Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Fortuity

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Cara McKenna‘s Desert Dogs series marries motorcycles with murder as a suspicious death jumpstarts a narrative that revs into life!

In Lay It Down, we’re introduced to Fortuity, Texas, and Vince Grossier.  When the town’s new mayor invites a casino development to town, and then Vince’s good friend turns up mysteriously dead, he decides to look into it himself.  Kim Paget, the photographer hired by the developers might hold a clue, but soon Vince finds himself becoming more and more drawn to her…

Raina Harper owns the only bar in town, and she’s not prepared to give it up in Give It All.  But when the casino developers’ fixer, Duncan Welch, needs someone to help clear his professional name, Raina can’t seem to turn him away – especially when he’s so damn sexy!

The prequel novella, Drive It Deep, looks at the romance and entanglement that Raina and Miah had before the series began…

When Vince’s brother, Casey, comes home settle down in Fortuity in Burn It Up, he cleans up his act and becomes co-owner of Benji’s Saloon.  But his new bartender, sweet single mum Abilene, needs help when the violent figure who haunts her past returns to Fortuity…

The series is gripping, with the murder mystery plot line running across all of the books, and I simply can’t wait to read the final book in the series!

Mills & Boon, Reading, Romance, Small Town Perfection

Small Town Perfection: Crossroads Pub

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So technically it’s not the small town in Cara McKenna‘s Her Best Laid Plans that I love, but rather the tiny Crossroads Pub in the middle of nowhere in Ireland.  It’s everything I want from a pub – complete with sexy bartender!

When American Jamie takes a plan, a bus, a taxi and a bicycle to stay in a friends house in the Irish countryside, outside of Cork, she’s expecting gruff farmers and grumpy locals nursing pints.  Instead, she meets Connor and the two of them instantly hit it off.

From there their romance develops, but it’s the fact that she has to return home to Boston that really adds a bittersweet touch to the proceedings.  Never fear, Jamie gets a well-deserved happy ever after (especially after the jerk who dumps her before the novel begins), and I’m always left craving rural Ireland!

Reading, Respond to Reading, Responding to Reading, Romance

Respond to Reading: Lay It Down

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Cara McKenna‘s Lay It Down has been sitting on my Kindle shelf for months.  Ever since her Irish-set Red Hot Cosmo novella, Her Best Laid Plans, I’ve all but devoured her standalones; they’re untidy and messy and more real than most romance novels.  I find my heart aching in the way it should when you discover something that mirrors life back at you.

So it’s a mystery to me why I hadn’t read this before now.  Perhaps it was because the cover and blurb implied that it was an MC-romance.  Don’t get me wrong, I adored Sons of Anarchy as much as the next person, but after the series was finished, I felt so utterly drained that I gave books featuring bikers a bit of a wide berth.

Big mistake.

Lay It Down is the first in the Desert Dogs series (the rest of which will be purchased with my annual Christmas kindle vouchers) and it does things you don’t expect.  The characters aren’t actually part of an MC, though they do ride motorbikes (something which can only be a positive; I do love a motorbike), but rather the narrative focuses in on a mysterious death.

The tone reminded me of Laura Kaye’s Hard Ink series, in that it marries gritty complex characterisation with a mystery in the best kind of way.

I’m fairly new to the subgenre of romantic suspense, and it turns out that I’m a big fan; when there’s higher stakes, everything seems so much more urgent.  And boy are things urgent here.

Mysterious deaths, what appears to be a near-conspiracy and a small town standing up to a big corporation – what’s not to love?

I also love Vince as a hero.  He’s not polished or backward in coming forward, and the stark truth and honesty that I see in him is one of the things I love most about my own partner.

Kim, as a heroine, made me look twice.  When we’re first introduced to her, an apparently out-of-place suit seen through Vince’s eyes, I wasn’t convinced;  I’m so used to the good girl meets bad boy trope that my heart sank a little.  this isn’t the case at all.  Kim’s not all that much of a good girl and Vince, for all his tattoos and motorbike-riding habits, isn’t really a bad boy.

Nothing delights me more than having my expectations upended, so this was great.

Also, there’s the mystery aspect of the narrative.  I want to read on.  I want to know what the hell’s going on and (this is where I stop talking for fear of spoilers).  It’s gripping and entertaining, but it’s McKenna’s teasing out of her characters – both main and secondary – that makes this shine.