Archive for the ‘B+’ Category

Copyright: 2006

Pages: 432 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Straight Romance

Publisher: Mira

Author Website: www.StefAnnHolm.com (Love, love, love this site. Beautiful and distinctive design and lots of information.)

Grade: B+

Single-mother Lucy Carpenter hopes she has made the right decision moving her two sons to Red Duck, Idaho. The upscale ski community should provide ample opportunity for her to work as a personal chef, although rival chef Raul is sabotaging her attempts. He seems to have cornered the cuisine market, so Lucy must carve out her own and turns to the town’s Lothario for help. Everyone loves ex-professional baseball player and present-day Little League coach Drew Tolman. All the women are attracted to him, and Lucy is no exception, despite her postdivorce hesitation. But nothing stops her from using Drew to stir up business, while he just wants to stir her. Holm returns to her home state of Idaho with fresh, likable characters who will have readers rooting for the happy ending and relishing every step along the way.

Oh my, what a wonderful read this book was, a real treat. Lucy Gets Her Life Back is a traditional contemporary as they are not often published these days (or I am missing all of them *humpf*). No suspense plot, no wacky characters that kiss goodbye any resemblance of reality and no instant gratuitous sex between the main characters that is totally unbelievable.

Lucy Carpenter is a strong woman who desperately tries to keep her beloved sons’s world together, despite her cheating husband’s two year absence, money problems and her 16 years old son’s occasional journey to marijuana-land. She hopes to accomplish that in Red Duck, Idaho which prides itself on being a small but well visited and beloved holiday hideaway for Hollywood and wannabe starlets.

Drew Tolman is a former professional baseball player turned little league coach now. After years or drinking himself nearly to death he now has been dry for nearly a decade, the only “problem” remaining is his 17 years old daughter. Until her 14th birthday he refused to acknowledge her, then some years ago, after cleaning up, reality hit with a healthy dose of remorse and self-contempt. Now that he has finally found to himself, his daughter doesn’t want to have anything to do with him anymore.

Lucy is an easy to love heroine. Despite being deeply hurt, she remains strong and doesn’t loose faith in life. She struggles and money is tight but she doesn’t get bitter or wallows in self-pity. Drew, however, is more difficult to warm up to. The more the author tells about his story the more I felt challenged by his personality. Usually I avoid “alcoholic” stories like crazy, it’s not a plot that appeals to me, but in this case I can really mark down a big exception. Drew’s past with his daughter leaves to be desired and the story between those two touched me deeply, especially because the reader gets to know his daughter through her journal and later on through her appearance in Red Duck. The interaction between those two was very touching and I was close to seriously needing a tissue.

Lucy’s and Drew’s lovestory develops slowly and is certainly not the main focus of the story. I would rather say that the book is equally divided between both main characters getting their life back in order, and, as a consequence of their growth and development, find together in the end.

And besides SEP I dub Stef Ann Holm as new queen of secondary romances. It was as much touching and entertaining as the main story and a wonderful addition to Lucy’s and Drew’s story.

Lucy Gets Her Life Back is a very slow story and without any remotely action related scenes. What made me give this story a B+ instead of a straight A was actually the lack about Lucy’s professional growth. I read about her struggles and fights to become established as a personal chef and how in the end she found a niche for herself in Red Duck, but I was kind of missing the filling in between. And, on Holm’s website I discovered that the author enjoys to cook herself, and  I would have LOVED to read more about the cooking, the experimenting and consequently the sensuality of cooking when connected with a love story.

Anyway, this book was totally splendid and I am looking forward to more treats from this author.


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Copyright: 2000

Pages: 219 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Series Romance

Publisher: Harlequin Mills & Boon Sexy Sensation

Grade: B+

When Hallie Bennett was growing up, she wanted to be an archaeologist, a trapeze artist, or possibly even a fairy. Never in her wildest nightmares did she think she’d end up working in a tiny shoe store in London. But it’s only temporary, right?

Software developer, Nick Cooper, is about to close a deal with a wealthy Hong Kong software distributor. But there’s a catch. He invented a wife to ward off the businessman’s amorous daughter and now he and his wife are invited to Hong Kong to socialise and seal the deal. He needs a wife for a week. Someone savvy enough to keep the businessman’s daughter out of his bed, persuasive enough to pull off the pretence, and screwy enough to do it.

But first he has to buy his mother a new pair of shoes…

Oh my, what a fabulous category romance. Where has this author hidden until now? And it’s even a Harlequin Presents edition in America! After some big disappointments I can’t believe that I have found a book in this line that features such a witty and grown- up heroine and a hero that doesn’t have an Oedipus/anal-related Freud mother complex.

After countless of HPs, this on was the first one that made me laugh out loud and gave the corners of my mouth a serious workout! The witty dialogues between Halli and Nick are priceless. Hilariously funny and with a fresh voice, the author turns a not-so-new plot into a real treasure.

I discovered that Kelly Hunter is a fairly new author with only three releases so far (which I have immediately put on my wishlist). This was a real treat, thank you, and earns a solid B+!

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Copyright: 2005

Pages: 384 (paperback edition)

Setting/Type: Contemporary/Romantic Suspense

Grade: B+

Twenty-five years ago Olivia Sealy was kidnapped for ransom. Today she has no memory of the terrible event, yet an uneasy feeling still haunts her – a fear that is realized when an infant’s skeleton is found and a connection is made to Olivia’s past.
As news of the discovery makes headlines, Olivia and the people close to her suddenly become targets for a murderer bent on revenge. Still stunned by the revelation and its implications, Olivia puts her trust in Trey Bonney, the detective assigned to the case. But neither counts on a madman who may hold the answer to the twenty-five-year-old mystery – a secret someone hoped was buried for good.

Wow, where has this author hidden until now? Why did I only discover her now? This book was simply fantastic. Plot, suspense and characters and an extraordinary villain had me glued to the pages until 3 am!

Olivia has been kidnapped 25 years ago when she was barely two years old. During this event also her parents have been murdered. Today she can’t remember anything about this time, but in a convoluted way she feels guilty for her parents’s murder and her grandfather’s loss.

When a retired house owner discovers a skeleton of a two year old child in a suitcase, immured into the wall of his house, the whole case is unrolled again. One of the leading detectives is Trey Bonney. He and Olivia have a past history, they have been deeply in love during their high school years, yet when Olivia’s grandfather requested their separation, Olivia broke up with Try out of guilt and loyalty to her closest relative. When Olivia and Trey meet again it’s like they have been never separated. Trey forgives her and both know that this time they will finally stand up for their love.

Trey and Olivia are two immensely nice and wonderful characters. Their undying love for each other rings so true, so right it really warmed my heart and made me sigh. No commitment phobia, no single complex, simply true and basic love. Such a wonderful change to all those other relationship problems.

I first thought Olivia’s grandfather is going to be one of those possessive, unbending characters, but no, Marcus Sealy is much more complex than that. He realizes his mistake and becomes deeply reflective about his relationship with Olivia and also tries to mend his long ago mistake.

The suspense plot itself was one of the best I have read in a long time. Fantastic, non-stereotypical and especially unforeseeable, therefore I don’t want to write too much about it in order not to give away any clues. Let me put it this way, the villain in this story is very special … and I can honestly say I have never met quite another one like this person.

Any recommendations? I definitely want to read more from this author who – so I discovered – also goes by the pen name Dinah McCall.

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