Category Archives: Harlequin

Review: What a Hero Dares by Kasey Michaels

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2Stars

As a directionless youth, Maximillien Redgrave’s grandmother had him become a soldier. There he learned the skills he needed to protect England and hunt down those who want to destroy his family. In his quest, Max met and fell in love with his fellow agent Zoe Charbonneau. Only Zoe betrayed him and killed most of their associates in the process. Now, nearly a year later Zoe is back just when the Society is ready to attack.

Framed for a crime she did not commit, Zoe must work with the man she still loves to clear her name and catch the real culprit.

The story began with an extensive summary to catch readers up on the events of the previous three books in the Redgrave series. The synopsis is thorough, but a bit dry and dense.

The main issue with this novel is that it does not feel like the focus of the story is about Max and Zoe. In fact their issues are settled right away and there is no further conflicts that would prevent them from being together.

WHAT A HERO DARES is the final chapter of a larger saga and it shows by pushing aside the romance to finish the story of the Redgraves and the Society. The ending seemed rushed and hinged on a reveal that did not really make sense and it left me feeling cheated.

SPOILERS AHEAD

A better ending would’ve been to have the Exalted One to have been the Redgraves’ mother. She was a far more plausible and had much more motivation to see England and the Redgraves legacy destroyed. It would also make sense as to why she would be sexually obsessed with Niall who was said to be the spitting image of her late husband Barry. The Exalted Leader’s eventual suicide would make for a more compelling and emotional scene. She is losing, but she also does not want to face her children—whom she abandoned years ago—as the monster she has become.

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Filed under Harlequin, HQN, Regency, Review, Romance Novel

Review: Waking Up Pregnant by Mira Lyn Kelly

WakingUpPregnant

3Stars

Last night in Las Vegas. One-night stand. Broken condom. Sometimes what happens in Vegas doesn’t stay in Vegas as Darcy Penn and Jake Norton discover in Mira Lyn Kelly’s new book WAKING UP PREGNANT.

After an incredible night, Darcy leaves Jeff’s suite before he can tell her about their contraception’s failure. Three months later, a pregnant Darcy shows up at his L.A. office to tell him the news… after she finishes throwing up in his wastepaper basket.

Kelly is able to infuse a lot of good-natured humor and caring in WAKING UP PREGNANT. Letting the readers sympathize with Darcy’s terrible morning sickness and Jake’s fears about his baby, its mama and their unsteady alliance with each other. Add in a current girlfriend, long distance and two fiercely independent people and the reader will get a fun story that shows us that sometimes we can fall in love with a stranger after one night. The happily ever after though, requires a little more work.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Kiss, Review, Romance Novel

Review: Romance for Cynics by Nicola Marsh

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3Stars

When financial whiz Cashel Burgess puts off a young starlet, she sets out to destroy his reputation by spreading rumors.  Knowing his business relies on his good name and image, Cash agrees to his friend’s suggestion to enter a Public Relations firm’s Valentine’s Day competition to find Australia’s Most Romantic Couple. All Cash needs is a fake girlfriend and who better than his no-nonsense gardener?

Lucy Grant hates Valentine’s Day thanks to a cheating ex-husband. So when her best client offers her money (and the chance to completely redesign his garden) to pretend to be his girlfriend for a week she says no. However, Lucy soon discovers that her grandmother is dire financial straits and Lucy must accept Cash’s offer in order to save her childhood home.

With each romantic event, the line between real and fake become blurred and two cynics learn that there might be something to all this romance stuff after all.

Sweet and entertaining with likable characters and fun dialogue, Romance for Cynics is a quick, satisfying Aussie romance.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Kiss, Review, Romance Novel

Review: The Trouble with Honor by Julia London

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4Stars

As the eldest stepdaughter of a dying earl, Honor Cabot has a little problem: Once her stepbrother marries and attains the title, his bride intends to toss her and her family out. So desperate times call for desperate measures and she enlists the help on an infamous rake George Easton to seduce her sister-in-law to be.

The unclaimed bastard son of a royal duke, George Easton isn’t a stranger to people thinking the worst of him. At first, he refuses but he finds Honor intriguing and irresistible. Even though they are perfect each other, life and society are against anything permanent.

The first of new series entitled “The Cabot Sisters,” Julia London begins strong. She does not shy away from real life. Honor Cabot has problems. What seems like selfish self-interest and fear of losing her life of luxury is actually just the surface. What is the real fear is her family being adrift and penniless, and her mother’s declining mental health.

London does an excellent job developing the relationship between Honor and George. Their progression from acquaintances to lovers is well-paced and understandable. The story never makes the reader feel that the obstacles keeping the hero and heroine apart are contrived and only there for padding. And her approach to Honor’s problems feel authentic, a refreshing change from the new trend of over dramatizing every issue.

In the end, “The Trouble with Honor” is a fun, sparkling start to a brand new series and is a must-read whether in print or ebook.

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Review: Tempted by Lori Foster

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3Stars

When time is limited and reading an entire novel is out of the question, picking up an anthology is a great route to choose. Lori Foster has written a lot of books and has participated in many anthologies. “Tempted” is the collection of Lori Foster’s Sawyers family stories and a reissue of an earlier trade paperback version released in 2005.

In the first story, “Little Miss Innocent?” is about conservative Dr. Daniel Sawyers and brazen sex therapist Lace McGee. It’s a story where opposites attract, assumptions are wrong and characters discover that they cannot fight the feelings bubbling to the surface. Thought Daniel and Lace are two very different people, Foster is able to make their relationship feel plausible and emotional.

“Annie, Get Your Guy” features Daniel’s kid sister Annie is love with his best friend Guy Donovan. Annie has been in love with Guy for years, but his seeming indifference to her advance has caused her to use more drastic seduction techniques. Foster is able to show by using dialogue and flashbacks to show the reader that Guy loves Annie as well without it seeming like a huge revelation.

The final novella is about Maddie Montgomery, a counselor whose fiancé cheated on her. Needing a no-strings attached fling, town lothario Max Sawyers seems like the perfect candidate. Unfortunately, after adopting a dog, Max is looking to settle down. This story is the least successful of the three. Throughout the events of their tale, it seemed that Maddie was more in love with Max’s dog than she was with him. Thus, with the rapport of the human character less believable than that between the dog and the humans, Foster has created a story that is less appealing than its predecessors.

If you are new to Lori Foster “Tempted” may not be the best book to start off with. It has its charms and fun characters, but ultimately some of the story elements fell a bit flat. Gorgeous new cover though.

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Filed under Anthology, Contemporary, Harlequin, Review, Romance Novel

Review: Mistress By Midnight by Nicola Cornick

Mistress by Midnight

4Stars

With the influx of regency romances, it was nice to see one that was unpretentious in its simplicity. Nicola Cornick’s writing is strong, thoughtful and unabashedly straightforward with characters that are both memorable and sympathetic.

It is typically a taboo for a man to lust after his best friend’s little sister. That is doubly true for Garrick Farne who killed his best friend Stephen in a duel. Having just returned from his exile, Garrick meets Stephen’s little sister Merryn, who is hiding under his bed. Merryn’s motivation is simple. She wants to avenge her brother’s death by ruining the man she used to have a crush on.

Garrick and Merryn’s attraction is meddlesome and unwanted. They show it, they think it and the reader feels it. Nicola Cornick writing style is direct. Usually, that particular style lends to a dryer read, but with Cornick, the prose read more intensely when emotions called for it as was the case when our hero and heroine made love for the first time. The narrative flows well from one scene to the next with all of the important points hit upon without lingering overlong on anything in particular.

There are only a couple of times that Cornick seems to falter. A few parts toward the end seem rushed and a bit forced. One part in particular, Merryn suddenly jumps to a conclusion that she seemed to have no reason to conclude. Yes, the reader can make the same speculation, but we have the benefit of knowing Garrick’s thoughts and actions.

Though a well-written story is important, characters are more so. Garrick is honorable to a fault and an apt example of how a good trait can become bad when in abundance. He always tries to do the right thing even if it is detrimental to himself and his desires. Conversely, Merryn is single-minded in her mission, so much so that she believes herself to be more important and worldly than her sisters and others. Neither main character is perfect, but their shortcomings seem believable and they seem willing to work with each other to overcome their mutual failings. In all, every character seemed authentic with reactions and motivations that were in line with how ordinary people would act no matter the time period.

Now, two little nitpicky problems: First, the back matter referred to the hero as Garrick Northesk, which is not the surname most often associated with him. Secondly, the title “Mistress by Midnight” seemed ill-fitted and not connected to the story.

If you have the chance, pick up a copy of MISTRESS BY MIDNIGHT especially if you’ve never read a novel by Nicola Cornick before. I promise, you will want to read more.

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Filed under Harlequin, Regency, Review, Romance Novel

Review: Lead Me On

Raw, animal magnetism…

…is a big red flag to prim and proper office manager Jane Morgan. After a rough childhood with a mother who liked her men in prison-jumpsuit orange, Jane changed her name, her look and her taste for bad boys. So why is she lusting for William Chase with his tattoo-covered biceps and steel-toed boots? The man blows things up for a living!

She gives herself one explosive, fantasy-filled night with Chase. The next day it’s back to plain Jane and safe men.

But when her beloved brother becomes a murder suspect, it’s Chase who comes to her rescue. And Jane discovers that a man who’s been around the block knows a thing or two about uncovering the truth….

(Click to Read More)

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Review, Romance Novel