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mlleelizabeth

Liz Loves Books

I love to read and to talk about books. I review many of the books I read. I do not accept any author/publisher submissions for reviews. I do not read or review ARCs. I do not enter any giveaways or contests. I obtain the books I review by purchasing them at the same price they are offered to the general public at the time of purchase. My reviews are intended for the use of my fellow readers. They are not advertising or promotion. They are not beta reads or constructive criticism or editing or advice to the author. My only obligation to the author is to pay the price charged for the book at the time of purchase. My reviews are sometimes critical and I will not stop posting critical reviews just to spare delicate authors' feelings. I am happy to make new friends, but friend requests from authors or promoters who have few or no books (and/or friends) in common with me and write or promote categories I do not read (especially new adult) will be ignored. I used to read more self-published books. After recent meltdowns by self-published authors, I now only read self-published authors I've previously read or who have been recommended to me by fellow readers I trust. I also used to read young adult/new adult books but rarely do so now.

The Vineyard of Hopes and Dreams - Kathleen O'Brien (If you prefer to read series books in order, please see the end of this review!)Set in a small town in the Sonoma Valley, The Vineyard of Hopes and Dreams is heartfelt and full of atmosphere, though it is a tiny bit melodramatic. The melodrama is to be expected from the Harlequin line and it's not over-powering here. It is a second-chance romance with now grown former high-school sweethearts whose breakup was very painful for the heroine, both emotionally and physically. It is often sad, sometimes eerie and always had me involved emotionally with the characters, setting and story. The story is a little more complex than the standard Harlequin (which is generally true of the SuperRomance line) and there was considerable character development and growth, especially for the hero, throughout the book. There is a little suspense plot that I felt was not entirely necessary, but the villain of that does provide something of a foil for the hero, which makes it a little more than just a contrivance to bring about the ending. The adult secondary characters are also quite well developed and interesting (though see below regarding this book's status as part of a series). They feel very real with strengths and flaws and genuine personalities. There are some non-annoying child characters as well. I enjoyed this book a lot. The setting, the Halloween season, the interesting and well-developed characters and a plot that flows naturally and left me feeling good all made this a keeper for me. The heroine is never a doormat, nor has she sat pining for the hero for years and years. The hero is a jerk as a teenager, but has grown considerably since then and continues to grow throughout this book. Their difficulties are solved mainly through talking things out and finally acting like adults (though the suspense plot plays a small part). As a result, their HEA feels real and lasting. Now a litte important administrativa: The Vineyard of Hopes and Dreams is the fourth book in a series of Harlequin SuperRomances by Kathleen O'Brien about the Malone family and their friend, David Gerard. I had some difficulty finding this information as it is not to be found on goodreads, Amazon, Shelfari or even the Harlequin website. The author's website lists these books but does not contain information on series or book order, other than a very out of date "what's next" page that lists three of the books in this series, leaves out David's book entirely and mistakenly shows David as the hero of Matt's book. I have never found an official list of the books in order. It's all very confusing, especially to anal-retentive completists like myself. It also makes some difference with regard to character development, and I wish I had not read the fourth book first. I found information regarding one of the other three books at the end of this fourth book, and that led me to the rest.The books in this series in order of publication date are:1) 10/01/09 For the Love of Family (Matt Malone)2) 10/04/11 For Their Baby (David Gerard)3) 11/29/11 The Cost of Silence (Red Malone)