Harlequin Contemporary Romance Box Set Volume One

boxed setHarlequin Contemporary Romance Box Set Volume One featuring Sarina Bowen, Rebecca Avery, Amy Jo Cousins and Denise McDonald
Released: February 3, 2014
Contemporary Romance

Reviewed by Mandi

Coming in from the Cold by Sarina Bowen

Alpine ski champion Dane “Danger” Hollister does not do relationships, though he has an excellent reason. No woman would ever say “I do” to a guy whose faulty DNA will eventually cost him everything: his spot on the US Ski team, his endorsements, and the ability to fly downhill at 90mph.

While Willow Reade moved to rural Vermont to get back to the land, that wasn’t meant to include a night stranded in her vehicle during a blizzard. Luckily, the hot ski racer she practically ran off the road has granola bars and a sleeping bag, and is happy to share. Maybe it’s the close quarters, maybe it’s the snow, but soon the two are sharing a lot more than conversation.

Yet neither can guess how their spontaneous passion will uncork Dane’s ugly secret and Willow’s tentative peace with her own choices. Only their mutual trust and bravery can end the pain and give Willow and Dane a shot at hard won happiness.

I really enjoyed this story. After meeting while stranded in a snow storm and doing a dirty deed in the back of Dane’s Jeep, these two have definite chemistry. But Dane is a one night stand only type of guy. He does not do commitments in any way, shape or form. He has a good reason for this – and I think this is such a well done part of this story. Dane’s brother is suffering from a very long-term, horrible disease (you learn what it is later in the book). His mother also died from this. Dane is terrified he has inherited it and it will make an appearance in the next few years. His fear of this disease is so deep-rooted that it rules every aspect of his life – from the daring, out of control ski style he has, to having no friends, and never having a true girlfriend. But – something happens in this book with Willow that will make him face his fears and his reaction to it all  is very raw and scary. He definitely goes through a phase being a complete and total jerk – but the author makes it all work so well. He has his reasons and they are totally believable.

Willow is a great heroine who was left by her boyfriend with a big house and chickens. Life throws her some curveballs and I love how she handles it. She has a great girlfriend in this book that adds a lot to the story as well. A very well done romance – sexy, hard to take at times, romantic with a great ending too. I think this is Sarina Bowen’s debut – will definitely be keeping an eye on her.

Rating: B+

Maid to Fit by Rebecca Avery

Single mom Kayla Clark is ready to wave the white flag. Between a demanding career, caring for her elderly mother and raising a teenager, she needs help! A housekeeper is the answer—but Kayla doesn’t expect the former army sergeant she hires through Man Maid to be young, fit and sexy…

Ronnie Brown hasn’t yet adjusted to civilian life, and he welcomes the normality of whipping Kayla’s home into shape. Flirting with her is just a perk. But when he realizes just how much Kayla and her daughter need him, he quickly takes charge of a lot more than scrubbing floors. As he becomes more and more a part of the family fabric, soon he can’t imagine his life without the two of them in it.

Now Ronnie just has to convince his beautiful boss she can trust him to take care of all her needs…

The premise of this story is that Ronnie and his buddies need work after they retire from military service, so they open up their own cleaning service. Ronnie’s first client is Kayla – he becomes a Mrs. Doubtfire figure, minus the disguise. He cleans, he helps watch her teenage daughter – he becomes her daughter’s cheerleading coach , he helps with her ailing mother. He is pretty perfect at everything he does. That annoyed me a little bit. My main frustration however is that while he is doing all of this stuff, we miss out on the romance. We don’t really know why these two fall in love. There are sex scenes and flirting but it felt more written in to make it a romance book instead of actually feeling like these two fall in love. They just didn’t have chemistry. This one is a miss for me.

Rating: C-

 Calling His Bluff by Amy Jo Cousins

It has to be Vegas’s glitzy, seductive atmosphere that made Sarah Tyler trade her strait-laced persona for that of a cardsharp in a red halter dress and heels. But when the Chicago vet wakes up next to her longtime crush—with a ring on her finger—she knows she’s in serious trouble.

Fifteen years ago, Sarah was madly in love with JD Damico, her brother’s best friend. She didn’t expect to ever see him again…until the bad-boy-turned-Hollywood-photographer persuaded her to accompany him to the city of sin for a whirlwind weekend. Now Sarah thinks they’re lawful husband and wife. Only JD isn’t a stick-around kind of guy. Worse, he no longer believes in happy endings. Or does he?

The blurb eludes to it so I’ll come out and say it – Now Sarah THINKS they’re married in Vegas after she gets drunk. But they aren’t and the hero wimps out over and over again and doesn’t tell her for weeks. Gah! This is one of my least favorite things in books. Especially when there is NO point in keeping the secret. And he sleeps with her all the while she thinks he is married to her. Not cool dude

Now that I have that off my chest, there are things I like in this story. Sarah is very cool and sly. You wouldn’t think that when you first meet her as she is so anxious over seeing her teen-crush again. She was cute and clumsy. Then she gets to Vegas and surprised me and  JD when she became super cool. I liked her a lot. I feel like we don’t get to know the JD all that well – I would have liked to have him have more page time. Setting the secret thing aside, this one worked pretty well for me. But I can’t let the secret go.

Rating: C+

Baker’s Law by Denise McDonald

Marissa and Jax went to high school together but never ran in the same circle. Now years later, Marissa owns a bakery in their hometown and Jax has just moved back to become chief of police. His big, sexy body flusters Marissa but she tries to maintain her composure. When someone breaks into her shop, she needs Jax to investigate. Jax’s sister is also getting married, and Marissa gets pulled into wedding planning. All of this pushes Jax and Marissa together, and it turns out to be a very sweet romance.

This was just a fun, easy romance to read. Both Marissa and Jax are good people who slowly find their way to love. This author doesn’t over complicate this romance but also keeps their chemistry alive and interesting. They fall for each other pretty easy, but it all is believable. There is also a side-story involving a homeless teenager that worked well for me. There is a bit of action at the end, and maybe the ‘let’s get married’ came a bit too quickly, but overall just a fun, cozy story to read.

Rating: B

This boxed set is currently $3.82 at Amazon, a good price for all four stories. I believe later this spring, each story will be available separately.

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  1. Karen says

    I really liked the first story. I abandoned the second and third ones (life is too short to read books I can’t get into), so I was afraid to try the fourth. I will give it a shot later :)

  2. Kini says

    Book 1 was really good. I really enjoyed and felt like the story and characters worked really well together.

    Book 2 I read. It was definitely lacking something. I think Mandi summed it up nicely. I never really connected to the characters and their story, I found myself skimming through just to get to the end.

    I haven’t decided if I’m going to read the 3rd or 4th.

    I do feel like I got my monies worth from the first story.

  3. says

    Hmm I would like to read 2 and 4, and 3 could be fun, but why does she have a ring on her finger if she is not married after all? And does she hit him when she finds out he has been lying to her all this time?

    I always wonder, suddenly married, how will they combine their two lives without advance planning? Where will they live, whose furniture to keep, etc.

    • Mandi says

      Oh she definitely gets mad. She was drunk in vegas and she thinks they got married so he just goes with it. Just don’t like that set up.

      Plus – they went weeks thinking they were married and she didn’t take any steps to annul etc… that part didn’t work.

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