Review: The Liar

I love Nora Roberts. She’s truly the master of romance. She’s on my automatic-buy list for good reason and she never disappoints. Case in point, The Liar.

It’s the story of Shelby who’s husband is just about the worst sort of person you could know. He lies to her (ahem, title!) and sucks her into a huge debt. Shelby stays oblivious to this because Richard (the slug of a man) belittles her into not asking financial questions by calling her names and basically emotionally abusing her.

Shelby finds out the truth when Richard dies in an accident and comes to face one surprise after another. He leaves her in crippling debt–and I mean millions of it–with a little girl to take care of and not a single support system in place. Turns out, he wasn’t rich, he wasn’t loyal to her and he wasn’t even called Richard. Shelby valiantly fights off the debt by selling most of their things, including engagement ring that wasn’t real, and the house they lived in. Then heads back to her home to continue dealing with the debt by getting a job but doing it while surrounded by family.

It’s when she returns home that the story really takes off. She’s in a deliciously tiny town full of great characters that are both wacky and hilarious. Her family is awesome, just the sort I’d like to have if I was in her shoes, and her daughter is cute as a button.

It’s also here that Nora shows her true brilliance. One of the most difficult parts of a book that includes a move is the saggy middle. Nora keeps the story rolling with Richard’s past resurfacing its ugly head and Shelby having to deal with one surprise after another.

Another truly difficult challenge was the hero. Griffin is a wonderful hero, patient, caring and funny. But a hero like that runs the risk of becoming too nice and entering the brother-affection area. Under any other author, I could see Griffin and Shelby quickly losing chemistry. He’s so nice, she’s so nice…it would be just plain boring. But here, they keep that spark and I credit Nora for that.

And finally, those cute village people and Shelby’s daughter are in the story but they don’t take over the story–something that is another dangerous pitfall for some books. They leave the centre stage clearly to Shelby by carefully constructed phrases that move the story along. Nora Roberts is a pro. She does it so well, it looks effortlessly. Just like it should.

The Liar is a contemporary romantic story that’s just simply delicious. Absolutely a great summer read, but also something to enjoy in the fall, or the winter months or reread for those blah February days. I know I’ll go back to it again to revisit those great powerful scenes and fabulous characters. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in romance and certainly to any Nora Roberts fan. What a great read.

(credit:amazon.com)

(credit:amazon.com)

Note: to go to site, click on cover.

Review: Breath of Scandal

I picked up Breath of Scandal because the back intrigued me and Sandra Brown is a reliable bet. The book tells the story of Jade, a girl who leaves a small southern town after a horrible incident and comes back to face her attackers and find her happy ending. It seemed like a great read and it was thick enough at 500 plus pages, to keep me happy for a while. I wasn’t disappointed and thought I’d share this one with you.

One of the best parts of the book is the slow introduction of the characters. The book retells most of their lives, from an impactful beginning to the present, when Jade comes back to the town. It was delicious to see them emerge, slowly and hear about their lives. It made them fully fleshed, complete persons for me and all the more impactful when they spoke and acted.

The back explains the story happened this way: “On a rainy Southern night, Jade Sperry endured a young woman’s worst nightmare at the hands of three local hell-raisers.” The details of what happened were difficult to read, though I should add that I’m particularly sensitive to violence. Thankfully, Sandra Brown treats the topic with due respect and doesn’t dismiss it or play it down. In fact, the horrible incident is crucial to understanding Jade and her personality, so I could bear the difficulty of reading it because I knew it was pivotal to the story.

And that one night isn’t the entire story. Jade leaves the town but returns and…sure enough, like the book says, ‘all hell breaks loose’.

Hearing Jade’s story, like that of the other characters was amazing. I loved seeing and understanding the choices she made and how she moved up, through life until she was a competent professional with a tough attitude towards work that ensured her success.

I also loved seeing Dillon develop slowly. We hear about his life before Jade, what he did and who he was. Like her, the past doesn’t leave him unscathed but his story explains just why he huffs and leaves a scene or why he doesn’t say much in an argument. We know where he has come from and what’s going on in his head without the author having to tell us.

Dillon and Jade’s love story unfurls slowly while she’s trying to find peace to the demons from the past and he’s trying to find peace in his life. I won’t ruin it by revealing it but I will say that it was both believable and beautiful.

The story has many threads but they’re all carefully tied neatly at the end. There are, of course, some twists and turns but there is a happy ending–and a believable one. It was an ending that justified the long journey it took the reader to get there and that was just yummy.

I would obviously recommend this book. It’s a story of triumph over tragedy from an underdog and I love that concept. But I would say that the best part is the slow, rich tapestry it weaves, telling us a story that began with horrible trauma but ends in a happy resolution. If you’re a fan of Sandra Brown or would like a lovely story to read on a summer night, this one is for you.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: To go to site, click on cover.

Review: The Perfect Hope

I was actually really looking forward to this one, mostly, because of the two main characters. Ryder and Hope have a ton of chemistry. He’s grumpy and won’t even call her by name and she’s feisty and gives him back as good as she gets. I couldn’t wait to see the sparks fly.

Ryder is the last of the Montgomery men, the guy who works things out and doesn’t say much. He’s quick to temper and faster to find a way to do something with his hands rather than talk it out. Hope, on the other hand, is elegant and polished and the innkeeper at the Boonsboro Inn. She doesn’t like his attitude and from using words to hosing him down with a hose, she lets him know it. Reading about these two exchanging grumblings had me laughing and eagerly turning the pages.

There’s something to be said for chemistry but eventually, it has to change to care and love or there isn’t any hope for the couple. The transition for Ryder and Hope went smoothly as only someone like Nora Roberts can write it. Along the way, we get to hear how the other characters from the other two books are doing and I, for one, was delighted to see old faces reappear.

The three women are fast friends, supporting each other and helping out when needed just like the three brothers are fast friends and joke and tease each other in a very realistic way. There’s also construction that was also deftly and realistically portrayed and work that ruled the lives of these characters like it does mine. It didn’t disappear, like it does in some of the sadder books of romance I’ve read. Here, lives are realistic with flaws and triumphs just like in reality. It creates a world that is believable yet appealing.

The Perfect Hope is a really good ending to a great trilogy. I’ll be honest and fess up that I read it in one sitting. It took me only three hours to gobble it up and I ended with a soft sigh of disappointment that it was done. I highly recommend it to any fan of romance and certainly those of contemporary. Nora Roberts is a phenomenon.

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: click on link to go to site.

Review: The Last Boyfriend

Though this book is the second in the series, it can certainly be read as a stand alone. I had to read it in order, though to give the books the full effect and read them as they were intended but don’t let that stop you if you have this one in hand. It’s excellent.

The Last Boyfriend is the story of Owen and Avery, two of my favourites. Owen is the meticulously organized man who runs the business side of the construction build with his brothers. Avery is inspirational, spur of the moment and, like all of Nora’s heroines, hard working and determined. She runs her own restaurant at the same town.

Owen is realistic and respectful. He’s known and been friends with Avery for a long time. He’s the guy she can lean on when the restaurant is swamped to put on an apron and lend a helping hand.

The move from friend to boyfriend is always tricky. There has to be chemistry along with care and dependability and sometimes, with old friends, things become just boring. Not so with Owen and Avery. They are wonderfully written, realistic and still create a beautiful love story that kept me glued to the book.

I love that the book lingered and showed all the parts of their lives, from friends to the relationships with their mom to get togethers with brothers. It made me feel as though I was enjoying a slice of their lives, not just getting a short, abbreviated route to a romantic end. Nora Roberts knows when to linger and when to move on. Her timing is exquisite.

There’s always a dangerous part in a book and that’s the saggy middle. The same can be said of middle books but this one shines brightly among the three. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance, don’t miss this one. It’s a gem.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Review: The Next Always

I always love reading a book by Nora Roberts and certainly this one wasn’t an exception. She’s got a gift with the written word, for certain but it’s the timing in her writing that impresses me the most. Her stories always feel slow and lazy and not rushed. It’s a beautiful, slow, elegant introduction into the characters and scene. Yet, she can do it somehow with a few words. And this one was particularly beautiful.

The Next Always is the first in a trilogy that I somehow missed reading when they came out. It tells the story of Beckett and Clare. Beckett is the eldest of the three Montgomery men and the architect. He’s helping his family of brothers and mother, restore an old inn and transform it into a beautiful Bed and Breakfast.

Beckett is easy going on the eyes, gentle yet determined in the best of ways. He had already fallen for Clare back when they were teens so it doesn’t take much for him to rekindle the romance. Clare is a widow now, with three delightful little boys and runs a bookstore. She’s kind, motherly and just sweet.

Clare and Beckett are both busy, one with the inn and the other with work and her little boys and, unlike other romances, these two don’t magically lose their business to give way to romance. The romance happens around their busy lives. Clare continues to kiss scraped knees, stop wars and tend to sick boys and Beckett has to answer his phone, curse at delays and run to fix issues on the build. They do find each other, but it’s a realistic, organic build that creates the same realistic, organic feelings of wonder–at least it did in this reader.

I have to add some other things that I absolutely adored about this book. The three little boys weren’t just minor secondary characters, they were delightfully real and absolutely adorable. I loved each and all of them. The same can be said of the dogs in the story and the other secondary characters. Nora Roberts nails it with them.

The other thing I adored was the cheerful banter between the brothers. Nora Roberts does dialogue like a pro and she nailed it in this book. The three brothers are realistically male, joking around much like guys do without becoming bullies or ignorant, which takes a lot of finesse as a writer.

Add in a beautiful love story, and I was a goner. I had to get the second and third book to gobble them up. If you’re a fan of contemporary fiction, don’t do what I did and wait. Pick this one up. It’s fantastic.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Review: Walk Through Fire

Walk Through Fire is the latest Chaos novel by Kristen Ashley. It was one I saw while buying groceries and I thought: ‘I’ll just take a quick read…’. Well, one chapter and I was done. Kristen Ashley is like that. I just can’t read one part. I’m hooked.

Please understand, I was shopping with my hubby at the end of a very long day. We were both tired, hungry and crabby. I didn’t have time to stop and read. I had things to do at home–namely his lovely mother was coming–and not a lot of time to do everything in.

I managed to read one tiny chapter while he put the groceries on the conveyor belt. That was all it took. I bought the book and took it home.

Millie Cross made a mistake a long time ago. A huge one and Logan ‘High’ paid for it. Now, she’s run-in with the old Chaos gang and she’s the most hated woman in the planet for them. They treat her like dirt–Logan included–and she takes it, knowing she hurt him. She hurts and tries to get by. It’s absolutely delicious angst.

Still, how on earth was Kristen going to reconcile these two?

Well, I’m not one to spoil things, so I’ll just settle for telling you that they do reconcile, it’s romance after all, but it’s a credible reconciliation and that was what made me a believer. Millie and Logan don’t just go from hurt to love overnight. Things are worked out and along the way there are misunderstandings and mistakes that are both adorable and believable.

We also find the reason why Millie did what she did. And I won’t reveal it here except to say it was both credible and understandable. Which made that angst all the sweeter because she was an undeserving victim of their hatred.

Like all of Kristen Ashley’s books, this one is a great, long read and that wasn’t a disappointment for yours truly. I love getting into her books because she’s a reliable author, who delivers a great story with solid characters and spicy romance. But a great aspect of her books is the length. There’s nothing better than knowing I’ve got a nice, thick book to read. Heavenly.

This is one I’d recommend for any reader of contemporary romance or those who are into edgy, urban romance. It’s one in the Chaos series but can easily be read alone and it’s certainly a great intro to Kristen Ashley. I would highly recommend it.

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Ride Steady

Ride Steady is the latest in the Chaos series by Kristen Ashley. Chaos is the name of the bike club where all the stories take place. The heroes are tough as nails bikers who fall for some pretty awesome heroines. They’re edgy stories with just the right amount of romance.

In Ride Steady, our heroine is Carissa, a really kind, nice woman who came from the right side of the tracks but has ended up on tough times. At just about the worst possible moment in her life, she meets a tough, mean-looking biker known as Joker and things start to change for her. She’s pretty skeptical of the help offered at first, not surprising considering the betrayal in her background, but soon starts to see Joker in a new light.

Life might have given Joker a tough set of cards, but he’s made good choices with them and now has Chaos as a family that supports him. Not only that, he’s got raw talent that starts to shine and help both him and the club. To add to that, he knew Carissa way, way back in the day and meeting her again just seems to be the icing on the cake of his story. He fell for her as a kid and the years haven’t changed those feelings one iota.

Both Carissa and Joker have to learn to trust each other. Carissa because of her past, doesn’t trust easily and Joker, because he thinks he doesn’t deserve her, has to see that she’s the right woman for him. Along the way, we get to see old favourites from other books and learn a bit about the on-going issue with a nasty enemy of the club but the main story is about Carissa and Joker and we get lots of lovely time with them both.

At over 600 pages, the books by Kristen Ashley are all nice, long reads and I love finding a new one by her. I can’t imagine the hours and hours of editing she must do on these mammoth-creations but I love her for it because when I pick up one up, I know I’ll have a good long read ahead. Ride Steady didn’t disappoint and I would highly recommend it for having both great characters, tons of chemistry, smoking romance and an edgy story I don’t want to give up. For those of you who read contemporary romance, if you haven’t tried Kristen Ashley, I would encourage you to pick one of hers up.

(credit: goodreads)

(credit: goodreads)

Note: to go to site, click on cover.

Review: Heroes Are My Weakness

I first picked up Heroes Are My Weakness at the book store months ago. I was able to read only one chapter, hungrily and quickly, before I had to leave. Like all great books, the story haunted me until I finally bought it. Susan Elizabeth Phillips is absolutely amazing and certainly one of my automatic-buys, so I knew I was going to love this book. I just wasn’t prepared for how the story developed. This one is a little different for her.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips has incredible dialogue. I mean, the characters have lines that leave me staring aghast at the page unable to think how someone thought of that retort. It never grows dull, it never becomes repetitive or whiny. It’s fast, gripping, hilarious and stunning. She can also wind a story and make turns that leave me shaking my head wondering how she did that. And, finally, she has amazing characters. Not just fully fleshed out but with really interesting back stories that I just love to discover.

This book has all of that…but it’s different. Really different.

Heroes Are My Weakness is the story of Annie and Theo. She’s on a remote island to try and keep a cottage as a source of funds. He’s a reclusive author with a very dark past. They both share a common history that is slowly revealed in the book. They also fall in love.

I keep saying that this one is different but how? Well, usually, with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, you get great humour, great dialogue and a fantastic love story. This one had all of that…and a mystery. It was a bit like reading Sandra Brown. I would come to the end of one chapter to find out something that made me gasp and turn, in desperation to the next chapter. I wasn’t ready for that with S.E.P. There was a villain and there was danger and people almost died…mostly myself with anxiety. I don’t do well with thrillers or fear. I have two huge dogs for a reason, people.

I’m not complaining. I was delighted with the book, loved it and couldn’t put it down. My hubby made dinner, we had company and all I did was read. Terrible and really rude–I know!–but if you pick up this book, you’ll understand. I couldn’t rest until I knew what was going to happen. It was one of those.

I particularly loved how the back story is revealed so slowly, organically, weaved carefully into the story so that the relevant pieces appear just when they’re pertinent and interesting to the reader. I never once resented that the book went into the past. I wanted to know what had happened because it had to do with the present in the story.

And I truly liked the characters. To me, they seemed both complete and perfectly flawed. They weren’t mouses who suddenly become lions, they kept their personality. Still they managed to step outside their comfort zones and grow into better people. The love story was completely believable and plausible.

I could really ramble on because there are facets of this book that are truly superior. The writing is absolutely fantastic and the humour made me laugh out loud. But this review is already ridiculously long. So, let me finish with with a recommendation. I’d recommend this for both contemporary fans and thriller fans. If you like Sandra Brown, or Nora Roberts this one is for you. Enjoy and let me know what you think! (But be brief, will you? No one likes some one who rambles on). 😀

(credit: goodreads.com)

(credit: goodreads.com)

Note: to go to site click here.

Review: The Look of Love

The Look of Love is the first book in the Sullivan Series. I always like first books in a series because it means there are more to come and, if I like it, more awesome books. So I was really excited about this one.

Though this book deals with a very serious topic, wife abuse, it’s still a light and fluffy read. A great book to have for those hot summer days with a drink by a pool. We get to meet Chloe who ends up stuck in a ditch and meets Chase by accident (sorry about that pun).

Having just come out of a terrible relationship, Chloe is more than a little skeptical about Chase, who seems too good to be true. Still, he persists, helping her, giving her a place to stay and support when she needs it most. Chloe resists, very hesitantly at first then cautiously but Chase is the best sort of hero, patient, devoted and super kind. Eventually, he wins her love and things only get better for poor Chloe.

There is danger in The Look of Love but this story didn’t make me bite my nails. I felt safe and in good hands during the entire tale. Some might argue that it doesn’t do justice to such an important, difficult topic as spousal abuse, but I didn’t go into this story hoping for a realistic rendering, I was hoping for a love story and in that sense, this book delivers beautifully. It’s certainly a great, light summer read and that’s why I would recommend it.

(credit: bellaandre.com)

(credit: bellaandre.com)

Note: click on cover to go to site.

Review: Heartbreaker

I picked out Heartbreaker on the recommendation of the store clerk in the used book store. I was heading for a flight and I needed something to read. I had never read Karen Robards but with those waiting lines at the airport facing me, I grabbed the book and dove in.

Heartbreaker is non-stop action, which is the best sort of book to have while you’re waiting to board a plane. I couldn’t care less that the person behind me just jumped ahead of me in line because I just kept reading. And it’s got humour weaved in, which is one of my favourite things in romance. It was awesome.

I loved Lynn from the start. I don’t smoke, but I could relate to everything else about her. She was trying to fit in with a bunch of outdoor enthusiasts and she was failing miserably. Lynn is going along with the group hoping to bond with Rory her teenage daughter.

Rory is a very realistic teen and I was desperately glad that she was authentic. There’s little worse than ‘perfect’ children in books. Kids who respect adults, obey, speak only in complete sentences and listen to their elders. Please! Rory was difficult with her mom, moody, defiant and moody. A completely credible teen.

Lynn has a tough time in the outdoors and her reactions to the other happy-go, enthusiastic members of the group are hilarious. Poor woman, things don’t get better for her. She and her daughter have an accident and end up pretty much stranded and hurt. Jess, one of the guides, drops down to help them and the adventure takes off from there.

With Jess along, they have to make it out of the mountains alive. Easier said than done in this mountain though. A group of cult members happens to also be there and they quickly decide that the trio must die.

It’s a pretty roller-coaster ride that had me moaning at the end of more than one chapter with dismay. I had no idea what was going to happen next and I was visiting relatives, which meant I couldn’t ignore them and keep reading. Closing this book was absolutely painful.

I would highly recommend Heartbreaker, especially if you’re going on a plane but certainly as a great summer read. It’s easy, fast, has great dialogue and witty humour. Best of all, it’s romance, so that fits me like a glove. Only one caution, relatives might not understand it if you bring the book along when you visit. 😀

(credit:goodreads.com)

(credit:goodreads.com)

Note: click on book to go to site.