Cinderella For a Night

Delicious

Dream Groom

Irresistible

Living On the Edge

The Marcelli Bride

Prince Charming, M. D.

Prodigal Son

Quinn's Woman

The Rancher Next Door

The Sheik's Kidnapped Bride

Sizzling

The Summer House

Sweet Spot

Sweet Success

Sweet Talk

Tempting

The Wedding Ring Promise

Wife in Disguise

Wild West Wife
 

 
Lip Service by Susan Mallery
(HQN, $7.99, PG)  ISBN 978-0373-77372-5
***
Lip Service is a book that at times captures you in its pages and keeps the world at bay.  The “at times” is the most important part of the previous sentence, because there are other times when I was cringing at the characters and hating what they were doing.  During those times, I questioned why I even liked the book at all. 

Second in a series about the Titan daughters, this story puts second daughter Skye in the spotlight.  Lexi was featured in the first story and Izzy (despite playing a prominent part in this story) is still to come.  Skye has always been the good girl, the one who listened to her father, powerful Jed Titan, and bowed to his wishes.  In fact, she gave up the love of her life, Mitch Cassidy, to marry an older man handpicked by her father.  She never felt passionate about Ray, but she did ultimately love him and has her eight-year-old daughter Erin to show for it. When Ray died, she did mourn him. But she has since moved on with her life, using her inheritance from her deceased mother to start a foundation that feeds the hungry children in America.  She knows she hurt Mitch Cassidy when she made that choice, but was actually protecting him when her father offered her an ultimatum to follow his wishes or see Mitch and his family ruined.

Mitch never knew about the threat; all he knew was that Skye accepted his marriage proposal one day and threw his ring back at him the next.  He left his ranch in the hands of his manager and his wife, Arturo and Fidela, who were like parents to him, and joined the service.  He became a Navy SEAL and loved doing it. He never forgot Skye, but he made new friends and felt like he was accomplishing something. Mitch is returning to the ranch a different man, both physically and emotionally. He lost part of his leg and has a temporary prosthesis. He has work to do to build the muscle and strength to get a permanent one. But Mitch is also angry at the world, feeling put out and guilty and a whole slew of other emotions.

Mitch and Skye start off their reunion by having lust-filled, angry sex out on the range. They yell and fight and hurt each other, but can’t keep from consummating something that was never settled nine years ago. The first fight is about whether Erin is really Mitch’s child.  The second, third and fourth are about a myriad of other issues, all of which result in trading insults, hurling angry refrains and a few times, end in a wild coupling. How they are ever going to live in the same town is one of the things neither can figure out yet.

Complications arise when it looks like someone is out to ruin the Titan family.  A further complication occurs when Jed throws a new man at Skye, telling her to marry another associate, who happens to also be attracted to Izzy.

Mitch and Skye are both wounded warriors.  Skye has scars from finding her mother with her wrists slit.  She is also feeling guilt from how she treated Mitch both now and in the past while she and Izzy fight about who can attract men.  Mitch meanwhile is a man with a major chip on his shoulder who seems to take it out on everyone he touches.  Most of the tale was predictable and at times, almost saccharine in how things are resolved.  Yet, at times, particularly once Mitch gets his head on straight, he steals the show and really acts like the man many people think he could be. His transformation seems real and is the best part of the story.

Lip Service is a mixed bag of good and bad.  It was acceptable but not much more. 

--Shirley Lyons


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