Review: Parting Gifts by Lorraine Heath

Format: E-bookpartinggifts
Read with: Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Homespun, #30
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Hero: Jesse Lawson
Heroine: Maddie Sherwood
Sensuality: 2.5
Date of Publication: December 1994
Started On: June 29, 2010
Finished On: June 30, 2010

Even as I write this review, I still feel the remnants of the kaleidoscope of emotions that coursed through me as I finished this book. With a degree in psychology in hand, Lorraine Heath creates the most beautiful and realistic characters that have such depth that you can’t help but feel for them and relate with them. Though this is the first time I am reviewing a book by the author, I have previously read a lot of books by her and loved each story as it worked is magic over me.

This story is no different and right from the very start, Maddie Sherwood, who is at the very end of her wits as to what to do for survival finally succumbs to offering her body in return for shelter and food clutches at your heart. Rescue from the fate to which she had resigned herself to comes in the form of Charles Lawson who bids a hopping 1000 dollars to be the man who would initiate her & take her virginity.

However Maddie soon realizes that ravishing her is the furthest thing on Charles mind and before she knows it, she has agreed to marry him and care for his three children Taylor, Hannah and Aaron who settle deep within your heart from the very first encounter. And when Maddie first tumbles into the arms of Jesse Lawson, Charles’s older brother, Maddie realizes just how much she has agreed to sacrifice and forgo in the marriage of convenience to which she has entered with Charles.

From the very first moment Jesse looks into Maddie’s whiskey brown eyes he is a goner. Though he tries to fight the immense awareness he feels for someone he should not, you truly understand the meaning of the term “the heart wants what it wants regardless of the consequences” when you feel the cascading emotions that passes between Jesse and Maddie as the story progresses. While Maddie too yearns for the strength of Jesse’s embrace, she knows that deep within her heart she could never be disloyal to the man who had given her his family and affection.

What Maddie has no inkling of is the fact that Charles is a man who is near death, and the fact that he wanted his motherless children to know the warm and loving embrace of a mother was the reason why he had married Maddie in the first place. And Maddie holds close to her heart a secret which could destroy what she has come to love and hold dear to her heart.

Its hard to put into words how reading this story made me feel. Jesse’s loyalty towards his brother and towards doing what’s right made me admire him and fall in love with him along with Maddie. And Maddie’s courage in resisting the temptation of embracing the man she loved with every fiber of her being and being faithful to her husband made me realize the strength in her which Charles saw the night he rescued her from a life of prostitution. And Charles, the man who was insightful enough to know what his brother wanted and needed more than anything in the world and being man enough to leave Maddie to him made my throat tighten with emotion.

This is a book that packs an intense wallop of emotion and a page turner at that. I would advice to keep a box of tissues ready because towards the ending, its all you can do to keep from crying at turns with sadness, hope, happiness and ultimate joy.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: The Spanish Groom by Lynne Graham

Format: E-book
Read with: Mobipocket Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Harlequin Presents, #2037
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Cesar Valverde
Heroine: Dixie Robinson
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: March 5, 1999
Started On: June 30, 2010
Finished On: June 30, 2010

This book is a testament to why Lynne Graham remains a favorite Harlequin romance author of mine though her recent works leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. After starting off with the book I realized that I had actually read this book sometime back and reading it the second time round didn’t diminish the effects of the roller coaster ride this book seemed to take me on.

My interest was piqued enough to read this book while I was browsing through a discussion thread on Amazon about Harlequin romances that readers actually liked. One reader had pretty much summed up the story which portrays Cesar, a man who keeps a tight rein on his emotions, but who dotes on his god father Jasper, the only person in his life who had ever shown him unconditional love. Dixie is the total opposite of Cesar in every way. Emotional where he is not, talkative and friendly to a fault, Dixie doesn’t know why the Jasper’s godson had taken such an intense dislike to her and seemed to be finding fault in everything she did around the office. It certainly doesn’t help matters when the routine financial checks done on employees turn up the information that Dixie is knee deep in debt, a condition her step sister Petra has left her in and run off to New York to find work as an actress.

Cesar doesn’t want to believe a word that comes out of Dixie’s mouth. Forever suspicious of people and their intentions, Cesar can’t fathom why Jasper seemed to like Dixie so intensely. The financial check that reveals Dixie’s spending habits give Cesar the chance he has been waiting for. But because of the news that his godfather has not been feeling well because of problems with his heart, Cesar decides that the one thing he could do for the single ray of sunshine in his life was to make his last days on Earth happy ones and decides to do that by entering into a charade where he would present Dixie as his fiance’ to Jasper.

It is Cesar’s intention to transform Dixie into a woman of polished veneer. It was quite amusing to see Dixie forced into a diet and rigorous workout sessions because Cesar thinks Dixie is overweight from over indulgence in food. It was riveting to read how Cesar realizes that beneath all the frumpy layer of clothes Dixie hides a body to die for, and unwillingly Cesar becomes slave to the undeniable fizz between the two.

Before long, Cesar and Dixie are on their way to Spain, and Jasper walks in on them in moments of heated passion which turns the tables around so fast that it leaves Dixie’s head whirling. Dixie finds herself married to Cesar in just a week’s time and finally admits to herself that she has fallen in love with the cold and aloof man that her husband portrays himself to be. It was heartwarming, endearing and at moments heart thumping when Cesar and Dixie try to make a relationship out of their circumstances and in the end find true love with one another.

I loved every bit of this novel and would highly recommend this to lovers of Harlequin romances and fans of Lynne Graham.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: The Soldier by Rhonda Nelson

Format: E-book
Read with:  Amazon Kindle & Mobipocket Reader
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Uniformly Hot!, Book 7
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Adam McPherson
Heroine: Winnie Cuthbert
Sensuality: 2.5
Date of Publication: June 27, 2009
Started On: June 29, 2010
Finished On: June 29, 2010

Adam and Winnie’s story actually starts in the novel Letters from Home which I reviewed earlier. Adam is the younger brother of Levi, the hero from Letters from Home and best friend of Natalie, now Levi’s husband. Winnie stars as the other best friend of Natalie and the she is one in whom Natalie confided all her deepest and darkest desires about Levi when she thought Levi was well beyond her reach.

As usual with small towns, Adam and Winnie too had grown up together. Winnie is quite athletic, a bit on the tomboyish side but the pastries and cakes that she makes seem to be little pieces of heaven. Adam was serving a tour in Iraq when a roadside bomb had torn apart his leg. Now back home recuperating from his injury and wanting nothing more than getting well enough to return back to life the only way he knew it, Winnie is a temptation that Adam thought he could resist.

Though Adam had never been interested in Winnie though it was a public secret in their hometown that Winnie had carried a torch for him like since forever, Adam is hit hard by the intense feelings Winnie ignites in him right before he was to leave for his tour. But knowing that Winnie was someone who was grounded in her hometown and happy there and himself, a man who would always belong to the military makes him shy away from taking things any further.

However, once Winnie realizes that Adam is not as immune to her as he would like to be, she takes matters into her own hands so to speak and before long, even with all the reservations Adam has, he and Winnie are heating up the sheets. However duty comes calling and though Adam knows that he would now never be the same after getting a glimpse of how fulfilling life would be with Winnie makes him have second thoughts.

This time round, maybe cos I didn’t have such high expectations, this story I guess made for a pretty okay read, but considering it is from the Blaze line which is all about the sizzle and smoking hot passion, this novel too fell short. And I just can’t get over how the book cover doesn’t depict the smoking hot hero as described in the book which is a total letdown in itself. Yes, I do place importance on book covers as well.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: Letters from Home by Rhonda Nelson

Format: E-book
Read with:  Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Uniformly Hot!, Book 6
Publisher: Harlequin
Hero: Levi McPherson
Heroine: Natalie Rowland
Sensuality: 2.5
Date of Publication: May 27, 2009
Started On: June 28, 2009
Finished On: June 28, 2009

Rhonda Nelson has been one of my authors to look out for in the Harlequin Blaze line. Her book The Specialist which I read sometime ago, which sports one of the hottest heroes on the cover, had me interested in her style of writing which is not hard to love. And the first title in this multi-author series titled A Few Good Men by Tori Carrington  which was a collection of short stories that were pretty hot as is the norm with novels by Tori Carrington, I found my interest piqued after reading the synopsis of this book which sported the storyline of an army ranger receiving letters filled with x-rated fantasies from a lady X and his intention of finding out who the woman with the ability to fire up all his juices were.

The story is told from the viewpoint of the hero as as well as the heroine as is the norm with most of the romances of today. Each chapter starts with a snippet of a letter that had been written by Natalie who starts to pen down her wildest fantasies about Levi whom she had fallen in love with so long ago, but never had the courage to do anything about it because there had been no sign of any interest in Natalie from Levi’s side.

To Natalie’s surprise and much happiness, Levi responds to her letters and a relationship forms between the two. Levi has no idea that the woman who plays a leading role in all his X-rated fantasies of late is none other than the best friend of his younger brother Adam.

Opportunity strikes for Levi to find out who lady X is once and for all when Adam gets injured on tour, (whose story I am very much interested in, I would say even more so than Levi and Natalie’s story from the glimpses I got into Adam and Winnie’s (Natalie’s best friend) interactions in this novel itself) and Levi gets a week off to come back home and visit his recuperating brother.

I found myself strangely dissatisfied with the pace of the book. I thought that the story developed too slowly for a book of the Blaze line and the heat that I was expecting between the Natalie and Levi just never realized. From the letters that started off this novel I was pretty much expecting great chemistry between Natalie and Levi and I just ended up disappointing myself.

Although the storyline is not half bad, this one just didn’t do it for me. I will give Winnie and Adam’s story a try though, because theirs COULD be a great story too. I hope Rhonda Nelson who has got the talent to make a story really good, has done a better job with their story than with Levi and  Natalie’s story which could have been more intense and thus made for a better story all around.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: Surrender by Pamela Clare

Format: E-book
Read with:  Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: MacKinnon’s Rangers, Book 1
Publisher:
Hero: Iain MacKinnon
Heroine: Lady Anne Burness Campbell
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: February 28, 2006
Started On: June 26, 2010
Finished On: June 26, 2010

Reading Pamela Clare’s Ride the Fire had me interested in reading other novels by the author. Pamela Clare receives rave reviews on Amazon and the two books I have read of hers to date have convinced me that she is an author worthy of being included in the auto-buy list from now onwards.

Surrender is the first book in the series of MacKinnon Rangers, a handpicked cadre of warriors, who had the fierce courage of their Scots forefathers, combined with the stealth and cunning of the Indians who lived beside them in the wilderness. Iain being the eldest with two younger brothers Morgan and Connor, Morgan’s story already published in December 2008.

Iain is a man who has been forced to serve the British crown in order to save his life and that of his brothers. The one thing which Iain craves for more than anything is his freedom, a man who has simple dreams of starting a family with a woman he loves and taking care of the farm which was his father’s legacy to his sons. However, Iain knows that until the bloody war that they are in the midst of is through there is no hope of him ever gaining his freedom.

It is during one of their intelligence gathering sessions that Iain comes across Anne on the brink of being attacked, raped and murdered by a group from the Abenaki tribe. Anne is a woman who has been wronged by her own family whom she has held dear until she was branded a thief and sold into servitude for a period of 14 years. With a hard and desolate life ahead of her, Anne knew that there is no hope for her dream of starting a family of her own ever being realized with her body bearing the mark of the false accusation which she had fallen under.

Iain rescues Anne at peril to his own soldiers and at the risk of being punished or tried in a martial court for disobeying orders. It is during the first couple of days that Iain treks through the forests with a fatigued and injured Anne towards the safe haven of Fort Elizabeth that the first stirrings of attraction towards each other takes hold.

Though Anne knows that the barbaric warrior who has rescued her is not what she has been brought up thinking a gentleman should be, she can’t help but admire and respect this man who has risked everything to help her in her time of need. Though his gentle touch that leaves her senses all jumbled up makes her wary, for the first time since she was falsely accused of thievery, Anne begins to feel safe.

Ms. Clare cleverly weaves a tale of war, political manipulations, breathless passion and love with characters that you root for right from the very beginning. Action packed with never a dull moment this book left me with humongous respect for those who fight the terrible wars waged in this world just so the rest of us could be safe and sound in our homes with our loved ones.

Though Ride the Fire is my favorite of the two novels that I have managed to read from the author so far, this novel itself is a page turner which you wouldn’t want to put down once you start reading.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble

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Review: Daniel’s Bride by Linda Lael Miller

Format: E-book
Read with:  Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Hero: Daniel Beckham
Heroine: Jolie McKibben
Sensuality: 3
Date of Publication: September 1, 1992
Started On: June 24, 2010
Finished On: June 25, 2010

I have been following and reading up stories on the theme where heroes were previously married or dote on someone else apart from the heroine with whom the hero has to enter into a marriage mostly for conveniences sake. Daniel’s Bride is one such novel, one when I started reading I had the inkling that I had previously read it and halfway through I knew with certainty it was so.

Jolie is about to be hanged for a crime which she didn’t commit when Daniel saves her from her fate by agreeing to marry her then and there. Jolie realizes that she would rather get married to a total stranger than die and pay for a crime she never even knew was happening until it was a trifle bit too late. Daniel marries her and whisks her off to his farm where Jolie discovers that her brand new husband is a man who has vowed never to love again.

Daniel has been grieving for his dead wife and two children, one who had died without even being born into the world. Daniel knows that he needs children to continue the family line and it was with this practicality in mind that he saved beautiful Jolie, who unnervingly had the power to skim right through his thoughts no matter how hard he tries.

Its a hard life for men and women back in the 1800’s and when you read through the book, you find yourself in awe of those who have lived under such hardships in the past. The preparation of a simple meal back then took hours and though the description makes one think Jolie embraces the hard life effortlessly, I felt twinges in my back from just reading about the backbreaking work she does on a daily basis.

Right from the start Jolie is drawn to the quiet enigmatic man that Daniel is. A man of few words, Daniel introduces her to the wonders of sensuality and before long she is in love with Daniel. Daniel doesn’t like the fact that he continues to be enchanted with his wife and decides to send her along to San Fransisco so that she may start a new life as a divorcee once the harvesting period is over.

But the best laid plans have a way of getting over one’s head as two children who have no where else to turn to end up living with Daniel and Jolie. Little by little, the rigid structure Daniel has built around his heart starts to crumble, but it is a battle that is hard won for Jolie. And to make matters worse, the outlaws who actually committed the crime for which Jolie was prosecuted for starts turning up around the farm when Daniel is not around, keeping Jolie at a loss as to how to get rid of them before they destroy the family that she has found for herself and holds so dear.

This story is one that moves slowly, like a cup of hot tea warms your insides on a cold day. Sometimes I got frustrated with Daniel because he rarely shows how he feels towards Jolie and the ending of the book too seemed a bit empty to me because maybe I was wishing that Daniel would profess his undying love to the woman who would walk to the ends of the earth for him. But anyhow, its a good story which makes me more appreciative of all those gadgets that eases the hardships that we too might have had to face if it weren’t for their invention.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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Review: Fragile by Shiloh Walker

Format: E-book
Read with: Kindle For PC & Amazon Kindle
Length: Novel
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Fragile, Book 1
Publisher: Penguin Group
Hero: Luke Rafferty
Heroine: Devon Manning
Sensuality: 3.5
Date of Publication: February 3, 2009
Started On: June 24, 2010
Finished On: June 24, 2010

I read Fragile in early 2009 when the title was first released. Reading the second book Broken of the series focusing on Luke’s twin brother Quinn Rafferty earlier  this year when it was released in March had me wanting to re-read and re-visit the characters of Fragile, a story that had always left a deep impression on me since it is that good a story.

Fragile is the type of story that defines why Shiloh Walker is a favorite author of mine who definitely rates at the highest on my auto-buy list. My friends kept teasing me because I was in such agony when Broken was first advertised to be released and I guess anybody who has read Fragile would understand my fascination with Quinn Rafferty and I have no doubt many of those who have read Broken would agree with me that he is one sigh worthy hero.

This does not mean that Luke Rafferty on his own is not sigh worthy himself. For me, I think I enjoyed Luke’s quiet intensity a bit more than Quinn who is a bit more darker and edgier than Luke, which is quite understandable based on the fact that whilst Luke and Quinn are twins, they were separated at birth when their mother who is a drug addict fled with Quinn just so she could punish their father. Their mother had gone underground not to be found no matter how much Luke’s father had tried to find them, and in the end, it was the inevitable death of their mother by drug overdose that brought Quinn back into Luke’s life. Luke had never known till then that he even had a twin and the first few pages of the book bleed raw emotion when these two first meet, a belligerent and abused Quinn with Luke who had got the better end of the deal when he ended up with his father.

Years later, Luke and Quinn are both serving in the army in Afghanistan when a round of bullets rip through Luke’s leg ending his stint in the army. By then Luke had already tired of the continuous stream of violence that never seemed to end. So trading in his combat gear for hospital scrubs seems to fit Luke like a glove and it is there that he encounters Devon, a social worker who doesn’t come to the hospital with the best of patients.

From the get go, Luke is fascinated with Devon and although she doesn’t seem like she knows that Luke even exists, Luke can’t help looking out for her while on duty. Devon though she doesn’t let it be known is warily interested in Luke. Sexually abused when she was young and being lost in a dark place for a long time until a social worker had pulled her out of it and helped her, Devon has her own hang ups surrounding her.

To Luke Devon is as fragile as a piece of well spun glass and wants to protect her from all evil elements but Devon on her own is a force to be admired. Though Devon knows Luke is a complication that she best avoid, the intense awareness and attraction between the two doesn’t rest until they end up together. The best part of the story for me was the fact that Luke seems  to take so much care with Devon and it just touches the right places in my heart to read through such a wonderful character.

Though Devon and Luke’s relationship progresses and ultimately fall in love with one another, there are forces around them that create havoc on their relationship. Stalked and nearly bludgeoned to death doesn’t seem to be the end of the upheavals in store for Devon and Luke. Someone more sinister than the likes anyone could imagine continue stalking Devon until it eventually drives Luke and Devon apart. The pieces only fall in place at the very end and its a long and tough road for Luke and Devon until they find peace and happiness with one another.

This story ends off begging for Quinn’s story to be told. And it is a testament to Ms. Walker’s ability that these two stories are so wonderful that it begs to be read from start to finish in one sitting.

If you haven’t already read these two books, buy them, find yourself some quiet uninterrupted time and lose yourself in the two Rafferty’s that would individually charm and seduce you with the turn of each page.

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | BooksOnBoard | Kobo

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