Review of ‘Take a chance’ by D. Jackson Leigh.

This book is part of the ‘Pine Cone romance’ series by three different authors: ‘Take my hand’ by Missouri Vaun, ‘Take a chance’ by D. Jackson Leigh and ‘Take your time’ by V.K. Powell. This series follows the lives of three friends: Clay, Trip and Grace in the small town of Pine Cone, Georgia.

There are series written by an author that usually need to be read in chronological order, series of standalone novels by different authors under a common theme, and the ‘Pine Cone romance’ series which is a bit peculiar. In this series the three different authors decided to create three romances (one in each book) but with the three stories overlapping. For example, if the three friends share a scene, it will appear in all three books but with a different point of view. D. Jackson Leigh says in her acknowledgements that it was arduous to write. Well, sometimes it’s also arduous to read. I personally found some issues, one is that after reading the first book (whichever the order) the reader has sometimes a sense of deja vu, a feeling of having read that before because… they read it in the previous book. It works fine in some scenes as it gives other characters’ perspectives but in other cases it is tedious. Also, some events that overlap in the books give information that act as spoilers for the other books’ stories which is a bit annoying. Finally, I found that there are a number of unresolved secondary plots which are main plots in the other books, so in order to grasp the full story, you need to read all the series. So I guess readers can rate each book separately but also the series as a whole. Due to these problems appear throughout the series, you’ll see some of my comments repeated in the other reviews.

Trip Beaumont is Pine Cone’s veterinarian and a well known player. Officer Jamie Grant is the new police officer in town, owner of a drug sniffing dog called Petunia. Trip is intrigued by the elusive officer who frequently writes her parking tickets but when they finally cross paths they realise that they have a conflicted past in common. Will they be able to leave the past behind to build a future together?

‘Take a chance’ is a slow burn romance with a dog as a cute secondary character. Animals play a big part in this book with Petunia at the forefront, a variety of big and small animals and in horses’ metaphors used by Trip. There are a few flashbacks to the main characters’ shared past but most of the story ocurrs in the present. The secondary characters are a bit flat, specially for the ex girlfriend. The main conflict seems a bit irrelevant and Jamie’s PTSD is treated lightly. The subplot involving Petunia is not completely resolved considering that she’s such an important secondary character. But, most importantly, the subplot regarding Trip’s veterinarian colleague is left unresolved, surely to be covered in ‘Take your time’.

Overall, an ok romance read that might interest animal lovers. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Take my hand’ by Missouri Vaun.

This book is part of the ‘Pine Cone romance’ series by three different authors: ‘Take my hand’ by Missouri Vaun, ‘Take a chance’ by D. Jackson Leigh and ‘Take your time’ by V.K. Powell. This series follows the lives of three friends: Clay, Trip and Grace in the small town of Pine Cone, Georgia.

There are series written by an author that usually need to be read in chronological order, series of standalone novels by different authors under a common theme, and the ‘Pine Cone romance’ series which is a bit peculiar. In this series the three different authors decided to create three romances (one in each book) but with the three stories overlapping. For example, if the three friends share a scene, it will appear in all three books but with a different point of view. D. Jackson Leigh says in her acknowledgements that it was arduous to write. Well, sometimes it’s also arduous to read. I personally found some issues, one is that after reading the first book (whichever the order) the reader has sometimes a sense of deja vu, a feeling of having read that before because… they read it in the previous book. It works fine in some scenes as it gives other characters’ perspectives but in other cases it is tedious. Also, some events that overlap in the books give information that act as spoilers for the other books’ stories which is a bit annoying. Finally, I found that there are a number of unresolved secondary plots which are main plots in the other books, so in order to grasp the full story, you need to read all the series. So I guess readers can rate each book separately but also the series as a whole. Due to these problems appear throughout the series, you’ll see some of my comments repeated in the other reviews.

‘Take my hand’ is the story of Clay Cahill, a gifted painter who escaped success and a cheating girlfriend in New York. She goes back to her hometown of Pine Cone, Georgia working as a tow truck driver for her grandfather. River Hemsworth is a gallery owner in New York who inherited a local gallery and a house in Pine Cone. Her plan is to sell the property fast and go back to NY but when she meets Clay after a minor car accident she cannot deny her attraction. But Clay holds too many secrets and River is settled in NY. Will they have their happily ever after?

This is a rather formulaic romance between stoic butch Clay and damsel in distress femme River. There’s no doubt where the plot takes us with exception of a small twist near the end. Ms. Vaun knows how to build the main characters’ chemistry and the intimate scenes are hot. The secondary characters are a bit flat but the clash of cultures between North and South USA is well written. However, the resolution of the conflict seems rushed and the story could have done with a few more chapters to wrap it up better.

Overall, an ok butch-femme romance read set in a small town in Georgia. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘Still in your care’ by Josslyn Scott.

‘Still in your care’ is the part one of ‘A lesbian love story’ by Josslyn Scott. This is the story of Cloe, a business college student in her early twenties, and Maddie, a businesswoman ten years her senior who used to be Cloe’s babysitter. Years later, they meet by chance and Cloe feels that her old crush with Maddie is alive again. The problem is that Maddie is married and very straight. Or is she?

This novella is written in third person from the point of view of both main characters in alternating chapters. Both main characters are well developed and their chemistry works fine. There are a few subplots slightly presented in the book which hopefully will be developed in a later instalment so you need to commit to read at least one more book. However, while a bit rushed, the romance plot is developed fully here.

Overall, a sweet romance. Recommended if you don’t mind waiting for the next book or plots with infidelity. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 stars.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘The boss of her’ by Julie Cannon, Aurora Rey & M. Ullrich.

This is a compilation of three novellas under the common theme of boss/employee romantic liaisons by three seasoned Bold Strokes Books authors.

In ‘Lead counsel’ by Aurora Rey, Attorney Elisa Gonzalez finds herself having to work a major case alongside her former law school crush and now hotshot litigator Parker Jones who has possibly forgotten all about their quick tryst in college. Or has she?

‘For your eyes only’ by Julie Cannon. CFO Riley Stephenson’s all work no play life is turned upside down by a gorgeous stripper who eventually ends up as her new employee.

‘Opportunity of a lifetime’ by M. Ullrich. VP Stephanie Austin likes to work solo but when her boss assigns her an assistant she finds out that maybe there’s something to be said about working as a team as Luca Gardner is efficient, hardworking and incredibly beautiful.

Unlike other compilations where the quality of the works varies, in this book all the novellas are at the same level of writing standards. However, there are some issues like, for example, in ‘For your eyes only’ the end is a bit abrupt, ‘Lead counsel’ introduces too many secondary characters that are hard to follow, and ‘Opportunity of a lifetime’ drags the conflict between the main characters a bit unrealistically. Additionally, I think that in all three novellas, the powerplay and sexual tension between boss/employee isn’t maximised to its full potential like in, for example, ‘I remember’ by Julie Cannon or ‘Too close to touch’ by Georgia Beers which are very good lesfic books of corporate romance. Having said that, this is an enjoyable compilation for those readers who enjoy this type of romance.

Overall, an entertaining and enjoyable read despite some minor issues. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘Summer fling’ by Jean Copeland.

Four years ago attorney Kate Randall had a traumatic breakup after 17 years of relationship. No wonder she is reluctant to try again and is enjoying her single status. That is, until she meets singer Jordan Squire who is sexy, kind and interested. Pity that she is almost two decades younger. Will Kate see past the age difference and her relationship baggage to give Jordan a chance?

There’s no doubt that ‘Summer fling’ is a well written book, the characters are skilfully portrayed and the dialogues are witty and funny. My problem is that I just couldn’t warm to the main characters, specially Kate who comes across to me as self-centered and immature. The conversations and behaviour of Kate and her friends seem more typical of people in their 20s not late 40s. It was frustrating to read at times. Jordan, on the other hand, is exactly the opposite. She is mature, patient and ready to commit. So much so that readers might wonder what she sees in Kate. While I understand that opposites might attract, it really didn’t work for me. Having said that, it doesn’t mean that other readers could enjoy this story.

Overall, an ok read if you can can put up with a frustrating main character. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘Playing the spy’ by Maggie Brown.

Sophie Marsh is a journalist who is forced by her boss to disguise as a maid to dig up secrets on Hollywood star Eleanor Godwin. As a political journalist, Sophie is annoyed with her assignment but once she gets to know the ice queen actress and starts to have feelings for her, she is confronted with a moral dilemma. Shall Sophie reveal Eleanor’s secrets to keep her job or shall she respect her privacy and the new feelings they have for each other?

This is a well written and entertaining book with the idyllic setting of the Australian Great barrier reef. Ms. Brown’s description of the landscape is vivid and is the perfect background for a romance. The main characters are skilfully portrayed, Eleanor is a typical ice queen, very talented but distant. Sophie is vibrant, caring and too well read for a maid. Their chemistry is sizzling and the intimacy hot. However, I didn’t find the story very realistic specially at the beginning and the end seemed a bit rushed. Anyway, it’s a well written and entertaining book worth a read if you are into I’ve queens or like romances between celebrities and ordinary people.

Overall, a good romance with a beautiful setting. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review of ‘Twice in a lifetime’ by PJ Trebelhorn.

This is book number 2 in the Burke sisters series which started with ‘The right kind of wrong’. The story catches up with the main characters of the first book but it can be read as a stand alone. Bar owner Taylor Fletcher lost her firefighter wife on duty and is not looking for a love interest, let alone one with a risky job. But when her late wife’s best friend, Police Detective Callie Burke, returns to town, Taylor starts questioning herself. Will she decide to risk her heart again provided she survives a dangerous threat to her life?

Good romance with a bit of action in the form of a lesbian stalker. The plot touches a few sensitive issues such as bereavement, friendship, first responders’ duty and second chances. The author does a good job at portraying the main characters with their flaws and feelings though sometimes Taylor’s indecisiveness is frustrating to read. The stalker subplot adds a bit of action but has its ups and downs in terms of realism.

Overall, an ok read if you like a romance with a bit of drama. 3.5 stars.

ARC provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.