard time connecting with her “woe is me, I must save the ranch all by myself” attitude. It was a broken record to hear Cassie constantly talk about how she can make more money to save the ranch. I’d say that Cassie was the most presumptuous character I’ve ever read. Some of her solutions to make money were surreal and unrealistic. All I know is that Dalton had way too much patience and clearly loved her more than she loved him. Although their past love was well established, the chemistry in the present was lacking. There were some good moments when Cassie let down her walls and showed some vulnerability. I wished there were more scenes like that. It would have helped.

Cassie viewed Dalton as bossy, stubborn and a man who will always try to step in and save her. I didn’t view Dalton as bossy and stubborn at all. I actually viewed the heroine as ungrateful that she didn’t appreciate his stepping in to help her. What’s wrong with a man who loves you wanting to protect and help you? I’m not saying Dalton was perfect but I sure liked him more.

Some upbeat and positive elements were when Cassie and Dalton kept making wagers back and forth between themselves. That added a bit of humor into the story and helped me to connect to them as a couple. They did have some sizzling scenes but that only reinforced my impression that Dalton was too good for Cassie.

Some characters were more developed than others. Cassie’s stepfather, Gary Evans, was definitely a loser, a dirt bag, and a pathetic piece of life. He added suspense and drama to the story because he was the main conflict throughout the book. How his character was handled at the end didn’t exactly work for me. One of my pet peeves is not having all the plot threads tied up. I need absolute, complete closure. There must be justice. I don’t want to speculate in my head that everything worked out. I love happy endings with a pretty bow. There at least could have been an epilogue. If it weren’t for Dalton, then this entire book would have been infuriating to me.

Betting on Kincade was a good read. It was mostly enjoyable. I made it through and didn’t consider it a waste of my time, because time and time again Dalton drew me back into the story and kept my interest. I know not all romance books can be smooth sailing. Reading this book was like being in a car with a manual transmission whose driver didn’t know how to drive a stick shift. You’re just glad to be out of the house and going for a ride. You just have to hang on even when you hit the potholes because spending time with Dalton Kincade is SO worth the risk.

Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath


Beyond Scandal and Desire by Lorraine Heath
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (384 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

At birth, Mick Trewlove, the illegitimate son of a duke, was handed over to a commoner. Despite his lowly upbringing, Mick has become a successful businessman, but all his wealth hasn’t satisfied his need for revenge against the man who still won’t acknowledge him. What else can Mick do but destroy the duke’s legitimate son—and woo the heir’s betrothed into his own unloving arms . . .

Orphaned and sheltered, Lady Aslyn Hastings longs for a bit of adventure. With her intended often preoccupied, Aslyn finds herself drawn to a darkly handsome entrepreneur who seems to understand her so well. Surely a lady of her station should avoid Mick Trewlove. If only he weren’t so irresistible . . .

As secrets are about to be exposed, Mick must decide if his plan for vengeance is worth risking what his heart truly desires.

This is my first Lorraine Heath novel. I started this book hoping to finish it in one sitting. My interest was captured quickly enough and was held in a moderate manner. 1AM came too soon and I still wasn’t done. I had to put it down or risk being a cranky monster the next day. Turns out I was a cranky monster regardless. Even though I put the book down I couldn’t top thinking about it. It took forever to fall asleep and then it was one of those sleeps where you felt like you never really did sleep. I had to wait until after work to pick the book back up. It was a torturous work day knowing that the book was at home and all I wanted to do was finish it. Needless to say it’s a riveting book that has laid down the base work for an enthralling new series as Beyond Scandal and Desire is book one in the Sins for All Seasons series.

The plot introduced the practice of “baby farming” to me which I didn’t know existed and was widely known in the late 1800’s. I love when I learn new factual knowledge even though it was a bit appalling. At the end of the book the “Author’s Note” explains that she took “a bit of literary license with this story.” Which means that she took that horrific historic practice and made it a tiny bit less despicable by tweaking a few of the facts. Altering the facts is what has led to the “Sins for All Seasons series” to be in existence. Although it is sad to think about the reality of that time period and how people found it necessary to participate in such a cruel practice. I’m a very sensitive person so this plot point was a bit disturbing for me. It is threaded through the entire book because it’s part of the hero’s make up. Without it Mick Trewlove wouldn’t be who he is. I almost felt it was redundant and repetitive but it’s the core of the story. I mean, there is no way around it. Like I already said, without it there’d be no series. I know some readers are sticklers about their historical romance books being one hundred percent historically accurate. The author clearly states that she used that bit of history to create her fictional story. Therefore no one can complain about the historical inaccuracy.

Mick Trewlove is the hero in this story. His character was established exceptionally well to the point that I completely understood his choices and actions. Actually, all the characters were very well developed. It sounds like his siblings will all be getting books of their own starting with his sister, Gillie in September 2018 “When a Duke Loves a Woman”. I’m really looking forward to reading her story. She is an intriguing character since she is a tavern keeper and not very feminine. Anyway, Mick is portrayed as a big, strong and successful businessman with a dark, angry aura but he really is a sweetheart with some deep wounds. Wounds that Mick believes will heal once he gets his revenge but we all know that never works out. He has a plan that goes astray when he meets Lady Aslyn Hastings.

Aslyn is the opposite of Mick but they both have a heart of generosity. They complement each other to the point where they can’t function without each other. There was no turning back to the way things were before they met. Aslyn and Mick were brilliantly implemented into an elaborate storyline with unexpected plot twists. There were numerous characters that were all relevant to the well-crafted sequence of events. This story clearly took contemplation from the author. It is a well thought out story with a plethora of olive branches for future stories. I don’t think it could have been executed any better than it was.

I fell in love with Mick and Aslyn. Their romance was heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time. They had chemistry that caused yearning to the point of boiling. Aslyn didn’t need to secretly communicate with her parasol. They just looked at each other and they knew how the other one felt. Beyond Scandal and Desire was the perfect romantic love story. Only true love can overcome secrets, vengeance and society’s obstacles. I appreciated all the unique and creative elements that were installed in this story. I will definitely be suggesting this series to my family and friends.

In The Sheriff’s Protection by Lauri Robinson


In The Sheriff’s Protection by Lauri Robinson
Publisher: Harlequin Mills and Boon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Heat level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

He will protect her

But can the sheriff resist his forbidden desire?

Oak Grove sheriff Tom Baniff might be hunting Clara Wilson’s criminal husband, but that doesn’t mean he won’t help protect Clara and her young son from the outlaw’s deadly threats. When he invites Clara to his hometown, Tom is determined to keep her safe. But with her so close, can he resist the allure of the only woman he’s ever wanted?

When I read the Author’s Note in the beginning of the book that said she wrote “In The Sheriff’s Protection” in two weeks I was alarmed. You see, I am a fan of Lauri Robinson and I have her on a pedestal. This is my sixth book written by her. More importantly, I am a huge fan of the Oak Grove series. I was afraid to start the book because I didn’t want to be disappointed like I have been in the past by other authors and their series. I had the book for a week before I had the courage to start it.

I was scared for nothing! Seriously, let me quote the first paragraph and see if it captures your interest like it did mine.

“Ma, a rider’s coming’ up the road!” Billy exclaimed, his legs going the same speed they always were. At a run. “A man on horseback! Maybe it’s Pa, MA! Maybe he’s come home!” Clara Wilson squeezed the edge of the table, willing the fire-hot pain in her leg to ease while trying to find the wherewithal to respond to her son. “Shut. The. Door. Billy,” she forced out.

Need I say more?

Lauri Robinson is still number one in my book and so is the Oak Grove series.

It was enjoyable to watch the hero, Tom Baniff, succumb to falling in love with Clara Wilson, the heroine. He tried to resist the attraction for numerous reasons but it was inevitable. Clara lived a hard life and it was rewarding to see her accept Tom’s love. She had her many reasons why she and Tom could never be but with time those reasons became invalid. I really liked Tom because he was a sweet and kind man that possessed the rough and tough qualities necessary to be a respected sheriff. All the qualities I enjoy in a hero. Clara was written as a relatable heroine who loved her son and would do anything for him. As a mother myself I was able to justify her decisions based on my love for my child. Together as a couple, they made for a durable sweet romance.

In the synopsis it mentions that Tom is hunting for Clara’s criminal husband, Hugh Wilson. That plot thread added a bit of suspense. The entire plot as a whole made for a rapid page turner. I was entertained and intrigued with the several plot twists and turns that occurred along the way.

I want to share a recent experience that I had with my sister. She suggested I read a book that was part of a series that supposedly could be read as a standalone. She loved it and thought I would to. I wasn’t as enthralled about it as she was. My reasoning was that I felt lost with all the mentions of other characters. My belief is that only a fan of the series would understand those connections as they’d read the previous books. Therefore that means I felt they were under developed, just tossed into the script. This experience got me thinking about the Oak Grove series that I adore so much.

The Oak Gove series are books that can be read as standalones. However, as I was reading “In the Sheriff’s Protection” I was paying particular attention to honorable mentions from previous books in this series. Would I feel the same way about this story as I did the book my sister recommended if I hadn’t read the previous books about Oak Grove? Each time I read a story from this series I am overcome with comforting and familiar feelings. Lauri Robinson does write a story with a cast of characters that I think about days after finishing one of her books.

This time a character from a previous book, Angus, had a much more developed script in this story. I have to honestly look back and ask myself, would I have enjoyed this book as much as I did without reading the other books? I have to say no, I wouldn’t. Several of the past characters were mentioned as if tossed in but I knew who they were so I didn’t feel lost. I understand it was the author’s intent to establish the sense of community in Oak Grove. These characters actually do need to be mentioned and because they were, I felt embraced by the community I’ve come to love.

This brings me to the conclusion that new readers really do need to read at least some of the previous books in order to be enthralled with In the Sheriff’s Protection as I am. This is especially so since this novel has the feeling of being even more dependent on the world building that’s come before. Since I have, I can claim with authority that I loved it! And, I definitely recommend this novel to fans of this series.

In conclusion, I was satisfied with “In the Sheriff’s Protection” and its happy ever after. I’m looking forward to the next book in the Oak Grove series being released in the Fall of 2018.

Engaged to Her Ravensdale Enemy by Melanie Melbourne


Engaged to Her Ravensdale Enemy by Melanie Melbourne
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (186 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

In bed with her nemesis…

When Jasmine Connolly’s third engagement is broken off, she decides to make her man jealous by enlisting the help of her enemy, playboy Jake Ravensdale! Jasmine may never have forgiven him for his rejection years ago, but the heartless lothario is the perfect candidate for her plan.

As tensions build, the line between love and hate increasingly blurs, teetering on the brink of explosion! Jasmine might be wearing Jake’s ring, but she can’t let go of the hurt he once caused her. Because if she does, what’s to stop her from falling prey to the Ravensdale playboy’s charms…?

Some books make you feel more emotions than others. This one hit them all. I laughed, got angry, felt sad, compassion and then felt all mushy, but now I’m all bubbly. It’s a mild case of book glow for sure. Engaged to Her Ravensdale Enemy by Melanie Milburne is part of her series ‘The Ravensdale Scandals.’ I didn’t know that until after I finished the book – not that it matters because it can be read as a standalone.

I fell for the hero, Jake Ravensdale. I really didn’t want to. I know he was gorgeous and rich but his rejection to the heroine, Jaz, was cruel. I was quite angry with him. Even though it was seven years ago, I could feel the sting of it as I read about it. I totally sympathized with Jaz. I felt sad when I read about Jaz’s history with her parents but it helped me to understand her life choices. I was able to feel compassion towards her and I respected how she dealt with the side character, Emma. I couldn’t help but to laugh when Jake and Jaz bickered back and forth. They were so quick-witted and snarky with comebacks that I only wish I could be quick-witted like that. The synopsis was spot on when it mentions how the author wrote a delicious balance between love and hate that “teetered on the brink of explosion”; I ate it all up.

Was the plot believable with three broken engagements? Was the plot thread with Emma realistic? Does it matter when we’re talking about the charming Jack Ravensdale? The author’s writing style made it all work. I was entertained and isn’t that why we read books? Sometimes I find it nice to sit back and relax with a mushy romance that makes me feel all goofy even if it might be a bit unrealistic. It could have happened to somebody somewhere. Who am I to say if it’s realistic or not. This was an easy, fun and enjoyable book from beginning to end that I was able to read in a few hours.

I would consider reading the other two books in this series based on how satisfied I was with this one.

Texas Rebels: Paxton by Linda Warren


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

THE COWBOY’S REDEMPTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir by Lauri Robinson


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

To claim his heir…

…he must marry his enemy!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Christmas with the Best Man by Susan Carlisle


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

A kiss, a fling…a wedding ring?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Housekeeper’s Awakening by Sharon Kendrick


The Housekeeper’s Awakening by Sharon Kendrick
Publisher: Harlequin Presents
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (184 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

At her boss’s beck and call…

Recovering from a terrible car accident, world renowned playboy Luis Martinez is bored, grumpy and frustrated. He’s sick of nurses fussing over him, so he fires the lot and demands his sweet, innocent housekeeper massage him back to health!

Carly Conner has spent her life trying not to be noticed. But now with her boss looking at her differently, every day the tantalizing tension between them grows. When Luis whisks her away to his villa in the south of France, how long will she be able to deny the temptation he poses…especially when he makes a second shocking proposition?

My first romance book was a Harlequin at the age of sixteen. I’ve been hooked on romance books for the last thirty years. I recall back then never being ashamed to open my romance book wherever I was. Somehow between then and now reading a romance book became something to be ashamed about. If I had to pinpoint it I’d have to say it was from the razzing I use to get about how romance books weren’t real life. I was teased for how they are considered smut books. After a while I didn’t need to fold the book in half to hide the cover because I could download my books. For years I’ve been reading romance books in secret on my iPad. Until last weekend. I was given several Harlequin paperbacks to read. I was at my son’s all day wrestling tournament and I folded the book in half to hide the front cover. Well, much to my dismay as I was devouring the pages, I forgot about folding the book in half. I did get a few looks and chuckles from my husband and a couple of my friends but I didn’t care because I was so absorbed in the hero, Luis Martinez and the heroine, Carly Conner’s budding romance.

Mind you I grew to consider Harlequin to be a good introduction into the romance genre and then I graduated to romance novels such as Nora Roberts, Debbie Macomber, or Danielle Steel. I became stuck up and felt Harlequins were inferior. That was then.

As I said, I’ve recently been given several Harlequin softcovers. I picked the “The Housekeeper’s Awakening” to read first. Boy! Was I surprised! I really did enjoy getting to know and accept Luis and his slightly male chauvinistic characteristics. The reader was able to see his tender side often enough that Luis was a lovable hero. Carly Conner was Luis’s housekeeper. I’m not sure how realistic it is that a billionaire would fire his nurse and request his housekeeper to take over the nurse’s duties. However, it doesn’t matter how realistic that was or not. I was thoroughly entertained with the plot. Especially after reading both their past histories; together they made a plausible equation. I was intrigued enough to continue reading to see how everything would work out in the end.

There was some conflict with Carly’s sister. I secretly wished Luis would have overheard what her jealous sister, Bella had said to Carly at one point. I yearned for her sister to get a taste of her own medicine. However, I’m sure just seeing Carly’s happy ever after will be enough justification. Personally I could never see anything likable in Bella, or Carly’s mother for that matter. Carly was an intelligent goal focused mature woman who wasn’t afraid to stand up to Luis. Fortunately Luis could see the catch that Carly was.

I’ve never read a book by Sharon Kendrick before but I certainly would like to read another book from her since I enjoyed her writing style. I’ll have to dig through the bag and see if there’s another one by her since I have another all day wrestling tournament to attend tomorrow. Perhaps this time I won’t bend the book in half at all. I shared my personal experiences in this review in case there are other readers like me who feel or thought like I did about reading a Harlequin. I regret my snobbish view point and wonder how many good books I’ve missed out on. And I do recommend “The Housekeeper’s Awakening”.

Winnawarra by Elizabeth M. Darcy


Winnawarra by Elizabeth M. Darcy
Publisher: Luminosity Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (277 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Emily Perkins is over the moon to learn Jock Macgregor has left her a share in Winnawarra Station in the magnificent Kimberly region of Outback Australia. The bonus comes when she realises, his handsome grandson, Doug is the man of her dreams. She loves working beside him and every day is an adventure.

After receiving a letter from Jock, she discovers he was convinced the accident that killed his son and daughter-in-law was actually murder, and he included her in his will to investigate the deaths.

When accidents start happening to Emily, and she hears footsteps outside her room at night, she is convinced someone is stalking her.

Is she next on the killer’s list?

Isolated on an Outback cattle ranch, will strong, dependable Doug be able to keep her safe?

A murderer is loose at Winnawarra Station, and she must race against time to identify the killer before he strikes again.

I definitely recommend this book but I don’t recommend starting to read it late in the day because it is one of those impossible to put down books. Also I would not suggest reading it while home alone, especially if it’s dark outside. I made all those mistakes. I should have heeded the warning in the synopsis when it said “heart pounding suspense”.

Honestly, the suspense was really like “are you kidding me?” “Again?”. How many times was the hero, Doug, going to say “I’ll keep you safe” and then we hear the “Tap, Tap, Tap”. I can’t say any more than that but let me tell you I fell for it every stinking time. My heart pounded and I was terrified to read what came next. I seriously began to lose trust in Doug’s ability to keep the heroine, Emily, safe. However, I kept the faith in the strong, dependable and handsome Doug.

It was a good thing he was so handsome, and Emily was smitten with him from the moment she saw him at the airport when he picked her up. I too found myself drawn into his masculine aura. True, Doug was attracted to Emily’s beauty but also to her whit and he needed her in more ways than one. Together they completed each other.

I have to tell you, when I read the synopsis my excitement about reading this book was mediocre at best because it sounded similar to other books I’ve read in the past. Well, I was the fool. This novel really surprised me with several original elements and, plot twists, and let’s not forget the “Tap, tap, tap”. You’ll just have to read the book to know what I’m talking about. I enjoyed reading the descriptions of the Kimberly region of Outback Australia.

This book was truly a romance after my heart even though my heart was having frequent palpitations. I started to think I was next on the killer’s list. I fear some people might think this book had too many repetitive phrases because that thought certainly crossed my mind, but I think Ms. Darcy’s writing style successfully walked that fine line. Instead of being repetitive it gave me a sense of a very real and evocative drama. Elizabeth M. Darcy pulled it off and wrote a very engaging and enthralling romance story. This is an easy book to recommend.