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, 29 November 2007

Dashing Through the Mall

Sweet Christmas Romances
5 Stars

Santa Baby by Sherryl Woods
Single mum Amy Riley isn’t looking forward to taking her young son and baby to see Santa at the local shopping centre but it’s a Christmas tradition. When her son goes missing in the mall, Santa – who is actually police officer Nick DiCaprio – comes to the rescue. Who ever said that Santa wasn’t sexy?

This was a sweet Christmas story that dealt well with what could have been some difficult themes without making the story too serious. I thought Nick was the perfect hero – sexy and brooding while Amy was a sweet single mum who really needed a strong man in her life. A fun tale for Christmas.

Assignment Humbug by Darlene Gardner
TV Reporter Merry Deluca is determined to film her piece on the commercialisation of Christmas at the local mall during the Christmas Eve last minute rush. But her story is about to get a new twist as she realises her cameraman is her recently ex-fiancĂ© Patrick MacFarland – and he is determined to win her back.

I absolutely adored this festive story although I admit that I’m a sucker for second chance love! Well written, wonderful characters, love, snow and Christmas cheer – what more could you need?

Deck The Halls by Holly Jacobs
Retail manager Joy O’Connell is having a bad Christmas season. She’s all alone, the store have been playing Christmas carols since October and now she has to become a personal shopper for a dad and his three tearaway teenagers! Ed Hall is trying to keep cheery while shopping in the store on Christmas Eve but it’s difficult. But then he meets their personal shopper and suddenly his Christmas begins to look up.

This was my least favourite of the three stories simply because I felt I couldn’t really identify with either of the main characters as I don’t have any teenagers of my own. I’m sure those who have been Christmas shopping with three enthusiastic, video game mad, teenage boys will identify (and sympathise) with Ed and Joy. The romance was sweet and the festive touches were nicely Christmassy making this a cute story.

All three stories will get you into the Christmas spirit as the characters spend Christmas Eve shopping at the local mall. It’s nice that each story happened at the same time although they weren’t linked in any other way. Each story was sweet, romantic, Christmassy and perfect to read on a cold winter’s night. Recommended.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Once Upon a Christmas by Lisa Plumley

A fun festive anthology
4 stars

Mistletoe and Holly
Accountant Holly Aldridge has her life planned out to perfection including having the perfect boyfriend. So when he dumps her out of the blue she refuses to let the dream of a perfect life disappear and is determined to win him back. Her first plan of attack is to make him jealous by getting a new roommate – six-feet plus, gorgeous Sam McKenzie. Sam thinks Holly is crazy to want her ex back and he is just as determined to prove to her that together they could have a sizzling new romance by Christmas.

This is an excellent story to start off this anthology. Holly likes things to be perfect but she’s believable and someone you can definitely relate to. I loved Sam and the way he managed to get under Holly’s skin and disrupt her perfectly ordered world! The actual story was fun, sweetly sexy and had a small bit of that Christmas magic. Very enjoyable.

Christmas Honeymoon
To help her newlywed cousin out of a problem – Stacey Ames agrees to pose as the bride for an all expenses paid Vegas honeymoon. The only problem is that Stacey’s fake husband turns out to be her infuriatingly sexy ex Dylan – who broke her heart not so long ago. Fortunately Dylan isn’t the type to give up and is determined to prove to Stacey that love is better second time around.

I really like second chance love stories so I was looking forward to reading this tale. Sexier than the first story – I liked both Dylan and Stacey and the way they acted towards each other. This was another fun and light story with engaging characters and believable and interesting situations. Another excellent story.

A Baby For Christmas
Chloe Carmichael has loved her best friend and neighbour Nick Steadman forever so she is over the moon when some kahlua, coffee and sympathy turn into a hot and heavy tryst. With the hangover from hell, Nick has no idea what happened between them but Chloe will always remember. Especially since she will be having his baby as a Christmas memento.

This had to be the worst story of the three and I really wasn’t enamoured with it. Nick was too slow to realise his feelings, Chloe was a little too needy and weird and the situations were just too ridiculous to be believed (who honestly would take her dog, cat, hamster and bird for a jog?). It wasn’t a terrible story but it really let the book down in comparison to the first two and personally I found instead of being funny it was just cringe-worthy!

Overall – I really enjoyed this set of stories – the first two at least. Fresh and fun, they really put a smile on your face and I will definitely be looking out for other stories from Lisa Plumley in the future. If you’re looking for short and sweet stories with a pinch of Christmas spirit then this is the book for you.

Monday, 12 November 2007

A Regency Christmas

Fun Christmas Anthology
4 Stars

This is a collection of three Mills & Boon Christmas tales all set during a festive season of the Regency.

A Soldier’s Tale by Elizabeth Rolls
Dominic, Viscount Alderley has recently returned from war and is expected by his family to marry a prim little heiress. But when he returns home it’s his cousin Pippa that draws his attention and seems like the only one who is willing to overlook his scars.

Essentially this is a pleasant story with an enjoyable cast of characters. Dominic is a rake who is surprised to fall in love with Pippa – while Pippa is a Cinderella type character who has always been in love with Dominic. The story is sweet but despite being set over the festive period, it’s not very Christmassy.

A Winter Night’s Tale by Deborah Hale
Christabel Wilton is expecting a cold and lonely Christmas with her young son when the man she jilted many years ago comes back into her life. As he helps her through an illness and they start to spend the festive season together, they soon realise that things may be better second time around.

This tale is well-written and with slightly more Christmas content than the first story. The characters were fine if maybe slightly less developed than I would have liked. Their love is sweet and believable and the situations very touching.

A Twelfth Night Tale by Diane Gaston
Ten years ago, one impulsive night changed Elizabeth Arrington’s life forever. Now fate has once again thrown her in the path of Zachary Weston – now the powerful Earl of Bolton. As the pair struggle through the festive season they must put their pasts aside to see if the future can be even better than they imagined.

Diane Gaston’s final tale of this anthology is an excellently festive story of a second chance at love. Zach and Elizabeth are wonderful characters as well as being the perfect couple. I enjoyed the story of forgiveness and love which was well-written and nicely Christmassy!

Overall, this is an enjoyable anthology that while possibly not being the most festive set of tales – is still a good, fun read that is perfect for a cold winter’s night.

* This book was previously published as Mistletoe Kisses in 2006. *

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Santa in a Stetson by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Sweet Christmas romance
5 Stars

Jo Cassidy was trying to get over a faithless ex when sexy cowboy Russ Gibson walked into her life and took her mind right off anything but him. After a hot night he’d loved every inch of her – and then walked out.

Determined not to let the same thing happen again, Jo slipped a ring on her finger and invented a husband so the next time Russ came by she would be unavailable.

But then Russ turned up on Christmas Eve needing help and Jo’s resolve melted. But there was now one problem – no matter how much Jo insisted, Russ still believed she was someone else’s wife.

This book is another winner from Vicki Lewis Thompson and it really manages to capture the Christmas spirit that many other festive books fail to deliver.

Jo is a nice ordinary girl who is trying to make her own way, while Russ is the ever delicious tortured hero with a heart of gold. The pair are an excellent couple and their interactions both sexy and sweet. You also totally believed in their love despite such a short time passing.

And I absolutely adored the Christmas theme of the book. It gives you that warm festive glow as you read about how Russ and Jo help the people of the town by delivering Christmas gifts.

This is definitely a book to read on a long dark night as you snuggle up in front of a roaring fire. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

A Necessary Bride by Debra Mullins

Fun and engaging regency romance
4 stars

Justin St James, the new Earl of Rathmore, has returned to England after a period of exile for a murder he didn’t commit. Barely tolerated by Society – Justin vows to clear his name for the sake of his ward.

Sprited American Meg Stanton-Lynch is the darling of the ton and yet she doesn’t care what people think of her, or her friendship with the Earl.

Marriage to Meg would be Justin’s ticket back in to Society yet Meg longs to experience life before she shackles herself to any man for the rest of her days. So Justin – at the same time as clearing his name, finding the real killer and looking after his wild ward – will just have to convince her that they belong together.

This book centres around Meg, Garret from A Necessary Husband’s sister. Although the two books are connected – you don’t need to have read one to understand and appreciate the other.

This book was a enjoyable, engaging romance story with good and interesting characters. Meg is the high-spirited, feisty American but she never comes across as a stereotype and is aware and abides by the rules of Society. Justin is the tortured hero who can’t help but desire Meg but is uneasy about how much he actually needs her. The pair are an excellent couple and I loved their interactions.

While being a fun book, I did have a few issues with it that stopped it from getting fully five stars. Firstly, there were some subplots that I would have like to see tied up. And Meg seemed to be unsure herself of her reasons for not marrying. She didn’t come across as the intelligent heroine I would expect from a Debra Mullins novel. She was lovely – but I got exasperated with her once or twice!

There is a slight mystery to this book but that is purely a minor subplot to the romance and you figure out fairly quickly who the real murderer was. As the book doesn’t focus on the mystery – this isn’t too much of a disappointment.

If you’re looking for a well-written and entertaining romance then you can’t go wrong with this book. Debra Mullins is becoming a favourite author and despite this book’s minor flaws it’s still one I would recommend. 4 stars.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

A Necessary Husband by Debra Mullins

Enjoyable, well-written regency romance
4 stars

When his sister, Meg, leaves America to visit the grandfather that disowned their father for marrying an Irishwoman - Garrett Lynch races to England to bring her back where she belongs. But when he arrives he finds her safely with their grandfather, the Duke of Raynewood, being taught the rules of society by the lovely Lucinda Devering.

Lucinda is wary of the American who doesn’t seem to abide by or be concerned by society’s rules – even when he realises he is now heir to his grandfather’s dukedom. So now not only is Lucinda having to teach Meg, she also has to keep Garret in line while keeping him from seducing her. Not to mention the fact that she has a secrets to hide and an unscrupulous brother in law to avoid.

Debra Mullins is fast becoming a favourite author of mine and this book really doesn’t disappoint.

Garret is a strong hero who knows what he wants and is determined to get it. However Lucinda is just as strong and the pair are well matched as they clash and try to outwit each other.

The story is very well written and is quiet casually paced so you really get to know the thoughts and feelings of the characters. The story is very much about Garret and how he comes to terms with his past and a future different than he had expected. While Lucinda has to put her own mistakes behind her and see if what she always wanted is now her heart’s desire.

Overall this is an enjoyable, romantic read that has intelligent characters and interesting and believable situations. While maybe not Debra Mullin’s best book – it is still one I would recommend for a light romantic read. 4 stars.