Wednesday, July 29, 2009

"The Last Chance Cafe" by Linda Lael Miller

I'll admit, if a book does not totally grab me in the first few pages, then I am done. I like a good romance that I can sigh over and feel good while I'm reading it. "The Last Chance Cafe" did not grab me in those precious first few pages but I trudged on and boy am I glad I did!

Hallie O'Rourke, divorced mother of twin seven-year old girls is on the run. After the funeral of her beloved step-father, an ex-cop, she finds his secret files about the corruption that is going on in the local police department. When Hallie finds these, her creepy ex-husband shows up and demands that she hand it over to him. In a fit of panic, she runs. Literally. This was where my first problem was: how could a woman (and she not described as a marathon runner or being overly fit) grab the contents of the cash box, AND her twin girls, AND run to a pick up truck that is on the back of her step-father's property without being caught by this large man? It just didn't feel right as I read it. I mean, it would almost have to be comical with him running on a rake and it hitting him in the face - as it turns out, he gets caught in the clothes line. Okay...I GUESS it could happen but at that point I wasn't sure if I could continue. But I did and it got so much better!

Hallie's truck breaks down in a blizzard and she and her girls take refuge in the Last Chance Cafe. It's pretty much your side-of-the-road, small-town diner with all of the characters that go with it but within it Hallie meets Chance Qualtrough. He's a local cowboy who everyone knows and loves and he helps Hallie and her girls by giving them a house to house-sit and the owner of the diner gives Hallie a job waiting tables. It's nice how that all worked out, right? I didn't care that it all seemed that simple, the characters are wonderful and you actually feel Hallie's fear as she is running for her life and unsure who to trust. It turns out the the people of Primrose Creek are very trusting and at once she and her girls are welcomed but it is the growing attraction between she and Chance that seems to consume Hallie for a while. She knows that she can't stay in one place - she's unsure if her ex-husband has people looking for her or if anyone already knows where she is. The constant living-in-fear is slowly killing her!

As the relationship between she and Chance becomes physical and where she can see herself really loving this man, THAT'S when the ex re-enters the picture and brings the corruption storyline to an end. It was very chilling and very well written and I could not put it down! Seriously, I was working on my other blog WHILE reading!

I really enjoy a lot of Linda Lael Miller's work. I like that she doesn't just do the contemporary romance thing, she's got some historical's out there, as well. "The Last Chance Cafe" was a New York Times Best Seller back in 2002 and it still reads well today.

"White Hot" by Sandra Brown

Let me start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Sandra Brown. I have been reading her books for years. Although, if I can be totally honest, I kind of liked her true romance books of her earlier years better.

"White Hot" is really a thriller/mystery with a romantic story thrown in - and really, it is in my opinion, a sub-sub-plot. But even at that level, because of my love of Sandra Brown, I still categorize it in with contemporary romance. The story goes that Sayre Lynch goes home to her Louisiana town for the funeral of her younger brother. She has had nothing to do with her family in years - her family consisting of a tyrannical father and a self-absorbed older brother and her now deceased younger brother. Her brother's death was ruled a suicide and Sayre feels guilt because he had tried to call her only days earlier and she had refused his calls. Now to ease her guilt a bit, she goes home for the funeral with the sole intent of going there, paying her respects and leaving immediately.

Things don't go as planned.

As it turns out, the suicide story is not believable to the newest member of law enforcement in town and that pique's Sayre's curiosity. Add to that, Beck Merchant - the new lawyer working for her father -
and Sayre finds herself unable to leave until she has everything worked out: how her brother truly died and making her father pay for all of the corruption he has brought about in his life and his family's.

This is a page turner from beginning to end. Sayre and Beck's relationship really is secondary to the suicide and corruption stories but whenever they are on a page together ...WHEW! "White Hot" is yet another great Sandra Brown book and was written in 2004. If you see it on the library shelf and are looking for a good read, this fits the bill.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"Having the Billionaire's Baby" by Sandra Hyatt

As I said in my profile, I am an avid reader of the Silouette Desire line and have been for years. A friend once asked my what it was that I liked about them. See, she was a die-hard fan of the Harlequin Romance line and so she was curious as to what I found to be more exciting in the Desire line. For me, it's the pace. You tend to jump right in to the story, there's conflict, there's heat, there's romance, I mean to me, it has it all.

This month's title "Having the Billionaire's Baby" by Sandra Hyatt seems to be following the trend of late with the unplanned pregnancy plot. To me these are always predictable and yet always enjoyable. In this story, Callie Jamieson spends the night with a handsome man (aren't they always?) she meets at a wedding and then finds out the next morning that he is actually a new client of her PR firm! So naturally, what does one do in this case? She leaves. But that could not possibly be the end of their story, right?

Billionaire Nick Brunicadi finds her again a month later quite by accident and really barrels his way in to her life. Callie plays hard to get for a long time in this story and there is an annoying sub-plot going on that deals with Nick's sister and Callie's ex that had my just wanting to remove them from the story. They are important to the story but the sister in particular just annoyed me.

This was a good story. Sandra Hyatt has a way of getting on with the story and keeping it going so that you want to turn the page and see what happens. I look forward to seeing if she has any other books available.

"Married in Seattle" by Debbie Macomber

I am a fan of Debbie Macomber's work. Her stories are sweet with a touch of humor and deal with real life issues. "Married in Seattle" is two books in one but each with an identicle theme - marriages being arranged for the main character.

Now, I have read a LOT of Debbie Macomber's books and while there are some similar themes, I can't really recall any that were this similar and it kind of bummed me a little. The first story in the book is "First Comes Marriage." In this story, our main character is Janine and her beloved grandfather has chosen a husband for her. Of course she has no interest in marriage, nor does the intended groom, but through a series of comedic attempts at NOT being together, well... you'll have to read it for yourself to see the outcome!

Story number two is "Wanted: Perfect Partner." In this story, our heroine, Meg, finds herself on an un-wanted blind date that was arranged by her teenage daughter who placed a personal ad for her! This story most definitely was funny and at times I found myself laughing out loud. The game of will they?/won't they got a little tiresome at some points but again... of course there'll be a happy ending.

Both of these stories apparently were released separately back in the early to mid 1990's and just this year were released as a set in this one book. If you are a fan of Debbie Macomber's and are looking for a light and easy read, I highly recommend this one. I would imagine for such a gifted writer, that these two stories were a breeze to write.

I wonder if she chuckled at the typewriter as I did while I was reading?