Monday, December 23, 2013

Three Book Reviews!

Today I'd like to tell you about three books I've read recently.  (NetGalley provided these titles to me for an honest review.)

The first is Take Me Home for Christmas by Brenda Novak.  I've read a lot of Brenda Novak's work because I shared a booksigning with her once and really enjoyed her personality.  This book is part of her Whiskey Creek series and is the story of Sophia DeBussy. I've wondered about her throughout the series because she's sort of on the fringes of the core group of friends after she broke Ted's heart when they were younger. She married a man who abuses her and she pays every day for the choice she made to marry him.  Then, while on vacation, her husband goes missing and she finds out that he's on the run from the FBI and they are practically penniless.  Sophia is forced to look for work to pay the bills and Ted takes pity on her because it's Christmas, but he vows not to get emotionally involved. He's been there, done that.  The tension between them is palpable and the situations they find themselves in were emotionally wrenching and well done. I enjoyed this one.

I loved how strong, yet vulnerable Sophia was as she faced the harsh judgments of those around her. Some townspeople were so awful, I was glad she at least had Ted in her corner.  I liked the character of Ted and how well-developed the romance was as each of them worked to overcome their emotional scars of the past.  For my gentle readers, there were a couple of sexual situations, but they were few and easily skipped over.  This was a nice Christmas story intertwined with the Whiskey Creek series that highlights forgiveness and compassion during this season.

Here is the back copy:

Christmas is a time for remembering….

Too bad all memories aren't pleasant. Everyone in Whiskey Creek remembers Sophia DeBussi as the town's Mean Girl. Especially Ted Dixon, whose love she once scorned.

But Sophia has paid the price for her youthful transgressions. The man she did marry was rich and powerful but abusive. So when he goes missing, she secretly hopes he'll never come back—until she learns that he died running from an FBI probe of his investment firm. Not only has he left Sophia penniless, he's left her to face all the townspeople he cheated….

Sophia is reduced to looking for any kind of work to pay the bills and support her daughter. With no other options, she becomes housekeeper for none other than Ted, now a successful suspense writer. He can't bring himself to turn his back on her, not at Christmas, but he refuses to get emotionally involved. He learned his lesson the last time.

Or will the season of love and forgiveness give them both another chance at happiness?

The next one is A Wicked Pursuit by Isabella Bradford.  Harry Fitzroy is the future Duke of Breconridge and must take a bride---and he's chosen the toast of the season Lady Julia Barclay.  He goes to her family home, but she takes him on an excursion that ends with him terribly injured.  Lady Julia's sister Augusta is the one who cares for him while he recuperates (because Julia can't handle "sick" people) and he begins to see that the "plain" sister is more his match than Lady Julia ever would be.

I loved the character of Augusta, she was so down to earth and happy with her lot in life, completely opposite of her sister. But when Augusta meets Harry and her world is turned upside down for both good and bad, her resiliency really shone through. It was interesting watching the repartee between her and Harry and the conversations were one of the drawing points of the book for me.  I wondered if they would be able to overcome society's opinions and move forward with the relationship and really have a chance to make it with all they had against them.  It was a romance  (and for my gentle readers there were a few sexual situations) but it had a lot more intelligence to it than some historicals I've read in the past.

Here is the back copy:

In Isabella Bradford’s enthralling new trilogy, three noble brothers—London’s most scandalous rakes—are about to do the unthinkable: settle down. Harry Fitzroy, Earl of Hargreave, is the first to meet his match and lose his heart . . . to a lady he least expected.

As the eldest son of the Duke of Breconridge, Harry Fitzroy is duty-bound to marry—and marry well. Giving up his rakish ways for the pleasures of a bride’s bed becomes a delightful prospect when Harry chooses beautiful Lady Julia Barclay, the catch of the season. But a fall from his horse puts a serious crimp in his plans. Abandoned by Julia before he can propose, the unlucky bachelor finds himself trapped in the country in the care of Julia’s younger sister.

Harry has never met a woman like Lady Augusta. Utterly without artifice, Gus is clever and capable, and seems to care not a fig for society. After a taboo kiss awakens passion that takes them both by surprise, Harry realizes he’d almost given his heart to the wrong sister. While London tongues wag, he’ll use his most seductive powers of persuasion to convince the reluctant Gus that she belongs with him—as his equal, his love, his wife.

The third one is Lethal Lawman by Carla Cassidy.  I really wanted to like this one because it had all the elements of a good suspense story---a woman returning to her small hometown to lick her wounds after her marriage ends, but finds herself being stalked and shot at.  A handsome detective comes to her rescue as they try to unravel who is stalking her.

The best part of the book was Detective Frank Delaney.  His wife had committed suicide years earlier and he has been dealing with guilt ever since. His character was the best developed and most sympathetic.  The heroine had so much potential with all she'd been through, but by the middle of the book I had a hard time with her motives. She doesn't want a relationship, wait, yes she does, but it has to be her way or the highway.  She was so confusing and her dialogue was really stilted in several areas.  The plot was somewhat predictable, but the ending saved it with the way Frank reacted and how sweet he was to her.  For my gentle readers there was one brief sexual situation that was easy to skip over.

Here is the back copy:

Marlene Marcoli made the mistake of falling in love and almost lost her life. Hoping to put her abusive marriage behind her, Marlene moves to Wolf Creek, Pennsylvania. But danger follows her once again when her apartment is vandalized. To make matters worse, the sexy detective working the case is distracting her beyond reason.

Detective Frank Delaney hasn't been interested in dating since his wife died—until Marlene comes to town. Irresistibly drawn to the blonde, he's got to find a way to make her trust him. And when Marlene's life is threatened, Frank must race to protect her—if they both hope to have a second chance at love.
I'm trying to reach my goal of 113 books for this year and I am really close---I have five more to go.  How many books did you read this year?

1 comment:

Hannah L. Clark said...

Hi Julie, Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for the congratulations! I'm very excited to be joining the published world of authors!