This page is for books that are defined by the relationship in the book. It could be contemporary, historical, paranormal, futuristic, fantasy, mystery, or anything else, but it is about the relationship between the main characters.
IN LOVE BY CHRISTMAS by Cari Lynn Webb
Sweet romance – Christmas
Blurb: All Theo Taylor wants for Christmas is a profitable year-end and a flawless wedding for his sister. Hiring beautiful but unknown designer Josie Beck is a huge risk, especially when the Taylors’ reputation is at stake. Josie is sweet, kind, and impossible to resist. But is Josie about to destroy Theo’s perfect wedding plan…or is she the answer to his heart’s secret Christmas wish?
This is a sweet Christmas romance from Harlequin with all the standard tropes you expect from one of their stories, which is not a bad thing. Theo is a handsome businessman who is all about profits. His sister Arianna is planning her perfect winter wedding but their mother has other plans—her own wedding (even though she doesn’t have a boyfriend). Lilian Taylor picks the same gown as Arianna, the same flowers, and even samples the menu all while using a matchmaker to find her the groom she’ll need. Theo has to intervene and picks Josie to design the new gown for his sister. Josie is barely making ends meet, but that doesn’t stop her from helping women struggling even more than she is to have the perfect wedding gown. Taylor can’t understand someone like Josie, but she intrigues him. Even though they come from very different backgrounds, they have more in common than they realize.
What I liked: that it was a sweet, easy-to-read romance with a happily-ever-after ending. I liked Mia’s (Josie’s best friend) mother and mother-in-law. They were amazing and I wish I knew them!
What I didn’t like: Lilian. Yes, she was supposedly doing what she did on purpose, but the things she did really made me hate her and her redemption in the end didn’t work for me. I had trouble forgiving her.
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a sweet Christmas story with a HEA ending, pick this one up. You won’t be sorry.
Thanks to the author for providing this in exchange for an honest review.
THAT APRIL IN SANTA MONICA by Melody DeBlois
Madison is an interesting, realistic character who, like many, is driven, fueled by caffeine and junk food. She seldom slows down to relax. Her “always on” lifestyle catches up to her and we meet her as she’s slowly coming to after fainting. Her rescuer is guru Brandon, there to try to talk her into changing her life before she kills herself.
Scared by her prognosis, she agrees to take part in Brandon’s reality show and become his next student project. But the rules don’t fit with her life. No junk food, no caffeine, no alcohol or cigarettes, no cell phone, no outside contact beyond her sister. She tries rebellion, but when the producers threaten to kick her out, she agrees.
The presence of cameras everywhere except the bathroom and study keeps their growing attraction at bay. Plus, Brandon is determined not to get involved with a student. There’s a lot of sexual tension, and their attraction is clear, but they don’t even kiss until near the end. And the heat between the sheets, when they finally get there, is tastefully described, with more emotion than physicality.
The secondary characters here were a lot of fun, too, from the folks on the program crew, to Maddie’s crazy family—and the dog! Loved that mutt. Also lots of soul searching and life changes here for both Maddie and Brandon.
What I liked: the characters. Especially Maddie. She’s so real. And quirky, snarky, broken, and changes and grows very much through the story. I loved the setting details and the struggles Maddie faces. The tension between the characters was really well done.
What I didn’t like: very little. Well done book.
Recommendation: Definitely recommended.
NICK OF TIME by Allison B. Hanson
Nicole (aka Nic) is left standing at the altar by the man she’d been with for almost seven years. He finally accepted that he was gay—on their wedding day. Nic pastes on a smile and goes on with her life, even if it means being best “man” at her best friend’s wedding. The biggest problem there isn’t getting through the ceremony, but in dealing with his younger brother, Tucker. Tucker has been a thorn in her side from childhood and she’s developed a healthy hate for him.
Tucker hates weddings. They mean “forever” and he doesn’t do things that last. A fallen rock star who hit bottom and has clawed his way back out, he knows his family doesn’t trust him. That distrust extends to his brother’s best friend, Nicole. She’s too out of his league. Too…perfect.
Due to circumstances beyond their control, Tucker and Nicole end up stranded together in a cabin during an ice storm. One thing leads to another and… The hot and heavy night turns into strong attraction that keeps them coming back for more. Though they agree it’s nothing serious, they’re denying what’s really there. But the life of a rock star means travel and temptations. How can Nic trust Tucker? How can he trust himself?
What I liked: This isn’t normally my genre of book. I rarely read contemporary romance, but I am so glad I did read this one. Both Nicole and Tucker are broken. You can be rich and entitled and still be broken. The author makes it believable and pulls at your emotions so strongly that I had to finish this book in one day. The characters are realistic, the settings nice (though I could use just a little more detail), and the HEA ending satisfying.
What I didn’t like: Nothing. Like I said above, this really pulled me in and kept me turning the pages.
Recommendation: If you like romance, definitely pick this one up. It’s a good story with believable characters and a satisfying ending. Be prepared for it to pull at your heartstrings.
A WITCH IN TIME by Wynter Daniels & Catherine Kean
Paranormal/Time Travel Romance
It’s 1645 and Colin Wilshire is onboard a ship with his pregnant wife. They’re near Florida and heading for Barbados when a horrific storm hits them. The ship wrecks and while trying to save those he can, Colin is hit on the head and ends up in Cat’s Cove in modern times. He’s found by Luna, a witch, who recognizes him from her dreams. Though they both fall for each other, Colin is desperate to get back to his wife…until he discovers it’s not necessary.
Things I liked: It’s a cute, sweet, short (novella length) story with good characters and a satisfying ending.
Things I didn’t like: There’s not much setting given. Yes, it’s a short story, but I’d like a little more detail. Also, a question… how does Luna get rid of Chuck? That’s never addressed—or are we supposed to guess?
Recommendation: If you’re looking for a quick, light, fluff piece, this is it. It’s fun, but there’s not much substance here.
TAMING A SCANDAL by Linda Carroll-Bradd
Historical Romance – Novella
This was a sweet historical romance and I loved the bits of true history the author added in that showed she did her research—and yes, I checked. J
Mercia Saunders has been attending art school in Philadelphia. While on a break and visiting her family in Rhode Island, she discovers she has been evicted from her rooming house in Philly, and to escape the scandal, she is being sent to her older brother in the wilds of Texas. To complicate matters, a Pinkerton detective, Dominic Grant, has been set on her trail, both to watch her for her father, and to see if she’s involved in the theft of a silver locket. Dominic does this through a series of disguises that she never quite sees through.
The story is sweet and has a HEA ending, but… Mercia starts off as a somewhat spoiled single woman (she’s 25) and that doesn’t change. Characters are usually supposed to grow and change through a story and she doesn’t. Though she does downgrade her wardrobe at the end, she’s still very much into herself. Dominic changes a lot (pun intended) as he goes through at least five disguises while watching her, but that also is all on the surface. There’s not much depth to him. But at least he helps out on the ranch. Although I liked the characters, I’d really have liked to have seen some more depth to them. And yes, I realize this is a short novella and a quick read, but there could ha be been a little more development, especially where Mercia is concerned.
Seeing the setting through artistic Mercia’s eyes was interesting—and well done. It’s one of the best parts of the story. The differences between Philadelphia and the tiny town in Texas; the long travel by train, stagecoach, and more. Excellently done.
I think, however, the thing that bothered me the most was that the mystery wasn’t solved. We never find out who took the locket. I have a feeling this part of the story is continued in the other stories in the series, but it bothered me.
So… overall, if you’re looking for just a quick, fun, sweet, quick read, definitely pick this one up. I do enjoy the writer’s style and her attention to detail. But if you’re looking for depth, this isn’t it.
RINGS OF FAOLAN – RUBIES by Kristal Dawn Harris
3 1/2 sparklers
2nd in series Shapeshifter Romance – high heat level
When Michael and Natalie first meet, they know they are mates and are destined to be together, but they fight their attraction. However, when Michael is injured by Hunters who have vowed to eradicate all Lycans, Natalie goes to his ancestral home to help him heal and to help restore his home to its former glory. While there, Natalie discovers Michael’s protection of Lycans includes half-breed orphans, she finds herself falling for him despite herself. His surly exterior hides a noble character.
Good things: This is a moving story with solid world-building, well-crafted, believable characters and well-done fantasy mixed with realism. The end was a satisfying (and fun) HEA for the two main characters—with the surprise wedding being really cute. The way the characters care for the children, especially the half-breeds, is beautifully done.
Issues: I had trouble getting into the story. It was like coming into the story in the middle of it. This is the second book in a series and it shows. It was only after I was into it that I realized this one must take up after the first one ends so unless you’ve read the first one, you may not “get” everything that’s happening. Also, although the end is satisfying, it also leaves an awful lot of threads dangling so you know there’s going to be more. Once I was into the story, I enjoyed it, but honestly, had I not been reading this for a review, I probably wouldn’t have gone past the first chapter. I’m glad I did, but I believe you really need to read the first one (Emeralds) before this one in order to understand what’s going on with the characters.
Recommendation – pick this one up only if you’ve read the Emeralds one first.
HAZELANNE by Linda Carroll-Bradd
Genre: Historical, America, Utah, 1884
Note: this is a novella of 114 pages
Hazelanne is a young woman who has shouldered the responsibility of her large family after her mother takes ill. But finances are meager. To help alleviate them somewhat, she agrees to be a mail-order bride to a rancher in Utah. When she gets there, the man she is to marry comes off as rough, somewhat cruel, and impatient. He hauls her off the stagecoach straight to the judge. When she arrives at the rustic cabin, she sees her life ahead as one of drudgery, similar to what she left. And a husband who refuses to call her anything more than “wife”. Fortunately, her life does change, but not in the way she imagined and thanks to the Wells Fargo guard, Brice, whom she met on her ride.
The plot was good and true to the times and the characters well-developed and believable. I really enjoyed getting into the story. And the ending was perfect. It left me smiling and satisfied. As far as the story went, I would recommend this.
So what didn’t I like? Why didn’t it get a 5 rating? I will be honest, it’s something that is probably only a problem for me. But there were quite a few editorial issues. Oh, they’re minor things. I will grant that. But there were enough of them that it bothered me a little. And again, it may only be because I have twenty years as an editor. So it appears obvious only to me. I will grant that.
So… if you can overlook the minor editorial issues, I definitely recommend this story. It’s a good story with believable characters.
FREEDOM’S PATH by Linda Carroll-Bradd (Historical, American)
This is a short story, historical (1855 Vermont) and concerns the Underground Railroad.
To be honest, this type of story is not my normal go-to read. But, that being said, the author drew me in with her characters, the world-building, the story-line… She grabbed me and didn’t let me go until the end. And when the story ended, I was disappointed that there wasn’t more. I wanted to continue on with Sidonie and Colin’s story. To find out what happens to them. To experience their adventures with them.
Sidonie is a maid at a local inn, but she is also a conductor on the Underground Railroad, helping slaves escape. One of her favorite customers at the inn is Colin, a salesman. Except he’s not just a salesman. He’s an army corporal tasked with upholding the law—the law that says he has to arrest anyone caught helping slaves escape.
You really need to read this story to find out what happens between Sidonie and Colin. And it won’t take long. Like I said, this is a short story so it goes fast (mostly because of the author’s skill in telling the story). If you like historical books set in the colonial US, you’ll love this. If you’re not huge into historicals, you’ll still love it. I did, and that says a lot. Enjoy. I know I did. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07JZ2DGB6/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i10