From four contemporary romance stars, stories filled with first kisses, first dances, and happily-ever-afters…
None of these stories ties together with each other. Instead they appear to be parts and pieces of ongoing series. Some of them stand on their own better than others.
You’ll Be Mine by Marie Force: Will Abbott and Cameron Murphy are finally ready to tie the knot—as long as family, friends and a love-struck moose don’t get in the way.
This novella is basically about an already established couple getting married with a duct-taped on addition of the bride’s father starting a little romance on the side. The story seems to be a payoff for fans of a series since tons of people – all relatives in some form or fashion from what I skimmed – get mentioned along with their place on the family tree. Oh, and some marathon bouts of premarital sex that take place in a small cabin in which the bride’s father is trying to sleep. This was skeevy. Imagine going to someone else’s family reunion and being among 100 people you don’t know who become faceless blurs. They’re nice but you’ll never see them again and really don’t care. C-
Midnight Bet by Jodi Thomas: When cousins Rick and Lizzy Matheson of Harmony, Texas, wind up on the wrong side of an attempted shooting, they know they’re in deep. Still, the biggest danger is losing their hearts—Rick to an old flame and Lizzy to an old friend she’d never noticed before…
From the beginning I was lost in this one which starts with a long, drawn out boring family reunion then switches gears to Rick being shot at and Lizzy being hit then having her socially inept veterinarian neighbor dig the bullet out. What …? Then it’s back to Rick who is pretty sure someone is out to kill him but he won’t tell anyone! After which a whole load of backstory gets dumped on us while Rick rationalizes why he’s still not going to tell anyone except the woman he loved and lost who when she responds to him about it, makes him angry. At this point I wanted to reach into the story and push Rick out of it. Like off a cliff. DNF
Wrapped Around Your Finger by Shirley Jump: Maggie McBride is just one of the guys in the hard-knocks world of construction. Until she’s dared to ask Nick Patterson to a wedding, enticing her to knock down some walls—and risk falling in love.
This is the misfit heroine + long term friend story. Maggie doesn’t do “girlie” – wear dresses, heels and makeup. Faced with bringing a plus one or being set up during the week before her friend’s wedding, Maggie asks Nick – her construction buddy. He’s tempting but Maggie just knows Nick doesn’t do commitment either so she ought to be safe. Except Nick has always thought capable Maggie in a tool belt with sawdust in her hair is sexy. Playing at sweethearts during wedding week frenzy makes both wonder about the other a bit more until suddenly Nick goes all serious and says he’s been thinking of popping the question for a while. Whoa, wait. I didn’t get that vibe and neither did Maggie. There’s a great ending for two people obviously meant for each other but I couldn’t shake feeling someone had suddenly changed the game plan on me. B-
Carolina Heart by Virginia Kantra: Determined to leave her wild past behind, Cynthie Lodge is forging a new life for herself and her daughters—one that’s man-free and drama-free. But when her high school crush shows up on Dare Island, he’s determined to make her break her rules…
Former high school acquaintances meet years later. He’s two years younger and now a college professor. She is divorced after a bad marriage and working hard to support her two daughters. He’s awkward and she’s wary. He was the geek who yearned for her and she was the senior who never really noticed him. Now he’s got to win the older, worn down woman trying to better her life. Max finally triumphs by helping Cynthie see her own potential and have the courage to try for things. He also knows his way around a dead car battery and while he might be totally too good to be true, it’s sure nice to read about a wonderful beta hero winner. B