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

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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

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The Best Medicine (by Tracy Brogan)

Contemporary Romance

When Evelyn turns 35 she smashes right into the ticking time bomb that is her womb. With the help of her two closest friends and aided by a list of attributes the perfect guy should have she begins her quest to find Mr Right. But the dating world is turning out to not be all moonlight and roses.

When Tyler lands in the Emergency Department after an accident on a stolen Jet-ski Evelyn feels an immediate twinge in the pants department –– but on her perfect match meter he rates an absolute zero and adding to his dismal prospects, he’s 10 years younger than her. But the pants will want what the pants will want.

 
The Best Medicine is pretty damned classy contemporary romance. Those of us who read a lot of the genre can recognise a trope from a mile away, but Tracy Brogan has delivered a surprisingly refreshing story about two people from different worlds who are attracted to each other despite their differences. It’s an entertaining and upbeat story, and a great book to read on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Screen Shot 2014-03-10 at 6.08.18 pmMany thanks to Montlake Romance and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

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Bird After Bird (by Leslea Tash)

Women’s Fiction /  Contemporary Romance

After the death of her father, Wren returns to her childhood home in Indiana. Her plan is to sell the family home as quickly as possible so she can return to her life in Chicago. But when she discovers a journal her father left her, a journal which calls into question the path she has chosen for herself, she is forced to make some choices.

Laurie is carrying the guilt over two deaths. His fiancée, a dog handler who died while on a search and rescue, and a friend who was killed by a road side bomb. When he meets Wren he finds a chance for redemption, a chance to move forward with his life. But Wren has her own issues and finds herself pushing him away even while she knows he is exactly what she wants.

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Bird After Bird is something of an odd bird. It doesn’t quite fit into the contemporary romance genre and it isn’t quite women’s fiction. It’s written with a measured pace from alternating points of view and honestly for the first 20% or so of the book I struggled. But that initial effort paid off and by the half way mark I was well and truly sucked in.

Laurie is a returned serviceman. Contemporary Romance would demand that he be a Navy SEAL. Thank you Ms Tash for making your hero a motor mechanic!!! I bang my head against the metaphorical wall every time I read a romance hero is a SEAL. That’s just one refreshing thing in a book which somehow manages to be both whimsical and show very real human emotions. A lot of love for this book.

DISCLOSURE: I am a friend of the author on both Facebook and Goodreads.

Screen Shot 2014-04-09 at 6.07.24 pmMany thanks to Leslea Tash for providing me with this ARC.

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Four Friends (by Robyn Carr)

Contemporary Romance (maybe Chick Lit)

Three women, neighbours and friends, find themselves facing marriages that are falling apart. Then a neighbour who moved in 12 months earlier but has always avoided any overtures of friendship steps in and through simple acts of kindness manages to bring them even closer and mover them towards healing.
Gerri has always relied on the rock solid partnership she has with her husband. Even if their sex lives aren’t what they were they are partners in every sense. Then she discovers that five years earlier her husband had an affair.

Andy kicks her husband out after discovering he is a serial cheater. She opens up to the carpenter who has been remodelling her kitchen. Over the weeks she comes to value his steadiness and wisdom. She finds herself falling in love but has a hard time trusting her feelings.

Sonja is a health food fanatic who teacher yoga and advises people on the feng shui of their homes. But when her husband walks out on her, her carefully constructed world crumbles around her and she descends into severe depression.

BJ arrived in the neighbourhood 12 months earlier. But she has a secret that she needs to guard for the sake of her children and keeps to herself.

 

Four Friends is a book which doesn’t neatly fit into its genre. It’s contemporary romance and as you would expect from contemporary romance everything is neatly tied up at the end. But life is messy and the issues Robyn Carr is exploring are some of the messiest of all. However, written as contemporary romance I loved this book…and I don’t think I would say that if it was written with a more “chick lit” aesthetic.

The book reminded me a lot of a previous book by Robyn Carr, Summer in Sonoma. Both books deal with four female friends facing some difficult life challenges but where Summer in Sonoma focuses on women from their late 20s to early 40s, Four Friends is about women who are a little older, from their late 30s to early 50s.

It’s a very satisfying book for fans of Robyn Carr and contemporary romance.

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Stay (by Allie Larkin)

Contemporary Romance

After Peter, the guy she has loved for years, marries her best friend, Van goes on a bender drinking a lot of vodka and watching re-runs of Rin Tin Tin. Alone and lonely she impulsively buys a dog online. When the dog arrives at the airport from Slovakia she finds a whole lot more than she was expecting. Joe turns out to be a fully trained law enforcement German Shepherd that only obeys commands spoken in Slovakian.

Joe soon brings Alex, a vet specialising in large dogs into her life and in him she finds a chance to move forward and get over her lost love. But with Van’s own past refusing to let her move on she might lose the first man she has a chance at loving since Peter.

 

I have so much love for this book. It’s sweet contemporary romance –– perhaps even chick lit, about a woman who has sacrificed everything for the happiness of others, finding her own happiness. If I have a criticism it’s only a small one. I’m not a fan of flash-backs as a plot device…more often than not they interrupt a story rather than moving it forward and I think that’s the case here. But I still loved this book and I’m going to call it a favorite.

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Come Home to Me (by Brenda Novak)

Contemporary Romance

On the night her mother died, Presley went looking for comfort in the arms of her lover Aaron. But she never meant as much to him as he did to her and he coldly rejected her. Broken hearted she left Whiskey Creek taking with her the secret that she was carrying his baby. 

Two years have passed and Presley has got her life back on track and returned to Whiskey Creek. Dirt poor but determined to make a better life for herself and her son she sinks everything she has into a small business teaching yoga and offering therapuetic massage. But she wasn’t expecting to be running into Aaron. 

With everything on the line she pulls out all the stops to keep Aaron from learning the truth about their child. 

Aaron has carried the guilt over how he treated Presley for two years. He’s determined to make things right before he leaves town and gets on with his life, but every time he looks into her eyes he sees the hurt he caused her two years before. 

As he gets to know Presley again, he begins to see things he missed the first time around, but Presley isn’t willing to put her heart on the line again and for every small step forward he makes she puts up more walls to keep him out. 

Brenda Novak is a master of romantic suspense –– her Bullet Proof series had me a nervous wreck. I wouldn’t describe her contemporary romances as masterful but she is competent and getting better with each new book. Come Home to me is far and away the most satisfying book I’ve read in this series to date. I genuinely liked Presley and Aaron and the story worked on every level. 

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Many thanks to Harelquin and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.

Home to Stay (by Terri Osburn)

Contemporary Romance

Willow was forced into a life on the run by her violent and abusive ex. Having arrived on Anchor Island a little over twelve months earlier, she has taken on every cash-in-hand job the small tourist town can give her and found herself a measure of peace with a small group of friends. But with her ex still looking for her, she can never get too comfortable and needs to be ready to run at a moments notice.

Randy owns the town’s gym and like Will’s ex, he is a big guy. Her nervousness around him is obvious to all, but despite the similar stature, he has a gentle and protective nature. With a little persistence he manages to break down her walls and they tentatively begin to explore their attraction.

When a travel reporter visits Anchor Island and recognises Will, her safe harbour is suddenly threatened and she realises it might be time to hit the road. Randy is determined to protect her and build a life with her, but for that to happen she will need to trust him.

There aren’t too many new ideas in this genre and I’ve read stories similar to this one before, but I don’t think I’ve read one that’s as good as this. The characters, especially the female characters really are kind of wonderful. I even found myself rereading a couple of sections because they were such great fun.

Honestly there are a handful of authors who just make me so happy I could jump. Laini Taylor, Carolyn Crane, recently Marilyn Pappano, Faith Hunter…and Terri Osburn.

So yeah, this book gets 5 well deserved stars.

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Many thanks to Terri Osburn for providing me with this ARC.

A Man to Hold on To (by Marilyn Pappano)

Contemporary Romance

After Mariah’s mother abandons her, she is placed in the care of Keegan who was named as father on the birth certificate. But Keegan knows all too well that Mariah was conceived after his girlfriend was unfaithful…and he knows who the father is.

Therese has had her share of hardships. First Abby and Jacob, the children of her husband Paul’s previous marriage came to live with them. Then Paul was killed in Afghanistan, and now her two step-children despise her. As Abby’s antipathy towards her worsens she contemplates asking her to leave, even knowing she promised Paul she would look after his children.

When Keegan discovers that Mariah’s father has died, his plans to unload Mariah fall apart. But he sees something in Therese that makes him want to stay in Tallgrass. As they get to know each other, their attraction builds but with three children to consider and secrets lying between them a relationship is anything but certain.

A Man to Hold on To is book two in Marilyn Pappano’sTallgrass series. It’s contemporary romance, and very good contemporary romance but much more than that, the author deals with some of the issues that face returned servicemen and their families with a raw truthfulness that speaks of experience. Her characters are beautifully flawed, her stories are simple but well told.

This book can be read as a stand alone, but I would encourage anyone to check out book one, A Hero to Come Home To.  There is a very quiet christian message within this series but it’s not preachy and I hesitate to call this a christian novel.  I would also say that people who want books that aren’t wall to wall sex will appreciate Marilyn Pappano’s soft hand in the bedroom.

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Many Thanks to Grand Central Publishing and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC

Love Like the Movies (by Victoria Van Tiem)

Contemporary Romance

Kenzi has everything she could ever wish for. A good job working for an advertising agency and the perfect fiancé. Even if she’s constantly runner-up in her family’s affections to her oh so perfect sister-in-law, things look pretty good.

Then her ex-boyfriend, Shane walks into the advertising agency and she quickly discovers, the agency is having financial problems, her job is on the line, and they desperately need Shane’s business. She is ordered to do everything she can to secure the account, but she wasn’t expecting to be re-enacting scenes from her favorite romantic comedies.

Love Like the Movies is great fun. It really does read like one of those great romantic comedies of the 1980s and ’90s. It’s a book that will leave you with a silly smile on your face and feeling good for days.

I should note that some might shy away from this book because it’s about a love triangle. I know that’s a trigger issue for many readers of romance. It’s a trigger issue for me as well, so I’m going to go out on a limb and say I had no problems with this book at all.  That aspect doesn’t really play into the story all that much and lovers of cute, quirky romances will love this book.

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Many thanks to Pocket Star and Netgalley for providing me with this ARC.