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Harlequin Lightning Reviews, The Sarah Mayberry Edition

Sayuri commented in my Harlequin (not so) Lightning Reviews last week that she enjoyed Sarah Mayberry. I bought three of her books at Fictionwise: Amorous Liaisons, Island Heat, and Anything For You.

The thing I like most about Mayberry’s characters is their self honesty and the sense that these individuals could be real people. They aren’t fantasy creatures but instead, like Borrill’s characters, there’s a sense of normalcy about them (even if they are artists, chefs, or business people). Their interactions rarely are over the top and it’s like Mayberry is simply serving as the narrator of a real life couple which is really one of the best fairy tales of all. I recommend starting with Anything For You, which was my favorite.

Amorous Liasons

book review Maddy Green is a dancer who has been told that she hasn’t been able to recover to the tear to her ACL and that she must “hang up her slippers.” Max Laurent left dancing to care for his father. His father has just passed away and Max is ready to start his life anew (not going to say what, it’s a bit of a surprise). Maddy, who feels totally adrift, runs to Max with whom she had a wonderful friendship before he left at the pinnacle of his career. I never really understand why Maddy would go to Max despite her fond memories. The two hadn’t really ever kept in touch. But Max had held a torch for Maddy and when she came to his home in Paris, he wasn’t about to turn her away. This is really a lovely story and one that I didn’t think that I was going to enjoy as much as I did. The story started out a bit slow but Maddy and Max were different and the differences ended up being intriguing. The plot is fairly simplistic and focused more on showing Maddy falling in love with Max, Max dealing with his long buried feelings, and the two not communicating very well about their desires to each other. They both play the overly sensitive artist at times and I thought the ending was a bit sappy but there’s a bit of poetry in the story that mirrors the spirit of the characters. B

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Island Heat

book review This is for the Top Chef fans out there. Tory Fournier is the daughter of a famous chef who has brutally pushed her all her life to be the very best. Her father had a signature restaurant in New York and rather than hand it off to Tory, he closed it. While Tory says she understands, it is easy to see how her efforts to please her father have left her at once driven and vulnerable.

Ben Cooper trained at the Culinary Institute with Tory but he was scholarship and she was food royalty. He presumed that she was rich and snooty and aimed to take her down a peg. Tory returned the favor by setting up a humiliating experience that Ben never forgot. Of course, living well is the best revenge for Ben and he has gone on to run an award winning restaurant in Antigua.

Tory has just penned a very popular cookbook on Caribbean food and is ready to open her first restaurant that focuses on Caribbean flavors. She agrees to go on a cruise to the Caribbean and be the celebrity chef on the cruise. It’s her first visit to the Islands.

The story does address why Tory should be considered a serious Caribbean chef without ever having visited there, I never really bought it in part because Tory came from a well off family and it just doesn’t make sense to me that she wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to visit before. The other thing that bothered me was that this must have been part of a Harlequin mini series because there was an underlying suspense thread that was unresolved and felt very disconnected to the book. The ending of the book was one of my favorite because it didn’t lead to an instant marriage but two individuals addressing what seemed to be an impossible type of long distance relationship. B-

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Anything For You

book review This was my favorite of the three Mayberry books (and as can see above, I liked the previous two). Sam Kirk and Delaney Michaels have been best friends forever. They turned their friendship into a successful business partnership by way of publishing an extreme Sports magazine. The problem is that Delaney has been in love with Sam for as long as they have been friends. Because she’s been in love with him but he thinks that they are just buds, her whole life has felt like it has been on hold. Delaney wants a family and it’s not going to happen while she is in love with Sam. She decides that she is going to cut the ties to Sam entirely. She is going to sell her apartment (which is in the same complex as Sam’s). She wants to be bought out of the business. She’s going to move out and move on. This crushes Sam and not because he secretly harbors feelings for Delaney other than friendship but she has been such a part of his life, he can’t imagine his life without Delaney.

Watching Sam flail about for an explanation for why Delaney is leaving him was really amusing.

He shrugged sheepishly. “Okay,” he conceded. “You know I’ll be jealous as hell when you get married and have kids,” he admitted.

She looked startled. “Jealous?”

“You know-”cause things won’t be the same anymore,” he explained awkwardly.

Delaney’s eyes dropped to the carpet and she hunched a shoulder. “No, they won’t.”

“But I don’t see what any of that has to do with leaving the business,” Sam said. He might be about to lose most of Delaney, but he would cling to what little he had left. If she stayed in the business, she would always be a part of his life, no matter what.

“It’s too all-consuming, Sam,” she said. “We live for this place. How am I ever supposed to meet someone when all I do is eat, sleep, breathe Mirk Publications?”

“Then we’ll get a sales assistant. You can do half days. Whatever it takes,” he countered.

“No. It wouldn’t work. I’m a control freak, you know I am. And it’s thinking about the business when I’m not here that’s part of it, as well. I’d still be doing that if I owned half of it. I need a complete break,” she said.

There was a determination in her tone, a firmness that he recognized. Delaney had made her decision. Without talking it over with him. Without consulting him in any way. She’d simply gone away, and come back determined to do her own thing.

He started to get angry. “And where does that leave me?” he asked. He hated the fact that he sounded like a sulky kid, but that was how he felt, so he might as well own up to it.

The two of them try to have sex to “save the friendship” and one needs only guess as to how that ends up. What really made this story for me was the slow realization that Sam actually did love Delaney. He just didn’t know how to define it in his life. A-

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

14 Comments

  1. Sayuri
    Nov 15, 2008 @ 18:34:47

    YAY! (is it totally dorky to admit that I squealed a little when I saw my name on Dear Author? *blush*)

    I am so glad you enjoyed the Sarah Mayberry books, Jane. ‘Anything for you’ is my absolute favourite of hers. I have it in both paper and e formats and it is my total comfort read. Sam is so clueless in it, I love when he finally figures it out.

    I hope you try more of her work. Her Soapstars series is a great way to spend a couple of afternoons. All Over You is my personal favourite of the three and has a great heroine in it. (I’m pimping, giving it my all!)

    ReplyReply

  2. Jane
    Nov 15, 2008 @ 18:37:53

    @Sayuri: Thank you for the recommendation! I really appreciate it. I’ll try her other ones.

    Yes, Sam’s path to “cluefulness” was adorable and fun.

    ReplyReply

  3. jessica
    Nov 15, 2008 @ 19:51:29

    Anything for You is my favorite of hers. I think it’s the best friend to lovers book in the last few years. The others pale in comparison, quite a bit, but Hot for Him is the second best of the others.

    ReplyReply

  4. Moth/Elizabeth
    Nov 15, 2008 @ 21:12:09

    Just ordered Anything For You online. I seem to be on a category kick lately and that one sounds cute. Plus, I love the friends to lovers trope. :D

    ReplyReply

  5. Jia
    Nov 15, 2008 @ 21:45:47

    Anything For You sounds great. I’ll have to check it out.

    ReplyReply

  6. KarenW
    Nov 16, 2008 @ 00:55:15

    Thanks so much to Jane for writing the review and Sayuri for recommending them! I have been craving some category books to read, but all of my favorite authors seem to be on a baby kick at the moment. It’s so hard to find a good series book, and so I’m always grateful when I find one that’s been personally recommended! I just ordered Anything For You and All Over You.

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  7. kim h
    Nov 16, 2008 @ 01:01:45

    love her blazes. below the belt was awesome, eveyrone shoudl read it

    ReplyReply

  8. Diana
    Nov 16, 2008 @ 14:15:59

    I’m also a fan of Sarah Mayberry’s books and agree with Sayuri that her Soapstars series is a great read.

    ReplyReply

  9. Marg
    Nov 17, 2008 @ 03:10:59

    I just finished Anything for You. Thank you so much for recommending it. I had been eyeing it for a while, but the back blurb makes it sound like one of those ugly-duckling stories (which is a plot device I really don’t like). I loved how the story was not about Sam finally “noticing how hot his friend is” but rather realizing the depth of their realtionship. I agree that I have never read a better friends-to-lovers story.

    I also got a really big kick out of Mayberry’s voice. It was just so Austrailan; it really helped the characters come alive for me.

    ReplyReply

  10. Jane
    Nov 17, 2008 @ 09:29:29

    @Marg:

    I loved how the story was not about Sam finally “noticing how hot his friend is” but rather realizing the depth of their realtionship.

    That’s a great way to articulate Sam’s awakening. His late understanding of the depth of his feelings was a different and yet powerful way to tell the friends-to-lovers story.

    ReplyReply

  11. Alyssa
    Nov 17, 2008 @ 11:50:27

    Mayberry is one of my favorite Blaze writers. Her stories are so emotional and engaging. Nice to see her featured here.

    ReplyReply

  12. Lori Borrill
    Nov 17, 2008 @ 12:00:49

    Sarah’s one of my favorite Blaze authors. She writes great books, and I’m so glad to see her getting such great recoginition!

    ReplyReply

  13. Harlequin Lightning Reviews, Sarah Mayberry Edition Part II | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Nov 18, 2008 @ 18:00:25

    [...] Sarah Mayberry, soap operasFiled under: B Reviews, B Reviews Category, B- Reviews, Reviews My first introduction to Sarah Mayberry was Anything for You which was a huge success. Marg, a commenter, said that it was one of the best [...]

  14. Daily Deals: Urban Fantasy, Contemporary and Paranormal
    Jul 23, 2012 @ 14:04:25

    [...] reviewed a number of her books back in 2008. Sam Kirk and Delaney Michaels have been best friends forever. They turned their [...]

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