Monday, May 16, 2011

"Her Little Secret, His Hidden Heir" by Heidi Betts

New from Harlequin Desire for June of 2011, "Her Little Secret, His Hidden Heir" by Heidi Betts is part of the Billionaires and Babies series.  Though all of the books in the series seem to tell the same story, they each manage just enough individuality that make them enjoyable reads.

Vanessa Mason needs to expand her bakery business and enlists the help of a local banker to help find her an investor.  Imagine her surprise when her ex-husband, Marcus Keller shows up!  As if seeing Marcus after being divorced for a year wasn't bad enough, Vanessa panics over keeping the infant son she bore him a secret.

At the time of their divorce when Vanessa found out she was pregnant, she did the right thing and contacted Marcus; his assistant, however, instructed her that Marcus had nothing to say to her and to not call again.  Heart broken and devastated, Vanessa leaves town and starts her life over, including opening a bakery with her aunt.  

Millionaire Marcus never got over Vanessa and after spending time with her again, AND their son, he realizes that maybe he was more to blame than he thought in the breakup of their marriage.  But when he tries his hardest to put his life back exactly where he wants it and on his terms, he sees the truth and has to let go of his anger towards Vanessa.

A great story, easy to read.  Heidi Betts is wonderful in this genre and I enjoy just about everything she writes.  This is a perfect fit for the Desire line and the Billionaires and Babies.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

"At His Majesty's Convenience" by Jennifer Lewis

I fell in love with Jennifer Lewis' books for the Desire line many, many years ago with her Wild in the...series.  Her latest, "At His Majesty's Convenience" is out for the Harlequin Desire June 2011 series.

Andi Blake has quit her job as personal assistant to King Jake Mondragon.  It isn't that she doesn't love her job, it's that she loves HIM!  Knowing that he must choose a bride soon, Andi decides that in order to save her sanity and protect her heart, she must leave his tiny country and return to the states and start her life over.

But fate had something else in mind...

On the night before her departure, not long after handing in her resignation, the King finds Andi dancing in the grass late at night with no memory of who she is!  Knowing that he didn't want Andi to leave and feeling the pressure of choosing a suitable bride, Jake does what he thinks is best for everyone:  he convinces Andi that she is his fiancee!

It doesn't take long for Andi's memory to come back but not before she spends the night in the king's arms and that makes for more problems once she remembers who she is!  Unwilling to trust Jake and even more unwilling to continue with the charade and marry him under false pretenses, Andi agrees to get through a big Independence Day celebration with Jake as his bride-to-be.  Jake decides that it is all the time he'll need to convince Andi to see his side of things and get her to agree to stay.

Andi wants a marriage based on love.  Jake needs a marriage to keep a promise to his country.  In the end, whose happy ending will prevail?

Jennifer Lewis tells a great story with strong minded characters that interact beautifully.  Her heroine's have a backbone and stand up for themselves and that makes them a pleasure to read about.  Add "At His Majesty's Convenience" to your Desire reads.  You'll enjoy it.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Dante's Honor-Bound Husband" by Day LeClaire

This was hinted at being the final book in the Dante Legacy series but if you read through to the end you'll see that that might not be the case...

I'm not going to lie to you, I have not been a huge fan of this series and "Dante's Honor Bound Husband" was most definitely not a favorite.  

Gianna Dante comes off as a bit bratty and whiny at times where our hero, Constantine Romano comes off as being a little stiff.  It's a lot of the chase here and most of the Dante stories were passionate from the get-go.  

Gianna decides that she can call off Dante's Inferno after Constantine has to leave her for an extended period of time to build his business.  In a snit, she becomes involved (slightly) with another man who turns out to be truly horrid - but luckily our hero arrives back in her life at just the right moment.  

Unfortunately, I just cannot say anything much else about this book.  I had a hard time getting in to the story and it just seemed to drag to get where it was going and was laced with innuendos and it was a disappointing end to the series.  Although, Ms. LeClaire tells us in the beginning that this might not be the end so maybe there's hope.

If you are a fan of the Dante series, you should read it just to say that you've read them all.  But this Desire fan was left feeling slightly unimpressed.

Friday, May 13, 2011

"Secret Son, Convenient Wife" by Maxine Sullivan

Next in the Harlequin Desire line of Billionaires and Babies comes Maxine Sullivan's "Secret Son, Convenient Wife" for May 2011.

Running in to her ex-lover was not what Gemma Watkins was expecting, especially while in the hospital with the child she hadn't told him they'd had!  Yes, it's another of the "secret" child story lines and what really gets old to me is that these men (in all of the stories) usually push these women out of their lives rather coldly and then have the nerve to act hurt and angry when they find out that they have a child!  And, what burns me even more is that they throw their money around and tend to threaten the woman upon discovery with taking custody away!

Why do we even like these men??

Such is the case with Tate Chandler.  Upon finding out that Gemma has had his child, he is angry and demands that she marry him or he'll take custody of their child.  Their breakup had been based on a case of mistaken identity where Gemma had been set up to be found with another man so Tate already has trust issues with her.  Add to that the fact that she kept their child from him and you have one angry man.

So you have an awkward arranged marriage, lots of tension and poor Gemma, who just can't seem to catch a break, has her unsympathetic parents show up to cause her some grief.  But it is at that point that Tate starts to soften towards her because he realizes that perhaps he has misjudged her and that he really didn't know her at all when they were together.

Gemma is hard to relate to because it just seems like so much keeps happening to her that after a while it seems a bit much.  I wish Maxine has lightened up on the hardships a little!  But all in all this was a good story and it ends, of course, with Tate realizing all that he'd done wrong and how things are not always the way they seem.  I love when a strong man can admit when he is wrong!

This is another good story by Maxine Sullivan and she is an author who is definitely an asset to the Harlequin family.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"Bought: His Temporary Fiancee" by Yvonne Lindsay

This title is from the Desire April 2011 line and is book four of six of "The Takeover" series.

In the "Dear Reader" page at the beginning of the book, the author lets you know that there is a Cinderella transformation in this story and that got a smile out of me because who out there would not love to have one of those herself?  I know I would!

So mega-wealthy tycoon William Tanner has a proposition for his new executive assistant:  Be my fake fiance.  This type of story, used so many times in the Desire line, never gets old.  I love that all of the authors who use it, make it their own. 

Plain-Jane Margaret Cole is shocked by her boss's proposition, not only because she barely knows him but because essentially he is blackmailing her in to it!  You see, her brother is being accused of embezzling money from the company they both work for and in order to save her brother from being arrested, Will approaches Margaret with this deal.

There are many layers to their relationship; besides the brother angle, Will and Margaret had shared a passionate kiss some weeks earlier at a masked party/event held by the company.  Will wanted to pursue a casual relationship with Margaret but never found out her name at the party.  Once he knows who she is, he manipulated the situation so that she becomes his assistant and when the problem with her brother arises, Will takes full advantage.

We shouldn't like him, but we do.

Then there is the reason why Will needs a fake fiance; his father is pressuring him to get married and at stake is the family's farm in New Zealand that Will desperately wants.  He figures if he presents a fiance to his family, his father will sign over the land to him and by the time the ink is dry on the paperwork, he can end his engagement.

Oh, silly man.  Things don't always go as planned and it isn't long before Will is forced to take a good look at himself and realizes that he doesn't like what he sees.  He forced Margaret (who he is coming to care for) in to this relationship, forced her to make herself over, manipulated and lied to his family...bottom line is that he doesn't like the man he's become.

Now he has to figure out how to change it all.  After coming clean to his family about his deception and releasing Margaret from their arrangement, Will finds that he is even more miserable.  

His simple plan to have it all turned out to be anything but...

This was a good story, easy to read.  Margaret is truly transformed but I felt bad for her at so many points in the story.  You know that she has a forgiving nature and you know that she'll forgive Will anything, she should have made him work a little more for it.  This was a great addition to the Takeover series.   

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

"King's Million-Dollar Secret" by Maureen Child

This is the very latest from the Desire line for May 2011 by Maureen Child and let me just say - LOVED it!

The "Kings of California" series has been fabulous and while I have to admit to being particular to one of the firsts ("Bargaining for King's Baby" - Adam King) this one ran a close second.  In "King's Million-Dollar Secret" we meet Rafe King, a member of the wealthy King family but a rather brooding recluse.  He works in the family construction business but after a failed marriage, he tends to keep to himself.  Aren't we all just a wee-bit of a sucker for that kind of man?

Rafe loses a bet with a friend and ends up having to work a job as an ordinary carpenter.  It's not such a stretch being that Rafe is in the construction business so the plot is completely believable.  His first day on the job finds him helping out on a kitchen renovation for adorable Katie Charles, an up and coming cooking baking entrepreneur.  

Sparks fly immediately and while Rafe isn't looking to get involved with anyone, as soon as he finds out that Katie really despises all-things-King, he is intrigued.  He keeps his identity a secret (think Undercover Boss) and decides to get Katie to really get to know him, and like him, before revealing that he is actually one of the California King's.  

Katie has been burned by one member of the King clan and if she had any idea that Rafe was one of them, she would have thrown him out of her home!  But not having a clue as to who he is, she has a hard time fighting the attraction they share but after one sexy night, she lets Rafe go.  It's not because she suspects that he is a King, but because she fears that she likes him way too much and she doesn't trust her own instincts any more after her disastrous relationship with Rafe's cousin.

Rafe, however, is not one to be turned down.  He isn't quite sure why it's so important that Katie continue to see him, but he knows that he isn't ready for their time together to end.  

But like all lies and deceit, his blow up in his face and Katie is devastated by a King yet again.  In the end Rafe has to decide if breaking Katie's heart is something he can live with or if he is willing to take a chance and leave his lonely existence behind.

GREAT story!  I absolutely loved Rafe and Katie was just a spunky woman who you felt like you could be friends with.  I blazed through this book in about two hours and was disappointed when it ended!  "King's Million Dollar Secret" is a great addition to the "Kings of California" series.  Thank you, Maureen, for a great read!

Monday, May 2, 2011

"One Night With Prince Charming" by Anna DePalo

This title is from Desire's March 2011 series of stories and is the second book in an un-named trilogy.  

"One Night with Prince Charming" is the story of wedding planner Pia coming face-to-face with the gorgeous man who took her virginity and then disappeared several years earlier, James "Hawk" Fielding.

The story is very enjoyable and well written in the fact that it allows a reasonable amount of time to pass between scenes where our "hero" and "heroine" interact with each other and so it makes their coming together seem a bit more believable.  In some Desire stories, the relationships happen so quickly, with such intensity that the reasonable part of your brain is like "This relationship will never last".  Not so, here.

Pia and James keep running in to one another thanks to Pia's job as a wedding planner.  After the first disastrous wedding that they were both at, James sort of takes pity on Pia because he knows that the event (the bride's first husband showed up stating that he and the bride were still married!) put a black mark on Pia's reputation.  So he does what we hope every knight in shining armor would do - he helps her get other weddings to do.  This, of course, means that they will keep running in to one another.

James (Hawk) is not ready to settle down even though his family is pressuring him to - but to someone of their caliber - after all, he is a Duke; something he forgot to mention to Pia some three years earlier.  Realizing that he still is attracted to Pia and that the feeling seems to me mutual, James tries hard to resist the pull of attraction since he knows it can't lead to anything and clearly Pia is the type of girl looking for marriage.

But of course the best laid plans and so on and so forth go flying out the window and just when they are beginning to see where this relationship can go, Hawk's family intrudes with the woman who they think is perfect wife material to him right in front of Pia!  They are clueless to the relationship between the two because Pia is more or less the hired help!  

Heartbroken, Pia ends their relationship but it doesn't take long for Hawk to realize that the heart wants what it wants and goes after her.  Truly a quality man and his actions are completely believable and not at all cheesy.

Well written, Ms. DePalo.  Another great title by you!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

May is Harlequin Month!

No, this is not an official thing, but I have decided to dedicate the month of May to Harlequin titles here on Contemporary Romance Reads.  

One of the reasons I'm doing this is because I have a STACK of Desire novels that I have read and I realized that I haven't done any reviews on them.  The funny thing with Desire (or maybe not) is that some books are just know, you can't put it down because the story is so compelling and well written where others it's like...GAH! you have to skip PAGES just to finish it because it's painful!  That will be my review of at least ONE of the titles this month!

So I hope that you enjoy the Harlequin month here.  There are definitely some great titles that I hope you'll enjoy and others that you will clearly want to steer clear of!