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The Bachelor Auction

The Bachelor Auction (The Bachelors of Arizona) - Rachel Van Dyken

Brock has no time for dating.  He's too busy trying to run the family company, keep his grandfather healthy, and keep his younger twin brothers (somewhat) in line.  He would do anything for his grandfather, including agreeing to be featured in a bachelor auction.  Being auctioned off might not be so bad, but he has to date (and maybe marry) the woman of his grandfather's choosing.

 

Jane is in desperate need of a break.  She's busy running her father's cleaning business while also acting as the maid, chef, personal assistant, and accountant for her older sisters.  While Jane is loyal to her sisters, she's getting tired of always cleaning up their messes in an effort to keep their family together. 

 

When Brock and Jane first meet, it's clear that they have chemistry.  Brock seems like an unreachable fantasy…until they meet again when Brock goes from seeming like Prince Charming to a toad.  It figures that the one time Brock meets a woman he's truly interested in, there's not much he can do about it.  Jane tempts and challenges him in a way that no other woman has and it doesn’t help that his family continues to interfere.  With Jane, Brock could at least have a chance at happiness until he has to face the auction.

 

The Bachelor Auction is entertaining, funny, sexy, and heartwarming.  Rachel Van Dyken brings together many different elements to create a story that pulled me in from the beginning.  With a meddlesome grandpa and complicated brothers, The Bachelor Auction is a great start to a new series!

 

*I received a copy from NetGalley.

Winner Takes All

Winner Takes All (Champion Valley) - Erin Kern

Blake is looking to finally have his second chance.  He has struggled with how his promising football career came to an end, but now he is ready to start living a little more.  And that means taking on the task of coaching the football team that hasn't seen the playoffs, much less a winning season, since he was a high school senior.  The pressure is on since not everyone is on board with a disgraced former player coaching teenagers.

 

Annabelle is dedicated, loyal, and selflessly giving.  She also needs to be in control and has no problem with telling others what they should be doing.  She's determined to take care of her mom and protect her heart after her divorce.  As a physical therapist, she pushes her clients to do what is best for their health regardless of what they want.

 

While Annabelle and Blake strike enough sparks off each other that everyone notices, Blake is not willing to allow anyone else to have say in how he coaches his players.  As the teams' physical therapist, Annabelle refuses to back down and challenges Blake as often as she needs to, on and off the field.  They challenge each other as they see more than the other is comfortable with.  Even though they want different things out of a relationship, they can't stay away from each other, nor do they really want to.

 

Winner Takes All is a fun, flirty, sexy romance.  Erin Kern created engaging characters and built an interesting world in Champion Valley.  Ms. Kern has a great start to a new series with sexy, alpha males, strong women, and some eccentric secondary characters.  Fans of Shannon Stacey would enjoy Winner Takes All.

 

*Advanced copy provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

A Winter Wedding by Brenda Novak

A Winter Wedding (Whiskey Creek) - Brenda Novak

Kyle is the quintessential good guy.  He owns a successful business and has a tight knit group of friends.  Unfortunately, he made one mistake years ago in his love life and he's been paying for that mistake ever since.  Kyle is more than surprised when country singer and star Lourdes Bennett shows up as the renter for his farmhouse.  Lourdes is trying to stage a comeback in her career and wants the peace and quiet to start on her next album.

 

Kyle hasn't seriously looked at another woman since losing Olivia years ago, but Lourdes peaks his interest.  When the heat doesn't work at the rental, Lourdes suggests staying with Kyle.  While living together, they become friends.  The longer that Lourdes lives with Kyle, the more she comes to see just how appealing he is.  Between the increasing interest in Lourdes and the new and ongoing problems for Kyle, they give in to their attraction.  The only problem is that their relationship becomes much more serious than either planned for or wanted.

 

A Winter Wedding is an entertaining story with two people who have been more successful in work than in love.  Brenda Novak created a great heroine in Lourdes who is exactly what Kyle needed.  A Winter Wedding can be read as a standalone in the Whiskey Creek series. 

 

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Scam by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

The Scam - Janet Evanovich, Lee Goldberg

Fox and O'Hare are back with another highly entertaining caper that brings them and their crew to the world of casinos in Las Vegas and Macau and the island paradise of Hawaii. Nick continues to be at his best in planning to con the world's most sought after con artists with the help of the much more practical and rule-abiding FBI Special Agent Kate. While Nick and Kate enjoy working together, they both miss the excitement of the chase when he was running from her and the law. It's also getting that much harder for Kate to keep Nick at a distance considering their considerable chemistry. The Scam is a fast paced story with a colorful cast of characters and plenty of humor that makes you wish the next installment was ready to read!

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

NetGalley Challenge 2015

The Secret Sister by Brenda Novak

The Secret Sister - Brenda Novak

Between a painful divorce and a brother in trouble, Maisey finds that she has to return home to Fairham Island.  She escaped the island and her cold, critical mother years ago, so she's not looking forward to the coming family reunion.  It doesn't help that she's also experiencing writer's block and feels that her life is a mess.

 

Her return gets off to a pretty rocky start when she insists on living in one of the bungalows, which just happens to be far, far away from her mother.  The bungalows aren't ideal, but they provide the necessary distance.  They do come with the major drawback of including Rafe as a neighbor.  Rafe used to be wild and reckless, but now he seems to be more settled and is a great father to his adorable little girl.

 

Rafe and Maisey have a past, but Rafe isn't deterred.  He wants to get to know her all over again.  While Maiey isn't looking for a relationship, she can't help but be drawn to this older, more mature version of him, especially when she sees him interact with his daughter.  I loved how protective Rafe is!

 

While Maisey is trying to adjust to her growing feelings for Rafe, she stumbles upon the startling information that she might have had a sister.  Knowing that many want to leave the past in the past and let the mystery stay buried, Maisey has to balance her need to know exactly what happened versus her desire for a more normal relationship with her mother.

 

The Secret Sister is a really good story about a dysfunctional wealthy family and confronting the past.  Brenda Novak provides vivid descriptions of the characters and setting so you can easily visualize the island.  Ms. Novak also crafts a unique story that pulls you into this family and makes you question what people are capable of. 

 

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Thrill Me by Susan Mallery

Thrill Me (Fool's Gold) - Susan Mallery

Maya moved back to Fool's Gold after her career seemed to stagnate.  She may not be looking forward to trying to manage Eddie and Gladys, but that might be easier than facing the one man she loved and ran from.  Del is also back in Fool's Gold for the summer and he's not exactly thrilled to be working with Maya either.  They seemingly find a way to be professional while working together and ease back into a friendship.  The only problem is that they are attracted to each again and with the more time they are working together, the deeper they seemingly fall. 

 

Thrill Me is an entertaining and fun ride as Maya and Del learn that they just might get their second chance after all.  Thrill Me is a great addition to the ever humorous Fool's Gold series and can be read as a standalone.  Susan Mallery proves yet again that Fool's Gold is a place I would love to visit, at least to meet the infamous Mayor Marsha.

 

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

How to Marry a Royal Highlander by Vanessa Kelly

How to Marry a Royal Highlander - Vanessa Kelly

After not one but two separate scandals, Edie is forced to retire to Scotland in an effort to repair her reputation.  It is arranged that Edie, accompanied by her mother, will stay with Alec at his family's castle for the winter.  Alec isn't looking forward to going home to face his grandfather's failing health and the complications he has been running from for the last decade.

 

Alec and Edie have been attracted to each other since the moment they met.  They constantly bicker and get under each other's skin.  While Alec is absolutely infuriating, he's also the only man who has ever made Edie's heart race.  Edie and her mother have to deal with some very unexpected family drama upon their arrival at the castle.  By the time both are ready to acknowledge the attraction between them, Edie learns of Alec's past and the obstacle it presents to a possible future.  Alec and Edie are very well matched; Alec loves to push and challenge Edie while she is more than willing to challenge him right back.

 

How to Marry a Royal Highlander is an entertaining romp with plenty of banter, heat, and humorous moments to balance out the family drama.  Vanessa Kelly created a very interesting conflict for Alec and Edie.  I loved seeing another side to Edie's mother!  She became one of my favorite characters as the story unfolded.  How to Marry a Royal Highlander can be read as a standalone, but I would recommend at least reading How to Plan a Wedding for a Royal Spy first to see when Alec and Edie meet.

 

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Kiss Me by Susan Mallery

Kiss Me - Susan Mallery

Phoebe is on a forced vacation after almost ending up in jail for a coworker's mistake.  Phoebe is a great real estate agent and she loves helping people find a house.  And it's Phoebe's selfless, giving nature and inability to say no that leads her to Fool's Gold.  Zane stepped up to raise his younger brother Chase and save the family ranch.  The ranch is in great shape, but Chase is forever making mistakes.  The latest screw-up leads to Zane taking tourists on the ranch's cattle drive.

 

Phoebe is immediately attracted to the tall, sexy, quiet cowboy.  She's very unsure about going on the cattle drive since she's a city girl and never ridden a horse, but Zane watches out for her.  Zane is drawn to everything about Phoebe, including her soft heart and penchant for talking to animals.  Both have plenty of work-related troubles on their plate, but they can't resist the attraction between them.

 

Kiss Me was a highly entertaining book that I didn't want to put down!  Phoebe and Zane had great chemistry in their endearing opposites attract romance.  I also really enjoyed the secondary storyline involving other tourists on the cattle drive. Kiss Me is a great addition to the Fool's Gold series and I can't wait for Thrill Me!

 

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Consequence of Revenge by Rachel Van Dyken

The Consequence of Revenge - Rachel Van Dyken

Rachel Van Dyken continues The Consequence series with Max's story.  Max is somewhat adrift now that he's graduated college and his best friend Milo is happily married.  Since losing Milo, he's become the king of one-night stands with plenty of excuses to keep any and all romantic entanglements to a minimum.  He's suddenly blindsided when his friends sign him up to be the next bachelor on a reality TV show, Love Island.  Suddenly, Max is surrounded by 25 women in a game he can't control. 

 

Becca needs money to continue paying for college, so she signed on as a contestant for the reality show.  She's in it for the money and didn't expect to feel anything for Max.  Max already attempted to hit on Becca before he knew about the show without the desired results.  Soon they strike a deal to create their own alliance to get through the next few weeks and have the desired outcome.  They quickly find that they enjoy spending time together and can't stop thinking about each other.  She gets his unique sense of humor. 

 

The Consequence of Revenge is a hilarious, laugh so hard you cry romp where you are stranded on an island with crazy contestants, manipulative producers, a snake, a gecko, and a goat. Reid, Jason, Colt, and Milo are integral characters as they lovingly push Max into doing something with his life.  I'm definitely looking forward to Reid and Jason's books!!  Fans of Cora Carmack would enjoy this book!

 

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis

Second Chance Summer - Jill Shalvis

Aidan is a sexy firefighter and member of the Search & Rescue team.  He loves living in the mountains and with his family, even if they drive him crazy.  Aidan has no desire to have a committed relationship after seeing the devastation caused by his father.  Lily escaped Cedar Ridge ten years ago and never planned to return.  When she finds herself without a job, she's forced to return since it's her only option.

 

Aidan is surprised to hear that Lily plans to return.  He fell for her all those years ago and no woman has ever impacted him the way that Lily did.  Lily wasn't exactly having the greatest day when she runs into Aidan for the first time.  Instead of escaping without his notice, he ends up helping her.  They both immediately realize that the attraction is still there after all this time.

 

Since Cedar Ridge is a small town, they can't exactly avoid each other and that's impossible anyway since the salon where Lily's working just happens to be located at the resort Aidan and his family run.  They're drawn to each other and can't resist the connection between them. 

 

Second Chance Summer is a great start to a new series and includes the humor, heat, and great cast of characters that is standard for a Jill Shalvis book.  I can't wait for the next book in the series!

 

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Zack by Sawyer Bennett

Zack is struggling after losing Gina four months ago.  He realizes the importance of setting an example for his son, Ben, and the need to find a new normal for them.  He's checked out emotionally and is searching for a way to feel again.  Kate is smart, quirky, geeky, independent, fiercely loyal, and great with children.  She's a huge hockey fan and Zack is her favorite player.

 

Kate is a bit star struck upon meeting Zack, but she's determined to find a way to make Zack comfortable with her in order to keep her job as Ben's nanny.  They get off to a rough start, but Ben bonds with Kate very quickly.  Kate makes it her mission to make Zack smile more. 

 

Zack and Kate have great chemistry!  You can feel it whenever they are in the same room together.  Zack is carrying a lot of guilt surrounding Gina and her death, so he's determined to keep Kate's role in his life very compartmentalized.  He wants her, but only on his terms.  But the more time they spend together, the more he wants to be around her.  She soothes him and is a great listener.

 

Zack is a sexy, heartwarming romance where opposites attract.  Zack is the third book in the Cold Fury series, but it can be read as a standalone.  Sawyer Bennett created a great pairing in Zack and Kate.  Ms. Bennett respectfully handled Zack's loss and how he moved forward.  Fans of Rachel Gibson would enjoy Zack!

 

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

This Heart of Mine by Brenda Novak

This Heart of Mine - Brenda Novak

Phoenix has just gotten out of prison and she returns to Whiskey Creek in order to have a relationship with her son, Jacob.  She's determined to do whatever she needs to so that Riley will allow her to spend time with Jacob.  I really came to admire Phoenix's determination to be independent, make her own way, and resolve to put her son and their budding relationship first.  Returning to Whiskey Creek is anything but easy.   She knows that she will most likely be a pariah, but she's willing to withstand whatever Whiskey Creek residents can dish out so she can stand by her mom, who was the one person to provide any support while she was serving her sentence.

 

Riley is not looking forward to Phoenix's return to his and Jacob's life.  He's hesitant to allow Phoenix any contact, but after he sees her absolute focus on being a great mom, he begins to see Phoenix as he knows her to be rather than the woman he is told she is.  As they spend more time together, he realizes that the chemistry is still there.  Phoenix is extremely reluctant to even think about a relationship with Riley considering their past.  It's also very difficult for her to believe Riley could ever want her for a meaningful relationship and not just a hot affair.  While they have changed over the years, Riley is better prepared to protect Phoenix from those so willing to write her off and attack her.

 

I think this just may be my favorite book in the Whiskey Creek series!  This Heart of Mine is a compelling story of second chances.  Brenda Novak created a heartbreakingly hopeful character in Phoenix who is so used to receiving the worst from everyone, yet remains so thankful for what she does have.  Ms. Novak created great secondary characters in Riley's friends and Jacob.   This Heart of Mine can be read as a standalone.  Fans of the Serendipity series by Carly Phillips will enjoy this book and series!

 

4.5 stars 

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Way We Fall by Cassia Leo

The Way We Fall - Cassia Leo

Five years ago Houston and Rory had an intense relationship that ended badly. When Rory meets Houston again very unexpectedly through work, both are thrown for a loop. Their love was complicated when they were in college, but things are even more complicated now.

They have a long history together going back to about their teen years. Rory is currently trying to make a good life for herself and she's in the middle of writing a book while Houston is trying to branch out and develop new lines of business.

Seeing each other again brings back the passion, love, and resentments of their past. Neither have fully healed from their break-up or the tragedy that brought them together, but Houston is still keeping secrets that would impact Rory. Rory doesn't have the complete story and Houston has his reasons for keeping quiet.

The Way We Fall is a great start to a new series and features real and complicated characters. There's heartbreak, secrets, lies, friendship, surprises, new opportunities, and second chances. Cassia Leo weaves an interesting and unexpected secret throughout the story. Ms. Leo also provides interesting secondary characters in Kenny and Troy. Fans of the Shattered Hearts series will want to read this book!

*I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

All of Me (Inside Out 6) by Lisa Renee Jones

 

All of Me is a beautiful conclusion to the Inside Out series.  Chris and Sara are stronger together than they've ever been as they have to weather more challenges ahead.  They are back in Paris and trying to relax and plan their future.  I loved how their connection has grown stronger and they are so in tune with each other.  They are tested as they have to face their own triggers.

 

I loved all of the surprises that Lisa Renee Jones worked in to the story.  I'm sad to see the series end as I would love to know more about what the future holds for Sara, Chris, Mark, and the other characters.

 

I highly recommend reading this series in order to ensure understanding of the characters, relationships, and storylines.  All of Me does overlap in time with I Belong to You, but it also extends beyond the end of that book.

 

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Entertaining set of holiday stories

A Christmas to Remember (Every Year: Chaos, #2.5) - Kristen Ashley

Dream a Little Dream by Jill Shalvis - Ian wants more than a friends with benefits arrangement, so Melissa ends their "benefits." Ian doesn't know what, it anything, he can do to have a real, committed relationship with her. An accident forces Melissa to reconsider what she wants in life and fight for Ian to give her another chance. Quick, hot story and great addition to the Lucky Harbor series! ~ 5 stars

Every Year by Kristen Ashley - Heartwarming Christmas story featuring Shy and Tabby as the main characters. I enjoyed how all of the Allens and the Cage brothers were infused with the spirit of the holidays as they celebrated as a family and surprised the youngest Allen boys. ~ 4.5 stars

Silent Night by Hope Ramsey - Maryanne is on her way to hopefully reunite with the only family she has left when her car breaks down. Daniel is on his way to pack up the family farm and spend the holiday alone. In each other, Maryanne and Daniel find exactly what they need. ~ 3.5 stars

Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas by Molly Cannon - Lincoln doesn't know what to make of the sexy Mrs. Claus delivered by none other than his mom, but he soon looks forward to seeing her as she organizes his home for the holidays. Sweet and fun romance when opposites attract! ~ 4 stars

A Family for Christmas by Marilyn Pappano - Jared is determined to make his own way and not the road planned for him by his parents, which leads him to working in a small town. Ilena loves the community she's found in Tallgrass. She had no plans to mix business and pleasure, but Jared just may be the exception to that rule. ~ 3.5 stars

 

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.

The Heart of Christmas

 

I really enjoyed it! Eve runs the B & B and she doesn’t react well to her birthday, which leads to an encounter with a sexy newcomer to Whiskey Creek. I love that Eve has a tendency to say what she thinks. Eve is also loyal, giving, and persistent. Rex/Brent is just the opposite. Rex is very private and absolutely avoids conversation about himself and his life as much as possible. Both have high expectations of themselves, especially when they believe they have failed.

Despite the fact that Rex is clearly keeping many secrets, Eve is intrigued. They have great chemistry and their physical relationship develops very quickly, but intimacy takes longer to develop. Rex claims to be uninterested in creating any ties or commitment, but he finds himself drawn to Eve in spite of his current circumstances. Eve's friends are skeptical about Rex, which is understandable, but I think Eve could have used their support. It's difficult to be one of the few the single people in a group of couples.

I'm really looking forward to the next book in this series! I would love for Kyle to get his own HEA and the continuing drama with Chey. I think Chey, Presley, and Aaron underestimated just how taxing it will be to keep this secret.

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.