Hello, and welcome back! We've got another couple of days of hot and humid going on here, but it looks like it might be nicer by the end of the week (when I'm working, of course!). And the July stack of review books on my desk just gets taller by the day, I'm afraid, though the last couple additions are books I'm very excited about, like Mary Jo Putney and Jude Devereaux!
First up this time out is the latest from Janice Maynard, Improper Etiquette (Signet Eclipse). Unlike her first collection, which I really loved, this trio of stories is completely unrelated except for an old etiquette book that shows up unexpectedly for all three heroines. In the first tale, 'Catering to His Needs', Francesca Fremont tries to be neighborly when Brett Gilman moves into the dilapidated house next door, by taking him some food. But Brett isn't very friendly, no matter how pretty he is to look at, so what's a girl to do? Well, keep at it, I guess, if you're Francesca and really desperate for a man, and you've just found an old etiquette book in a yard sale box. 'Tag, You're It!' has Lily Langford pining for her neighbor Benjamin Reynolds, who hasn't seemed to notice in a year and a half that she's interested in more than friendship. Until she starts taking advice from an old book she finds. 'Seducing the Duke' pits Caitlyn Anderson against her nemesis Duke Yancey, stuck working together, and Caitlyn is resistant to the idea of a womanizer as her partner. Until he seduces her, too. I expected to like this one far better than I did, I'm sorry to say. None of the heroes comes off as especially bright in the love department, which made it difficult to root for them. It was okay, but not nearly as good as Suite Fantasy was. Perhaps I'll like her next one better.
Room Service (Brava) by Amy Garvey is next. Olivia Callender loves her old family hotel, Callender House, and is shocked when her uncle suddenly lets her know he intends to have it after years of ignoring her and the hotel. Chef Rhys Spencer just needs a quiet place to stay for a few weeks while he's having a break during a reality tv show. He didn't intend it to be a working vacation. He surely didn't intend to get involved with anyone, much less seriously involved with Olivia. I liked this one far better than Ms. Garvey's last story. The characters are infinitely more sympathetic, and the humorous situations feel more natural. The quirky cast of secondary characters add to the tale, but don't get in the way of the romance, which is done quite well. I wouldn't say I'm going to add her to my auto-buy list, but I may yet become a fan of Ms. Garvey's romances in the future. This one's earned three and a half of Cupid's five arrows.
Until next time, happy reading!