Publisher: Grand Central Publishing

Retro Review: Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori Wilde

Posted February 15, 2017 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Retro Review: Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori WildeReviewer: Holly
Once Smitten, Twice Shy by Lori Wilde
Series: Wedding Veil Wishes #2
Also in this series: Addicted to Love
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: December 14th 2008
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, General
Pages: 384
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four-half-stars

Legend claims this antigue Irish wedding veil can grant your heart's deepest desire. But be careful what you wish for...
Wedding videographer Tish Gallagher is at the end of her rope. Her business is about to go bust. She's just spent her last buck on nonreturnable (but oh so fabulous) shoes. And her most sustainable relationship is with a pint of Haagen Dazs. So she makes a wish on the lucky wedding veil to get out of debt...and sees the man she never stopped loving, her ex-husband, secret service agent Shane Tremont. Sure, their chemistry was off-the-charts sizzling hot, but their clashes were legendary, and no amount of longing will change that.
When her dream job of recording the first daughter's wedding appears out of the blue, Tish knows it's her only shot to get out of the red. Just one teensy glitch: Shane is the groom. From the moment they see each other, she knows nothing's changed--the same old black magic is still between them, as irresistible and potent as ever. But he's promised to another and Tish has been burned before. Will she always be...ONCE SMITTEN, TWICE SHY?

******As part of our 10 year anniversary celebration, we’ll be re-posting old reviews that make us cringe, laugh or sigh all over again.

I still have very fond memories of this series. I stopped reading Wilde some time back, but I often think back fondly on these books.

This review was originally published February 02, 2008

This is the second book in Lori Wilde’s Wedding Veil Wishes series. I didn’t read the first book, and don’t feel I missed anything by having skipped it. I think at some point I’ll pick it up, just because I like to read all the books in a series, but I never felt like I missed something while reading this book.

Shane has no idea what he was thinking to propose to the President’s daughter. But she’d caught him in a weak moment, staring at him like he was ten feet tall and bullet proof after he’d put his life on the line for hers. And now she’s concocted some scheme involving his ex-wife – the ex he still cares about more than he should.

Elysee knows Shane needs to make peace with the past if their marriage is going to work, so she hires Tish thinking they’ll be able to heal old wounds if they spend enough time together. But even she couldn’t have predicted just how much history there was between Tish and Shane, and just what they’d need to move past old hurts. And now she’s wondering if she made a grave mistake, because not only has she seen the looks the former couple pass between them, but she’s been getting some looks of her own, from her #1 bodyguard, Cal Ackerman.

I must confess, normally a story where one of the main protagonists is engaged to someone else would immediately turn me off. But in this case, it didn’t bother me a bit. I think the author did a fabulous job of writing an unconventional story that really worked.

This story is a somewhat predictable piece of fluff, but it was engaging and I really enjoyed it. Well, I enjoyed it until close the the end, that is.

You see, Wilde did a fabulous job of keeping the focus on the main trio of characters. Elysee, Tish and Shane were shown in equal light, each with their own demons to battle and insecurities to overcome. I empathized with all three, understanding perfectly their personal issues. Shane, the wounded hero who just needed to be needed. Tish, the independent free spirit who needed someone to lean on. Elysee, the hopeless romantic who wanted nothing more than a knight in shining armor to sweep her away.

But then, more than 3/4 of the way through the book, a new element was introduced…that of a terrorist group who wanted to assassinate a woman who was trying to escape India. The thing is, there was nothing leading up to the sudden twist in the story. For almost the entire book, the focus remained on the three main characters and then BAM, all of a sudden Tish is being attacked and Shane needs to save her and Elysee is involved in an international rescue plot and there’s a murderer out to get them all. But..uh..I must have missed a memo, because that seriously came out of nowhere.

Despite that, however, I liked the book. I loved Tish and Shane together and I’m hopeful that Elysee will get a story of her own someday. Basically, buy this book for the romance, but don’t be surprised if it goes in a strange direction unexpectedly.

Even though I had a major issue with the latter half of the book, I’m still giving this:

4.5 out of 5

Because I really, really liked the rest of it.

The series:

There Goes the Bride
Once Smitten Twice Shy
Addicted to Love
All of Me

You can buy it here in paperback or here or here.

four-half-stars

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Guest Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt

Posted November 30, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth HoytReviewer: Tracy
Duke of Pleasure by Elizabeth Hoyt
Series: Maiden Lane #11
Also in this series: Wicked Intentions, Wicked Intentions, Lord of Darkness, Darling Beast, Dearest Rogue, Sweetest Scoundrel, Duke of Sin, Once Upon a Moonlit Night
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: November 29th 2016
Genres: Historical, Romance
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four-stars

IN THE ARMS OF DANGER

Bold. Brave. Brutally handsome. Hugh Fitzroy, the Duke of Kyle, is the king's secret weapon. Sent to defeat the notorious Lords of Chaos, he is ambushed in a London alley—and rescued by an unlikely ally: a masked stranger with the unmistakable curves of a woman.

IN THE HEAT OF DESIRE

Cocky. Clever. Courageously independent. Alf has survived on the perilous streets of St. Giles by disguising her sex. By day she is a boy, dealing in information and secrets. By night she's the notorious Ghost of St. Giles, a masked vigilante. But as she saves Hugh from assassins, she finds herself succumbing to temptation.

ONE KISS WILL CHANGE THEIR LIVES FOREVER

When Hugh hires Alf to investigate the Lords of Chaos, her worlds collide. Once Hugh realizes that the boy and the Ghost are the same, will Alf find the courage to become the woman she needs to be—before the Lords of Chaos destroy them both?

Alf is a woman who has always had to take care of herself.  She’s been living on the streets of St. Giles her whole life and it was easier to pass herself off as a boy than it was to be a girl.  She’s an information collector by day and by night she’s the notorious Ghost of St. Giles.  Though she loves what she does but now that she’s 21 years old she’s also started to think about being a woman and having a family.  She knows it will never be possible for her but that doesn’t stop her from longing for it all.

The Duke of Kyle is enthralled with the Ghost of St. Giles.  She helped him when he was attacked and then proceeded to kiss him.  He finds himself highly intrigued.  He hires Alf to get information about why he was attacked not knowing that she’s the Ghost.  When Alf is hurt he has her stay in his house – not knowing he’s a she.  Alf gets close with his sons and when he finds out that Alf is a woman he can’t seem to keep his mind off of her.  When she learns to dress and act like a proper woman for a job Hugh can’t keep his eyes off of her either.  The chemistry between Hugh and Alf is off the charts but neither one knows how they can make a relationship work. Hugh had been greatly hurt by his wife and didn’t trust his own judgement.  Alf living as a street urchin makes her think that she could never be with a duke.

I have to start by saying I’ve loved Alf since she first came on the page.  Even when I thought she was just a small boy my heart went out to her.  I was extremely happy when I saw that she was getting her own book and it was definitely one worth ready.

Hugh was the perfect guy for Alf.  He had been working for the King (his father) and had been living a life of danger before his wife died and he came home to take care of his children.  Part of his attraction to Alf was her love of intrigue but also her fearlessness.  She wasn’t afraid to take care of those in need and he loved that about her.  He was a good man and loved her whether she was in men’s clothing and being a street urchin or in a dress being a woman.  He could accept all parts of her and that is what makes a good romance, imho.

I have to say that I also really loved the addition of Hugh’s children, Peter and Kit.  Kit was pissed off at his father as he hadn’t been around (Hugh’s wife took many lovers and Hugh left the country).  Hugh was trying to make up for that and show his kids the love he had for them.  It was a very touching part of the story and I was happy that Hoyt included them/it.

Overall I really liked the book and can’t wait for the next one.  I read the excerpt for the next book and I can tell you I’m on pins and needles already.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Sting by Sandra Brown

Posted August 26, 2016 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Sting by Sandra BrownReviewer: Casee
Sting by Sandra Brown
Published by Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: August 16th 2016
Genres: Mystery, Romantic Suspense, Thrillers
Pages: 416
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three-half-stars

When Jordie Bennet and Shaw Kinnard lock eyes across a disreputable backwater bar, something definitely sparks. Shaw gives off a dangerous vibe that makes men wary and inspires women to sit up and take notice. None feel that undercurrent more strongly than savvy businesswoman Jordie, who doesn't belong in a seedy dive on the banks of a bayou. But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her.

As Shaw and his partner take aim, Jordie is certain her time has come. But Shaw has other plans and abducts Jordie, hoping to get his hands on the $30 million her brother has stolen and, presumably, hidden. However, Shaw is not the only one looking for the fortune. Her brother's ruthless boss and the FBI are after it as well. Now on the run from the feds and a notorious criminal, Jordie and Shaw must rely on their wits-and each other-to stay alive.

Miles away from civilization and surrounded by swampland, the two play each other against their common enemies. Jordie's only chance of survival is to outwit Shaw, but it soon becomes clear to Shaw that Jordie isn't entirely trustworthy, either. Was she in on her brother's scam, or is she an innocent pawn in a deadly vendetta? And just how valuable is her life to Shaw, her remorseless and manipulative captor? Burning for answers-and for each other-this unlikely pair ultimately make a desperate move that could be their last.

I haven’t read a Sandra Brown novel in quite sometime. This part of the blurb caught my eye: “But here she is . . . and Shaw Kinnard is here to kill her.”. I knew I had to read it. Usually I cruise right through Brown’s novels, but this one was slow going until about halfway through the book. That’s when it really got good and I could actually sit down and finish it.

Jordie Bennett thought her life was forfeit when she sees Shaw Kinnard bearing down on her in a seedy bar parking lot. Instead, he abducts her and takes her to a place that is impossible to escape. Shaw wants information on her brother, Josh. Josh is in protective custody after turning himself in for helping Billy Panella, a “dangerous criminal”, swindle people out of a total of thirty million dollars. Josh has promised to help the FBI find the thirty million and put Panella away. If they can find him.

Shaw wants more than the two hundred thousand that he was promised to kill Jordie. He wants the full thirty million not to kill her. To get that, he needs her help. To get her help he needs her to tell the truth, which he knows she’s not doing. Jordie is determined not to tell Shaw everything she knows because she needs a bargaining chip if she’s going to come out of this situation alive. Yet as the time slogs by, Jordie is less certain that Shaw is going to keep her alive. Even with their unwanted attraction (so cliché) to each other, Jordie knows that he’s going to kill her.

View Spoiler »

After the slow start, this was a good romantic suspense/thriller. It went at a fast, easy reading pace. I don’t know if I’ll read the next Sandra Brown novel, but I’m glad I read this one.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

three-half-stars

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Guest Review: Love Blooms on Main Street by Olivia Miles

Posted August 16, 2016 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Love Blooms on Main Street by Olivia MilesReviewer: Tracy
Love Blooms on Main Street by Olivia Miles
Series: Briar Creek #4
Also in this series: Mistletoe on Main Street, Christmas Comes to Main Street
Published by Forever
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-stars

Florist Ivy Birch fantasizes about the day a man will surprise her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers. Especially if that man happens to be Brett Hastings. One stolen kiss at her best friend's wedding and Ivy can't get the sexy ER doctor out of her head.

In the small town of Briar Creek, you can't avoid anyone for very long. Not that Brett has been trying to avoid Ivy. He just can't afford to let anything distract him from his work-not again. So when a hospital fundraiser throws them together, love is the last thing on his mind. But with her quick wit and sweet laugh, soon the one woman he's tried to keep at arm's length is capturing his heart...

Ivy kissed Brett at her best friend’s wedding and she’s not been able to get him out of her mind since. She fantasizes about how their meeting will go and practically has her wedding planned. The problem? It’s been seven months since that kiss and Brett hasn’t contacted her once!

When Ivy heads to the local hospital to have a check up for her diabetes who does she run into but Brett! She makes excuses for him not contacting her when he got into town but Brett’s attitude is not exactly open and friendly. He purposely veres the conversation away from even a hint of future meetings. Ivy is pissed and determined to get this man out of her mind but that doesn’t work out as well as she thought it would.

Brett left Briar Creek for college and never wanted to come back. He feels unlimited guilt that he wasn’t in town, nor did he return to town the two times his mother was sick with cancer. He tries to tell himself it was ok since his mother told him to stay put but he still feels the guilt. He has no plans on staying in Briar Creek this time either but after losing a patient in the ER in Boston he was asked to take leave and rest. He plans on leaving again but what he doesn’t plan on was Ivy. Yes, he thought of her multiple times since they kissed but he knows she’s the forever type of girl and he’s not looking for long-term. Despite that, once seeing her again, he can’t get her out of his head and finds himself seeking out her company more and more.

This was cute book and pretty fluffy all around. At first I was a bit disgusted with Ivy because she was still pining after Brett after that kiss. I mean, come on! It’s been seven months and the guy hasn’t called, texted, emailed. That’s a pretty big sign to me to move on. I was also disgusted with Brett and his attitude toward his small hometown. He was a bit of a snob when it came to the slower pace and it took me a while to warm up to him.

Eventually the pair came to terms with each other. Brett started working through his guilt and Ivy was coming to terms with her diabetes and the fact that not one of her friends knew she had it. It was strange but her diabetes brought her and Brett together and I thought it was a unique bonding experience.

There was also a side story of with a girl named Kara. She worked at her friends restaurant and was not happy. She had worked with Anna at a bakery and Anna had taught her so much – Kara loved it. When Anna and her husband Mark opened a restaurant in town she was excited about the prospect of working her baking magic on a larger scale but when Anna asked her to work for her – she made her a hostess and hired a whole other crew for the kitchens. Kara loved helping her friends but wasn’t happy. She’d planned to quit many times but when she finally got up the nerve Anna offered her another job – being the office manager. Kara wanted to say no but couldn’t let down her friend and accepted. She really wanted to bake and be free from the restaurant but she could never say no! It annoyed the heck out of me. I understand not wanting to upset your friends or leave them in a lurch with no hostess and no office manager but she was so sad! Every time her story came on the page it made my heart hurt because she just couldn’t stand up for herself. I liked that she got some recognition by the end of the book but quite frankly this portion of the story brought me down and I wish it hadn’t been a part of Ivy and Brett’s love story.

Overall the story was good and I had a good time reading it. I did have some issues with it but in the end the good outweighed the bad.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars

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Review: Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley

Posted August 8, 2016 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Walk Through Fire by Kristen AshleyReviewer: Holly
Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley
Series: Chaos MC #4
Also in this series: Own the Wind, Ride Steady, Walk Through Fire, Walk Through Fire
Published by Forever
Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 624
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three-stars

Millie Cross knows what it's like to burn for someone. She was young and wild and he was fierce and even wilder-a Chaos biker who made her heart pound. They fell in love at first sight and life was good, until she learned she couldn't be the woman he needed and made it so he had no choice but to walk away. Twenty years later, Millie's chance run-in with her old flame sparks a desire she just can't ignore. And this time, she won't let him ride off . . .

Bad boy Logan "High" Judd has seen his share of troubles with the law. Yet it was a beautiful woman who broke him. After ending a loveless marriage, High is shocked when his true love walks back into his life. Millie is still gorgeous, but she's just a ghost of her former self. High's intrigued at the change, but her betrayal cut him deep-and he doesn't want to get burned again. As High sinks into meting out vengeance for Millie's betrayal, he'll break all over again when he realizes just how Millie walked through fire for her man . . .

This series has been hit and miss for me. Some I loved while others were just eh. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Walk Through Fire since High wasn’t my favorite character in past books. I didn’t dislike him, but I didn’t love him either.

High and Millie were together for three years. They met at a party and were inseparable after that first meeting. They both knew, right from the beginning, that they were it. There was no one else for either of them. Until Mill just cut High off one day and disappeared from his life. Twenty years later she sees him in a Chipotle and decides it’s time to make things right with him. She tracks him down to a motorcycle club event and they end up having sex, though it meant something totally different for High than it did for Millie.

They end up circling around each other for several weeks after that, until they come to a head the night the Club turns on Millie and the reason for her sudden breakup with him comes out. Then Millie takes off for Paris for two weeks and High realizes he’s been an ass and decides to fix what he broke.

Here’s the thing about this book: The first half was pretty great. I totally believed that Logan and Millie loved each other back in the day. I even believed that their love was the GREAT ONE and there was no one else for either of them (strictly speaking in terms of soul mates). What I didn’t buy for a single second was that Mille lived in a bubble for 20 years. She had close friends but never went out? She ran a very successful party planning business but didn’t network? Her life just stopped the second she walked away from High? That didn’t make a lick of sense to me.

It also frustrated me how immature both Millie and High acted at times. They were in their (or close to? I can’t remember now) their 40’s. I wish they’d acted like it. Instead they purposely lashed out at each other, refused to communicate and involved themselves in petty, high school-type drama. The Club didn’t show itself in a very favorable light, either. The way the men acted was silly and childish, and the women were just as bad.

But whatever. I could have gotten past that. The big problem was the second half of the book. Millie and High work out the animosity between them about 1/3 of the way into the book. The rest is all just external problems in the form of drama with his kids, club business and a bad guy using Millie as bait to draw High – and Chaos – out. Plus there were some things that made me want to bang my head against the wall. Example: The bad guy breaks into Millie’s house and tells her he took pictures of her and High having sex in her office/studio (which is in a building behind her house), yet they continue to have sex there without thought. Uh..what?

There were some minor frustrations with both Mille and High, particularly their lack of communication, but I enjoyed parts of the story. Ashley excels at writing stories I fall right into, and this was no exception, at lest for the first half.

2.75 out of 5

three-stars

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