50-book challenge IV

#31 – Lindsey Stone – Awakening to Sunlight

Judith Hilford flees from an emotionally abusive relationship and accepts temporary lodging arranged by a friend until she can set her life on a new course. Lizzy Mayfield, a filmmaker who lost her lover three years ago, comes home from a business trip to find Judith and her child unexpectedly living in her apartment.

Lizzy wants nothing more than to be left alone, but as Judith has nowhere else to go, Lizzy allows her to stay. While Judith struggles to create a new life for her daughter and herself, Lizzy is confronted with the vibrancy their presence brings to her emotionally barren existence. As Lizzy and Judith gradually become involved in each other’s lives, they are both forced to confront the ghosts of their pasts.

Lately, there were a number of books dealing with grief and new beginnings. This one is a solid read. Sometimes, the author told when she should have shown, but it’s still an enjoyable read.

#32 – Julie Cannon – Come and Get Me

What would you do if an irresistibly desirable but utterly untouchable woman whispered to you, If you want me, you’ll have to come and get me?

That’s exactly the situation that Elliott Foster, CEO of Foster MacKenzie, finds herself in when she meets the alluring Lauren Collier, Chief Legal Counsel of a Fortune 500 company. Elliott never has a shortage of attractive women willing to share her bed, and she doesn’t care if they are attracted to her or just her money. By her rules, if two women are attracted to each other there’s no reason why they shouldn’t spend the night together–or in some cases, the afternoon. Lauren, intriguing but decidedly off-limits, doesn’t fit the mold and Elliot knows she should walk away. Instead she finds herself in the unusual position of pursuing another woman, and even more disconcertingly…on Lauren’s terms. 

The two main characters fall in lust at first sight, and that sets the tone for this novel. It provides lots of sexual tension and love scenes, but otherwise isn’t very deep.

The author often switched point of view abruptly, sometimes even head hopping every paragraph, and I would have preferred a more consistent point of view.

#33 – Gerri Hill – The Rainbow Cedar

As interior designer Jay Burns watches her long-term relationship slowly unravel, she runs into–literally–landscape designer Drew Montgomery. As their paths cross, both professionally and personally, a friendship develops, one they each try to maintain despite the obvious attraction between them. But still, Jay is not willing to throw away an eight-year relationship, even when it becomes painfully obvious the end is near.

Gerri Hill is an experienced writer, and The Rainbow Cedar is solidly written. It has an interesting theme (infidelity) and some strong dialogue. But I still felt it wasn’t her best work.

#34 – Vicki Stevenson – Family Values

Devastated by the collapse of her long-term relationship, Alice Cruz decides to begin life anew. She moves to a small town, rents an apartment, and establishes a career in real estate. But when she tries to liquidate some of her investments for a down payment on a house, she discovers that she has been victimized by a con artist.

Local resident Tyler Sorensen has a track record of countless affairs without any emotional involvement. Known for her sexy good looks, easygoing kindness, and unique approach to problems, Tyler is asked by a mutual friend to figure out how Alice can recover her money.

While Tyler’s elaborate plan progresses and members of her LGBT family work toward the solution, they discover that the con game involves more people and far higher stakes than they had imagined. As the family encounters unexpected obstacles, Tyler and Alice struggle with a growing emotional connection deeper than either woman has ever experienced.

I didn’t finish this one. The characters aren’t very well-developed, backstory and telling slow down the pace, and the point of view is unclear, so I stopped reading after a few chapters.

#35 – Kenna White – Skin Deep

Jordan Griffin is an attractive and dedicated assistant editor for Northwest Living Magazine. She is given an assignment to track down and interview one-time nationally renowned broadcast journalist, Reece McAllister who has been living a secretive and reclusive life. To get the story, Jordan follows Reece deep into the backwoods of Washington State. To her surprise, Jordan comes away with far more than just a story.

Should she betray a trust or deny her journalistic conscience? Their future together depends on her making the right choice.

This one is a good novel with characters that are nicely developed and three-dimensional. The ending felt a bit rushed, but still it’s an entertaining read with a nice sense of humor.

#36 – Maggie Ryan – The Deal

Laura Kasdan is cruising along as the News Director at the number one television station in Dallas. When a momentary lapse of control almost costs her a stellar career, she makes a deal to save her job and keep a promise and moves to a smaller station, where she meets a charismatic reporter who promises to turn her well-ordered world upside down.

I have to say that I read the Uber/online version of the story, not the published novel. It’s good storytelling and great characters, but the online version was in dire need of a good editor to remove all the character tags (“the news director”…) and participles. Has anyone read the published version?

#37 – Lynne Norris – One Promise

Teresa Parker, a carpenter, and her nephew Brian are struggling to find happiness and peace in their lives after Teresa’s brother and sister-in-law are killed in a tragic accident then shortly thereafter, Teresa’s partner ends their 5-year relationship.

Teresa contracts to build a house for Brian’s first grade teacher, Madeline Geddes, who has moved to New Jersey to reclaim her life after breaking up with her partner. Teresa falls hard for Madeline but feels betrayed and hurt when Madelines ex-girlfriend arrives in town. Madeline must try to regain Teresa’s trust. Can a child’s simple understanding of love and friendship be what they need to bring them back together?

I’d say this one is an average read. It gives a lot of backstory at the beginning, so I struggled a bit to finish it.

#38 – KI Thompson – Heart of the Matter

Ellen Webster, professor of history, can’t help but fantasize about her next door neighbor Kate Foster- after all, she sees her on the evening news every night.

Sexy and smart, Kate is Ellen’s dream girl, but the dynamic TV newscaster doesn’t know she exists. Struggling with a steadily worsening self-image and at a loss as to how to turn her life around, Ellen decides to take time out to finish the book she has always wanted to write. But a rainy night and near-tragedy changes everything when Kate is involved in an automobile accident and turns to Ellen for help. Withdrawing from the world, Kate comes to depend upon Ellen for far more than she realizes-until the day Ellen tells her that she is leaving on sabbatical.

Ellen and Kate’s journey takes them beyond the transitory nature of external beauty and into the heart of what is meaningful in a relationship, the inner beauty of each other.

I’d say this novel isn’t bad, but it’s not outstanding either. It has some interesting ideas and premises and characters who aren’t perfect, which is always a good thing.

#39 – Jennifer Fulton – Saving Grace

Champion swimmer and Olympic hopeful, Dawn Beaumont has been injured in a car crash she caused. Haunted by guilt over the death of a passenger, her career in ruins, her body damaged and scarred, she flees to Moon Island. Scientist Grace Ramsay welcomes her cute new neighbor, imaging Dawn could be a pleasant diversion from her secret mission to evaluate Moon Island for corporate purchase by a chemicals giant looking for a waste dump far from civilization. But Dawn won’t play ball, in fact she denies she is even a lesbian. Beset by troubling nightmares rooted in the past, and increasing ambivalence over her job, Grace sets out to prove otherwise. Meanwhile Annabel Worth, the owner of the island, is determined not to sell her home to a chemicals conglomerate. But then her plane goes down in the Pacific in suspicious circumstances.

This is the second book of the Moon Island series. It’s a solid read, but not outstanding. The ending felt a bit rushed, and some issues are glossed over or resolved “off-screen.”

#40 – Jennifer Fulton – Dark Garden

The Blakes and the Cavenders have been going at it since 1870 and Vienna Blake keeps up the family tradition, gunning for the Cavenders at every opportunity. All the same, she’s shocked when Mason Cavender confronts her in her office and accuses her of murder. Vienna has the stunningly sexual Mason thrown out by security, but she can’t rid herself so easily of her powerful, instant attraction to the woman she’s been groomed since childhood to destroy.

Last in a long line of “Cursed Cavenders,” as the media describes them, Mason has just walked away from the small plane crash that killed her brother. Now in charge of her family’s crumbling business empire, she suspects sabotage and believes beautiful, ruthless Vienna Blake is responsible. Fearing for her life and grieving for her brother, Mason hires a private investigator to get evidence she can take to the police. She is frustrated when the man finds nothing but makes the bizarre suggestion that she hire a psychic to undo the “curse” on her family. He gives her a name. Phoebe Temple. Phoebe’s dreams have always centered on the victims of crimes, but lately they have taken her night after night to the same dark garden where a reclusive, sorrowful woman walks her Doberman. She isn’t surprised when the woman steps from her dreams into her life, asking for help.

Exposing family secrets always comes at a price. With passion and family honor in the balance, Mason is willing to pay her dues. But can she persuade Vienna to accept a truce before it’s too late? Dark Garden brings together two powerful women who must confront the past if they want to seize the future.

Jennifer Fulton can always been counted on for a solid novel, and this one is no exception. But it’s not her best work, and the ending felt rushed after so many years of family feud. And I was puzzled that this is marketed as a paranormal romance. It has very few paranormal elements, but it does have a gothic feel.

The Romance Bet by Jae

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