Tag Archives: Lucky Harbor

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Contests, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week of January 12, 2014

12 Jan

Upcoming Books and New Releases

Nalini Singh‘s Psy-Changeling series novella, Whisper of Sin, (previously published in the anthology Burning Up) will have its stand-alone release on February 25th and the cover is gorgeous. While Amazon isn’t yet showing this beauty on the corresponding pre-order page, that shouldn’t stop you from placing your order (hell, I have this story in the anthology and I’m still tempted) since it’s only $2.99 and Nalini Singh doesn’t believe in a short novella, a satisfying situation for her readers. This particular book, which is a prequel to the first book in the series, Slave to Sensation, features the DarkRiver leopard changeling Emmett, who is helping his pack repel an invasion of their San Francisco territory when a beautiful human Ria gets caught in the middle. Emmett quickly realizes the only thing more important than keeping strangers from encroaching is protecting the one woman who could mean everything to him.

Cynthia Eden released the first book in her Night Watch series this past week, Eternal Hunter, in paperback form via Kensington Press, and if the excerpts are any indication, this is another win for an author who already made this series successful in ebook form. When an assistant DA attempting to keep her “other” heritage a secret crosses paths with a shifter bounty hunter tracking the “other” being stalking her, well…it doesn’t take any paranormal ability to figure out that her secret is going to come out and the shifter may have found his mate. With Eden’s ability to pen a great romantic suspense novel while giving paranormal readers all the world-building they can handle, this release is bound to bring an excellent series to paper book readers.

Tracey Devlynwhose Nexus series combines amazing historical romance AND romantic suspense, just released the latest title in that series this week, Latymer. As I mentioned in a previous Sunday Reflections post, this volume represents Devlyn’s personal journey to continue her series without her previous publisher of Sourcebooks, and I’m damn glad she decided to continue it on her own. The snippet she included in her newsletter (check out her website to subscribe to it) shows us our hero is a lord with a son he loves determined to ferret out a spy, something he should be quite good at considering his previous work for the Foreign Office. At the mercy of both French and British authorities who want him dead, I have a feeling that Nexus is going to have to help Lord Latymer and his son, and I’m guessing it might be a female spy (perhaps one he knew before?) who is going to lend a hand. Cannot wait!

Jill Shalvis is beloved by contemporary romance fans everywhere, particularly for her Lucky Harbor series. The next full-length novel, Once in a Lifetime, will be published on February 18, 2014 (oh, ho! Just in time for Valentine’s Day) and will star the tortured soldier Ben McDaniel and the “trouble with a capital T” Aubrey Wellington who is trying to set her life on the right path with Ben the perfect person to help. Okay “helping” him might involve a bit more with such a hot, brooding guy but making amends involves getting a little dirty, doesn’t it? Pre-order it so you are guaranteed delivery on the 18th.

dashofperilAfter wowing me with her Love Undercover series (I’m still reeling from Getting Rowdy), I’m more than looking forward to Lori Foster‘s next book in the series, Dash of Peril, starring one uptight Lieutenant (who looks pretty hot when dressed like a hooker) and the construction business owner who is happy to ignore that she’s his cop brother’s boss. When he finds out that she’s willing to use herself as bait to catch an abduction ring in the act, nothing will do than becoming her unofficial partner, and let the heat between them break loose. With Foster’s ability to write reformed manwhores and strong women who can hold their own, I’m salivating for the release date (March 25th for the paperback version and April 1st for the ebook) to arrive already.

Fans of Jayne Ann Krentz particular brand of strong characters and dark, suspenseful situations will want to make sure that they pick up her latest which just came out this past week, River Road, about a young girl saved from drugging and date rape by a young man who never tells her what he did, just accepting her resentment of his embarrassing her in front of her peers. When she returns to their town after the death of her aunt, a gorgeous woman grown, our hero is not going to let her slip away a second time, particularly after it’s become clear that someone has her in their sights with harm in mind. Keep in mind that Krentz’s popularity and talent warrant her books coming out in hardcover, with a higher price for even the Kindle version as a result (just under $11), but fans feel she’s worth it!

Contests and Giveaways

The resource all romance readers couldn’t live without, RT Book Reviews, is having a great contest to not only win one of three copies of the latest Lorraine Heath novella and the final installment of her Scoundrels of St. James series, The Last Wicked Scoundrel, but also win a chance to get not only this ebook but a bundle which includes five other Avon historical romance ebooks as well.

Audiobook lovers (hey there, commuters!) who adore fantasy will be thrilled to see that the best-selling writer duo of Ilona Andrews has given their blog fans a heads up that the AudioGals blog is having an amazing giveaway of either the first five audiobooks in the Kate Daniels series for the first three books of Andrew’s amazing Edge series. Don’t delay in entering however, as this contest ends tomorrow, January 14th at midnight. Romance readers interested in dipping a toe in the audiobook world (think long car trips, gardening, needlework and cooking as good activities for audiobook playing) should definitely check out AudioGals’ fantastic infographic for romance readers highlighting the best audiobooks in various romance subgenres to help direct them to the best purchases.

Historical romance writer Nicola Cornick is hosting a great giveaway on her website where simply by reading the excerpt from her latest Brides of Fortune novel, The Lady and the Laird, you can answer a question and gain an entry into winning the first three books of the series. These gorgeous covers are matched by the well-rated prose inside, so be sure to check them out, whether or not you win.

Fun Stuff

Those clever editors at Harlequin, knowing that the majority of self-respecting romance readers love Jane Austen, have cleverly put together their titles that are inspired by Jane’s writing. Whether it’s a Presents novel with a prideful hero or an anthology of paranormal tales based on Austen’s stories, you’ll enjoy thinking about Jane and her characters in a new light.

Any reading enthusiast who is expecting a baby should be dressing their newborn in a onesie that will hint at their personality and future reading ability, so the wonderful people at BookRiot have put together the best list of reading-themed onesies I’ve ever seen. Be sure to do your baby shower shopping with this terrific resource in mind! (This cutie is sporting the Shakespeare quote, “And, though she be but little, she is fierce.”)

Great Deals

If you’ve thought about trying Krystal Shannan‘s Vegas Mates series but not yet indulged, you should know that the first novella, Chasing Sam, is currently free on Amazon right now, so this could be a good time to try it out. Starring a shifter female who has been steadily denying her well-born heritage in order to become a doctor and help the less-fortunate and a long-lived military hero who had resigned himself to never finding a mate, these two have more than enough obstacles to keep them apart…if they can’t find the courage to fight for their future. If you do enjoy this story, be aware that the next novella in the series, Saving Margaret, just came out on January 8th and features a bear who finds himself of having to convince a sexy wolf female that interspecies matings can definitely work.

It might be after the holidays, but here’s a belated present for you. Erotic historical romance writers Kate Pearce and Samantha Kane have their holiday duology, Gift of Desire, currently free on Amazon. With Kane’s story a hot menage about two recently released prisoners of war returning to the woman one of them married and the other always wanted and Pearce’s short about a disfigured widow and the man who has never forgotten her, you’ll be chasing away your personal polar vortex in no time flat.

Chasing Charlie, the first book in the Texas Two-Step series by Kathy Carmichael, is currently on sale for $.99 on Amazon, and while I like a good Western romance, I am a total sucker for not just the fake engagement, but one where the heroine is the town librarian and she ends up tied to the town bad boy who is just trying to make his mother happy so she’ll feel comfortable remarrying. Naturally, our couple ends up feeling more than just polite interest in one another even though their pairing seems unlikely, so take a look.

Patricia Burroughs is getting a lot of buzz on the blog-o-sphere for her Western historical romance, La Desperada, about a proper Victorian woman from Philadelphia who threatens a man jailed for a revenge killing into taking her to safety, with both of them unknowingly running from a mutual enemy, a sheriff bent on his own brand of retribution. Almost 500 pages of great writing and it’s only $.99 in the month of January, so pick it up now and see what all the fuss is about.

Kristen Ashley‘s Dream Man series is one of the highest rated book series I’ve seen on Goodreads (with almost 100,000 ratings with each novel usually above a 4.5 star rating – those are not numbers to sneeze at). I’ve got Law Man on my to-read pile, but now I get to add Mystery Man, the first book in the series, which is now discounted to only $.99, perfect for people who want to take a taste. Featuring a DEA agent who falls for the woman he’s investigating (her ex-husband has a drug ring) in the course of their contrived relationship, readers absolutely rave about both the hero and heroine as well as the exes who provide fantastic villains for this more mature couple.

Happy reading this week!

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, December 7, 2013

8 Dec

Upcoming Books and Recent Releases

Tracey Devlyn, whose Nexus series combines amazing historical romance AND romantic suspense, debuted the cover of the fourth book in that series, entitled Latymer. Not available until early January 2014 and worse, not available yet for pre-order (!), this volume represents Devlyn’s personal journey to continue to her series without her previous publisher of Sourcebooks, and I’m damn glad she decided to continue it (and it looks like Avon picked up the series for its digital line – woohoo!). The snippet she included in her newsletter (check out her website to subscribe to it) shows us our hero is a lord with a son he loves determined to ferret out a spy, something he should be quite good at considering his previous work for the Foreign Office. At the mercy of both French and British authorities who want him dead, I have a feeling that Nexus is going to have to help Lord Latymer and his son, and I’m guessing it might be a female spy (perhaps one he knew before?) who is going to lend a hand. Cannot wait!

Jill Shalvis is beloved by contemporary romance fans everywhere, particularly for her Lucky Harbor series. Those readers will be pleased to note that she’s just announced the 9th full-length novel, Once in a Lifetime, will be published on February 11, 2014 (oh, ho! Just in time for Valentine’s Day) and will star the tortured soldier Ben McDaniel and the “trouble with a capital T” Aubrey Wellington who is trying to set her life on the right path with Ben the perfect person to help. Okay “helping” him might involve a bit more with such a hot, brooding guy but making amends involves getting a little dirty, doesn’t it? Pre-order it for a great price ($5.40 right now for the paperback edition!) right now.

Tawny Weber just released her Christmas novel, Naughty Christmas Nights, this past week, which brings together two excellent things – Christmas and lingerie. When two people attempt to land the sexy underwear account for a major department store, rivalry is a natural outcome. But Hailey’s Merry Widow lingerie line is all about playfulness and sensuality while Gage Milano wants out of his family’s business so he needs to prove it’s all about sex, period. Is the heat between them simply lingerie induced, or is their more this holiday season? Things are certainly heating up…

Also released this week is the novella in Katherine Ashe‘s The Prince Catchers series, Kisses She Wrote, about a scandalous earl who discovers that a wallflower’s diaries are filled with the fantasies of him kissing her, and he’s damn intrigued. This holiday season might be filled with wishes granted if they both can surrender to the potential between them. At only $.99, this novella belongs in everyone’s present pile!

Contests and Giveaways

Adrianne JamesThe Enlightening (Book #2 in the Mackenzie Duncan series) is part of a package available for you to win via your Goodreads account. The Tempering (Book #1) is actually also included in paperback edition as well as some lovely Adrianne James swag to celebrate the series. Featuring a Harvard freshman, Mackenzie Duncan, who is attacked by a wolf and changed against her will, this series deals with the aftermath of her change, with book 1 showing the sinister underbelly of the pack who welcomes her with open arms and book 2 illustrating that life on the run with two werewolves who both want to win your heart can be more complicated than it sounds. Enter before December 9th for your chance to read this series for free!

S. E. Gilchrist, the science fiction romance author of Dark Warriors fame, is offering a giveaway in honor of the 1st anniversary of her first publication, including such prizes as gift cards and books from her backlist, so go check it out and join in the celebration and enter before the 23rd of December to see if you could have a little something extra in your Christmas stocking. Congratulations, S. E. Gilchrist!

Category romance fans who like their millionaires of Russian extraction and their princes remote bastards waiting to be melted by the right woman will want to be sure to enter the giveaway for Kate Hewitt‘s The Prince She Never Knew, a Harlequin Presents about an arranged marriage that could become something much more, bundled with Kholodov’s Last Mistress, about a scarred wealthy Russian completely ensnared by an innocent American tourist, so much so that he tries to push her away only to realize that he needs to get her out of his system. Submit your entry before December 11th to win.

For readers who love their small-town romances near the ocean, you’ve probably already read and loved Rachel Herron‘s Cypress Hollow Yarn novels, but in case you haven’t gotten to the fourth book of the series, Cora’s Heart, or you’ve been wanting to dip a toe into this series, it’s available via a Goodreads giveaway if you enter before December 13th. With the heroine a farmer who has lost her mother and husband to the point where she tries to plan everything in her life, a hero – her late husband’s cousin and the man she loved before – is bound to mess up her agenda, particularly when he has a plan of his own.

It’s hockey season and people know how much I love Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series, so I’m naturally looking forward to the February release of her next novel, Melting the Ice. About a fashion designer whose brother suggests she use her college flame, now a hot NHL player, to showcase her latest creations, I’m going to enjoy seeing this successful player prove to his former girlfriend that he’s changed for the better. The best news? I might be able to win a copy early (and so could you) by entering the Goodreads giveaway before December 13th.

Another upcoming book you could win an early copy of is the eighth book in Shayla Black’s Wicked Lovers series, Theirs to Cherish, which isn’t due to be published until March 4, 2014. This BDSM romance has an element of romantic suspense threaded through its sensual tale as the heroine is an heiress who has been on the run for years, finding Club Dominion the perfect hideout. She’s fallen in love with the club’s Master but when her plan to make him jealous with a Dom who wants her submission backfires and she finds herself falling for two men, she ends up endangering her heart along with her life when a killer comes calling. Enter before December 13th to win!

Ranae Rose just published the fourth book in her Inked in the Steel City series, Abiding Ink, but fans of tattooed heroes and heroines can win a copy if they enter the giveaway before December 15th. Perfect for the holiday season, this story centers on a tattoo artist who volunteers in a hospital ward and the hot nurse who doesn’t want to fall for him, but can’t help herself, even when it makes her want to run away. Gimme!

Fun Stuff

Take a look at the great video clip from Popular Romance Project featuring an interview with Princeton postdoctoral fellow, An Goris, a wonderful Dutch woman who went from failing English as a 15 year old to writing analyses about romance fiction, a turnaround she largely credits to her love of Nora Roberts, at the time more available in English than in Dutch. Guess who is her featured author of her dissertation?

Did you know that category romance doyenne Caitlin Crews has been releasing a new Presents novel, His Wife by Christmas, chapter by chapter on Harlequin’s website…for free? That’s quite a Christmas present – use your Send to Kindle app (which can be installed in your browser’s bookmarks) to get it on your e-reader if you prefer reading on that screen.

Great Deals

Best-selling author Cynthia Eden has the first book in her Purgatory series, The Wolf Within, currently on sale for $.99 (and free for Prime members who want to have it as their loaned book for this month). FBI Agent Duncan McGuire is committed to defending the world from monsters as part of the Bureau’s Para Unit, but when he survives a werewolf’s attack only to begin to change into a monster himself, he’s more than horrified. He fights tooth and nail not to have Dr. Holly Young be the one assigned to care for him – the attraction between them is fierce and his feeling has only intensified with his body’s changes, and she’s the last person he wants to hurt. Except that Holly has been hiding her own differences, but their situation is about to get even more complicated as the monsters circle around them, and it’s unclear if their new feelings for one another can survive the onslaught.

Mary Jo Putney‘s Lost Lords series is hugely popular, so historical romance readers who would love one of her book in ebook form or who simply want to sample her writing should run and grab Loving a Lost Lord, currently only $1.99 on Amazon. This novel, the first in her series, has everything a historical romance reader could want – a duke, amnesia, a fake marriage, and two very sexy protagonists – so grab it now!

Since readers of Mary Jo Putney are often also fans of Sabrina Jeffries, cross-over readers will want to check out What the Duke Desires, the first in her new series, The Duke’s Men, currently down to $1.99 on Amazon. With the overarching theme of a disinherited younger son of a viscount who opens an investigative agency with his illegitimate half-sister Lisette, the first book focuses on a duke who receives word that his older brother, presumed dead after a kidnapping, might still be alive, and traveling with Lisette posing as his wife reveals much more than information about his long-lost sibling.

It must be the season for discounted historical romance, as Lorraine Heath‘s final installment in her Lost Lords of Pembrook trilogy, Lord of Wicked Intentions, is also on sale for $1.99. A lord who has been on the run since he was young escaping a nefarious uncle determined to rob him of his birthright and a young, innocent woman who is the illegitimate daughter of an earl is a recipe for a satisfying romance, particularly when the lord in question makes her his mistress and she’s determined to have all of his love.

In time for the holiday season is the paranormal deal of Selena Blake‘s novella, Fangs, Fur and Mistletoe, currently free on Amazon. The first in her highly rated Mystic Isle series, set on an island which is a playground for paranormal creatures wanting to relax. When a vampire meets up with the hunky werewolf who was her enemy a century ago, her sexual drought is just about to end, especially when the werewolf in question realizes he has a chance with the blue-eyed temptress he hasn’t been able to forget over the decades. It’s free, people!

Laura Griffin‘s suspense novel, Twisted, the fifth book in her Tracers series, is also only $1.99 right now and fans of romance fiction featuring police and FBI protagonists need to hustle over and grab it. A lovely rookie police officer in a small Texas town worries that the case that seems like it’s tied with a bow isn’t all that it seems, an instinct confirms when a handsome FBI profiler appears with new information. But just when it seems they are in hands distance of catching a killer, the hunters may become the hunted.

Have a great week and happy reading!! 🙂

Sunday Reflections: Upcoming Books, Fun Stuff and Great Deals You Might Have Missed, Week Ending August 25th

25 Aug

Contests and Giveaways

Robyn Carr has a justified reputation for damaged heroes and strong heroines so her fans are undoubtedly holding their breath for the release of her latest Thunder Point series release, The Hero, due out on August 27th. Lucky for them, there is a Goodreads giveaway to win a copy, so hustle over prior to the 27th and enter to win.

Nalini Singh is making everyone chomp at the bit for the latest book in her Guild Huntress series, Archangel’s Legion, and to tantalize us even more, this doyenne of paranormal romance and urban fantasy is giving away five ARC’s of the book! Just follow the instructions on her blog in sending an email to her assistant by August 26th to enter.

If I’m going to enjoy a cowboy romance, nine times out of ten I let Linda Lael Miller take me there. On August 27th, she’s got her latest novel in the Swoon-Worthy Cowboys series (great name, yes?), Big Sky Wedding, coming out and there is a giveaway in its honor over at Goodreads. Enter by the 27th and saddle up your horse to enjoy!

The I Heart Harlequin Presents blog is offering a Royal Giveaway of four of the imprint’s recent novelsLost to the Desert Warrior (which I reviewed this week – awesome!), Prince of Secrets, A Royal Without Rules, and Duty at What Cost?. All you have to do is leave a comment on the post saying where you were when the royal prince was born to enter. Get that comment in by midnight August 29th!

Carla Swafford delights in writing angsty, suspenseful romance as readers of her The Circle series know. The third book, Circle of Deception, was released back in January, but if you haven’t gotten to it yet, you might enjoy the prompt of trying to win the Goodreads giveaway for it! Be sure to enter by September 1st.

The Book Pushers blog is giving away five copies of Lisa Gardners’ latest romantic suspense novel, Maggie’s Man, written under her new pen name of Alicia Scott. It’s the first book in her Family Secrets trilogy about three half-siblings working to find out the truth about their family which just debuted on August 6th. Leave a comment with your favorite romantic suspense author before August 28th and you might win a free copy!

Fun Stuff

In case you worried that there were no good men out there who understood what it takes to not just fall in love but stay in love, read this inspiring post by Jackson Bliss about how he gives his all in his marriage. You’ll be forwarding it to your friends, male and female, I promise.

It’s a lamp, it’s an ampersand, it’s a “lampersand”! From the wonderful buyers at ModCloth, comes this household accessory for your favorite writer or reader, in textured metal and romance red. It’s 20 by 20 inches, so it’s a decent size, but you can hand on the wall or place on your favorite bookshelf. Wouldn’t it be fun to have two canvases, each with a couple’s name and this in the center? For $89.99, this household accessory is worth adding to your domicile.

As romance readers we spend a lot of time reading about character’s body language, whether it’s the alpha male crowding a rival or the heroine battling it out in the boardroom. This great article from buffer gives some great insight on body language and how it conveys power. You’ll find yourself never crossing your arms again!

Great Deals

wounded heroes box set copyWe’ve got three more additions to the uber-cheap boxed sets of themed collections so you can experience some new authors and series. First up is the Wounded Heroes boxed set (yes, please!) featuring physically and emotionally damaged horse trainers, military men and detectives who all need to find the woman meant for them to push them into dealing with what life has thrown them. As with all the collections in this series, this one is also only $.99 for over a thousand pages.

Also from the same author collective is the fantastic Bad Boys Boxed Set with four books (historical and contemporary) highlighting naughty boys who are ready to make the commitment to the right woman to limit their bad boy persona to just her. On the flip side is the Good Guys Heroes Boxed Set of five novels filled with men who make a living out of doing the right thing. Both are only $.99 for this leading man smorgasbord.

So many historical romance readers cut their teeth on Kathleen E. Woodiwiss and those readers might be interested to note that her best-seller, Shanna, is available on huge discount in ebook form on Amazon, currently costing only $2.99. Woodiwiss didn’t write small, so you are getting 672 pages of a condemned prisoner, a hasty marriage and hot consummation, followed by freedom and a Caribbean paradise. This is a saga, people, so brace yourself for a reminder for what romance novels were like in the late 1970s.

If you thought sets of four or five books for $.99 was great, how about ten of them? The Perfect Ten boxed set features such amazing authors as Alexa Grace and Adrienne Giordano and gives readers a slice of all the major subgenres of romance – romantic suspense, urban fantasy, time travel romance, mystery, thriller, paranormal, etc. – in one tidy package.

Jill Shalvis’ Forever and a Day, from her Lucky Harbor series, is on deep discount in ebook form on Amazon – down to $1.99. If you are someone who appreciates a small town populated by characters (many of them who fit the description “eccentric”) in each other’s business, plenty of humor and smoking hot sex scenes filled with emotion, you need to hop into this series ASAP. Not sure? Take a look at my review for more details.

Happy reading this week, everyone!

Jill Shalvis Proves Lucky Harbor Is Once Again the Town for Romance in It Had To Be You

6 Jun

It Had To Be You (Lucky Harbor #7) by Jill Shalvis (Grand Central, May 28, 2013)

I think that the fictional town of Lucky Harbor needs to market their real estate differently. Imagine how many people would move there if they had any idea that this is the town where true love is bound to hit you, whether you want it to or not?

Jill Shalvis, who deserves a contemporary romance Energizer Bunny award for her ability to release one great novel after another, won my heart long ago with the Lucky Harbor series. Nine stories (seven full-length novels and two terrific novellas) has proven she has the ability in every damn one of them to make me fall in love with the hero and heroine, laugh at the antics of the eccentric residents of the town, and choke on emotion during the more painful scenes where someone invariably tries to resist the love right in front of them.

Her latest installment, It Had To Be You, satisfied my Shalvis-craving for a hot, heart-warming romance. Neither character has been introduced prior to this book in the series and there aren’t too many references to previous characters, so the book is a great introduction to the series for someone wanting to see if they want to take the Lucky Harbor plunge (and the water is lovely in this Pacific Northwest town – trust me!).

Ali Winters has just had a seriously crap day. She caught her handsome and altruistic boyfriend cheating on her in his office while she was attending his fundraiser for the local community center. She was so disgusted that she didn’t barge in to confront him, a decision she’s regretting when he breaks up with her via text message the next morning before she’s even had breakfast. While she’s leaving him a pretty explicit message about what a creep he is (clothed only in her underwear), a severely hunky intruder asks her what she’s doing in her own house, the house she shared with Teddy although all his stuff is missing now. Sexy Man informs her she’s standing in his house and that her cheater boyfriend let the lease run out. Oh, and she finds out her boss at the flower shop is probably going to close the doors since his heart isn’t in it and he wants to go live with his boyfriend in Vegas. Ouch.

Luke Hanover is a cop and one taking a semi-forced vacation after a young woman turned up dead, a death he thinks he should have prevented. The case involved some pretty important people and only the media storm has driven him back to Lucky Harbor and the house his grandmother left him. His estranged grandfather lives next door but he just wants time alone with his board and the waves. Naturally, the gorgeous hottie in her underwear is a little distracting and his gut is telling him that involving himself in her business would be counterproductive. Ali has trouble with a capital “T” written all over her, but he can’t seem to do anything but help her, while hopefully keeping her at arm’s length when he really wants to take her to bed. When she’s accused of stealing the $50,000 raised by her ex-boyfriend, his cop senses tell him she’s innocent while the rest of him finds her courage and desperate brand of independence even more alluring than her body. But he’s only back in town for two weeks, so nothing can come of the attraction. Right?

I love how Shalvis is never formulaic in her writing, but she can be counted on for a few key elements.

  1. Her heroes are usually hardened tough guys with some seriously hard knocks in their past who find themselves giving up the control they’ve exercised all their lives when faced with the woman meant for them.
  2. On the flip side, Shalvis heroines are usually delightfully quirky (even the more buttoned up, slightly stuffy ones) who have also been dealt the hard cards but have managed to retain a sense of wonder and gained the knowledge of who they are.
  3. Both parties rarely see love coming, so it hits with the subtlety of a freight train, with at least one of the couple so petrified they are ready to turn tail and flee or just pretend it didn’t happen.
  4. Sex scenes are always fiery with an element of sweet caring between the couple so I’m never disappointed on that front.
  5. Friends (or hilarious small town perma-characters) offer necessary perspective and help the couple realize that you can’t turn away from love when you are lucky enough to find it, often giving the hero/heroine the frame of reference they need to dig deep and find the courage to accept the gift they’ve been given.

And just in case you were doubting my analysis of this wonderful writer, keep in mind that my Goodreads account informs me that I’ve read 33 of her books!

Take a listen as this great writer discusses her books and approach to writing before accepting the Career Achievement Award in Contemporary Romance from RT Book Review magazine:

While I’m planning on enjoying my summer, after reading the description for her next Lucky Harbor book – the friends to lovers story between Jack the firefighter and his best friend Leah who runs the bakery – September can’t come soon enough with the late month release of Always on My Mind. Just a couple months later and we will finally get the next book in the Animal Magnetism series, Rumor Has It, which has the heroine I can’t want to see get an HEA, Kate Evans. Kate is the quirky schoolteacher who has had a crush on Holly’s brother Griff for a while and the teaser chapter in the last book, Rescue My Heart, had my pre-ordering Rumor Has It the minute it went on sale on Amazon.

Jill Shalvis is an astonishingly talented author who never disappoints her audience with each excellent release. That Career Achievement award couldn’t have been bestowed on a more worthy individual.

Jill Shalvis Gives Us Strong Men and Sweet Animals in her Animal Magnetism Series

20 Nov

Animal Magnetism (Animal Magnetism #1 – Lilah and Brady’s story) by Jill Shalvis (Berkley, February 1, 2011)

Jill Shalvis has incredible writing strengths which make her one of my favorite contemporary romance authors. She writes strong, damaged heroes, sexy heroines often as funny as they are beautiful, and always gives us a strong sense of place, usually a terrific small town where everyone is in each other’s business. After reading her Lucky Harbor series this summer, I went on a MAJOR Jill Shalvis binge (Don’t believe me? Take a look at my Goodreads account), digging up her other series and Harlequin single titles to devour. One of the best series in her ouvre is, without question, the Animal Magnetism series.

“Come for the cover, stay for the writing” could be tagline of this group of terrific romance novels. Every cover has a hot, bare-chested man and/or an adorable animal – how many women could resist that? But this series offers readers plenty of content between the covers, never fear.

After ex-military men forming a security company, the next best series trope in romance is a sibling group. Sometimes they are related by blood and sometimes they are fostered siblings, but the bond between adults who grew up in rough circumstances, economic or emotional, cannot be broken. It also lays a good foundation for the pending romantic attachment; even the most damaged hero or heroine stands a chance at love if they can have a relationship with a sibling.

In the Animal Magnetism series, we have three foster brothers, Adam, Dell and Brady, living in a small town called Sunshine in the Bitterroot Mountains area of Idaho. All of them had troubled childhoods before being placed with the same caring rancher who offered them the stable home and firm discipline they’d been lacking. While they’ve gone away, they eventually return to Sunshine, a few of them putting down more roots than others.

This is what the Bitterroot Mountains area of Idaho looks like – I can understand why the characters never want to leave it!

In the first book, Animal Magnetism, Brady has finally returned to Sunshine to visit his brothers, Dell and Adam. Dell owns the veterinary clinic in town and splits his time between lavishing love and attention on needy animals and doing the same with the female population of Idaho. Adam, who served a stint in the National Guard, returned home after a terrible mission in which half his team was lost. He’s wrestled in stoic silence with the PTSD from that event but has channeled his talents into a successful dog training venture specializing in Search & Rescue. Brady was Special Forces, with his talent being flying helicopters into highly dangerous situations, but he’s back to being a civilian and has taken some time off from the company that sends him all over the world to fly at a moment’s notice.

When Brady’s parked car gets rear-ended by a flustered young woman, he’s more interested in her big eyes and the way her utilitarian Carhart pants pull across her lovely bottom. The fact that she’s got a potbellied pig, a duck and two puppies in her truck is an intriguing element in the mix. Lilah Young can’t get over how a bad a day she’s having. Her kennel business is paying the bills, but she’s been staying up studying for her online classes and she just paid the price when she plowed into the truck belonging to the total hottie visiting town. His truck seemed to have little damage but hers is the worse for wear and it’s not like she has the money to fix it. Brady is kind enough to drive her home to her cabin next to the kennels so she can give him her insurance information and she impulsively kisses him, thinking she’ll never see him again. Imagine her surprise when she finds him in Dell’s veterinary clinic and Adam introduces Brady as the other foster brother she’d never met.

Brady is just as surprised to see this compelling woman joking with his two brothers, who clearly consider her part of the family. When his brothers bribe him with the tempting offer of rehabbing a sweet helicopter so they can use it for their business, it’s the vision of Lilah as much as spending time with them and the bird that has him agreeing to stay a month. Although he’s made it clear that anything between them is temporary, Lilah decides to seize life with both hands and let this fling with Brady evolve to what it will be. Brady finds himself addicted to Lilah, seeing the way she cares for everyone and everything, all the while maintaining her independence. As the days tick by, he’s unsure he’ll be able to let her go and maintain his personal policy of not getting involved.

Animal Attraction (Animal Magnetism #2 – Dell & Jade’s story) by Jill Shalvis (Berkley, October 4, 2011)

Of the three books in the series, the first is my favorite, largely due to Lilah. This is the woman you want as your best friend – she’s open, funny, and honestly acknowledges her feelings (at least to herself). Watching her fall for every animal in her care and weep bitter tears when she gives them away to a good home because she knows it’s what best for them, gives you a clear sense of how she’s going to approach a relationship. Brady is smoking hot, but he’s also got a heart that instantly recognizes Lilah is something special. Seeing him reveal his playful side and his emotions to Lilah is one of the most heartwarming parts of this book. Setting the stage for all three volumes in this series, the secondary characters of the animals are nothing short of fabulous – little did I realize I would be so captivated by the antics of a duck and a lamb!

In Animal Attraction, we get insight into the fact that there’s more between Dell and his gorgeous redhead receptionist, Jade, than meets the eye. She’s the one woman whose never fallen at his feet, but over the last eighteen months of her running his office with incredible efficiency, she has managed to become an intrinsic part of the family he, Adam, and Brady have created. Her announcement that she’s returning to Chicago in a month has Dell a little panicky, particularly after they share an unexpected kiss in his truck that puts Fourth of July fireworks to shame.

When Dell sees Jade frightened out of her cool exterior by a kid in a Halloween mask, and PTSD surface, he and Adam realize something horrible has happened to her in her past. Helping her is a given, and he convinces her that she’ll feel more in control if she begins to learn self-defense. She agrees to do it, dedicating herself to wrestling control of her life back into her own hands. Being regularly in Dell’s arms doesn’t hurt anything and as they draw closer, she’s worried she can’t keep her feelings at bay. But Dell is a playboy who doesn’t let any woman in, ever, so how can she take a chance on him?

Dell is a fabulous character – warm and charming, he nevertheless has a ton of intelligence and deep feelings, with Shalvis drawing him so three-dimensionally you’d believe it if he walked off the page. Jade is frustrating in her self-containment but since we have insight as to why she is that way (and what she is afraid of) she’s simultaneously incredibly sympathetic. The real joy in this novel is watching Dell and Jade reveal the innermost parts of themselves to each other, because you know that these two private people are not in the habit of letting anyone in to their emotions or past. Some of the final scenes in Chicago had me cheering, and it wasn’t due to the s’mores that Jade was making!

Rescue My Heart (Animal Magnetism #3 – Adam & Holly’s story) by Jill Shalvis (Berkley, November 6, 2012)

It was hard not to wait with an impatient toe tapping for the third book in the series since you knew it was going to focus on the silent Adam and the rich, blond who seemed to drive him crazy, Holly. I was disconcerted to find out two pieces of information that I didn’t know from the previous books: 1) that Adam and Holly had been secretly together when they were teenagers and that 2) everyone believed Holly to be married the whole time she was storming in and out of Adam’s life with her rancher father’s golden retriever puppies.

That information definitely set the stage for the story. Holly and Adam are two of the most frustrating hero/heroines you’ve ever rooted to get together. Stubborn and remote are adjectives that can apply to both of them, in spades. When the story opens, Adam is coming off a rough and search and rescue, his rambunctious yellow lab, Milo, in tow and thinking about how he just wants a hot shower and to sleep for a couple of days. The last thing he expects to be confronted with is a scared married bombshell by the name of Holly, worried that her aging father is not answering his phone after three days of camping by himself. The only person she trusts to track him is Adam, who finds himself moved by Holly’s transparent fear.

She insists on coming with him and, with just the two of them and Milo looking in her father’s favorite haunts, layers get stripped off Adam and Holly (and I don’t just mean their clothes) as they find out truths about their respective pasts. To say that Adam is emotionally remote is almost British in its understatement, and I sided with Holly that she should be frustrated that every pushy male in her life – her father, her brother and Adam – all had made decisions for “her” benefit without every consulting her. Argghh!

Holly is almost always angry and indignant, mostly as a shield against Adam, for whom she has never stopped having feelings. It exhausted me listening to her internal conflict as she realizes she still has feelings (physical and emotional) for Adam and determines not to succumb to them. Adam is equally as strangle-eligible as Holly is the one woman who really lights his fire – the only one he ever has loved – yet he is so convinced of his inability to love anyone that he offers her no encouragement. It felt like it took two-thirds of the book for these two to work through the initial bulk of their feelings in order to reach a point where they would entertain the thought that there could be a chance things would work.

My mental image of the wonderful Search & Rescue dog, Milo.

Thank heavens for our previous characters and for the dogs, Adam’s Search & Rescue dog, Milo, especially (although Holly’s father fosters S&R puppies and Thing 1 and Thing 2 are pretty terrific). The presence of the two very happy couples of Brady/Lilah and Dell/Jade, who knew that Adam and Holly were meant to be together, kept me from committing character homicide a couple of times. I can’t say that I got totally into this book like I did the first two, but I was happy to see them work through their issues. You can’t argue that once Adam is in, he’s in. Nothing halfway for Adam! Part of my reluctance to embrace them is a personal prejudice I have – I’m just not a fan of the rekindled or second chance romance.

I did love the introduction of Holly’s brother, Grif, who regularly skyped her from his military post, as well as Holly’s grade-school teacher (and socially awkward) best friend. The next book in the series, entitled Rumor Has It, will focus on this unlikely pairing and I’m already looking forward to August 2013 because of it. Jill Shalvis is a terrific author with characterization and a talent for creating a small-town setting that has you calling a mover, you are so in love with the place. Try the Animal Magnetism series and enjoy both her two and four-legged characters in these terrific romances!

Jill Shalvis Gives Us Another Dose of Pacific Northwest Romance in the Latest Trio in the Lucky Harbor Series

24 Jul

Lucky in Love (#4 Lucky Harbor series – Mallory and Ty’s Story) by Jill Shalvis (Forever, June 1, 2012)

Jill Shalvis has been a favorite Harlequin author of mine for a while, inspiring total confidence whenever I pick up a book with her name on it. Whether it’s a sexy hockey coach in Time Out, or a charming holiday novella in Heating Up the Holidays, she’s a writer who can bring a level of detail and emotional oomph to a hot romance novel.

So why on earth did I wait so long to tackle her acclaimed Lucky Harbor series, published under Grand Central’s Forever line? The only reason I can think to explain my behavior is the covers – they are lovely, don’t get me wrong, but with fully clothed models engaging in hugging with romantic backgrounds, they appeared to be more of a sweet romance and my taste runs to a hotter level of sensuality in my romance fiction. Color me pleased and surprised to discover that they actually are nice and spicy, with Shalvis delivering her usual emotional journey of the hero and heroine in and out of the bedroom (with no lack of detail in either location). Yay!

It appears that Jill usually tackles the books in this series in related trilogies with the setting and many of the vibrant minor characters tying the novels together. Having gotten At Last as a advanced reader copy from NetGalley, I also decided after reading and loving it to request the other two volumes starring the hero and heroine’s friends to give me a more holistic picture (and unadulterated reading pleasure).

This turned out to be a good strategy, since it seems from Jill Shalvis’ website, particularly the page where she discusses how she approaches this series, that the first three books were conceived as an interconnected trilogy as were the following three books. This makes it easy to read the second trilogy independent of the first three books, although I’ll bet you’ll do the same thing I did and fall in love with the crazy people of Lucky Harbor so quickly that all the books will find a place on your shelf or ereader ASAP. So let’s take a look at why these three books deserve shelf space, shall we?

Lucky in Love (Amy and Ty’s story)

In the fourth book of the series and the first one focusing on the three women who call themselves the Chocoholics, we discover Mallory, the ER nurse and all around town good girl who is finding herself increasingly frustrated with her life. Her attitude of caring for those around her, whether it be friends, family, patients, or neighbors is genuine, but it causes people to think they know her, never seeing the streak of wildness she keeps hidden.

There’s a reason for that. When she was sixteen and all three of her siblings were busy sowing wild oats, her next oldest sister Karen got into serious trouble, trouble that ended with Karen overdosing on drugs. Mallory’s parents divorced and Mallory has worked incredibly hard to be the least amount of trouble for her family – to the point that she almost has herself believing it’s who she is. Her good friend and diner waitress Amy knows the truth however, and on a scary, stormy night, Mallory heads to the local diner to find Amy for a little comfort.

It’s just the two of them and a stranger in town, a lovely blond named Grace who quickly bonds with them over chocolate cake, and the three of them are brought together by a power outage. Huddling in the dark and devouring a sinful chocolate cake doesn’t stave off their fears, but it does make them confess what they really want from life. Mallory wants to date Mr. Wrong (her Mr. Rights being far from ideal), Amy wants to stop putting life on the back burner and truly live it, and Grace wants to stop living life according to other people’s expectations and have fun.

But their confessions come to an abrupt end when trees start crashing through windows. Checking things out, Mallory braves the weather and realizes that there is a man caught under one of them by the entrance. The three woman discover its Mysterious Cute Guy, a sexy newcomer to the town who no one seems to know much about, with a head injury. While waiting for the ambulance and trying to keep him warm in Mallory’s car, Amy and Grace try to convince her that anyone as sexy and aloof as this man is exactly the kind of Mr. Wrong she needs.

Ty wakes up in the hospital with vague memories of a soft body and warm hands which comforted him when he got hit by a tree on the way into the diner for pie. He’s come to Lucky Harbor on the recommendation of his former Navy buddy, Matt (now a Park Ranger), who has said the area is perfect for his recuperation. Ty is a former SEAL and medic who now does a lot of private security work. A bad leg injury needs time to heal, but even more than his body, Ty’s mind still feels the trauma and guilt surrounding losing his whole team in a plane crash.

More than aware that he’s not only not staying in town for long, Ty is nevertheless drawn to Mallory. Her big brown eyes, gorgeous curves, and caring demeanor has him actually feeling things. As frightening as that is, he makes the parameters of his attraction really clear and Mallory still gives him the go ahead. As part of her new plan of Mr. Wrong, she’s willing to take Ty however she can get him, and the physical connection they have cannot be denied. Neither of them count on how addictive that connection is, but as Ty finds excuses to stay longer in Lucky Harbor, he has to confront the reality of his situation. He is not for her.

OMG, damaged military men, especially ones with soft, gooey centers, are a personal favorite and Ty is no exception. He had my buy in from the first moments of the hot storage room encounter with Mallory at the health center’s auction and he only got better from that moment. Mallory is an amazing women who is so sweet and honest about what she is thinking and feeling that you can’t help but love her. The fact that she truly accepts everyone for who they are renders the affection the whole town holds for her unsurprising. Shalvis’ rich description of the many vibrant secondary characters, particularly the town gallery owner and busybody Lucille, with her relentless Facebooking, makes this book a pageturner.

At Last (#5 Lucky Harbor series – Amy and Matt’s Story) by Jill Shalvis (Forever, June 26, 2012)

At Last (Amy Michaels and Matt Bowers Story)

When Parks Ranger Matt Bowers (currently in the running for the Lucky Harbor’s “Mr. Hot Buns” competition on Facebook) gets the call that there is a lost hiker in his park, he’s pleased to discover it’s gorgeous diner waitress and relative newcomer Amy Michaels. He only eats when it’s her shift for the pleasure of looking at her, but even his patented panty-melting smile doesn’t seem to work on this cool and wary woman. Having more than enough heartache in his past, he can respect her distance, particularly when he knows he can’t offer her more than a hot tumble, but that doesn’t mean he can’t try and convince her as to his way of thinking.

Amy is annoyed by her attraction to the devastatingly sexy man in uniform. Having a wild youth and being a homeless runaway at sixteen means she’s got lots of reasons to not trust men but there is something about this one that gets right under her well-laid defenses. She remembers her stated goal to the other chocoholics about living her life and not being a spectator any more. Caving to him might result in blazingly hot sex unlike any she’s had, but she knows she’s got nothing else to give, and he claims the same. Yet feelings emerge that neither of them seem to be able to deal with, and what good can come of that?

I was so impressed by how deftly Jill Shalvis wove in the overarching theme of Amy using her grandmother’s journals and sketchbooks to guide her own emotional journey. The minor plotline of the young runaway Riley and how her presence dredges up Amy’s emotions about her own troubled past never feels like a tacked on plot device but instead moves the characters forward. I was rooting so hard for Amy and Matt to honestly confront their emotions that when they finally did, I couldn’t help but give a much-warranted fist pump in triumph!

Forever and a Day (#6 Lucky Harbor series – Grace and Josh’s story) by Jill Shalvis (Forever, July 31, 2012)

Forever and a Day (Grace and Josh’s story)

Having watched her friends Mallory and Amy find love, Grace is happy for them, if a little wistful for herself. She’s a downsized investment banker who came to the Pacific Northwest for a great job in Seattle, until she discovered her boss expected extra “benefits” as part of her package. Taking off down the coast, she literally wandered into Lucky Harbor and made it her base of operations while she scours the market for a new position.

The only problem is that in this economy they are impossible to find and she doesn’t even want to touch the idea that she never really liked investment banking in the first place. She’s been trying to live up to her parents’ high expectations, so she can hardly tell them she’s doing odd jobs and the books for the town citizens to make ends meet. When Dr. Josh Scott, aka Dr. MacSexy on Lucky Harbor’s Facebook page, calls her by accident to ask her to dogwalk his obnoxious new pug puppy, she agrees even though she has zero experience. How hard can it be?

Um…really hard, particularly when the puppy is the a cross between Satan and a coked up rock star. An ER doctor trying to simultaneously run his late father’s practice, be a single dad to his adorable son, and responsibly care for his 21 year old sister (a hellion put in a wheelchair by the same car crash that killed their parents), Josh is the definition of overextended and everything is paying the price. His two best friends have found the women of their dreams and Josh can barely remember the last time he had sex!

Sex is also all he can think about when he comes across his dogwalker up to her thighs in the ocean by his home and convinced that his puppy committed suicide in the waves. The way the water and sand have plastered her thin sundress to her frame has Josh’s mind frying its remaining gray matter but he convinces himself he has no time for the distraction. Circumstances seem to have different ideas, and when a dogwalking gig becomes a live-in nanny arrangement, the chemistry between Grace and Josh becomes a conflagration. He knows she’s not long for the area but his son and sister are finally getting the attention they deserve and by a stunning woman who seems to genuinely care for them. He’s falling for her too, no matter how hard he’s fighting it, but Grace might very well choose to leave them. After all, everyone else in Josh’s life has done just that.

OMG – Josh is soooooo awesome. The former 95 pound geek weakling who filled out to a buff six foot something hunk of man and then becomes a caring doctor? Sign. Me. UP. Fun Grace, who happens to be a major smartie and multitasker, is exactly what this doctor ordered. Seing them each deal head on with each other’s baggage and actually communicate with one another is a sigh-worthy journey to their happily ever after.

Summary or What’s Taking You So Long?

Anyone who enjoys well-written contemporary romance written with blazing sensuality, a compelling emotional journey, and rich characters should have themselves committed if they don’t run out and devour the Lucky Harbor series, particularly the latest three additions. Like the chocolate recipes in the back of each book (yes! amazing romance novels with chocolate recipes as a bonus!!), each book is a sweet, rich treat, but minus any fattening calories. What are you waiting for?

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