Company Ink by Kat Colburn

Company Ink by Kat Colburn
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (245 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Office intrigue takes on a whole new meaning in this story of love, friendship, and the secrets hiding in plain sight…

The Company has a rule about falling in love on the job.

I’ve never been one for rules. But I need this one. I need this rule to remind me why I can’t be with Dani Wallace.

I need this smart little foul-mouthed fighter by my side more than I need her in my bed. I need her to close this massive deal. She thinks it holds the key to her escape from cubicle hell and another shot at the life she always wanted.

But there is more riding on our success than she can possibly ever know.

So I’ll keep my hands to myself and my secrets safe for one more day.

But now I can’t stop wondering what my best friend has on beneath her conservative suit. I can’t stop imagining the things that sharp mouth of hers could do to me if I leaned back in my chair and unzipped my pants. And I can’t stop pushing our flirting too far.

I’m trying to remember the rule. But some rules are made to be broken.

A love story! That is what sums up this story for me.

Dan and Dani have a workplace romance. Their relationship has instant chemistry that builds up to more. Company Ink is a great for readers who want a slow romance. I loved reading about them getting to know each other better. They are such different characters. The author did a wonderful job with her hero and heroine.

Almost more than half of the book had little to no kissing, and no extra-hot sex scenes which I love, so it made it a bit difficult for me to read, especially since I’m not used to that. It was also a little difficult to get over the fact that their names are Dan and Dani. They’re just too similar and it didn’t work for me.

Overall, the plot was simple with a climax that surprised me. Company Ink is a wonderful read for whenever you are in the mood for a slow-moving romantic romance.

The Hurt Handler by Linda Palmer

The Hurt Handler by Linda Palmer
Publisher: Uncial Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (91 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Shiloh Nilsen lives at one end of the street. Nathan Conti lives at the other. In all her eighteen years, they’ve never met in the middle. Why? Because he attends a special school for psychics in Wyoming while she goes to their neighborhood public school, Dillon High, right there in Montana.

Nothing changes until Shiloh loses a treasured family heirloom–a ring that dates back centuries. Desperate to find it before her mom figures out it’s missing, Shiloh crashes a birthday party just to meet Nate. If the local newspaper is right, he has psychic gifts. She hopes one of them will help her out of a mess she can only blame on herself.

Nate reluctantly agrees to accompany her to a local ghost town, the last place she wore the ring. With the weather getting worse by the minute, they search everywhere she hiked until the skies open up and they’re forced to take shelter in the ruins. Huddled there, they talk about his psychic abilities, a conversation that opens Shiloh’s mind to what’s really out there.

Unfortunately, Nate’s conclusion about the ring’s location isn’t at all what Shiloh was expecting. Instead of getting closure, she’s faced with a new dilemma. She can either confess everything to her mom, who will be crushed, or she can confront the person who has the ring, a guy who, according to Nate, gives off some very bad vibes.

Shiloh decides to crash a birthday party, determined to talk Nate into using his powers to help her out. Having lost her great-great-great grandmother’s ring, she needs to take Nate to Farlin – even with the ghosts there – and have him help her find the ring. Nate and Shiloh both find each other attractive, but their worlds couldn’t be further apart. Shiloh is from the wrong side of town, Nate’s family is rich and he’s just graduated from an expensive academy geared towards people with magical gifts. The more time they spend together, the more complicated their relationship gets. Can they each find their right path?

This is a fun and really interesting story. I’ve not read any of the previous ones in this series and was very happy to find none of the back-story was really needed. Both Nate and Shiloh are fairly young – nineteen and seventeen respectively – and so while there is some romance it’s all fairly sweet and teenager-ish – friends who are attracted to each other etc. Aside from some chaste (and just a few teen-steamy) kisses there’s no physical romance, but a delightful emotional connection that flourishes into an even better romantic relationship.

I thoroughly enjoyed the plot in this story – finding the mystery of Shiloh’s lost ring as compelling as Shiloh and Nate both exploring their own powers and coming to terms with the magical world neither of them have much experience in. In a number of ways this felt very much to me like a coming-of-age story and I’d actually recommend it equally as a YA style of story as a sweet, emotional and slightly romantic read for grown ups as well. With strong and multi-layered characters, a few excellent plots and some fantastic pacing I eagerly drank up every page of this story and fully plan to look out for the others in this series. Shiloh and Nate were two wonderful characters and I loved watching them get to know each other, push each other’s magical boundaries and solve the puzzle together. The fact they ended up with a Happy Ever After and a beautiful relationship was just icing on the cake.

For a sweet, happy and well-paced story this is one I’d happily recommend.

Night Riders Book 2: Texas Bride by Leigh Greenwood

Night Riders Book 2: Texas Bride by Leigh Greenwood
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (445 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

She’s the one woman he could never have…

Handsome and devilishly charming Owen Wheeler has always had a way with women, but the war has left him a changed man. He’s no longer interested in breaking hearts. Now on the trail of a fellow Night Rider turned traitor, he will stop at nothing to ensure that justice is done.

There’s nothing about fiercely independent―and plain―Hetta Gwynne that should make Owen long to trade his vendetta for peace, but something about her makes him feel like the man he always wanted to be. Owen can see a chance for a real future at Hetta’s side…if only he could convince her to let down her guard and trust in the passion neither of them can deny.

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

A western romance is what started my love for romance stories. This book brought me back to that time when I first started reading romance books.

Hetta and Owen are completely different characters but they somehow worked well together. That being said, I did not like some of the repetitive words that I came upon because it put a damper on an otherwise wonderful plot and story.

Both of these characters were so stubborn, I did not think that they would get along, but they found their way. For example, Owen seriously came to like Hetta better and better each time he met her. This is definitely not a love at first sight book. It was slow going, from slowly learning to get along well to liking each other and then to falling in love.

The plot and the minor characters were what stood out to me more than anything else. They made me want to know more and come back for more every time. It did have multiple plots that engaged me. It was not too hectic with too much happening, however I do think that the love story was a little too stretched out.

I would like to mention this book was released before. Since I have not read the previous version, so I can not really say what the difference is. But I do like the cover of the new book more than the previous one.

Texas Bride is a great read for western romance lovers who adore slow developing satisfying love stories.

Willow’s Way by Sharon Struth

Willow’s Way by Sharon Struth
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full (228 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Willow Armstrong, the once-famous “Queen of Weight Loss” and president of Pound Busters, succumbed to stress eating after her divorce. Now the scandal of getting caught on camera binging on pizza, and the internet-wide mocking of her new curves, may destroy her career. Add in a business advisor who drained her finances, and Willow is out of options—until she learns she’s inherited a house in England’s most picturesque locale, The Cotswolds.

Willow’s trip across the pond to sell the property and salvage her company soon becomes its own adventure: the house, once owned by grandparents she never met, needs major work. Plus, single dad Owen Hughes, the estate’s resident groundskeeper and owner of a local tour outfit, isn’t thrilled about the idea of leaving . . . Yet as Willow proceeds with her plans, she’s sidetracked by surprising discoveries about her family’s history–and with Owen’s help, the area’s distinctive attractions. Soon, she’s even retracing her roots—and testing her endurance—amid the region’s natural beauty. And the more she delves into the past, the more clearly she sees herself, her future, and the way home . . .

Willow’s Way is an apt title for this book – because Willow has definitely lost her way and this novel describes how she finds it again. The book opens with the fact that Willow, creator of a very successful and popular diet program, has been caught on film sneaking pizza. It sounds like a set up for a joke, but her life has become no laughing matter. She’s divorced, a trusted advisor has taken off with her company’s (and her own) money, and she’s a stress eater. Her board of directors are not happy that the face of their weight loss company has gone from a size 6 to a size 12, so the release of the video was not a good thing. As she’s weighing her options, she quite unexpectedly learns she has inherited a house in England – and makes a decision that quite literally changes her life.

I absolutely loved Willow… I can identify with her on so many levels. I love the way she took control of things. She was a fighter, it stood her in good stead. There were a lot of issues for her to deal with over the course of the book and dealt with them she did. In doing so, she learned a lot about herself and her past she never knew. She was the type of character I felt like I could sit down and have tea with.

The rest of the characters were just as richly drawn. Owen is just scrumptious and could quite easily become one of my favorite male characters. His daughter Jilly (and Henry, her dog) are just fall-in-lovable!

The setting is almost like another character in the book. I’m a not-so-hidden Anglophile anyway, and I felt like I had stepped into the pages of a Maeve Binchy book had she written English settings instead of Irish. I would have loved to live here.

There are no great conflicts in this book, but they aren’t needed. It’s a sweet look at one woman and her life and I stayed up way too late reading it! I was right there rooting for Willow all the time she was trying to find her way, and I was very sorry when the book ended.

I highly recommend this book!

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Digging In by Loretta Nyhan

Digging In by Loretta Nyhan
Publisher: Lake Union
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (263 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

In Loretta Nyhan’s warm and witty Amazon Charts bestselling novel, a widow discovers an unexpected chance to start over—right in her own backyard.

Paige Moresco found her true love in eighth grade—and lost him two years ago. Since his death, she’s been sleepwalking through life, barely holding on for the sake of her teenage son. Her house is a wreck, the grass is overrun with weeds, and she’s at risk of losing her job. As Paige stares at her neglected lawn, she knows she’s hit rock bottom. So she does something entirely unexpected: she begins to dig.

As the hole gets bigger, Paige decides to turn her entire yard into a vegetable garden. The neighbors in her tidy gated community are more than a little alarmed. Paige knows nothing about gardening, and she’s boldly flouting neighborhood-association bylaws. But with the help of new friends, a charming local cop, and the transformative power of the soil, Paige starts to see potential in the chaos of her life. Something big is beginning to take root—both in her garden and in herself.

This author tackles a hard subject. How do you go on when your other half dies in a freak accident? There was no warning, life isn’t the same and your helpmate is gone. It doesn’t help when your child doesn’t want to talk about it either. What makes this story even more meaningful is that the author’s own husband died while playing golf. Her story isn’t this story but it makes it even more touching.

Paige had been in love with him since the eighth grade and is trying to learn to live without him. Then her boss dies and his son takes over the company. Her home and her clothes and her life are all a mess and now she might lose her job…

It’s very easy to fall into oblivion when a major traumatic event shakes up your life. She’s emotionally unstable, is fighting with her neighbor, and the folks in the housing association think she’s losing touch with rationality. She thinks they may be right.

Ms. Nyhan takes you through Paige’s life as she fumbles around trying to put her life back together. She finds a man she likes and decides to take it slow and see how it goes. Her son rebels. She’s gardening even if she really doesn’t know how because she’s friends with a lady from the Farmer’s Market. And the road isn’t clear yet but she’s finding her direction.

The story sounds authentic and the author makes you feel her sorrow and her uncertainty. Paige can’t give up but she’d like to. Then, with the help of friends, she perks up and starts making a new life. Everyone has gone through that at some time in their life. Did you do as well as Paige?

Duke du Jour by Petie McCarty

Duke du Jour by Petie McCarty
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Time Travel
Length: Full (337 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon

..a reverse Kate and Leopold…a light-hearted time travel romance where a bewildered modern-day duke ends up in Regency England and meets the girl of his dreams…

Jared Langley, present-day Duke of Reston, tumbles into an abandoned fountain on his ducal estate and travels back in time to the year 1816. There, Reston servants and local villagers think him a dead ringer for his namesake and rakehell ancestor–the seventh Duke of Reston, gone missing at the Battle of Waterloo. Unfortunately, Seven got mixed up with French spies out to assassinate the Duke of Wellington, and an unwary Jared ends up in their crosshairs.

Lady Ariana Hart has loved Jared Langley, the seventh Duke of Reston, since she was twelve years old, until the night the rogue broke her heart. Given up for dead, her rakish neighbor makes a miraculous return from Waterloo–only Jared shows up a changed man and reignites all the feelings Ariana had long ago buried.

Jared is in a race against time. He must waylay the suspicions of his quirky servants and neighbors, get to Wellington before the French spies do, fix his fountain–before Seven shows up–so Jared has a way home, and definitely not fall in love with the irresistible Lady Ariana.

Duke Du Jour kicks off with a surprising scandal – one that we readers could scarcely expect…and this story is intriguing immediately. Kudos to the author for plunging in so creatively. I must confess; given the time period, the titled character, the very word ‘romance’ – I expected my initial thought to be ‘entirely predictable.’ Happily, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Jared, third duke, is not getting his own way – right from the start. People and events transpire to affect him in ways he can scarcely imagine, but somehow, we believe. His meeting with Lady Ariana is both wonderful and awful, because we cannot see how this romance could ever actually work out. No spoilers here – McCarty enthralls us with this intriguing story line.

I’d call this a ‘mostly’ historical romance and suspect historical romance fans will find it enjoyable – don’t be put off by the time travel aspect. Definitely worth the read.

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Cushion by Tamela Miles

Cushion by Tamela Miles
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (119 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Natalie Kliebert finally has the perfect life she spent years dreaming of. She’s on the fast track to her fantasy-come-true career as a therapist. If she can help pop star Billy Chambers, it will be her greatest achievement and even sweeter than earning an “A” grade.

The last thing Billy Chambers wants is anyone’s help, especially when he doesn’t see a single thing wrong with his life. When bossy Natalie becomes his court-appointed personal therapist, sparks fly from day one. Annoyance was never so arousing. Hooking up should be easy, but an undercurrent of evil is coming for Natalie, which may force her to reveal her deepest secret.

The problems of their pasts are no match for today’s demons. Natalie and Billy must come together and be the allies they were meant to be in a supernatural fight that may cost them their lives.

This is a unique second-chance story filled with spice and the supernatural. Carin Bell is a writer. Seems normal enough. Then, she gets killed in a fiery car accident, but his is not the end of the story. It’s the beginning. Her love match, Billy Chambers, is a pop star who is in trouble. Billy had made fun of Carin when she was a teenager. Now she’ll get her chance to confront him. She is gifted with a second chance at life, not exactly the typical reincarnation story. She comes back as a different adult with a new identity, not as a baby reborn.

The new Carin, now Natalie, approaches Billy, and the meeting is memorable. How will he react when he sees the new, supernatural woman in his hotel room? Something in him changes, and it is good to see.

After some time he meets her again, but she is his therapist, charged with helping him overcome alcoholism. He makes his hard journey into sobriety. The chemistry between these two is hot, and the romance develops, as one might expect. However, their’s is not the typical love story. There is more to this tale, an underlying sinister presence, seeking to destroy them and others. The tale becomes somewhat of a supernatural thriller. The suspense is created when the characters are scared by their enemy.

During these occurrences, the characters are developed well. Billy shows himself to be thoughtful and considerate. He’s so human, and we see his weaknesses and struggle as well as those of Natalie. Both have personal demons to confront as well as the literal one. Though of battling that one is terrifying. They must go to a bad place and rescue trapped souls. The stakes are very high. They could easily lose themselves and the souls depending on them.

This is a fast-paced story that takes twists and turns to keep up the suspense level. It is well worth the read.

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.

Flirting with Fairies by Peg Pierson

Flirting with Fairies by Peg Pierson
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (233 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Literary agent, Nicole McConnelly is in trouble. Her career’s in the toilet, her bank account overdrawn, and she’s a wanted, fugitive fairy, from the Realm of Imagination, with a price on her head and a ruthless bounty hunter, who happens to be Satan’s brother, on her heels.

Lonely young writer, Kaleb Whalen, lives in a rundown apartment with his pet cockroach and dreams of becoming a best-selling author. But after a run-in with a Boston city bus, he may have lost any chance of a future at all.

When both agent, and author, magically appear center-page in Kaleb’s jungle adventure novel, Nicole finds herself faced with something more terrifying than her long-time nemesis…the possibility of something she has artfully avoided for three centuries. True Love.

This is the other side of the printed word where books come alive in the Realm of Imagination. The combination of author and agent are dumped into the Realm where they meet the author’s characters. The consequences are hilarious and bring the story to life with a jungle man complete with ape, a cannibal and of course the ditzy heroine.

I loved how the author didn’t stop at the characters’ written lives, Ms Pierson also brought in other characters such as a vampire, bounty hunter and a dead sister. When mixed together this made for a book reminiscent of a comic strip but with more depth.

All the characters are larger than life and intertwine with each other to great effect. Just when it seems things have worked out well for everyone, another event happened to stir the plot up again. Good book but not if you want something deep and meaningful; this one is for laughing and enjoying.

Secret Valentine by Cherry Christensen

Secret Valentine by Cherry Christensen
Publisher: EsKape Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Inspirational
Length: Short story (77 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Professor Hannah Wagganer spends her days teaching and her nights dating Glen Arbor’s new mail carrier, Jasper Morgan. Not only does he spark Hannah’s heart, but he has become best friends with her cat, Jingles.

As Hannah prepares for the church Valentine’s Day potluck and makes cards for local veterans, her relationship with Jasper takes a detour when a snowstorm hits town and she seeks refuge at his cottage. While there, Jasper is a warm and gracious host, but at the same time, he’s turned as cold as the February wind. Doubt creeps in, leaving Hannah worrying that she’ll end up spending another holiday alone.

Once again, blessings and suspicions abound when an anonymous donor pays to have the church pipes repaired and other locals suddenly find solutions to their problems. Is it coincidental or the work of a secret valentine?

Hannah is in love with Jasper and is willing to keep his secret past from the rest of Glen Arbor. Valentine’s Day is approaching and she wants to make it a day for them to remember.

As with all good romances there is some misunderstanding which brings doubt to Hannah regarding Jasper’s feelings for her.

The book is definitely inspirational, although I usually enjoy inspirational books I found the references and phrases from the Bible tended to take over the story and these interrupted the flow to the point where it became irritating. On the whole this was a nice tale of love and belief which could be a really good inspirational book had it been just a little less heavy handed.

The storyline is good and their evolving love for each other is well handled as is the developing attachment of their two best friends. The characters are well rounded and Jingles the cat adds a bit of humor to the story.