It's October reviews time and despite illness and, you know, LIFE, interfering with their precious reading time, our dedicated team of PHS Book Reviewers kept turning the page!
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Hearth and Home by Rebel Carter
Can a wealthy businessman find love as a mail order groom?
Julian Baptiste was determined to find a love as epic as that of his parents. As the son of a freedwoman and a wealthy Union solider, Julian was unique among the glittering upper 400 of New York Society. Shrewd in business and discrete with his affairs, Julian was not a man to be trifled with.
Until her. One glimpse of Violet Shield and Julian is haunted. As the cook of the boarding house where he is staying while visiting his sister Julie and her two husbands Violet is a breath of fresh air. But Julian is hesitant to call it love at such a short acquaintance and is determined to be only a friend to her.
But when an unexpected advert for a husband is placed on Violet's behalf, the frontier cook's reputation and her very future are at stake. And Julian finds himself stepping into a role he is powerless to resist. Mail order groom.
Amidst the wilds of the sweeping Montana frontier to the riches of the New York 400, Julian and Violet fall deeply in love. But can love be enough when misunderstandings threaten the fragile new passion they have found?
Rated: 5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Mercy Carlile
This book is like drinking warm hot chocolate on a frigid evening. The writing is sweet, velvety smooth, and warms the soul. Julian and Violet are a delicious pairing and I was invested in their HEA from page one.
Rebel Carter brought Gold Sky to life in a way that felt authentic yet fresh. I particularly enjoyed the sweetness of this book. I read my fair share of high angst romances and I’d forgotten how satisfying a gentler less angsty story can be. The secondary characters added just enough to the storyline and didn’t overshadowed Julian and Violet.
I appreciated how the novel’s storyline acknowledged inequality, especially in various day-to-day moments. I found those moments powerful.
I cannot say enough about the dialogue! It definitely had a unique combination of humor, softness, and a gentle lyrical quality to it. I was truly impressed by the originality of this work. I will most definitely be recommending it!
A Mistletoe Kiss for the Single Dad by Traci Douglass
…under the mistletoe!
GP Nick Marlowe returned to his hometown to focus on raising his young son. The last person he expects to see in Bayside is high-flying Beverly Hills surgeon Belle! The childhood sweetheart he let go so she could pursue her dream of attending medical school. Only working side-by-side to reopen her late aunt’s free Christmas Eve clinic their magical connection returns… Could a mistletoe kiss spark another chance—just in time for Christmas?
Rated: 5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Gwessie
Belle and Nick’s history is sweet but also difficult. Even though things didn’t work out between them, they tried to part nobly. The gravity of their situation really hit home once Nick married the mother of his son. Years pass and Belle and Nick are together again in beautiful Bayside, where Christmas is magical but also holds the memories of heartache and new tragedy.
This story is beautifully written and has wonderful characters. I completely adore little Connor (who reminds me of my son) and sweet Analia. There is a magical feel, from the tree lighting ceremony to the rekindling of their feelings. We truly go on a roller-coaster of emotions while travelling with them on their journey to their happy ever after.
I absolutely loved this magical second chance story by Ms. Douglass. She's a new author to me and I look forward to reading many more of her books in the future. I literally wept at the end of the book as they started the next chapter of their lives. It was heart-meltingly beautiful and I will definitely be rereading it as soon as I can.
Royally Abandoned by Sarah Fischer & Kelsey McKnight
A seat on the throne or a place in her heart?
Greyson Montgomery dreams of a simple life, but as the crown prince of Aldora, simple is not in his future. Before ascending the throne on Christmas Eve, Greyson is given one month to explore how the other half lives. Armed with a few hundred dollars and a fake backstory, Greyson flies to Savannah, Georgia, to see if he has what it takes to chase the American Dream.
Scarlett Calhoun is a Southern Belle with a heart as big as a Georgia peach. When she meets the charming construction worker, Greyson, it isn’t long before she is embracing the holiday cheer. Soon, she’s teaching him how to cook, falling for his exotic accent and soulful eyes, and joining him on picnic lunches where they talk for hours.
With Christmas Eve nearing, Greyson must fly back to Aldora and either abdicate the throne, or take his rightful place as king. Will he ignore his birthright to remain with Scarlett or will she be royally abandoned?
Rated: 5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Gwessie
We meet Prince Greyson in the kingdom of Aldora. He is humble, loved by those in his care, and not afraid to get out there and help those who need it. However, he's also unhappy and wants to be free to choose his own destiny.
Our heroine, Scarlett a true southern belle from Savannah. She has a good heart but has recently been hurt. Now she just wants be left alone to focus on helping others less fortunate. Scarlett and Greyson become very close in a short space of time. It's clear they're drawn to each other’s heart and soul.
I adored this story and truly hope we see a second book involving our hero’s brother. I loved every aspect of their journey, especially their first date. I found the story to be enchanting and well written. I highly recommend it and will most definitely looking for more titles by these authors.
Lush Money by Angelina M. Lopez
A marriage of convenience and three nights a month.
That’s all the sultry, self-made billionaire wants from the impoverished prince.
And at the end of the year, she’ll grant him his divorce…with a settlement large enough to save his beloved kingdom.
As a Latinx woman, Roxanne Medina has conquered small-town bullies, Ivy League snobs and boardrooms full of men. She’s earned the right to mother a princess and feel a little less lonely at the top. The offer she’s made is more than generous, and when the contract’s fulfilled, they’ll both walk away with everything they’ve ever wanted.
Príncipe Mateo Ferdinand Juan Carlos de Esperanza y Santos is one of the top winegrowers in the world, and he’s not marrying and having a baby with a stranger. Even if the millions she’s offering could save his once-legendary wine-producing principality.
But the successful, single-minded beauty uses a weapon prince Mateo hadn’t counted on: his own desire.
Rated: 4.5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Heta
As a sucker for a great romance, Lush Money was exactly the book I wanted to read and I'm glad I got my hands on it. The story revolves around Roxanne Medina, a strong businesswoman and the owner of Medina Now Enterprises, who has a 'no nonsense' attitude and Mateo Fardinand Juan Carlos de Esperanza y Santos, the prince and the heir of Monte del Vino Real. Both of them have needs only the other person can fulfill and dark secrets buried deep inside the darkest corners of their hearts. The story began on the whim of Roxanne, who travels down the road of love and lust in the most amazing combination. But, as they say - there's no road without potholes in it.
It's a lengthy book but every single page is gripping. The author has done an amazing job describing thoughts and feelings. There are Spanish phrases all along the book and I loved the way Angelina translated them in a very subtle way. Also, the passion Mateo has for wine-making and nurturing the vines is really emotional. So is the entire story. This book will make you believe sometimes a fairytale is not what you need. Sometimes real life can be better!
Falling Again for Her Island Fling by Ellie Darkins
Her head doesn’t remember him…
…but her heart does!
Marine Biologist Meena isn’t prepared for the jolt of recognition when she meets tycoon Guy Williams while working on development plans for his luxury island resort. Years ago they had a whirlwind fling, but afterwards an accident stole Meena’s memories — and much more. She’s been searching for answers ever since. Could Guy be the missing piece to her past and her future — if she’s willing to risk her heart again?
Rated: 4 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Megan
Marine Biologist Meena isn’t prepared for the jolt of recognition when she meets tycoon Guy Williams. An accident stole Meena’s memories and she’s been searching for answers ever since. Could Guy be the missing piece to her past…and her future…?
Meena is hiding away on an island which holds memories and feelings she only wishes she could remember. Guy is set on destroying the island which holds so many memories he feels he needs to change it so he can move on with his life.
After a terrible accident which left her in the hospital for years learning how to walk and talk again, but also searching for memories she knows would have changed her life forever, Meena meets Guy and can't help but wonder if he had a place in them. After seven years Guy can't believe Meena is in front of him. As the memories flood back, it's hard for him to grasp she doesn’t remember anything. It's then he makes the decision to treat her strictly with professionalism.. However, their path together proves that to be impossible, and they begin to figure out their past and present together.
Ms. Darkins’ characters come to life in this story, they are full of raw and real emotions that pull you in from the first chapter. Meena and Guy have such a magnetic draw to each other that Darkins captures perfectly. As their journey unfolds you can't help but laugh, cry, and cheer them on as they figure out how to be together and share their secrets. Darkins created a sweet and emotional story that leaves you needing to know what happens. A book to read in one sitting!
Fortune's Folly by Cat Dubie
In 1867, Eden Fitzgerald marries, not for love or money, but to persuade her influential in-laws to obtain her father's release from a contrived prison sentence. Cleverly evading those who believe she, like her father, is a smuggler and Fenian collaborator, Eden does what she can, what she must to achieve her goal. When legal methods are exhausted, she dons a mask, carries a pistol and, using her wiles, wits, even her seductive beauty, robs wealthy citizens to amass enough money to arrange her father's escape.
Her life grows ever more complicated by the lustful attentions of several men who profess to love her, and the one man she loves but dares not trust. As her crimes worsen, culminating in what may be treason, and her enemies grow more dangerous and determined to apprehend her, she must run for her own freedom.
Rated: 4 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Rachel
Eden is beautiful, bold, and daring. She has a passionate encounter with Alex which leads to love, but is devastated when she learns he is an agent for the crown, and is investigating her family, ultimately sending both her father and brother to prison. Pregnant with Alex’s child, she enters into a marriage of convenience, hoping her in-laws can arrange freedom for her family. Her brother is released, but her father ends up getting a life sentence. Eden is determined to free him no matter the cost.
I thought this was a great historical romance. This is Cat Dubi’s third book and the story was an exciting adventure with a cast full of interesting characters. I thought this book was very well written and loved Eden, who is a strong female protagonist, willing to go to any lengths to protect her family. I loved the chemistry between her and Alex, which was off the charts, and had me turning the pages. I will definitely be checking out Cat Dubi’s other books. Highly recommended!
Lucky Break by A.M. Arthur
Welcome to Clean Slate Ranch: home of tight jeans, cowboy boots and rough trails. For some men, it’s a fantasy come true.
Shawn Matthews never imagined he’d be living out of his car, trying to make ends meet, but life doesn’t always go your way—he knows that better than most. When an accident leaves the Clean Slate Ranch shorthanded, Shawn is enlisted to help cook and finds himself bunked next to the sexiest cowboy he’s ever laid eyes on.
The first time Robin Butler spots the new chef, he thinks he’s seeing an actual ghost. Shawn is the spitting image of his late husband, and it spooks the hell out of him. The former rodeo-star-turned-ranch-hand does his best to avoid the soft-spoken cook—except it’s kind of tough when the man makes the best damn grub this side of the Mississippi and has a boy-next-door charm that’s impossible to resist.
Even though the tension between them practically sizzles, Shawn doesn’t do hookups and Robin isn’t ready for a new relationship. Besides, Robin can tell Shawn’s been hurt and deserves a partner who isn’t saddled with a tragic past. But chemistry doesn’t lie. Maybe finding each other—and a second chance at love—is the lucky break they both need.
Rated: 3.5 Pink Hearts Reviewed by: Frankie
I have a real soft spot for M/M romances, I have read a fair few of them but I hate to say I was a bit lost with this one, I was in two frames of mind about it. On one hand, I enjoyed the will-they-won’t-they subplot between Robin and Shawn, and on the other I was frustrated and irritated by them. Yes, they have issues and skeleton’s in the closet but what got me was just how slowly it took for them to actually communicate and face their past. Once they did start to move forward with their relationship the tone of the book changed and I started to enjoy the journey the characters were taking me on.
I know that this is the fourth book in the Clean Slate Ranch series but I couldn’t shake off the feeling I was missing out on something within the series. Character's from the previous books popped up every verse end which made following the story a little confusing as I didn’t know who was who. I think that because I haven’t read the previous books I don’t quite get the excitement of these arrivals like I should. But there is no denying the author is a highly-skilled. I really liked her writing and the way she put emotional depth into the story and I will seek out more of her work.
Overall, this is a tenderly written love story about two emotionally scarred individuals. Readers who love slow burn romances will love this book. It's a very easy read and would be perfect for those just starting to pick up books in the M/M genre.
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