Monthly Archives: September 2011

Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin

Title: The Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin
The Texas Trail Series, Book One
Publisher: Moody Publishers
Genre: Inspirational, Historical, Romance
Length: 272 pages
Book Rating: B+

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

The six-book series about four generations of the Morgan family living, fighting, and thriving amidst a turbulent Texas history spanning from 1845 to 1896 begins with Lone Star Trail.

Judson (Jud) Morgan’s father died for Texas’ freedom during the war for independence. So when the Society for the Protection of German Immigrants in Texas (the Verein) attempts to colonize a New Germany in his country, he takes a stand against them.

After Wande Fleischers’ fiancée marries someone else, the young fraulein determines to make new life for herself in Texas. With the help of Jud’s sister Marion, Wande learns English and becomes a trusted friend to the entire Morgan family.

As much as Jud dislikes the German invasion, he can’t help admiring Wande. She is sweet and cheerful as she serves the Lord and all those around her. Can the rancher put aside his prejudice to forge a new future?

Through Jud and Wande, we learn the powerful lessons of forgiveness and reconciliation among a diverse community of believers.

The Review:

Lone Star Trail by Darlene Franklin is a captivating story about faith, friendship, family, and ultimately, love. From their first meeting, the Fleischers find their new life in America closely intertwined with the Morgans, a deeply rooted Texas family.

Strong character development brings Lone Star Trail vividly to life. Wande Fleischer is a hard working and cheerful young woman who quickly adjusts to her new life. Texas is a harsh land that exacts a heavy toll on the Fleischer family, but Wande’s strong faith guides her through life’s joys and sorrows.

With his father’s untimely death, Jud Morgan was forced to grow up quickly and become the man of the family. Fiercely loyal to the state that has taken so much from him, he distrusts the German immigrants. When misfortune befalls the Fleischer family, Jud begrudgingly offers his assistance. Initially suspicious of the German customs and traditions that Wande introduces, Jud slowly realizes he shares the same values and faith as the Fleischer family and the German community.

Well rounded secondary characters provide depth and tension to this tightly plotted novel. Marion Morgan’s unconditional friendship eases Wande’s transition to her new life. An additional subplot revolving around Marion presents added conflict and interest to Lone Star Trail.

In Lone Star Trail, Darlene Franklin teaches an understated yet powerful lesson about acceptance that transcends time and culture. The underlying message of faith is gently and subtly demonstrated by the actions and thoughts of all of the key characters.

Lone Star Trail is a richly drawn and multi-layered novel. Fans of historical inspirational fiction are going to love this first installment of The Texas Trail series.

This review was originally posted at The Readers Roundtable

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Filed under B+, Darlene Franklin, Historical, Inspirational, Long Star Trail, Moody Publishers, Romance, The Texas Trail Series

Good Girls Don’t by Victoria Dahl

Title: Good Girls Don’t by Victoria Dahl
Donovan Brother’s Brewery Book 1
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: 384 pages
Book Rating: A

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

Too much of a good thing…

With her long ponytail and sparkling green eyes, Tessa Donovan looks more like the girl next door than a businesswoman—or a heartbreaker. Which may explain why Detective Luke Asher barely notices her when he arrives to investigate a break–in at her family’s brewery. He’s got his own problems—starting with the fact that his partner, Simone, is pregnant and everyone thinks he’s the father.

Tessa has her hands full, too. Her brother’s playboy ways may be threatening the business, and the tension could tear her tight–knit family apart. In fact, the only thing that could unite the Donovan boys is seeing a man come after their “baby” sister. Especially a man like Luke Asher. But Tessa sees past the rumors to the man beneath. He’s not who people think he is—and neither is she.

The Review:

With Good Girls Don’t, Victoria Dahl begins a new series that promises to be highly entertaining and deliciously sexy. Centering around the Donovan siblings and their family business, this first installment of the Donovan Brothers Brewery series is baby sister Tessa Donovan’s story. And oh, what a fabulous story it is!

Tessa is a perfect combination of naughty and nice. Beneath her girl next door exterior is a woman who revels in her sexuality. She is struggling to keep the peace between her brothers Eric and Jamie as they butt heads over their changing roles in the brewery. What begins as a light-hearted fling with Luke Asher quickly becomes a turning point when Tessa’s life slowly begins to spiral out of control. It is not until late in the book that readers and Luke see the vulnerable and scared woman Tessa hides behind her fun loving façade.

Luke Asher is a complex man whose bad boy reputation could not be farther from the truth. He is a caring and sensitive man that refuses to let his devastating divorce keep him from risking his heart again. He is a reflective man who owns up to his past mistakes and expects the same from Tessa. Luke does not shy away from confrontation with Tessa and they work through their respective issues.

Good Girls Don’t has several subplots that are appealing and provide added interest. Luke’s relationship with his partner Simone adds another layer to his complex personality. Tessa’s relationship with her brothers is the key to understanding who she is. Luke and Simone’s investigation into the break-in and their subsequent arrest sets in motion an unforeseen chain of events that become the catalyst to Tessa addressing her fears and moving past them.

Good Girls Don’t is a passionate romance that resonates with realistic characters and situations. Victoria Dahl’s dialogue is often hilarious but also hard hitting when the occasion calls for it. Tessa and Luke’s sex scenes are playful and scorching hot. There is an underlying poignancy to Good Girls Don’t that adds a great deal of depth to this engaging, fast paced, fun read.

Ms. Dahl leaves her readers highly anticipating Bad Boys Do the next novel in the Donovan Brothers Brewery trilogy.

This review was originally posted at The Reader’s Roundtable

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Filed under A Rating, Contemporary, Good Girls Don't, Mira, Romance, Victoria Dahl

Friday’s Feature: Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Genre: Historical, Romance
Length: 320 Pages
Rating: A+ and A Recommended Read

Summary:

A moving love story set in the Canadian wilderness, Mrs. Mike is a classic tale that has enchanted millions of readers worldwide. It brings the fierce, stunning landscape of the Great North to life-and tenderly evokes the love that blossoms between Sergeant Mike Flannigan and beautiful young Katherine Mary O’Fallon.

My Thoughts:

Have you ever read a book where the characters never quite leave you and you are compelled to read their story again and again? Mrs. Mike is that book for me. I discovered this book as a teenager at our local library, and I can’t count how many times I’ve read it over the years.

Originally published in 1947, this wonderful love story is a fictionalized biography based on the lives of Katherine Mary Flannigan and Canadian Mountie Mike Flannigan. It is the touching and poignant story of their marriage and their life in the vast Canadian wilderness. It details the hardships and heartbreaking losses they suffered during the early years of their marriage. Benedict and Nancy Freedman bring their story vividly to life and paint a vibrant portrait of the beautiful yet harsh Canadian countryside.

I love, love, love this novel. It is packed with emotions that still move me to this day. No matter how many times I’ve read Mrs. Mike, my heart still breaks and I cry when they suffer devastating losses. I rejoice with Mike and Kathy as they celebrate life’s triumphs. And I am always a little sad when their magnificent story comes to a close.

If you have not read Mrs. Mike then you are missing out one of the most beautiful and captivating love stories ever written. Make room on your keeper shelf for this breathtaking novel that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.

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Filed under A+, Bendict and Nancy Freedman, Berkely Trade, Friday's Feature, Historical, Mrs. Mike, Recommended Read, Romance

Craving Perfect by Liz Fichera

Title: Title: Craving Perfect by Liz Fichera
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Chick Lit
Length: 76,000 words
Book Rating: B

Review Copy Obtained from Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

A Life Less…Hers

Grace Mills craves being perfect almost as much as she craves raspberry scones. In fact, her life would be perfect if only she could lose ten more pounds, if only the pastry café she co-owns with her sister would turn a profit, if only the hottest guy at the gym would look her way…

And then “if only” comes true. Grace is suddenly straddling two lives: an alternate reality where she’s a size two, weathergirl celebrity and being chased by the hot guy. Only Mr. Gorgeous isn’t very nice, and she doesn’t get to eat…anything, much less bake!

In her other life, she’s starting to realize her sister is less than happy running the family café, and hunky Carlos, the gym’s janitor, seems to have a secret crush on her. Maybe there’s more to him than meets the eye…

Grace is living two lives and it’s beginning to cost her. Is there a way to pick one…that’s perfect?

The Review:

In Craving Perfect, Liz Fichera has penned a delightfully whimsical tale about a slightly overweight and dissatisfied young woman who is magically transported into the perfect life she has been wishing for. But it does not take long for Grace Mills to discover that perfection is an illusion that is impossible to achieve. And that maybe what she has been searching for has been right in front of her all along…

Craving Perfect is a charming novel with many complex layers. The characters are flawed and imperfect but that is what makes them so easy to like and relate to. Ms. Fichera’s narrative is witty and engaging and above all, insightful and thought provoking.

Craving Perfect is a highly entertaining novel with a unique storyline and outstanding characters. Liz Fichera flawlessly illustrates the old adage “be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.” A fun and fanciful read that gives a different perspective on what comprises a perfect life.

This review was originally posted at The Reader’s Roundtable

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Filed under B Rating, Carina Press, Chick Lit, Contemporary, Craving Perfect, Liz Fichera, Romance

Winning Wednesdays! First Contest!

Here are the eBooks for this week’s contest:

Title: Hooked by Cat Johnson
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, LTD
Genre: Contemporary, Western

Summary:

His last eight seconds could lead to the longest, most satisfying ride of his life.

Studs in Spurs, Book 4

Annie Grant is at the top of her game as an on-air interviewer for the pro bull-riders tour. In all those years standing within microphone range of thousands of sexy cowboys, she’s never been tempted…until now. Now that respected veteran Luke Carpenter is no longer with his longtime girlfriend, he’s back on the market. And Annie is buying.

Luke knows his days are numbered. Every year the rookies get younger, the bulls get ranker and, like it or not, the time is coming when he’ll be hanging up his spurs. After a sizzling hot night with Annie, he realizes that maybe this old dog can learn some new tricks. But quicker than a bull can spin, things get complicated.

A tragedy forces Luke into a no-win decision: hang onto the tail end of his career, or retire early for his family. Either way, he can live with his choice. Question is, can he live without Annie?

Product Warnings: Contains knock-your-boots-off cowboy lovin, some up close and personal interviews of the oral persuasion, and a happy ending…cowboy style.


Title: Full Circle by Avery Beck
Publisher: Samhain Publishing LTD
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary:

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you…run.

Nine years ago, Elisa Haley set tongues wagging when she returned home from college single and pregnant. Finally, her long-delayed graduation is just weeks away. She’s ready to move out and move on to a bright, shiny future in another state…until a face from her past walks into her brother’s veterinary office. A man who once offered her one night of comfort in his arms. The memory burns as hot in her soul as the guilty secret he must never learn.

Tired of the big city, grieving a recent loss, Dr. Liam Barton longs for a home and family in a quiet small town. When he arrives for his first day at the veterinary clinic, he’s not surprised to find Elisa behind the desk. Curiously, though, she barely acknowledges their shared past, and insists she can’t wait to get out of the town he’s already come to love.

Elisa, determined to be nothing more than friends, tries fixing Liam up with Windy Flats’ most eligible women. Yet the old passion still simmering between them melts her resolve, and uncovers secrets that refuse to stay buried. Secrets that put both their hard-earned futures—and their hearts—at risk.

Product Warnings: Paranormal? No. Sci-fi? Nothing otherworldly here. Just a sinfully gorgeous vet who loves animals, and knows how to turn a gal inside out with supremely mushy love scenes? Oh, absolutely!


Title: A Four-Gone Conclusion by Delilah Devlin
Publisher:Samhain Publishing, LTD
Genre: Erotic, Western, Red Hots!, Menage & More

Summary:

One devilish night…or a chance at heaven?

Lone Star Lovers, Book 5

Sam Logan’s foster sons have a bad rep in Two Mule, Texas. Most of it earned. When it becomes clear they don’t plan on giving up scootin’ after every pretty pair of boots in town anytime soon, he issues the one thing he knows they can’t resist: a challenge. Find a wife.

The oldest, Johnny, is actually grateful. He’s had his eye on Mean Ellie Harker for a long time, and Sam’s challenge is the kick in the pants he needed to ask her out. Except before he can make his move, his brothers kidnap her right out from under his nose. Now, instead of being one question away from victory, he has to compete for the woman of his dreams.

Ellie thought she’d be a dried up old spinster before Johnny finally untangled his tongue long enough to ask for a date. But instead of teaching him better uses for that tongue, his brothers have whisked her away to the ranch. At first she’s furious…then intrigued when she starts to wonder what it might be like to have not just one sexy cowboy dedicated to her pleasure, but four…

Product Warnings: Four handsome cowboys. Four choices. Will it be a single sordid night or a chance at heaven as she savors every luscious inch of the Logan brothers?


Title: A Scandalous Proposition by Wendy Soliman
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Regency Historical Romance

Summary:

Hampshire, 1809

When a beautiful woman bursts into Lord Adam Fitzroy’s room at an inn seeking refuge, he assists her. His curiosity is piqued when he later spots her entering the local house of ill repute. The next day he is shocked when his mother introduces the woman as her new paid companion. His mother adores Florentina, so Adam agrees to keep her nightly activities a secret…on one condition: she must spend one wicked night with him.

Florentina Grantley is both scandalized and intrigued at the prospect, but she worries that the dashing war hero will quickly discern her lack of experience. True, she’s no innocent—but she’s a widow, not a whore. Yet she can’t explain the true reason behind her alliance with the brothel’s madam, or the danger she faces if exposed.

As their initial tryst grows into something deeper, the stakes become higher. What will Adam do when he discovers Florentina’s deception?

77,000 words


Title: Just a Little White Lie by Lynnette Hallberg
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Summary:

Lucinda Darling thinks she’s ready to get married. Even though Donald doesn’t give her butterflies, the heiress is ready to make her marriage work. She’s got the dress, she’s at the church and her fiancé…is making out with his ex. So Lucinda stuffs her tulle skirts into her tiny sports car and hits the road…only to have her car break down.

Jake Parker knows he’s not ready to settle down. But Grandma Hattie is sick, so, to make her happy, he’s returning home to find himself a fake fiancée. When Jake rescues Lucy from the side of the highway, she goes from runaway bride to temporary fiancée.

Lucy hopes to escape the public eye in small-town Georgia, but she doesn’t expect to fall for Jake’s charming hometown, let alone Jake himself. Soon Jake and Lucy both start to wish their lie were true. But Lucy knows she must stop their pretense before Jake’s family—and her heart—are hurt so badly they’ll never recover.

62,000 words


Title: The Gift of Shayla by NJ Walters
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Erotic, Holiday, Menage, Contemporary, Romance

Summary:

One night to indulge their wildest desires…

Adam Lancaster has been in love with Rob McKeith—and attracted to Rob’s wife, Shayla—for years, but he fears their friendship would be over if they knew the truth. So he’s thrilled when his secret fantasy becomes reality and the couple offers him a very special gift: a sensual Christmas Eve in their bedroom…

19,000 words


To enter the contest, you must:

1. Be a member of this site (click on the Winning Wednesdays tab or link for more info). You CANNOT post a comment on my site unless you are a registered member!
2. Be a fan of Book Reviews & More by Kathy Facebook page OR follow me on Twitter (@BookReviewsMore) OR friend Book Reviews & More by Kathy on Goodreads http://www.goodreads.com/bookreviewsandmorebykathy
3. Leave a comment on this post with the book you would like to win and your preferred eBook format by 9 AM Thursday September 15, 2011.

It’s that easy! I will e-mail the lucky winner the eBook of their choice by noon September 15, 2011. Check the sidebar for a list of contest winners.

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Filed under Contests, Winning Wednesdays!

Hooked by Cat Johnson

Title: Hooked by Cat Johnson
Studs in Spurs Book 4
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, LTD
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Length: Category
Book Rating: B+

Summary:

His last eight seconds could lead to the longest, most satisfying ride of his life.

Studs in Spurs, Book 4

Annie Grant is at the top of her game as an on-air interviewer for the pro bull-riders tour. In all those years standing within microphone range of thousands of sexy cowboys, she’s never been tempted…until now. Now that respected veteran Luke Carpenter is no longer with his longtime girlfriend, he’s back on the market. And Annie is buying.

Luke knows his days are numbered. Every year the rookies get younger, the bulls get ranker and, like it or not, the time is coming when he’ll be hanging up his spurs. After a sizzling hot night with Annie, he realizes that maybe this old dog can learn some new tricks. But quicker than a bull can spin, things get complicated.

A tragedy forces Luke into a no-win decision: hang onto the tail end of his career, or retire early for his family. Either way, he can live with his choice. Question is, can he live without Annie?

Product Warnings: Contains knock-your-boots-off cowboy lovin, some up close and personal interviews of the oral persuasion, and a happy ending…cowboy style.

The Review:

With Hooked Cat Johnson has added another paging turning installment to her bull riding series Studs in Spurs. After years as professional acquaintances, Annie Grant and Luke Carpenter finally enjoy one achingly sweet first date followed by a night of scorching hot sex. Just as their romance is heating up, a tragedy sends Luke home and their relationship seems to end before it has the chance to begin.

Hooked is an engaging novel that is filled with emotion. The characters are beautifully drawn with realistic flaws and vulnerabilities. I love how even though Annie is filled with uncertainly about approaching Luke, she conquers her fear and makes the first move. Luke’s anxiety and nervousness about re-entering the dating world is adorable and his inner dialogue during their date is hilarious.

While Hooked is definitely a romance, Annie and Luke spend a lot of the novel apart. Much of the story is seen through Luke’s eyes as he copes with the aftermath of the tragic event which takes him off the bull riding circuit. It is an unusual approach, but I found that it worked really well for this couple.

Hooked is a compelling read with a unique plot. It is a poignant novel with a great deal of substance and emotional depth. There are a couple of scenes that brought me to tears so be sure and keep the tissues handy.

Cat Johnson does a superb job of keeping the Studs in Spurs series fresh and unique and she brings the sport of bull riding vividly to life. As always, readers will be impatiently awaiting her next installment in this delightful series.

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Filed under B+, Cat Johnson, Contemporary, Hooked, Romance, Samhain Publishing

Welcome to Book Reviews & More by Kathy

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my new book review blog!  I am very excited to share my love of books with you.

Like many readers, my love affair with the written word began as a child.  There was nothing I loved more than reading Laura Ingalls Wilder and imaging life on the South Dakota prairie.  I solved many a mystery with Meg Duncan and her best friend Kerry Carmody.   And who didn’t read Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys?!  I also enjoyed Trixie Beldon and the Bobbsey Twins books.  Hmm, I think I just dated myself in a big way ;-).

As a young teen, my older sister introduced me to romance novels.  Because I was a tomboy, I was reluctant to read a looooove story, but she enticed me over to the darkside with a Harlequin Romance that featured an Olympic track star.  That’s all it took for me fall in love with love.  I preferred historical romances for a long time and to my surprise, not only did I fall in love alongside the heroine, but I also learned a great deal of history.

My early reading years have been a huge influence on the books I read today.  I still love romances, but now I read just as many contemporary novels as I do historical.  Mysteries often find their way into my massive to be read pile.  I have discovered faith, hope and a greater understanding of God through inspirational fiction.  And every once in a great while, a young adult book catches my interest.

What influenced your love of reading?

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