50-book challenge II

#11 – Tracey Richardson – The Candidate

Presidential candidate Jane Kincaid–gorgeous, dynamic and extremely driven–is taking the country by storm, passionately outlining her blueprint for America. Voters quickly fall in love with her… and so, unwittingly, does Secret Service Agent Alexandria Warner.

Their mutual attraction begins to take on a fiery life of its own, and soon Jane fears that their intense feelings for each other are a tinder box that could destroy the landscape of her career… and alter the history of the country.

Jane had always expected the road to the White House would exact a high personal toll. She just never knew how high… until she’s forced to choose between her heart and her political destiny

It’s a solid romance, and I have no major complaints, but sometimes the characters are a bit stereotypical. Still, so far, every book I have read of Tracey Richardson gave me the impression that she’s a reliably good writer.

#12 – Paula Offutt – Butch Girls Can Fix Anything

Kelly Walker is known around town as the Fix-it Lady who can repair just about anything. That’s true, except for the hole in her life left by the death of her lover, Anna. Her fix-it business provides the perfect hideout as she resolves other people’s problems instead of focusing on her own shattered life. Grace Owens, single mother, is determined to stand on her own two feet and make a fresh start for herself and her nine-year-old daughter, Lucy. Lucy has a goal of her own: she wants to master her math homework, and that’s a hard task with a mother who doesn’t understand division. The three meet under a leaky kitchen ceiling. What each has to give, the others need. They must learn when to take risks and when to trust each other. Together, can they find the tools that will allow them to fix what most needs to be rebuilt?

Not perfect, but certainly interesting. Here we have two main characters who don’t look like supermodels.

#13 – Jove Belle – Split the Aces

In the neon glare of Sin City, two women ride a wave of passion that threatens to consume them in a world of fast money and fast times.

It’s lust at first sight for blackjack dealer Rae Sutherland and conventioneer Cori Romero. Rae wants more from life than the constant shuffling of cards in a smoke-filled casino, but for now, she revels in the excesses of life and appreciates the never-ending parade of women at the tables. Cori is looking for something besides her day-to-day grind and aching for a new adventure, but doesn’t expect to find it on the Vegas strip. Fueled by the encouragement of friends and Captain Morgan, she auditions for a singing gig and her path inevitably crosses Rae’s. In spite of themselves, their relationship develops into something deeper than the initial intoxication of attraction, but both wonder if it’s worth the gamble.

Maybe it’s a personal preference for longer books, but I thought there was too much sex and too little character development. It’s part of Bold Strokes Book’s Matinee romances, and I’m learning to avoid them since they don’t have enough “substance” for my liking.

#14 – Diana Tremaine Braund – Wicked Good Time

As a cop, she was trained to take control of every situation. As a woman, she couldn’t control her runaway heart.

Fleeing her painful past, Christina Reynolds hopes to find peace by moving to an isolated house in rural Maine. But the solitude she sought so desperately is soon disturbed by suspicious noises, crank calls, and signs of trespassing. When the local police write the incidents off as products of an overactive female imagination, the distraught Christina turns to Forest Ranger Miki Jamieson for help.

The first woman in her agency to make sergeant, Miki is unmatched when it comes to tracking poachers and dealing with the dangers of life in the wilderness. But dangers of the heart are another matter, for beneath Miki’s six-foot tall, rugged exterior is a shy, sensitive women who has opened up to few people and trusts even fewer. As the threats escalate, the frightened Christina seeks the safe refuge of Miki’s arms. But does Christina only need her as a protector… or want her as a lover?

The story had potential, but it was badly edited with a lot of typos and spelling or punctuation mistakes. Also, the mystery subplot wasn’t very strong.

I wonder who wrote the backcover blurb for this book. It amazed me how little the description of Miki in the backcover blurb resembles the Miki that I found in the story. In the novel, Miki isn’t shy or slow to trust at all.

#15 – Kim Baldwin – Breaking the Ice

Nothing is easy about life above the Arctic Circle. Except, perhaps, falling in love.

Bryson Faulkner embraces the challenges that come with making a home in one of the most beautiful but unforgiving places on earth: the isolation of the endless wilderness, the harsh and unpredictable climate, the predators that lurk about her remote cabin, and even the most perilous dangers of all–those that await her when she takes to the skies as one of Alaska’s most daring bush pilots. The only thing missing is a special woman to share it all with, but she’s resigned herself to the fact that few people can thrive in such an extreme environment.

Everything Karla Edwards thought she knew gets called into question when a series of events turns her comfortable and well-ordered life on its ear. Her partner leaves her, her mother dies, and Karla learns she has a sister in Alaska she never knew. She takes a leave of absence from her job as an ER nurse in Atlanta and heads to the far north, seeking answers and adventure. She finds all that and more when she crosses paths with a sexy bush pilot who opens her eyes to new possibilities. But can she open her heart as well and learn to trust again?

It was a solid romance, but not a perfect one. The last third of the book felt rushed — Karla went from not liking Bryson and Alaska to falling in love with them a bit too fast for me.

#16 – Meghan O’Brien – Thirteen Hours

Can you fall in love in thirteen hours?

It’s her birthday but lonely workaholic Dana Watts is at the office late, drafting a proposal. The very last interruption she expects comes in the form of the most beautiful breasts she has ever seen. These belong to an incredibly hot woman, who is standing in front of her, stripping to music.

Laurel Stanley performs strip-o-grams to pay her way through school. She has never encountered a more ungrateful recipient than Dana. The uptight project manager makes it clear that she is furious to be distracted from her work by the “gift” a colleague sent and equally appalled by Laurel’s occupation.

After Dana is rude and insulting, and insists on escorting Laurel from the building, the two women take an elevator ride that changes everything. Stuck with each other for thirteen long hours after the elevator breaks down, they discover how wrong first impressions can be and how right two strangers can feel together.

Can everything change in less than a day? Dana and Laurel set out to discover if their passionate elevator encounter can mean more in this fast-paced, erotic story of lust, loneliness, fantasy, and desire.

I like most of what Meghan O’Brien has written, and this story isn’t badly written either. But it’s different from her other stories. It starts with a clever first sentence and an interesting first meeting, and it has some great dialogue, but the rest was too much sex and too little plot for me. If you are in the mood for hot love scenes, I recommend it, otherwise, read “Battle Scars.”

#17 – Lynn Galli – Full Court Pressure

When Graysen Viola moves across the country to coach a college basketball team, she thought the hardest part of her job would be establishing a winning record. Being wrong has never been so challenging. A misunderstanding puts her in the unique position of coaching the men’s team, which is struggling just to be competitive. The last thing this team wants or thinks it needs is a female coach. Together they must find a way to understand and trust each other in order to succeed. Complicating matters is the lovely and persistent volleyball coach, Darby Evan, a former crush from their college days. Graysen isn’t sure starting a relationship with a colleague amidst her job turmoil is the wisest idea, but feelings rarely follow practicality. If she can figure out how to handle a team that disapproves of her, then dealing with an unexpected love life should be a breeze by comparison. Or so she hopes.

Lynn Galli can always be counted on for a good story. I buy each and every one of her books without even reading the summary. This one is written in first person POV, which I normally don’t like. I make an exception for Lynn Galli’s books. Full Court Pressure is good and I recommend it, but it’s not her best novel. The author spent so much time on showing Graysen in a doomed relationship that it allows for less time to focus on her later love interest.

#18 – Gill McKnight – Falling Star

Solley Rayner hopes a few weeks with her family will help heal her shattered dreams, but she hasn’t counted on meeting a woman who stirs her heart. With her marriage in crisis, Solley Rayner brings her children to her sister Janie and partner Marsha’s beach house for a much-needed summer break. But all hopes of rest and relaxation are interrupted when a movie stunt crew arrives to film a blockbuster in the bay. Professional stuntwoman Gin Ito, a paparazzi favorite rumored to be a killer in bed, heads up the team of daredevils. When Gin literally drops into Solley’s life, how could the lonely young mother’s interest not be piqued? And as for Gin Ito, what private pain draws her inexorably toward the small family and the woman who protects it with the fierceness of a lioness?

A really short read, and it shows. It had no deep character or relationship development. Toward the end, it seemed more like a parody. If you want to read one of Gill McKnight’s books, I recommend Ambereye instead.

#19 – C.P. Rowlands – Collision Course

Brie O’Malley, successful author and college professor, isn’t sure if she believes in destiny in a universe where a random act of violence extinguished her happy-ever-after. The life she had, the woman she loved, the future she was planning for, were stolen from her the day she and her lover were shot. The only survivor, Brie has “recovered” two years later, at least that’s how it seems to others. She is dedicated to her work, volunteering in the community, and researching her next historical novel. Yet she hasn’t laughed since the tragedy. Until the day she meets Jordan.

Skateboarding to show her two kids how an expert does it, Jordan Carter can’t believe her bad luck when she collides with beautiful blond Brie and meets her later at the hospital. A carpenter and partner in the family business, Jordan has also struggled to pull her life together after a tragedy.

Neither woman is looking for or expects a second chance at love but each must make a decision about the past that will open a door to the future.

This is a pretty good romance that deals with grief and falling in love again. The author gives enough backstory to make us share the characters’ grief, but the backstory doesn’t take over the book. I liked Collision Course better than CP Rowland’s first novel, and that wasn’t badly written either.

#20 – Karin Kallmaker – Stepping Stone

Motion picture producer Selena Ryan has the impossible: Fame and fortune and her integrity. Her reputation for playing fair in an industry rife with games has earned her respect from other producers, writers, and actors.

She’s learned the lesson that plenty of people would like to use her to get what they want–a starring role or some other way into the movies. Most of them feel no obligation to return any favors she might give. Burned badly by actress Jennifer Lamont, who used her and left her with a devastating aftermath, she’s wary of everyone related to the industry.

Surrounded by gatekeepers to keep the hopeful at bay, aspiring starlets have tried every trick in the book to make Selena’s acquaintance. When Gail Welles literally lands in Selena’s lap, she suspects another ploy. Jennifer’s sudden announcement that Selena is still her one-and-only is equally ill-timed and suspect. Selena wants everyone to leave her alone, even if that means living without love.

A solid romance with good character development. The characters are non-stereotypical, and they don’t fall in love at first sight. A satisfying read, but not one of my favorites.

A word of warning, though: there are a lot of typos and other mistakes (even a wonderful dangling participle that made me chuckle), and twice, she even changes her character’s name from “Selena” to “Serena.”

The Romance Bet by Jae

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