“If you change your mind, here’s this.” Finn Lanigan kissed a young Blythe Heywood one last time under a star-scattered Idaho sky. It was the last kiss that ever weakened her knees, the last sky she noticed for over a dozen years. Then she left, returning to her fiance, the wedding she’d committed to, and the secure life she’d yearned for since she was a little girl. Thirteen years later, her husband leaves Blythe for his young associate. Devastated, she’s unable to imagine the next chapter of her life as she packs her family’s belongings to move across town. Unexpectedly, she finds the forgotten slip of paper bearing Finn’s phone number in the back of a drawer. Hadn’t she tossed it years before as a newlywed, when she vowed to be the perfect wife and mother? Apparently not. Here it remained. Her road not taken. Facing three weeks without her young daughters, Blythe sets out to find the man she left behind so long ago. With only the name of the small town where he once lived, Peregrine, Idaho, and the memory of their last kiss under a starry sky, she heads across the Pacific Northwest in search of him. What she finds in the foothills of Blue Mountain challenges everything she thought she knew and is the very last thing she expected. Within days, her life changes forever. But it is her destiny and destinies cannot be denied. The first book of the Blue Mountain Collection, laced with Thompson’s lovable but complex characters, “Blue Midnight” is a mature love story about second chances, family, and the complexities of trust and vulnerability after betrayal.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Blythe Heywood is a broken woman. After more than fifteen years of marriage, her husband has left her for a younger woman and she hasn’t yet figured out how to once again live her life. Though her daughter’s bring her a great deal of joy, her new divorced reality sees to it the girls aren’t always with her. In those moments (and sometimes in the shower) Blythe breaks down and desperately tries to understand how she got to this new reality in the first place.
Finn Lanigan once offered Blythe a different life and a different path but she chose instead the path she thought would bring her safety and security, a life very unlike the one her mother provided when she and her younger sister, Bliss were children. When that life turned out to be her very undoing, Blythe, with a more than a bit of encouragement from Bliss decides to spend her three week “vacation” in Peregrine, Idaho looking for the path she didn’t take.
Peregrine, Idaho isn’t just a small town, it’s a microscopic town so finding shouldn’t be that hard to do. Asking questions in a small town makes the native’s restless and it doesn’t take long for Blythe to realize she has opened an old wound. According to the official report, three years ago Finn Lanigan died in a car wreck as he was leaving town with his sister-in-law. The Finn Blythe knew never would have tread on another man’s marriage so the only thing to do is keep asking questions and the place to start is the Lanigan property.
Kevan Lanigan has spent the last three years trying to deal with the fact that his wife was leaving town with his brother. With an angry teenage daughter and no explanations for her, Kevan is barely hanging on as it is. When Blythe walks into his life and begins asking questions about the day his world fell apart, Kevan is not just blown away by her presence but also by the questions she is asking. In just a few short days, Blythe and Kevan not only discover there is more to Finn’s story than (almost) everyone knows and they discover a beautiful attraction to one another.
The Bottom Line: Tess Thompson opens the Blue Mountain series with a touching love story wrapped in a little bit of mystery. Blythe and her girls are three instantly likeable characters, the town of Peregrine is so quirky and odd that it’s hard not to love, and Kevan Lanigan is every woman’s dream come true. Thompson brings together two characters in Blythe and Kevan who need to be healed, helped, and loved. Both have a hard past to overcome but with one another, they are certainly on the path to a HEA. Thompson really takes her time building her characters (especially Blythe) so once the story begins to pick up the pace at about the halfway mark, you are invested in the characters and want to know how their story is going to end. This is a slow burn kind of read with the pace and plot moving slowly and steadily toward the climactic end. The mystery of this read is just enough to balance out the romance and each (the mystery and the romance) informs the other. There is a whole host of secondary characters in this read, including Blythe’s sister Bliss, her two daughters, Kevan’s siblings, and his daughter who are not only interesting and entertaining but also proof that the series is meant to move forward for quite some time. Thompson has given herself ample material to work with and I for one am going to be signing myself up for more of the Blue Mountain series.
Playboy Ciaran Lanigan was the party. Executive Bliss Heywood was the library. When they meet, sparks fly and so begins an uncontrollable attraction that neither is strong enough to escape, regardless that it’s fraught with lies, secrets and family complexities.
But ‘party boy’ Ciaran isn’t everything he appears. Lurking beneath the surface of his charming grin is a man haunted by fears. Are they real or imagined? As he slowly reveals his past, Bliss becomes less and less sure if the man she’s involved with is unstable or truly in danger. Will she learn the truth in time to save him?
Set in the fictional town of Peregrine, Idaho, Blue Moon, the second book in the Blue Mountain Collection features the youngest Lanigan brother, Ciaran. It is both a love story and mystery, with Tess Thompson’s quirky and complex but lovable characters.
Source: ARC from author
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
Bliss Heywood has known since she was a small child she would be successful in her life. Since her older sister, Blythe taught her to read at age four, Bliss has studied hard, worked hard, and made a pile of money for herself. She has a horde of connections in the business world, has lived in twenty different cities, and turned around a pile of floundering companies. Turns out none of that matters when an uber-nerd with no social skills but a controlling interest in the company wants you fired. Fired! Bliss Heywood has never been fired!
As if to add insult to injury, Bliss packs up her meager belongings from her office, walks out the front door of the building, falls on the ice and knocks herself out. After a long, lonely night in the hospital, Bliss decides it is time to make some serious changes in her life. First change? Collect Sam, the homeless man, his dog Sweetheart, her driver, and go to Peregrine, Idaho for the Thanksgiving with her sister, Blythe and her new man, Kevan. While she’s at it, why not meet a new man have some thoroughly amazing sex and help him figure out who has been trying to kill him for 15+ years. Sounds like a holiday, huh?
Ciaran Lanigan is known the world over for his playboy ways. Along with the rest of his family, he is tremendously wealthy, has stunning good looks, and the charm to go with both. The moment he meets Bliss Heywood, Ciaran knows he is going to sleep with her. The only left to be decided is if Bliss can handle a no-strings-attached, totally short-term affair. Ciaran has lived the better part of his adult life with complete abandon. Though he can’t prove it, he is sure the “accidents” he has been involved in weren’t accidents at all but attempts on his life. The suspicion and fear has led him to live life to the fullest each and every moment and never, ever get attached to one woman.
With no job and nothing to take her back to her lonely and somewhat sterile townhouse, Bliss agrees to an extended affair with Ciaran. Hiding away from the world and locked in each other’s arms for a month is more than either could have ever hoped for. For the first time in his adult life, Ciaran shares his life and his secrets with Bliss and she determines two things: 1) she will help him solve the mystery of the accidents and, 2) she will not, under any circumstances fall in love with him. All is going according to plan right up to moment Ciaran is launched off the side of a mountain as the two are enjoying an afternoon of skiing. Funny how a near-death experience can put everything into perspective.
The Bottom Line: Yep, I totally liked book two better than book one. Bliss Heywood is all kinds of fantastic especially once she loses her job and decides to take on the homeless man, his dog, her driver, and her own life. In the process of helping everyone else, Bliss also makes some positive changes in her own life and with every new change, she becomes little more interesting and entertaining. Ciaran is such a good character because of how honest he is about his life and his intentions. Bliss is the first person who makes Ciaran wish for something more and when his worst fears actually come to fruition and he survives it, he ponies up some more of that honesty and lays it on Bliss. Like the first book, the mystery in this read is light and it is pretty clear who the big bad is early on but I just didn’t’ care. Bliss and Ciaran’s story is sweet and sexy and the mystery only spices up that story. Thompson also does one of those writer things that always makes me happy, she brings back the characters from the previous book(s) and evolves their personal stories as the current plot unfolds. I’m getting in deeper to the Blue Mountain series and feel all kinds of OK with that 🙂
About the author and where to find her:
Tess Thompson is a novelist and playwright. She has a BFA in Drama from the University of Southern California. After some success as a playwright she decided to write a novel, a dream she’d held since childhood. She began working on her first novel, RIVERSONG while her second daughter was eight months old, writing during naptimes and weekends. She considers it a small miracle and the good-nature of her second child (read: a good napper) that it was ever finished. RIVERSONG was released in April 2011 by Booktrope, a Seattle publisher and subsequently became a #1 Nook book and Kindle best seller. Since then she’s released five additional novels: RIVERBEND, RIVERSTAR, CARAMEL AND MAGNOLIAS, TEA AND PRIMROSES AND BLUE MIDNIGHT. Like her characters in the RIVER VALLEY COLLECTION, Tess is from a small town in Southern Oregon. She currently lives in Snoqualmie, Washington with her two small daughters where she is inspired daily by the view of the Cascade Mountains from her home office window. A voracious reader, Tess’s favorite thing to do is to curl up on a rainy afternoon and read a novel. She also enjoys movies, theatre, wine and food. She is fed emotionally by her friends and family and cherishes relationships above all else. She’s currently in the editing process for her first historical romance called DUET FOR THREE HANDS, which will be released in late February and followed shortly thereafter with the second in the BLUE MOUNTAIN COLLECTION, Blue Moon.
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