Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Throwback Thursday Review: The Other Twin by Katherine Stone

Posted October 29, 2020 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: The Other Twin by Katherine StoneReviewer: Holly
The Other Twin by Katherine Stone
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: December 1, 2003
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 361
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three-half-stars

Thirty-one years ago, on a cliffside highway between San Francisco and Carmel, an accident changes forever the lives of the survivors of crash. But their lives remain entwined, a tapestry of love and loss and secrets—and of pride, too, for the youngest survivor, the baby girl who was born on that stormy day…

Paige Forrester is a doctor now, a dedicated physician who fights to save her patients even as her own life is in peril. She pushes herself and excels in her work, but she’s alone in her private life, and inexplicably distant from the mother with whom she has always wanted to be close. And now that mother, the wealthy and reclusive Claire Forrester, has chosen Jack Logan—who Paige loved in college love, and who left her—to renovate her San Francisco mansion.

On the same day that Paige will see Jack again, she meets Gweneth St. James, a gifted makeup artist who’s as vivacious and social as Paige is reserved. It’s a surprising encounter for both of them, a sharing of confidences that both have kept hidden, and it will changes their lives in stunning ways . . . including, for Gwen, a chance meeting with Dr. Cole Ransom, the gray-eyed surgeon who sees what she has always hidden, the woman she is behind the mask.

This review was originally published February 26, 2011 with a different cover

It’s important not to overdo it when it comes to Stone. I really enjoy her novels, but they’re definitely on the too-sweet side. The fact that EVERYTHING is tied up in a nice neat little bow can get frustrating after awhile. Plus, it’s kind of the same book every time – damaged woman meets damaged man, together they are healed by love.

Obviously, I read one too many Stone novels in a row. She is infinitely readable. I have to say upfront, if I hadn’t binged on her all at once, I know I wouldn’t be complaining now. She’s my guilty pleasure – her novels should drive me insane – but instead I lap them up.

Gwen St. James is a makeup artist for a television network. One of the news anchors has a grandmother who is very ill and planning to go home so she can die with her family. They ask Gwen if she’d be willing to do the makeup for the grandmother so she doesn’t scare her family with how ravaged she looks. Gwen agrees. At the hospital she meets Paige Forrester, the grandmother’s doctor. The two women form an instant bond and develop a fast friendship. Both women are struggling with major things: Gwen has a large port-wine birthmark on her face she’s thinking of having removed via laser surgery; Paige’s kidneys are failing and she desperately needs a transplant.

Gwen also meets another doctor while at the hospital – renowned surgeon Cole Ransom. She’s quite taken with him, but mistakenly believes he’s involved with Paige. She also assumes, because she’d removed her makeup to show Paige her birthmark, that he didn’t really see her, only the mark on her face.

Paige has always been an overachiever. The reason her kidneys are failing now is because she abused over the counter pain killers while in college to take care of tension headaches from studying too hard (she got her doctorate in 3 years). For a short time in college she was able to relax – when she was falling in love with Jack Logan. Things didn’t work out and Jack broke it off with her due to circumstances outside his control. But now he’s back in her life, renovating her mother’s home. Can Paige open up to him? And is Jack willing to forgive her for deceiving him so many years ago?

This isn’t one of my favorite novels by Stone. As much as I enjoyed it – and others – I didn’t feel the same connection to her characters as I normally do. Gwen goes off on a tangent halfway through the novel and convinces herself Paige and Cole have been conspiring to get her to give up one of her kidneys for Paige, which was annoying.

Despite the issues I had with this novel I couldn’t put it down.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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Throwback Thursday Review/Rant: Shattered by Joan Johnston

Posted October 22, 2020 by Casee in Reviews | 15 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review/Rant: Shattered by Joan JohnstonReviewer: Casee
Shattered by Joan Johnston
Series: Bitter Creek #8
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: December 29, 2009
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Romantic Suspense
Pages: 423
Add It: Goodreads
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one-star
Series Rating: one-star

Nine years ago Kate Grayhawk Pendelton walked into Wyatt Shaw's life--and out of it the next morning. Now Wyatt's back--and has the power to shatter Kate's future with the man she loves.

By reputation, Wyatt Shaw is a brutal killer who always gets what he wants. And he wants Kate and her twin eight-year-old sons.

Texas Ranger Jack McKinley is hot on Wyatt Shaw's trail. The presumed heir to the D'Amato crime syndicate is threatening to steal the woman he loves.

Holly McKinley is fighting to keep Jack from leaving her for another woman. Now the secret she's kept for over twenty years may save their son's life, and cost her the only man she's ever loved.

This review was originally published December 30, 2009

Warning! Spoilers Ahead!

!@#$$%^&!@#$%^&

I can’t tell you exactly what I was saying as I was reading this book. What I can say is that Joan Johnston really screwed her readers on this one. Shattered is the newest book in Johnston’s Bitter Creek series. I have doggedly stuck with it (waiting for Jack and Kate to FINALLY get together) only to end up feeling completely screwed over at the end. I felt like Johnston was giving the proverbial finger to her readers while writing this book.

The Bitter Creek series started way back in 2000. In 2005, The Next Mrs. Blackthorne was released. It was supposed to be the story of Clay Blackthorne and Libby Grayhawk (which it was to a certain extent). It was either in this book or the one before it (The Rivals) that Kate and Jack first meet. Kate is nineteen and instantly falls for Jack. Sparks fly, etc. Jack is older and more jaded. He rejects Kate, which sends her into the arms of another man. Nine years later, they meet again. Kate is widowed (or so she thinks) with twin boys. Jack is going through a divorce. It’s finally their time. At the end of A Stranger’s Game (2009), Kate and Jack are as good as together. Then Kate’s husband comes back from the dead. Obviously you think that is the obstacle that will come between Kate and Jack. Nope.

The bottom line is that Kate and Jack DON’T END UP TOGETHER. OMGWTFBBQ. It’s bull shit. The story would have been good if JACK AND KATE WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO END UP TOGETHER. There is no sense to be made from the fact that Kate and Jack END UP WITH OTHER PEOPLE. And who they end up with is so fucking cliched. Jack ends up with the wife he was going to divorce. Kate ends up with the man she had a one night stand with, resulting in the birth of her twins.

In the midst of all that, Kate’s husband decides that he wants revenge on his bitch of a wife and her lover. Then he decides to blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blabety blah.

The end.

1 out of 5.

The series:

Book CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook CoverBook Cover

one-star


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Guest Review: The Way You Look Tonight by Bella Andre

Posted September 21, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Way You Look Tonight by Bella AndreReviewer: Tracy
The Way You Look Tonight: The Sullivans by Bella Andre
Series: The Sullivans #9
Also in this series: The Look of Love (The Sullivans #1), Always on My Mind: The Sullivans
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: January 1st 2014
Format: eARC
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three-half-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

As a very successful private investigator who has caught most of the cheaters in Seattle with their pants down, Rafe Sullivan believes true, lasting love only happens once in a blue moon. Needing to get away from the city to clear his head, he finds the lake house where he spent the best summers of his life is now a wreck...but the sweet girl next door is all grown up and prettier than anything he's ever seen.

While Brooke Jansen is happy making and selling chocolate truffles in her small Pacific Northwest lake town, she secretly longs to experience something wild. So when her favorite “Wild Sullivan” moves in again next door after more than a decade away, and sparks fly between them, she can't stop wondering if being bad is really as good as it always seemed...and just how long it will be before she can find out?

But when their summer fling quickly spirals into deeper emotions than either of them were expecting, can they survive the heat between them? Or will Rafe make the biggest mistake of his life and end up losing the best thing that's ever happened to him?

 

Tracy’s review of The Way You Look Tonight (The Sullivans #9) by Bella Andre

While Brooke Jansen is happy with her quiet, small-town life, she secretly longs to experience something wild. So when her favorite “Wild Sullivan” moves back after more than a decade away, she can’t stop wondering if being bad is really as good as it always seemed…and just how long it will be before she can find out.

It’s not long before a summer fling spirals into something much deeper. Can Rafe put his faith in love for once, or will he end up losing the best thing that’s ever happened to him?

Rafe was once a cop who eventually started his own PI firm and it has been a good move for him. Unfortunately a huge part of his business is catching cheaters. It makes him a bit crazy and he’s starting to not enjoy his job at all. It makes him cynical about the world in general and that’s having a negative effect on his whole life. His sister Mia wants him to buy a lake home so that he can get away from it all but he’s not sure that’s what he needs. He changes his mind when Mia finds the perfect home – the house that his parents had to give up when he was a teen. The Sullivan’s used to spend every summer there and Rafe loved it almost more than anyone else. He buys the house and within a day he’s back at the lake. The house is a mess and practically torn apart inside but he’s determined to make it right.

Next door to Rafe lives Brooke Jansen. She had spent summers at her grandparents’ house on the lake and had been great friends with the Sullivan’s until they stopped showing up. When her grandparents died they willed the home to Brooke and she has been living in it full time making chocolate truffles and doing a great business.

Rafe and Brooke see each other again and have an instant connection. It’s not long before they are finding every available surface to have sex on and becoming emotionally attached. Rafe, however, isn’t ready to give up his cynical ways and when he makes a huge error in judgment he finds that he may lose the Brooke and everything they’ve built in one fell swoop.

This book had all the charm and goodness that I’ve come to expect in a Sullivan’s novel. I really liked Rafe and Brooke a lot and it was wonderful getting to know the characters in this side of the Sullivan’s family better.

That being said I did have a couple of issues with the book – the biggest one being the central conflict. I could see where it all could go wrong but how the characters reacted really seemed a bit overblown. I guess I could see things from both points of view and if one of the characters hadn’t gone off half-cocked (can you tell I’m trying not to give anything away?) then the pair could have sat and talked and all would have been well. I think this is kind of an on-going theme in Andre’s books, though, with the conflict happening and then the characters spending time away from each other and then realizing their mistakes, etc., so I wasn’t too surprised.

The other issue I had was the speed with which the characters fell in love. I could totally see the lust and growing emotions happening and I loved that, but the “I love you” (for both of them) came so quickly I was almost surprised when it happened. One week just isn’t long enough to fall in love with a person imho, although I’m sure there are couples out there that would naysay that.

So, while I really liked so many different parts of the story and overall had a smile on my face when it ended, I did have a couple of issues with it. This certainly won’t stop me from reading the next book in the series. 🙂

Rating: 3.75 out of 5

This title is available from Harlequin MIRA. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

three-half-stars


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Review: Always On My Mind by Bella Andre

Posted April 16, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Always On My Mind by Bella AndreReviewer: Tracy
Always on My Mind: The Sullivans by Bella Andre
Series: The Sullivans #8
Also in this series: The Look of Love (The Sullivans #1), The Way You Look Tonight: The Sullivans
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: April 29th 2014
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

In ALWAYS ON MY MIND, after a tragic loss three years ago, Grayson Tyler left his life in New York City behind and started over in the rolling hills of the California coast. He's convinced himself that all he'll ever need again is the blue sky, a thousand acres of pasture, and the crashing waves of the ocean. Until one day, Lori Sullivan barges into his life and promptly blows his emotionless and solitary world to shreds, driving him crazy as only a woman nicknamed “Naughty” can. But will Lori be able to convince him that it's safe to love her...and that forever isn't actually out of reach?

Lori is a dancer – it’s what she does and what she loves…except her no good boyfriend has made her doubt not only herself but her reason for dancing. After leaving a show in Chicago she flies home and instead of alerting her family or even heading home she rents a car and just drives. The car rental attendant had told her that Pescadero was beautiful so there she heads. During a stop at a Pescadero deli/general store she sees an ad on their bulletin board that says that Grayson Tyler is looking for a ranch hand. Lori believes she can do anything she puts her mind to so she heads out to see Grayson.

Grayson’s quiet day is interrupted when Lori comes barreling down his driveway and promptly crashes into a fence. When a gorgeous woman in spiked heels pops out of the car he’s momentarily speechless. When she says she’s his new ranch hand he’s baffled, and definitely not happy. He tries everything he can think of to get rid of her but he soon sees that she’s just as stubborn as he is.

Lori was expecting Grayson to be an old farmer but he’s the exact opposite. He’s not only young but incredibly handsome and built. She’s decided she’s off men so she tries not to look but sometimes it’s hard. She knows Grayson doesn’t want her around but she’s determined to make herself useful. She annoys him with her mistakes and her constant talk but she can’t help it, she’s friendly and social. He’s gruff and mean and pushes her away at every turn. But Lori can be just as mulish and after living with 7 siblings she knows how to give as much as she gets. Fate steps in, of course, and their soon realizing that even though they’re exact opposites they can’t live without the other in their life.

Such a good end to the stories of the 8 Sullivan siblings (I know there are more books in the series but this was the end of this particular family’s stories). I really liked Lori a lot. I thought it odd that she would ever want to be a farmhand but I guess that is almost the furthest away from dancing as she could possibly get. Though she made mistakes I loved her affinity for the land and the animals. They seemed to take to her just as much as she took to them.

Grayson was a bit of a butthead at first. Wow, he could be MEAN as mean could be but he always felt bad about it afterward. Doesn’t make it right but when we got all of the background on him we could see that it was all a defense mechanism and a desperate attempt to keep Lori out of his heart. I loved that even at the end he continued to be gruff (not mean) but Lori embraced it and actually enjoyed it.

The story was sweet, fun and sexy and I loved finally reading about Lori and what she’d been going through while all of her siblings had been finding love. Both Lori and Grayson found themselves in this story and it was definitely satisfying.  It was worth the wait and I can’t wait to see what comes next in the Sullivan series.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Bella Andre

(Kindle version available now, MMPB version out on 4/29/14)

four-stars


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Guest Review: A Brother’s Honor by Brenda Jackson

Posted July 16, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: A Brother’s Honor by Brenda JacksonReviewer: Judith
A Brother's Honor (The Grangers, #1) by Brenda Jackson
Series: The Grangers #1
Publisher: Harlequin, Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: May 28th 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 392
Add It: Goodreads
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four-stars
Series Rating: four-stars

The Granger brothers left behind their family's Virginia estate and the bad memories it holds 151 years ago. But their dying grandfather's request brings them home: to a failing business, a legacy of secrets and a deathbed promise to make things right.

As the eldest brother, attorney Jace Granger is determined to take responsibility for Granger Aeronautics, his family's failing business. But the years of mismanagement seem impossible to untangle. As CEO, he hires a consultant to turn the company around. Smart, sexy Shana Bradford is the right person for the job and the right woman to turn Jace's world upside down.

But the passion between them is jeopardized when old secrets begin to emerge. A woman from Jace's past suddenly reappears. And an explosive discovery changes everything Jace thinks he knows about his mother and his father, who was convicted of her murder.

Jace Granger tried to leave his family history behind once before. But this time he needs to face the past or risk losing his future.

Three brothers. One legacy. A lifetime of secrets.

But the passion between them is jeopardized when old secrets begin to emerge. A woman from Jace’s past suddenly reappears. And an explosive discovery changes everything Jace thinks he knows about his mother-and his father, who was convicted of her murder.

Jace Granger tried to leave his family history behind once before. But this time he needs to face the past…or risk losing his future.

Brenda Jackson is known for her lengthy and popular family-related series and it seems that no matter how many she writes, most of us really like them.  As a woman of color and deep faith, Brenda has not backed down from expressing the views of contemporary society through the voices of her characters nor has she ever been reluctant to write honestly about the sexual and love relationships between partners.  Here she is introducing a new series of novels about brothers who have been forced to return to their roots to fulfill their promise to their dying grandfather and to save their family business.

It’s often difficult to “go home.”  There is an old truism that declares that we can never go home . . . certainly not in the sense that we can re-create a past that may or may not have been desirable.  In the case of the Grainger brothers, there is not much that is positive about their return to Grainger-land.  There is a whole load of old pain, disappointment, and business problems that gather like a miasma over their father’s business.  Adding a woman into the mix doesn’t seem very smart.  Yet this particular woman possesses the talents and business acumen to identify the problems that are bringing their family business down.  But it is the very process of finding what is wrong business-wise that also makes Jace’s personal life incredibly complicated as well.

This is a very emotional novel and in the way that is very much Brenda Jackson’s way, it is erotic and sensual.  There are so many positive and negative feelings sweeping over the pages of this novel.  It is the kind of story that is filled with tension and crisis, both in the context of the story as well as the attraction between Jace and Shana.  The sexual energy is really hot and it is a romance that feels like it just can’t sustain itself–as one old love song states:  ” . . . it’s too hot not to cool down.”

I, for one, really like Brenda Jackson’s work.  I have read her blog and a lot of what she has to say about her life and her feelings about what she writes.  I appreciate her honesty and her relentless pursuit of putting the stories of people of color before the public.  And above all else, I think she’s good at it.  This novel will be a very entertaining read for her fans and for those who are just discovering her work.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Harlequin MIRA. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

four-stars


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