Publisher: HQN Books

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney Milan

Posted March 22, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 2 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Unclaimed by Courtney MilanReviewer: Holly
Unclaimed (Turner, #2) by Courtney Milan
Series: Turner #2
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: September 20th 2011
Genres: Historical Romance
Pages: 422
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four-stars


Her only hope for survival...

Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.


Is to ruin the man she loves...

But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse--seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs and the love she knows is impossible.

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

This review was originally published on September 28, 2011.

I considered not finishing this book when, more than halfway through, the heroine was still being dishonest about her motives and intentions with the hero. While I’m glad I finished it, I find her actions – both before he learned of her deceit and after – tarnished the story.

Jessica is a courtesan that can’t stand to be touched by men. She needs money to start over somewhere else and the only way she can get it is by ruining the most popular man in England. Mark Turner is supposed to be chaste, but Jessica knows all men have a price. She just has to find his. If she can, she’ll receive enough money from her former protector to start a quiet life elsewhere.

Mark needs a break from the pressure of London and the hordes of adoring fans, so he retires to the country. Which is where he meets the widow Jessica Farleigh. Mark isn’t just chaste – he’s trying to live a chaste lifestyle. That means doing the right thing because it’s right, not because it’s fashionable. He isn’t a hypocrite. He has needs and desires the same as every other man. He’s just chosen not to act on them..because to do so wouldn’t be fair to either himself or the lady in question.

Jessica is wounded. Her life hasn’t been what she expected it would be and things have only gone from bad to worse. She needs an out, and for a woman in her position life doesn’t offer many. I understood that. But I had a hard time connecting with her. Part of the problem is my own hang-up. I can’t stand it when a character keeps a massive secret from his/her counterpart for the entire book. Especially when it’s something that will cause the other person pain. Since Jessica did this – even having good reasons for doing so – I had a really hard time forgiving her.

Aside from that, I truly enjoyed her personal journey. She needed to learn to like herself. It wasn’t always easy, but with Mark’s help she was able to recognize her own worth. I found this personal aspect of her story fascinating.

Mark was..well, honestly, Mark was close to perfect. He wasn’t just pretending to be a chaste man. He wasn’t just pretending to want to do the right thing. He was a flawed man willing to own his mistakes and shortcomings, and to try to overcome them. It wasn’t that he wasn’t flawed, because he was, but he accepted his flaws.

This was a well written historical romance that deals very well with the personal journey of the heroine. But I found it somewhat lacking in the romance. Not that I didn’t believe in the HEA, but I wasn’t invested in them as a couple so much as I was curious about them as individuals.

The romance world needs more heroes like Sir Mark Turner.

3.75 out of 5

e=UTF8&tag=boobin-20&link_code=btl&camp=213689&creative=392969″ target=”_blank”>here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Guest Review: Can’t Let Go by Gena Showalter

Posted October 30, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: Can’t Let Go by Gena ShowalterReviewer: Tracy
Can't Let Go by Gena Showalter
Series: The Original Heartbreakers #5
Also in this series: The Closer You Come
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: October 31st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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four-stars

With trust issues a mile long, Ryanne Wade has sworn off men.  Then Jude Laurent walks into her bar and all bets are off.  The former Army Ranger has suffered unimaginably, first being maimed in battle then losing his wife and daughters to a drunk driver. Making the brooding widower smile is priority one. Resisting him? Impossible.

To Jude, Ryanne is off limits. And yet the beautiful bartender who serves alcohol to potential motorists tempts him like no other. When a rival bar threatens her livelihood, and her life, he can’t turn away.  She triggers something in him he thought long buried, and he’s determined to protect her, whatever the cost.

As their already scorching attraction continues to heat, the damaged soldier knows he must let go of his past to hold on to his future...or risk losing the second chance he desperately needs.

Jude Laurent really doesn’t like Ryanne Wade because she runs a bar.  His wife and twin daughters were killed in a drunk driving accident and he despises anything to do with alcohol.  Sure, she has strict rules about how many drinks someone can have and she always has them sober up first, but he still doesn’t like her.  If they don’t sober up first she takes their keys and calls them a cab.  Despite his disdain for Ryanne he finds himself wanting her more and more.

Ryanne is hot for Jude but she knows that he’s been so hurt in the past that the chances of them hooking up is slim to none. Of course that doesn’t stop her from teasing him mercilessly and texting him to annoy him.  She doesn’t plan on feelings building up for the man but they come so naturally.  When Jude finally says that he ready to start a strictly sexual relationship with Ryanne she’s all for it but can she keep her feelings to just the bedroom?  Can he?

This was a great book.  I honestly couldn’t figure out how Showalter was going to manage to make me believe that Jude was ready for anything.  He was so devastated by the deaths of his family and it broke my heart to think of it.  She did, however, honestly get me to believe that their romance worked.  Despite all the obstacles in their way they did it and I was rooting for them.

There was a guy in the story that wanted to buy Ryanne’s bar and when she wouldn’t sell accidents started happening.  Of course she needed Jude’s security business to protect her business.  This was a great way to get the pair to work together but the whole issue with the rich bastard businessman seemed just so far fetched.  IDK, that part of the story seemed unrealistic and I didn’t really care for it.

Despite that one issue I really liked this book.  I liked Ryanne and Jude separately and together and they worked!  This was another Original Heartbreaker novel I definitely recommend.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: A Christmas Affair by Jodi Thomas

Posted October 2, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: A Christmas Affair by Jodi ThomasReviewer: Tracy
A Christmas Affair (Ransom Canyon #6.5) by Jodi Thomas
Series: Ransom Canyon #6.5
Also in this series: Sunrise Crossing
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: October 1st 2017
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 90
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Goodreads
four-stars

Maria Anne Davis was on her way to an exciting career as a chef in Dallas, until a terrible car accident left her blind. Ever resilient, Maria has reinvented her life on her own terms, starting a business out of her home kitchen, selling her jams and jellies to the local grocery.

Maria loves romance novels, and despite her bold spirit, she fears she’ll never have a big love affair like ones her heroines experience. That is, until she realizes how much she cares about the quiet Wes Whitman, the owner of the grocery.

Wes can’t keep Maria’s wildly popular jam on his shelves – just like he can’t keep the fierce, beautiful Maria out of his thoughts. But how could a firecracker like Maria come to love a shy, nervous man like him? Maybe all they need is a grand affair. Wes needs to convince Maria that some affairs last forever, though – just in time for Christmas.

Wes and Maria don’t talk or really interact when she brings her stock in.  He pays her the money owed her and then she leaves.  Wes would like nothing more than to talk to her – and more – but he’s just too shy.  Maria ends up making the first move on Wes, which shocks and thrills him.  Maria proposes an affair – something she wants as her Christmas present.  Wes is happy to oblige but it seems like every time they turn around there are unintentional road blocks being thrown up.  The more Wes thinks about the affair with Maria the more he realizes that he doesn’t want just an affair – he wants it all.

In this novella not only do we get the sweet but whirlwind romance of Wes and Maria but we also get a bit of a story about a 15-year-old boy, Travis Fuller.  His parents are neglectful and social services has now put him into the care of his three great uncles in Crossroads, Texas.  Travis doesn’t plan on being with his uncles any longer than he planned on being with his parents. As soon as he hits age 16 he plans on running away and plots constantly as to how he can do that.

By staying with his uncles Travis gets to see that people may be screwed up in different ways but they can still love each other.   When Wes Whitman hires Travis as a stock boy in his grocery, Travis starts to see that life can be different from what he planned.  Not only is Travis then making money instead having to steal things, but he starts to have a sense of worth.  He starts to see life in a different way and I loved that.  Thomas has such a way of wrapping my heart around her characters that I couldn’t help but start pulling for Travis from the first sentence of the book.  I was so happy that by the end that he found a small sense of peace.  He was a good kid and I liked his character a lot.

Maria and Wes were definitely not your typical couple but they were good together.  I do wish they had talked more throughout the story but as it was a novella it still worked.  Sometimes two people just know they’re meant to be together and that’s all there is to it. 🙂

Overall a lovely novella and one I recommend, even if you haven’t read all of the Ransom Canyon books.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: Second Thought by Kristan Higgins

Posted May 23, 2017 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Second Thought by Kristan HigginsReviewer: Tina
On Second Thought by Kristan Higgins
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: January 31st 2017
Pages: 480
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Goodreads
three-half-stars

Ainsley O’Leary is so ready to get married—she’s even found the engagement ring her boyfriend has stashed away. What she doesn’t anticipate is being blindsided by a breakup he chronicles in a blog…which (of course) goes viral. Devastated and humiliated, Ainsley turns to her older half sister, Kate, who’s struggling with a sudden loss of her own.

Kate’s always been the poised, self-assured sister, but becoming a newlywed—and a widow—in the space of four months overwhelms her. Though the sisters were never close, she starts to confide in Ainsley, especially when she learns her late husband was keeping a secret from her.

Despite the murky blended-family dynamic that’s always separated them, Ainsley's and Kate’s heartaches bind their summer together when they come to terms with the inevitable imperfection of relationships and family—and the possibility of one day finding love again.

First of all, Kristan’s books always seem to have the best covers!! I admit that I am a total cover snob, and that is one of the first things that make me want to pick up a book – even before I see if it is one of my favorite authors or not! And, I also can count on a well-written story filled with endearing characters whenever I pick up one of her books, and On Second Thought is no exception.

This book not only tugged at my heart, it also made me smile once in awhile too. I don’t really see why this book is listed as a romance though, because to me it is more centered around the character’s lives and about their struggle to get past the things that life has dealt to them. I felt like the romance part was actually more secondary in this book.

Overall, I thought this was another good book from Kristan HIggins. Like I said, I have been a fan for a long time and will continue as such. For anyone who is not familiar with her books, you really need to go check her out, as her books are definitely worth it!

I would like to thank NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me an advanced copy of this ebook in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 3.75 out of 5.

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: After the Dark by Cynthia Eden

Posted March 29, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 3 Comments

Guest Review: After the Dark by Cynthia EdenReviewer: Jen
After the Dark by Cynthia Eden
Series: Killer Instinct #1
Also in this series: Before the Dawn
Published by Harlequin, HQN Books
Publication Date: March 28th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 384
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Goodreads
four-stars

In New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Eden's gripping new series, a disgraced FBI profiler must save her reputation by stopping a sadistic killer she knows all too well.

Former FBI agent Samantha Dark was one of the most respected profilers in the bureau, an expert on the twisted minds and dark hearts of the most depraved criminals. But when her own former lover turned out to be the serial killer she was hunting, Samantha's career was destroyed. Blamed for the FBI's failure on the complex case, Samantha fled Washington, DC, for the quiet anonymity of Alabama.

Now an all-too-familiar killer is hunting once again. She can catch the sadistic assassin, but that means putting her trust in her former partner, Blake Gamble. Ex-military, Blake is tough, protective, precise. With her entire life on the brink, she knows he wants her back in the FBI…and possibly more.

But someone else wants her, too. A threat is waiting in the dark, a killer who has set his sights on the ultimate trophy victim—Samantha.

Cynthia Eden has become a pretty reliable author for me. Her books never totally blow me away, but they’re always  very solid, enjoyable reads, and After the Dark was no exception.

Samantha Dark was a genius criminal profiler with the FBI, but she left the Bureau in disgrace after her former boyfriend turned out to be a serial killer. She hides away in a small town in Alabama until her old partner, Blake, comes calling looking for help with a case. Blake had the hots for Samantha from the start, but obviously being partners complicated that attraction, and he never acted on it. Now, he wants her back, both in the FBI and in his own life, but Samantha doesn’t trust herself and certainly doesn’t think she’s good enough for a decent man like Blake. However, she’s the only one who can stop the killer who’s become fixated on her.

I really liked the premise of this book. The idea that a profiler could miss that her own friend was a serial killer was very compelling. Plus, Cameron wasn’t just Samantha’s friend but her past lover and confidant with whom she had shared her deepest, darkest secrets. While it’s not really addressed in the book, it seemed to me that Cameron had probably been emotionally manipulating her for years. He convinced her that there was this darkness in her that only he understood, and even after she’s left the Bureau she still holds on to this idea that she’s got some kind of not-entirely-good core. Couple that with her disgraceful exit from the FBI and it made sense why she would be so reluctant to help Blake and to get personally involved with him. It was a unique twist on a serial killer story I haven’t seen before. I also liked that the case wasn’t quite as simple as it first appeared. There were some big twists and turns, and they made for a fast paced and exciting story.

Blake was kind of a mixed character for me. He was one of Eden’s trademark alphas, bossy and in charge. He is the one who comes to Samantha for help, but then he also tries to edge her out when things get dangerous. That was stupid and unnecessary, I thought. Still, his genuine care for Samantha is clear. He stands up to his boss when his boss doubts her, and he isn’t afraid to go after Samantha once he’s found her again. He insists he too has a “darkness” in him, but I didn’t really feel like that went anywhere. To be honest, this story is more about Samantha and her struggle to overcome her past and her self doubt, which was fine by me.

This was an engaging story with a fascinating heroine, and I’m glad I read it.

Grade: 4 out of 5

*I received a review copy of this book from the publisher.

four-stars


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