Starting to read: Love Unscripted

I’m starting a NetGalley book called Love Unscripted, by Tina Reber.  I wanted to share the preface with you:

         “You never know which way the wind blows” was one of my father’s favorite expressions.  I used to think it was silly, just one of those sayings we tell ourselves when we don’t think we have control over our own destiny.
        But I’ve since come to realize that sometimes when those winds of change blow, they’re strong enough to toss you into a whole new world, and you really have no control over where you fly or how you land.
        I’d always been quite content with my life; it was fairly easy and predictable, with only a hint of drama here and there caused by an occasional light breeze.  There were a few times when Mother Nature hit me with her best shot, but I always managed to land on my feet.
       Somewhere along the line I actually thought I had gained control over the weather, keeping the possibility of a terrible storm always at bay.
       That was until the day the wind blew through my door and carried me away.

Love Unscripted by Tina Reber
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Book on sale: 9/8/12; in print 1/1/13


Temptation & Twilight – Charlotte Featherstone

GENRE:  Adult – Fiction, Romance
FORM: eBook – Netgalley
SERIES: The Guardian Brethren

While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, HQNbooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

SYNOPSIS (from Goodreads):  Iain Sinclair, Marquis of Alynwick, is certain there is a special hell for him. An unrepentant rake, he holds nothing sacred – except for beautiful Elizabeth York. For years, Alynwick has tried to forget the woman he loved so well, and treated so badly. A woman who could hold nothing in her heart for him except hatred.

All of society believes Elizabeth, blind daughter of a duke, to be a proper young lady. But no one knows of her wanton affair with Alynwick. When Lizzy learns of her ancestor’s ancient diary – filled with exotic tales – she longs to uncover the identity of the unnamed lover within and hesitantly allows Alynwick, who claims to have knowledge of the “veiled lady,” to help her solve the mystery.

Eager to be Lizzy’s eyes, Alynwick brings the seductive text to life, and each night it takes greater effort for her to forget his betrayal. With each whispered word, her resolve gives way, without her knowing that a centuries-old secret will lead them to a present-day danger.

REVIEW:   I am in love with Charlotte Featherstone’s writing. She is like the epitome of a good romance writer in my eyes. You know how it is, you read books and you’re thinking, “yeah, that was a good book.” “Enjoyable, perfectly entertaining.” Well, when I read Charlotte Featherstone’s books, it’s more like “YES, this is exactly what I was looking for!” I have a feeling that her books could be rate G, and be written for 7 or 8 year old children, and they would still be excellent. She weaves a story that is interesting and engaging. You not only want to know what happens, you’ve got to know what happens. But what really does it for me are the characters. So unique and well formed. They are likeable, even if they are a bit ruthless and dark – if they have their reasons for their bad behavior, you love them for it. But since her books are not written for children (nor are they rated G,) – I have to admit, what I absolutely love the most is that her male leads are absolutely falling over themselves in love, they are gushing with it, it is their biggest downfall and greatest strength. It is wonderful, and absolutely without a doubt (to this extent) unrealistic. That’s exactly what you want out of a book, right?

Before you jump all over me, yes, it is possible to be absolutely crippled by love – but it’s not really healthy nor have I ever seen it as I have in these books. Reality is a little more…well, real.

Okay, so this is the third book in The Guardian Brethren series, and it is Iain and Elizabeth’s story. The mad marquis, Scottish rake and the blind sister of one of his “brothers,” Adrian. They have a past, they have had passion previously, but Iain walked away from everything that they had leaving Elizabeth broken and a bit hardened. You get little tidbits of their story in Pride and Passion, so going in you already know it’s going to be good. My favorite parts are the simple intimate impactful moments, like Elizabeth and Iain out in the snow. What a beautiful, heart pounding scene! I just re-read my review of Pride and Passion, and even then I said I wanted to give you a little sample of the writing – I denied you then, but I’m feeling a little more generous today I suppose, because I just have to share one little taste. This is a small part of the snow scene I just indicated, and you have to remember, Elizabeth is blind. This scene, in it’s entirety, is my favorite of the whole book, however this is just a portion of the very beginning:

“I have waited for this, Beth, this moment,” he whispered as he took her hands in his and brought her fingertips to his mouth, kissing each fingertip before placing her palms on either side of his face. “When Sussex, Black and I returned from the East, I watched you as you did this – touched Sussex, then Black. And I waited, holding my breath, barely able to control my feelings, waiting to feel your touch on my face. But you did not. You made a polite enquiry after my health and left me standing alone by the hearth. And, then, the other afternoon with Sheldon, you touched him, and I was alone, and apart again. Remembering what it was like to await your touch, and then never to feel it. Beth,” he whispered as he moved closer to her, “won’t you touch me? See me?”

This series is a little different from other series I’ve read. Usually in a series of books you get a straight line, with this one (well, at least the last two – I still need to read the first book) the line is a bit more jagged. Ms. Featherstone goes back and fills in a few gaps you didn’t even realize you were missing from the previous book. The story is the same in parts, yet continues in others. I’m anxious to get my hands on Seductions & Scandal, and I’ll likely revisit Pride & Passion. As much as I’ve enjoyed Temptation & Twilight, I think Pride & Passion is still my favorite thus far, the back story on that one is heart melting.

A Cold Creek Reunion – RaeAnne Thayne

GENRE:  Adult Fiction – Romance
FORM: eBook – Netgalley

SYNOSPSIS (from Goodreads):   

He was the one you called when you needed rescuing…

But who was Taft Bowman going to call when he needed help? Because ten years ago Laura Pendleton, the love of his life, had left town without a word, then or since. Now she was back, with a new last name, and two adorable, high-needs little ones in tow. Well, Taft had been stupid enough to let her go once before…he wasn’t about to make the same mistake again. He’d never stopped loving her, and one look at those adorable little faces and he knew that he was meant to be with Laura and her kids forever. All he had to do was convince her that this time he was a man she could count on!

REVIEW:  So I’ve decided you might as well add “Small town life,” and “ranch cowboys” to my list of books I apparently gravitate towards. When I look at the scope of books I like to read, it gets broader every day. I mean, one day I’m reading about ships and pirates, another day I’m in the London Ton, the next I’m chasing down vampires, and then I’ll finish it off riding a horse. Such is the way of a book lover!

A Cold Creek Reunion
has actually been sitting in my iPhone for a while. It’s a book I got from NetGalley, and while I try my best to be pretty time sensitive when I get a book from them, this particular one has continued to be pushed back to another time. I mean, it’s a Romance, so it’s a winner from the start, however the story line has been done (which obviously doesn’t bother me, since I DID request the book – right?), but I think I have to be in the moment that I feel like reading that particular kind of book. It doesn’t always happen that way, but apparently this one was one of those kinds of books.

And I must really have been in the mood, because I read two books back-to-back with extremely similar plots. Small town life, runaway bride returns home, old flame flares. It’s obviously a very frequently done plot, in all of its varieties. Like I said, I choose this (these) books, so I’m not knocking the over done plot here – but I’m pretty sure I’ve read 3 or 4 more that have the same basic outline. Thankfully, author creativity makes them not precisely the same book. Anyhow, reading two of these books back-to-back has helped me to really appreciate the value of a good writer. I am not going to name the other book I read, because…well, just because; but let’s just say that the other book was “less than” A Cold Creek Reunion, as far as stories go. While reading the other book I thought, this is a nice story. I’m enjoying it. Of course I love the way the story plays out, the idea around a rekindled romance. But it was just okay. Reading A Cold Creek Reunion in comparison was almost like night and day. I really got to know and enjoy the characters. I loved the town and the people in it. I could envision the story playing out in my head, it became much more than just words on a page. There was life and meaning in there.

Now, if I could tell you what the differences are as far as writing technique, details, etc., I would. I wish I could tell you why one book was just okay and the other evoked such a response that in the end I actually had tears of happiness. Maybe I was just having a sappy day? Or maybe with A Cold Creek Reunion, I had more time to really focus on the story where as the other book I was constantly being interrupted by one or three kids. Those are very distinct possibilities, but I truly believe there is a reason behind why one captured my attention so greatly and the other just merely entertained.

BOOK REVIEW: Allegiance – Cayla Kluver

GENRE: Young Adult – Historical Fantasy
FORM: eBook – NetGalley – ARC
SERIES: Legacy Series – Book 2

While I was granted permission to read this book by NetGalley affiliate publisher, Harlequin, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

SYNOPSIS (from Only I saw Narian for who he truly was: a young man with courage and an independent mind, and made to pay for what was outside his control. He couldn’t help his past any more than he could help the way those intense, deep-blue eyes pierced me and held me captive.

An eighteen-year-old queen in love with the enemy as their countries pass the point of no return…

Bound to a man she cannot love, Queen Alera of Hytanica must forget Narian, the young man who holds her heart. For Narian is destined to conquer Hytanica at the behest of his master, the powerful magic-user known as the Overlord. Alera doesn’t truly believe Narian will fight against Hytanica-until Cokyrian troops attack with Narian commanding the charge.

Faced with the greatest betrayal a heart can know, Alera must set aside personal feelings and lead her kingdom through its darkest time. And when all hope, will and courage seem lost, she must find strength and remember that even the blackest night must have a dawn….

REVIEW: I am in love with this series. It combines all of my many favorite things; fantasy, historical setting, royal court politics, hot heroes, strong heroines, the most evil of villains. Allegiance is a book where the romance does not rule. While there are snippits of gushing here and there, but this book is more about the downfall of Hytanica and about Alera’s rising strength as a Queen. As in the first novel, Legacy, Alera has some questionably immature behavior. There are times when she seems to be completely oblivious to the danger her country is in, or of the responsibility of her new position, however she finds out rather quickly and harshly. In Allegiance she grows up quickly and is becoming a very strong and capable leader.

I addressed love triangles in my previous review, and it seems I’m still unable to get away from them, but in this case it’s a very open ended love triangle, since Alera does not actually love the man she is married to. I actually felt bad for Steldor throughout this book. It seemed as if he loves Alera, even though – if I’m remembering correctly – he never really came close to expressing those feelings in a way Alera could comprehend in the first book. He’s a man who is handsome and knows it. I believe I may have actually compared him to Beauty and the Beast’s Gaston, a comparison I think still fits – but only if Gaston’s character were extended beyond the courtship. You start to see the real man behind the ego in Allegiance. You see he’s a good person, even if he has a temper. He’s protective and possessive over what he sees as his. If played out right, I actually wouldn’t have minded if the book turned to his favor, even if I do love Narian.

Narian, the character who was present throughout the entire book, without actually being present. He was in it – mostly through Alera’s memories. The moments that he was actually there himself, sometimes he was being painted in a very bad scenario, which I think may have encouraged the “Steldor alignment” of the thoughts mentioned earlier. But Narian is a proven character, and he will behave as you expect him to at the right moments. He is a hero who will not let you down!

I loved Allegiance! I love the story, I love the characters. I love the imagery of the world that Cayla Kluver has painted. I will admit that there were points when I felt the book was getting kind of long on the details. I was a bit antsy waiting around in hiding, in fact, but isn’t that what it would actually feel like? I LOVE the covers, absolutely beautiful!!! As I have read these books in a “borrowed’ ARC format from NetGalley, I am so tempted to purchase the book copies of this series – just so I can see them on my shelf.

BOOK REVIEW: Saving June – Hannah Harrington

GENRE: Young Adult Fiction, Romance
FORM: eBook, ARC – NetGalley

While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, HarlequinTEEN, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

SYNOPSIS: Feeling upset at her inability to mourn her sister and trapped by the walls of her house as well her mother’s own mourning process and her over bearing and over religious aunt, Harper convinces her best friend, Laney, to take a road trip from Michigan to California in order to take June to the one place she always longed to go. They are joined by, well actually relying on the car and financial services of, the mysterious Jake. The music obsessed, slightly strange, and a little bit troubled guy who June tutored just before deciding to take her own life.

REVIEW: First of all, the idea of setting off on a long road trip with friends and no agenda is extremely appealing to me. My husband is NOT one for road travel, and with three kids, something like that is just not a possibility…right now at least. So living these experiences through a book is always entertaining – (See my reviews for Amy & Rogers Epic Detour, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and Wanderlove). In Saving Grace, I enjoyed the element of healing that was taking place in Harper’s life. As a teenager, it is easy to imagine her inwardly needing this release. At this point, she can do nothing right; she’s selfish and only thinking about herself. Never mind that Harper is trying to manage her own feelings and life. So this escape, and this last ditch effort to do what she can for her sister, I actually found it honorable – alarming, a little bit immature and disrespectful too – but she was honorable in the fact that she was doing for June what June could not do for herself.

I loved the gradual growing (and – hello it’s a book where that thing always happens) predictable relationship with Jake. The fact that they had time to get to know each other, and their affection for one another was something that grew was nice – but it was also enjoyable that they were constantly teasing or challenging one another. It wasn’t a cheesy or sappy romance, but a sarcastic, exasperating one that turned into a very hot encounter. As a little teaser into the romance – I pulled the following passage, because I just thought it summed everything up about the Harper/Jake duo pretty nicely:

“But I also enjoy him, erratic behavioral patterns and all. I like that he isn’t too cool to openly geek out over ABBA, and that he is so passionate about music, that he gives as good as he gets and doesn’t back down from a good argument. He makes me feel safe, without being overbearing, and at the same time totally stripped bare, forcing me to confront the things I want to keep locked up inside.” Pg 268

To sum it up, while not original, nor unpredictable, Saving June is absolutely enjoyable. A road trip of bickering, complaining, of laughter and love, of tears and healing. It’s a trip that was worth taking and a book I highly suggest picking up!

REVIEW, INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Tall, Dark and Cowboy – Joanne Kennedy

GENRE: Adult – Romance/Western 
FORM: Mass-Market Book, ARC
PUBLICATION DATE:  October 31, 2011

While I was granted permission to read this book by Sourcebooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading! 

**Read to the end for an interview with the author, as well as a chance to win a copy of the book!**

SYNOPSIS: Lacey was always the beautiful, perky cheerleader, and even in her late twenties she feels like that is all her life has been as Trophy Wife. She was married and recently divorced from a crook real estate agent, and is now running from some of her previous husband, Trent Bradford’s “business partners,” who want to use her to make sure Trent doesn’t talk to the authorities. So having her life already ripped apart, and refusing to have anything to do with the wealth Trent so illegally acquired, Lacey decides to run to the one person who was always there for her before she married.

Chase is a hardened, cynical, hot and sexy cowboy. His life has been ripped apart in multiple ways; by Lacey because she broke his heart, by Trent because of the loss of his love, and his father’s ranch as well as life. When Lacey comes stumbling back into his life, he wrestles with desire and compassion and the hatred stemming from the fact that it was her and husband that has put him in his current situation. Chase is ready to send Lacey packing until her situation proves to be dangerous, and the next thing he knows he is bringing Lacey to his home – a place where he has always been able to her permanently.

REVIEW: You’ve got to love a damsel in distress story.  Combine that with sexy ranch cowboy and you get a sizzlingly sexy book. Tall, Dark and Cowboy was hot, to say the least. Lacey and Chase are both dealing with issues. Lacey is desperate for some independence. She has always had to rely on someone to provide for her, so it is understandable that she struggles with a relationship that is so obvious that Chase wants. She is also utterly clueless that Chase has always been head over heels in love with her, despite the way that he has always been constantly at her side ready to drop everything for her.

Chase is a very sweet compassionate character, no matter how hard his exterior or the wall that he puts up between himself and anyone who would like to get close to him. It is really easy to understand his reluctance to help Lacey out in the beginning, given how she and her ex-husband has affected his life for that past several years, but watching him melt and love Lacey was my favorite part. He is overly understanding of Lacey’s back and forth “I can’t be with you, let me jump your bones” personality, but when he finally makes up his mind to have her forever, the victory is so very sweet.

Outside of the Chase/Lacey relationship, there was a bit of action, and a few funny characters. I loved Annie, Chase’s niece, who is bound to either be a law enforcer or serial murder when she grows up. Kristal was the girl you were very happy to see get what she deserved. The best action, however, was the end/climax. There’s nothing more satisfying than watching all the pieces fall into place and having the story wrapped up nicely.

And now for a special treat!  I was given the privilege of interviewing author, Joanne Kennedy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. 
JK: I’m a romantic who believes in love and happy endings. My contemporary Western romances celebrate small towns, wide-open spaces, and hot cowboys with big hearts.

As a child, did you have a favorite author?  Book?
JK: I spent most of my childhood with my nose in a book, so it’s hard to pick just one! I read a lot of older books my parents passed down to me from their own childhoods. Gene Stratton Porter was one of my favorite authors; I loved “The Girl of the Limberlost” and it gave me my love of nature and open spaces.  I also read my dad’s old Zane Gray westerns; Lassiter in “Riders of the Purple Sage” was my first and best cowboy love.
If you could live anywhere at any time (past, present, or future) what would you choose? Why?
JK: This sounds corny, but I love my life so I’d stay right here, right now. I guess that’s why I write about the modern West—it’s right where I want to be. I’d like to visit the old West and share the experience of traveling with a wagon train to start a new life, but I suspect that once I tasted the hardships of the frontier I wouldn’t want to stay long. I like my hot showers and warm bed!
Tell us one silly fact about yourself.
JK: If you’ve read my books, you know I love horses—but I am the worst rider in the universe. I’ve tried over the years, but I’m extraordinarily un-athletic and I always end up on my butt, watching the horse trot off into the distance. My cowboy friends tell me it’s not that easy to fall off a Western saddle, but somehow I always find a way. I love to groom horses, do ground training, even muck out stalls—but I stay out of the saddle.
If you could only own three books for the rest of your life, which three books would you choose?
JK: I have trouble getting through a weekwith only three books, so this would be a real challenge. I’d pick the Bible first, because it’s huge and you can read it over and over and find something new every time. I’d pick Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove because if I can only hang out with one fictional character the rest of my life, I want it to be Gus McCrae. And I’d pick Anna Botsford Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study, which is another book I loved as a child. It’s a weirdly poetic and endlessly interesting encyclopedia from the 50’s full of birds and bugs and other critters. Mostly, I’m going for page count and word density, because three books is nowhere near enough!
What inspired you to become an author?
JK: Books have been such an integral part of my life. I was a shy child, and stories let me be whoever I wanted to be and go wherever I wanted to go. I always had stories in my head, and when I finally started to share them I was surprised to discover other people wanted to go along for the ride. Books have gotten me through some tough times. To be able to do that for other people is just awesome.
What has been the most difficult part of the writing/publishing process?
JK: Reviews! I’ve been lucky enough to have mostly good reviews, but it can be really tough to pour so much of yourself into a story and find out you disappointed someone who just doesn’t see the world the way you do. My relationship with my characters is probably not normal; I fall very much in love with them and if someone doesn’t like them, I’m hurt more deeply than I should be. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful to the people who take the time to write thoughtful, honest reviews and help readers choose books that are right for them. But waiting for those responses on a new book is a real nail-biter!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
JK: If you truly love to write, you’re probably good at it—or you will be with practice. Read a lot, take time to develop your craft, and don’t let anything deter you from following your dream. Ignore the nay-sayers and that inner voice that says you’re not good enough, but find people who will give you constructive criticism and be open to learning from them.
Of your own books, do you have a favorite?
JK: That’s like asking me to name my favorite child! I love Cowboy Trouble because it was the very first book I ever wrote, and the experience was just magical. I love One Fine Cowboy because it won me a RITA nomination, and because readers responded so wonderfully to the characters. I love Cowboy Fever because it let me use my experiences with disabled kids and horses, and because I really admire the heroine. And I love Tall, Dark and Cowboy  because—well, that’s the next question. 
What makes Tall, Dark, and Cowboy special to you?
JK:  In some ways, this book saved me. I was having serious health issues when I wrote it (don’t worry, I’m all fixed now). I was in a lot of pain in real life, but every time I entered the world of the book all my troubles faded away. Chase and Lacey are so hot together I could barely get them to keep their clothes on, but they had a lot to learn outside the bedroom before they could be together. Wrangling those two stubborn people into a love affair was a real challenge, and it was impossible to dwell on my own problems while I was doing it. I hope the book does the same thing for readers.

I am giving away 2 copies of Tall, Dark and Cowboy!  For your chance to win, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below.  The giveaway is for US and Canada only, and I ask that you be 18 or older to enter!

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A Midsummer Night’s Sin – Kasey Michaels

GENRE: Adult Historical Romance
FORM: e-Book, NetGalley
SERIES: Blackthorn Brothers
PUBLICATION DATE: November 29, 2011

SYNOPSIS: A book of mischief and curiosity gone wrong, Regina and Miranda were just looking to have a little bit of fun when they showed up to a risqué masquerade ball, but the consequences of that bit of fun will mean unearthing a crime spree that has been, until recently, been kept secret from London’s elite. A horror that ends up hitting too close to home for Regina’s sake. Thankfully she has the clever Robin Goodfellow Blackthorn to come to the rescue, and provide his good humored services as well.

REVIEW: Robin Goodfellow Blackthorn, aka Puck, is an amusing, fun, easy going, life loving character. He made me smile…a lot. He sees the humor in life and knows how to banter with the best of them. The only way that I would have liked his personality any better is if it were combined with a little bit more dry sarcasm. Combine this with the strong, confident Regina, and you’ve got bliss.

Regina had every reason to hate her life. Her mother’s an alcoholic, her father is overbearing, demanding, and sees people as possessions rather than…well people. She was groomed and fashioned to marry into a title, and presumed she would end up married to a Duke. It is the knowledge of these responsibilities and the fact that her life is laid out before her eyes that causes her to throw caution to the wind and go to a Masquerade Ball unchaperoned with her cousin, Miranda. Despite the horrific result of this decision and the unknown torment that Miranda is to face, some good does come of it, as it also lands her into the playful, and capable arms of Puck.

I love the idea of taking literary characters and turning them into real people. Even if Puck were simply named after the famed Shakespearian character, he also possessed many of his best qualities. The book was very entertaining and fun. The mystery was intriguing and kept me reading. I loved the relationship between Puck and Regina, they were a light playful couple, even in their banter they were picking at each other all the while fighting to keep their hands off. I also really enjoyed the description of what Puck or Regina was wearing, as well as their surroundings, it helped me to create a vivid mental image of each scene.

The only thing I could have wished for was a bit more at the end. I hated jumping from the ending (concluding) scene and straight into their marriage. I actually wanted to see what happened with Regina’s mother, and perhaps her acceptance of Puck as a future son-in-law. Alas, it was not to be I suppose.

Pride & Passion – Charlotte Featherstone

GENRE: Adult – Historical Romance
FORM: eBook – NetGalley
SERIES:  The Brethren Guardians
PUBLICATION DATE: November 15, 2011

While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, HQNbooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading! 

SYNOPSIS: Lucy was born into society to parents who cared about nothing more than appearances and duty. At the present the duty calls for Lucy to get married, and her father has his sights set on Duke of Sussex. Sussex, in Lucy’s eyes, is a passionless pawn to society. Proper and stiff in all the ways of a ton gentleman. Lucy longs for passion and desire, something she had gotten just a brief taste of with her lover, Thomas.

Adrian wants nothing more than Lucy, will stop at nothing to have her. He was taught to be the Duke, to obey all that is right and proper. He was also trained to be a Brethren Guardian, protecting secret artifacts – a job that has recently become more dangerous. The secrets of his life, of his past and his duties keep bound and distant, but beneath the pompous exterior lies a wealth of feeling and desire that he is finding harder and harder to contain.

REVIEW: I simply loved this book! Charlotte Featherstone’s writing was so beautiful and captivating and seductive. It’s funny, because as far as graphic imagery goes, this book was a bit mild compared to some books I’ve read recently; but the sensations and feelings that are provoked with her writing go far beyond that of exaggerated descriptive words.

It was so easy to fall into friendship with both Lucy and Adrian. Their voices were so strong and believable. When you were with Lucy, you feel the frustration of being bound to society and all that it means, and the desperation of finding some sort of happiness and escape from it all. You understood her desire to stand up for herself, but also the need to bow to her duties. It was easy to see how Adrian didn’t seem like a good match, though he was the obvious one. On the other hand you felt nothing but frustration and fury toward Lucy when you were in Adrian’s head. It was so obvious that he loved her, in every breath and every move he was screaming it from the rooftops, and why oh why couldn’t she just see it. He had his own trappings in life, his own duties that were keeping him confined. Adrian’s emotions were at a constant simmer. He had a dark and almost poetic way about him, and his words. I want so badly to quote the book – to lay some out for you, but alas, I am going to keep it a mystery because half the fun of this book is to watch him torture and be tortured yourself with his brief touches and sexy vocalizations of his feelings and the feelings he’d like to provoke.

The relationship between Lucy and Adrian played out exactly as I thought – hoped – it would. Even though in the prologue and first chapter I thought for sure Thomas was our hero, in my mind I had started writing the story with Adrian coming out of the box that Lucy placed him in and becoming something so much more. Little did I know (obviously I didn’t read the synopsis very well, eh?!) I was in the same mindset as the author – happily so. I saw many of my thoughts on the story’s progression come to fruition but am still completely impressed with Charlotte Featherstone’s ability to draw out the story line, to hold on to the puzzle piece even when you think the idea is dead and gone. She does nothing but keep you captivated and reading until the very end – and then sets up the final novel in a frustratingly glorious way!

I haven’t done this in a long time, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Adele lately, and I just really was feeling Adrian singing this song (if he sang, that is).

The Highlander’s Heart – Amanda Forester

RATING:   3 of 5 Stars
GENRE: Adult-Romance
FORM:  Mass-Market Book, ARC
PUBLICATION DATE:  October 1, 2011

While I was granted permission to read this book by Sourcebooks, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!  

SYNOPSIS: Isabelle Tysdale is on the run from her angry, abusive husband. After being ditched by her horse, she is stuck wandering the wilderness alone, with no clue where she is. It isn’t until she encounters some Highland thugs on the road that she finds out she has made her way all the way to Scotland, enemies of England. Trouble finds her at every twist and turn, but fortunately Isabelle has a reluctant savior in David Campbell. Realizing that in her absence will likely mean danger for her family, Isabelle tries again and again to get back to England, but to no avail. Isn’t it just her luck that every time danger lurks, David is right there to protect her?

REVIEW: I found The Highlander’s Heart to be a funny adventure through the Highlands. Isabelle was charming and funny, and did not always make the wisest of decisions. She was compassionate and expected the good out of everyone, even though it got her in more trouble many times. She was nothing if not persistent though. Even when there was no hope of escape, she never failed to come up with some grand plan. Despite her repeated failed attempts at escaping, in the end others called on her creative thinking when they needed help in or out of a situation.

This book was full of interesting characters, both of the darkest dark and those with the best of intentions. Some of my favorites included the McNab brothers, both of whom are desperate and do whatever they can to help their clan, trouble is their decisions continue to bring their Clan closer and closer to demise. I think my heart really went out to them because of their good intentions, and their slight stupidity. In addition to the McNab brothers, it was impossible not to fall in love with David Campbell’s siblings, all distinct in their personalities, but they give you get a sense of a true solid family.

David Campbell was by far one of my favorite Highlander male characters. He doesn’t drip with passion, nor is he overly aggressive in love or in life, as I find many Highland-heros do. He was a thoughtful man, weighing his decisions, seeking God for wisdom. He didn’t grab and take, but he prayed and weighed his options. This was a nice change from the typical, and I found that it made him more appealing, and the ending all that much better.

The Highlander’s Heart is was a very fun, romantic read for anyone who loves Highlander books.  The story was often funny, and moved along nicely.  Amanda Forester’s characters are not only sexy, but also honorable and filled with compassion.

The Sweetest Thing – Christina Mandelski

RATING: 4 of 5 Stars
GENRE: Young Adult – Fiction, Romance
FORM: eBook, NetGalley, ARC

While I was granted permission to read this book by a NetGalley affiliate publisher, Egmont USA, I have received no compensation for this review other than the joy of reading!

SYNOPSIS: Sheridan has a simple, mostly happy life, made up of her Father, chef of the local restaurant Sheridan & Irving’s; her Grandmother who is also the owner of the bakery where Sheridan spends most of her time making cakes for all of the city’s events. Making cakes is a talent that Sheridan excels at, and one that has been handed down from her runaway mother. Designing cakes makes Sheridan relax, think more clearly, and it makes her feel closer to the mother she knows still loves her very much. She also spends as much time as she can squeeze in between school and working at the bakery, she hangs out with her best friends, Jack and Lori.

This easy life could only be made perfect if only Sheridan could locate her Mom and convince her to come home, at task that her and Jack have been working on for a long time, but perfection finds its self jumping clear out of her reach when her father lands a TV show that would have the two of them packing their bags and moving to New York. Now Sheridan is dead set and getting her mother back, and making right all the crazy things going on in her life.

I found The Sweetest Thing to be very entertaining and fun. I enjoyed learning about Sheridan and her home-life dynamic. She was a girl with a constant plan to get what she wanted. It was pretty difficult to put this book down. I really enjoyed reading about the details of Sheridan’s cake making, and I absolutely loved the dynamic between her and Jack; best friends becoming something more is always a favorite story-line of mine. It was made even better by the brief relationship with the super-hot jock Eric, the guy she has been pinning over for quite a while. There’s nothing like getting what you think you want only to realize you already had what you needed! The entire book was cute…or if the description suits you better, sweet.

There were times that I felt like Sheridan was being very closed minded about the things around her. She had a single focus, and that was on her mother. She had a difficult time coming down from what she felt like she knew and opening her eyes and look around at what she had. However, I do not think her Dad was very helpful in preventing her from having that perspective. While at one point he tells her that everything he has done has been for her, he really just isn’t “there” at all for Sheridan. But this is what makes this book so real to life, in my opinion. Here we have a couple of people who went through a major, very hard change in their life. They dealt with it the way they could on their own, but then it seems they forgot to come back together as the healing process was taking place. Everything in this book we see from Sheridan’s perspective, and what I saw was a father who left her to her own devices as long as she wasn’t getting into trouble. He wasn’t really at home when she was at home, and rarely did they seem to spend quality time together. He didn’t really bother her, and she didn’t really bother him until some decisions were being made that would affect her life. But drawling from conversations and little comments and thoughts thrown out by Sheridan, her dad did try at first, but she shut him out with her cakes – the point of connection that Sheridan has made with her mother, and the one that she refuses to release. Both really are at fault.

I felt that Christina Mandelski took all of this into consideration, and in the end, with my favorite big happy red bow, begins the mending process between Sheridan and her father. Sheridan also begins the process of finding out who she will become and wants to be, moving out of comfort and waiting into the forward motion of life.