Sandy M’s review of The Buchanan Family Series by Susan Mallery
Contemporary Romances published by HQN Books
Hello, everyone! And welcome to our first Duckies Do Series review!
I’ve had this series in that big old TBR mountain, as ya’ll called it, for a while now. I recently ran across an excerpt from the last book, Tempting, and really liked it, so I had that on my mind when thinking about which series to start with and I think I made a pretty darned good choice.
This series is so much fun! I had hoped after finishing the first book that the rest of the series would keep the same pace, the same wit, the same fun, and the same romance. I was not disappointed one bit! I laughed quite a bit with each book. I didn’t cry until the third book, but once the tears started flowing they didn’t want to stop. I’m a sucker for books about brothers, so that’s the one of the primary reasons I wanted to read these books, and I figured I’d like them anyway just because of the author. I had no idea I would enjoy them this darned much. So read on and find out about this wonderful family.
Delicious (The Buchanans, Book 1)
Released 1 Feb 06
I like the storyline of second chance at love in this first book of the series. And even though that’s not what Cal and Penny were looking for when he asks her to help him turn around one of their family restaurants, that’s exactly what they get, and I had such a great time going along for the ride with them.
At first Penny is out for revenge. It’s been three years since their divorce and they haven’t seen each other in the intervening time. So to get in a little punch of her own, Penny is determined to get the max out Cal in his offer for her services as head chef at The Waterfront, one of the four Buchanan restaurants. She gets what she wants and needs to open her own place down the road.
Once she’s on board, after all the negotiating and all the initial problems of getting the restaurant up and running — and there are some problems! — and they open the doors for business, Penny and her menu are a huge hit. The place is packed every night. During all of this, Cal and Penny start to become friends. They still have their ups and downs, especially when he finds out she’s pregnant, but for the most part things go along quite smoothly, even despite the growing heat between them.
It’s at this point that we begin to find out the same time Penny does why Cal let her and their marriage go the first time around. The answers she gets are quite enlightening, but it still hurts, even after all this time, that he didn’t go after her when she left, especially when she left only to see if he would go after her, to see how much he loved her. Now, knowing all of his secrets sets them on a different course and they’re beginning to experience renewed feelings for one another. Cal begins to understand his behavior better once he is able to truly face his past, and what an emotional moment that is. His secret hits both him and Penny square on and finally their past becomes clearer and their new feelings for each other blossom and it all gets easier to forgive and love.
This is a great start to the series. We meet the entire Buchanan family and we see how they support and love one another, even despite the machinations of the matriarch, their grandmother, Gloria. Heavens, what a character she is, mean and spiteful. I liked the fact that Penny kept her friendship with Cal’s brothers going after their divorce and even though Reid and Walker want to support Cal, they also call him on the carpet and let him have it when he hurts Penny. You have to love an honorable man when he fesses up and puts his faith in the woman he loves. We’re also set up just beautifully for each book in the series with everything we read here.
Welcome to the world of the Buchanans. This is a four book single title series set in Seattle. I’ve done wine and cake, so now I’m moving into the world of Restaurants.
Appetizers – Cal Buchanan needs a top-flight chef to take over his failing Seattle restaurant, The Waterfront. He can afford to hire the best in town — the only problem is that the best happens to be his ex-wife, Penny Jackson.
Entree – Penny really needs this opportunity, but she doesn’t need the distraction of working with her ex. She’s sworn off romance — she’s even having a baby on her own. But before she knows it, the heat is on … and the attraction between her and Cal moves from a low simmer to full boil!
Dessert – The rest should be easy as pie, but a secret from Cal’s past could spoil everything. Maybe it’s true that too many cooks spoil the broth — or maybe two is enough to make it irresistible.
Read an excerpt of Delicious here.
Irresistible (The Buchanans, Book 2)
released 1 Jul 06
Walker is the Buchanan we know the least about. He has just come home, retired from the Marines, in Delicious when we first meet him. Even once he meets Elissa in his own book, it still takes a while to get through his I-want-to-be-left-alone facade. He’s rented an apartment in a part of town where he doesn’t know anyone. He doesn’t want to get involved in anything at all until he decides what he really wants to do and until he delivers a letter he wrote for a Marine buddy who died in his arms. There’s a lot of guilt built up in Walker and it takes not only the right woman to begin breaking away all that stoically built-up emotion but also the sweetest and most engaging little girl Walker has ever met.
Elissa hasn’t had the best in her life since she ran away from home at the age of seventeen. She went from job to job and got involved with the wrong men, one of which fathered her daughter Zoe. Being pregnant is what brought her back home, but she found out her parents wanted nothing to do with her and she’s been on her own scrapping by but happy with Zoe ever since. She’s independent and will be beholding to no one, not even the handsome man upstairs who keeps coming to her rescue. She’s determined to make a good life for Zoe and that means no men and no sex until her daughter turns eighteen.
It’s going to be thirteen long years for Elissa, but she’s willing to make the sacrifice. But the budding attraction between Elissa and Walker won’t let either of them be. He keeps rescuing her and she keeps cooking for him as payment for his good deeds. They want each other, but they keep those wants at bay for so long, even when being pushed along by Mrs. Ford, the spry, elderly lady who lives next door to Elissa, that explosions galore erupt when their lovemaking comes to fruition.
And when that happens, they each think it’s only going to be the one time. But as they deal with the hardest thing life has to throw at them so far, they begin to look past all the little stuff and finally see each other and what they have to offer their relationship. Zoe is a wonderful catalyst for Walker to realize he has something to offer not only Elissa but Zoe as well — he has the capacity to love. There’s a beautiful scene between the two of them talking about what makes a daddy. Again, the Buchanans are in this book full force, banding together when needed. That’s really brought home to the reader in a scene when Walker’s brother Reid tells Elissa, while she’s in the hospital, they’re all there for her because she’s Walker’s girl. That’s all the family needs to know to give their support to her.
When ex-marine Walker Buchanan stops to help Elissa Towers change a tire, he tells himself it’s just the neighborly thing to do. And when Elissa finds herself baking him a thank-you pie, she’s just returning the favor…right?
Both of them have sworn off dating–Elissa’s determined to protect her little girl, and that means ditching her taste for dangerous men…especially former marines with dark secrets. Walker knows he’s not cut out for hearth and home…his own crazy family made sure of that. But the sparks won’t stop flying.
Now the two of them are struggling to keep their relationship “just friends,” but with every kiss, their rules fly out the window.
Read an excerpt of Irresistible here.
Sizzling (The Buchanans, Book 3)
Released 1 Jan 07
Ah, I love a good story about the arrogant hero getting his comeuppance. But even though Reid is a little full of himself and you snicker at his embarrassment when his sexual prowess is questioned in the local newspaper and then nationally, you end up loving his character even more when he lays low to let the news blow over and in the process finds out what has been done in his name by his so-called people, the ones working for him who are supposed to be on his side and make him look good. Because under all that swagger and arrogance, Reid is a good man.
He took a hit when he blew out his shoulder and had to retire from his baseball career. He just seemed to exist after that. He didn’t really live, even though his lifestyle made it seem like he did. He didn’t even know he was missing something in his life. He keeps telling his brothers and sisters that he’s happy bed hopping, having a girl on each arm all the time. Why settle for one woman when he can have a smorgasbord? Reid is likeable in the playboy kind of way and he loves his family, would do anything for them. Just don’t tell him not to love his ladies. But he turns into an even better man when he begins to right the wrongs his agent and other folks did while representing Reid during his career.
Lori is a home health nurse and has been hired by Reid to take care of his grandmother who’s just out of the hospital and is still incapacitated with a broken hip. She’d been warned what a piece of work Gloria Buchanan is, but Lori has enough experience with older patients, especially those whose family never bothers to visit to see how they’re doing. Lori doesn’t let Gloria get away with anything, calls her on every insult, every mean thing she does.
Little by little Lori becomes a miracle worker when the family realizes that Gloria truly has changed her ways. In between all this, Lori has to fight her attraction to Reid. She knows he’d never look at a woman like her, not being long-legged and blonde, but that doesn’t stop her heart from wanting him. When she finally realizes that he is interested, she’s in heaven when she’s in his arms and he’s giving her the loving of a lifetime. Seems she’s a miracle worker for both arrogant ex-baseball players and cantankerous old grandmothers.
I enjoyed both the transformation of Lori into a beautiful and loved woman and of Gloria realizing finally that she needs to change so her grandchildren will love her in return. Of course, Reid’s transformation goes without saying. This is the book that wrung the emotion out of me. All I’m going to say is there’s a death and with so many Buchanans around, the crying had to start sometime. The aftereffects are also gut-wrenching, being so invested in the characters by that time. Just know I needed a cold eye compress by the time I got through that part of the book.
A spiteful article about the former pitcher and current playboy questions his talent. And the newspaper’s just the first bad news. Reid’s grandmother Gloria’s broken hip means she needs constant care—and she’s going through nurses as if they were Kleenex.
Reid hired nurses 1 and 2 for their bedside manner with him. So for number 3, he chooses Lori Johnson, the first candidate who seems immune to his brand of charm.
Lori considers herself inoculated against amoebas like Reid Buchanan. So why are her well-fortified defenses starting to crumble under the force of Reid’s sexy smile—and the kindness he shows her at every turn? There’s only one explanation for the feelings flaring between them—chemistry.
Read an excerpt of Sizzling here.
Tempting (The Buchanans, Book 4)
Released 1 Jul 07
This book is the one that piqued my curiosity in finally starting this series. I ran across an excerpt somewhere and really liked it. It intrigued me. I wanted to know more about this family and what had brought this heroine to that particular point in her life, confronting the father she never knew about, a father in the higher echelons of our government. Little did I know how much the entire series would affect me.
We meet Dani, of course, in the first book of the series and her story continues through the next books, giving us a look at her life which is first charmed and then gradually falls down around her through no fault of her own. First her husband wants a divorce, she’s not grown along with him as he’s recovered from a tragic accident that left him a paraplegic.
Dani is the one who stood by him in the aftermath of the accident, kept loving him and married him because of that love, and then worked her tail off at Burger Haven to keep him covered by insurance while he wheeled through life, leaving Dani behind, according to his skewed logic. Another kicker comes when she finds out her soon-to-be ex was also unfaithful during their marriage.
Gloria, her grandmother, has refused to promote Dani within the Buchanan corporation and burgers just don’t do it for her any longer. But the biggest kick to the gut of all is when Gloria finally tells her that she’s not even a Buchanan; her mother had an affair and Dani is the result. Things suddenly become clear to her about the years of feeling like she’s never belonged, even with the love of her brothers. Kicking Gloria and the company to the curb, Dani sets out to find her real father and her life takes on changes she could never have imagined. Dani is strong no matter what life throws at her, she bounces back and she gets on with what’s best for her.
Dragon-boy, or Alex Canfield, the adoptive son of Senator Mark Canfield, guards the door to his father’s office, breathing fire at anyone who comes this way with intent to harm his father. Dani is one who poses a huge threat to the senator’s bid for the presidency and Alex is not about to let that happen. As much as he hates to admit it, however, once Dani passes muster, she’s beautiful, intelligent, and unique and he suddenly finds himself wanting to get lost in her. When they finally do come together, other problems present themselves, the worst of which is the press, and it looks as though a life together isn’t in their future.
I really enjoyed Dani’s character. She never quits. She never backs down. She’s a Buchanan through and through even though she doesn’t share the same paternal blood with her brothers, but now she feels she doesn’t know who she is anymore. I liked the fact that Dani still admires Gloria even after all the hurt she’s caused Dani over the years. She also holds her own with Alex in his dog-eat-dog world, as well as with her brothers who try to protect her at every turn, which sometimes makes her furious. She wants to live her own life no matter the consequences. Alex also has a lot to overcome in his life to realize he can choose Dani and not feel guilty.
All in all, this was a very good ending to the series. It brings everything and everyone together, gives us love all around, and shows us what can happen when a family pulls together in good times and bad.
Nothing’s hotter than a disaster in the making…
After three romantic flame-outs in a year and a restaurant career going nowhere, Dani Buchanan needs a fresh start. She goes looking for her biological father, but never expects to find a senator running for president. As his long-lost “love child,” Dani could seriously derail the election – something his handsome campaign manager Alex Canfield isn’t going to let happen. Dani isn’t about to let Alex run her life, no matter how tempting she finds him-and Alex isn’t going to allow Dani to melt his cynicism, no matter how close he has to get. The last thing either of them wants is love, especially with scandals brewing and family trouble on the way. But Dani and Alex are forced to trust each other, and when trust turns to passion, the potential for disaster is only a tabloid scandal away.
Read an excerpt of Tempting here.
Well, as you can see from the grades for each book, I thoroughly enjoyed this series. I love how Ms. Mallery kept all members of the family interacting with the current hero and heroine and still gave us plenty of time with that couple and their romance. I always get irritated when I’m shortchanged in a series by not having preceding characters show up in succeeding books. This series kept me well satisfied in that area. All of the characters are fun-loving, serious when needed, make family first, and love with all their hearts. The humor is also a huge factor that made this series worth reading. Of course, it’s the brothers that did it for me. They fought and argued as brothers are wont to do, but they stand shoulder to shoulder when anything threatens one of their own. I believe I chose very well for the first presentation in our Duckies Do Series, if I do say so myself!
Overall grade: A