Tag Archives: Justine Davis

Re-Read Challenge: “The Return Of Luke McGuire” By Justine Davis

1 Oct


Info:Re-Read Challenge 2009
This month:Re-Read Challenge: September!

Davis, Justine - Return of Luke McGuire
GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Mills & Boon, Silhouette Sensation, 2001

AVAILABILITY: out of print

You always want…

Dark and dangerous Luke McGuire was everything shy Amelia Blair had been fascinated by as a girl but too terrified to go near. And now here she was, the only person in the whole town prepared to give him the time of day, caring enough to stand up for him…brave enough to get close.

What you can’t have

Luke knew that Amelia was off-limits. But, reformed or not, he’d never been able to abide by the rules. He only hoped that the quiet beauty would fall for the man he had become instead of the one he used to be.


The Return of Luke McGuire was the first category novel I ever read. This was back in 2002 and for a long time, this category novel stayed the only one. But I loved it enough and remembered it fondly enough that when I started to read category novels more regularly 1-2 years back, I bought and still buy novels by Davis even though they have a slight romantic suspense bend to it now.


The Return of Luke McGuire is one of those novels where the blurb doesn’t do the story justice. I know, this goes practically for nearly every romance novel, but I always think it especially annoying when 1) it can lead to slightly false assumptions about the story and 2) when the real story is so much more than what you would expect reading the blurb.

Yes, Amelia thinks of herself as quiet and unassuming. A mouse. But she’s determined to be the bravest mouse she could be. And as the story develops, she learns there are different kinds of strength and that perhaps hidden underneath her reserve there is a fire raging that would do her namesake Amelia Earhart justice. And yes, Amelia is drawn to Luke despite herself.

But Luke doesn’t think Amelia off-limits exactly. Sure, it’s present because he’s been the bad boy of the town and Amelia is the goody-goody girl of the town, but it’s not really as important between them as it might seem because of the back blurb. And well, Luke doesn’t see Amelia for the first time and thinks, “wow, but uhm, she’s off-limits.” His attraction is growing slowly and he starts to notice more and more things about her as he gets to know her better. He hesitates, yes, but not because he thinks himself not good enough for her or something like that.

The novel starts when Luke comes back to his home town because he received a letter from his younger brother David asking for help. Before this letter, there wasn’t actually any (real) contact between Luke and David. Luke left his home town the day after he graduated from high school and hasn’t regretted or looked back since then. Now David hopes he can come and live with Luke to escape their controlling and nasty mother, something Luke knows won’t be possible. So he isn’t sure if coming is the right move. Besides, he only has bad memories of the town and is glad he left all the nastiness he faced there behind.

But despite all of this, he does, and that is when he meets Amelia who’s a friend of David and owner of the town’s bookshop. David has acquired a worrisome set of friends trying to set off his mother and live up to his older brother’s bad boy reputation. Amelia and Luke’s concern for David brings them closer together. Without David, Amelia and Luke probably would never have talked to each other, at least not in Luke’s home town where just his being back brings out some of his old reactions to the way people treat him. They assume the worst of him because of his history and he doesn’t bother to show them he’d changed. But there is David. And trying to help David brings Amelia and Luke closer together, makes Amelia discover new things about herself, and makes Luke face his past and deal with it in a way so that he really can leave it all behind.

If there is one thing where this novel falters a bit it’s the way the villains are depicted. David’s nasty friends are up to some very bad things but I thought what they are willing to do in the end, though actually believable, still a bit out of nowhere. But more than that, I thought the people’s antagonism towards Luke slightly overdone. He did some cruel and bad things in his youth, yes, but that was nearly ten years ago. When he comes back, nobody (except Amelia of course) gives him the benefit of the doubt, they just assume the worst. Even more, they go and outright say it to him. I don’t know, I just thought that really rude and intolerant, and that everyone was like that was just a bit hard to believe. (To be fair, there is some change at the end with some people, but still.)

But that is just a very small complaint. The Return of Luke McGuire offers more than enough to make up for it. There’s the believable and slowly developing romance between two people who look like they have nothing in common and only meet because of special circumstances, Amelia and Luke. There’s the relationship between the brothers Luke and David that starts out with Luke as David’s hero for all the wrong reasons and that needs to adjust as the story and characters develop. There’s David’s struggle with growing up and finding his own way. There’s Luke’s struggle with his past and what his mother did to him (IMO the most important thread of the story). And there’s Amelia who makes all this possible and who discovers that maybe she was wrong to think of herself as a mouse.

Verdict: Despite my disbelief about the total rudeness of all people, 5/5.

February 2009

28 Feb

* * *Books* * *

Books bought / ordered: (most of them thanks to a gift certificate)
Tori Carrington – Restless
Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry
Kristin Hardy – Always Valentine’s Day; Her High-Stakes Playboy (2 in 1): Certified Male; U.S. Male
Larissa Ione – Desire Unchained
Carolyn Jewel – Scandal
Julie Anne Long – Like No Other Lover
Anne McCaffrey – The Rowan
Sophie Kinsella – Can You Keep a Secret?
Lisa Kleypas – Blue-Eyed Devil
Linnea Sinclair – Hope’s Folly
Anne Stuart – Cold As Ice; Ice Blue; Ice Strom; Fire and Ice
A. N. Wilson – The Victorians

Books read:
Connie Brockway – All Through the Night (TBR Challenge; 3,5/5)

davis-justine-backstreet-heroJustine Davis – Backstreet Hero
romantic suspense (“Redstone, Incorporated” series; #9)
Backstreet Hero is a solidly written story with likable characters and a romance between an older woman and a younger man. Because it’s in Silhouette’s romantic suspense line, there’s a mystery concerning attacks on the heroine. The hero is there as her bodyguard but they know each other for some years now because they both work at “Redstone, Incorporated” and the hero was half in love with the heroine from the moment he first saw her.
Only quibbles: the Redstone cheering was a bit much and I really would like to read a straight contemporary from Davis again because she’s good at writing believable relationships between characters with common sense. A decent read (3,5/5).

jewel-carolyn-scandalCarolyn Jewel – Scandal
I loved the first chapter and the story told in this novel. I loved the hero and I loved the heroine’s struggle with the question of “power.” I “loved” what happened with a secondary character because it was surprising and it definitely wasn’t what one would expect. And yet, this was all more a cerebral appreciation than an emotional one. I didn’t feel connected to the story and, at times, to the heroine. In light of that discrepancy (cerebral – emotional) I think that this is probably a case of it’s-not-the-book-it’s-me and I’ll probably need to read Scandal again to figure out what it’s going to be.

Sophie Kinsella – Can You Keep a Secret? (3,5/5)

Sophie Kinsella – Remember Me? (4/5)

Caroline Linden – What a Rogue Desires (3/5)

Kathleen O’Reilly – Nightcap (4/5)

Anne Stuart – Black Ice (5/5)

stuart-anne-cold-as-iceAnne Stuart – Cold As Ice
romantic suspense (“Ice” series, #2)
Cold as Ice started off strong. Although not as tightly written as Black Ice, I enjoyed reading it. I liked the hero’s and heroine’s interaction and I really liked that the heroine wasn’t floored the first time she saw the hero. It was only later, when the heroine edged too close to being stupid with her argumentative streak, that I lost some of my interest and Cold As Ice went from being a really good read to a good read. (4/5)

J. R. Ward – Lover Eternal (Re-Read Challenge; 4,5/5)

Favorite novel:
Anne Stuart – Black Ice

New-to-me authors: Sophie Kinsella, Carolyn Jewel

New-to-me authors I would read again: Sophie Kinsella, Carolyn Jewel

* * *Games* * *

Games bought:
Persona 3: FES

Games played:
Puzzle Quest (PS2)

Comments: Games
I’m stuck at one of those damn chase sequences in Prince of Persia: Warrior Within so this game didn’t get much playtime this month. I just can’t get the timing right to make it past that point in the game. Grrr. I mostly played Puzzle Quest.

Two category novels

9 Sep

I thought I would get around to write a longer comment about these two novels, but I’ve been dragging my feet about writing reviews lately. To get them out of the way, here’s a short version.

Justine Davis – Her Best Friend’s Husband

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Silhouette Romantic Suspense, 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked The Return of Luke McGuire and this one sounded interesting.

The back blurb:
“Gabriel Taggert. Former naval officer, man of honor – and her best friend’s husband. Cara Thrope’s feelings for the one man she could never have had always been her own shameful secret. And when her best friend disappeared without a trace, she lost them both. Until a postcard arrived, eight years late…

Receiving an eight-year old message from her best friend was disturbing enough. Now Cara had to face the man she’d quietly loved for years. Would teaming up with Gabe on a dangerous hunt for the truth jeopardize their own lives…and the chance for a future together?”

I really liked how Davis wrote Cara’s and Gabe’s love story. And she did it without making Hope, Gabe’s wife and Cara’s best friend, come across as an evil bitch. Instead, she shows that Cara and Gabe are a better fit (at least now) than Hope and Gabe, despite their intense attraction, ever were. So that was the highlight of the novel.

I didn’t like the way the mystery of Hope’s disappearance turned into something more because I thought the motivation behind it not strongly enough integrated into the story. It made the villain a cardboard psycho. But this part of the plot took center stage only later in the story. Most of the time, it’s about Gabe and Cara finding out what Hope did on the day she sent the postcard and what happened to her. And there’s the falling in love thing, of course.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.
Would I read this novel again? Probably Yes.
Grade: 4 – / 5

Kristin Hardy – Bad Influence

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Mills & Boon Blaze; 2008

WHY THIS NOVEL: I like Kristin Hardy’s novels

The back blurb:
“Interior designer and ambassador’s daughter Paige Favreau has never been what you’d call reckless, wild, or even mildly daring. Always the good girl, now Paige finally has something to go wild about – Zach Reed.

Zach: a hot guitar player whose every sensual word and movement are just the things Paige has stayed away from her entire life. But this time she can’t. And she won’t!”

I have the sneaking suspicion that this novel would have worked better for me if the hero wouldn’t have sported a mustache. Am I shallow or what? But because of that, it took some time before I was pulled in.

Paige and Zach meet in a hospital. Paige’s grandfather was in an accident. Zach’s there because his grandmother was in an accident. It turns out, it was the same accident and that they are neighbors. Zach’s grandmother now lives in the house Paige’s grandfather grew up in and she plans to turn part of it into a museum, a burlesque dance museum. Paige’s grandfather is quite enraged by this idea and while Paige and Zach sort this conflict out, they fall in love.

Paige and Zach are complete opposites in terms of their upbringing and their way of living (see the back blurb). But despite that, they are fiercely attracted to each other and they agree to have a fling for the time they stay with their grandparent. Things get more serious soon, and after a few weeks, they decide to move in together. Zach’s career is more than shaky at the moment and he thinks maybe it’s time to look for something steady. But it becomes clear that he hasn’t given up on his dream of becoming a really successful musician when he gets an offer for a new contract with a record company.

This part of the plot comes to the fore late even though the conflict lurks in the background throughout the whole story. I thought this part the most interesting because it was a real conflict between Paige and Zach. Before that, Paige had some reservations, soon dissolved, about having a fling with Zach, and the museum story line mostly concerned Paige’s grandfather and Zach’s grandmother. These parts were nice to read, there’s also Zach’s teasing of Paige as a “Wild Thing,” but I was invested the most when the story turned to Zach and what he wants to do with his life and what his way of living means for Paige’s and their relationship.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.
Would I read this novel again? Probably yes (the mustache thing)
Grade: 4 – / 5