Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Midnight Thunder by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Thunder Mountain Ranch was the only place cowboy Cade Gallagher had ever called home. But after he and Lexi Simmons broke each others’ hearts, he left it behind, along with his foster family. Since then, Cade has drifted, looking for something—anything—to call home. Until a call from Lexi changes everything.
Cade has been gone too long. His foster mother is hospitalized, and the ranch is in deep financial trouble. Yet even as his world crumbles, Cade’s hunger for Lexi is almost as tangible as the taste  of her lips and the way her body fits deliciously against his. It’s bittersweet surrender. But Lexi isn’t the girl she used to be, and she’s determined to have the hot cowboy in her bed only if she keeps him out of her heart.

Title: Midnight Thunder | Series: Midnight Thunder Brotherhood #1 | Author: Vicki Lewis Thompson | Publisher: Harlequin Blaze | Category: Passion | Release Date: June 2015 | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: MLM Media Relations | Rating: 4

I love a good reunion romance. When the hero and heroine have a past it makes the chemistry so much more intense and exciting. And the chemistry in Midnight Thunder was so intense and exciting I couldn’t put the book down.
Here’s what’s going on. When Cade Gallagher discovers that his foster mother has been hospitalized nothing will stop him from returning to Thunder Mountain Ranch. Not even the spooked horse he’s rescued, the cat that stowed away, or Lexi Simmons—the girl whose heart he broke when he left five years ago.
While Lexi isn’t the same girl he left behind, Cade still finds her every bit as attractive. And Lexi is more than willing to share his bed but she’s not going to risk giving him her heart again.
Lexi and Cade were so intense. It was obvious from the start that they were still madly in love with each other. Although five years ago, Cade wasn’t ready for commitment and Lexi wanted to settle down. Now, Cade’s ready to commit and Lexi’s become her own woman.
I really liked Cade. He’s a hero that’s utterly swoon-worthy. He’s kind and caring and more than willingly to protect those around him. Cade was foster child, and I have read so many books where those in the foster system become these bitter, angry people who hate the world and everyone in it, so it was a fresh change to see a well-rounded hero who had been a former foster child.
Cade made familial bonds with his foster parents as well as Finn and Damon (who along with Cade formed the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood when they were teens). Even though he has a few issues to work out, he really was a solid hero.
I’m a bit on the fence about Lexi. I liked her to a point, but she drove me bat crap crazy. I really didn’t care for the way she acted like Cade was pushing her into things when in their past relationship it was Lexi who was doing things she thought would please him.
She had this whole ‘I’m not that girl anymore’ thing going on whenever Cade offered her a future with him—and I know there were a few personal issues that Cade had to deal with, but it felt like she was pushing his commitment away because he rejected her offer five years go. If it wasn’t for the fact I knew she was head over heels in love with Cade, I would have wrote her off as a lost cause.
One thing I loved about this book was that it set up the Thunder Mountain Brotherhood series brilliantly and hooked me in. I have to know what’s going on with Damon and Finn and whether or not Thunder Mountain Ranch can be saved.
Overall, I liked this book. The pacing was steady, the characters were brilliant—even though I wanted to slap Lexi a few times—, and I loved the way Cade, Finn, and Damon went gaga over the cat that stowed away in Cade’s truck.

Bon Appétit & a Book:
Vicki Lewis Thompson’s Mushroom-Tuna Casserole

Rosie Padgett, foster mom to the guys when they lived on the ranch, cooked hearty but budget-minded food for her boys and they have fond memories of her tuna casserole.  This is a traditional recipe that serves six but could be doubled or tripled as needed.
2 cans tuna fish
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 1-pound can of peas
¼ cup chopped onions
1 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 cup crushed potato chips
Drain tuna; flake.  In a large bowl combine soup, peas, onion and Worchestershire Sauce.  Blend in tuna fish and cheese.  Pour mixture into a greased casserole and top with potato chips.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until bubbly.

A romance writing career has brought Vicki Lewis Thompson many wonderful things –New York Times bestseller status, an appearance on LIVE with Regis and Kelly, the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award from Romance Writers of America, thousands of readers, many dear friends, and the cutest little yellow convertible in the world. Her career has also given her work she loves. Although she’s written more than 100 books, she continues to be fascinated by the many ways that a man and woman fall in love. The age-old story remains a challenging puzzle to be solved anew with each book. That makes her a very lucky person, indeed.
Social Networking Links:

Monday, June 29, 2015

Pursued by the Rich Rancher by Catherine Mann

Single mom Nina Lowery has never understood the sex appeal of cowboys. Until she brings her son to a weeklong horse camp and meets the wealthy rancher in charge. Seduction isn't part of Alex McNair's plan to earn his piece of his family's estate. Yet plans have a way of changing. Nina and her little boy hold the key to Alex's future. Breaking the promise he made to his dying grandmother is not an option but neither is breaking Nina's heart.
Title: Pursued by the Rich Rancher | Series: Diamond in the Rough #2 | Author: Catherine Mann | Publisher: Harlequin Desire | Category: Passion | Release Date: June 2015 | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: MLM Media Relations | Rating: 4   
Pursued By The Rich Rancher was a cute little romance with a few heavier points added in.
Nina Lowery is a single mother to a four-year-old who has autism. She’s struggled with her in-laws over how to care for her son so when she receives a brochure for weeklong cowboy camp for special needs children, she jumps at the chance to allow her son to explore a world that he loves. Nina has never seen the appeal of cowboys, but the first one she encounters seems to have caught her eye.
To earn his part of the family estate, Alex McNair must figure out a way to retrieve the shares of Hidden Gem ranch. Although he never thought the woman and little boy he met on the first day of camp would be the ones to hold his future. So he’s more than a little conflicted because he wants Nina but he also wants to secure the future of Hidden Gem.
Given the task that Alex had, this book could have gone either way for me. He could have come off as a complete and utter tosser, but thankfully, I really liked Alex. I liked that he was conflicted over what he had to do. I also liked that he put Cody’s needs before his own.
I liked Nina. She’s a brilliant mother who only wants what’s best for her son, but some of her actions just felt a little rushed. I think that had to do with how short the book was.
Alex and Nina’s chemistry was nice. It was obvious that they were attracted to each other from the start, but they kept it slow and steady.
This is the second book in Catherine Mann’s Diamonds In The Rough series and while I would eventually like to go back read the first book, I don’t feel that I missed anything but not having read it.
Overall, I liked this book. It was fast-paced and easy to fall into. It would make a perfect beach read.
I will say that I wished this book had a different cover. I think a horse would have been better suited than a dog.
Bon Appétit & a Book:
Catherine Mann’s Sweet Tea
What’s your favorite recipe?
Sweet tea! I’m Southern, after all. And the recipe is so simple.
6-8 large tea bags
3-4 cups sugar (or your low calorie sweetener of choice)
Lemon (optional)
Mint leaves (optional)
Get a gallon drink dispenser. Place 6-8 large tea bags in the container. Place the lid on top with the tags dangling out. Set the container in the window sill all day. At the end of the day, pull out the tea bags. Add 3-4 cups or sugar (or your low calorie sweetener of choice) and refrigerate. Especially yummy if add lemon slices or mint leaves.


USA Today bestseller Catherine Mann has books in print in more than 20 countries with Desire, Romantic Suspense, HQN and other Harlequin lines. A six-time RITA finalist, she has won both the RITA and the Bookseller's Best Awards. Catherine resides in Florida with her aviator husband, their four children and a menagerie of pets.

Social Networking Links:

So, lovelies, what’s your favorite way to make sweet tea?
 I’m not one for sugar in my tea, but I do love adding mint and lemon

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Colton Cowboy Protector by Beth Cornelison

A beautiful stranger appears at the Colton ranch during a party, and Jack is none too pleased. With ties to his ex-wife, Tracy McCain claims to be on a mission to bond with his son. But this intriguing widow also has a target on her back. As the Colton family brings Tracy under its broad wing, a relentless assassin puts everyone in jeopardy. Jack's protective instincts go into overdrive and only fuel his secret attraction to Tracy. Living closely together under Jack's roof, the heat between them starts to sizzle. In fact, the only thing stronger than Jack's heady desire for Tracy is his will to keep her safe so that one day they can become a family.
Title: Colton Cowboy Protector | Series: The Coltons of Oklahoma | Author: Beth Cornelison | Publisher: Harlequin Romantic Suspense | Release Date: June 2015 | Genre: Contemporary Romance/Suspense | Source: MLM Media | Rating: 4

Wanting to connect with her only living relative, her cousin’s young son, Tracy McCain packs up and heads to the Colton ranch. Jack Colton’s ex walking out on him and his son has made him leery of woman, so when Tracy comes in hopes of bonding with Seth, Jack’s more than a little suspicious and hesitant to let her into their lives.
Although when a hitman sets his sights on Tracy, Jack’s urge to protect her has him questioning the reason behind it.
This one was a bit different from what I’ve been reading, so it was a nice change of pace to be reading romantic suspense.
I could completely understand why Tracy wanted to get to know Seth, but there were times when I thought she was overstepping. Jack would tell her not to tell Seth something and she said she wasn’t going to lie if he asked her. That kind of drove me insane the way she seemed to want to defy Jack when it came to Seth.
Jack was a likable character. There was so much more to his character and I love it when a character surprises me.

Overall, I really liked the plot although parts of it rambled a bit. The romance was sweet, the suspense intriguing yet disappointing in a sense. While the someone’s-after-Tracy plotline was resolved, there were so many threads left dangling that it drove me mad. Although when it comes to these types of series romances, dangling threads are often the case. And I have to say, I will definitely be picking up the next book.

Bon Appétit & a Book:
Beth Cornelison’s Texas Bean Dip

Here’s a favorite recipe with a Texas flair! I can easily imagine Jack Colton and his brothers sitting down to watch the Dallas Cowboys play football with a big dish of this hot dip and a cold beer.
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 cans (16 ounces, each) refried beans
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
2 cups Monterey jack cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together cream cheese and sour cream in a large bowl. Mix in refried beans until combined. Stir in taco seasoning.
Spray a 9x13 baking pan with cooking spray. Spread mixture evenly into the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the top with both cheeses.
Bake for 25 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and slightly browned. Serve with tortilla chips.

Award-winning author Beth Cornelison has been writing stories since she was a child. A University of Georgia graduate, Cornelison worked in Public Relations before becoming a full-time writer. She has won many honors for her writing, including the coveted Golden Heart, awarded by the Romance Writers of America. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and son
Social Networking Links:

Thanks so much for sharing your recipe, Beth.
 I cannot wait to try this one.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sharp Shootin' Cowboy by Victoria Vane

Weary warrior... After eight years as a Marine sniper, war-scarred Reid Everett is back in his native Wyoming. He knows and loves this rugged land, so working for wildlife services to reduce the booming wolf population suits him to a T.
Caring crusader... Wildlife biologist Haley Cooper is desperate to make a difference. Leaving the world of academia behind, she accepts a position as a wolf advocate to protect the animals she loves.
Raw attraction... Their jobs set them on a collision course, but chemistry sparks like wildfire between Reid and Haley. They'll have to brave some rough territory if they hope to reconcile their polarizing views with a passion that won't be denied.
Title: Sharp Shootin' Cowboy | Author: Victoria Vane | Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca | Release Date: June 2, 2015 | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: DNF

I’ve really enjoyed Victoria Vane’s Hot Cowboy Nights series up until now. Sharp Shootin’ Cowboy just did not work for me and I ended up stopping at 29%.
I really liked the hero. Reid was a sturdy sort and, honesty, he was the only reason this book wasn’t dropped from the very start. I thought if I would focus on Reid, I’d be able to finish the book, but that wasn’t the case.
The heroine was just too much for me. Really, if I wasn’t reading this on my Kindle, I so would have chucked the book against the wall. I just could not stand her. She was the type of heroine that if Reid said it was raining outside, Haley (although she was dripping wet) would say it was a dry, sunny day.
I truly loathed Haley from the start and she got worse as the book went on. I really should have stopped reading when Haley learned of a military assault where Reid was stationed then told Yolanda, her friend, ‘They knew what they were getting into, Yo.”… “It is war, and they volunteered for it.”
That just made me ill because I know what it feels like to have someone you care about stationed in a warzone.  I know what it feels like to see it on the news then wait frantically for an email or phone call to see if your loved one survived. So nothing turns me off of a novel faster than a person like Haley.
You know, I normally like a chalk and cheese relationship between the hero and heroine it adds to the chemistry but I think that Vane was trying way too hard to make conflict between Haley and Reid and in the end, Haley just came off as an annoying cow.
Overall, Haley just did not work for me. I’m not overly fond of characters that are antimilitary or hyped up activists. They just rub me the wrong way. The novel had potential but the heroine ruined it.

So, lovelies, what rubs you the wrong way in a book?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Three River Ranch by Roxanne Snopek

Needing a fresh start from her two-timing fiancé, Aurora McAllister answers a realtor's ad for a guesthouse on the beautiful, serene Three River Ranch. She shows up at Three River tired, heartbroken, and with no one but her trusty Labradoodle as a companion.
Cowboy Carson Granger has enough trouble in his life without adding a woman and her dog to the mix. There's the untamed mustang he's prepping to release into the wild, not to mention his father's crazy will, which stipulates that if Carson wants to fully inherit Three River, he'll need to find a bride. Carson wants nothing to do with love and especially not a marriage of convenience. But he soon realizes Rory, and everything she represents, might just be exactly what he needs.
Sometimes love arrives on your doorstep when you least expect it...
Title: Three River Ranch | Series: Three River Ranch | Author: Roxanne Snopek | Publisher: Entangled Bliss | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Purchased | Rating: 4

Other than a few trust/commitment issues, nothing really happened although this was still a cute little romance.
Rory is pregnant and needing a fresh start so when she spots a realtor’s ad for Granger Lodge located on Three Rivers Ranch, she jumps at the chance to rent the place. Although as it turns out, Granger Lodge is more of a dump than the perfect place she had been promised.
All Carson Granger wants to do is save wild mustangs, but thanks to a codicil in his father’s will, if he wants to keep Three Rivers Ranch, he has to marry. As if that wasn’t complicated enough, Carson just discovered that the ‘assistant’ his father lawyer has ‘hired’ to help with his mustang project is actually a mother-to-be who has rented the dump he grew up in.
Carson knows he can’t allow Rory to live in that place and soon they enter into agreement, she can live in the main house as long as she helps him with his paperwork. Although Carson, who has decided to turn his back on love, finds himself falling for Rory.
This was a really quick read. It had a few quirky side characters Bliss and Blythe but the story really was focused on Carson and Rory.
I liked Rory to a point. She needs to find stability. A place where she can focus on her child’s birth and move on from the fact the man she thought she’d be with has turned his back on her. Although she seems to have found what she needed, she’s constantly thinking about where she can move on to once the baby’s born and that was a bit annoying.
There could have been so much more to Carson if only the author would have expanded on some issues. And instead of having him to talk to Rory about these issues, they were kept in his head and it drove me nuts because these were the issues that made Carson who he was and I would have loved to have seen them explored.
Overall, I liked it. I think there could have been more to their story, but it was still an enjoyable little read.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The Best Man's Baby by Victoria James

Florist Claire Holbrook has always played by the rules her entire life, but breaks them to spend one night with sexy lone wolf Jake Manning, a man she’s adored since she was a teenager. Six weeks later, things get complicated when she discovers they created a bond that will last a lifetime
Jake has never played by the rules. Getting Minister Holbrook’s daughter pregnant wasn’t part of any life plan, but he won’t run from his responsibilities. He’ll step up and be the best man he can, even if he doesn’t have a clue where to begin. The more time he spends with Claire, though, the more he wants her, and the harder it is to get close, because that would mean sharing the one thing he hasn’t with anyone–the truth and his heart.
Title: The Best Man's Baby | Series: Red River #2 | Author: Victoria James | Publisher: Bliss: an imprint of Entangled | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Purchased | Rating: 4

So, I’ve had The Best Man’s Baby on my Kindle for at least a year or two and finally decided to give it a go. When I purchased it, I think it was an impulse buy, you know how the 1-click order thing goes. Although I’m pleased to say, I really enjoyed it.
Claire Holbrook has had a crush on Jake Manning since high school. Although she’s a minister’s daughter who has lived her life playing by the rules, she’s ready and willing to break the rules to spend one night with Jake.
Jake knew he should never have left Claire after sleeping with her but things were getting complicated and Jake’s go to defense is to flee. Although when he discovers that Claire is pregnant, he’s determined to prove to her that he’s in it for the long haul.
I really liked how layered these characters were. They both have secrets—I’m not going to tell you what they are, you’ll have to find them out on your own—that have to be revealed before they can move on in their relationship. These were major issues and I’m really glad they had some depth to them rather than being flimsy. It gave it a more realistic feel.
Claire was an easy heroine to like. Even though she wanted Jake, she wasn’t willing to hop into a relationship just because she was pregnant by him. Although she did try to push Jake away, it wasn’t out of spite, it was more out of self-preservation. She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind and I really enjoyed that Claire had a snarky side.
Oh, Jake, poor guy. He was such a troubled soul. He’s carrying this huge secret around with him that he believes could change the way everyone in his life feels about him. It’s a secret that has to come out and the only person that knows about it is Claire’s dad.
I was really rooting for Jake. He was an easy character to care about and I really liked the way he decided to step up to plate when he found out that Claire was pregnant. He also wasn’t afraid to take the steps needed to ensure his child would be cared for in the future.
The chemistry between Claire and Jake was nice and I really enjoyed—even though they hopped into bed together at the start of the book—that they decided to get to know each other before jumping into a relationship.
I also enjoyed that this book was character driven and the secondary characters offered a nice support system to Claire and Jake without taking away from their story.
The pacing of the novel had a nice steady flow until the epilogue. I felt that the epilogue was rushed and the author was trying to jam in too much set up for the third book, which made it feel a bit disconnected.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I was thinking it was going to be a light and fluffy little romance and I was pleased to discover that it had some weighty issues. I always like it when a novel surprises me. Other than the rushed and disconnected epilogue, I found this one to be a pleasing little surprise and eventually I will get around to checking out the rest of the Red River series.

The Red River Series
A Risk Worth Taking #1
The Best Man’s Baby #2
The Doctor’s Fake Fiancée #3

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Brokedown Cowboy by Maisey Yates

There are lines best friends shouldn't cross, but in Copper Ridge, Oregon, the temptation might be too much…
If practice makes perfect, Connor Garrett should be world champion of being alone. Since losing his wife he's concentrated exclusively on his family's ranch. Until his dear friend Felicity Foster needs a place to stay and Connor invites her to move in temporarily. That's what friends do—and Liss is his rock. What friends don't do? Suddenly start fantasizing about each other in their underwear. Or out of it…
Since high school, Liss has kept her raging crush in check. Another few weeks should be a breeze. But helping Connor rebuild his life only reinforces how much she longs to be a part of it. One explosive encounter, and she'll discover that getting what you always wanted can feel better than you ever dreamed…
Title: Brokedown Cowboy | Series: Copper Ridge #2| Author: Maisey Yates | Publisher: HQN | Release Date: May 26, 2015 | Genre: Contemporary Romance | Source: Publisher | Rating: 4.5

So, I think I’m officially becoming addicted to Maisey Yates and her Copper Ridge Series. Brokedown Cowboy was funny, poignant, and simply brilliant.
Connor Garrett has been through hell. His wife died, his barn burnt down, and he’s been content to spend the last three years of his life in a bottle of Jack Daniels. He’s thrown everything he has left in to running his family’s ranch and he’s been living his life as a hermit until his best friend Liss needs a place to stay.
All Liss wants is for Connor to rebuild his life and she’s more than willing to help. Although living this close to the man she’s been in love with since she was a kid hasn’t been easy. It’s reawakened the feelings she tucked deep below the surface. And it seems her presents in Connor’s home has reawakened his life as well. While he’s more than willing to act on his urges, Connor’s not willing to admit his heart is also starting to reawaken.
I felt so bad for Connor. He’s a broken man and his fear of losing what he loves—what he cares about—has made it easy for him to throw in the towel and stop living. Yet he has this amazing friendship with Liss and it’s obvious to see that he loves her but he’s not willing to admit it to himself.
Connor could have been an easy character not to like. He’s grumpy, and broody, and occasionally comes off as caring about nothing and nobody. Although I found him highly likable and I wanted him to be able to give up the past the haunting him and move on. I truly enjoyed watching Connor get his life back on track.
I have to commend Liss for the patience she showed Connor. I was expecting her to tell him to get his arse up and enter the land of the living, and in a sense, she did, but she did it in a gentle way as one would when approaching a spooked horse. Liss hasn’t had the easiest of lives. Growing up she’s had to cater to other people and it’s made her believe her self-worth depends on her ability to help others.  
I really liked Liss. She knew she wanted Connor and she knew she was going to have to fight—and I mean really fight for him. Although she knew there a time when she would have to walk away and while it hurt, she wasn’t going to let Connor continue using her when she knew he had more to offer than what he was giving her.
This novel was so easy to fall into and I loved the way it continued from the first book without having a massive time gap between the two. I also loved the way all of the characters were present without taking away from Connor and Liss’s story.
Overall, Brokedown Cowboy was another great read in this brilliant series. Once again, Maisey Yates has created brilliant dialogue and realistically flawed characters that were very easy to fall in love with.
Brokedown Cowboy is the second book in the Copper Ridge series. While it would read as a standalone, I highly suggest that you read book one (Part Time Cowboy).

The Copper Ridge Series
.5 Shoulda Been A Cowboy: A Copper Ridge Novella
2 Brokedown Cowboy
3 Bad News Cowboy (out July 28)