Reckless (Shattered Sisters #1) by Maggie Shayne

recklessTrue Crime Writer Toni Rio follows a wise guy straight from his brief stint behind bars to his execution in a dirty alley. When his two killers see her witnessing their gruesome work, she runs, but she doesn’t get far.
FBI agent Nick Manelli has to keep his cover intact and keep the sexy witness alive, and there’s only one way he can think of to do both. He has to kidnap her.

Interesting fact… Reckless was the first book published by Maggie Shayne. Although I’ve read several early books by this author, I hadn’t come across the Shattered Sisters series. According to the author, the book’s been ‘totally revamped.’ Regardless, I’m glad I found out about this series. Maggie Shayne is a master of sweet romances as well as paranormal, but I discovered after I read her Brown & de Luca series that her romantic suspense/mystery series might be some of my favorite.

Toni was tough, cunning and smart. She was determined to not go down without a fight. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of Nick though. She knew that there was more to him than he was showing her. Nick knew that there was more to Toni too, he just didn’t know how much more. Their attraction wasn’t instant, but once they started peeling away the layers that they were hiding from each other, they couldn’t fight it.

There were more than a couple of twist, turns and close calls for more than a couple of characters.  Enough that there wasn’t much down time, which kept the pages turning. The next book in the series is Forgotten, followed by Broken and Hunted as well as a prequel, Hollow. If the rest of the series were as interesting to get to know as Toni, this is going to be an interesting series.

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Long Gone Lonesome Blues (Texas Brands #4) by Maggie Shayne

LongGoneLonesomeBluesBen Brand had thought nothing could hurt more than losing Penny, his cherished wife. He was wrong. When Penny mysteriously showed up on his ranch, dazed but alive, Ben faced a new kind of anguish. His beloved had no memory of her past – or of him.
Ben set out to discover what had happened to his wife. Penny had to remember everything: who she was, where she’d been – the love they’d shared – because he couldn’t stand to lose the only woman he’d ever loved – again.

One more entry in my ‘guilty pleasure’ category. I just can’t walk away from these sweet little romances.

Ben has been breaking my heart since the beginning of this series. The tragic loss of his wife and the way he handled it had every member of his family worrying about him. When he started ‘seeing’ Penny that worry became even stronger. Once everyone discovered that Penny really was still alive, the real mystery began.

Although I really looked forward to Ben getting his HEA, I have to admit, Long Gone Lonesome Blues wasn’t my favorite in the Texas Brands series. I still liked it and the mystery was really good… I can’t really put my finger on it…

One thing I do know is that by now these brothers should learn a little bit from one another’s past mistakes. I don’t think I’ve seen a family full of men need women to keep them straight more than the Brand brothers. That’s part of the fun though, so I can’t complain too much.

Looks like the next book in the series steers away from the immediate family and pulls in some long lost cousins. Another mystery is on the horizon and I’ve already got The Lone Cowboy ready and waiting for the next time I have time to indulge in my guilty pleasure. 😉

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Secrets & Lies (Oklahoma Brands #3) by Maggie Shayne

SecretsAndLiesWhen former Secret Service agent Alex Stone is asked to impersonate a foreign dignitary who wears a full beard and is rarely seen without his sunglasses, it’s not a problem. But getting someone to impersonate the man’s new bride, a beauty the world adores, is a little bit harder. Melusine Brand looks astoundingly like the pampered princess. She’s also a rough and tumble Oklahoma Tom boy with colorful language. Besides, she’ll never agree.

Only, she does. Alex has to tutor her to survive the glitzy world he’s used to. But when things take a turn and they’re on the run in the wilderness with killers on their heels, it’s Mel’s turn to school him. Depending on each other to stay alive, these two opposites find a love that’s stronger than either of them could have imagined…and hope they can live long enough to claim it.

I’ve been jumping around between both the Texas Brands and the Oklahoma Brands. So far that tactic hasn’t caused any conflict. Secrets and Lies came close though 😉

Secrets and Lies featured two of my favorite characters from both series… Mel and Wes. They could both probably be considered the black sheep of each of their immediate families to some extent. Wes definitely more than Mel, but she still stood out from the rest. Vidalia Brand had raised all her daughters to be strong and independent. Mel took that to the extreme. She considered herself the family’s protector. The strongest and sometimes even the meanest (if she or anyone she cared about was crossed.) No one messed with Mel and no man was brave (or dumb) enough to attempt to tame her. Until Alex, then he realized he respected the strong, independent, feisty Mel more than the tame version.

Alex may have been born and bred in a totally different world than Mel, but that didn’t mean he didn’t appreciate the woman she was, regardless of how well she hid it. There was definitely a humorous side to Secrets and Lies, but there was a heart warming one as well. This book had everything I’ve grown to love about all the Brands’ books. My only complaint is that I wish there had been a little bit more.

As I mentioned, Wes played a big role in Secrets and Lies and so did the rest of the Texas Brands. This is the first book that the Brand families reunite and it turns out that they have a lot more in common than just blood. There are ‘fences’ that need to be mended and a few more secrets that are begging to be revealed. Needless to say, there were a lot of unanswered questions at the end of this book. So many that I’m not sure which series I should jump to next. I’m tempted to go back to the Texas Brands and finish it up until it leads me back to the Oklahoma Brands but I’m not sure I can wait to see what happens next. *sigh*

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Badlands Bad Boy (Texas Brand #3) by Maggie Shayne

BadlandsBadBoyAlter Ego or Ghostly Warrior?

Wes Brand is the black sheep of the family. But lately, he’s become friends with an old Shaman named Turtle who has hidden reasons for wanting to put Wes in touch with his Comanche roots. He convinces Wes to impersonate legendary warrior, Wolf Shadow, to drive archaeologist Dr. Taylor McCoy away from her dig site. His failing health provides plenty of leverage. But when the beautiful doc finds herself falling for both Wes and his ghostly alter-ego, Wes wonders how he’ll get out of the mess he’s made without ruining the powerful feelings beginning to grow between them.

Yes, some of this one was kinda corny and yes, some of the things that Wes did seemed totally out of character. Even though some of this one was a little far-fetched… at least in the beginning, I still loved Badlands Bad Boy. It’s those darn Brand guys, gals and kids. They pull me in every time. *sigh*

Wes may be the black sheep of the Brand family for obvious reasons, but that’s just the people from the outside looking in. To every one of his brothers and sisters, he’s their brother. He’s spent most of his life avoiding his Comanche roots and now it’s his turn to open the mind of another person trying to do the same thing. His love and respect for Turtle makes him do things that he would never consider.

If not for the magic in this one, I might not have enjoyed it as much. That aspect made this more than a simple love story. As crazy as it sounds, it made it more real. It also took me a while to really like Taylor, but once again, I have the Brands to thank for that. By the end of the story I was kind of hoping that readers would see more of Wes and Taylor because I have a feeling that their story is far from over.

Next up for the Texas Brand is Long Gone Lonesome Blues and I have no doubt that this one is going to be a heart breaker.

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Brand New Heartache (Oklahoma Brands #2) by Maggie Shayne

BrandNewHeartacheIn high school, Wade Armstrong had been half in love with Edie Brand, even though she barely seemed to notice his existence. Like the rest of this town, she thought him beneath her. That was how it seemed to him, anyway. But he’d grown up determined to prove them wrong, and now he owned a successful garage which was wallpapered with Edie Brand’s photo spreads from the Vanessa’s Whisper lingerie catalogue.

In high school, Edie Brand had been afraid to even look at Wade Armstrong. He was too hot, to smooth, and his reputation of being able to get any girl to say yes on the first date scared the daylights out of her. Now, though, a bad boy is what she needs. She’s back in town, driven out of L.A. and her lucrative modeling career by a crazed stalker who nearly killed her once. And who seems to have followed her home.

The attraction between these two burns them both, while a dangerous admirer watches, and grows angrier.

I’m currently bouncing back and forth between the Oklahoma Brands and the Texas Brands and loving every minute of it. 😉 I’ve come to consider them my ‘feel good’ reading diversion. The characters are fun and witty, there’s just a little bit of danger and a whole lot of smexiness… what’s not to love?

Edie is the prodigal daughter. She is the only one of the Brand girls to leave home, but she came back and in Brand New Heartache she feels like she has something to prove. Running into Wade Armstrong was not part of her plan.

There’s a lot more to Wade than meets the eye… especially Edie’s. Turns out not even he knows how much she really means to him.

In true Brand fashion there are some serious miscommunications, overprotective siblings, a little bit of danger, a mother who raised a brood of independent thinkers and a whole lot of fun.

Next up is Secrets and Lies which features Mel and Alex working under cover. Things are bound to get interesting 🙂

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The Brands Who Came for Christmas (Oklahoma Brands #1) by Maggie Shayne

BrandsWhoCameForChristmasCaleb didn’t know that one night of bliss last spring with small town beauty Maya Brand had resulted in a pregnancy, until the blackmail attempt arrived on his desk in an unmarked envelope, complete with photos of Maya with a belly out to there.

When he learns the truth, Caleb rushes back to Big Falls, determined to make it right despite what the scandal will do to his high profile career–the family legacy he had never truly wanted.

All he wants is Maya, and their child.

But can a girl whose father abandoned and betrayed her, ever truly believe in the goodness of a man who left town the morning after their one night stand? How can he convince her that he hasn’t stopped thinking about her since then, much less, do so with the whole world watching? He has to prove himself to a woman he’s not even sure he’s worthy of. But he has no idea how.

The Oklahoma All-Girl Brands is a six-book, small town, contemporary romance series with shades of HOPE FLOATS and YOU’VE GOT MAIL. Spin off of the bestselling Texas Brand Series.

The Brands Who Came for Christmas • Brand-New Heartache
Secrets and Lies • A Mommy For Christmas • One Magic Summer

I’ve decided that when I’m in the mood for a feel-good, fun read I’m going to go in search of one of Maggie Shayne’s Brands books. I’ve read the first two books in the Texas Brands series and The Brands Who Came for Christmas convinced me that the Oklahoma Brands is going to be just as entertaining.

Talk about a strong group of women. Vidalia Brand made sure her daughters knew that they were not only loved, but they were strong. Even though they knew that they had the love and support of their family, they could also be as independent as they needed to be. She taught them that through example. I pretty much immediately fell in love with this family.

I also fell in love with Caleb, long before the Brand women did. That’s probably because readers were also given his POV. He had a lot to make up for, but he stepped up to the challenge, regardless of how his friends and family felt. Never mind how Maya’s did. 😉

Yes, The Brands Who Came for Christmas was fairly predictable. ‘Feel good’ stories are typically predictable. Like I’ve said before, it’s not always the destination, but the journey that matters. This reader is going to enjoy her journey with the Brands. Even though this is a spin-off of the Texas Brands series, you won’t be lost if you start here. Since the first book in both series is currently free, what have you got to lose? The only hard part for me is deciding on whether I’m going to pick up the rest of the Oklahoma Brands or the Texas Brands next.

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Baddest Virgin in Texas (The Texas Brand #2) by Maggie Shayne

BaddestVirginInTexasJessi Brand always gets what she wants. And what she wants is part time ranch hand, part time deputy, and full time hunk, Lash Monroe. Unfortunately, her five big (really big) brothers have other ideas. And so does Lash, who had his fill of large families and overbearing “brothers” during his childhood in foster care. He’s a loner and a drifter and he intends to stay that way. 

Can the youngest Brand on the ranch handle six uncooperative males and land the man of her dreams? Maybe, but when trouble finds Lash and he heads off to face it alone, everything else takes a back seat, because the Brand family sticks together, and like it or not, Lash has become a part of that family. And when the cavalry shows up, it’s Jessi leading the charge. 

One thing I can count on when I pick up any book by Maggie Shayne is that I will be entertained. Whether her characters are wielding magic, out-smarting criminals or chasing cattle, they are all smart, witty and ‘real.’ This series is lighter than a lot of Maggie Shayne’s books, but it’s not lacking in substance and there’s just enough danger to keep things interesting.

The first book in The Texas Brand series, The Littlest Cowboy, set the stage for the series. It also gave the Brand family something they were lacking and that’s a strong woman to reign them in when needed. Whether they knew it or not. Chelsea filled that role well and her love and support for Jessie was one of the things I liked most about The Baddest Virgin in Texas.

Jessie may be the baby of the family, but that doesn’t mean that she likes being babied. She actually lets her brothers get away with a lot of it because she doesn’t want to hurt them. She’s more than capable of taking care of herself and she’s determined to prove it.

There was a lot more to Lash than anyone knew. He kept his feelings in check where Jessie was concerned because not only did he think she was too young for him, but he thought she knew what kind of woman she was. When he discovered that he might have been wrong, holding back the attraction he felt for her was close to impossible.

The Baddest Virgin in Texas divided its time between the brothers intimidating Lash and protecting Jessie, Lash fighting his feelings for Jessie, Chelsea trying to knock some sense into all of them and Jessie fighting for the man she knew she loved. Add to that some nasty family history and a search for the group of men stealing cattle, this one was a hard book to put down.

Needless to say, I’m kind of liking this series. The next book features Wes, which means Badlands Bad Boy is sure to be interesting. This series has been around for a while, but it’s been recently re-published.

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Deadly Obsession (Brown & de Luca #4) by Maggie Shayne

DeadlyObsessionA cold-blooded killer with a burning obsession…

Rachel de Luca has a bad feeling about the new woman in Detective Mason Brown’s life, the nurse taking care of him after he’s injured in the line of duty. She’d like to think it’s just jealousy, but intuition tells her it’s something more, maybe something dangerous.

Mason knows Rachel’s wary of commitment, and asking her to stay when he’s in this condition would be the worst thing for their relationship. Then they receive chilling news that drives everything else from their minds.

Mason’s psychotic sister-in-law has escaped from custody, putting her sons — the nephews he’s raising — in the crosshairs. When his house is burned to the ground, he and Rachel are relieved that there are no bodies in the smoldering rubble, but now his nephews are missing and the clock is ticking.

As Mason and Rachel try to find the boys, she senses a new and unexpected danger stalking them. Soon, everyone close to Mason is in deadly peril — Rachel more than anyone…

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Okay, so I might have had this ARC in my possession for a couple of weeks… or more. I also might have been avoiding it. I’m not proud of that fact. The truth is, I’m a wimp. I didn’t want to read Deadly Obsession. Not because I was dreading the story itself. It was simply because I just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to Rachel and Mason. *sigh*

I think I can honestly say that this series is one of my favorites. I love Rachel’s spunk. Her gritty personality and her passionate loyalty and her intense emotions. Yeah, I love Rachel. She has commitment issues, but she’s hiding behind them. Her heart was committed to Mason, Josh and Jeremy long before her mind caught up with the fact. Her inner dialogue was priceless.

As usual, the bad guy in this one was beyond anything I would have expected. Maggie Shayne holds nothing back and even though readers are clued in pretty early on about who the true enemy is, that doesn’t take away from the drama or the suspense.

There were no wasted pages, scenes or face time with any of the characters. Even Myrtle got equal billing in Deadly Obsession and it was well deserved.

So, was I happy with the way things turned out? I have to admit that even though I’m sorry that my time with Brown & de Luca has come to an end, it was a perfect conclusion. It’s probably time for Rachel and Mason to catch a well deserved break. That doesn’t mean however that I would be opposed to meeting these characters again. I’m sure Maggie Shayne has a lot of other awesome characters that I have yet to be introduced to. She’s definitely an author that has earned an automatic spot on my TBR list. 😉

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Innocent Prey (Brown & de Luca #3) by Maggie Shayne

InnocentPreyTo save innocent lives, they’ll have to risk their own.

Self-help superstar Rachel de Luca and Detective Mason Brown have finally given in to their overwhelming attraction to each other, but neither of them is ready to let physical passion turn into full-blown romance, so they carefully maintain an emotional distance. Then a judge’s daughter disappears, and Mason has a terrible sense that it’s connected to the most recent case they solved together: the abduction of Rachel’s assistant.

The discovery of a string of missing women—all young, all troubled—seems like a promising lead. But there’s no clear connection between the missing girls and the high-profile young woman Mason is trying to find. He realizes that once again he’ll have to rely on his own well-honed instincts and Rachel’s uncanny capacity to see through people’s lies in order to catch a predator and rescue his captives. But can they do it before Rachel becomes his next victim?

CreativeDeedsReadsDisclosure1Brown & de Luca is quickly turning into one of my favorite suspense series. There’s just so much to love. Rachel de Luca is not what you would expect from a self-help guru, especially when she doesn’t believe the crap she dishes out…. or does she? Mason Brown is a good cop that did a very bad thing for the right reasons…. together these two are perfect. I love the bantering between the two of them. The self doubt that they both harbor and the total devotion that they have toward each other, even though they don’t want to reveal it. At least not quite yet. Yeah, I’m kinda sorta in love with these two.

Innocent Prey brought Rachel to a new realization. Her ‘power’ wasn’t a fluke and it wasn’t isolated. I don’t want to give too much away if you haven’t started the series yet, so I can’t say too much more. This series isn’t necessarily paranormal, but it does have a paranormal aspect. Her take on the whole thing was hilarious and she had me cracking up more than once. (Her label for what she is – or isn’t – so fits this character’s personality.) That was a nice diversion because a lot of not so funny stuff took place in this book. Kidnapping, murder, political cover-ups and more. This series is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I can honestly say that even though I had an idea early in this book about who some of the bad guys might be, I was still taken by surprise. The story was woven around several characters and even if you figure out who, the why is still a little blurry… and then things twist back around.

I’ve loved every single book in this series so far, but this one is my favorite. The supporting characters are getting even more developed, the romance between Rachel and Mason is heating up (even though I thought that Rachel was going to blow it… she’s now forgiven…. almost) and the story arc is becoming more intense. Innocent Prey had me on the edge of my seat, yelling at the characters (and the author) more than once, laughing and in tears. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for these characters next.

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The Littlest Cowboy (The Texas Brand #1) by Maggie Shayne

LittlestCowboySheriff Garrett Brand has raised his entire brood of siblings single-handedly, and he’s done his best to teach them some values, to mold them into honorable, responsible, and trustworthy human beings. So when a baby lands on the doorstep of the Texas Brand, his first question is which younger brother is in for a butt-kicking? But the little fellow isn’t named after Ben, or Wes, or Adam, or Elliot. The little feller is named after him–Garrett Ethan Brand–according to the note his mama left behind. 

He’s still racking his brain to figure it all out, when a woman shows up at the ranch in the dead of night, spitting, fighting mad, and accusing Garrett of murdering her sister and stealing the baby! 

Chelsea is confused, heartbroken, and too mad to think straight, and the same trouble that found her poor sister is right on her tail. But of all the places she and the baby could’ve wound up, Garrett thinks this ranch is the best one. 

Because this is one family that knows how to pull together and trouble doesn’t stand a chance against The Brands of Texas.

I’ve been a fan of Maggie Shayne for a while, but somehow I’ve missed all her earlier work. I started reading her Portal series and since then she has found a permanent spot on my TBR list. To be honest, I didn’t even know that she had written a Cowboy Romance until this cute little cover popped up on my TL.

If you’re a frequent visitor to my blog, you know that Contemporary Romance isn’t my ‘go-to’ genre, but I do enjoy a little diversion from time to time and that’s exactly what I where I would categorize The Littlest Cowboy. It was a quick read and even though it was an early Maggie Shayne selection, there were still familiar elements that pulled me in.

This one had a little bit of everything. Alpha male cowboy siblings with a snarky little sister thrown into the mix, a sweet baby, mystery, danger and a couple of twists. Maggie Shayne does have a tendency to throw her female heroines into dangerous situations that I want to yell at them for, but that keeps things interesting.

Since I’ve discovered the Texas Brand series, I thought I might as well give at least one more book in the series a try. The Littlest Cowboy was still free at the time of this post, so it’s a no risk introduction. The next book in the series is The Baddest Virgin in Texas, and given the characters that it involves, it’s sure to be a fun one.

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