Genre: Contemporary Romance Release Date: February 1, 2018
When a marriage of convenience is the only answer…things get inconvenient.
Gabe McNeill is done being manipulated. By everyone from his ex-wife who abandoned him and their baby to the grandfather forcing him to remarry. Now the only way Gabe can ensure his son’s inheritance is if Brianne Hanson agrees to be his bride. They’ve always kept things strictly business and this is no different…until she falls into his bed and all bets are off!
The curtain of hazy snow and steam around them gave the sense that they were all alone in the world, a veil of cold mist separating them from everything but one another.
Or maybe the wine was going to her head. She felt a sweet happiness all over to be with Gabe. It was dangerous, perhaps, to feel that way. But she’d never been with a man like him, someone strong and noble, kind and warm hearted.
And so very sexy.
Her eyes dipped to the top of his chest above the water as he drained his glass and set it aside, his triceps flexing in a way that made her want to take a bite.
“I certainly didn’t expect a wedding gift.”
He shook his head, a wry smile kicking up one side of his mouth. “We’ll have to make our own rules for this marriage since the regular conventions aren’t going to apply.”
“Like tonight, for example.” She hadn’t meant to say it out loud, but there it was, floating on the cold breeze before she could take it back. Drawing a steadying breath, she explained herself. “I don’t need to worry about your expectations because—”
“Because there are none.” He cupped her shoulders with his hands, a warm weight that anchored her in the swirling water. “I thought we deserved this time together to get to know each other as more than friends, but I will be glad just to talk to you tonight. To learn how to make you happy.”
“I know that.” She wanted to close her eyes and concentrate on how his hands felt on her. To soak up all the sensations of being with him. “You never made me feel like you brought me here for more than that, but still…it’s a wedding night. I can’t deny I’ve been thinking about the possibilities of what that means.”
His thumbs skated a slow circle over the tops of her shoulders, a subtle touch that set the rest of her on fire.
“I’ve been doing plenty of thinking of my own,” he admitted. “But that doesn’t mean we have to act on it.”
If he kept touching her, though, the possibility of her launching across the hot tub to kiss him was very real.
“When I said I wasn’t all that experienced, I didn’t mean to suggest I’ve never been with a guy. Of course I have.” Though she had kept her virginity longer than any of her friends, haunted by her stepmother’s taunts long after they should have lost their power to hurt her.
“I just don’t feel like I ever got high marks. You know?”
“Sex shouldn’t be a graded assignment.” He said it with one-hundred-percent seriousness.
But she laughed anyway, because it was a strange conversation for a wedding night. “Right. I get that.” She flipped a damp piece of hair out of her eyes as she warmed to the discussion. “But when I decided to lose my virginity, I think I was probably…too determined. I did some research and felt well-prepared, but in the end—epic fail.” She shook her head, remembering the expression on her boyfriend’s face afterward. It hadn’t been blissful pleasure. More like being shell-shocked, maybe.
“The thought of you researching to the point of being over prepared is going to animate some very good dreams for me.”
He never stopped touching her. His thumbs trailed down the satin straps of her bra in the back. Then in the front. Over and over. “It’s my turn to be intrigued.”
“I think I was studying techniques that were too advanced for a beginner.” She shrugged, the water around her splashing with the movement. “But I don’t like looking foolish, and I’d waited so long to give sex a try that I put a lot of pressure on myself not to make it obvious that I was a first-timer.”
“What about afterward?” Gabe’s knee grazed hers under the water and she didn’t skitter away because it felt too good. “Didn’t things get better once the first time was out of the way?”
“I wasn’t keen to repeat the experiment at the time.” She retrieved her wineglass and took another small sip. “But now, I think maybe I’d like to.”
Guys! That scene above. I don’t think I’ve EVER read a heroine tell the hero about the lack of her experience and not feel bad about it. Brianne was very upfront and honest with Gabe and his reaction to it was spot on. He didn’t mock her, make her feel bad but did try to understand. Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happens next. *wink*
This is the “last” of the Liam McNeill’s sons and I’m sad. I’ve grown to love each and every one of them but I will have to say that besides Cam, Gabe is right up there with him. I like a man that can actually work with his hands and look sexy in a suit. My husband comes to mind. Gabe is a bit more blue collar than the rest of them but he knew what he had to do to ensure that his son was protected from his mother. Don’t get me started on Gabe’s ex. She’s a piece of work and she does make an appearance but bless the “other” cousins, Scarlett and Maisie they are right there for Brianne when she needed it. Speaking of which, I can’t wait to meet the Wyoming cousins.
Back to the love that I have for this book. Essentially this is a friends to lovers story with the hero fighting for his son and his place in the family. Gabe never really bad talked his ex but he made it clear that she would not use their son as a prop and when it was convenient. Brianne got that but of course, Gabe made a mess of things. Another thing that was so wonderful about Gabe and Brianne is that they actually talked to each other. Sure the black moment was there but in the end, they always communicated well with each other. Every relationship has some form of communication problems and Ms. Rock handles it well. Her characters are adults and act as such.
The secondary characters are wonderful as usual. Rose is a complete trip and to find out that she and Malcolm shared a history and then to see them have a relationship via social media. I was giggling. I can’t wait to see if their relationship is explored in future books. They were a trip. I have always liked Malcolm. While is methods aren’t conventional, his heart is in the right place.
Again, I am sad that this part of the series is over. Gabe is such a sweetheart and Brianne is perfect for him. I’m glad that they both realized that in the end. Partnerships and love are built on friendships and they had part of their relationship in spades.
Please, do yourself a favor and pick up this series. You can start anywhere and be fine. I, of course, read them in order and while I missed some of the cousins in this one, I was happy to meet the new ones. Plus, a hot tub while it was snowing. Central Park in the snow. And a blue box with an engagement ring. *swoon*
Four-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock has never met a romance sub-genre she didn’t like. The author of over eighty books enjoys writing a wide range of stories, most recently focusing on sexy contemporaries and small town family sagas. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance fits her life outlook perfectly–love is worth fighting for.
A frequent speaker at regional and national writing conferences she enjoys giving back to the writing community that nurtured and inspired her early career. She has a Masters degree in Literature from the University of Louisville but credits her fiction writing skills to her intensive study with friend and fellow author Catherine Mann.
When she’s not writing, Joanne enjoys travel, especially to see her favorite sports teams play with her former sports editor husband and three athletic-minded sons.
We’re so excited to be hosting Jane Godman and her Secret Baby, Second Chance Blog Tour today! Please leave a comment to let her know you stopped by!
SECRET BABY, SECOND CHANCE Author: Jane Godman Publisher: Harlequin Pages: 288 Genre: Romantic Suspense
She’s alive! Vincente Delaney has finally found his girlfriend, Beth Wade, who disappeared a year and a half ago, alive. But he’s shocked to discover someone with her: their child, a little girl he never knew about! Once upon a time, lone wolf Vincente never expected forever with Beth, but now he must put everything on the line to protect her and their family.
Beth was forced to leave Vincente to protect everything she held dear. But now the threat to her loved ones’ lives has reared its ugly head again. As danger approaches, she and Vincente must delve into her past to cast out the darkness jeopardizing their future.
As he approached, he sized up the building. Nothing about it made him think of Beth. It had a slightly neglected air, as if the owner didn’t have the time, energy or money to spend on it. He contrasted that with the Stillwater house she had lived in. That had been as neat as wax. Being organized seemed to come effortlessly to Beth, spilling over into how she dressed, her surroundings
and how she dealt with other people. Vincente wondered, not for the first time, if the reason she had struggled with their relationship was because she couldn’t neatly package up her feelings for him. When they were together there was no controlling what they felt. It had always been raw, primal…and incredible.
The thought spurred his feet up the front step. His heart was pounding so loud it almost drowned out the sound of his knock on the door. Prepared for disappointment, his nerves—already under intense pressure—were ratcheted up to crisis level when he heard a voice calling out.
“Did you forget something, Detective ?” It wasn’t just any voice. It was Beth’s voice.
He wondered how she would react if she checked who it was through the peephole in the door. Her words indicated she thought Laurie had come back again and he heard a key turn in the lock immediately after she spoke.
The door swung open and the smile on her lips faded. As she gazed at him in shock, Vincente took a moment to drink in her appearance. Her hair was shorter, just reaching her shoulders now instead of the waist-length mass in which he had loved to bury his hands. It was scraped back into an unflattering ponytail. She looked thinner. And tired, definitely tired. Almost to the point of exhaustion. But maybe the reason for that was sitting on her hip.
The baby wore pink sweatpants and a T shirt with butterflies embroidered all over. Not quite a toddler, she was a perfect little girl. Her black hair clustered in a halo of curls around her head and she studied Vincente with eyes that were huge, dark and framed by thick, spiky lashes. The hint of olive to her skin and the full ruby lips were additional confirmation of his first suspicion. It was
like looking in a mirror .
Vincente almost took a step back in shock as he gazed at his daughter.
This book is my catnip. Romantic suspense, secret baby, second chances and small town. Yep, Ms. Godman had me at the title of the book. Then throw in the cover, the blurb, and the first paragraph. But really sold me on the book as a whole was Vincente and Beth. I loved reading about how they ran hot and cold during their first run as a couple. The fighting, the hot making up sessions afterward. Catnip. Both characters had some issues when it came to relationships but none more than Vicente.
I times I really wanted to slap Vincente upside his head when it came to how he viewed relationships. Look, I get the abandonment issue with his mother but his stepmother did everything that she could to make him feel wanted and loved. Keep this in mind though, I haven’t read Bryce and Cameron’s books so maybe I missed out on some more of their backstory in regards to how they were brought up but still. Vincente…get over yourself. You have a second chance with the only woman that you ever truly loved and a daughter now. Anywoos…other than that, Vincente was a dream. He realized that he did need to finally put the past behind him and get it together if he wanted a second chance with Beth.
Beth, I could totally understand the motivation to disappear. I would have freaked out if I got the letters and photos. That was just too creepy for me and then to find out in the end who was doing it? I honestly thought it was someone else and I was wrong. Love when an author does that to me. I’m no Sherlock but sometimes I do get it right. Not here. Ms. Godman puts up a few red herrings so when the truth is finally revealed, you are left gobsmacked. Plus, the secondary characters from the past were interesting. Rick really sticks out for me. You will have to read the book to find out why. Plus, since I didn’t read the other books in the series, I loved getting to know Laurie, Cameron, Bryce, and Steffi. They are great at being there for Vincente and Beth. Let’s also not forget about Vincente and Beth’s daughter, Lia. She is NOT plot device but a character in her own right.
In fact, the line from Vincente is classic: “She trashed the place,” he whispered. He expression was stunned. “As soon as you left the room, she just went for it.”
Nothing can prepare a new daddy like Vicente like that. There were other moments between Lia and her daddy. I had the giggles at times with Lia and the dog, Melon. I know that they could be perceived as humorous plugs but in the end…well, you just need to read the book.
Overall, I just loved this book. I read it in one afternoon but it has definitely stayed with me. I’m still thinking about the scene in the bedroom when Vicente went all “bossy” with Beth and her reaction to it. Oh yes, this book has some sexy times and they are hawt. Just a friendly warning. *wink*
I will definitely look Ms. Godman’s books up. She is a new to me author that I really liked. Her style of writing, pacing, characters and overall, how did she fool me in the end, has me hooked.
About the Author
JANE GODMAN worked in a variety of shops, bars, and offices before settling into a career as a teacher. She was born in Scotland and has lived in Germany, Wales, Malta, South Africa, and England. Home is now the Wirral, a beautiful English peninsula situated between Wales and Liverpool.
Jane still gets the urge to travel, although these days she tends to head for a Spanish beach, or a European city that is steeped in history. Venice, Dubrovnik, and Vienna are among her favorites.
When Jane isn’t reading or writing romance, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her family. She is married to a lovely man, has two grown up children and has recently discovered the joy of becoming a grandparent.
Jane writes paranormal romance for Harlequin Nocturne and SMP Romance, thrillers for Harlequin Romantic Suspense, and self-publishes her steamy historical and gothic stories.
So I’ve done it for the second time in a row. I know. But I just couldn’t help it this year. What’s surprising is what IS NOT on the list. I didn’t read a lot of romantic suspense (at least for the blog) and only 3 books made the list. A lot rom-com’s made the list. I needed to laugh this year and I did…a lot! Some New Adult books made it, too. Some debut authors, new to me authors and personal favorites. Another surprise is that a paranormal didn’t make the list at all.
I don’t want to get preachy this year but I’m not sure what is going to happen. I’ll still be blogging and reviewing. But I probably won’t be reviewing as much as I did. Working as a substitute teacher is a full-time job for me now. I work pretty much every day now and I love it. Baseball season for Thad and Brian is going to start next month and let’s not forget that we are going on a 7-day cruise during our Spring Break. We can.not.wait either. Cozumel, Jamacia, and the Grand Caymans here we come. If you can believe this, it will be our first family vacation EVER. No family, no friends. Just the 3 of us.
I did accomplish some things that most bloggers already knew how to do. I’m old and a bit slow when it comes to being on trend. This blog will be 10 years old in October and I couldn’t be prouder of what I’ve done, the authors that have been on and the friendships that I have made just blogging. That said, here goes to what I’ve learned:
Goodreads – I was challenged last year in Monica Murphy’s group to sign up for the Reading Challenge. I signed up to read only 50 books and ended up reading 87 books. This year my goal is 75 books.
Hashtags – Still learning this but I’m getting more retweets because of them. And followers.
Instagram/Pinterest – Still learning but I’m doing some Instagram only posts. It’s been fun and interesting all at the same time.
Learning to say no to me. One of the hardest things a blogger/reviewer can learn. I’m not Wonder Woman and I have a life outside of the publishing world. I intend to keep it that way.
No matter what I say or do, I’ll never be an author’s assistant, work for a publisher, or make a buck writing. Yes, after too many “no’s”, being laughed at and then told no way in hell, I decided to just forget about it.
In reference to #5, this is also why I won’t be blogging as much as I have in the past. I feel like, at times, that my blog is just a joke to some. To me, it’s not. You try to do this for almost 10 years. Sure, I don’t have a posse of reviewers, authors beating down my door, networking at conventions/conferences but I think I do alright.
Its okay to review a book and post to Amazon, Goodreads, etc. and NOT the blog. I’ve been doing that a lot lately and I love it. No pressure to post to the blog because of scheduling.
Here are my top 20 books for 2017 in no particular order.
Ethan’s Daughter by Rachel Brimble. I know, she makes my list every year but this book is bittersweet. It’s the second to last book of her excellent Templeton Cove series. And yes, I have read book #8 and I cried a bit. I can’t believe the series is over but I know that my English Rose won’t leave me hanging when it comes to her books. But I will however still be in the corner trying to process it all. (Contemporary, Harlequin, romance, series, sensual)
Claimed by the Cyborg (Cy-Ops #5) by Cara Bristol. As I said in my review, why are you NOT reading this series? It has alpha men, strong heroines, just enough sexy times and action/adventure. Ms. Bristol doesn’t dumb down the sci-fi to her readers and the plots are relatable. (Romance, series, spicy, action/adventure, Sci-Fi)
OH Henry (OHellNo series #2) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. I will admit that New Adult is finally growing on me. The books that I have read last year are relatable, funny as hell, sexy and the characters just make sense. I’ve told yall a million times. My teens and 20’s were a blast. Maybe too much of a blast but my life isn’t angsty like most books in this genre. Ms. Pamfiloff just nails it with this series. I can’t wait to see what she has in store with book 3. (Contemporary, New Adult, series, romance, funny, spicy)
Why the Earl is After the Girl (Ways of Love #1) by Tabetha Waite. Debut author. Took a chance. Glad that I did. Loved this book. I have read the second book in the series and waiting impatiently for the 3rd one. You really need to check her out. (Historical, romance, series, debut author, sensual)
Mr. Dirty (a London Billionaire standalone) by Nana Malone. Ms. Malone is fast becoming an auto-buy author for me. She writes funny, sexy as hell, fast-paced books about characters that you really care about. Plus, there is depth to the story and characters. (Contemporary, romance, spicy, series)
His Baby Dilemma (Indian Shores novel) by Catherine Lanigan. This is one author to watch out for. She writes for Harlequin Heartwarming and I just can’t get enough of her writing. Her characters come to life for me and this book, in particular, is her best yet. Yes, its sweet but trust me, you don’t miss the sexy times. (Contemporary, romance, Harlequin, series, sweet)
Nudes (Exposed #1) by Sarah Robinson. Her book Not A Hero made my list last year and she didn’t disappoint me again. Brilliant writing, engaging characters, and a plot that is on topic. (Contemporary, series, romance, spicy)
Girl Crush by Stephie Walls. This book. It was my favorite rom-com of the year. I never laughed so hard at someone trying to bat for the same team because men just suck. This one has stayed with me for a long time. (Contemporary, romance, romantic comedy, spicy)
Force & Enforce (The Force Duet) by Minx Malone and Nana Malone. The only romantic suspense book to make the list this year. I just so love this writing duo. The Shameless duet was superb and my review of Deep is Monday. Even though the books are duets, it centers around a security agency and the guys are just too hot, dirty talking, take no prisoners alphas. Of course, the women are kick ass, too. (Romantic Suspense, series, spicy)
His Fake Alien Fiancee (Out of this World #2) by Patricia Eimer. I challenged myself to read some sci-fi last year and let me tell I’m glad that I read this one. It’s relatable, it happens on earth and our heroine is just flat out funnier than hell. It read more like a rom-com but the sci-fi is there in spades. If you are looking for a hilarious sci-fi romance, pick this one up. You won’t be disappointed. I will tell you that I haven’t picked up the other books in the series. I know, I suck. (Sci-Fi, Romance, series, spicy, comedy)
Christmas at Cade Ranch (Rocky Mountain Cowboys #1) by Karen Rock. Another Harlequin Heartwarming by one of my all-time favorite authors. Ms. Rock never disappoints and this series is no different. And yes, I’ve read the second book in the series. This series deals with real issues that most people face every day. Plus, it has cowboys. (Harlequin, contemporary, romance, series, sweet)
Ruck Me (a Dublin Rugby romance #2) by Rebecca Norinne. A new author to me and it’s a New Adult. OH.MY.GOSH. Ireland, the accent, Rugby. I was a goner before I even read a page. This one deals with more real-life issues that people at this age experience and she doesn’t gloss over it. It could be considered over angsty but I fell in love with the characters and couldn’t stop reading. I’ve read the first book in the series and it was just as good. Now I need #3. Did I mention Ireland? Pubs? Rugby? (Contemporary, romance, New Adult, series, spicy)
Leather Pants (Happy Pants Cafe #2) by Mimi Jean Pamfiloff. *swoon* This book wasn’t what I thought it was going to be and I’m glad. Ms. Mimi doesn’t disappoint with her contemporaries and this series is perfection. You will definitely fall in love with Mr. Leather Pants. (Contemporary, romance, series, spicy)
Forever (a Friends Novel #3) by Monica Murphy. #CuddlewithTuttle This series has all the feels of what a Young Adult novel should be. Angsty, a swoon-worthy hero and heroine, the friends that you want to slap and I really felt like I was back in high school. Ms. Murphy just nails it with this book. She must have snuck into a high school and took notes, like Cameron Crowe because a lot of what she wrote, I experience as a substitute teacher at our high school. (Contemporary, romance, series, Young Adult)
The Billionaire in Her Bed by Regina Kyle. An Indulgence title that didn’t disappoint. In fact, I kinda wish it were longer. Ms. Kyle writes about a topic that is so newsworthy, relatable and being able to find the family that you were looking for. Yes, these book is about rich people or the fact that come from money but she writes it in such a way, that money isn’t the issue. This was my first book from Ms. Kyle and won’t be my last. (Contemporary, spicy, romance)
Meadow Shores series books 1-4 by Eva Charles. Why are you NOT reading this series? It’s about grown-ups. Yes, real grown-ups and how they relate to their jobs, their families and ultimately, their love partner. One book sticks out to me and that’s Petite Madeleine. Drew and Cassie’s story is a second chance romance that just hits all the buttons for me. But of course, all the books hit the button but this one…it just stuck. Oh and Ms. Charles is redoing the covers. (Contemporary, romance, series, spicy)
Reckless Need (Hearts Temptation novel) by Scarlett Scott. A spicy, well written historical that I just couldn’t put down. This one dealt with a submissive man and a woman that just might be what he needs. Yes, they are married, but their secrets almost consume them. I loved the interaction between the other couples, too. (Historical, spicy, series, romance, BDSM elements)
In Walked Trouble (Under Covers @3) by Christina Elle. Run. Don’t walk to get this book. Ms. Elle will surprise you with your dialogue, humor, action, pacing, and characters that you will become invested in that you will laugh and at times cry for them. Perfection in my book. And it’s only her SECOND BOOK. And the grandmas. Too much. (Romantic Suspense, comedy, military, series, spicy)
Blame it on the Bet (a Whiskey Sisters novel) by L.E. Rico. Hennesey, Bailey, Walker, and Jamieson walked into a bar. Oh wait, they own the bar and seriously, those are their names. This book has all the feels for me. It’s character driven, the priest is hilarious, there are cats in costumes and Hennessey and Bryan are just too loveable but stubborn to ignore. I can’t wait to find out about the other sisters. (Contemporary, romance, series, sweet)
Undercover Attraction (the O’Malley’s #5) by Katee Robert. *thud* This series. Mafia and I don’t read mafia romances. But there is something about the O’Malley’s that I just can’t get enough of at this point. This is a must-read for anyone that loves action-packed, hard loving, dirty talking men and the women that somewhat tame them. And the covers are totally lickable. Just saying. (Romantic Suspense, spicy as hell, series)
So there you have it. I read more than 20 books but those are my top picks for last year. I can’t wait to see what 2018 brings me to read.
If you are looking for me on Amazon, my reviewer name is Brian’s Mom. I know, not original but it works. On Goodreads, it is Harlie Williams.