Welcome to Cozy Jo's Romance Review blog. This is where you'll find reviews and discussions on historical or contemporary romance books and maybe a few other bits and bobs thrown in for good measure.
So come on in, sit down and find yourself a good romance book to read.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

For Services Rendered by Patricia Kay

A likeable Mills & Boon romance
3 stars

When Claire Kendrick is summoned to the boss’s office, she can’t think what anyone would want with her. All she wants is to do her job, get her paycheck and take care of her ailing mother.

CEO, Nick Callahan, is handsome, smart and successful. When he asks Claire to write an article on him, Claire knows that there’s something else that he wants. But what she doesn’t realise is that Nick’s had her background checked and has chosen her for a very lucrative position - as his wife.


Although not billed as such, this book reads very much like a Modern Mills and Boon romance. It follows many of the traditional formulae - down on her luck female, strong, successful man and a relationship that starts off as one thing and turns into something more.

I liked the premise of the story and both Claire and Nick were characters that I could root for. Claire was strong despite her situation and I did like that Nick didn’t walk all over her. Nick was strong, silent and arrogant but I still liked him as he wasn’t too alpha male. The pair didn’t have much depth but I could still enjoy them and their interactions.

Despite having a publication date of 2012, this book was clearly written many years ago(1993 as I’ve just found out). For the most part this doesn’t matter although I was quite taken aback and amused by the reference to listening to cassette tapes in the car!

As another reviewer mentioned, there are numerous mentions of fur coats in the book which I really didn’t like. Even though this book is a reprint, I would have thought the author would have removed these before publishing it in this day and age.

Despite that, the writing was good and, at one point in particular, quite emotional. I had no problems finishing it although I would have liked to see an epilogue to find out what happened to Nick and Claire after their happily ever after.

If you like the Mills & Boon Modern line or a quick romance then I think you would like this book. It’s quick, enjoyable and worth a look at such a low price. 3 stars.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Sugar Rush by Donna Kauffman

Delicious cupcakes but not enough action
2 stars

Leilani Trusdale left her high flying career as a pastry chef in New York to open a cute little cupcake shop in small town Georgia and she finally feels that she's where she belongs. If only she could put her sexy boss, fellow chef Baxter Dunne, out of her head for good.

Baxter is now a hot shot TV chef with his own cookery show and legions of fans. Dubbed 'Chef Hot Cakes', Baxter wants to film his next show from Leilani's tiny kitchen but it's not for the reasons she thinks. With things hotting up in the kitchen and an island rife with gossip, convincing Leilani that she and Baxter belong together will take a lot more than cupcakes and frosting.


This is the first book in The Cupcake Club series which combines the two wonderful worlds of cupcakes and romance which are the two reasons I felt drawn to this book.

I've not had much luck with romance books that have a backdrop of food or restaurants but this one does manage to work that well into the storyline. The descriptions of the cakes sounded amazing and I like the fact that you get a couple of recipes (with frostings) at the back of the book to try yourself.

Apart from that, unfortunately I wasn't overly keen on the characters. I could identify with, and didn't dislike, Leilani but she didn't have enough sparkle to really make me root for her. Baxter wasn't my cup of tea for two reasons: 1) because he was 'British' which paved the way for embarrassing attempts at Brit speak and accents, although thankfully not so often as to make the book unreadable. The second reason is that right at the beginning it was mentioned that Baxter was younger than Leilani. Although it probably doesn't bother most people, and it was only by three years, I just don't like that dynamic and it made me disappointed from the start. It turned out to never be mentioned again which made me wonder why it was mentioned in the first place. There were some supporting characters but a little too many to really care for them and none that stood out except for crazy Alva.

The plot also fell a little flat for me as I just didn't feel that much happened. If Leilani and Baxter weren't discussing one thing, they were talking about something else. Sometimes Leilani would discuss things with her father or her best friend and then sometimes other people would discuss other things that were happening. I'm all for conversation and banter between characters but not at the expense of moving the story forward or having something interesting happen.

My last point - which didn't affect my rating of the book but still has to be mentioned - was the cover. The cupcakes on the front are to die for and I enjoyed staring at them and wishing I could eat them right up. On the back, however, is a photo of a couple and I swear that if they are a day over 18 I'll eat my hat. Perhaps that's just me getting older but they made me cringe.

Anyway - I wasn't much of a fan of this book so sadly can't recommend it. It wasn't terrible, the writing was okay but it just didn't capture my attention despite the delicious cupcakes. 2 stars.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Season for Temptation by Theresa Romain

Sweet and unassuming romance

3 stars

Julia Herington is thrilled when her stepsister, Louisa, becomes engaged to a rich and handsome viscount. James, Viscount Matheson is witty, unconventional and perfect husband material. Julia only wishes she could find a man exactly like him - especially now she can’t have James herself.

James is torn. Louisa is all anyone would want in a wife - poised, elegant and intelligent. However, it’s headstrong, rash and quirky Julia that he can’t get out of his head. Engaged to one sister while in love with the other - what is a viscount to do?

From the start this book sets itself out as light and frothy. Julia is portrayed as a quirky and unconventional heroine while James is an honorable and likeable hero. Neither are offensive in any way but neither do they really stand out from the crowd. Their interactions are sweet but again not particularly memorable or overly romantic.

The same is true of the story. It plods along quite nicely with nothing startling or offensive happening. I couldn’t understand the motivations of the characters for behaving as they did (especially Louisa) and couldn’t help but want things to be wrapped up a little quicker than they ultimately were. As it was, it took almost two thirds of the story before James and Julia even kissed and there wasn’t even any sexual tension to tide things over before it got to that point.

There were an alarming amount of modern language and Americanisms throughout the whole story which is irritating in any period book and pulls you completely out of the story. I also spent an unusual amount of time trying to figure out how the main family were related. It didn’t matter to the story but I just couldn’t understand it all until it was explained about 20 pages from the end.

All in all this was a sweet story that I read through quite happily. I’ll probably not remember about it in a couple of days as, unfortunately, inoffensive and unassuming also means forgettable. 3 stars which is probably quite generous and not really a story I would go out of my way to recommend.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

About that Night by Julie James

Exceptional and smart romance

5 stars

The first night they met, Rylann Pierce tried to shrug off the attraction she felt for Kyle Rhodes. Yet after one incredible kiss it was hard to dismiss. After being stood up, she figured she would never see him again.

Nine years later, Rylann is a top U.S. attorney and ready to get her life back in order after a bad break up. Then who should walk into her courtroom and back into her life but Kyle. The attraction’s still there but this time he’s an ex-con and her star witness in a murder trial. Rylann’s career has always come first but she’s coming to realise that her life might need to be shaken up a bit and Kyle’s just the man to do it!


I have been a huge fan of Julie James since reading her first book and this one just cements her as an exceptional contemporary writer and one of my all time favourites.

Kyle first appeared in James’ previous book, A Lot Like Love, which featured his twin sister’s story. You don’t have to have read that book or any of the others to understand and like this book although if you have read it then Jordan and Nick (as well as some of the supporting cast and Cameron and Jack from Something About You) make brief appearances which is always fun.

I’m always looking for a heroine that I can both like and root for and Rylann fits the bill. She’s sassy, fiesty, fun and sarcastic yet retains a vulnerability that makes her extremely likeable. She’s also smart and works hard which I like a lot. Kyle is a hard working, sexy and passionate man and one that I couldn’t help but fall for. He may be an ex-con but don’t let this put you off! Together the pair have such spark, chemistry and the banter was genius and had me laughing out loud on occasion.

Once again this book is set in the world of lawyers, the FBI and everything that entails. The storyline is realistic yet never getting bogged down in detail and makes for a book that I just couldn’t put down. The storyline flows nicely and there’s always something new to keep your interest. This is the kind of book that makes you want to live the characters lives and I finished it feeling rejuvenated while also feeling very sad that I couldn’t keep reading.

If you like smart romances with sparkle and wit then I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s a real page turner and one which I enjoyed immensely. A very well deserved 5 stars.

Too Wicked to Wed by Cara Elliott

Readable and pleasant romance
3 stars

Lady Alexa Hendrie has always felt out of place in the ton. She’s outspoken, independent and feels much more at home in the wilds of Yorkshire than in the glittering ballrooms of London society. But when she is forced to London by her reckless brother, she finds herself suddenly in the lair of the notorious Irish Wolfhound - Connor Linsley, Earl of Killingsworth.

A rake of the worst order, most ladies are rightfully fearful of Connor. All, that is, except Lady Alexa. One sinful kiss leads to another and soon the pair are on an adventure full of intrigue, lies and lust. But will one extraordinary lady really be able to tame the Irish Wolfhound and bring her the greatest love she’s ever known?


This story shot off at a quick pace with the action of Alexa and Connor’s first meeting happening almost instantly and their first kiss not much later than that. That then set the standard for the story as for a long while that was as much as the plot amounted to - meeting and kissing, meeting and kissing, with different settings thrown in each time.

That aside, both Alexa and Connor were likeable enough characters although neither really stood out or really inspired me to care for them individually or as a couple. There were some secondary characters, Gryffin and Cameron - “The Hellhounds” whose books make up the second and third in The Lords of Midnight Trilogy - but they weren’t particularly inspiring either. I had assumed that the other couples mentioned in the book were from previous stories by Elliott but can find no mention of their stories anywhere. This confuses me as it felt like I was expected to know these stories and these characters while reading this book.

Despite what I said earlier regarding the plot, I had absolutely no trouble finishing this book and did so quickly enough. The writing was fine, if a little pretentious and flowery for my tastes on rather too many occasions. There were also Americanisms and incorrect usage of British English which were annoying but luckily didn’t happen too often to actually spoil the book. I didn’t find the love scenes overly sexy or sensual - only a day later I can barely remember them which says something.

Overall, this was a nice story but nothing more than that. It won’t be a story that I will remember but it’s not offensive and it’s worth a read if it’s on your shelf or in your Kindle. 3 stars.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

A fun and emotional romance
5 stars

Ten years ago, Michael Lawler, Marquess of Bourne, was left with nothing to his name except his title. Now a partner in London’s most notorious gaming hell, Michael is a cold and ruthless man who will stop at nothing to get his revenge - even marrying Lady Penelope Marbury - his childhood friend for her dowry.

Penelope was put firmly on the shelf when she was jilted and left for fortune hunters. She is determined to find adventure, passion and love. Luckily for her, Penelope dreams of finding all these things with her new husband, even if he’s no longer the fun loving man she remembers.

Bourne is determined to spare Penelope from the hard and unsavoury man he has become but he has no power to fight against the love that she will offer if he takes the greatest risk of all.


Sarah MacLean has been an auto buy for me ever since I read the wonderful Nine Rules... This story doesn’t quite reach the same heights but I still loved it and definitely feel it’s deserving of 5 stars.

Michael is my favourite kind of hero - tortured, full of angst and feels undeserving of, while really in need of, the love of a good woman. I also just adored Penelope. She appeared briefly in Eleven Scandals... but this book starts a new series (the Rules of Scoundrels Quartet) so there’s no need to have read any books to understand and enjoy this one. Penelope was feisty and fun while also being quite vulnerable and naive at times. She was someone that I really rooted for from beginning to end.

The relationship between Michael and Penelope was filled with chemistry and passion. The letters that started off each chapter were a lovely addition and really built on the pair’s past relationship. It was also easy to see the pair growing and falling in love which was a treat to read and kept me turning the pages at all hours.

I’m looking forward to the other stories in the series and would recommend this book to you if you like a fun and interesting romance with great characters and good storytelling. 5 stars.

Marry Me, Maddie by Rita Herron

Tiresome, long winded romance
1 star

Maddie has issued an ultimatum to her boyfriend live on TV but doesn’t get the answer that she expects. This throws this sassy Southern gal into a drive to make changes in her life including a new job and a new man.

Chase has been in Maddie’s life since they were kids but he knows he’s not right for her despite how much he wants her. But Maddie’s set her sights on him and he’s beginning to forget why he ever wanted to resist.

But now her ex is back on the scene and fighting for Maddie’s hand. With two sexy men vying for her - will Maddie get her happily ever after?


I was so excited to read this story as I adore the storyline where a woman falls in love with her brother’s best friend. It didn’t take me long to realise that my anticipation was misplaced.

Maddie is a young and supposedly smart woman yet she is constantly bullied and undermined by her older brothers who apparently have her best interests at heart. They waited for her when she went on a night out, told her what she could and couldn’t do and decided that she shouldn’t have a career as she wasn’t smart enough. I don’t mind strong men but these guys were unbelievable.

I quite liked, or at least didn’t actively dislike, Chase although he was a little bit weak when it came to his reasons for not being with Maddie. If he didn’t like her then that would have been fine but it was all just a bit pointless as conflict, to be honest.

The book was the length of a regular novel at about 363 pages and I felt every single one of them. Each chapter seemed to be each character going over the same emotions, same problems and same dramas but in a different setting each time - I hate to say that I was genuinely bored. To add to that, we kept hearing about the unlikeable brothers and some ‘mystery’ regarding their parents. When it all came to a conclusion the result was farcical and far from funny which I’m assuming was the intention.

The inclusion of secondary characters was obviously to set up their own, future stories. I for one will not be purchasing them and definitely can’t recommend this book, I’m sorry to say. 1 star.