Friday 12 September 2014

The Love and Games Series by Rachel Harris

The Love and Games series follows the stories of the Robicheaux siblings, Cane, Colby and Sherry, whose parents used to run a Cajun restaurant in Magnolia Springs, a small town close to New Orleans. Mrs Robicheaux died some years ago and Mr Robicheaux died more recently. Cane now runs the restaurant, and Sherry works there front of house. Colby is a chef, but she has moved to a different area. Here are my reviews of all three books!

Love and Games - Book Cover - Taste the Heat - Rachel Harris
The first book, Taste the Heat, introduces us to the family, specifically Colby, who is a chef in Vegas. She’s lived away from her hometown for over 12 years but she’s come back for 3 months to act as head chef in the family restaurant to help out her brother while he tries to hire a new chef. Colby used to be a real Daddy’s girl growing up but she had some illusions broken over a decade ago, and as a result she doesn’t trust men and has avoided trips back to her hometown. The avoidance even goes so far as avoiding the Cajun food she previously adored. The story opens with Colby judging a cooking competition for the local firestations. A few of the firemen are very attracted to her, including Jason, Colby’s brother’s best friend and a man who knew Colby all her life until her late teens.  Jason doesn’t even recognise her anymore but Colby wasn’t likely to forget the man she idolised back when she was a teenager.
“Any minute now, he’d figure it out. Cane had promised he’d stop by, and if seeing his best friend there didn’t clue Jason in, she was sure Mary would announce her name eventually. But until then, Colby figured she might as well have a little fun...for her young self’s sake of course.”
Fire chief Jason is a single dad with a 12 year old daughter, Emma. His life is pretty busy, as he is a committed parent in addition to firefighting and running a gym where he teaches self-defence classes when he is off shift at the fire station. Jason is a widower and he doesn’t think he’ll ever be likely to fall in love again, but he would consider remarrying to somebody who understands this, because although he’s done a good job of parenting so far he really feels that his daughter is missing out. He feels really attracted to Colby but he wouldn’t pursue anything with her because he can’t offer her love and he thinks that’s not fair to her. However, when he realises that Colby isn’t interested in anything more than a fling then it seems like they could come to an arrangement for the duration of her stay in town... until one of them realises they want more.

This was an easy reading book, I really enjoyed this author’s style. Colby was such a mess, she’d buried herself in work to prevent herself having to deal with the fallout of 12 years ago. Jason was a really sweet guy. I loved his efforts to help Colby rediscover the things from her youth that she’d cut out of her life, and he was endearingly out of his depth dealing with his daughter sometimes, such as when she started her periods and he tried to buy her sanitary products!

Colby’s relationship with Emma was very touching too. Emma was a pretty determined matchmaker, not only does she want her father to be happy but as an aspiring chef herself she has a bit of hero worship going on towards Colby, and Colby genuinely likes her in return. I loved the Cajun setting too although it made me pretty hungry as there is so much delicious-sounding food in this book!  The only thing I would have changed about this book is that it has a grand gesture at the end, which I always feel is a little clichéd, but all in all, it was a really enjoyable read. There are no graphic sex scenes, but things get quite hot and steamy and there is some occasional swearing in this book.

4 star read

Love and Games - Book Cover - Seven Day Fiance - Rachel Harris
The second book in the Love and Games series, Seven Day Fiancé sees hunkalicious Cane as part of a fundraising batchelor auction. The only person who he’d like to bid on him isn’t likely to – relative newcomer to Magnolia Springs Angelle Prejean really intrigues Cane. She isn’t interested in him at all, for one thing! Angelle is only too interested in Cane, but she’s keeping her distance from him because he has heartbreak written all over him. However, she’s got herself in a pickle – Angelle left her small town, where she was the overprotected ‘princess’ of the mayor when she turned down the marriage proposal of her childhood sweetheart. Angelle wanted to prove to herself that she could stand on her own two feet and so she left behind the life that had been mapped out for her and became a volunteer firefighter in Magnolia Springs. However, to stop her mother worrying she invented a pretend boyfriend... which became a pretend fiancé... that her family is now expecting to meet over Thanksgiving.

I can’t help myself, I love the fake fiancé trope and this is a pretty fresh take on it.  Cane has been affected by the same family fallout that caused such a wary attitude to love for his sister Colby, but he is certainly up for a little dalliance with the attractive Angelle, if only to get rid of this draw he feels towards her, and if he poses as her fiancé he’ll have a whole week to get through the defensive walls she has put up against him.

Cane has the appearance of a typical bad boy, he’s tattooed, rides a motorbike, etc, but he doesn’t necessarily fit in with all the stereotypes of his look unless you count a love of accounting and Sudoku as usual for a bad boy. On appearances, Cane has just the type of appearance that Angie’s family are likely to hate.  It doesn’t help his cause with her family, particularly as she left town hot on the heels of turning down an extremely public marriage proposal from the boyfriend her family adored.

Angelle was also non-sterotypical and was a mass of contradictions. She’s very feminine, yet she works in a male dominated world, being a firefighter. She’s tough and strong yet she’s so vulnerable. She exudes fragility, which people often respond to by wanting to protect her. However, Cane sees her more truly than many people who’ve known her all her life and respects her for her hidden strength:
“She’d been protected all her life, but it always made her feel less than. Like no one believed she was able to do things herself or saw her as a growing woman. But with cane, it was the exact opposite. With him, she was 100 percent woman, and when he stood up for her, it felt like support. Like caring.”
With a week to get through the visit, will Angelle and Cain manage to fool her family into believing in their engagement? With spending so much time together, is there a danger that they could become closer than either of them had bargained for.
The humour in this book was great, there were some lines that had me laughing aloud:
“Cane’s kisses were phenomenal. Better than chocolate, horses, and Channing Tatum rolled into one.”
4 star read

Love and Games - Book Cover - Accidentally Married on Purpose- Rachel Harris
The third book featuring the Robicheaux family, Accidentally Married on Purpose, focuses on the baby of the family, Sherry. Unlike her older siblings Sherry believes in love. She enters every relationship wholeheartedly, believing this will be forever. Unfortunately, Sherry doesn’t have the best taste, having either fallen for men who were only after flings or who cheated her. However, she is determined to turn her life around. Sherry has come up with a plan:
“Fall for someone boring.It was the solution to her heartache. Her desire to feel wooed and loved meant she always went for the exciting, mysterious types – only to find out later that those guys were mysterious for a reason. They were hiding another woman.”
But before she begins her search for Mr Boring, she’s promised herself one last fling and she has a good opportunity to do it – Robicheaux’s restaurant has got an order to provide catering to a show in Las Vegas for one of Country music’s hottest acts, Blue. Sherry has absolutely no interest in country music and she knows nothing about the band, but Las Vegas would be the perfect place for her to find a suitable man for a fling.

The band’s front man, Tyler Blue, is gorgeous and successful. He’s seen first hand from his father’s experience that love and music don’t mix and he’s determined to be a success musically so he’s happily single. He is getting grief from his PR people, who tell him that in a musical genre where so many of the songs are about love Blue is beginning to look like a fraud for being perpetually single. Fed up of being harangued for something he has no intention of changing, Tyler goes to grab himself some food from the buffet, and finds himself face to face with a gorgeous brunette. He realises two things. Firstly, the attraction he is feeling is reciprocated. Secondly, the brunette doesn’t recognise him, mistaking him for a roadie. Being liked solely for his fame is something Tyler is unfortunately getting used to, so it’s an attractive idea to spend some time with somebody who doesn’t want anything from him, and he fully intends to correct her misunderstanding of who he is before anything happens between them. Sherry is thrilled to have found the right man for her fling:
“If a life with Mr. Boring and Dependable was to be her destiny, then a lust-filled weekend with Tyler-the-hunkalicious-roadie would surely fuel her fantasies for the next fifty years. Or longer.”
After an amazing, day-long date, the two of them hit the casino. Tyler wakes up in bed wearing a wedding band and having flashbacks, while poor Sherry wakes up nude in the bathroom, having adjourned there with some boozy sickness:
“Sherry raised her eyes to her reflection.
“What the freaking hell?!?
She was wearing a wedding veil. 
A wedding veil was on her head. It was white. It had lace. And it was on her freaking head.
She didn’t have single stitch of clothing on her body otherwise, but she did have that.”
Now I know this is a bit clichéd but I always enjoy a story involving a mistaken wedding! As far as I know (from what I saw in the news when Britney Spears got married in Las Vegas!) you need a marriage licence to get married in Las Vegas and it isn’t actually possible just to turn up somewhere and get married, but it’s an entertaining concept so I put that thought aside!

Both Sherry and Tyler agree to end the marriage – she needs to get on with her life plan and find Mr. Boring and Tyler is going to get on with his life, but somehow the news gets out. Tyler has been persuaded by his ‘people’ that a marriage would take the heat off his career. Sherry doesn’t want to be seen as a joke. She thinks it’s preferable for people to believe that she has married in an impulsive whirlwind romance rather than in a drunken haze, so they agree, Tyler can stay with her for a month and then he’ll be touring anyway so the marriage can peter out, with his touring schedule being the reason for their break up. Sherry has some ground rules though. Firstly, she wants to get full benefit from this sham marriage, which means she wants to be wooed and treated, for once, like she’s adored. Secondly, there will be no sex. The weekend with Tyler is the first time Sherry has ever attempted a fling, she’s only ever had relationships in the hope they’d become something more and if their relationship is physical she worries that she will come to feel more for him than she should. How will Sherry manage to keep her heart after intact being wooed for a whole month? And how will she know what’s real and what’s just for show?

I so enjoyed this romance. The characters in the other books in this series are likeable but Sherry is just adorable! She is funny, and generous and really loveable. Since she was protected by her family from knowing the secret regarding their parents Sherry is much less cynical regarding love, which is ironic, as she has less luck in love than any of them, throwing herself full into relationships with guys who have never proved to be worth it. Tyler is very sweet too, living his dream for both himself and his father and never questioning whether it is possible to compromise.  I also enjoyed the fact that Sherry didn’t passively sit back and wait for things to happen, she was a modern woman and willing to go for things. I’d rate this book as 4 stars.

4 star read

For all three of these books there are no sex scenes. There is some swearing, particularly in the second book.

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