Wildfire (by Mary Pauline Lowry)

Fiction

Railing against the path her grandmother has set for her, Julie joins a Hotshot crew, an elite team of remote area forest firefighters who use chainsaws and shovels to fight fire. At first the crew is uncertain about this woman intruding into their male dominated world but with determination and grit and a lot of hard work she manages to carve a niche for herself.

With the respect of her comrades she has everything she wants, but the job is dangerous and every time they fight fire, their lives are on the line.


hotshotsWildfire is a truly amazing book. The Hotshots are hard men and women and just like them this book is brash and occasionally crass. They speak their own language and the author has just put it out there without any explanations –– and that’s really how it should be. You don’t need to know everything to get this story.

I’m going to make the call. This is one of my best five books of 2014!

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 6.07.24 pmMany thanks to Skyhorse Publishing for providing me with this ARC

Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

Once Haunted, Twice Shy (by H.P. Mallory)

Paranormal Romance

In exorcising a demon from her home, Peyton found herself inadvertently possessed by the ghost of a French speaking New Orleans police officer who died in the early 20th century. Now she can connect to the spirit world and all the ghosts of the city are running scared.

It soon becomes clear that something is very wrong and the demon they exorcised has decided to make the streets of New Orleans run red with blood, starting with Peyton.


There is a lot going on in Once Haunted, Twice Shy. At times it felt like a little too much, like there were too many players. Presumably H.P. Mallory is setting the scene for future books but that busyness didn’t help this story. Added to the mix this book has a love triangle of sorts (do I have to call a four sided love triangle a square?) which is one of those tropes I don’t particularly like.

That said, despite the shaky start, the book ended strongly with a voodoo battle to end all battles. If you like voodoo, ghosts and demons in your pages, this is a pretty good read.

Screen Shot 2014-02-16 at 4.32.33 pmMany thanks to Montlake Romance and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

A Love to Call Her Own (by Marilyn Pappano)

Contemporary Romance

Swamped with grief and guilt after her husband was killed in action in Afghanistan, Jessy has coped by hitting the bottle and picking up nameless men for meaningless hook-ups. The one positive in her life is the Margarita Club, a group of women who, like her, have lost their husbands.

Dalton’s wife committed suicide after both her legs were blown off by a roadside bomb. Carrying his grief he has isolated himself on his ranch and avoided people preferring the company of his animals.

Jessy and Dalton both have baggage, they both have secrets, but together they manage to find the motivation to try to move on with their lives.


 

I have a great deal of respect for Marilyn Pappano. The issues of depression, grief, ptsd which she is exploring in this series have been attempted by other authors, but I don’t think any of them get it like she does. She gets that depression doesn’t just manifest itself in one way but in dozens of ways.

There are things in this series I am not entirely comfortable with. The author is plainly a christian and that comes through in her books, but for writing these subtle and nuanced love stories I’m more than willing to choke on my discomfort. A Love to Call Her Own is another great contemporary romance in a series that are all personal favourites.

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Snow Falling on Bluegrass (by Molly Harper)

Contemporary Romance

Kelsey is the best person to have around in a crisis. She’s prepared for just about anything and can turn a disaster into a success. But when the staff of the Kentucky Tourism Commission find themselves stranded and without power after a once in a hundred year blizzard even her organisational skills will be tested.

Adding to her problems, Charlie, the guy she has secretly loved for years has been acting strangely around her and as cabin fever hits, her co-workers go on the warpath. If that’s not enough, her ex won’t leave her alone and now that Charlie finally seems to be noticing her, a sexy ranger decides to muddy the waters and express his interest.


It’s quite difficult to review this book, not because it isn’t good, it’s very good. No, it’s difficult because what I want to say I’ve said before. Snow Falling on Bluegrass is filled with witty banter and snark. It is funny, sometimes laugh out loud funny. Molly Harper delivers a book that is cute and quirky but in no way dumb. She’s one of my favorite authors and I don’t see that changing any time soon.

Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 7.25.29 pmMany Thanks to Pocket Star and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

Mission to Murder (by Lynn Cahoon)

Cozy Mystery

When Jill discovered a significant historical site in her back yard she found herself at odds with Craig Thomas who takes the lions share of the towns funding for that sort of thing. With the possibly corrupt mayor siding with Thomas and evidence suggesting that the site in question was actually somewhere else things aren’t looking good for her getting the funding to preserve the site.

Then Thomas shows up dead and suddenly Jill is a suspect. It’s left to her to investigate and find the real killer before the killer turns his attention to her.


 

IMG_2704I generally read two or three books a week, but for a couple of weeks I’ve had the flu and that’s slowed me down a fair bit. I’ll literally read a couple of pages and then fall asleep. All that goes to say is that this book has been with me for a while, and if I’m totally honest it’s been a bit of a comfort to me in my miserable self-pitying state.

Mission to Murder really is like a cute shaggy dog sleeping on the end of your bed (thanks to Roscoe for a rare still moment). As a cozy mystery or a book to read on the beach, it’s kind of perfect.

Screen Shot 2014-02-15 at 8.51.33 pmMany thanks to Kensington Books and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Yellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

Accidentally Married on Purpose (by Rachel Harris)

Contemporary Romance

After being burned by love, Sherry takes a job in Las Vegas catering a country music star’s green room. While there she meets a guy who she thinks is a roadie and after the concert they paint the town red. Two days later she wakes up with a terrible hangover and married to Tyler Blue.

Tyler Blue is a country music legend. His life is completely devoted to the music and despite women throwing themselves at him he generally brushes them off and returns to his hotel room alone. Until he sees Sherry in the green room. She’s completely different to the women in his world, starting with the purple streaked hair, her smart mouth and the fact that she doesn’t know him from bar of soap.

Sherry doesn’t fit into his plans. The simple solution is a quickie divorce. The only problem is his fans expect him to live up to his love songs and a divorce could spell the end of his career. He makes a deal with Sherry, he’ll spend a month with her playing the devoted husband before returning to the tour. Then after a bit of time has passed they can quietly go their separate ways. Despite their best efforts they come to depend on each other and fall in love. But his career is on the road and her life is in Magnolia Springs.


I honestly don’t like books set around the music industry, I don’t like the groupies and the hook ups, I don’t like that whole hedonistic lifestyle the gossip magazines pummel me with. Thankfully, Accidentally Married on Purpose isn’t about that at all. It’s a sweet contemporary romance about two people who are perfectly matched but have different goals. It gives me exactly what I want from contemporary romance, a book focused on relationships that is fulfilling and affirming.

Many thanks to Entangled Publishing for providing me with this ARC

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 9.23.18 pmYellow, Orange, Red –– what it means: http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l

Up Close (by Henriette Gyland)

Romantic Suspense 

After the death of her grandmother, Lia returns to her childhood home to settle the estate. But as she is putting her grandmother’s affairs in order she starts to suspect that her death may not have been an accident.

Aidan is a former Navy clearance diver, retired after an accident which left him scarred. As a child he had a secret crush on Lia but now his life is about making the Ministry of Defence pay for his brother’s death and there is little room for romance.

As Lia investigates her grandmother’s death, she discovers an evil that stretches all the way back to her childhood and an entire town that is guarding secrets and telling lies. And with a faceless killer stalking her, she doesn’t know who she can trust, even Aidan might be involved.

 

ingrid_bergmanUp Close is reminiscent of the great Alfred Hitchcock films of the 1930s and ’40s. I found myself being reminded of Rebecca and Gaslight and even The Birds.  Authors often try to imbue their books with that feel but not too many succeed. Henriette Gyland succeeds –– well and truly so.

It is dark, brooding and edge of your seat all at once. Quite an amazing accomplishment.

 

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 5.42.32 pmYellow, Orange, Red – What it means:   http://wp.me/P2B7b5-9l