Sunday, November 2, 2014

"Surprised By Love" by Julie Lessman

Surprised By Love


Julie Lessman

Shy and unattractive as a child, Megan McClare has always been teased by her classmates. But when she returns home from her senior year in Paris, the wallflower has suddenly blossomed into a beauty. With ambitions to become a lawyer or doctor, Megan accepts an internship at the district attorney's office only to discover that she will be working with Devin Caldwell, a boy who mercilessly mocked her at school--and with whom she was hopelessly enamored. She turns to her dear friend Bram Hughes for support and advice. But Bram's vision is clouded by his sudden unwelcome attraction to a girl he had always thought of as a kid sister. He advises forgiveness, but can he forgive himself for pushing the woman he loves into the arms of another man?

MY REVIEW: Alas, this book was so disappointing... disappointing because I realized as I started reading it that it is the 3rd book in a series which means it is also probably the end of the series so yet again I will have to say good-bye to the beloved characters Julie has poured herself into. Sigh. Thank goodness Julie gave me a wonderful book to delve into before I had to say good-bye!

      In Surprised By Love we revisit the McClare family but this time we see Megan return from Paris as a ugly duckling that has blossomed into a beautiful swan. On top of adjusting to everything else she realizes that Bram has always been her surrogate older brother but now she feels much more towards him... and he abruptly realizes that he feels the same toward her but he is committed to someone else whether he wants to be or not. 

     In the meantime we see Caitlyn, the Matriarch of the family, still on a quest to figure out whether love will fit into her life as well. Since being widowed she is totally devoted to her children, but is it time to find love again herself... and if so, then who... the man who broke her heart so many years ago, or the new, noble, knight in shining armor - the district attorney? 

     One of the things I love is that even though Megan is the MAIN character in the book, we have been following Cait through all three books and in this one we finally get to see who is going to make her happy. The continuity of characters is one of Julie's specialties and one of the reasons I love her books and characters so much. There is one good thing about this being book #3 in this series and the end of another wonderful family sagas... now I get to see what she has up her sleeve next!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

"Rebels" by Jill Williamson

Jill Williamson

Book #3 in The Safe Lands series

The remnant of Glenrock has been scattered. But they are not beaten.
The Safe Lands have long kept the true meaning of Liberation secret from their people. But after being sentenced to Liberation themselves, Mason and Omar soon discover the truth.
Levi watched his brothers’ public sentencing and tries to hold out hope they are still alive, He is forced to focus his attention elsewhere, however, when his new wife, Jemma, is captured and made the Safe Lands’ newest Queen. His only choice to save Jemma may be to take up Omar’s old role of undercover vigilante, leading the rebels in their quest to overthrow the government. But will Levi’s new role be enough?
Meanwhile, Jemma’s sister, Shaylinn, is ready to give birth to the “Safe Lands’” children … but not even Ciddah is sure they can be delivered safely in the midst of a rebellion. And Mason must face the fact Omar’s illness could be fatal.
If they can all unite their efforts, together they may be able to expose the Safe Lands’ lies to the people. But if they fail, they will all surely die.

      It isn't often that I truly advocate reading books in order... as in DON'T read this book until you read books #1 and #2 but I would certainly do that in this case. The whole series is AMAZING, but you will be lost if you start here. So AFTER reading #1 and #2 then by all means you will need to dive into Rebels to see what is going on. The characters of Glenrock are wonderful and exciting in their flawed lives as they try and take back the lives they lost when their village was captured. This book may be one of the best third in a series books I have read and it was a bittersweet read knowing that it would end on the last page. But I still raced through it to see what would happen to everyone. No one was left out, we revisit with Mason, Omar, Levi, Jemma, Shaylinn, the twins and many more. At this point I don't know that I can or should say much about the plot line... read the first two books to know what is going on and then just enjoy. If you are a fan of The Hunger Games or Divergent then these need to be on your To Be Read pile!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

"Deceived" by Irene Hannon



Irene Hannon


For three years, Kate Marshall has been grieving the loss of her husband and their four-year-old son in a boating accident. But when she spots a familiar-looking child on an escalator in the mall, she is convinced it is the son she thought was dead. With police skeptical of her story, she turns to private investigator Connor Sullivan. The former Secret Service agent is dubious but agrees to investigate. Digging into the case he discovers that the incident may have been no accident at all. But if Kate's son is alive, someone is intent on keeping him hidden--and may be willing to go to lethal lengths to protect a sinister secret.

     I have often thought that the worst part of a disappearance (like a missing person) is not knowing what happened to them. In this book Irene takes that with a twist and a woman that lost her husband and son in a "boating accident" thinks that she knows what happened... except her son's body was never found. And then one day at the mall... a word... a glance... a boy... and now she can't sleep... is it her son?!? Is he still alive?!? Is she crazy? 
    This is an intriguing scenario that while riddled with lots of "what are the odds" kind of moments, is incredibly well written and played out. For a long time you aren't even sure if there is really a "bad guy" or not, but then when things start spiraling to the finish it is a wild ride that you will be glad you went on. I love Irene Hannon's books - she is one of my favorite mystery/suspense writers! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

"Thunder" by Bonnie S. Calhoun



Bonnie S. Calhoun

In post-apocalyptic America, Selah Chavez is crouched in long grass on a shore littered with the rusted metal remnants of a once-great city. It is the day before her eighteenth Born Remembrance, and she is hunting, though many people refuse to eat animal flesh, tainted by radiation during the Time of Sorrows. What Selah's really after are Landers, mysterious people from a land across the big water who survive the delirium-inducing passage in small boats that occasionally crash against the shoreline. She knows she should leave the capture to the men, but Landers bring a good price from the Company and are especially prized if they keep the markings they arrive with.
Everything falls to pieces when the Lander Selah catches is stolen by her brothers--and Selah wakes up the next morning to find the Lander's distinctive mark has suddenly appeared on her own flesh. Once the hunter, Selah is now one of the hunted, and she knows only one person who can help her--Bohdi Locke, the Lander her brothers hope to sell.

      I am finding myself drawn to Dystopian YA lately... I'm not even sure why, maybe that is seems to be set in an alternate universe or maybe because it is about overcoming everything that has gone dreadfully wrong... I don't know. But I do know that in light of the Hunger Games and Divergent, Bonnie Calhoun has hit upon a new and different take on the dystopian scenario. 
      I didn't know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed this story. Selah is a fabulous heroine... on a journey of self-discovery but in no way, shape or form is she perfect. Far from it and she knows that, but she feels a need to prove herself... and then a need to make things right... and then a need to be part of something bigger than herself. By the end she does all of those things, and the series is only beginning. I am fascinated by Bohdi and his race of the Landers and we don't know much about them by the end of the book, I have a feeling there are a lot more details to come in the next book. 
     I really enjoyed following Selah on her journey and am looking forward to book #2 "Lightning"! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

"Love's Fortune" by Laura Frantz

Love's Fortune


Laura Frantz

Sheltered since birth at her Kentucky home, Rowena Ballantyne has heard only whispered rumors of her grandfather Silas's vast fortune and grand manor in Pennsylvania. When her father receives a rare letter summoning him to New Hope, Rowena makes the journey with him and quickly finds herself in a whole new world--filled with family members she's never met, dances she's never learned, and a new side to the father she thought she knew. As she struggles to fit in during their extended stay, she finds a friend in James Sackett, the most valued steamship pilot of the Ballantynes' shipping line. Even with his help, Rowena feels she may never be comfortable in high society. Will she go her own way . . . to her peril?

Laura Frantz has done it again. Her historical romances never fail me. She delves into times and places that I don't normally venture into and immerses me into settings that feel real, story lines that I don't want to walk away from and characters that I wish were real. Isn't that the point of reading historical fiction?

In Love's Fortune we are entering Book #3 of a brilliant trilogy and I do recommend reading these 3 in order just so you can understand the generations involved in this family and the background leading to Rowena's story. Each book is focused around a young lady from a different generation. So in book #1, Love's Reckoning it was Rowena's grandma, in book #2, Love's Awakening it was Rowena's aunt and in book #3 it is Rowena herself but we get the privilege of having all of the generations appearing in and being an important part of her story. 

Do not think that Laura's historical romance are full of sappy love stories and nothing of much interest - you would be sooooo wrong! She has a way of building suspense and keeping me on the edge of my seat even when you wouldn't think it was possible and her twists and turns keep me from being able to guess at the intricacies of her story lines... I can usually predict who the heroine will end up with but how they are going to get there is beyond me. In this one I loved meeting Rowena (Wren) and getting to revisit the characters already developed in previous books. James Sackett, steamship pilot and hero, is fantastic and a hero to fall in love with. There are many subplots riding along with the main story that kept me turning pages as fast as I could and there was one downside to this book... I knew it was book #3 and there would be no more following. I almost cried at the end saying good-bye to these characters. The only good thing about this series ending is that I can't wait to see where Laura Frantz takes me next!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

"Heart of Mercy"
Sharlene MacLaren

My Review:
    I fell in love with Sharlene MacLaren's writing back when she wrote the Little Hickman Creek series. It was a wonderful trilogy and while I have enjoyed her other books, I think she may have found the mystery that made the Little Hickman Creek series so whimsical and fun. In book #1 of this series we meet Mercy as she goes through a horrible tragedy - losing her best friend and her friend's husband in a house fire and leaving behind two young boys. She is determined to step in and raise her friend's sons but the judge doesn't believe that a single woman is the right person to raise two young boys. So she has a month to get married so they can have two parents, or she will lose the right to raise them. Hilarity ensues as she tries to find the right man in the small town without many choices. But in her desperation to save the boys will she make the wrong decision?

   And what about the guardian angel that saved the boys from the fire in the first place? It's a Hatfield/McCoys scenario between Mercy's family and Samuel Conners' family. That would never work and they both know it, so Mercy keeps looking for love in all the wrong places.

     I am loving the start of the Tennessee Dreams series and can't wait to see where Sharlene MacLaren will take them from here!

"Dare To Love Again" by Julie Lessman Book Review

"Dare To Love Again"
Julie Lessman

Dare to Love Again, Heart of San Francisco Series #2

Spunky Allison McClare is determined to be a fearless, independent woman, resorting to a mammoth hat pin for protection on her way to and from the school where she teaches. But when she takes a notion to explore the wild Barbary Coast she quickly discovers she is no match for rum-soaked brute strength.
Detective Nick Barone would rather do almost anything than teach this petite socialite jiu-jitsu, but it seems he has little choice in the matter. Sparks fly every time the two meet until a grudging friendship develops into something deeper. But when Nick suddenly leaves town, Allison realizes he's a fraud just like all the rest of the men she's cared for. Does she dare love again?

My Review:
    I have read some series by authors and thought, "Wow, this is really good!" and then when their next series comes out, it just can't live up to the first series. I loved Julie Lessman's first series so much that I was just sure that she would never be able to create new characters that could be as strong and compelling as the O'Connor family. I was wrong. Plain and simple. Julie has outdone herself with this new series. I was encouraged by the first book but book #2 shows that it is not a fluke. Julie Lessman has struck gold again!

    In Book #1 we meet Cassidy McClare and her rich cousins in San Francisco and get to know them as Cassidy starts falling in love with Jamie McKenna and resists it every step of the way. Now in Book #2 we pick up with them but through the eyes of Cassidy's cousin Allison McClare. She is an independent young woman, or at least she wants to be...  much to the chagrin of the adults in her life. So Detective Nick is brought in to protect Allison from herself and her independent spirit. He is under threat of death is her hurts her romantically, so of course, they start having feelings for each other that neither one wants to admit. And then no great book would be complete without a host of issues... and poor Allison and Nick have more than their fair share! The mob, deaths, pregnant girlfriends, over protective family members and more...

    This book has proven to me that lightning can strike twice... and does for Julie!