Category Archives: Romance

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

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