Category Archives: Romance/Relationship

Colleen Coble. Rosemary Cottage. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2013.

Rosemary CottageNovelist Colleen Coble has authored a second book in her bestselling Hope Beach Series. Interested readers should consult our blog post on the first novel, Tidewater Inn, if they would prefer to start from the beginning. However, Coble has written the novels so that readers can enjoy them independently from each other. Some familiar characters reappear in Rosemary Cottage, most notably, Libby Holladay, the archaeological historian and protagonist from Tidewater Inn. In this novel, Libby takes a backseat to Amy Lang. Amy has returned to the fictional Hope Island in the Outer Banks after her older brother Ben was killed in a surfing accident. She intends to stay at her family’s beach home, Rosemary Cottage, where she and Ben spent many blissful summers together.

Amy idolized Ben. She thought of her brother as a smart and hardworking man. Understandably then, the news of his recent death has left her in a state of shock. She has arrived at Rosemary Cottage under the pretense of mourning her brother and possibly relocating her successful midwife practice to the island, but she has another, hidden, agenda behind uprooting her former life. Amy received an anonymous e-mail claiming that her brother was murdered, and that he deserved his fate. Before the mysterious e-mail, Amy had her doubts about the accident. Ben was a strong swimmer and a skilled surfer. Police never recovered Ben’s body, but they did retrieve his shark-bitten surfboard. Even though the evidence indicated a simple and unfortunate accident, Amy believes a grimmer truth lurks beneath the surface.

Curtis Ireland, a Coast Guard officer on Hope Island, just lost his sister Gina in a devastating boating accident. Upon her death, Curtis became the guardian of Gina’s newborn daughter, Raine. Curtis is a dutiful uncle who loves his little niece dearly. He stepped up to the task of caring for Raine without any problems. That is, until Amy’s arrival. Curtis and his aunt Edith know the secret behind Raine’s parentage, and it could jeopardize their claim to Raine’s custody. Edith urges Curtis to approach Amy and reveal the secret, but Curtis is wary that Amy’s affluent family might barge in and wage a custody battle. Matters become more complicated when Amy approaches Curtis. She wants to investigate Ben’s death. Shortly after they partner up, they realize that Ben and Gina’s accidents might be interconnected. What they discover leads them to a tightly wound web of dark secrets and unexpected twists.

A romance between Amy and Curtis forms quickly, but the potential relationship is troubled almost immediately by the tension of uncovering harsh realities about Ben and Gina. Neither Amy nor Curtis want to see their beloved sibling in a negative light. Hostilities flare when Curtis suggests that Ben might not be the great man Amy believed him to be. Moreover, as Curtis feels increasingly attracted to Amy, she pushes him away. Amy possesses an unpleasant secret of her own, one that prevents her from growing closer to Curtis despite their clear chemistry. In the midst of their unofficial investigation, the island is busy with a campaigning senator and the arrival of an unusual new girl seeking work. Will Curtis and Amy uncover the truth with all the distractions and complications surrounding them? If they find the truth, will they regret that they went hunting for it in the first place?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Coble, Colleen, Mystery, Romance/Relationship

Summer Kinard. Can’t Buy Me Love. United States: Light Messages Publishing, 2013.

Can't Buy Me LoveDoes love at first sight count when only one person is looking? After Vanessa Fauchon digs three scrapbooks out of a dumpster, she falls in love with an attractive Latino man who appears in the photos. For Vanessa happening upon the scrapbooks was part luck and part routine. Vanessa is a freegan. Freegans, essentially, do not believe in purchasing any consumer products, even for basic needs like food and clothes. Instead, they rely on thrifty thinking and dumpster-diving to make ends meet in a sustainable lifestyle.

Shortly after Vanessa discovers the scrapbooks she breaks up with her deadbeat boyfriend and dumpster-diving partner, Bradley. Although Vanessa and Bradley share physical compatibility, they lack the same long-term desires. In the near future Vanessa hopes for children, while Bradley believes she should get sterilized for the good of population control. Bradley is a vigilant freegan and wields his ideology to shirk responsibility. Vanessa suspects that Bradley is lazy and masquerades that fact behind his tenet of simplicity. If he does not receive something free out of an encounter, then Bradley has no interest in exerting any effort.

Fortunately, Vanessa is a member of Fructus, a women’s group that meets to socialize, crochet, and support one another. Fructus has a range of strong, unconventional female members, from a luchadora to an ethics professor. The women of Fructus help Vanessa during her weakest times and implore her to seek out a more fulfilling relationship. Bradley is a leech of a character and Vanessa struggles to remove him from her life. By contrast to Bradley, Vanessa is a hard worker who tends bar at a local brewery. One night, in a moment of complete serendipity, she recognizes a familiar face from across the bar–a face that bears an uncanny resemblance the handsome visage of the Latino man in the foraged scrapbooks. Although Can’t Buy Me Love revolves around a peculiar love story, the friendships between the female characters are the crux of the novel.

Summer Kinard, a first-time novelist, has an educational background in religion. She earned her M.Div and Th. M. from Duke Divinity School and elements of her interest in religion emerge throughout the book. Moreover, her knowledge of Durham is evident. She references several local attractions and businesses around the city such as Duke Gardens, the Carolina Theatre, and Locopops. Readers acquainted with the Triangle area may delight in the recognizable portrait of Durham that Kinard has rendered in her novel. All readers can enjoy Kinard’s magical and seemingly improbable love story.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Durham, Kinard, Summer, Piedmont, Romance/Relationship

Sherryl Woods. Sand Castle Bay. Don Mills, Ont.: Harlequin Mira, 2013.

sand castleEmily Castle and Boone Dorsett were sweethearts when Emily spent her summers at Sand Castle Bay.  Boone hoped that Emily would settle down with him, but the young woman wanted to pursue her dream of being an interior designer–not a viable career option in the little coastal town.  Boone eventually married someone else.

As Sand Castle Bay opens it has been ten years since the young lovers’ breakup.  Boone is a now restaurant owner and a widower with a young son.  Emily has become a successful decorator in Colorado, but she is called back to North Carolina when her grandmother’s restaurant is threatened by a major storm.  Emily’s grandmother, Cora Jane, has become close with Boone, each supporting the other in the difficult business of running a tourist-oriented business.  Cora Jane knows that Boone still has feelings for Emily and she finds ways to push the two of them together.  But other family members throw up obstacles–chiefly Emily’s sisters who love to interfere in their sister’s life and Boone’s mother-in-law who is possessive of her grandson and bitter about her daughter’s early death.  And personal matters are not the only impediments to a new beginning for Emily and Boone.  Boone’s business has taken off and he is adding restaurants in other states, and Emily has big jobs coming up in California and back in Colorado.  Sand Castle Bay gives readers a mature, realistic take on the rocky road to happily-ever-after.

 

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Woods, Sherryl

Sherryl Woods. Wind Chime Point. Don Mills, Ont: Harlequin Mira, 2013.

Wind Chime PointAfter successful PR maven Gabriella Castle winds up pregnant and unemployed, her entire life plan is blown off course. Gabi is a workaholic who has devoted herself to her position at a biomedical company. Her determination stems from a need to impress her disinterested father, Sam Castle, who has established himself the biomedical industry as an esteemed figure. Their relationship is strained, and Gabi is nervous about what her morally upright father will think of her condition. Before her pregnancy and her layoff Gabi set her ambitions to climbing the corporate ladder and landing a vice-presidency within the company. But those dreams seem impossibly distant from her reach, which is difficult for Gabi to handle. Gabi is a sensible planner and she feels adrift without structure guiding her life.

The father of Gabi’s child and her boyfriend of five years, Paul Langley, expresses shock at the news and distances himself from the situation. Paul is a slick professional with little desire for starting a family. Now that the ties of Gabi’s former life in Raleigh have loosened, she returns to Sand Castle Bay on the coast of North Carolina at the urging of her older sister Samantha. Gabi’s younger sister, Emily, is engaged and in the throes of wedding planning and Samantha coaxes Gabi to join them for a reprieve from the hectic upheaval in her life. Gabi cautiously agrees to the vacation; her sisters and her grandmother, Cora Jane, tend to meddle with match-making. Gabi knows just who they intend to pair her up with and she is not interested in entering into a new relationship with anyone, not even the patient and gallant Wade Johnson.

Wade Johnson has harbored feelings for Gabi since he first met her. Gabi’s sisters and grandmother believe that Wade is a perfect partner for Gabi, but she remains stubbornly resolute that she can handle her present situation alone and discusses plans to give her baby up for adoption. For Wade, family is an essential and precious element for happiness, and one that he is sadly lacking. Two years ago his pregnant wife Kayla was killed in an accident. Wade still experiences trauma from the ordeal and refuses to communicate his emotions on the topic. Instead, he acts as a devoted uncle to his sister Louise’s five children. He spends time with the kids while Louise runs her law firm and her husband Zack stays busy at his medical practice. As much as he loves his nieces and nephews, he feels jealous of Louise and Zack’s family and depressed by his lost opportunity to start a family of his own.

When Gabi and Wade bump into each other only somewhat unintentionally at Castle’s by the Sea, a local restaurant owned by the Castle family, Wade’s “knight-in-shining-armor side of his nature” emerges. He does not care that Gabi is pregnant. In fact, he finds her as beautiful as ever and becomes determined to help her recover from the recent blows of her pregnancy and her unemployment and to find a new purpose in her life. Wade hopes that whatever direction Gabi embarks on will include him as well. Initially, Gabi accepts Wade’s support and friendship with reluctance, and she stipulates from the beginning that the relationship will only be platonic. After plenty of confusion and self-reflection, Gabi reconsiders what she wants out of life. When Gabi’s old boss offers to rehire her, she is suddenly not so sure that she is ready to leave Sand Castle Bay.

Wind Chime Point is the second work in a series of three books by popular novelist Sherryl Woods. The Ocean Breeze series concentrates on the lives of the Castle sisters: Samantha, Gabriella, and Emily. In Wind Chime Point, Woods splits the perspective between Wade and Gabi. Woods exposes the nuance in the thoughts and actions of her two main characters. By switching between the voices of Gabi and Wade, Woods shows the disparity between what they say versus what they actually feel. Woods’ story presents a great depth of feeling and cements the importance of family, particularly during the hardest of times.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Novels in Series, Romance/Relationship, Woods, Sherryl

Cheris Hodges. Forces of Nature. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp., 2013.

Forces of NatureIn the 1970s,  jealousy drove Douglas Wellington Jr. to great success in establishing his manufacturing company, Welco Industries. As a young man, Douglas Jr. was ashamed of his poor background, and his intellectual interests led his peers to dismiss him as nerdy.  But “money changed things and changed the way people viewed” Douglas Jr. He wielded his power and money to exact revenge on the people who once thought of him as just a poor boy from Waverly. His most ambitious sights were set on the Hughes Farm. In Douglas Jr.’s mind, Joel Hughes stole Erin Hamilton from him. Although Douglas Jr. married another woman, he was still besotted with Erin. And if he couldn’t win Erin back, then he would make them both pay.

Fast forward into the present day and Douglas Wellington III is now CEO of Welco Industries. Much of nearby Reeseville has been developed by Welco. But not quite the entire town has been dug up and gentrified. Not the Hughes Farm, at least. Douglas hopes to solidify plans on the Douglas Wellington Jr. Business Park as soon as possible to honor his deceased father’s memory and to appease his board of directors. The chairman of the board, Clive Oldsman, hounds Douglas relentlessly about speeding up the project. Originally Douglas had dreams of making a name in the music industry, but when his father fell ill with colon cancer, he was lured into the family business to please his dying father. So his sights are fastened on the Hughes Farm.

Crystal Hughes, daughter of Joel and Erin Hughes, is not about to let Welco steal her family’s farm out from under her. She’s feisty and full of ideas to protest the business park, including handcuffing herself to the desk of Douglas’s receptionist. Crystal’s determination is understandable. After all, the Hughes Farm is a legacy. The farm was the first property owned by African Americans in Duval County. Under Crystal’s management, the farm produces vegetables that are donated to the local homeless shelter. Also, Starlight House, a group home for young girls, sits on the property. Crystal has a fierce devotion to the girls at Starlight, who in turn, show their affection and appreciation by helping with chores around the farm. Crystal loves the farm and she is confident that anyone who spends time on the land will fall in love with it too. She is so confident, in fact, that she challenges Douglas to spend one week on the property before he continues with his plans to destroy the farm. Douglas accepts the offer, if only because of his attraction to Crystal.

In Forces of Nature Cheris Hodges offers a light rendition on Romeo and Juliet: two sworn enemies stifling their attraction to each other out of familial loyalty. Will Crystal’s proposition change Douglas’s mind? There is plenty of intrigue and family secrets to keep readers turning the pages of this book.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Hodges, Cheris F., Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship

Rhonda Riley. The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope. New York: Ecco, 2013.

The Enchanted Life of Adam HopeAfter her Aunt Eva passes away, seventeen-year old Evelyn Roe is charged by her parents to tend to her deceased aunt and uncle’s farm near the fictional town of Clarion, North Carolina. The farm lies twenty-five miles outside of Charlotte. Riley’s story begins at the end of World War II and most of the town’s men are off fighting, if they have not already perished in the wake of the war effort.

With their work at the cotton mill, Evelyn’s parents do not have time to look after the farm. Despite her initial shock at the responsibility, Evelyn quickly adapts to her new circumstances and finds freedoms alongside her obligations. Thanks to her height, her red hair, and her smattering of freckles, Evelyn is teased mercilessly. Like many small towns, Clarion does not take kindly to differences. But on the farm, she develops a loving bond to her family’s land.

On the farm, Evelyn happens upon something odd — a man lodged in the harsh, red clay earth. Evelyn rescues and cares for the disfigured man. Yet the unknown, unnamed man is not what he seems. He possesses strange talents that verge on supernatural. Evelyn and the man who eventually transforms into Adam Hope fall in love. Their connection is profound, both spiritual and sensual. They marry and start a family.

The town of Clarion accepts Adam unequivocally. They appreciate his kind heart, large appetite, and earthy nature. At first. After a tragic incident brings grief to the Hope family, Adam’s unusual behavior elicits discomfort and draws questions from the townspeople. Suddenly, the Hope family finds their way of life endangered. Will Evelyn and Adam be able to restore their standing in the community and maintain their intimate bond? Or will the stress of prying public opinion unravel the Hope family?

First-time novelist Rhonda Riley presents a story with biblical undertones that focuses on unwavering love and that experiments with concepts such as gender and physical manifestations of differences. Her exploration of gender in particular is at times reminiscent of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. She highlights the subtleties and secrets that exist within families. Riley questions ancestry and if people can know one another truly.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont, Riley, Rhonda, Romance/Relationship

Katrina Thomas. Coastal Summons. Las Vegas, NV: Montlake Romance, 2013.

coastal

Laina Danvers and Ian Hamilton grew up together, not quite family but almost.  Laina’s father was the foster child of Ian’s grandparents, and when he died Ian’s grandparents took her in and raised her.  But the car accident that killed Laina’s father also killed Ian’s father and uncle.  Beatrice Hamilton made peace with that tragic accident but her grandsons never did.  They took their anger out on Laina because her father had been behind the wheel.  Even now, as adults, they are cold and cutting toward her.

Ian Hamilton was the exception among the Hamilton boys, and he is the person who Laina turns to for help when she notices that Beatrice (Gram) is beginning to fail.  The family is scattered and each sibling has adult responsibilities: Ian is an assistant district attorney in Richmond; Elliott is a partner in a large insurance company; Cal is a financial adviser; and cousin Palmer moved to California is escape his overprotective mother.

Laina is busy too as the president of an international trading company and the foster mother of a seven-year old girl.  But just as Gram was always there for her when she was a child, Laina will help Gram now.  When Laina has visited Gram in Arlington, Virginia she’s noticed that the older woman has become frail and is forgetting things, but it is Gram’s annual move to the beach house on Hatteras Island that precipitates a crisis.  The house needs a lot of work, and Gram shouldn’t be there alone.  Laina can see what needs to be done, but the Hamilton men will not accept her advice on anything.  When the family gathers at the beach house on the Fourth of July weekend a stray box of letters reveals something about their shared past that upends the Hamilton family story and allows Ian and Laina to acknowledge feelings that his brothers’ hositility toward Laina forced them to hide.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Romance/Relationship, Thomas, Katrina

Katrina Thomas. Island Sojourn. Las Vegas, NV: Montlake Romance, 2012.

islandsojournDelaney Sutton used to love her job. A professional firefighter living in Richmond, Virginia, she has been passionately dedicated to saving lives for years. Now, at twenty-six, she’s reached a crossroads. Firefighting has always been her dream, but with the death of her friend and co-worker, Hal, in a fire that also injured her severely, Delaney is unsure and worn out. Her chief decides she needs a forced vacation at the same time that her sisters are planning their annual Sisterhood Sojourn to North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Delaney gives in and goes with them.

Her four weeks in Avon on Hatteras Island are supposed to be relaxing. Unfortunately, her three sisters have other ideas about what she needs– well, one idea. A man. Luckily for them, Gareth Collins arrives almost within a day of the four women, and the Sutton sisters waste no time in hounding their youngest about how cute he is. Delaney has to agree, but she just doesn’t know if she wants a relationship right now. She hasn’t been able to sleep properly since Hal’s death, about which she keeps having post-traumatic flashbacks. Gareth realizes something isn’t entirely right with the pretty youngest Sutton sister, so he tries to take it slow, encouraging her to open up to him a little at a time. Is love really the medicine Delaney needs?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coast, Dare, Romance/Relationship, Thomas, Katrina

Janice Sims. Escape with Me. Toronto: Harlequin Kimani, 2013.

escapeLana Corday has made a good living as a decorator in San Francisco but when her husband is accused of an enormous financial fraud, she is pursued by the media and her business dries up.  Both the media and the police badger Lana because he husband, Jeremy, is nowhere to be found.  Did Jeremy die when his yacht exploded, or did he fake his death so he could start a new life?

The FBI thinks that Jeremy is still alive and that he will come back for his beautiful wife.  Believing that Lana is the bait to catch Jeremy, the FBI enlists Lana’s father’s help. When she hears that her father has a touch of heart trouble, Lana returns to Hatteras Island to be by his side.  The FBI follows, in the person of handsome special agent Tennison Isles.  Jeremy’s deceptions have caused Lana to doubt her ability to judge people, but she can’t help but notice how her father trusts Tenn and enjoys his company.  Could she let herself fall for this upright, handsome, sexy man?

Janice Sims does a nice job of interweaving Lana and Tenn’s romance with the business of catching Jeremy, but what will set this book apart for North Carolina readers is the author’s familiarity with the Outer Banks–its geography, its beauty, its heritage.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Coast, Dare, Romance/Relationship, Sims, Janice

Karen Foley. Coming Up for Air. Toronto: Harlequin, 2012.

comingupforairArmy captain Jenna Larson is an ace Black Hawk helicopter pilot on her way from Fort Drum in New York to Kabul Airbase in Afghanistan. Stuck at Fort Bragg in North Carolina for three days before heading out, Jenna finds herself running into the same handsome serviceman over and over. Her nosy Warrant Officer and best friend, Laura Costanza, ID’s him– he’s Chase Rawlins, a soon-to-be-deployed, serious-minded special ops officer. When Jenna next sees him at a local bar, he seems just as attracted to her as she is to him. One thing leads to another. Jenna files the memorable encounter away in her head for later, when she’s running dangerous missions in Afghanistan. She never thinks she’ll see Chase Rawlins again.

In fact, she’d be surprised to learn that she has never met Chase Rawlins to begin with. Her tryst was not with him, but with his identical twin brother Chance– a hot-headed, devilish Apache helicopter pilot. When Jenna’s path crosses that of the real Chase in Afghanistan, she’s surprised and disappointed but stoic about his blank response to her presence…until she runs into Chance the same day. Chance hasn’t been able to stop thinking about Jenna, and when he finally sets her case of mistaken identity to rights, she isn’t pleased. Jenna has rules about sleeping with other pilots. Will Chance get a second chance with Jenna? And is their budding romance able to withstand both Afghanistan and the United States Army’s strict regulations?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Coastal Plain, Cumberland, Foley, Karen, Harnett, Hoke, Moore, Romance/Relationship