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COMANCHE SERIES 3

Torn between the white and Comanche worlds of her parents, Indigo Wolf has grown up estranged from the townspeople of Wolf’s Landing, Orgeon. No one understands her elusive spirit-until Jake Rand comes to town to act as foreman of her family’s ranch. But Jake’s real motives are as secret as his true identity, and as personal as his growing attraction to Indigo.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book although it didn’t quite have the same emotional impact as the previous two books in the series, Comanche Moon and Comanche Heart. Once again, Catherine Anderson transported me back to 1885, to the mining town of Wolf’s Landing and into the world of Hunter and Loretta Wolf and their daughter, Indigo, the heroine of this book.

This book explores the growing relationship between Indigo and Jake with all its emotional turmoil and Catherine Anderson is so adept at drawing you into the lives of her characters and making you really care about them.

A terrible experience when Indigo was younger has left her with a deep distrust and fear of white men in general. Things she’s heard about how a white man treats an Indian wife do nothing to reassure her.

Given the circumstances, I can fully understand Indigo’s initial horror at having to marry Jake. After all, he’s a virtual stranger and a white man, two good reasons for distrusting him! Fearful for her safety, after further incidents at the mine, Jake forbids her to go to the mine or to go anywhere on her own. In Indigo’s eyes, Jake’s actions only serve to reinforce her opinions of him; she has become a virtual prisoner:

All the things she had always counted on had been snatched away, Lobo, the support of her parents, the home where she’d grown up, the mine, and her mountains. Even her name was different. Not Indigo Wolf anymore, but Indigo Rand. She felt like a cup that had been drained and left empty.

I think this shows a stubborn streak in Indigo and also a certain amount of immaturity because she’s not willing to see that her safety is Jake’s only concern.

Jake treats her with nothing but kindness, gentleness and patience and so I was frustrated with Indigo’s continuing antagonistic attitude towards him. It’s only when Indigo finally opens her heart to Jake that I realised just how deeply her past experiences had coloured her outlook on life and why she found it so difficult to trust Jake.

I liked Jake from the start because of his concern for those people affected by his father’s actions and his intention to go to Wolf’s Landing personally to investigate. He’s a man with a conscience.

His relationship with Indigo is complex. He is attracted to her from the beginning but won’t act on it because he feels guilty about lusting after his host’s daughter. Not to mention that he considers himself much too old for her. She is very different from the ladies in Portland and he is fascinated by her and when he offers to marry Indigo to protect her reputation, he’s not just being honourable:

If he were brutally honest, he had to admit that the thought of marrying her wasn’t totally repugnant. She appealed to him in a way he couldn’t define. He could almost taste how sweet her dusky-rose lips would be, how silken her skin. A man could suffer far worse fates.

Jake’s very patient with Indigo, always considering her feelings, even when it comes to consummating the marriage. I wasn’t surprised when he eventually loses patience with her and vents all his frustrations but this proves to be the catalyst for them to admit their love for each other. The consummation scene comes towards the end of the book but it is so beautiful and poignant that the paucity of love scenes didn’t affect my overall enjoyment of the book.

There are some funny moments in the book which had me giggling to myself particularly when Father O’Grady is talking to Jake about Indigo’s confession and when Indigo asks the local prostitute, Franny, for advice about her wedding night!

Although the action only forms a background to the love story, there is a nail-biting climax which will have you on the edge of your seat.

VERDICT: Catherine Anderson has again crafted a beautiful and tender love story

RATING : ★★★★★

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COMANCHE SERIES BOOK 2

Years ago, Amy Masters escaped the Texas plains for a quiet life as a teacher in Oregon. Then, out of the shadows comes Swift Antelope, the Comanche warrior to whom she once pledged her heart. But Amy’s brutal past has made it impossible for her to trust any man-even the bold warrior who has haunted her dreams, the only man she ever loved, the Comanche heart she can’t live without…

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This is a powerful and beautiful love story with a tremendous emotional impact. It’s a book that stayed with me long after I had finished reading it.

I really felt for Swift when he constantly tried to regain Amy’s trust with such determination and patience only to suffer her scorn and constant rejection. The scene where he is humiliated in front of a classroom of children is truly heart-rending. I couldn’t understand, at first, why he would put himself through all this. Later it is apparent that building a new life in Wolf’s Landing with Amy is his last chance to escape his past which he knows will ultimately mean his death at the hands of someone who is faster on the draw –

“Do you think I rode two thousand miles on a whim? I was running, dammit, running for my life!”

I love the way he tells Amy how much he loves her and wants her:

“That’s an L, as in love, and I love you more than I’ll ever be able to tell you with words. I want to tell you in other ways. In the way I kiss you. In the way I touch you. In the way I hold you. Won’t you let me say it my way, just once?”

So romantic!!

When he discovers the terrible secret Amy has been keeping buried for so many years, he is willing to leave rather than cause her any more pain, knowing the possible consequences for him. This is where I really fell in love with Swift’s character because he is willing to make such a great sacrifice for her.

I felt for Amy because of all she had suffered but I was so annoyed with the way she constantly spurned Swift. I wanted her to see beyond his outer appearance and recognise he was still the Swift she knew and loved and trust him enough to take a chance. Once I learned the shameful secret she’d been hiding from everyone, her reactions to Swift and what he represented made sense.

When Swift tells her he’s leaving, I could feel the turmoil Amy is going through – this is what she wants but, without him, her life will be empty. It’s such an emotional scene when Swift sees her running after him and she finally admits she loves him and wants him to stay. The love scene where Swift first makes love to Amy is so beautiful and sensual, a testament to Catherine Anderson’s wonderful writing.

There are some really very funny scenes in the book which help to relieve the tension. I particularly enjoyed the one where Amy is trying to evade Swift and climbs out of her kitchen window, only to get stuck half way. The dialogue between the two had me laughing out loud.

Catherine Anderson really impressed me with the emotional depth of her writing and I could fill a notebook with all the memorable quotes. I cannot recommend this book enough and it is definitely a keeper for me.

VERDICT:  A TRULY WONDERFUL BOOK – A MUST READ!

RATING: STELLAR ★★★★★

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Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match . . . dot com! An online dating service is not Michelle Snow’s idea of how to find love, but when the Big 3-0 hits, Michelle decides she has nothing to lose since she hasn’t brought a date home in ten years, she’s professionally burned out, and her climb up the corporate ladder has come at the expense of abandoning her sweet dream: to own a boutique cupcakery.
Todd Bracken, early thirties and a successful technology consultant, isn’t exactly a player after being off the market for ten years, and pours himself into his dual passions of martial arts and home-sweet-home renovations. Only there’s no one to come home to so he decides to give Match.com a try. Todd isn’t so sure the Internet dating scene is his thing until a message pops up in the wee hours on a weekend night: ‘I like your smile.’ Todd likes a lot the whole package that glides into a French bistro in Washington, D.C.
It’s serious mojo-at-first-sight but there’s a glitch: Todd and Michelle live in different cities. Will love find its way in the digital age with a ‘You’ve Got Mail’ courtship when video cam kisses just aren’t enough? And when Todd challenges Michelle to not only go for her dream but let him share it, will they be able to make it happen together despite obstacles more plentiful than a shower of rainbow sprinkles?

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I must admit to having mixed feelings about reading this book as it’s based on a real life romance. Being a lover of historical romances with dark, dangerous heroes and feisty heroines, I was doubtful whether it would capture and hold my interest. Oh boy, was I wrong! I was immediately drawn into the lives of Michelle Snow and Todd Bracken and found reading their story a unique experience.

My enjoyment of the book was definitely enhanced by Ms Kent’s superb writing which flows so effortlessly. She brilliantly captures all the subtle nuances in Michelle and Todd’s relationship: sharing, respect, trust, commitment, intimacy and passion. Her narrative is so evocative and she is able to paint such wonderful pictures with her words. I love Todd’s impressions of Michelle when he first meets her and I could just imagine his mouth watering at the sight before him!

He’d seen Michelle’s picture. He’d expected hot. He hadn’t been expecting smoking, and he’d been glad he’d had that drink to hold onto. Her black dress was killer, her legs outstanding, and her eyes bright and honest, and he’d learned through the evening that her mind was the same.

Who could imagine that flirting is possible via email or that text messages can be witty and romantic? Well, the ones that Michelle and Todd exchange certainly are!

Sometimes, two people meet and they are so in tune with each other that it’s obvious that they are meant to be together. So it is with Michelle and Todd and Ms Kent is able to convey this empathy between them so well in the scene where they first meet in the bistro.

Michelle’s dream is to open her own cupcake bakery and, at the beginning of each chapter, there is a different type of cupcake described. Such a lovely touch! I wanted to rush out into the kitchen and make some cupcakes myself!

I found it so easy to relate to Michelle and Todd because I understand their reactions to many of the obstacles they face together. My husband and I have faced similar ones ourselves: making a mutual commitment, the loss of one’s job, financial uncertainty, the tragic loss of someone close, shattered dreams. In times of trouble, you have to be there for each other giving support and comfort and this is really the essence of this book. I think something Michelle says about Todd really sums it up:

He gave her strength when her own was flagging. He lifted her spirits when they sagged.

If you want a scrumptiously romantic book that leaves you with a warm glow, this is definitely a must read.

VERDICT:   Heart-warming and delightfully romantic.

RATING: ★★★★★

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CARSINGTON BROTHERS BOOK 3

Ideal
The heir to the Earl of Hargate, Benedict Carsington, Viscount Rathbourne, is the perfect aristocrat. Tall, dark, and handsome, he is known for his impeccable manners and good breeding. Benedict knows all the rules and has no trouble following them—until she enters his life…

Infamous
Bathsheba Wingate belongs to the rotten branch of the DeLucey family: a notorious lot of liars, frauds, and swindlers. Small wonder her husband’s high-born family disowned him. Now widowed, she’s determined to give her daughter a stable life and a proper upbringing. Nothing and no one will disrupt Bathsheba’s plans—until he enters her life…

Scandalous
Then Bathsheba’s hoyden daughter lures Benedict’s precocious nephew into a quest for a legendary treasure. To recover the would-be knights errant, Benedict and Bathsheba must embark on a rescue mission that puts them in dangerous, intimate proximity—a situation virtually guaranteed to end in mayhem—even scandal!—if anyone else were involved. But Benedict is in perfect control of events. Perfect control, despite his mad desire to break all the rules. Perfect control. Really?

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Ever since reading Lord of Scoundrels, Loretta Chase has become one of my favourite authors. With a combination of larger than life heroes, strong but feminine heroines and bags of humour, her books are a joy to read and Lord Perfect is no exception.

There are so many things I love about this book. Firstly, there’s Benedict with his impeccable manners and good breeding .

The scandal sheets never mentioned him. When his name appeared in print – as it did regularly – it was on account of some noble or clever or brave thing he’d done or said.

In fact, totally boring and hardly a hero to set one’s pulse racing!

However, all that changes when he meets Bathsheba and, suddenly, he starts thinking and acting totally out of character. Whenever this happens, I found Benedict’s habit of searching for rules to help him regain his self control really funny. For instance, when he finds himself staring at Bathsheba at the exhibition:

Rule: The ill-bred, the vulgar, and the ignorant stare.

I admire him for taking his nephew, Peregrine, under his wing. He clearly cares about the boy and is even willing to visit the Egyptian exhibition three times although he would much rather be somewhere else. He also shows a caring side through his philanthropic work for the war widows and veterans and his assistance to Bathsheba to find more suitable lodgings.

Since her husband died, leaving her with very little money, Bathsheba and her daughter have not had an easy life. With her looks and reputation, it would have been simple for her to take the easy way out by becoming a nobleman’s mistress and I admire her for not doing so. Instead, she manages to keep a roof over their heads by selling her paintings and taking drawing classes.

She is feisty and isn’t afraid to stand up to Benedict even at his most intimidating. Such as when Benedict tells her that she can’t go with him to search for the children:

“This is Olivia’s doing,” she said, “and Olivia is my problem. I understand how her mind works. I know where she is going. I am the one who will search for her.” The colour came and went in her cheeks. “However, you can save me time if you would lend me the money to hire a vehicle”.

I love the way in which Ms Chase gradually builds up the sexual tension between Benedict and Bathsheba. I could literally feel it oozing from the pages. With such a build up to the big love scene, I was afraid that it might prove a disappointment. Well, I should have had more faith in Ms Chase because this scene is HOT, HOT, HOT!

I wondered how Ms Chase would ensure a ‘Happy Ever After’ for Benedict and Bathsheba as marriage seems out of the question. She does, in fact, provide a very ingenious ending with the solution to the couple’s predicament coming from a very unexpected source.

Both Peregrine and Olivia are engaging in their own way. I had to admire Olivia for her cunning and resourcefulness and was touched by the fact that she wants to find the treasure so that she can help her mother. At first, Peregrine only wants to stop Olivia, but gradually as he gets dragged further into her madcap scheme, he really begins to enjoy himself.

This book has everything you could wish for – a yummy hero, a beautiful, feisty heroine, a madcap chase and plenty of laughs. I am now looking forward to reading Last Night’s Scandal, Peregrine and Olivia’s story.

VERDICT: SUPERB, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

RATING: ★★★★★

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TRAVIS SERIES BOOK 3

HE’S ONE SMOOTH TALKER…
A billionaire playboy, and all-around ladies’ man, Jack Travis has a reputation as big as the state of Texas. He drives too fast, lives too hard, and loves too many women to count.

SHE’S ALL BUSINESS…
In her advice column, and her love life, Ella Varner is always practical. So when she’s left holding her reckless sister’s baby, she decides to ask Jack Travis to take a paternity test.

THE TIME FOR TALKING IS OVER….
Ella is instantly struck by Jack’s bold good looks and easy charm—but she’s not falling for his sweet talk. This big sexy tomcat needs to take responsibility for his actions, and Ella’s making him stick to his word. Now if she can only ignore the unspoken attraction that smolders between them…

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This is the third book in Lisa Kleypas’s contemporary Travis family series. I was immediately drawn into this captivating story with its richly drawn characters and I know it will definitely find a place on my keeper shelf.

When she first meets Jack, I think Ella feels threatened by him because she is suddenly confronted with the type of male she has always disliked but feels a definite attraction to him:

The scent of him, fresh like cedar and clean earth, sent pleasure signals to my brain.

Unlike the relationship she has with Dane, Ella knows that any relationship with Jack would require total commitment, something she feels incapable of:

“I have attachment problems. It’s hard for me to be close to people.”

When she tells Jack that she doesn’t believe in marriage and doesn’t want a family, I believe she is simply mirroring Dane’s views and, of course, her own childhood experiences would definitely prejudice any opinions she may have on the subject. Meeting Jack makes her think, for the first time, about what she really wants from life.

Despite her reservations about Jack, she has no such reservations about making a commitment to Luke. She realises, for the first time, that here is someone who is totally dependent on her:

Luke, in his small and innocent way, had broken down my defences.

I love the tender scenes between Ella and Luke. They are never overly sentimental but nevertheless, reveal the growing love Ella feels for Luke. I also adore the one-sided conversations Ella has with him:

“Are you thinking it over?” I asked him. “Or are you working on another dirty diaper?”

What can I say about Jack? One word comes to mind–perfect. I couldn’t understand why it took Ella so long to realise that he was worth grabbing and keeping! After all, he is handsome, charming, considerate, confident, handy at DIY, knows how to change a diaper, a great lover (not surprising as he’s had plenty of practice but as they say, practice makes perfect, so I won’t hold that against him) and, did I forget to mention, he’s also wealthy.

Jack’s staple diet of girlfriends consists of beautiful shallow women and so when he first sees Ella in his office, I think he finds her such a complete contrast to those women and this is what initially attracts him to her. I am sure his dates don’t wear jeans, a shirt and flat shoes and there certainly wouldn’t be a baby in the picture. Jack obviously admires her for putting her life on hold to look after her sister’s baby and I was impressed with the way he offered practical and emotional support when she really needed it.

Jack’s possessiveness did irritate me when he demands that Dane stay in a hotel rather than Ella’s apartment and insists she doesn’t have sex with Dane! However, I was pleased to see Ella take a stand here when she tells him to back off.

There is tremendous sexual chemistry between Jack and Ella and the love scenes are very HOT. Ms Kleypas amazes me because she has the ability to write loves scenes which sometimes verge on the erotic without ever being crude.

I think it would be natural for Ella and Haven to become friends because they have both had painful experiences to overcome, Haven with her abusive marriage and Ella with her traumatic childhood. It was also nice to have the glimpses of Haven and Hardy together.

VERDICT: SUPERB, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

RATING: STELLAR ★★★★★

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TRAVIS SERIES BOOK 2

MEET THE BLUE-EYED DEVIL – His name is Hardy Cates. He’s a self-made millionaire who comes from the wrong side of the tracks. He’s made enemies in the rough-and-tumble ride to the top of Houston’s oil industry. He’s got hot blood in his veins. And vengeance on his mind.

MEET THE HEIRESS – She’s Haven Travis. Despite her family’s money, she refuses to set out on the path they’ve chosen for her. But when Haven marries a man her family disapproves of, her life is set on a new and dangerous course. Two years later, Haven comes home, determined to guard her heart. And Hardy Cates, a family enemy, is the last person she needs darkening her door or setting her soul on fire.

WATCH THE SPARKS FLY….Filled with Lisa Kleypas’s trademark sensuality, filled with characters you love to hate and men you love to love, Blue-Eyed Devil will hold you captive in its storytelling power as the destiny of two people unfolds with every magical word.

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As a huge fan of Lisa Kleypas’ historical romances, I was curious to know how her contemporary novels would compare. I was disappointed by Sugar Daddy, the first book in the Travis series and started reading the second book, Blue Eyed Devil, with some trepidation but found that Ms Kleypas had crafted a wonderful book with unforgettable characters in Haven and Hardy.

The book is written entirely from Haven’s point of view and I do have mixed feelings about this. On the positive side, it enabled me to connect with Haven’s character on a much deeper level and when she describes her thoughts and feelings during her abusive marriage, it seemed so real, almost as if I was there. I also gained an understanding of how victims of an abusive relationship are affected both emotionally and physically. Haven’s words say it all:

“I wanted never to be hit or yelled at again. I wanted to be called by my real name. I wanted my body to belong to me. I wanted all the things that anyone deserved by virtue of being human. Including love.”

On the negative side, once Haven meets Hardy again, I was wishing that I could hear Hardy’s thoughts and reactions as well. I just think this would have added an extra dimension to the story but this is just a small gripe.

Haven’s conflicting reactions to Hardy are natural considering all she has been through. His physical size and strength alone terrify her – “this guy could kill a normal person with a swipe of his hand.” But she can’t help feeling an overwhelming attraction towards him.

I am rather fond of heroes who are self-made men and Hardy certainly fits this description. He knew his options in the small town of Welcome were limited and he was ambitious enough to want to leave and determined enough to make it happen.

That said, on the surface Hardy appears to be the usual romantic hero – gorgeous, charming, intelligent and a great lover but he is far more complex than appears. We learn that he has not completely escaped from his past and the scene in which he tells Haven about his past is very moving and shows that Hardy has had demons of his own to conquer. I loved that they needed each other equally to conquer their personal insecurities.

There is tremendous chemistry between Hardy and Haven and the love scenes are sensually written.

I really like Todd, Haven’s best friend and confidante. He provides some lovely touches of humour:

“Haven, don’t ask me to define the boundaries of normal. You know how I was raised. My father once stuck strands of his own pubic hair onto a painting and sold it for a million dollars.”

“Oh? Tell me you haven’t imagined sitting on his lap.” Todd grinned as I flushed. “You know what it is you smell on him, Haven? Testosterone. It’s leaking out of his pores.”

There are lots of lovely gems like these.

I have to mention Vanessa Flint, the boss from hell, and how I cheered when Jack finally told her to “Pack your things.”

VERDICT: SUPERB, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

RATING: STELLAR ★★★★★

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TRAVIS SERIES BOOK 1

Lisa Kleypas has enthralled millions of readers with her powerfully seductive novels. Now she delivers a story featuring her most unforgettable characters yet….

SHE’S FROM THE WRONG SIDE OF THE TRACKS
Liberty Jones has dreams and determination that will take her far away from Welcome, Texas—-if she can keep her wild heart from ruling her mind. Hardy Cates sees Liberty as completely off-limits. His own ambitions are bigger than Welcome, and Liberty Jones is a complication he doesn’t need. But something magical and potent draws them to each other, in a dangerous attraction that is stronger than both of them.

HE’S THE ONE MAN SHE CAN’T HAVE
When Hardy leaves town to pursue his plans, Liberty finds herself alone with a young sister to raise. Soon Liberty finds herself under the spell of a billionaire tycoon—-a Sugar Daddy, one might say. But the relationship goes deeper than people think, and Liberty begins to discover secrets about her own family’s past.

WILL THEY FIND THEIR HEARTS’ DESIRES OR WILL HEARTBREAK TEAR THEM APART?
Two men. One woman. A choice that can make her or break her. A woman you’ll root for every step of the way. A love story you’ll never forget.

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I’m a huge Lisa Kleypas fan but I was really disappointed with her first contemporary novel.

I enjoyed the first part of this book very much and really became absorbed in the characters of Liberty and Hardy. But I found the second half rather disappointing because I couldn’t seem to connect with Gage. For me there wasn’t enough page time given to him to really develop his character fully. I just didn’t feel that spark between him and Liberty.

VERDICT: ENJOYABLE

RATING: ★★★

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