Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

Lauren Dane

REVIEW:  The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane

REVIEW: The Best Kind of Trouble by Lauren Dane

BKOT

Dear Ms. Dane:

I have a weakness for a number of romance hero types, billionaires, MMA fighters — really athletes of almost any sort, and rock stars. We were introduced to the Hurley brothers, who comprise world famous band Sweet Hollow Ranch in your book Delicious. In this book, we meet Paddy Hurley. One day, as Paddy sits in his favorite coffee shop in Hood River, Oregon, he spies a vision from the past. In she clicks in her heels and pencil skirt — Natalie Clayton, reformed wild child, now town librarian.  You see, Paddy and Natalie had a really hot two week hook up before Sweet Hollow Ranch made it big. Paddy never forgot Natalie, and her tempting tattoos. To his dismay, his flirtatious hello is roundly rebuffed by Natalie, who pretends not to recognize him. Well this is new, women don’t generally turn down flirting from Paddy Hurley. But he’s determined — he has extremely fond memories of Natalie, and would like to renew their acquaintance.

Natalie is frankly pretty horrified to see Paddy. She’s not that girl any more. After a rough childhood with her rich, constantly high as a kite father, and her subsequent young adult rebellion, Natalie is looking for a quiet life. There is absolutely nothing about Paddy that screams quiet. Oh sure, he’s still sex on a stick. But she knows that nothing about Paddy’s life is conducive to the low profile, quiet she craves. She can’t deny that she’s tempted though, and when Paddy launches a full on charm offensive, she agrees to dinner.

Of course, Natalie acts on that attraction and soon she and Paddy are embarking on an extremely hot affair.  Paddy is charming, kind and is only interested in wooing Natalie. But he’ll soon go on the road, and there will be other women pursuing him. Plus, Natalie has her own hang ups about the relationship. She grew up in a house where her father was always either addicted to something, or going through the 12-step process. And after giving him multiple opportunities to screw up their relationship, Natalie has resolved that her father should not be in her life. Her past has provided a big hang up for Natalie about addictive behavior, and Paddy lives large while he’s on the road. Natalie is reluctant to lay her heart on the line but she can’t help but be attracted to Paddy, who finds a peace in Natalie’s steadiness and sensibility. He knows in his heart that Natalie is the one, now he just has to convince her of that.

I’m a huge fan of the “hero in hot pursuit” trope. And Paddy Hurley is in hot pursuit. He knows almost immediately that Natalie offers him something that he’s found nowhere else — peace from the wilder aspects of his life. He’s determined to show Natalie that when he’s not on the road, his life is quite normal. But she knows that there are temptations everywhere for him and that despite the life he has here, life on the road is a different thing altogether. She has protected herself her entire adult life from the fast life that her father lived and that Paddy now represents. But is the Paddy she knows in his “real” life the one who she’ll find on the road?

This book is definitely a character/relationship driven book. It focuses on two strong individuals coming together and building a life-long love. It’s what works so well for me. No one is a villain. No one acts in an extreme way. Both characters have childish moments. There are speedbumps and hurdles they must cross. But the story remains focused on them coming together as a couple. The book does revisit Damien and Mary from the Delicious series, and also introduces both Natalie’s best friend, Tuesday, and the other Hurley brothers, Ezra and Vaughan, all of whom will be featured in subsequent stories.  As always, your love scenes are hot and varied and serve to build the characters’ relationship, rather than being gratuitous. Overall, I really loved the book, and finished it so excited to see what comes next in this sexy new series. The Best Kind of Trouble is the best kind of reading. Final grade: B+.

Kind regards,

Kati

 

AmazonBNKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle

REVIEW:  Count on Me (Petal, Georgia series) by Lauren Dane

REVIEW: Count on Me (Petal, Georgia series) by Lauren Dane

COMCOMDear Ms. Dane:

Your Petal, Georgia series is a favorite of mine. I like small town romances when done well, and this one ties in to the Chase brothers series, which I also enjoyed. Carolina Mendoza is back in Petal sixteen years after the brutal murder of her mother and subsequent conviction of her father, who she believes to have been wrongly convicted. She’s there for two reasons, first, she wants a stronger relationship with her two younger siblings, who her mother’s well-to-do parents took custody of after her mother’s death, and she wants to clear her father’s name. Her dad died in prison, all the while proclaiming his innocence. Her siblings are much younger than her and have no real memories of their parents, as well as being influenced by their grandparents who believe with all of their hearts that Caroline’s father committed the crime.

While grocery shopping one day, Caroline reconnects with Royal Watson. Caroline and Royal went to school together although never knew each other particularly well. Royal is immediately attracted to Caroline and begins what I’d describe as a full-on charm offensive. Caroline is a little wary. She’s not looking for love, and while she’s definitely attracted to the big, handsome farmer, she’s not in Petal for that, and is reluctant to get involved with a man. In the end she agrees to dinner and finds herself rethinking her “no love” stance. Royal is funny and charming and a true southern gentleman. But Royal has an ex, Anne, who doesn’t want a relationship with Royal, but also doesn’t want him with anyone else. She’s snotty to Caroline and continues to be as Royal and Caroline begin to build a foundation for a long-term relationship. On top of that, Caroline is trying her best to rebuild a relationship both with her siblings, and her grandparents, who she left when she was a young teenager to go live with her father’s family. There’s a lot going on for her.

As word gets out that she’s trying to clear her father’s name, she find animosity directed at her from her grandparents, various town folk, and her sister’s boyfriend, who accosts her on numerous occasions. Soon, that animosity has raised to threats. Someone slashes her tires, someone shoots at her through an open office window. And as the violence escalates, Caroline and Royal must come together to keep her safe.

There are a lot of things I like about this book. I would describe Royal as a more Beta hero, which is unusual for you. He’s protective and certainly adores Caroline, but he’s not a guns ablazin’ kind of hero. He’s content to let her kick a little ass herself. Certainly, when it becomes apparent that Caroline’s life is in danger, he does go into protective mode, but he admires her smarts and strength too much to curtail it. He’s also a real southern charmer hero, which I’m a sucker for. He’s a gentleman, a tiger in the sack, and has really wonderful manners.

For her part, Caroline is strong and really intelligent. She’s got real spine without being off-putting, and there is one scene where she and Anne finally have a confrontation over Anne’s pursuit of Royal. It’s not a cat-fight by any means, but it’s a no bullshit, serious conversation. You know, the kind two grown women would have. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about your work is that your heroines are never doormats. They don’t whine, they don’t cry. They show initiative, and they handle their business. Caroline is no exception, and it immediately makes her someone who I would want to be friends with.

Where I think the story falls down a bit is clearing the father’s name. You spend about the first 2/3 of the book building the relationship between Caroline and Royal. Then the danger part of the story comes in and it all felt a bit rushed, particularly the resolution of the story. To me, there was no foundation for the killer laid, so he came out of left field and I just didn’t buy it. I wanted more of a build up, I guess.

In the end, Count on Me is a really lovely romance, featuring a to die for hero and a smart heroine who I liked very much. While the mystery/suspense part didn’t work for me as well as I would have liked, I know that Count on Me will be a book I’ll reread. Final grade: B-

Kind regards,

Kati

AmazonBNSonyKoboAREBook DepositoryGoogle