Sunday, April 12, 2015

Yours to Hold (Ribbon Ridge #2) by Darcy Burke

Yours to Hold is, without a doubt, my favorite book of the series so far, and not just because I fell hard for Kyle and Maggie – which I did – but because I fell hard for Kyle and Maggie and the entire Archer family!!

Blurb…

Years ago, golden-boy Kyle Archer left Ribbon Ridge without a word. Now, with heartbreak on the verge of tearing his family apart, the black sheep is back and he’s determined to earn their trust by uncovering the truth behind Alex’s death. But the moment he confronts Maggie Trent—the therapist his parents blame for the tragedy—Kyle is stunned by his powerful attraction to the beautiful doctor… and drawn to her like no woman he’s ever met before.

When gorgeous, charismatic Kyle approaches Maggie about his brother’s death, she agrees to help him search for answers. And as they piece together Alex’s last days, their undeniable chemistry turns too hot to ignore. After their relationship becomes more serious than either anticipated, Kyle may be forced to choose between the woman he’s desperate to hold on to and the family he almost let slip away.

My thoughts…

In my review of the last book, Only In My Dreams, I lamented the fact that we didn’t learn much about Alex’s death which has been a dark shadow in the stories so far. In this book we've been given a lot more insight into his suicide, but while some questions were answered, more questions have arisen… and that, along with an amazing cast of characters, is what has me looking forward to what’s to come next.

The bottom line…

I’m a long time fan of small town Contemporary Romance and have enjoyed my time in Ribbon Ridge a lot. That said, Yours to Hold has propelled this series from charming and intriguing to poignant and compelling, and I loved every word of it, start to finish!

An ARC was generously provided by Avon Books, and to show my appreciation I’m giving them an honest review.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Only in My Dreams (Ribbon Ridge #1) by Darcy Burke

Only In My Dreams is the first full length novel in Darcy Burke’s Ribbon Ridge Contemporary Romance series, but we’re first introduced to the Archer family in the prequel novella, Where the Heart Is. Each of the seven (+1) Archer siblings seem to have their own unique set of health or emotional problems, but it’s the way they come together to support one another than makes this such a touching, entertaining read.

Blurb…

Fed up with her self-imposed single life, successful event planner Sara Archer heads to a bar for a night of dancing … and bumps into Dylan Wescott, the high school crush she hasn’t seen in years. A little harmless flirting leads to a hot, completely uncharacteristic one-night stand; but when she wakes up alone, Sara knows her life is too complicated for a relationship and there can’t be a repeat.

Dylan, a divorced, ex-military construction contractor, limits himself to casual flings—his failed marriage proves he’s better off alone anyway—but he can’t stop dreaming about Sara. And when his firm is hired to oversee the renovation project run by the Archer siblings, Dylan and Sara are unable to resist their explosive chemistry.

But when their secret affair grows beyond “friends with benefits” and neither is willing to admit they want more, family drama and emotional scars may ruin their chance at a love they believed was only in their dreams.

My thoughts…

I've never read a story quite like this one, and I really enjoyed it. The heroine suffers from Sensory Processing Disorder, which some say is a form of autism. The story is...sad...in some ways, but also very uplifting. It was great to see a heroine who is so grounded, so strong, so able to cope with a disorder that could be debilitating. Fortunately, she has a family who believed in giving her the tools she needed to learn to live with SPD and not let it control her life.

Dylan’s family life was the exact opposite of Sara’s - empty, without love, and he would rather live his life alone than be in a relationship – of any kind. He’s pretty bitter about the way his childhood went, and then his marriage fell apart and though I’m not exactly sure why, I’m pretty sure it was his fault. No cheating or anything like that, but I get the impression he was just as disconnected emotionally from his wife as he was from his family.

Sara and Dylan’s relationship begins with a one-night stand, but as often happens, one night just isn’t enough. I did *snicker* at their attempts to keep things simple, but at some point got tired of it too, because, in my opinion, it caused the story to drag a bit.

Minor spoiler: One thing that really disappointed me was how we learn about Alex’s suicide. In the prequel (Where the Heart Is) he was fine; quite sick of course, but we got to know and care about him. As Only in My Dreams begins, we find that Alex killed himself (just 2 weeks prior) and left a legacy of sorts for his siblings to fulfill. No one really knows why he took his own life, other than being so sick and probably not wanting to burden his family. I do believe that slowly but surely this part of the story will unfold, and we'll get our answers.

The bottom line…

Ribbon Ridge is a small town full of people with big hearts. The Archer family is struggling to move on after their tragic loss, and watching them come to grips with their heartbreak and unanswered questions leaves no doubt that the series will continue to draw me in and become a favorite!

An ARC was provided by Avon Books and in appreciation I’m giving them an honest review.

About Sensory Processing Disorder...

Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.

The condition used to be called sensory integration dysfunction.

Some people with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming. The light touch of a shirt may chafe the skin.

Others with sensory processing disorder may:

Be uncoordinated
Bump into things
Be unable to tell where their limbs are in space
Be hard to engage in conversation or play
Sensory processing problems are usually identified in children. But they can also affect adults. Sensory processing problems are commonly seen in developmental disorders like autism.

Sensory processing disorder is not recognized as a standalone disorder. But many experts think that should change.

SPD information found at WebMd: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/sensory-processing-disorder



Monday, April 6, 2015

Where the Heart Is (Ribbon Ridge #0.5) by Darcy Burke

Very nice start to the Ribbon Ridge series!

And currently a Kindle Freebie!!

Where the Heart Is Kindle Freebie

Blurb...

Home is more than a place . . .

Breaking free from her structured life, Chloe English quits her high-powered job and moves across the country to work as an art teacher. The simple life is all she hoped it would be until her house burns down, leaving her homeless. When a handsome firefighter swoops in to save the day, she can’t believe her luck. He’s laid-back and unassuming, everything she’s looking for in a man—or so he seems. It turns out he’s as ambitious as her ex, comes with a family who could be more stifling than hers, and harbors dark secrets he may never be able to share.

Orphaned as a teenager, Derek Sumner has found a place in his best friend’s family. However, the love and support of his surrogate parents and siblings can’t erase the grief and loss he struggles every Christmas to banish. But this year he meets the fun and sexy Chloe, whose optimism and sense of joy are incredibly contagious. Can she help him face his bleak past so they can forge a happy future?

Quick thoughts...

Romantic, funny, steamy, and even a tad poignant. This is my first read of Darcy Burke's writing, and I'm looking forward to spending more time in Ribbon Ridge!          

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I DO! (Lovett, Texas #5) by Rachel Gibson

This story is lots of fun!! It's short - 150 pages - but a great romance and a chance to revisit past couples and see where their love has taken them!

Blurb...

In New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson's newest novella, Vince Haven and Sadie Hollowell are headed to the altar, and all their friends are headed to Lovett, Texas, to join them for the party of the year.

But Becca Ramsey doesn't have time for all that. Fresh out of beauty school, Becca's all business . . . and the last thing she needs is bad boy Nate Parrish anywhere in her life.

In the past, Nate was trouble. He's been trying to repair his reputation—heck, he's even got just one girlfriend. The problem is, she isn't Becca. Now Nate's in a whole lot of hot water. He needs to get Becca from "I won't" to "I do" . . . but how can he do that when she won't even say "I might"?

My thoughts...

I adore Rachel Gibson's storytelling, and even though I haven't (yet) read all the books in this series, I love what I have read. This story is filled with lot's of witty dialog and steamy sexual chemistry. Becca and Nate are a perfect match and I was thrilled to see them get their happily ever after.

One issue for me (and may be for other readers), and the only 'sour' note here is that at the beginning of the story Nate has a girlfriend who's been away for a couple months and he's decided to break up with her - though he fantasizes about her and feels guilty for thinking about another woman while still with her, and even calls her "his girl" at one point - but he doesn't want to break up with her over the phone or text because that would be cold... So technically he's still with someone when he and Becca get together. While there are no broken hearts here, I do wish Nate had made that phone call and ended the relationship with Holly Ann before climbing into bed with Becca because I can't fall in love with a hero who hooks up with one girl while still, even if on a technicality, is still hooked up with another.

But all-in-all, this is a fun read and a great installment to the series!

ARC provided by Avon Books. To show my appreciation I'm giving them an honest review!

Monday, March 30, 2015

Four Nights with the Duke (Desperate Duchesses #8) by Eloisa James

I'll be honest, while I love this story, Vander and the absolutely amazingly wonderful Charlie made this a favorite! I enjoyed Mia, but it's our two leading men who stole the show!

Blurb

As a young girl, Emilia Gwendolyn Carrington told the annoying future Duke of Pindar that she would marry any man in the world before him—so years later she is horrified to realize that she has nowhere else to turn.

Evander Septimus Brody has his own reasons for agreeing to Mia's audacious proposal, but there's one thing he won't give his inconvenient wife: himself.

Instead, he offers Mia a devil's bargain...he will spend four nights a year with her. Four nights, and nothing more. And those only when she begs for them.

Which Mia will never do.

Now Vander faces the most crucial challenge of his life: he must seduce his own wife in order to win her heart—and no matter what it takes, this is the one battle he can't afford to lose

My thoughts...

I adore Historical Romances because I find it hysterical when the women of the era are trying to live within the boundaries "polite" society has set for them, all the while trying to live their lives the way they want to - by being themselves. Four Nights With the Duke is just such a story, and even though there were times I wanted to strangle Mia, I also loved her for her determination to get what she wanted.

Vander's struggle to understand - and cope with - his own feelings toward Mia was fun reading. He's not inclined to operate within societies rules, either, but those rules are not the same for men as they are for women, and create an entirely different set of...obstacles. And watching Vander with Charlie was heartwarming! And funny! Charlie is an absolute hoot and he needs his own story one day.

The bottom line...

Four Nights With the Duke had me sighing, laughing, and even almost shedding some tears. It's steamy, entertaining and, even now, months after reading it, has me smiling as I write this review. Can't ask for more than that!

An ARC was provided by Avon Books via Edelweiss. In appreciation I'm giving them an honest thoughts.

   

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Fairytale Come Alive (Ghosts and Reincarnation #4) by Kristen Ashley

Crikey! I can't stop crying! What a beautiful, unusual, hard fought and well deserved happily ever after!

Story Description... In Isabella Austin Evangelista’s life miracles never happen… she knows she’s destined to be the princess who’s stuck in the middle of a fairytale where there will be no happily ever after.

Once upon a time, Prentice Cameron loved Isabella Austin until he discovered she was a spoiled, rich girl who spent her summers toying with his heart.

Life led Prentice to his own fairytale, the love of the full-of-life Fiona Sawyer. That being so, that fairytale was torn away when Fiona died of a brain tumor leaving Prentice with a house to keep clean, piles of laundry to be done, a business to run and two children who were getting tired of takeaway.

But Isabella comes back to Prentice’s tiny fishing town and she sweeps into his children’s lives like a beautiful, well-dressed fairy godmother who bakes exquisite chocolate cakes and gives the perfect manicure to six year old girls. Then Prentice finds out Isabella’s soul destroying secrets, secrets that explain why she left him so many years ago.

Fiona, stuck in her village and forced to haunt her family and watch Prentice and Isabella’s crazy dance, finds the impossible happening. She’s cheering for Bella and Prentice to rekindle their love. Then she finds out why she’s caught in her heartbreaking haunting and discovers she must embrace her magic and keep Bella safe or Bella’s fairytale will never come true.

My thoughts...

I really am too torn-up, emotionally, to write a coherent review, so I'll just leave you with my rambling thoughts -

~I have never cried so hard from tears that are both tragic and beautiful.

~I have never loved a first wife as much as I love the second wife, but Fee ... I am in love with Fiona, and equally as in love with Elle.

~I've never read a story that made me want to believe, desperately, in reincarnation. I want this because Fiona is incredible and I want her to somehow - anyhow - have a life not cut short. A life filled with love and laughter and passion and Every. Single. Good. Thing that life has to offer.

~I adore Jason and Sally, so much. So very much. And Prentice, there are no words to describe my love and respect and admiration for this man.

~I'm not sure I'll ever recover from this story. I'm not sure I'll ever want to.  


Monday, March 23, 2015

The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries by Neil deGrasse Tyson (Narrator)

Neil deGrasse Tyson is absolutely brilliant narrating this set of lectures in Audible's The Great Courses series. His excitement for these unsolved mysteries is apparent and that made me even more fascinated by what I was learning. It was nice to be able listen to a single lecture, then not have to recap when I started listening again because these lectures are topic-unrelated to each other.

Overall, my favorite part of The Inexplicable Universe: Unsolved Mysteries, is getting the behind the scenes scoop on how some of our greatest discoveries were made, and why some of our most thought provoking questions remain unanswered.

This is a must listen for anyone who finds themselves looking at the world around them and wondering...

Blurb...

Everything we now know about the universe - from the behavior of quarks to the birth of galaxies - has come from people who've been willing to ponder the unanswerable. And with the advent of modern science, great minds have turned to testing and experimentation rather than mere thought as a way of grappling with some of the universe's most vexing dilemmas.

So what is our latest picture of some of the most inexplicable features of the universe? What still remains to be uncovered and explored by today's scientists?

"We know a lot about the universe. But there's even more that we don't know," says astrophysicist and professor Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, an award-winning lecturer, and one of the world's foremost experts on the secrets of the universe. This course, which has been honored with a 2013 Telly Award for Outstanding Educational Program, features six self-contained lectures that transport you on a marvelous journey to the frontiers of the known (and unknown) universe and introduce you to tantalizing questions being addressed by the world's top scientists. Engaging and fascinating, this lecture series is a wonderful entrée to scientific pursuits that lie at the very heart of the history and nature of our universe.

Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.