Author: Judith

Throwback Thursday Review: Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr

Posted June 7, 2018 by Judith in Reviews | 5 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Moonlight Road by Robyn CarrReviewer: Judith
Moonlight Road by Robyn Carr
Series: Virgin River #10
Also in this series: Virgin River, Whispering Rock, Virgin River, A Virgin River Christmas, Second Chance Pass, Second Chance Pass, Second Chance Pass, Temptation Ridge, Paradise Valley, Forbidden Falls, Forbidden Falls, Angel's Peak, Forbidden Falls, Promise Canyon, Wild Man Creek, Promise Canyon, Harvest Moon, Bring Me Home for Christmas, Redwood Bend, Sunrise Point, Shelter Mountain, Moonlight Road
Publisher: MIRA
Publication Date: March 2, 2010
Point-of-View: Third Person
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 409
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads

WITH HER BELOVED YOUNGER SIBLINGS SETTLED AND HAPPY, ERIN FOLEY HAS EMPTY NEST SYNDROME. AT AGE THIRTY-FIVE.

So she's hitting the pause button on her life and holing up in a secluded (but totally upgraded --- she's not into roughing it!) cabin near Virgin River. Erin is planning on getting to know herself ... not the shaggy-haired mountain man she meets.

In fact, beneath his faded fatigues and bushy beard, Aiden Riordan is a doctor, recharging for a summer after leaving the navy. He's intrigued by the pretty, slightly snooty refugee from the rat race --- her meditating and journaling are definitely keeping him at arm's length. He'd love to get closer ... if his scruffy exterior and crazy ex-wife don't hold him back.

But maybe it's something in the water --- unlikely romances seem to take root in Virgin River ... helped along by some well-intentioned meddling, of course.

Every Thursday in 2018, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books.

This review was originally posted on March 16, 2011.

This is the 10th novel in the Virgin River series and Robyn Carr keeps on keeping on when it comes t o giving her readers another compelling love story.  There are carry-over characters in all these stories and for me that just makes the context richer with each succeeding story.  Several of these novels have featured the Riordan family and here we meet another of the brothers.

This story revolves around two people who are at loose ends, a critical juncture in their personal individual history.  Erin has raised her siblings and her entire life up until this point has been taken up with finding ways to empower them to find their happiness.  Now she is alone, delighted that they are settled and happy, but still alone.  She has so many projects to fill her time, to help her get back in touch with herself, to help her find her own path.  For some reason she is just simply bored.  Now what?

Aiden Riordan has come home from many years as a Navy doctor and is taking the summer to be near his brother Luke, to spend some time in the outdoors, to hike and explore, to unwind after the pressures of being on ship and in the Middle East.  He knows he will continue to practice medicine but not where that will happen.  He has really put the future on hold but in spite of a rich family heritage and wonderful relationships with him mom and brothers, he is, for all intent, alone.  He’s not really sure he wants to be alone, but that’s where he is right now.

This novel is really how these two people begin what is initially a rocky acquaintanceship that moves into tentative friendship, companionship, some bed frolic, and so and so forth.  Neither is really sure whether they want this relationship to escalate into more–actually Aiden knows before Erin does–so they spend time doing things that Erin hasn’t ever done and which Aiden hasn’t done since before his Navy days.  His initial meeting with her is nearly enough to kill any chance between them permanently–he nearly scares her half to death because he looks like a scruffy mountain man who is prowling the Northern California mountains as a sexual predator.  But they get past that and their friendship is launched.

Once again Ms Carr has produced a novel that is full of authentic humanity, with relationships that are good and not so good, with people who are enduring and surviving and some who are living abundantly.  There is doubt about the future, hope and disappointment all mixed together.  There are con artists and those who are angry when others are happy, and these sick individuals keep trying to pollute the good in other people’s lives.  They are in this story, too.  Erin and Aiden both struggle with trust issues–with accepting the good that life offers, with opening themselves up to the joys of imperfect but exciting human connections, with allowing the future with its mystery and risks to just be there for them.  This is their journey of discovery, and while Erin and Aiden are finding their way toward each other and learning to circumvent the potholes in life’s road, other residents of Virgin River–those we have met and loved in previous stories–continue to be challenged with their own joys and sorrows.

I find these novels so endearing.  I am excited everytime a new one appears.  I know that some readers think the stories are all the same.  I don’t.  I never tire of the human drama, of the players on life’s stage, of observing and learning from the experience of others.  This novel once again makes that possible.  And in her usual expert style, Ms Carr continues to bring the existing residents of Virgin River alive for us while introducing new people and expanding our acquaintance with additional residents.  Many decide to remain in Virgin River.  It is, after all, a microcosym of life.  Others come to that special place, experience what they need to move forward in their lives, and settle elsewhere.  What really matters is that Virgin River brings all these people together and as their lives glance off one another, all are made better.

Moonlight Road is a delightful and winsome love story.  I hope you’ll read and enjoy as much as I did.  I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

Virgin River


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Possessed by Passion by Brenda Jackson

Posted May 12, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Possessed by Passion by Brenda JacksonReviewer: Judith
Possessed by Passion by Brenda Jackson
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: March 1st 2016
Pages: 224
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

They're discovering the healing powers of passion

Burned-by-love architect Hunter McKay came home to Phoenix to open her own firm, not rekindle her fleeting high school romance with playboy Tyson Steele. But when she runs into the sexy surgeon at a nightclub—and he unleashes that legendary Steele charm—Hunter fears she's headed straight for heartbreak once again.

Tyson hasn't forgotten the one who got away. A weeklong fling should be just enough to get the sultry beauty out of his system for good, even if he has to let Hunter set the ground rules. But the rules are suddenly changing for the no-strings bachelor. Can Tyson convince this sensual woman that he's the real deal—that they deserve a second chance together?

Brenda Jackson is one of the few authors I believe has the talent and skill to make this family saga a continuing success.  I think it is largely because within the framework of a very erotic love story there is the reality of family and caring connection that keeps these people grounded even when they live in ways that seem at odds with the morals and standards that guide their families of origin.  A plus for me is also the fact that her characters are real people who are driven by real dreams and goals, whose evident success has been won often in difficult circumstances.  That they are people of color has not been a help but they know their own worth and are not afraid to go for what they want.

Such is the attitude of the intrepid Dr. Tyson Steele who, like so many of the men in this family, is a player romantically.  Steady and stalwart professionally and connected and loving to his siblings and family members, he still likes to play and keep his options open.  In truth, he has yet to be fully bitten by the love bug, except when he came close while a high school lothario and was enamored with Hunter McKay.  Those days are long gone, but she’s back.  And in typical, no-strings bachelor fashion, Tyson is going to use a sexy fling to get himself free of any lingering feelings that might pose a future complication to his free and easy bachelor ways.

This is another fun love story from a wonderful author, one of my favorites, actually.  She creates a heroine who is real, not a stick woman who lives on lettuce leaves and coffee.  Hunter is a curvy woman who is proud of the body she loves, enjoys her life and displays inner as well as outer beauty.  She has the capacity to rope in Tyson Steele, but she isn’t convinced that she wants to.  She really isn’t in the market for hurt.  But Ms Jackson loves the happy ending, and although their love story is not free and easy, twisting and turning and surprising the reader,  these two characters are good people and their relationship is fun to watch grow and develop into a real love story.  I also think that Tyson is the kind of man many women would love to know just because he is not only good looking and successful, but in most ways he knows how to treat a woman with respect and dignity.

Another aspect of Ms Jackson’s stories that I have always appreciated is that her characters grow even more as the story progresses.  I have come to really dislike romance fiction with main characters who are childish and immature and tend to remain that way.  Such is not the case in Ms Jackson’s novels and that is not the case here.  Hunter and Tyson not only take a long look at one another but they are honest enough to take a long look at themselves.  It is watching their character grow and expand as they interact with one another that makes this another fascinating love story with many levels of interest and ways for the reader to connect to the story.

If you haven’t read a Brenda Jackson novel before, here’s a good place to start.  If you are one of her fans, you will like this novel just as well as you have liked others in her extensive writing resume.  It’s another winner, IMHO.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at http://www.drjsbookplace.blogspot.com.

four-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Daring Her SEAL by Anne Marsh

Posted May 4, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Daring Her SEAL by Anne MarshReviewer: Judith
Daring Her SEAL by Anne Marsh
Series: Uniformly Hot #3
Also in this series: Teasing Her SEAL, Pleasing Her SEAL
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: May 1st 2016
Format: eARC
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Subject: Navy SEAL Levi Brandon

Mission: Sort out his accidental marriage...without sleeping with his "wife!"

Devil-may-care Navy SEAL Levi Brandon faces a terrifying task: telling Ashley Dixon that their faux wedding during their last mission together was actually real. It's bad enough that she completely loathes him, but she's DEA. Levi will be lucky to get away with his life...

Now Ashley and Levi have returned to Fantasy Island to sort things out...and are tempted to play a dangerous game of lust and restraint. A game of dares. All Levi has to do is keep himself from having sex with the hottie DEA agent. But Ashley's playing to win--and darers always go first.

He’s a womanizer, or at least that’s the rumor and that’s what Ashley believes.  And she really can’t stand womanizers.  She has pretended to be his girlfriend on an earlier mission when they were undercover together with a motorcycle gang.  But the one kiss they shared, hot as it may have been and as much as they each appreciated that hotness, was a one time thing, and to hear Ashley tell it, she was prepared to cut off Levi’s tongue if he got it anywhere near her again.  Now he has to tell her that the pretend marriage they staged on the beach of Fantasy Island on their last mission undercover, was inadvertently registered and is legal.

Levi is the kind of guy that teases and drives everyone sort of crazy with his unceasing talk, mostly about their glitches and mistakes and booboos.  He does indeed love the ladies and he does manage to hook up frequently.  But there’s just something about Ashley, and while they may be legally bound, Levi is wondering what it would really be like to have someone like Ashley in his life.

This is the third novel in the trilogy involving the members of SEAL Team Sigma, a group of Navy SEALs who are totally off the grid and whose identities and appearances are guarded to protect them when they go undercover.  Levi is a sniper and a man who has given himself heart and soul to his team.  But he is now over 30 years old and beginning to wonder about what it would be like to settle down, especially as two of his team are now preparing to walk down the aisle.

This novel has a lot more adversarial conversation that the two previous stories in this trilogy.  Levi and Ashley simply don’t like each other.  But like all situations of this kind, especially in romance fiction, there are changes in the offing and we know that Levi and Ashley will probably have their HEA.  It’s just a matter of how they manage that, and Ms Marsh is so good at getting us to that HEA in creative ways with lots of fun and sexy encounters thrown in.  I read this book as an ARC from Netgally and after reading the first two books I was delighted to have the chance to read this one as well.  I think readers who already enjoy Ms Marsh’s writing will find these three books delightful.  If a reader is just encountering this author, there’s lots of good reading ahead.  I suppose some would call this light hearted reading, but I just simply enjoyed the book and it kept my interest.  It is entertaining and took me to a Fantasy Island where anything was possible.  I believe most of us would be happy to have the wherewithal to go there ourselves.  Since I know I can’t, this is the next best thing.

I give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Pleasing Her SEAL by Anne Marsh

Posted April 18, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Pleasing Her SEAL by Anne MarshReviewer: Judith
Pleasing Her SEAL by Anne Marsh
Series: Uniformly Hot #2
Also in this series: Teasing Her SEAL, Daring Her SEAL
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: January 1st 2016
Format: eARC
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
five-stars

SUBJECT: Navy SEAL Mason Black

MISSION: Remain undercover…even if it means going commando!

Wedding blogger Maddie Holmes is twelve times the bridesmaid and never the bride. Still, being on the sidelines of everyone else's happy endings has its perks, like staying at the luxurious, decadent Fantasy Island. The resort isn't just romantic—it's filled with sinful temptations…like delicious hottie resort chef Mason Black. And Maddie can't wait to take a bite!

There's just a teeny problem with her plan. She has no idea that Mason is an undercover Navy SEAL who needs photographs Maddie took that put both his mission and her life at risk. Mason's plan? Retrieve the pics and indulge in a few X-rated fantasies with the curvy redhead…and hope like hell that being between the sheets doesn't blow his cover.

The members of SEAL Team Sigma keep on getting into trouble of the romantic kind while they lie in wait for the leader of a very dangerous drug cartel who is coming to Fantasy Island to marry his current squeeze.  Like his commander, Gray Jackson, hero in book one of this trilogy, Mason Black is undercover as a chef at the resort.  Now unlike Gray, Mason really does know what he is doing.  He has been cooking for years and feeding his team members and his family when he is on furlough with gourmet food.  So he can indeed pull his undercover assignment off.  What he doesn’t expect is to literally have Maddie Holmes run into him in an out-of-the-way portion of the island where she has set up cameras in order to snap shots of sunrises and sunsets for her wedding blog.  If she can do a good job, she will land some significant advertising dollars and as she puts it, be able to not only enjoy writing her blog but paying her rent and keeping the lights on.  One problem as Mason sees it:  her photos have also included the activity of the undercover SEAL team, unbeknownst to her.  So he is dispatched to literally woo her away from her camera so he can erase any shots that may include any team members or the boats that they were waiting to board.

This is a fun story in so many ways.  Maddie is kind of a scatter brained female, messy and disorganized apparently, yet she manages to keep her life and her internet activities organized as she sees it.   She is funny and well spoken, but underneath her cutesy exterior is a woman who is insecure and who has experienced lots of disappointment in her life.  She has come to Fantasy Island on a freebie vacation as a potential public relations connection for the resort.  She seems determined to get as much out of it as she can.  Mason is one of those alpha males who like what he likes but whose personal history has been a disappointment so far.  He loves his sisters and his family, but his long absences has created emotional distance from them.  Being with Maddie, even just a little bit, awakens within him the desire for a family, something that is just a bit more normal than living in foxholes or tents in the jungle.  The conversations between the characters is witty and enlightening.  Readers will see into the inner thoughts of these people but she has kept a good balance between introspection and dialogue, something I personally appreciate.

This story is well written and demonstrates the author’s experience and writing expertise.  She has an extensive writing resume and after reading the first two books in this trilogy, I understand why readers keep coming back for more.  It you like good romance with generous helpings of hot loving and well-seasoned with humor and as well as with the authentic friendship one will encounter between the SEALs, then you will like this novel.  I have a feeling that if this is your first Anne Marsh book, you will look for the others in this trilogy as well as other series she has written.  A truly delightful read and one I happily give a rating of 5 out of 5.

five-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Breaking Bailey’s Rules by Brenda Jackson

Posted April 6, 2016 by Judith in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Breaking Bailey’s Rules by Brenda JacksonReviewer: Judith
Breaking Bailey's Rules by Brenda Jackson
Series: Westmoreland series #30
Also in this series: Bane
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Format: eARC
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Rule number one for Bailey Westmoreland: Never fall for a man who would take her away from her tight-knit family's Colorado home. So why is she following rancher Walker Rafferty all the way to Alaska? Bailey tells herself she owes the sexy loner an apology, and once she gets there, it's only right to stay and help him when he's injured…isn't it? Before long, Bailey realizes home might be where you make it—if Walker is ready to take all she has to offer.

Any lover of romance who has also come to appreciate interracial stories knows about and appreciates Brenda Jackson.  Her Westmoreland Family series has gone on now for years, and while some reviewers have panned her stories as formulaic and predictable, I still like to read her work.  Ms Jackson is a writer who is unashamedly open about her interest in human relationships and family dynamics.  She has covered the full spectrum of emotion as well as the situations people either cause or in which they find themselves victims.  She is also not subtle about her heroes being alpha males, many of whom are unwilling to settle down to one woman.  Money, opportunity, careers, and a long list of other variable make these men challenges in and of themselves.

However, in this story, the challenge is a young woman who is comfortable in her skin, who wants to be appreciated for who she is, who enjoys her independent ways along with the full involvement in a family that is energetic to say the least.  Her one requirement for anyone looking to become involved with her romantically, long-term partner or permanent significant other, is that she will never leave Colorado.  It is her home in more ways than just geographical.  She is connected to the land, the environment, the mountains’ majestic presence, the sense of “home” she shares with her Westmoreland family.  She believes there is someone who will be the passionate partner she is seeking and who will want to keep her happy in the land she loves above all other.

Now there pops up another possible branch of the Westmoreland clan, and the connection is not a happy one or acceptable in many ways.  To acknowledge this family is to accept that there was hurt and infidelity in the past, and that is so not OK.  Walker Rafferty is a close family friend and one that is sent to investigate the possible connections between previously unknown relatives and it is meeting Bailey that throws a wrench into his life.  His efforts to interest her in some kind of romantic liason are rebuffed—that’s probably too mild a descriptive—and in good conscience Bailey realizes that she has some fences to mend after Walker returns to Alaska, a very long way from Colorado.

As always, Ms Jackson draws her characters with a deft and sure skill, giving readers a full imagination of what these characters look like, how they think, what they yearn for, and how they go about finding ways to reach their personal relational goals.  Bailey is a woman that can be lovely and kind, but she has the ability to be as uncomfortable as a thorn bush.  The slow progress that Bailey and Walker make toward some sort of connection is the core of this story, and while it is certainly a movement toward “happily ever after,” it is not a comfortable story.  I always find a Brenda Jackson a good read.  It is balanced between the need to keep a story line clean and moving forward and the erotic content.  It is not just about their sex life but rather how all the elements of their humanity gradually merge to make it possible for these two to connect on a deeper, more lasting level.

It’s a good book, a fun read in many ways, and a nice way to spend an evening.  Just the kind of experience a lover of good romance enjoys.

I give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,