*Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan


*Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan
Publisher: Avon and Harper Voyager
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Women’s fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

For Sewanee Chester, being an audiobook narrator is a long way from her old dreams, but the days of being a star on film sets are long behind her. She’s found success and satisfaction from the inside of a sound booth and it allows her to care for her beloved, ailing grandmother. When she arrives in Las Vegas last-minute for a book convention, Sewanee unexpectedly spends a whirlwind night with a charming stranger.

On her return home, Sewanee discovers one of the world’s most beloved romance novelists wanted her to perform her last book—with Brock McNight, the industry’s hottest, most secretive voice. Sewanee doesn’t buy what romance novels are selling—not after her own dreams were tragically cut short—and she stopped narrating them years ago. But her admiration of the late author, and the opportunity to get her grandmother more help, makes her decision for her.

As Sewanee begins work on the book, resurrecting her old romance pseudonym, she and Brock forge a real connection, hidden behind the comfort of anonymity. Soon, she is dreaming again, but secrets are revealed, and the realities of life come crashing down around her once more.

If she can learn to risk everything for desires she has long buried, she will discover a world of intimacy and acceptance she never believed would be hers.

Thank you for Listening took me on an emotional journey.

You have to be open to the possibilities.

I loved reading Sewanee and Nick’s story. They are two realistic, flawed and complicated characters. They are both stuck in a life they aren’t happy with after their lives moved in an unexpected direction. They are vulnerable and afraid to take a chance.

This is an intriguing story that had me quickly turning the pages to find out what would happen next because I was never quite sure what direction it would go. It held me captive from start to finish. This story took me through many emotions: falling in love, family dysfunction and losing your dreams.

There are also some interesting and colorful secondary characters included in the story. I especially loved Sewanee’s grandmother, she was a hoot. Julie Whelan writes a beautiful and touching story.

*The Bodyguard by Katherine Center


*The Bodyguard by Katherine Center
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Women’s fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

She’s got his back.
Hannah Brooks looks more like a kindergarten teacher than somebody who could kill you with a wine bottle opener. Or a ballpoint pen. Or a dinner napkin. But the truth is, she’s an Executive Protection Agent (aka “bodyguard”), and she just got hired to protect superstar actor Jack Stapleton from his middle-aged, corgi-breeding stalker.

He’s got her heart.
Jack Stapleton’s a household name—captured by paparazzi on beaches the world over, famous for, among other things, rising out of the waves in all manner of clingy board shorts and glistening like a Roman deity. But a few years back, in the wake of a family tragedy, he dropped from the public eye and went off the grid.

They’ve got a secret.
When Jack’s mom gets sick, he comes home to the family’s Texas ranch to help out. Only one catch: He doesn’t want his family to know about his stalker. Or the bodyguard thing. And so Hannah—against her will and her better judgment—finds herself pretending to be Jack’s girlfriend as a cover. Even though her ex, like a jerk, says no one will believe it.

What could possibly go wrong???
Hannah hardly believes it, herself. But the more time she spends with Jack, the more real it all starts to seem. And there lies the heartbreak. Because it’s easy for Hannah to protect Jack. But protecting her own, long-neglected heart? That’s the hardest thing she’s ever done.

The Bodyguard is an entertaining and heartwarming story. It centers on Hannah, a personal bodyguard who is dedicated to her job. In fact, Hannah is so consumed with her job she doesn’t have time for anything else in her life. Everything is going well in Hannah’s life, until it all falls apart and she is left feeling adrift and confused.

I decided to read The Bodyguard because It sounded intriguing. Jack is a famous actor and I love reading stories revolving around Hollywood. Hannah is a bodyguard, and I liked the idea of a woman protecting a man, especially a hot Hollywood actor. I liked Jack and Hannah and I enjoyed their story, however, at times, I had a difficult time connecting with them. Overall, I liked the premise of the book and the characters, but it just felt like something was lacking.

Even saying that, the story has its strong points, it kept my interest and I enjoyed reading it. I think other readers will like it too.

*Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan


*Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
Publisher: Penguin Group Putnam, G. P. Putnam Sons
Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction, Contemporary
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Nora’s life is about to get a rewrite…

Nora Hamilton knows the formula for love better than anyone. As a romance channel screenwriter, it’s her job. But when her too-good-to work husband leaves her and their two kids, Nora turns her marriage’s collapse into cash and writes the best script of her life. No one is more surprised than her when it’s picked up for the big screen and set to film on location at her 100-year-old-home. When former Sexiest Man Alive, Leo Vance, is cast as her ne’er do well husband Nora’s life will never be the same.

The morning after shooting wraps and the crew leaves, Nora finds Leo on her porch with a half-empty bottle of tequila and a proposition. He’ll pay a thousand dollars a day to stay for a week. The extra seven grand would give Nora breathing room, but it’s the need in his eyes that makes her say yes. Seven days: it’s the blink of an eye or an eternity depending on how you look at it. Enough time to fall in love. Enough time to break your heart.

Filled with warmth, wit, and wisdom, Nora Goes Off Script is the best kind of love story—the real kind where love is complicated by work, kids, and the emotional baggage that comes with life. For Nora and Leo, this kind of love is bigger than the big screen.

Is it possible for a movie star to fall for a small town, single mom?

Nora Goes Off Script is a beautifully written, poignant story. It is realistic and the characters have an intense connection that literally jumps off the pages.

Leo and Nora meet when Nora writes a successful book that is being made into a movie and Leo is a high-profile movie star playing the male lead in the movie. When Leo comes into town, Nora discovers he is going to be staying in a trailer on her property. She is surprised to find Leo constantly underfoot. Leo seems content to spend time in Nora’s house and he enjoys learning to do small everyday tasks.

I love how unaffected Nora is by Leo. She treats him like she would anyone else and I think that is what Leo finds so alluring about her. Nora is strong and brave but doesn’t know her worth because her ex continually put her down.

Leo is nothing like Nora imagined he would be. Underneath Leo’s movie star persona he is just a regular guy. Leo has many wonderful qualities and he is easy to like. He is easy going and laid back and he misses being normal and having a regular life.

Leo and Nora are wonderful together. They have incredible chemistry and I enjoyed all their interactions. I liked Leo and Nora individually and loved them together. Nora and Leo are both going through an emotional time in their lives. Their lives are changing and they are trying to figure out their next steps. There are also a lot of entertaining and interesting secondary characters in this story. This story sparkled and left me with a good feeling.

*Coming into Focus by Eagan Daniels


*Coming into Focus by Eagan Daniels
Publisher: Champagne books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Given the choice between being an overpaid assistant to a famous British rock band on the verge of making it huge in America, or staying home to work three menial jobs to take care of a brother who has outgrown the need for her, Willa Reynolds’s decision is obvious: her brother might need her again eventually, and she’ll stick around until that happens.

When you love someone, you don’t leave. She learned that the hard way from her mom. Granted, her dream of being hired as a photographer for music magazine Offstage is a long shot when the only people she mingles with are the customers that come into the coffee shop, but she’ll think of something.

But when her brother announces he’s going to college and practically shoves her out the door, and the rock star in question sweetens the deal by offering to pay her even more and giving her the opportunity to build her photography portfolio in the process . . . Willa has to admit that it seems like the universe is sending her a message.

If you enjoy reading stories about hot musicians, this is the book for you. Willa is a struggling photographer when she meets an up-and-coming British band. This chance meeting changes her life.

This story has a slow start but the more I read, the more invested I became with the two main characters, Oliver and Willa. It’s fascinating to read about Willa as she becomes the person she is meant to be. She is always taking care of everyone, and I love how she learns how to put herself first and to fight for what she wants.

The guys in the band are all British and Willa is American and it’s hilarious when the guys in the band use British slang and Willa has no idea what they are saying. Then, when Willa uses American slang, the guys are equally dumbfounded.

I liked everything about Oliver, he is the drummer in the band and he and Willa are perfect together. He is a good guy. He is low key and very cool and cares about Willa from the moment he meets her.

This is a beautiful love story, and I enjoyed the relationship Willa has with the entire band. The guys are fun loving and entertaining and easily accept Willa into their group. This is definitely a recommended read.

*The Best is Yet to Come by Debbie Macomber


*The Best is Yet to Come by Debbie Macomber
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

A new beginning in charming Oceanside, Washington, is exactly what Hope Godwin needs after the death of her twin brother. There are plenty of distractions, like her cozy cottage with the slightly nosy landlords next door, and a brewing drama among her students at the local high school.

Even having settled quickly into the community, Hope still feels something is still missing. That is, until her landlords convince her to volunteer at their animal shelter. There she meets Shadow, a rescue dog that everyone has given up on. But true to her name, Hope believes he’s worth saving.

Like Shadow, shelter volunteer Cade Lincoln Jr. is suffering with injuries most can’t see. A wounded ex-marine, Cade identifies with Shadow, assuming they are both beyond help. Hope senses that what they each need is someone to believe in them, and she has a lot of love to give. As she gains Shadow’s trust, Hope notices Cade begins to open up as well. Finding the courage to be vulnerable again, Cade and Hope take steps toward a relationship, and Hope finally begins to feel at peace in her new home.

But Hope’s happiness is put to the test when Cade’s past conflicts resurface, and Hope becomes embroiled in the escalating situation at the high school. Love and compassion are supposed to heal all wounds, but are they enough to help Hope and Cade overcome the pain of their past and the obstacles in the way of a better future?

If you like sweet stories about small town life, you will enjoy, The Best is Yet to Come. Debbie Macomber does a wonderful job of capturing small town life in Oceanside, Washington. In Oceanside, having a winning high school football team is everything and the entire town is always there to cheer the team to victory.

The two main characters, Cade and Hope are easy to like and connect with. They both have baggage from their pasts and are in emotional pain. They know how painful losing someone close to you can be. Until Cade and Hope meet, they are two lost souls just surviving. These two are perfect for each other as they slowly heal and fall in love.

Cade and Hope meet when they volunteer at a dog shelter. Cade has finished his military service, which has left him with scars both physically and mentally. Cade has built up walls around his heart and is happy to live by himself with little human interaction. Hope helps Cade open up and learn to enjoy life again.

This heartwarming story left me with a good feeling. It is emotional, has an interesting plot, good pacing and has a realistic portrayal of the two main characters that are layered and easy to connect with. This poignant story captured my heart.

*Grace Under Fire by Julie Garwood


*Grace Under Fire by Julie Garwood
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Grace Isabel MacKenna has a hundred things to do today. Killing someone isn’t one of them. It is supposed to be a quick visit to Boston for the Buchanan anniversary party, then on to Scotland to collect an inheritance. She checks into her hotel and then decides to go for a brisk walk. But after getting lost, she ends up with a wounded man stumbling into her arms—and his shooter coming after them both. When she fires back in self-defense, she doesn’t expect him to drop dead. After Isabel endures an interrogation by police, she is free to go, thanks to the Buchanans dispatching former Navy SEAL and now lawyer Michael Buchanan to assist her.

Isabel knows she should be grateful for Michael’s help, but since she’s harbored an extreme dislike for him for years, gratitude is difficult to muster. Michael has appointed himself her de facto guardian, and she’s stuck with him despite their constant bickering and sizzling attraction. Even when Isabel goes to Scotland to claim her inheritance, Michael follows her—but he isn’t the only thing she can’t shake. Mysterious threats against Isabel surface, and before they can deal with their growing feelings for each other, Michael and Isabel must first survive.

Grace Under Fire is an intriguing story filled with romance and suspense. Even though the two main characters, Michael and Isabel, are very different from each other, they find it impossible to ignore the chemistry flowing between.

This is another engaging story centering on the Buchanan family. I love reading about this big, boisterous family, because they add so much entertainment and I especially enjoy all of the banter between all of them.

Michael, a former Navy Seal, is now an attorney. He is a high achiever, who is meticulous, organized, goal oriented and always knows exactly what he wants, and he goes after it with a single-minded focus. Even though Michael is so rigid, I still found him endearing.

I enjoyed how Michael and Isabel played off of each other. They are so different from one another that they have a hard time understanding how the other one thinks. Michael intimidates Isabel because he has achieved so much in his life, whereas Isobel has taken a more relaxed approach to her life.

Isabel and Michael are meant for each other, but it takes them a while to figure it out. It is fun watching them try to fight their attraction to each other, while everyone around them is placing bets on how long it will take them to get together.

Even though Isabel has her head in the clouds, she is immediately liked by everyone. She is sweet and innocent, and she takes an interest in everyone she meets. Isabel doesn’t give a thought to her safety and takes some unnecessary risks, which drives Michael crazy, because he is protective by nature. When someone is after Isabel, Michael takes protecting her very seriously. In fact, his whole family gets involved in trying to keep Isabel safe. I enjoyed this engaging story. It has entertaining characters, suspense and also some light and funny moments.

*Remember Love by Mary Balogh


* Remember Love by Mary Balogh
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

The handsome and charismatic Earl of Stratton, Caleb Ware, has been exposed to the ton for his clandestine affairs—by his own son.

As a child, Devlin Ware thought his family stood for all that was right and good in the world. They were kind, gracious, and shared the beauty of Ravenwood, their grand country estate, by hosting lavish parties for the entire countryside. But at twenty-two, he discovered his whole world was an elaborate illusion, and when Devlin publicly called his family to account for it, he was exiled as a traitor.

So be it. He enlisted in the fight against Napoleon and didn’t look back for six years. But now his father is dead, the Ware family is broken, and as the heir he is being called home. It’s only when Gwyneth Rhys—the woman he loved and then lost after his family banished him—holds out her hand to help him that he is able make the difficult journey and try to piece together his fractured family.

It is Gwyneth’s loyalty, patience, and love that he needs. But is Devlin’s war-hardened heart even capable of offering her love in return?

Being honest changes the course of many people’s lives in Mary Balogh’s newest book, Remember Love. I loved everything about this heartbreakingly beautiful story. It immediately drew me in and all the characters are realistic and easy to connect with, including the two main characters, Dev and Gwyneth. Mary Barlogh is a wonderful storyteller and she writes an emotional story set in the 1800’s. I felt as though I was right there with the characters, and I never wanted this story to end.

Dev is the perfect hero, and he goes through many changes in this story as he grows into a man. He is devastated when he discovers the people he loves aren’t perfect. Dev is serious, honorable and he can be inflexible. He is honest and expects honesty from everyone else. Unfortunately, he discovers the world isn’t always good or bad or black and white. Things aren’t always as they seem and people don’t always want to acknowledge the truth.

Dev and Gweneth have been neighbors for years and just when they finally admit their feelings for each other, they are torn apart. Both Dev and Gwyneth are so easy to like. They are perfect for each other and all their interactions are filled with yearning. Their story is emotional, heartbreaking and wonderful and it also has light and funny moments.

There are many entertaining characters in this story, including the townspeople and Dev’s family. Dev comes from a large family and each one of them has a unique personality. I’m hoping MB’s future stories will be about them. This is a passionate story filled with intrigue and complex and entertaining characters. I really enjoyed reading this one.

*Tight Ends & Tiaras by Lex Martin


*Tight Ends & Tiaras by Lex Martin
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Football is one hundred percent the focus of my life—until a squawking toddler, with a temper to rival my own, lands in my lap and flips my life upside down.

I’ll never be Dad of the Year. Anyone will tell you that. Except maybe Sienna, my sister’s former roommate, who somehow manages to make my broody ass laugh and sees something in me no one else does.

When Sienna offers to let me and my little princess move in with her, I’m not sure if it’s to help or because she wants revenge on my teammate and long-time rival, who broke her heart.

Either way, I’m game. Because I need to get my ex off my back, and Sienna doesn’t mind pretending to be my girlfriend.

Only neither of us is ready for the sparks that fly between us or the consequences when they do.

I love everything Lex Martin writes, so I was excited to read her newest book in the Varsity Dads series. Tight Ends & Tiaras, is heartwarming and so much fun to read. I was quickly turning the pages to find out what would happen next.

I love stories about college athletes and this one is about Ben, a sensitive football player, who is surprised to find out he is a father. Ben is smart, charming and an all around good guy. He easily captured my heart and I loved the way he treats Sienna.

Sienna is also easy to connect with. She is strong, compassionate and always sees the best in everyone.

Ben and Sienna are wonderful together and I enjoyed all of their interactions. They have so much chemistry, it literally jumps off the pages. Unfortunately, they both have jealous, conniving ex’s who like to cause trouble.

This is a well written, intoxicating story that immediately pulled me in. It has realistic character development and a plot that held my interest. Lex Martin made this story come alive and I devoured every word.

* How to Fake it in Hollywood by Ava Wilder


* How to Fake it in Hollywood by Ava Wilder
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Grey Brooks is on a mission to keep her career afloat now that the end of her long-running teen TV show has her (unsuccessfully) pounding the pavement again. With a life-changing role on the line, she’s finally desperate enough to agree to her publicist’s scheme: fake a love affair with a disgraced Hollywood heartthrob who needs the publicity, but for very different reasons.

Ethan Atkins just wants to be left alone. Between his high-profile divorce, struggles with drinking, and grief over the death of his longtime creative partner and best friend, Ethan has slowly let himself fade into the background. But if he ever wants to produce the last movie he and his partner wrote together, Ethan needs to clean up his reputation and step back into the spotlight. A gossip-inducing affair with a gorgeous actress might be just the ticket, even if it’s the last thing he wants to do.

Though their juicy public relationship is less than perfect behind the scenes, it doesn’t take long before Grey and Ethan’s sizzling chemistry starts to feel like more than just an act. But after decades in a ruthless industry that requires bulletproof emotional armor to survive, are they too used to faking it to open themselves up to the real thing?

If you like Hollywood romance, don’t miss this one. This is Ava Wilder’s debut novel, and I was really impressed. I loved everything about this story and I devoured it from the first page. I have to admit, Hollywood stories are my weakness, so that is what drew me to this story. From the first page, I was transported into Ethan and Grey’s world and I fell in love with the story and the characters.

Ava Wilder takes the reader on an emotional journey through the ups and downs of trying to have a relationship in Hollywood. Ethan and Grey are two actors who need a career boost and agree to a fake relationship. Ethan was a huge star but has become a recluse in recent years and Grey was a child star and now wants to be taken seriously.

Ethan and Grey have tons of chemistry. Although they try to ignore the feelings they have for each other, until they can’t anymore. They have an easy banter and there is a lot of sexual tension between them. They are perfect together and they help each other become stronger and better.

Ethan has demons and he is just existing. He is a tortured emotional mess and he doesn’t know how to deal with his feelings. He has lost his direction in life. He feels hopeless and helpless, until Grey comes into his life. Grey is a breath of fresh air in Ethan’s reclusive life. She isn’t afraid to tell Ethan what is on her mind and I think that is what Ethan likes about her the most. That is, besides his crazy attraction to her. Grey slowly turns Ethan’s world bright again and I loved reading about it.

This is a fantastic book and it has all the elements I love. The characters are easy to connect with, it has great pacing, the story immediately captured my attention, I couldn’t put it down and I never wanted it to end. I can’t wait to find out what Ava Wilder will write next. I will be first in line to read it. Perfection.

*Unforgiven by Rebecca Zanetti


*Unforgiven by Rebecca Zanetti
Publisher: Kensington books, Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Run: Gemma Falls never expected to use her game theory expertise to outrun a killer. But for years, that skill is all that kept her one step ahead of a deadly stalker. When Gemma gets the chance to teach at D.C. University, she hopes she and her young daughter have found a safe harbor. The only flaw is the arrogant philosophy professor who’s always underfoot giving unwanted advice—in his sexy British accent . . .

Hide:Jethro Hanson has blood on his hands. He’s working within ivy-covered university halls now, but he knows that his work with the Deep Ops team and the deadly acts he once committed for the sake of Queen and country place him beyond forgiveness—until he meets Gemma . . .

Seek: Soon, the passion between them stuns them both. But when Jethro discovers a threat is fast overtaking her, he must choose between the redemption he seeks—and releasing the ever-present killer inside . . .

Unforgiven is about two people running from a past they would rather forget. This is a wonderfully written, intriguing story that kept me spellbound. It has suspense, intrigue and romance all rolled up together. It also has light and funny moments while the two main characters, Jethro and Gemma, deal with death, a serial killer and falling in love with each other.

Gemma is running for her life when she meets Jethro. Jethro is a college professor with secrets of his own and a past he wants to hide. Jethro and Gemma are both good people who unfortunately, have had bad things happen to them. They meet when both their pasts come back to haunt them.

Jethro and Gemma felt real and genuine, I easily connected with them, and I loved all of their interactions. They both have tons of baggage and they meet at the perfect time to help each other. This story is about good versus evil and I kept hoping good would win.

I was really invested in this story and found myself quickly turning the pages to find out what would happen next. The story goes back and forth through time as we learn about Jethro and Gemma’s past and how and why they their lives have been turned upside down.

I loved all the characters in this engaging story as they fight evil together.

I immediately fell for Jethro and his British accent. This story has wonderfully written dialogue and I especially enjoyed all the bantering between Jethro and his friends. I enjoyed every minute of this enthralling, emotionally intense, edge of your seat story.