Shelly Laurenston, The Unleashing

I’m not a big Paranormal Romance reader. I’ve always liked psychics, but things with witches and vampires and shape shifters were never really my thing. Luckily I have good friends who give EXCELLENT book recommendations, and I got hooked on Shelly Laurenston’s shifter books. When I received the ARC I was both excited and trepidatious. The good was YAY! New Shelly Laurenston book! The bad was Hmm. Birds? Really?

I’m not a fan of birds. They creep me out. And they’re pretty evil, but that theory could be because I saw The Birds when I was young and impressionable. *shudder*

I finally had the time and the inclination to read this one and see what it was about. I was as surprised as anyone when I discovered I really enjoyed myself. Kera was the typical Laurenston heroine: Snarky, funny, and not about to take anything from anyone. She’ll stand on her own, thankyouverymuch, and if someone doesn’t like it, there’s the door. It was interesting to see a woman who was, more or less, a total loner adjust to living in a house full of women. Not to mention adjusting to becoming a Crow.

As for Vig, our hero, he was adorable. Quiet and strong and willing to do what was necessary to help Kera become everything he always knew she could be. He is gruff and scary to everyone but her, and he’s been lusting after her for AGES. He is her stability and safety in a world gone mad, and he helps her figure out her place in it. He’s got his “brothers” and she has her “sisters” and watching the two of them deal with it all was fun to watch.

I also LOVED the little bits with Kera’s dog, Brodie Hawaii.

The one complaint I had is there is a lot of world building in this book. I mean A LOT. While it is interesting and cleverly done, this book is obviously a set up for her new series, and even though there IS a HEA for Vig and Kera, there are threads and plots running through The Unleashing which are left unresolved and will be picked up in the next book. I’m looking forward to that one, as hopefully we’ll get more time with the main couple (whoever they may be) and less world building.

Still, all in all, I enjoyed it and will happily pick up book 2.

Rating: 3 Stars

Lynda the Guppy


Jaci Burton, Holiday on Ice

I love sports romances. I love holiday romances. I love Jaci Burton books. That makes this book a trifecta of Guppy happiness.

This was a quick read, which is a requirement of all my holiday reads. I don’t have a lot of time from Halloween until New Year’s Day, so they’ve got to be fast. I have 4 holidays, 4 birthdays, numerous holiday events, and a lot of holiday knitting to do. My holiday stories must be quick, entertaining, and emotionally satisfying, and this one fit the bill.

“Trick” had a casual thing (don’t call it a relationship!) with Stella previously. Because of their jobs (she’s a dancer on Broadway, he’s a hockey player), they drifted apart. They meet again in a bar after one of his games, and they remember how much they enjoyed being together. They both like each other a lot, and respect each other’s career requirements. There’s no jealousy because she’s at rehearsals until all hours. She’s not freaking out because he’s out of town with the team. This book is all about two people trying to make it work with all the outside demands on them. These are also two people who have commitment issues, especially Stella, so it was nice to watch her take a chance on Trick.

This was a nice addition to my Holiday Novella collection. I’ll be spending a lot of time with this one through the years.

Mistletoe on Main Street, Olivia Miles

I am SUCH a sucker for holiday stories. I devour them every year from October through January, and I’m usually willing to take a chance on a new (to me) author with a holiday story, which is exactly what happened here.

Mistletoe on Main Street is book one of the Briar Creek series by Olivia Miles. Grace is returning home for the second time in 5 years. Her father died of a heart attack, and this is the first Christmas without him, so she’s coming home to spend the holidays with her sisters and her mom. Unfortunately the first person she sees is the one she had hoped most to avoid: Luke. Her childhood sweetheart, the love of her life, and the one man she’s always loved, even though he broke her heart.

I enjoyed this one. It had enough angst to tug at the holiday heartstrings, yet it didn’t feel too over-the-top. There were a few things I would have liked to have seen expanded on. For example, the drama and mystery surrounding what happened originally to break up Luke and Grace went on a little too long. And we never really did get a clear answer on that. Sure we “see” what happened immediately after, and what the consequences were, but we never really understand what exactly happened to drive them apart. We also never find out how Karen came into the picture. How long did he really wait before dating her after Grace?

Y’all know my stance on groveling. There can never be enough. That goes double, in my opinion, for holiday stories. While no one really needed to grovel here, the smoothing over of issues was a little too quick. If I were either Grace or Luke, after clearing the air I’d need more than a few minutes before we jumped into bed together, or even took a chance on renewing the relationship.

Overall, this was a nice way to spend an afternoon. I liked seeing their mom start to come out of her grief and get into the Christmas spirit, and I want to shop at Grace’s dad’s book store. I’m also intrigued by both of Grace’s sisters, so I’ll be watching for their books to come out. I’m looking forward to seeing how Olivia Miles’ writing continues to grow.

Rating: 3 Stars

Lynda the Guppy
aka Give Me All the Christmas Stories
And No One Gets Hurt
aka the Fish with Sticks

Rocky Mountain Romance, Vivian Arend

The Rocky Mountain gang. Oh, how I’ve missed you. Yes, we’ve visited with you in the Thompson & Sons series, but it’s nice to get back to the original clans.

In Rocky Mountain Romance, Melody Langley is returning home after a year away to get some extra training for her veterinary skills. Who does she meet first thing? Steve Coleman. Her former boyfriend. The last time they saw each other was right before Melody left and she was dumping a pitcher of beer over his head in the middle of the local bar in front of his friends and family.

One of Melody’s complaints with Steve from a year ago is he was immature and careless with other people’s time. He was kind of just gliding along without ever stepping up to do what needed to be done. In this book Steve knows what he lost when he lost Melody and he’s determined to get her back no matter what. So while she’s spent the year studying, he’s spent the year growing up and facing some unpleasant realities about how he used to be.

WARNING: SPOILERS AHOY! Read on at your own risk.
(highlight paragraph to read spoiler)

While I liked this book, and this couple, quite a bit, I finished the book a little disappointed. I felt the whole situation between her and the ranchers was wrapped up a little quickly, and I wanted to know what Tom’s problem was. Was he annoyed she was left in charge? Was it that she was younger? newer? a woman? Not him? Was he the one causing the miscommunications or was it truly just a series of unfortunate events? I’m a demanding reader. I want to know MORE.


The romance between Steve and Melody hit all the right notes. Seeing Steve struggle to really listen to Melody this time around and be a better man, both for her and for himself, was great. I felt he really paid attention to what was missing from their relationship before and he was putting in the work to make sure it didn’t happen again. He was in it for the long haul.

Melody was also willing to step up. She knew she was taking a risk on trusting Steve again, but she did it anyway because she could see how he had changed and Melody acknowledged that if he could put himself out there again, the least she could do was meet him halfway. It was also nice that she didn’t blame Steve for everything that had gone wrong before. It was as if their relationship was on hiatus while they each grew up a little and decided whether they were going to move forward together or not.

And here’s the part where Vivian Arend always gets me. She has these tortured men in her books that always just grab me and won’t let me go. They spend lots of time as minor characters in books before they get their own stories. The last one was Travis. I loved Travis from the moment I met him, and I KNEW his book was going to break my heart. And it totally did. And I loved every. single. moment. Now there’s Rafe. He’s Gabe Coleman’s younger brother from Rocky Mountain Angel, and he’s another one who is going to break me once she finally gets around to writing his story. Can’t wait.

All in all, and minor disappointment aside, this was a solid addition to the Six Pack Ranch books.

Rating: 3 stars

Lynda the Guppy
aka A Six Pack Ranch Girl
aka The Fish With Sticks

Snow Day Anthology

If you’ve been reading my reviews at all, you know I’m a huge Shannon Stacey fan. What you probably don’t know, however, is I’ve been a Jennifer Greene fan from WAAAAAY back in the day. Like back in the 1989 Night of the Hunter day. She’s written some of my all time favorite books over the years and I will buy anything with her name on it. Barbara Dunlop is new to me, as far as I know, but I’ll be keeping an eye on her in the future.

I was really looking forward to these three stories. A snowed in anthology? Two of my all time favorite authors writing in a short story format? A format in which they both excel? How could I lose?

Well, I didn’t LOSE per se, but it wasn’t a home run either. The first two stories, Heart of the Storm by Shannon Stacey and Seeing Red by Jennifer Greene were good. Both Ms. Greene and Ms. Stacey did the Exes Reunited tropes with some success, but here’s the big problem I had with both stories.


These guys both broke their ex-girlfriends’ hearts when they walked away, and they both did it suddenly and without any reasonable explanation. Without even so much as a conversation. Then they come back years later and decide they want their women back and they’re just going get what they want? Oh, HELL no. These guys, ESPECIALLY Brody in Ms. Stacey’s story, needed to crawl naked over broken glass in the town square in the snow uphill both ways. And they needed to do it NOW and A LOT. And I wouldn’t say no to a good swift kick in the junk just for old times’ sake. (Bloodthirsty? Me? No. You’re thinking of a different guppy)

Brody didn’t seem to really care at first about Delaney and her feelings. He KNEW starting anything with her in front of the whole town would make it uncomfortable when he left (and he WAS leaving), but he did it anyway. Red at least acknowledges his mistake to himself and tries to make it right with Whitney as soon as he can. He DOES grovel a little bit (especially with the duffel bag) but still. As I’ve said MANY times, There Can Never Be Too Much Grovel. Ever.

The last story, Ms. Dunlop’s Land’s End was my favorite of the trio, I think. There were some quirky characters and I still wanted to smack Tessa’s brother Barry into a snowbank, but overall I enjoyed it. It was less about exes getting a second chance and more about a couple just figuring out where they stood with each other and really taking the blinders off to see each other as they really are and not as they want to be seen. I wish we could have had a little more closure with Colton’s father, but I was still happy with the resolution.

Overall, I give the book 3 stars. I’d still probably read it again when I need a quick fix of an entertaining winter story, but, honestly, if I’m looking for a Shannon Stacey book, I’ll always start with Mistletoe & Margaritas or any of the Kowalskis (of DOOM). Honor Bound Groom or Kiss Your Prince Charming are my go to books for Jennifer Greene.

In fact, I think I’ll just curl up with Kiss Your Prince Charming right now. I could use a little friends-to-lovers, ugly-duckling-to-Prince-Charming, injured-hero romance right about now.

Lynda the Guppy
aka Burrowed Under the Blankets Guppy
aka Fish With Sticks

Rating: 3 Stars