Review: No Groom at the Inn

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No Groom at the Inn
Megan Frampton
($4.99 print, $1.99 e-book)

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Happy Holidays, lovely romance enthusiasts!  In honor of the upcoming festivities, I thought I’d get us in the holiday spirit with a review of a delightful novella by Megan Frampton.  The adorably-punny No Groom At the Inn is everything you’d want in a holiday novella.  It’s got a wonderfully absurd plot, a devil-may-care charmer, a fiercely independent and bookish heroine, and a touch of holiday cheer.

Lady Sophronia Bettesford is a down-on-her-luck daughter of an earl.  Her father passed away penniless, leaving her to the mercy of her distant relations–specifically, an unappealing cousin who has offered her a rather bleak future of tending his children and his chickens.  As Sophronia travels to this dim new life, she is approached by a handsome stranger who promptly proposes marriage!

Mr. Jamie Archer is in need of a fiancée– not a wife, strictly speaking– just the temporary illusion of a fiancée to appease his beloved, meddlesome mother.  Jamie and Sophronia strike a deal: she will accompany him to a country house party over the holidays and pretend to be his fiancée.

Sophronia and Jamie are both incredibly likable characters, and Frampton does some impressive character development within the constraints of the shorter novella format.  Sophronia’s father was an intellectual, somewhat reclusive earl who instructed her in all matter of peculiar things.  She, as a result, is extremely intelligent and somewhat socially inexperienced.  Jamie is an appealing opposite to Sophronia– while certainly not unintelligent, his primary characteristic is his social ease and charm.  Jamie does not wish to marry while Sophronia yearns for a family of her own.  The balance between the two characters is deftly handled– what could easily turn into an opposites attract romance novel cliché is instead a powerful tool in the hands of Frampton.  The differences, and more subtle similarities, between the Sophronia and Jamie are what ultimately bring them together.

While the character development is rich, the story line is truncated by the shorter length of the novella.  Jamie’s inevitable realization that he loves Sophronia feels rush and the corresponding “grand gesture” really isn’t given enough time in the novella.  The last third of the book differs in pacing from the first two thirds, something that detracts from the success of the story as a whole.

However, there are many delightful elements in No Groom at the Inn.  Besides the awesome title pun, Frampton provides several unique additions that add to the book.  A theme throughout the novella is Sophronia’s adroitness with words, a skill that came from her father’s teaching.  Sophronia and her father used to play a game called “Dictionary,” in which players attempt to offer their own definitions of unknown words.  Each chapter in the novella starts with an example of “Dictionary,” with words like “otosis” and “vecordy.”  The game plays an integral part in the plot and wordplay is a fun constant throughout the book.

If you’re looking for a quick holiday read or perhaps looking to grab a few moments of solitude during the craziness of Christmas, I highly recommend No Groom at the Inn.  It’s a fun, quick read, meant to be enjoyed with a piping-hot mug of cocoa or a splash of egg nog, sitting in a comfortable chair, and enjoying a day in your pajamas.  In other words, the perfect post-Christmas brunch treat!

Review and GIVEAWAY: To Tempt an Heiress by Susanna Craig (Released Today!)

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To Tempt an Heiress
SUSANNA CRAIG
December 6th, 2016
(print $15.00, ebook $3.99)

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ENTER TO WIN A FREE COPY OF THE BOOK!!!

For anyone who has read this blog for more than…well, two minutes…it likely doesn’t come as a surprise that I, Elinor, am a nerd. I’m a nerd by profession, but before that I was a nerd because I just couldn’t be anything else. (Thanks, genetics!) I’ve always loved learning new things. As a kid I made my own dictionary of foreign words because I thought other languages were really cool. I wrote letters to famous historical figures (even though I knew they were dead…obviously) just because I wanted to tell them how much their lives meant to me. I read, read, and re-read every book I could get my hands on (and I still do!). Of all my brainy loves, history ranked at the very top. I was and still am captivated by times past and the cultures and societies that populated them.

At that same time that I was geeking out over ancient civilizations or the Napoleonic Wars I was also falling madly in love with other people falling madly in love. I’ve always found romance fascinating, and have been reading stories about how one person gets lost in another for almost as long as I can remember. From Jane Austen to Sappho to my dad’s letters to my mom, beautifully written expressions of love just slay me.

Imagine, then, how happy I was to find Susanna Craig’s To Tempt an Heiress, a novel that perfectly marries these two parts of myself, the history nerd and the lover of love!

To Tempt an Heiress is just THE BEST. Set in Georgian England and the Caribbean, it tells the story of Tempest Holderin, a young woman of fortune who grew up in the British colony of Antigua, and the happily ever after she finds with the dashing Captain Andrew Corrvan. Tempest is the most eligible of ladies—she’s beautiful, she’s intelligent, and, most of all, she’s rich. This makes her a source of desire for half the men on the island and plenty more throughout the Empire. Many of those suitors (most especially the handsy, way too old, all around creeptastic Lord Nathaniel Delamere) want to use Tempest’s money and her property—and Tempest herself—for less than savory ends.

Herein enters the handsome captain, who, despite his better judgment, accepts a proposition from a close friend of the Holderin family: Andrew must kidnap Tempest, haul her aboard his ship, and transport her to London, where she will be safe from the Delameres of the world. Little does Andrew know that his choice to take up this mad plan will change their lives forever. Far more than simple cargo, Tempest is a kind-hearted, headstrong abolitionist who ignites Andrew’s every passion. Far more than a pirate, Andrew is the Shakespeare quoting, storm-sailing man of Tempests’ dream. By the time the journey to London is over, the two are wildly in love, but unable to set aside their pride or ambitions to give their feelings voice. Thankfully, dramatic events force their hands, and the two are brought together in a wonderfully romantic conclusion.

To Tempt an Heiress has everything I want in a romance novel (or in any novel!)— a wonderful cast of characters, steamy sexual tension between the hero and heroine, exquisite period details, a commendable ethical sub-theme (in this case, an anti-slavery narrative) . . . I could go on for ages! In fairness to those of you who will surely want to read the book yourselves (and that should be pretty much everyone ever), I’ll just say these three things.

1: Everything in the story just fits. The characters are believable, their dialogue seems natural, and they do things that make sense for who they are (individually and together) and for their context.. The book follows its own careful, understandable logical, and I just love that. So many books I read are riddled with inconsistencies, which distract me from my pleasure in reading and often leave me frustrated or—the worst!—feeling like I’ve wasted my time. This book is the direct and most awesome opposite!

2: To Tempt an Heiress is, in many ways, a deceptive book. It seems easy.   You could read it in a few hours if you aren’t careful because it’s just that compelling. But then you realize that all that ease is the result of the hard work of an excellent writer. Craig’s prose and her close—but not labored!—attention to historical detail make everything flow together just as it should. You feel immersed in the world and the lives of the characters, so much so that real life fades away a bit. This is, I think, the most difficult of a writer’s tasks, and one at which Craig excels more than most.

3: The book is HOT. I mean, really: a sexy sea captain and a gorgeous, liberal-minded lady are trapped together in a tiny cabin for weeks on end? And they’re not supposed to get naked but they both really want to get naked? C’mon! What’s better than that?! While there aren’t extended intimate encounters in the book (there are just two bona fide sex scenes, actually), the tension between the characters and what our minds can do on their own is almost more steamy than the actual scenes themselves!

4: I said 3, but I lied.  I need to say one more thing, which is…the cover!

This is my first Susanna Craig novel, but it most certainly won’t be my last!  Needless to say, I’d recommend this book to all people with eyeballs, but especially readers who love great prose, admirable characters, and exceptional (really, exceptional) historical writing. If you’re into explicit sex, this isn’t the book for you, but if you like a good slow burn (as we said in a recent review), then you’ll love Andrew and Tempest.  Get thee to a bookshop, humans! Do not delay!

AND . . . get thee to our giveaway to enter to win your own copy of To Tempt an Heiress!!! You won’t regret it, I promise!

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Review: Married to Her Enemy by Jenni Fletcher

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Married to Her Enemy
JENNI FLETCHER
December 20, 2016
(print $6.50, ebook available Jan 1, $4.99)

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In a land torn apart by war and hate, two people are drawn together by an undeniable attraction…

In Married to Her Enemy, Jenni Fletcher’s absolutely fantastic debut novel, a Norman warrior and a Saxon noblewoman meet as deadly adversaries.  Aediva, our heroine, has plenty of reasons to hate the Normans: they took her homeland, they made outlaws of her people, and they murdered her beloved father.  When a band of their soldiers is sighted making its way toward her village, she knows she has only one choice: she must fight.

When the soldiers arrive, Aediva attacks the first one she sees: a giant Dane-turned-Norman called Svend du Danemark.  Svend, despite his stature and Norman allegiance, is kind to the beautiful and very feist Aediva, responding to her attempt to stab him to death with some ninja-style disarmament skills and only a bit of annoyance.  In classic romance fashion, Svend and Aediva’s tussle results in physical closeness that, despite the charged situation, ignites desire in them both.  *Elinor fans self with book.*

The story that follows this wonderful scene is a classic case of mistaken identity, in which Svend confuses Aediva for her sister, Cilla, whom King William has ordered him to capture.  Aediva continues the charade in an effort to protect her sister, and so off she goes as the hostage/guest of a very handsome, blue-eyed knight.  In the course of their travels the two face illness, rain storms, armed rebels, and a whole host of misunderstandings, arriving to their destination very much in love but still separated by past wounds and hidden truths.  Svend’s discovery of Aediva’s true identity almost destroys their chance at happiness, but a forced marriage and the eventual confession of their love for one another ultimately brings them together for good.  Hurrah for happy endings!

As you’ve surely already guess, I absolutely adored this book.  It’s a funny, poignant, profoundly romantic story set in a world about which I’ve always been very curious (I mean, who doesn’t want to know everything about the aftermath of the Norman invasion?!).  The historical details make that world come alive, as does Fletcher’s clear, precise prose.  I was instantly invested in the burgeoning affections of Aediva and Svend, and deeply moved by the pain they both felt after years of loss and struggle.  Their chemistry is off the charts, and the slow burn of their desire for each other was hugely appealing.   You really come to hope and worry for the hero and heroine and you’re overjoyed when they finally get together.  As a romance reader, there’s nothing I love more than that!

Another thing I love?  That I don’t hate anyone in this book!  (Well, except maybe the terrible King William, who’s referenced here and there.)  Instead, almost all the characters are surprisingly admirable, and may of them are even endearing.  Aediva and Svend are noble, reliable, and courageous, but not so much so they we can’t see them as real people.  The supporting cast is clever and caring, and even the conniving Earl FitzOsbern seems redeemable in his own way.  I was really interested in learning more about Aediva’s sister, Cilla, especially after we discover that (gasp!) she had a secret romance with a Norman nobleman!  (Pssst, Jenni: I really, really hope their story will become a book of its own!)

I would recommend this book to…well, basically everyone, but especially to readers who care more about the story and the characters than explicit sex scenes.  Fletcher does a lot with anticipation and building tension, and the sex scenes are definitely sexy, but if you’re the kind of person who wants graphic consummation this might not be the book for you.  I would also recommend this to lovers of historical romance, as the book is deeply steeped in period details.  I already want to read it again just so I can relish them!

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Also, did you know? We’re giving away a free copy of Married to Her Enemy, as well as FIVE other new releases from Harlequin!! Enter our giveaway here!!

Review: Searching For Disaster

searchingfordisaster1-2SEARCHING FOR DISASTER
JENNIFER PROBST
October 11, 2016
($2.99 ebook)

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Jennifer Probst’s Searching For Disaster is a fun and flirty novella that packs a powerful punch.  The book opens on a scene set six years before the rest of the story; our couple, Liam and Isabella, met at a college party, felt an instant connection, but were ultimately driven apart.  Since that fateful meeting, Liam and Isabella’s lives have taken them on different paths, but they were always left wondering about the one that got away.  Flash forward six years and Isabella and Liam meet again… *cue the sparks flying.*

Given the length of this book, I was impressed with its depth and plot development; often, novellas can feel somewhat superficial because of length constraints. This was absolutely not the case in Searching For Disaster.  Isabella and Liam are well-rounded characters, with interesting pasts and personalities that really elevate the story.  Isabella is a recovering drug addict while Liam is a straight-and-narrow police officer.  I thought that Probst’s handling of that dynamic was very nuanced: the primary obstacle to their love–Isabella’s former addiction– does not feel forced or trite, but rather a real problem that they must confront.  Liam must decide if he can trust Isabella, and Isabella must determine whether she can trust herself.  Of course it isn’t easy, but I was impressed with how Probst created a plot point that was both serious and meaningful, without being melodramatic. It can be easy to use things like drugs or alcohol to create a “bad boy” or “bad girl” character, a trope that can too-easily fall flat. Instead, Probst constructed a character who had made mistakes, picked herself back up, and gone on a journey to become a better person– who wouldn’t be cheering for a girl like that when she finally gets her Happily Ever After?

There are a lot of fun elements in this book.  Isabella works at a matchmaking agency, so her life is populated by hilarious, powerful women who support one another and work together to run their business (yay powerful lady friends!).  Liam and Isabella both end up adopting puppies and they commiserate over the horror that is puppy training.  They share a love of Star Wars and, quite adorably, end up naming their puppies Han Solo and Leia (awwww).  Probst provides many interesting, fun details that really ramp this book up.

While this is a short, easy read it still manages to tug on your heartstrings and make you become invested in the characters– no easy feat for a novella, so kudos to Probst!  I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys contemporary novellas, small-town romances, and flawed and interesting characters.  I also think that if you liked this book, you may enjoy Nancy Naigle’s Every Yesterday, which I reviewed last month.

 

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Review: Pursuing Lord Pascal by Anna Campbell

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PURSUING LORD PASCAL
BOOK 4
THE DASHING WIDOWS SERIES
ANNA CAMPBELL
September 30, 2016
(.99 cent eb00k)

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You know that feeling you get when you’re at the very beginning of what you already know is going to be a good book?  The one that’s like the first flush of a new romance, when you’re so happy that someone (or some book) so wonderful exists in the world and that you–you!–get to be with him/her/it?  I LOVE that feeling.  It’s one of the best in all the world, right alongside the joy of jumping into a pile of autumn leaves.

I’m happy to say that this very feeling is immediately available to each and every one of you, and for the minuscule cost of 99 cents.  Interested?  Well, then!  Get thee to Anna Campbell’s Pursuing Lord Pascal, a delightful tale of “London’s handsomest man” and his (ultimately successful–yay!) attempts to win the heart of a beautiful, plucky widow.

When Gervaise Dacre, Lord Pascal lays eyes on Amy, Lady Mowbray, at yet another boring ball, he’s instantly captivated.  She’s gorgeous, she’s a grown-up (unlike all the simpering misses falling at his feet), and, most of all, she’s got a brain in her beautiful head.  Before he can blink, Pascal realizes that he must have her, even if it means putting aside his plan to marry for much-needed money.  Amy, however, can’t imagine that Gervaise is actually interested.  After all, her short marriage to Lord Mawbray (40 years her senior) was much more a meeting of the minds than the bodies, and she’s accepted that her life will be one largely devoid of the joys of the bedroom.  Gervaise makes it his mission to prove her wrong.  Thus ensues a wooing in which Amy, an agricultural genius who’s more at home in muck boots than ball gowns, falls head over heels in love with England’s most eligible libertine. Continue reading

Review: Sparking the Fire

cover-finalSPARKING THE FIRE
BOOK 3
A HOT IN CHICAGO NOVEL
KATE MEADER
Pocket Books
September 27, 2016
($7.99 print, $6.99 ebook)

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Kate Meader’s latest installment of the Hot in Chicago series is just that– hot (and, of course, also in Chicago).  In Sparking the Fire, Wyatt, former-Marine and current Chicago firefighter and Molly, Hollywood movie star, reconnect five years after a sexy anonymous fling.  Now, memories of their six-night stand are rekindled as they work together on Molly’s new movie, a film about about a female firefighter, loosely inspired by Wyatt’s notorious sister Alex.

Molly, reeling from a public divorce and a nude-photo leak, is trying to rebuild her reputation by producing and starring in the movie; Wyatt, recovering from an injury, is assigned to be the fireman consultant on the set.  Although they each have their reasons for wanting to keep things professional, the undeniable attraction that existed five years ago resurfaces and is too powerful to resist!

I liked this book for a number of reasons.  First, Meader’s narrative style is fresh and compelling; since she writes contemporary romances, she’s able to get away with, in particular, short, choppy dialogue that rings true to the ear. Given Wyatt’s taciturn nature, the staccato back-and-forths between Molly and Wyatt feels like real-life conversations.  Meader incorporates a lot of pop culture references and occasional slang to make the dialogue even punchier.

Second, Molly and Wyatt were both well-developed characters with interesting backstories separate from their interactions.  Molly’s career as an actress, as well as the way she handles her divorce and photo leak, are all intriguing facets of her character.  Similarly, Wyatt was raised as part of a larger foster family, the Dempsey’s (whom the entire series is about) and has his own baggage that he’s dealing with as a result of his past.  While the past certainly plays a major role in the development of Molly and Wyatt’s relationship, it’s refreshing to see such deep, well-rounded characters who exist in and of themselves and not merely as part of a couple.

Finally, I liked the family dynamic of the Dempsey clan.  I’m a newcomer to Kate Meader, and this book prompted me to go out and read more of her Hot in Chicago series!  After reading about Wyatt’s sister Alex and her fiance Eli, I was intrigued enough by their story that I bought it a couple days later! The way the family relates to one another, and the shared past of living in foster care, makes for an engaging and entertaining story.

This book gets three flames because the sex is pretty spicy, but it’s not overly-raunchy.  This is definitely a true romance novel and not a romance-erotic novel, so it’s certainly steamy but not as explicit as the latter category tends to be.

I’m giving this book four stars because, as I’ve just said, it has a lot going for it.  The reason it’s not getting five stars is because, while the characters and writing are awesome, the plot dragged at points and didn’t grip me the whole way through. By contrast, when I read Playing With Fire, I couldn’t put it down!  Part of that may have been personal preference– I found powerful and passionate Eli a more compelling hero than stoic Wyatt, so readers who like the “strong and silent” type may connect more with this book.  Overall, though, Meader crafts a fun and feisty story, with dynamic characters that feel like real, genuine people. I highly recommend this book.

katemeaderAbout the Author:

Kate Meader was raised on romance. An Irish girl, she started with Catherine Cookson and Jilly Cooper novels, and spiced it up with some Mills & Boon. Now based in Chicago, she writes romances of her own, where sexy contemporary alpha heroes and strong heroines match each other quip for quip. When not immersed in tales of brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron or a fire hose, Kate lives on the web at katemeader.com.

 

Review: The Bachelor Auction

vandyken_thebachelorauction_ebookThe Bachelor Auction
Rachel Van Dyken
October 4, 2016
($4.99 ebook)

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Once upon a time, there was a poor, kind-hearted girl who spent her days caring for her terrible, ungrateful sisters.  One night, when she least expected it, the girl was swept off her feet (and out of her shoes) by a rich, handsome man, with whom she (eventually) lived happily ever after.

If this story sounds familiar to you, it’s not a coincidence.  It is not, however, the story of Cinderella.  Except, well, it kind of is.  Say what?  Keep reading!

Rachel Van Dyken’s The Bachelor Auction is a modern-day take on the classic fairytale. In her version, Jane (Cinderella), the owner of a cleaning business, meets Brock (Prince Charming), a bajillionaire CEO, at a dance club (the royal ball).  When Jane is knocked to the floor of the club by her drunken sisters, tearing her dress and losing her necklace and shoes in the process, Brock sweeps her into his arms and out of the fray.  This heroic gesture becomes the stuff of Jane’s many fantasies— and, before long, her everyday reality— as she and Brock fall head over heels in love despite their many differences.

The book has its appealing aspects—both a hero and a heroine who are decent, caring people; a billionaire/regular girl fantasy come true; and love scenes that go beyond chaste Disney-style kisses.  The prose is good, and there’s a fair amount of humor that really adds some fun.  That said, I largely found myself unenchanted with this 21st century version of one of my favorite fairytales.  The obstacles that keep the couple apart and the entire bachelor auction gimmick around which the book is structured felt far too contrived.  I liked that part of the story was focused on Jane and Brock learning to set healthy boundaries with their families and the ghosts of their pasts, but I couldn’t get past how annoying the lack of boundaries was in the first place!  I felt like most of the problems that drove the plot could’ve been solved with one straight-forward conversation that none of the characters were willing to have.  All this would be forgiven, of course, if the sex scenes had gotten my glasses even a little bit steamy.  Alas, they did not.

This book didn’t capture my heart, but I do know others who have liked it very much, and suspect that romance readers who really love modern takes on classic tales would appreciate Van Dyken’s version.  I would recommend it to any such readers, as well as those who like a read for humor (one of the book’s strong suits).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.  She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!

Oldie but Goodie: Lisa Kleypas’ Hathaway Series

This isn’t so much a review as an opportunity for me to gush about an amazing, yet under-appreciated series: the Hathaway family series.  Recently, my contemporary romance-loving mom (Hi, Mom!) started reading historical romances (hooray, a new convert!).  Of course, she came to me for a recommendation and I immediately pointed her to Lisa Kleypas who is, in my opinion, the queen of historical (and contemporary) romances.

My mom started with the Kleypas classic, the Wallflower series.  This is hands-down one of the best historical romance series of all time (It Happened One Autumn is on my Forever Favorites Shelf!).  And, even better, Kleypas has revealed that fans will get to revisit some of the beloved Wallflower characters in her upcoming book, Devil in Spring (yay!!).  Mama Quirk (no, I don’t really call her that) was hooked by the Wallflower series and wanted to read more.  So, I pointed her towards Kleypas’ Hathaway series.  I wasn’t planning to re-read them myself, but we were on vacation and I (of course) read my books too fast and ran out of things to read, so I started reading the series again.

I’m so glad I picked Mine Till Midnight back up!  This is classic Kleypas- a strong female heroine and equally strong hero are irresistibly drawn together yet must learn to compromise and accommodate one another.  Although the Wallflower series dealt with people who were outsiders of the London ton, the Hathaway series confronts many similar issues even more explicitly.  In Mine Till Midnight, Amelia Hathaway falls in love with Cam Rohan, a man of Romany descent who straddles the fence between social outsider and society gentleman.  Cam is concerned about Amelia and her family’s reputation, but their attraction is too strong to resist!  After re-reading Mine Till Midnight, I was reminded of much I loved their relationship and how great a hero Cam is.  Amelia is a sensible, pragmatic woman who has taken charge of her siblings in light of their parents’ deaths.  She is strong-willed and resilient; at first she is worried Cam will diminish her independence, but he proves to her he can help shoulder her burdens without constraining her.  Cam is steadfast, and he augments all the great things about Amelia.  I like their story because, although it of course would satisfy any romance lover, it is, at its core, a story of two strong, practical people who learn to work (and love) together.

After Mine Till Midnight, I just couldn’t stop!  I also re-read Seduce Me at Sunrise, which differs from the first novel in the series in its lushness and drama.  Both Winifred and Merripen, the heroine and the hero, are characters of deep, often gut-wrenching emotion. Merripen is also of Romany descent and his troubled past leads him to believe he isn’t good enough for Win.  This novel takes place over the course of many years, as Merripen becomes part of the Hathaway family when he was a child.  Merripen and Win’s connection is primal; it’s a heart-stopping, overwhelming, all-encompassing kind of love that sweeps the reader along with it.  Kleypas is careful to make the obstacles to their love real enough that the story never feels melodramatic; instead, the drama and tension of the romance lends to a feeling of supreme satisfaction when Win and Merripen finally come together.  After reading this book, my heart was full (seriously, giddy tingles!) and I literally wanted to gush about it to everyone– hence, this post!  Just to give you some idea of how amazing this book is– and how opulent and lovely Kleypas’ writing is– here’s one of the most beautiful quotes:

I love you, he thought, looking at Win.  I love every part of you, every thought and word… the entire complex, fascinating bundle of all the things you are.  I want you with ten different kinds of needs at once.  I love all the seasons of you, the way you are now, the thought of how much more beautiful you’ll be in the decades to come.  I love you for being the answer to every question my heart could ask.”

I mean, COME ON.  If your heart isn’t warmed by that, you must be a robot.  Seriously, this is a gorgeous book of sweeping, passionate love.  It’s impossible to resist.

I’m glad to have the chance to talk about these two books side by side because although I love them both, it’s for very different reasons.  I love that Cam and Amelia are smart, hard-working people who are drawn to each other’s minds (and bodies) and have a sense of purpose and responsibility.  I love that they complement each other’s strengths and that they support each other’s weaknesses.  By contrast, I love Win and Merripen for their passion, their drama, the utter beauty of their love.  I can’t really pick which one I prefer, which is why I’m so glad they’re back-to-back in the series, allowing the reader to experience both kinds of love.  That Lisa Kleypas, she knows what she’s doing.

The rest of the series is equally great.  I highly recommend checking out any of the Hathaway books; fans of Kleypas, Julia Quinn, and Eloisa James will love the Hathaway series.  The family dynamics throughout the series are incredibly endearing and the romances are classically lovely.  Honestly, I can’t get enough.  I’m smiling as I think about them.  Now that I’ve finished this post, I should get back to my homework, but I’m probably going to get started on Tempt Me at Twilight!

Review: The Virgin Intern by Penny Wylder

wylder-internThe Virgin Intern

Peggy Wylder

September 12, 2016

(ebook: 99 cents; free on Kindle Unlimited)

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In The Virgin Intern Peggy Wylder delivers just what one might expect of a book about, well, a virgin intern: an office romance about a young, inexperienced woman and the education she gets from her older, more experienced colleague (who just happens to be ridiculously sexy.

The book opens with a provocative scene in which paralegal Naomi’s altercation with a copy machine leads to her first (very memorable!) interaction with senior partner Andrew.  There’s spilled ink and borrowed handkerchiefs and all kinds of sexually suggestive conversation.  Andrew instantly becomes the lead star of Naomi’s fantasies, but as a brand new (and seriously cash trapped) employee in her uncle’s law firm, Naomi can’t afford to make any mistakes.  As her uncle’s most hated employee, Andrew is definitely off limits.

But, as luck (and very convenient plot structure) would have it, Naomi and Andrew are thrown together on a major case, and their working relationship becomes something altogether more in about three pages.  Their “research” takes them from the bedroom to the pool to Andrew’s swanky office.  By the end of the book, Naomi’s virginity is a thing of the past and her love for Andrew (and his for her) is the basis for an exciting future.

This novella hits many of the right spots for lovers of erotic contemporaries–the sex is hot, hot, hot and a little (or a lot!) on the dirty side.  That said, I wouldn’t recommend it to those who read primarily for plot or character development.  This one is a quick read with good prose that satisfies certain needs, but it isn’t meant for much beyond that.

Review: This Love by Lea Darragh

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Lea Darragh
This Love
Released September 19, 2016
(ebook: $2.40)

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Lea Darragh’s “This Love” is a wonderful story of hope and renewal in the aftermath of terrible loss. When her fiance, Ethan, dies tragically in a crash crash on their wedding day, Emmy (short for Emerson) is broken-hearted. In search of peace and healing (and to escape her handsy brother-in-law), Emmy moves from the big city of Melbourne to a coastal town called Cobbler’s Cove. There she slowly regains her strength and determination to live without Ethan. She begins to put her life back together, renting a cottage and taking an interior design job for a restaurant. She develops close friendships with the restaurant’s owners, Aubrey and Finn; the darkest of her days seem to be behind her. But no one can escape the past, and Emmy’s catches up with her in the form of a famous chef and friend of Finn’s who’s hired to draw patrons to the restaurant. In a cruel twist, Emmy discovers that the chef Jack Archer, the same man who was driving the other car in the accident that took Ethan’s life. Emmy and Jack are forced to confront their pain head on, and along with it, their attraction for each other. Eventually, the loss that could have been an obstacle that tore them apart became a source of profound connection between them, and their love flourishes, offering them both a second chance at a happy life.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Darragh’s prose is really wonderful, especially compared to many recent books that have a feeling of being churned out in a rush. It flows well and has a kind of lyrical, literary quality that one doesn’t often find in genre fiction. Her descriptions of the characters’ experience of grief and guilt is beautifully done and draw the reader into the story with integrity and sensitivity. The characters are well developed and likable, and, despite the painful circumstances, the book is full of hope and the possibilities of life. I was especially impressed with scenes like the one where Emmy and Jack confront one another for the first time. The emotions seem entirely believable, and the characters are vulnerable and compelling. When they finally fall in love the reader is so happy to see them happy. This is how I want to feel at the end of a romance novel, but I often don’t. Only the best romances produce this kind of feeling. Darragh’s romances is definitely one of the best.

I would recommend this book to most romance readers, especially those who are invested in the interior lives and emotions of the characters and who care about the quality of prose. In general, lovers of contemporary and inspirational (though no necessarily religious) romances should be big fans of this book.