This week, I read a variety of romance stories. From small town Louisiana policing to those recovering from a devastating storm in North Carolina, then off to Regency London where we meet a rugged and stubborn highlander, I read about three very different couples finding their happily ever after. The last is a bit steamy with some descriptive scenes, but the story was quite enjoyable. All were provided to me at one time by the publisher upon request, but I did read/listens with them all listened to audiobooks from my public library. The ratings and opinions shared are my own.
Bayou Dreaming (Butterfly Bayou#3) by Lexi Blake, Jessica Almasy (Narrator)
Published December 1st 2020 by Blackstone Publishing, Berkley
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is the third book in the Butterfly Bayou series and I continue to enjoy these romances set in a small town. Although this is a series, each book features a different couple so they can be read as standalone stories. There are recurring characters so reading ahead you will come across spoilers for the earlier books if you have not read them. Roxanne King was the only female member of the SWAT team in her New York precinct. She was subject to sexual harassment from her boss, but no one wanted to hear that. Her husband is the PR guy and he takes it upon himself to have her transferred, as he does not want any of it to come back on him. She quits and decides to move to New Orleans. She gest a job in a sleepy parish and besides a one night stand, a mistake in her mind, she keeps pretty much to herself. Her one night stand, Zep Guidry has other plans for Roxanne, because he can’t get her out of his mind.
This was another great romance by Lexi Blake. I enjoy the setting of these stories. Even though it is a small town, the police are kept hopping. I enjoy the cajun culture and the small town atmosphere. There are just enough quirky characters to make this a great little parish to set these stories. Roxanne is a strong person and knows what she wants. She also won’t put up with women being treated as second class citizens. When she left New York, she left her family behind as well. They were not happy with her decision to quit the NYPD or to leave her husband, so she lies to them and tells them she is in a relationship. When they come to town for her birthday, she asks Zep to be her pretend boyfriend. I loved how they were together and their slow burn romance. Roxanne’s mother is a hoot. She wants what is best for Roxanne, she just doesn’t realize that what she wants is not what Roxanne wants. The males in her NY life were not my favourite characters, and I can see why she left. Zep is a sweetie. He has had a tough life, giving up his own dreams for his family. He is a playboy, until he realizes what he wants out of life. I really enjoyed watching him change and begin to realize his dreams. I love how animals are portrayed in the book and that they play such an important role in the story. With the romance, animals, culture, friendship, community and family, I love my trips to Butterfly Bayou and look forward to checking in with the wonderful characters I have met in the next book in this series. Jessica Almasy narrates this series and does a great job. I enjoy the voices she gives the various characters, and the accents she uses. She used her tone, inflection and emotion to make this story come alive for me.
Wildflower Season (Carolina Girls #1) by Michelle Major, Carly Robins (Narrator)
Published May 25th 2021 by Harlequin Audio, HQN Books
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Emma Cantrell was a trust fund baby who worked for her family’s trust and married a man who was only after her money. When they divorced and she was left penniless, she knew she wanted a new life, one that her mother was not going to influence. She went to visit her brother in Magnolia, North Carolina, when she fell in love with a dilapidated mansion. She bought the house with the intent to renovate it and open a B&B. Holly is a young woman who is marrying into a rich family, being engaged to an up and coming politician. Both women are in dire straits. The storm of the century that has just passed through has damaged Emma’s new home and destroyed the venue where Holly is to be married. Emma offers her place to Holly for the wedding, if she can get it repaired in time. Holly, in turn, gives Emma the name of a man who used to be a contractor to fix her place. Both women set in motion, changes that will affect both their lives.
This is the first book in a new series by Michelle Major, but being set in Magnolia, you will run into characters from her Magnolia Sisters series. You do not need to read Magnolia Sisters to enjoy this series. I really liked Emma. She wanted to stand on her own two feet and not have her life run by her mother. She was willing to take the chances needed to do this, even if there were risks. Cameron Mitchell was a furniture builder, who used to do home construction/renovation. When his wife died, five years earlier, he packed it all in and began to take people out on fishing expeditions instead. He wanted no reminders of his previous life. He blamed himself for her death and so did her mother-in-law. Neither of them wanted to be attracted to one another, but the heart wants what the heart wants. I really liked watching their relationship grow and the beginning of trust develop. The setting was wonderful and added another dimension to the story. The secondary characters all added much to the story. I liked how they changed along with Emma and Cameron. The writing is wonderful and I loved the dialogue and banter between the characters. This is a sweet, romance with some serious themes (grief, infidelity, divorce, forgiveness) to pack a bit of a punch. I am definitely looking forward to the next Carolina Girls story. Carly Robbins narrated this book and others in the series. As expected, she did a wonderful job with this story. Her voices were very distinguishable and it was easy to identify who was speaking. The pacing, inflection and expression were right on. I very much enjoyed this listening experience.
Hit Me With Your Best Scot (Wild Wicked Highlanders #3) by Suzanne Enoch, Mhairi Morrison (Narrator)
Published February 9th 2021 by Tantor Audio, St. Martin’s
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This is the third book in the Wild Wicked Highlanders series, but the first I read. I had not problem enjoying this story, but will go back and read the first two. There are a few spoilers for them in this one, but there are three brothers and the first two are their romances. Coll MacTaggert is the oldest of the brothers and has the title, Viscount Glendarril. His mother returned to London when he was twelve, but she and her husband agreed that the boys would marry British Women. Coll is the only one not spoken for, and everyone is getting worried. If he does not get married before his younger sister, he will be disinherited. Coll finds a woman that interests him, but she is not a “Lady”. Persephone Jones is an actress, a common woman as far as his mother is concerned. The other roadblock is Persephone herself. She is hiding something and has no desire for that secret to come out. When she starts to be the victim of “accidents” Coll appoints himself her protector and they get to know each other much better.
Coll & Persephone were great main characters. Their connection is perfect and I love that they are intelligent and not what you expect. They are both stubborn and what they want is opposite each other, but their connection is strong. I wanted them to sort things out and get together because I thought they were perfect together. This book has a lot to it: mystery, suspense, surprises, romance, heat, heroic actions & a strong female main character! It was an intriguing historical romance, showing how the Highlanders were willing to match up with the English Sassenachs for money to keep their clans alive, healthy and able to work and farm their land. I like how family and clanship is strong and always important, they will do what they need to do to protect those they care about. The characters are well-developed with interesting detail and are so likable, I would love to meet them again in other books. I enjoyed this Highlander romance and recommend it to those of you who enjoy a hot, highland romance with action, adventure and even a bit of a mystery. Mhairi Morrison narrates this book and does an excellent job. Her pronunciation of the Scottish words and her accent are wonderful. The voices she gave the various characters allowed me to picture them in my mind even more. Her expression, tone and emotion used in her performance added to my enjoyment of the story. I recommend this book in audio form.