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Burning with Desire by Patricia W. Fischer

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 21st April 2017
Burning with Desire by Patricia W. FischerBurning with Desire by Patricia W. Fischer
Series: Men of Marietta, #5
Published by Tule Publishing on April 18th 2017
Pages: 188
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four-stars

As the new owner of the Main Street Diner, chef Gabriella Marcos has taken a huge risk. After being duped by her fiancé and her boss, she invested her entire savings into a place she’s never seen, in a town called Marietta she’s never been to and brought her reluctant teenage daughter along for the adventure. Gabriella is also determined to prove to her overprotective family that she doesn’t need a man to make her life complete. Too bad her sexy new neighbor is impossible to ignore.
Since arriving in Marietta last summer, fireman Kyle Cavasos has enjoyed the anonymity that small town life provides. It’s a far cry from the opulence of Bel Air where he grew up. Here, he can be a Navy vet and a first responder, not the love child who caused a flurry of gossip and tabloid headlines decades ago. Kyle has no intention of getting involved with anyone in Marietta until Gabriella moves in and life gets interesting. Fast.
Despite agreeing to pose for the Marietta Men For All Seasons calendar in order to raise money for Harry's House, Kyle hopes to stay out of the social media chaos, while he gets to know the new girl in town better. But when the calendar goes viral, will it all come crashing down for the both of them?

‘Burning with Desire’ closes the Men of Marietta series not quite with a bang, but certainly not with a whimper. Kyle/Gabrielle was a pairing that I’d been waiting for and it didn’t – by and large – disappoint, though I think I’d expected something a little more exciting and poignant.

Kyle/Gabriella have an attraction to each other almost immediately and they’ve both settled in Marietta for different reasons, yet the things that they’ve left behind turn out to be the very connection that links them together, somewhat coincidentally. I did like Kyle’s backstory though and how he’d made sure that he wasn’t the man his biological father was, which, translated, meant that he was careful with the women he dated. I also liked that he was stubborn enough to make his own honest living as a first responder in a place where fame can’t catch up with him. It was also easy to identify with Gabriella’s gumption and determination to make her new life work for her and her adopted daughter.

It’s only Kyle’s not too little secret that might threaten their newfound relationship, which I didn’t think was that big a deal, as his reasons did seem justified. But as much as I thought it was going to be a huge conflict-climax, I’m sort of glad that Patricia W. Fischer resolved it quite quickly, focusing instead on maintaining equilibrium with just a dialogue that promised more open lines of communication.

I’m a little stuck between 3- and 4-stars for this review, but that’s because I’d hoped for something more, though what ‘more’ really constitutes isn’t something I can exactly articulate. Yet it’s definitely an improvement over the past few books in this series. That it’s quite well-written is a bonus.

four-stars

Falling for the Ranger by Kaylie Newell

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 9th April 2017
Falling for the Ranger by Kaylie NewellFalling for the Ranger by Kaylie Newell
Series: Men of Marietta #4
Published by Tule Publishing on January 1st 1970
Pages: 149
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two-stars

When Todd Harris makes the move from the mean streets of Chicago to the sleepy roads of Marietta, Montana, it’s not just his career that’s changing… it’s his entire life. Going from police officer to forest ranger isn’t too much of a stretch, but getting used to how things work in a small town is. As he settles in, Todd realizes he loves the slower pace of the countryside, but then… an Olympic gold medalist comes to town and shatters his hard fought peace. 


But the town’s new forest ranger doesn’t like attention and he sure as hell isn’t looking for any kind of relationship with someone who does. When Molly Cordero gets lost in the woods though and Todd is the one who saves her, the spark he’s been trying to ignore smolders and ignites. It's then that he realizes there’s a lot more to Molly than ambition and public adulation.
When Todd signs up for the Men of Marietta calendar shoot to raise money for Harry's House, a place for children to commemorate a fallen firefighter, Molly realizes the kind of man he is. With the shoot wrapping up, she faces a painful decision–return to her old life, or give her new life with Todd a fighting chance.

The Men of Marietta series has been good so far and it was without hesitation that I dove into Todd’s story. Todd’s a peripheral character who has been popping up from time to time and is now in need of his own HEA, and unfortunately finding it with disgraced ex-Olympic athlete Molly Cordero who has fallen so far from public adulation that she can’t see past that ruined reputation.

But the truth is I strangely felt let down with this installment and found it beyond difficult to get into a pairing where my intense dislike for the heroine made the book a struggle to get through despite the lovely clarity of Kaylie Newell’s writing.

Molly was petulant, combative—and somewhat defiant about her narcissistic tailspin into destruction—and immensely annoying as she forces her way into Todd’s life when her advances were not entirely wanted. That she tried pushing Todd into posing for the calendar then tried to pry into his life just so she could find out where his personal boundaries lay reeked of hypocrisy when she herself never wanted the wrong sort of attention on her. In fact, I couldn’t help but think of her as a bitter has-been who is trying to reclaim the glory days and euphoric moments of her former life, when it would have been easier to cheer for her if she could have been more earnest and low-key about building herself back up. Her holier-than-thou attitude in contrast, then not hunkering down but running away, certainly played a large part and it was hard to think she was redeemable in any way because she came across as so unlikeable that I’d actually hoped she was simply just passing through Marietta.

Molly/Todd is an unlikely pair nonetheless and their relationship tumbled down the rabbit-hole so quickly that it looked like skin-deep attraction for most of the book. There’re early hostile scenes, a rescue-a-damsel-in-distress moment and then suddenly they’re making out without the build up and chemistry that I expected to see. The conflict between them seemed to stem from Todd’s desire to settle into small-town life and Molly not ready to give up being in the public eye, exacerbated by the nosy neighbour-vibes all around that put more pressure than needed on the both of them. The rather abrupt conclusion reinforces the realistic HFN ending, but I guess it’s probably the most believable one for this particular couple.

two-stars

Daring the Pilot by Jeannie Moon

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 2nd April 2017
Daring the Pilot by Jeannie MoonDaring the Pilot by Jeannie Moon
Series: Men of Marietta #3
Published by Tule Publishing on April 4th 2017
Pages: 178
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three-stars

Keely Andersen hasn’t visited her hometown more than a handful of times in the last ten years, but when her doctoral research sends her back to Marietta for the immediate future, she can’t wait to reconnect with the community and the mountains she missed so much. Of course, nothing goes as planned, and Keely’s truck breaks down a few miles outside of town. When help arrives, she finds herself face to face with her brother’s best friend – the guy she used to call big, bad and gorgeous – Jonah Clark.

Still settling back into Marietta after a harrowing stint as an army helicopter pilot, Jonah Clark plans to spend a few days hiking the local mountains to prepare for his job as a pilot for Crawford County’s Search and Rescue team. When he stops to help a stranded driver, Jonah is shocked to find his best friend’s younger sister is the one behind the wheel. Only now, instead of the geeky teen he remembered, Keely is all grown up with curves he can’t resist.

Though the sparks of attraction ignite immediately, they're hesitant to act because of their shared past. But when a project dear to their hearts is threatened, and a boy is lost on Copper Mountain, Keely and Jonah drop everything to fight for what matters, including each other.

The Men of Marietta series, like most of Tule’s Marietta books, comprises standalone stories, which are, well, great. It’s easy as a reader, to dip in and out of this charming fictional town, get sweetened up on a particular pairing as and when you wish. I’ve enjoyed most of the books Marietta no matter the author and ‘Daring the Pilot’ is another cute but sweet read of the brother’s best friend that never happened until it did.

Having known each other for many years before a lengthy career separation of a decade, their visits back home had somehow always made them miss each other – Jonah in between his deployments and Keely in between her travel and research – until their paths converge once again this time around. And like Eliza Doolittle, Keely Anderson’s smart-geek act has become brilliant geek-chic, outdoorsy, artless and near irresistible, and it’s giving Jonah is having a hard time in keeping his hands off her.

Mostly, the story loped on as Jonah and Keely found themselves integrating into the small-town community, as characters (probably from previous books) wove in and out of their lives.It isn’t sufficiently explained why Jonah suddenly saw Keely as a woman rather than just a best friend’s sister, though I would have been happier with a concrete, believable explanation. I liked the chemistry between Keely/Jonah but was less thrilled about the virgin/experienced man trope though, even though neither denied their feelings as they hurtled headlong into this attraction that turned into much more. There’s a little talk about double standards between men and women, though not enough to start a pro-feminist treatise…which really isn’t what the story is about anyway.

I found myself enjoying this read up until the turn at the end where some out-of-character moments made it go awry, as though conflict was created for the sake of dislodging the notion of a smooth-sailing HEA and bring about the grovelling moment until the actual resolution arrived…in a rushed and abrupt way. It didn’t exactly detail the whole experience for me, but I’d certainly hoped for a different ending and a more realistic conclusion that didn’t quite involve a hurried wedding because of an unplanned pregnancy.

That said, ‘Daring the Pilot’ (the title seems like a complete misnomer) is nonetheless a quick but entertaining read, good for a few hours of distraction, as Marietta is always wont to do.

three-stars

Flirting with Fire by Kate Hardy

Posted in Advanced Reader Copy/ Chick Lit/ Contemporary Romance/ Netgalley/ Reviews 1st April 2017
Flirting with Fire by Kate HardyFlirting with Fire by Kate Hardy
Series: Men of Marietta #2
Published by Tule Publishing on March 28th 2017
Pages: 166
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four-stars

 Meet Mr. July... 

When meticulous rule-follower Emily Foster meets adrenaline junkie Lyle Tate, the last thing she wants to do is get involved with him–especially as her twin sister has fallen in love with his older brother. 

But under his charming, reckless, sexy exterior, Tate's the kind of man who rescues people. Can Emily break her rules enough to learn that she can trust Tate with her heart? And will Tate let Emily close enough to learn his deepest, darkest secrets and let her prove to him that he's worthy of love?

How Tule Publishing’s fictional town of Marietta has grown…and without appearing like a sap, I’m rather amazed at how many of the authors contributing to the the incredible stories built around this scenic, picturesque place have give me such entertaining reads along the way.

‘Flirting with Fire’ is yet another one of those charming, easy and light reads which gave me more than a few hours of fun escapism. I hadn’t read the previous books in the series, but Lyle and Emily certainly hold their own quite easily throughout. With more than a few hints of pride and prejudice in it, the slightly antagonistic attraction between them was great to follow and I thoroughly enjoyed how the attraction slid into something deeper as both fought a connection that couldn’t possibly be forged in a mere few days. Or could it?

There are several issues to be untangled – although it seemed a little overblown on Lyle’s side – as I’d expected, but Emily impressed me somehow, with her no-nonsense, cool stance, displaying none of that hysterical desperation (sacrificing dignity and self-worth in the process) that I typically detest when push comes to shove. Both characters – perhaps more of Lyle really – aren’t quite who they seem and Kate Hardy has made sure Lyle/Emily can only be together after their veneers have been stripped. The ending is somewhat abrupt and rushed though – with an almost-harried solution that made me wonder if their Happy-for-now would last – and I’d hoped I could see how they got on some time down the road.

Nevertheless, the Men of Marietta series is making me perk up, because there are still several stories to be told and I’m eager to see it get on.

four-stars
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