Review: Kiss the Bride by Jody Wallace

 

Title:  Kiss the Bride

Author:  Jody Wallace

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

Herman Edward Heckley knows all about drywall, concrete, and nail guns. So what’s he doing fighting off taffeta in a bridal salon? He’s maid of honor for his best friend, Caroline Oakenfeld, in her wedding to a pencil-necked geek. But the closer he gets to the ceremony, the more he wonders if he’s been missing out all this time. Caroline has been missing out, and she knows it. She’s been in love with Heck forever, but frittering her life away until Heck wises up isn’t part of her life plan. She’s agreed to marry her boyfriend so she can move on with her life. But the closer she gets to the ceremony, the more she realizes she has to resolve her feelings for Heck. For better or for worse.


Review:

I have come to really like Entangled’s Ever After line.  There are times when I want a shorter read, and after reading many titles from this imprint, it’s become one of my favorites.  Kiss the Bride is a little longer than some of the other offerings in the Ever After line-up, clocking in at a little over 140 pages.  This was a fun read, too, with the perspective mainly told from Heck’s eyes.  Heck can be a self-righteous snot, especially near the end of the story, but he is an entertaining character, and his point of view kept me turning the pages.  How he did not realize he was in love with his best buddy is a bit beyond me, but I guess realizing that Caro was the woman for him late was better than never.  Thirty-four years late, but who beside Caro is keeping track of that anyway?

Heck has been best friends with Caro for his entire life.  When she agrees to marry Dan, her boyfriend for the last three years, he’s lassoed into being the maid of honor.  He thinks Dan is a pencil neck, and wants to kick his ass more often than not, but agrees to help Caro with her wedding.  He is leery that she and Dan are rushing the ceremony, and wonders why Dan is never around.  He hasn’t lifted one finger to assist with the wedding arrangements, but as long as Caroline is happy, Heck’s not going to say anything. Much. 

For her part, Caroline has only agreed to marry Dan to get on with her life.  She’s been in love with Heck for years, but he sees her as a sister.  He’s not physically attracted to her, and for fear of ruining their friendship, Caro stays silent about her feelings for him.  She’s not going to jeopardize their relationship by spilling her guts to him.  What she does want, though, is a family, and after going out with Dan for years, she decides that, while he’s not Heck, he will have to do.  Her clock is ticking away, and she doesn’t have time to waste on a guy who doesn’t even realize that she’s a girl.  She likes Dan well enough, and they have similar goals in life, so they should have a comfortable married life, if nothing else.

When Heck is helping Caro pick out dresses for the wedding, he suddenly realizes that she possesses a pair of ta-tas.  A large pair of ta-tas at that.  Suddenly, he can’t stop thinking about what’s under her dress.  He keeps having very un-friend like thoughts about her.  He is consumed with thoughts of getting her naked.  Uh-oh.  He can’t be having thoughts like this, not when Caro is getting married on Saturday! To the pinhead.

I think I what enjoyed most about this story  is the compressed time-line.  It starts at the dress shop, where Heck has his big revelation about Caro’s boobs, jumps to the bachelorette party he’s planned on Friday night, and wraps up on Saturday, the wedding day.  This is a romance on Red Bull.  It’s quick, it’s funny, and it’s a diverting read.  Both Heck and Caro have trust issues, and while it’s sad that they don’t trust each other, they eventually find the courage to admit their feelings.  It’s almost too late for both of them by the time they do, and I was pretty disappointed with Heck at first, but his run in with the law convinced me that his feelings were real.  If you’ve got some free time, sitting down with Kiss the Bride would be an entertaining use of your time.

Grade:  B

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: The Millionaire Tempted Fate: A Novella by Shirley Jump

 

Title:  The Millionaire Tempted Fate: A Novella

Author:  Shirley Jump

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

 

When Angie Wilson realizes her best friend Max is planning on proposing to Miss Wrong on Valentine’s Day, Angie sets out to win his heart in ten days. From showing him her sexy side to a disastrous attempt at cooking dinner, her plan goes awry at every turn. One night, too much rum, and a hot time in Angie’s bed has Max rethinking his logical proposal to a woman who may look good on paper, but isn’t the one who captures his heart like Angie does. But is he willing to risk losing his best friend in order to have the happy ending he secretly craves?
The Sweet and Savory Romances will make you laugh, cry, and rev up your appetite with their hunky heroes. As a special addition, satiate your hunger—for food that is— with tried-and-true recipes written by the characters inside.
Prequel: The Groom Wanted Seconds
Book 1: The Bride Wore Chocolate (USA Today and Amazon Top 20 bestselling title!)
Book 2: The Devil Served Desire
Book 3: The Angel Tasted Temptation
Novella: The Beauty Charmed Santa
Novella: The Millionaire Tempted Fate


Review:

I will admit that the only reason that I took a chance on this novella is because it was an Amazon freebie last week.  I even read it right away, because it has one of my favorite romance tropes – friends to lovers.  I just can’t get enough of these stories!  There is something about realizing that the love of your life was right there all along that captures my imagination. 

Angie has been in love with her best friend Max forever.  Ever since they were young children, he has held a special place in her heart.  He just seemed to know how to make her feel special, and he never judged her.  Max didn’t have a happy home life, and when his father kicked him out of the house, Angie’s mom took him in again and again.  All the time they were together, though, except for two disastrous kisses, Max has kept things between them platonic.  He values Angie’s friendship too much to muck it up by sleeping with her, and he’s clueless about her feelings for him.  When he finally meets the woman of his dreams, well, the woman that fits the requirements of his matrimonial checklist, Angie is in a panic.  Will she lose the love of her life because she was too much of a chicken to tell him how she felt?

Let me just say that Max has the perception of a mushroom.  It’s more than obvious that Angie loves him with all her heart, but he just can’t see it.  It’s also just as obvious that he loves her, and that if he goes through with his plans to propose to his girlfriend, he will be in for a lifetime of unhappiness.  It’s Angie he calls when he’s having bad day or just because he has some trivial bit of information to share.  It’s to Angie’s he retreats to when he’s down.  And while he has thought about getting naked with her, he just isn’t willing to jeopardize the only steady relationship he’s ever had.  He doesn’t want to repeat the mistake his parents made.  They were best friends who married, and ended up bitterly unhappy with each other.  Instead, he’s concocted a list of qualities the perfect wife should possess, and since his girlfriend meets every bulleted item, and he’s given himself a deadline to marry by the time he’s 30, he’s going to go for it.  With a woman who is totally wrong for him.

Angie is the complete opposite of Max.  She is a free-spirit, who goes in whatever direction her heart tells her.  She doesn’t keep lists, and she doesn’t even have a steady job – she freelances because she has a hard time with schedules and being to the office on time.  She sees that Max is making a huge mistake, and now that she’s about to lose him, she takes a gamble and tries to let him know how she feels, without coming right out and telling him.  The harder Angie pushes him, the harder he pushes back, determined to save their friendship.

This is a sweet, fast read, well worth the .99 price tag.  It’s a free rental if you have Amazon Prime.

Grade:  B+

Review copy purchased from AMAZON

Review: Real Men Don’t Break Hearts by Coleen Kwan

 

 

 

Title:  Real Men Don’t break Hearts

Author: Coleen Kwan

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Ally Griffin is horrified to learn her new landlord is none other than the infuriating playboy Nate Hardy–the man she blames for getting her jilted at the altar six years ago. Plus, now her ex-fiancé is back in their hometown of Burronga, Australia, to marry his beautiful new bride…for real this time. Everybody’s treating Ally with kid gloves, as though she’s still heartbroken, but she’s just fine, thank you very much.

Nate Hardy is tired of his high-flying city career and bachelor lifestyle and is looking for something more real. The last thing he needs is to find himself undeniably attracted to Ally, the woman with whom he never saw eye-to-eye. But is he even capable of what Ally wants and deserves?

As Ally tries to pull her life out of the rut it’s fallen in, she doesn’t count on Nate stirring up her emotions. A short-term fling with the resident bad boy is practically irresistible, but only if she can guard her heart…


Review:

Real Men Don’t Break Hearts is a fun, quick read.  It’s about second chances and changing your outlook on life.  Both Ally and Nate learn to forgive and put the past where it belongs – in the past.  They finally take the lessons learned from a few challenging moments in their lives and start to look to the future.  Ally is especially chained to her past, having suffered a heartbreaking and humiliating breakup six years earlier.  Having been burned painfully by her fiancé, she turns her focus on saving her grandmother’s souvenir shop and decides that she’s not ready to trust again.  After being jilted at the alter, and worse, having hated Nate Hardy, her intended’s cousin, deliver the news, she’s not willing to put her heart at risk like that again.

Nate, a delinquent in his younger days, made it big in Sydney, but now he’s looking for something else.  All of his money and fancy toys don’t mean anything to him, and he’s searching for a new direction, and a new purpose, for his life.  He decides it’s time to face his past, as well as make up for some of the poor choices he made when he was younger.  Moving back to Burronga, the small town where he grew up, he reopens his deceased brother’s landscaping business.  Along the way, he is forced to realize that neither he, nor his older brother, were blameless for their poor reputations and the reluctance of some of those in town to welcome him back home.  Especially Ally Griffin.  He’s always thought of her as prissy, but as he gets to know her, he begins to think that he’s judged her unfairly.

I enjoyed how both Ally and Nate are made to reassess their opinions of each other as the story progressed.  Ally is having a hard time making ends meet at the shop, and she’s past due with her rent.  When she discovers that Nate is her new landlord, she’s terrified that he’ll kick her out, causing her to lose both her business and her home, the apartment above the shop.  She also hasn’t forgiven him for destroying her relationship with her ex. She has blamed him for years for being abandoned at the altar, and having to come to terms with her anger and resentment is hard for her.  She has blamed Nate for so much for so long that it’s hard to just let it go.  As she gets to know him better, though, she begins to realize that she misjudged him and that he’s not the cause of her relationship dissolving.

Nate’s attempts to make amends for his past mistakes makes an engaging backstory.  He’s matured and realizes what a turd he was when he was a teen.  He defaced public property, harassed the next door neighbor, and committed petty crimes.  He was on a ruinous path, and now he realizes how lucky he was to be able to put that behind him.  I liked the interactions between Nate and the neighbor and her crabby dog the best, and felt moved by Nate’s attempts to fix the relationship that he and his brother broke.

Real Men Don’t Break Hearts pushed all the right buttons for me.  Enemies to lovers, redemption, and discovering your path in life, one that makes you happy and enriches the person you are, are all themes I love to read about, and Coleen Kwan explores them with compassion and compelling prose. This is the first book I’ve read by her, but it won’t be the last.

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

Review: Lucky Break by Kelley Vitollo

 

Title:  Lucky Break

Author:  Kelley Vitollo

Publisher: Entangled – Bliss

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

One lucky break is all struggling actress Sidney Williams needs. But when living the LA life becomes too much, she heads back to the small town of Shamrock Falls for the vacation she needs to get her life on track—and immediately runs into Kade Mitchell, her former best friend and the boy next door she’s always regretted leaving behind.

Kade, the new owner of Lucky’s—once the most popular bar in Shamrock Falls—is determined to bring the place back to its former glory, and seeing Sidney again is a distraction he doesn’t need. Sure, the chemistry between them is explosive, but Kade can’t let himself fall into a fling with his best friend—not when he knows she’s soon heading back to the glitter of Tinseltown.

Now, with the possibility of her first major acting role looming, Sidney must decide if her lucky break is in Hollywood or right where she left it—in Shamrock Falls.


Review:

I am always geeked for new category romance imprints, and when I saw that Entangled was launching their Bliss line, I was eagerly awaiting my introduction to the first three books.  Lucky Break is the second book from the Bliss line that I’ve read.  It is a very fast read, featuring my favorite tropes – second chances and friends to lovers.  This title was a mixed bag for me, though, for a couple of reasons.

First, I had a hard time feeling a connection with Sydney.  She’s carrying a lot of baggage around, all stemming from her mother’s abandonment of her.  After dumping her off at her Aunt Mae’s when she was a young girl so she would be free to pursue her acting career, Sydney was left with a heart full of justified bitterness and anger.  If her own mother considered her too much of a burden and didn’t want her, how could anyone else?  Sydney decided that the only way to prove her worth to her mother was to make it big as an actress herself, so she abruptly leaves for LA after graduation, leaving her best friends, Rowan and Kade, without even a word of goodbye. 

The story starts with Sydney blowing another audition, soon after having her car stolen.  She’s running late for her big break, so naturally she is further inconvenienced by a horrible ride on a city bus, followed by a shoe malfunction during her walk to the audition.  She bombs her chance, returns home in a huff, only to discover that her live-in boyfriend, Steve is dumping her for his big break in New York City.  Ugh! The day couldn’t get any worse!  Sydney takes the opportunity to leave her miserable life as a wanna-be starlet and takes a breather back in her childhood home in Shamrock Falls.  She needs desperately to de-stress, and quiet of Shamrock Falls beckons.  Only when she arrives at her aunt’s house, she discovers that Mae has rented the small cottage on the property to none other than Kade, the boy she dropped like a hot potato without even a word.  Her best friend in the world.  Now she has to man up to her guilt and reconcile both her feelings and her relationship with Kade.

Sydney was hard for me to like, and I failed to find her compelling.  I think it’s because to me, she seemed too young.  She reminded me of a teenager, and her reconciliation and courtship with Kade just didn’t push any buttons for me.  They did young things, like go to movies and hang out at the swimming pond.  Kade even taught her how to drive her aunt’s beat up old truck, which had a manual transmission.  I did not find these activities interesting.  I also didn’t warm up to their romance.  It lacked sizzle, and was too predictable.

I did enjoy Kade and his inner struggle to overcome his guilt at not being able to protect his mother from his abusive father.  Watching his mother suffer ate at him, and made him a fixer.  He wanted to fix everything and everyone.  He naturally felt an impulse to protect, as well, and no matter how heartbroken Sydney’s abrupt departure left him, he can’t deny his impulses to protect her when she’s suddenly back in his life.  Because he was always hyper aware of how others were feeling, he was ready to forgive Sydney for the selfish way she left him.

I am really disappointed that this story didn’t gel for me.  The characters read too young for me to relate to.  While this book didn’t work for me, it will appeal to new category romance readers, and young adults looking for a break from a high school set romance.  The sensuality level is on the sweet side, with kisses and sex behind closed doors, so there isn’t much objectionable for younger readers who are ready to start exploring adult romances.

Grade:   C

Review copy provided by publisher

Interview with Kelley Vitollo, Author of Lucky Break and Giveaway!

Kelley Vitollo is the author of Lucky Break, a new release from Entangled Publishing’s recently launched Bliss imprint.  Kelley dropped by the virtual offices to introduce herself, and she brought along a copy of Lucky Break for one of you to win!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Kelley Vitollo] Mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, reader, writer, romantic, sensitive, friendly, emotional, determined, likes fun. Feels very lucky.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Lucky Break?

[Kelley Vitollo] It’s a friend to lovers story about two best friends, who don’t talk for a few years, because Sidney left for Hollywood without saying goodbye. She thought she was following her dreams. Kade knew she was his dream and when Sidney comes home for a short visit, sparks fly, even though they both know it isn’t smart. It’s basically about two people finding their friendship again, falling in love, and discovering who they are and what they want in life.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Kelley Vitollo] The book started with Sidney. I had the first scene of the book in my head. I knew she was a down-on-her-luck actress who had to go home again. Kade grew from there. I wanted a friends to lovers story because my hubby and I were best friends before we fell in love. Once I had Sidney and Kade, the story just grew from there.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Sidney?

[Kelley Vitollo] Determined, confused, loving.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Kade would never have on the menu at Lucky’s?

[Kelley Vitollo] Oh! That is a hard one! Umm… nothing too frilly. Kade is a small town, simple guy, so none of that fancy stuff. Maybe nothing with Hollywood in the title since it’s what he almost lost Sidney to. LOL. Other than that, I think he would be pretty open :)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Kade had a theme song, what would it be?

[Kelley Vitollo] Your Everything by Keith Urban

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Sidney’s most prized possession?

[Kelley Vitollo] Probably her antique sewing machine.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Kelley Vitollo] Oh, another good question. I’m a huge fan of Lucy Monroe and Toni Blake. They both write emotional books with men I can’t help but fall in love with.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Kelley Vitollo] I’m really simple when it comes to writing. I’m not one of those authors who has to have music or anything like that. I’m usually writing with Dora the Explorer going in the background, so as long as I have my laptop, I’m good. I do really love writing at the bookstore or coffee house though. I find it relaxing.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Kelley Vitollo] It’s actually a YA novel called, Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. For adults books I recently read Holly Lane by Toni Blake and really enjoyed it. I’m also a huge JR Ward fan.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Kelley Vitollo] Wow. That’s hard. Honestly, I would probably have to say Harry Potter. As a teen, even though I loved writing, I didn’t read much. Harry Potter started my reading again. Then, when I became a stay-a-home mom for the first time, I found romance and immediately fell in love. The first one I picked up was A Soft Place to Fall by Barbara Bretton.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Kelley Vitollo] I’m a huge reader. I have to read every day. I love spending time with my kids and husband. Going to the bookstore, dinner or movies with a friend. I like to scrapbook, though I don’t do it as much as I’d like to.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Kelley Vitollo] I’m on Twitter @KelleyVitollo, at my website http://www.kelleyvitollo.com/ or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Kelley-Vitollo/377170388965628

Thank you so much for having me!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!

Thanks to Kelley and Entangled Publishing, I have  a digital copy of Lucky Break for one of you to win! Just fill in the widget below to enter. Extra entries for following. Open Internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Didn’t win? You can order Lucky Break from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below

Interview with Candace Havens, Author of Take It Like a Vamp and Giveaway!

 

Candace Havens is the author of Take It Like A Vamp, a new release under Entangled Publishing’s Covet line.  Candace stopped by the virtual offices for a chat, and she brought along a present! One of you can win a digital copy of Take It Like A Vamp!  Find out how after the interview.

[Manga Maniac Café] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.

[Candace Havens] I’m awesome and freaky busy. That’s how my assistant describes me. :)

[Manga Maniac Café] Can you tell us a little about Take it Like a Vamp?

[Candace Havens] Nick and Casey are neighbors in a hi-rise condo development that he owns. They’re best friends, who are secretly in love/hots with each other. That friendship develops into something more. There are supernatural councils, nasty witches and a lot of other fun stuff involved that make things tough on the couple. It’s light, fun and I hope it makes you laugh out loud.

[Manga Maniac Café] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?

[Candace Havens] My publisher mentioned she needed a vampire book. I told her I don’t write vampires. She said she’d love a friends to lovers story and pow! The whole story was in my head and I started telling her about it. I wrote it in four days.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three words best describe Casey?

[Candace Havens]  Loyal, friendly and curvy.

[Manga Maniac Café] What are three things Nick would never have in his bedroom?

[Candace Havens] Evil witches, bad wine and anyone who wasn’t Casey.

[Manga Maniac Café] If Nick had a theme song, what would it be?

[Candace Havens] In Love With A Girl, by Gavin Degraw

[Manga Maniac Café] What are your greatest creative influences?

[Candace Havens] Hmmm. That’s tough. I think books in general and other authors. From Nancy Drew when I was a kid, to Jodi Thomas, one of my early mentors. I’ve been really lucky that way.

[Manga Maniac Café] What three things do you need in order to write?

[Candace Havens] Big bottle of water. Tunes. And my dogs, Harley and Gizmo. I know that’s four, but the dogs are kind of a pair even though one is a Great Dane and the other is a Japanese Chin/Maltese.

[Manga Maniac Café] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?

[Candace Havens] Gosh, I’ve been really lucky with my picks. I guess the last one is Seducing Cinderella by Gina Maxwell. Love her hero in that one.

[Manga Maniac Café] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?

[Candace Havens] Nancy Drew.

[Manga Maniac Café] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

[Candace Havens]  I covet sleep, but it never happens. I’m always writing. I do write about TV and Film, so that’s fun. Some day, I’d like to take a vacation to Paris where I don’t have to worry about anything except where I want to eat, shop or go next.

[Manga Maniac Café]  How can readers connect with you?

[Candace Havens] I am everywhere. (smile) My website is www.candacehavens.com I’m @candacehavens on Twitter and Candace Havens Author on Facebook. I’m also on Google plus, tumblr, myspace and probably social media sites I’ve forgotten. I’d love to hear from you guys, and thanks so much for letting me hang out.

[Manga Maniac Café] Thank you!

GIVEAWAY TIME!!

Fill out the widget for a chance to win a digital copy of Take It Like A Vamp.  Earn extra entries for following.  Open Internationally!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Didn’t win? You can order Take It Like A Vamp from your favorite bookseller or by clicking the widget below.

About Candace Havens:

Bestselling author Candace Havens has written six novels for Berkley including, Charmed & Dangerous,Charmed & Ready, Charmed & Deadly, Like A Charm, The Demon King and I and Dragons Prefer Blondes. Her books for the Blaze line at Harlequin include Take Me If You Dare, She Who Dares, Wins, Truth and Dare, and The Model Marine. She is also in the anthology Spirited, and the proceeds go to help literacy. In addition to Take It Like A Vamp, she has the steampunk novels Iron Demon (Oct. 2012) and Iron Blood (April 2013) from the Maisy Clark series debuting with Entangled Publishing.

Her books have received nominations for the RITA’s, Holt Medallion and Write Touch Reader Awards. Model Marine is a National Readers Choice Finalist. She is the author of the biography Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation’s leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities including Tom Hanks, Nicolas Cage, Tom Cruise, George Clooney and many more.

Her entertainment columns can be read in more than 600 newspapers across the country. Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing class. She does film reviews with the Dorsey Gang on New Country 96.3, and is the President of the Television Critics Association.

Author Website: http://www.candacehavens.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CandaceHavens

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/116617.Candace_Havens

Novella Review: Only Us: A Fool’s Gold Holiday by Susan Mallery

 

Title: Only Us

Author: Susan Mallery

Publisher:  HQN

ISBN: B005Q0B4ZY

 

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Pet groomer Carina Fiore wants nothing more than to confess her feelings to the man she loves. She’s drawn to veterinarian Cameron McKenzie’s good looks, caring nature and especially his devotion to his young daughter. But he’s also her boss and a good friend. Putting her heart on the line could cost Rina both her job and their friendship forever.

Since his divorce, Cameron hasn’t been willing to trust his heart—or his daughter—with anyone else. For months he’s pushed away all thoughts of taking Rina in his arms and kissing her, unwilling to risk their friendship for a single night of pleasure. But when a kiss under the mistletoe unlocks the simmering passion between them, Rina and Cameron may just find love for the holidays after all…

An ebook exclusive Fool’s Gold series novella.

Review:

Having recently read Only Yours and enjoying it, I didn’t hesitate to click the BUY button at Amazon when I saw Only Us.  I have been sampling several novellas lately, and  I have enjoyed them, though at varying levels.  I would have liked Only Us if the story hadn’t been so meager.  It was $1.59, and it didn’t even clock in at 100 pages.  I don’t even know if it was 50 pages, so I have to say right off the bat that the price paid was a bit hefty considering the few page turns.

Rina is in love with veterinarian Cameron, and she also loves his young daughter, Kaitlyn.  With the holiday season approaching, Rina decides to risk her friendship with Cameron by confessing her feelings for him.  The gun-shy vet isn’t ready to hear about her feelings, though, and he wants to just stay friends.  Friends are always there for you, and friends don’t walk out on you like his ex-wife did years ago.  Left with an infant to raise, Cameron firmly locked away his heart and is steadfast in his resolve to remain single and unattached.  There’s less risk that way.  Obviously, the guy has some serious trust issues to overcome.

Rina puts a lot on the line by risking her present relationship with Cameron, but she realizes that she will never be content just being his friend and just being Kaitlyn’s babysitter.  I have to give her credit for doing something that had some huge ramifications for her, both personally and financially.  Since Rina rented space at the vet clinic for her grooming business, there was a great big reason to just keep going with the flow.  What if, as what happened, she was rejected? Would she be able to continue dealing with Cameron on a day to day basis?  I wouldn’t have been able to, and the thought of disturbing the status quo that much would given me a panic attack.  Lucky for Rina she is made of tougher stuff.

The conflict resolution at the end of the story did make me smile, because everyone got their Happily Ever After.  I think that the story could have been longer, though, because there were so many issues for Cameron to work through.  A visit from Simon from Only Yours, and his ensuing advice, tidily gives Cameron something to think about.  While it was nice to see the socially awkward Simon basking in the happy glow of Montana’s love, I wish that Cameron had taken just a bit longer, and pondered just a bit harder, during his soul searching.  Given the page constraints, though, all of the story threads were neatly tied together, and left me grinning.  I just wish Only Us had been longer and better developed.

Grade: B-

Review copy purchased from AmazonThe BLI Holiday Reading Challenge