Review: Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson

Bonnie Blythe is an English professor who has been engaged many years to her long-term boyfriend with dreams of  tomorrow as married and happy.  Her best friend met a fellow overseas last year and within months Bonnie is helping to plan her wedding.  Secretly Bonnie might be just a tad jealous that within months she was helping to plan a wedding that wasn’t hers.  However, a shocking discovery leads Bonnie to end her engagement, and she decides to close the book on love.  But in a romance novel – never say never.

Theo Wharton is like a romantic hero straight out of a Jane Austen novel – sexy, virile, handsome and impeccable manners. Fate has put Bonnie in England for the summer—to teach her favorite subject and conveniently very close to Theo. They had agreed to be friends-with-benefits but just as Bonnie begins to believe she’s falling in love she learns a bitter truth that makes her take a step back. Will she forge ahead and tell him or hold off so he can complete his ‘duty’ to his family!  Or, will she have the courage to risk her heart again?

The characterizations in this were spot on! I could truly feel Bonnie’s rage, disappointment and insecurity when she discovered her ex in HER bed with another woman!   Devastating as it was – Bonnie had been true blue even when she had met the most devastatingly handsome Brit the year before and the physical attraction had been powerful.  So to discover it had all been in vain – horrible!

So, giving in was only to discover that Theo was ten times more sexy, kind , courteous and such a superb lover she kicked herself that she’d wasted all that time with such a loser. But now she also discovers Theo’s secret and the fact that he was being nagged into a marriage of convenience by his mother – life couldn’t get much worse.   But if you want to find out if it does or doesn’t you will just have to read this book!  

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: My Ex-Best Friends Wedding by Wendy Wax

Paperback, 368 pages                     Publication: May 14th 2019 by Berkley Books

ISBN13: 9780440001430   RATING;  5*

Loved this story of a  wedding dress passed down through generations until it unravels the tangled threads of the last three women who wore it.  It’s about friendship, family, and forgiveness and I couldn’t put it down!  NOTE: At times I really wanted to reach in and shake some of the protagonists to knock some sense into them!  HOWEVER – I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS BOOK!

It had been carefully stored away for safekeeping, a timeless ivory wedding dress, with scooped neck and cleverly fitted bodice, whispering of Happily Ever Afters. To Lauren’s mother Kendra, who wore it briefly; to her daughter Lauren who’s looking forward to wearing it; and Brianna her best friend who got to wear it first.  To all three women  it’s a reminder of what could have been, the promise of a fairy tale, and a friendship torn apart. But as Kendra knows firsthand: it wasn’t the dress’s fault.

Once closer than sisters, Lauren and Bree were sisters of the heart!  They grew up together, shared the same dream together, but then made choices that transformed their lives as they grew apart. Each held just a bit of resentment against the other blaming each other allowing broken promises and unfulfilled dreams to destroy their friendship. 

Now as a successful author, Lauren returns home to the Outer Banks, fiance in tow, to claim the dress she never thought she’d wear. While Bree, a bookstore owner, grapples with the realities of life after you marry the handsome prince. As the former best friends wrestle with their uncertain futures, they are both certain of one thing: some betrayals can never be forgiven.

Never expecting her past to catch up with her, Kendra struggles with a secret she’s kept for far too long. She vows to make sure the dress will finally bring Lauren and Bree back together – knowing they’ll need each other to survive the coming storm after the bomb drops from the revelation of her life.  

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: SAY YOU’RE SORRY by by Karen Rose

Kindle Edition, 608 pages

Publication: February 21st 2019 by Headline    ASIN: B07CG6QP5P

Series  Sacramento #1                                     Rating 5*

I have recently become a great fan of Ms. Robards and know without reading a review what to expect.  Fabulous intelligent writing, awesome character building, fast action, and truly bad-ass villains, whom you simply cannot wait for them be found out and dealt with!  Often times as in SAY YOUR SORRY, you may even feel some compassion for the villain based upon what factors led them to conduct such heinous crimes. 

FBI Special Agent Gideon Reynolds has tried to put his past behind him. He escaped the violence of a cult upbringing when he was just thirteen, and since then routine and discipline have been his way of making sense of the world. But when a friend calls to show him a piece of evidence from a young woman who fought off an attacker. With that Gideon’s  world was about to come to a screeching halt!

Daisy Dawson has had more than her fair share of pain – but she’s done being a victim and a prisoner. Brave and determined, Daisy is not going to let anyone take away her independence again. However her newly appointed intensely dark FBI investigator and bodyguard is certainly appealing to her passionate side.

Soon it appears clear that Daisy’s attack was just the beginning when bloodied bodies of young women are showing up all over California.  As Gideon and friends work to find the killer, it’s clear that Daisy is in more danger than they ever realized.

***  As an introduction to Ms. Robards newest series opener, you are introduced to a whole new plethora of family which I am sure will play central roles in this new series.  I love how Ms, Robards invites you into loving family scenario’s to a place to feel safe, when all around you the villains are spreading horror and hatred.   As the intro to her new series SACRAMENTO – I personally cannot wait for her to hurry up with the next books in this run.   Love and highly recommend!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

Published:  Feb 5, 2019  by  St. Martin’s Griffin

SBN13: 9781250145536         Series: A Heart of a Hero #1     Rating: 5*

Harper Lee Wilcox’s life has been more or less at a standstill since the death five years ago of her beloved husband Noah.  Noah was the only person she ever dated, and loved – a true soul mate.  He was a Navy SEAL killed in the line of duty and never met, his son Ben born after he passed and named after his best friend and SEAL team mate Bennett Caldwell.  

While Harper is feeling a growing restlessness of needing a new direction, a call from her best friend Allison helped to make her act.   Allison was dealing with her husband, another Navy SEAL struggling with PTSD, and Harper drove to Fort Bragg to help her out. 

Two things occurred during the visit.  One, not every widow of a fallen SEAL received a very generous monetary award given to the wife.   Two, she discovered most of the other military wives struggled with husbands deployed for months at a time and felt as lonely and discouraged as Harper was feeling now.  At last a purpose! 

Harper came up with an idea of starting a business for military wives that would finally use her two degrees of business and marketing.  And be good for the other military wives to give them back purpose while waiting for their husbands return.  

Additionally and central to the read was discovering and finally meeting Bennett Caldwell, her husband’s very best friend and team mate whom Harper had never met.  Bennett was a man who held secrets and the truth behind what really happened to Noah on the field of battle. But most of all he was a man whom Harper felt an emotional pull towards that bothered both of them because of the love they both had felt towards Noah.  Could they find happiness together and put feelings of guilt to rest behind them…. 

All I can say is THE MILITARY WIFE packs an emotional punch to heart and soul and brought tears to my eyes (in a good way) and a lump in my throat! Sweet, sensual and a very highly recommended read!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Dare Me Again by Shelly Alexander

NET GALLEY – Jan 15, 2019             Kindle Edition, 285 pages

Publisher:   by Montlake Romance          ASIN: B07FD9PWDD        

Series:   Angel Fire Falls #2 Rating:  4*

Brilliant and restless, financial wizard Elliott Remington doesn’t turn down a dare – anything to help out his family.  This time it’s to coordinate a service-dog boot camp for veterans at his family’s resort. Success with this event will cement the resorts future meaning a one-way ticket to the West Coast to continue his dream career. But it comes with a hitch: teaming up with his ex, who vanished on him ten years ago with nothing more than a kiss-off note.

*** Loving Elliott with all she had, Rebel Tate did what she had to do—for both their sakes when she left.  As a dog whisperer with a keen sense of survival, she’s struggled and lived a tough life. This is Rebel’s last ditch effort to establish herself and fulfill her dream right back in Angel Fire Falls, doing what she loves, next to a man she’s never forgotten. The passion between them still smolders, with ignition just around the corner but neither is ready to get burned.

Both were stubborn and both had secrets too terrible that kept them from forgiving themselves for reasons only they understood.  Neither had ever told the other what they were, and both had reasons to not reveal them.   However, TRUST and taking a chance would be the one thing that could free them to love completely again.  While training dogs – a big part of training required trust and acceptance. With a bit of luck, maybe they could take their cues from the rules governing the of training dogs to learn to trust themselves!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Maybe for You by Nicole McLaughlin

Maybe4You

Paperback, 320 pages                               Published August 28th 2018 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks

ISBN: 9781250140029                  Series:   Whiskey and Weddings #3      Rating:  4*

After a year of mourning her fiancé, Alexis Parker has worked hard to rediscover what she really wants out of life. She’s fresh out of the military and back stateside where her big brother wants to take care of her as he always had since she was orphaned at 7 years of age.   Consequently he offers her a marketing job at the Stag Distillery his business whom he partners with three of his best friends. Unbeknownst to him Alexis has preliminarily accepted a job working for the CIA.  The new job would be starting in  3 or so months and knowing it would just be for the summer she agrees to work for the Family business  taking it on as  a challenge and a change.  After all Alexis would be accompanying her best friend and email pal Jake Cooper on a Stag Distillery cross-country promotional tour. Jake may have a playboy reputation, but Alexis is surprised to find out that there is more to him than meets the eye. And along the road, she is beginning to like what she sees. . .

Jake promised Alexis’s brother that he’d be an absolute gentleman. Of course, that was before he and Alexis hit the road, and they both agreed that what Alexis’s big brother doesn’t know won’t hurt him. The plan: they’re consenting adults and what happens on the road and in the RV stays on the road and in the RV!  Although ‘crap happens’  and Jake realizes that he and Alexis make a perfect mix. Can this notorious playboy convince Alexis that he’s ready to shake things up and give true love a shot?

Absolutely a really heartfelt romance, with a best friend who thinks he doesn’t deserve the girl but wants her anyway, knowing of the love she is still holds fast to and still grieving over the finance she lost. This story definitely has a strong emotional pull and the romance and sensualness are really over the top!  Loved it.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Dream Daughter by Diane Chamberlain

DreamDaughter

NET GALLEY – October 2, 2018                                        Hardcover, 384 pages

Publication: October 2nd 2018                                           by St. Martin’s Press

ISBN:   1250087309       Rated:  5*

Right from the very first pages I knew that THE DREAM DAUGHTER was going to affect me emotionally; 1) because it is from a writer whose prose and story lines are incredibly enduring, and 2) because the book description gripped me right from the start and I knew I had to read it.  

Set in the late 60’s and early 70’s you start off with a chance meeting of a patient, Hunter that no one could through to except a young PT therapist who was assigned to him.  Their meeting almost seemed fated and an interesting comment of  “you’re going to love my sister” in the prologue  gave me a hint of what might be coming.   

From the first chapter you’ll discover that Hunter, whom Caroline had introduced to her sister was now her brother-in-law.  Caroline is a young wife waiting for her husband to come home from Vietnam and just discovering she is pregnant a joyous event she can’t wait to surprise her husband with!  Unfortunately, the doctors have just informed Caroline that her baby has a serious heart defect that will likely kill the child before it could even be born.    

Except, Hunter, kind of a mysterious guy from the get-go, is telling Caroline that something can be done about her baby’s heart. Something that will require a leap of faith, strength and courage that Caroline never knew existed.  A strength she mustered from the bottom of her soul to save the unborn child she loved with all her heart!

You’ll be on pins and needles for most of the read and the things Caroline goes through from her baby daughter.   When you finish this book you will be as drained emotionally as I was and it will be a testament to the love from a mother for her child that brings those emotions to the forefront.  

Bottom line:  Another tremendously satisfying read from the brilliant author Diane Chamberlain.  Incredible story!!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review – Becker’s Circle by Addison Bray

BeckerCircle

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing (March 14, 2018)

ASIN: B07B3HT15Y                           Rating: 4*

Gillian’s  boyfriend believed she was too gutless and dependent upon him to leave. WRONG! Gillian graduated Harvard early and left his hot temper and everyone else behind for Dallas quite determined to make it on my own.   She found  a job in an accounting firm as she worked towards her CPA and then landed a second job bartending at the neighborhood pub.  Tips were good but it’s smack in the middle of drug central where almost every jerk in the neighborhood hits on her.

Soon after starting her bartending gig, the neighborhood’s very popular drug dealer fell to his death a few feet from the table Gillian was serving. The cops say suicide, but the hot guitar player in  the band and she suspect foul play.   They started their mini investigation and as they discover more and more they’re drawn closer to each other. Before long they discovered, they knew who the murderer is!

*** Well talk about some colorful characters!  BECKER’S CIRCLE had them all and then some!  From the ‘witchy’ boss from hell at Gillian’s ‘day’ job at the accounting firm, to the girls who frequented the bar scene identified by their drink of choice names.

One has to commend Gillian by taking control of her life and setting off for a new life away from a toxic boyfriend who wanted complete control over her.   Yes, she made a couple of mistakes before she hooked up with her guitar wheeling buddy but overall I think she did well; juggling full time and part time  jobs while studying for her CPA exam.  The clues she came across to discover who the murderer was  were actually pretty minute, but in the end she persevered, and came out the heroine of Becker Circle.

Frankly this was a pretty sweet and suspenseful story with lots of twists and turns.  At the end  I loved the career choice!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Sadie’s Highlander by Maeve Greyson

Sadies Highlander

Published: September 12th 2017 by Loveswept                           Rating:   5*

ASIN:    B01MZ18FVS          Series:   Highland Protector #1

I have loved Maeve Greyson’s Highland books since I first discovered her Highland Hearts series and now, I am so lucky to starting Book #1 of her Highland Hearts series and just by reading the first book SADIE’S HIGHLANDER – I can tell that this is going to be just as engaging, funny and sensual as her prior series.

Alec MacDara and his brothers and family traveled forward in time to be the protectors of the sacred Heartstone.  They are now owners and operators of a theme park called Highland Life and Legends.  As the chairman of this enterprise, Alec has been keeping the real castle and it’s treasures separate, while fending off a plethora of requests to film on the grounds.  However after some very charming letters from a production assistant, he agrees to a meeting.  At first, the minute he meets the CEO of the company he realizes what a mistake he’s made, but then he notices her assistant.  The woman with lush curves who is so down to earth he almost forgets his name!

Sadie Williams is the sister to the owner of the motion picture company who has for years kept Sadie in the lowliest of positions while Sadie waits for her sisters promise of one day becoming a writer.   However Sadie was shocked when Alec agreed to allow the picture company upon one condition! Sadie would have to live in the castle and report to Alec every day of the company’s progress. Sadie agrees but wonders why Alec looks at her as if he was waiting to gobble her up!  Knowing she was a bit on the chubby side and having always been told by her sister she was ugly, Sadie didn’t know what to think of the hunky Highlander who thought she was beautiful!

Fabulous, funny and sexy – couldn’t ask for more and Maeve Greyson delivers in spades!!!

Marilyn Rondeau