Monday, May 30, 2011

My O My, Look At Her Now . . . "Her Wildest Dreams" by Shiloh Walker

Timid and shy, in her wildest dreams, Allie never imagined Alex would look at her with anything more than friendship and maybe a little pity in his eyes.

One horrible night Allie is attacked and Alex comes rushing to her rescue.
He wonders if he is really needed when he finds a little hellcat fighting off her attacker. Much later that night, Alex holds that little hellcat in his arms.

Months later, he runs into Allie again and he barely recognizes her. She's no longer the shy little wallflower she had once been.

Problem is…she doesn't seem to want to have anything to do with him. Allie's about to find out that Alex is the only man guaranteed to make her wildest dreams come true.

This novel is a sequel to Good Girls Don't and tells the story of Allie, a very quiet, shy young woman who has a nice job and keeps to herself and knuckles under to her over-protective and over-bearing cop brother. She is a nursing assistant in a convalescent facility and the patients have become her friends. Whenever someone wants to take some extra time off using a false excuse, Allie is always there to work the extra shifts. And then something happens to jar her out of this carefully orchestrated existence: a drug addict attempts to molest her and steal her purse in the dark area just outside the book store she visits weekly. Surprisingly, her efforts to fight off the attacker are successful, and in addition, the cop who responds to the call is her brother's partner Alex, a man she has known since she was a teen. (He is the man she has always had a crush on as well.)

The fact that she is so easily dismissed as a person comes home to her as she sits patiently in the police station waiting for Alex to take her home. After a while, she realizes that he has forgotten her. Only as she is waiting at the curb for a cab does Alex realize that she has left and catches her in time. He takes her home to his place in order to feed her and help her to talk out the traumatic events of the evening. Somehow, as she relaxes, Alex begins to see her differently, and lo and behold, she ends up in his arms and they make love. In the euphoria of the encounter, Alex's responses lead Allie to believe that he is disgusted with himself for even getting close to her, and in her hurt and upset, she dresses quickly and leaves. Allie begins to realize that her entire life has been as a doormat and she determines to change.

Some people make adjustments in their lives; others CHANGE! And Allie was one of those that really made some significant changes in her life. Over the next couple of years, she completely changed her looks with a new wardrobe, re-styling her hair, using a gym membership, going back to school and getting her R.N. certification, quiting that old dead-end job and now working in a vibrant Emergency Room environment, and taking a trip to Ireland, a journey she had long planned. While there she met a young man with whom she had a two-week affair--her first lover. Wow!! She was on her way. When she returned, at her brother's request, Alex met her plane and didn't even recognize her. He was still "knocked off his nine-pins" over the one time love-making that had occurred on that night years earlier, and unbeknownst to Allie, that encounter had refused to leave his memory--it was one of the most overwhelming encounters he had ever experienced. Now he sees a woman who has "come into herself" and not only has Allie changed within herself, she has also changed toward him. Now he had to treat her with respect--not just as the baby sister of his partner.

This is a compelling story of a woman who experienced a significant metamorphisis not only externally, but internally as well. Now she is not willing to settle for "whatever," but she has goals and dreams that she strives to achieve. She is no longer afraid to go after what she wants. In truth, her desire for a relationship with Alex has not diminished, but she is no longer willing to be that forgettable female who just hangs around the periphery of her brother's world. This is also a story about a police officer who has knocked around the dating world for years and is wanting something more and he wants Allie. But she is the baby sister of his partner and Mike's response to any involvement with Allie would not be positive. Oh brother!!

I found this story so very readable, and one that kept drawing me forward. Ms Walker's writing style keeps all the aspects of the story in balance between the external action and the internal monologue within the characters. And there is something that truly hold's the readers interest in watching these two people find their own path, realize their own goals, and eventually find each other and the ways in which their personalities, their dynamics as individuals and all that goes into an attraction come to the fore. Both Alex and Allie are fascinating in that I think there are so many people just like them. They were almost iconic in my mind and perhaps that was the deeper attraction for me to their stories. This book was published several years ago, but of the Walker writings I have read, it still stand out as one of the stories that "speaks" to me below the surface.

If you haven't encountered this book, it is well worth the time and effort to obtain and read. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm Back From Desert Island Keepers and I'm Still Reading . . . "Good Girls Don't" by Shiloh Walker

Well, hello, everyone and I'm glad to be back over here at the Book Place and sharing with all of you again. For three days I was one of those DIK ladies and it is always fun and a challenge. It is an honor to be included in such a great group of reviewers as well as guest authors.

Perhaps you might want to visit there if you haven't already--yesterday I let my irritations fly far and wide and ranted about folks who find way too much time on their hands and decide to use it to say nasty things about others, especially those who have ingredients in their lives that about which they disapprove. You can click here if you want to check it out -- Desert Island Keepers -- and I hope you keep going back. Lots of good stuff over there.

I'm still in my discovery mode of reading some of the older books written by some of my favorite authors. Shiloh Walker has been one of the authors I keep coming back to and who has wowed me with a number of her works that have been out for some time. Good Girls Don't is one of those books that has been published for about five years and which lots of people miss while chasing down the latest and newest releases. I found this book almost by accident and thorough
ly enjoyed it. In fact, it is on my Keeper list and I have gone back to it a couple of times.

Lori has a nice, safe job and a nice, safe fiancé. She has played it safe most of her life. Until she finds that nice, safe fiancé in bed with another woman. But the ultimate betrayal is that he is willing to play sexy bedroom games with the neighbor that he wouldn't play with Lori, no matter how often she asked. She kicks him out of her bed, out of her house, and out of her life. Now she's ready to make her fantasies come true. She starts at Exposé, a sex club where anything goes.

Mike has been attracted to Lori since moving in next door. She is taken though, and even if she were free, she's not his type. Too sweet, too innocent, too nice. So what in hell is she doing at Exposé? He doesn't know, but he's determined to protect her from the other guys in the club . . . and from himself. Determined to protect her e
ven if it means bringing her pain.

By the time Mike realizes Lori doesn't want or need to be protected, it's almost too late.

Mike is a cop who has no intention of ever marrying--he is too involved in his law enforcement responsibilities, the hours are hell, and his sexual tastes are just too dark and rough for any woman to take on permanently. He gets what he needs from the subs at Expose and that just has to be good enough. He is mightily attracted to his neighbor, but apart from the fact that she is already engaged, same reasons, same excuses. He spends time with his partner Alex, and he finds lots to do with buddies when not at the club. His life is OK.

Lori wants something more from her relationship with her fiance. She tells him about needing more than "vanilla" sex, but he is controlling and decides what she needs, completely ignoring what she shares with him. The @#$% hits the fan when she comes home early from her job and finds him boinking another woman, doing exactly the kinds of kinky things she has been begging to do with him for months. That was the end . . . and he and all his stuff is on the curb. Good thing they hadn't signed the papers to put him on the deed to her house. Now she is free to follow through finding some way to answer the darker needs that won't go away, that seem to swirl around inside and which keep intruding on her composed and organized life. So she makes a few trips to Expose and there she sees her sexy neighbor who immediately gets angry because she is there, declares that she has no business being there, and ushers her to her car--on more than one occasion. What's it going to take to 1) get Mike to take her seriously and 2) either get involved with her or leave her alone?

This short novel is really about two people who know what is going on inside of them and while they really desire a committed relationship, are convinced that no one would be willing to "take them on" long-term. Both Mike and Lori have lots to give, but they are also convinced that any long-term relationship is, by definition, vanilla. Their journey of discovery is troubled and loaded with ups and downs, disappointments, and small rejections that really don't hinder each from seeking what they need, but which postpone them seeking what they need with each other. Even when they finally take their liason home, they are both afraid to take the other seriously. Being hurt in the past, both really have some serious trust issues which is kind of counter-productive, since any form of BDSM really rests on a foundation of trust. They begin their relationship as a "no-strings" neighbors-with-benefits kind of togetherness, but the question is really if they can move beyond past disappointments toward a positive involvement that really meets their deeper emotional need to belong, to be loved for who they are, bumps, urges, bunions, and all.

As always, Shiloh Walker is one of those writers who has proven that she is well in touch with the human condition, with those deeper feelings that drive individuals toward one another, sometimes not even realizing how needy they are. She seems to have the sensitivity and perception to create characters with whom her readers can relate and which resonate with real people. Readers may not align themselves with the kink in this story, but they can always understand strong personalities who put forth a very mature and hefty public persona, but who are needy and wanting on the inside. These are the kinds of characters we all know and who are far more numerous in our circles of friendship and employment colleagues than most of us realize. It is one of the reasons I keep going back to her books, both old and new.

So I hope that if you are looking for a really good love story that won't take up boogobbles of your time, you will look this book over and make it a part of your TBR pile. It is well-worth the effort and is one of those HEA stories that just seems curiously satisfying when all is said and done. I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I'm Visiting Today and Tomorrow Over At The Desert Island Keepers . . .

Yeah, I am one of the DIK ladies now . . . and two or three times a year I get to share over there as well as here. I would invite you to join me over at Desert Island Keepers--it's a really neat blog in so many ways.

Yesterday I indulged in a bit of soul confessing . . . owning up to letting some new kinds of books expand my reading world and my literary acceptance. It has been quite an informative two years.

So join me for the next couple of days and if you haven't ever been over to DIK, hopefully this won't be the last time.

Until next time . . .

What Shall I Do? I Left Him But I Still Love Him . . . Protective Custody by Wynter Daniels

Shocked by the brutal crime she witnesses through the window of her small office, Megan Jackson calls the police and is devastated when they question the truth of her story. With no body and no evidence of a crime, she’ s written off as a nutcase.

Megan suspects the killer saw her face. Terrified, she calls the only person she can trust—her ex-boyfriend and former police officer, Will McCoy.

Despite a devastating breakup, Will jumps at the chance to help the woman who broke his heart. When the killer ramps up the stakes, Will is forced to take her into hiding—where the passion they once shared reignites, deeper and hotter than ever. But can Will keep Megan alive long enough to win back her heart?

The witness protection program is one with which more people are now familiar due to recent television series and the kinds of protective custody that keeps good people away from the bad guys against whom they have testified in court. In this novel the heroine is in very real danger and finds that not only her job and home are on the line but her life may well be forfeit as well, not because she has testified in court, but because she witnessed a murder first-hand.

As is almost always the case with all of us, when we are in deep trouble, the first people we go to are those who either are or have been important figures in one's personal life. Thus, Megan knows one person who knows how to keep her safe if anyone does, and that is the man who she has essentially "kicked to the curb" and a person who she still loves deeply. To Will's credit, in spite of his shattered emotions and a relationship gone bad for reasons he really doesn't know, he comes to Megan's rescue, pulling strings and requesting favors of former cop associates to find the man whose murderous actions are now putting Megan's life in danger.

This love story has several layers that draw in the interest of the reader. First, there is the tension of finding the person who committed the crime Megan witnessed. Then there are her problematic relationships with law enforcement and the officers who really don't believe she saw anything. No physical evidence to support her claims, so she must just be some dipsy doodle female out for some attention, right? Add in the upended love relationship between Will and Megan and the pressures to end the affair from Will's mom and Megan's grandmother, and you have a story that has lots of push/pull in it. There are some developments in the progress of the story that are surprising and some twists and turns near the end that sort of came out of the blue. Megan's own unsettled emotions about Will don't help any, either.

I liked the messy nature of this story because, after all, life at its best is messy. Human relationships are never clear and concise and progress along sharp and clearly defined boundaries. Certainly this love affair was messy. I got the feeling that Megan wanted to let go of a lot of the drama in her life--I'm not sure she really could--but it just seemed to follow her around. And when she began to experience some serious threats to her life and livelihood, the situation went downhill fast. I liked Will a lot--a man who loved deeply and with great loyalty, one whose open acceptance of Megan, a black woman, never waivered. He was a person who accepted her rejection of him but his hurt lay primarily in the mystery as to why she would reject him in the first place, especially when he was so sure that his deep and abiding love was returned. I liked that he was able to put aside his anger and hurt in order to see her safe, even if there wasn't any future for them together. It is the mark of a true friend.

What I didn't like was the prejudice that lay at the heart of both family's opposition to this interracial couple. I really didn't like Will's mother who went behind her son's back to undercut any future they might have together, to be very clear that Megan was not welcome either in Will's family or his social circles. She was clearly an emotional and selfish "barracuda" who perceived Megan's insecurities and anxieties and used them for her own purposes. The opposition of Megan's grandmother was far more complicated and grew out of years of discrimination that has scarred and warped her responses to white folks in general and to any white man who would potentially love her granddaughter. What I disliked most was Megan's unwillingness to put her love for Will in a priority position. She loved her grandmother and wanted to be a support for her at the end of her life. After all, her grandmother was all the family she had. Yet a love as deep as Megan's and one which appeared to be moving toward marriage would have to be the "forsaking all others" kind of love. I didn't like at all that she would rather jettison Will and any future they had together just to keep from revealing his mother's back-biting and resistance to the marriage; she also chose to place the ease of her grandmother's emotions over her own future. On the surface this would seem unselfish. I don't think so. Will needed to know the depth of his own mother's prejudice and make his own decision about what his relationship would be with his parents. Megan took that choice away from him. And most of all, he really needed to understand the full scope of her reasons for ending the affair. If she loved him, she owed him that. I just don't think Megan really had emotional maturity as evidenced by her choices.

All that being said, this is a love story that is complicated by the tension surrounding the witness of this murder. It is one that is not warm and fuzzy given that Will and Megan were embroiled in their recent hurtful history. I have to admit that the book held my interest from page one. As such it was, at least for me, a good read. There were some emotional ups and downs and at times I really could empathize with Megan's anxiety over the entire mess. There were times when I was irritated at her for some of her choices which seemed not to be well thought out. But in the final analysis, I found this book to be a very interesting one, and one that highlighted some of the issues surrounding interracial relationships and the choices that inevitably lay before couples who seriously consider long-term involvement. It also highlighted the power of personal ambition and the addictive nature of some very dysfunctional relationships which can and do lay at the heart of choices that are unwise and, in the long run, destructive.

This is the first Wynter Daniels book I have read and I liked her writing style, her way with words, her ability to tell a story that developed the characters but was not overly wordy with internal monologues. Because of the social issues involved she could have so easily gotten on a "soap box" of sorts as some novelists tend to do, yet she did not. She just let the story tell itself and allowed the reader to draw one's own conclusions about the prejudice and resistance to an interracial relationship. There was certainly lots of love in this narrative but there was also that underlying tension caused by the insidious nature of the push to kill her. I think lovers of mystery mixed with romance will probably like this book. I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.

This novel was released 09 May 2011 by Carina Press.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

What Do You Do With A Ranch You Won In A Poker Game? Compromised Cowgirl by Reece Butler

Having completed two years at a Virginia ladies’ college, required to gain her inheritance, Jessamine Elliott returns to Tanner’s Ford. Raised on a ranch with six wild brothers, she’s determined to keep her independence by becoming a partner on her brothers’ Bitterroot Ranch. But Ranger insists she prove herself by spending three weeks working for the Double Diamond, owned by a trio of greenhorn English aristocrats, posing as a boy. At Ranger’s urging, Kenrick ‘Ace’ Langford reluctantly takes Jessie on, thinking she’s a bratty boy but needing the skills. His partners see through Jessie’s disguise but go along with the ruse, hoping they will marry. Ace feels strangely drawn to Jessie so stays far away. Three weeks later he thinks he’s finally free of the brat when he finds Jessie floating in his hot spring. When the uppity brat rolls over, showing lush breasts, Ace decides it’s payback time

This is the third in a series of novels based on the historical phenomenon call the Brides Trains of the late 1800's. Begun to bring "mail order" brides to the men of the American West following the Civil War when so many veterans came West in order to start a new life after enduring the hardships and losses of war, these train loads of women were a factor in bringing making new relationships for women who may have had limited opportunities to marry or have families if they remained in the East. However, women were often brought West under false pretenses, a number were contracted into proxy marriage and then sold outright to brothels by unscrupulous men, or were abducted enroute for one reason or the other. The heroine in this tale has a social conscience--she ends up participating in a rescue of two women, one who was sold to a brothel by her husband, and one whose family was murdered by outlaws who sold her to that same brothel. Through the action of Jessie and her brothers, these two women were rescued and given the opportunity of a fresh start.

In this novel the heroine has come West to claim her portion of the family ranch in Montana. However, her brothers are unwilling to sell her a portion of the ranch even though they know she is as savvy about ranching and as adept at running a ranch as any man. So in order to get her to "prove" her ability as a ranch owner, she is snookered into pretending to be a 14 year old kid who is looking for room and board and will assist three English aristocrats who have won a ranch in a poker game and who know absolutely nothing about ranching. Jessie's masquerade succeeds with "Ace" but the other two Englishmen know something is not right about this kid and one of these gentlemen figures out almost immediately that she is a female. Yet she knows her stuff and actually begins to teach them about ranching. Their enterprise is up and running and at least has a reasonable chance of succeeding because of her knowledge which has been a part of her life since she was a little kid.

In reality, Jessie's brother wants to see her married and believes that these three aristocrats--one is the third son of an earl and all are second and third sons with no expectations of any inheritance--have the breeding and education in treating a woman with care and respect. This is especially important in Jessie's case as her early years were filled with disregard and abuse. She came to believe that the only creature who loved her was her horse. Jessie's brother also believes that Ace Langford will be open to marrying his sister as she is a member of the primary family in that region of Montana--an American equivalent of British family of social standing.

In the two previous novels in this series, two other brides end up in polyamorous marriages and those women make an appearance in this novel as well. Their counsel to Jessie--who really doesn't want to marry because there aren't any men she really trusts--makes it possible for her to begin to see marriage from a different perspective. One of my favorite scenes takes place when Jessie visits her sister-in-law and they have a "women's night" together helped along with some homemade brandy. This is certainly an education for Jessie as these two women are very open about the advantages of having more than one husband as well as the ways such wives can have to make sure that they don't get "run over" by some fairly dominant men. (Back in that time it was perfectly legal for a husband to beat his wife senseless for disobeying

I found this novel to be extremely interesting--the antics of the British greenhorns were comic and coming up against a wiley woman like Jessie who, as a hapless boy without family and connections, made their life quite difficult on some occasions was the stuff of real interest for me. It has only been in recent months that I have come to appreciate the historical novels embracing the American West of the 1800's--I pretty much stayed with the British Regency period for the most part--and I found this novel to be entertaining, witty, and quite educational. This is an author that takes the time to really learn the historical context and who takes the time to put in the hours of research, even to the point of visiting the locality with its museums and archives of one sort or another. Such background knowledge shows as she has constructed these fictional families who most probably reflect the kind of family life that was the norm in that time. It is a well-known fact that such polyamorous family configurations were more numerous than many people realized. In fact, the Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon is about a woman with two husbands

Also at the core of this story is the factor of family abuse that ran rampant in 19th century America and which was simply not taken seriously because it was "a family matter." Myriad women and children were injured or killed, or at least their lives were changed for the worst because such abuse was tolerated. The story is also about family loyalty and connection that sustains people who have little else positive in their lives. Jessie endured rape at the hand of her cousin, a man who wanted to marry her simply to get his hands on her inheritance from an aunt. Her body bore the scars from being whipped by her uncle, often for very minor infractions. That the love of her brothers brought her back from a life of hopelessness. Ultimately she found the love of three men who rebuilt her faith in herself, not as a rancher, but as a warm and giving and intelligent woman who was necessry to complete their lives. How that all comes about is the sum and substance of this novel.

This book is unabashedly erotic romance, yet there is a lot going on that is just good storytelling and even in a fictional sense adds to the reader's knowledge of this time in American history. It is about a young woman who has set some goals for herself, who has the faith that she can care for herself and who is not willing to put her future in the hands of a grasping and unprincipled man in order to be seen as socially acceptable. In fact, she really doesn't care what people think of her and that attitude ultimately gets her in trouble with some of the men in her life. Reece Butler had proven the ability to write a novel that hangs together like good fictional romance should with interesting and lively characters, sufficient action to prevents the "yawns" and a story that moves along and doesn't stall out at some point. This novel is just a really entertaining and educational and fun read. It will be one that fans of American historical romance will really like. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

They Play By The Rules, but Who Makes The Rules? Hot In Here by Susan Lyons

Journalist Jenny Yuen lands a very steamy assignment: cover a firefighter calendar competition with some of the hunkiest half-naked heroes ever. Her personal favourite - Mr. February is also known as Scott, also known as hot...Read all about it: the muscular, sexy rookie is the man of Jenny's dreams - her wildest dreams. She's up for a wickedly sensual game if they play by their very own set of rules: No taboos, no holding back, no commitment. But the desire they feel is impossible to control...and even harder to resist.

This delightfully erotic novel was published five years ago, yet it is one of those books that continues to entertain and, in my case, is a recent discovery. It is Book Two in the Awesome Foursome series about four friends in Vancouver, BC, Canada who meet weekly for a meal together and compare notes on the love adventures. These conversations and gatherings show up throughout the novel and seem to be the literary vehicle which carries the plot of the novel along. It is also the place where the heroine is able to work out a great many of her issues surrounding what she believes to be a "non-relationship" with a firefighter named Scott Jackman.

Jenny Yuen is tiny, beautiful, with hair like a cascade of black silk and a body that tempts and entices. She is an independent journalist who has been sent to cover the annual competition to determine the twelve guys that will grace the Firefighters' Calendar. Jenny's personal favorite is Mr. February, a rookie firefighter and EMT who wows the audience--mostly made up of women--with his slow and sensual tap dance rendition of a Gershwin classic. Surprisingly, and no one is more surprised than Scott--Mr. February, he is attracted to Jenny after the contest even when he is surrounded by women who fall into his usual category: blonde, buxom, and beautiful. Their attraction sizzles right from the beginning and becomes sort of a "friends with benefits" kind of series of encounters. That's OK at first, but Scott wants more and his growing attachment to Jenny is unsettling, especially as his feelings for her change early on in their encounters.

At first glance this novel appears to be pretty much about Jenny & Scott's sexual games during which they live out their secret sexual scenarios about which they have fantasized during their adult years. But at its core, this novel is about the traditional ethnic family, its values and aspirations and expectations as they clash with 21st century social norms and relational acceptance in a country where many cultures exist side by side and have easily intermingled right from the start. Jenny is Chinese-Canadian, and her family is extremely traditional. As she still lives at home with several generations of her relatives, she must sneak out, meet Scott somewhere other than her home, and refuses to even consider what they have together as a relationship. She is constantly pressured to date Chinese men of her parents' choosing, and she must even carry extra clothing when she goes somewhere because she does not wear her family's choice of apparel when she is away from home.

Scott, too, is dealing with a very traditional German family whose traditions and expectations are set in stone--German is better--and who respond negatively when they find out he is dating a Chinese Canadian. Amidst the fun and comradarie of the four friends is also the pressures of these traditional families with Jenny and Scott sometimes confused at how to work toward a future that they want without upsetting and alienating their loved ones.

This is a highly entertaining novel. Lots of wit and the characters are beautifully created and crafted, and Scott and Jenny are intelligent and bring a wealth of personal knowledge into their encounters. It is a book that will be such fun to reaed, yet there is that serious component that stimulates some very conscientious thought about the implications of changing ideas about one's identity as a part of a particular ethnic group. Certainly both Scott and Jenny are who they are because of how they were raised with a the sense of belonging in their families, surrounded by their ethnic tradition. Yet they are people of their times and also reflect the open acceptance that has become desired in countries like Canada and the United States, nations that have welcomed immigrants from a vast number of foreign places.

I really enjoyed this book, and even though it is well past the blush of first publication, it is a book that bears reading for lots of reasons and all of them good. I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Am Determined . . . or Am I? Finally A Bride by Vicki McDonough

Keep your eyes wide open for romance in Lookout, Texas. Noah Jeffers enters town determined to make up for past misdeeds. Reporter Jacqueline Davis is determined to nail her story. Will she uncover Noah’s secret before he can capture her heart? With nowhere else to go, ex-con Carly Payton returns to the Lookout boardinghouse. Garret Corbett is looking for an upstanding wife, not some jailbird. What will he do when overpowered by Carly’s unassuming appeal? Does love deserve a second look?

This is another book in the series by this author that deals with the little town of Lookout and its citizens and takes place about 10 years after the previous novel in this series. The kids who bedeviled each other are now grown up and looking to move on into adulthood--marriage, children, homes of their own. That is, with the exception of Jack--Jaqueline Davis, Rachel's daughter, who has determined that she will not ever be married. She is still deeply imprinted with her father's treatment of her and with his cruel abuse, that she has ceased to trust any man. She has made an exception with her stepfather Luke, the town marshall, but even that trust is tentative at best.

Her resolve not to marry is sorely tried when the new minister comes to town. Noah Jeffers is tall, handsome, muscular, and totally mouthwatering. He seems to look right through to her soul when their eyes meet--some kind of connection she can't explain. Little does she realize that Noah is really her old nemesis, Butch McNeil, the boy who made her life miserable ten years earlier. But Noah--and that is is real name--has changed, his relationship with God has made a difference in his attitude and his actions and his desire to be a different, good, kind, caring human being. Dare he reveal this to Jack, now a beautiful and desirable woman and a woman he had probably loved all his life?

This is an inspirational novel that is populated with people of the 19th century American scene, demonstrating that religion and faith held a high place in people's consciences and church-going was what good and decent people did. That they didn't always reflect the principles of Christian behavior is a given--after all, faith is about changing within, not about just an external make-over. There are some significant instances in the characters in this story, most of whom are carried over from the previous novels and who have now made some significant decisions about their lives. Carly Payton, a girl who was fronting as a mail-order bride and who was involved in her brothers criminal activity is now back after serving her prison sentence. And like so many ex-convicts, must bear the load of her past. Yet her new-found faith sustains her, even giving her the strength to accept that they may never be love or marriage or children in her future.

There is lots of family, community, faith, and loyalty in this novel and evidence that for these people, prayer and personal trust in God were the sustaining factors in their lives. It is a story designed to testify to that faith and to say otherwise would be misleading. Yet it is a very romantic story and examines the ways in which the decisions based on hurtful pasts can change when exposed to the healing power of love--God's love as well as the love of important people in those lives.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

All Is Not As It Appears . . . Catch Her When She Falls by Missy Martine

Serena Dammler is recovering from a savage beating and needs protection. Cowboys and lovers Marc Weller and Tony Estabon are taking jobs as bounty-hunters, and their newest assignment is to capture her attacker and return him to Texas. They take one look at Serena's fragile beauty and decide she'd be the perfect third to their family. Serena's always dreamed of catching herself a rich man, and she'd do just about anything to make that dream come true. She's not going to allow herself to fall in love with her two cowboy protectors, no matter how sexy they are. Marc and Tony want Serena as their third, but they want her love to be real and not based on their bank accounts. So what will it hurt if they take her to a little cabin on their ranch and pretend to be simple cowboys?

Oh my . . . what a cover graphic. Leave it to those folks over at Siren Publishing to put it right out there. Oh well . . .

This is a M/M/F story that centers around Serena, the erstwhile paralegal working for the attorney who represented Cass Abernathy's uncle and was executor of his estate. Serena was a very mixed up young lady, growing up in Mountain Vista, OR and having the misfortune of being the step-daughter of a man who cared little for her, especially after her mother died. She was also mistreated and sexually abused by her step-brothers and they systematically dismantled her reputation. She really had not place of safety and was looking to Matt & David, Cass's husbands, to be a protection for her. In her envy that Cass was walking away with the men she had hoped to snag for herself, Serena made a very foolish phone call to Cass' ex-husband, now on parole. When Eric arrived in Mountain Vista and couldn't find Cass, he descended on the law office where Serena worked and beat her to a pulp, believing she was withholding information he wanted.

Coming to Mountain Vista had effectively violated his parole, so the Houston PD hired two former DEA agents who sometimes worked at bounty hunters. Marc and Tony were former partners with the DEA but they were also lovers of long standing. In the course of their search for Eric, they found Serena, now hospitalized with her injuries, and it became almost immediately apparent that she was possibly their "third"-- the woman they had both been seeking to complete their relationship. They decided to take Serena into "protective custody", telling her that Eric was on the prowl for her (which wasn't true) and that they were cowhands at a ranch in Texas (they certainly lived on a ranch in Texas but they weren't cowhands, but the owners of the spread). They did this for two reasons: 1) they had heard the rumors that Serena was expressly seeking a rich husband and would do anything to snag one in order to get out of Mountain Vista; and 2) they had often had women try to entrap them in relationships because of their bank accounts and not out of true regard or affection.

Of course we know where lying gets us, especially in intimate relationships. And so the fireworks began.

This story really is about these two fascinating and very humorous and extremely caring men setting out to convince Serena that they could all be together, that she was worthy of their love, and that her heart was always safe with them--that they would always "catch her when she fell." They knew of her trust issues but couldn't figure out any other way to snare her except by fudging on their identity and assets, and to keep from her the fact that Eric had been in custody almost immediately after arriving in Oregon. Yet their love and regard for her was genuine, and as she accepted their kindnesses and their open affection, her attitude toward herself began to change, and her own sense of empowerment began to blossom.

I love stories where the power of love can bring out the best in one or more of the characters. I think here Serena was the big winner, but don't count out the fact that Marc and Tony felt complete in a way that had not been true when it was just the two of them. They loved each other with a forever kind of love, but Serena brought that added dimension that seemed to "fill in the cracks" in a very special way that was almost beyond words to express.

This is a truly warm and winsome love story and yet it packs a powerful message. I think not only Martine fans will like this book, but those who love to read romance that warms the heart. I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Down But Not Out . . . Table For Three by Missy Martine

Cass Abernathy is forty-three and she's getting a second chance at life, and maybe even love. She's finally divorced, after years of abuse, when she learns an unknown uncle in Oregon has left her his estate, and more importantly, his house. Filled with hope for her future and excited to have a place of her own, Cass heads west not knowing what she'll find.

What she finds are hot and sexy twin brothers intent on making her a part of their lives. It's too bad they're so much younger because they bring out feelings she's never had before.

Meanwhile, there's someone else interested in Cass' inheritance, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to make sure he wins. Will Cass overcome her fears and open her heart to the two men who love her, and will she discover the truth about her inheritance before it's too late?

Three people and three disillusioned people, all hurt and deeply wounded over the course of their past because of failed love relationships. Cass Abernathy was verbally abused and finally physically beaten in plain sight of her neighbors, and for that little loss of control, her ex-husband landed in the hoosgow. But the real imprisonment was Cass's--she had spent the next two years in hiding, working from home as a data entry specialist, quietly trying to stay out of sight of her ex's family, having been cruelly threatened by her ex-brother-in-law on the day her divorce became final.

Now it appears that she has a chance at freedom in several forms: freedom from her self-imposed imprisonment and freedom financially so that she can live in peace after 23 years of humiliation and systematically being emotionally and psychologically dismantled. An uncle, the brother of her mother and a relative previously unknown to her has left her a legacy--a house and to hear the attorney tell it, a small bank account.

Now we come to Matt and David, identical twins who have each been divorced after very unhappy marriages. What they really want is to share the love of a good woman, a dream they both held on to until it appeared too large a fantasy. Now they are both back in their home town of Mountain Vista where they catch a glimpse of Cass and immediately both men begin to wonder--in fact grasp the faint hope--that their dream of a polyamorous relationship may still be possible.

There is quite a cast of characters in this book--not too many to keep track of--some are good, and some are not so good. Oliver, her uncle's attorney seems to have another agenda apart from his legal responsibilities to the estate; Serena, the paralegal working for Oliver is bound and determined that Matt and David belong to her although they openly refute her claim. Robert, Matt & David's attorney is the kind of professional that sees what needs doing and does it and is one of those legal eagles who figures out what's best for his client. All in all the action between these characters is interesting as the story strands are woven to make up the tapestry of the tale.

I liked the three main characters a lot. But this story is really about redemption--renewing and rebuilding hope, reclaiming love and rejoicing in its possibilities and its joys regardless of age of situation. Ms Martine has crafted a story that speaks openly about the long-term damage that comes from abuse, even if it is "only" verbal or psychological. Those kinds of wounds most often take far longer to heal than the physical ones. The author makes this comment about this story:

"Cass' story came to life as a way to encourage women of all ages not to give up on finding true love, and to keep their minds open to all possibilities. After surviving an abusive relationship, she's able to open her heart to a different kind of love. She gives her heart to not one, but two sexy brothers."

Arising from an abyss of pain and self-doubt, it took the love of two kind, caring, genuine and loyal men to convince Cass that she was worthy of love and could find the resources within herself to give it back generously. This is a wonderful love story and worth reading. I highly recommend it to those who really want to experience a fictional tale that will leave you warm and fuzzy. I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Author Spotlight -- Heather Rainier: Creator of Divine, Texas, and the Wonderful People of the Divine Creek Ranch Series

Heather Rainier is an author I encountered almost by accident while trolling an
ebook publishing website a number of months ago. I was looking for full-length novels that looked really romantic as well as erotic. Divine Grace caught my eye and I bought it and absolutely loved it!! It was one of the few romantic novels I had read recently that wasn't an
adversarial story--you know, where the hero and heroine hate each other for 3/4 of the book and then fall into each other's arms. This story was very different and narrated the experience of a very
nice, quiet, insecure and industrious woman who had allowed a boyfriend of long standing to abuse and misuse her for years. Through a friendship with one of her customers at the local department story, Grace met Jack, Ethan, and Adam, and through the counsel of Jack's mother and the support and strength of these three respectful and caring men, Grace began a journey of growth and discovery about her own gifts and talents.

These past few days I have been posting reviews about several of Heather's books for several reasons. 1) I hope anyone who stops by this blog will take note and get one of these really good books. 2) I have always made it a point on this blog to highlight authors and books that I have enjoyed and which I believe are stories well-told and beautifully written. 3) As a reviewer I feel I have not only a privilege but an obligation to read and review new authors as well as those who are well-established in the genre. Heather certainly fall into that category. I hope the following information and interview with Heather will pique your interest and give you some insight into this very interesting lady.


Heather Rainier lives and writes in South Central Texas. Her stories offer up the content of her fantasies, with autobiographical humor, triumph and tragedy mixed in. With great pride, Heather writes erotic romances exclusively for Siren Publishing, under their Menage Everlasting and Everlasting Classic imprints.

Heather's love of romance fiction began as a teenager when her mom gave her copies of Kathleen Woodiwiss's "The Flame and the Flower" and Bertrice Small's "Skye O'Malley". To this day she's pretty sure that was her mom's version of the "birds and the bees" talk.

Heather writes the type of novel she loves to read: More erotic and edgy than the mainstream, with plenty of sweet romance mixed in and a happily ever after guaranteed. Heather's favorite type of hero is the gentle, lovable giant but readers will discover a wide variety of heroes and alphas on the pages of her novels, from nearly perfect to very flawed. Heather hopes that readers relate to her heroines and the challenges and dilemmas they face head on.

Heather believes that life doesn't always present love to us in neat little sanitized packages. Sometimes we have to seize the day, live life with no regrets, forget the past, never give up, learn to trust, and dare to live, even in outrageous circumstances. Those themes are woven throughout her Divine Creek Ranch Collection which debuted in November of 2010.

When not happily typing at her keyboard, Heather is usually busy corralling her kids, volunteering at local schools, or loving on her smokin' hot husband, who thankfully loves to cook.


Q: What's your favorite quote?
A: “Those who are easily shocked should be shocked more often.” (Mae West)

Q: Where did you get your pseudonym?
A: My husband. I felt it was fitting, because he was there for me, quietly observing as I wrote my first novel, “Divine Grace”, and witnessed the profound affect writing had on me. It seemed fitting that he name me.

Q: How often do you write? What is your writing day like?
A: I write every weekday and on Saturdays as well. I write in the morning and afternoon, and then stay up late correcting and revising. You know you love what you're doing when you don't mind the missed sleep.

Q: What do you like to read?
A: Paranormal romances, contemporary ménage romances, and contemporary BDSM erotic romance. If it has strong romantic / erotic elements I'll read it.

Q: Who are your favorite authors?
A: Leah Brooke, Tymber Dalton, Jenny Penn and J. R. Ward.

Q: How do you develop your heroes and heroines? Where does inspiration come from?
A: Inspiration comes from daily life. From a song on the radio, or someone I'm observing, or from a story someone tells me about their life, or while in the grocery store. A cowboy was in the checkout line in front of me and struck up a conversation, flirting the whole time. He was dressed all in denim, wearing a cowboy hat and boots. He was the real deal, and I knew I had the foundation for one of my heroes. One character was the product of a Google image search. This stunning image of a cowboy popped up, and within five minutes, I knew what his name was, and who his heroine would be.

Q: In regard to writing, what are your likes and dislikes?
A: I love publishers and editors who are willing to be tough, picky, and challenging when it comes to honing a manuscript…and the staff who support them so brilliantly. I like friends who volunteer to read what I've written, and then actually follow through and do it, giving me solid input and suggestions. I dislike children who stand near my laptop with an open beverage in their hands.

Q: What motivated you to start writing?
A: An epiphany at my 25th high school reunion. I worried prior to the reunion about what to wear, what to do about my hair, my weight…my whatever. Maybe I'm a little slow on the uptake, but the night of the reunion I realized none of those people noticed or cared about me, then or now. The ones who mattered were my husband, family and friends. That night, I confided to my husband that I'd always wanted to write, and he encouraged me to do whatever I had to, to pursue that dream. I stopped worrying what everyone else thought and began to pursue what made me happiest.

Q: What did you do when you got the email from Siren, notifying you they wanted to publish your first book?
A: I screamed. I couldn't get my fingers to work the mouse to open the email. I could barely hold the phone to call my husband and tell him the good news. We celebrated big-time that weekend

Potholes In The Road To Love: Rosemary's Double Delight

Rosemary is a firecracker, the one who completes them. Wes and Evan have loved this fierce little ebony-haired beauty since kindergarten, even when she’s being a spoiled rotten brat. The brothers still adore Rosemary now that she’s a woman, but Evan has issues. Her mouth gets her in trouble, Evan’s temper gets him in trouble, and even tempered Wes is always caught in the middle.

Rosemary won’t tolerate Evan’s controlling ways, especially when he threatens to spank her. Why can’t Rosemary just do as Evan tells her, especially when it’s for her own good? Wes spends his time making peace, when he’d rather make love. They bring out the worst in each other, and hurt Wes in the process. She won’t give up because they’re also magical together, when they manage to get along! Add in a hot spanking, a fit of temper, and something’s gonna have to give.

Of all the stories in this series, I think this was the most adversarial and filled with the angst that long-term relationships often entail. These three characters have grown up together and have weathered the challenges of moving from childhood to adulthood, with varying success. One very important piece to this entire story is that from their earliest years, these three people planned to be "married" and planned to do so long before they knew the full ramifications of what that meant.

Time has not been kind. Rosemary is indeed a woman who has yet to learn that spouting the first thing that comes into her head may not be wise or kind. Wes is his patient self--wanting all three of them to be together but most of all, wanting to find a way that Rosemary can be in his life. Rosemary insisted that being together sexually needed to be the "grand finale" to their courtship--the wedding night. All through high school and college they waited and planned until just as their goal was in sight, Evan's self-interest prevailed and he wandered away, finding another bed-partner, and ultimately marrying her to his great distress. Now divorced and bitter, Evan's pain over his own foolish past is tarnishing his hopes for the future with Rosemary and Wes. Wes lives in quiet disappointment over Evan's bitter resistance to their triad while Rosemary is locked in fear that she will once again be betrayed by Evan's selfishness.

This is not, in my opinion, the most delightful of stories in this series, even though that word is a part of the book's title. But I hand it to Ms Rainier for dealing openly with the stresses that immaturity and fear can engender and the pain those factors cause in people we love. That Wes keeps on working to bring them together is the bright spot in this floundering relationship. But ultimately I think this story is about the lessons Rosemary and Evan must not only learn but make a part of their own personas, the patience and trust each must build in their relationship with the others, and how triads like this must put the hurts of the past behind them. In this book, more than in any of the other novels in this series, there are delightful flashbacks to their childhood which build the reader's understanding of where each of these characters is "coming from." There are also memories of betrayal and disappointment, of pain and hurt that seem to wipe out the joy of hope and the anticipation of dreams realized.

This is a complicated story in many ways, but it is one that is gut-wrenching in its honesty and one which allows the reader to participate on some kind of level as these three work through their difficulties and as they find tentative and fragile foundations upon which to rebuild their dreams for the future. As always, there are some hot and sweet loving and there is a sense of watching three really delightful people come together in a relationship that has the potential to be all they hoped for from the beginning. As in other novels, Wes, Evan and Rosemary are helped greatly by counsel from Grace & Jack Warner, and Grace's other husbands, Ethan and Adam. These four individuals seem to form the foundation for all the succeeding friendships and each of them continues to prove that they are the kind of people we would love to have as neighbors.

Heather Rainier has drawn us all into the lives of these people who are connected with the Divine Creek Ranch, and I don't think it is too excessive to say that all her readers await the next book in this series with bated breath. And as with all the books that have preceeded it, I am curious how these new characters are connected to the Divine Creek cast of characters her readers have come to love. I hope all of you will begin at the beginning of this series--Divine Grace-- and read all the novels that have been released so far. As for this book, I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Ranch Foreman and the City Girl: Spurs & Heels by Heather Rainier

Ash Peterson falls for her the moment he lays eyes on her. She’s a stereotypical city girl, from her manicure to her high heels. Judging by the sparks that fly between them, he knows there’s a fire burning deep inside the blue-eyed beauty. But department store manager Juliana Meyers is thrown by her attraction to Ash. Everything about this quintessential cowboy sets her on edge, from his Stetson and mutton chop sideburns down to his dusty boots and spurs. All he’s gotta do is walk into a room with those damn things jingling and she’s putty in his hands.

When Ash unintentionally injures Juliana, he feels that it’s his responsibility to look after the hoity-toity redheaded workaholic. He pushes her to reexamine her perfectionist lifestyle, but it’s hard for Juliana because she’s used to doing things her way. Can she learn to relax and let him lead?

Unlike the other novels so far in this "Divine Creek Ranch" series, this is not a menage romance but rather about two characters that are as different as night and day. Ash is a man who is Texas cowboy through and through, a long-time friend of the owners of the Divine Creek Ranch, and a character that has shown up in previous novels. He knows ranching from start to finish, is comfortable in his skin, and knows what he wants in a woman he wants in his life. He has no doubt that the citified and overworked Juliana is "his" from the moment he lays his eyes on her. But convincing her of that may take some doing.

Juliana Meyers is determined to be the best retail manager this part of Texas has ever seen. She knows nothing of Texas politics or ranching, but she is determined that she will make her department store function like a well-oiled machine, even if it takes over her life--which it has! She think she is content with her life, but even as she is enjoying an infrequent social occasion at the Divine Creek Ranch Christmas gathering, her "boyfriend" of five years calls to break up with her over the phone and confesses he has been cheating on her for some time. Ash is present when this call comes through and even though he is willing to help her sort of deal with the shock, she wants nothing from him, then or in the future, to hear her tell it. Ash is nowhere willing to accept that from her. He knows that somehow she has to re-order her priorities, if not for any future she might have with him, but simply because her obsession with her work is hurting her physically and mentally. He is just that kind of caring man.

Caring for her after an accidental injury which occurs while packing up Teresa in preparation for her wedding to Angel & Joaquin has thrown Ash and Juliana together. The attraction that began at that fateful Christmas gathering continues to escalate, and they begin their affair. For Ash, it is a "forever" kind of thing. Juliana is hesitant--she is afraid he wants to control her life. How they work out the dynamics of their growing relationship is a major part of the story. Juliana's insecurities and a major miscommunication almost torpedo what could be a wonderful future for these two. How this all works out is fun and a marvelous ending to the novel.

As always, Ms Rainier has succeeded in telling a wonderful story, developed the characters of Ash and Juliana in such a way that the reader feels that they are real people, living just a bit down the road. Their struggles to re-configure their lives--to make some way of reconciling Ash's life as a ranch foreman with Juliana's drive to succeed in a non-ranching occupation, to come to some kind of acceptance that she needs to live unobsessed is the core of the tale that flows beneath all the action and the narrative. As in the other novels in this series, their romance is very erotic and these are two characters who are lively and passionate, who both want to experience a love that can withstand the challenges of any life situation. Set within the context of other characters that have been introduced in previous novels, Ash and Juliana's love story not only stands on its own merits but is a part of this community of people who are connected to the Divine Creek Ranch. And as Heather herself says in one of her interviews, these characters have lives and hearts that are as big as the country they live in. All her characters demonstrate that none of us lives apart from the people who exercise their influence and presence in our lives. And even though this couple are the focus of this book, their love is celebrated as a part of the wider community.

One of the on-going scenes in all Heather's novels is the fact that all these women love to dance. Gathering at the Ethan Grant's club, The Dancing Pony, Grace, Rachel, Rosemary, Teresa, and Juliana all love to get out on the dance floor and let the moves loose. Their men love to watch them, too. It is one of the grace-filled moments in these novels that I enjoy as much as any others. It just seems that Heather has filled this and all her novels with men who truly love and appreciate their women, who protect them and surround them with a kind of love that is empowering and heartwarming. This novel is no exception. I am really looking forward to reading the next novel in this series and am curious about the characters whose story will be highlighted--I am sure we have already met them somewhere. And they will, as do all the heroes and heroines, delight and entertain. Don't miss this really wonderful novel!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

He's the Man of Her Dreams: "Heavenly Angel" by Heather Rainier

Angel Martinez has worked patiently for months to draw the fragile beauty out of her shell, wooing her with gentle kindness and falling for her delightful two-year-old in the process. She can barely handle one. Now she has two Martinez brothers after her. Can she forget the past and fall for both her heavenly Angel and his handsome, devilish brother?

This third story in the Divine Creek Ranch series brings together two people who have been greatly injured by life and by people who they initially trusted. Teresa was a single mother who worked in the local department store to support herself and her son. She barely made ends meet, but she was a responsible woman and a hard-working provider, and she managed to keep her head low so that the father of her son didn't find her. While they weren't married at the time of her pregnancy and while he essentially threw her "under the bus" as unworthy of marriage, his family were a danger to her and had already threatened to take her son away, citing their wealth and prominence socially as having greater weight in family court. Thus, when Angel Martinez began to show definite interest in her, Teresa backed away for months, in spite of her attraction to Angel and in spite of her trust that he would never hurt her.

Angel Martinez was a complicated man who worked hard as the ranch foreman on the Divine Creek Ranch and who was tired of being used and hurt by the women he trusted and brought into his life. His last girlfriend was running around on him constantly during the last six months of their relationship even while she was living with Angel and sleeping in his bed. He finally told her to move along and even moved all her things to a friend's house where she was staying temporarily. In a fit of anger at being dislodged from her domicile-- she was more upset at losing the roof over her head than losing Angel--she came to The Dancing Pony Club where she knew Angel had gone that night, and shot him along with one of the owners of the Club who had shown her the door earlier. It was during his hospital stay that he and Teresa began to become closer friends but she still would not admit to having any romantic feelings toward Angel. Angel, however, wore her down and they became a couple, but their physical involvement was not immediate. Angel determined that he would build their friendship and trust between them before they ever hit the sheets. The development of the menage configuration in their "family" came a bit later in Teresa and Angel's affair. Both Angel and Joaquin were born into a polyamorous family--they had the same mother with multiple fathers. Thus this kind of family configuration did not seem unusual to them. But it was a real stretch for Teresa--very conservative Hispanic Catholic upbringing--and she really struggled at having strong romantic feelings and attraction to two men.

This is not a simple "boy meets girl" novel. Rather, it is the merging of two lives that had been upended by distrust, jeolousy, and disrespect. In some ways it is painful to watch Teresa trying so hard to find a way to be happy. Her fear for herself and her son, for their future together in the face of his father's family and their threats, is worrisome, and as a reader who really got drawn into the emotion in this story, I felt that kind of dread we feel when we are worried that a mother and child will be separated by cruelty or evil obsession. The author has also not backed away from the ethnic issues that affected both Angel and Teresa. In a part of the United States where there has been Hispanic presence almost from the beginning of our country, there is still tremendous prejudice and it is a burden most Anglos can't even imagine having to handle.

My observation about this author's writing and her story development is that she is more apt to bring in challenges from outside a love relationship rather than a lot of conflict between the lovers. In this story there was lots of emotional baggage from past relationships, but once these two main characters admitted and acted on their attraction, their love bloomed and grew into a beautiful connection that gave safety and security to both Teresa and her son. And because Angel was connected to the Divine Creek Ranch, all the people who had been a part of that friendship circle became a sort of family for Teresa and her son. Angel's brother Joaquin entered the relationship almost unexpectedly--a Christmas visit, love at first sight, an almost immediate sense that destiny had brought them together, and now they were three. Teresa's son Michael absolutely adored both his dads and for the first time since Michael's birth, Teresa truly began to believe that she would be surrounded with love, care, and safety.

I liked this book a lot and found the romance to be very erotic and heart-warming. The solid nature of Angel's love for Teresa was the significant factor in grounding Joaquin and moving him from the happy rodeo stud to a man who desired to claim a place in Teresa's life and who wanted to be a source of security and happiness for himself and for her and her son. It also brought these t wo brothers back into the close relationship they had once shared before Joaquin decided to live the transcient life of a rodeo cowboy. There's lots to like here for the lover of erotic romance fiction. And Ms Rainier is really a very good writer and should be congratulated on her ability to craft a series of love stories that really "make the heart glad." I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.

Inter-racial Romance: Meeting Lena Matthews

Lena Matthews is one of a number of writers who are currently writing romance fiction from an interracial perspective. It is an aspect of romance fiction that would have not been possible or accepted to any degree four or five decades ago, and the fact that these talented writers are now able to not only have their stories published by are openly accepted and valued by readers is a testimony to the fact that we have moved forward in our societal conscience. Is it as good as it needs to be? Not by a long stretch. But writers like Lena are a wonderful source for helping people of all backgrounds and racial perspectives to widen their understanding of the black culture that is such an important part of our American history and contemporary life.

I have searched online for information about her, but even her own website has a very short biographical blurb.

"Lena Matthews spends her days dreaming about handsome heroes and her nights with her own personal hero. Married to her college sweetheart, she is the proud mother of two children, three evil dogs, and a mess of ants that she can't seem to get rid of.

When not writing she can be found reading, watching movies, lifting up the cushions on the couch to look for batteries for the remote control and plotting different ways to bring Buffy back on the air."

Checking in on several publisher blurbs who have published Lena's books, it appears the bio is essentially the same. So I sense is that readers come to know a great deal about this author from her books. She is an "old hand" at writing steamy romances that keep her readers well entertained and which massage the libido as well as the mind. Not a bad combination. But I was most impressed about her writing style when reading Something Worth Fighting For from Ellora's Cave, a novel I reviewed for The Book Binge and which I really enjoyed. A very committed Anglo dad--a man who wasn't really the biological father but whose love for his daughter was a priority in his life, and a sassy African-American neighbor to whom he was attracted after a not real friendly or neighborly beginning to their friendship. Ultimately, both were committed to making this young girl's life special and in the process they became not only friends, but lovers as well. It was a wonderful story that didn't back away from prejudices which are alive still in the minds of many, as well as filling it with the unique personalities of African-American women who are funny, sassy, in-your-face, and delightful through and through. It is still one of my favorite books.

A very close second is a pair of books I have recently read and which were reviewed on this blog just a few days ago. Happily Even After as well as its sequel Still The One have become favorite reads for me. Both are filled with joy and disappointment, a sense of togetherness as well as the emotional distances people sometimes allow in relationships. I am especially impressed with the narrative style and the very witty conversational exchanges that flow throughout the book. Juse such good reads!

Lena has written a number of very erotic books that are not only in ebook form but are now available in paperback. She is a major contributor to interracial romance fiction and a writer that sets a high standard for others who want to follow in her footsteps. Readers will find novels, short novels and novellas that will please as well as keep them hankering for more. Don't miss one of her books.