Mend Your Heart (Bounty Bay Book 4) by Tracey Alvarez


Mend Your Heart (Bounty Bay Book 4) by Tracey Alvarez

 Mend Your Heart Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Mend Your Heart by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

For the past five years, Isaac Ngata has stayed out of the public’s eye and out of Natalie Fisher’s way. The former All Black rugby star prefers to keep an eye on his best mate’s widow from afar. The accident that took Natalie’s husband and Isaac’s teammate’s life also left Isaac as a celebrity pariah. When he’s asked to coach the girls’ rugby team so Natalie’s daughter can have her chance to play, Isaac’s long-buried feelings for Nat resurface with a vengeance.

Natalie Fisher has resolved herself to life as a single mother and would be happy to put the sport that took her husband behind her for good. But her daughter’s desire to play rugby has put Nat in the direct path of the one man she’d be happy to avoid forever—Isaac Ngata. With Isaac’s reputation in question, Nat has no choice but to help him with practices, and suddenly the sullen man is something more than her husband’s best friend.

Both Nat and Isaac will have to get beyond the past if they want to see what the future holds for them.

Mend Your Heart is book four of the Bounty Bay series, but like all books in this series it can be read as a standalone. And also like all books in this series, it takes romance a step beyond the standard. I can always count on Ms. Alvarez to give me a little something more. In this case, both main characters have to deal with the same issue—the death of Jackson Fisher, who was Natalie’s husband and Isaac’s best friend—but different aspects of the issue. Isaac has always loved Natalie, and his guilt will eat him alive if he can’t let it go. Natalie doesn’t think anyone could love her the way Jackson did, and she has to fight to keep from going back to the girl who made herself invisible in order to survive in the foster care system.

All of the characters in this book, including thirteen-year-old Olivia, were easy to love. One of the things I appreciated most about this story was the gradual change in relationships and characters. The book started with clear examples of Isaac’s miserable life, including his cluelessness in talking to teenagers. Bit by bit, and with a little help from Natalie, he was able to smile again and not only relate to the girls but also coach them to be better people and a better team. Natalie would have preferred to hide from her problems and be invisible once again, but she fought her way back to the strong, assertive woman she’s supposed to be.

Another aspect of this book I truly loved was that the conflict between the characters was mostly internal yet it wasn’t forced or manufactured. The death of a loved one affects people in different ways. Natalie and Isaac both loved Jackson, and they both needed to find a way to move on from their residual feelings five years later. There was plenty of emotion along the way, and like always, this author also knows how to turn up the heat between her characters.

Ms. Alvarez is the queen of happily ever after, providing well-rounded characters, an intriguing plot, and a polished story every time.

All of my reviews of Ms. Alvarez’s books can be found on the Author Spotlight tab.

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Mend Your Heart (Bounty Bay #4) by Tracey Alvarez – Cover Reveal & Giveaway

Mend Your Heart by Tracey Alvarez

Cover Reveal and Giveaway


An idiot’s guide to falling for your best friend’s widow…

Former rugby star Isaac Ngata was New Zealand’s golden boy until five years ago when a tragic accident took the life of his friend and team mate. Now he’s a pariah with a screwed up knee and a burden of guilt toward his friend’s wife and daughter. Best thing for him to do is sink into the anonymous safety of his hometown. An even better thing to do would be to stop picturing Natalie in his arms.

For someone who doesn’t know a dummy pass from a drop kick, Natalie Fisher just wants to keep her late husband’s passion for sport in the past. But their teenage daughter’s rugby team is in desperate need of a coach and the man she can’t stand to be around has volunteered. A long buried attraction flares to life between Natalie and Isaac, one they can’t run far or fast enough to avoid. Soon rugby fever isn’t the only thing heating up Bounty Bay. Crossing the line never had such high stakes…

Check out Tracey’s blog and enter to win an Amazon GC!:

Pre-order at these retailers for the special price of $2.99 (reg. $3.99 after release on September 15th).

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Release Day and Giveaway! Saying I Do (Stewart Island Book 8) by Tracey Alvarez

Saying I Do (Stewart Island Book 8) by Tracey Alvarez

Saying I Do E-Book Cover

Marriage and happily-ever-after are for suckers…

Joe Whelan was fooled once on the way to the altar, and the Irish doctor isn’t about to be an eejit over a woman again. Especially not one who witnessed his broken-hearted humiliation years ago. He won’t be swayed by the sparks that fly whenever his eyes meet MacKenna’s or distracted by her sweet kisses. The only thing Joe cares about is preventing his sister from making the biggest marital mistake of her life.

MacKenna Jones loves a good wedding—so long as she’s sewing the bride’s gown, not walking down the aisle herself. Falling for Joe Whelan’s sexy bedside manner wasn’t on the cards, neither was a seven-day road trip with him to Las Vegas, the Marriage Capital of the World. When the stakes are so high, will these two gun-shy cynics ever say I Do?

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Feet moving of their own accord, Mac stomped over to him. “You can learn a lot about someone in a short amount of time, and I’ve learned this about your sister already—if you push her too hard too fast, she’ll dig in her heels. So back the hell off for a bit. You’re too heavy-handed.”

His jaw bunched, and suddenly he wasn’t leaning against the door anymore—she was—with Joe’s big hands still clamped on her arms, which was how he’d twisted her around and pinned her.

“Heavy-handed, am I?”

Deeper and rougher than his usual silky tone with a hint of Ireland, his accent came out in force. It wasn’t the voice of a doctor with a charming bedside manner, but the voice of a man who could walk through the rougher parts of Dublin with confidence.


The word came out high-pitched like a chick’s peep because his grip had loosened on her arms. Both his thumbs stroked over the curve of her biceps, and, dear God—she couldn’t for the life of her stop a delicious shiver from skimming down to her toes. Oh. And the shiver made a couple of pit stops at her nipples along the way.

Her breath shuddered out on a gasp. Even though she knew how to break away from a man by inflicting enough pain to ensure he wouldn’t grab her again, Mac couldn’t do anything but curl her toes and stare at the working of Joe’s Adam’s apple.

She licked suddenly dry lips. “You, ah, need to use a gentler touch.”

“Do I, darlin’?”

The mean streets of Dublin had left his voice, and a new tone appeared. One she’d never heard from him. One that a tiny corner of her heart recognized with a skittering jump, conjuring up a fantasy of a stone cottage on a lonely, Irish cliff top, the sea roaring below and a man whispering Irish endearments in her ears.

His hands skimmed up her shoulders, and one finger traced the line of her jaw, coming to rest in the cleft of her chin. “That’s how you expect a man to handle you, no doubt. As if you were made of spun glass, and a kiss that was anything but gentle would shatter you.”

“A kiss won’t shatter me.” That didn’t make sense, but then nothing did when she could barely hear his words over the pounding bass and the pounding thrum of blood firing through her veins.

“Are you sure now? Because I’m not wantin’ to be gentle.”

He dipped his head and brushed his lips along the path his finger had taken a moment before. A total contradiction of his words. Mac’s stomach dropped in a giddying free fall, and her hands—which had found their way onto his hips—bunched in the soft wool of his sweater.

“Anyone ever tell you you talk too much?” she said.

When she’d meant to say, “I need you to kiss me, fool.”

Apparently, his diagnostic powers were good because he figured out what she needed, and he cupped one big hand behind her neck, lowering his mouth to hers. Warm, firm lips teased hers, not quite a kiss, more testing for reaction as he drew back a fraction, waiting for her to broach the hairbreadth of distance between them again. And with a ragged inhale, she did, parting her mouth slightly to draw him in deeper. If she was going to kiss Joe, then, dammit, it was going to be a good kiss. A grand kiss.

A not gentle, not polite, not going to stop thinking about it for days kiss.

Teaser 3 FB size

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Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, USA TODAY bestselling author Tracey Alvarez writes steamy but heart-warming contemporary romances set in New Zealand. Her two series, the STEWART ISLAND series and the BOUNTY BAY series, both focus on small coastal towns, close communities, and family.

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Release Day Giveaway

1st Prize (over $65 value) includes:

  • Playing For Fun signed paperback (Playing For Fun is Book 6 in the series, and features Mac’s cousin Holly)
  • Fun NZ theme tote bag
  • New Zealand Wild Ferns Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey Rejuvenating Face Pack
  • New Zealand Wild Ferns Pure New Zealand Manuka Honey Conditioning Lip Balm
  • Alpine Silk Manuka Honey Hand Cream
  • Alpine Silk Manuka Honey with Propolis Triple Milled Luxury Soap
  • Handcrafted in New Zealand woven  Hessian Kete with feathers
  • 4 New Zealand Paua Shell Wine Glass Charms
  • Author magnet (not pictured)
  • Author bookmark (not pictured)

To Enter: Just click on the below Rafflecopter giveaway links below.

To qualify for the bonus 5 entries, you’ll need to purchase Saying I Do and answer this question in the space provided in the rafflecopter. The question is: What is the last 4-word sentence at the end of Chapter 13?

* Prizes are not exchangeable for cash or anything else.
* All due care will be made in ensuring the prize arrives at the winner’s address, but Tracey Alvarez is unable to refund prize value in any way should it not arrive due to postal disaster.
* Entries close on May 24th and winner will receive a direct e-mail from Tracey Alvarez shortly after – so please ensure her e-mail address is added to your safe/contacts list. If she hasn’t had a reply from the winner in 48 hours, she will redraw a new winner.

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Saying I Do (Stewart Island Book 8) by Tracey Alvarez

Saying I Do (Stewart Island Book 8) by Tracey Alvarez

Saying I Do Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

MacKenna Jones has been designing wedding gowns since she was a little girl, but for other people. Mac isn’t the marrying type. She got close once, but she now knows that forever is not for her. Yet there’s something about Oban’s sexy doctor, Joe Whelan, that keeps her coming back for more. Too bad Joe hates her for ruining his chance at happily ever after.

Left by his fiancée a week before his wedding, Doctor Joe Whelan has no interest in holy matrimony. He should hate MacKenna for causing the breakup, but he can’t seem to stay away from her now that their orbits have crossed. Since Mac so successfully broke up his wedding several years ago, it should be no problem for her to break up Joe’s sister’s wedding, because no tattooed bus driver could be good enough for his little sister. Never mind that his diabolical plan forces him and Mac together. Shouldn’t be a problem since they’re both allergic to marriage.

Saying I Do is book 8 in the Stewart Island series, and like all other novels in this series, it can comfortably be read as a standalone book. Of course, if you’re already a fan of the series, some of everyone’s favorite characters make reappearances. Good old Mrs. Taylor, Oban’s resident octogenarian matchmaker, is back for another book, and this time she’s pointed her walking stick at Dr. Joe. No one has yet escaped Mrs. Taylor’s matchmaking!

One thing I love about every book written by Ms. Alvarez is that the story always goes beyond the romance. This one is no different. Both Mac and Joe are nuptially-challenged, and they each have good reason to stay away from the institution, in addition to good reason to stay away from each other. The plot is driven forward as much by their family situations and need for growth as it is by their lust. And in typical Tracey Alvarez style, the heat is turned up between the two, and the romance blooms in vivid color across the pages of the book. Attraction turns to love in a natural pace, making the reader fall in love with the characters right along with them.

Another thing I always enjoy in this author’s books is the taste of New Zealand I get by reading them. Descriptions of the weather and scenery are naturally integrated, painting a picture for me of a place I likely won’t ever be able to travel to. This book also had the benefit of including Joe’s Irish slang for added culture, as well as a trip to Las Vegas and the dry desert heat.

Saying I Do was as witty and enjoyable as every other book I’ve read by this author. Although I tend to tire of a series after a few books, Ms. Alvarez somehow keeps me coming back for more … eagerly!

All of my reviews of this author’s work can be found on the Author Spotlight tab.

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Teach Your Heart (Far North Book 3) by Tracey Alvarez

Teach Your Heart (Far North Book 3) by Tracey Alvarez

Teach Your Heart Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Teach Your Heart by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Gracie Cooper has been wandering Europe since her mother’s death four years ago, but now it’s time to return home to New Zealand. That, unfortunately, means once again being under her father’s microscope and having him point out all the ways her life has fallen short of his expectations. Gracie needs a job, because she’s still got plenty of student debt to pay back, but also to fund her next adventure—far away from her father in the United States.

Dr. Owen Bennett is so focused on his career since the death of his sister that he essentially lives a solitary life even when surrounded by people. That will all have to change when his nieces and nephew come to stay with him for a few months while his mother—their guardian—recovers her own health.

It’s serendipity when Gracie runs into the misfit kids. They need a nanny; she needs a job. Everyone’s happy. Except this darn attraction zipping through her every time she sees her new employer could be a problem. He’s so far from her type. She doesn’t stay put long enough to have relationships. How in the world could this ever work? Maybe some lessons need to be learned the hard way.

Teach Your Heart is book 3 in the Far North series but is completely standalone. If you’ve read the first two, you’ll enjoy the updates on the characters from those books, but you won’t be missing any pertinent information if you start with book 3. As usual, Ms. Alvarez has created a believable, well-paced romance that encompasses more than just the relationship of the main characters. One of the reasons I continue to come back to her stories is because I can always depend on their being something more, something that gives the story and the characters depth.

In this book, both main characters had family issues to solve. While they were somewhat predictable issues, in no way was the growth of the characters predictable or boring. Even when I could feel how things were going to play out, I still couldn’t put the book down because I wanted to see it and get the emotions that went with it.

Owen Bennett had immersed himself in work at the hospital, so when his parents could no longer care for his orphaned nieces and nephew and he was nominated for the job, things became complete chaos. He wanted to do right by his sister’s kids, but the situation was only temporary so how could he make life decisions for them, and especially decisions he knew went against her wishes? With little nudges in the right direction from Gracie, his new nanny who had a free spirit like his sister, Owen began to understand there were more important things than his job, and loving these three kids wasn’t temporary, nor was loving Gracie.

Gracie Cooper was restless and didn’t plan on returning home for long, mostly to stay off the radar of her overbearing father. Finding the nanny job with Owen’s kids would allow her to pay back her student loans and still have travelling money. She didn’t bank on making friends, finding a career she actually enjoyed, loving those crazy kids, and of course loving her boss.

Combined with the enjoyable pace of the relationship and growth of the characters was a nice dose of humor. I loved the kids and all their antics, as well as Owen’s rules and how they changed throughout the story.

Another abundantly entertaining read from Ms. Alvarez. I will continue to read more books in this series. All of my reviews of her work can be found under the Author Spotlight tab.

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Romance Down Under: New Zealand Romance Starter Set by Tracey Alvarez – FREE!

Romance Down Under: New Zealand Romance Starter Set by Tracey Alvarez – FREE!

This set includes TWO full-length novels for FREE! Each book is a standalone romance set on the beaches of New Zealand. Get started on the Due South series and the Far North series for free today.

In Too Deep (Due South Book #1)
Two hearts. A second chance. Everything on the line…
Ryan “West” Westlake belongs on the island. It’s in his blood and who he is. Nobody can deny that. When Piper Harland walked out of his life years ago, West let her go. He’d never stand in the way of a woman and her dreams. But now that she’s back, their past smacks him right in the face. With tempers flared and desires heightened, West just might realize what he lost so long ago.

Hide Your Heart (Far North Book #1)
Lauren Taylor has returned to her rural New Zealand hometown, having cut all ties with her past as a former model. Nate Fraser, a burned-out photojournalist, plans to fix up the property next door and sell it as a celebrity retreat. As passion ignites, Lauren must trust Nate not only with her secrets, but with her heart—before her safe haven is exposed and she can no longer hide in the shadows.

Fall in love with these authentic heroes and heroines trying to find their special someone—then read the other standalone books to discover the friends and family who stumble into a once-in-a-lifetime love themselves.

Praise for the Due South series!
“It’s official…I’m hooked on this series! I want to jump on a plane and fly to this island, because apparently they grow them big and HOT in New Zealand…men that is!!!” ~ Swept Away By Romance

“Perfection comes in many shapes and forms, and Ms Alvarez delivers in her contemporary voice and quirky character traits that make a distinctive difference between average and stellar storytelling.” ~ InD’Tale Magazine

Praise for the Far North series!
“Tracey’s new series is starting out beautifully–this book doesn’t quite have the same lighthearted feel to it that her Due South series does, but it’s written with her same trademark humor.”~ Becky on Books & Quilts

“Reading a book by Tracey Alvarez is like taking a mini vacation to my imagined little happy place in New Zealand.”~ Spellbound Book Reviews

“Tracey now is included among some of my fav authors from the Southern Hemisphere. Rosalind James and Natalie Gayle fans will love Tracey’s books.”~ Retailer review

“Tracey Alvarez has written a finely crafted, well written romance. Sexy and delightful and full of family values.”~ The Book Date

“Her writing style will keep you hanging on to every word and feeling the characters’ heartbreak right along with them.”~ Rach Lawrence Books

All of my reviews for the Due South and Far North series can be found by selecting Tracey Alvarez from the Author Spotlight tab.

Kissing The Bride (Due South Book 7.5) by Tracey Alvarez

Kissing The Bride (Due South Book 7.5) by Tracey Alvarez

Kissing The Bride Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Kissing The Bride by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Shaye Harland has been planning her wedding since she was a little girl. Now that the big day is almost here, she has a million things to do as planned out in her All Things Nuptials journal in order to make it the best day of her life. But just as she had to realize that her Mr. Perfect is Mr. Perfect-For-Her, Shaye may have to make some compromises in the wedding of her dreams as things begin to unravel. Thankfully, her husband-to-be Del is more than understanding of her need for perfection, and with the help of some friends they are able to roll with the punches leading up to the altar.

Kissing The Bride is book 7.5 of the Due South series, and is one of the few that is best read only if you’ve already read the others in the series. Not to say it couldn’t stand on its own, but it’s a short story that is a fun interlude in the life of the characters who live in Oban. The story follows Shaye and Del to the altar, starting a week before the wedding.

I truly enjoyed seeing this glimpse into all the characters’ lives. While the story focuses on Shaye and Del, their friends are very involved. Ms. Alvarez never disappoints with keeping her characters true to their characterizations, and this story is no different. Shaye’s planning becomes compromised by several unfortunate incidents including a coffee spill, a storm, and an ornery sea lion. Del, who loves Shaye even when she’s become a bridezilla, does his best to pick up the pieces and create the perfect wedding for Shaye. Meanwhile, Shaye has to learn to loosen up a bit and relax her standards, because at the end of the day, all that matters is she’s marrying her Mr. Perfect-For-Her.

Bravo to Ms. Alvarez for another entertaining glimpse into life in Oban.

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Drawing Me In (Due South Book 7) by Tracey Alvarez

Drawing Me In (Due South Book 7) by Tracey Alvarez

Title Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided an ARC of Drawing Me In by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Drawing Me In is book 7 of the Due South series, and while I typically get bored with a series after a few books, I can emphatically say this one drew me in right away and kept me hooked until the end. I absolutely loved Bree and Harley’s story. It was sweet and seductive yet had enough plot to keep me entertained throughout.

Bree Findlow’s life is all about order and control, right down to keeping her emotions under wraps. She’s had years to practice this skill, starting with tuning out her parents’ fights, then having to pretend she didn’t have deep feelings for Harley Komeke, and later having to give up the most important person in her life. Bree felt like she didn’t have any close friends she could open up to when in reality, she had a whole island of people in her corner.

Harley Komeke made it very clear that he never wanted to get married or have children. He’d rather be alone than end up like his father who abandoned him, his mother, and his twin brother shortly after the twins’ birth. Yet Harley can’t understand why he continually seeks solace in fiery Bree Findlow. Finding out he got her pregnant ten years ago and she gave the baby to her sister to raise is bad enough. But finding out she’s pregnant once again with his child changes everything.

I truly loved both main characters in this second chance romance. Bree has valid reasons for her completely ordered life, and it’s entertaining to see what she’s feeling inside while putting on her mask to cover up any outward emotions. At the same time, her friends show their support and begin breaking down Bree’s walls, allowing her to finally feel she has people she can depend on.

Harley is rugged, sexy, and artistic. He’s Oban’s golden child since he made it big in the New York art scene. His only flaw from a woman’s point of view is his extreme disinterest in commitment. Harley’s got demons of his own that have shaped his view of relationships. One of the most interesting things about this story was how Harley and his twin brother Ford went through the same set of circumstances but each came out the other side with varying scars. It made this book truly different from the last book in the series, which focused on Ford and Holly’s relationship. Throughout this book we see Harley having to confront his past and everything he believed to be true, as well as a reversal of the twins’ roles now that Ford is the relationship expert. And it doesn’t hurt for Harley to have to eat a little crow after all the advice he gave his brother.

While this story easily could have been more of the same, there wasn’t a single boring moment to be found. The intimate scenes were fun but realistic and not overdone. The relationship progressed at a believable pace. And both main characters showed growth while remaining true to their characterizations. Ms. Alvarez is one of a handful of authors I can always count on for a solid plot.

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Playing For Fun (Due South Book 6) by Tracey Alvarez

Playing For Fun (Due South Book 6) by Tracey Alvarez

Playing For Fun Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Playing For Fun by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*

Holly Parker finally lands her dream job, but there’s a catch. In order to finally work full-time as a hairdresser, she’ll have to leave her home, her friends, and her budding relationship with best mate Ford. Her feelings for Ford have taken a dip outside the friendzone lately, but when Ford appears to want to look for companionship outside Stewart Island, Holly offers to lend a helping hand instead of speaking up for what she wants.

Ford Komeke can’t deny he needs a little help in the dating arena. He has no idea how to talk to women, and he certainly doesn’t want to open up about his past. But then there’s Holly, his best friend, and maybe something more? He can’t deny his feelings for her any longer. Too bad Holly’s leaving and doesn’t want anything more serious than a casual fling before she goes.

Just when Ford and Holly finally admit their feelings for each other run deeper than friendship, Ford is sent into a tailspin by ghosts of his childhood. Locking his feelings away seems to be the best way to go, but Holly won’t accept that he won’t open up to her. Ford will need to make peace with his past before it’s too late for his future.

Playing For Fun is the sixth book in the Due South series, and although it’s a standalone novel, it’s best enjoyed after reading the others in the series. Each book in the series focuses on different residents and visitors to Stewart Island, but the cast of characters is the same and some of the story lines flow through the books. Each book is enjoyable in its own right, and I loved watching Holly and Ford’s friendship turn into a love story. As always with Ms. Alvarez’s stories, there’s more to the plot than just romance. This story includes both Holly and Ford being held back from happiness in the present by issues from their pasts.

I was enamored with Ford from the start. He was nowhere near the overdone typical alpha male. Instead, he was “that laidback Maori fella,” a sweetheart and good guy who everyone loved. Ford loved to joke around, work on cars, and play his guitar. And really, what could be sexier? Ford also was able to recognize his own weakness: talking to women and getting dates. And with that, he welcomed the offer of help in finding a match. The only problem was that the one person he truly wanted already seemed closed-off to the idea of a relationship with him.

Holly was outwardly confident, but her biggest issue was in asking for what she wanted. Instead, she’d settle for what she was given. So when a full-time job opened up and was offered to her, she felt she had to take it because that’s what she’d worked all these years for, right? Not to mention how she was too shy to ask Ford for what she wanted from him. Both Holly and Ford grew individually throughout the story, and of course there was plenty of growth for them as a couple.

I can’t neglect to mention the heat between Holly and Ford. Ms. Alvarez has a way of stoking the fires and fanning the flames of her characters without going overboard or writing gratuitous scenes. I loved watching the sparks explode, but also seeing how Ford was always in control. He knew things could easily get out of hand and chose to slow them down for the sake of his relationship with Holly. And through all their ups and downs, Holly and Ford never lost their friendship, even if it dialed back for a time.

I thoroughly enjoyed this installment in the Due South series and look forward to reading more in the series and more from this author.

All of my reviews of Ms. Alvarez’s work can be found by selecting her name from the Author Spotlight tab.

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Due South: 5 Sexy New Zealand Beach Romances by Tracey Alvarez

Due South: 5 Sexy New Zealand Beach Romances by Tracey Alvarez

Due South Box Set Cover

5 out of 5 Stars

*I was provided a copy of Ready To Burn and Christmas With You by the author in exchange for honest reviews. I am not compensated for my honest opinion. I have read and reviewed 4 out of 5 books in this set. Full individual reviews can be found by selecting Tracey Alvarez from the Author Spotlight tab.*

In Too Deep (Piper and West)

In Too Deep was a flirty, fun, sexy read. Both main characters were stubborn, but they way the author had them butting heads was entertaining. Just when I thought it was starting to get old, they both gave in to the UST and allowed the fireworks to soar. That wasn’t the end of their banter though. It continued even during the intimate scenes, but it was appropriate for the characters as they were written and amusing for the reader.

The story was much more than a romance though. Piper had to let go of her guilt over her father’s death, and she also had to mend fences with her family. West had been holding on to a grudge thanks to his mother leaving him years ago that rendered him incapable of being happy in a relationship. All of these plot lines were tied together nicely with secondary characters who added depth and meaning to the story. There were a few instances of Piper’s brother’s point of view, but they were integral to the plot and not just there to get the reader interested in the next book (although I’ll add they did that anyway!).

I also enjoyed the way the author provided information on diving in a way any reader could understand. It was not too technical yet not too dumbed down.

In Too Deep is a must read for contemporary romance fans.

Melting Into You (Ben and Kezia)

Melting Into You is a standalone novel that is part of the Due South series. Even though it can be read without reading any of the other books, you’ll want to read them all. Tracey Alvarez has a way of drawing the reader in to the lives of all of her characters, including the secondary characters in each story. The stories fit seamlessly together, but enough background information is provided in each book so you won’t be left behind if you haven’t read the others.

As usual, the main characters in this story show amazing growth throughout the tale. Ben is completely clueless about what to do with his daughter at the beginning of the story, to the point where he’s literally counting down the hours until she’s supposed to leave. With a little push from Kezia in the right direction, he falls in love with Jade without meaning to. The scene where he begs Marci not to take Jade away before he gets back to Oban will tear your heart to pieces.

Kezia, while sweet, loving, and a wonderful mother, is set on doing things on her own and not depending on another man after her relationship with her deceased husband fell apart. Even when Ben finally proves that he wants to be there for her—changing his commitment-phobia ways—she’s unwilling to accept his help. It takes a good talking-to from one of Ben’s sisters for her to see how pig-headed she’s been, but once her eyes are opened you’ll be cheering right along with their daughters for them to become a family.

There’s even character growth in Ben’s daughter Jade, who goes from shy and thinking poorly of herself to a happy, outgoing, strong girl. It’s wonderful to see her open up to Ben, call him Dad for the first time, and even stand up for herself.

The romance in Melting Into You is perfectly intertwined with Ben’s family growth, giving the reader more to focus on than just the growing attraction between Ben and Kezia. Tracey Alvarez has knocked another one out of the park with this five-star must read. She has quickly moved to one of the top spots on my favorite contemporary romance authors list.

Ready To Burn (Shaye and Del)

Ready To Burn is book three in the Due South series, but like the others, it can be read as a standalone. Also like the others, you’ll enjoy it so much you’ll want to read the rest of the series. Each book incorporates the characters and storylines from the previous novels and provides enough information on the secondary characters to intrigue you to read their stories. This book is about Shaye, the youngest Harland, and her continued quest to become head chef, as well as Del, the forgotten Westlake son’s issues with his family and everything he’s gone through in the years since he left Oban.

Both main characters have a lot of growing to do in this story. Shaye has an unrealistic idea of what she’s searching for in Mr. Right, and she learns through friends and family that even though you sometimes may want to kill your significant other, what’s really important is the love you share and that you’ll still only want to share it with that person. Del has a lot of hatred for his father since he thinks his father sent him away. In reality, his father did what needed to be done for Del and his mother to be happy, giving up his own happiness in exchange for theirs. Del finds out that when it comes down to it, your family has your back even when it doesn’t seem like it. Although Del dreams of a career as a famous chef, he realizes there’s more to life than fame and fortune. He’s also surprised when his family supports him with no questions asked when they find out about his drinking problem.

As always, Ms. Alvarez starts the romance off with fireworks of a different kind. Shaye and Del butt heads immediately and frequently, but that switch is flipped at just the right moment, when the characters give in to temptation and begin to see more in each other. There’s plenty more to the story than just the hot sex though. Family drama is an ongoing theme, with both Shaye and Del struggling to find their place in their family and learning who they can depend on. I always love when there’s more to the plot than just romance, and Ready To Burn delivers in spades.

Shaye has always been the good girl in her family, and watching her characterization unfold is so amusing. She keeps a swear jar in the kitchen of Due South, and all the money collected goes to charity. Even in her head, her curses are adorably innocent. Del’s foul mouth contrasts nicely, and the two are like yin and yang, opposites fitting together perfectly.

Any contemporary romance fan who enjoys a solid plot with family drama will love Ready To Burn, along with the other books in the series.

Christmas With You (Carly and Kip)

Having read several of Ms. Alvarez’s books, I knew I could count on her to provide a well written contemporary romance with a happy ending. Christmas With You didn’t disappoint in this aspect. Although this one is novella length, it still provided all of the aspects that make a good romance. There was attraction between the main characters with a good pace to the developing relationship, but there was also more to the plot than just romance. Both of the main characters had family issues to resolve before they could be truly happy with themselves and their relationship.

The Due South series to this point has encompassed mostly the people who lived on Stewart Island or were coming home to the island. One thing I loved about this book was that both main characters were outsiders, but still able to call the island home. Kip moved away from home two years prior and ended up as a bartender in Oban. Carly no longer had much of a home in the US after her father passed away and her stepbrother and stepmother moved to Oban, so she followed them in order to have some family. Yet both Kip and Carly felt a connection to the island—whether through family or a sense of fitting in—making their story feel like a cohesive part of the series. All of the books in the series are standalone, but you’ll get the best reading experience by reading them in order.

The main characters were both likeable people, and Ms. Alvarez did a great job of bringing the heat between them. Their first sexual encounter practically sizzled off the page. I loved that Kip had an undeserved reputation for being a player. Instead of using the contrived player-turned-relationship guy, Kip was truly a one-woman kind of man who didn’t let his lust for Carly get in the way of creating a meaningful relationship with her. But don’t count him out as a hot alpha male. Bossy Kip was an incredible turn-on!

Romance fans who enjoy a little more to the plot will love this book.

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Happy reading!