Men of Courage by Lori Foster, Donna Kauffman, Jill Shalvis

Just Finished:
Synopsis: These men are heroes — strong, fearless…and impossible to resist!

Fireman Ethan Winters ran headlong into a burning building to find Rosie Carrington. Rescue worker Brett Gannon defied the aftershocks of a San Francisco earthquake to prevent Haley Brubaker from entering her collapsing home. And emergency-room doctor Matt Walker braved gale force winds and rising floodwater to rescue scientist Molly Stanton.

For Rosie, the heat in Ethan’s eyes was enough to start a three-alarm blaze! As for Haley, being trapped amidst the rubble with Brett meant heightened tension — and heightened passion. And sheltering together from the storm, Molly needed Matt to make love to her. It was the only way for her to know she was still alive…and that she’d stay that way.

My Thoughts: Recently, the ladies at Book Binge had Jill Shalvis as their guest author and after reading her interview, I admit to developing a major girl-crush on the woman. Anybody that witty had to translate that humor into her stories right??? Luckily, I had one Jill Shalvis in my TBR pile ~ part of the Men of Courage anthology that I won from Melody’s Reading Corner a few (okay, more than a few) months ago.

The book consisted of three short stories by three authors I’ve never read before: Lori Foster, Donna Kauffman, and Jill Shalvis. Now, short stories are hit-or-miss with me. Sometimes, they’re just too rushed; sometimes, they’re the perfect read when you’re between books and have no idea what to read next.

Stranded! by Jill Shalvis: I read the stories somewhat out of order, but the stories weren’t connected so I wasn’t turning my back to series-order karma. Remember, I read this just because of the Jill Shalvis factor. Her story was the last in the anthology: Stranded! Stranded is the story of Matt, an emergency room doctor who has no time for a life out of the ER, and Molly, a scientist who loses touch with the outside world when she starts working. Molly and Matt are trapped together in Matt’s home due to a vicious storm that would have killed Molly, if Matt hadn’t rescued her.

The story was the shortest in the anthology, only 92 pages. I wish it would have been longer, I really do. I’m not sure if the publisher only allowed her so many pages or not.

The chemistry between Matt and Molly was great and this story could have easily been longer in order to allow for the development of the relationship between the two main characters. In the end, I enjoyed the story but the ended was rushed. I didn’t like that, but even though I was disappointed that the story was too short, it was a great sampling of Jill Shalvis work. I’ll definitely read more of her in the future. Verdict: Good

Trapped! by Lori Foster: The second story I read was the first in the anthology. Ethan and Rosie are long-time friends. Actually, Rosie is the younger sister of the man that used to be Ethan’s best friend. Rosie has held an unrequited torch for Ethan for years. Rosie finally lets Ethan know how she feels, forcing him to re-evaluate his feelings and his relationship with the woman he’d always thought of as just a friend. Ethan’s alpha came out full-force, I have to say. It made for a great reading.

The story was 139 pages and I think Ms. Foster did a great job in telling a complete story in the short amount of pages allowed. Although, I will forewarn you, the summary for this one is a bit misleading. Ethan never ran into a burning building in order to rescue Rosie. That’s okay, though. This was by far my favorite in the anthology. Verdict: Very Good

Buried! by Donna Kauffman: I initially wasn’t going to read this one, but I didn’t feel right posting about the book if I hadn’t read it in it’s entirety. Haley’s home was destroyed by an earthquake. Brett is the Search & Rescue worker who comes to her aid to try and rescue her dog who was in the house. Turns out, Haley dated Brett’s older brother in college and Brett has been carrying a torch for her ever since. However, things go south after Brett rescues the dog and an aftershock leads to injuries. However, as Haley nurses him back to health, she begins to nurse something else as well.

The story was 140 pages and was my least favorite of the anthology. Something just was missing for me on this. That being said, I do have to say I enjoyed the last two pages immensely. Great end to the story. Verdict: Okay

Over Hexed by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Just Finished:

Synopsis: Banished. Until their unconventional techniques landed them in hot water, Dorcas and Ambrose were the matchmaking sex therapists for lovelorn witches and wizards. The Grand High Wizard has exiled them to the very conventional and unmagical town of Big Knob, Indiana, Pop. 947. But that doesn’t mean they’ve given up matchmaking . . .

Now they’re doing it for mere mortals-although all agree: Sean Madigan is something of a god. Because he’s tired of being the town sex object, Dorcas and Ambrose strip him of his appeal and then introduce him to his destiny, Maggie Grady. This time winning a girl’s heart won’t be so easy for Sean. It means rediscovering the charms buried beneath a gorgeous surface.

My Thoughts: Believe it or not, this was my first Vicki Lewis Thompson book. I’ve been meaning to read the Nerd series for a long time now, but so far I just haven’t gotten around to it.

Anyway, back to my thoughts. I really enjoyed this story. I think VLT is a wonderful story teller. I was drawn right in and enjoyed every moment of it. She’s great at humor and definitely writes some hot love scenes also. Honestly. Shower sex. Tree sex. Car sex. It was all in there.

I really enjoyed Sean and Maggie. They were definitely likable characters and I found myself rooting for them, both separately and together.

The only part of the story I’m undecided about? George, an I-Pod listening dragon that claims to have ADD. That part of the story just seemed to take away from the book for me. I’m sure I’m in the minority, but it just added an element of the ridiculous that I just couldn’t get past.

Verdict: This was Good. I look forward to reading the follow-up Wild & Hexy. I’m such a sucker for unrequited love stories.

Sundial by Carrie Lofty

Just Finished:

Synopsis: Amber Schulman stepped into a lush English garden in 2007, only to arrive in breathtaking Sorrento, Italy–in 1958. The only person who understands her confusion is fellow time traveler Mark Lacey, a New Yorker who comes from the land of cassette tapes and Reaganomics. His dark, world-weary eyes beckon her with secrets and sensuality. But why does he seem familiar?

Trapped in the past since he was a teen, Mark wants nothing to do with another whining newcomer. But the blue-eyed Aussie might be able to answer the one question that haunts him: Do I ever get back to 1987? From soccer to samba to sex, Amber tempts him with a zeal for life and love, pulling him free of his lonely isolation.

But getting home may prove easier than they imagined. How will their love endure if Amber returns to her time–and Mark to his?

My Thoughts: Sundial is a short story ~ barely 60 pages, but it’s worth the time to read. Yes, it’s a bit choppy which is to be expected in a short story ~ so I can easily forgive that.

Immediately, there is antagonism between Mark and Amber ~ more on Mark’s part than Amber’s, of course. Mark has been stuck in a time that is not his own for over 4 years and he’s tired of people coming in and out of his life. And a bit jealous. Everybody else seems to be able to go back home from this place except him. So he’s bitter. Then there’s also the fact that he’s immediately attracted to Amber and that just adds fuel to the fire.

Despite their frosty beginning, Mark reluctantly befriends Amber and their relationship quickly blossoms. And believe me when I say there is a lot passion in these few pages. However, less than a year later they are separated. Are they reunited? I guess you’ll just have to read it yourself to find out. You can pick it up for $3.00 here.

Verdict: This was Good. This was my first read by Carrie Lofty and if her other works are anything like this one, she’s snagged a new fan. I look forward to reading more from her in the future.

The Gift by Nora Roberts

Just Finished:

Synopsis: From the incomparable master of romance Nora Roberts comes two tales of holiday love, available for the first time in over a decade.

Home for Christmas
After years of world travel, prizewinning reporter Jason Law returned home to New Hampshire. He had carried the memories of Faith Kirkpatrick, the girl he left behind, for ten years — now he was determined to win back her love. But she was a woman with responsibilities, and he was nothing but a wandering nomad. All they could have was this one Christmas together. Could Faith summon the courage to give Jason a once-in-a-lifetime holiday gift?

All I Want for Christmas
Identical twin boys Zeke and Zach wanted only one gift from Santa: a new mom! And when they first meet their music teacher at school, they could hardly believe their luck — Miss Davis was a mom made-to-order. But convincing their dad was a lot harder than they thought. Mac Taylor wasn’t willing to risk his heart, but when Nell brought love and laughter into all their lives, his heart began to thaw like a spring snow. Will the boys get their Christmas present after all?

My Thoughts:
Home for Christmas
This short story was about 107 pages and centered on Jason Law and his ex-girlfriend, Faith Kirkpatrick. Jason’s been gone 10 years has decided it’s time to return home and try to win back the girl he left behind. Jason seemed to have been accepted back too easily and he really didn’t have to work hard to win back the girl or the rest of the town’s people. I wasn’t really that invested in the characters, or the story, for that matter. It was still Okay and had some cute moments.

All I Want for Christmas
This story was cute and had me smiling almost all the way through it. Zeke and Zach are adorable and I really enjoyed their friendship with Nell Davis, the music teacher. The reluctant friendship between Nell and Mac was also great, and I loved that she goaded him on purpose every time he was in one of his grumpy moods. For a short story, this one was Very Good.

Verdict: Overall, the book was good. It had one okay story and one story that was very good. Both short stories were quick and easy reads. I’d recommend it for an afternoon when a fluffy holiday romance is what you are in the mood for.

If I have a Wicked Stepmother, Where’s My Prince? by Melissa Kantor

Just Finished:

Why I Read It: Because I saw the cover while browsing at a bookstore and the summary intrigued me. And, well, it’s kind of fun for me to read the same books as kiddo ~ and though she may not admit it, I think she likes it that we read the same things.

Synopsis: When high school sophomore Lucy Norton’s father remarries, Lucy’s moved across the country and her life is turned upside down. With a bedroom in the unfinished basement, a blank social calendar, and a crush on the dashing prince of the varsity basketball team, Lucy’s life has the makings of a Cinderella story–complete with two bratty stepsisters and a wicked stepmother. So isn’t she supposed to get the prince? And go to the senior prom?

My Thoughts: Well, I’ve been on a bit of a YA kick lately. Not sure why ~ I’ve never really been inclined to read YA books. But this one intrigued me while I was browsing through the aisles ~ enough so that I made a beeline to the library to snag it.

The story centers around 16-year-old Lucy Norton, who has recently moved from San Francisco to New York state because her father has remarried. Her stepmother, Mara, doesn’t seem to want her around. She keeps promising Lucy that she wants to decorate her bedroom, but in the meantime Lucy’s been sleeping in an undecorated basement with no furniture and nothing but an air mattress to sleep on. And Mara always seems to have an excuse as to why Lucy’s room never gets furnishings. Then there’s Mara’s twin daughters who would try the patience of Job. And the father that Lucy was so close to is now no longer around, except for when he travels home on weekends. So, is it any wonder why Lucy would compare herself with Cinderella?

Enter “Prince Charming” ~ star basketball player Connor Pearson, who immediately takes a liking to Lucy and before you know it, the two are dating. Suddenly, Lucy is suddenly thrust into one of the most sought after girls in school.

Then there’s Sam Wolff, a mysterious, introverted boy from Lucy’s art class. The two become friends and Lucy finds herself questioning her definition of “Prince Charming”.

I’d say the story was Good. It was predictable, but was a great way to spend a few hours. And now that I’ve read it, I can end my obsession with it and move on to the next read.

I Fell Again, Sorry

Okay, I fell off the face of the Earth again. I’m so sorry! Last update was two months ago ~~~ after I promised I wouldn’t do this again.

I’ve been reading a little ~ not a lot, but considering the reading funk I’ve been in, I’ll take it.

Manhunting by Jennie Crusie: (will be somewhat sloppy as I’ve borrowed this book out to a friend and haven’t received it back yet).

From the Back Cover:: Objective: Find Man. Must Be Rich, Handsome, and Successful.

Kate Svenson is attractive, successful, a brilliant businesswoman — and miserable. After three failed engagements, she realizes it’s time for a PLAN…an organized, detailed agenda with a clear goal: finding Mr. Right.

The Cabins resort is ripe with eligible bachelors, all rich, distinguished, and ambitious — just her type. And they’re dropping like flies around her…at least, that’s how Jake Templeton views the situation. After he’s stuck pulling her latest reject out of the swimming pool, Jake’s convinced this femme fatale is trouble. Especially for him.

But can a man who’s sworn off ambition for good and a woman hanging from the top of the corporate ladder find common ground in the unpredictable territory called the heart, where the word proposal takes on a very different meaning…?

Manhunting was another good one by Crusie. Kate is a career woman working in the family business. She’s successful, but not happy. She’s been engaged three times, but has never quite made it to the alter. She’s lonely and looking for more, so she goes on a vacation to The Cabins Golf Resort in the hopes of finding that something more. What ensues are some hilarious first (and last) dates, along with her developing friendships with Penny (the girl in the cabin next door), Jake (the handyman), and the owner of the local bar (sorry, can’t remember her name!).

I’d say this is a Good Read. I probably won’t be parting with this book anytime soon (well, if I ever get it back from my friend, that is)

Mysteria (anthology) by MaryJanice Davidson, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant, and PC Cast:

From the back cover: Hunky werewolves, delicious demons and, drop-dead sexy witches all have the same address…

Hundreds of years ago, in the mountains of Colorado (just close enough to Denver for great shoe shopping), the small town of Mysteria was “accidentally” founded by a random act of demonic kindness. Over time, it has become a veritable magnet for the supernatural-a place where magic has quietly coexisted with the mundane world.

It’s a town like any other town, where the high school’s Fighting Fairies give fans something to cheer about, where everyone knows your name-if not exactly what you are-at the local bar, and where the wishing well actually lives up to its name. Strange occurrences happen every day, but now the ladies of Mysteria are about to unleash a tempest of seduction that will have tongues wagging for centuries to come…

I really enjoyed this anthology and read it from cover to cover. My favorite story was “Mortal In Mysteria,” about Damon (also known as Demon High Lord of Self-Doubt and Second Thoughts) who has done the good deed of letting people believe in themselves. For this, he is is forced out of Hell and back to earth ~ right into Harmony Faithfull’s backyard. Harmony is the local minister in Mysteria (imagine a minister is a town full of witches, werewolves, and other supernatural beings). Watching Damon and Harmony’s relationship was a fun-filled story and I enjoyed every minutes of it.

Also in this anthology were “Alone Wolf” by MaryJanice Davidson (Good), “The Witches of Mysteria” by Gena Showalter (Very Good), and “Candy Cox and the Big Bad (Were)Wolf” by PC Cast (Okay).

The Secret Diaries of Miss Miranda Cheever by Julia Quinn:

From the back cover:
2 March 1810 . . .
Today, I fell in love.

At the age of ten, Miranda Cheever showed no signs of Great Beauty. And even at ten, Miranda learned to accept the expectations society held for her—until the afternoon when Nigel Bevelstoke, the handsome and dashing Viscount Turner, solemnly kissed her hand and promised her that one day she would grow into herself, that one day she would be as beautiful as she already was smart. And even at ten, Miranda knew she would love him forever.

But the years that followed were as cruel to Turner as they were kind to Miranda. She is as intriguing as the viscount boldly predicted on that memorable day—while he is a lonely, bitter man, crushed by a devastating loss. But Miranda has never forgotten the truth she set down on paper all those years earlier—and she will not allow the love that is her destiny to slip lightly through her fingers . . .

This one was Okay ~ I was disappointed, I admit. I’d really been looking forward to a new JQ book. Granted, this is the first after the Bridgerton series ~ and also this is one of her first attempts (written around the time of Splendid). But, if I didn’t save all of my JQ books, I’d probably donate it to the library because I doubt I’ll read it again.

Love At First Bite (anthology) by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Susan Squires, Ronda Thompson, and LA Bankds:

From the back cover:
PRIMAL KISSES. EROTIC SECRETS.
ETERNAL PASSION.

Sink your teeth into these sexy supernatural stories from some of today’s hottest authors.

“Until Death Do Us Part” by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Over five hundred years ago, Esperetta’s soul was bound to her husband’s by dark magic, and when Velkan became a Dark-Hunter, to her horror, she became immortal as well. Now, they must come together to fight an old enemy…and the passion that threatens to consume them once more.

“Ride the Night Wind” by L.A. Banks
Dark dreams haunt Jose Ciponte, dreams of a woman so beautiful he aches for her-and a deadly enemy who stalks them in the night. And now those dreams have become a reality…

“The Gift” by Susan Squires
All Major Davis Ware wants to do is propose to the beautiful Emma Fairchild. Instead, he is called back into battle, and a desperate fate. And Emma will venture into hell itself to save him.

“The Forgotten One” by Ronda Thompson
Lady Anne Baldwin longs to break free from her proper bonds. When she meets the mysterious Merrick, whose eyes glow like a wolf’s, she may have found more than she bargained for.

I only read the Kenyon story in this anthology and I liked it. Sure it was short, but I thought that the story was told very well ~~ not usually something you get with an anthology story. There was a lot of history between Retta and Velkan packed into this small story. I’d say it was Very Good.

Currently Reading:
Stealing Home by Sherryl Woods
Strange Bedpersons by Jennie Crusie
The Nosy Neighbor by Fern Michaels
Charming the Highlander by Janet Chapman
Much Ado About You by Eloisa James
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes by Jennie Crusie et. al

Library Haul:
I went to the library with kiddo today and bought these from the friends of the library shelves. 12 books for $1.75 ~ not bad for one day.

The Nosy Neighbor by Fern Michaels ($0.25)
Prisoner of Desire by Jennifer Blake (free)
Love Me, Marietta by Jennifer Wilde (free)
Train from Marietta by Dorothy Garlock ($0.25)
A Little Magic by Nora Roberts ($0.25)
McKettrick’s Pride by Linda Lael Miller ($0.25)
Never Seduce a Scoundrel by Sabrina Jeffries ($0.25)
A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer (free)
Love Forevermore by Madeline Baker (free)
Midnight Bayou by Nora Roberts ($0.25)
Heart Throb by Suzanne Brockmann ($0.25)
Soul Song by Marjorie Liu ($0.25)

A Crazy Kind of Love

Just Finished:

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Recommended by: 2nd in the Marconi Sisters series.

From the Back Cover: The best plumber in California, Michaela “Mike” Marconi likes to keep her romances short, sweet, and to the point. Her friends think she’s just out for a good time, but she has reasons for carefully avoiding relationships with a future. Romance, though, is the last thing on Mike’s mind when she meets Lucas Gallagher. Unfortunately, he pushes all of her buttons in a way no man has. But when he learns the truth about her past, Mike is sure he’ll be the one moving on.

Lucas might know a lot about women, but he left the “relationships” to his twin brother. Michaela, aka Mike, infuriates him as much as she entices him. They quickly go from bickering to bed partners, but neither of them is looking for happily ever after. Until Fate steps in when both of their worlds are turned upside down by disaster, secrets, and revelations. Suddenly Lucas and Mike only have each other to lean on—but, will either of them take a chance on A Crazy Kind of Love?

My Thoughts: From the start I liked this story much better than And Then Came You. I enjoyed the chemistry between Lucas and Mike. I enjoyed that she was always seemed to be invading his space. They had heated disagreements and then suddenly the story got heated in a very different direction. And I mean heated. This was Mike and Lucas’s story, but there were also a lot of interactions from Jo and Sam (Mike’s sisters) as was as the Candellano family (prior series set in the same town as this series), but not so much interaction that it took away from the story.

I’d say this was Good ~ I don’t know if I’d read it again but I wasn’t disappointed by this story at all. It was definitely worth the time to read.