Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review: Hour of Need by Melinda Leigh

Posted May 21, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Hour of Need by Melinda LeighReviewer: Holly
Hour of Need (Scarlet Falls, #1) by Melinda Leigh
Series: Scarlet Falls #1
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: December 9, 2014
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 338
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two-half-stars

While fighting in Afghanistan, Major Grant Barrett receives devastating news: his brother and sister-in-law have been murdered in Scarlet Falls, the sleepy suburb of Grant’s youth. Emotionally scarred from war, the career soldier returns home on emergency leave to temporarily care for his orphaned nephew and niece. But when someone tries to kidnap the kids and their teenage babysitter, Grant knows it’s not a random act…and neither were the murders.

Already devastated by her neighbors’ violent deaths, Ellie Ross is shattered by the attempted abduction of her teenage daughter so she desperately turns to Grant for help. As they navigate a deadly search for the truth, they struggle with growing feelings for each other and Grant’s impending return to deployment.

But time is running out. The killer is growing bolder by the hour, and Ellie and Grant must find him before the children become his next victims.

I really struggle with Romantic Suspense. The characters often do things that make no sense to me, or the mystery is so easy to figure out I end up being really bored. Though I do enjoy mysteries and suspense in audio. I haven’t read Melinda Leigh before, but she had good reviews so I figured I’d give her a try. The blurb does a good job of outlining the plot, so I don’t feel the need to recap.

I enjoyed the narrator, but I spent most of the book irritated at the way the characters acted. The heroine made silly choices that put herself and her family in danger. The hero supported her in those choices when it made no sense, and often rushed into danger himself without thought.

As a romance, this was cute. He had to come home on emergency leave to care for his niece and nephew when his brother and sister-in-law were murdered. Seeing this confirmed bachelor soldier deal with a colicky infant and heartbroken kindergartner was sweet and endearing. His budding relationship with the next door neighbor was sweet, too. I liked the two of them together and the way their families blended.

As a suspense novel it didn’t work for me, but as a romance it was sweet. There’s a good chance others will enjoy the suspense more.

2.75-3.0 out of 5

Scarlet Falls

two-half-stars


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Guest Review: #Starstruck by Sariah Wilson

Posted February 2, 2018 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Guest Review: #Starstruck by Sariah WilsonReviewer: Tracy
#Starstruck (#Lovestruck #1) by Sariah Wilson
Series: #Lovestruck #1
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: January 16th 2018
Genres: New Adult
Pages: 320
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four-stars

“You’ve done better.”

With one uncharacteristically sassy tweet to her longtime celebrity crush, Zoe Miller’s life turns upside down. Ultrahot A-lister Chase Covington doesn’t just respond to Zoe’s tweet, he does the unthinkable: he messages Zoe directly. Now she must decide between walking away or meeting her crush in person.

Chase knows better than to trust anyone from the Internet, but Zoe’s saucy challenge has totally caught his interest—and her girl-next-door personality is keeping it. He’s been burned enough to know he needs to keep his heart close. But his feelings for Zoe might be a lot more than just an online flirtation. He just has to convince her

When the press gets wind of Zoe and Chase’s secret relationship, their romance turns into tabloid headlines. Will they be able to hold on to their Hollywood love story?

Zoe has been a fan of Chase Covington’s since she was 12 (he was just a teen actor at the time).  When she responds to one of Chase’s tweets and lets him know that one of his movies was sub-par, it catches Chase’s attention.  They start to converse via direct message and ending up meeting. After an incident with a bowling ball and his PA, Zoe becomes his personal assistant.  She’s not sure how she’ll do it as she is in her last semester of college, takes care of her brothers and sisters when needed and has an internship at a foundation as well.  Chase makes it easy on her and they spend a surprising amount of time together.

The more time that Chase and Zoe spend together the closer they become although at times Zoe’s not sure what Chase’s intentions are.  They seem to be on dates at times, but he never kisses her. He seems to have no problem with the fact that she’s celibate and waiting for marriage, but is that what’s holding him back? When a question of trust comes up between Zoe and Chase neither one is sure they can trust the other to be in their life for the long haul.

This was a very cute and sweet story.  I really liked Wilson’s writing style and her sense of humor.  She made me laugh on more than one occasion and I loved that.

Zoe was a great girl and I really liked her.  She tried to be the best person she could be.  She was so good with her younger siblings and I loved seeing them interact.  She kept her relationship with Chase a secret from her best friend and roommate, Lexi, which I had mixed feelings about.  They didn’t seem like they would have a relationship where they would keep secrets but I kind of understood Zoe’s insecurities and thoughts that Chase might choose Lexi instead.  I didn’t think he would be I got that a young girl might think that way.  It did kind of annoy me that she kept thinking of him as Chase Covington for such a long time rather than just Chase.  I guess that goes with the title of the book so I tried to let it slide when it happened.

Chase was a nice person.  He said he hadn’t always been but the person he was at the time of this story was kind and for an A-list star, pretty down to earth.  He did have one moment in the book where I wanted to hit him, hard, but he made up for that in the end. 🙂

Overall the book was cute and fun and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Rating: 4 out of 5

four-stars


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Guest Review: The Devil’s Daughter by Katee Robert

Posted January 24, 2017 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: The Devil’s Daughter by Katee RobertReviewer: Jen
The Devil's Daughter by Katee Robert
Series: Hidden Sins #1
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: January 24th 2017
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 301
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four-stars

Growing up in a small town isn’t easy, especially when you’re the daughter of a local cult leader. Ten years ago, Eden Collins left Clear Springs, Montana, and never once looked back. But when the bodies of murdered young women surface, their corpses violated and marked with tattoos worn by her mother’s followers, Eden, now an FBI agent, can’t turn a blind eye. To catch the killer, she’s going to have to return to the fold.

Sheriff Zach Owens isn’t comfortable putting Eden in danger, even if she is an elite agent. And he certainly wasn’t expecting to be so attracted to her. As calm and cool as she appears, he knows this can’t be a happy homecoming. Zach wants to protect her—from her mother, the cult, and the evil that lurks behind its locked gates. But Eden is his only key to the tight-lipped group, and she may just be closer to the killer than either one of them suspects…

Zach Owens is the police chief in the small town of Clear Springs, Montana. When a local teenage girl is found murdered and another goes missing, suspicion falls on the local cult. Then Eden Collins shows up claiming someone sent her a crime scene picture of the murdered girl. Eden is no random stranger, though. She is an FBI agent who specializes in cults, and she’s also the daughter of the local cult leader. Eden escaped her mother’s clutches years ago, and being back in town is frightening and painful for her, but she feels compelled to help catch the murderer and stop it from happening again. Zach isn’t sure he can trust Eden, but because of her inside knowledge of the cult he needs her help. The closer she gets to the truth, though, the more it seems like Eden herself may be tied up in the case in ways she never expected.

This was an exciting book that kept me hooked till the end. I admit I’m sort of darkly fascinated by cults, so for me the plot of this book was creepy and engaging. The cult leader, Martha Collins, was a great complicated character. She’s a twisted, Machiavellian genius, and Robert kept me guessing about Martha’s motivations right up to the end. Even better, Eden was kept guessing, too. She would think she knew the truth, but then she’d talk to her mom and suddenly have a small seed of doubt. Her mom was a master of gaslighting, so Eden was constantly questioning her judgments and reminding herself that her mom was a manipulator. It made for a tense story, and it highlighted the challenges Eden faced coming back to Clear Springs.

Eden was definitely my favorite part of the book. She didn’t just have a bad childhood; she had a horrific childhood. As one would expect, she has a whole lotta emotional problems as a result, like a compulsion towards perfection and a severe fear of intimacy. But the fact that she was able to rise above her childhood and lead a fairly successful adult life was awesome. What I liked best was her confidence in herself. Given her mother’s tactics and manipulations, it would have been perfectly understandable if Eden was plagued with self doubt. While she can’t escape some of that, overall she trusts herself, which is what allows her to mostly avoid the emotional traps Martha sets for her. She’s not TSTL, and she works hard to put aside her personal issues in order to look at the case objectively. For instance, when she starts to suspect that the case somehow relates to her personally, she doesn’t just brush it off. She acknowledges that maybe she’s too close to look at things clearly and calls in outside help, even though it means admitting to her boss that she’s in over her head. I loved her intelligence and professionalism!

The romance was…fine. I liked Zach well enough, and I did like that right off the bat he doesn’t see Eden as a quick lay. He isn’t dreaming of marriage or anything, but he wants to get to know her and explore whether there might be something more there than simple lust. Because the murder plot was fast paced and tense, though, there wasn’t as much time as I would have liked for Eden and Zach to get to know each other. The ending is definitely a HFN, which I thought made sense. I wasn’t entirely convinced that Eden and Zach could make it work, however, at least not without some major compromises that I’m not sure either would be prepared to make. That left me feeling a little bittersweet about the ending.

This was a fairly dark, gritty book, but it was fast paced, complex, and exciting, and it worked for me.

Grade: 4 out of 5

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

four-stars


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Guest Review: Bliss and the Art of Forever by Alison Kent

Posted December 12, 2016 by Tina R in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Bliss and the Art of Forever by Alison KentReviewer: Tina
Bliss and the Art of Forever by Alison Kent
Series: Hope Springs #4
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: April 7th 2015
Pages: 325
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three-half-stars

Now that she’s committed to leaving Hope Springs, she’s falling for the wrong man…but he just might give her all the right reasons to stay.

Two years after her husband’s death, kindergarten teacher Brooklyn Harvey is leaving Hope Springs for her in-laws’ vineyard in Italy—with no plans of coming back. That is, until she meets a disarmingly sexy biker-turned-chocolatier. He might be the man of her dreams, but he’s also the father of one of her students; as such, he’s strictly off-limits.

Callum Drake knows a good thing when he sees one, and he doesn’t want to let Brooklyn get away, even if his rival for her affection is the ghost of her dead husband. He’ll do whatever it takes to win her over, including making chocolates concocted just for her—chocolates that evoke memories of their time together. But can he create a second love bright enough to pull her, and her heart, out of living in the past?

On a random trip to the library I found Bliss and the Art of Forever by Alison Kent hanging out on the “newer” book section. Being one of those people who DOES judge a book by it’s cover, I had to pick it up! As I have mentioned in my previous reviews, I am a total sucker for books with “cute” covers. I use this term for lack of a better word, as these covers are the ones that draw my attention before any other. Then, on top of that, if the synopsis describes a quirky romance, a creepy psychological thriller, or an emotionally-charged drama, I am pretty much sold. That being said, this book fits the above criteria to a T.

Bliss and the Art of Forever is the 4th book of a series called Hope Springs. Seeing that, I looked around for any of the previous books but had no luck. After reading this book though, I feel like it can be read as a stand-alone. I didn’t feel like I missed anything by not reading the prior books. I did feel that this book was a little slower paced than the ones I normally read. I personally didn’t find this to be an issue, but thought it was worth mentioning for those readers who prefer a faster pace. I actually liked the more relaxed pace as it seemed perfect for this simple and sweet romance.

What is different about this book from other romances that I am familiar with is that one of the main characters is a long-haired, tattooed ex-biker. You usually find this type of Alpha Male in those steamy erotic reads. The thing that drew me in was that fact that the guy is also a single parent of a six yr old daughter, and is a successful chocolatier. The book includes some yummy-looking recipes thrown in every couple chapters as well. I actually found a few that I wrote down to try later! The only other thing that I could find that might deter some other romance readers besides the slower pace is the fact that the book does not include any steamy sex scenes. So, if that is something that matters to you, you might keep that in mind.

Bliss and the Art of Forever is a lighthearted, readable romance that provided me with a relaxing way to pass the time while I waited for my car to be serviced. I sped right through it without having to put too much thought into it. The setting of Hope Springs was perfect, and I found all the characters to be engaging and interesting. I will definitely be checking into the other books in the series.

three-half-stars


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Guest Review: Repressed by Elisabeth Naughton

Posted August 23, 2016 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Repressed by Elisabeth NaughtonReviewer: Jen
Repressed (Deadly Secrets #1) by Elisabeth Naughton
Series: Deadly Secrets #1
Published by Montlake Romance
Publication Date: July 26th 2016
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 316
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three-half-stars

Hidden Falls is exactly as Samantha Parker left it—small, insular, and prone to gossip. Eighteen years have passed since she witnessed her brother’s murder, but she’s still the talk of the town. Until a handsome child psychologist with haunting memories of his own arrives.

Dr. Ethan McClane isn’t exactly a newcomer. If it weren’t for his latest case, he’d never set foot back in Hidden Falls. Thankfully, no one seems to recognize him as the troubled teen from years past. Not even Sam, the delightfully sharp and sexy high school chemistry teacher he can’t stop thinking about.

When Sam and Ethan work together to help one of her students, sparks ignite. But Sam’s hazy memories of a long-ago night concern Ethan, and unlocking the repressed images reveals a dark connection between them. As the horrors of the past finally come to light, their relationship isn’t the only thing in danger. A killer will strike again to keep an ugly secret hidden, and this time no one will be safe.

This is a story all about secrets, both the ones the hero is keeping and the ones the heroine has forgotten. Samantha Parker has come back to the small town of Hidden Falls to clean up and sell her recently deceased mom’s house. It’s going to take a while, so she gets a temporary job teaching chemistry at the local high school. She hates being back in town because the place holds nothing but bad memories for her, but she’s stuck for the moment. When Dr. Ethan McClane comes to town to work with one of Sam’s troubled students, he has an immediate connection to Sam. He too is back in Hidden Springs reluctantly. He spent some of his childhood there but also has no fondness for the town after he left under traumatic circumstances. As soon as he arrives in town, bad stuff starts happening to Sam, and it’s obvious someone is trying to scare her. Could it be related to the horrible nightmare she’s been having since childhood? And what will happen when Ethan’s own terrible secret comes out?

This book was kind of a mixed bag for me. The pacing was kind of uneven, with lots of slow parts that dragged a bit and then an ending that felt extremely rushed. I wasn’t thrilled with the depiction of the mental health profession or the troubled teen and how he gets screwed by all the adults around him. (I know there are plenty of kids let down by the system, but this was over the top.) The characters were also a little flat, especially the Hidden Falls residents. Aside from the main characters, there was not a single resident who was portrayed positively; they were all rude, mean, selfish, or downright evil. Even the main characters lacked some depth. They had childhood trauma, but that was basically the most interesting thing about them. I felt like we were finally getting a little more insight into Ethan’s personality and life when his family comes into the story later. I enjoyed the dialog between him and his brother, I liked learning more about his dad, and I liked the time he spent away from Sam. I wanted to see more of that for Sam too, but she has no family, no one I would truly call a “friend,” and virtually no pleasant or even meaningful interactions with anyone other than Ethan. It made it difficult to understand Sam as a person and figure out what made her tick. Plus, it made the already abrupt ending feel even more sudden.

I did enjoy some of the book too, though. I enjoyed Ethan’s flirting as he tried to get to know Sam better. They had some very sweet moments, and while I wanted more depth to them, I still liked them as a couple. As I mentioned, I loved reading about Ethan’s family, especially his brother Alec. (I know this book starts a new series. I don’t know anything about it, but I certainly wouldn’t mind if Alec was a future hero!) Despite the fact that there were too many coincidences and convenient plot mechanisms, I was intrigued by the story. There were still details and twists that kept me interested.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and will happily check out more from the series, but I do hope the next installment smooths out some of the issues of book 1.

Grade: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


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