Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Quinn, Carr and Macomber

Full Contact

Tara Taylor Quinn

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This August 2011 Super Romance returns us to Shelter Valley, updating us on Shelley Moore’s life story. Shelley helped break a prostitution ring when car trouble and a poor choice led her to attempt hitchhiking in safe Shelter Valley. A high dollar john mistook her for his designated trick and brutally raped her.

She married her childhood sweetheart, but mere physical touch still unnerves her. The couple divorced and her ex has remarried. Things are so bad she barely tolerates spontaneous hugs from her young son. Her therapist suggests she try noninvasive healing touch through massage, a method commonly used on sexual abuse victims.

This visit to Shelter Valley, once again, provides a satisfying nuanced read. It gives a more realistic outcome for a virgin who suffers brutal rape than to go forward living a normal life without years of therapy. Realistically, times have changed since the first book and people are now more open to noninvasive massage to help rape victims recover. Excellent way to pass the word to damaged people everywhere. Thank you, Tara Taylor Quinn.

Forbidden Falls

Robyn Carr

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Readers ,this reviewer just started reading Robyn Carr. Virgin River series is slated to be nineteen books and novellas by May. Forbidden Falls is about midway through the series. My ninety-one year old father is devouring this series at the rate of a book a day.

The main characters in this book are new to Virgin River. Noah Kincaid is a Presbyterian minister who purchased the local church on e-Bay. He needs an assistant who can multi-task and finds one in Ellie Baldwin. She needs an upstanding job to regain custody of her two children from her ex-husband. I will not spoil the plot because in this read, especially, most of the fun is the twists and turns which unfold about Noah, Ellie, and local citizens. This book is a romance for romance lovers. Pick up your copy today.

Hannah’s List

Debbie Macomber

 Part of the Blossom Street series, Hannah’s List has intrigued me on the best seller lists. The premise is interesting. A dying young wife writes a letter to be given to her husband one year later. She suggests three possible women for him to consider for his next marriage. The first two women are available but in love with another, so it gets ‘kinda’ sticky.

The third choice entertained everyone but the widower. Consider the source of her first name, Macy. She feels lucky her mom was not in Neiman-Marcus when she went into labor. Macomber writes likeable characters. In this read you’ll find laughter and tears.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Bond, Pappano and Morsi

Our Husband

STEPHANIE BOND

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 Stephanie Bond’s first book has long been a favorite which holds up well over time. This wild romp came from the author of the successful Body Movers series. Bond’s hook is a traveling salesman has three wives scattered along his route. His three wives vary in age, education, and backgrounds. His first wife, Beatrix he married for money. His second wife, Natalie could be his daughter. His third wife, Ruby could be his granddaughter with Beatrix. Their personalities are different but they share the common thread of accepting superficial marriages without much communication because his force of personality gives each woman the feeling that she is special.

 The women each give him a gift. Beatrix provides status. Natalie allows him access to her medical earnings. Ruby renews his passion and builds an aging man’s ego.

When these women become the prime suspects in his murder they unite to solve the mystery. Their road trip is the stuff of family legends.

Because Bond is such a good writer, by the last page you will come to see all three as quite likeable.

Copper Lake Secrets

Marilyn Pappano

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Marilyn Pappano takes her readers along the reading experience like the consummate professional she is. Her books engage you. Believable and well-crafted characters become your friends, neighbors, or people you have heard about—Irish travelers.

The way the suspense grows with her main characters is refreshing as they are not at odds like the often written pair who instantly hate each other and then fall in love. Both seek answers to personal demons finding the answer in Copper Lake. They work together and grow to love one another while the suspense builds through more deadly threats.

The descriptive is rich, encompassing the reader in things as simple as childhood swims and as complicated as survival of our main characters. With Marilyn Pappano layering the plot, it is just so fascinating to read beyond the first layer. An awesome romantic suspense. I loved the Copper Lake estate where the action takes place. I enjoyed touching base with a familiar character or two. Pappano’s storytelling in this book is among some of her best. She had an earlier work turned into a movie for Hallmark. This one would translate easily to the big screen and is scary enough to draw in a wide audience of both sexes. Undoubtedly one of the best reads over over 360 books for me last year. Pick up your copy and feast on the work of a gifted writer.

Red’s Hot Honky-Tonk Bar

Pamela Morsi

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One of the best books I read last year is Morsi’s tale of Emmaline (Red) Cullens who has worked from homeless unwed teenage mother to proprietress of her own bar in a little locals’ hangout beyond the upscale River Walk of San Antonio, TX. While both are bound by the river, her piece of Heaven is definitely low rent.

Red is proud of her adult daughter serving in Afghanistan. Currently as a cougar to fiddler, Cam, she has good lovin’ and is not yet ready to kick him to the curb. One call from Bridge, her daughter, endangers this good life. Bridge’s ex-husband is deployed in S. Korea and out of the picture. His mother providing care for the grandchildren suffered a stroke. Red must take care of two grandchildren she barely knows.

I’m sure readers will enjoy Cam’s skills with children and helping Red grow. The two grandchildren are just incredible. Cam’s aunt adds another dimension to the story, enhancing the reader’s experience. Red learns to navigate PTA, its dragon lady, and a no show cupcake booth worker who ensnarls her in working the politically correct cupcake booth from hell. If ever a booth needed two workers it’s this one. Poignant and at times funny beyond belief, savor the read.

The quotable dialogue is laugh out loud funny. Once you meet Red you will understand the phrase: “A heart as big as Texas.”

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Robyn Daniels’ Friday Book Reviews: Meier, McCoy and Bashi

KISSES ON HER CHRISTMAS LIST

SUSAN MEIER

(HARLEQUIN ROMANCE 12/11)

An uplifting tale serves a well-liked woman floundering in her personal life, but highly effective at her job. A blizzard sends the potential buyer for her family’s business with his young Diva Christmas-hating daughter to her door for shelter.

Our attractive heroine, one of the most maternal and intuitive mother figures ever written, quickly helps the Diva fade and a Christmas-loving child spring forth. The hero is well written as both a good man and a caring father. He is, also, a bit of a handsome charmer used to getting further with a good body and nice manners. Our heroine makes him re-evaluate these gifts and what might win her over.

A nice holiday read with many holiday trimmings.

LONE DEFENDER

Shirlee McCoy

(Love Inspired Suspense 9/11)

This offering from the Heroes for Hire provided me a new experience. It offered an uplifting read without seeming to be at a tent revival. Skylar Grady is a private investigator abducted to the Arizona desert where she wakes up without survival skills except a strong will to live. She has been on a case tracking a deadbeat dad so she can’t figure out why the stakes grew so high.

It is a suspenseful, fun, romantic, and spiritually uplifting read. The hero is wounded but such a great match for our heroine’s Happy Ever after (HEA).

If you shy away from overly preachy books but are a Believer, see faith in daily life as portrayed by McCoy.

NYLON ROAD: A GRAPHIC MEMOIR

Parsua Bashi

This true graphic coming of age memoir tells the story of Bashi, an Iranian born in 1966. Pre-revolution, her parents enjoyed a certain lifestyle and political voice. Both disappeared with growing food scarcity.

The illustrations produce a fluidity I have not seen in other graphic novels. Admittedly, I have not read more than a dozen, but I encourage you to look at the artwork.

Bashi tracks her passage from pre-revolutionary politically active pre-teen to teen years under the Khomeini era. She loyally resisted chances to migrate from her homeland to stay with her parents.

She details restraints on Muslim Iranian women, which unfold at times a touch brutal but realistic.

The book encourages introspection. “I learned that not knowing is not a sin. Not knowing and yet being prejudged is where the problem starts.” P.79

Her knowledge of other cultures helps human understanding. Her book’s message is more encompassing than just human understanding and worth the read.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

 

Friday Book Reviews: Thomson, Thayer and Osborne

SHROUDED IN DARKNESS

BY

H.D. Thomson 

A friend suggested I read this paranormal suspense. Boy, I’m glad I did for its impressive prose and word choices selected to enhance tension. The story unfolds with edge of the seat suspense which caused me to jump more than once as I read (I admit to being a “weinie” about scary things). Thomson writes romance to engage the senses with sizzling love scenes. (an e-book)

 

THE COWBOY’S BABY

Patricia Thayer

Thayer’s (Harlequin Romance 7/09) rancher Trace McKane has an infertile wife, Kira. Both likeable characters have ruined their happiness and marriage trying to build a family. In this realistic book Kira speaks ten words to each verbal movement of her husband’s lips. Just as it is in real life, this simple explanation of the delicate verbal communications outside the bedroom offers realistic dialogue should anyone want to study how couples speak. Nicely done.

 

TEXT ORDER BRIDE

Kristen Osbourne 

A fun premise for what proved a too short book (e-book). A former college roommate, now a minister’s wife, sets up her thirty-two year old single tall friend in Texas with an even taller dairy farmer in Wisconsin. After a month exchanging texts, he proposes sight unseen. They trade pictures. Their first face to face contact is at the altar. Jason makes it clear to Amanda they will consummate the wedding on the first night of their brief honeymoon. A nice ‘baby story at 66 pages’ which could have grown into a good romance novel. It made a pleasant afternoon diversion.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Friday Book Reviews: Templeton, Molay, and Kent

Recently sickness encouraged me to seek comfort from my keeper books. So here are a few I always enjoy.

From Friends to Forever

Karen Templeton

Silhouette Special Edition 8/09

Tony Vaccaro is an all-Italian Northeastern male who loves his children. Therefore, he does housework, even toilets. Hungarian Lili Szabo is visiting her aunt and his uncle after her mother’s death. Widowed Tony has three well drawn adorable daughters who, along with him, would benefit from a traditional wife and helpmate. Sooner would be better as his wealthy in-laws miss their only child. They could afford to raise their grandchildren and are young enough to do a good job.

Templeton fills this book with snappy dialogue—some Hungarian, some Jersey shore, and some kid speak,  all done to perfection by a great ear mimicking with the best.

Where Templeton excels is getting us to care for two ordinary young people showing promises of greatness whose final careers are not flashy or high income but satisfying and well-suited to these nice people. Their shared love of family is touching. They surmount serious obstacles to earn their Happily Ever After (HEA).

For authors-in-training struggling to write dialogue, perhaps a study of this book or the author’s other books would prove informative.

Married by Midnight

Mollie Molay

Harlequin American 2/00

This American Romance is well-plotted. Tension layers up throughout the book. The premise is simple. Are the best man and bridesmaid a couple in the legal sense when they wake up in the bridal suite?

With the bride from Irish uniform class and the groom from Boston bluebloods, the author uses stereotypes but bends them enough to keep an interesting read and a fresh ending.

Call Me

Allison Kent

About eighteen years ago, “CBS 48 Hours” did a live story on an author getting the call from Harlequin books. This is the book.

Kent provided a solid and different hook: two single type-A personalities with no time to date flirting on an airplane. As they disembark, he hands her his business card. On the back is written, “Call me.”

Gardner Barnes and Harley Golden find love finds a way despite each running a profitable business. With love, they slay dragons under the skilled pen of realistic obstacles and great characters to enjoy HEA.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

Friday Book Reviews by Robyn Daniels: Morsi and Two by Johnston

Last Dance at the Jitterbug Lounge

 Pamela Morsi

This multigenerational excellent read covers Western life from the deep Great Depression until current times. The Crabtree family patriarch is dying. His namesake grandson Jack Crabtree barely manages time off to visit.

Jack and his wife Claire drive up from Texas to the Catawah, OK home place. They married very young and have done well but grown apart. Jack’s focus has been business and acquiring to be wealthy of his college educated and professional mother and step family.

Claire worries about his attractive and controlling female business associate who spends more time with Jack than she does. It is Jack’s perfect mother who insists Claire go with Jack to Catawah.

The book covers the marriages of three generations helping the couple rekindle their own love. A worthy read for the memorably drawn characters. More importantly is how the Jitterbug Lounge figures into the family’s history.

The Unforgiving Bride

Joan Johnston

A 1994 Silhoutte Desire, first in the Children of Hawk’s Way moving from the Hawk’s Way series.

Johnston’s first novel incorporating acute lymphocytic leukemia and by now the treatment is probably dated. Johnston takes on the high cost of medical care in America which is even more relevant today.

As a romance writer she uses Falcon Whitelaw’s ‘guilt’ for killing Mara’s husband a year before to seek an unsecured loan to save her sick young daughter without having to travel from the stability of her first real home. Treatment would be available at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN if she were willing to travel from Texas to Tennessee.

A freewheeling inheritor, Falcon has squandered away most of his inheritance in five years. The only help he can offer the angry and somewhat bitter woman is health insurance her daughter would be entitled to use if the couple marry.

It is a sparse well-written story of second chances.

Shattered

Joan Johnston

Johnston is deep into a multigenerational saga on which she has built a loyal following. She uses leukemia, again. This time a couple’s child needs a bone marrow transplant.

As Shattered is a longer book covering stories, let me say it builds on long-term love; crossover love; the things we do for love; just how stupid can a character be; and yes, you can get pregnant with unprotected sex more than once.

It is a fast moving book. Once again, only with a few changes we learn a young person had a fortune which was depleted in five years. This time a female married into a prominent family. The mother-in-law is the Texas Governor who wants to win the White House. It is her son who burned through the wife’s money. Saying more would give away too much.

My second objection to this book is that one man is planning to marry a woman only a couple years older than his child. Maybe no other reader will notice. 

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels

 

Friday Book Reviews: Maureen Child and Two by Jean Brashear

FRIDAY BOOK REVIEWS

 

Last Virgin in California

Maureen Child

This October, 2001 Desire is from Child’s Bachelor Battalion. Marine Colonel Forrest’s only child, Lilah, lives an independent and, by her notion, successful life away from the military. It is time to visit her traditional father who will try to set her up with one of his men. It is a pattern they have repeated unsuccessfully.

Now imagine the wiggle room when totally non-judgmental Lilah is introduced to Dad’s choice—a career military rules follower. Child does a nice job playing their seemingly insurmountable attraction. The scorning love scenes are drawn with good taste and great sensitivity. This read stands the test of time.

What the Heart Wants

Jean Brashear

This is the first book of a seven book series. The last three books will conclude in 2012. A Superromance issued in July, 2002. Ivy Malone Parker is the middle sister. She has a tenuous family connection left, her Great Aunt Prudie. When the older woman takes ill, Ivy moves into a small house behind Prudie’s café in the dying county seat of Palo Verde, Texas.

Brashear writes with great skill women who might be down but are a long way from out. I loved following her romance with imposter Linc Gardner in this page turner. The characterizations are just so well fleshed out. The plot offers a richness lush with possibilities. Enjoy where this journey began.

The Good Daughter

Jean Brashear

Book three of the series covering Chloe’s story. The second book offered a complex story of the surgeon sister and a hunky love interest. Chloe is the very perfect, biddable, and obedient of the sisters. Her first crack in perfection comes when Chloe takes a police psychologist position. Her love interest is Detective Vince Cornado who is a little crisp around the edges, offering readers one wild ride. A wonderful read as the sisters reunite, obliterating childhood loneliness and affirming the power of families.

Once again we enjoy great writing of supporting characters. I just love Molly who nudged Chloe toward a fully explored real life.

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Remember: If you want a particular book reviewed, please contact me. If you wish to review a book, we ask that it not be your own work. Make reviews between 20 and 300 words. Scale between 1-5 hearts with one being the worst book you ever read. Five is for a best ever read. We reserve the right to edit reviews for length and content. The reviews are based on recent reads, NOT NECESSARILY NEW RELEASES.

Reviewed by Robyn Daniels