Friday, December 15, 2017

How to Manage a Marquess - Sally MacKenzie (Zebra - May 2016)

Series: Spinster House (Book 2)

Two possible futures loom before Miss Anne Davenport. The first option: sharing an unhappy home with her father and soon-to-be stepmother. The second: a life of independence at the Spinster House--if only her friend, Cat, would vacate the premises and marry the Duke of Hart. A well-placed whisper about the pair's secret tryst might speed the course of true love. But the duke's stubborn cousin poses an obstacle. A ridiculously handsome, very persuasive obstacle…

Nate, Marquess of Haywood, has spent his life looking out for the duke, hoping to stave off a family curse. The only way to keep his cousin alive is to keep him single. That means convincing the intriguing Miss Davenport that her lovely lips could be put to far better use than gossiping. Kissing, for instance. In fact, Nate is beginning to hope that Miss Davenport's destiny lies not in the Spinster House at all, but with him …

Good continuation of the series. This book, about the second of the women vying for the Spinster House, takes place at the same time as the first book (What to Do with a Duke). Anne really wants to be the one chosen to live in Spinster House, as her father is about to remarry - to a woman younger than Anne, with two young sons. The thought of living with them horrifies her. Unfortunately, her friend Cat is the one chosen, leaving Anne stuck at home. That is unless she can encourage Cat to marry the Duke of Hart. But as much as she wants the marriage to happen, the duke's cousin is equally determined that it won't.

Nate has spent his entire life watching out for Marcus. The family curse, which states that no Duke of Hart will live to see his heir born, has been in effect for 200 years. The only way to keep Marcus alive is to keep him single for as long as possible. Which means he has to keep Anne from talking about the tryst that she witnessed.

I really enjoyed the development of Anne and Nate's relationship. It started out quite antagonistic, as each was determined to get their own way. But under that initial antagonism is an undeniable attraction. It gets quite a jump start in the garden of Spinster House, as a confrontation over the tryst they witness turns heated, then passionate. Their argument is interrupted when the cat, Poppy, succeeds in causing them to trip and fall, landing in a very provocative position. Nate's "male instincts" take over and things nearly got out of hand. They manage to extricate themselves with no harm done, but forgetting is another question entirely.

Nate and Anne part ways, only to meet unexpectedly at a house party. I felt bad for Anne at this point, because it quickly becomes obvious that her father's relationship with the widow has moved much faster than she thought and an announcement was imminent. Nate was there as a family friend, filling in for another family member who backed out at the last minute. There was also some awkwardness as the other members of the house party do everything they can to throw Nate and Anne together. He saw the writing on the wall and tried to save Anne from embarrassment. The dinner scene was pretty funny as Anne imbibed a bit too much and Nate tried to stop her. I also loved Nate's sensitivity and kindness as he got Anne away quickly after the announcement. I loved seeing them in the garden as Anne lost many of her inhibitions thanks to the alcohol consumed, and Nate tried so hard to resist. His care for her under difficult circumstances is pretty sweet.

As the party goes on Nate and Anne spend more time together under some pretty unusual circumstances. I loved their time together with the widow's sons, who brought out the best in both Anne and Nate. I loved seeing the protectiveness that both displayed toward the boys and each other. Anne realizes that she has fallen in love with Nate. He is a bit freaked out about his feelings, especially since he sees no way for them to be together while he watches out for Marcus.

When Anne's reputation is threatened, Nate seizes the opportunity to propose marriage and is stunned when she turns him down. Though he returns to London and tries to resume his normal life, things just aren't the same. It gets worse when Marcus states his intention to marry Cat, and Nate blames Anne. He makes a bit of an ass of himself at the wedding, before realizing that he needs to apologize to Anne. I loved the help he had from a certain cat, who made sure they spent enough time together to face their feelings.

I liked both Anne and Nate though I had some issues with each of them also. Anne was sweet and kind most of the time but did have moments of selfishness too. I understood her fear that her father was being taken advantage of since the widow was so much younger, but she also didn't seem to understand that maybe he was lonely. I liked that Anne became a little more sympathetic after Nate talked to her. Nate was an honorable man who was also loyal to those he cared about. He was a bit overprotective of Marcus thanks to the fear instilled in him by his mother, and I completely understood Marcus's frustration. Nate's attraction to and fascination with Anne was fun to watch, especially when the attraction would get out of hand. His conversations with his "man parts" were hysterical as he would try to get himself under control.

Throughout the story, Anne's father really ticked me off. He didn't seem to take her feelings into consideration at all. I didn't expect him to give up his plans, but it looked like he was doing his best to shove Anne out the door as fast as he could. I hated the way he treated her at the house party. I didn't care for the widow either. She made no effort to get to know Anne and seemed to be the driving force behind shoving Anne toward Nate.

I'm looking forward to the last book in the series and seeing what happens with Jane. She seemed to be a little too willing to do anything to get her way as far as getting Spinster House went. It will be interesting to see what love has in store for her.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

In the Spinster's Bed - Sally MacKenzie (Zebra - June 2015)

Series: Spinster House (Book .5)

At Spinster House, a woman can enjoy the spoils of single life -- or find the love of a lifetime…

It has been twenty years since Lord William Wattles laid eyes on Annabelle Frost. Still, he remembers everything -- her ethereal beauty, her bookish intelligence, her surprisingly modern attitudes about love...and lust. But Belle’s allegedly wanton behavior led her father to send her away to save the family’s reputation. Now she resides at Spinster House in the village of Loves Bridge, where an unmarried lady can live -- and in Belle’s case, support herself as a librarian -- in peace...

Beautiful, passionate Belle -- sworn off marriage? William can’t believe the woman he once knew could end up like this. But when the hands of fate bring him to Loves Bridge, his long-lost love might just end up back in his arms. Is their unwavering desire worth the sweeping scandal that is sure to follow them both? Absolutely.

Good introductory novella to the Spinster House series characters though it doesn't have much on why the Spinster House exists to start with. The current resident is Belle Frost, though she's known as Miss Franklin to the people of Loves Bridge. Twenty years earlier she had been kicked out of her home by her father for scandalous behavior and sent to a relative in Loves Bridge. She has served as the town librarian ever since and led a quiet life.

William shows up in Loves Bridge looking for a place to hide out for a while. He is tired of being the butt of gossip because of his wife's antics and wants somewhere to go where no one knows him. He will be plain Mr. Wattles and fill in for the music teacher while he is in Loves Bridge.

Belle and William's reunion came as a shock to both of them. Belle does her best to convince William that he has mistaken her for someone else, but he doesn't believe her. William is stunned to find the passionate girl he knew is all prim and proper. Neither can deny the sparks that still fly between them. A confrontation between them gets heated, then passionate, until Belle recalls that William is married and calls a halt. They spend the next several months doing their best to avoid each other and temptation. Then Fate takes a hand, and William is free to pursue Belle again.

I liked the development of Belle and William's  relationship. Though they had been apart for twenty years, they had never forgotten each other, even as they went on with their lives. I liked seeing their backstory as it was revealed through flashbacks. I admit to being a bit disappointed in the young William's behavior when he returned to school and didn't try to contact Belle, leaving her to deal with the fallout when it happened. I liked that he realized he was wrong to kiss (and more) Belle while he was still married and avoided temptation after that. When he returns after his wife's death, there is no longer an impediment to their being together. It doesn't take long for them to fall into each other's' arms. Those times between them are intense and rekindle the feelings they had before. At this point neither is thinking of the future, until William is called home because of his father's illness.

There isn't much love lost between William and his father and two older brothers. I had the feeling that many of William's actions as a young man were directly because of how they treated him. But he certainly didn't expect the depth of the tragedy that awaited him when he arrived. I ached for William and everything that he went through. During those weeks he finally realized his feelings for Belle and that he needs her with him and in his life forever.

Meanwhile, Belle has to deal with her own unexpected circumstances. I wasn't surprised at the fix she was in, only that she had believed herself too old at all. I ached for her and her fear that she wouldn't see William again because of his new status. I loved her surprise at his sudden appearance and their joy at being together again. Poor Belle was so nervous about confessing her secret, but William's reaction was great. I loved his way of proving to her that his proposal was not being forced by honor.

Stranded with the Navy SEAL - Susan Cliff (HRS #1968 - Nov 2017)

Series: Team Twelve (Book 1)

For one navy SEAL, danger and passion are brewing in paradise

Working on a cruise ship was supposed to be the perfect distraction for chef Cady Crenshaw. Instead, it made her the perfect target. Abducted and thrown overboard into foreign waters, she has only one shot at survival…and it comes at the hands of an irresistible ally.

Navy SEAL Logan Starke's protective instincts were locked and loaded the moment he met Cady at the ship's bar. When a violent struggle to take down her captors leaves Logan and Cady stranded on a deserted island, he leaps into rescue mode. But the hot sand and the even hotter attraction between them can't be denied…and temptation could be the deadliest threat yet.

Good book, though a little different than the romantic suspense that I am used to. The parts I considered "suspense" happened at the beginning and the end, with the middle being a very good survival story. Logan is onboard a cruise ship near Tahiti, where he was supposed to be acting as a bodyguard. However, the client canceled, and he decided to take the trip anyway. He is recovering from an injury received on duty and looks forward to a little rest and relaxation. He also wouldn't mind a little female companionship.

Cady is a chef on the cruise ship. She took the job as a distraction after her ex cheated on her. She is normally a very cautious person, but she picks this night to step outside her comfort zone and sets her sights on Logan. Some conversation and a couple of dances later the sparks fly between them, and they head for his cabin. That's when things go haywire in a big way. Logan is attacked and thrown overboard, and Cady has a bag thrown over her head and is taken off the ship onto a raft.

I loved how Logan's instincts and training kick in even when he's injured and dazed. It doesn't take him long to decide that the only course of action is to swim after the kidnappers and save Cady. The action was intense as Logan worked to get them safely off the boat, only to find themselves floating helplessly in the middle of the ocean. The description of their time on the raft was so vivid that I could almost feel the sun's heat myself. The scene with the shark was terrifying and realistic. I found myself wondering how much more they could take before finding land.

I enjoyed the development of their relationship as it progressed under such challenging circumstances. Cady is understandably freaked out at the beginning. She is so intent on avoiding risk in her life that she has no idea how to handle their circumstances. Logan, thanks to his training, is cool under pressure and knows how to keep them alive. Once Cady breaks free of her panic, I loved seeing her rise to the challenges that Logan gave her. The two of them have to work together to survive, but it isn't always easy. There are some terrific scenes of the two of them butting heads as Cady stands up to some of Logan's caveman moments. Logan's protectiveness can be a little excessive, intensified by some things that happened during his most recent mission with the SEALs. His personal code of conduct tells him that giving in to the attraction between him and Cady would be wrong while he is responsible for her safety. Cady's fear of risk frequently causes her to accuse Logan of purposely doing dangerous things when he's only trying to take care of them or find a way off the island. All the while the heat between them continues to build until they can no longer resist it. Those scenes are intense and the connection between them is far deeper than either expects.

All the time Logan and Cady are on the island they are on the lookout for planes or boats that could provide a rescue for them. They also fear that the men who kidnapped Cady could track them down. When that happens, they once again have to fight for their lives. Thankfully, Cady has changed a lot in the last six weeks, and the outcome this time is different, though no less intense. I enjoyed their arrival back in civilization and had to laugh at their dinner choices for their first meal off the island. They still have some things to work out before they have the future that each of them dreamed of. I really enjoyed the ending with its two unexpected events. I can't wait to read the next book in the series. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

Mine Till Midnight - Lisa Kleypas (St Martin's - Oct 2007)

Series: Hathaways (Book 1)

THEIR LIVES DEFY CONVENTION.
When an unexpected inheritance elevates her family to the ranks of the aristocracy, Amelia Hathaway discovers that tending to her younger sisters and wayward brother was easy compared to navigating the intricacies of the ton. Even more challenging: the attraction she feels for the tall, dark, and dangerously handsome Cam Rohan.

THEIR DESIRE CONSUMES THEM BOTH...
Wealthy beyond most men's dreams, Cam has tired of society's petty restrictions and longs to return to his "uncivilized" Gypsy roots. When the delectable Amelia appeals to him for help, he intends to offer only friendship--but intentions are no match for the desire that blindsides them both. But can a man who spurns tradition be tempted into that most time-honored arrangement: marriage? Life in London society is about to get a whole lot hotter....

Fantastic story. The Hathaway family is a bit different than the usual HR. They are of noble birth but without the usual type of society background. There is Leo, the oldest, who recently inherited a title, followed by our heroine, Amelia, and her sisters Win, Poppy, and Beatrix. There is also a not quite family, not quite servant Gypsy man named Merripen who is an integral part of the group. Life has been difficult for the Hathaway family recently. A scarlet fever epidemic killed their parents, Leo and Win nearly died, Leo's fiancée did die. Leo has been so devastated by Laura's death that he is doing his best to kill himself with dissipation. The man that Amelia loved threw her over for another woman. As Leo has no interest in anything but his own misery, Amelia has taken over the running of the family.

As the story opens, Amelia is searching for Leo, who has disappeared once again. She is determined to take the family to their estate in Hampshire, away from the memories and pitfalls of the city, where they can begin again. Amelia is stubborn, independent, and convinced that she is the only one standing between her family and disaster. In her search for Leo, she encounters Cam Rohan, the half-Gypsy/half-Irish manager of a gambling establishment. Though he has no intention of interfering in their family issues, Cam finds himself unable to refuse to help Amelia find Leo. Once he does, he thinks that the end of it. Fate has other plans, and they meet again in Hampshire in a most unusual manner.

Amelia was impressive and frustrating. I loved her determination and her protectiveness toward her family. She will do anything for them. However, she is a bit overprotective and controlling, especially when it comes to Win and Leo. She tends to take charge, steamrollering over any objections. She also exhibits a very human side. I loved that she wasn't always cheerful and unflappable, but shows the effects of bad days, frustration with her siblings and others, and the occasional loss of her temper. There was also a hysterical scene involving a lizard and a dinner party where her behavior was not what I expected.

Cam was wonderful. We get a little bit of his background, and I have high hopes of learning more in later books. He was taken from his Gypsy family at the age of ten and went to work for the gambling house. As an adult, he is the right-hand man to the club owner and extremely (and unwillingly) wealthy. He has a bit of an internal battle going on between his Gypsy and Irish sides, which has made him rather restless. One of my favorite things about him is that he is comfortable with who he is. He has accepted that he is considered an outsider by both Gypsy and non-Gypsy folks, that he has the respect and friendship of those who mean the most to him and doesn't care about anyone else's opinion of him. He thinks about walking away from it all and returning to the Gypsy way of life until he meets Amelia.

I enjoyed the development of Cam and Amelia's relationship. There were sparks between them from the start, though they initially try to resist. Cam quickly became very protective of Amelia. Once he realized that she was the perfect woman for him, Cam was pretty relentless in his pursuit of her. I loved his way with words as he would tell her of his intentions. He also did not suffer from "I'm not good enough for her," that society could deal with them or not. Amelia was a little harder to convince. She did not doubt the power of their attraction, as shown by the flames that erupted between them whenever he touched her. But she was afraid that a half-Gypsy man would never be content in a traditional marriage, and would begin to resent her instead. I loved that Cam didn't give up on making her see that they were meant to be together.

There were also some secondary stories going on. First was the whole issue with Leo and his dissolute attitude. I was very frustrated with his whole "poor me" attitude. Losing his fiancée sucked, but he still had four sisters that he was responsible for. He redeemed himself a little at one point where he supported Amelia during her encounter with her ex, but that was a very small moment. I ached for him at the end, when Cam made him face his past and make a decision.

There was also something going on between Win and Merripen. Merripen's background is very mysterious, and there appears to be some connection with Cam, outside of them both being Gypsies. He is also very protective of Win and sensitive to her moods. I loved the whole cleaning scene and the solution he came up with that satisfied both her and Amelia. It is quite obvious that Merripen is in love with Win, but he does feel unworthy of her. It is hard to tell at first if Win feels the same way about him. Things get very interesting after the fire in which Merripen is injured, and I loved how the fragile Win comes out on top. I am looking forward to their story.

A Child Under His Tree - Allison Leigh (HSE #2509 - Nov 2016)

Series Return to the Double C (Book 12)

'Tis the season for second chances…and secrets!

Forget the mistletoe maneuvers. Kelly Rasmussen isn't planning on having that reunion kiss with Dr. Caleb Buchanan any time soon. Things had long ago gone south for these former high school sweethearts. Except for that one night six years ago -- which resulted in an explosive secret Kelly's kept till this very day.

Now career and family have brought them both back to Weaver, Wyoming. Their unavoidable clashes -- and instant chemistry -- make them realize this town isn't big enough for the two of them. Or three of them -- counting Kelly's son. Because there's something about that little boy… For one thing, he has Caleb's eyes…

Good second chance story. Kelly and Caleb had been high school sweethearts, but when Caleb went away to college he ended his relationship with Kelly in favor of another pre-med student, breaking Kelly's heart.  The book opens several years later. Kelly and Caleb had a brief encounter that didn't end well, and Kelly is pregnant. Her mother, a real piece of work and doesn't know about the encounter, wants Kelly to try to pass the baby off as Caleb's because "those people take care of their own" (meaning her). Kelly isn't about to force a marriage of obligation on Caleb, having suffered her mother's resentment all her life. So she packs up and leaves home, swearing to give her baby a better life.

Six years later she has come home to settle her mother's estate, bringing her son Tyler with her. An unexpected trip to the clinic brings Kelly and Tyler face to face with Caleb, who she did not know was back in Weaver. She is very nervous because she never told him about Tyler. Caleb is pretty oblivious because Kelly's mom put out the story that Kelly had eloped and had a baby after leaving Weaver. However, there are definitely some sparks flying between them, and it isn't all anger.

Kelly and Caleb have a lot to overcome before they can have a future together. Kelly still holds a lot of anger and hurt over the way that Caleb had dumped her all those years ago. She had been waiting at home for Caleb and he had been with another girl. It didn't help that Kelly's mother was always down on her, telling her that she wasn't good enough for him. Now she also feels guilty that she didn't tell him about Tyler. Caleb has  his own guilt that he has to deal with. Now that he's older, he realizes what a jerk he had been and how badly he had behaved. His reaction after their truck encounter also left him with another reason to feel guilty.

I did enjoy seeing Kelly and Caleb get to know each other again. Kelly's fears had her trying to keep Caleb at a distance, but Weaver is a small town and they see each other frequently. I loved seeing the connection between Caleb and Tyler (right down to their mutual dislike of carrots), which made it more difficult for Kelly to avoid him. There were some really sweet scenes between Caleb and Tyler. Every time he and Kelly meet, the attraction burns a little hotter. Caleb, especially, remembers the things that drew him to Kelly to begin with, and her new confidence and maturity make her even more attractive to him. I liked those times when Kelly could forget the past and allow herself to enjoy Caleb's company. However, the secret of Tyler's birth began to wear on her and she finally blurted out the truth.

This is where Caleb lost me a bit. I understood his initial shock and anger. That was logical and believable. But then he turned controlling and threatening, not even attempting to look for a compromise. I so wanted to grab him and shake him, especially during the confrontation at the hospital. It was so sweet seeing Tyler stick up for his mommy. I ached for Kelly with the solution that Caleb finally arrived at, because she never wanted to be an obligation, and that's all she could see. But she wanted what she thought was best for Tyler, so she put her own needs aside. There were some sweet scenes with Caleb and Tyler, but I continued to want to pound both of Caleb and Kelly because they constantly believed the worst of each other. I liked Caleb's big moment at the end, when he finally figured out his feelings and what he had to do to make things right with Kelly. 

Friday, December 8, 2017

Vegas Wedding, Weaver Bride - Allison Leigh (HSE #2563 - Aug 2017)

Series: Return to the Double C (Book 13)

"I do. Wait…did I?"

Hometown girl Penny Garner is having a Vegas moment: waking up in bed with her teenage crush, a ring on her finger. Then there's the matter of the marriage certificate. How did that happen? The jury's out on whether it's Penny's dream come true or worst nightmare.

Quinn Templeton has to wonder what they actually did that night, too. And when they get back to Weaver, Wyoming, the air force pararescueman can't just ignore the real feelings for his fake bride -- especially if Penny's pregnant. Will they remember what brought them to the altar in the first place…and maybe sign up for a repeat performance?

Good book. Penny and Quinn were confused when they woke up in bed together. Neither could remember how they got there nor could they remember the circumstances leading up to the marriage certificate they also discovered. Penny desperately wants to believe that it is fake, a joke played on them by someone. Quinn is pretty sure it's real. Penny is desperate to keep the marriage quiet until they can arrange a divorce, but Quinn doesn't seem to be all that worried, as they head back home to Wyoming.

I liked Quinn. He's home on leave, recovering from injuries received during one of his PJ missions and trying to get back into fighting condition. He doesn't want to think about what will happen if he isn't able to go back to the job he loves. Quinn is also getting to know his grandmother, Vivian, a very wealthy and very eccentric woman. I really liked the way that he was so calm compared to Penny's drama. I loved his calm in a crisis personality and his sensitivity to Penny and her issues.

I had a harder time liking Penny. I understood her initial panic, but her constant refusal to acknowledge their marriage began to irritate me. Penny had a lot of issues that influenced her. Her childhood in and out of foster homes, thanks to her mother's alcoholism, made her superconscious of being the subject of gossip. She fell in love with a man who had also been a foster child with her. Unfortunately, he was killed in the war just a week before their wedding, causing her to lock down her emotions. She also had self-esteem issues, believing that it was easy for people to walk away from her.

I liked the development of Penny and Quinn's relationship. They had a history together, though not one that Penny liked to remember. She'd had a crush on him when she was fifteen, and he shot her down when she tried to make advances to him. She didn't know that he had noticed her even back then, but he was an adult, and she was just a kid, so he kept himself under control. Thanks to their unexpected marriage, those old feelings have been stirred back up again. Penny panics because Quinn makes her feel things she hasn't felt since Andy's death. She's afraid to get involved with Quinn because, especially with his job, she can't handle the idea of losing again, so she keeps pushing him away. I liked how Quinn realizes that he'd like to keep Penny in his life. I ached for him the morning after her birthday when her fears got the best of her. I liked his big moment at the end as he made another attempt to show Penny how he felt. His words are so heartfelt and emotional. I loved her surprise and shock when she finally accepted the truth.

Penny's boss and Quinn's grandmother, Vivian, was quite a character. She is blunt and outrageous with some of the things she does, but deep down, I think she just wants to be accepted by her family. I enjoyed her run at politics and attempts to get the incumbent to debate her. I also loved the part with her sons and the paintings - clever! I get the feeling that she has a lot of love to give, she just doesn't know how.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Last Single Garrett - Brenda Harlen (HSE #2549 - May 2017)

Series: Those Engaging Garretts (Book 12)

ONE KISS

For twelve years Tristyn Garrett ignored the near kiss with family friend and current boss Josh Slater…until the confirmed bachelor shows up with three adorable little girls in his arms. Making him simply irresistible…

TWO MONTHS

But resist she must, especially when she's trapped for the summer in an RV on the car-racing circuit with the girls and the one man she can't allow herself to have. Because he broke her heart once -- she won't let him do it again!

THREE KIDS
Caring for his nieces on the road, Josh needs Tristyn. But the kiss that got away looms large in the small space…till Josh devises a plan: kiss her again and get it out of his system. With three little chaperones, what can possibly happen?

Fun story and terrific conclusion to the series. Tristyn and Josh have known each other for twenty years. He is her cousin's best friend, and also her boss. Josh is also the subject of her girlhood crush. He stepped in and took her to her senior prom when her date came down with the flu. It was a magical evening for her until the end, when he broke her heart by backing away from her kiss. Josh has never forgotten the kiss that almost happened. But Tristyn was his best friend's cousin and just a kid. Since then he's done his best to keep his distance.

I loved the opening of the book, as Tristyn became more irritated with Josh's disappearing act, leaving her to deal with the results. However, her irritation turned to worry as she continued to be unable to reach him. I loved seeing her show up at his house and her determination to find out what was wrong. It was fun to see Josh try to deflect her with his innuendos only to be exposed by one of his nieces. I loved how Tristyn jumped in to help the obviously overwhelmed Josh. That whole scene was fun, from the cellphone to the explanation of the number of dirty dishes.

Over the next few days there are several more encounters, including July Fourth celebrations with her family. I loved how Josh and Tristyn's attraction is obvious to everyone else, but they try to ignore it. Because it's the height of the racing season, Josh's need to care for his nieces presents some interesting challenges. But the biggest challenge comes when Daniel suggests that Josh use an RV to travel the racing circuit with his nieces and Josh insists that Tristyn come along to help. Tristyn is reluctant because she knows that protecting her heart will be hard if they're together that much.

I loved watching the development of their relationship. They had to work together to care for the girls, and underneath it all was that simmering attraction for each other. Eventually that attraction comes to a boil and they have to decide what to do with it. Wanting to protect themselves, both Tristyn and Josh insist that they aren't up for anything permanent, but giving in and "getting it out of their systems" is possible. Of course, each is lying through their teeth, because their feelings are already involved, though neither will admit it to the other. I especially enjoyed seeing Josh realize that what he had was more than just physical, that he also craved the closeness of talking about anything and nothing and just being together. Tristyn knows that she loves Josh, but is afraid risking rejection once again.

When Josh's sister returns earlier than expected and their road trip comes to an end, Josh and Tristyn have to decide what to do. I ached for Tristyn as she allowed her fears to push Josh away. I also hurt for Josh, who really wanted to see where the relationship might go, though he still isn't quite ready to admit his feelings. Josh's big moment at the end was so sweet and romantic and perfect for the two of them. The epilogue was great, and I loved Ren and his checkered flag.

Besides the fun of seeing Josh and Tristyn together, I loved the three little girls. It was so sweet to see "Uncle Josh" turn into a puddle of goo around them. I loved his patience with their food foibles and seeing him cope with car sickness and potty emergencies (oh, that shower scene!). The one that melted my heart was when Hanna had her nightmare. Each of the girls had their own realistic personalities and behavior for their ages. I especially loved Charlotte and her "it's in the book."