Review: The SEAL’s Secret Heirs by Kat Cantrell

the seal's secret heirsTitle: The SEAL’s Secret Heirs

Author: Kat Cantrell

Mills & Boon imprint: Desire

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Social worker Grace Haines

The hero: Navy SEAL/Rancher Kyle Wade

The blurb: Returning to Royal, Texas, is an emotional minefield for Navy SEAL Kyle Wade. He never felt suited to his rich family’s ranching life. But is he suited for fatherhood? He’s about to find out—because he’s now the guardian to twins. Not only that—his high school sweetheart is the babies’ caseworker!

Grace Haines wants what’s best for Kyle’s kids—even if that means standing in his way. But their chemistry is as explosive as it was years ago, and it might just be time to give this military man a second chance…

Standalone or series: Part of The Texas Cattleman’s Club: Lies And Lullabies series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: You know when you read a book, close the cover, and then just scratch your head and think to yourself, WTF did I just read? That was this type of book for me.

So Kyle and Grace were teenage lovers. Grace made him wait until they’d been together for a year and she’d turned 18 until she had sex with him. It was amazing, but then she started to feel insecure or something because he never came out and said the words, “I love you,” so her 18 year old brain decided the best course of action would be to pretend she’s getting it on with his twin brother, Liam. When Kyle catches Liam groping Grace in his bedroom, he’s so heartbroken that he decides to get out of dodge and join the navy, where he becomes a SEAL. Grace thinks he left because he really didn’t love her and didn’t care that she’d apparently moved on to Liam.

Grace spends the next ten years trying to find a man who matches up to Kyle, but can’t, so for the last three years she’s been a Professional Single Woman (yes, in capitals). She’s now a social worker. Kyle has manwhored his way with anything in a skirt for ten years, but he still can’t forget Grace, who’s ruined him for all women (but not enough, it seems, for him to stop having sex with anything in a skirt).

It’s ten years later, and Kyle has been honourably discharged from the Navy because he was badly injured on duty and lost a teammate. So he heads back to Royal, where twin brother Liam is running the family ranch. It turns out that ole Liam is none too pleased to see Kyle, because he’s left lots of messages which Kyle didn’t answer… because he was overseas on a mission. As a Navy SEAL. In the military. And he didn’t get the messages.

Liam smartly informs Kyle that he has twin baby daughters with a woman he spent a long weekend with almost a year ago. Which means that the twins can’t be more than two months old (assuming the mother went to term). The mother died during childbirth, so Liam and the nanny he hired when he couldn’t reach Kyle, Hadley, have been raising the girls. But Hadley is not just the nanny anymore… she’s also Liam’s wife! He moves fast, given that he only hired her no more than three months previously (I guess he might have already known her, but Kyle didn’t, so who knows). Not only that, but Liam and Hadley have already applied to formally adopt the twins. I don’t know how it works in the US, but I’m pretty sure it would take more than a couple of months before adoption would be considered. Given that Liam knows Kyle is a SEAL, surely there would have been some consideration there.

But we’re all in it for the romance, so let’s go there. Except I wish I hadn’t 😦 I found Kyle and Grace’s relationship to be completely juvenile. Instead of talking like two adults (and we all know Grace is no longer a teenager, because the author referenced Grace being a grown woman or having grown woman parts on more than one occasion), they played stupid games. For example: when Kyle asks Grace to consider a relationship again, she understandably asks for a bit of time to think about it. Given they haven’t seen each other in ten years and are still getting to know each other as they are now, that doesn’t seem unreasonable. However, Kyle decides that the best way to honour her request is to – wait for it – flirt with another woman in front of her. Yep. If Grace doesn’t want him flirting with the ranch’s sales manager, who’s clearly got the hots for him, then she best close the space. If I was Grace, I’d have given him a whole lot of space after that.

Here’s what else didn’t work for me:

*Kyle’s eyes were described about half a dozen times as being ‘diamond-hard’. Diamond hard?

*Everyone’s puzzling reaction to Kyle having left to be a SEAL. Especially Liam’s. They all carry on as though he ran away in a flight of fancy. No, he left because the woman he loved and his twin brother betrayed him (okay, so they didn’t, but he didn’t know that).

*The incredibly cold and antagonistic relationship between Kyle and Liam, which was never fully explained.

*Liam and Grace both continually bringing up the fact that Kyle didn’t come straight home when the twins were born. That’s because he didn’t freaking know about them. What part of that was hard to understand? He. Didn’t. Know.

*Grace is the case worker who is monitoring Kyle’s ability to take care of the twins. She tells him she’ll be impartial, that he needs to get a job even though he has enough money that he never has to work again. So he takes over the cattle side of the ranch. Grace does one home visit – one – in which she sees Kyle holding the twins, and all of a sudden she’s decided he’s capable of raising the girls on his own and she won’t contest him being awarded full custody. I thought she was being impartial? I’m pretty sure that it takes more than one visit to assess that.

*When Kyle finds out from Grace that she never slept with Liam and it was only a ploy to get him to tell her his true feelings for her (because just asking him apparently never occurred to her), she’s dismissive of it. As is Liam, when Kyle brings it up. Liam’s all like, oh, that was only a joke. Ancient history. Are you serious, bitch? Kyle spent TEN YEARS nursing a broken heart and it drove him into the military because he couldn’t deal with it. Your twin brother thinks you betrayed him, and you just laugh it off? No.

*I’m a huge romantic, but I found the proposal scene completely cheesy and completely out of character for Kyle. But that could just be me, because I do not like public proposals.

I think it’s kinda obvious, but this book really didn’t work for me. I’m really disappointed, because I loved the previous book I read by this author. The title also seems a bit redundant, because the ‘heirs’ are only a secret for the first five pages of the book…

 

 

 

Review: Snowbound with the Boss by Maureen Child

snowbound with the bossTitle: Snowbound with the Boss

Author: Maureen Child

Mills & Boon imprint: Desire

Year of publication: 2016

The heroine: Contractor Kate Wells

The hero: Gaming company CEO Sean Ryan

The blurb: Being stuck in a snowstorm with his disagreeable contractor is hardly gaming tycoon Sean Ryan’s idea of a good time. So why does he find himself keeping Kate Wells warm—and really, really liking it? Luckily, when the snow melts, Sean can return to his California headquarters, leaving their fling behind.

But Kate’s left facing a dilemma—she’s pregnant. How can she break her baby news to her unbearable boss? Soon there’s an emotional storm brewing that makes the blizzard that stranded them look like child’s play!

Standalone or series: Book three of the Pregnant by the Boss series, but can be read as a standalone

The review: I enjoyed this book for the most part, although a few things bugged me about it. Sean and Kate are stuck in a blizzard in Wyoming, where she lives and he’s developing some sort of hotel for gamers to stay at. Kate is a contractor who renovates properties and has her own company, and Sean’s company hired her to do this hotel. They’ve been at the property for a week and have been fighting an attraction to each other; Sean doesn’t want to get involved with her because she’s argumentative and pushes all his buttons, and he’s heading back to California ASAP, and Kate doesn’t want to get involved with him because she was widowed two years previously and he’s the first man she’s been attracted to since her husband died.

However, when they get stuck at the property alone together as the blizzard hits, they finally act on that attraction. Kate feels some guilt because of her husband, Sam; they’d planned a family together before he died in an accident, and after she has sex with Sean Kate realises things were never like that with Sam. After the blizzard passes, Sean goes back to California and while they miss each other, neither makes a move to forward their relationship.

After five months, Sean gets the feeling Kate is hiding something, so he makes a surprise visit to Wyoming… to find Kate is five months pregnant. Uh oh! Sean is not happy about being left in the dark, but Kate justifies not telling him because they’d talked about families in the abstract when they were together and he said he didn’t want marriage or children. Given that Kate thought her dream of being a mother had died with Sam, she wants this baby and is prepared to raise her alone. There’s a bit of will they won’t they, which became a bit annoying towards the end, until Sean finally realises he’s been an idiot to let Kate go back to Wyoming after she told him she loves him, and he goes to get his girl.

A few things that made me go, hmmm: the author had the characters saying each other’s names way too often. This is quite a common thing in books, but it seemed that every time Sean said something to Kate he mentioned her name, and it was noticeable. Another thing I noticed was that both Kate and Sean were described as having thick, black hair and lake-blue eyes, which I found strange. I can buy the hero and heroine having the same colouring, but to me black hair and blue eyes is somewhat unusual, so what would be the chances of them both having thick, black hair and lake-blue eyes? That’s what I thought.

 

 

 

The Rancher’s Baby by Maisey Yates

the rancher's babyTitle: The Rancher’s Baby

Author: Maisey Yates

Mills & Boon imprint: Desire

Year of publication: 2018

The heroine: Skin care company founder Selena Jacobs

The hero: Supermarket chain owner/Rancher Knox McCoy

The blurb: When a torrid, possibly dangerous scandal comes to Royal, Texas, Selena Jacobs is nearly caught in the middle. Until her best friend Knox McCoy ensures her safety — by moving in! Selena has loved Knox for years, but she’s never had the courage to tell him. Now the sparks she’s tried to smother burn out of control…and leave her pregnant. But with the pain in his past, will Knox finally take a chance on love…with her?

Standalone or series: Part of the Texas Cattleman’s Club series, but can be read as standalone

The review: I don’t normally buy Desire books, because they’re not my favourite imprint, but was drawn to this by two words in the blurb: best friend. If you’ve been reading along, then you’ll know that best friends to lovers is one of my favourite romance tropes. I haven’t read a Desire book in years, and hot damn! I was surprised at the graphic language in this book. I didn’t realise Desire books had swearing and graphic sex scenes… not that I’m bothered, of course 🙂

Selena and Knox have been best friends since college; both worked hard and have built their own successful businesses. However, their friendship has taken a backseat for the last few years because Knox lost his little girl, Eleanor, to cancer. His marriage to her mother, Cassandra, fell apart and Knox, unable to move past his grief, vows never to marry or be a father again.

Selena was left a trust fund by her beloved grandfather, and the only way to inherit it before turning 25 was to marry, so in college, desperate to get away from her physically and emotionally abusive father, she married a friend, Will, who offered to help her out. He came from a wealthy family himself, so wasn’t in any need of her money. However, one of his friends (who was hot for Selena himself) told her Will had married her to access her trust fund, and once she got the money she divorced Will and their friendship faded; something that Selena regrets the marriage caused.

So when the book opens, Selena is attending Will’s funeral after he is killed in a boating accident and she receives a letter stating she is the beneficiary of his estate. However, she’s not the only woman who rocks up to the funeral clutching the same letter, and they’re all in for a big shock when Will himself walks into the church. Turns out he didn’t send the letters and obviously isn’t dead. I found this subplot bizarre, because it’s never resolved – you don’t know who or why the letters were sent, and it felt like a really strange way to get Selena and Knox to spend time together.

Knox, who goes to the funeral to support Selena and farewell an old friend, decides for some reason that she could be in trouble, so he moves in with her in Texas for a little while. While they’re living together, Selena realises she’s in love with Knox and always has been. She eventually tells Knox the real reason she married Will, and he’s not a happy camper. The reason she didn’t ask Knox to marry her is because she knew she would have wanted the marriage to be real, and by the time she divorced Will Knox was seeing Cassandra.

I found a few things didn’t work for me with Selena and Knox supposedly being best friends. I get that Knox has been grieving and he moved to Wyoming to start his life over when Eleanor died, and Selena has gone to visit him. But Knox never knew her father beat her? Really? As her best friend, surely that’s something she would have confided in him about. And if they really were so close, I would have found it easier to believe that he’d lean on Selena, rather than push her away. I know everyone grieves differently and that Knox has had a lot of trouble coping with his daughter’s death and the end of his marriage, but still. And why wouldn’t Selena have told Knox the real reason for her marriage to Will after she’d actually married him?

I found some of their dialogue quite stilted and more like two strangers getting to know each other, rather than two people who have been best friends for a decade.

I also had a lot of trouble believing that Knox would not have thought about protection when he finally gives in and has sex with Selena. Selena wanted Knox to take her virginity (she and Will never consummated the marriage because it was fake, and then she didn’t bother with relationships because of her childhood and she wanted to concentrate on her business) and talked him into going glamping her; she even took a box of condoms. There was mention that she didn’t want to think about a relationship for a number of reasons, becoming pregnant being one of them… but neither of them stopped for just a moment to think about protection? Especially given how vehemently Knox stated he didn’t want to be a father again?

As it happens, he gets Selena pregnant, freaks out, tells her she’s on her own and vamooses back to Wyoming lickety split. After drunk dialling Cassandra, who’s currently engaged to another man, she tells him to stop being an idiot and admit to Selena that he’s in love with her. So he decides to fly back to Texas… only to find Selena on his doorstep. They declare their love for each other, he asks her to marry him, and in the epilogue they have two young McCoys. I love a happy ending!