Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Two Book Reviews: Timeless Romance & Highlander's Temptation

The first book I wanted to tell you about today was the Timeless Romance Anthology: Autumn Collection by six great authors.  I was really excited about this one because so many of my favorite suspense authors participated and the blurbs sounded great.  
Each story had some great characters that I could relate to, and there were some fun settings from small towns to New York City.  There was also a pretty wide range of stories, from crazed stalkers, to the mystery of a letter's owner.  I liked some stories more than others, but I had a bit of a hard time with the pace of most of them.  I wonder if a novella just isn't enough pages to really build suspense because there wasn't time for red herrings or any sort of wondering---most of the time when the villain was mentioned, that's who it really was.  And some villains came out of nowhere, with hardly any mention.  It was just a bit odd for me, maybe because I'm used to the authors' full length works which include a lot of twists and turns and wondering, which you really can't do in a novella setting.  Yet, even with that, it was nice to have a quick read I could do when I had a second and everything was easier once I realized that the stories were pretty cut and dried.
The one novella I wanted to gush a bit over was Heather Moore's contribution because it's a prequel story for her new novel Finding Sheba. Her novella in this compilation is how Omar and Mia met and it does not disappoint. I love those two!

So, if you are in the mood for a quick straightforward romantic suspense story, this anthology is for you.

Here is the back copy:

Six Award-Winning Authors have contributed new stories to A Timeless Romance Anthology: Autumn Collection. Readers will love this collection of six romantic suspense novellas, all with one thing in common: Romance.

In Heather Horrocks’ charming story, A Hound Dog Named Elvis, interior designer, Kaitlin Hartley returns to her hometown of Aspen Grove, California, to the job of her dreams after a year of specialized training in New York. During the town’s Autumn Festival, she enters her dachshund, Elvis, into the Running of the Hallowieners race. Joshua Moore, the man who hadn’t wanted her to leave Aspen Grove, but hadn’t waited for her either, enters Elvis’s sister, Priscilla. When Kaitlin gets home afterward, she realizes Elvis has left the building—with Joshua. She has the wrong dog! Can she get her dog—and the man she’s never stopped loving—back?

Eye for an Eye, Stephanie Black’s thrilling novella, follows Mallory as she is just getting her life back together, living with her sister and brother-in-law and starting college. After a difficult few years following a family tragedy, she’s finally ready to move forward, which includes getting to know the charming Darien better. But when illegal drugs turn up in her sister’s drawer, the first person accused is Mallory, and suddenly she doesn’t know who to trust. She turns to Darien, but with all evidence pointing at her, she doesn’t know if Darien is the man to save her.

In First Heist, a suspenseful novella by Heather B. Moore, Mia, an undercover agent is about to make a handoff to co-agent, Omar Zagouri. But before she can complete her assignment, her cover is blown, and she finds herself escaping with Omar. The only problem is, her boss warned her about Omar and his sketchy history of landing himself in the middle of danger. After losing her mother in an attack planned for Mia, pulling off any heist with a man like Omar is the last thing she needs for her career . . . or her life.

Sarah M. Eden’s cozy mystery, Letter for Two, we meet Sophia, who looks forward to the 5:30 p.m. mail sorting she does with her next door neighbor, Ethan. They live in a renovated house, now split into two apartments. Ethan is one of those dreamy, smart guys, but he shows no interest other than being friendly toward Sophia. When they find a mysterious letter addressed to Eleanor, dated to 1953, Sophia and Ethan determine to solve the puzzle together. Sophia knows that spending evenings with Ethan in ‘research’ might be her only chance to convince him that she should be more than just a neighbor.

In the enchanting novella, Silver Cascade Secrets, by Rachelle J. Christensen, Jillian is the master landscaper at a beautiful park. Meeting Travis there soon after breaking up with her boyfriend, Jillian is wary at first. Travis seems like a great guy, but Jillian had fallen for great guys before. When she learns that his brother, Craig, was murdered six months before, her heart goes out to Travis. True to her curious nature, she starts asking questions and learns about Craig’s close connection with the park. But finding the answers puts Jillian’s life in danger, and she must decide who she really trusts.

Chocolate Obsessed, a captivating romantic suspense by Annette Lyon, we meet Whitney, an executive pastry chef who is working her resort’s booth at the New York Chocolate Show. The only problem is that she shares the shift with her arch rival, Stephen. But then an unexpected visitor shows up: Jeremy, a man who lost a dessert competition she judged. When Jeremy confronts her and becomes threatening, Stephen steps in and gets Jeremy dragged off by security. But that doesn’t throw Jeremy off for long; soon Stephen and Whitney are running for their lives.

The second book I wanted to tell you about was The Highlander's Dangerous Temptation by Terri Brisbin. This is a historical romance set in the 1300s.  Highland Laird Athdar Maccallum has decided never to marry again after two of his wives have died and one fiancee.  He feels like he is cursed and doesn't want to doom any other woman.  Until he sees how grown up the daughter of his enemy has become.  
Isobel is attracted to Athdar, but knows her father would never give his permission for them to court.  She conspires with her mother and Athdar's sister to see if there's anything more than a spark between them and events go from there.  

I liked the storyline overall, but mostly because the author is highlighting PTSD in medieval times, and there was a small mystery to go along with the romance.  I was a bit disappointed because for almost the entire book we are building up to a confrontation between Isobel's father and Athdar, but when it finally comes it's not really a confrontation at all.  A little let-down there.  The characters were interesting, but I also didn't get some of the backstory and inside jokes because I hadn't read any of the other books in the series.  I probably would try another book by this author, but would definitely start at the beginning of the series.  (As a note to my gentle readers, there was some sexual content, but it was brief and easy to skip over.)  (I received an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.)

Here's the back copy:

Cursed by past tragedies, notorious Highlander Laird Athdar MacCallum has devoted himself to leading his people - and has vowed never to marry again. Until he is utterly disarmed by the innocent beauty in the eyes of Isobel Ruriksdottir….

Isobel is drawn to the vulnerability she senses behind the fearsome facade of the clan chief. But with his formidable reputation, he is strictly forbidden. Being together can only lead them into danger, yet the temptation to risk all for their perilous passion is impossible to ignore.


Debra Erfert said...

I've read the previous Timeless Romance Anthology collections, so I can't wait to read this one. I've been waiting for it to come online. Thanks for reviewing it. I'm not so sure about the highlander one. I'll need to think about it.

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

I'll be interested to hear what you think of the anthology. Some really great authors, for sure.

Debra Erfert said...

I've already downloaded my copy, but I have to put in buttonholes in my husband's promised pioneer shirt before I get to read even one story--without feeling guilty, anyway. teehee...

TJ Butler said...

I just downloaded my copy of the Autumn Collection - thanks for posting about it!! I think you totally rock, by the way!! And I hope things are going well for you and your family!!

Julie Coulter Bellon said...

Debra, you are so talented! Sewing, reading, writing . . . is there anything you can't do?

TJ, I think we have a mutual admiration society going because I think you're pretty amazing, too. We need to catch up, seriously. :)

Debra Erfert said...

Uhmm...get published?

Jon Spell said...

Incidentally, Stephanie's is the only novella I've read so far, but it's a really quick read. Thoroughly enjoyed. Could have used a little more of her signature bone-crunching creepiness, but hey, it's Romance, right?