Showing posts with label Linda Lael Miller. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Linda Lael Miller. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Review: He's The One with Linda Lael Miller, Jill Shalvis, Lucy Monroe, Kate Angell, Cat Johnson

He's The One is a contemporary romance anthology with short, sweet, sexy stories about finding him, the one. This book is perfect for the beach or a vacation because you can read one short story, put the book down, go have a good time, and get back to another story later on. Not all the stories and authors worked for me personally, but there's something here for everyone.

I have two personal favorites beginning with No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service by Kate Angell. Angell scores high with me by focusing her sexy romance on one couple from her already established Barefoot Williams world. I found this short story to be truly romantic, high on the sensuality scale, with a wonderful happy ending and an absolutely gorgeous summer atmosphere that really fits this anthology.

My other favorite is Fish Out of Water by Cat Johnson. Cat Johnson's contribution won me at "hello," or as soon as the handsome but rather nerdy and brilliant English professor was introduced. I love how passions run deep and wild once he meets his "cowgirl." She sees more under his pink polo shirt and lack of fishing/camping experience, and he sees more than the "cowgirl" trappings as they take each other for the ride of their lives. This is a sexy summer read that kept me engaged from beginning to end.

Less enthralling, yet still good enough for me, is Jill Shalvis' Captivated. In this novella, the married protagonists meet at their vacation cottage under highly unusual circumstances just after she serves him with divorce papers. This is a "hot, hot" signature Shalvis piece with chemistry between the couple, great atmosphere and a beautiful summer setting. On the minus side, there is a forced quality to the set up or unusual set of circumstances and the ending is a bit "over-the-top."

Seducing Tabby by Lucy Monroe comes in on the average side with a story about a gorgeous Englishman who sets his rather possessive sights on a curvaceous beauty who believes men only approach her to gather information about her classically gorgeous sister. This story begins with a great premise, but it doesn't quite deliver. It has a nice, slow, non-sexual seduction that I enjoyed, with sexual tension used to build up the relationship. However, for some reason, his quick claims of "love" feel more calculated than passionate, and the end is rushed and rather predictable.

The one short story that didn't really work for me is Batteries Not Required by Linda Lael Miller. In this romance a woman returns to a town where she lived years ago for a very short period of time and as soon as her feet hit the ground she meets the old boyfriend she ran away from. Things get moving and shaking between the two in the blink of an eye despite the rather superficial misunderstanding that kept them apart for years. Years when they "thought about each other" every so often. This romance and its quick, improbable happy ending felt wrong from the beginning and fell flat for me in the end.

As you can see, I liked some novellas more than others in the He's The One anthology, but the one winning factor they all have in common is the summer theme. I like that the settings for the romances are different, yet they all fit the theme perfectly. Our couples find love in a diner on a boardwalk, while on a fishing trip to a lake, stranded on a beautiful Mexican beach, discovering each other in a small coastal town, and meeting again in the beautiful west. All of these places help give this anthology that wonderful feel of sunshine, warm summer breezes and well... summer love.

Category: Contemporary Romance/Anthology
Series: None
Publisher: Kensington Books
Source: Kensington
Grade: B-

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Review: At Home in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller

Everyone in Ashley O'Ballivan's life is marrying and starting families—except her. But what date can compare to Jack McCall, the man who broke her heart years ago?And now he's mysteriously back. But he isn't who she thinks he is.

After a dangerous mission working for the DEA, security expert Jack McCall rents a room in Ashley's bed-and-breakfast. For her sake, he must keep his distance. But his feelings for her are so powerful that only his heart remains off-limits. To protect her—from his enemies and himself—he has to leave…vowing to fight his way home to her and Stone Creek forever.

It has been a long time since I read a Linda Lael Miller book. At Home in Stone Creek is a Silhouette Special Edition and it is the third book in the O'Ballivan's family series. There are four siblings, Olivia, Brad, Ashley and Melissa. I'm not sure if because this book is part of a series I missed something along the way, but the story involving Jack and Ashley seemed pretty self-contained.

Jack and Ashley have known and been involved with each other since their college days. Jack has been in and out of Ashley's life throughout the years, basically without any real explanation. It's obvious when the story begins that Ashley is in love with Jack, but he disappeared again 8 months before in the middle of the night without saying goodbye. She hasn't heard a word from him during all that time and she's pretty depressed. Ashley is also depressed due to a recent loss in the family and she's emotionally at odds with her siblings over that loss.

Jack suddenly returns to Stone Creek from what we learn was a "mission." He is suffering from high fevers after being shot with an unknown toxin and is almost incoherent. All Jack wants is to be close to Ashley so he can either die or recover at her B&B. Ashley takes him in and soon, after some incredibly fast recovery, they are back at having a relationship again. A relationship her siblings are not happy with, especially since Jack has a dangerous drug lord after him. The storyline gets further complicated by Jack's past, Ashley's family interference, Jack's health and even Jack's family.

In At Home in Stone Creek the loving between Ashley and Jack is sweet and I believed they did love each other. There is also a sense of family that permeates the story. Both Ashley and Jack's families appear in the book and as secondary characters they provide depth to the story. However, I had some major problems with this book.

Ashley is a twin and she is obviously the one without the grit in the family. I kept waiting for her to show some gumption along the way, but I'm afraid it never happened. Ashley was one of those heroines who lets herself be steamrolled by the hero, her family and just about anyone who comes along. Her siblings hurt her feelings, but she doesn't say anything. Her brother Brad makes decisions regarding her relationship with Jack and although upset, Ashley goes along. Jack makes decisions for her, lies to her and she doesn't get upset -- she understands. I was more than a little frustrated with Ashley's character.

My problem with the heroine alone is enough for this book to have been a disappointment. However, Jack was not my favorite hero either. He actually never really explained himself to Ashley truthfully. He gave her only what he thought he could give her, made decisions for her throughout the story and that's not something that changed. There's also a side story about Jack and his family that made him into quite the unsympathetic hero for me. I won't say what he did, but I don't know if I would have forgiven him so easily.

At Home in Stone Creek was a book with some good points, but not a great read for me personally. Grade C-

Other books in the O'Ballivan series:
* McKettrick's Way (Brad & Meg's story)
* A Stone Creek Christmas (Olivia & Tanner's story)

See list of books in the Stone Creek series here. Visit the author here.

ETA: McKettrick's Way as the first book in the series. I finally found the book's title. :)