Monday, September 29, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: WHAT A WALLFLOWER WANTS by Maya Rodale

Title: What a Wallflower Wants
Author: Maya Rodale
Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Release Date: September 30, 2014
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes
Rating: 5 stars

From the book:

In the third novel in Maya Rodale’s charming Wallflower series, London’s Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position finds temptation in a devilishly handsome stranger...

Miss Prudence Merryweather Payton has a secret.

Everyone knows that she’s the only graduate from her finishing school to remain unwed on her fourth season-but no one knows why. With her romantic illusions shattered after being compromised against her will, Prudence accepts a proposal even though her betrothed is not exactly a knight in shining armor. When he cowardly pushes her out of their stagecoach to divert a highwayman, she vows never to trust another man again.

John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is nobody’s hero. 

He’s a blue-eyed charmer with a mysterious past and ambitious plans for his future-that do not include a wife. When he finds himself stranded at a country inn with a captivating young woman, a delicate dance of seduction ensues. He knows he should keep his distance. And he definitely shouldn’t start falling in love with her.

When Prudence’s dark past comes back to haunt her, John must protect her-even though he risks revealing his own secrets that could destroy his future.

My review:

The third and final book in the Wallflower series has a darker bent to it than the previous novels. Rodale has masterfully brought to light the silent side of rape within the confines of a strict society, and in doing so, has created one of the strongest female historical romance characters I've had the pleasure of reading. 

Pru's discovery of herself throughout her journey is methodical instead of slow; her natural progression from "wallflower" to strong, fight-back-no-longer-a-victim heroine is nothing short of heartwarming and hope-inducing.

John is quite possibly the most perfect imperfect hero to ever grace the pages of a Regency. He's fighting the good fight for his family, himself - and, once he discovers her secret - Pru. He is all that is good in the world.

Born outside the ton, yet needing to break into their circle to save his family, John holds a secret of his own that, once revealed, pushes Pru further from the boundaries of the ton (and everything she has been raised to believe). 

This story is a must-read for historical romance lovers. It shows a darker side of the ton we all love to love (or hate, depending on the story!), the deep connections of female friendship, and redemption of a woman's once-bent (but never fully broken) spirit.

Five stars.

(Disclaimer: I was provided a digital Advanced Reader Copy (e-ARC) from the publisher for an honest and unbiased review.)

About the Author

Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.

Contact Maya:

Website |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads


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Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: When the Rancher Came to Town by Emma Cane

Title: When the Rancher Came to Town
Author: Emma Cane
Publisher: Avon Impulse (HarperCollins)
Release Date: September 23, 2014
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble  |  Kobo  |  iTunes
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

From the book:

Emma Cane returns to the amazing and romantic town for the latest installment in her sparkling series. When and ex-Rodeo star falls in love with the agoraphobic B&B owner, he must pull out all the stops to get her out of her shell. 

Welcome to Valentine Valley!

The Silver Creek Rodeo is in full swing and everyone’s talking about the rancher who came to town…

Bed & Breakfast owner Amanda Cramer wants nothing more than a quiet, private life. Well, she wants guests too, but after her share of unwanted notoriety she’s gotten comfortable hiding out in her inn…perhaps a little too comfortable. When her newest guest arrives, tall, dark and breathtaking…Amanda begins to question her self-imposed exile.

Ex-rodeo star Mason Lopez knows all about the limelight. He’d avoid it if he could, but since one last ride could mean saving his family’s ranch, he’ll go all in. When he gets to Valentine Valley for the Silver Creek Rodeo, Mason checks into Connections B&B and finds himself immediately drawn to the beautiful, reserved woman who owns it.

Mason only has three days in town…can he convince Amanda to open her heart to him and welcome the world back in?

My review:

Emma Cane adds another story to her Valentine Valley series with this novella. Mason, a rodeo star, and Amanda, a former-lawyer-turned-B&B-owner, are an unlikely couple who finds solace in each other's arms. Amanda is trying to heal herself from her agoraphobia (anxiety disorder) and Mason is trying to be in the limelight one final time to save his family's ranching business. 

As this is a novella, there wasn't much room for character development. Cane paints a beautiful picture of Valentine Valley, and the welcoming feel of the town that's woven throughout the series is very much present here. It's hard for me to believe two people can fall in love in only three days, but I was willing to suspend my belief because I did enjoy other books in the series.

This read was an easy one - a single sitting and it was through (I call these a lunchtime read - I can finish it in a lunch hour). While I do wish she'd spent a little less time on Amanda's background and a little more time on the romance, there's only so many pages available. That's just the way novellas tend to go; just as you're getting into it, it ends! The writing was, as it usually is with Cane, descriptive and emotive. I felt the B&B (named Connections), loved the history she poured into it, and could see the gardens in my mind. Cane's settings are always lovely and are almost a character of the story itself - she's a master at creating rich, dimensional places where you'd want to live.

Although I didn't love When the Rancher Came to Town as much as the other Valentine Valley novels, I wasn't disappointed with this read despite it's lack of character development and conflict. In fact, it left me wondering how they'll make it as a couple. I hope Cane revisits Amanda and Mason in a future Valentine Valley novel; a glimpse into their forever happiness would provide me with that happy sigh I'm always seeking.

Three and a half stars.

(Disclaimer: I was provided a digital Advanced Reader Copy (e-ARC) from the publisher for an honest and unbiased review.)

About the Author

Emma Cane grew up reading and soon discovered that she liked to write passionate stories of teenagers in space. Her love of “passionate stories” has never gone away, although today she concentrates on the heartwarming characters of Valentine, her fictional small town in the Colorado Rockies. 

Now that her three children are grown, Emma loves spending time crocheting and singing (although not necessarily at the same time), and hiking and snowshoeing alongside her husband Jim and two rambunctious dogs Apollo and Uma.

Contact Emma:

Website|  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads


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Friday, September 5, 2014

Review and Giveaway: CRAZY FOR HER by Sandra Owens

Title: Crazy for Her (Book 1 of the K2 Team Series)
Author: Sandra Owens
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: September 1, 2014
Where to Buy: Amazon Barnes & Noble
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

From the Book

When his best friend and fellow Navy SEAL, Evan Prescott, died in his arms on the battlefield, Logan Kincaid gave his word to watch over Evan’s widow. But for two years he kept his distance…torn between honoring his solemn vow and succumbing to his secret love for his fallen comrade’s wife. But when Dani Prescott desperately reaches out to Logan for the help only he can give, he rushes to her side—determined to fight for her safety as fiercely as he fights against his own buried desire.

Someone claiming to be her husband is stalking Dani and her infant daughter, making them virtually prisoners in their remote country home. Logan’s elite military training and high-risk security expertise have outmatched more dangerous enemies. But the real challenge will be the burning temptation that threatens to overcome Logan whenever Dani is near…especially when she reveals her own hidden passion.

My Review

This novel starts a new series for Owens, and she starts it off with a bang. On the battlefield, we meet Logan Kincaid and Evan Prescott - and throughout the novel, we fall in love a little with each of them. 

Logan is a tortured man who managed to pull both his sister and himself from the ashes of a very rough home life. He's made something of himself with his own special ops-ish company, but his training came from his days as a Navy SEAL, where he and his best friend Evan met. In his last breaths, Evan begs Logan to protect and care for his wife and unborn child.

Logan's been in love with Evan's wife from the first moment they both met her. However, Evan gets to her first and, as they say, bro code is immediately put into place. Logan strives to be noble and good and everything that a man should be...until Dani forces him to look to the future instead of the past. A true alpha, Logan is not a fan of being out of control...and that's just what Dani does to him every time he gets near her.

Danielle Prescott is a widow and, when we meet her, is just past her grief (two years after her husband's death). She's at a place where she can smile at the memories, and she has a young daughter (Regan) whom she's determined will know her father as someone wonderful. Owens did a stunning job at capturing this stage of a person's life; the hope of a child, the sadness but need to move on of widowhood, and the determination of a strong woman combined perfectly to create a believable, heartwarming story. Dani recognizes her loneliness and wants to move on with her life, and she knows Evan would be more than supportive. She has always had something of a crush on Logan, but as the story progressed, I enjoyed watching Dani try to figure out if she should give Logan a chance at more than the fling she has in mind (ha! As if she had a say in the matter of her heart!).

The suspense comes in with the stalker who's been calling Dani and claiming to be Evan. It's eery and gives you the goosebumps with each phone call and event. Dani deals with it herself until a box arrives with a teddy bear inside...holy freakiness. I was fully creeped out. Logan's desire for Dani begins to cloud his judgement, and his razor-sharp battle edge is significantly dulled by it - putting Dani and Regan in more danger. Logan's struggle to keep a lid on his desire to keep them safe was well-thought out, well-paced and understandable throughout the novel, and added a layer of complexity to the overall story. 

Evan's memory is well-served in Crazy For Her, which is so important in a second-chance love story about a military widow. Regan gives the feeling of hope to Logan, which he desperately needs, and I enjoyed how she wasn't pushed to the side and only brought out when convenient.

The supporting cast of former SEALs - from a creepy swampman (oh please, I hope there's a story about him!) to a modern-day Romeo, I can't wait to see what Owens cooks up for her band of SEAL brothers.

From the first page to the last, I was riveted. I started the book at 9pm, read until I couldn't keep my eyes open, then woke from a dead sleep to get back to this story. I finished it around five in the morning, and I didn't regret the lack of sleep at all. This story was worth the sacrifice! I highly recommend this novel if you're looking for a contemporary, fast-paced novel with unexpected twists and turns. Also, if you like when authors break conventions, Owens did a marvelous job of it with Logan Kincaid - he's my book boyfriend and I had a book hangover. The only issue with this book? It ended. :)

Four stars.

About the Author

A native of Florida, Sandra once managed a Harley-Davidson dealership, before switching from a bike to an RV for roaming the open road (though she’s also chased thrills from sky-diving to upside-down stunt-plane flying). In addition to Crazy For Her—a 2013 Golden Heart Finalist for Romantic Suspense—her works include the Regency Romance novels The Letter, winner of the Golden Quill Award, and The Training of a Marquess, winner of the Golden Claddagh Award. A member of Romance Writers of America, and potential cat owner, she lives with her husband in Asheville, North Carolina.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads


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(Disclaimer: I was provided a digital Advanced Reader Copy (e-ARC) from the author for an honest and unbiased review.)