Wednesday, June 27, 2012

At Last ( LuckyHarbor #5) by Jill Shalvis

Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she’s looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she’s tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won’t make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.
A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn’t let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can’t deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it’s up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor. ( synopsis from

Paperback, Forever, 345 pgs.    

Amy Michaels gets lost in the woods, alone and inappropriately dressed with no idea of how she is going to get out of the mess she is in.  She started her journey to look for a mysterious spot her grandmother wrote about in her diary. She is looking for the answer to finding peace in her life.
Matt Bowers is a forest ranger who rescues Amy when she gets lost on her trek. Having been a soldier and then a cop, he has found this new job to be perfect for him, including rescuing the occasional pretty girl. His nickname around town is “Ranger Hot Buns”.
Both Amy and Matt are attracted to each other but they both have baggage in their lives that makes it almost impossible for either one to think about a long term relationship. They dance around each other, much to the amusement of their friends, and finally decide to start a no strings relationship. This is a tried and true plot in romance novels but in this case, it seems perfectly appropriate for two people so dragged down by their past.
The addition of Riley, a teen runaway who Amy befriends, provides insight into Amy’s past and into why she acts as she does towards Matt. Her relationship with Riley also sets up a situation that could be the undoing of Matt & Amy’s fledgling relationship.
I enjoyed reading this book even though Amy could be a little exasperating at times. She and Matt have great chemistry and it was interesting to see her go from being a self-hater to a person ready for and open to love. Matt also had to move on from his broken marriage and let go of his self-blame.  The support of their friends is a big part of how they are able to do so. It was fun to see Mallory and Ty continuing in their romance from the previous book and turning the tables on Amy and Matt. I am anxiously awaiting the next book in the series!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Summer Nights ( Fool's Gold # 11) by Susan Mallery

Horse whisperer Shane Stryker is done with passion. This time around, he’s determined to meet someone who will be content with the quiet life of a rancher’s wife. And the fiery, pint-size redhead who dazzles him at the local bar definitely does not fit the bill.
Small-town librarian Annabelle Weiss has always seen herself as more of a sweetheart than a siren, so she can’t understand why Shane keeps pushing her away. Shane has formed the totally wrong impression of her but only he can help her with a special event for the next Fool’s Gold festival. And maybe while he’s at it, she can convince him to teach her a few things about kissing on hot summer nights, too—some lessons, a girl shouldn’t learn from reading a book!
Synopsis from

Paperback, Harlequin, 381 pgs.

This is the second book of the latest Fool’s Gold trilogy about the Stryker brothers. Shane Stryker has come to Fool’s Gold to start a horse ranch adjacent to the property his mother and brother Rafe own. Shane is divorced, having been in a hellacious marriage, and wants his next serious romance to be with a nice, faithful woman.
Annabelle Weiss is the Fool’s Gold Librarian and is also divorced from a man who belittled and controlled her.  She is looking for someone to love her unconditionally.  Unfortunately for her, the first time Shane meets her is when she impulsively jumps upon the bar in Jo’s place to demonstrate the dance of the happy virgin from the Maa-zib. Shane immediately paints with the same brush as his ex-wife.  When Annabelle turns up at his ranch for riding lessons, Shane manages to insult her in short order. He apologizes and the riding lessons continue and they get to know each other as time goes along.  Annabelle does find immediate unconditional love from someone on the ranch- a beautiful horse named Khatar!
Both of the people in this romance have baggage from previous relationships that shapes how this one develops. Shane is definitely interested but he keeps acting like a jerk and messing things up. Annabelle has feelings for Shane but she keeps getting rebuffed and forgives him but then it happens again. Both people get lots of advice from well- meaning friends but the changes have to come from inside for the relationship to really work out.  
Fool’s Gold works its magic again with Shane and Annabelle.  Favorite characters from previous books make frequent appearances and we get to see how their lives are progressing which is always nice. We also get a hint of who the next lucky couple will be. This is a great summer romance that has a little drama, a little humor and keeps the readers interest all the way through.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ain't Misbehaving by Molly Cannon

Marla Jean Bandy might be down, but she's not out. Even though her no-good ex-husband left her for another woman - a Bookmobile-driving librarian twenty years her senior - Marla Jean won't settle for another lonely night. She's not ready for Mr. Right, but why not have a little fun with Mr. Right Now? The only wrench  in her plan is her childhood crush. Jake- and the memory of the one toe-curling kiss they shared on a hot summer night years ago.
 ( Synopsis from

Paperback, Forever Press, 374 pgs.

Marla Jean is determined to move on with her life after her husband ditches her for the town librarian- a woman 20 years older. She goes out and decides she is going to have fun with local Lothario Donnie Joe, only to have her hot and heavy make out session interrupted by her childhood crush, Jake. Jake is also her brother Linc's best friend and has committed to keeping Marla Jean safe while Linc is away. Both Marla Jean and Jake fight their obvious attraction through most of the book with occasional sexy lapses.

Being a librarian of a certain age, I have to admit I was intrigued by the premise of the book but disturbed by the way it seemed that the whole town had just forgiven the two cheaters and left Marla Jean with virtually nothing- both financially and in terms of her self respect. The issue does get addressed later in the story in a way that is satisfactory for the reader. Jake is in a double bind, having feelings for Marla Jean and being the nephew of the librarian. It was interesting to read a book where you had some sympathy for the other woman because you saw her through her family's eyes.

Jake is a genuinely nice guy who takes his friendship with Marla Jean seriously and Marla Jean is a sweetie who has had a rough time and deserves someone sexy like Jake to make her see that there is still a life out there for her.

 I especially enjoyed some of Marla Jean’s creative cursing. How often do you hear a character say “ poop faced son of a dodo bird”.  This was a fun read with a nice romance and a happy ending all the way around. ( Just a note-Donnie Joe has his own book coming out April of 2013 and it looks pretty good from the excerpt.)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Paris in Love by Eloisa James

In 2009, New York Times bestselling author Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love: A Memoir chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

With no classes to teach, no committee meetings to attend, no lawn to mow or cars to park, Eloisa revels in the ordinary pleasures of life—discovering corner museums that tourists overlook, chronicling Frenchwomen’s sartorial triumphs, walking from one end of Paris to another. She copes with her Italian husband’s notions of quality time; her two hilarious children, ages eleven and fifteen, as they navigate schools—not to mention puberty—in a foreign language; and her mother-in-law Marina’s raised eyebrow in the kitchen (even as Marina overfeeds Milo, the family dog).

Hardcover, Random House, 272 pages

What a wonderful book this is! Eloisa James has written a memoir that is at times funny, romantic, and poignant. After a health crisis, she and her husband Allessandro both take a sabbatical from their respective teaching positions and move their family to Paris. The book is chock full of little vignettes of their life in France, adjusting to the cultural differences, finding their way around the city and even bridging the language issue. I particularly like the stories about her feisty daughter, Anna and her run- ins with a fellow classmate who eventually becomes her friend. There were so many interesting parts to the book. My heart felt sad when Ms. James wrote about a small museum of French historical treasures started by a local banker and later imparts the fact that the house was donated to the French government, his son died as a soldier for France and yet the entire family was shipped off to Auschwitz and never returned.
The American in me loved that some of the highly touted French cuisine is in fact, not so good, but the description of most of the food is simply amazing. The markets, the stores, the buildings make one want to chuck it all and head to France. The stories of the homeless man living in a tent with two little trees as his enjoyment in life make you appreciate life here. I had a good laugh with the stories about Milo, the family's part time Chihuahua who lives with Allesandro's mother in Venice and weighs 27 pounds! Mostly, I enjoyed the everyday stories of a family adjusting to change and loving being together. I read most of this book while writing a complicated grant for the library where I work and I couldn't wait to get home and start reading and feeling the stress just flow away with every page.