ARC-Book Review! One Blogging Reader’s Review after reading ‘Love Least Expected’ by Meredith Bond, Aubrey Wynne, Valerie Twombly, Kris Calvert, Katie Stephens, Nessie Strange, Kishan Paul, Isabella Harper, Michaela Miles.
(This review will also be posted on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com)
Title: LOVE LEAST EXPECTED
Authors: Meredith Bond, Aubrey Wynne, Valerie Twombly, Kris Calvert, Katie Stephens, Nessie Strange, Kishan Paul, Isabella Harper, Michaela Miles
(One book – A set of nine interwoven novelettes)
(Review based on ARC copy – early review)
Publishing date: February 3rd, 2015
(Click the image cover below to order now: ‘Love Least Expected’)
The Synopsis’ for the stories inside of ‘LOVE LEAST EXPECTED’:
Nine stories. One happy ending.
Under the Mango Tree – Meredith Bond
Lakshmi is a good 18th century Indian girl who should not be avoiding her chores and enjoying a mango while hidden amongst the high branches of the mango tree in her mother’s garden. She truly should not be seen by a man who is not a member of her family—an Englishman, no less. And she absolutely should not even contemplate speaking with this man. But Lakshmi has never been one to follow the rules. This time, though, it could ruin—or make—the rest of her life.
Rolf’s Quest – Aubrey Wynne
Baron Rolf Arbrec, the royal wizard for King Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, is burdened with a centuries–old quest to free his descendant, Merlin. To lift the enchantment, he must find true love without the use of magic or deceit, something that has eluded the male generations before him.
Finding genuine love is no easy task, even for a wizard, If he cannot break the spell and fails his quest, future generations will be deprived of their chance for happiness. When Melissa steps from his dreams and into his arms, he realizes his need for her love runs deep and she is more than just a way to free Merlin.
Lady Melissa Garrick travels to London to meet her betrothed. Along the way, she encounters a man who haunts her dreams and makes her reconsider her destiny. Torn between loyalty to her family and her intense attraction to Rolf, she struggles to remain an obedient daughter. Though she desires him, will she defy her family and turn her back on her betrothed? Or will time run out and Rolf be doomed to a life of discontent and bitterness like his ancestors before him?
Fall Into Darkness – Valerie Twombly
Eli lives by his own rules and bows to no one, even when summoned before the Tribunal Seven. They deem the hunter has lost his humanity and sentence the angel to earth with one mission: find some compassion or be condemned to hell.
Ashley considers herself a freak. With one glance into a person’s eyes, she foresees their death. When an attack brings a handsome stranger to her rescue, she can’t help but be drawn to his steel–blue gaze.
Fate will bring them together but desire could bond them for eternity.
Roses are Wrong, Violets Taboo – Kris Calvert
On the night before Valentine’s Day, floral and greenhouse owner, Alexander Chase Tabeau should be preparing for the biggest day of his family’s business. Instead he’s drowning his sorrows at the Voodoo bar after burying the only real parent he’s ever known—his grandfather, Pops. The rugged and handsome man promised Pops he would get his life together, leaving behind a string of undesirable women and focusing on what was most important—family.
Rose Westwood has always known what she wanted and planned her life down to the tiniest detail. She’s packed up her belongings and is ready to take a new and challenging position with her company as their first female vice president. Not wanting to be alone on her last night in Tampa, she stumbles into what she never planned on—the best night of her life.
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, Rose and Chase spend one night confessing their hopes for the future and their failures of the past. After opening their hearts to one another, the morning after sheds new light on their destiny. Can one night together change them both forever?
Alphabetical Disorder – Katie Stephens
Everyone in Mason’s Circus understands and respects the powers of the resident gypsies—the Romani tribe—and most steer clear of any involvement. But when Susie gets caught in a web of prophecy and magic that brings danger to the troupe, her non–Rom interpretation turns out to be flawed. She pushes aside the man of her dreams to date alphabetically, in the hopes of saving her circus family.
Sam has had his eye on Susie since she joined the company. He’s puzzled by her actions, but not blind to the way she responds to him. A patient man by nature, he battles his need to claim her immediately or allow her game to continue. When disaster strikes, they join forces with their Romani friends to stop the curse before it destroys the circus.
Love’s Not Viral – Nessie Strange
Twenty–four–year–old bartender Aster Sanderson’s life is turned upside down when drunken Hollywood actor Bradley Stone snaps a picture of her…and tweets to his 12.8 million followers that she’s his fiancee. As the internet blows up with the news and gossip flies out of control, she’s left feeling helpless. This has to be a misunderstanding, right? But when the actor in question shows up on her doorstep, it’s clear he’s unhinged and she soon becomes a prisoner in her own home (literally).
Her savior? Bradley’s handsome—and seemingly normal—older brother, James, who quickly stirs up feelings she never expected. Can they disarm the ticking time–bomb that Bradley Stone has become before any more damage is done? And is their mutual attraction the result of these unusual circumstances…or could it become something more?
Taking the Plunge – Kishan Paul
Since graduating high school, Eve Cambridge has dropped ten dress sizes, became an RN, and dumped her jerk of a boyfriend—all on her own. So when her high school crush shows up in her life, she does what any normal self–reliant woman would do—pepper spray him.
Since inheriting the family plumbing business, Pete Russo has tried to make the best of a career he never planned for. He’s made his share of mistakes, but he’s worked hard to learn from them. Now that he’s run into Eve, he’s not so sure he isn’t making another one. After all, she did almost blind him.
When logic and emotion don’t agree, which path should they follow?
The Trouble with Never – Isabella Harper
Summer McKenzie is starting fresh. With her soon to be ex–husband in another state, she’s ready to start over in her small Texas town. That is, until she runs into the one person that has never gone too far from her memories, or her heart.
Since graduating college, Caleb Davis has planted roots in the form of a thriving BBQ business. He’s got everything he’s ever wanted, except the one woman that he could never have. It’s clear she’s had a painful past, but he wants nothing more than to create a promising future.
Will she let love heal old ones, or will she let her fears push him away?
Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate – Michaela Miles
Eleanor Carrara is angry. At the world, at the people who had her committed to the institution, and at the people holding her captive in it. When the sexy, but calm and stoic Chris becomes a fellow resident of the facility, things begin to change. He taunts her, challenges her, and even makes her cry. But her anger dissolves as she realises he’s the one person who may be able to break through the armour built around her heart.
Christopher Tailor feels nothing. Haunted by the memories of his awful past, he is institutionalised, and utterly alone in the world. Meeting Elle changes everything. She’s conceited, rude, and completely unaware that in some ways she’s just as broken as he is. But something about her gets under his skin. He takes a chance and shares his secret with her.
Falling in love was the last thing Chris and Elle expected. But for them to consider having a future together, they first have to let go of their past and trust the system imprisoning them both.
My ‘Blogging Reader’s Reviews’ after reading an ARC-Early Copy of ‘LOVE LEAST EXPECTED’:
Just in time for Valentine’s Day! “Love Least Expected” is a compilation of nine wonderful short stories from nine different authors. You get a taste of nine different story lines that will satisfy your need just like a variety-filled heart shaped box of delectable chocolates. There is a nice blend of delicious, romantic, classic, feel-good, dark and amazing in this anthology.
Under The Mango Tree by Meredith Bond:
The story is written in the main female character Lakshmi’s P.O.V.(point of view). Lakshmi lives with her family in India. She is being raised by the tradition of being married off to a young man who will be well suited for her and that her father approves of. All of the traditions look differently through Lakshmi’s eyes after she first sees and hears the young Englishman that her twin brother speaks to beneath her favorite Mango Tree. His eyes are so different from what she’s familiar with, two shades of blue and green. They both come from different lifestyles and traditions but when Lakshmi finds it hard to ignore her interest in Lord Huntley. Can love be found between these two or will tradition keep them apart? This is the beginning of a wonderful story. You should give this one a go’ especially if you enjoy sweet flourishing romance during a time long ago.
Rolf’s Quest by Aubrey Wynne:
We get to read the story in two P.O.V.’s(point of views) from the characters Baron and Melissa. The story begins with an infatuation so strong between a sorcerer by the name of Merlin and Viven, who would be his apprentice but whom he wanted more from. When they come to a disagreement about what is to become of their relationship, a curse set to effect a long-bloodline is made. The men in Merlin’s family line will be cursed to never find love and be alone. The only way to break the curse would be for the man to fall in genuine love with someone who feels completely the same love back for them. Merlin would have to live stuck in an ancient tree trunk until the curse is broken. Generations later, a young boy by the name of Baron Rolf Arbrec has to live alone to be raised by Merlin and to try to learn to succeed where his father and men before him had failed against the curse. There may be hope for the character when he becomes a man and meets a young lady named Melissa. They have both only lived in each other’s dreams until fate brings them into each other’s lives for real. Will the heart win them over or will loyalty and bitterness ruin their chance at finding real love? This seems like a magical and interesting story. If this sounds like something you’d find interesting, check this book out.
Fall Into Darkness by Valerie Twombly:
In the third short, we get to enjoy the story from the two character P.O.V.’s(point of views) of Eli and Ashley. An angel who is a hunter and loves to be on his own named Eli has taken justice into his own hands one to many times. The seven women who rule his kind decide on a punishment. He was not meant to judge so therefore they condemn him to living on earth with humankind until he found his humanity. There he rescues a young lady named Ashley who was about to be killed by a Hellhound. When Ashley finds out more about her history and more about Eli, she is faced with decisions. Will Eli and Ashley be able to handle their situation? Can Eli change his views on how he plans to live his life? This story is definitely something I would love to continue to read more of. Once this one is out, I will try to check this one out for sure!
Roses are Wrong, Violets Taboo by Kris Calvert:
‘Lexi’s Chance’ is the fourth Novelette and is written by Constance Phillips. This story comes from the two P.O.V.’s(point of views) of main characters Rose and Chase. Alexander Chase Tabeau is dealing with the loss of a very important person in his life and Rose Westwood has just recently left a very bad situation and relationship. The meet and share with each other everything that has brought them there to that place alone. She is beautiful and he is ruggedly handsome which makes the attraction between them practically instant. As they begin to talk and share about their lives with each other it only makes that attraction grow. They decide to take a plunge and share a night of closeness on more than one level. Rose has it in her mind that this will be a special night with this amazing man but nothing more can be promised after tonight. What will happen when Rose has to leave? Will Chase be able to find the love he seeks? This has so much promise of being a beautiful love story. I can’t wait to read the rest of this one when it’s out.
Alphabetical Disorder by Katie Stephens:
The fifth short story is written in the two main character’s P.O.V.’s(point of views), Susie and Sam. Susie is a part of the circus. She must date in alphabetical order according to the Romani-magic-Gypsy-voodoo-mojo to break a curse that threatens to destroy the circus. As she dates different men in the circus in alphabetical order, it never goes passed the first date for different reasons. There is one guy named Sam Burke who she really likes and is attracted to but she is determined to stick to the alphabetical order in order to break the curse. When Sam and Susie have a sweet moment together, she is almost thrown off course. Susie remembers what she has to do and is determined to get it done even if it means putting her own heart on hold. This is very different because it’s about people in a circus that work together. It seems like a nice story. If this seems like something you could enjoy then try it out when the full novel is out.
Love’s Not Viral by Nessie Strange:
This short story comes in the two main character’s P.O.V.’s(point of views), Aster and James. When Aster’s best friend Mia wakes her up to inform her that she really needs to tell her what is going on because she is all over the internet. At the urging of Mia, she discovers that a random photo taken the night before with the most eligible bachelor had gone viral. Not only had it gone viral but she was now listed as his new fiance! Aster had only served his drinks, spoke only a few words with him as his waitress and politely allowed him to pull her into his silly-drunken-photo shot. When Bradley shows up at her doorstep on that next day with paparazzi in tow, her world is completely flipped upside down. Can Aster get to the bottom of this sudden engagement with Bradley that she wasn’t aware of? When Bradley’s older brother James comes into the picture, can he be the voice of reason? This story is quite interesting and different because of the weird situation Aster finds herself in. It makes you wonder if Bradley has completely lost his mind? To see how this wild story continues I’ll say it is worth the read.
Taking The Plunge by Kishan Paul:
Then you have Taking The Plunge which is written in the two main character’s P.O.V.’s(point of views), Eve and Pete. After Eve Cambridge goes through life changes after finishing high school which include losing weight, dumping her jerk-of-a-boyfriend Preston, and becoming an RN, she is ready to get a fresh start. Pete Russo was Eve’s high school crush during senior year especially after he defended her. He took over the family plumbing business even though it wasn’t what he had planned to do. When they reunite after an unexpected encounter eight years later, they find themselves trying to figure what comes next. They had no idea how much they both effected each other’s lives then and are beginning to realize that they may still have that effect on each other now. I am loving this one and am hoping to get a chance to read the full novel for this one when it comes out later this year. The characters are captivating and the storyline has everything I enjoy about a contemporary romance. This is one to definitely get a copy of when you get a chance.
The Trouble With Never by Isabella Harper:
The Trouble With Never gives you the two main character’s P.O.V.’s(point of views), Summer and Caleb. When Summer McKenzie discovers her husband’s infidelities she decides that she’s had enough. She met him in college and thought she found the one but through the years he persuaded her to distance herself from her closest friends and to basically become his trophy wife. With her long time best friend Faith’s help, she decides to pick up, pack up and leave the life she’s lived for the past eight years with a man who was verbally insulting to her. She decides to move back to her home town to start over again. What she didn’t plan on was running into one of her old good friends that she had lost touch with because of her marriage, Caleb.
Caleb has been running a successful Bar-B-Q eatery and bar in his home town. He had come to terms with the fact that his old long time friend Summer had chosen her relationship over their friendship even though it hurt like hell.
Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate by Michaela Miles:
The ninth short has been written in the main character Eleanor’s P.O.V.(point of view). This was the final short story in this anthology. Eleanor Carrara was the daughter of a very successful father who happened to own a huge chocolate company. Upon his passing, she was set to run the business on her thirtieth birthday except strange things begin to happen. Her Uncle and mother both made her think she was losing her mind as things mysteriously ended up misplaced and emails were sent from her account that she didn’t remember sending. After she even got to the point of questioning herself, she was mandated to enter a mental institution where she would stay until she admitted she had lost her mind and needed help.
When Christopher Tailor first arrives at the mental institution, most thought he was guilty and maybe even a mute because he spoke to no one. That seemed the case until he finally spoke to Eleanor. But when he spoke he also pissed her off with what he said. Will these two drive each other truly crazy or find an ally where they least expected it? Are they actually guilty of what they are in there for or are there a few secrets keeping the truth from being revealed? This was an interesting and entertaining short to end this very compelling and delightful series of short stories.
I am very happy to have been given the chance to read and review an ARC copy of this great anthology novel because these stories were enjoyable from start to finish! The characters were well written, the stories are shorter yet very pleasing to the reader. Many of those shorts’ will be coming out in 2015 as full length novels so this gives you a glimpse into what is to come. Many are definitely worth the read. I do recommend this novel for those that love engrossing and captivating stories of romance.
MY BLOGGING READER’S STAR SCORE FOR ‘LOVE LEAST EXPECTED’ 4 1/2 out of 5 stars:
How I imagined the characters while reading ‘Love Least Expected’:
★♥★MEMORABLE QUOTES & LINES FROM ‘LOVE LEAST EXPECTED’★♥★
(Under The Mango Tree) Lakshmi’s thoughts: He’d touched her. His bare skin to hers. She’d been able to feel the heat of him for hours afterward. Just the thought had her pulling the edge of her sari further over her head, doing her best to make sure it stayed there, as if she could hide the memories as easily as she could her face.
(Under The Mango Tree) Lord Huntley: “I have no wife. My home is sitting empty right now, waiting for the right woman to come and make it her own.” Lakshmi stole a look up at him. His eyes weren’t laughing and the smile had fallen from his face altogether. There was something else there now. Something that stirred the heat within her, nearly as hot as it had been when he’d had his hands on her waist. She couldn’t pull her eyes away from his. They drew her in and held her in a warm embrace. She felt…she felt wanted.
(Rolf’s Quest) Rolf and Melissa: Vivid dreams interrupted her slumber. She stood in small grove, shivering in the dark. She jumped at the sound of his voice.
“I have waited for you.” The mysterious man on the hill stared at her from a tree.
“Come down right now,” she commanded. Goosebumps prickled her arms, and she rubbed them with vigor. “How can you wait for me when we have never met?”
“You are my destiny.”
(Rolf’s Quest) Melissa and Rolf: When she peered up at the tree again, he had vanished, and she cried out for him. Her skin chilled with his absence and her heart grew heavy.
“Please don’t go. I would take back my harsh words.”
A whisper tickled her ear, “We shall meet again.”
(Fall Into Darkness) Ashley’s thoughts: Never had she felt more alive and as she gazed at her lover, her heart wrenched. A hazy light surrounded him that she’d never noticed before. It had to be his aura and her gut told her the rim of black that bordered the bright white was all wrong. Darkness was overtaking him.
(Fall Into Darkness) Ashley and Eli: “Please don’t leave me alone.” -(Ashley)
Eli did the only thing he knew to comfort her. He pulled her into his lap, pressed her head against his chest and stroked her hair. “I’m not leaving until we figure out what’s going on. I promise, you’ll be safe.”
I swear to the heavens, I’ll protect you with my life. -(Eli)
(Roses are Wrong, Violets Taboo) Pops to Chase: “Treat your wife like a queen and she’ll always make you the king. Don’t ever make a woman fall for you if you have no intention of catching her. And finally, you’ll know her when you see her. Don’t be an ass and let her go.”
(Roses are Wrong, Violets Taboo) Chase to Rose: “I could feed you a line of horseshit and tell you that I’m hungry for you- and it wouldn’t be a lie. I am. Believe me, I am. But you,” he continued as he brushed a lock of red hair from her eyes and dropped his voice, “are so much more than that. I am hungry for the possibilities with you.”
(Alphabetical Disorder) Lexi’s thoughts on Sean: Soft, Sweet. A whisper of lips moving together, stroking over and over. Not one of those desperate kisses, with tongues and teeth clashing. Susie had never felt a kiss like Sam’s before. That feeling, brought on by the tenderness of his touch, fulfilled a yearning deep inside. She didn’t know if he noticed it or not. She became lost in the moment. Lost in him.
(Love’s Not Viral) Aster’s thoughts: There’s something to be said for a man that knows how to kiss. Sure, anyone with lips can put two together, but doing it well is an art and he’s got it mastered.
(Taking the Plunge) Eve’s thoughts: Eight years later, he still made it hard for her to put two words together. Her body warmed just thinking about him. She let out a lust-filled breath. It had taken every ounce of self-control to wash his face and not go exploring. And at well over six-feet tall, there were so many lovely parts of him she’d love to explore.
(Taking the Plunge) Pete’s thoughts: His pulse quickened, heat coursed through him awakening a hunger deep in his core. He ached to tilt her chin and taste her, but fought the urge. Something told him she’d be worth waiting for.
(The Trouble With Never) Summer’s thoughts: She was a hollow shell of that bubbly and enthusiastic new bride from six and a half years ago. Somehow, she would find that girl again. She squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. Time to move forward. The past few months had emotionally drained her. While the cost felt like more than she could bear, she would stand tall and rebuild. She wouldn’t crumble.
(The Trouble With Never) Caleb’s thoughts: He wanted to demand answers from her, but comfort her at the same time. Years may have passed, but he still knew her well enough to recognize the pain she tucked away inside where most people couldn’t see. With a jolt, he realized no woman since had lived up to Summer. She had set the bar high, and he’d be damned if he’d lose her again, even if they just stayed friends.
(Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate) Eleanor’s thoughts: The only upside to my inability to find a suitable topic was that I’d learned something. I cared about Chris, and it felt nice. I hadn’t truly cared for someone other than myself for a long time. There’d been no time and no need. Right now all I had was time, and a need was finding me.
(Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate) Eleanor’s thoughts: I couldn’t take my eyes off his. I wanted to burn this moment into my memory. A moment I’d dreamed about since the day he called me a stuck-up little princess.
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