Appalachian Prey by Debbie Herbert

Realistic with true-to-life characters and an original premise, APPALACHIAN PREY grabs the attention and never lets go. I was immediately captivated by how genuine the setting plus people were at all times. Debbie Herbert certainly makes the Appalachian locale come across as very credible, and the manner in which several individuals were determined to do things their way also seemed to fit their personalities. The author had me believing in every situation that arose, regardless of whether the event was filled with danger or only expressing emotional concerns. APPALACHIAN PREY is one of the best Harlequin Intrigue stories I have read in a very long time.

Though Lilah Tedder had not lived on Lavender Mountain for twelve years, she still vividly remembers growing up poor and being ridiculed because of her family’s reputation. After a visit three months earlier, she had not intended to return again so soon. But the recent murder of her father has brought her back to the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia to settle his estate.

On her last trip to the area, Lilah had hooked up with Harlan Sampson, a local deputy. She thought there was something special between them, but his actions proved otherwise. When she finds herself pregnant several months later, she was just going to keep the information to herself because she realized Harlan would never want to be in a permanent relationship with her. Yet when he learns of how much danger Lilah is in, neither her protests or the comments of other people will stop him from watching out for her.

There is the mystery of who killed Lilah’s father at the start of the story, and the number of unknowns continues to rise. Clues about who could be responsible for the killing and why can be found throughout the book, and I kept changing my mind about possible motives. When other questions crop up later on, I was even more uncertain about what secrets were being hidden on Lavender Mountain. Debbie Herbert expertly kept me in suspense as the story played out and answers were finally revealed.

The relationship of Harlan and Lilah is not at all typical, and these two have so many challenges to overcome. From outside influences and opinions to their own perceived thoughts, it did not seem as though there was any way they could ever end up together. So I eagerly kept reading to discover what hurdle they would face next. I really liked Harlan and Lilah, as both are truly nice people trying to do what is best for themselves plus those for whom they care. But many residents in the community have formed their own ideas, and nothing will change their minds. I really felt for Lilah on so many occasions, and I hurt right along with her. Harlan had to dig deep within himself for how his future will turn out, and I anxiously waited for his decision. This is the first book about fascinating people living in Appalachia, and I cannot wait to read the second book.

I voluntarily reviewed the book and all comments are my honest opinion

Publisher:  Harlequin Intrigue

Releases:  January 16, 2018

Purchase:  https://tinyurl.com/ydeow4zu

Genre:  Suspense

Author website:  http://www.debbieherbert.com/

Rating:  5 Stars

Wolf Slayer by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

If a woman is a hunter of werewolves, there is no way this individual could ever become friendly with one of the monsters that she has sworn to kill because of their violent tendencies. When one of these beings has the nerve to move next door to her, she is ready to give him the battle he deserves. But after Tess Owens and Jonas Dale have an actual conversation, she is left mystified by his conduct. And the more they interact, the more questions are raised about what she has always believed. Linda Thomas-Sundstrom has written another compelling story in her Wolf Moons series, where foes who should hate each other just might become much closer if long-held beliefs can be changed. I once again enjoyed the unique characters imagined by this author. WOLF SLAYER has danger, romance, and explores lots of uncertainties.

When a creature with otherworldly traits comes to the area in South Dakota that Tess Owens calls home, she knows it is her duty to hunt it down. Her family has tracked werewolves for a long time, and she feels confident her abilities will make the latest mission successful. While she senses there is something different pertaining to this particular being, Tess still plans to bring about its demise.

There is a good reason Jonas Dale left Florida and made a temporary home in a remote South Dakota forest. Though he knew about Tess and her family’s reputation for tracking his kind, he really hopes an enemy will not look for him this close to the hunter. During their first meeting, Jonas tries to show that he is not there to cause any trouble, yet Tess thinks his words are false. But when she finally realizes his statements were true, she is confused about how to react to the unusual werewolf in the future.

Werewolves are a favorite of mine, and Linda Thomas-Sundstrom always manages to create extraordinary beings which I have never read about before. Jonas definitely surprised me on more than one occasion with his exceptional capabilities, making him a remarkable werewolf. Tess also has some distinct talent, and when the two go up against one another, I at first had no idea who would end up the winner. As these two find out secrets each has not revealed to anyone else, their combative relationship starts to become less confrontational. But that does not keep numerous challenges from continuing to mount. The author definitely did not make things easy for Jonas and Tess, as several of the obstacles they faced could greatly alter their lives. WOLF SLAYER has plenty of emotional moments where feelings are expressed with sincerity and even some unexpected sentiments. There is also a dangerous entity which has followed him, and wanting to know what will ultimately happen kept me reading to discover the outcome. I always look forward to seeing what type of supernatural creature Linda Thomas-Sundstrom will come up with next.

I voluntarily reviewed the book and all comments are my honest opinion

Series:  Wolf Moons

Publisher:  Harlequin Nocturne

Releases:  January 1, 2018

Purchase:  https://tinyurl.com/y86dnc63

Genre:  Paranormal

Author website:  http://www.lindathomas-sundstrom.com/

Rating:  4 Stars

Come Home with Me by Susan Fox

Realism is evident in every situation that arises in the second Blue Moon Harbor story. From convincing dialogue to descriptive settings to relatable characters, Susan Fox created believable aspects at all times. There was never a single event which did not come across as plausible, and I thought the whole story could truly be about actual people. Ms. Fox makes her characters very diverse, as backgrounds are distinctive while each personality is unlike anyone else in the book. I constantly felt as though I was reading about a group of individuals who could definitely exist on an island off the coast of Canada, and the author’s imaginative depiction of the locale made scenes genuinely realistic again and again. COME HOME WITH ME is compelling with emotionally stirring entanglements and engaging characters.

When it seemed like almost every part of Miranda Gabriel’s life was dealing with something negative, she finally had to admit defeat and ask her brother for assistance. If it had only concerned her, she would have stayed in Vancouver and found someway to exist. But she has a young daughter, and there is no way the child is going to suffer because of her mother’s mistakes. Though Miranda had left Blue Moon Harbor to get out of a bad situation with her own mother, she is now back and hopes things go much better this second time.

At least she has found work at a store carrying items for children, and veterinarian Luke Chandler comes in one day to buy birthday gifts for his twin sons. He senses something familiar about the new employee, and soon realizes they went to school together. Luke can immediately tell she is not like the rebellious teenager of long ago. It has been four years since his wife died, and he has had no interest in dating anyone. While he is not sure if the changes in Miranda make her someone that he would like to know more about, he might be willing to give it a shot because no other woman has grabbed his attention like her.

There are quite a few scenes filled with challenges in COME HOME WITH ME, and I was cheering on the main couple to discover the happiness they both deserve. Miranda and Luke often have to struggle with numerous personal issues, especially since they are single parents. They are very aware of their children’s needs, continuously putting them before their own wishes. I really liked how these two focused on the kids and made certain the little ones never felt neglected, yet eventually worked in some adult time for themselves. There are several very candid discussions between Miranda and Luke, and I found their openness to be refreshing. Both are learning from each other, as neither has been in this type of relationship before, and much self-discovery takes place. The passion they experience seems honestly sincere, and I enjoyed seeing how they would respond to any suggestions.

The three kids in the story are very adorable, and had me smiling and even laughing because of their antics. With the huge group of secondary characters, there is a wide variety of behavior depicted that occasionally ended up affecting the everyday happenings of Luke and Miranda. The residents on Destiny Island are very entertaining, and I am glad more of them will get a story about their lives.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of the book, and all comments are my honest opinion

Series:  Blue Moon Harbor

Publisher:  Zebra

Releases:  December 26, 2017

Purchase:  https://tinyurl.com/yd38a5wx

Genre:   Contemporary

Author website:  http://www.susanlyons.ca/index.php

Rating:  4.5 Stars

Naughty Wish by J.H. Croix

A secondary character from an earlier Brit Boys Sports Romance book gets her own story, and it is definitely packed with emotion, fun, and sex. Jana Sparks is a paralegal, and some past events still greatly affect her in the present. When fate has a cop and her meeting, their lives are never the same from that day forward. I always enjoy how J.H. Croix builds the anticipation of what her couples will end up doing as they experience the ups and downs of a new relationship, and there were plenty of emotional incidents along with bliss filled sex to keep me entertained in this story. NAUGHTY WISH has humor, stirring moments, and very passionate sexual encounters.

While carefully driving in rush hour Seattle traffic, the car following Jana Sparks hits her. Though the accident is not serious, the damage was enough to call the police. When the responding officer arrives, she is immediately intrigued by his looks and British accent. After it becomes apparent her car cannot be driven, Finn Connors offers to take her to work and equally captivated by his lively passenger. Before they part, Jana says she wants him to have dinner with her, yet he does not accept her offer. But a chance meeting later has her asking Finn again, and his consenting answer might just lead to something unexpected between them.

NAUGHTY WISH causes lots of smiles and sighs. There is witty banter in many of the conversations that Finn and Jana have, and their delightful personalities shine through often. He is a very capable cop, and he makes sure those in the city are protected from anyone with bad intentions. While much of the story is focused on his and Jana’s relationship, circumstances related to his duties as an officer are also shown and make him even more respected. Both have been hurt by people they trusted, making them rather cautious of becoming too serious about someone else. But as they continue seeing each other, feelings change yet Jana cannot seem to stop from having underlying doubts. I could not wait to see if she would risk her heart or keep it safely locked away. J.H. Croix certainly had me in suspense as these two worked through some realistic issues. Many of the characters in previous books of the series are featured from time to time, and I enjoyed seeing how each was currently doing.

I voluntarily reviewed a copy of the book from Booksprout, and all comments are my honest opinion

Series:  Brit Boys Sports Romance – Book 5

Publisher:  Amazon Digital Services LLC

Releases:  December 14, 2017

Purchase:  https://tinyurl.com/yackbqny

Genre:  Contemporary

Author website:  http://jhcroixauthor.com/

Rating:  4 Stars

Murder with Lemon Tea Cakes by Karen Rose Smith

With its very interesting premise and believable characters, the first book in the Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery series is constantly captivating. Karen Rose Smith masterfully brings the storyline to life with much convincingness, as situations could easily occur just as described. I was instantly caught up in the happenings that took place, regardless of who was mixed up in an incident or what was transpiring. Ms. Smith cleverly turns an ordinary businesswoman into a capable amateur sleuth who shrewdly looks for the truth. MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES is intriguing with carefully thought-out mysteries and realistic family issues.

Things are going well for Daisy Swanson and the shop that she co-owns in Willow Creek, Pennsylvania. With the help of her Aunt Iris and a longtime friend, they give residents plus tourists to the Amish country a place to relax and enjoy a light meal with teatime. Widowed for three years, she is raising two teenage daughters whom she closely watches over and tries to guide in the right direction. Daisy also feels responsible for her aunt, and is currently concerned about the intentions of the older woman’s new friend. Iris has become rather chummy with Harvey Fitz, although he is not yet officially divorced.

Since Daisy’s Tea Garden does some catering, they have been hired for an event observing a milestone in Harvey’s clothing business. During the celebration, Daisy hears some disturbing news related to him, causing her to wonder what it will mean for his future and possibly her relative as well. But when Harvey is later killed and his death takes place in the garden of her shop, she plans to make sure the responsible person is caught, and it definitely is not her aunt as the authorities are insinuating.

The tea garden theme in MURDER WITH LEMON TEA CAKES is refreshingly original, and I liked how it gave the main characters a good opportunity to interact with many other people in various locations. Daisy is a personable woman, and while she is devoted to her business, family members and friends come first. When Aunt Iris is suddenly in trouble, nothing will keep her niece from assisting and making certain her relative is treated fairly. Daisy’s actions caused admiration on many occasions, and I liked the way she stood up to others. When it comes to her family, I could tell there is much love between them. But like real life, there can be some disagreements along with a few upsetting developments, too. Ms. Smith always handled these moments with much believability.

When the focus was on any mystery, the number of unknowns mount up at first. Then the facts are gradually revealed, and I was often surprised by being caught completely off guard. Karen Rose Smith expertly keeps the reader in suspense as to what is exactly going on, giving a hint sprinkled here and there to keep the anticipation building. I have visited the Amish area numerous times, and the vivid descriptions by the author had me reliving some wonderful memories. The foods mentioned in the book all sounded so delicious, and the recipes for several favorites are listed at the end. One of the plots I really enjoyed was the two men with whom Daisy might perhaps get closer, and I am looking forward to seeing how these relationships progress in future stories.

I voluntarily reviewed the book and all comments are my honest opinion

Series: A Daisy’s Tea Garden Mystery

Publisher:  Kensington

Releases:  December 26, 2017

Purchase:  https://tinyurl.com/ybyl9boq

Genre:  Mystery

Author website:  https://karenrosesmithmysteries.com/

Rating:  4.5 Stars

Cowboy Up by Harper Sloan

While I have enjoyed all three books in the Coming Home series because of the appealing couples and original plots, I must say that Clay and Caroline’s story is my favorite. I was immediately drawn into their lives when they first met, and every following scene featuring this dynamic couple only made me adore them even more. Both had unpleasant circumstances in their backgrounds, and these situations actually had them feeling closer because it led to a mutual understanding for problems dealing with family and relationships. Harper Sloan makes the road to finding lasting happiness exceedingly bumpy for Clay and Caroline, and I am just glad I was along for the enthralling ride. COWBOY UP is contemporary romance at its most entertaining.

The reason Caroline Michaels came to a bar one night was to hopefully lift her spirits by consuming some alcohol, never anticipating any of the men there would notice her. She grew up in the nearby Texas town of Pine Oak, and coming back to the area has her recalling some painful memories. Caroline wants to make some changes in her life by leaving the past behind, and there is no time like the present to start. When asked by a stranger to leave with him, there is no mistaking what will happen later, and the night is definitely memorable for both of them.

Clayton Davis has undertaken lots of responsibilities for years, and his biggest one was being in charge of running the family ranch. He also finds it hard not to continue watching over his two younger siblings, though they are now married. He never expects to have a permanent relationship, but he certainly enjoyed the one night spent with Caroline. When an event has the two reconnecting, Clay and the rather shy bookstore owner decide to explore more fully what they felt that fateful night.

Harper Sloan delved into the innermost hopes and fantasies of Clay and Caroline with believable reactions, where emotions are often expressed with an almost overwhelming intensity. I do not know when I have experienced the sentiments of a character with such a powerful force as those repeatedly conveyed in COWBOY UP. Whether individuals were particularly joyful or suffering great misery, I also endured every single feeling right along with them. Clay has been a protector for a long time, as he tried to make things better for his brother and sister. When he meets Caroline, his gut tells him that she could benefit from his help and he is certainly willing to oblige. With his backing, she just might become a stronger woman while also giving him something important in return. I laughed so many times when clever comebacks were spoken by this couple, and I absolutely felt the fiery heat when they had sex. COWBOY UP will long be remembered for its heatedly steamy encounters.

Though the main focus of the story is on Clay and Caroline, his brother and sister plus their spouses from the previous books make plenty of appearances along with her two best friends. Conversations range for delightfully humorous to very insightful, causing many smiles and a few misty eyes. There is even a little suspense to increase the heartrate. An outstanding conclusion to a compelling series.

I voluntarily reviewed the book from the publisher via NetGalley, and all comments are my honest opinion

Series:  Coming Home – Book 3

Publisher:  Pocket Books

Releases:  December 19, 2017

Purchase:  https://tinyurl.com/yba773zf

Genre:  Contemporary

Author website:  http://authorharpersloan.com/

Rating:  5 Stars

As You Were, Cowboy by Heather Long

The second book in the Lone Star Leathernecks series is often movingly emotional yet also very uplifting at times. The hero is a former soldier who does not regret doing his duty, but sadly he is now paying a big price most days with little expectation of the future ever becoming brighter. When a spirited woman enters his life, he at first feels betrayed and a little angry. But as the couple interacts on a daily basis, both lives take a turn which neither saw coming. I smiled when a situation went well, and then felt empathy for a character if an event did not go as desired. Heather Long has created an exceedingly realistic story filled with romance, hope, and profound emotions. AS YOU WERE, COWBOY is heartwarmingly dramatic time and again.

When Claire Windsor traveled from England to Texas, she had plans to her wishes become a reality. Love for horses led to her choosing a career training them, and a personal matter had her working to use the perceptive animals to help people with various problems. Yet when Claire arrives at Round Top Ranch, she is confronted by the current trainer for its horses, and his greeting is not at all hospitable.

After Mateo Lopez suffered a severe injury to his spine while serving as a Marine, he was discharged for medical reasons and had to return home. He keeps hoping that one day his mobility might improve enough to let him once again work more efficiently with the horses, so there is no reason for Claire to be hired. But since the ranch owners have the final word, Mateo must work with Claire and implement her new program to assist those in some type of pain.

AS YOU WERE, COWBOY is an insightful look at people who need assistance plus those willing to give it. Claire wants to share her knowledge of horses with others, letting them come to also know these creatures and perhaps change their lives for the better along the way. Training an animal to improve the quality of life for someone that has either physical and/or emotional problems is an admirable career, and the Brit is extremely dedicated to aiding anyone who could benefit. She is definitely surprised to learn a ranch employee could use her help, and she can immediately tell there are going to be some uphill battles fought before Mateo will work with her in a friendly manner. But as they start to share ideas, mutual respect begins to grow. A love of horses may have brought them together, but their candidly honest behavior has them growing closer. I was truly touched by many of the scenes where Mateo opens up to Claire about several private topics, and her responses had me liking her even more. Heather Long takes a realistic approach in how horses can give a person confidence, and I felt as though any arising situations could actually be true on so many occasions. Details about such therapy are given in a way which is informative yet does not overload. AS YOU WERE, COWBOY is a cleverly imaginative story that left me with a positive feeling.

I voluntarily reviewed the book from the publisher via NetGalley, and all comments are my honest opinion

Series:  Lone Star Leathernecks – Book 2

Publisher:  Pocket Star

Releases:  December 11, 2017

Purchase:  https://tinyurl.com/y6uxqje8

Genre:  Contemporary

Author website:  http://heatherlong.net/

Rating:  4.5 Stars

Roomies by Christina Lauren

Filled with clever dialogue and charming characters, ROOMIES is a realistic story in today’s world. In order to help out a man who will be deported if discovered still living in the United States, a woman thinks marrying a virtual stranger is the best solution. What occurs after her impulsive decision are situations where plenty of soul-searching takes place because emotional predicaments must be worked out. The romantic couple created by the talented duo writing as Christina Lauren is interestingly original, as both have engaging personalities plus real-life issues to overcome. I immediately adored the two main characters, and truly did fret when events did not go as anticipated for them. ROOMIES is enchantingly delightful with imaginative scenarios that are very believable.

Even though Holland Bakker has never actually met the man who regularly plays a guitar in a New York City subway station, she feels drawn to him and his gift for music. One night after an unexpected conversation where she learns his name is Calvin Mcloughlin, a stranger tries to take her phone and she is injured. Afterward, it seems the performer helped her out, but he leaves before she can thank him. When her uncle needs to replace a musician in the Broadway show that he directs, Holland thinks this is an opportunity to let Calvin know she is grateful plus could also assist him.

When Calvin auditions, his talent earns him the spot. But since he has remained in the states after the time on his student visa ended, he cannot take the job because of feared repercussions. Then an idea is voiced which would have Holland marrying the man from Ireland so he could legally work for the theater. After very little deliberation, she takes the proposal to Calvin and he agrees. While they try to persuade the authorities that their marriage is authentic, their feelings begin to also feel very genuine.

A pretend marriage storyline always intrigues me, as I enjoy seeing how two people will react to spending time together in an intimate setting. Though Holland may have fantasied about Calvin for months, she really does not know much about his private life. What they experience after marrying is depicted with convincing circumstances that are often fascinating because of their responses. I liked how the authors showed the couple having conversations where they were openly honest, and those moments when they interacted with others were especially pleasurable when Holland’s Uncle Robert was involved. I smiled numerous times when this charismatic man was featured.

The relationship of Holland and Calvin is certainly not conventional, as they knew very little about one another at the beginning. But the journey they took in learning about each other is beautifully told by Christina Lauren. From past history to current likes, truths were revealed and secrets are also exposed. The musical aspects in the story are exciting, as it let me get a glimpse of Broadway shows and those who have hopeful aspirations. ROOMIES is about individuals and the possibility of making their dreams come true. The unique relationship of Calvin and Holland will be recalled again and again.

I voluntarily reviewed the book from the publisher, and all comments are my honest opinion

Publisher:  Gallery Books

Releases:  December 5, 2017

Purchase:  http://tinyurl.com/y8gbjn5l

Genre:  Contemporary

Author website:  http://christinalaurenbooks.com/

Rating:  4.5 Stars