zondag 30 maart 2014

Grace Burrowes – The virtuoso

The third book in the Duke's Obsession series, published November 1, 2011.
Genre: historical romance
Cover: the usual, nice colors

The Virtuoso photo n382544_zpsaae579de.jpg

A genius with a terrible loss…
Gifted pianist Valentine Windham, youngest son of the Duke of Moreland, has little interest in his father’s obsession to see his sons married, and instead pours passion into his music. But when Val loses his music, he flees to the country, alone and tormented by what has been robbed from him.
A widow with a heartbreaking secret…
Grieving Ellen Markham has hidden herself away, looking for safety in solitude. Her curious new neighbor offers a kindred lonely soul whose desperation is matched only by his desire, but Ellen’s devastating secret could be the one thing that destroys them both.
Together they’ll find there’s no rescue from the past, but sometimes losing everything can help you find what you need most.

Lord Valentine Windham is the youngest son of the Duke of Moreland, and his only passion and his true talent is in playing the piano, creating the most beautiful music. He really grieves the passing of two of his older brothers, and now he is losing his music as well. His left hand is severely injured, and it will need a lot of rest if he ever wants to play again. But Val does not really belief in that, and he seems to be punishing his hand. Not by playing music, but through hard labor.
Val won an estate near London in a card game from the young Baron Roxbury, Freddy Markham. What he does not yet know, is that the estate is not freely his at all. It is given in a life trust to the former Baron’s widow, Ellen FitzEngle. Ellen does not use her title or her husband’s name, and lives quietly in a small cottage on the estate, making a living by gardening and selling her produce in the local village.

With his good friend Darius, Val sets out to investigate his new estate, and to set it to rights. The main house has been badly neglected and is partly in ruins. With the help of Darius, the two sons of another good friend, and local skilled labourers, he sets out to restore the mansion and the estate. Val also becomes very close to Ellen, and he is surprised when he finds out she is a Baroness and living like this. Why is the new Baron not supporting her? Bit by bit he find out Ellen’s secrets, and he is determined to make things right for her, even if she keeps refusing to marry him. His title is only a courtesy title, but he has his own firm that makes the best piano’s in the country, and he is doing quit allright for himself.
Of course Val keeps some secrets from Ellen as well, like who his father is, although she is suspicious a bit as his friends are Lords as well, a Duke, an Earl.

I really enjoyed this story. At first I thought it really farfetched, how those two people meet and how close they become, and that high lords like Val and Darius do manual labor of the back breaking kind themselves in restoring the mansion, and not just supervise. But it fitted the story, and I enjoyed it.
Of course I did guess the reason behind Ellen’s secrets very soon in the book, but the plot kept thickening, and I really liked how Valentine took care of it all, freeing Ellen in finally accepting him. Val has some really nice friends, and I actually do look forward to reading more books in this series. They make great secondary characters, especially the two boys.
The book is also more focused on Val’s point of view, and that is really refreshing for an historical romance.

The villain in this story is still young, but really self centered and cruel. He is a true killer and cares only about himself. I am glad he got part of what he deserved. I don’t think he is a character whom can be redeemed in a future book or series.

I liked the quiet background in this book as well, the country, quiet life, and not the press of the ton and balls and shopping. I usually do love reading about balls and all the beautiful clothes and it was not in this book at all, and I did not miss it. Grace Burrowes has a nicely flowing writing style, and I like it. She does write good friendships and relationships.

I do hope my historical romance burn out is on the mend, and I can enjoy my favourite authors again soon.

7 stars.

Banne6 photo bannerLLC20146_zps5b7135ef.png

And now I really want to tease Blodeuedd about coming to Berlin, but sadly, Grace Burrowes has cancelled her appearance the Love Letter Convention.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 29 maart 2014

New additions to my addiction

Stapel boeken

My fifth new additions post for 2014. Some books have been read and reviewed already, as it has been a while since I posted one.

From Bookdepository:
Marjorie M. Liu – Labyrinth of Stars
Laura Childs – Sweet tea revenge
Duffy Brown – Pearls and Poison
Anne Bishop – Written in Red (I have read the ebook 8 times already, so I am glad to finally have it in print).
Bella Andre – Come a little bit closer

Secondhand books:
Jim Butcher – Blood Rites
Jim Butcher – Death Masks
Jim Butcher – Grave Peril
Anthology - Stephanie Laurens - The royal bridesmaids
Riley Adams - Delicious and Suspicious (VG)
Amanda Ashley – As twilight falls
Laurien Berenson - Hair of the Dog
Catherine Coulter – KnockOut
Victoria Dahl - Bad Boys Do
Victoria Dahl - Start Me Up
Victoria Dahl - Lead Me On
Lydia Dare – Tall, dark and wolfish
Krista Davis - The Diva Runs Out of Thyme
Vickie Dreiling – How to ravish a rake
Jacquelyn Frank - Drink of Me
Yasmine Galenorn – Night Veil
Terri Garey - A Match Made in Hell
Terri Garey - Silent Night, Haunted Night
Julie Garwood – Sweet talk
Heather Graham – The unholy
Heather Graham – The unseen
Heather Graham – The uninvited
Heather Graham – Bride of the night
Heather Graham - Sacred Evil
Heather Graham - The night is alive
Heather Graham - The Night Is Forever
Talia Gryphon - Key to Conspiracy
Miranda James - File M for Murder
Sherrilyn Kenyon – Born of Shadows
Sherrilyn Kenyon – Born in Silence
Kieran Kramer – The Earl is mine
Elizabeth Lowell - Blue Smoke and Murder
Judi McCoy - Death in Show
Judi McCoy - Heaven in your eyes
Diane Mott Davidson - The Grilling Season
Diane Mott Davidson - The Cereal Murders
Diane Mott Davidson - Sweet Revenge
Diane Mott Davidson - stick & scones
Diane Mott Davidson - prime cut
Diane Mott Davidson - the last suppers
Carole Nelson Douglas - Cat in a Flamingo Fedora
Carole Nelson Douglas - Cat in a Quicksilver Caper
Carole Nelson Douglas - Cat in a crimson haze
Kimberly Raye - Dead and Dateless
Shirley Russeau Murphy - Cat Laughing Last
Savannah Russe – Dark nights, dark dreams
Michele Scott -. A Toast to Murder (G++)
Maggie Shayne – Daughter of the Spellcaster
Maggie Shayne – Blood of the Sorceress
Sarah Strohmeyer - Bubbles Unbound
Sarah Strohmeyer - Bubbles in Trouble
Sarah Strohmeyer - Bubbles Ablaze
Sarah Strohmeyer - Bubbles All the Way
Christine Warren – Drive me wild
Jeaniene Frost – Eternal Kiss of Darkness
Jeaniene Frost – First drop of Crimson
Jeaniene Frost – This side of the Grave
Laurell K. Hamilton – Strange Candy
Anthology: Bite – with Laurell K. Hamilton
Julie Garwood – Sizzle
Nicole Jordan
To tame a dangerous lord
Rachel Gibson – Lola Carlyle reveals all
Susan Donovan – Take a chance on me
Susan Donovan – The night she got Lucky
Elizabeth Peters – Silhouette in Scarlet
Jill Mansell – Sheer Mischief
Lisa Lutz – The Spellman Files
Meg Cabot – Size 12 is not Fat

A signed sticker and a bookmark for Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop. I am delighted with it! Best series ever.

Won on I Smell Sheep blog:
A token for the bus in the Hollows by Kim Harrison, and a pin, some scary stuff and some Spongebob thingies. Thanks Sharon and Katie!

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 28 maart 2014

Sherrilyn Kenyon – Born of Shadows

The fourth book in the League series, published April 26, 2011.
Genre: sci-fi romance
Cover: I am glad my book has the smaller cover, I really don’t like the new one.

Born of Shadows photo h23593_zpsd35ed3fc.jpg
Born of Shadows photo 0446573264_zps8e806b69.jpg

In a world where the League and its assassins rule, where betrayal and treachery are everywhere . . . the only survivors are those ones who are . . .

For Caillen Dagan, a defiant soldier of fortune, survival isn't a right, it's a brutal daily battle. Moving through the Ichidaian universe like a wraith, his brushes with the law and death are legendary. But when an act of rare heroism reveals his hidden birthright, he's forced into a world much more dangerous and cold-hearted than the bloody streets where he was raised-one of obscene wealth and lethal politics.
Ferocious and determined, Desideria serves as an official bodyguard for her queen. Born of questionable genetics, she will do anything to prove herself worthy of the weapons she carries and the position she's won by combat. But when she uncovers a ruthless plot to assassinate the queen and overthrow her country's government, Desideria is caught in the crosshairs.
With assassination contracts out on both of them, Caillen and Desideria must learn to fight together or die alone. And if they fail, their governments will fall into the hands of an unimaginable evil.

It has been over 3 years since I discovered this series, read the first three books, and fell in love with this series. I have recently bought books 4 and 5, and I was really anticipating diving back into this fascinating galaxy.

I’ve met Caillen in the previous book, Born of Ice, and I was looking forward to reading his story. While saving one of his sisters, who is smuggling dangerous contraband and on the verge of being arrested and executed for it, Caillen is arrested in her stead. But just a few moments before the execution, he is saved by his father. Caillen does not remember anything about it, but as a young boy he was abducted from his rightful home, and rescued by the man he thought of as his father. He was raised like a son, along with his three sisters. And when his father was killed when Caillen was eight years old and witnessing the murder, he has been taking care of his sisters to the best of his ability.
Now one of them is happily married to one of the most dangerous men in the galaxy, and he still needs to take care of his other two sisters.

Caillen is an amazing pilot, every airship ever made he can fly, he is fluent in many alien languages and dialects, and he has some very good friends in low places, as well as many enemies. He is not rich, but makes a decent living for himself and his sisters, who are smugglers as well, and think they don’t need him, unless they run into trouble, and then he is the first one they call. I admit, I am not too fond of Kasen, the one that gets Caillen into trouble most often.

But Caillen is rescued by his father, who happens to be the Emperor of the Garvon and Exeter systems. And Caillen is a prince, and his fathers’ heir to the throne. And now he has to learn how to be a prince, court manners and table manners and everything. Caillen really loathes these lessons, and his heavy court robes. He just wants to have fun with his friends Mallen and Darling, and find a hot woman for his bed. But someone is not happy that Caillen has been found after all those years, and he or she will take measures to remove him again. Like by killing his father and framing Caillen.

Caillen is not the only royal heir in trouble. Desideria from Qillaq comes from a race where the women are the fighters, and men are soldiers or kept pets meant for breeding only. She is one of the daughters of the Queen, and like her sisters, she has to prove her worth in battle before she is considered an adult. Two of her sisters have already died in practice, and it seems like her sister Narcissa is intent on making her the third one. But Desideria does not give up the fight; she does not only beat her sister, but her aunt and weapons master as well. As a reward, Desideria is now considered an adult at 26, and is appointed a position in the Queen’s guard. If she can keep this position for a full year, she is allowed to take a male for the first time. So far, Desideria has not been interested in one of the soft kept males at the palace, unlike her sisters. And now, for the first time of her life, Desideria will go off planet, to a summit of all the rulers of the planets in the League controlled galaxy.

Intrigue runs heavy on Qillaq, and Desideria overhears a complot to kill her mother, the Queen, and to implicate her as the suspect. Her mother does not believe her when she tells of this, she believes her Guard absolutely loyal. As Desideria’s father was an offworlder, she is considered impure, a half-breed, and looked upon with hatred and disgust. Her blood is considered weak, as she shows feelings a real Qillaq is not supposed to have. Someone is not happy that Desideria spoiled the plot, and her fellow Guards try to kill her. Caillen comes to her rescue, and is then set up for trying to kill the Princess! As the women turn on Caillen and call for help, Desideria barely manages to save his life in turn, but the both of them tumble into an escape pod that launches itself. And so, weaponless and without any real engine power, they are helpless to choose their own destination. But when a fighter tries its best to kill them, Caillen shows his unique skills with everything that flies when he makes some adjustments to the computer and its preset designation.

Still, landing on a planet populated by a race that loves to eat humans, they certainly are not home free. They will have to make their way to the nearest city and communicate for help, while staying undiscovered. Both Caillen and Desideria are warriors, used to hardship and pain, and together they are an amazing team. Of course, surviving is not all they want, they both want to save their parent from the assassins after them. And if that is not possible, they will discover who is behind it all, because somehow, this has to be related.

And with the help of Caillen’s friends, they will survive… But as the future rulers of their own planets, they know there is no possible future for them as a couple, no matter how much they have fallen in love.

I really loved this book. Sherrilyn Kenyon has written an amazing galaxy with many races and planets, and I loved the little bits of culture and everything I learned here. Of course, the almost instant travel from planet to planet and through convenient wormholes needs to be taken for granted, but it was fun to read and filled with action and suspense.
The plot was much deeper than the obvious culprits and I did enjoy the surprise very much.

I liked Caillen, how he is always there for his sisters, and now has to learn a whole new life. He is certainly honorable, even though he is a smuggler and pirate by trade. He is smart and self though, and I admire him. And now he is falling for a woman he knows he can never has, how he came to respect her and love her was fascinating to read.
Desideria thinks she is a good warrior, but she knows nothing about the outside world. Her race does not mingle but keep to themselves. She is very lucky to be with Caillen, and she knows it and appreciates it. Even though she should leave him behind when he gets severely wounded, she stays and takes care of him to the best of her abilities. I liked that in her, that she went against her life and did what she felt was best. (Of course she never would have survived on her own on a hostile planet, without Caillen to keep her safe, but still).

A great couple, amazing galaxy and great friendships, lots of action and some tender love scenes, what more can I want in a book. I might have fallen out of love with her Dream Hunters, but certainly not with this series. I will read book 5 soon, and it is a very thick one which makes me happy.

9 stars.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 27 maart 2014

Molly Harper – And one last thing

A stand alone novel, published July 27, 2010.
Genre: women’s fiction / chick lit
Cover: Fun

And one more thing photo n339911_zpsd0758c6a.jpg

"If Singletree’s only florist didn’t deliver her posies half-drunk, I might still be married to that floor-licking, scum-sucking, receptionist-nailing hack-accountant, Mike Terwilliger."

Lacey Terwilliger’s shock and humiliation over her husband’s philandering prompt her to add some bonus material to Mike’s company newsletter: stunning Technicolor descriptions of the special brand of "administrative support" his receptionist gives him. The detailed mass e-mail to Mike’s family, friends, and clients blows up in her face, and before one can say "instant urban legend," Lacey has become the pariah of her small Kentucky town, a media punch line, and the defendant in Mike’s defamation lawsuit.
Her seemingly perfect life up in flames, Lacey retreats to her family’s lakeside cabin, only to encounter an aggravating neighbor named Monroe. A hunky crime novelist with a low tolerance for drama, Monroe is not thrilled about a newly divorced woman moving in next door. But with time, beer, and a screen door to the nose, a cautious friendship develops into something infinitely more satisfying.
Lacey has to make a decision about her long-term living arrangements, though. Should she take a job writing caustic divorce newsletters for paying clients, or move on with her own life, pursuing more literary aspirations? Can she find happiness with a man who tells her what he thinks and not what she wants to hear? And will she ever be able to resist saying one . . . last . . . thing?

When Lacey finally discovers her husband cheating on her with his floozy of a secretary/receptionist, she has had enough. She keeps up appearances for a while, but he really acts like nothing is happening and all is well with their marriage. Should she turn her head and act like nothing out of the ordinary is happening, like her mother in law has been doing all her life, or will she put an end to her marriage and stand up for herself?
Her husband is an accountant, and Lacey often helps at the office during tax season. She is also solely responsible for putting out a monthly newsletter to their family, friends and clients. Her husband insist on doing it oldfashioned on paper though, instead of through a nice email system, as not to offend his elderly clients who are not computer literate. But this time, Lacey decides enough is enough, and she writes the newsletter she really needs to send out. As soon as she hits the send button though, she feels remorse but also alive. There is no stopping this.
Her mother-in-law is the first to confront Lacey with it. How could she do this to her darling son? Men are like that, surely she knows that? Surely she will beg for his forgiveness? Mike and BeeBee are not happy with being exposed like that, and they cry slander and sue Lacey. Which is fine, as it is the truth after all, and she has enough proof to back it up. Especially now she has hired the best divorce lawyer in town.

Lacey realizes that she does not want the house she has spent her whole marriage decorating and redecorating, she really does not like it at all. And so she takes her few possessions and the few clothes she actually likes wearing, and goes to her parents house. Her parents are on a vacation or something, but her mother gets so many phone calls from concerned friends, that they rush home. Of course her mother is supportive of Lacey, but her father is not, and he is giving her the cold shoulder. After hearing them accidentally talking one night, Lacey decides she has to leave, and goes to her cabin at the lake, which she has inherited from her grandmother. Expecting to be all alone now tourist season is over, she does not bother dressing when going onto her porch. But the house next to hers is rented out to a man she immediately compares to Hugh Jackman, complete with Wolverine sideburns.
Monroe does not like the fact that a newly divorced female is living next door, he has been relentlessly pursued by some in the past, and so he gives her a really cold shoulder. But Lacey could not care less about that, she is really not looking for a new relationship.

Of course, that surprises Monroe, and he starts keeping an eye on her. And one night, while Lacey is skinny dipping in the lake, just relaxing, he thinks she is drowning and tries to rescue her naked body. Lacey is not amused, and tells him exactly what she thinks of that. But it does break the ice a little, and they start some kind of friendship.

By some people, Lacey is ignored or cursed, but there are also lots of people who cheer her on, and admire her for what she had done. Because that email has gone viral of course, and has hit the news big time. And now Lacey gets a job offer she almost cannot resist, in writing cards or such to help out other women who are in the same situation, and who don’t have her snarky writing skills.

Slowly their relationship evolves, and Monroe, who is a writer himself, encourages Lacey to write a book herself. Certainly she sees how wrong it is to start writing newsletters like that for strangers? Doesn’t she see the damage she has done to herself? Lacey does not like this at all, to be told what not to do. And when Monroe pushes for her to acknowledge their strange relationship for what it is, she is just not ready for that. Lacey needs to put her own life on order first, and find out what she wants and what she is good at. She has never worked a day in her life, as she married straight out of college, and Mike did not want her to have a job.

And after a big fight with Monroe, Lacey returns to town, to get some support from her brother Emmett, they have always been good friends, and Mike never liked him. (Mike comes across as a big homophobic!) She has forgiven him for cutting of her hair (again) after making her drunk, but both Emmett and his friends really disagree with Lacey on how she acted with Monroe. Emmett allows Lacey to stay with him for now, but he really needs her help in his shop. He deals with antiques and curiosa, and people who don’t want to go to the trouble of selling online themselves. He is very good at it, but his administration is a huge mess, and that is where Lacey comes in. But of course her staying in town is discovered by one of her mother’s many friends, and Lacey will have to deal with her.

Anna recently blogged about her favourite all time contemporary romances, and this book made the list. As I had it on my shelves, I just had to pick it up and read it. And I am certainly not disappointed in this book. It is really hilarious at times, but I also enjoyed seeing Lacey grow as a person, and find herself again, after years of just being a dutiful wife.
I loved how she did not jump in a relationship with the first available man, but wanted to take care of herself first. She enjoyed her freedom, with no one to tell her what to do and when to do it. Her lawyer wanted her to write a report on her marriage and her reasons for divorce, to show her state of mind, and I think that is a wonderful way to tell a back story. Bit by bit, Lacey discovered herself.
Monroe was a real jerk at first, and when he was ignored, he could not handle it and became curious and involved with Lacey.

I totally agreed with how Lacey reacted to the men in her life, and how she stood up for herself. I am not a big fan of this genre, but Molly Harper pulled it of with just the right amount of humor and snark, without it getting over the top, or too sad.

I won’t spoil the ending of the book for you, but I really, really liked that. Thanks for the recommendation Anna! I will certainly read more Molly Harper books.

9 stars.

A blogger made me buy it

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

woensdag 26 maart 2014

Recommendations from Karin for March 2014

In order to bring some more variety to my blog, I have asked some of my bookish friends to tell about the books they have in the past month, and to give us a recommendation. Today’s post is made by Karin from Austria.


I have read 12 books this month and here is the order in which I would like to recommend them:

Murder of Crows: Anne Bishop
 photo n440684_zpsdf751deb.jpg

Master of Crows: Grace Draven:(do you sense a theme here?)

 photo 41z8l2HWHgL_BO2204203200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-bigTopRight0-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4BottomRight122_AA300_SH20_OU01__zpsc67ccd08.jpg

Entreat Me: Grace Draven:

 photo 51dri6Cy32L_BO2204203200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-bigTopRight0-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4BottomRight122_AA300_SH20_OU01__zps94f9979f.jpg

I don’t want to wax about Murder of Crows because Aurian and Maia have talked about everything I wanted to say as well.

So I would like to recommend a writer who I have discovered recently: Grace Draven
So far she has published only two books as far as I could find and they are both excellent.

Master of Crows is a mixture of dark fantasy and paranormal romance. Silhara (what a unique name for me!) of Neith is the outcast mage who earns his living by harvesting oranges and producing perfumes and the likes. Imagine my surprise: a powerful mage who does not sell his magic to whoever is in need of it, but who works like a common laborer in his orange grove.
Martise of Asher is the slave girl whose master - a bishop – keeps her spirit stone with part of her soul. She is sent to Neith to spy on Silhara, who of course guesses what her real task is. Marise gets to know the inhabitants of Neith better and better: the powerful master who clawed his way up from the gutters, Gurn, the mute giant, whose tongue has been cut out, Gael the shabby, stinky dog (a mage finder).
The relationship between hero and heroine is slow to build. There is no instant: set eyes on the heroine, wham bam “you are Mine” growling and then they have sex every other page. I also loved that the heroine was a plain girl with an enticing speaking voice (but a terrible singer). She didn’t get the make over that changed her into a beauty uncompared but Silhara saw beauty in her – and not only her Gift which has to be coaxed forward. The Gift appears when Martise and Silhara fight a soul eater – my eyes were glued to the pages.
In the end Martise and Silhara have to combine forces to kill a God whose Avatar reborn Silhara is. This scene was very well done as well and the end is most satisfying. I wouldn’t mind reading more books set in this world.

Entreat Me has the Beauty and Beast –Theme front and center in a very captivating way. I don’t want to elaborate on this book as well in case you might get bored. But I also highly recommend it.

I would also advise you to check out Grace Draven’s website. She has a serial story up on her Blog – “Radiance” - which she continues every week and I seriously consider printing the parts because these short chapters tell a completely unique story in my opinion.

I would also like to call your attention to the beginning of the second “Clean Sweep” book on Ilona Andrew’s website. It’s called “Sweep in Peace” and the beginning was very promising.

Last but not least I would like you to pay attention to Shelley Laurenston’s new book “Bite Me” which is published this very day.

So I wish you all a good time with all the new books that are going to fascinate you this coming month.

Aurian: Thanks for the recommendation Karin! I am happy that Ilona Andrews has started writing the next Sweep book. And I am confident that Maia will recommend the new Shelly Laurenston in her next recommendations post as well : ) There is a reason we are book friends after all ;) I do love the cover of Master of Crows very much.

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

dinsdag 25 maart 2014

Heather Graham – Ghost Walk

The second book in the Harrison Investigation series, published February 2, 2006 or somewhere in 2005.
Genre: paranormal romantic suspense (with ghosts)
Cover: spooky

Ghost Walk photo n144253_zpsf2d9f41b.jpg

This is no dream . . .
Nikki DuMonde's newest employee is standing at the end of her bed at four o'clock in the morning begging for help. It's a joke, right? Besides, as manager of a successful New Orleans haunted-tour company, Nikki doesn't scare easily. But in the light of day, harsh reality sets in as a police officer informs her that Andy was brutally murdered -- at the exact time Nikki swears the distraught woman was in her room.
No one believes her except Brent Blackhawk, a paranormal investigator desperately trying to forget his tragic past. Half Irish, half Lakota -- and able to communicate with the dead -- Brent is used to living in two worlds. But when he realizes the ghost of a slain government agent is also trying to reach out to Nikki, he knows that she, too, must listen to the dead . . . if she wants to keep living.

Nikki DuMonde is used to sensing ghosts, after all, she and her colleagues and friends give tours in New Orleans. O they are careful never to state that ghosts exists, but Nikki just senses that there is something around. How else to explain the sudden cold spots, or the strange mist she sees at times. But seeing her friend Andy at the foot of her bed after a night out at the town, is not something she has experienced before. Especially when she is awakened by the police who tell her that Andy has been found dead that same morning. A heroine overdose. Nikki refuses to believe that Andy killed herself, she was clean and had no intention of starting again, she enjoyed her new life and her job in New Orleans. But the cops can find no leads at all, and Nikki only has a vague clue. A strange bum ran into them the other day, and Nikki tried to warn her about something. But the bum has also been found dead, and he happened to be an undercover FBI agent. So he really has had nothing to do with her friends death.
Her best friend Julian thinks that Nikki is losing it, ghosts do not exist, and she needs to see his shrink. But Nikki is not the only one suddenly seeing ghosts; a woman whose purse was snatched has seen the same bum that Nikki has seen around.

Adam Harrison hears about the case, and he sends Brent Blackhawk back to New Orleans to find out the truth. The FBI agent was onto a big case, and he needs to find the evidence. Brent does not relish going back to New Orleans, it is where his beloved wife died, and the city is literally filled with ghosts. And he does see them. He is also convinced that Nikki can see the ghosts, and as both her dead friend and the dead FBI agent keep appearing for her, it is clear that they need to tell her something, and he will need her help in finding out what is happening.
There is also an old slave ghost in the main cemetery, who has grown really powerful over the centuries, and who is reluctantly helping Brent. To get close to Nikki and the others, Brent agrees to become a member of their team. After all, he was born and raised in New Orleans and knows even more stories than the rest of them. Half Native American and half Irish, he is a born story teller, and the audience loves him.

Nikki immediately feels a connection to Brent, and he makes her feel safe. Julian is not happy with this development, even though he has been teasing her about needing to get laid; he senses something is off with Brent. Brent is also attracted to Nikki, and he wants to protect her, but he also wants her to help him win the ghosts trust. Of course there are practical problems with that; Nikki cannot just call out in the middle of a tour that some ghost has appeared. Even more people would want her committed for that.

The police are not sitting still either, they keep searching for leads and witnesses, and as they really dislike the FBI agent who was appointed as the liaison between the agencies, they are open to psychic help from Brent.

I really enjoyed this second book in the series; I read it in one afternoon. (No I don’t read possible scary stories in the evening!). Of course, it was not scary at all; the ghosts were not evil but helping. Okay, Huey was teasing sometimes, throwing rocks to trespassers or pulling women’s hair.
I liked Nikki from the first page, she is a lovely woman and a good friend, and really afraid that she is loosing it when she keeps seeing Andy’s ghost and the bum who ran into them. But Brent manages to soothe he fears, and with his help, she acknowledges her strange new gift, and tries to handle her fear and accept what is happening. I really admire her for that, I think I would really go crazy myself.
Brent is an amazing character as well, he does not share much about himself or his past, but what he tells Nikki is important. His wife died 10 years ago, and since then he has not been really attracted to a woman like he is now to Nikki. Of course there have been some short affairs over time, but nothing permanent.

The author also managed to make me really suspect some of Nikki’s coworkers, as being part of the plot, and that was amazingly done. The real plot was not something easily guessed, and the end scene was amazing. This is not fast paced action suspense, but a good story filled with real suspense and some action. I did enjoy the ghosts and some of the secondary characters a lot.

Heather Graham has a lovely writing style, she manages to get my attention on page one and does not let me go until the book has ended. Her characters are really lifelike, New Orleans is as always a great backdrop for a ghost filled story. And I am more determined than ever to visit America and especially New Orleans one day and walk through this old city and eat all the strange things they serve there.

9 stars.

Autobuy author

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

maandag 24 maart 2014

Fiona Harper – Make my wish come true

A stand alone novel, published November 1, 2013.
Genre: women’s fiction
Cover: Christmassy

Make My wish come true photo w483819_zpsfba0868c.jpg

Family-orientated and Christmas-dinner cook extraordinaire Juliet is trying to keep it together in the wake of her marriage breakdown two Christmases ago, but the cracks are beginning to show. Bright and vivacious Gemma was always the favourite daughter... So she has no qualms about leaving Christmas in her sister Juliet's capable hands; and escaping the pressures of her glamorous job, and the festive madness by jetting off to somewhere warm. When Gemma shirks responsibility once too many and announces she's off to the Caribbean (again!); Juliet finally snaps. Gemma offers her sister the perfect solution - to swap Christmases: she'll stay home and cook the turkey (how hard can it be?) and Juliet can fly off into the sun and have a restorative break.
In the midst of all the chaos, there's Will, Juliet's dishy neighbour who's far too nice to float Gemma's boat and may secretly harbour feelings for her sister; and Marco, the suave Italian in the villa next door, who has his own ideas about the best way to help Juliet unwind. Will the sisters abandon caution and make this a Christmas swap to remember?

Juliet has always been the good and dutiful daughter, hiding her mother’s depressions from her younger sister, and taking care of her when their mother was unable to. She is now divorced, with four children, and she is cracking. She lives for her children and their pleasure it seems, driving them to and from school, their sport clubs, and whatever, participating in their schools and clubs and other social things. Taking care of her aunt who is getting worse and worse with Alzheimer. And the most important thing of all: Christmas has to be perfect.

Her younger sister Gemma is working for a movie company, and Juliet does not think too highly about that, but Gemma is really good at her job, and it is exhausting. Long hours, difficult people to work with and to cajole and look after. And Gemma is not up for a Christmas feeling unwanted and unappreciated at her sisters. She knows she has promised to help this year, but she just can’t deal with it. She needs a vacation. She does not need her sisters constant messages and innuendos. But when she visits her sister to drop off all the presents for her nieces and nephews, her sister blows up. And Gemma offers to swap Christmases with her. She will take care of everything, and Juliet should go on holiday on her own. At first Juliet refuses, how can she ever leave her children behind for Christmas, especially after what their mother did, so many years ago. But her children vote for her to swap with their aunt, they also suffer under the strain their mother dealing with. She never has time to just be with them.

And so the sisters swap. Gemma thinks it will all be a piece of cake, how hard can it be? She really does not need her sisters elaborate notebook full of to-do-lists. But she finds out the hard way how hard her sister’s life is.
And Juliet needs to learn how to relax, and not schedule her vacation to death. She is pleasantly surprised by the luxurious resort she ends up at, but seeing all the couples is making her stand out and feel lonely. But she is determined to see it through. And when her sexy younger neighbour shows interest in her, instead of all the beautiful younger women vying for his attention, she pretends to be her sister. How can he be interested in a boring house wife with four children?

This really could be a fun book, but instead, it made me really sad. Both Gemma and Juliet have serious issues to deal with, both thinking the other the favoured child. When they finally, finally got to talking, their eyes opened, and they became more appreciative of the other. But still, I think they need a lot of therapy to work this through.
Especially as Gemma “poaches” on neighbour Will, who has previously shown some romantic interest in Juliet.

The four children, well, they were brats. I am very happy they are not mine. The oldest daughter is a lot like Gemma, and Juliet sees that and resents it, while the second daughter is a spitting image of Juliet, and way too serious already. The twin boys are just a disaster.
Yes, being a mother is very hard work, and this book shows it. But the overall feeling I had when I finished it, was depressed.

Still, Fiona Harper did make me finish the book, and I was a bit surprised by that myself. Normally it would have been an early DNF. Women’s fiction is really not my genre I need a huge dose of humor in it, and here that is really not the case. The story was a good one, although not very original, sisters swapping lives, but just too sad for me.

6 stars.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Banne6 photo bannerLLC20146_zps5b7135ef.png

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zondag 23 maart 2014

Patricia Briggs – Night Broken

The eighth book in the Mercedes Thompson series, published March 11, 2014
Genre: urban fantasy
Cover: ugly

Night Broken photo n433496_zpsbf0f8009.jpg

An unexpected phone call heralds a new challenge for Mercy. Her mate Adam's ex-wife is in trouble, on the run from her new boyfriend. Adam isn't the kind of man to turn away a person in need - and Mercy knows it. But with Christy holed up in Adam's house, Mercy can't shake the feeling that something about the situation isn't right.
Soon, her suspicions are confirmed when she learns that Christy has the farthest thing from good intentions. She wants Adam back and she's willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, including turning Adam's pack against Mercy.
Mercy isn't about to step down without a fight, but there's a more dangerous threat circling. Christy's ex is more than a bad man - in fact, he may not be human at all. As the bodies start piling up, Mercy must put her personal troubles aside to face a creature with the power to tear her whole world apart.

I loved this book, the blurb tells a lot, and I did not read it before I started reading this book. The day starts badly for Mercy, when Adam’s ex-wife Christy calls. Her new boyfriend is stalking her, and she is very scared for him. And of course Adam offers her his help. With some pack members as witnesses to the conversation, Mercy really cannot refuse having Christy stay with them. She really sounds scared of the man. But Mercy is also not planning to give up her place at Adam’s side.
From the first hour that Christy has arrived, she is trying to take over the house though, starting cooking dinner, inviting pack mates, and ordering her daughter Jesse about. Christy is a master manipulator, and just the way she asks questions and makes remarks, make Mercy unable to fight back. She would only be seen as a jealous bitch, and as her position in the pack is not at all stable, she cannot do that to Adam. But she does draw the line when Christy starts using their bathroom, instead of sharing with Jesse.

Eating dinner that smells like Christy all over is just impossible for Mercy. Especially as Adam seems to love it. Mercy is not a good cook, but she is a great baker. But with Christy taking over in the kitchen, she does not even have the solace of baking cookies. And so she tries to stay out late in her garage, working on cars, with help from Tad, Zee’s son.
When Christy does not even feel safe with four werewolves guarding her, and wants Adam to work from home as well, Mercy is not happy at all. Especially when Christy starts answering Adam’s phone, and ordering her to shop for some groceries.

Christy is not the only problem Mercy has to endure though. The powerful Fae Lord who declared the Fae separated from humans, wants the walking stick that Mercy has. His father Lugh made it, and he wants it back. But Mercy has given it as a gift to Coyote when it became bloodthirsty and started attacking people on its own. He gives Mercy one week to retrieve the walking stick. Mercy has no idea how to find or summon Coyote. Asking for help from other walkers she met recently, she finds out she has a half brother in prison, and he might know more. Taking Glory with her, she visits her half brother, who sometimes suffers from visions. Unfortunately, the only way he knows how to summon Coyote, is to be interesting enough. And that is not something he ever wants to be again, as Coyote always messes up his life, and is the reason he is in prison in the first place.

Christie’s stalker is very real though, he has not only murdered another sort of boyfriend of hers, but he has set fire to her apartment building, and some people have died in that fire. And now he has shown up at Mercy’s garage, while Mercy is working there alone. Tad has already gone home for the evening, but Mercy just did not want to face the situation at home just yet.

And now she will find out the hard way that Christie’s stalker is not human at all. So why did Christie never mention it? She has put the whole pack at risk, this is not something they can fight either. The whole battle has been captured by the security cameras Adam had installed, and Adam and Tad are only just in time to safe Mercy. With some help from the Fae they find out what they are fighting, but defeating it is not simple, at all. Especially now that the creepy Cantrip agency wants to arrest Mercy and Adam and take them in for “questioning”.

I loved this book very much. I have read a lot of reviews that focus completely on Christy and how she wants Adam back, and how Adam does nothing to show support to Mercy. And I agree, that he could have done something at times. But there is so much more happening in this book. The situation with the Fae Lord, and that Mercy has a brother. Coyote does shop up eventually, and messes with them, but he is also there for Mercy when he is least expected to be. Warren and Kyle play a nice secondary role in this story, and in the end, I think Mercy has gotten a whole lot of respect from the pack.
And Mercy does get a little bit of revenge on Christy and she does tell her the truth, until Christy dissolves in crocodile tears.

I liked Mercy, she was strong, and did not give in to her urges in engaging Christy. Yes, Christy is a b*itch, but she was never pack, and she is weak. Only caring about her self, always blaming other people, especially Adam, for whatever happened to her. Jesse is living with her father because her mother has neglected her a few times too many, but they all seem to have forgotten that.

I do have one minor complaint, it is never explained why Christy keeps answering Adam’s personal cell phone whenever Mercy called him. But in my opinion, this book brought the magic back for me, after liking the last two books a little bit less than the first five in the series.

10 stars.

Autobuy author

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

zaterdag 22 maart 2014

Heather Graham - Haunted

The first book in the Harrison Investigation series, published September 1, 2003.
Genre: paranormal romantic suspense (ghosts)
Cover: My book has the smaller cover, very creepy in reality.

Haunted photo n83672_zpsbfe7ed02.jpg
 photo 1551667509_zpsed9305af.jpg

When does a gift become a curse?
Matt Stone doesn't believe in ghosts. But there are those who are convinced his home, a historic Virginia estate that dates back to the Revolutionary War, is haunted. Pressured to get at the truth about some strange happenings at Melody House, he agrees to let Harrison Investigations explore the house. But he isn't ready for beautiful, intriguing Darcy Tremayne.
As a paranormal investigator, Darcy has learned to believe in the unbelievable. And she's given Matt fair warning: sometimes people don't like the skeletons she finds. She never dreamed that the warning would apply to herself. For she's about to discover that Melody House holds much more than a simple mystery form the distant past. What it holds is a very real and lethal danger, one that will cast her into a struggle against the worlds of both the living and the dead.

Matt Stone is the Sheriff of Stoneyville and the owner of an ancient mansion. Paying for its upkeep is not easy and he has had to open up the house to tours and other events. But recently some spooky things have happened, and he is not happy at all. He also does not believe in ghosts, and thinks someone living must be behind it all. But when Adam Harrison calls him and asks to be allowed to investigate the house, he agrees. Adam was a good friend of his grandfather and he trusts him to debunk the ghost stories once and for all.
What he does not anticipate is the beautiful Darcy Tremayne showing up instead of Adam. How can a beautiful and smart woman like that actually believe in ghosts? Is she a fraud, a damn good actress, or does she make herself believe what she claims to see?
But ever since her good friend Josh died, Darcy is the real thing. She does experience the past and can see and feel ghosts if they want to communicate. At first she thought she went mad, but Josh’s father Adam explained it all to her and his belief in her was such a relief at first. He has tested her extensively, and together they always find out the truth. But this time might be more dangerous than ever before. Something malicious is in the house, and Josh cannot enter the house to help Darcy. He has kind of become her spirit guide, and she treasures his warm and friendly presence.

After finding the skull of a girl who was murdered in the woods 150 years ago, Matt still does not believe in Darcy or in ghosts at all. But someone else does, when accidents keep happening to Darcy. She even starts to distrust Matt, when it seems like the ghost that is haunting the General Lee room is not so ancient as they all thought, and no one has heard from his ex wife for years now. But his ex-wife is still very much alive and she might be the one to shed some light on the evil things happening in the house. If she is on time to safe Darcy …

I’ve recently read a review on one of the blogs I follow about a book by Heather Graham and it really made me want to dig into my own pile of her books, and start reading. I think I have bought heaps of them because I once read a translated one, many years ago. So I searched for the first book in one of her paranormal series, and stumbled upon this one. The very first chapter made me cry and want to read the whole book at once, but it was way too late on a Sunday evening to start a new book. I am the kind of reader who needs to finish a book at once if I am grabbed by it.

I loved Darcy, how she kept her head high and believed in herself, especially with such a big sceptic as Matt. She knows how hard it is to have a relationship with someone “normal” when she is not, and Matt does not believe in her, or trust her. But still, the attraction between them is huge, and they cannot resist acting upon it. She knows she will be hurt in the end.

Matt regretted the decision to let Harrison Investigations explore the house almost immediately. His assistant Penny would love to have a real haunted house to advertise and draw more tourists, but Matt despises that. He just can’t believe in it. Or in people who claim to have psychic skills. Still, he is very much attracted to Darcy and can’t stay away from her. And when he gets the urgent need that he has to go to Darcy, he tries to deny it, that there is not a voice telling him what to do, just in time to safe her … He fought hard, but in the end, he had to give up some of his convictions.

The mystery itself was so good. I was convinced I knew the answer and I was wrong. Sure, I had some distrust against someone based on my reading experience, but the plot was amazing. And I was put on the wrong foot a few times as well.
I enjoyed the secondary characters as well, but I was glued to the pages especially when Darcy was trying to connect with the ghosts, and find out what has happened in the past. It was eerie and totally believable in the way Heather Graham describes it all. I want to believe, but I also never want to see a ghost myself, not even a benign one like the civil war soldier still guarding one of the downstairs rooms in Matt’s house.

I can’t wait to read more Heather Graham books soon. And as I have about 50 of them on my shelves, you will see them appear on the blog regularly.

9 stars.

Autobuy author

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

vrijdag 21 maart 2014

Laura Childs – Sweet tea revenge

Book 14 in the Tea Shop Mysteries series, published March 5, 2013.
Genre: cozy mystery with recipes and tea tips.
Cover: beautiful

Sweet tea revenge photo n402995_zpse8722189.jpg

In the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Agony of the Leaves, Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning may always be a bridesmaid, never a bride, but this groom is never going to make it to the altar...
Theodosia Browning's dear friend, Delaine Dish, has asked her to be a bridesmaid for her wedding. But when the big day arrives, everything seems to be going wrong. First, a massive storm is brewing over Charleston. A bad omen? Second, Delaine's maid of honor is late for the ceremony. And finally, the groom not only has cold feet - his whole body is cold. A murderer has crashed the wedding.
As Theodosia comforts a devastated Delaine, she needs to sort out the suspects on the groom's side from the suspects on the bride's side. One thing soon becomes apparent - revenge won't be the only dish served cold at this wedding. And if Theodosia doesn't watch her step, a cold-blooded killer may have a rude reception in store for her...

After serial dating the rich and famous for years, Delaine Dish finally got one to propose to her, and now she is rushing to tie the knot with Dougan Granville, a very rich attorney. Theodosia is her maid-of-honor, and has been helping with the preparations. Delaine is nervous about it all, but at last everything is in order and she is ready to descend the stairs of the old Inn where they are having the wedding and reception. If only the groom would appear … Thinking he must be working on something and forgetting the time, Theodosia intents to fetch him. But when she enters his dark hotel suite, something does not feel right, and that is when she finds his dead body in front of a platter of white powder …
Delaine is hysterical, and Theodosia has a hard time restraining her, after all, this is a crime scene. It was not a simple case of drug overdose after all, Dougan has been hit on the head hard enough to be killed. The police will have to investigate, and as the wedding guests are all important people, politicians and businessmen foremost, they are not happy to be detained and questioned. Tidwell, the police lieutenant in charge, does not want Theodosia to “help” with this investigation, but Delaine does ask for her help in finding the killer. She wants her revenge, and she has set her sights on her fiancée’s ex-girlfriend.

Still, there are more people with a possible motive, Dougan’s stepson who entered his life again just recently and scored a job at his law firm, or perhaps his business partner. And what about the illegal Cuban cigars Dougan was always smoking and perhaps selling in his cigar store? Someone must have smuggled them into the country.

And so Theodosia is busy with her tea shop, the special catering events and finding Dougan’s killer. And now Delaine also wants her to help her with the catering as Dougan’s mansion is scheduled to be one of the houses open for the public on the famous Garden Tour.

There are also two young men set on making a documentary on ghosts, and they want to try to find Dougan’s ghosts. Theodosia is sceptic of course, but Delaine is all for saying goodbye to her Dougan like that. But back at the Inn where it all happened, they are interrupted by Tidwell, who is not finished with his investigation of the crime scene yet. Nor has the murder weapon been found.

Many years ago, this was one of the first cozy mystery series I started reading in English. I fell in love with book 1 and never fell out of love. The series is still going strong, and I love following up on Theodosia Browning, the owner of the Indigo Tea Shop and her two employees / friends Drayton and Hailey. Drayton is the tea master, he brews and blends the most amazing sounding teas, and Hailey is a phenomenal baker. I would love to visit Charleston one day and find out if this tea shop exists for real. Charleston is almost a secondary character in this series, as Theodosia is always visiting some famous landmarks and musea, mansions and gardens and such are described in great and lovely detail.

Laura Childs writes two more cozy mystery series and I love those as well. She has a way to create characters you love and have them live in towns you want to visit or feel like you already know your way around them. The mysteries are fresh and never easy to figure out before the main character does it.

I do love and admire Theodosia. She gave up a lucrative career in marketing and advertising to open up her tea shop. She loves her job, she lovers her new cottage and she has a great boyfriend. Her employees are her good friends as well, and she is very good at finding out things that help the police solve murders. Theodosia has style and elegance and is still someone I want to be friends with, even though I am none of those things myself.

The mystery part, now that was a big surprise in the end. Never did I see that coming.
I don’t really like Delaine Dish however, she is pushy and she manages to rope Theodosia in all kinds of things and does not really appreciate her. But she is very good at organizing charity events and has a big heart for all kinds of animals in need. Her sister is a different story, she is really bad news and I think Delaine hopes she goes back where she came from very soon.

I like Detective Tidwell. He sounds like a big and burly man but he is much smarter than he looks, and he has saved Theodosia many times already. He is not a potential love interest though, he does visit the tea shop regularly but that is more to sample Hailey’s baking I think. And to warn Theodosia to quit snooping around and putting herself in danger. Still, they do make a great team, and he does listen to her suggestions and the things she finds out.

And last but not least, there is Earl Grey, Theodosia’s dog. A sweet mix of dalmation and Labrador she found abandoned in the alley behind the tea shop and took in. And now he is a very well behaved gentleman dog and they visit hospitals and nursery homes together.

All in all, I love visiting Theodosia and friends and reading about her newest adventure. Reading a Laura Childs book is like visiting with old friends and catching up.

9 stars.

Autobuy authorLove this book

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian

donderdag 20 maart 2014

Anthology Santa Baby

Banne6 photo bannerLLC20146_zps5b7135ef.png

An omnibus of novels by Kylie Adams, Elaine Coffman, Lisa Jackson and Lisa Plumley, published October 1, 2002.
Genre: contemporary romance
Cover: bland

Santa Baby photo c8674_zps9d067f80.jpg

Ah, Christmas. It's a time for family and friends, giving and receiving, and just possibly, true love. Now, in this magical collection of holiday stories, four of romance's hottest writers capture the joy, hope, and heartwarming hilarity that only Christmas can bring...
Unwrap the kind of romance that only comes once a year in these four sparkling stories that celebrate the gift of love.

A Baby for Christmas by Lisa Jackson
It's turning out to be a Christmas of surprises for lonely Annie McFarlane. First, there's the adorable baby left on her doorstep, followed a day later by the angry, dangerously attractive man claiming to be the child's father. Liam O'Shaughnessy may be intimidating, but this is one precious gift Annie isn't giving up without a fight...

Annie McFarlane’s life shattered to pieces when her husband left her for his pregnant girlfriend after her own third miscarriage. But now she has built a new life in the country, doing secretarial work and caring for a house and horse from some elderly people. Then during a major snow storm, a baby has been left on her doorstep, with a simple note: For you Annie. Of course Annie falls in love with the little girl immediately, and names her Carol. She dutifully calls the sheriff office to report it, and Social Services. But everyone is busy with more important things than a missing baby right now, and she is left with the girl.
The next day though, Liam O’Shaughnessy barges into her little house, and wants to take the baby with him. He claims the baby is his and her sister Nola’s. Annie doesn’t want to believe him, and she certainly will not give up little Carol to him. And so Liam is stuck at Annie’s for a while, until her sister has been found and his name cleared.
Annie’s brother confirms that their sister was pregnant, but he also does not know where she went. Liam’s best friend is a private investigator, and he is searching for her sister as well. And as he is very good at his job, he will find her.

Annie has met Liam before, when he was still seeing her sister. That affair lasted only briefly though, and Liam is the only man Annie has ever liked that her sister was dating. And so, being thrown together, caring for the baby and the horses, they are attracted to each other and decide to get married. But what happens when Nola is found, and Liam is not the father after all?

A really nice story, and the reason I read this book. Lisa Jackson is coming to the Love Letter Convention in Berlin this May, and I wanted to read something by her.
I liked this story, and really felt for Annie, with all those miscarriages. She wanted nothing more than being a mother, and now she had a chance when a baby was left on her doorstep.
And Liam has had a hard time as well, and when he finds out he is a father, he is determined to do the right thing for his daughter. But Annie might just be the best thing that has happened to both of them…

7 stars.

Under the Mistletoe by Elaine Coffman
Dr. Stanley Levine keeps his house like his life - orderly, predictable, serene - until the day eccentric Southern belle Holly Noel moves in next door with her brood of seven girls. It may be Christmas, but that doesn't mean the dedicated bachelor has to kow-tow to an unruly clan defended by one maddening, sultry mama...

What a nice story, but those children would have driven me mad. Holly is a great character, a well bred and raised Southern lady, but not really lucky in love. Her first husband gave her twin daughters, now nine years old. Her second husband gave her another daughter, and her third husband the fourth daughter. Then both she and her beloved third husband, her sister and her sister’s husband were in a plane crash, with Holly as the only surviving adult. As she and her sister had promised each other to take care of their children if something would happen to one of them, Holly suddenly had three more daughters to care for. All in the ages between 2 and 9. Luckily she has a great housekeeper and a nanny who help her take care of them. Holly is a children’s book illustrator and she makes a good living at that. She loves all her children, but she is determined never to marry again, three times was enough.
Holly has also inherited her old home, and when that does not sell in one year, she decides to move back home and sell her apartment in town instead. Raising her daughters in a small town is much healthier for them after all.
Psychiatrist Dr Stanley Levine is not happy with his new neighbours. Being raised by his father, his grandfather and his uncle, and then gone to an all boy boarding school until university, he is not used to being around woman, and he does not know how to act around them. His new neighbour is everything he despises in a woman, and her children are noisy and loud and smashing his garden and windows. His big dog is terrified by their cat, an ugly crosseyed harelipped Persian. But somehow they get under his skin …

Personally, I would have gone mad getting those 10 females as my neighbours. I really don’t understand why Holly does not tell them to play in their own yard instead of his driveway, and why they keep stealing his milk and his newspaper and stuff. And why does she keep asking him for tools and sugar and stuff, while there are enough other neighbours who would like to help.
Yes I know, there would not be a love story otherwise. Still, I can’t like those children. But Holly loves them and cares for them. And she does not give up on Stanley.

A nice story, but I did not really believe in them being in love. There was not really any time spend together, they were just neighbours. They did not go out or something.

6 stars.

Holiday Stud by Kylie Adams
The only way single, successful career woman Audra Jarecki can face a Christmas homecoming - and the pitying eyes of her family - is with a gorgeous boyfriend on her arm. Hiring hunky Colby Douglas may the worst mistake of Audra's life...or the answer to everything on her Christmas wish list...

When her Calvin Klein underwear model boyfriend broke up with her, Audra did not want to go home for Christmas alone. Her mother already believes she is a lesbian, and both her sisters and their wayward husbands will be there as well. And her conspiracy theorist brother has just come out of the closet himself, and now suspects everyone of being gay.
So while pampering herself in a luxurious spa for the weekend, she overhears two women talking about having hired a man named George who is really amazing in bed. Being kind of desperate Audra decides to hire George for Christmas weekend to get her mother of her back.

George accepts her, but when he suddenly gets a request from another client for the same weekend, he convinces his recently fired best friend and roommate Colby to stand in for him … as Audra is a first time client, she doesn’t know him yet, and they do look alike enough for if he was described to her in details. Not wanting to go home for Christmas himself, and really needing the money, Colby finally accepts the job. His fiancée ran off with his baby brother recently and he has no desire to see them just yet, even though his mother really wants him home.

And so Colby accompanies Audra to her wacky family for Christmas. This of course does not work out as planned at all, and Colby has to leave.

I really enjoyed this fun story. I liked Audra, who is a very capable and busy business woman, and she saw a solution for her problem of being single again, and went for it. Being attracted to her “date” was not in the plans of course, but a nice benefit. The man sure can kiss!
The mother who is so determined that her daughter is gay, is annoying though, and so are the two sisters with the bad marriages. But they do change their lives and Audra loves them.
Colby is a very nice man, a pilot and he served in the army with George before that.
What I liked most about this story though, there is no rushed happy ever after ending, just that they meet again. Really nice short story.

8 stars.

Merry, Merry Mischief by Lisa Plumley
Flirty Katie Moore is the ultimate good-time girl. Too bad she's held up at the office, helping nose-to-the-grindstone architect Jack Brennan with a very special project: emergency babysitting for the boss's tiny daughter. Now, the party girl and the workaholic are joining forces to give the little bundle of joy a Christmas she'll never forget...

I really did not like this story, because of Lisa Plumley’s writing style.


All in all a nice anthology, with three sweet Christmas stories. The strange thing is that the stories are not in the order as told on the blurb, but in the opposite order.

7 stars.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

© 2014 Reviews by Aurian