Thursday 11 December 2014

The McCullough Mountain Series by Lydia Michaels (Books 1-6) ~#bookreviews

It has been a long time since I read a series that I couldn't put down.  The moment I started this series I devoured it and LOVED every single one.  Trying to think back the last time this happened and oddly enough it was another Lydia Michael series ~ The Surrender Trilogy.  Lydia Michaels has such a gift a keeping you emotional captivated and getting lost in the story.  The McCullogh's are such a real family warts and all.  They aren't perfect nor broken, they just are real with real life problems that makes you fall for all of them because you can relate to their pain and tribulations.  The Series as a whole I would give 4.5 Amazing Thumbs up!  It will be one of those series that stays in your heart way after you are done with the series.  I know there will be book 7 from where it all started with Frank and Maureen but my fingers are crossed that we get to experience more from this amazing family with maybe the cousins Ryan and Pat???
Sacred Waters (McCullough Mountain #1)


Colin McCullough has always known the path his life would take and at summer’s end he will finally make his Holy Orders. But what should have been a relaxing summer in the mountains with his large Irish family turns into an interlude plagued with temptation the moment his brother brings home the enchanting Samantha Dougherty.

When Samantha agrees to spend her summer break with Braydon McCullough she soon realizes his intentions are not what they seemed. While coping with Braydon’s assumptions that they are in a relationship, Samantha’s vacation only becomes more complicated when she meets his older brother, Colin, the soon to be priest! What was intended to be a peaceful holiday turns into an unforgettable experience of loyalty, lust, sacrifice, courage, and love.

Source: eARC for Honest Review Courtesy of Author and Secret Cravings Publishing 
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Part 1 in an amazing series 

My Sacred Waters Review ...

I thought I would just be able to pick up this book and read of chapters then go to bed, but then I couldn't put it down and found myself up all night reading this book and then the whole series for the next few days. 

Here we have one of the McCulloghs, Brayden who brings home a girl who he happens to think is in a serious relationship, but this girl, Sammy thinks it really is just friends but decides to go home with him anyways.  As she's up in the mountain with the McCulloughs she literally walks into Colin one of Brayden's many siblings.  For Sammy seeing Colin, it was lust at first site, but left her confused because she should have more feelings for Brayden. 

Colin McCullough knows what he wants and that is giving himself and love to god and the catholic church.  Since he has been a kid after reading one quote he knew where his life was going to take him.  He never had any interest in females until Sammy walks into the bathroom unannounced.  
'It becomes like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones: I grow weary of holding it in.'  

Instantly he is attracted to Sammy, but it left him very confused, as it stirs emotions inside that he didn't even know he had.  The more Sammy and Colin hang out they more they fall for each other.  As their friendship escalates you feel their inner conflicts especially Colin's.   The more conflict and feeling causes both of them to act on their new feelings.   

For Colin even though this is new and he has fallen in love for the first time, it doesn't mean he is going to change his plan for his future with God.  Sammy knows that Colin will chose the church over her but she still acts on her love.   For these two maybe fate has a different plan then they both thought.  

Sammy and Colin's joining brings so much more than conflicted emotions and heartache.   Both Colin and Sammy have to deal with their choices and try to move forward in life but in the end their paths are meant to cross and bring them together.   The same quote that made Colin love God and his journey with the church is also the same one that now freed him to love and cherish Sammy. 
'It becomes like a fire burning in my heart, imprisoned in my bones: I grow weary of holding it in.' 

This book, captures the chaotic family dynamics, with the conflict and angst for all involved that you can't put the book down and start to fall in love with the whole family. 

4.5 Sacred Thumbs up!
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Skin (McCullough Mountain #2)


When Finnegan McCullough gets a flat tire he bumps into a woman he’s never seen before. After a stern lecture on trespassing, he offers her a ride and a friendship takes shape. Mallory Fenton is unlike any girl he’s ever met. She’s funny, sexy as hell, and sweet as pie, but she doesn’t see herself that way.

After literally crashing into Finnegan McCullough, Mallory is a hot, tongue-tied,mess. A true lumberjack, he wears his flannel well and possesses the sexiest smile she’s ever had thrown her way. Unfortunately, men like that don’t look at girls like her. When Finn confesses his desire to be more than friends, Mallory is shocked. After years of being the ‘fat girl’ she knows better than to believe a man like Finn could ever find her attractive. But she’s gotten under his skin and Finn is determined to show Mallory how beautiful she truly is.

A realistic and heartwarming romance that proves love and beauty come in all shapes and sizes.

Source: eARC for Honest Review Courtesy of Author and Secret Cravings Publishing 
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Book 2 in an amazing series

My Skin Review ...

After falling in love with the McCulloughs I couldn't wait to read more.  For this book it resonated well with me as I suffer from many similar issues that the heroine Mallory suffers from which made it so much more real for me.

For Finn being one of the McCullogh twins, he has huge expectations on him to take over the family business.  Coming from a big family, he also wants a family but doesn't want to let anyone down and sometimes he feels can't make choices for himself.  For the last ten years he has been in a relationship that should move to the next level but they're too busy breaking up and getting back together.

After his truck breaks down he comes across some heavy breathing from the forest and is very surprised to see a voluptuous woman running from the trails right into Finn.  Finn being the friendly guy befriends Mallory and takes her home as she's lost.  For Mallory, she has always been bigger and thanks to her friends, past and Dr. she flees to a new life where she can start over and embrace health and fitness.  What better place then this little town, where she can start her new job and enjoy the outdoors.  As she runs smack into Finn all her insecurities come to full force with self doubt that someone as good looking as Finn would ever pay her any attention.

Thankfully in this small town she keeps running into Finn where he takes her under his wing and brings her into the fold with this family and becomes friends with her.   As their friendship blossoms so do Mallory's insecurities and her feelings for Finn.   For Finn, there is something about Mallory that he likes hanging out with and the fact that she has such ease with her family compared to his stick up the ass girlfriend Erin.    After finally seeing the light, him and Erin finally part company leaving Finn the chance to move to bigger and better pastures with Mallory.

Mallory can't trust in Finn's new feelings but wants to give in anyways.   It is not an easy journey for these two but Finn has to get Mallory to love herself so they can move forward with their relationship.  The more Finn loves Mallory, the more Mallory finally starts to believe in herself and be happy in her own skin which in turn leads to their happiness.  I so fell in love with Finn and how he loved Mallory fiercely for who she was and only loved her harder and supported her during her self journey.  They were perfect together and I couldn't have been happier with this amazing duo and family.

4.5 Skinned Thumbs up!
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Chaste (McCullough Mountain #3)


Kelly McCullough has always gotten every woman he’s wanted. Of all the McCullough men, his charm and magnetism is unmatched. However, there is one woman he cannot have.

Ashlynn Fisher is everything Kelly McCullough is not. She is quiet, shy, and—above all—virginal. After losing her heart to Kelly in grade school, no other man compares. Paths cross and temperance is put to the test when Ashlynn decides it’s time for her to find love. Kelly offers Center County’s sweetest brown-eyed girl all the guidance he can, but finds himself in a situation he never expected to face. Through chaste kisses and stolen secrets, his virility is tested and he must learn what love truly means as his selfish ways are transformed in the face of a selfless need to give her everything she wants.

Source: eARC for Honest Review Courtesy of Author and Secret Cravings Publishing 
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Book 3 in an amazing series 

My Chaste Review ...

Our favorite playboy Kelly, finally finds out what it means to love and be loved.  Kelly has always seen what love can do, but he lived up to everyone's low expectations, so he didn't thing that he deserved love or if it was in the equation for him.  Thankfully our chaste Ashlynn has always seen something special in our fun loving misunderstood Kelly.
" ... The trick is to find someone who sees the light in you even during life's darkest moments.  That's what real love is."
Kelly is intrigued by Ashlynn, but would never take away from her the gift that she is saving for her husband, but he sure wants to though.  Kelly has always known that Ashlynn has had a crush on him but the minute she starts to move on, he finds that he doesn't like that.  After realizing what he may lose, he starts to show up in Ashlynn's life, which shakes up her world and causes her to doubt some of her beliefs.   Even though Kelly may be her temptation, he has too many personal demons to really commit to more than she needs.

As both Ash and Kelly try to move on they find that they can't and Ashlynn convinces Kelly that he is so much more than he really is, which he finally starts to believe.   Even though Kelly makes the jump to being a husband their HEA is far from near.  They are both such independent spirits and need to find a balance and compromise to make it work for the two of them especially since they are both from such different worlds.
You and I have different ideals, because you'll always use the physical to push away the emotional.  But I saw through you, Kelly.
As they start to find balance, Kelly is faced with more fears and self doubt that causes him to push away his happiness.  Now forced to deal with his own issues, they start to move forward and make decisions together but for Kelly his new choices are all cemented when he is faced with losing everything that he now knows he deserves and wants.

Ugh! I so love this series and this book. Their stories and tribulations are so real and heart wrenching.  Lydia Michaels has such a gift at making you encaptured into their world and believing everything that is happening to this family even when you think that some couples wouldn't normally work but with this series every couple is such a perfect fit.

4. 5 Not so Chaste anymore thumbs up!
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Faking It (McCullough Mountain #4)

Sheilagh McCullough has been pretending to be someone else her entire life. When she takes her rebellious act too far, her overbearing brothers decide it’s time for her to grow up and face her future. After six years of procrastination and parties, Sheilagh is finally going to college.

Dr. Alec Devereux is an ethical man, but when Sheilagh McCullough enrolls in his class, his morals as a professor are put to the test. Brilliant, tenacious, and a contradiction to herself in so many ways, Alec is enchanted by his new student and unable to resist temptation. Persistent and logical, Alec unravels the mysterious woman who has captured his heart only to discover the greatest threat to their future might be her past.

A courageous journey of the soul that confronts one woman’s fears of love and embraces the truth in her heart.

Source: eARC for Honest Review Courtesy of Author and Secret Cravings Publishing 
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Book 4 in an amazing series 

My Faking it Review ...

I have to admit I was worried with this book because the growth of Sheilagh was not happening in a positive light, so I thought 'oh no, not another whiny heroine' but instead you got to realize why Sheilagh was they way she was and you felt her pain and angst instead of getting frustrated with her.

Growing up with the McCullough's Sheilagh had to be fierce and strong but she also had many inner demons hidden from her family which caused her to make poor decisions, until one professor opens up her eyes to so much more.

Alec, has never seen such a promising student but he also sees someone who can't open up into herself and be what she can be.  After she drops out of his class he should have let her go but instead he jumped deeper into finding out more about her.  The more he found out the more he wanted from her.   As Sheilagh battles with her whiny neighbor and her new feelings for this wise sexy older man she also deals with the pressures from home after the consequences for some of her past choices.

Alec is enamored with Sheilagh and sees more to her reluctant ways to change.  For the first time someone actually sees the real her instead of what she portrays what she wants others to see.  For Sheilagh, having someone see the real her is a large pill to swallow but with the help of Alec, she becomes comfortable in her skin and starts to love her self enough to let Alec in.

They may have been many years apart but they were so perfectly suited for one another.  At first the McCullough boys tried to put up a fight but Alec has the power of words behind him that they had no choice but to welcome him to their family.  :)

4.5  'I see the real you' thumbs up!
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Forsaking Truth (McCullough Mountain #5)


When Luke McCullough’s athletic potential is diminished by a field injury, his pride pays the price. Returned to Center County a broken man, the long road to recovery seems dreary and overshadowed by opportunities lost, until he meets Tristan Hughes.

Tristan came to Center County to escape his past and start anew, but nothing prepared him for Luke. Intrigued, Tristan cautiously gets to know this powerful man, only to fall head over heels for the vulnerable soul hiding behind all that intensity and drive.

Luke has never been interested in men, so when he can’t get Tristan out of his head he doubles his efforts to fight the inevitable. Stolen glances lead to heated encounters, followed by punishing regret, but Luke’s inability to face the truth of who he really is may cost him the only happiness he’s ever known.

Source: eARC for Honest Review Courtesy of Author and Secret Cravings Publishing 
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Book 5 in an amazing series 

My Forsaking Truth Review ... 

FINALLY!  Throughout the whole series there has been a build up with Luke and Tristan and here we finally get to see behind their very beautiful and trying relationship. As well as this book has two of my favorite themes: friends to lovers and straight to gay. 

Luke is a McCullough but he was also the shining star until his knee went out with all his dreams.  Now back home, he is bitter and resentful and is taking it out on the McCulloughs.  It was easier to lash out that accept defeat.  Luke's cousin comes home from college with a best friend named Tristan who also will be the new employee to the logging company.

For some reason, Luke is drawn to Tristan but can't figure out why.  The two of them spark up an easy banter and friendship which starts to make Luke happy and also confuses the ever living shit out of him.  After getting mixed signals Tristan makes a move which both excites and repels Luke.

These new feelings startle Luke but make him want different things for a change.  Giving in to Tristan was easy but coming out is harder.  For Tristan and Luke from the beginning they have conflict with Luke's little sister Sheilagh falling for Tristan and catching them only made Luke uneasier with this situation.

Tristan is such a stand up guy and is ok with being Luke's secret because he loves Luke, but this secret is causing a rift between the two.   So Tristan patiently supports Luke for six years in secret. SIX YEARS!! Yikes! Poor Luke and Tristan have to go through so much with Luke's many demons,  to only find out that with the McCulloughs there were no obstacles only love and acceptance, but it is a small ignorant town and not everyone is as accepting.

Luke has to man up or lose his heart before it is too late.  This story by far was my favorite. It was beautiful and heart wrenching where we feel everything that these poor men are going through.  Their trials and tribulations broke my heart.  You get your heart ripped out a time or two but thankfully it also swells and blossoms for these two beautiful men.  *sigh*

5 Heartbreaking Thumbs up!
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As Tears Go By (McCullough Mountain #6)

Sometimes love speaks without a word and throws the world into color.

Braydon McCullough has spent his life searching for the perfect woman. When a shy beauty propositions him, he assumes he’s found her. Blindsided by their chemistry, his life takes a bewildering turn when she vanishes as quickly as she appeared.

Becca Stevens can’t afford to take risks, but when persuaded by friends to commemorate her divorce by approaching a gorgeous stranger in a bar, common sense abandons her. After an unforgettable night of passion, she panics, running back to her methodical life, promising never to be so reckless again. That is until her Braydon unexpectedly tracks her down.

Braydon’s unwelcome persistence is a complication to Becca’s already challenging life. As a single mother of a son living with autism, she has no room for personal affairs. Braydon’s determination tempts to show Becca how vibrant life can be if she’d only dare to dream again.

Source: eARC for Honest Review Courtesy of Author and Secret Cravings Publishing 
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Book 6 in an amazing series 

My As Tears Go By Review ...

Well this book finally comes full circle with the golden child Braydon.  I wasn't sure who in the end would win Braydon's heart but in the end it couldn't have been any more perfect for him and this family.

Braydon has always looked for perfection so why not have the perfect partner.  The problem is that all those girls are great on paper but not in real life.  Since he can't find his elusive perfect he dabbles with relationships like with his boss, until a proposition of a one night stand no strings attached changes his life.

Becca, just finalized her divorced and her best friend forces her to live a little for herself for once and have a nice fling.  After picking up this golden haired stranger and proposing one night, she has a moment of surrender and happiness but the moment it is done she has to return to her real life which is full of responsibility and no time for relationships.

As luck would have it, their paths cross again but Becca keeps trying to keep Braydon away but he is persistent, even after Braydon finds out that with Becca she comes up with a bigger package. Braydon has always been more about himself and does what is easier so committing to Becca and her son is not his normal pattern, but there is something different about Becca that he feels is worth the risk.

Becca is scared to have this relationship but Braydon makes her feel alive for the first time ever, unfortunately though she has her own baggage with a self defeating sense of failure for her lost marriage. 
"Becca, I'm not afraid of commitment. Nor am I afraid of your circumstances. Stop expecting me to bolt at the first glimpse of chaos. I was raised in chaos."
As Braydon , Becca and Hunter try to make it work, Becca's past and insecurities are put the test while putting poor Braydon through the ringer.  Even though I loved this book and the series, Becca's issues drove me the most crazy, since I don't have kids I couldn't relate to her struggles in the end.  I got them I just didn't fully get the conflict or her waivering.  I'm sure if I was a mother and a divorcee then I would have different feelings towards this but since I am neither it made it a bit more hard to relate to.

Thankfully Braydon won't settle for anything less then what he wants.  So he builds his future and hopes that it works out for the best.  In this book so many elements come to close beautifully and with the help of Becca's crazy friends, Hunter and the McCulloughs they make Becca and Braydon see what they truly need which is ... each other.

Great book! Amazing Series.

4.5 Compassionate Thumbs up!
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