THE POWER OF LOVE
LORI FOSTER, ERIN MCCARTHY, TONI BLAKE, DIANNE CASTELL, KAREN KELLEY, ROSEMARY LAUREY, JANICE MAYNARD, LUANN MCLANE, LUCY MONROE, PATRICIA SARGEANT, KAY STOCKHAM, J.C. WILDER
ISBN-10: 0425221482 / ISBN-13: 978-0425221488
June 3, 2008
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson St., New York, New York 10014
Rating: 4 Cups
Cara Compton has finally accomplished her goals, and become a successful advertiser. She allowed nothing and no one to stand in her way, five years later her life is just how she wants it; or so she keeps telling herself.
Jamison Lawton is Cara’s neighbor and best friend, if not her only friend. He has patiently stood by while she made a name for herself, never pushing for more than she was ready to give. Now it is time to push.
Cara shares everything with Jamison, well almost. The deepest darkest secrets of her upbringing are not something she wants to remember, let alone talk about. Jamison is the only one to ever even come close to knowing everything. Their sexual attraction has always been there, but never acted upon. Jamison decides that the time has come for Cara to bare all. He has given her time and space, and now he is ready for the next step. Hopefully she is too.
Lori Foster is absolutely one of my favorites. Her characters are strong and tender, and have a great sense of humor. This story is no exception. It takes talent to pull everything together is such a short story, and Ms. Foster has that in spades.
Hannah Godwin feels like a semi-psychic freak. Her ability to read someone’s thoughts and predict their actions comes and goes with little control on her part.
Luke Warner is a police officer, and his partner Ralph is a German Shepherd. They are a perfect team, and are together 24-7. A fact that Luke’s ex-girlfriends found a bit annoying.
Hannah is once again stuck in a compromising position due to her psychic glitch. The police dog with his nose in her crotch, and his sexy partner just add to her embarrassment. Luke recalls Ralph, but cannot seem to find a way to leave the sexy blonde. Her ability to finish his every thought is a bit unnerving, but Luke is smitten. Her quirky sense of humor and quasi physic abilities have always turned men off, but this time it just feels right.
Erin McCarthy’s characters are always fantastic. I love her witty dialogue and her steamy couples are the best. Hannah, Luke, and Ralph will leave you breathless with laughter, and the love scenes just leave you breathless (sans Ralph of course)!
Marla Shepherd is the administrative assistant to one hot and sexy hunk. Her boss of two years is unknowingly the star attraction in everyone of her fantasies. The number of times she has imagined him naked grows exponentially.
Michael Gates lusts after his assistant, but company policy forbids any type of romantic fraternization among employees. Finally he just cannot take it anymore, even if it means giving up the best assistant he has ever had.
Marla has finally decided it is time. She has to tell Michael that she is leaving, and moving to Pittsburg. Day after day she fantasizes about the man, but without any indication of reciprocal feelings it is time to move on. The shock comes when she enters his office to spill the news, and finds herself in the most erotic and heated embrace of her life. Marla must make a choice: her dream of becoming a teacher, or giving that up for a man who may or may not be the love of her life.
Just like the song “Isn’t It Ironic”, this story is about life giving you what you want, when you can no longer accept it. Marla and Michael’s characters are successful and independent. Their story is very realistic, bitter-sweet, and a wonderful read.
The Last of the Red-Hot Mammas
Gloria is a forty year old divorced mom, co-owner of Savannah Dream Cakes, and a survivor of breast cancer. Life has been a bit hectic to say the least, and now her libido seems to have gone into overdrive.
Rab Langley is the new high school principal, and it is his birthday. He never guessed his present would come in the form of one beautifully sensual woman and a room at the Magnolia House.
Gloria is stunned speechless when she finds herself in a hotel room with a very sexy man. She is sure her sister set this up, and she is going to be so dead when Gloria gets a hold of her. But maybe she should take hold of something else first. Ready and willing, Rab and Gloria decide to enjoy their anonymous and sultry tryst. Neither knows the other’s true identity, but they will soon find out. Can Gloria finally give up her fear rejection for a chance to love again?
Dianne Castell has a gift for cutting right to the heart of a story. Her insights into the pain of betrayal and rejection make this story come to life. The reader gets a real feel for her characters and their lives. It just sweeps you along.
Salesman of the Year
Jennifer is a General Practitioner. Her dream of becoming a veterinarian did not exactly coincide with her father’s ideals, and so she let it drop. Her fiancé Adam is also her father’s ideal of a perfect husband, but is he hers?
Devon is a very successful realtor. He finally grew out of his rebellious youth and made a name for himself. He knew that no matter what, he was not fit for any woman until he got his act together.
Jennifer and her fiancé are in the process of house hunting. His idea of the perfect house is so incongruent with hers it is hopeless. He wants a status symbol and she wants a home. Jennifer meets with their realtor for the first time, and finds herself face to face with her high school sweetheart. The man her father forbade her to see, and the man who made every nerve in her body tingle with awareness. Devon knows immediately what kind of man Adam really is, and he sets out to prove it to Jennifer. She is on the verge of losing her identity, and Devon is just the man to bring her back.
Just because you never rock the boat does not guarantee you will not drown, and Jennifer is definitely drowning. Ms. Kelley gives her characters a true sense of reality and Jennifer is like so many woman who live to keep the peace. I love Ms. Kelley’s work, and if you have never read her books, please do! They are funny, sexy, and full of life.
Dance the Fandango
Magda Stephenson is in the highlight of her life. Her children are grown, married, and have children of their own. Now it is Mom’s turn, and she does not intend to waste a minute of it.
Juan Hernandez is Magda’s Latin lover. His life too is finally his own, and marrying Magda a dream come true.
Magda is preparing for her sixty-fifth birthday party, and it is going to be a real eye-opener for her family. She has kept Juan a secret for several months, but the time has come to bring it out into the open. Her kids treat her like a decrepit old lady, and though they love her to death, they can be a bit stifling. After the death of their father, her children have been trying to convince Magda to sell the big house and move into a retirement community. Little do they know that the matter has already been resolved. Magda and Juan have found a love to precious to ignore, no matter how their children react.
Rosemary Laurey brings a refreshing look into the lives of the mature generation. Her characters are lusty and fun, and not at all over the hill. We have one body and one life, and it is sinful not to enjoy every minute of it. We should all be as lucky as Magda and Juan.
The Girl Next Door
Jason Ratcliff is ready to get his life back. The death of his parents left a void that only he could fill, and raising his sisters took everything he had, but he would do it again in a heart-beat.
Felicity Jones takes over her mother’s hair salon when her parents move to Florida. Her father’s health is failing and the cool wet winters in Virginia are just too much.
Felicity and Jason have been neighbors since they were kids, but now everything is changing. His sisters are graduating from college, and he is selling the farm. She has always had a crush on him, but believed that he only saw her as his little sister’s best friend. Jason is ready to go back to school, but not ready to leave Felicity. His feelings for her have grown over the years, but how can he express those feelings knowing that he is leaving? Her home is here, not hundreds of miles away in Charlottesville.
This story is sweet and loving. Ms. Maynard’s characters are easily identifiable, and her stories are always a joy to read. This is an excellent example of her work.
Chicken Soup for Annie
Annie Alexander is a widow with a young daughter. Her husband left her with nothing but bills, and the shame of not knowing the depth of his gambling problems.
Josh Wainscot is the pastor of the First Christian Church. When he is not in church, he is running a thrift shop for the underprivileged.
Annie is ashamed to be using vouchers at the thrift shop, but it is her only option if she wants to get her daughter a birthday gift. The shop owner comes in the form of one very handsome and very clumsy preacher. Mistaken identity and the next thing Annie knows, she is working for Josh. He senses right away that Annie has been hurt by someone, but pushing for answers is not going to work. Josh learns of Annie’s predicament, and sets out to save her pride, and maybe win her heart.
LuAnn McClane writes the most wonderful stories. Her down home take on life and love is just one of the things that I love in her work. Annie and Josh are just your everyday kind of people, and their story will touch your heart.
Cheryl Gentry is the personal assistant to Zach Alexander. Her boss is six-foot-six of pure unadulterated, obstinate sexy male, and she lusts after every single inch.
Zach Alexander is the CEO of Citywide Construction. He may be the boss, but Cheryl runs the office. He would be lost without her, and he knows it.
Cheryl is not petite, she is not blonde, and she is definitely not a soft spoken manipulator. Her fiery red hair and matching temper are so far from what Zach’s ex-fiancée is like that she is sure there is no chance he could want her. Her ex-husband was a big man as well and really knew how to use his fists, but Cheryl knows that Zach is completely different. He may have a temper, but the need to lash out just is not there. Zach wants Cheryl like he has never wanted anything in his life. However in typical male fashion his mistakes are only compounded with his total lack of skill when it comes to an apology. Zach is nothing if not determined, and the head on approach may be just the ticket.
The sparks fly when Cheryl and Zach go toe to toe. They are both sexy and strong, and their story sizzles with sexual tension. Lucy Monroe has done it again!
Angel in the Valley
Sara Barber is the new owner of her very own coffee shop, Baked Fresh. Her hard work is finally paying off, and leaving Asa her abusive ex-husband was the first step.
Raphael is living in the boxes beside Sara’s shop. She takes him on as an employee, mainly just to get him off the street.
Sara does not know why, but she feels that she can trust Raphael. He has a serenity and calmness that she finds very appealing, not to mention she really needs the help. Her shop opens, and Raphael proves invaluable. Even her neighbors are supportive, especially the absentee manager of The BookEscape, G. Archer. She tries multiple times to thank him for his gifts, but he is never in. The first day is a huge success, until Asa pays her a visit. His hatred for her is palpable, but she in no longer the cowering wife. Raphael reminds her of her strength, and how his work here is done. Sara finally understands the gift that was given to her, and when she finally meets G. Archer, the pieces fall into place.
Ms. Sargeant sets the scene for an amazing mystery. Each page is a glimpse into the heart of each character, but the ending pulls everything together. I was enthralled, and greatly enjoyed the story.
Hannah Pruitt grew up in a very dysfunctional family. Her father was a mean and despicable human being, and she and her mother bore the brunt of his anger.
Mitch Donovan is a police officer in Orchard, Ohio. So when he sees a woman jump of a bridge to save a wiggling burlap sack he is duty bound to follow.
Hannah is sickened when she sees the man throwing the sack into the canal. She knows with all her heart that there is an animal in that bag, and it will die if she does not save it. Her father had done the same thing to her dog Coco, and she could not let it happen again. Mitch recognizes Hannah right away. She is the woman who broke his heart when she left without a word. Hannah feels horrible for what she did to Mitch, and it takes every bit of strength she has to finally explain why. She only prays that Mitch can forgive her, and maybe give them another chance.
Hannah’s pain is poignant and key to the story. Kay Stockham’s characters are deeply emotional, and the reader can really feel their pain. This story is heart warming, and a joy to read.
The Mouse Who Roared
Amy Mouse is just that; a meek, mild mannered, and ultimately forgettable mouse of a woman. Her clothes as well as her mannerisms fall strictly in the beige category. Only in her heart is she a strong and vibrant woman.
Jack O’Reilly is the Haven fire chief. He sees the woman behind the mask when he looks at Amy. He only wishes that she would give him the chance to show her how he feels.
Amy gets a jolt of reality when she overhears her boss talking about her. The hateful things that are said hurt so much more because Amy knows that they are true. She is a mouse, and it is time to change. Her life long dream of owning a bookstore is the first step. Taking the plunge, Amy sets on a course to change her looks, her life, and especially her attitude. Up next is her love life, and if Jack has not given up on her, he is in for a big surprise.
This is a story of one woman’s wake up call to get a life. Dreams and fantasies are great, but if you never put yourself out there, they will stay just that. Ms. Wilder takes her characters on a roller-coaster of emotion, and the reader gets to come along for an amazing ride.
This is definitely one of the best anthologies I have ever read. The authors who came together on this project are some of my favorites, and each story showcases their skills wonderfully. I especially like Unpredictable for its humor, Dance the Fandango for its originality, and Sweet Dreams for its sultry hot characters. The stories are all about overcoming adversity, and taking life by the horns. I greatly encourage you to purchase this book, not only for yourself but for anyone in your life who needs a little encouragement. The Power of Love is a must buy for any romance lover.
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books