Friday, June 22

Review: Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

A few years back, Ames read Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and loved it so much that I had to pick up this book :) It turns out that I really enjoyed it too and I can confidently say it's one of the best YA contemporary I've read. Ever since then, we've both been really looking forward to Ms Matson's next release... and it finally came out in May of this year! Yay! So here are our thoughts on Second Chance Summer :)

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson
published by Simon & Schuster in May 2012
Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit—everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled—but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains.

Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.

As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Series: None

Ames: I was really looking forward to Morgan’s sophomore effort. A lot. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour was epic and I usually try to go into books without any expectations but I couldn’t help it this time. I really wish I hadn’t had any expectations because Second Chance Summer was a bit of a disappointment for me.

Nath: Well I think it had to do with the subject matter that Ms Maston decided to explore... I think she tried to make it a balanced book, but in my opinion, it was always going to be about Taylor’s father and the journey the family was about to undertake. As a result, it really overshadowed whatever development there could be of Taylor.

Ames: I think if there had been more about the family and less about the drama surrounding her past summers, I would not have been disappointed. The family stuff was meaty enough. But I felt like all the teenage angst and drama detracted from the story. Taylor, to me, did not come across as a good character in that part of the story. She was stuck as a 12 year old (it felt like) and I wanted to tell her to get over it already, grow a pair. So I was less interested in her friendships and love life and definitely more invested in her father’s health.

Nath: I agree with you, Ames. I was not interested in the teenage angst and drama... especially since it happened to 12 year old kids and well, everything seems so much bigger, more dramatic at that age. I know you were very frustrated with Taylor’s character and as a heroine, I too do feel she did not shine. Seriously, nobody likes a heroine who’s a coward and runs from her problems ^_^;

What I thought was interesting though is that Ms Matson chose to feature such a character as a heroine. I think it took guts and overall, it did work with the story. In this case, no matter where Taylor wanted to run, she did not have a choice than to confront the truth... even though she wanted to avoid it. And so she learns and I think it will make her much stronger. It was nice to see a different kind of heroine and probably one that is more realistic...

Also, Second Chance Summer shows that no matter how wrong things are, real life still continues and still has drama. I liked that their lives did not stop, did not get suspend... Taylor reconnected with her friends, Gelsey made a new friend and Warren fell in love. I think this is a good message that Ms Matson is trying to convey. Obviously, Second Chance Summer was a very sad book, but it’s not all bleak and depressing. There is light at the end :)

While I did like that real life continued, I didn’t care much when Taylor broke up with Henry. I know she had a lot on her plate and from that standpoint, it can make sense... but I wanted to shake her so badly. There you have the guy whom you’ve pined for for years and he’s perfect! And instead of having his support, you drive him away. She’s lucky that Henry was so understanding ^_^;

Ames: That’s a good point about how life goes on. It does go on. And part of it that rung true for me was the guilt that Taylor felt over the good things happening to her (Henry basically) while her father got worse and worse.

I hated that Taylor broke up with Henry. I honestly almost stopped reading it right there. I cannot get past how much she frustrated me. And for Henry to just be like “Hey, it’s ok, I understand” when she realizes she was a dumb ass? GRRRRR. I mean, it shows he’s a nice guy, but she’s going to walk all over him and he’s going to take her back everytime. I felt like the growth in her character came too little too late. Would she have thought about going back to Henry if her father hadn’t told her to?

Also, I know 12 year olds make stupid mistakes, but the whole set up between Taylor, her best friend Lucy and Henry from that summer just did not make ANY sense. If Taylor told Lucy how she felt towards Henry, Lucy probably would have backed off. Taylor should have stood up for herself, she wanted to avoid losing her friend but that’s what happened anyway. And I hated how the whole thing was teased about until we’re finally told what happened halfway through the book. I mean, I could see that scenario coming a mile away, very predictable.

And that’s my overall problem with Second Chance Summer. It was predictable.

Nath: Well the thing is, from the start, Second Chance Summer was never going to be an unpredictable book. Not with the storyline Ms Matson went for. Taylor’s father having pancreatic cancer, that’s unfortunately a death sentence T_T There was was never going to be any miracle cure to change the outcome. And that’s not fiction, it’s real life. I recently had a talk about pancreatic cancer and when you look at the prognostic and survival rates, it’s abysmal! :( So to me, the fact that Taylor’s storyline with Lucy and Henry was also predictable, well that didn’t bother me that much... because I think Ms Matson took the right decision to focus on the emotional journey.

It’s true what you said about what happened between Taylor and Lucy. Had Taylor stood up for herself and told Lucy, none of this would have happened. But when you’re 12 years old, things aren’t as obvious. The way Taylor acted was very immature, but from a 12 years old kid? I guess I can let it go. I do wish there’s been more groveling from Taylor, but she did apologize... and after 5 years, I guess there’s a bit of water under the bridge.

I’m actually not as convinced as you that Henry will take her back if Taylor screws up again. I guess it depends on how she screws up. In this case, it was obvious why she pushed him away and being a mature guy, Henry got it. If you look at the beginning of the book, he was still angry with Taylor. It does seem he let go of his anger easily though... and once again, I feel it has to do with her father’s situation. In the end, I wish Taylor had come back to the lakehouse under different circumstances. I think that would have made this aspect of the book more interesting... but really, that’s wishful thinking ^_^;

What made the book for me and the reason I could overlook all the other flaws was the whole emotional journey involving Taylor’s father. You know how parents are often absent in YA books, well obviously, it wasn’t the case in Second Chance Summer. I enjoyed every scene with her father, but also her family in it... Not only because the writing was good, but because it felt so very real. Every character’s emotions and the dynamics of the Edward family rang true. It wasn’t idealized or made worse for the sake of the story... The parts where the kids were in the father’s way in the first few days, afraid to let him out of their sight and him being exasperated with it. The moment when Taylor asked him if he was afraid... and her father just nodded, but didn’t elaborate. The way they tried to act normally, the moments they realized this might be his “last”... All those scenes were precious and bittersweet.

Ames: Ok, I need to clarify what I meant by predictable - I was referring to Taylor’s relationship drama. In no way am I trying to take away from what happened with her father. I love that aspect of SCS. But the stuff going on with Taylor’s relationships with Lucy and Henry was too much for me and it really detracted from my liking of the book. It took focus away from the emotional stuff going on with her dad.

And yes, it’s understandable that a 12 year old would react immaturely. But I’m saying going back to the lake as a 17 year old, Taylor was still acting 12. That was annoying. I just can’t give Taylor a pass the way you have. LOL

I think the big thing why I don’t like Taylor so much is the way she treated that stray dog. I mean, yeah I can see her chasing it off a first time, but the second time? That’s when you do something...not after the fourth or fifth time. Poor baby. At least her brother, her dad and Henry’s little brother took care of it.

Nath: Ahhhh. LOL, knowing that you were going to read this book, I immediately thought of you when I saw Taylor chasing the dog ^_^; It’s kind of weird because for readers, it was pretty obvious why Murphy kept going back to the door... and I wished the lightbulb would have gone on earlier in Taylor’s mind. Poor doggie indeed, but in the end, he got a good home :)

And I’ll give it to you, at times, Taylor was indeed still acting as a 12 years old. I guess that event really marked her life, she didn’t seem to get beyond that. I’m just happy that in the end, everything was resolved and Taylor and Lucy were friends again.

By the way, I realized we haven’t touched on one big subject of this book: the family. What did you think of it? I really liked that Taylor’s father’s illness brought the family together. I actually liked both Taylor’s siblings a lot and to see them come together, it means something. This closeness, being there for each other at this particular moment, it strengthens their bonds and I’m sure they will have each other’s back in the future. However, I liked that Ms Matson didn’t overdo it. Like they don’t act chummy like friends, but like siblings :)

Ames: I liked that aspect of the book too. Her sister acted age appropriate and I like how her brother was a nerd that sprouted out random facts. Ok, one thing I think that maybe should have been pointed out to Taylor was the thing she was good at. Like her sister was the prima ballerina, her brother was the super smart guy. Taylor’s strength, oddly enough, was human connection. She got her brother to see people in a different way and she acted as a role model for her sister to open up as well. Despite what Taylor did to her friends, she was good for her family that way.

Nath: It’s true, I wished that Taylor hadn’t felt like she was the “medium” one among the three siblings. At the same time, I don’t think Taylor’s strength was obvious nor conscious. I mean, if you read between the lines, it doesn’t seem like Taylor had any good friends at school. Also, I guess they didn’t hang out with Taylor enough to know that side of her. I mean, it’s not as obvious as being a nerd or a good at dancing. Anyway, I just want to add that I liked Taylor’s siblings. They were good secondary characters with surprisingly good depth, but without stealing the show :)

One thing that I found weird though is that they didn’t include Taylor’s grandfather - her father’s father - earlier on this trip. Don’t you think he’d like to spend more time with his son before he died? Which actually bring me to the scene that touched me most in Second Chance Summer... When Taylor’s father takes a turn for the worst and they call the grandfather. That moment where he sees his son sick for the first time - the shock and the sadness, Taylor commenting that her grandfather appeared to age in front of her. It’s so cruel for a parent to see his/her child sick, no matter the age. Just thinking about that scene brings tears to my eyes T_T

What about you, Ames? Is there a scene that really touched you?

Ames: The scenes with Taylor’s dad when they’d go for breakfast. I really liked those. But my ultimate favorite was the part when he told her that he watched her sleep as a baby. That was really touching and the reason why, it choked me up a little bit!

Nath: Nod nod,those were great moments as well and good memories for Taylor :)

I know Second Chance Summer was flawed, but even now, this book simply echoes so much for me. I loved the writing, loved the interactions of the characters and the story. It’s very sad, but at the end of it, I think there’s hope and future... And because Second Chance Summer made me feel so much, I’m going to overlook all the flaws we discussed and give this book an A-.

Ames: I didn’t feel sad either afterwards! I thought it was a good book that dealt with death in a very respectful way that didn’t totally drag you down. Unfortunately, I am docking points for Taylor. LOL Overall, I’m giving Second Chance Summer a B.

Friday, June 15

Top 3 of Nora Roberts

All right, the break is over and it's time to get the ball rolling again at Breezing Through :) I'm really happy this post is finally done and ready to go up! Yay! I take on full responsibility for its lateness and I want to thank Ames for her patience! She should have cracked the whip a long time ago to get my butt into gear, but didn't and I really appreciate it LOL.

As you can see from the title, this post is our Top 3 books by Nora Roberts :) This is actually the first post of our new feature at Breezing Through, Top 3. In the past, I've done a Top 3 of Jennifer Crusie and a Top 3 of Sharon Sala on my blog. It was meant to be a regular feature, but I let the ball drop and never picked it back up ^_^; However, I've been toying with the idea of resurrecting it because even after 4 years, the Top 3 of Jennifer Crusie post is still one of my most popular posts. I think this kind of posts is really interesting and helpful for readers who've just discovered an author with a huge backlist and don't know where to start :) This time around though, I thought I should do it here, at Breezing Through, because it'd be more fun to have more than one opinion :) And hey, we love discussing books and spreading the love!

So for our debut, we thought we'd start big and go with Nora Roberts :) It obviously was a tough choice, but we did it. Here is our Top 3!

Nota bena: We chose our Top 3 books before The Witness was released. Yes, it shows you how long I've been dragging my feet ^_^; So it wasn't included in any of our Top 3, although I do believe if Ames had to choose again, it'd definitively make it :)


Nath's Top 3:

Sea Swept
published in by Jove in January 1998
A champion boat racer, Cameron Quinn traveled the world spending his winnings on champagne and women. But when his dying father called him home to care for Seth, a troubled young boy not unlike Cameron once was, his life changed overnight...

After years of independence, Cameron had to learn to live with his brothers again, while he struggled with cooking, cleaning, and caring for a difficult boy. Old rivalries and new resentments flared between Cameron and his brothers, but they tried to put aside their differences for Seth's sake. In the end, a social worker would decide Seth's fate, and as tough as she was beautiful, she had the power to bring the Quinns together--or tear them apart...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Chesapeake Bay Saga, Book #1

Nath: Sea Swept is the first book in the Chesapeake Bay Saga - this is not only my favorite book by Nora Roberts, but also my favorite series :) It's about three men - Cameron, Ethan and Phillip - who were troubled teens and were adopted by this loving couple, Ray and Stella Quinn, and it changed their lives. They might not be related by blood, but they are a family in the truest sense of the word. At Ray's deathbed, the three brothers promised their father that they would look after the newest stray, a ten years old boy named Seth. Because the adoption process was not done and the Quinn brothers are bachelors, whether Seth stays with them or not remains a question... which will be answered by social service, most specifically case worker Anna Spinelli. The three men intend to honor their promise and come together to ensure that Seth stay... even as there are whispers about Seth's identity and Ray's suspicious death.

Sea Swept will forever be a favorite because of the Quinn brothers... I often say that Ms Roberts has a knack at writing relationships and families and the Quinns are the perfect example. I love the interactions and chemistry between these three men and the boy. It really shows that you don't need to be blood-related to be family. Something I also love to read in my romance is adults, especially men, bonding with children and that's also something you find in Sea Swept. I also find Cameron to be a great hero - a bit rough at the edges, but really manly and a bit alpha-ish. I really enjoyed the romance with Anna who is a great heroine as well. However, for me, Sea Swept will always be about the connection between Seth and Cameron and the complicity between the brothers :) It's a great book on its own, but also sets up the quartet perfectly :)

published by Putnam in March 1998
Where passion lives...

The Maine air was bitter cold and frigid as Dr. Miranda Jones returned to the family home after a busy lecture tour. But her blood turned to ice when, out of nowhere, she felt a knife held against her throat. The unseen assailant stole her bags, slashed her tires... and disappeared. Shaken and bruised, Miranda was nonetheless determined to put the assault quickly out of her mind. Then comes a distraction in the form of a summons to Italy to verify the authenticity of a valuable Renaissance bronze of a Medici courtesan known as "The Dark Lady." However, instead of cementing Miranda's position as the leading expert in her field, the job unexpectedly nearly destroys it when her professional judgment is called into question. Emotionally estranged from her mother, her brother immersed in his own troubles-and a bottle-Miranda, desperate to restore her reputation, has no one to turn to... except Ryan Boldari, a seductive art thief whose own agenda forces them into a reluctant and uneasy alliance. Now, it has become frighteningly clear that the incident that day in Maine was not a simple mugging, and that "The Dark Lady" may possess as many secrets as its beautiful namesake once did. For Miranda, forced to rely on herself-and an enigmatic partner who offers her suspicion and an intoxicating passion-the only way home is filled with treachery, deception, and a danger that threatens them all.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

Nath: I believe Homeport is the first Nora Roberts book I've ever read. As a result, yes, it's one that I'll never forget... but that's not why it's in my top 3. The reason is because I keep going back to it again and again. It's just a favorite, one of my comfort read because I love everything about it LOL. Especially the characters and the story :) I love the chemistry between Ryan and Miranda, but also the contrast in their personalities: how he draws her out and she starts living and believing in herself. I also enjoyed the contrast in their families and the relationship between Miranda and her brother, Andrew. There's something about siblings living together, especially a brother and a sister... It talks of a closeness, but also need and support. Also, I'm a huge fan of cat burglar plot and Homeport has one of the best I've read. The story is good and definitively have some nice twists, the suspense is there and you really wonder who's done it. Plus, Ryan is really a good thief LOL. All in all, I do think it's an exciting book and so well balanced with the romance :)

The Search
published by Putnam in July 2010
To most people, Fiona Bristow seems to have an idyllic life-a quaint house on an island off Seattle's coast, a thriving dog-training school, and a challenging volunteer job performing canine search and rescues. Not to mention her three intensely loyal Labs. But Fiona got to this point by surviving a nightmare...

Several years ago, Fiona was the only survivor of the Red Scarf serial killer, who shot and killed Fiona's cop fiancé and his K-9 partner.

On Orcas Island, Fiona found the peace and solitude she needed to rebuild her life. But all that changes on the day Simon Doyle barrels up her drive, desperate for her help. He's the reluctant owner of an out-of-control puppy, foisted upon him by his mother. Jaws has eaten through Simon's house, and he's at his wit's end.

To Fiona, Jaws is nothing she can't handle. Simon, however, is another matter. A newcomer to Orcas, he's a rugged and in-tensely private artist, known for the exquisite furniture he creates from wood. Simon never wanted a puppy-and he most definitely doesn't want a woman. Besides, the lanky redhead is not his type. But tell that to his hormones.

As Fiona embarks on training Jaws, and Simon begins to appreciate both dog and trainer, the past tears back into Fiona's life. A copycat killer has emerged out of the shadows, a man whose bloodlust has been channeled by a master with one motive: to reclaim the woman who slipped out of his hands...
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

Nath: The Search has been my favorite stand-alone book by Ms Roberts in recent years, although I have to admit it was a hard choice between The Search and Angels Fall :P In the end, it came down to a more interesting suspense :P

In The Search, our heroine is Fiona Bristow who the only victim from the Red Scarf serial killer who escaped and as such, her testimony was key. After losing her fiancé and father, she moved to Orcas Island where she owns a dog-training school and does search and rescue. One of her clients is Simon Doyle who builds furniture and is considered an artist and who owns a very energetic and unruly puppy, Jaws. Fiona and Simon are definitively attracted to each other, but their relationship evolved at a starter speed when Fiona becomes the target of the Red Scarf serial killer's copy-cat.

I really love this book because of Simon. He's such a gruffy hero and I love his bluntness. With this kind of men, you know when they do something, they really mean it :) Simon and Fiona have great chemistry and I enjoyed reading their romance. It was just pure fun and I couldn't help but smile :) I also really enjoyed Fiona as an heroine. You can't talk about The Search without mentioning the dogs which are an integral part of the book. I might not be a pet lover in real life, but I love them in my books and in here, they were brilliant. And everything is tied up with a nice suspense. I have to admit that there was a bit too much information about search and rescue and how to train dogs in The Search, which is a syndrome most of Ms Roberts' recent books have suffered, but it's something that I could totally look over. For now, The Search is the book I reach out whenever I'm in a bit of a slump and feel like re-reading something which is why I put it in my Top 3. It's just a comforting read that I enjoy immensely every time :) Will it stay in my Top 3? Well only time will tell :)

Honorable mentions: Angels Fall, The Witness, Savor the Moment and True Betrayals.


Ames' Top 3:

Public Secrets
published by Bantam Books (Random House Publishing) in 1990
Emma. Beautiful, intelligent, and radiantly talented, she lives in a star-studded world of wealth and privilege. But she is about to discover that fame is no protection at all when someone wants you dead.

All Emma has to do is close her eyes and she remembers the day Brian McAvoy swept into her life. A frightened toddler, she didn’t know then that she was his illegitimate daughter or that he was pop music’s rising new star. All she knew was that with Brian, his band mates, and his new wife, she felt safe. And when her baby brother arrived, Emma thought she was the luckiest girl in the world—until the night a botched kidnapping attempt shattered all their lives . . . and destroyed Emma’s happiness.

Yet now, even though Emma is still haunted by flashes of memory from that fateful night, she has survived. She’s carved out a thrilling career and even dared to fall rapturously in love. But the man who will become her husband isn’t all that he seems. And Emma is about to awaken to the chilling knowledge that the darkest secret of all is the one buried in her mind—a secret that someone may kill to keep.

Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

Ames: Nora Roberts was among one of the first romance authors I've ever read (Julie Garwood being the first).  I know I read this book in the late '90s.  I was still living overseas and I loved going to the library on the base.  I guess my fond memories of this book are tied up to that experience.  :)

Anyway, out of all those first NRs I've read, this is one that's always stuck out.  This book has it all.  It starts out from when Emma is a little girl, rescued by her rockstar father from a lowlife, groupie mother.  From there she grows up under a cloud of sadness at her baby brother's death and ends up marrying an up-and-coming rockstar who is abusive.  She escapes that marriage but it changes her.  Plus the murder of her brother has affected everyone in her life - even the son of the detective who was trying to solve the murder.  I loved this book.  I haven't re-read it in forever but I loved Emma, her rockstar family, the hero of this book and the mystery.  It all came together really well.

Montana Sky
published by Putnam in March 1996
In life, Jack Mercy hadn't been a kind man. In death, he was no different. His daughter Willa expected to inherit his ranch, the place she'd put her heart and soul into. But at the reading of the will, she learns that her home has been given not just to her, but to two sisters she barely knows as well. And in order to inherit, they must all live on the ranch for a period of one year.

None of the three sisters are happy with the arrangement. And apparently, neither is someone else as deadly incidents begin occurring around them. Willa, Tess and Lila find themselves fighting for their lives alongside the men who have become part of the lives and their hearts.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: None

Ames: *sigh*  This book makes me so happy.  Three very different sisters coming to live under 1 roof to inherit their father's ranch.  There is sexy cowboys, a mystery, and a strong bond between three women.   Jack Mercy is this rich-ass rancher who went through women like underwear.  And for this macho man, it must have irked him that he only had daughters.  The one this affected the most was Willa, the only one to actually live with him.  She tried her hardest to make him proud, but she wasn't a son so she could never live up to his expectations.  She is the ultimate tomboy in my book.  And she grew up next door to Ben, the son of the rancher next door.  Knowing him her whole life, things take a turn that year after her father's death.   I loved her story the most, but Tess and Lily's stories are equally good.  This one I highly recommend.

Tears of the Moon
published by Jove in June 2000
A talented songwriter, Shawn Gallagher spends his days lost in reverie and wonder, oblivious to the wiles of women and the ways of the world. He claims that he's content with his life, but his music tells a different story—one of loneliness and desperate longing.

No one understands why Shawn doesn't put his musical gift to profitable use—least of all Brenna O'Toole, a fiercely independent tomboy who has been secretly in love with him for years. But it is only when Shawn gives in to the mysteries of magic that he gets the chance to fulfill his destiny as a man and a musician—as the song in his head keeps time with the beating of a woman's heart.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Gallaghers of Ardmore/Irish trilogy, Book #2

Ames: This is a book I just discovered in the last 5 years and it has become a favorite.  It's got a hint of magic and friends to lovers.  What could be better?  I've actually reviewed this book twice!  (Here and here)  Again with a tomboy heroine and the man she grew up with.  :)  This one takes place in a small Irish town and I love it.  There's a bit of jealousy, which I love, and a strong family bond.  This is definitely a comfort read and it's got a humour that I truly enjoy.  Read my second review for a good passage that I could re-read over and over.


What about you? What is your Top 3 of Nora Roberts? :)

We'd also love feedback on this new feature :) Like or dislike? What should we change or add? Any authors you'd like us to do a Top 3 of? Feel free to let us know!

Friday, June 1

New Releases - June 2012

A new month, a new budget....another hit to your wallet.  LOL  Luckily, this month doesn't have as many new releases as May.  So take a look at what we're looking forward to and let us know if we missed any!

June 5

No One Left to Tell by Karen Rose
published by Signet (New American Library)
A woman is dead and her fiance is serving a life sentence for a murder he didn't commit. Now PI Paige Holden holds the only piece of evidence that could see him freed, and she cannot take it to the police. With the help of disarming state attorney, Grayson Smith, Paige is determined to avenge the murdered woman and set an innocent man free. But Paige has only scratched the surface of a cover-up far deadlier than she could ever imagine. A string of mysterious deaths of women with a shared past sets Paige on the trail of a ruthless killer. The problem is, the killer's on her trail too ...
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Baltimore trilogy, Book #2

Nath: I love Karen Rose as you well know :) I call her the Queen of RS :P I already have my copy of No One Left to Tell, but will also be buying a US copy to encourage the author. By the way, it was a great story! You can read my review here.

Ames: I love Karen Rose too and I'll definitely be buying this one.

Chaos Burning by Lauren Dane
published by Berkley Sensation
The life of Lark Jaansen, hunter in Clan Gennessee, has been shaped by violence and unrest—and it defines her future. Well-trained and resilient, she’s met her militaristic match in Simon Leviathan, a warrior not of this world. Locked in mutual admiration, and a desire so hot it burns, Lark and Simon have something else in common: they love the dark, and as a shadow is cast over their world, they’re each coming into their own.

A mysterious war has been waged among the Others. As witches and humans turn against each other, as faes retreat in fear, and as vampires rise, Lark and Simon discover that an unseen force is behind it. A single, hungry entity older than recorded history has returned to gorge on the magick of his victims. It is the Magister, nothing less than the end of time. Finding it is Lark and Simon’s first hope. Surviving it is their last.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Bound by Magick, Book #2

Nath: Still haven't read the first book in the series, Heart of Darkness, so will wait on this one. Love the cover though.

Ames: I haven't read it either!  LOL  But as if that has stopped me in the past.  Lauren is an auto-buy author for me so for sure I'm getting this.  :P

Nath: LOL, it sure hasn't. I've actually never read Ms Dane, so I really need to give it a try ^_^; I love witches and sorcerers... Maybe I'll just read this one first?

Jacked up by Erin McCarthy
published by Berkley
She’s holding tight. He’s hanging loose.

Eve Monroe is a stock-car PR pro who puts her career first—until an on-track wardrobe malfunction reveals more than the sexy smile of her race-car brother’s jack-man, Nolan Ford. The video’s become an internet sensation, and it’s Eve’s job to calm the sponsors and put a spin on the unexpected exposure. It may be purely a public relations job, but now that Eve’s seen what’s under Nolan’s crew suit, it’s gotten a little personal—and after a few dates she has Nolan pretty revved up. If only she’d learn to relax and enjoy it…

And they both have the same drive.

Nolan’s sure that the spontaneous birthday bash he’s throwing for Eve in Las Vegas should loosen her up. It does more than that. Somewhere between cocktails and a smoking-hot motel-room derby, Eve and Nolan wake up hitched, thanks to a post-sex-high detour to a Vegas chapel. A hangover marriage to a virtual stranger isn’t good for anyone’s image, so Eve plans to play the happy wife long enough to satisfy the press, and then quietly part ways. Now all she has to do is convince her new personal jack-man. But Nolan has plans of his own...
Genre: Sport romance
Series: Fast Track, Book #6

Monroe: LOVE this series!!! Can't wait to read it!

Nath: : I'm looking forward to reviews for this one. The last few books in this series have not impressed me, but I've always had a weakness for Eve and the blurb does sound good. So we'll see :)

Ames: Here's a series I'm a few books behind on.  I'm looking forward to the reviews though so it's on my radar.

Devil's Gate by Thea Harrison
published by Samhain
As a coroner, medusa Seremela Telemar has always felt more comfortable chatting over a dead body than over drinks. But when her wild niece, Vetta, runs off to Devil’s Gate, a lawless town that has sprung up overnight in a modern-day gold rush, she knows she has to extricate her before the rebellious girl gets into real trouble. Though she’s confident in her head snakes’ ability to defend her against attackers, Seremela is still a bit nervous about braving this modern-day Wild West by herself.

Vampyre Duncan Turner is not about to let his new co-worker go into that chaos alone. His Vampyric power and lawyer smarts make him the perfect ally, and the fact that he already had his eye on Seremela for more…personal reasons, doesn’t hurt matters. Any romantic thoughts pull up short, however, when they arrive at Devil’s Gate and learn Vetta is set to hang by morning.
In order to save Vetta and themselves, Seremela and Duncan are going to have to fight fire with force and magic with fangs. And pray they make it out of Devil’s Gate alive.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Elder Races, Book #4.6

Monroe: I havent caught up on this series yet (I think Im a book or so behind) but this author has turned out to be a fav of mine!

Nath: I don't know. I've enjoyed the last book I've read in this series, Oracle's Moon; however, I have yet to read the novellas... and the fact this one features a vampyre, it doesn't inspire me.

Ames: It's a novella, Nath.  Take a chance!  LOL

Nath: Sure, sure Ames :P

Bring Him Home by Karina Bliss
published by Harlequin
Former soldier Nathan Wyatt had no choice but to leave his army buddy to die, a secret that's still tearing him apart. Two years on, he's in Hollywood prostituting his war medal for work as a bodyguard to the stars when his best friend's widow drags him home to fulfil his neglected responsibilities to her family trust.

When he discovers Claire can't forgive her late husband for breaking a crucial promise, Nate sees his path to salvation. He'll be his buddy's advocate, secure Steve's place in his wife's memory.

The last thing he intends is to find himself in a love triangle with his dead best friend.
Will admitting the truth - all of it - set him free, or alienate the woman he's come to passionately love?
Genre: Category Romance, Contemporary
Series: n/a

Nath: I've read and enjoyed Ms Bliss' category romance... However, not sure about this one. I've heard good things about this one actually, but the theme just doesn't rock my boat.

Ames: Oooh I love this kind of plot!  I'll let you know what I think of it Nath.

Nath: Counting on you then, Ames :)

Hex Appeal by PN Elrod (anthology)
published by St. Martin's Press
Fall under the intoxicating spell of their hex appeal… In the magical world that lies hidden beneath our own, witches and conjurers play deadly games. They know just the right spell to kill a man with one kiss—or raise him back again. And they’re not afraid to exact sweet revenge on those who dare to cross them. But what if you’re the unlucky soul who falls victim to a conjurer’s curse? And if you had the power to cast a magic spell of your own, would you use it?In this bewitching collection, nine of today’s hottest paranormal authors tell all-new, otherworldly tales. Spellbinding stories featuring bigfoot, albino vampires, professional wizards, resurrected boyfriends and even a sex droid from the twenty- third century named Silicon Lily. But as our conjurers are about to discover, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hexed. And sometimes, even the best spun spells can lead to complete and utter mayhem.
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Several entries are part of main series

Nath: I'm still a bit hesitant about this one. If I get it, it will definitively be for Jim Butcher and Ilona Andrews' entries. I've bought the previous anthologies before, so why not this one... but at the same time, were they really worth the anthology... Hmmm, not sure.

More than a Stranger by Erin Knightley
published by Signet Eclipse (New American Library)
Some secrets are meant to be shared...

An Uncovered Betrayal
When his family abandoned him at Eton, Benedict Hastings found an unexpected ally in his best friend's sister. Her letters kept him going— until the day he had to leave everything behind. Years later, Benedict has seen his share of betrayal, but when treachery hits close to home, he turns to his old friend for safe haven...

An Unwanted Attraction
After five torturous years on the marriage circuit, Lady Evelyn Moore is finally free to live her life as she wishes. So when her brother shows up with a dashing stranger, she finds herself torn between her dreams...and newfound desires.

An Unstoppable Intrigue
Despite his determination to keep Evie at a distance, Benedict cannot deny the attraction that began with a secret correspondence. Yet as they begin to discover each other, the dangers of Benedict's world find them, threatening their lives, their love, and everything they thought they could never have...
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Sealed with a Kiss #1

Nath: This one caught my eye because of the cover, but also because it's a historical romance published by NAL. It's the same publisher for whom Emma Wildes writes and I find her historical romance to be refreshing and really like the style... So I hope Ms Knightley will be a winner for me :P Plus, the blurb does sound good :)

Ames: Yes it does!  That blurb has a few of my favorite tropes:  an independent sounding heroine, falling for a friend's sibling.  Check check!

June 11

About Last Night by Ruthie Knox
published by Random House Publishing
Cath Talarico knows a mistake when she makes it, and God knows she’s made her share. So many, in fact, that this Chicago girl knows London is her last, best shot at starting over. But bad habits are hard to break, and soon Cath finds herself back where she has vowed never to go . . . in the bed of a man who is all kinds of wrong: too rich, too classy, too uptight for a free-spirited troublemaker like her.

Nev Chamberlain feels trapped and miserable in his family’s banking empire. But beneath his pinstripes is an artist and bohemian struggling to break free and lose control. Mary Catherine—even her name turns him on—with her tattoos, her secrets, and her gamine, sex-starved body, unleashes all kinds of fantasies.

When blue blood mixes with bad blood, can a couple that is definitely wrong for each other ever be perfectly right? And with a little luck and a lot of love, can they make last night last a lifetime?
Genre: Category romance, Contemporary
Series: None

Nath: Read Ride with Me and it was an okay read - not as good as everyone raved in my opinion ^_^; However, I'm willing to give this author another chance, especially since this book has one of my favorite trope, opposites attract. Also, don't you think the hero sounds like a stuffy shirt? :)

Ames: I'm going to wait for your thoughts on this one, Nath.  You're more forgiving than I am.

Nath: You think?

June 14

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
published by Dial Books
“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, numerous, messy, affectionate. And every day from her balcony perch, seventeen-year-old Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them... until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs her terrace and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely in love, Jase's family makes Samantha one of their own. Then in an instant, the bottom drops out of her world and she is suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself?
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Series: n/a

Nath: This YA has been making it rounds on blogland and sounds good :)

Ames: Wena first brought this one to my attention and I'm really looking forward to reading it!

June 19

The Line Between Here and Gone by Andrea Kane
published by Mira (Harlequin)
The man she loved is gone forever. The child she lives for could be next. Each day is a struggle for Amanda Gleason's newborn son as he battles a rare immune deficiency. Justin's best chance for a cure lies with his father, who was brutally murdered before Amanda even realized she carried his child. Or was he?

One emailed photo changes everything, planting a seed of doubt that Amanda latches on to for dear life: a recent photo of a man who looks exactly like Paul. Could Justin's father be alive? The mother in her is desperate to find out. But tracking down a ghost when every second counts is not for amateurs. Forensic Instincts is the one team up for the challenge. A behaviorist. A former navy SEAL. A techno-wizard. An intuitive. A retired FBI agent. A human-scent-evidence dog. Together, they achieve the impossible, pushing ethical and legal boundaries whenever the ends justify the means. The manhunt is on for the elusive father. Yet the further FI digs into his past, the more questions are raised about whether the man Amanda fell in love with ever really existed at all. Dark secrets. Carefully crafted lies. From the Congressional halls of Washington, D.C., to exclusive Hamptons manors, there are ruthless people who would stop at nothing to make Forensic Instincts forget about the man Amanda desperately needs to find. Little do they realize that once Forensic Instincts takes the case, nothing will stop them from uncovering the shocking truth that transcends The Line Between Here and Gone.
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Series: Forensic Instincts #2

Nath: I've enjoyed Ms Kane's books in the past. While the first book in this series, The Girl Who Disappeared Twice, didn't wow me, it was still solid. I'm hoping this one will build up on the momentum. The blurb does sound good and I've been looking for some RS :)

June 26

Thief of Shadows by Elizabeth Hoyt
published by Grand Central Publishing
Winter Makepeace lives a double life. By day he's the stoic headmaster of a home for foundling children. But the night brings out a darker side of Winter. As the moon rises, so does the Ghost of St. Giles-protector, judge, fugitive. When the Ghost, beaten and wounded, is rescued by a beautiful aristocrat, Winter has no idea that his two worlds are about to collide.

Lady Isabel Beckinhall enjoys nothing more than a challenge. Yet when she's asked to tutor the Home's dour manager in the ways of society-flirtation, double-entendres, and scandalous liaisons-Isabel can't help wondering why his eyes seem so familiar-and his lips so tempting.

During the day Isabel and Winter engage in a battle of wills. At night their passions are revealed... But when little girls start disappearing from St. Giles, Winter must avenge them. For that he might have to sacrifice everything-the Home, Isabel... and his life.
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Maiden Lane #4

Ames: Elizabeth Hoyt is an auto-buy author for me.  I really enjoy her writing and I'm sure this one will be no exception!

A Duchess to Remember by Christina Brooke
published by St. Martin's Press
Lady Cecily Westruther is nothing if not practical. By agreeing to marry an older duke who already has an heir and a mistress, she can assume a wifely role—without the wifely duties. Only one thing stands in her way—a letter that could destroy her betrothal. Desperate to retrieve that letter, Cecily must match wits with the most dangerously seductive man she’s ever known...

Disguised as a footman, Cecily gains entry to her adversary’s house—only to be unmasked by London’s most powerful man. Rand, Duke of Ashburn, is accustomed to getting any woman he wants—and he wants Cecily. He will stop at nothing, including seduction, to make her his. But Rand holds a secret more shocking and destructive than that letter could ever be...
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Ministry of Marriage #3

Nath: I've actually enjoyed this series a lot and am looking forward to see what mischief Cecily will cause :)

Ames: I know I bought the second book because you brought this series to my attention.  I'm intrigued by the disguise.  LOL

Nath: However, I don't think she's going to disguise as a man for long Ames, so don't get your hopes up. Plus, I read the excerpt and if I'm not wrong, Rand finds her out almost immediately...

Ames:  That's ok.  It sounds fun!

Scandal Wears Satin by Loretta Chase
published by Avon (Harpercollins Publisher)
From the Journals of Sophia Noirot: A dress is a weapon. It must dazzle his eye, raise his temperature... and empty his purse.

A blue-eyed innocent on the outside and a shark on the inside, dressmaker Sophy Noirot could sell sand to Bedouins. Selling Maison Noirot's beautiful designs to aristocratic ladies is a little harder, especially since a recent family scandal has made an enemy of one of society's fashion leaders. Turning scandal to the shop's advantage requires every iota of Sophy's manipulative skills, leaving her little patience for a big, reckless rakes like the Earl of Longmore. The gorgeous lummox can't keep more than one idea in his head at a time, and his idea is taking off all of Sophy's clothes.

But when Longmore's sister, Noirot's wealthiest, favorite customer, runs away, Sophy can't let him bumble after her on his own. In hot pursuit with the one man who tempts her beyond reason, she finds desire has never slipped on so smoothly...
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Dressmakers series, Book #2

Nath: First installment, Silk is for Seduction, was excellent. Hoping this one will measure up :)

Ames: Auto-buy!  I like that the heroine isn't a member of the ton.

Starlight by Carrie Lofty
published by Pocket (Simon & Schuster)
Passion sparkles forever... in the shining eyes of a true love.

An esteemed astronomer, Alex Christie, the eldest and most steadfast of the Christie siblings, has never possessed his late father’s ruthless business drive. But to protect his frail infant son from his cruel father-in-law’s bid for custody, the young widower must undertake Sir William Christie’s posthumous million-dollar challenge: to make a Glasgow cotton mill profitable. At sea in an industrial world of sabotage and union agitation, Alex meets Polly Gowan, daughter of a famed union leader, who hopes to seize a mysterious saboteur without involving the police.

Because a sympathetic mill master would aid her cause, Polly becomes Alex’s guide to urban Scotland. From soccer games to pub brawls, Alex sees another side of life, and feels free for the first time to reveal the man—vital and strong—behind his intellectual exterior. Polly is utterly seduced. Their ambitions, however, remain at odds: Alex vows to earn the mill bonus to save his child, while Polly fights for the needs of her people. Is there strength enough in their sparkling passion to bind them together in their quests—and in a lasting love that conquers all?
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Christies, Book #2

Nath: I've only read Flawless by Ms Lofty, but I know she is a great author :) I love that her historical romance books take place in unusual settings and this one is no exception.

Ames: This has shades of North & South to it.  Sounds really interesting!

The Way Back Home by Barbara Freethy
published by Simon & Schuster
Ex-Marine Gabe Ryder has lost a lot in his life. His mother died when he was a toddler. His father succumbed to alcoholism. And a week before their last day of service, a horrific firefight takes the life of his best friend and brother-in-arms, Rob Hayden. Now Gabe must fulfill his friend's dying wish by helping Rob's twin sister, Alicia.

Alicia has been reeling since her brother's death. She's lost a part of herself that she isn't sure she can get back. On top of that, her eight-year-old son is longing for a father, who she thinks she's found in her boyfriend Keith. Then Gabe shows up, moving into Rob's house, helping with the family rafting business, and looking into her love life, and Alicia is resentful.

But when Alicia's son and his best friend run away, Alicia and Gabe realize they must face their deepest fears and work together to bring them back, before the river rises.
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Book 1

Nath: I'm not sure I'll be getting this one, but it's definitively on my radar as the blurb and cover caught my attention. My only hang-ups are Ms Freethy's latest series didn't impress and this sounds like a lot of drama...

At Last by Jill Shalvis
published by Grand Central Publishing
Amy Michaels loves her new life in Lucky Harbor. A waitress in the local diner, she's looking forward to her first weekend hike through the mountains. But when a wrong turn takes her off the trail, she finds herself up close and personal with forest ranger Matt Bowers. And even though she's tempted to kiss that sexy smile right off his face, she won't make the mistake of getting involved with the town heartthrob.

A former cop whose life went south, Matt doesn't let anyone get too close. But something about the feisty beauty caught his eye the moment he first saw her in the diner. After a hot night under a starry sky, Matt can't deny their attraction-or the fact that for the first time in a long time, he feels the stirrings of something more. Now it's up to Matt to help Amy see that, no matter what is in their past, together they can build a future in Lucky Harbor.
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Lucky Harbor #5

Monroe: Woo hoo! This is two books in two months! I JUST finished book 4 and I have to say I think it was my favorite! Amy and Matts book will be great!

Nath: Surprisingly, I read and enjoyed Lucky in Love. So I'll be checking out this one... although the one I'm really looking forward to is Grace's book, Forever and a Day :)

Ames: *hangs head in shame* You guys!  I've only read the first book in this series!  LOL  I still buy them because I know once I get around to the next book I want it to be near at hand.  So....that's my justification for buying books in a series.  haha!

Summer Nights by Susan Mallery
published by HQN Books (Harlequin)
Horse whisperer Shane Stryker is done with passion. This time around, he's determined to meet someone who will be content with the quiet life of a rancher's wife. And the fiery, pint-size redhead who dazzles him at the local bar definitely does not fit the bill. Small-town librarian Annabelle Weiss has always seen herself as more of a sweetheart than a siren, so she can't understand why Shane keeps pushing her away. Shane has formed the totally wrong impression of her but only he can help her with a special event for the next Fool's Gold festival. And maybe while he's at it, she can convince him to teach her a few things about kissing on hot summer nights, too-some lessons, a girl shouldn't learn from reading a book!
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Fools Gold #8

Monroe: This series is a feel good series and it never lets you down! Its like home cooked food! lol Love Ms. Mallery! 

Ames: I haven't read any of the other books in this series but that horse whisperer bit caught my attention!

Can't Buy Me Love by Molly O'Keefe
published by Random House Publishing
A girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Tara Jean Sweet knows that opportunity will never knock; she’ll have to seize it. Elderly Texas rancher Lyle Baker has a dying request: He will give Tara Jean a stake in his leather business in exchange for a little family subterfuge. All Tara Jean has to do is play the part of a gold-digging fiancée to lure Lyle’s estranged children home. The mission is soon accomplished.

Now Lyle’s gone—and his ridiculously handsome son, Luc, an ice hockey superstar sidelined by injuries, is the new owner of Crooked Creek ranch. He’s also Tara Jean’s boss. But being so close to sinfully sweet Tara Jean does crazy things to Luc’s priorities, like make him want to pry her deepest secrets from those irresistible lips. But when Tara Jean’s past demands a dirty showdown, will Luc stay and fight?
Genre: Contemporary romance
Series: Crooked Creek series, Book #1

Nath: I've been meaning to try Ms O'Keefe's writing thanks to Wendy's post... I think this being her first "full-length" novel is a great opportunity :)

Ames: I was wondering why that name seemed familiar!!  LOL  Nath, the ice hockey superstar isn't scaring you off?  :P

Nath: Is he? I only read the first half of the blurb. Crap, he is! Ah well, I'm going to hope that Ms O'Keefe superior writing will carry me through :P


What will you be picking up in June?