Tag: Anna Sullivan

Guest Review: Secret Harbor by Anna Sullivan

Posted April 7, 2015 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Secret Harbor by Anna SullivanJen’s review of Secret Harbor (Windfall Island #3) by Anna Sullivan

Ten years ago, Paige Walker left her beloved home of Windfall Island to become an actress in Hollywood. Now she’s coming back a star, honored with awards and beset by scandal. Escaping from a tabloid frenzy of gossip and lies, Paige wants nothing more than to surround herself with old friends. She never expected to meet an infuriating—and sexy—stranger . . . or to find herself in true danger.

Brilliant attorney Alec Barclay came to Windfall to look for the kidnapped, long-lost heir to the Stanhope family fortune. What he finds is the most beautiful and enigmatic woman he has ever known. If his suspicions are correct, she’s the heir he’s been looking for . . . and the target of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn together by desire—but haunted by secrets of the past—Alec and Paige try to unlock a mystery as dangerous as it is irresistible. But every passion has a price…

As a fan of the Windfall Island series, I was excited to read the third and final book, Secret Harbor, because of its heroine, Paige Walker. Despite some imperfections, my instincts about Paige were right on and made for an enjoyable read.

Some spoiler-free recap: During Prohibition times, a baby from the wealthy Stanhope family disappeared from a boat near Windfall Island. She was assumed dead at the time, but later questions arose, and one part of the family hired a PI (Dex, the hero from book 1) to see if she could have survived. Dex also brought in a genealogist (Hold Abbot, the hero from book 2) to research the island’s historical documents. The problem is, someone wants to eliminate potential heirs because any heir would be eligible to receive part of the family’s massive fortune.

And some recap that will include light spoilers for the earlier books: At the start of this book, they’ve done DNA tests on the previous heroines, Maggie and Jessi, and discovered neither is a match. This leaves only Paige Walker as a possibility. Paige is a famous movie star and Windfall native who’s returned home to hide out after a painful scandal. She was childhood friends with Jessi and Maggie but they had a falling out. Now that she’s back, they’ve reconciled and are all working on the mystery. The group has brought in Alec Barclay, former Stanhope lawyer and Dex’s friend, to help as well. Alec and Paige immediately antagonize each other, and have some sizzling attraction. When Alec has to move in with Paige to protect her while they try to figure out if she’s the heir, their bickering, and sexual tension, ratchet up even farther.

Let’s start with what I liked! For me Paige made this book. She’s a complicated woman, and I liked getting to know her. She wasn’t ashamed of her Windfall heritage, but she also burned a lot of bridges when she left, so she hadn’t really come back much since she became a star. I enjoyed that she’s portrayed as an excellent actress who’s serious about her craft, not just a pretty face. Now that she’s back, she’s realizing all she lost by cutting herself off from her home, and she’s reevaluating what is really important in life. Her struggles with fame and privacy were fascinating and felt real. I don’t personally know any famous people, but I could imagine the challenges that would bring! I also love the female friendships in the series. I felt like we really had the chance to see Maggie, Jessi, and Paige negotiate what adult female friendships look like, and I like that Paige has to figure out how to be a part of a community. This book felt a little more melancholy in tone, mostly because Paige is a bit more melancholy, and I thought that matched my movie-influenced vision of a hard, wind swept island in the Atlantic.

There were some things I didn’t like. Alec vacillated between forgettable and obnoxious  to me. He is pretty much immediately and seemingly without justification a jerk to Paige, like from the very first time he meets her. It was so abrupt that, even though I knew they’d never met before, it almost felt like walking into the middle of a scene. The only real explanation given for why he was so immediately horrible to her is because his grandfather raised him to have strong opinions so he’s already judged her? It’s weak and makes him seem like a dick. Plus he holds onto that snottiness for way too long. I did enjoy some of their banter, but I wanted them to move past that into real conversation much earlier than they did. While I enjoyed the overall mystery, too much of it didn’t make sense. For instance, the DNA testing on Paige was too drawn out without a strong enough explanation, and the explanation for the villain’s continued villainy towards the end was minimal. It’s fun and interesting, but you can’t really think too hard about it.

I’m a little sad to see the series wrap up because I loved the heroines and definitely grew to love the people of Windfall. I enjoy Sullivan’s voice and hope to see more from her in the future.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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

Guest Review: Hideaway Cove by Anna Sullivan

Posted August 27, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 1 Comment

Hideaway CoveJen’s review of Hideaway Cove (Windfall Island #2) by Anna Sullivan

SOME PASSIONS CAN’T BE DENIED . . .

Jessi Randal walked away from her last relationship with a baby and a broken heart. Now, years later, the last thing this single mom wants is to give Windfall Island-and all its nosy residents-anything more to gossip about. But the moment she lays eyes on the tall, sexy stranger with the slow Southern drawl, she knows she’s in delicious trouble . . . 

Holden Abbot is on the island to find the missing heir to the Stanhope family fortune. It’s his job to charm as many secrets out of the town as possible. And if he can charm Jessi into his bed, even better. When all evidence points to her as the heir, a dangerous enemy sets his sights on Jessi and her son. Now Holden will have to risk everything to protect the family he’s come to love. 

I took a chance on a new series when I read Temptation Bay (reviewed here) last year. I enjoyed the story and the author’s voice, so when I saw the next book in the series had come out, I was excited to give it a try. While I didn’t quite enjoy it as much as the first book, I’m happy to say Hideaway Cove was still a good read.

Jessi Randal is the best friend and business partner of Maggie Solomon, the pilot heroine from book 1. Jessi has a young son, Benji, and she’s determined to make his life the best it can be. Benji’s dad skipped town and has never even met his son, so the last thing Jessi wants is to get involved with any more men who might abandon her. Southern boy Holden Abbott is a history researcher/genealogist brought in by the previous hero Dexter to help with the search for the missing heir that started in the first book. (A baby went missing many years ago, and Dexter was hired to see if that baby might have survived and ended up on Windfall Island.) Holden is attracted to Jessi and keeps pushing her to open up and let him in. They start exploring what’s between them, but then Jessi’s ex shows up and complicates the situation even more. Jessi and Holden have to negotiate their new feelings as well as keep working to solve the mystery of the missing heir.

This book is less focused on the larger story line of the missing heir than the first book. There are some more details given and some more potential suspects ruled out, but we don’t learn quite as much as we did before. However, Jessi and Holden’s story does end up intersecting with the mystery in unexpected ways.

Jessi was a fine character, though I didn’t love her as much as I love Maggie. Maggie is a real spitfire–prickly, blunt, and confident. Jessi can stand up for herself, but she just doesn’t have that same intensity that I liked about Maggie. Still, she’s a good mom and works to get over her fear of letting anyone else in when Holden starts pushing her a bit. Holden is kind of an interesting match for her, too. He’s laid back but still able to handle responsibility. He wants to get to know Jessi and realizes her son is part of that package. His Southern ways are also sexy and fun, and they certainly throw Yankee Jessi off balance!

As fun as Holden’s Southern charm is, I didn’t like everything about him. First, he does accept Benji and reach out to him, but he’s also not terribly sensitive to why Jessi is hesitant to start something with him in the first place. He admits he doesn’t want to stick around, just have a fling, and he doesn’t really acknowledge the impact such a fling might have on Benji. He also doesn’t tell Jessi that he’s from a very, very wealthy family. His previous finance had used him for his money, so he is understandably cautious about letting people know about his background. I had no problem with him not telling Jessi at first, but as he gets to know her it’s clear she would not be swayed by his wealth. He even acknowledges this, but still he doesn’t tell her. Of course, eventually the news comes out in an embarrassing way for Jessi. It was totally unnecessary, and Holden was kind of a dick for expecting her to open up while he kept his big secret.

I also felt like some parts of this book were just dragging the larger mystery out unnecessarily. For instance, they don’t do DNA testing on the potential families. I understand that they’re trying to keep the search a secret so they can’t test everyone, but they can at least test people who do know, namely Jessi. They don’t want to do it and put Jessi at risk in case she’s the heir, but wouldn’t it be better to just know ASAP so you could take steps to protect her? It just seemed like a ploy to drag out that story line.

Despite some of the imperfections, I did enjoy reading this book. I’ll definitely be reading the third book when it comes out next year.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

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

Review: Temptation Bay by Anna Sullivan

Posted October 24, 2013 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

Temptation BayJennifer’s review of Temptation Bay (Windfall Island #1) by Anna Sullivan.

TEMPTATION NEVER TASTED SO SWEET . . .

Maggie Solomon has always been one of Windfall Island’s favorite daughters. A beautiful, passionate charter pilot who loves this remote Maine island, Maggie has never cared much for outsiders-until her latest passenger arouses the curiosity of the town . . . and something hot and irresistible in Maggie. With his long, lean looks and razor-sharp wit, the man is temptation itself.

Cop-turned-PI Dexter Keegan is on a covert mission to solve the case that will make his career: uncovering the identity of the Stanhope heir, kidnapped nearly a century ago. No one on this fiercely protective island can know what he’s doing, not even the spirited, blue-eyed beauty who infuriates-and excites-Dex. As the desire between them ignites, Maggie becomes the key to the case . . . and the target of an unknown enemy. Now Dex will do anything to protect the woman he’s come to love-even risk his own life.

Temptation Bay is the first book in a series set on Windfall Island, a small island off New England’s Atlantic coast. Maggie Soloman is a pilot, mechanic, and owner of the island’s tiny airport. She’s lived on the island since she was a teen, and she fiercely loves it and its residents. Dexter Keegan is a PI pretending to be a lawyer who comes to the island investigating a very cold case (from Prohibition times) involving the kidnapping of a child of a wealthy family. From the moment Maggie flies him to the island, he is immediately intrigued and attracted to her. The island’s residents are tough and secretive, Maggie especially, but she and Dex gradually develop a tentative trust, enough that Dex eventually tells Maggie about his case and solicits her help. The two then set about trying to trace the history and glean what they can from old records and island residents.

Maggie is an independent, smart, and prickly heroine. Her dad is high ranking military official, and he has spent her life either running her down or exploiting her to further his career. The residents of Windfall acted like the first real family she ever had, which is part of why she is so intensely loyal to them. I always enjoy a heroine who is clever and can fight for herself, and Maggie has definitely had to do a lot of fighting in her life to get by. She’s blunt and defensive, but she’s also honest and giving once someone earns her trust. I also love seeing genuine female friendships in books, and Maggie has that in Jessi, her best friend and business partner. (And the sparks for Jessi’s own romance start in this book. She’s a great character so I can’t wait to read her story!)

Dex is pretty arrogant, but he is still a sensitive and caring guy underneath. In contrast to Maggie, he comes from a very loving family, but he’s at a bit of a crossroads in life. He needs to solve this kidnapping case to make a name for himself in the private investigation world. I thought he was a good foil for Maggie–more open and easy going, but not a pushover. He and Maggie have awesome banter that lets you learn more about them as people and also adds some nice levity to the story.

I enjoyed the mystery plot, too. The island is clearly hiding secrets, though from this book you can’t fully tell what those secrets are and who’s involved. Maggie and Dex’s storyline does wrap up satisfactorily, but the larger kidnapping plot is not resolved. I hate cliffhangers but I didn’t mind this ending at all since Maggie and Dex’s story felt complete. I do wonder how much longer it can be dragged on, though. This kidnapping case is really old and I had a little trouble believing so many people would still be this emotionally invested in the event, enough to do things like try to hurt the investigators (as they did to Maggie and Dex).

I thought this was a strong start from a new author, and I’ll certainly be checking out book #2.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Forever. You can purchase it here or here. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.