Saturday, March 29, 2014

Book Review: What a Woman Wants (Manley Maids #1) by Judi Fennell

Add to Goodreads
What a Woman Wants
Manley Maids #1
By:  Judi Fennell
Published:  March 4, 2014
Publisher:  Berkley Romance
Source:  Publisher

GR's Summary:

What happens when three irresistibly sexy brothers lose a poker bet to their enterprising sister? They get hired out for her housecleaning venture. Now, the Manley Maids are at your service. Satisfaction guaranteed. It’s what a woman wants... 

Resort entrepreneur Sean Manley was all set to buy an historic mansion at a great price, making a name for himself while making millions, when the seller and a poker bet change the game. Now he’s in the place as a hunky male maid and there’s one more complication: Livvy Carolla.

The house is Livvy’s inheritance. Her plan? Unload it to the highest bidder and use the cash to start her own bakery business. One look at �the help” and she’s hot to take him with her. Until she finds out he’s got a secret agenda.

But when Sean falls for the free-spirited, strong-willed Livvy, he has new ideas for the estate—and Livvy’s part in it. If all goes well, they’ll both be getting what they want. And then some.

Manly Maids Series:

My Take on this Journey:

What a Woman Wants, by Judi Fennell, was a quick, fun, exciting journey into the world of entrepreneurs and sexy male maids.  This is the first of a three brother trilogy about the Manley brothers.  Sean, Bryan, and Liam Manley are put under the gun when they lose a poker bet to their younger sister, Mac.  Mac wins the bet, and all three brothers are now indebted to her for a period of one month each, as house maids.  The first story is about Sean, who is a resort entrepreneur, who buys historic mansions and turns them into resorts. Sean has had a Historic Mansion in mind for quite some time.  The Martinson Estate, owned by the previous owner, Grandmother Meriweather Martinson.  Her granddaughter, Livvy Carolla, has inherited the Mansion, but wants to make a quick sale, and fulfill her dreams of opening her own bakery.  She has no interest in the estate, and has had no relationship with her Grandmother or her parents since she was a child.

Livvy was abandoned to boarding schools since a young child, left, and forgotten in her eyes.  She feels no connection to this woman, but bad memories.  She remembers the Estate, from when she was a child, but it carries no sentiment for her.  Her down home feeling is wonderfully refreshing.  She is all about the organic life.  She wants to open an organic bakery and run an organic farm.  Livvy has one big obstacle ahead of her, and that is a conditional will left by her grandmother that leads her on the scavenger hunt of her life.  What happens is that Grandmother Meriweather was a very wise matchmaker of a woman who had an agenda.  Along this scavenger hunt, Sean Manley is ushered in as an ally, by Livvy, to help her find the answers to the clues, so she can unload this mansion and get what she wants.  Little does she know, that Sean has an agenda of his own, and may not be helping her for the right reasons.  Meriweather just might get what she wanted for her granddaughter Livvy after all.  Poor Livvys' only real friends are her menagerie of humorous, foul mouth birds, and animals, that she hauls along with her to the mansion.

This first installment of the Manley Maids has a lot of laugh out loud humor.  I enjoyed the journey, the cat and mouse games, the obstacles that had to be overcome, and the cunning of the deceased Grandmother. There were some underhanded schemes, steam filled moments, suspense filled drama, and crazy animals, all in for the this quirky ride to freedom.  There is a lot of character growth.  Sean learns that being on top, getting what he wants, is not always what he needs.  Family is most important, and Livvy makes him realize that, though he fights those feelings along the way.  Eventually, his life lesson in integrity wins out and Sean becomes a beloved character with some great assets!  I look forward to the next installment in the series and was pleasantly surprised by Ms. Fennells first segment in the series.

I give, What a Woman Wants, by Judi Fennell, 4 Fast Paced, Crazy Ride, Fun Filled, Exhilerating Moments with a Sexy Manley Maid Stars!!! 

Q & A with Judi Fennel

How old were you when you first started writing, and what or who inspired you to begin your writing journey? 
I have the first story I ever wrote – in first grade on that large yellow-lined paper with room for illustrations at the top. It was about a raindrop that fell to earth and got to play with her friends in the puddles. ☺ I have every story, including the 4th grade notebook that had stories about Mr. Magical and the crocodile-zebra creature that lived in the sewers. I’d say it wasn’t so much as I started writing as I couldn’t not write. 

As to who inspired me – that would be the writers I grew up reading, though I never thought I’d be one of them. I thought they had the secret sauce, the special formula. I didn’t know that “everyday” people could become writers. It wasn’t until my book, Through The Leaded Glass wouldn’t let me sleep at night, demanding to be written, that I actually tried to make a career out of writing.

What do you like most about writing? 

I love when the story takes over. Nothing is more fun than sitting at the laptop and watching my fingers write the story when I have no idea what the story is. I also love hearing from my readers. I know how much stories can help you get through some trying times, or take you places you’ll probably never go, and it’s such a great ride. I am honored when someone emails me to let me know that my work has helped them escape.

Do you use a particular formula for creating your characters? 

No formula. My characters all come to me in their own way and I just write their story. I love discovering them along with the reader. The quintessential one for me is Reel in In Over Her Head, my first published book. I didn’t know why he was such a smart-alec and when I got to the scene where he says a particular sentence, it all clicked. That was a revelation moment and it was awesome.

Where is your favorite place to get away to write? 

My living room. Of course, that means that all the pets need to be tired so they go to sleep and the kids need to be out, but my living room is full of sunshine with peach stripes on the wall and a textured ceiling and the furniture is comfy and big. Of course, that also means that I can’t be sleepy or I will go to sleep on the sofa…

Who are some of your favorite authors, and books written by them? 

Absolute favorite book, hands down, is Bewitching by Jill Barnett. I had a total fan-girl moment with her at one of my first Romance Writers of America conferences when a mutual friend introduced us. And now I have a quote from Jill on my website and one of my books! ☺ She’s an awesome lady and the book is wonderful! I also love:  When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn, and Cardinal Rules by Barbara Delinsky. Yes, these were written a few years ago, but they work for me through the years. These days, however, when I do have time for pleasure reading, I go to Romantic Suspense: Karen Rose, Kate Brady, Cindy Gerard, Melinda Leigh, etc.

How did you come up with the ingenious idea of a scavenger hunt, as a way to get your two main characters together? 

No clue. ☺ Seriously, I have no idea. It just sort of popped into my head. I knew Livvy had to find out about her heritage in a way she couldn’t say no to. She had to work for it to appreciate it – and isn’t that true with most things?

It was very interesting how you made the menagerie of animals a focal point of the story.  How did that come about? 

Again… it just sort of evolved. The more I knew Livvy, the more I realized these were her family. She needed them. And what better way to show her disdain for her grandmother than giving her new family free reign in the estate? 

Does Livvy have some of the same qualities that you possess, and if so, which qualities are your favorites? 

There has to be some of the author in the books since we go so deeply into their point of view, so she does embody qualities that I find admirable and try to live in my life. Things like honesty and integrity and being true to herself. Also, she’s going to make it no matter what anyone tells her. I did a really tricky drive through Spain when I was 21 with three other people. I planned the trip, I drove (stick shift) all 1300 miles, and got us where we needed to be. After that, I was like, “Don’t tell me there’s something I can’t do. If I did that, I can do anything.” And that’s pretty much how I’ve lived my life since then. Livvy has that same trait.

Did you have any one specific in mind when you created Sean? 

Sean is a good guy. He has to be a good guy. All my heroes have to be good guys, but with Sean it was essential because the premise of the story was that he was trying to swindle her out of her inheritance. That’s not a very admirable trait and I had to really work to show his angst over what he needed to do for business vs what he wanted to do for himself. He definitely had a journey in this story and I wanted to make it real and believable, but also not make him a jerk.

Do you have any information or teasers you’d like to share with your fans? 

Book 2: What a Woman Needs… Let’s just say, if you get through it without a sniffle or two (or full-blown sobs like I got when I read through the final copy), I want to know about it. ☺

Purchase At:

About Judi Fennell:

                   I have been writing for as long as I can remember, winning my first writing award in a second grade Caldecott Medal contest. Readers' Digest gave me my very first publishing credit in April, 1994, and I was hooked. I seemed to have followed writing contests around, being a finalist in such online contests as American Title III, sponsored by Romantic Times BOOKreview Magazine and Dorchester Publishing, and two First Chapters contests, sponsored by and Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books.

             My imaginary friend was Casper the Friendly Ghost. The little ghoul even had a special place set for him at our dinner table and got blamed for many of my childhood mishaps. I grew up watching BewitchedI Dream of Jeannieand The Addams Family--my mom looked like Elizabeth Montgomery and I had a special Barbie outfit that looked like Morticia Addams' dress. My favorite books are Bewitching by Jill Barnett and A Knight In Shining Armor, by Jude Devereaux, so it should come as no surprise that I like to write tongue-in-cheek lighthearted paranormals. 

          I love pop culture and manipulating language, so you'll find lots of puns, double entrendre, plays-on-words, alliteration, clichés, and twisting of phrases, as well as several one-liners in my stories that give me a few chuckles. I studied Spanish at Penn State (Go Lions!), lived in Spain, and traveled throughout that beautiful country. 

          I've always written and still have my journal from fourth grade where, even then, my stories were full of fantastical creatures, whimsy, and magic. I wrote my first romance in 9th grade and still have that story in my memory chest. Even back then I dreamed of being a writer.

          Now with kids, a husband, a house, a social life (Go Survivor Girls!), two cocker spaniels named Vixen and Raven, and a kitten named Pagan who won't come near me unless I've got food, I get to live my dream of being a writer!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I love reading books from cool authors! :)

  2. Ro, this sounds like the kind of contemporary romance I enjoy. I love it when both of the protagonists have a secret agenda, and the *bam* love happens, and they can't go through with it *grins*

    Adding this series to my TBR :D

    Have a fantastic week!

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

  3. This was a very fun story, and I did like the premise a lot.
    Thanks for the review and interview!

  4. Oh I laughed but the animals were a bit much.

  5. I so badly want to read this book! Wow, that is so cool that Judi still has those stories she wrote when she was little.

  6. Hi everyone! Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out the story! I did have a lot of fun writing this and I hope you all enjoy it as much!

  7. Interviews make the books so much better I think. It's good to see that these author's are real and awesome. I could really use a quick good read, and this one looks to fit the bill! I just finished a couple books by Adrienne Giordano, She is a very good author and fascinating as well. Stealing Justice, her latest is incredible!

  8. these books look amazing. thank you for the giveaway!!!


We love to hear your thoughts, and appreciate you stopping by :)