I was fortunate enough to wether the beginning of the shutdown working from home and one of the things I did at lunch is read some books in my basket of category romances.
Body Check by Elle Kennedy
Elle Kennedy is a much-loved author on this blog and this is an interesting library sale find because — out of print Samhain novellas aside–I believe this is Kennedy’s debut. In this super sexy romance professor Hayden Houston’s fling with a player on her father’s hockey team gets tangled up in a sports betting scandal. This was an endearing romance that felt very modern despite being over a decade old. I saw hints of all the things I enjoy in future Kennedy’s titles. My only gripe is I feel like the bad guys got off a little too easy. – ★★★ + . 5
The Queen’s New Year Secret by Maisey Yates
I just don’t think Harlequin Presents are for me. This title piqued my interest because ‘Queen’ isn’t used as a hook word often so I thought this book was maybe about a woman who ruled her own country, but it turns out this could have just been called The Kings’s Captive Bride? It’s basically a marriage in peril situation where an American woman asks for a divorce from her marriage of convenience to the King of Petras. But when he discovers she’s pregnant he kidnaps her to a deserted island…as you do in Harlequin Presents world. I was kind of bored with this one, it’s a lot of angst and that characters talking through misunderstandings we don’t see on-page.
During a grocery run I put on the audio (Scribd has a bunch of Harlequin Categories on audio) and I really liked Johanna Parker’s narration. She nails ambiguously Mediterranean accent. – ★★
Breaking Bailey’s Rules by Brenda Jackson
When the Outlaw family receives news from the Westmoreland family that they may be related they send family friend /ex-actor Rafe Walker to check out the claim. Rafe leaves his isolated life in Alaska for Westmoreland Country in Colorado and finds himself enamored by the close-knit Westmoreland family—particularly journalist Bailey Westmoreland. But Bailey has rules and if she falls for the aloof Rafe she’ll have to break her most important rule–never leave Westmoreland Country. I was a miss on this romance between Bailey and Rafe. Bailey seemed a little spacey when it came to the emotional touchpoints in this book, but I loved the sprawling outdoorsy setting and close-knit family dynamic. This is maybe wasn’t the best book to start with because it’s one of the final books in Jackson’s decades-long Westmoreland series. – ★★ +.5
Also, content warning for Jess: The heroine shoots a bear!
I checked out the bonus short story, Reclaimed By The Rancher by Janice Maynard, and it was a pretty missable, oddly paced second chance romance between a rancher and his ex-fiance.