Book Review: Romancing the Rogue by Erica Ridley

When the new earl inherits, poor relation Miss Rebecca Bond must wed immediately or be out on her ear. The only man she’s ever loved is summoned to hear the will—but he already rejected her so soundly that they haven’t spoken in years. Yet who better than a rakish Viscount to teach her how to snare a gentleman who appreciates her charms?

Daniel Goodenham, Lord North Barrows, regrets nothing more than the lost friendship with the one woman who treated him like a man, not a title. Fate has given him the perfect pretext to win her forgiveness—even if it means having to matchmake her to someone else. But now that she’s back in his life, he’ll do anything to convince her to choose him instead…

This story was first featured in the Vexed anthology.

I’ve read several of Ridley’s books before so I am pre-approved on Netgalley for many of her books on the site.  This is a relatively short book, with a very limited cast of characters.

Rebecca had a dubious first season, having been shamefull rejected in public by the older (he was 17) Daniel Goodenham who had just inherited his title after the death of his father. She has spent the last five years living in the shadows of Castle Keyvor, but with the death of Lord Banfield everything is now in jeopardy.  The new earl becomes aware of her existance and gives  her an ultimatum: with 5 girls of his own he has no extra time or money to support a sixth: she has mere months to find a husband, or he will choose a husband for her. Her parents long gone, her wardrobe significantly out of date, the chance of a small dowry, and out of practise in flirting etc., she feels she has little chance of finding a suitable husband in time.

She realises that Daniel would be coming up for the reading of the will and that she would make use of his reputation as a rake – without realising that it’s all made up in the press.

Disgusted by his birthday party, where he knows virtually noone but all the young women are flirting for his attention, Daniel comes up to the castle early. I’m not entirely sure how he’s certain that’s where she’ll be – in the need to find Rebecca’s forgiveness. He gets about a week with her before the others arrive for the reading of the will and it doesnt always go well. He finds her infinately more intelligent and talented than he ever hoped, she finds him not the rake that the press had made him out to be.

We dont get to meet the other guests, and certainly dont sit in on the reading of the will – we only get to hear the results, which surprises at least one of the couple. This is a good choice as it doesn’t clutter the story up with 1 dimensional characters who add nothing to the story. The only character that confuses me slightly is the reaction of Mary the maid who seems to have no problem in taking orders from Rebecca, despite (apparently) Rebecca’s non-visibilty around the castle for the last 5 years.

Anyway, a shortish story, that seems pretty standalone, and not requiring an investment in a series of 8 books to find out what happens to everyone involved (as seems the fashion nowadays).

Book Review: The Doctor Wears a Stetson by Anne Marie Novark

 

the-doctor-wears-a-stetsonJessie Kincaid was fifteen and innocent when Cameron asked her to the prom. She lost her heart that night, but his plans didn’t change. He left their small town to pursue his dreams.

Seventeen years later, a trip home leads Cameron McCade back to Salt Fork, Texas and the newly widowed Jessie Devine. Since his return, the fire between them burns as hot as ever. Can they take up where they left off? Can Jessie risk her heart again?

Ebook free from Amazon. I started reading this in the effort to clear some space from my ebook, and if I’m honest – it’s not engaging and the story line is barely remembered just a week after finishing.

Jessie was in love with Cameron well before he asked her to go to prom (after Cameron and his girlfriend split up mere days before the dance). Not long afterwards, Cameron goes to the city to become a doctor, and has come home for his mother’s birthday, having been offered a lucrative job – all he has to do is accept.

Jessie is newly widowed – he husband had been seriously sick – and with the medical bills etc, the garage she inherited from her father is on the verge of bankruptcy. She has drilling rights to the McCade ranch and had vowed to her now dead husband never to sell them back to the McCades – there was some long running feud I long stopped caring to find out about, that meant the rights werent to be sold back out of spite.

Cameron comes back, Jessie has low confidence and is spiralling out of control financially, blah blah hlah.

Sorry, just a completely forgettable story

Book Review: Christmas at the Rekindle Inn by Lori Waters

 

Christmas at the Reindle Inn #BookReviewMary Walker has a habit of giving in when it comes to her mother, but this time her mom went too far. At first glance, the gift seems innocent. Seven days at a lovely Vermont inn in mid-December is Mary’s idea of the perfect Christmas present—that is until she discovers her traveling companion’s identity.

The Rekindle Inn is the last place J.T. Walker wants to spend his Christmas vacation, much less in the company with the woman who’d recently ripped his heart to shreds. A challenge of wills, and the need to show Mary he no longer cares, has him on the plane to Santaville faster than the time it takes to unwrap a candy cane.

The Rekindle Inn specializes in mending relationships, but when the Walkers check in, it will take more than a little Christmas magic to bring these two broken hearts back together. More like a Christmas miracle.

Picked up from Netgalley in exchange for a review, this almost didn’t make it into the Christmas Reading pile, until I was checking my dashboard on the site for another book, and – eeep! It was there ready to read, and my chance of a themed romance was rapidly running out the door!

So: it’s a romance set at Christmas, so you have to suspend any Grinchy-ness if you’re going to survive this book. A week before Christmas, and a month before their divorce is finalised, Mary and JT (Joseph Tanner) (yes, there’s the first of them!), are sent to the Rekindle Inn by their mothers, in the hope they can recover what’s left of their marriage.

They have been separated for 6 months, ever since Mary organised a surprise vacation, only for JT to bail out at the last minute “for work purposes”. Both characters have issues that have contributed to their marriage breaking down – Mary hasn’t trusted anyone since her father walked out on her mother when Mary was 10, and she gives up at the first sign of trouble anywhere in her life. JT has always felt that whatever he did was never “good enough” for his father, so he strove to be the best at his job, whilst neglecting his marriage.  Both of them struggle with communication, with their spouse and family members. Neither have confronted their parents about the trip, or their issues.

Arriving at the Rekindle Inn, the couple realise there is something unusual about the people who make up the staff and the community, starting with the fact that their hosts are called Mr and Mrs Klaus, and virtually no-one is over 5 feet tall. There’s the occasional “slip up” where references are made to “el, I mean staff”.

This is told primarily from the point of Mary, with a little side view from JT.  Some of the secondary characters are more 3 dimensional than others but some are barely sketched.

Once at the Inn, the couple are told about the week’s schedule, which involves time spent apart as well as putting the two of them together as a couple.  Each day is themed, and allows the couple to reflect on what made them fall in love in the first place, and hopefully bring some spark back into their relationship. They do get together – briefly – during the week, but it is the end of the week when Mary’s new boyfriend turns up to pick her up, and JT’s  boss’ daughter continues to try and get her claws into him that almost ruins the reconciliation.  However, as per all good romances, especially one set at Christmas, things work out as wished for!

The Christmas tie-ins were laid on a little thick for my liking, but them’s the breaks. Some people love the book, some people hate it, I found it to be a nice, fast, post Christmas read over lunch one day.

#BookReview: Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky (A Town Called Christmas #1) by Holly Martin

Christmas under a Cranberry Sky

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts…

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that’s how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.  So when Piper’s next assignment brings her to the newly opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.  But Piper isn’t the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn’t forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.  Now fate has reunited them on Juniper island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

From the publishers via netgalley in exchange for a review.  Piper is a professional hotel reviewer, and has spent the last 10 years travelling the world.  As her last review before taking a 6 month sabbatical, she goes to the Stardust Lake Hotel for the Christmas and New Year break. Little does she know that the man who owns the hotel and trying to get it ready is the man she’s been running from for the last 12 years, ever since her father’s death and Gabe unknowingly broke her heart.

Piper has turned up whilst they are still getting the hotel ready for the Christmas period, a fact that isn’t helped by the loss of general power to many of the cabins. That, plus some staff taking a final holiday before the season starts proper, means she ends up helping out with getting the cabins ready, whilst staying with Gabe in his set of rooms. Their connection comes back fairly quickly but it is clear that both of them have issues that need to work out – Pip is devastated that Gabe spent time in hospital after she disappeared, and she has to deal with the fact that apparently his family turned down money from her father to take her off his hands. Throw in the fact that she was in the car when he died, only adds to the fact she’s been running the last 12 years.

The Cranberry Sky is a reference to a Old Wives Tale that the usually green Northern Lights turn red when there is true love in the air. This is seen by Gabe and Pip when they spent a night alone in one of the cabins with a glass roof.

Meanwhile the hotel is concerned that Mr Black – a well known hotel reviewer capable of closing hotels on the back off a review – is expected over the holiday period with noone – including Pip – knowing that Mr Black is Pip. It is Pip’s reticence to declare her proper job as hotel reviewer that is the cause of the new breakdown between her and Gabe. Due in part to the remoteness of the hotel, it is impossible for Pip to do the traditional romance “running away until he follows” act, and they have to work it out with her staying put.

Meanwhile some of the secondary characters are being developed, including Gabe’s sister Neve, and it is the arrival of her ex boyfriend (the actor) that sets up the premise for the next book in the series.  There’s plenty of room for at least two more books in the series – perhaps more depending on who else gets added – whilst developing Pip and Glen into something a little more rounded.

Over all a cozy story for the Christmas season with plenty of potential to take further

Book Review: A Cotswold Christmas by Kate Hewitt

a cotswold christmasWelcome to Wychwood-on-Lea… a not-too-quaint village where frosty evenings, welcoming fires, and second chances will make this a Christmas you’ll never forget.

Anna Vere has escaped to the Cotswolds for Christmas to try to heal from her broken engagement and, far worse, her broken dreams. When her reserved room at a bed & breakfast is flooded, she takes up the offer of camping out in Willoughby Close, the converted stables of the nearby manor house… and is taken under the wing of sexy local carpenter Colin Heath.

What starts out as merely helping a neighbor in need turns into far more as Colin and Anna share a surprisingly intense and emotional connection, weaving their own Christmas magic as they spend the holiday together. But Anna has a secret she’s scared to reveal, something that could destroy the fragile bond they’ve just created, and Colin knows she’s only in England for a short time. Can these two sudden soul mates risk their hearts for a love that has yet to be tried and tested?

Get swept away by this poignant and heartwarming story, set in beautiful Wychwood-on-Lea, in the English Cotswolds. And look forward to four more books set in Willoughby Close, where everyday miracles and happily-ever-afters are guaranteed.

Received from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

After a 4 month stressful period in New York, only child Anna plans a quiet Christmas holiday in the Cotswolds. Unfortunately her room in the booked B&B is flooded, so there is literally no room at the inn. Through various tangled relationships she ends up using the spare bedroom of the local capenter Colin. despite her strained feelings, Anna and Colin have an instant connection and it’s nice to have narrative from both in the couple as to how the relationship is coming along.

The romance comes along fast – it’s a matter of days before they’re sleeping together and she’s meeting his family for Christmas – and some reviewers find this a bit unrealistic. I do find that it makes the book rather short and a little lacking on the character development, especially for the seconday characters. It seems theee are other books in the series, and I’m wondering if this story could have been combined with another one in the series.

This might imply that it was a bad story – it wasnt, just a little short on character development – e.g. the owner of the Willoughby Manor and her nephew are given short shrift and are made out to be rather unpleasant.  There’s an indication that she is lonely and bitter towards her nephew, but there’s no expansion on this and no indication that this will be covered in another book.

In short: a short book that can be read one afternoon, perhaps after a heavy lunch, and which will not offensive or too taxing.

About this author

Kate is the USA Today-bsetselling author of over 40 books of women’s fiction and romance. She is the author of the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in England’s Lake District and published by Penguin. She is also, under the name Katharine Swartz, the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell. Other series include the Emigrants Trilogy, the Amherst Island Trilogy, and the Falling For The Freemans series.

She likes to read romance, mystery, the occasional straight historical and angsty women’s fiction; she particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.

Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in the English Cotswolds with her husband, five children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever.

Book Review: Wrong Brother, Right Match (Anyone But You #3) by Jennifer Shirk

Wrong BrotherMatchmaking guru Kennedy Pepperdine’s life is perfect. Perfect job. Perfect friends. Perfect boyfriend. Except…when she gets trapped in an elevator with a handsome stranger, she accidentally confesses a secret: maybe her perfect boyfriend, Justin, isn’t so perfect for her after all. But a matchmaker should be able to successfully match herself, right? Thankfully, she’ll never see the handsome stranger again. Until she heads home with Justin for the holidays and learns that the sexy stranger is none other than Justin’s older brother, Matt.

Matt Ellis is trying to be on his best behavior for his mother—it is Christmas, after all. But when he recognizes the beautiful woman from the elevator—the one he hasn’t been able to stop thinking about for months—his best behavior is being held by a thread. Matt’s always sacrificed for his family, and nothing is more important than their happiness, but the more time he spends around Kennedy, the more he wonders if her supposed “right match” might just be the wrong brother.

Picked up from Netgalley in exchange for a review.

This is the 3rd book in the series, but you wouldnt know it from reading it – I actually dont know who came beforehand in the series.

Anyway, Kennedy is dating Justin – well “dating” isnt the word, it’s more a case of “knowing each other exist”. Kennedy’s dating company is based on some software, through which she found Justin. On paper he is everything she wants and needs, but the reality is proving to be different. It’s clear that he’s putting work before her, and doesn’t know the first thing about her. Pride and the need for stability however is not letting her admit defeat, even when she has the most incredible kiss from another man whilst trapped in an lift whilst in Vegas.

Six months later Kennedy and Justin are engaged, and for once, Justin has agreed to go home to his family’s winery in order to introduce his fiance. It’s clear he still knows little about Kennedy, thinking she prefers cider over chocolate.  They’re barely in the house when Kennedy and Matt realise that they know each other – they kissed each other in Vegas! Centered in work, Justin goes back to New York to complete some work, and doesnt seem to be in a rush to come back home, asking Matt to look after her.

Course, cue spending lots of time together, falling in love, Kennedy coming to terms with the fact she’s made a mistake etc. New investors in her company bring hte launch of the software forward from Feb to the New Year, demanding that Kennedy returns to New York for the presentation – however, this is when Kennedy gets to make an important announcement that could affect everyone around her. Other people also get the chance to realise where they need to make changes, so of course they do!

This is a clean romance, with only one brief kiss between the main characters (to show if nothing else “that nothing went on” and that Matt didnt betray his brother).  There’s plenty of loose threads left untied to allow for a number of other books to be written in the same world. Not sure I’ll be in a rush to track down more of these, but if some turn up on offer, I wouldnt look to turn them down!

About this author

Jennifer Shirk has a bachelor degree in pharmacy-which has in NO WAY at all helped her with her writing career. But she likes to point it out, since it shows romantic-at-hearts come in all shapes, sizes, and mind-numbing educations.

She writes sweet (and sometimes even funny) romances for Avalon Books/Montlake Romance and now Entangled Publishing. Her novel SUNNY DAYS FOR SAM won the 2013 Golden Quill Published Authors Contest for Best Traditional Romance and recently, her novel WEDDING DATE FOR HIRE was a 2016 Golden Leaf finalist for best short contemporary romance.

Lately she’s been on a serious exercise kick. But don’t hold that against her.

Book Review: Lady of the Bridge by Laura Kitchell

lady-of-the-bridge

Saiko, warrior princess under Japan’s first ruling shogun, is tasked with entering the dethroned emperor’s household as a consort. It is her duty. It brings honor to her family. This alliance between the old regime and the new can end rebellious uprisings that keep Japan in upheaval.

Takamori is an elite samurai in service to the first shogun. He is war-weary but loyal in his service under the man who ended the civil wars that threatened to destroy Japan. With no major battles to fight, he faces a peacetime that has all samurai questioning their role and their future.

When Saiko and Takamori meet on a garden bridge, both seeking answers and calm, they stir unexpected desires and create more questions than answers. Each day they meet and each day they fall deeper in love. Duty and honor, however, dictate that Saiko must belong to the emperor, and as her father’s marshal, Takamori must deliver her.

A ronin attack forces them to fight for her life. They race across Japan with armies on the chase and two questions left unanswered. Who organized and directs the ronin army? And how much time do they have together?

In a world where duty is everything, how will she choose between family honor and her heart’s desire?

Received from the publishers via Netgalley. I do have a thing for books set in Asia, and Japan and China in particular, which is what drew me to this story.  It is told from the perspective of Princess Saiko, who is the daughter (and youngest child) of the Shogun.  She has spent several years staying with her brother, and using her time to study martial arts.  She knows that it is her duty to become consort to the dethroned emperor, and also develops the more “womanly” virtues, of poetry, literature, painting and calligraphy.

Takamori has come back from extended fighting, having built up a fearsome reputation as an excellent fighter and leader of troops. Since the fighting has been essentially suppressed (ronin not withstanding!), he’s now at a loss as to what happens next with his career.

The two meet on the covered bridge that Saiko’s father has built for her each year, and at first she is more than a little angry he is invading her space. Not wanting to make a scene – she’s come out without her ladies in waiting – she lets him stay, but doesnt tell him who she is. Over the next few weeks, they meet, fall in love, and there’s plenty of discussions about painting, poetry, nature etc.

Finally, Saiko has to go to the Emperor’s household, and Takamori is to lead her escort. However, they get attacked by a group of Ronin, and they have to separate from the escort.  The pair end up in a protected castle, and it’s here that their relationship becomes more physical. Finally they make it to the Emperor’s household where the Ronin attack again. Saiko defends the emperor, killing a number of soldiers in the process.  As a result, she manages to find a way to leace the emperor and find her true love, with noone losing face, and with her having performed her duty.

It was good to have a female character who was interesting, educated as well as able to hold her own as a warrior (she kills more than a few Ronin along the way, with no subsequent wailing that you might expect from someone not trained as a warrior). Takamori has done well as the Shogun’s Marshal, but is also educated and now searching a different path in life. The occasionally forays into fights are not too often and are decently written, showing that Saiko and Takamori can work well together, whilst showing that Saiko can defend herself (and others) without the need to be “protected by a man” (can you feel the feminism standpoint coming through?)

About this author

Laura Kitchell is a member of Romance Writers of America and Chesapeake Romance Writers. She’s never happier than when she’s spinning a new tale. Hearing from fans is her second favorite activity, though book signings come in a close third. She writes historical, contemporary, and will dabble in romantic suspense and even mermaids when the fancy strikes.