Review: Back to You by Lauren Dane

back to you by lauren daneFormat read: paperback provided by the publisher
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Hurley Boys #3
Length: 336 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: May 26, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Former model Kelly Hurley has finally put the ashes of the past behind her. After a passionate but turbulent marriage to rock star Vaughan Hurley that ended in heartbreak and divorce, Kelly rebuilt her life in Portland, where she settled so their two young daughters could be close to their father. Just not so close Kelly couldn’t truly make her own way without interference from the man who shattered her heart. Now Kelly’s finally ready to move on, and she’s planning to marry another man.

But not if Vaughan has anything to say about it.

Vaughan knows he was a fool all those years ago. A young, selfish—and prideful—fool. Even as he buried himself in the fast, decadent rock star lifestyle, he could never drown out the memory of Kelly’s beauty and love. Or the sweet, searing heat whenever they touched. For years, he’s had to deal with the pain of seeing her only because of their daughters, but it was never enough. Now Vaughan must prove that he’s the only man Kelly needs, before he loses her for good. And there’s only one way to do it….

My Review:

August is Romance Awareness Month, so it seems appropriate that the first review of the month is a romance title. Today’s review is also part of the End of Summer Blog Tour, which features, you guessed it, a whole lot of romances all month long. See yesterday’s post for the giveaway.

Back to You is the third book in Lauren Dane’s Hurley Boys series, As the title of the series suggests, the interconnected stories are all about the Hurley brothers, who also make up the hit rock band Sweet Hollow Ranch.

best kind of trouble by lauren daneAll of the stories are second-chance stories. In The Best Kind of Trouble (reviewed here) Paddy Hurley gets a second chance at love with the one girl he never forgot. Now that more than a decade has passed, he has a chance to discover if the chemistry they had so long ago still burns hot enough for the happy ending he never thought he wanted.

In Broken Open (reviewed here), oldest brother Ezra Hurley gets a second chance at life with Tuesday Eastwood, a young widow who is finally ready for her own second chance at love. Ezra just needs to finally realize that he has earned back the love and respect he lost when he took a dive into addiction, and that he deserves to be happy.

During both Paddy’s and Ezra’s stories we get glimpses of the events in their brother Vaughan’s slightly messed up life. Once upon a time, Vaughan was married to Kelly, but they were both much too young to make it work, especially in the middle of Sweet Hollow Ranch’s meteoric rise to the top.

Vaughan wasn’t ready to grow up. Neither was Kelly, but the birth of their first daughter forced her to be a parent whether she was ready or not. She hoped that a second child would pull together the pieces of their rapidly failing marriage, but that worked about as well as it usually does, leaving Kelly a divorced single-mother with two daughters and a broken heart.

Vaughan took a decade to finally grow up. He’s always been a good father to his two girls, but he also had a life on the road, and a house on his parent’s ranch. So it could easily be said that he still lived with his mother and never had to really face adulthood.

Kelly’s engagement to another man finally pulls Vaughan’s head out of his ass. He’s never stopped loving Kelly, and he’s pushed into the realization that if he doesn’t man up instantly, the love of his life is going to marry another man and his daughters will end up calling someone else “Daddy”.

So when Vaughan stops by the house to discover one of his daughter’s about to burst her appendix, he steps up and takes care of the family. His family. And by finally being the man he should have been all along, Kelly kicks the other guy to the curb. Not because of Vaughan, but because the idiot shows that his true colors don’t respect Kelly the way that she requires.

Basically, Mr. Almost Right shows himself to be a complete jerk. While Vaughan steps up to be a true partner in the care of his daughters, and Kelly has to ask herself whether indulging in the chemistry that has never burned out between them is worth the pain when he breaks her heart again.

It takes a lot of proving for Kelly to decide that it might be worth the risk to let Vaughan Hurley back into her heart, as well as into her bed. All it will take is for Vaughan to finally tell his family the truth about just how small a child and how big a jerk he was when their marriage ended the first time around.

Making Vaughan choose between his own mother and the mother of his children could be the worst mistake that Kelly ever makes – or the only way to have the life that she deserves.

broken open by lauren daneEscape Rating B+: I liked Back to You every bit as much as Broken Open, and quite a bit more than The Best Kind of Trouble. The tension in Back to You feels very, very real every step of the way. There’s no manufactured crisis the way there was in Best Kind of Trouble. Vaughan and Kelly have very real and very serious problems. They hurt each other a lot and over and over and for a number of years. They had a lot of trust at one point but Vaughan did an epic job at destroying that trust.

And groveling isn’t the solution. He needs to prove to Kelly, day by day and over and over, that he is ready to be her partner and not just a playmate.

One of the interesting things about this story is the way that it parallels Best Kind of Trouble. If Paddy and Natalie had attempted to stay together way back when they first met, they might have ended up like Vaughan and Kelly.

Another parallel is that all the women have real and serious parent problems. Natalie’s father and Kelly’s mother are both vicious and narcissistic users, of their daughters and anyone else who comes within their sick and twisted orbits. Tuesday’s problem in Broken Open is with her former mother-in-law, who is just as nasty as the other two, but had more time to screw up and over her late son than she did Tuesday. (Tuesday’s own mother is just plain awesome.)

It is ironic that Vaughan’s mother, is generally fantastic, but has been nasty to Kelly over the years because, well, Vaughan screwed that up for both of them and it’s one of the many things he has to make right before he can earn Kelly’s trust.

Although Vaughan is often the point of view character, this is really Kelly’s story. Not just because she has grown up into a fantastic person who Vaughan might not deserve, but because she also refuses to accept anything less than Vaughan’s respect before he earns her trust.

Also, unlike most romances, this is a story where the heroine is very, very clear that love alone is not enough. If Vaughan can’t prove he understands what he did wrong (and it was pretty much all on him) and can’t take care of all the other crap that he has piled up, Kelly shows that she is absolutely willing and able to kick him to the curb again.

In the end, I’m glad that Vaughan finally grew up. Because Kelly really deserves that happy ending.


This post is part of a TLC book tour. Click on the logo for more reviews and features.


***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: Broken Open by Lauren Dane

broken open by lauren daneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: contemporary romance
Series: Hurley Boys #2
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: December 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

Beyond passion. And beyond their control…

Five years ago, Tuesday Eastwood’s life collapsed and left her devastated. After an empty, nomadic existence, she’s finally pieced her life back together in the small Oregon town of Hood River. Now Tuesday has everything sorted out. Just so long as men are kept for sex, and only sex…

Then she met him.

Musician and rancher Ezra Hurley isn’t the man of Tuesday’s dreams. He’s a verboten fantasy—a man tortured by past addictions whose dark charisma and long, lean body promise delicious carnality. But this craving goes far beyond chemistry. It’s primal. It’s insatiable. And it won’t be satisfied until they’re both consumed, body and soul…

My Review:

best kind of trouble by lauren daneI read Broken Open immediately after I finished The Best Kind of Trouble (reviewed here), and I have to say that I liked Open much better than Trouble. The crisis in both stories is precipitated by the guy acting like an idiot, but Ezra’s brand of idiocy in Open felt more organic to the character as he had been through the whole book. Paddy’s moment of complete WTF’ery in Trouble came out of left field (far left field) for this reader, but Ezra had been cruising for that particular brand of bruising throughout the book.

The relationship between Ezra Hurley and Tuesday Eastwood (nee Easton) begins in Trouble. When they meet, everyone can see the heat between them, including Ezra’s brother Paddy and Tuesday’s best-friend and sister-from-another-mother Natalie Clayton. It’s only a matter of time until these two get together.

Tuesday and Ezra are both equally wounded, and their very different wounds were inflicted at the same time. Five years ago, Tuesday lost her young husband to cancer. It’s taken all of those intervening five years to grieve, let go and start moving forward with her life.

Tuesday is not moving “on”. A part of her will always love the late and much-lamented Eric, but she’s still alive and starting to live again. Her late/ex in-laws are abusive pieces of work who want to hold her back for their own emotional gratification, and Tuesday is still in the process of kicking them to the curb. But her life continues, and the new, strong Tuesday is ready to make some changes.

Five years ago, Ezra was a rock and roll star on the road with his brothers, in their successful band Sweet Hollow Ranch. Then Ezra descended into heroin addiction and nearly pissed it all away. A year as an addict, a year in rehab and sober living, and the last few years producing the group’s music and otherwise sticking close to his family ranch. Running the ranch grounds him, and he needs that. Possibly he always will.

But Ezra and Tuesday are both ready to reach out for more than just a series of one-night stands. For both of them, their relationship is a second chance at life, not just love. The longer and hotter they burn for each other, the more they also get entwined in each other’s lives.

It’s not just sex, not that the sex isn’t fantastic. But Ezra and Tuesday fit each other’s broken places in a way that just works.

The problem is that while Tuesday has found happiness and healing in her growing relationship with Ezra, Ezra fears that he is substituting one addiction for another. He keeps walling himself away, fully convinced that Tuesday can do much, much better than a recovering addict and ex-rock star.

Tuesday finally has to tell him to either get over his shit and forgive himself, or just plain go so she can’t get over him. And just like his brother Paddy, Ezra very nearly blows his best chance at happiness by not getting out of his own way.

Escape Rating B+: A part of me wants to say that this is a “sex into love” story, but that isn’t quite right. Although Ezra and Tuesday’s relationship starts out with a lot of hot sex, that isn’t what really begins things. They have explosive chemistry from their very first meeting, and for a while they both resist it for very different reasons. At the same time, they keep running into each other because his brother is in a relationship with her BFF/house mate. They can’t avoid each other.

They are both realistically gun-shy of a relationship. Tuesday’s not sure she’s ready to open her heart again, and Ezra doesn’t think he deserves to be happy. So they ease into it slowly, using hot sex as a kind of emotional lubricant. Eventually they find themselves in so deep that there is no option but to admit that they love each other.

But while Tuesday has reached a place of healing where she is sure what she wants, Ezra backslides. He has a definite problem finding the line between doing things that feel good and doing things that feel too good. It’s part of how he got hooked. He’s afraid, realistically so, that he might have substituted an addiction to Tuesday for his addiction to heroin.

He also thinks he’ll be making up for his horrible mistakes to his family for the rest of his life. He doesn’t see, or can’t see, that he really has redeemed himself in their eyes. He feels as if his actions were unforgivable. But he is so unlike Natalie’s dad in Trouble. Her father is an addict who never sincerely owns his own actions, so he can’t get out of the trap of addiction.

Ezra maybe owns his actions a bit too much. He also, like Tuesday, needs to move forward from his past.

Ezra is very firmly in the mold of romance heroes who decide for their heroines that the woman can do much better than himself, and tries to asshole his way out of the picture. Of course it doesn’t work. Tuesday calls him on his shit. She knows she will survive if he leaves, but she’d rather he crowbar his head out of his ass and move forward with her. But she is willing to walk away if he won’t, and that felt right.

Part of the crisis in this story revolves around the parents of Tuesday’s late husband. They are slime. They alienated Eric while he was alive, and now want Tuesday to wallow in guilt because he’s dead. There is also a big dose of racism in their hatred of Tuesday. It was marvelous watching her stand up to them, and Tuesday’s mother reveals herself as a kick-ass heroine in her own right. Every daughter should have a mother like Diana Easton in her corner.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Stacking the Shelves (145)

Stacking the Shelves

Another quiet week here in the shelf-stacking room. And looking at the list, it seems to have been Lauren Dane week. I love her books, but I didn’t expect to be grabbing them all at once.

Today was very odd. Edelweiss was down for part of today (Friday) and it was surprisingly upsetting not being able to check regularly for new books. I try not to take everything I see, but the inability to even check threw off my routine.

Speaking of routine, I ended up buying Daring because I’m reviewing the next book in the series, Fearless, for a tour in a couple of weeks. I have Charming, and now I need to review it before I get to Fearless. But I remember not picking up Daring when it was available  on NetGalley because I already had so much and hadn’t gotten to Charming yet. But I can’t make myself read Fearless without reading the first two books, so I ended up buying Daring after all. Reading compulsions are so annoying.

For Review:
Back to You (Hurley Boys #3) by Lauren Dane
The Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker Saga #2) by Kameron Hurley
Falling Under (Ink & Chrome #2) by Lauren Dane
Sloe Ride (Sinners #4) by Rhys Ford

Purchased from Amazon:
Daring (Pax Arcana #2) by Elliott James
Sway (Delicious #1) by Lauren Dane

Review: The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane

best kind of trouble by lauren daneFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Hurley Boys #1
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Date Released: August 26, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

She has complete control… and he’s determined to take it away

A librarian in the small town of Hood River, Natalie Clayton’s world is very nearly perfect. After a turbulent childhood and her once-wild ways, life is now under control. But trouble has a way of turning up unexpectedly—especially in the tall, charismatically sexy form of Paddy Hurley….

And Paddy is the kind of trouble that Natalie has a taste for.

Even after years of the rock and roll lifestyle, Paddy never forgot the two wickedly hot weeks he once shared with Natalie. Now he wants more… even if it means tempting Natalie and her iron-grip control. But there’s a fine line between well-behaved and misbehaved—and the only compromise is between the sheets!

My Review:

I love the idea of a librarian as the heroine of a romance. There has always been way more going on in the stacks than our image in the public consciousness would lead one to believe.

I also love the idea of a rock star romance. It is possibly everyone’s fantasy at some point in their lives to get swept away into the glittering world of the rich, famous and supremely talented. While it may not be a good idea in real life, as a fantasy, it definitely works.

And parts of The Best Kind of Trouble worked really well, while other parts fell a little flat.

The story also reminded me an awful lot of Rock Addiction by Nalini Singh (reviewed here). This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Both stories feature the same type of characters, a librarian with tons of control issues because of serious shit in her past, and a rock star who won’t take no for an answer when it comes to starting a relationship in spite of two sets of very heavy baggage.

About The Best Kind of Trouble…this is the first book in Dane’s Hurley Boys series, and it is pretty obvious from the beginning that every one of the brothers is going to get their HEA by series end. It helps that they already have two fine examples in their midst. Their parents’ marriage is rock solid and clearly a strong love match, but one of the four brothers, Damien, has already found his Ms. Right and married her.

lush by lauren daneMary Hurley has become the center of the new family dynamic that the brothers are creating. I was about to say that I wish we had their story, but we do. It’s Lush, book 3 of Dane’s Delicious series. Oh well, throw another book on the towering TBR pile.

Dragging myself back to The Best Kind of Trouble. Again.

This is a second chance at love story, and it looks like the rest of the series will be also, for various definitions of second chances. In the case of Patrick (Paddy) Hurley and Natalie Clayton, when they run into each other in a coffee shop in Hood River, it isn’t the first time they met.

Way back when, when the band was still playing dive bars and Natalie was still in high school, they spent two torrid weeks together. They were both underage, and they were both so hot for each other that they couldn’t keep away.

That was a long time ago. Natalie got her act together and finished high school, college and graduate school while ditching her wild party ways and wild party days. She got control of her life and she wants to keep it that way.

The Hurley Brothers band made it big. They’re all rock stars and they’re all filthy rich. They’ve also learned the high cost of fame and fortune, and when they are home in Hood River, they help their parents run the ranch.

Paddy wants to see if he and Natalie can have more between them than just their still smoking hot chemistry. Natalie isn’t sure whether she wants to be anywhere near Paddy’s wild and crazy rock and roll life, but she still wants to be with him.

And they both have all too many buttons to push when it comes to fame, fortune, and the high cost of being famous. Whether they can manage to work around each other’s scar tissue is a question that only time and working on their relationship every day has a chance of solving.

Until all the shit hits all the fans and Paddy throws away the best thing he ever had. Even his famous charm may not be enough to help him get out of the huge hole he’s dug himself into. And maybe it shouldn’t.

Escape Rating B: Having read both Rock Addiction and The Best Kind of Trouble, it is hard for me not to compare the two. That being said, in reality the one had nothing to do with the other, the two books were published within two weeks of each other last fall, and they couldn’t have influenced each other directly.

But they are similar in an awful lot of ways, to the point where as I read Trouble I kept thinking about Addiction.

Also, The Hurley Brothers series is clearly a spinoff of both Dane’s Brown Family series and her Delicious series. I haven’t read either of those (yet!) but the references to previous events are mostly minor. It didn’t feel necessary to have read them to enjoy The Best Kind of Trouble.

The romance between Natalie and Paddy burns very, very hot. Natalie may seem buttoned up on the outside, but her wild side is still very much alive in her private moments. It’s just that she has reached a point in her life where she needs to keep her private stuff very private, including all the bad crap in her psyche about her addict-father, her runaway mother and her cold and emotionally manipulative grandmother.

Natalie is a classic poor little rich girl. She inherited a trust fund, but she raised herself in well-to-do-suburb where her house was filled with her dad’s addict friends and there was always puke on the floor and the furniture had all been sold to pay for drugs. He’s been in, and dropped out, of the 12-step program so many times that Natalie no longer believes his amends, especially since they are always half-assed in the first place.

broken open by lauren daneShe’s cut off her birth family as much as she can. Her real family are her college friends, especially the absolutely awesome Tuesday Eastwood. (I’m so happy that Tuesday got her own book, Broken Open, because she so deserves it).

Natalie has a lot of bad baggage, and Paddy keeps tripping over it. The development of their relationship hinges on her learning to tell him when something feels wrong instead of just running away. But Natalie is very big on handling her own bad stuff, even if she can’t handle it alone.

The crisis in the story hinges on a huge misunderstandammit. It also involves Natalie’s horrible family. But it isn’t Natalie who goes off the rails, it’s Paddy. And the way he explodes doesn’t really make much sense in context. He acts like an asshole and tells Natalie to leave. She tries to discuss the problem with him and he turns away. Then she leaves.

I felt for her and also felt like she did the right thing. Staying and begging for scraps of attention and understanding in those circumstances felt wrong. Natalie is good, sometimes too good, at owning her shit. In this case, her best option was to own it and take it home with her. Which she does.

Eventually Paddy figures out just how big an ass he’s been, and starts groveling. I’m glad they found their HEA but still not sure Natalie made him grovel nearly enough.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money or borrowed from a public library and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Stacking the Shelves (143)

Stacking the Shelves

I still can’t believe I picked up a Christmas book. I’m not sure which disturbs me more, that it’s barely July and I’m getting Christmas books, or that the book will be released at the end of September. Too soon, too soon! Ten yard penalty for rushing the season.

But it’s a book in a series I’ve enjoyed, so I could resist. Sugarplums, anyone?

For Review:
Christmas in Mustang Creek (Brides of Bliss County #4) by Linda Lael Miller
Crosstown Crush (Sins in the City #1) by Cara McKenna
First Time with a Highlander (Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands #2) by Gwyn Cready
The Hidden (Krewe of Hunters #17) by Heather Graham
Liesmith (Wyrd #1) by Alis Franklin
One Good Dragon Deserves Another (Heartstrikers #2) by Rachel Aaron
Stormbringer (Wyrd #2) by Alis Franklin

Purchased from Amazon:
Created in Fire (Art of Love #2) by Donna McDonald
Romancing the Alpha: An Action-Adventure Romance Boxed Set by Zoe York, Ruby Lionsdrake, Zara Keane, Anna Hackett, Ember Casey, Anna Lowe, Sadie Haller, Lyn Brittan, Lydia Rowan and Leigh James


Stacking the Shelves (130)

Stacking the Shelves

A big list, for reasons that will be revealed at some point in the future. Maybe. Resistance is probably futile in any case. I see books and I want to read them. All of them.

The title on the list that I’ve been looking most forward to is The Talon of the Hawk by Jeffe Kennedy. I’ve adored that series, so I can’t wait to read the conclusion. In the case of falling in love with the cover, Valentine reached out and grabbed me. Hopefully in a good way.

For Review:
The Bleiberg Project (Consortium #1) by David S. Khara
Carolina Man (Dare Island #3) by Virginia Kantra
Darwin’s Watch: The Science of Discworld III by Terry Pratchett, Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen
Deadly Lover (Forbidden Lovers #1) by Charlee Allden
Disguised with the Millionaire by Debra Andrews
Domesticated by Richard C. Francis
Find My Way Home (Harmony Homecomings #1) by Michele Summers
First Daughter (Dharian Affairs #3) by Susan Kaye Quinn
Freedom of Speech by David K. Shipler
The Golden Isles by Carol Tonnesen
Heat Exchange (Boston Fire #1) by Shannon Stacey
Hell or High Water (Deep Six #1) by Julie Ann Walker
The Last Moriarty by Charles Veley
The Morgenstern Project  (Consortium #3)  by David S. Khara
Riding Irish (Sinners & Saints #1) by Sara Brookes
The Shiro Project (Consortium #2)  by David S. Khara
The Silver Promise by William C. Walker
The Talon of the Hawk (Twelve Kingdoms #3) by Jeffe Kennedy
Texas Summer by Leslie Hachtel
Valentine (Brotherhood of Fallen Angels #1) by Heather Grothaus
The Widow’s Son (Rare Book #3) by Thomas Shawver
Wings in the Dark (Jack & Laura #3)  by Michael Murphy

Borrowed from the Library:
By A Spider’s Thread (Tess Monaghan #8) by Laura Lippman

Review: Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks + Giveaway

cowboy heaven by cheryl brooksFormat read: ebook provided by the publisher via NetGalley
Formats available: paperback, ebook
Genre: erotic romance
Series: Cowboy Heaven #1
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Date Released: March 3, 2015
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository

When widow Angela McClure decides to let loose and start a secret affair with a younger ranch hand, she inflames rancher Dusty Jackson’s long simmering desire. Both men are irresistible – and forbidden – so Angela forms a plan to divert her old-fashioned father’s suspicions: flirt with all of “her cowboys.’ The new competition makes Circle Bar K ranch hotter than it’s ever been before…

My Review:

cowboy delight by cheryl brooksCowboy Heaven is just plain good, dirty fun. For a good time, find Cheryl Brooks and pick up either Cowboy Heaven or its predecessor, Cowboy Delight.

I’ve been reading a LOT of fairly serious books lately, and it was great to cut loose with something light and fun. And dirty. Did I mention dirty? Cowboy Heaven is an erotic romance that starts out heavy on the erotic and adds the romance side about halfway in.

There’s also a tiny bit of suspense. While it was easy to figure out who the bad guy was, his reasons for being bad and just how far back the badness went were a bit of a surprise.

The story is about Angela McClure. Angela is a 42 year old widow with two sons, a cantankerous father, and a ranch to run. Her husband Cody has been dead a few years, long enough for her to have gotten past her grief and to really miss having a man around just for her. And definitely for sex.

Her kids are away at school. You would think that Angela would have no problem finding someone if she wanted to, but there are definitely a couple of flies in that ointment. Her dad is more than a bit old-fashioned, a lot of hard of hearing, and his health is failing. And it is still HIS ranch. Angela may run it, but Dear Old Dad definitely still owns it. She lives under his roof and has to give at least lip service to what he wants.

The other problem is the ranch foreman Rufus. He has not only lectured the ranch cowboys repeated and with great force that Angela is absolutely untouchable, but it turns out that he fires anyone who even looks her way.

Angela, who is more than passably pretty, feels like she is being smothered. Quite possibly with a nun’s habit. She’s doesn’t know about Rufus’ dictates, and thinks she must be ugly as sin if none of the cowboys will even smile at her.

Then she picks up a handsome hitchhiker, and she learns a whole lot about how much she still needs sex, and how much men want to have it with her. She also uses her new “boy toy” as a spy in Rufus’ bunkhouse, and discovers just how tight a rein the foreman has been keeping on all her cowboys.

The more she inserts herself into the life of the cowboys (and a few of them let her know that they would like to insert themselves into her) the more Angela re-discovers how much fun, and not just the sexual kind, can be had with a bunch of male friends who don’t mind her occasional foul language and can give as good as they get.

And the further Rufus goes off the deep end. When Angela and her new cowboy friends start putting the pieces together, Angela comes to the nasty conclusion that anyone she shows favor to is in deadly danger.

Especially the cowboy that she has been in love with for years. And very definitely vice-versa. Can they get Rufus before he gets them?

Escape Rating B+: For a rip-roaring time, get this book and settle in for a couple of hours of sexy cowboy fun.

But there’s just a bit more to it than that. Angela is a terrific character. I feel for her situation, and absolutely love her bawdy sense of humor. She’s someone I’d love to have drinks with. Or possibly get drunk with.

I also really liked that Angela was a grown-up heroine. She’s 42 not 22. It affects her outlook on life and responsibility. While it was awful to see her as a widow, it was terrific to see her break out of the shell imposed by her Dad and Rufus and find her authentic self, very definitely including her sexual side.

That all the cowboys she gets various levels of involved with are all younger than she is, well that’s an added bonus.

The cowboys as a group are all sweethearts (except Rufus of course). It’s easy to see why a woman might fall in love with any of them – or perhaps all of them. It’s also just a bit heartbreaking when Angela’s lover, Dusty, explains how all of them are misfits, and why they are all happy living in a ranch bunkhouse instead of on their own.

There is one scene that absolutely had my laughing to the point of shaking the bed. Some of the cowboys decide to get into a dick measuring contest, and they want Angela to be the judge. The whole load of double and triple entendres flying around is chortle, snicker, giggle worthy of the highest order.

(I’ll admit, I’ve been to more than a few meetings where I wanted the guys in the room to just cut the crap and get them out and measure them. It would have saved a whole lot of time.)

It would be sweet to see more of those wonderful cowboys get their own sexy HEAs in future books in this series. They deserve it.


Sourcebooks is giving away 3 copies of Cowboy Heaven by Cheryl Brooks. If you are looking for a good (reading) time, enter the giveaway in the rafflecopter.

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Stacking the Shelves (125)

Stacking the Shelves

In my template for Stacking the Shelves, I have “XXX” to mark the place of my commentary. I live in fear that one Saturday I’m going to publish the post with that “XXX” still in place. And I have had Saturdays when the “XXX” was more cogent than anything I might otherwise say. Hopefully this isn’t one of them.

After finishing Hush Hush by Laura Lippman earlier this week and loving it, I decided that I wanted to read the middle books in her Tess Monaghan series. So I went a bit crazy with the library ebook site, or I tried to. I have access to two local libraries, one because I live in the district, and the big one next door because I pay for it. One problem, and its a big one. My local library has had some serious funding issues over the years, so their collection is not as robust as I would like. The big library next door does a much better job (they have a much bigger budget) but I can only check out 5 ebooks at a time. And since I can’t return ebooks early, this is a serious limitation for me. Also drives me crazy. I understand that usage is greater than can be supported, and that everyone is looking for ways to keep from breaking the bank, but 5 is just too low of a limit. At least for this volume consumer.

C’est la (in this case slightly frustrating) vie.

For Review:
All the Wild that Remains by David Gessner
A Blink of the Screen by Terry Pratchett
Claimed (Servants of Fate #2) by Sarah Fine
Cowboy Heaven (Cowboy Heaven #1) by Cheryl Brooks
The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg
The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons
Grave Phantoms (Roaring Twenties #3) by Jenn Bennett
Hissing Cousins by Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer
How to Catch a Russian Spy by Naveed Jamali and Ellis Henican
Keepers by Richard Schickel
Lion Heart (Scarlet #3) by A.C. Gaughen
The Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Andrew Ferguson
Marked (Servants of Fate #1) by Sarah Fine
The Mechanical (Alchemy War #1) by Ian Tregillis
Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg
Shadow Ritual by Eric Giacometti and Jacques Ravenne
Ten Windows by Jane Hirshfield
Unchained Memory by Donna S. Frelick

Purchased from Amazon:
Cowboy Delight (Cowboy Heaven #0.5) by Cheryl Brooks
Her Best Mistake by Donna McDonald

Borrowed from the Library:
Another Thing to Fall (Tess Monaghan #10) by Laura Lippman
Charm City (Tess Monaghan #2) by Laura Lippman
The Girl in the Green Raincoat (Tess Monaghan #11) by Laura Lippman
I’d Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
In Big Trouble (Tess Monaghan #4) by Laura Lippman
The Most Dangerous Thing by Laura Lippman
The Sugar House (Tess Monaghan #5) by Laura Lippman

Stacking the Shelves (123)

Stacking the Shelves

A quiet week stacking the shelves with not too many books. For the past couple of months I haven’t seen as many books on NetGalley and Edelweiss that I feel like I absolutely have to have.

This is probably a good thing. I know there is one book waiting for me at the library, but I haven’t picked it up yet, so it doesn’t count yet.

For Review:
A Dangerous Place (Maisie Dobbs #11) by Jacqueline Winspear
Love and Miss Communication by Elyssa Friedland
More than Comics (Chasing the Dream #2) by Elizabeth Briggs
Murder in Hindsight (Scotland Yard #3) by Anne Cleeland
Poppy’s War by Lily Baxter
Ryder: Bird of Prey (Ryder #3) by Nick Pengelley
Sinful Rewards 9 by Cynthia Sax
Winning the King (Jorda #2) by Nicole Murphy

Purchased from Amazon:
Murder in Thrall (Scotland Yard #1) by Anne Cleeland


Stacking the Shelves (89)

Stacking the Shelves

In addition to feeding my addiction at both NetGalley and Edelweiss, there were a couple of special purchases I’d like to mention.

The wonderful folks at StoryBundle are running a special bundle this week of Science Fiction and Fantasy written during NaNoWriMo. This looks like a terrific punch of new SF/F authors, and I can’t wait to see how the stories turn out.

Humble Bundle (much better known for their indie gaming bundles) have a special Doctor Who comics bundle this week. If you love the Doctor, or are curious about the comics, this is a great way to read a pretty full starting collection.

For Review:
The Agincourt Bride (Catherine de Valois #1) by Joanna Hickson
Allegiance (Penton Legacy #4) by Susannah Sandlin
Black Ice (Midgard #2) by Susan Krinard
Dark Refuge (Spirit Wild #4) by Kate Douglas
The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma by Brian Herbert
Lock In by John Scalzi
The Tudor Bride (Catherine de Valois #2) by Joanna Hickson
Witchlight (Magic Born #2) by Sonya Clark
Wouldn’t It Be Deadly (Eliza Doolittle & Henry Higgins #1) by D.E. Ireland

Doctor Who Comics Bundle from Humble Bundle
Sci-Fi/Fantasy NaNo Bundle from StoryBundle
Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden’s Syndrome by John Scalzi

Borrowed from the Library:
Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick