REVIEW: Ruthie Knox’s MADLY

MadlyThe day-job ate all of MissB’s reading time in the past few weeks. She greatly missed writing her blog and is so happy to be back this week with a review of Ruthie Knox’s Madly. Hopefully, a two-week hiatus won’t be repeated.

Truth be told, part of it was work and part of it was MissB trying to get through Knox’s long-anticipated return to romance with New York #2, Madly. And, it is “mad,” a wildly unhappy, chaotic romance about Allie Fredericks (Truly‘s heroine’s, May’s, baby sister) and Winston Chamberlain (About Last Night‘s hero’s, Nev’s, older brother). Madly is one of the most fraught romances Miss Bates has ever read (barring Judith Ivory’s Beast, which MissB. loathed) and she struggled to get through it. Continue reading

Lauren Layne’s TO LOVE AND TO CHERISH

To_Love_and_To-CherishMiss Bates was ignorant of Lauren Layne’s Wedding Belles series and ended up reading book three, To Love and To Cherish, without reading one and two. S’allright though, because Wedding Belles #3 fills in the romances of the first two heroines as they weave in and out of the heroine’s story. Alexis Morgan is the Wedding Belles’s head honcho, the guru of wedding planners, with Brooke and Heather close behind. The company was her baby, her vision and sole focus. But there’s someone behind the scenes too. While Alexis is the Wedding Belles’s face, heart, and soul, she is not its only purse. Her silent partner is hero Logan Harris, friend, accountant, and bankroll from the moment they met in a Harlem bar eight years ago. For Logan, it was love at first sight; for Alexis, it was a niggling feeling of “something,” but her focus was so strongly on her business that her awareness of Logan has been akin to a cold cup of coffee you leave on the counter. As the years roll by, she takes their bi-weekly financial meetings for granted. She takes him for granted. Her emotional and physical skittishness and Logan’s British gentleman manners have long put the kibosh on seduction. Now, with Logan and Alexis in their early thirties, things coalesce. Logan’s Alexis-torch is more-than-smouldering, especially when his father is ready to retire and hand the London-based family company to him. Logan must let Alexis know how he feels, find out if she cares for him as he does her – or, he returns to London.   
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REVIEW: Jennifer Lohmann’s A SOUTHERN PROMISE, Or Love and Justice

Southern_PromiseMiss Bates loves category romance above all others and it’s been a while since she read and reviewed one. Jennifer Lohmann is a new-to-Miss-B author, but after reading A Southern Promise, one she’ll happily return to. Detective Howie Berry of the Durham, North Caroline PD, meets the daughter of Durham’s foremost family, Julianne Dawson, née Somerset, in the back seat of a police cruiser. He tells her that her beloved Aunt Binnie was murdered. Lohmann’s opening is wonderfully rendered, hinting at her protagonists’ characterization, setting up tension and conflict, and giving the reader a glimpse into their silent musings. Between Julianne and Howie is a whole city’s past, intertwined with their own demons. Lohmann sets up her cross-class-conflict-of-interest tropes from this opening scene, enriching her narrative and adding depth. The cross-class element is rarely convincing in contemporary romance, but Lohmann understands it better when she situates it in the mind and heart of one of the two main characters. Howie Berry is the result of a one-night stand between a Durham tobacco mill worker and David Berry, the Somerset tobacco company’s vice-president. Julianne is the daughter of the now-defunct tobacco company’s owner. With a wrong-side-of-the-tracks hero, – how refreshing! – Golden-Girl heroine AND a murder, what could go right between these two? Continue reading

MINI-REVIEW: Lauri Robinson’s THE BOOTLEGGER’S DAUGHTER

Bootlegger's_DaughterMiss Bates loves to see historical romances beyond Regency England and anytime 19th century. She adores ye old duke and governess/housekeeper and still enjoys reading them, but she welcomed Robinson’s unusual and uniquely set 1925 Minnesota romance, with its strait-laced law-upholding federal agent hero, Ty Bradshaw, and law-bending bootlegger’s daughter, resort/club manager Norma Rose “Rosie” Nightingale. When the novel opens, Rosie is collecting her Uncle Dave from the local jail, arrested for boozing and carrying on. Except Rosie knows Dave is lethally allergic to alcohol. And, she knows something’s up when smooth-talking, broad-shouldered and too handsome for words lawyer Ty Bradshaw shows up to defend Dave. Though only 25, Rosie’s a savvy gal. She nursed and lost most of her family in the flu epidemic of ’17 and now protects her three younger sisters and father, Roger Nightingale, with all her might. She suspects Ty of being a federal agent, but Ty’s strong, capable, and frankly, quite charming presence convinces her father to keep him on to investigate Dave’s poisoning (as Ty rightly figures out) and dangers to the Nightingales’ livelihood. Papa Roger toes a fine line between a legitimate business and supplying Minnesota 13 (some very fine hooch) to the big lights in the bright cities. But Ty, posing as a private investigator (as he confesses to Rosie and Roger, “not” a lawyer) has another agenda, one he’s determined to see through, even if Rosie, Roger, the Nightingale sisters and resort keeping local families employed and fed are collateral damage. Continue reading