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Review: Illusion Town by Jayne Castle

Series: Ghost Hunters #13

illusion-town-jayne-castleA new adventure begins on Harmony… 
 
With its opulent casinos and hotels, the desert city of Illusion Town is totally unique—and will take you on a thrill ride you’ll never forget.

Hannah West isn’t the first woman to wake up in Illusion Town married to a man she barely knows, but she has no memory of the ceremony at all. For that matter, neither does Elias Coppersmith, her new husband. All either can remember is that they were on the run…

With Hannah’s dubious background and shaky para-psych profile, she could have done much worse. The cooly competent mining heir arouses her curiosity—as well as other parts of her mind and body. And even her dust bunny likes him.

But a honeymoon spent retracing their footsteps leads Hannah and Elias into the twisting underground catacombs, where secrets from both their pasts will come to light—and where the energy of their clashing auras will grow hot enough to burn…


4 Drink Me Potions


This was my first book by “Jayne Castle”, although I happened to have crossed her other contemporary AND historical books as well, under her names Jayne Ann Krentz and Amanda Quick respectively.

Illusion Town was a little disorienting at first as I quickly had a feeling that this wasn’t a simple standalone book that I had picked up from the library. There seemed to be alluded references to this whole land of Harmony that I did not know about as a completely new reader. And now looking at how vast this whole series is (with the intricate weavings even across Castle’s other genres), I’m quite impressed with the overall world building that’s been crafted here.

First of all (from what I gathered as an amateur reader in this world), this futuristic set of series written under Jayne Castle is on some alien planet colonists from Earth settled ages ago, but through some mishap, were disconnected from Earth quite permanently and the people here had to make do and thrive somehow.

Paranormal activity is like the new norm here, with people genetically passing on these talents and traits like it’s nothing. The kind of tech here also matches the futuristic theme, but also walks hand-in-hand with the paranormal abilities that people have, such as listening to energy with amber crystals.

Then there’s the land itself and how it’s laid out. 8 Zones split up around some epicentre where some unnatural activity caused some of it to be uninhabitable. It was well-written (albeit still a little confusing for a first reader like me), but I got enough of the idea to still be quite engaged with how this society organized itself.

And of course, there’s the creatures. In particular, the dust bunny.

When I first read about Virgil, the resident dust bunny in this story, I was quite astounded to be honest. Who is this thing and why does it have FOUR eyes? Fluffy yet quite ferocious. I loved it! Castle is very imaginative as she laid out even remote childhood fantasies of dust bunnies (such as I had when I was a kid) into a futuristic story where it becomes as simple as asking “why NOT have it featuring dust bunnies as characters?”. I was overall quite impressed with the setting I had randomly landed myself in.

Then there’s the ROMANCE. It wasn’t the centre of the story, though the intriguing plot line where Hannah and Elias found themselves married to each other was fun enough to draw me in. No, their relationship and budding love for each other was icing on top of the excitement (and dangers!) that were brewing all throughout the book.

From exploring the dangerous Rainforest and Underground areas where I gathered were leftover ruins from when Aliens inhabited this planet (surprise! even more intriguing things just THROWN in here) to finding a long-lost treasure and being chased by a gang of pirates on motorbikes. It was like a rollercoaster of heartfelt emotions and running around adrenaline.

For a novel I randomly decided to read on a lazy Saturday, I think it’s opened me up to a whole new world of possibilities.

Overall Recommendation:
Illusion Town was brilliantly crafted in its imaginative setting on some futuristic planet where people had paranormal abilities and real live dust bunnies as companions. Although this is technically part of a long lineup of books in a series, it still stood out well enough as a standalone (as I had read it ’cause I sure as heck didn’t read any of the previous ones yet). There was enough sweet romance but the action in the plot had me excitedly flipping through the pages. It seems this book has almost everything. This is the kind of world that is unique and should be visited at least once. Be sure to read the previous books first (maybe).

Review: The Collector by Nora Roberts

the collector -nora robertsFrom #1 New York Times-bestselling author Nora Roberts comes a novel of a woman who needs nothing, a man who sees everything, and the web of deceit, greed, and danger that brings them together—and could tear them apart . . .

When professional house-sitter Lila Emerson witnesses a murder/suicide from her current apartment-sitting job, life as she knows it takes a dramatic turn. Suddenly, the woman with no permanent ties finds herself almost wishing for one. . . .

Artist Ashton Archer knows his brother isn’t capable of violence—against himself or others. He recruits Lila, the only eyewitness, to help him uncover what happened. Ash longs to paint her as intensely as he hungers to touch her. But their investigation draws them into a rarified circle where priceless antiques are bought, sold, gambled away, and stolen, where what you possess is who you are, and where what you desire becomes a deadly obsession. . . .


2 Drink Me Potions


Nora Robert’s The Collector was probably the worst mystery I’ve read from her so far. I might even be inclined to call it the worst book of hers that I’ve read as well.

I’m not sure why, but before I began this novel, I had this weird assumption that this would be another creepy serial killer kind of mystery. A Collector that collects people, by which I mean kills them because, of course, these killers have no empathy for people. However, even when I figured it wasn’t a serial crime, what this book really was about was so far below expectations.

First, writing itself was bland and boring.

Roberts describes the locations and settings in fine detail sometimes. That’s okay. It really sets the mood and pulls the reader into the story with the characters. This time? I just couldn’t stand the tedious effort of it all. I found myself skimming all the long paragraphs about what Ash was painting or Lila was writing. Sure, it was enjoyable to see what these characters so passionately loved to do, but was the ridiculous amount of detail really necessary to further the MAIN plot?

As for the main mystery, there was absolutely NO suspense at all.

The culprit that initially killed Ash’s brother was just given to us, name and all. We don’t even have to guess or wait anxiously for the who-dunnit. It’s literally right there on the pages for you and I to read . I was incredibly annoyed with this.

So then I had hoped there would be more of a mystery when confronting the hired assassin’s boss. Well, that turned out to be a bust too. No drama or flair when Ash and Lila figure out who was behind it all, or why. It made everything so boring.

Then there’s also the fact that the characters weren’t all that easy to like or connect with. Lila lives a life as a house-sitter (which sounds kinda fun, if you ask me). She moves about and doesn’t set any roots down. A gypsy, as even Ash saw her as. But this definitely made her one of those prickly, “I can’t commit” kinda gals, which obviously led to romantic frustrations for Ash. It was all so tiring to see her go through her list of reasons for why she couldn’t go faster with the progression of their relationship, or to read her waiting for some kind of disaster to occur.

Ash was an okay male love interest, but he was nothing special. He deeply cared for his extremely large family, and he’s the one responsible for taking care of whatever problems befell them all. I liked that about him, but beyond a mild admiration, Roberts didn’t instill any great love for him. He was just another normal guy who fell into a bad situation.

Without the emotional attachment to them, I struggled several times to get through the extremely long length of this book. And I do mean, this book was extremely long. I swear half the book was filler material that didn’t really add much to the overall story.

The only thing I really enjoyed reading was the very beginning, with Lila looking through her binoculars and imagining the lives the people in those apartments were living. That’s what drew me into writing in the first place. The joy of picturing the endless possibilities of what was going on with other people. I didn’t mind those heavily described passages in this case.

With a huge, huge sigh, I’ve gotta say, The Collector was a huge disappointment to me. I hope more of Robert’s newer mysteries don’t all suck like this. I wish for stories similar to her older ones, like Sacred Sins.

Overall Recommendation:
The Collector doesn’t live up to some of Robert’s older and better mysteries, with absolutely no suspense and a plot that deviates into unnecessary details that just don’t overall matter. Lila, the protagonist, was hard to enjoy as she had commitment issues. The length of the book felt overdrawn with minute details on Lila’s work as an author and artwork that wasn’t essential to the mystery. If Roberts had spent more time on the main crime and mystery, without giving us the name of the killer like it was nothing, maybe there would’ve been hope for it. At this point, I’m surprised I even finished the book. The Collector lacked the chilling crimes and mysterious culprit that I had come to enjoy from Roberts. That in itself is a disappointment.

Review: Fatal Disclosure by Sandra Robbins

Series: Ocracoke Island #3

fatal disclosure -sandra robbinsWhen a gunshot victim dies in front of Betsy Michaels, his last words make her a killer’s next target.

The undercover agent investigating the murder is none other than Mark Webber, the man who’d broken her heart. Now she has to trust him with her life.

Mark feels duty bound to protect Betsy from the drug smugglers responsible for his partner’s death. Yet every time he looks at her, he’s reminded of the choices he made that hurt Betsy to the core.

And despite their rekindled attraction, this time the danger isn’t just to their hearts.


 

3.5 Drink Me Potions


Fatal Disclosure concludes the series located in Ocracoke Island. Now focused on a lovely character, Betsy Michaels, whom I admired in the earlier two books, I found myself enjoying her story in some ways more than the others.

Betsy is a strong character, an independent woman who went off to school away from the island and had planned on going to New York for her art career. However, with her mother dying and her sisters needing her back on the island, she found she could love art here just as much. Honestly, if I had such a beautiful island to call home, I’d want to be there to paint my pictures too. Unfortunately, the island itself and island life weren’t described as heavily as in the first two novels. It’s a pity because reading so much about it has really made me want to visit this island for real someday. I never thought I’d go to North Carolina, but now I’m really curious. But I digress.

The thing that made me get upset with Betsy sometimes was also because of her independence. She was almost too independent and prideful of her ability to take care of herself. She didn’t want to trouble others, especially not the man who caused such trouble in her life a few years back.

That was another thing. Betsy’s romance with him was interesting. The antagonistic feelings due to their past only lasted so long (thankfully). Sandra Robbins didn’t blow it up into something so big that it ruined the story. But this also brought out a negative. It left space in the story where their romance could’ve progressed a little more than it was, but since it didn’t, there were other random complications that kept them apart and sometimes misunderstanding each others’ true feelings.

All in all, Fatal Disclosure was a nice ending to Ocracoke Island. I just wished there was more on the island and the wonderful people there that we’ve gotten used to. Instead, I learned loads about duck hunting. Beyond my comprehension considering I’ve never seen what real duck hunters do or use.

Review: Shattered Identity by Sandra Robbins

Series: Ocracoke Island #2

shattered identity -sandra robbinsSomeone—with a very personal motive—has it out for Lisa Wade, Ocracoke Island’s sheriff’s dispatcher.

She was viciously attacked, her home was ransacked and one very precious possession was stolen. Deputy Scott Michaels plans to stay close until the culprit is caught …but that means involving Lisa in the investigation. And her assistance may cause more trouble for Lisa when she finds clues in a journal to a deadly mystery.

As Lisa and Scott cross dangerous territory, they inch closer to the truth— and to each other.

But lurking in the shadows is a killer determined to keep some secrets buried forever.


3 Drink Me Potions


After reading the first Ocracoke Island book, I fell in love with the island and the Michaels family. I just had to gobble down the next book in the series.

This story focused on the new big brother in the family, the events which introduce him to us occurring in Dangerous Reunion. However, a little different from the previous book, the mystery felt a little more flat to me.

First, the culprit was slightly predictable (in my opinion, which may be biased considering I read a ton of mysteries), which is never good sign when it comes to who-dunnit mysteries. It still took a while to get to that point where I could 100% say I’m positive on the identity, but it definitely occurred before the climax of the story.

Second, Lisa’s character was a little more reckless and defensive when it came to her mother. Granted, it was warranted considering the small town didn’t always have the nicest things to say to her. But always fighting with Scott’s protective concern for her was a little tiresome. She honestly could’ve been killed so many times during the course of the book, if not for the fact that it couldn’t happen since she’s one of the protagonists.

And lastly, the romance was just harder to swallow. Both Lisa and Scott have emotional scars from their past. I understand this was the connecting point that brought them to each other, but also the point from which the healing powers that only come from Jesus can work its way through the story. I did like that. Peace that transcends all understanding comes only from Him. And in a beautiful setting such as this island? I can imagine what it would feel like if I were to bask in His glory there.

I will end with saying that this novel didn’t stick out all too much from the pack of Love Inspired Suspense books and its formula, but it still was an enjoyable enough read. My favourite point was the real-life story of how a lamb sacrificed itself to save several soldiers from being killed by an IED. That is the best story I’ve heard in a long time.

Review: Dangerous Reunion by Sandra Robbins

Series: Ocracoke Island #1

dangerous reunion -sandra robbinsA murderer on tiny, safe Ocracoke Island?

Deputy Sheriff Kate Michaels doesn’t want to believe it—until someone at the crime scene starts shooting at her. Then Nashville detective Brock Gentry shows up.

Brock broke her heart years ago when he called off their engagement. Now, torn apart by a case, Brock seeks sanctuary on the island. Yet as the threats against Kate escalate—and Kate’s sisters are targeted—she turns to the man she’s never stopped loving.

Even if their reunion is more dangerous than it ever was before.


 

3.5 Drink Me Potion


It’s been a long while since I’ve read a Love Inspired Suspense book, but I think it was fortuitous that I picked up a Sandra Robbins book as my first. In Dangerous Reunion, we get to see and experience Ocracoke Island off the shores of North Carolina. I’ve never been there, but from the beautiful descriptions of this place, it makes me wish that I could someday visit it.

There’s someone out to make life difficult for Deputy Kate Michaels. On such a beautiful little island that mainly attracts tourists in the summer season, they don’t expect to have a murder, let alone multiple incidents, in the span of several days. To make things worse, the culprit seems to be targeting Kate, leaving messages for her specifically at the scene of different crimes. With many red herrings thrown our way, it took me a while to try to guess who may be the antagonist. But when the identity finally came out, Robbins wrote it in such a way that this reveal made sense to me and that there were enough hints that justified choosing this character.

The romance wasn’t very strong in this one. I think the highlight of the relationship between Kate and Brock was that they wanted to rebuild a strong foundational friendship first before it can ever amount to more. I appreciated this. As such, the focus wasn’t on the potential romance between them but on how Brock could find peace on this lovely stretch of land called Ocracoke Island. Personally, I think this book came at the right moment. Finding peace isn’t easy; life gets way too busy and noisy for most to sit still enough to hear God’s voice. Sometimes His message doesn’t come flashing on crashing thunder. Sometimes, it’s written in the soft brush of the wind or the cries of a bird in the silence. I want to thank Sandra Robbins for inputting such a sweet message in the midst of a fun mystery.

All in all, this is a great taste of what the Love Inspired Suspense line brings. I suggest you give this book and others a try.

Overall Recommendation:
Dangerous Reunion is set in the beautiful island of Ocracoke, a place that feels so real to me although I’ve never stepped foot in North Carolina. The mystery was en par as the actions of the culprit escalates, all the while targeting Deputy Kate as she tries to keep everyone on her island safe. With the additional stress of seeing her ex-fiance, this story revolves around friendship, forgiveness and finding that peace that only comes from God. I can’t wait to come back to Ocracoke Island with more from Sandra Robbins.

Review: Blue Smoke by Nora Roberts

blue smoke -nora robertsReena Hale grew up with an intimate knowledge of the destructive power of fire. When she was a child, her family’s restaurant was burned to the ground, and the man responsible was sent to jail. The Hale family banded together to rebuild, and Reena found her life’s calling.She trained as a firefighter and then as a cop, always with the end goal in sight: to become an arson investigator.

Now, as part of the arson unit, she is called in on a series of suspicious fires that seem to be connected-not just to each other, but to her. And as danger ignites all around her, Reena must rely on experience and instinct to catch a dangerous madman who will not stop until everything she loves has gone up in smoke.


1 Drink Me Potion


DNF’d at ~25%

I was itching for a good mystery with a sprinkling of romance, and I thought, Hey I really adored some of Nora Robert’s mysteries before. Let’s give another one a try. Unfortunately, Blue Smoke may have sounded interesting in the synopsis but it’s really such a bore to get through.

The synopsis states in a concise manner how our protagonist Reena first encountered a fire and thus, set her on the path in becoming an arson investigator. But oh no! The prologue in this novel isn’t like, one chapter long like you may think. It stays in the good ol’ past for several chapters when Reena was 11. And then, when there’s finally a flash forward (thank heavens!), it only moves 7 years to when she’s 18 and in college and experimenting with things.

The pacing is way too slow in my opinion. Yes, the mystery and the fires revolving around her start in her past but I swear Roberts could have written it in a more concise manner. Descriptions of everything , from the food laid out (’cause they’re Italian so there’s gotta be a lot of food) to wedding decorations and planning, it just gets overwhelming. Not to mention, the names of different people coming in and out of the story in just the first several chapters.

Honestly, I think this plot had a lot going for it, but I just can’t make myself go through 20 more years of Reena’s life in this slow cadence of things. I hate giving up on books, but this one really deserves my DNF shelf.

And by the way, I could already tell who the culprit of all these mysterious fires was even from where I stopped.

Overall Recommendation:
With plenty of intrigue that has become one of Nora Roberts’ signatures, Blue Smoke seemed to have a lot of potential. However, with the slow progression in plot, moving in increments by the years through Reena’s life since she was a child, I just couldn’t make myself follow along with the intensity I wanted. It just became so boring, especially with the ridiculously in-depth descriptions of the tiniest details. I’m a little disappointed as I’ve loved some of her mysteries in the past, but if you’re okay with a slow pace and detailed paragraphs, then this might be an okay book for you. As for me? Hasta la vista.

Review: Her Accidental Husband by Ashlee Mallory

Series: The Sorensen Family #2

her accidental husband -ashlee malloryPayton Vaughn’s trip to Puerto Vallarta for her friend’s wedding was her big escape from her ridiculously overbearing mother–oh, and that little matter with her cheating fiancé. Now, her flight’s been cancelled, and she’s crammed into a tiny car with the gorgeous-but-irritating best man.

Viva la road trip from hell…

Cruz Sorensen doesn’t have time to babysit some spoiled socialite, even if she is the future daughter-in-law of the man who could change the fortune of his family’s company. He has no business getting to know her better—not even for all the tequila in Mexico…until they wake up with grande-sized hangovers as man and wife.

Now Payton and Cruz must decide if they’ve reached the end of their journey…or the beginning of a new adventure.


4 Drink Me Potions


Her Accidental Husband features two people who have made big appearances in the previous novel, Her Backup Boyfriend. I had seen these two as a potential match even then, and preferably, I enjoyed their story a little more.

Payton fits the stereotype of a rich, socialite girl who has everything yet feels restless. However, I totally sympathize with her as she’s got a dragon for a mother. Controlling, conniving and completely intolerable until you let her get her way. Payton’s better than that. She’s actually a brilliant girl who wanted to study law and chose her own friends, like Kate, not based on their trust funds and bloodlines.

Cruz is also another well-known member of the Sorensen family. He’s quiet and brooding, the typical guy to offset the more bubbly personality of his potential match. Although their characters were a little stereotypical, I still enjoyed who they were and how they interacted with each other. Stuck on a road trip through Mexico to reach a wedding that’s important to them both, they learn that there may be a very fine line between love and hate.

The one downside to it all is the completely unnecessary misunderstandings that pile up nearer to the end. Whether it be her fault one second or his fault the other, it felt like they just kept missing the other, not totally understanding what the other meant when they said or did something out of hurt or complete ignorance of the consequences. It dragged it out a little too much in my opinion. I felt that Mallory could’ve made the ending more sweet and less abrupt (like the epilogue she threw in) if she cut out one or two of the misunderstandings that kept the couple apart.

All in all, it was a sweet and adorable story about two people who couldn’t be more different but found they had more in common than they thought.

Overall Recommendation:
Her Accidental Husband was a sweet and amusing story following two familiar characters who thought they despised each other on a very long road trip through the beautiful backdrop of Mexico. The premise has been done before and the characters lean a little more into the stereotypical, but the way the story was conducted kept it fun and enjoyable as we watch them turn their less-than-happy feelings for each other into love. Minus the excessive misunderstandings between them that occur nearer the end of the book, this story makes for a lovely summer afternoon read.

Review: Her Backup Boyfriend by Ashlee Mallory

Series: The Sorensen Family #1

her backup boyfriend -ashlee malloryOne little white lie leads to more than she planned…

Straight-laced lawyer Kate Matthews always plays by the rules. But when her ex gets engaged and a big promotion is on the line at work, she blurts out that she has a new boyfriend. And now that she’s proved she “has a life” outside of work, everything is perfect. Except for one teeny little detail—there is no boyfriend. And now Kate’s liable for her little white lie…

Dominic Sorensen is hot, charming, and very definitely not Kate’s type. But not only does Dominic want to help Kate renovate her home, he’s also willing to play “boyfriend.” All he wants in return is a little pro bono work for his sister. Now instead of Mr. Right, Kate has a delectable Mr. Fix-It-Right—and some unbelievable sexual chemistry. And if falling for Dominic is a breach of contract, Kate is guilty as charged…


 

3.5 Drink Me Potions


I admit, the fake boyfriend trope fascinates me. It’s like, if you act it enough, you just start to believe in these feelings and situations. And I find it kind of cute that people can come to care for each other in this way.

In this story, Kate has suffered from watching her ex get engaged with someone else in her law firm. Struggling from heartache and also the pressures of becoming someone by making a junior partner in her work, she’s one stressed out character.

However, the plot isn’t all seriousness. It gets balanced out by the hilarious antics with her new Mr. Fix-It, Dominic, who also happens to be her neighbour’s nephew. Together, they hatch out a plan to get their families and work off their back about their love lives in order to get what they want.

But you know, as with these books, what they want eventually gets blurred and questioned.

It was a quick and easy read. I think what I loved the most was the Sorensen family. The Sunday dinners that were described really made me think about how family is very important, no matter our age. It shouldn’t be something that’s only done to pacify the parents. And Dominic being willing to bring Kate into that wonderful family dynamic showed her what she was missing from her childhood. Becoming someone important and “good enough” isn’t the most essential thing life.

All in all, it was a fun read and I got what I wanted from it, though it may not be as memorable.

Overall Recommendation:
Her Backup Boyfriend was a sweet and charming novel on the essentials of family and love. Kate is consumed with work, trying to be “good enough” in the eyes of her ex’s family as she’s not cut from the same rich cloth. Meanwhile, she meets someone who challenges those wants, who puts family first. Seeing the loving Sorensen family welcome her into their group made her question what she truly wanted in life. It was a nice read and perfect for a quiet summer afternoon.

Review: Unfinished Business by Nora Roberts

unfinished business -nora robertsWhat was she doing here? Hyattown had changed very little in the years Vanessa Sexton had been away. In some ways her high school sweetheart, Brady Tucker, hadn’t changed much either—he was still lean, athletic, rugged…But the once reckless boy had become a solid, dependable man. He’d stood her up on the most important night of her life; could she ever trust him again?

So Vanessa had finally come home, Brady thought. She could still turn him inside out with one of her sultry looks. He couldn’t believe she hadn’t forgiven him for that night twelve years ago—but he’d had his reasons for not showing up. He’d let her leave town then—but he wasn’t going to let her get away this time…


4 Drink Me Potions


Unfinished Business is the perfect summer read with the sweet re-blossoming of love in two childhood sweethearts. I like Nora Robert’s mysteries, they can be quite entertaining, but her contemporary romance stories have just as much heart in it, in a different way.

In this novel, Vanessa has a lot of baggage that she’s bringing back with her to her hometown. Estranged from her mother for the last 12 years and stressed from her career as a concert pianist, hometown life seemed to be a good pace for her to rest. Of course, things get a little crazier than she imagined with the presence of her high school boyfriend there with unresolved issues left between them. I’m glad that the story doesn’t focus on that moment where Brady stood her up, but that the problems were more due to their current adult lifestyles and reconciling that things have changed in some ways after 12 years.

Vanessa had to discover who she was before she could really be what Brady may want from her. I liked the pacing. Things slowly built onto each other as she came face-to-face with the things she kept denying to herself, and the questions she couldn’t ask before. And at the heart of it all is a love story between two people that greatly cared for each other in their teens but have found a second chance for a more mature relationship.

Overall Recommendation:
Unfinished Business is as the title suggests, a story of two people separated by the years with unresolved issues. Vanessa definitely brought a lot of baggage back with her to her hometown, but slowly, she learned to rediscover who she was and not how external circumstances had molded her. This love story is sweet and filled with promise. It’s a different kind of story from Nora Robert’s mysteries, but it’s just as poignant and well done.

Review: An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber

Series: From this Day Forward #1-2

an engagement in seattle -debbie macomberAleksandr Berinksi is a Russian biochemist in the U.S. on a visa that is about to expire. Marriage will allow him to stay – marriage to Julia Conrad.
If Julia’s going to save her Seattle-based company, she needs him as much as he needs her. There’s a Groom Wanted in Julia’s life. And not just any groom!

A billboard on the side of a Seattle road is common enough – but one advertising for a bride? It’s Chase Goodwin’s solution to the problem of finding a wife quickly, a wife to bring home to Alaska.
Lesley Campbell has her own reasons for responding – and in no time she’s the Bride Wanted in Chase’s life!


4 Drink Me Potions


Let me just first say that these two stories by Debbie Macomber are some of her older ones and seemingly different from the kinds of plots she writes more after the 2000s, but there’s still something about them that make it enjoyable and applicable no matter the audience (although I do suggest you’re at least 16+).

In Groom Wanted, there was a tangible chemistry between Julia and Alek. Although it was a marriage of inconvenience but one that would help save the company, Alek genuinely seemed to have very fond feelings for Julia even in the beginning. I’m glad that Macomber differentiated that his feelings weren’t equated to love, at least not initially, ’cause that’d be way too unrealistic.

Julia, on the other hand, made me wanna strangle her sometimes. Yes, she went through a horrible ordeal with the betrayal from the man she loved that kept her from trusting in Alek and his very true feelings for her. I suppose the fact that I didn’t give up when she drove me crazy a little is a mark of how invested I was into their story. Overall, it was a very easy read that I gobbled up in practically one sitting. Perfect for a summer day (or evening until the wee hours of morning…)


In Bride Wanted, Lesley’s story was harder to digest. She too had been used and left behind by a man, making her wary about men in general. Chase needed a woman to bring back to the far unknowns of Alaska, using the most amusing way to do that. I was more amused than anything when reading their story. Definitely not as invested, although there were sweet moments here and there as well.

Lesley’s insistent love for her ex was the most annoying trait. Chase wasn’t the most romantic kind of guy. He’s very straightforward (I think you can tell by his extremely direct method of finding a wife). So between the two of them, there was some chemistry but it wasn’t as fun to read when I just wanted to knock some sense into her and to tell him to maybe woo her a little more.

Overall Recommendation:
Both stories were overall cute and had its moments. These were situations where marriage was something they needed for their own reasons, but not because of love. As a hopeless dreamer myself, finding love after the fact is a wonderful storyline to watch unfold. Macomber executes the stories with heated passion that slowly builds and people who find that they did indeed marry for love after all. Groom Wanted was particularly enjoyable, while Bride Wanted wasn’t far behind but the individual personalities of the characters were a little harder to manage. Overall, it was a quick and nice summer read when you feel like a good romance that ends happily.