“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Vincent Brothers

Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that I’m eagerly anticipating.

I’ve been out of the WoW world for the last few weeks due to vacations and computer problems, so forgive me if I’m posting something that you’ve seen a dozen times already. I read The Vincent Boys a few months ago, and completely and irrevocably fell in love. I love this author’s voice, and while I’m so happy The Vincent Boys ended the way it did, I was sad that Sawyer was left with nothing. Thank you Abbi Glines for giving us his story, because the good guys need their happily ever after just as much as the bad ones.

Abbi Glines

Publication Date: June 5, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult (New Adult?)

He may have given her up without a fight, but Sawyer Vincent is far from over losing the girl he’s loved all of his life. Instead of giving up his best friend and the girl he thought he’d spend forever with, he gave Ashton and his brother Beau his blessing. However, adjusting to seeing Ashton wrapped up in Beau’s arms isn’t easy. Complicating everything even more, Ashton’s cousin Lana is in town for the summer. Sweet, kind, soft-spoken Lana, who gets under his skin. Just being near her makes him forget all about Ashton and his broken heart. Lana is everything he wanted Ashton to be except she isn’t Ashton. She lacks the backbone to stand up for herself and confidence that Ashton wears like a crown.

Lana McDaniel has lived her life in her cousin’s shadow. While Lana struggled with her grades no matter how hard she tried, her mother praised Ashton’s intelligence. She hadn’t been blessed with Ashton’s blond hair and flawless skin, but that didn’t keep her mother from lamenting her naturally red hair and freckles. But none of that would have mattered if Ashton hadn’t always had Sawyer Vincent wrapped around her finger — the only boy Lana wanted. Once Ashton let Sawyer go, Lana had been so sure that he’d move on. Determined to make Sawyer finally see her, she’d talked her mother into letting her spend the summer with Ashton. But Sawyer is still in love with Ashton, and Lana isn’t going to be anyone’s rebound girl. No matter how yummy Sawyer Vincent’s kisses taste.

Goodreads Summary

The Fireman Who Loved Me (The Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel #1)

The Fireman Who Loved MeBy Jennifer Bernard

Publisher: Avon
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher

Captain Brody has been badly burned by his ex-wife. When he orders Ryan, his star fireman, to participate in a bachelor auction, little does he know he’s the one who will lose his heart.

Melissa McGuire is a brainy local news producer trying to get her career back on track. She can’t believe she’s being set up by her grandmother, who bid on a date with a fireman at the auction. She prefers the artsy type, not the tough, commanding , though clearly attractive, fire chief.

And yet, they can’t resist each other, especially once her ambitious news anchor assigns her the “Thanksgiving with the Firefighters” news special. Add in her grandmother’s matchmaking and the combined efforts of Captain Brody’s crew…can Brody help being the first bachelor to succumb to love, and the crazy rollercoaster ride of the Curse?

Goodreads Summary

This was probably a bad idea even before I started reading. My brother is a fireman and I guarantee you, there are not a lot of hot bachelors just sitting around his firehouse. I’ve met one that I’d call “interesting,” but he was older than me and frankly, that would make him prehistoric. I have to give it to the author, she did get a lot of the technical stuff right but the rest of the story was tangled, cluttered and a little lacking in romance.

Melissa McGuire’s grandmother is tired of waiting for her stop seeing men who are all wrong for her and is taking the bull by the horns – or the hose – and is going to buy her a date at the auction of the Bachelor Firemen of San Gabriel. Maybe Nelly wasn’t quite…clear when she asked Melissa to meet her at the hotel for her birthday that this would be a beefcake auction, but what’s a grandmother to do when she needs to get her granddaughter settled down? Melissa turns tail and never sees Nelly plunk down a huge amount of money on the supremely gorgeous Ryan who is a little, uh, dismayed at the thought of a date with a woman of her vintage, not knowing the date is for Melissa.

Ryan puts on the puppy dog eyes until his Captain finally agrees to take the date in his place. Harry Brody is a bit of a legend, known for his calm in the face of danger and the fact that he’s never lost a man. He’s shocked – pleased – when he finds out the date is with Melissa, although his plans included the Senior Specials. The thing is, as attracted as they are to each other, they also manage to push each other’s buttons and they go from biting each other’s heads off to sucking each other’s faces off. No happy medium. Then into their relationship, a million complications arise and that’s where the plot went haywire.

Melissa is a television news producer at a small-market station and her main job seems to be corralling the high-maintenance, rather trampy anchor Ella. Ella pretty much becomes Melissa’s shadow for the story, hanging out with her at the firehouse where one of the major plotlines develops then for two more at the television station where more drama is happening. I didn’t like her – if she had to be the villain, fine. She still didn’t need to be everywhere especially when you added in large appearances by Harry’s ex-wife and Melissa’s sleazy ex-boss. Then there’s a started, dropped, picked up, dropped and picked up news story that Melissa was supposedly passionate about that was pretty important. I can give you another half dozen semi-significant storylines that also were running, all at the same time Harry and Melissa’s story was going on.

I really could have liked Harry and Melissa’s romance if it had been allowed to develop outside of all of the noise of the rest of the story. Harry was my kind of hero – not too alpha but strong enough to know how to be. He’s kind, caring, loyal and protective by nature and yummy and sexy without even trying. I liked Melissa too – she was damn good at her job and at managing Ella without her figuring it out. She’d had a big blow to her ego and took a lot of things too personally but she made it all better nicely. They just never had time for romance. It was, “you’re a pain,” to “you make me hot,” to “let’s have sex all the time,” to the bad stuff to the good stuff. No sweet romance, no fun times talking. The air was sucked out of the story by everyone else.

My Summary: If I knew the next book in the series focused more on the couple and had far, far fewer distractions, I’d probably pick it up because I did like the way the author wrote the couple. I just could not enjoy this one because I was constantly distracted by all of the other stuff happening, mostly Ella. I’ll even let it go that there are no scuzzy-looking guys in this firehouse and they don’t swear like sailors or tell morbid jokes, just please give me some romance!

My Rating: C

Somebody to Love

Kristan Higgins

Publisher: HQN Books
Publication Date: Apr 24, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Netgalley

After her father loses the family fortune in an insider-trading scheme, single mom Parker Welles is faced with some hard decisions. First order of business: go to Gideon’s Cove, Maine, to sell the only thing she now owns—a decrepit house in need of some serious flipping. When her father’s wingman, James Cahill, asks to go with her, she’s not thrilled — …even if he is fairly gorgeous and knows his way around a toolbox.

Having to fend for herself financially for the first time in her life, Parker signs on as a florist’s assistant and starts to find out who she really is. Maybe James isn’t the glib lawyer she always thought he was. And maybe the house isn’t the only thing that needs a little TLC….

Goodreads Summary

Parker Welles, a rich and beautiful single mother has just been handed the worst news of her life. Her father has not only spent every penny of Parker’s and her son’s trust fund without her knowledge, all of his assets are being seized by the government and Parker’s cushy lifestyle is now over. While she was never lavish with her wealth, she did enjoy a few creature comforts such as living in the family home, which she must now vacate immediately. The only thing Parker has left is some property a distant relation left her up in Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine. While her son goes on vacation with his father over the summer, Parker intends to travel to the house, do a few quick repairs and put it on the market as soon as possible. With limited time and limited funds, for the first time in her life Parker must get her hands dirty.

Well, maybe not as alone as she originally thought. Her father’s now unemployed attorney (AKA Thing One), James Cahill, shows up unannounced to help her with the project. Parker and James have a barely civil relationship at best, but once she sees how much work the house needs she can’t help but feel grateful for his presence. James feels guilty for his inability to warn her of her impending changes in circumstance (those pesky attorney/client privileges), and he hopes that working with her on the house will earn him a little forgiveness. The couple soon finds that they may have been a bit hasty in their initial impressions, and that the facade they’ve each put on over the years isn’t really who they are.

I need to get one thing out of the way before I head on to the actual review. Does anyone else think it’s bizarre when the author’s name is way bigger than the title of the book? Or is it just me?

I’ve read a few other Kristan Higgins’ novels in the past, with varying success. I’ve always really enjoyed the romance and the characters, but struggled with the point-of-view. Her previous books are solely told from the heroine’s perspective, and I came away from the book feeling cheated. I desperately wanted some insight into the hero’s thoughts/mind/actions, but it was never provided. It felt too one-sided for me. After all, a romance takes two people right? An author needs to have some major talent in order to pull off a romance novel with one point-of-view. In my opinion, at least. However, the author branched out with this novel and it was told from both Parker’s and James’ perspective. Hallelujah! This huge change so much better than her writing style of the past. Kristan Higgins could always tell a wonderful and heartfelt romance, but now we have a fuller picture to enjoy.

Somebody to Love takes place in the same town that Catch of the Day is set in, so if you’ve read it the setting and characters will be familiar to you. It just so happens that Catch of the Day is one of her books I haven’t read, but this is very much Parker and James’ story and I never once felt like I was the only one late to the party. I loved the small town vibe of this book, and the unique people of the town. Parker and James imersed themselves in the community, and the quirky and weird personalities were exactly what they needed to distract, heal, forgive, and learn to forget the past.

I loved both Parker and James, and really believed in their story. I’ve always admired Kristan Higgin’s ability of making her characters deeper than what you would originally expect from a contemporary romance novel. It’s almost like she’s creating her characters from real life people. I enjoyed learning the little tidbits and treasures that made them who they were.

My Summary: Somebody to Love is definitely my favorite book I’ve read from this author. While most of that praise is due to the change in writing style, Kristan Higgin’s consistently delivers powerful characters and a love story that you will remember long after the last page. Want to know one of my favorite things about the book? It has an epilogue. Oh, how I love my epilogues. 😉

My Rating: A

Rules of the Game

Sandy James

Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: Apr 3, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Netgalley

Kathryn West has it all – she’s a confident, bestselling author living it up in New York City. Too bad she doesn’t actually exist, and is only timid Maddie Sawyer’s pseudonym. Determined to attend her high school reunion with a man right out of one of her racy romance novels, she plots to find a sexy bad boy who’s up to Kathryn’s standards.

She finds Mr. Perfect shooting pool in a biker bar. He’s a blue-collar hunk who just happens to look great in leather. But the mysterious Scott Brady has some rules of his own: he won’t agree to her deal unless she poses as his girlfriend in front of his family and friends first.

As the reunion nears, Maddie tries to maintain her carefree façade, knowing she’ll soon face some old ghosts. She’s torn between her growing attraction to Scott and the nagging feeling that he’s hiding something important. Will she still want him when she finds out his secret? What about when he discovers hers?

Goodreads Summary

 

This is my second favorite style of romance books, where the characters come together for some sort of arrangement where they have to pretend to be in a relationship, and end up falling in love for real in the end. I loved it in The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst, and when I saw this on Netgalley I knew I had to jump on it.

Maddie is a successful romance author living in New York City, and she’s decided to attend her high school reunion even though the thought of doing so makes her want to hide in her closet for a week. The high school years were not good for Maddie, but she wants to go back and show everyone that the girl she was back then no longer exists. So, she decides that she needs to bring the perfect date. A sexy, hunk of a guy with tattoos and a beastly motorcycle she can ride behind and prove that frumpy Maddie is now desirable Maddie. With little time before the reunion, she trolls New York City bars and pool halls looking for the perfect guy. It’s not until her fifth try that she strikes gold and finally meets Scott Brady, the perfect guy. She presents her plan to him, but instead of payment he wants her to go to dinner with him and pretend she’s his girlfriend to get his well meaning family off his back.

As the two get to know each other, Maddie realizes that Scott may be perfect all around, not just for one date. Some things are not adding up though, but she can’t quite put her finger on what. The time comes for the reunion, and Maddie is forced to face the ghosts of her past. Scott turns out to be strong and supportive, but once Maddie finds out what he’s hiding it might be a deal breaker.

Rules of the Game actually surprised me. The synopsis doesn’t really do the book justice, since there is so much more going on in the book than just the bargain and pretend relatioinship. Really the book is about Maddie and her resolving her issues with events that happened in high school, as well as getting over outrageous prejudices she’s carried with her since childhood. Maddie is a very stron character, with a forceful personality and is one of the more stubborn characters I think I’ve ever read. Her character, thoughts and actions overpower everyone else in the story. For the most part, I loved this about her. It just made it hard for me to feel any chemistry with any of the other characters. The book is also told from Maddie’s POV, which is always difficult because I wanted to know what other characters were thinking, not just her.

I thought that Scott came on board with the idea a little too easily. Maddie went right up to him at the bar and started telling him about her plan and why she needs him, and he never once looked at her like she was a crazy person. In real life, the guy would have been running for the hills. There needed to be a little bit more tension there, I thought. Obviously he had to get on board with it eventually, but with as quick as he did it just wasn’t as believable. I really liked Scott a lot. Besides his big secret, he really was the perfect guy. Sweet, caring, attractive and madly in love with Maddie even though she is slightly crazy. I couldn’t believe that it took Maddie so long to realize something was off about Scott, and that he might not be who she thinks he is. I guess people only see what they want to, right?

My Summary: I liked Rules of the Game. I didn’t always like Maddie’s character though, and sometimes I thought she was a total witch. Also, some elements of the story were wrapped up too nicely to be real. I did like how the story went deeper than the pretend relationship, and I was really surprised by Maddie’s “ghosts” she had to confront. And boy, were they doozies. If I had to face what she did, I’m not sure I would have gone to the reunion even with the perfect date. I guess this was a case of Maddie having to go through the refiner’s fire. She had her witchy moments, her stubborn moments, her I-can’t-believe-you’re-this-blind moments, but in the end she turned out okay. I’m happy that she had her happily ever after with the perfect guy.

My Rating: B+

 

 

Rules of Negotiation

Rules of NegotiationBy Inara Scott

Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: February 14, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Publisher

She made all the rules…

After juggling the demands of her career and the stress of caring for her ailing mother, high-powered corporate attorney Tori Anderson doesn’t have time for relationships—but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to feel like a woman. When Brit Bencher, NYC’s most eligible bachelor, offers a no-strings attached fling, it sounds like exactly what she needs. But what will she do when her Brit decides he won’t take “one night stand” for an answer?

…until he started breaking them.

Brit Bencher will do anything to take care of his family, even seduce Tori Anderson in the hopes of getting her to reveal confidential information about one of her clients. But for the first time in his life, he finds he’s falling for a woman. When Tori uncovers his lies, will he lose his chance with her forever?

Goodreads Summary

This is my second book from this author, and after having a pleasant experience the first time around, I was genuinely looking forward to reading Rules of Negotiation. I’d been craving a bit of a legal romance, and I had hoped this book would hit the spot. I guess I went into it expecting a Julie James novel, and perhaps that’s where I went wrong. This book was a bit bland for me. There wasn’t anything intrinsically wrong with the book, it just wasn’t that memorable. It was a bit predictable, and the characters were types I’ve seen often during my reading.

Tori is a lawyer fighting for survival in a predominantly male profession, who believes her career defines her. She comes with a bit of baggage, and finds it difficult to leave behind even though this man she’s fallen in love with makes her feel wanted and needed. Brit (love that name by the way!) is extrememly business savvy, but a little slow when it comes to his personal relationships. Even with those of his siblings, who he feels a certain paternal responsibility for as his parents are a little.. spacy. Brit becomes involved with Tori because he thinks she is the last saving grace for his depressed younger sister. One of her very important clients, a very reclusive important client, heads up the company his sister desperately wants to work for. Tori figures out the deception and plays mad for awhile, until she ultimately succumbs to his sexy charm. Enter Tori’s baggage. Brit decides that he wants more than just a fling, and Tori can’t handle the pressure and bails. Then there is the obligatory separation where each party lives in agony, thinking it’s the best way when really if one (cough Tori cough) would just compromise, it’d all work out just fine.

See what I mean? Rules of Negotiation was good, it was. I wasn’t rolling my eyes or agonizing myself during the read. It was just.. all right. I actually read this book a couple of weeks ago, but have struggled with writing the review. These types of reviews are always the hardest to write for me. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t anything to gush over either. Maybe the creative muse has abandoned me, but I’m not sure how much more to expand on that.

My Summary: A quick but predictable read, Rules of Negotiation was entertaining for the few hours I spent with it, but I probably won’t be re-reading it anytime soon. I will say that it did satisfy my craving for a legal romance, even if it wasn’t as enthralling as I would have liked. That’s a bonus, I guess. 😉

My Rating: C+

Rocky Mountain Desire (Six Pack Ranch #3)

Rocky Mountain DesireBy Vivian Arend

Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd.
Publication Date: March 13, 2012
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Author

“Nothing comes easy. You’ve gotta work for it. ”

“Six Pack Ranch, Book 3”

Matt Coleman always figured at this point in his life, he’d be settled down with a family. Since his ex split for the big city, though, no way will he give anyone else the chance to drop-kick his heart. Physical pleasure? Hell, yeah, he’ll take-and give-with gusto, but nothing more.

Hope Meridan is working long hours to hold on to her new quilt shop, going it alone since her sister/business partner ran off. Sex? Right, like she’s got the time. Not that she doesn’t have the occasional dirty fantasy about Matt. Fat chance he’d dream of knocking boots with her-the younger sister of the woman who dumped him. Nope, she’ll just have to settle for the F-word.

“Friends” would be far easier if there wasn’t something combustible going on between them. And when casual interest starts to grow into something more, their tenuous bond strengthens in the heat of desire. But it may not survive the hurricane-force arrival of the last person either of them ever wanted to see again…

Warning: Small-town rivals, men in pursuit and family meddling-in good and bad ways. Look for a cowboy who knows how to rope, ride and rein in a hell of a lot more than eight seconds of sheer bliss.

Goodreads Summary

*There are some slight spoilers for the first two books in the series, Rocky Mountain Heat and Rocky Mountain Haven*

Like all of the other books I’ve read by this author, even though Rocky Mountain Desire is part of a series, it can be read as a standalone but these are so much better when you read them all in order. Since they’re so far just about the Coleman brothers, you see each couple again in the next book, future heroes in current and past books and little ongoing side stories. I promise you won’t gain any weight from all the ranching man-candy unless you eat chocolate while reading. Ahem.

Matt Coleman may have gotten hooked into planning his brother Daniel’s bachelor party but he’s not all that interested in family fun. He’s still not over his cheating ex-girlfriend dumping him and skipping town but he’d really like some female companionship of the doesn’t-stick-around kind. Just as he’s pondering his lack of options, one of the dancers hired for the night’s entertainment catches his eye – she looks a whole lot like his ex. The dancer knew Matt and had been attracted to him, but instead of his ex, the horrible Helen, she was her younger sister, Hope. There’s embarrassment all around, with a double helping for Hope – not only was she drooling over Matt, she’s got a respectable quilt shop and was only there dancing as a favor for a friend and really doesn’t want it getting out.

They don’t see each other for months, time that Matt still needed to get past some of the worst of his bitterness toward Helen. He still feels a little weird about Hope – he’s attracted to her, but should he be? He rescues her from a snowbank and they rescue each other from hypothermia – his family helps with the rest, giving him the push he needs to start seeing Hope for who she is, not just as Helen’s sister.

All of the Coleman brothers are pretty exceptional but Matt has been my favorite (so far, though I always reserve the right to change my mind later where these guys are concerned). Helen managed to make him doubt himself and there weren’t any simple fixes even if he is a natural Grade A Alpha. When Helen left Rocky Mountain, she didn’t just dump Matt, she left Hope in the lurch too, on the hook for rent and solely responsible for the quilt shop. At odd moments in the story, they would bond as survivors of Helen and at others, struggle to hold onto each other in spite of her. Hope and Matt have some unbelievably hot love scenes – seriously break the ice water out hot. I might have been overdressed or something because it’s possible I either was flushed or blushed depending on your perspective.

The same family atmosphere is back in Rocky Mountain Desire that was present in the first two books that I adored so much. Jaxi and Blake have their girls now, Daniel and Beth have their family and it’s fun to continue to watch the youngest Coleman twins Jesse and Joel continue to reel the girls in and to try to solve the mystery of brother Travis. Now that Hope’s joined the family, there are quilting circles and even more about the guys down at the garage.

My Summary: I always say this about each prior book, but you know, this is my favorite book in the series yet. Matt and Hope were the most compatible couple imaginable, the joy of the book was watching the two of them figure it out. The long, slow slide they took into love was perfect for them and exactly the way it had to be given their history. Matt’s proposal/non-proposal/sort-of-missed proposal was the sweetest, most original and them that I could imagine.

My Rating: A