Showing posts with label Beth Andrews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Beth Andrews. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

TBR Review: Unraveling the Past by Beth Andrews

June's theme for the TBR Challenge is books by RITA Award winners or nominees. Believe it or not, this was a tough category for me. I had more books in my TBR by RITA Award winners and/or nominees than expected and couldn't decide whose book to read! Then with Father's Day on Sunday, my time to decide ran out, so I chose a short book, Unraveling the Past by Beth Andrews. However, that was such a quick read that I found time to pick up His Wife for One Night by Molly O'Keefe, and Stand In Wife by Karina Bliss -- both really enjoyable reads too! This always happens to me when I pick up a Harlequin Romance, I can't stop at one! The good news? I cleared out three books from my TBR in one great swoop! But, going back to my TBR review, here it is:

Unraveling the Past by Beth Andrews (RITA Award Winner 2010 for A Not-So-Perfect Past)

This story is the beginning of a series about the Sullivan sisters, Layne, Tori, and Nora. This book covers a romance for the eldest sister, Layne, introduces the Sullivan family, and much more.

I found Unraveling the Past to be a bit ambitious. It has a romance at the center of the story, but the focus is stretched thin as Andrews also incorporates a cold case murder mystery connected to the Sullivan family. Along with the mystery and developing romance, there is a storyline about the hero's teenage niece. Jess has some serious mommy issues that parallel Layne's. Issues having to do with abandonment and neglect that lead both characters to doubt or not accept love when it is freely given. Mind you, I think that Andrews ties these threads together well. The mystery is used to bring the hero and heroine together, and the niece's issues allow the heroine to see her own, however as a result, the romance suffers from lack of focus -- the niece's thread in particular takes a lot of that focus away from the romance.

The hero of this piece Chief of Police Ross Taylor finds himself caught in a rather awkward situation. His attitude about justice and discipline is black and white, leaving little wiggle room for human error or understanding. This attitude makes the relationship with his troubled teenage niece a nightmare, and his attraction for Assistant Chief Layne Sullivan further complicates matters, particularly while the murder investigation takes place. Ross is not the most sensitive of men and a rather frustrating character until almost the very end. Layne is an accomplished woman with a strong personality she utilizes to hide secrets and vulnerable spots.

The initial relationship between Ross and Layne is hostile and prickly with an underlying attraction that neither acknowledges. As the story moves along, the attraction grows until once together, Ross and Layne steam up the sheets and then some! The deep feelings for each other, the love, needed a bit more cooking in order to work for me. What I did like very much is Andrews' handling of the storyline about Ross' niece Jess. Ross is irritating when unbending, but I found myself liking his very real frustrations with a troubled teenager in this novel -- he was very human in those moments. The love and care behind his irritating reactions to his niece, and his willingness to do what is right made me care for Ross.

It is unfortunate that the two sisters as secondary characters are not likable or interesting enough to make me run and buy their romances. However, I would love to find out if Andrew Sullivan and Ross' niece Jess end up together in the future, and of course, who doesn't want to know the resolution to a murder mystery? I want to know if I'm right in guessing whodunit!

June 2013 - Lovely RITA 
Category: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Truth About the Sullivans, #1
Publisher/Release Date: Harlequin/June 1, 2012
Grade: B-

Visit Beth Andrews here.

ETA: CLARIFICATION NOTE: My review is of a book by a RITA award winning author. This book by Beth Andrews did not win a RITA.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Minis: Three Harlequin SuperRomances by Beth Andrews

During the last year I've been on the look out for new category romance authors to add to my list of old favorites. Recently, Wendy mentioned A Not-So-Perfect Past by Beth Andrews as a book she recommended and after doing a bit of research I decided to read the following three books by this author.

The following three SuperRomances by Beth Andrews are all related, although they can all be read as standalone books. They are all set in the small town of Serenity Springs. The protagonists from all three books are related to each other -- brothers and sisters. With the exception of two characters, our protagonists are introduced in the first book. 

Not Without Her Family
She claims she has to make things right... It's nothing but trouble for Jack Martin, chief of police, when Kelsey Reagan blows into town. Her ex-con brother just became the prime suspect in a murder, and this reformed bad girl vows to prove he's innocent. She even blames herself for her brother's jail record for her brother's convicted crime.
And now Jack's precocious young daughter is beginning to idolize Kelsey.

But an error in judgment nearly cost the widowed cop his career once; he's never going to let that happen again. Not even for a gorgeous troublemaker like Kelsey.

Kelsey's a former bad girl and comes to Serenity Springs to make peace with her brother Dillon. She has a past history of making mistakes and is here trying to make things right with the only family she has left. The first person she meets when she blows into town is Chief of Police Jack Martin and he's one suspicious man, never mind that he's gorgeous.  Jack can't help but drool over the woman he finds at his sister's bar while it's unattended, but he's a cop and no easy target, even when later the attraction turns out to be mutual.When Kelsey turns out to be Dillon's sister, the only ex-con in town, and Dillon becomes the suspect in a murder, Jack suspects that Kelsey will use their attraction to sway his good judgment.  He's a widower and a single father and can't afford to make mistakes that will affect his daughter or his career.

Not Without Her Family is a story full of suspicions and self-doubt. Both Jack and Kelsey have baggage and their vulnerabilities are explored in this story. As a cop, Jack used bad judgment once before and he's afraid that Kelsey might influence his actions while investigating the murder. Kelsey on the other hand has good reasons to distrust cops, is not the motherly type or ready for a commitment -- she has a tendency to run when things get hot and heavy. Dillon (A Not-So-Perfect Past), who is introduced in this story, is a brooding and bitter character who doesn't even want to see or talk to Kelsey. The scenes between the brother and sister are tense and heartbreaking.

I enjoyed some of this book and characters. The murder investigation was well developed and taken to a good conclusion. However, by the end of this book, I wasn't really sure that Kelsey was ready for a stable, committed relationship with a man, least of all with a single father. Although I enjoyed part of the storyline, I thought her character and the relationship between Jack and Allie needed a bit more development to make this story complete. Grade C+

Other Reviews:
Dear Author


A Not-So-Perfect Past 
Nina Carlson knows all about Dillon Ward. Knows he served time in prison. Knows nobody put out the welcome mat when he moved to Serenity Springs. But that doesn't stop her from renting him a place to live. And when someone crashes into her bakery, he's just the man to fix the damage.

And Nina isn't the only one who thinks Dillon's the perfect man for the job: her two kids have taken a shine to him. Still, she can't afford to get close to Dillon, even if he is tempting her to toss out her goodgirl shoes. Because it's not that she doesn't trust him. It's that she doesn't trust herself.

A Not-So-Perfect Past, is Dillon's story. He's Kelsey's (Not Without Her Family) brother and an ex-convict who did time for murdering his step-father. After living and working as a freelance carpenter in Serenity Springs for a few years, his only friend is Allison Martin (A Secret Agenda). And after being accused of a murder, he has become a pariah and no one in town is hiring. When his beautiful landlady Nina Carlson asks him to vacate the premises above her bakery, Dillon has had enough and decides to leave town. Nina a divorced mother with two children, allows her ex-husband and family to influence her actions and to avoid a confrontation with them, asks Dillon to move out. But when a young man crashes his fosterparents' truck into the bakery, Nina asks Dillon's help and he comes through for her.

This was actually a wonderful book and even though Dillon is introduced in the first book of this series, it stands alone quite well. As a male protagonist, Dillon was well developed and I liked him from the beginning. He broods and is clearly traumatized by his past experiences, as the story goes along his vulnerabilities are slowly exposed and his tenderness, loyalty, passion and love come shining through. I loved seeing this character unfold and grow with the story.

Nina on the other hand grew on me as the story developed. She's a woman who has no self-esteem and lets her family and ex-husband run all over her -- a frustrating situation at the beginning of the story. However as with Dillon's character, there's marked growth in her character by the end of the story and I was quite happy with her development.

This was a wonderful couple that had a lot to overcome and they did it very well. Some of the secondary characters were better developed than others. I especially enjoyed seeing Kelsey and witnessing a final resolution to some of the questions I had in Not Without Her Family. This book had a beautiful ending and I can see why it came highly recommended. Grade B+

Other Reviews:
Wendy - The Good, The Bad and The Unread
KristieJ - Ramblings On Romance


His Secret Agenda 
Dean Garret is about to break the number one rule of undercover work. And it's all because his new "boss" is as pretty as a professional cheerleader and has a do-gooder's heart. Who can resist that combination? Still, Dean suspects Allison Martin is hiding something behind her dazzling smile. That something being the runaway mother and son he's been hired to find.

To get the job done, he needs to gain Allie's trust. Only, the lawyer-turned-bar-owner isn't cooperating. But she can't remain immune to his good ol' boy charm and sexy drawl forever. Because Dean never fails. And he'll do anything to solve a case. Even if it means he has to break all the rules.
His Secret Agenda focuses on Allison Martin, Jack Martin's sister. She is first introduced in Not Without Her Family, but as Dillon's best friend, her character makes appearances in all three stories.

Allison is an attorney who gave up her practice in New York City to run a Bar and Grill in Serenity Springs. No one knows exactly why she gave up her successful career and although they suspect there are deeper reasons for her actions, they accept her brief explanations that she needed a change. However, her past is about to come back to haunt her when good 'ole boy Dean Garrett blows into town. Dean was hired to do a job and getting close to Allison is the only way to it. He's used to using his charm to get his way, but he has never broken the rules. But as the tension builds and times goes by, the sizzling attraction between the two makes this a tougher assignment than he thought possible.

Now here's a relationship built on lies. Allison is known to be a soft touch, she hires people who are in need instead of those who are qualified. Dean suspects Allison broke the law when she was an attorney, and he needs her help to find his quarry. However instead of asking her directly, he goes undercover and as he falls for her, proceeds to have a relationship with her built on lies and deception. Allison, makes mistakes in judgment and refuses to accept them along the way throughout this story. She also lies to her friends and family.

I initially liked both Allie and Dean, but frankly after a while I didn't love either one of them. Although these two have some great sizzling moments and I enjoyed the sexual tension and build up between them, in the end there's little room left to sympathize with these characters. There's no real change in Allie by the end of the story -- she continues to show poor judgment and only sees the consequences when they are pointed out to her by others, and she never comes clean with her family. Although Dean has reasons for his deception and he did show some personal growth along the way, the timeline was so quick that I thought this story didn't feel complete. The "happily ever after" felt rushed and abrupt without too many insights and the forgiveness and realizations didn't feel real to me.

I did enjoy revisiting with the secondary characters Dillon, Kelsey and Jack. Especially Dillon, who as Allie's best friend plays a good part in this story. His Secret Agenda was an average read for me. Grade C

Other Reviews:
Wendy - The Good, The Bad and The Unread

Visit RITA Award Winning Author Beth Andrews here.