Last Chance Cowboys: The Outlaw by Anna Schmidt


Last Chance Cowboys: The Outlaw by Anna Schmidt
Where the Trail Ends Book 3
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (322 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Amanda Porterfield longs to experience real adventure. So when she’s offered a position in bustling Tucson, she leaps at the chance despite unknown dangers―dangers like the mysterious Seth Grover.

As an undercover detective working to stop a gang of outlaws, Seth can’t afford the distractions a woman like Amanda inspires. Yet when the fiercely intelligent beauty is thrust into the middle of a heist gone wrong, Seth will fight for a future that may never be theirs…even if it means risking everything he holds dear.

The Outlaw is an entertaining novel that was filled with exciting adventure; the kind of adventure that Amanda Portefield longed for to escape the monotony of her days. The writing style made it easy for me to be sucked into the author’s imaginary world filled with relatable characters and unpredictable plot threads. I thoroughly enjoyed being captivated from the start of the book all the way to the end. The pace was consistent and thrilling which kept me continuously turning the pages.

Amanda Portefield was a strong willed, spirited leading lady who had the misfortune to find herself in a few sticky situations. Some of those situations made me laugh while others made me grimace. It was to Amanda’s great fortune that the hero, Seth, possessed the uncanny ability to be nearby to rescue her, most of the time. Seth was greatly distracted by her intelligence and beauty and she couldn’t hide her interest in his mysterious persona. I mean, seriously, who could resist an undercover detective working to stop a gang of outlaws. I can’t deny that I found Seth to be more than enticing for me. I could feel the romantic tension when they were together.

While this is the third book in a series it can be read on its own. The fact that the plot threads were all tied up with a happily ever after at the end of this book made The Outlaw the ideal romance book for me. I would strongly encourage my family and friends to read this delightful, engaging and well written love story.

Seal Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear


Seal Wolf Undercover by Terry Spear
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (292 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review ed by Xeranthemum

Never be so foolish as to fall for the enemy…

Special wolf agent Jillian Matthews has joined the jaguar-run United Shifter Force to track down a deadly criminal. She’s even willing to work with PI Vaughn Greystroke―until the hot, growly SEAL wolf makes the mistake of getting in her way. Naturally, she shoots him. Who could blame her?

Vaughn Greystroke has always worked alone. But when a string of attempted murders puts him in the crosshairs, teaming up with the Shifter Force begins to sound like a good idea. Even if he has to work with alluring―and potentially treacherous―Jillian Matthews. Vaughn is a trained SEAL, after all. He can surely keep his distance from Jillian…no matter how much she’s getting under his skin.

Unraveling a mystery always makes for a great plot. It’s how an author weaves the story that creates an experience to remember and Ms. Spear found a unique hook that I totally could get into.

When Jillian shot the hero, Vaughn, not only was it totally unexpected but once he figures out just who shot him, the sparks start to fly. What I found fascinating is there were so many people shooting at one time or another, I could never figure out who was the criminal. Who really was against whom and just who were the bad guys and where’d they come from and why in the world were they in this little town anyway? Then to find out not only who they were but WHAT they were just sucked me into the adventure. There was so much to find out in this novel that it was easy to keep flipping the pages into the wee hours of the morning.

Imagine my surprise when I found some of the characters were channeling Mel Fisher in their pursuits. That was another treat for me because I love stories like that. It’s a lure that many people would find hard to resist.

There are a lot of smiles throughout the story every time Jillian and Vaughn are together. Their dialogue was fun, snappy and gave me insight into their personalities. Then of course there is the romance which completely worked for me. I liked the heat and how it evolved their relationship towards the next step. In fact the author used a lot of scent references to engage a reader’s senses. There’s a lot of sensual imagery as well to keep readers who like the hot stuff very happy.

Ms. Spear delivered some action packed scenes that were well written, suspenseful and very believable. I mean, once I got to the part when the motivation was revealed, it was so human. This might be a paranormal romance story but the people are just like every other human you read about – including the criminals. This was a very down to earth kind of plot conflict and it worked, probably because one of the villains was so understated for most of the book. What a surprise!

Seal Wolf Undercover is an action story about people with motivations like folks that might live next door to you, except they go furry. Some of their problems are unique to being shifters but the way Ms. Spear writes about her characters never seem farfetched. Being able to relate to a hero and heroine’s emotions and cheer for them as they overcome challenges as they fall in love is one of the best things about this author’s books. Her characters get me every time. This was really fun read and a solid recommend to other paranormal romantic suspense readers.

The Wicked Heir: The Spare Heirs by Elizabeth Michels


The Wicked Heir: The Spare Heirs by Elizabeth Michels
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (457 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

When the love of Lady Isabelle Fairlyn’s life is betrothed to her twin sister, Isabelle vows to find a suitable replacement before the end of the season. He must be a talented dancer, have a keen fashion sense, and be perfectly dashing in every way.

Fallon St. James is the farthest thing from perfectly anything. As head of the secretive Spare Heirs Society, he must stick to the shadows…even as Isabelle’s friendship pulls him reluctantly into the light. But when Isabelle gets involved with the one man who could destroy Spares, Fallon must decide between protecting his life’s work―or risking everything to save the woman whose warm smile leaves him breathless.

Isabelle Fairlyn, so naïve and yet so eager to have a marriage founded on love, makes one want to reach out and steer her away from faulty judgments she makes about men. Her maturing as she learns the outside appearance does not really show the true nature of a man makes for page-turning reading. Her innate joy and innocence come alive on the pages.

Fallon St. James, all business as he works tirelessly to save the Spare Heirs Society, sees her as a mystical beauty, innocent, a wood nymph who makes him smile; something he rarely does. How the two of them become friends is a delight to read. How they become more than friends is even better.

How Elizabeth Michels weaves in back story and the villain Reginald Gapling is masterful. Gapling’s elusiveness and threat create an edginess to the plot and a sense of unease for the well-being of Isabelle. In her naiveté, she finds him charming.

Elizabeth Michels uses all the usual trappings of early nineteenth century life in England, but with twists and unique main characters. The spare heirs, so often the misfits, become guardians of the seamier side of London while making a living in a society that often leaves spare heirs in limbo with no trade and no inheritance..

The Wicked Heir, extremely well crafted, is captivating and powerful with an elaborate plotline and intriguing characters, plus the innocence and joy for life woven into it all makes it extra special.

Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain


Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (326 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Does love really heal all wounds?

After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband’s debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband’s roguish friend―whom she hasn’t seen since the day of his lordship’s mysterious death.

Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he’s always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart―and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires.

Friends who long to be lovers, but fear crossing the line, Kate and Evan tiptoe around their feelings, but crave each other’s company.

The death of Kate’s husband, who was Evan’s best friend, leaves each of them with a heavy load; hers is a load of debts left by her unfaithful husband and Evan’s is a load of guilt. How they work through the conflicts makes attention-keeping reading.

When Nora and Declan, Kate’s children, enter the picture, with their views about life before and after their father’s death, the story gains depth. Their actions and words show so much about how children see, the often complicated, ways that adults handle things.

Kate and Evan are in the company of both their families as they find their way. The contrast in their families’ life styles and the way they see themselves reveals much about how Kate and Evan came to be the way they are – interesting reading. It is easy to see how the world has been gray to Evan most of his life.

The secondary characters, like Janet Ahearn and Mary O’Dowd, along with the back stories and how they figure into the things Kate and Evan must sort out dovetail together in intriguing ways. They even fit in with some of the underhanded ways of the antagonist, Finnian Driscoll.

I particularly enjoyed the dialogue with the nuance, humor, and understatement. The author has an amazing way of writing so the reader feels as if she is right there in the experience with the characters.

A Match Made in Texas by Margaret Brownley


A Match Made in Texas by Margaret Brownley
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (369 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Welcome to Two-Time Texas:
Where tempers burn hot
Love runs deep
And a single woman can change the course of history:
There’s a new sheriff in town.

Amanda Lockwood gets more than she bargained for when she’s elected Two-Time Texas’s first female sheriff. Anxious to prove herself, she sets out to stop crime in its tracks—taking down wanted man Rick Barrett in the process. But there’s something special about the charming outlaw. Common sense says he must be guilty…but her heart keeps telling her otherwise.

So what’s a sheriff to do? Gather an all-female posse and ride to save the day.

Things sure don’t look good for Rick. If he doesn’t convince the pretty sheriff to let him go, he’ll soon be pushing up daisies. But his plan to woo her to his side backfires when he’s the one who falls head over heels. Now he must choose between freedom or saving the woman he loves…and the clock is ticking.

Who knew A Match Made in Texas could be such sweet, clean, madcap fun?

She’s a young, independent woman. She’s fighting for women’s right to vote and has been in jail a few times. She’s not interested in marrying. She’s also her parent’s despair…

She’s traveling back home on the stage and the driver is running the team like a demon. She cusses him out, he throws her and her baggage off the stage and leaves her in the middle of nowhere. This is not a good start at getting back home. When a cowboy pulls up in his wagon and offers her a ride, she’s not sure she trusts him. However, there’s no other way to town because she can’t pull her hope chest all that way. She says yes.

This was a very cute story with danger, robberies, a house burning down and a sudden interest on Amanda’s part with this particular cowboy. She decides to forget him but she can’t. It gets even worse when she says she’ll run for Sheriff to further support women’s rights. The men protest but they can’t stop her. It’s even worse when she gets the most votes.

The story moves well, the snappy conversation between Amanda and Rick will make you laugh, and her deputy is a joke but she does her best. Rick even tells the men that she hit what she was aiming at chest level. He didn’t mention it was her hope chest.

When Rick gets thrown in jail for murder, it really makes her worry. How can she prove he didn’t do it without witnesses? Luckily she has a woman posse (which all the men are mad about) who can help her. There’s no way not to enjoy a book where the Sheriff can’t shoot straight, her deputy wants to shoot everyone, and her posse runs around in carriages. Enough silly stuff happens to make it a fun read and it ends well. This was a very enjoyable read.

Highland Hellion by Mary Wine


Highland Hellion by Mary Wine
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (314 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

KATHERINE CAREW

Illegitimate daughter of an English earl… Abducted to Scotland at age 14… No family, no reputation… No rules

ROLFE MCTAVISH

Heir to an honorable Highland laird… Can’t believe how well tomboy Kate can fight… About to learn how much of a woman she really is

Scotland is seething with plots, the vengeful Gordons are spoiling for a fight, and the neighboring clans are at each other’s throats. All it takes is a passionate hellion with a penchant for reckless adventure to ignite the Highlands once more.

Mary Wine’s tales always transport me to the far-away and long-ago Highlands where danger and feuding are forever present. Highland Hellion is one of her best. I highly recommend it.

Bastard born to an English noble, Katherine Carew, at age fourteen, was sent to Scotland to be used by the Earl of Morton in his efforts to keep England from invading Scotland and to bring peace to Scotland’s “forever-feuding” Highlanders—Highlanders who hated English blood. She becomes the Highland Hellion.

Marcus MacPherson, ordered to marry Katherine, pulls a fast one on the Earl of Morton. Marcus marries Helen, the woman he loves, and spirits Katherine away to the far north where he trains her along with the young men of the MacPherson clan. However, at age twenty, she is told she cannot go on raids with the young men. She must now start dressing like a woman and doing things women do, things for which she has no training.

She rebels and sneaks out at night on her horse. The raiding neighboring clans capture her and use her to their own advantage or, at least try to. Her hard-won courage is her sole possession. She calls up every ounce of that courage to survive in a world where she is hated just because of her blood.

Rolfe McTavish takes Katherine from the cruel Gordon clan. Rather than take her home to the MacPherson clan, he takes her to his clan’s stronghold to teach her a lesson.

Here we have the beginning of a turbulent love story that sends the heart racing. Love versus duty becomes a major issue as Rolfe’s crippled father, the Laird of McTavish, against his son’s wishes, plans to use her to gain title and position for himself.

How Mary Wine works things around so all the clans that had tried to use Katherine end up in Edinburgh area wanting to save her makes spellbinding reading.

Lastly, Adwin, Rolfe’s mentor since he was a child, sees Rolfe scolding and almost crushing Katherine for doing a super courageous thing to save Rolfe. Adwin tells Rolfe in no uncertain terms: “Do not let her affection be strangled by your pride.”

How a happy-ever-after comes out of all this is amazing.

SUPER GOOD READING!

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.