Bachelor Unclaimed

by Brenda Jackson

The Bachelor in Demand Club is made up of the sons of six Morehouse men who made a pact to stay in touch by being godfather’s to each other’s children. The god-brothers formed their own pact to remain single for as long as they possibly could. Judging by the previous three books, the number of members in the club is dwindling. 

This book is hot right out of the gate with a one night stand between Winston Coltrane and Ainsley St. James, who meet in a nightclub in Hilton Head. The chemistry is instant, but when it is over neither expects to see each other again. Ainsley hopes to rebuild her life as a journalist after an unsuccessful mayoral bid in her hometown in New Jersey. Winston needs to focus on his marine biology research and work on keeping it under wraps until he is ready to reveal it.  

Ainsley receives a great opportunity to work on a story there in Hilton Head that involves getting a story on a reclusive pharmaceutical researcher named Dr. R.J. Chambers and she has three weeks to get it. In those three weeks she crosses Winston’s path in more ways than one. A great story that shows the struggle surrounding prioritizing your personal and your professional lives. Brenda Jackson never lets me down.

Always and Forever

by Farrah Rochon

We first met home restorer Phylicia Phillips and architect Jamal Johnson in the book A Forever Kind of Love. It was clear then that even though the two didn’t care for each other, they were perfect for each other.

Jamal has left his family construction business to start his own architectural firm, but is doing house renovations in the interim. He runs up against a deadline during his current project and realizes that he will need help in order to get the bed & breakfast ready in time for the holidays. Phylicia is the best restorer in the area, but doesn’t always approve of the “green” methods that Jamal uses while refurbishing homes. She needs the money, though, and has a personal history tied to the house, so she reluctantly agrees to help him.

Working together isn’t easy, not only because of their differing design ideas, but also the sparks that fly between them. It’s like HGTV with romance involved!

Taste For Temptation

by Phyllis Bourne

This was so much fun to read. As a sugar addict myself, I could totally relate to Brandi Collins. It’s no fun being tempted with sweets when you are working hard to avoid them. When she is left at the altar, Brandi decides to exact revenge by losing weight and getting in shape. She thinks she’s losing her mind when she starts smelling chocolate in her condo and after the scent wakes her up one night, Brandi finally traces it to the unit of the new tenant.

Adam Ellison has given up a successful life in the family corporation to follow his dream to be a pastry chef. He has set up shop away from all distractions in this condo to practice for an important upcoming competition, when the voluptuous Brandi shows up at his door. 

Taste For Temptation is what happens when two goal-oriented people who have no immediate plans for romance find each other….and chocolate.

One Winter’s Night

by Brenda Jackson

As far as I’m concerned  these Westmoreland books can go on into perpetuity, that’s how much I love them. I even spent a weekend recently re-reading some of the older stories. That’s a big deal because I have way too many books on my to-be-read list to go back and read something twice. One Winter’s Night is a great addition to the series.

Riley Westmoreland is part of the Denver branch of the family and one of the last one’s to settle down. The company he owns with his brother Dillon, Blue Ridge Land Management has an upcoming holiday party. Dillon normally handles these type of events, but because his wife, Pam, is due to give birth soon, the responsibility now falls on Riley to make this party a success.

Working closely with Alpha Blake, the event planner, proves difficult for Riley as their attraction to each other is immediate and he has a strict no mixing business with pleasure rule. Alpha is in the same boat having relocated to Denver from Florida after a failed engagement. Neither are looking for anything permanent, but sometimes these things can’t be denied.

Empire State of Mind

How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office
by Zack O’Malley Greenburg

Jay-Z is everywhere these days with the opening of the new Barclay’s Center and the debut of the Brooklyn Nets. The highlights of his life are pretty well known: his drug dealing days, entry into the world of hip-hop, some of his romantic history. Empire State of Mind chronicles his moves as a businessman and the stories behind the mega-deals and branding he has been associated with.

While we are familiar with his clothing brands, his nightclubs, and stint as the head of Def Jam, Greenburg shows us the plans that either never came through because of Jay’s need for perfection or were kept under raps because of his need for secrecy. Some of the people interviewed were obviously reluctant to speak about someone who admittedly still holds a lot of power in the world of hip-hop. But Greenburg doesn’t give up; especially when tracking down the ultra secret story behind a deal with Jeep that never happened. 

Perfect for Jay-Z fans as well as for those who enjoy a good business biography.

Poetry Man

by Melanie Schuster

Alexis Sharp has made a conscious decision to put all of her focus into raising her teenage daughter, running the business of her two beauty spas, and being a fitness volunteer. That is enough to keep a schedule full with no time leftover for a dating or social life. Also, finding your fiance in bed with another woman doesn’t help. She is encouraged by one of her girlfriends to create the kind of “grocery list” for a man that is so prevalent in romance novels and chick flicks.

The unfortunate event of a flat tire on the side of a rainy road leads to her meeting Jared VanBuren, an entrepreneur himself, in town to open a new restaurant. He shows his interest immediately, but because he is of a different race, Alexis is a little reluctant to pursue their attraction.

Warning: Any book title Poetry Man is going to contain some corny, predictable, poetic language that is difficult to ignore.

Triburbia

by Karl Taro Greenfield

Triburbia is another one of those novels set in the rapidly gentrifying neighborhoods of New York City where the incoming hipster set sometimes clashes with the “natives”. Usually they feature latte-sipping, stroller-pushing,  organic food-eating mothers lamenting the loss of their youth, careers, and independence. All of that appears here also, except the main characters are men.

A group of men with seemingly nothing in common form a sort of bond when they see each other everyday dropping off their children at school. They get together for breakfast afterwards in a coffee shop mainly for the companionship since most of the men are self-employed. Even though they go through this daily ritual, we get the feeling that they really don’t know each other well despite their need for this connection.

Told in the form of connected short stories (a popular tool in this genre), we see inside the lives of these men and the people around them that they are hesitant to share with each other. I don’t read a lot of literary fiction that center around men, so it was interesting to get insight into the various insecurities that these men carry.

Any Way You Want It

by Maureen Smith

Zandra Kennedy is facing the age old dilemma of seeing an old friend in a new light. Growing up, she spent a lot of time in the Brand household in order to escape the dysfunction in her own home and as a result has always seen Remington as a big brother of sorts. But a getaway to St. Lucia to celebrate the wedding of Remy’s twin brother, Roderick to Zandra’s friend and former employee, Lena, has forced her to realize their friendship may be changing.

Although Zandra has resigned to keep these feelings to herself, Remy has other plans for her, on & off the island. His plans are difficult to implement, however, when Zandra’s past has come back to haunt her and jeopardize her reputation and that of the high-end (legitimate) escort service that she has worked so hard to build.

Maureen Smith never disappoints me and this may be her steamiest yet. If you haven’t already, make sure to read Whatever You Like first to read Lena & Roderick’s story and to get more background on Zandra’s agency.

The Cutting Season

by Attica Locke

I really loved this layered mystery set in Louisiana. One morning while doing her standard walk around the grounds of the plantation she manages, Caren Gray is alerted to the fact that the body of a young woman has been discovered on the property.

Belle Vie is a former sugar plantation that has now morphed into a tourist site complete with historical reenactments in the former slave quarters. With the investigation of the murdered young woman, Caren is forced to confront her ties to the land, past (her ancestors were slaves there) and present.

A good mystery to me is one where the culprit is not immediately identifiable and that was certainly the case here. I also found the secondary plot line dealing with solving the murder of one of Caren’s ancestors equally as compelling. 

South by Southeast

A Tennyson Hardwick Novel

by Blair Underwood, Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes

One of my favorite things about this series is when it travels to different locales. Seeing Tennyson navigate and operate in unfamiliar surroundings, usually having no one to rely on but himself, makes each story richer and his character that much more complex. 

Tennyson Hardwick is an actor and a reluctant private investigator who winds up solving cases mainly to protect the ones he loves. In this installment, Ten in on location in Miami with a part in a movie being directed by Hollywood’s hottest director. He has brought his family along, his father Richard, Richard’s girlfriend/nurse Marcela, and Ten’s adpopted teenage daughter Chela, so they can have a much needed vacation while he works. 

Visiting Ten on set one day, Chela runs into an old friend, Maria, who convinces her to come out with her to a club that night. When Maria’s body later turns up washed up on shore, Chela convinces Ten to look into what happened to her. The resulting investigation leads us into surprising places with even more shocking results. 

This is one of the few series that actually get better with each book.