Phyl's 5 Phaves from October

October was a busy month with me wrapped up in baseball and with a quilt deadline, so it doesn't seem as if I did as much reading as usual. But I did manage to find a few favorites that deserve to be mentioned:

5. Rake's Ransom by Barbara Metzger. This was my October TBR read and a thoroughly delightful traditional Regency. I really liked the snappy dialogue and the way the heroine turned from an immature girl into a young woman.

4. The One I Want by Nancy Warren. I've read a few of Nancy Warren's "Bad Boys" novellas but this was the first full-length novel of hers I'd read. This is a fun story of a spoiled rich girl who leaves her native England for Texas when her parents decide she needs to be on her own and earn a living like the rest of us. She decides to start a business that's the opposite of match-making: she'll help couples break up in a gentle, civilized way. She arranges through a friend to rent a house from a former cop who happens to live next door. This book is the story of their romance, but what makes this book a little different is that there are a couple of secondary romances that spring up as the result of her business. It's a very quick read and I found myself laughing out loud several times. Ms. Warren created some interesting characters and I'm going to continue to watch for her books.

3. Power Play by Deirdre Martin. I do love sports, but unfortunately a well-written romance surrounding professional sports is hard to come by. The few I've read often have the details wrong, which is highly annoying if you actually care about the game like I do. Fortunately, this book is an exception; it covers the sport of hockey very well. This is the story of a star hockey player and a famous soap opera actress who decide to fake a relationship with one another in order to boost their popularity with their fans. These two are stars with rather large egos. Their careers are important to them. If they seem a little selfish, well, all the more realistic. I liked the way the two of them become important to one another. They gradually let down their barriers and reveal their insecurities to one another. I found this believable and entertaining.

2. Heart Fate by Robin D. Owens. I've been a big fan of the Heart Mate series ever since I read the first one. I love the world that Ms. Owens has created. It's an interesting blend of science fiction and fantasy with a touch of paranormal. This one was different because it begins with a hero and heroine who are divorcing their respective spouses. He was not married to his heart mate because his heart mate had been forced into marriage with someone else. He feels guilty that he did not go to his heart mate before she married and guilty because he couldn't make his own marriage work. She is wary of anyone who might try and control her the way her husband had; she's not even thinking about a heart mate as she tries to heal from the abuse her ex-husband heaped on her. Both of these characters have a lot of healing to do and they find a way to do it together.

1. Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard. I'm slowly working my way through Linda Howard's back list. I found this one at the library and when I finally started reading it I was sucked in and could not put it down. The heroine in this is second cousin to the hero and she has loved her older cousin her whole life. He marries someone else (another cousin--that was a little weird, but it made sense) but within a few years as that marriage is falling apart, his wife is murdered. Although it is proven he's not guilty, most people in their town don't believe it so he leaves and stays away for 10 years. There is a lengthy buildup to his return home and the start of a new relationship with the heroine. In that buildup Ms. Howard does a fabulous job of creating a heroine who has been abandoned by so many people in her life that she is just a shell. The hero comes home and sees how she has changed from the happy young girl he once knew and is so appalled that he makes it his mission to get her to laugh again. He also needs to solve the mystery of his wife's death because his return brings danger with it. I did guess the murderer. This is significant because usually I never do. But the suspense part was secondary to the relationship which was beautifully done.

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