Sunday, December 31, 2017

Texas Rebels: Elias - Linda Warren (HWR #1670 - Dec 2017)

Series: Texas Rebels (Book 7)


Maribel McCray knew moving back to Horseshoe, Texas, would mean facing Elias Rebel, the cowboy she was forbidden to love in high school. She just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. With her teenage son, Chase, in trouble, she needs Elias’s help. He may be a Rebel, sworn enemy of every McCray, but he’s also Chase’s father.

For the lone bachelor of the Rebel clan, there’s only one way to make up for lost years with his son -- become a family for real. But Maribel’s distance runs deeper than the Rebel-McCray feud. Elias won’t settle for a marriage of convenience with the woman he’s falling for again. How can he convince Maribel some second chances are worth taking?

Excellent conclusion to the series. Elias is the last of the Rebels left unmarried. In the previous books, he has been shown to be the brother who works hard and plays hard. He can be a little on the short-tempered side, seemingly enjoying a good fight when the opportunity arises. At the beginning of the book, Elias gets roped into helping the sheriff watch for some kids who have been stealing beer around town. He's there when three teen boys take their chance and helps catch the one who tries to run. He is surprised to find out that it is Maribel McCray's boy.

Maribel and Elias had known each other in high school. Because of the feud between their families they were told to stay away from each other. She left Horseshoe before graduation, escaping from an abusive father. Now she has come back, along with her teenage son. Maribel had been living in Dallas with a friend who died, forcing Maribel and Chase to find another place to live. Then Maribel lost her job and they came home to Horseshoe to live with her sister until she gets back on her feet. Her son Chase is not happy about the move and has been getting into trouble, hoping to force Maribel to move back to Dallas. His latest stunt has gotten him into trouble with the law and Maribel is desperate to get help with him - to the point of asking the boy's father for help. The problem is that Chase's father doesn't know about him.

To say that Elias is stunned by Maribel's news would be putting it mildly. It was fun to see Elias process that news. I loved the way that he immediately stepped up to provide the guidance that Chase needs. Both Chase and Maribel try to fight it, but quickly realize that Elias isn't going anywhere. Theirs isn't the only resistance. Elias is flabbergasted by his mother's reaction to the news, which creates some unexpected family drama. I loved Elias's firm but fair treatment of Chase and the difference it made to Chase's attitude. Though Chase was certainly antagonistic at first, it didn't take long for him to come to respect and like Elias.

The rekindling of the relationship between Elias and Maribel was a slow and steady process. Elias starts out with the determination to take care of Maribel and Chase. The purchase and renovation of a house for them was the first step. With the three of them working together it gave them all a chance to get to know each other. Elias is pretty quick to realize his feelings for Maribel are growing. Maribel suspects that hers are too, which scares her. Thanks to her past, she has turned her back on love, believing that she doesn't want any part of the kind of love that she witnessed. Though she agrees to marry Elias to make the family they feel they need, she makes it clear that deep emotion will never be part of the equation. But Elias has something else in mind and works hard to show her what they could have together. It takes a friend to give Maribel a different point of view and help her realize that she was letting the past dictate her future and chance for happiness. But it takes a near disaster for her to finally let go of the last of her fears and open herself up to Elias's love.

Family dynamics played a huge part in this book. I loved the support that Elias received from his brothers and their wives. The surprising development was the attitude of Elias's mother, Kate. As she had accepted the other two McCray's into the family, I was stunned by her vicious attitude toward Maribel and her threats to Elias if he went against her wishes. I ached for Elias, who felt betrayed by her and hoped to see Kate come to her senses. I loved Elias's grandfather and how he connected with Chase. It was interesting to see the reaction of Maribel's father when she came back to Horseshoe. I loved Elias's protectiveness toward Maribel during that scene. I have enjoyed seeing the younger generation make it clear that the feud has no place in their lives any longer. There was a surprising and heartwarming scene at the end that gave hope for the future of the two families.

I have really enjoyed this series and can't wait to see what is next for this author. I admit that I would love to see Jericho get a story of his own. He has been a steady presence throughout the series and deserves to find his own chance at happiness.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stone Cold Undercover Agent - Nicole Helm (HI #1730 - Aug 2017)

Series: Stone Cold (Book 2)

This undercover Texas Ranger is her last, most dangerous chance

Jaime Alessandro fears he's been undercover too long. Now his only shot at destroying one of Texas's largest crime organizations is Gabriella Torres -- a "gift" from The Stallion and his longest-held captive. Her inside info and inspired moves are helping Jaime take the gang apart. But what he's starting to feel for the brilliant, tough-minded Gabriella could get them worse than dead…

Gabriella learned early to put her emotions on lockdown. She has no reason to trust Jaime. But every moment together, every stolen glance, kindles a desire she hungers to explore. And now trust is the only weapon they dare risk -- even if it proves lethal.

Good book that caught my attention from the beginning. Gabby is a woman who was kidnapped and has been held as a slave for eight years. At this point, she has given up hope of ever being found and released. As the oldest one there, she serves as kind of a mentor for the other three women captives. Things take an unexpected turn when her captor gives her to one of his henchmen.

Jaime Alessandro, an FBI agent aka Rodriguez, has worked his way up The Stallion's organization over two years. He has begun to feel that he has been undercover too long. He is disturbed by some of the things he has had to do and has started to feel like he no longer remembers the real Jaime. He's not very happy at being "given" one of the women until he discovers just how good a resource Gabby is.

I loved the development of their relationship. Gabby was understandably wary at first as she has no reason to trust Jaime. I loved their first encounter, as his actions bewildered her until she figured out that there was something different about him and he told her who he was. I loved the way that he was so impressed by her observational and deduction skills. It was kind of funny how he was so freaked out by how easy she figured him out. There was also an immediate attraction between them. This surprised Gabby, who thought that her emotions were permanently suppressed after being held captive for so long. His strength and unexpected sensitivity rekindled things she had long forgotten. Jaime tries hard to resist the attraction he feels for Gabby. She is a victim and vulnerable, plus getting involved could put them both at risk if discovered. But the more they are together, the harder he finds it to resist his growing feelings for her. It was interesting to see how their relationship/partnership evolved. Gabby's growing strength and confidence were fantastic and I loved seeing her stand up to him when it was necessary. I was surprised by how he was willing to risk the investigation at one point. When everything was over, it was interesting to see how both Jaime and Gabby dealt with what had happened. I liked the realism of Gabby's worry over re-entering the real world and his bosses' concerns for Jaime after his return. Jaime's concern for giving Gabby enough time to recover was sweet, but Gabby wasn't having any part of it. I loved watching her go after what she wanted.

The suspense was good from the beginning. The Stallion was so unpredictable that it made him even more menacing. Jaime's need to project his henchman persona was obvious, especially when it came to the other two men who were there also. I loved seeing the way that he and Gabby worked together to try to identify the fourth compound. It was nerve-wracking to see how Layle was constantly in Jaime's face. When Gabby's sister was threatened (Stone Cold Texas Ranger) Jaime becomes even more determined to bring the case to a quick conclusion. The tension at the compound steadily increases and begins to affect the women also. I wasn't sure how the whole thing with Alyssa was going to go and was very impressed with the way that Gabby handled it. Jaime's confrontation with The Stallion was intense, all the while he worried about Gabby and her safety. I loved how the women took matters into their own hands, though once again Alyssa was a problem. That confrontation was intense, but also a bit amusing in places. I'm really looking forward to the next book and reading Alyssa's story.

Texas Rebels: Paxton - Linda Warren (HWR #1653 - Aug 2017)

Series: Texas Rebels (Book 6)


After years of girls, beer and a wild life on the rodeo circuit, bull rider Paxton Rebel is done being "The Heartthrob." His brothers have already settled down and are starting families. Paxton doesn't really believe he's meant for love…until he rescues the slight, lovely woman with sea-green eyes on a cold, windy beach.

Remi Roberts can't trust a charming lady-killer cowboy like Paxton -- especially since he's a Rebel, a family she's been taught to distrust. She needs to concentrate on recovering from her accident, which is the only thing standing in the way of her adopting the baby girl she adores. Besides, fairy tales don't exist and bad boys definitely don't change. Only, this cowboy is determined to prove her wrong…

Very good book. It opens with Paxton doing a bit of soul-searching. He has been on the rodeo circuit for a long time, enjoying the parties and the buckle bunnies. But after seeing most of his brothers settling down, he has started to realize that he's missing something in his life. He's not sure he's cut out for love until he runs into Remi Roberts.

Remi is recovering from serious injuries received in an accident. She has to get healthy fast because she wants to adopt her best friend's orphaned baby girl. She doesn't need the distraction of a bad boy Rebel.

I really enjoyed the development of Remi and Paxton's relationship. Paxton was bowled over by Remi from the beginning and couldn't get her off his mind - even after he discovered she was a McCray. There is something about her combination of determination and vulnerability that really gets to him. He is a bit wary of getting involved, especially after he learns of her adoption plans, because he doesn't think he has what it takes to be a husband and father. I loved seeing the way that Paxton found ways to help Remi with her recovery without trampling on her independence, as was demonstrated by the scene with the stick. His trip to a therapy session with her was awesome and showed just how serious he was about helping her. I also loved how he was smitten by Annie, which changed his viewpoint on fatherhood. Remi is especially wary of Paxton because of two things: his reputation with the ladies and his being a Rebel to her McCray. She does her best to push him away and is surprised when he sticks around. I liked how she began to accept his support and help the more time that they spent together. I liked how their feelings for each other grew steadily and the feeling of family that they experienced. When they ran into trouble over the adoption, I ached for both of them. Paxton was hurt by the way that Remi pushed him away when all he wanted was to be there for her. I also loved his determination to give her the time she needed and not give up on her. I wanted to shake Remi a little bit. She loves Paxton but believes he'll be happier without her in the long run. It takes her a while to realize the truth of their relationship, and it takes a couple of geese to do it. I loved her big moment at the end - it was perfect for her and Paxton. There was also an unexpected but wonderful twist to finish off the book.

There were also some new and interesting things revealed about the McCray family. I loved Remi's grandmother, Miss Bertie. She was delightfully eccentric, though a little scary at times. She was a real trip with that shotgun of hers. I ached for Remi and her desire to reconnect with her brother. It was interesting to see the development of that relationship. I liked the support that Paxton received from his family once they realized that he was serious about Remi. The interactions among the brothers are always fun to see, especially when it comes to their love lives and this was no exception. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens with the final brother, Elias.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Protecting Her Secret Son - Regan Black (HRS #1969 - Nov 2017)

Series: Escape Club Heroes (Book 3)

After escaping a world of ruthless crime with her child, Shannon Nolan finally thought she'd left her nightmares in the past. Then the worst thing she could imagine happens: her son is kidnapped! With nowhere else to run and no one else to trust but her boss, she puts her life in Daniel Jennings's hands.

Firefighter Daniel knows Shannon is safe under his protection, but the one threat he doesn't want to face is his growing passion for her. Moreover, she's vulnerable and isn't searching for love. But as they put everything on the line to rescue her son, that very connection might just be what saves them all…

Excellent blend of suspense and romance. Shannon had escaped an abusive marriage and moved to Philadelphia, where she changed her name and started a new life for herself and her son. She now has a good job with Jennings Construction and is happily raising her son Aiden. She has even allowed herself to have a bit of a crush on her boss, Daniel, not that anything could come of it. She is always aware that her ex is out there and could come looking for her. Then her worst nightmare comes true and Aiden is kidnapped from the sitter's house. In her panicked state, she turns to the only person she can trust - Daniel.

Daniel has been watching Shannon for a long time. He's impressed with her devotion to her son, her work ethic, and her friendliness, not to mention her beauty. He has just about gotten up the courage to ask her out when the kidnapping occurs. He follows her home knowing that she shouldn't be alone. When he finds out what is going on, he knows just who to call for help.

I loved Daniel. As a firefighter he's used to remaining calm in a crisis and that ability is desperately needed. I loved how he was able to take charge without steam-rolling over Shannon; he was sensitive to her fears and her need to do something. He's not perfect, as he has some issues of his own going on. He is a firefighter to the bone, but he is also a Jennings and involved in the family construction business. There is a major conflict between Daniel and his father, who wants him to give up firefighting and take over the business.  The relationship between the two men is definitely strained at times.

I really enjoyed the balance of suspense and romance in the book. The intensity of the search for Aiden started at the beginning with Daniel's involvement with the Escape Club. I loved each twist and turn as Daniel and Shannon raced to find Aiden. There were odd demands that led Shannon to figure out who was behind it and the unexpected revelation of why. The scene at the pier warehouse had me on the edge of my seat until it was over, but there were still threats hanging over Shannon's head. The final confrontation was intense and really showed the strengths of both Shannon and Daniel.

I loved the development of the relationship between Shannon and Daniel. The attraction was there from the start with each very aware of the other. The kidnapping gave Daniel the chance he needed to spend time with Shannon. Shannon was so overcome with fear for Aiden that it took Daniel's calmness to break through and help her focus on what needed to be done. I loved seeing them get to know each other and develop a friendship. I liked how they shared everything from their struggles to their dreams, finding that they had a lot in common. I loved Daniel's determination to keep Shannon from running and find a way to keep her in his life. I ached for Shannon and how sure she was that there was no way she would be able to stay after she got Aiden back. Once Aiden was rescued, I loved seeing the instant connection between him and Daniel. The two of them together were adorable, and I could see the effect it had on Shannon. The attraction between Daniel and Shannon kept building also, and added to the feelings that grew between them. The question became one of whether Shannon would have the courage to stay and fight for the future she wanted. I loved the ending and the surprise offer that was the icing on the cake of their happiness.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

The Flame and the Flower - Kathleen Woodiwiss (MacDonald & J - Oct 1980)

Series: Birmingham Family (Book 1)


In an age of great turmoil, the breathtaking romance of Heather Simmons and Captain Brandon Birmingham spans oceans and continents! Their stormy saga reaches the limits of human passion as we follow Heather's tumultuous journey from her kidnapping at a squalid London the splendor of Harthaven, the Carolina plantation where Brandon finally probes the depths of Heather's full womanhood!


Doomed to a life of unending toil, Heather Simmons fears for her innocence - until a shocking, desperate act forces her to flee...and to seek refuge in the arms of a virile and dangerous stranger.


A lusty adventurer married to the sea, Captain Brandon Birmingham courts scorn and peril when he abducts the beautiful fugitive from the tumultuous London dockside. But no power on Earth can compel him to relinquish his exquisite prize. For he is determined to make the sapphire-eyed lovely his woman...and to carry her off to far, uncharted realms of sensuous, passionate love.

This is still one of my favorite books, in spite of the events at the beginning. Heather is young and innocent and quite the Cinderella figure. Her parents are dead and she is forced to live with her aunt and uncle. The uncle is henpecked and the aunt is abusive and obviously jealous of Heather's youth and beauty. Heather is turned over to her aunt's brother, who offers to take her to London and get her a job at a school. However, he's lying through his teeth, because he plans to use her himself then sell her to a brothel owner. In a rare show of spirit, Heather manages to escape him but ends up lost on the London docks. There she is grabbed by a couple of American sailors and given to their captain.

Brandon's ship has just arrived in London from South Carolina and he's feeling frisky. He's had a bit to drink and doesn't believe Heather's claims of not being a prostitute until after he has forced her. While he feels a slight pinch in his conscience, he's determined to set her up as his mistress for future visits. He's arrogant and overbearing and fully expects her to obey him when he tells her to stay put.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Heather show a bit of backbone when it came to her escape. Previously she had been quite timid and gave in quickly when berated by anyone. It was great fun to see her overcome Brandon's servant George with an empty pistol, then make her way back to her aunt's home. I ached for her and the abuse she continued to experience at her aunt's hands. Though Fanny's motives were selfish, I was happy to see her go to Lord Hampton for help in finding Brandon. I loved Lord Hampton's kindness and how he wanted what was best for Heather. In that time period, that meant forcing the man in question to "do the right thing." Though Brandon is angry at being threatened, there were hints that he isn't quite as bad as first impressions indicated. I loved the scene where he covered Heather in his cloak after Fanny ripped Heather's dress.

It was terrific to see the changes that both Brandon and Heather undergo over the course of the book. Brandon is initially arrogant, angry, and sometimes cruel. But when it comes down to it, actions can speak louder than words. His anger is expressed in the things he says, accusing Heather of setting out to trap him. He makes threats about keeping her prisoner, making sure she gets no benefits from the marriage, and stating that he will never sleep with her again. Yeah, that one comes back to haunt him. But in spite of his words, he takes her to get a whole new wardrobe (including something special for the cold weather sea voyage) and makes sure she is protected while they wait to sail. Heather is quiet and fearful and provoking Brandon's temper, but inside there is a spark of spirit that continues to grow. I loved her obvious relief that she is going to avoid her "wifely duties" and the dent that made in Brandon's ego.

I enjoyed the development of their relationship. Brandon becomes more intrigued by Heather with each day. She isn't what he expected and he isn't quite sure how to deal with that. I enjoyed seeing the kinder side of him emerge and loved his shopping trip with her. There were times during that period that Heather was able to forget her fear. I loved her sense of wonder and fun during those lighter moments and ached for her when something would set Brandon off. It made me laugh to see the way his physical frustration grew because it was his own fault. During the sea voyage, the confrontation between Brandon and Heather that ended up causing her illness was a turning point in their relationship. Brandon's attitude softened somewhat and Heather was able to relax a little bit of her hyperawareness.

Things got really interesting once they reached Charleston. The extreme difference between Heather and Brandon's ex-fiancée, Louisa, was obvious. In spite of Brandon's claims otherwise, he treated Heather with great care and respect around other people. I loved the effect it had on Louisa, who was a real piece of work. Brandon still had moments of being a jerk, but it became more and more obvious that those were in reaction to the battles he was fighting with himself. There were more and more scenes where he stood up for her, especially against Louisa. Heather also began to bloom in her new circumstances. She gained more confidence in herself, though encounters with Louisa still tended to dent that confidence. I loved the part where they were all cleaning the mill house and everyone kept trying to keep Heather from working and she would resist their efforts. I also loved the scene with the former mill owner and how Heather stood up to him. I loved seeing her and Brandon grow closer and lose most of their antagonism. Their individual decisions to find a way to fix their marriage were pretty funny since they both wanted the same thing. If they had just let go of the pride that was holding them back and actually talk to each other about their feelings things might have gone more smoothly. I ached for Heather when it seemed that her past was about to ruin her hope for a happy future with Brandon. The confrontation with that past was intense and I loved how Brandon was there for her. I loved how they were finally able to admit their feelings for each other and admit their mistakes.

The secondary characters were very well done. Louisa was an excellent foil for Heather. Her selfishness and arrogance made her so very easy to dislike. It was quite satisfying to see the way that she was consistently shown up by the differences between her and Heather. Her frustration at not being able to drive a wedge between Heather and Brandon was acute. I must admit to enjoying the scenes where she was thwarted in her attempts to do so. I feel badly about what happened to her at the end, but it did serve to wrap things up well. I also enjoyed Hattie and her fussing over all the Birminghams. It was fun to see her get in a few digs against Brandon and his idiocy. My favorite secondary character was Jeff. I loved how close he was to Brandon and the respect and love they had for each other. I adored his immediate support of Heather and the friendship that grew so quickly between them. I loved the scenes where he showed Brandon what an idiot he was. I especially loved the scene while he and Brandon were waiting for Heather to give birth and the calculations he did. He had such an air of innocence while he was jerking Brandon's chain. I know I have read his story, but I would like to go back and read it again.

The bit of mystery at the end, dealing with Heather's past and the murders that took place, was also interesting. The fear that Heather felt was real and kept me hooked to see how it would turn out. The final confrontation was intense and I could feel Heather's terror as she tried to escape.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Always a Lawman - Delores Fossen (HI #1749 - Dec 2017)

Series: Blue River Ranch (Book 1)

A sheriff’s heart-wrenching past threatens to destroy his future

Ten years ago, Sheriff Gabriel Beckett helped convict the man who murdered his parents in a shocking crime that still haunts his small Texas town. Now the terror has returned and the woman who escaped the attack is a target again.

Jodi Canton loved Gabriel -- until that love shattered with his parents’ murder and her father’s conviction. Taunted with threats, she’s determined to bait the real killer out of hiding. Drawing out a criminal puts her life on the line, but Gabriel’s protection puts her heart in danger. Even if they survive a predator, can they risk everything to heal each other?

Exciting start to the new series. Nearly non-stop attacks, multiple suspects, and a simmering attraction kept me glued to the pages from start to finish.

Ten years after the murder of his parents, Gabriel is the sheriff of Blue River. He isn't very happy to find Jodi, the daughter of the man convicted of those murders, at the scene of that crime, and where she had also nearly lost her life. He's even less happy to discover that she is receiving threats and has made herself a target to try to draw the attacker out. Both of them get quite a shock when they find a knife like the one used in her attack and a dead body in his parents' old house. Having a masked man shoot at them just adds to the tension.

I liked Jodi a lot. She is independent, determined, but also vulnerable. The attack that nearly killed her continues to affect her. She has learned to protect herself so that she can keep herself safe. She is determined to discover the truth of what happened that night and clear her father's name. She is also haunted as much by what she doesn't remember of that night as by what she does remember. If she can find out who it was, maybe she can finally move on with her life.

I also really liked Gabriel. He is honorable, protective, and has his own regrets from that night. Ten years ago he had turned away the young Jodi who had shown up at his place with seduction on her mind. In his opinion she was too young, so he turned her down and sent her away even though he wanted her too. Now that she's back, he is determined to keep her safe.

The suspense is fantastic. Jodi's actions have stirred up a veritable hornet's nest. There is attack after attack on Jodi; attempts to silence her before she can fully remember and expose the person who tried to kill her. With each attack, someone different rose to the top of the list of suspects. Is it Hector, who was there to pick up the pieces after Jodi's attack? Or her uncle August, who doesn't think she's trying hard enough to clear her father's name? Or her ex-boyfriend Russell, who claims that his association with her has put him and his family in danger? Through most of the book I couldn't decide who I thought was the actual culprit. The final confrontation was intense as the bad guy had Gabriel and Jodi cornered. The resolution was heart-pounding as Jodi faced her attacker and came out on top this time. Though the mystery of who tried to kill Jodi is solved, there is doubt now over whether her father is truly the one who killed Gabriel's parents. I can't wait for the next book to see what new information is revealed.

I loved the development of Jodi and Gabriel's relationship. Jodi had thought that in the intervening years her crush on Gabriel had diminished. She was not very happy to realize that her feelings for him were as strong as ever. Gabriel also wasn't happy to feel that same attraction that he had found so hard to resist before. I loved seeing the strength and determination that Jodi had developed. It was great fun to see her stand up to Gabriel's attempts to keep her out of the line of fire. His protectiveness was sweet, but it sure did frustrate Jodi. I also liked his sensitivity to her wariness about being touched. I loved seeing them finally realize that they were meant to be together. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them in later books.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Single Mom's Bodyguard - Lisa Childs (HRS #1960 - Sept 2017)

Series: Bachelor Bodyguards (Book 6)

Emilia Ecklund hears her child cry when he's smiling. She sees intruders where there are none. She's either losing her mind -- or someone wants her to think she is. Desperate, she asks her brother's best friend, former Marine and Payne Protection Agency bodyguard Dane Sutton, to investigate. But the only way is for him to move into her home…and bed.

Dane's secret mission: to pose as Emilia's boyfriend while watching every door and window like a hawk. He vows to keep things purely professional, but he's severely tempted as his feelings intensify. And as the threats escalate, the guarded loner has everything to lose.

Very good book, action-filled and intense from the start. Emilia is trying to get her life back together after being kidnapped and nearly losing her baby to an adoption ring. She has a good job helping Penny at the wedding chapel, and her brother is finally letting up a little on his overprotectiveness. Then strange things begin to happen. Emilia hears a baby crying while her son is fast asleep, windows that she knows she locked are left open, and she hears footsteps in her house. She starts to wonder if she's losing her grip on reality. Desperate for answers, she asks Dane for help.

Dane is her brother's best friend and also a former Marine. His past has convinced him that he isn't cut out for love and family, and all the new relationships around him have him a little freaked out. That he is drawn to Emilia bothers him even more because she's his best friend's sister and that's against the rules. But he can't say no when she comes to him for help.

I loved the development of the relationship between Emilia and Dane. Though he tried to deny it to himself, he was drawn to Emilia before he even met her, because of how much Lars talked about her. I loved how he sensed that there was something going on with her even before she asked for his help. Emilia was also drawn to him and he was the first one she thought of when she was so frightened. Dane's idea for moving in and pretending that they had a relationship set him up for having to face his feelings. I really liked the way that Dane believed in Emilia and didn't give in to the doubts that others raised. Dane's faith in her also gave Emilia the strength to stand up against the fear that threatened to overwhelm her. Emilia's feelings for Dane also grew quickly. I loved seeing her get between him and Lars when they were macho idiots. She was also just as protective of him as he was of her. I ached for her at the end, when she was certain that Dane didn't want her. The ending was sweet, as Dane exposed his vulnerability in his talk to the baby. I loved seeing both Emilia and Dane let go of their pasts and embrace their future.

The suspense of the story was fantastic. The attempts to make Emilia think she was crazy were really creepy and gave me goosebumps. As the attempts turned physical, I was glued to the pages waiting to see what would happen next. The brief glimpses into the mind of the attacker increased the intensity as it became obvious that nothing would make him give up on his goal. The final confrontation was a real nail-biter as Emilia put herself in danger to save Dane and bring the threat to an end. The culprit was not who I expected and I loved that it was Emilia who figured it out.

I loved the relationships that were highlighted in the book. The love that Emilia and her brother Lars had for each other was never in doubt, nor was Emilia's frustration with his attitude toward her. It was great to see her finally get through to him, with some pretty amusing confrontations. I also loved seeing more of Lars and Nikki and her attempts to rein him in regarding Emilia and Dane. I especially enjoyed the scenes with Manny and can't wait to read his story. I have a feeling that he's going to fall hard as well.