Tag: Harlequin Superromance

Throwback Thursday Review: Do You Take This Cop by Beth Andrews

Posted January 7, 2021 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Throwback Thursday Review: Do You Take This Cop by Beth AndrewsReviewer: Holly
Do You Take This Cop? by Beth Andrews
Series: Serenity Springs #4
Also in this series: A Not-So-Perfect Past
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: May 1st 2010
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 256
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: two-stars

Without the badge, he'd be perfect!

The last thing Faith Lewis needs is a cop poking his nose in her business. Okay, yes, Nick Coletti is gorgeous. And charming. And great with her son. But dating the town's most popular boy in blue is hardly going to help her keep a low profile. This guy could blow their world apart if he discovers her secret.

Funny thing is, he may also be her only hope. If she had someone like Nick on her side, maybe she could finally be free, and give her son the life he deserves. But trusting Nick means telling the whole truth about her past. He might protect them. Or he just might turn her in….

This review was originally published on September 9, 2010

I’ve read novels by Andrews before and enjoyed them, but this one fell far off the mark for me.

I was liking the heroine of this book until she decided to manipulate the hero into caring for her because she needs protection. She’s on the run from an abusive husband and wants to settle herself and her son somewhere. I can understand that. But why not just tell him the truth and ask for help? You really think leading him on and lying is going to help your cause? The good news is that the hero is onto her. He knows she’s playing a game, he just isn’t sure what it is. Which is the whole reason I kept reading.

She also played the “let’s pretend everything is okay and it will be” game a little too often for me. Pretending a problem doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. She was the type to stick her fingers in her ears and say ‘la la la la la la’. Her son greatly suffered because she refused to deal with her issues. Had it just been her, I might have been able to overlook this. Her son deserved better, though.

This brings me to the next thing that I didn’t like about her, her skills as a mother. She expected her son to be perfect. He wasn’t allowed to make messes or play outside or be loud or..talk, even. Everything he did she scolded him for it. I can understand wanting your kids to behave, but she expected way too much from him.

I kept reading because of the hero. He was strong, caring, and compassionate. He genuinely liked Faith and wanted to get to know her better. I thought it was sweet how he acted with her son. He really worked for me all the way up until the end. That’s when he stopped acting like a cop and started acting like a jerk who’d been scorned by a woman. It was so frustrating! He was the only reason I kept reading, and then he totally ruined it the last 1/8 of the book.

Up until that point he knew Faith was hiding a secret but wanted to let her work out telling him on her own. I can respect that. But when he shows up at her place to find her packing and realizes she knocked someone out and HID THE BODY, but does nothing about it, my head (almost) exploded.

Had the hero not turned TSTL at the end, I probably wouldn’t have disliked this book so much. As it stands, I can’t find much to recommend it.

1.5 out of 5 (the .5 is for the hero during the first half of the story and the kid. I liked him.)

Serenity Springs


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Guest Review: Too Friendly to Date by Nicole Helm

Posted November 5, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 2 Comments

Too Friendly to Date by Nicole HelmJen’s review of Too Friendly to Date (Bluff City #2) by Nicole Helm

One little white lie–one big explanation!

Okay, pretending her sexy boss is her boyfriend is more like a huge white lie. But electrician Leah Santino will take the risk. If her parents think she has someone, they won’t go back to smothering her, and they can all be a family again.

Problem is, Jacob McKnight isn’t just her boss; he’s her friend. And faking a relationship when the Santinos come to visit means those sparks she’s always tried to ignore are hotter than ever. This thing between them is starting to feel real, but Leah has a very good reason to stay independent. Unless that’s one lie that’s outlived its purpose

I usually adore a good friends to lovers story, so I picked up Too Friendly to Date. While I did have a few issues, it was still a fun, touching read.

Leah Santino is a tough, no nonsense electrician who needs a big favor from her boss, Jacob McKnight. (Actually, “boss” is a little misleading, because Leah also has a small financial stake in the restoration company where they all work, though Jacob does still head the company.) Leah wants Jacob to pretend to be her boyfriend when her estranged family comes to visit. She had some serious, life threatening health problems as a child, and as a consequence her parents are overprotective and worried about her. She made up a boyfriend so they wouldn’t stress about her too much, but now that they’re coming to visit she needs to produce a man! Leah and Jacob have always had a competitive, snarky relationship despite a sizzling, unacknowledged attraction. When they’re forced to pretend to be in love for a week, their attraction, and secrets, bubble to the surface.

I love, love, love the interactions between Leah and Jacob. Leah is tough, sarcastic, and confident. She’s clearly great at her job, and it’s neat to see a heroine who’s a skilled tradesperson. Jacob is a funny, genuinely nice guy. He’s strong enough to stand up to Leah, but he doesn’t have a problem with her strength either. Their dialogue sparkles with humor, and the sexual tension and depth of emotion between them is wonderful. Here’s an example of a moment right after Jacob confesses something major to Leah:

But she wasn’t letting go of his arm. Her hand held him there in a tight grip. And that meant he couldn’t step away, and it meant stepping closer was too tempting to resist.

Her eyes didn’t leave his, and she didn’t move away. They just…stood there, and all he could think about was last night when he’d kissed her. A nothing kiss. Seconds at most, born of some weird frustration and none of the heat or sparks he felt standing right here, right now.

He could kiss her this time and it wouldn’t be veiled in pretend, and it would be a hell of a lot better than a peck in the dark.

But in the heaviness of the moment, he couldn’t force himself to act, thinking or not. It felt too important. Everything between them felt too important to complicate with a kiss.

Leah and Jacob are desperately attracted to each other, both physically and emotionally, but they are afraid to step over that friendship barrier. Plus, they each have their own personal obstacles holding them back. But they understand each other in a way no one else does, and that ability to be real, to be honest, is as appealing as it is scary. Seeing them come together despite all that was lovely.

As with most Superromances, there are plenty of Big Issues in this book. I appreciated the way Leah’s past was handled. I actually have a sibling who had a different but serious, scary health issue as a child. Having a sick kid puts intense strain on a family. It is easy to understand how it could rip everyone apart and make Leah act out. (And as the healthy sibling myself, I could also relate to Leah’s brother’s complicated mix of concern and resentment. I’m hoping we might get his story in the future, too!) I also liked that Leah’s overprotective mom isn’t a villain. In the end, we can see that she really is trying to let Leah live her life, but it’s hard for a parent who’s almost watched their child die to ever let go of the fear of losing them.

While the “pretend boyfriend” thing is a little silly, I bought into it because it really did seem like her parents would only be appeased if she had someone to care for her. I couldn’t buy into the abruptness of the resolution, though. Leah never confesses to her parents that Jacob wasn’t really her boyfriend, and given that he’s presumably going to be around permanently, that seems a pretty major omission. I thought her mom’s turn around was also too quick and came without more push back from Leah, which I wanted to see. Moreover, I didn’t feel like Leah and Jacob spent enough time discussing her health issues. Before he really knows all the details and the implications, he’s already signing up with her for life. I felt like they both owed it to each other to lay everything on the table first. I could believe that would happen off screen, but I wanted to actually see more of the resolution.

The end of the book didn’t quite maintain the same depth the rest of the book displayed, but seeing Leah and Jacob together was enjoyable enough to overcome some of that.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

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

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Guest Review: Not Another Wedding by Jennifer McKenzie

Posted March 17, 2014 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Not Another Wedding Judith’s review of Not Another Wedding by Jennifer McKenzie

Yeah, yeah;  happily ever after. Whatever.

Sure, Poppy Sullivan believes in love but love at first sight? Not likely. That’s why she’s determined to stop her good friend from marrying the wrong woman. So she sets to work immediately and walks right into the very impressive chest of Beck Lefebvre.   Not a good omen, considering how things ended up the last time he was in town.

She isn’t surprised to see Beck at his cousin’s wedding, but she’s appalled at his assumption that he deserves a second chance. She’s equally appalled at her inclination to give it to him. No way is she falling for his charm again! Although her vow to resist him may be too late.

It should be no surprise that this novel is about weddings and yet the heroine is not one of the brides.   She is, in actuality, a party planner who has given up on planning weddings.  Too little money for all the bridezilla action or the troubles that seem to crop up at the last minute no matter how careful the wedding planner may be.  But Poppy is at this wedding of her very best and most long-time friend, the guy who she has always been special to and for whom she holds the highest forever friend feelings.  He’s marrying waaaaaay too soon after meeting his intended, or so Poppy thinks.  Yet even as she is seeking to disengage him from the bride and get the wedding either postponed or cancelled, she is faced with the one person who truly broke her heart 10 years earlier, the man to whom she gave her virginity and whose love she really believed she possessed.  Wrong, or so it seemed as now, 10 years later, she is still waiting for the follow-up call, the indications that she and Beck had something special.   Now she knows that her presumptions were all wrong, just as wrong as Beck is now for her with his womanizing and his one night stands and his advertised determination to avoid marriag.e at all costs.  Yet it seems that with exposure to Beck’s good looks, his charming half smile, his insistence that there is still the spark between them, Poppy’s determination to never forgive, her hard line to prevent any involvement is slowly dismantled and she once again succumbs to Beck’s invitation into his bed.

This novel really is about the long buried hurts that can sabotage deep feeling and kill any impulse for permanent relationship.  Beck’s parents love each other but they have a hard time staying married to each other.   All Beck knows is that each time their marriage explodes he gets caught in the middle and he hears and sees the hurts they perpetrate against one another.  Now they are poised on the brink of their third re-marriage and in spite of his seeming obsession for Poppy, he is determined that their connection during his cousin’s wedding will be a short fling and nothing more.  But once again, Poppy is convinced that Beck will want a future with her.

There’s lots of romantic and sexy stuff in this novel and no lack of Poppy and Beck jumping into the sack together.  But underneath the sexy high jinks is the sadness and disillusionment of a very successful man whose deep hurts go back to his earliest years and his determination to avoid marriage and it’s problems at all costs a pervasive mindset for his personal future.  Beck is such a good man in so many ways.  He can be fun with kids and charms the socks off Poppy’s family.  But his fears are his guiding muse for any future he might want with Poppy or anyone else.  Like so many kids that get caught in the cross fire, Beck bears the scars of his parents’ marital failures.  And it is those fears that not only determine his future or his predictable response to any possible relationship but his decisions hurt a lot of other people as well.

Poppy is a woman who wants to love, who is deeply hurt by Beck’s abandonment of her–not once but twice–and whose desire for home and family are a barely heard but relentless “hum” within her deepest soul-space.  She’s the kind of woman who has managed to make a the need for a job after college into a successful party planning enterprise and whose talents are far more extensive than even her family is aware.  Yet the one person who seems to connect best with her is a man who only wants her sexual favors for a specific period of time.

I found this novel to be more engaging than I thought it would be.  At  first it appeared to be simply a fun sexual romp and by all means, it’s certainly that.  But I think it is, at its best, a character study of family dynamics, of consenting adults make decisions based on old hurts and fears.  It is a study in contrasts between Beck’s rather disconnected family and Poppy’s warm, chaotic, affectionate family, all of whom are intensely invested in one another.  Poppy’s 2 year old niece and her obsession with shoes is a really amusing anecdote throughout the novel.  There is deep emotion here, betrayal, disappointment, kindness and the best kind of friendship, love that sees only the loved one and not the bank account, and lots more that makes this a winsome love story.  All of this is within the context of weddings–their planning and pre-wedding events, their dynamics and their disappointments.  There is a HEA and it pleases me to be able to report that, but Poppy and Beck and all the attendant contextual characters make getting to that HEA a lot of very good reading.

Good writing, a good story, colorful and realistic characters:  what more can we ask of a romance novel?  I found this to be a source of a lot of good reading enjoyment and I hope you do as well.

I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5

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

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

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Review: Her Favorite Rival by Sarah Mayberry

Posted October 11, 2013 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Her Favorite Rival by Sarah MayberryReviewer: Holly
Her Favorite Rival by Sarah Mayberry
Series: Mathews Sisters #2
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication Date: September 1st 2013
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 304
Add It: Goodreads
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Series Rating: five-stars

A new meaning for office politics  
Audrey Mathews has worked hard to get here. Now she's up for a promotion and nothing will stand in her way—including Zach Black. He's hot, smart and the competition. When they're assigned to the same project, she's shocked at how much she actually likes about him…and how much she misjudged him. 
Before long Audrey is seriously falling for Zach—and indulging in an affair that's against company policy. And the stakes rise when it's clear only one of them can get ahead. So where do they draw the line between competition and love? Especially when she doesn't want to lose either the promotion or the guy….

I almost always hate Mayberry’s characters before I love them. They’re often presumptuous, rude, judgmental, standoffish, or some combination thereof. But I know if I stick with the story long enough they’ll be redeemed. That was definitely the case here.

Audrey has a very competitive relationship with Zach Black, one of the newer men in her department. She wants to advance in her career and she seems him as a real threat to her ability to do that. The fact that she finds him sexy doesn’t really play into it…until they’re forced to work together on a project. When she thought he was a spoiled trust fund guy, he was easy to resist. But as she comes to know the real Zach, she finds he’s a temptation she doesn’t really want to stay away from.

Zach has had his eye on Audrey for quite some time. The only reason he hasn’t acted on his feelings is because he knows better than to mix business and pleasure. Dating a co-worker – especially one so close to his own position – is a recipe for disaster and not worth putting his job in jeopardy. When Audrey reveals her wrong assumptions about him, he knows he should leave it at that. The more distance between them, the better. Too bad he can’t let it go. He wants her to understand he’s a self-made man, not just a flighty playboy.

But when Zach inadvertently hurts Audrey’s career, she isn’t sure she can forgive him. And Zach isn’t sure he can share all of himself with her, anyway. His past is his past, not something he wants to bring into the present. Except it isn’t something he can really get away from.

I have a confession to make: I love when novels start out with conflict or competition between the main characters. There’s something about watching both of them make assumptions and hang on to their pride, only to be brought low by love that gets me every time. As I said above, this is something Mayberry excels at. I’m never left unsatisfied when I read one of her books.

I enjoyed both Audrey and Zach. She never felt like she fit in with her family, which caused her to act out in her teens. A few years of bad behavior sealed her fate as the black sheep of the family, though she’s spent years trying to undo the damage she caused. He’s been taking care of his mother for a long time, and it’s a losing battle as she doesn’t necessarily want to get better. That they were able to lean on each other for emotional support really created a strong bond between them, even though they didn’t realize at first they were lending emotional support to the other.

I liked that Zach continued to try to fix things when he made a mistake with Audrey. Just as I liked that Audrey made the choice to fight for Zach when he tried to push her away.

Another strong, emotionally charged novel from Mayberry. She has the ability to draw me into her stories and make me experience what her characters are experiencing. I enjoyed both the romance between – and the personal struggles of –  the main characters.

4.25 out of 5

This book is available from Harlequin SuperRomance. You can buy it here or here in e-format.


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Guest Review: The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry

Posted May 13, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of The Other Side of Us by Sarah Mayberry.

The best thing between Oliver Barrett and Mackenzie Williams is a fence. Ever since Oliver’s new-neighbor gestures were met with unfriendly responses, he’s decided to keep his distance. After all, he’s in this seaside town to get his life on track again. That doesn’t include working hard to get on Mackenzie’s good side-no matter how intriguing she may be. 

His intentions are put to the test, however, when his dog becomes infatuated with hers. The two crafty canines do their best to break down the barriers between the properties. And where the dogs go…well, the humans must follow! It doesn’t take long for a powerful attraction to build between Oliver and Mackenzie. They soon discover that the worst of first impressions can lead to the best possible outcomes.

Set in an out-of-the-way community in Australia, this Harlequin Super Romance is a treat for readers like me who have always had a special place in our hearts for this series of publications.  This particular author has written a number of super romances that have all be very entertaining reading and this book is no exception.  Unlike some of the previous stories, this romance is only mildly adversarial, a quality I appreciate having less of rather than more.  Some of the old Harlequins were filled with main characters who spent 2/3 of the novel spitting and screaming at each other.  I can do without most of that.   These two manage to get friendly is sufficient measure that their deeper feelings begin to appear and their love affair begins, largely because they are both at a hiatus in their normal lives.  Both are nursing wounds of one sort or another:  Oliver is trying to get over a very hurtful divorce and Mac is healing from some devastating  wounds she suffered in an auto accident while producing a top-rated TV show, a show that has now moved on without her.  So they are both facing the prospect of returning to their normal lives.  What’s that going to be like?  But before they can find out, things get really messy and that’s when the reader begins to wonder if these two will ever find their HEA
I am always a bit worried that even though main characters seem to be adult and are people with adult responsibilities and relationships, they often act a bit on the immature side when they get into these emotional quagmires.  Now I know life is messy, and we all have had our moments when our emotions get out of whack, when we over-react under pressure just as these two did.  My biggest peeve is when two lovers make assumptions that lead to  massive misunderstandings that are so unnecessary.  Of course, that normal in romance fiction, I guess.
Anyway, this is a fun story and while it is not terribly deep or complicated, it does have that sense of reality about it that gives it a basis in real life.  I was certainly interested sufficiently to keep on reading straight through.  Fans of Harlequin Super Romances, I think you’ll like this one.  It isn’t heavy reading, by any means. Just fun and entertaining romance.  I think we all need some lightweight reading mixed in with the heavy stuff.I give it a rating of 3.75 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.This book is available from Harlequin Super Romance. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

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