Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill


Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (355 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Welcome back to New York Times bestseller Sandra Hill’s Cajun country, where love heats up the Louisiana bayou . . .

Former Chicago cop Simone LeDeux is back home in the bayou, sharing a double wide in the Pearly Gates trailer park to help her mama recover from surgery. Her one rule: no Cajun men. Loved and left by too many double-crossing Cajuns, Simone puts bad experience to good use by opening Legal Belles: an agency that uncovers cheating spouses.

Suddenly she’s confronting a two-timer about to swindle his wife out of millions and antagonizing New Orleans bigwigs over an illegal sex club. Adam Lanier learns of the dangerous game Simone is playing . . . and the sexy single dad comes to her aid. Known as a rogue in the courtroom and a player in the bedroom, the ragin’ Cajun has Simone triply on guard.

With their crazy chemistry, danger on their trail, and infamous LeDeux relative Tante Lulu working her magical matchmaking, the bayou has never been this steamy.

Ms. Hill has become one of my ‘go-to” authors when I need a smile, entertainment and a romance that presses all my happy buttons. Her latest romantic adventure is Cajun Crazy and what I look for is found within its pages. I’m a satisfied reader, especially enhanced by the wonderful epilogue at the end.

My favorite character that stirs the plot pot is Tante Lulu with her close association with St. Jude. That woman’s faith is unshakeable and well known to all and sundry in Bayou Black, and for those that don’t know or worse, don’t believe, they will come to the conclusion that whether or not they believe, the type of things going on are too similar in nature to be simple coincidence. The conversations that result, the actions some characters take and the outcomes are totally grin-worthy.

Tante Lulu has her sights set on Adam and Simone, two people who have been burnt by relationships and love. They are both determined to avoid any serious entanglements. Adam’s daughter, Maisie, has other plans for her dad. Simone’s mom also has her own opinions about Simone’s single status. There are a whole host of secondary characters that flavor and color the community in which the hero and heroine now live in.

I found charming the many ways, clever or silly, serious or sophisticated words are mispronounced; it might be said they’ve been ‘Cajunized’. Some caused me to snort, roll my eyes or just outright laugh. It sure made the dialogue interesting.

The celebratory thread woven in for a good chunk of the book is Maisie’s planning of a ‘little’ party. That little nugget of an idea blossomed into opportunities for fun, hilarity and/or some good old fashioned head banging, face-palming groans. All are done with good intentions.

The external conflict comes from both Adam and Simone doing their jobs. At one point their cases cross and it becomes a dance of saying things that don’t say anything at all because the conflict of interest demands that neither one knows what the other is doing. Ms. Hill straddled that line quite effectively. The pursuit of the final outcomes produced some serious drama, and yet, when it could have gotten really nasty, the author has Adam rush to the rescue. Readers are in for an eye-popping treat of written description that left me with no choice but to giggle and laugh. Yeah, it was creepy too, but Ms. Hill’s writing prevented it from being overwhelming. Instead she shared the situation not only as a narrow escape but she colored the scene with the ridiculousness that it deserved.

I totally enjoyed Cajun Crazy because the novel delivers solid and believable character building. I liked meeting Adam and Simone, I adored the major role Adam’s daughter played in getting the hero and heroine together and I appreciated Adam’s final gesture of his love for Simone.

It’s all good, it’s fascinating and fun and makes Cajun Crazy an easy recommend for all Sandra Hill fans, new and old.

Girl at Christmas by Rhoda Baxter


Girl at Christmas by Rhoda Baxter
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (93 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Tammy is normally at her happiest at Christmas when she has the flat to decorate and those perfect days between Christmas and New Year to relax. But when her long term partner dumps her, with no real explanation, her Christmas looks very bleak.

Lawrence usually spends Christmas watching DVDs and catching up on his paperwork. At thirty one, he’s already stuck in a rut.

When Lawrence has a sudden heart attack, it is Tammy who comes to his rescue. It turns out a happy Christmas can be made from the most unexpected ingredients.

Girl At Christmas is a novella in the award nominated Smart Girls series. If you like authors like Lindsey Kelk, Sarah Morgan or Milly Johnson, it’s perfect for you. Grab a copy and get into the Christmas spirit today.

This book’s title doesn’t even hint at the sublime and sweet romance between its pages. I applaud Ms. Baxter’s presentation of two people finding each other just at the right time when both are ready to discover and accept love and a new future. Girl at Christmas is a character driven romance about two very likeable people that seem so real, they easily could be someone I’d be proud to know.

The novella focused on Tammy and Lawrence. She’s been hurt emotionally and he’s in danger physically – two very convincing reasons to care for this couple. Honestly, I’m having a hard time putting what I want to say in words. It’s not because I don’t believe this is a well written book – it is! Ms. Baxter has a way of making the heroine and hero’s path to love so sweet, and compelling and honest that I just wanted to hug them both. The author paid attention to the little things that people do to show interest, to show they care and because both of the main characters were a little shy, they were super adorable. I actually felt HAPPY to know them. I can’t remember actually being happy while I watched a romance unfold – interested, fascinated, and entertained,sure, but not happy in the way Girl at Christmas made me.

I liked how the author painted her characters to be slightly geeky; it was part of their charm. I also liked the three main supporting casts of Walter, Olivia and Suzie. Their friendship and camaraderie enhanced the novella and contributed significant emotional touchstones. The one character that caused a lot of the angst is Tammy’s ex, Jeff. I concur with Suzie’s opinion of him. I’m glad that Tammy finally found clarity where that bozo is concerned.

The one thing that stood out to me was Tammy’s recollection of Jeff’s opinions about things she liked, and that includes celebrating Christmas. The joy she experiences when she’s with people who see it the way she does is incalculable. The ending is more a happy for now because it’s a beginning of something beautiful. As to what makes me believe that Tammy and Lawrence’s strengthening love and HEA is inevitable stems from their conversations towards the end. But don’t take my word for it – try reading Girl at Christmasfor yourself and see why I feel so positive about Tammy and Lawrence’s love and future.

Abbie and the Alien Official by Jessica Coulter Smith


Abbie and the Alien Official by Jessica Coulter Smith
Intergalactic Brides 14
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (119 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Abbie prides herself on being a strong, independent woman. Having been on her own since she was seventeen, she’s taken care of herself, doing whatever was necessary to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. But when she loses her job, her car, and her apartment, she begins to think maybe it’s time to admit defeat and ask for a little help. Even if it means becoming the bride of an alien and living on another world.

Councilman Larimar has only wanted one thing since he reached adulthood. A mate. But his duties have kept him from seeking a wife, no matter how many tempting humans enter the bride program. They’re all attractive, and certainly any of them would do. Then he meets Abbie. The moment he sees her, touches her soft skin, he knows he wants her more than his next breath.

Despite Larimar’s reservations when it comes to Abbie, he finds he can’t keep his hands to himself, and the only place he wants her is under his roof and in his bed. When she accidentally ends up pregnant, he knows he has to do whatever is necessary to make her his, and not just because she’s carrying his child. Even if it means studying human mating customs, or inviting her crazy mother to live with them.

One way or another, Abbie will be his.

If you read the synopsis, it pretty much sums up the whole story but it does not capture the emotion that the author manages to inject into Abbie’s character and situation, nor does it hint at Larimar’s gaffe. For such a respected, responsible and hardworking individual, the hero finds those stalwart labels flying out the window in his pursuit of Abbie. It’s the ability to touch a reader’s feelings and sensibilities that made this short story worth reading.

I take umbrage over the wording in the synopsis about Abbie’s mom. The heroine’s relationship with her mom is the strongest emotional element in the story and it’s there that I found the strength and depth that gave this tale that half bit more in the rating. Sure, the sex is well written and gives erotic romance fans their due, but I need more than that. The power of engagement comes from the hero’s fallibility and the heroine’s unconditional love.

There were light brushes of conflict or consternation or annoyance throughout book but the main effect I received from reading this short story was optimism and hope. Okay, so there were a few grins and the enjoyment of some hanky-panky too, so overall, Abbie and the Alien Official was a good read.

If a fan likes their romance with an alien flavor that engages just as well as an erotic Earth-bound romance, then this tale is a perfect short-shot of fun.

A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase


A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (396 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Not all dukes are created equal. Most are upstanding members of Society. And then there’s the trio known as Their Dis-Graces.

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, will never win prizes for virtue. But even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride. All he’s trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia Hightower and return her to her intended bridegroom.

For reasons that elude her, bookish, bespectacled Olympia is supposed to marry a gorgeous rake of a duke. The ton is flabbergasted. Her family’s ecstatic. And Olympia? She’s climbing out of a window, bent on a getaway. But tall, dark, and exasperating Ripley is hot on her trail, determined to bring her back to his friend. For once, the world-famous hellion is trying to do the honorable thing.

So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him . . . ?

Get ready for a novel that ends as adorable as the beginning is rascally. I know this book is a romance but the tone, pace, dialogue and descriptions all inspired joy, smiles, happy anticipation and delighted laughter. This has to be one of the most upbeat romances I’ve read in a long time. It’s fun with a capital F.

Usually the groom is the no show at a wedding but in A Duke in Shining Armor it’s the heroine who does the fleeing and her madcap dash for freedom is witnessed and then abetted by the hero, the Duke of Ripley. Of course, he’s just there to make sure she’s safe until she changes her mind and goes back to his best friend to get married. He’s sure she’s going to change her mind, isn’t she? Okay, not this time but she will, right? What follows is a charming and hilarious adventure as Lady Olympia runs from what she knows she should do, what she always does because she’s so proper, and ends up learning more about herself in a few days than she’s ever learned in all the years before. It’s shocking! It’s eye-opening and I never knew what pickle she’d get into next. Olympia is a riot.

Ripley, though his aunt calls him Hugh, was a thoroughly wonderful hero. Seeing him slowly discovering the wonder that is Olympia has high entertainment value and I was charmed. At first he was noble, then tempted; he fights the temptation and then comes the ‘kiss’. It’s at that point he opened the Pandora’s Box called Lady Olympia Hightower and the book turned sensual, seductive and very romantic. A Duke in Shining Armor shifted into high gear and became a novel I could not put down. I can’t even begin to tell you all the things the poor hero had to deal with in trying to keep up with the heroine.

The only thing that made me roll my eyes is Ashmont. He really needs a wakeup call and a boot in his derrière because he was so weak! He and Blackwood were secondary characters and Ripley’s best buds, but Ashmont is the one who created the impetus for the entire conflict. Of course, he is the perfect character to get his story next because Ashmont’s uncle thinks a lady like Olympia is perfect for him. I almost (pinches fingers) feel sorry for the guy when Ms. Chase pairs him with a lady who’s more than a match for him. That is one book I DON’T want to miss!! In any event, he and Blackwood set off on the adventure of ‘retrieving his bride’. Here’s the thing, he came across as … still a boy. By the time this novel wraps up, I got the sense that Ashmont is finally getting a clue.

I adored how the author had Ripley and Olympia play. The hero is imaginative and full of fun and he helps the heroine see she’s capable of being spontaneous and silly and the sky wouldn’t fall. I enjoyed his yearning for her but beating himself up because he shouldn’t. I mean, he IS the best friend of the intended groom. That was a great conflict and I liked how Ms. Chase handled it.

There is so much I want to say, I’m having a hard time trying to rein myself in. A Duke in Shining Armor is refreshing, amusing, well written and a lot more labels I could tack on. I think the happy ever after ending is perfect. It’s just a great read and I loudly say, Don’t Miss This Book!

Prince of Secrets by Lucy Monroe


Prince of Secrets by Lucy Monroe
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (185 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

100% Determined

100% Devastating!

Prince Demyan Zaretsky does whatever it takes to protect his country. So seducing Chanel Tanner will be easy. And marriage? An unfortunate side effect of duty. She unwittingly holds the economic stability of Volyarus in her hands…and he must secure it.

With his royal identity and intent disguised, Demyan sets about a ruthless seduction designed to make Chanel lose her mind with ecstasy. But when he discovers she is a virgin, he uncovers something in himself—a conscience. Now his plan takes a shocking turn—one this dark-hearted prince had never anticipated!

I’m in love with a book. Whenever I read a romance by Ms. Monroe I know that my heart is going to be touched, my emotions tugged and my happy buttons pushed. Prince of Secrets did not disappoint. There’s a way this author writes her characters that makes me smile and feel good.

Basically, Demyan, the hero, makes himself into the perfect man for the heroine, Chanel, in order to fulfill an edict from his king. What the hero never expects is to end up exposing himself, his true self that he never lets anyone see, in the process. The fall of a ruthless shark is delicious. I enjoyed watching him fall.

Chanel was a treat. I really mean that. There are three episodes where the author could have written her reactions in such a way as to make me agitated, cringe and experience stress all in the pursuit of ‘conflict and angst’. What Ms. Monroe did was give me a heroine who was smart, really smart. She observed, she listened to what was said and unsaid and as a scientist, knew how to formulate a theory and extrapolate a conclusion. I liked that she could apply it to people, not just science. That ability provided one of the most emotionally satisfying and powerful scenes when she confronts the king. I felt so … impressed and relieved! I also believe that it showed the strength of her love – it was as close to unconditional as a woman can get about a man with issues and secrets. She’s not a pushover and she’s not as inept as her parents always made her feel. In fact, the revelation about their true relationship is a heart-tugger as well. I liked Chanel.

One of my favorite parts is when Chanel revealed why she studied a certain language. I grinned from ear to ear when she laid that one on Demyan. One of the hottest scenes was in the theater box. The heroine was such a minx! And the reaction of the hero? Everything I could have wished.

When I read a novel written by Ms. Monroe, I always come away feeling like I’ve been treated to a high caliber romance. I certainly did in this book. I’m satisfied with the happy ever after delivery, the epilogue and the feeling of real love between the hero and heroine. Prince of Secrets has it all. If a reader is looking for a book that inspires optimism, joy and enjoys a bit of sass, this is a must read novel.

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James


Wilde in Love by Eloisa James
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (412 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Lord Alaric Wilde, son of the Duke of Lindow, is the most celebrated man in England, revered for his dangerous adventures and rakish good looks. Arriving home from years abroad, he has no idea of his own celebrity until his boat is met by mobs of screaming ladies. Alaric escapes to his father’s castle, but just as he grasps that he’s not only famous but notorious, he encounters the very private, very witty, Miss Willa Ffynche.

Willa presents the façade of a serene young lady to the world. Her love of books and bawdy jokes is purely for the delight of her intimate friends. She wants nothing to do with a man whose private life is splashed over every newspaper.

Alaric has never met a woman he wanted for his own . . . until he meets Willa. He’s never lost a battle.

But a spirited woman like Willa isn’t going to make it easy. . .

What’s a famous man to do when he’s famous for things that never happened? For things that paint him as a public personality when he’s so much the reverse? Adding in the complications from a heroine who wants absolutely no part of a man so much in the public eye that he seems shameless creates quite the conundrum. Such is the contrary, fun and complicated romance between Alaric and Willa.

This novel is definitely character driven because it’s a push/pull between what the heroine expects a future husband should be and a hero who wants to be what she needs but is stymied by something that he truly can’t control. It’s like Lord Wilde is a rock star of the Regency period. Woman steal the bricks from his home, they want to tour where he supposedly trod as a child – they are obsessive and frenzied romantic fans of a man who is a larger than life hero. Because of all that unwanted attention Alaric has become a man wary of a woman’s intentions, until he meets the most unusual and fascinating Willa. I enjoyed when they met but I really liked how he slowly realized that she wasn’t a sycophant. In fact the heroine is the complete opposite and she kept him at arm’s length. Well, she tried to but eventually she spends enough time with the hero to see the man underneath the fame. The reason why she has that time to explore and delve into the man named Alaric is what endeared me to their romance – I was charmed, entertained and thoroughly invested in seeing them come together and fall in love.

The weird twist comes from the dynamics of both heroine and hero having alternate personalities. Ms. James found a unique technique to explore a romance between two people that seemed so different but are in truth very much alike. Sure, they fight it and that’s half the fun but how everything gets resolved is cheeky and adorable.

Just in case a reader thinks it’s all seduction, light hearted problems and fluffy prose, the author does include a villain to spice things up. It didn’t take me long to figure out that this person was not only going to be a problem, I even guessed quite correctly the method of diabolical intent and delivery. Even knowing that didn’t detract from my enjoyment because it’s always the presentation that can make or break a scene and I’m glad to report that Ms. James employed a clever and impressive solution.

As for secondary characters, there is quite a few that made an impact, not only in Alaric and Willa’s romance but as couples themselves. Parth and Roland stand out the clearest. Roland for his bad clothing taste, and Parth for his sour grapes personality towards the heroine’s cohort in crime made both of them kind of comical yet the author did hint at serious depths so there is definitely more to learn in future books. I am certainly looking forward to the discovery. But my absolute favorite characters were Sweetpea and Hannibal. What a fascinating pair and definitely assets to the heroine and hero.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t wax poetic about Alaric and Willa finally succumbing to that wonderful buildup of repressed passion they both inspired in each other. Those were well written, inventive, and quite enjoyable. Just make sure to have something cool to drink for a few of the scenes – they were a lot hotter than I expected causing me to blink a few times. Whoa.

All in all, Wilde in Love is a historical romance treat. The antics that surround the fandom of Lord Wilde, the adventurer, made me snort and snicker quite a few times. I think the final scene was done with flair, style and was greatly amusing. I believe that fans of Ms. James will be quite pleased in meeting Alaric and Willa. They were a fun couple and I’m glad I met them. I can’t wait to see whose story gets told next. I hope it’s as good as Wilde in Love.

A Cinderella for the Greek by Julia James


A Cinderella for the Greek by Julia James
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (217 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Fairy tale for just one night?

Cruelly mistreated by her stepfamily, Ellen Mountford retreated to the shadows of her father’s home, feeling unworthy and unloved. But when powerful tycoon Max Vasilikos wants to buy the glorious English country estate, Ellen can hide no longer…

Under the scrutiny of the Greek’s arrogant stare, Ellen fights the urge to retreat further and stands up to him, yet Max is relentless. He tempts her out to a glamorous charity gala, where Ellen is transformed from dowdy recluse to belle of the ball. Now there is a new glint in Max’s eye that is even more devastating…seduction!

The title gave me a hint of the theme of the story but in no way could it prepare me for the fun between the covers of A Cinderella for the Greek by Ms. James.

Unlike the fairy tale, Ellen chooses to dress and act the way she does as a form of armor. Unfortunately her choice of armor arose by being emotionally abused; the scars are inside her mind and it’s going to take a force of nature to undo years of intimidation. That force comes in the form of a very sexy, wealthy and determined Max Vasilikos who won’t take no for an answer and Ellen is in the way of something he wants, badly. The first chapter set the stage with all the players and it hooked me so thoroughly, laundry and dishes were forgotten. This was going to be good.

Basically, the ‘mouse’, Ellen, butts heads with the lion leaving Max the ‘lion’ surprised, bemused and intrigued. Ellen poses a greater challenge than Max bargained for and the sparks fly as he tries all kinds of ways to not only get his way but to figure out what makes Ellen tick. Naturally there are assumptions and preconceived ideas that get in the way and half the fun is watching how Ms. James has her characters knock each one of them down.

As any good romance plots go, there’s the requisite mix-up of intentions, emotional explosions and heartfelt anguish that the hero and heroine have to battle in order to achieve their happy ever after.

There is actually quite a bit of internal dialogue that applies to both Max and Ellen so a reader can get a sense that the hero and heroine are both falling in love with the other but are fighting it too.

What I appreciated about Max is his ability to teach Ellen some important life lessons. They were hard learned and of course it caused doubt as to whether or not their budding love could mature enough to overcome the truths Ellen had to face. Since this is a romance story with a happy ever after, it’s a safe bet that all will turn out okay. It’s the journey of going from pain to passion, enemies to lovers and sad to happy that kept me flipping the pages.

For readers who need that lovey-dovey wrap-it-all-up in an epilogue moment, rest assured A Cinderella for the Greek delivers it in classic romantic fashion. If a reader enjoys Cinderella rescue stories, then this book is worth checking out.

Bought for the Greek’s Revenge by Lynne Graham


Bought for the Greek’s Revenge by Lynne Graham
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (186 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Bedded for the Greek’s pleasure!

Ella Palmer has neither the money nor the connections to warrant the interest of Nikolai Drakos’s archenemy. Yet the unassuming beauty has done just that—and claiming her will be Nikolai’s ultimate satisfaction!

The ruthless tycoon will use any means necessary to ensure Ella’s compliance, so he buys out her family’s debts. Debts he’ll forgive if Ella becomes his mistress. But when he discovers the true extent of her innocence, Nikolai is forced to consider something new; it appears the indomitable Greek is about to take a bride!

Usually these types of romance stories deal with a tortured, rich and broody hero, and a put-upon but beautiful heroine. It’s the internal conflicts which power the plot. However, in Bought for the Greek’s Revenge the external conflict touches base on a heftier topic which gives this novel a higher emotional caliber.

Even though the conflict topic is serious, it does not overshadow the romance nor does it bring a reader down. What it does do is shake the hero up. Nikolai’s emotions are all over the place – he starts off feeling one way with one goal and as the story gets told, the hero comes face to face with the fact that nothing is as it appears or as he believes.

Ella truly is an innocent but she’s not stupid nor a pushover. She’s a fighter which is very important when her trusting and forgiving nature gets tested when she’s accosted.

When it comes to our hero Nikolai, unfortunately for her, but fortunate for me, she can’t withstand his force of personality and she succumbs to his seduction. With a hunk like Nikolai, falling under his passionate spell was a foregone conclusion. It’s what happens after that kept me turning the pages. The scene where she tells the hero she found pertinent information in a book totally had me grinning. Ella kept Nikolai on his toes and hot under the collar.

There are some important secondary characters and my favorite is Ella’s gramma. Her presence is brief but it’s strongly felt. A reader will figure out what I mean when they read their own copy of Bought for the Greek’s Revenge.

The happy ever after is delightfully fulfilled in a wonderful epilogue that pushed all my happy buttons. I really enjoyed Bought for the Greek’s Revenge and I’m so glad I read it. It’s a terrific afternoon read.

The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake


The Scandalous Flirt by Olivia Drake
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Scandal begins with just one kiss. . .

Aurora Paxton was once the belle of the ball, the most sought-after debutante of the season―until a scandalous mistake ruined her. Shunned by her family, Rory was banished to the country to live in disgrace. Now she’s been summoned back to London by her stepmother, who is being blackmailed by the least likely person Rory can imagine: Lucas Vale, Marquess of Dashell.

Lucas is someone Rory’s known for years―a man as devastatingly handsome as he is coldly disapproving of her. What in the world could he want from her or her family? Rory intends to find out as soon as she comes face to face with her old foe. What she never expects, however, is that the icy aristocrat has a soft spot for her―and a secret plan to redeem her status. Could it be that Lucas has been in love with Rory all along. . .and has finally found a way to win her heart?

Any fan of stories that mirror the tale of Cinderella stand a good chance of being charmed and enchanted, not to mention entertained, when they dive into this very fun novel by Ms. Drake. The Scandalous Flirt has just the right amount of balance between humor, emotional engagement and intrigue as it’s woven amongst a very fine romance between to very opposite personalities. Rory, a/k/a Aurora, and Lucas, Marquess of Dashell.

There’s a bit of a mystery going on in trying to find a blackmailer and the sleuth that’s going to solve the puzzle was supposed to be only one person. Inadvertently the hero stumbles upon the case and gets involved. The complications from that pairing provide the impetus for some of the most memorable moments in the novel and provided many chapters of pure entertainment.

The author included some unique characteristics and talents for the main protagonists and I was fascinated. Some provided humor, food for thought or impressed me. Rory’s was pretty cool.

The internal conflicts of an ambitious hero and a shunned heroine are significant because they have the potential to tear them both apart. As can be expected with a solid, well-told romance, love, attitude, duty and volatile bursts of passion draw Lucas and Rory together despite the odds. I really enjoyed how the author wove their falling in love while in pursuit of the truth.

Of course, there are secondary characters that give this tale a fine flavor, Lady Milford being one, Grimshaw for another. The revelation about that man raised my eyebrows. I never saw that one coming. There are a few words out there that could aptly apply to that man, but I’ll refrain from using such language. Then, there is Rory’s sister, Celeste. I wasn’t sure what I expected but it wasn’t to end up liking her as I did. As for Rory’s step-mother – she was classically written, if you know what I mean.

A pleasant development was Luca’s dragon of a mother. I thought her a wonderful touch and I actually had fun meeting her and watching her effect on the people around her. Once again, an avid reader can guess what has a high probability of happening but the author’s clever writing provides for a pleasant and humorous surprise or two.

A reader will not be disappointed with the fairy tale ending. The mystery is solved, the internal conflicts are addressed in a delightful manner and I was treated to some very spicy romantic moments as Lucas and Rory discover they have more in common than they thought. Lust goes a long way to break down barriers and provide opportunities for shenanigans. They sure were fun to read.

This review is pretty barebones considering the vast number of choices I had to write about. There are way too many twists and turns, scenes of adventure, curiosity and the effect of other secondary characters on the hero and heroine to mention them all and do them justice.

The book’s title, The Scandalous Flirt, makes the novel sound shallow and fluffy. It’s not. There is a lot of heart, passion, depth and wonderful character development. There are crafty plots, dubious deals, preconceptions and amazing revelations. In short, this is a wonderful romance with a solid plot, interesting characters brought to life and a hero and heroine I really enjoyed getting to know. This is a wonderful romance novel to get lost in because it’s that good and I heartily recommend reading this story as soon as you can. I’m glad I did.

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.