Friday, November 17, 2017

A Heap of Texas Trouble - Carolyn Brown (Sourcebooks Casablanca - Dec 2016)

Series: Cadillac Texas (Book 2)

More Than the Chili's Heating Up Cadillac, Texas

Carlene Lovelle, co-owner of Bless My Bloomers lingerie shop, found a pair of fancy red-silk panties in her husband's briefcase, and all hell is breaking loose. She custom-made those fancy bloomers herself -- and she remembers the bimbo who bought them. If her husband had a lick of sense, he'd known there are no secrets in a town like Cadillac.

Carlene's cohorts -- and their mamas -- plan to exact revenge on Lenny Joe where it'll hurt the most: break his five-year winning streak at the prestigious Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off. Never before has a woman dared to compete. But the ladies of Bless My Bloomers are cooking up a storm...and it seems the whole town is taking sides in the showdown.

Welcome to Cadillac, Texas, where the chili is hot, the gossip is hotter, and friends stick by each other, no matter what the challenge.

Originally published as The Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off

This was another hilarious trip to Cadillac, Texas, home of the Red-Hot Chili Cook-Off. It's a small town with quirky characters, feuds, and an active gossip vine, as well as deep family and friendship ties. It starts out with a band when  Carlene found a pair of fancy red panties in her husband's briefcase. They weren't hers, but she knew exactly who they belonged to. I loved her confrontation with Lenny as she told him exactly what she thought of him. That scene set the stage perfectly for the rest of the book as Carlene, her cousins, their mothers, and their friends exact the perfect revenge.

First, we have Carlene and her cousins, Alma Grace and Patrice. Together they own and run Bless My Bloomers, a fancy lingerie shop. Each of them is unique, with their own personalities. Carlene is tall, curvy, and the one with the design ideas. She has some body image issues for herself but uses her talents to make all her customers feel good. Patrice is the straight-shooting, foul-mouthed one who is ready to help Carlene bury the body if that's what she wants. She does the books for the shop and helps with customers when they are busy. Alma Grace is the quieter one, who is active in her church and believes that prayer will fix anything. She's praying that Carlene and Lenny will find their way back together. She's the one who mainly waits on the customers.

It's a riot to see just how fast the news spreads around town. Everyone wants to know what is going to happen next. Carlene just wants to get on with her life, but when Lenny gets petty and nasty, and his momma goes after Carlene too, she's ready to fight back. The best way she can think of is to steal his title as chili king by beating him at the chili cook-off. At this point, Carlene's mother and aunts get into the act. Family sticks together, and Gigi and her sisters (the cousins' mothers, Sugar and Tansy) take over the planning for Red Hot Bloomers team. There are several scenes involving their attempts to come up with the perfect recipe that had me laughing hysterically. Cayenne pepper, outdated meat, side effects in church, and finally a need for a distraction made this a riotous storyline.

This is just the beginning of the feudin' and fussin'. Carlene's marital woes spill over onto Alma Grace. The "holier-than-thou" people on the Easter committee at church push Alma Grace out claiming she's tainted by association with Carlene, not to mention that scandalous panty shop. Lenny's mom Kitty spreads rumors that Alma Grace's daddy was flirting with her, which riles up Sugar. There are confrontations over Easter eggs, angel's wings and halos, and a hilarious scene involving a cat, a psychic bird, and a jeweled leash. Agnes and Violet, from the first book, continue their feud with several more encounters.

It isn't all bad though. Patrice and her boyfriend, Yancy, grow closer as they deal with one crisis after another. Alma Grace meets a sweet and sexy cop who has quite an effect on her. I loved seeing her find a man of her own who was just right for her. Now that she's free, police chief Jack finally lets Carlene know that he's had feelings for her since high school. A growing friendship and Jack's determination not lose out this time shows promise for a much happier future for Carlene. I loved the scenes between these two, as Jack is sensitive to his timing. I also liked the way that he loved her just as she was. There are also some marvelous scenes between the sisters and their husbands. I especially enjoyed the one where the men came to the assistance of their sick wives, so sweet and romantic.

The culmination of it all was the chili cook-off itself. I loved the buildup of the intensity as the contest grew closer. The sisters' attempts to find the right recipe were fun, with some interesting consequences. I especially enjoyed the lead up to the final one. I also loved seeing them take on the previously all-male competitors and the support they got from the other women of the town. I laughed out loud as people would "invest" in the team they wanted to win and how each hoped that their "investment" would pay off. The contest itself had its own drama. I loved the comments of the judges about the Bloomers' chili. There was also a very public confrontation involving Lenny where his actions come back to bite him in the butt, with the impetus coming from an unexpected source. The announcement of the winner was very satisfying. I loved the follow-on party and all the little scenes with the main characters.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Plain Peace - Beth Wiseman (Thomas Nelson - Nov 2013)

Series: Daughters of the Promise (Book 6)

Anna loves the grandfather who raised her, but his strict adherence to the Ordnung is scaring away any boy who might be interested in her -- except newcomer Jacob.

In normal circumstances Anna Byler would have her choice of any of the young men in her Amish community. But because of the strict rules enforced by her grandfather, the bishop, the available suitors are afraid to court her. Then handsome Jacob Hostetler moves to Paradise and decides Anna is worth the challenge.

Anna sees that the bishop’s legalism is dividing the community and risking the lives of its members -- but her grandfather doesn’t. When she is forced to deception in order to pursue her dream of marriage and family with Jacob, Anna feels her own faith slipping. If only she could get her grandmother to help her stand up to the bishop. But Mammi is keeping secrets of her own.

Anna wants to honor her grandparents, the two most important people in her life, but her heart is divided by the rules that guide their little Amish community and the growing love she has for Jacob. How can she be true to both?

This is a sweet romance complicated by family issues. Anna has been raised by her grandparents since the death of her parents. She loves her grandparents, but she is ready for a family of her own. Unfortunately for her, the young men of the community are afraid of her grandfather, who is the district's super strict bishop. That all changes with the arrival of a new  family. Jacob and his family have moved to Paradise to escape the memories of the death of his older sister. Anna's sweetness is just what Jacob needs to bring some light back into his life. But a misunderstanding during their first outing causes the bishop to forbid any further contact between Jacob and Anna.

Anna refuses to let her grandfather stand in her way any longer. She loves him, but she needs to have her own life. Though she knows it is wrong, she continues to see Jacob away from her grandfather's prying eyes. She feels guilty about it but doesn't know what else to do. She tries to get her grandmother, Marianne, to intercede, but that doesn't go so well either.

I liked both Jacob and Anna. They are both good people who are dealing with complications in the best way that they can. The death of Jacob's sister has sent his father into a depression, leaving Jacob feeling responsible for his family. He wants to do the right thing in courting Anna, but the bishop's intransigence makes it difficult. I liked Jacob's patience as he tried to make things right with the bishop. Anna is sweet and kind, but also has the determination she needs to stand up for herself against her grandfather's strict rules. I liked their courtship, with its sunset train watching and stolen lunchtimes. They took the time to get to know each other and share their hopes, dreams, and pain. The culmination of their courtship came about in a rather surprising way.

There were also three secondary stories intertwined throughout the book. First was the relationship between Anna's grandparents. Isaac is very strict in following the Amish rules. Marianne is more relaxed but doesn't stand up to him, even when she thinks he is unreasonable. Over the years she has found an unusual way to exert control over her life, one that she has kept secret from her husband. That secret gets a little out of hand, and it takes a health crisis on her part to bring her secret out in the open. I enjoyed his reaction and seeing Marianne use her new influence to help soften his outlook.

The second was the story of Jacob's family, especially his parents, who are dealing with the death of their oldest daughter. Jacob's father has pretty much checked out of participation in the family. He gets up, does his farm work, and goes to bed. He doesn't interact with any of the family beyond the basics. His wife, Cora, gets more frustrated with him by the day. She slowly makes friends with Marianne and with the Englisch girl, Lucy. But there are things about Lucy that bring up ghosts from Cora's past, causing Cora to have to face her own pain. Unexpected news brings confrontation and finally healing to the family.

The third was the story of Lucy, a young woman who is something of an outcast in the community. She made the mistake of having an affair with a married Amish man and gave birth to his son. The man died, and Lucy has been trying to put her life back together. Ashamed of her previous actions, she has resolved to be a better person. I liked seeing her make friends with Cora and Marianne and the effect their friendship had on her. I also liked seeing the family of her former lover reach out to her. I also ached for her and the deterioration of her relationship with her mother.

Overall a good story of love, family, and forgiveness.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Serenity Harbor - RaeAnne Thayne (HQN - July 2017)

Series: Haven Point (Book 6)

In the town of Haven Point, love can be just a wish -- and one magical kiss -- away…

Computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan is about the last person that schoolteacher Katrina Bailey wants to work for. As far as she can see, he's arrogant, entitled and not up to the task of caring for his young half-brother, Milo. But Kat is, especially if it brings her closer to her goal of adopting an orphaned little girl. And as her kindness and patience work wonders with Milo, she realizes there's more to sexy, wary Bo than she'd ever realized.

Bo never imagined he'd be tasked with caring for a sibling he didn't know existed. Then again, he never pictured himself impulsively kissing vibrant, compassionate Katrina in the moonlight. Now he's ready to make her dream of family come true…and hoping there's room in it for him, too…

Good book. Kat has returned to Haven Point for her sister's wedding a changed woman. Before she left, she was known for being a bit flighty and for flirty relationships that didn't last. She gave up her job as a teacher to follow her boyfriend to South America and ended up broke and abandoned. She pulled herself together, found a job teaching English and volunteering at an orphanage. There she met four-year-old Gabi, a special needs child that stole her heart. Her goal now is to adopt Gabi and bring her back to Haven Point. With Gabi depending on her, Kat is determined to change, become more responsible and stay away from men.

Bowie is a newcomer to Haven Point, moving there along with his computer business. He was just settling in when he was blindsided with guardianship of a younger half-brother he hadn't known existed. Complicating the whole situation, Milo is autistic, and Bo is overwhelmed. This is evident when Milo has a meltdown in the grocery store, and Bo has no idea what to do. Fortunately, Kat is there and steps in to prevent disaster. Relieved and impressed, Bo immediately offers Kat an outrageous sum of money to become Milo's temporary nanny. Though not impressed with Bo, the money will help with her adoption plans, so Kat accepts.

I liked both Bo and Kat. He overcame a difficult childhood with an unstable mother to become the self-made man that he is. I loved that Bo stepped up as soon as he found out about Milo and immediately took him in, determined that he will have a better life than Bo had had. I ached for him and his frustration at his inability to communicate with Milo. I also loved how, though the frustration was clear; there was no resentment over the huge changes that Milo has caused in Bo's life. Bo did have some trouble at the beginning finding a good balance between work and home, but he did figure it out. I liked Kat, too, though she did have some times when she frustrated me. I liked the way that her medical issues as a child gave her such empathy for special needs kids. Her obvious love for Gabi and quick connection with Milo were heartwarming. Unfortunately, some of the effects of her childhood illness weren't so good, leading to some serious problems with self-esteem. I really didn't like the way that she still thought of herself as "StupidKat" because she isn't stupid by any means. I was also frustrated by her refusal to share any of her worries about the adoption with her friends or with Bowie. She made things so much harder for herself because of it.

I enjoyed the development of Bo and Kat's relationship. There was no doubt about the attraction between them. Both of them felt it right away, but both were determined to resist. Kat because she has decided that Gabi will be the sole focus of her life, without the distractions caused by her poor choices in men. Bo is so busy with work and Milo that he figures there isn't time for a relationship. Besides, he feels he doesn't have any true idea of what a loving relationship is. But as Kat works with Milo and teaches Bo how to relate to him, they discover that they actually like each other, too. Bo is surprised to find himself wondering what it would be like if Kat were to stay, and the idea doesn't scare him. I also liked that he was one of the few people who understood Kat's love for Gabi and her need to adopt her. Kat also realized that her feelings for Bo were growing, but her reaction was to push him away. She refuses to believe that they aren't just another bad decision in a long line of them, especially since she believes that she isn't smart enough for a man like him. It takes a runaway Milo to open her eyes to the truth and allow herself to accept Bo's love. I also liked that she finally realized that accepting his help didn't make her weak, it made her stronger.

The epilogue was sweet. I loved seeing the huge difference in Bo and his joy in his life as it is now. The happy chaos of the party was so much fun to see. Gabi's exuberance was a lovely balance to Milo's quietness. I especially enjoyed seeing the changes in Milo brought about by the love of his new family. I look forward to seeing more of them in later books.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Abduction - Cynthia Eden (HI #1697 - Mar 2017)

Series: Killer Instinct (Book 1)

Once the town troublemaker, Sheriff Hayden Black became the teen hero who saved young Jillian West from a savage kidnapper. He never got over their brief affair. Now the ex-SEAL and the burned-out FBI agent have reunited in their Florida hometown and rediscovered their powerful attraction. But as they hunt down a long-forgotten killer, will they get a second chance at happiness? When a series of accidents begins to plague Jill, Hayden won't let her fall victim again. There's too much history between them…and too much desire.

Good combination of second chance romance and suspense. As a teenager, Jillian had been kidnapped. Hayden had witnessed the abduction and saved her, going from town troublemaker to town hero in one evening. Jill and Hayden became good friends, and later much more. But he walked away to become a SEAL and Jill went on to become an FBI agent.

Ten years later Jill and Hayden are reunited when she returns to Hope, burned out on her job dealing with child abductions and still haunted by what had happened to her. She is determined to reopen the case and find the man who had kidnapped her and murdered another girl. She doesn't expect to find Hayden also back in town, now serving as sheriff. They hadn't forgotten each other, or their feelings and the attraction flared hot once again.

I liked both Jill and Hayden. Jill is smart, capable and very good at her job. Her past as a kidnappee has made given her extra motivation in her work but has also made some cases harder to bear than others. I ached for her and the pain she felt at each loss. Hayden was terrific. He is honorable, protective, and has a surprisingly soft heart. I loved how he had turned his life around when he met Jill, determined to be someone worthy of her.

I really enjoyed the rekindling of Jill and Hayden's relationship. It is obvious from the start that their feelings for each other had never died, in spite of the way they parted. Jill was broken-hearted when Hayden left, not knowing that he believed he wasn't good enough for her. Leaving was the hardest thing that Hayden had ever done, but he thought he was doing the right thing. I loved the bits about how they had kept track of each other over the years. With Jill's arrival back in Hope, Hayden sees it as a chance to show her that they belong together and that he isn't going to let her go. Jill is a bit more cautious, knowing that risking her heart again could have devastating consequences for her. As they worked together on the case, they also got to know each other again. I loved that they were able to talk about their past and make the decision to move forward and see where things go. I loved Hayden's big moment at the end - his vulnerability and nervousness were sweet and his words so heartfelt.

The suspense of the story was really good too. From the prologue to the conclusion, the intensity built steadily. Jill's determination to solve the mystery became stronger when she was attacked. The glimpses into the mind of the killer show that he is equally determined to finish what he started. I loved seeing the pieces start to come together and was on the edge of my seat as they raced to save another victim. Though I had figured out the bad guy, the final confrontation was intense in the way it happened.

I liked the support that Jill got from her friend Samantha. That woman was scary good at what she does. Besides her work on helping to identify the killer, I loved Sam's "profiling" of Hayden and her comments to him.

Undercover in Conard County - Rachel Lee (HRS #1827 - Jan 2017)

Series: Conard County: The Next Generation (Book 32)

When hunters threaten local Wyoming wildlife, investigator Kel Westin vows to catch the perpetrators. But as he's sent to work undercover with game warden Desi Jenks, Kel finds himself caught off guard by his need to protect her, too. Something tells him both he and Desi are kept awake at night by pasts that won't let go.

Desi trusts no one. That includes the sexy former army ranger living in her bunkhouse, posing as a poacher to bait the ring. As a dangerous group gathers in the mountains, she must put her life in Kel's hands, a move that will change their fragile, growing bond forever…

Good book. Desi is the senior game warden in the Conard County area. There has been a growing problem with poachers and trophy hunters, with the latest being the death of a bighorn sheep. After months of reporting incidents, Desi receives help from an undercover investigator. Kel has been sent to pose as a hunting guide to draw out members of the poachers ring operating in the area. Neither expects the instant attraction that flares between them.

I liked both Desi and Kel. Desi is a woman who has worked hard to earn her place. She is liked and respected by those she works with and the people around her. This is evident in the interactions we see, including some interesting encounters with hunters. But she is also haunted by things in her past that prevent her from trusting people or allowing them to get too close. Kel is a former army ranger who works with the investigative unit. He is smart and intuitive, and as determined as Desi to stop the poachers. His past has also made him a bit of a loner, reluctant to let anyone close.

I enjoyed the development of their relationship. It started out strictly business, with them working together to figure out the poaching situation. Both Desi and Kel try to keep their attraction under control while still getting to know each other. As part of his cover, Kel had been instructed to make it look like he is cozying up to the warden, but the cover story he comes up with brings up some bad memories for Desi. I ached for her because she knew she wasn't fair to him, but she couldn't help it. I also hurt for Kel, because he already liked her and didn't know what had happened. I loved that he had the patience and sensitivity to wait until she was able to talk to him. Desi also can understand some of what Kel suffers during a hunting emergency. I loved seeing how their growing feelings helped them both heal from their pasts and how danger enabled them to see what they meant to each other. Their confessions at the end were pretty sweet.

The suspense of the story was more mental than action for most of the book. Kel believes that his mission is pretty straightforward - pose as an illegal outfitter and try to flush out the poachers. But the more time that he and Desi spend together trying to track down clues, the more they become suspicious that things are not what they seem. Some glimpses of the bad guys' viewpoints prove that their suspicions are correct, but Desi and Kel are working blind. It is obvious to them that they no longer know who they can trust, which adds to the danger they are in. The final confrontation was an exciting bit of action. I especially loved Desi's cool head and nerves of steel. I wasn't entirely satisfied with the resolution, as some things were left hanging, but it was probably more realistic than having everything wrapped up neatly.

Friday, November 10, 2017

The Cowboy's Double Trouble - Judy Duarte (HSE #2470 - Apr 2016)

Series: Brighton Valley Cowboys (Book 3)

Nanny To The Rescue!

Braden Rayburn takes his responsibilities seriously. So how's he supposed to run his newly inherited ranch while being an interim father to his orphaned half-siblings, who don't speak a word of English? Especially since the onetime pro rodeo rider knows absolutely nada about raising a family. Lucky for him, he just met the beautiful answer to his prayers.

The high-energy boy and girl twins had Elena Ramirez at "hola." But being a nanny -- even a temporary one -- at Braden's Texas ranch wasn't on the bilingual Brighton Valley native's career path, even if her attraction to the kids' gorgeous guardian is mutual. Elena's big-city dreams don't include falling for a footloose cowboy. Or is the Rayburn rancher already the perfect family man?

Good conclusion to the trilogy. Braden thought he was the youngest of the three Rayburn half-siblings until after their father's death. Then they discovered that there were six-year-old twins that no one had known about. Braden, Jason, and Carly were determined to find them and bring them home. With both Jason and Carly away with their spouses, it fell to Braden to care for Beto and Bela. He's feeling overwhelmed, especially since the kids don't speak English and he doesn't speak Spanish. He is at his wit's end until he meets Elena.

Elena is home in Brighton Valley after graduating from college, working for her dad, as she saves the money to open her own store in Houston. She is the oldest of seven children and spent a lot of time as a teen taking care of her younger half-siblings. She can't wait to make her dream happen and get out of Brighton Valley. She's captivated by Beto and Bela when she first meets them, but becoming a nanny is not high on her list of things to do. But when Bradon makes her an offer she can't refuse, off to the ranch she goes.

I liked both Bradon and Elena. I loved that Bradon didn't hesitate to step up and take care of the twins. They are family, and there's no way that he'd let strangers raise them. He doesn't think he's the right one to do it permanently, as he is single and has no intention of changing that. He'd rather see either of his married siblings take that on. Be that as it may, he puts a lot of effort into making sure they are happy. I loved the scene with Bradon, the kids, and the Horton book. It really showed what a good guy he was. Though I liked her, there were times that I had trouble warming up to Elena. She is sweet and loving with the twins, and I liked the way that they connected so quickly. Unfortunately, I also felt like she was a bit judgmental of people. She seemed to look down on her stepmom for having six kids, and also for her "bland" decorating style. She was also quick to judge Lola on her appearance. Fortunately, I think she did a fair amount of maturing by the end of the book.

I enjoyed the development of their relationship. There were sparks between them from the moment they met, but both were determined to resist. Bradon knows that Elena is not the fling type of woman and that is all he can offer. He got his heart broken back in high school and has resisted risking his heart ever since. Elena has big plans for her life and has no intention of getting involved with a man whose roots are buried deep in the very place she wants to leave. As they spend time together caring for the kids, they get to know each other, while their attraction continues to simmer. There are some sweet scenes of all four together, giving them a feeling of being a family. I loved watching Bradon realize that Elena has worked her way past his walls and that he now wishes for a future with her. He is also sensitive enough to realize that he can't ask her to give up her dreams. I ached for him as his attempts to show his feelings and yet give her a choice went awry. Elena also realized that she had fallen for Bradon, and has her own conflict. How can she have the relationship she wants without giving up her dreams? A long conversation with her dad helped her see the truth. I really liked Bradon's big moment at the end, as he lays his heart on the line.

I loved the two kids, Bela and Beto. They were adorable, but also realistic. I ached for them and the confusion they must have felt at the loss of their mother, then the father they never knew died also. I enjoyed their attempt to have some control over their lives. It was fun to see them settle into life on the ranch, adding their own touches with their menagerie. Beto was too cute with his desire to be just like Bradon, right down to the boots and hat. Bradon and Elena had no way of stopping the kids from working their way into their hearts. I loved the epilogue and seeing how things turned out for everyone.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Until You Loved Me - Brenda Novak (Mira - July 2017)

Series: Silver Springs (Book 3)

Sometimes starting over means finding everything you've been missing…

After catching her fiancĂ© cheating -- with another man -- usually straitlaced, workaholic scientist Ellie Fisher liberates her wild side just long enough to indulge in a passionate one-night stand with a tall, dark stranger she meets at a trendy Miami bar. Embarrassed by her recklessness, she ducks out the following morning without learning the guy's full name, something that shouldn't have been a problem…until a pregnancy test turns positive.

Being a professional football player, Hudson King has always been cautious around women. But this one had been different -- so disinterested in his celebrity, so convincingly into him. When Ellie tracks him down, claiming she's carrying his baby, he's stunned. And more than a little betrayed.

But after growing up as an orphan, he'll do anything to stay involved in his child's life, so he urges Ellie to move to Silver Springs, where they can co-parent. Hudson has a lot of love to give, certainly enough for his child, and when their initial spark reignites, perhaps for Ellie, too…

Good story about two people with some trust issues. The story opens with Ellie being dragged to a club by her friend Amy. For the last couple months, Ellie has been dealing with the fallout of finding her fiancé in bed with another man by immersing herself even further in her work. She's pretty bored at the club until she notices the good-looking guy sitting alone in the back corner of the club. She's surprised when he approaches her, but he seems nice. A long walk on the beach and some hot kisses in the moonlight lead to an even hotter night in his bed. Embarrassed by her behavior, she sneaks away the next morning without exchanging more than first names.

Hudson is a pro football player in town to play against the local team. He's dragged to the club by his new agent but isn't really in the mood to be there. He hates being the center of attention, so he's hiding out in the corner until he notices Ellie. What amazed him most was that she appeared to have no idea who he was. The novelty of being treated like a normal guy added to the attraction he felt for her. He was surprised to find her gone without a trace the next morning.

I really liked their instant connection that night. Hudson's interest in her and obvious attraction to her goes a long way toward making Ellie feel better after the disaster of her broken engagement. I loved how comfortable she was with him, able to talk about anything without feeling awkward. I ached for Hudson, who was so used to being sought out for his fame and fortune. It was sweet to see him relax and enjoy being an ordinary guy. I could sense that bit of hurt when he woke up to find her gone. That connection remained with them as neither was able to forget their time together.

I loved the fact that Ellie felt it was important to let Hudson know about the baby. She was nervous about being a single parent but ready to raise him on her own since she didn't know how to find him. Her reaction when she found out Hudson's identity was realistic. I loved her determination to do the right thing. Unfortunately, Hudson's trust issues rear their ugly heads and he doesn't react at all well to her news. I ached for Ellie when her expectations were so rudely shattered. I was frustrated by Hudson's cruel words since I thought he was better than that. Fortunately, he redeemed himself pretty quickly once he got over the shock. His actions as he was there when Ellie needed him showed that he was a stand-up guy after all, but he had an uphill battle to prove himself to her.

I liked the development of their relationship. Once the drama of the revelation was over, and Ellie recovered from her illness, their maturity had a chance to show. I liked that they had an honest conversation about the best way to deal with her pregnancy and their relationship. Though the attraction is still there, neither is willing to make any permanent commitment. Ellie doesn't see how her nerdy self could keep the interest of a man who is used to so much more than she is. She knows that she could fall for him and is desperate to protect her heart. Hudson never planned to marry or have kids. He was abandoned as an infant, grew up in a series of foster homes, and feels that he doesn't know how to give the love that a child would need. But he refuses to reject a child the way he felt rejected all his life. Once Ellie and Hudson are living in the same house, they have the opportunity to get to know each other and discover that there is much to like. Though they try to maintain their distance physically, the attraction between them is too strong. But it isn't just lust that finally draws them together, but the need for emotional comfort. I loved Ellie's determination to be there for Hudson as he deals with his whole background issue. Her belief in him and that he was more than his parentage gave Hudson the strength he needed to face those issues. I ached for Hudson and his conflict of wanting to know but being afraid of what he might learn. The growth of his feelings for Ellie made him feel protective of her, which also affected his ideas of what to do. I liked seeing them take that leap of faith, opening up their hearts to the hope of love in spite of their fears of rejection. The epilogue was good. I especially enjoyed Hudson's delivery room feelings.

The story of Hudson's search for his parents was heartbreaking at times. His need to know was understandable, and I ached for the loneliness that was evident in that search. He had so much love to give, and it was buried under those feelings of rejection. I hurt for him as the PI he hired turned up leads that seemed to hurt more than help. I loved Ellie's insistence on helping and wasn't surprised at what she uncovered. I liked the final resolution, but it felt a bit rushed. I would have liked a bit more detail, especially regarding the PI and his actions.