Review: Unbroken Cowboy by Maisey Yates

cover148992-mediumDane Parker traded in his trailer-park roots for glory as a bull rider. But when a serious injury sidelines him for months, it’s the first time he can’t just pull himself up by his bootstraps. The last thing he wants to deal with is sweet family friend Bea treating him like one of her wounded animals—or the unexpected attraction that suddenly flares between them.

Beatrix Leighton has loved Dane for years, while he’s always seen her as another sister. When she enlists his help to start her animal sanctuary, she thinks it will give him purpose. Instead, it brings all the desire she feels for him to the boiling point. Bea’s father taught her early on that love means loss. But could her forbidden crush turn into a love that will last a lifetime?

I fell for Beatrix the moment I met her.  How can you not love a girl whose sole mission in life is to make animals better by giving them a safe place to live, food, and medical care?  She’s also genuinely sweet and kind, giving because she wants to, not because she thinks it’s expected or because she wants to look better than others.  She really endeared herself to me with how she treated Evan, a racoon she rescued and nursed back to health.  However, there was a part near the end where I think she did a complete reversal and all the character growth she’d made up to that point had backtracked.  Thankfully, both her friends and Dane were able to help put her back to rights.  Bea is definitely the kind of friend you want to have on your side because she’d truly do whatever you needed and never think twice about what it cost her.

Dane, on the other hand, took some warming up to before I started to understand why Bea liked him so much.  Yeah, he was definitely handsome, but he was also grouchy as heck for most of the story.  I gave him some leeway knowing he’d been injured and cooped up at home for eight months, but something’s gotta give, Dane.  Once he acknowledged his attraction to Bea, he did lighten up and started being happier, which is great because you truly begin to see more of his personality.

Unbroken Cowboy is about more than simply an injured bull rider.  It’s about family, forgiveness, and moving on.  Although the couple had their rough spots, they were able to eventually see eye to eye and find a way to make things work.  Despite both of them being broken in one way or another, together they fit together as a whole.  A very sweet – and steamy – story reminding you that even troubled people can find love and happiness.

3.5/5

*Thank you to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Play It Again by Aidan Wayne

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The videos are fun.

But it’s the host who has him coming back for more…

When Seattle-based blind YouTuber Dovid Rosenstein finds Sam Doyle’s Let’s Play channel, playitagainsam, he’s instantly captivated by the Irish gamer. Everything about Sam is adorable, from his accent to his personality, and Dovid can’t get enough of his content.

Dovid’s glowing shout-out on Don’t Look Now, his own successful channel, sends Sam’s subscriber numbers skyrocketing overnight. He has more comments than he can read. And while the sudden surge in popularity is anxiety inducing, Sam decides it’s only right to dedicate his next episode to Dovid…which soon leads to a heart-pounding exchange of DMs.

They may have never met in person, but Dovid’s never felt this close to anyone before. What they have feels worth exploring—no matter the distance. But is it possible to already be in love with someone who’s half a world away? Continue reading “Review: Play It Again by Aidan Wayne”

Review: Foul Play on Words by Becky Clark

cover152980-mediumMystery author Charlee Russo agrees to speak at a Portland writers’ conference organized by her friend Viv Lundquist. When Viv picks her up at the airport, she frantically explains that her daughter Hanna has been kidnapped. Unfortunately, Viv has a history of embellishing the truth and Hanna has a history of disappearing.

Charlee takes over the conference preparation so Viv can search for her daughter, but the situation gets tense when the hotel double-books the event with a dog show. Despite it all, Charlee is compelled to investigate after she learns shocking secrets about both Hanna and Viv. Can she find Hanna in time, or will a plot twist lead her to a ruff ending?

I’ve said this before, but I really do enjoy cozy mysteries.  They’re generally light, fun, and quick reads, something to brush off the heaviness of a procedural or thriller.  Foul Play on Words is no exception.  Combining two of my favorite things – writing and dogs – into a novel is a surefire way to get me to read it.

Charlee Russo, a mystery writer accused of murder herself not too long ago, is excited to join her long-time friend, Viv, at a writer’s convention in Portland.  Minutes after landing, all her plans are trashed when Viv blurts out that her daughter, Hanna, is missing.  While Charlee agrees to take over the prep for the conference, she also decides to do a little investigating of her own.  Although a bit snappish and irritated at times, Charlee is a likeable character.  Her investigative skills aren’t always the best, but she’s a writer, not a detective, so I can let that slide.  She does have quite the imagination and her sense of humor often saves her from screaming.

The addition of the double booking with a dog show added a lot of fun and colorful moments to the story.  It was a great way to break up Charlee’s worrying – about both the conference and the kidnapping – as well as lightening the mood with some humor.  My one complaint is that the supporting characters weren’t fully fleshed out so you’re not sure of their true motives or possible involvement.  Charlee, however, is well-rounded and interesting and I’d happily read more in this series.

Foul Play on Words is a fun and lighthearted cozy mystery.  It makes for a quick read that left me smiling.  There is one character, however, that I’m wondering about.  I’m hoping that maybe he’ll make an appearance in the next novel.  Two chance encounters with him make me hopeful.  Guess I’ll have to pick up the next one and see.

*Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Review: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton

cover147107-mediumJuliette loves Nate.

She will follow him anywhere. She’s even become a flight attendant for his airline so she can keep a closer eye on him.

They are meant to be.

The fact that Nate broke up with her six months ago means nothing. Because Juliette has a plan to win him back.

She is the perfect girlfriend. And she’ll make sure no one stops her from getting exactly what she wants.

True love hurts, but Juliette knows it’s worth all the pain…  Continue reading “Review: The Perfect Girlfriend by Karen Hamilton”

Review: Hot Texas Sunrise by Delores Fossen

cover151592-mediumLove was the last thing on this untamed cowboy’s mind…until she stole his heart away.

Cleo Delaney will do anything to keep her promise and raise her best friend’s sons—even if it means telling a little white lie to the state to keep them. So Cleo turns to the only person she can trust to help her—her first love, Judd Laramie. If he fosters the three young brothers in name only, she’ll do all the heavy lifting. It’s a foolproof plan…but she never imagined that the feelings they once shared would return. With a vengeance.

Texas deputy Judd Laramie is stunned by Cleo’s request. Being a dad—even on paper—is the last thing this cowboy needs right now. But no one knows better than Judd how flawed the foster system is and how much these brothers need Cleo’s protective love. What starts as a simple lie becomes so much more, and soon it’s clear Judd needs Cleo and the family they’ve created as much as they need him. Now he’ll do whatever it takes to win Cleo’s heart and claim the future they all deserve.

Cleo Delaney is the kind of woman I’d love to have as a friend.  Funny, feisty, and loyal to a fault, she’s the person you’d call in a pinch.  She’s also the perfect person to wrangle her friend Miranda’s three orphaned sons.  Her promise to Miranda coupled with her love of the boys made me really want to root for her to gain custody.  Her business partner, Daisy, was an amusing addition as well, always supporting Cleo and helping to guide her in the right direction.

Judd Laramie is one hot cowboy deputy.  In addition to being Judd the Stud, he’s also an upstanding man with a history of alcoholism.  I think that his sobriety is approached in a realistic way with real worries.  His sponsor, Mercy, was one of the brightest spots of the book.  Although she was a little over the top, she was often needed comic relief.  Judd’s relationship with Cleo as well as with the boys was sweet and heartfelt, but I wish he’d have stepped up sooner.  There were a ton of opportunities, but he never did.  I have no doubt he was probably feeling cut out of the situation as well as doubting his ability to help due to his past, but he really could have said, “Wait, I want to help!” long before he actually did.  That said, the way he reached out to Beckham was wonderful.  He saw a lot of himself in the kid and it showed.

As a parent, the blurb caught me hook, line, and sinker.  Who can resist three young boys who have not only lost their mother but are also about to be thrown into foster care because their only living relative doesn’t want them?  The way Cleo, Judd, and the entire Laramie clan came together to keep these boys together was truly heart-warming.  Although this is only my second book by this author, it’s definitely not going to be my last.  She’s proven to me that she can write varied and enjoyable romance novels with characters that are not just likable, but relatable as well.

*Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for an e-ARC in exchange for a fair review.

4/5

Review: Stroke of Luck by B. J. Daniels

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He’s hoping to bury the past. She’s ready to settle the score.

The Sterling Ranch’s season opening isn’t going so smoothly. With the ranch’s lodge full of guests and a Montana blizzard threatening, Will Sterling needs help—and he needs it fast. So when his childhood friend Poppy Carmichael agrees to lend a hand, he’s grateful for a second chance…and more enticed by the woman she’s become than he cares to admit.

For Poppy, it was supposed to be a retreat full of horse rides and hoedowns—with a side of showing Will what he’s been missing all these years. But as the snow deepens outside, the guests’ suspicion and mistrust turn sinister inside, catching Will and Poppy in the crosshairs.

Weathering the storm in each other’s arms is all too easy for Will and Poppy, but will a confrontation with a killer mean their reunion is short-lived?

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author B.J. Daniels starts her Sterling’s Ranch series off with a bang in this suspenseful story of romance and revenge.

I have an affection for cowboys that knows no boundaries, so when I saw this book available for request at Netgalley, I jumped on it.  If you could look at my Netgalley shelf (and well, honestly, my physical bookshelf at home), you’d see exactly how much this appeals to me.  Also, I’ve heard a ton of good things about B. J. Daniels over the years and I thought that I should finally check her out for myself.

Anyway, I’m not sure where to start this review.  So much happened in this book!  I went in expecting a straight forward romance, had no idea there was a mystery angle to it.  Somehow, I must have completely missed ‘killer’ in the blurb.  Note to self: read the whole description, please and thank you!  However, this is a good thing because romantic suspense has become a favorite genre of mine.

The author does an excellent job of keeping the tension tight and keeping the reader from figuring out exactly who the bad guy is.  I went back and forth between suspecting two or three people the entire book.  Admittedly, I was not expecting it to be who it was in the end, either.

On the romantic side, the tension was high as well.  Loved the back and forth between Poppy and Will.  Poppy is such an upbeat and fun woman, exactly the kind of person I’d want to hang out with.  Especially with the way she cooks!  Will is a total cowboy, through and through, but he’s not completely immune to Poppy’s charms either.  They are definitely meant for each other.

Okay, and I have a confession: I love a good cover and this one is gorgeous.  All dark and broody with a handsome cowboy, can’t get any better, right?  But is it just me or does the cowboy look like Zachary Quinto in a Stetson?  Not that I’m complaining, but I was curious to see if anyone else thought the same.  Now, on to the next in the series because I can’t wait to see what else the Sterling brothers got up to while I was away.

4.5/5

*Thanks to Netgalley, the author, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

Review: I Invited Her In by Adele Parks

cover153268-medium‘I invited her in… and she took everything.’

When Mel hears from a long-lost friend in need of help, she doesn’t hesitate to invite her to stay. Mel and Abi were best friends back in the day, sharing the highs and lows of student life, until Mel’s unplanned pregnancy made her drop out of her studies.

Now, seventeen years later, Mel and Abi’s lives couldn’t be more different. Mel is happily married, having raised her son on her own before meeting her husband, Ben. Now they share gorgeous girls and have a chaotic but happy family home, with three children.

Abi, meanwhile, followed her lover to LA for a glamorous life of parties, celebrity and indulgence. Everything was perfect, until she discovered her partner had been cheating on her. Seventeen years wasted, and nothing to show for it. So what Abi needs now is a true friend to lean on, to share her grief over a glass of wine, and to have some time to heal. And what better place than Mel’s house, with her lovely kids, and supportive husband…

What could be better than reconnecting with an old friend, the best friend you’d ever had?  That was exactly how Mel thought when she opened Abi’s email.  They’d have a chance to erase all the years between them and make things good again.  For a while, they were.  But then, everything went to hell in a handbasket.

I Invited Her In is exactly the kind of thriller I enjoy.  Best friends coming together after years apart only to uncover secrets piled on top of secrets.  And let me tell you, both Abi and Mel have boatloads full of secrets between them.

Melanie was easy for me to relate to.  While I wasn’t a teenage, single mother, I am the mother of two girls, one of which is the same age as Liam.  That put me in a place where I could easily understand her rage, her fear, her desperation.  Even when she overreacted and was over the top, I still got it.  That drive to protect your kids at all costs is a strong one.

Abigail, on the other hand, I did not understand at all.  Mostly because I wasn’t ever the popular, glamorous type.  But she’s also very self-absorbed and you see this from the very beginning. In the way she never offers to help, constantly monopolizes Mel’s time, and other things.  I thought I’d give her the benefit of the doubt but, instead of growing to like her, I wound up despising her.  Which was probably the point, but that’s something else entirely.  I did feel some pity for Abi, however, but her actions were way above and beyond the hurt she was feeling.

I’m a very gullible reader, I’ll admit to that.  When everyone else sees the ending coming, I’m taken by surprise.  That’s okay though, I can live with being gullible in a fictional world.  However, I knew this book would have some kind of twist at the end and I was not expecting either that we got.  The first, I had some inkling that something would happen, I just hadn’t expected it to be that.  The other though?  I was definitely shocked, although I probably shouldn’t have been.

I Invited Her In was slow to start but, once you get to the meat of the story, it takes off from there.  As soon as I found out what was really going on, I was hooked.  And that’s when the wheels come off and all the secrets start to pour out.  I wish that the author had given some of these tidbits earlier on.  Even hinting at some of them might have made the first part of the book move a little faster.  However, I stuck it out and am not sorry that I did.  What a wild ride this novel was!

4/5

*Thank you to Netgalley, the authors, and the publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.