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Review: All I Want (Animal Magnetism Book 7) by Jill Shalvis

All I Want (Animal Magnetism, #7)“Got your 911 freak-out text.” Zoe is freaking out, that is true. After raising her brother and sister pretty much on her own (tell me – what kind of parents tell their twelve-and-under children that they will meet them in Budapest, and then don’t show up for three days? Even if they are diplomats, surely they could have sent someone from the consulate to watch over their kids!) Zoe is finally on her own in the home she inherited from her grandparents. She is going to fix it up and live there. Finally have a normal life, with dates and everything. Of course, it would help if she actually had any carpentry skills – at all – and it would also help if she didn’t get stood up for her first blind date. But she has a dog, a rescued Bernese mountain dog, and her brother and sister love her. She adores her life as a private pilot and flight instructor, so everything else is pretty much OK. Even if she does get lonely sometimes.

But back to the date. Zoe opens her front door and, taking her younger, engaged sister’s advice, gives the hunk on her doorstep a peck on the lips. Only. Oh, snap. It isn’t her date. It is her brother Wyatt’ best friend, Parker James. Parker James, who is to be her tenant for a while. Embarrassing!

Parker sort of likes that kiss. But he is only there for a while, and then he is back to DC in his job as a supervisory special agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. He is supposed to be on vaycay after the death of his partner who was murdered during an attempt to arrest a wildlife trafficking ring. A trafficking ring that is behind a large part of the thirty thousand elephants slaughtered last year for their ivory, thousands of rhinos slaughtered for their horns, and countless tigers, leopards and other endangered animals whose very existence as balanced on a razor’s edge due to poaching. Now, Tripp Carver, the man who killed Parker’s partner and nearly killed Parker himself, is planning to move 4.5 million dollars’ worth of death and agony from a hidden location in Idaho, a place called Cat’s Paw. Parker isn’t supposed to be there. He is supposed to be resting someplace warm and far from Carver. The FBI and the ATF, and multiple other alphabet agencies, apparently have a ‘deal’ with Carver to turn in his brother, the head of a dangerous militia group. Carver is to go free. But Parker won’t have it. All that death, all that horror, his partner’s life. No. Just No.

This is, of course a romance novel, and Jill Shalvis is good with those, especially when you bring animals into the story. Oreo the Bernese is a favorite character of mine in the story. Rescued from a brutal situation, he is absolutely hysterical as he deals with a new person in the house, two new rescued kittens (he is terrified of kittens, go figure!) The story of the cruelty and uncaring slaughter of rare animals by monstrous human poachers is heartrending, and I really appreciated Ms. Shalvis addressing the situation in an intelligent and knowledgeable manner. And the clown show of the ATF, FBI and other agencies all tripping all over themselves to give Carver an out in order to capture “bigger fish” shot my blood pressure through the roof – because I know that nonsense is spot-on. If you enjoy romance novels with strong women characters (I loved Zoe’s strength) and great animal characters, this is the perfect books for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

I received All I Want from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

PS – That dog on the cover? Not a Bernese mountain dog. Just sayin’. And Idaho? No beaches there! I would highly suggest a new cover. One that has even the slightest congruence with the story would be good. 

Review: Summer on the Mountain by Rosemarie Naramore

Summer on the MountainSummer on the Mountain was the perfect book for me to pick up today. After going out in the predawn light to plant raspberries, I came in hot, tired, and sore (and covered in mosquito bites – this humidity has caused a huge influx of the nasty little buggers!) After a long hot shower, it was time to relax. And this was just the ticket.

Summer Windham loves her job working in an art gallery for her good friend and boss Gwendolyn Lawton. The only thing missing in her life is her painting. Her muse abandoned her when difficult clients put her through the wringer, trashing her self-esteem and self-confidence. Now, a year later, Gwendolyn is determined to bring back Summers Muse. And though Gwendolyn considers the Great Outdoors to be an anathema:

“When I took my vows, I promised to love and honor. I never said anything about roughing it in the wilderness.”

She sees an opportunity to get Summer painting again, and to get back into her husband’s good graces for running out on his sixty-fifth birthday (that whole “wilderness” thing), by sending Summer up to their family cabin to paint the cabin and lands that her hubby, Leonard, loves beyond measure. Summer loves landscapes – surely getting out into nature will help her find her center again?

Summer is excited at the idea of visiting the cabin, though she worries that her muse will never return. And the fact that her first day there is, to put it mildly, an unmitigated disaster, doesn’t bode well for her summer in the mountains. The local game warden, Gwendolyn’s youngest son, Jarrod, manages to cause her to fall into the freezing lake, accuses her of being a burglar, threats her with arrest, and generally leaves her standing around freezing in her sopping wet clothes while waiting around for the sheriff to come take her to jail for a litany of offenses he thinks she has committed. Well, how was she to know you aren’t supposed to fish without a license?! And if the big jerk would just call his mom and check, he would know that she wasn’t a burglar! Sheesh.

Devastating poaching, break-ins and robberies are bad enough, but being covered in poison ivy, suffering a nasty cold from having to stand around in freezing weather after a freezing dunk in the lake, and being chased by an angry mamma bear is bad enough, but the jerky warden next door is nearly as big a pain in the backside as all that combined. But when her cold passes to him, Karma is a beeotch. And my wicked grin made several appearances from that point on.

This is the first book by Rosemarie Naramore I have read. I may not get around to reading any more of her books any time soon – so many books, so little time – but I did enjoy this lighthearted romance with an undercurrent of the terrible things that humans do to animals all in the name of profit. Jarrod comes off from the first as a smug, self-absorbed jerk of the first water (He jumps to the conclusion right away that, since she isn’t a burglar, his mother must have sent her as her latest attempt at matchmaking. HA! “Honey, you’re a good looking man, and as your mother, I love you to pieces, but sweetie, you are an arrogant. . .”). Talk about sticking your foot in your mouth! But his love for the creatures and the land is vividly drawn and believable – and besides, he may be an idiot, but he is a gentle idiot – and maybe not such an idiot at all (if he can just get his head out of up there where it is dark!)

A relaxing book with suspense, mystery, some action, and a gentle, believable romance.

Review: Heart Of Africa By Loren Lockner

 23355539Women have always been the strong ones of the world. The men are always seeking from women a little pillow to put their heads down on. They are always longing for the mother who held them as infants. – Coco Chanel

 It’s estimated that across Africa 100 elephants are killed for their tusks every day. It takes nothing more than simple math to get to what that adds up to in a year, and it’s a distressing figure. – Graydon Carter

The unmerciful sun refused my commands and set unconcernedly behind the dry acacias, stealing with it any remaining warmth of the day.

 Poor Mandy Phillips. Dismissed as worthless by her mother and cousin since she was a child, she is shy, introverted, and never speaks up for herself, much less having an adventure. But when her up-and-coming physician fiancé decides to toss her over for 19-year-old blonde floozy, Mandy has had enough. So, she decides to take an even more adventurous trip than the African honeymoon they had planned.

I wish to book a trip to Africa, but not to Kenya. Perhaps you could recommend a destination full of intriguing sights and wild animals? A first class safari to… um… somewhere else?”

Such begins Mandy’s Big Adventure. An adventure that will take her beyond the boundaries of Kruger National Park and into the wild in a desperate race to survive. A race through a land where every step may mean her death.

This is a beautiful book. The world building is amazingly gorgeous, filled with the life of Africa, the joy and the heartache, the poverty and pain, and the overwhelming beauty of a country ancient beyond belief, the home of humanity and of life itself. And where humans think nothing of killing a rare rhino for its horn, leaving the animal to rot in the sun, and a simple misstep can cost your life.

While this is a romantic suspense, it is much more than that. The romance portion is well done and believable – the hero is not perfect by any means, nor is the heroine. But that is what makes everything so perfect. They have to fight every step of the way simply to survive. But it is the reality of the suspense that made this such a special book. Well, and the beauty of Africa, the birds and beasts, the flora and fauna unlike any other. It fills the book with wonder, tugging my heart to its mysterious shores. There is pain there, poverty and death, but overall it is a country which calls to the soul. Lockner blends and weaves the country and its people into a story of love and survival which will touch your heart, and open your soul to adventure beyond any you might image.

Highly recommended!

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