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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Review: Romancing Rebecca

Romancing Rebecca
By Amber Polo

She'd Like Both Men, Please!

Attorney Rebecca Dumarier uses her no-nonsense style to battle for successful romance writers around the globe. Despite her success in the romance industry, her personal romantic life is a disaster. Sure, she's a high-powered attorney, but can she handle a little broken heart?

Confused by feelings she always keeps hidden, Rebecca jumps a flight to Sedona, Arizona. There she's caught up in the vortex of a mysterious romance with Max, a man with an intoxicating voice, who sends roses, romance novels, and chocolate, but refuses to reveal his face.

To make matters worse, Rebecca thinks she's falling for shy trance channeler Tom Paxton. His precocious daughter and ex-wife/manager complicate the budding relationship until Tom discovers that someone is using his body for romance and his credit card for internet purchases. Investigating an old diary and using her worldly wiles, Rebecca discovers the identity of the man she truly loves.

Now if she can only figure out which man that is.

Romancing Rebecca is an interesting mix of elements; you have your psychic/paranormal, your fish out of water, your workaholic literary insider, your psychic concierge. And let’s not forget the crystals, vortexes, crazy romance writers, head-hopping spirit guides, ancestral diaries, and a precocious harp prodigy. There are a lot of things going on in this book. Luckily, we have the budding attraction between Rebecca and Thomas holding this mélange of stuff together.

I really liked the way Ms. Polo emphasized the friendship between the two protagonists in addition to the physical attraction. So many romances focus on the latter and neglect the former to, I believe, the detriment of the genre. She balanced both well, which made the chemistry that much more explosive. If you’re looking for an alpha male, though, you’ll be disappointed. The alpha character is vilified while Thomas is a sweet, somewhat shy and gentle man. That isn’t to say he’s weak. He just doesn’t carry a club while dragging Rebecca to his cave by her hair.

Romancing Rebecca made me giggle more than once. Rebecca gets herself into some scrapes, and it was fun watching her fumble through the spiritual, laid-back Sedona world when she’s used to the hustle and bustle of New York.

Ms. Polo has a real gift for plotting, but there were a few leaps of logic and some confusing sentences that muddied it a bit. But all was clear by the end of the book. Sometimes there were body parts and inanimate objects doing things independently of people, like jeans climbing, fingers crawling, eyes sliding, phones sobbing. But this is a particular pet peeve of mine, and won’t bother the majority of readers.

One spoiler alert: Rebecca loves to read and, during the course of the story, reveals the end of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon as well as several plot outcomes for the rest of the Outlander series. So if Outlander’s on your TBR pile, you might want to read that first.

Otherwise, Romancing Rebecca is a delightful read and will appeal to fans of fiction with psychic themes, and readers who like their romance with a dash of humor.

Book Rating:

Reviewed by: Daisy

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Review: Negative Image

Negative Image
by Donna Michaels

Photographer Lisa Clarke thought working the Senator’s Inaugural Ball would be just another job. But when she inadvertently photographs a serial killer with his next victim, her easy assignment turns into a life or death situation. When the killer targets Lisa, she’s put into police protection and faces danger of another kind. Sexy Detective Dean Jennings.

Lisa and Dean give into their fiery attraction, but their interlude is cut short by the killer. With their wits as their only weapon, will they be able to outsmart a killer bent on revenge? Or will their passion-filled night cost them their lives?

Reading Negative Image is like zipping through a full length mystery to get to the best part.

It's all right here, the culmination of their relationship, the Ooops Factor (you know, when they think they have the case solved?) the action that culminates in a satisfying ending and the belief that the HEA is just around the corner.

This story is so short, I don't believe I got the chance to fully appreciate Lisa's pluckiness. She had to have some for her to keep her sanity after spending a whole month in a safe house.

I would have enjoyed watching Dean struggle against his desire for Lisa while she was under his protection. It had to have been explosive because as you'll read, it was like Roman Rockets going off once the case was officially closed.

The intense passion between Lisa and Dean could only be garnered by inference yet Donna has done such a good job, the reader "gets it".

There's nothing negative about Negative Image except I wanted more!

Rating:

Reviewed by: Xeranthemum

Review: American Diva

American Diva
by Julia London

Jack Price has one dream: to own and operate a flight school. For him, any job that gets him closer to his goal is worth it, no matter how difficult. So when the opportunity to guard today's hottest pop singer comes along, Jack leaps at the chance. Not long ago, he had a sexy encounter with this American sweetheart-which makes taking this job pretty sweet. But the vixen he knew has turned into a raging diva--and there's no way he'll let her walk all over him like she's doing to everyone else.

Audrey LaRue is the latest "It" girl. Everybody wants her-or wants something from her. She's being hounded by the paparazzi, her fans, and her boyfriend-turned-manager. And now she has a deadly stalker. Only Jack Price, her sexy, fearless bodyguard, is grounded enough to protect her- and put her in her place. Audrey must learn to trust him, not only with her life, but with her heart.

Jack Price and the Thrillseekers Anonymous team are called upon to provide extreme activities for a “too rich for his own good” Chicagoan, Marty Weis, and the guests invited for his birthday celebration. What was supposed to be another exciting getaway turns out to be a “big kiddie” babysitting job instead.

Among the partygoers is newest pop diva, Audrey LaRue, hired to provide concert entertainment for Marty and his guests. What is presented to be a concert on a luxurious private island soon turns into a nightmare of overindulging by the birthday boy and his gang. This escalates into too little privacy, too much Marty, and too many people demanding her time. Audrey is worn out. Poaching an ATV from the resort, she drives to the other side of the island seeking a calm place to relax and unwind for awhile. What she finds instead is a gorgeous hunk who doesn’t know her and won’t back down to her demands. He doesn’t want to spend time with her, a situation she hasn’t come across in quite some time. Her family considers her their personal meal ticket, her manager wants to launch his own career by riding her coattails, and her fans become more demanding every day.

When she pulls a fast one on Jack, she lays claim to his beer and beach chair, the pair begin to relax with each other and soon are dancing under the moonlight. What happens next just proves Audrey can trust no one but her faithful manager/ex-lover, Lucas, who is the only one who looks out for her. Back home in L.A. the tabloids are full of Audrey’s private island getaway with hunky Lucas, but it’s the pictures of her with Marty Weis posted on the fan site that get the attention of a stalker; one that wants Audrey’s death to pay for her tawdry ways.

Jack only wants to fly; to open his own flight school and teach others the thrill of flying. Working with the Thrillseekers Anonymous team is helping him to make that dream come true. When hired to play bodyguard to Audrey LaRue, he knows he’ll have his work cut out for him; she’s even more of a diva now than she was on the island. Agreeing to accompany her on her tour, Jack is in serious danger of losing his heart to the woman beneath the public persona, but he better be on his toes if he wants her to live.

Julia London’s third installment in the Thrillseekers Anonymous series deals with the down side of fame and fortune. AMERICAN DIVA is a fast paced look at what goes on behind the cameras: life spiraling out of control, losing your true identity, grasping relatives. Audrey is a sometimes likeable, sometimes frustrating woman who harbors hidden dreams and a little pain, that once readers are made privy to, makes her all the more easy to empathize with. Her relationship with Jack is a wary one; not knowing whether he is in it to ride on her coattails as so many others are, or if he is genuine in his feelings for her.

The romance progresses at a believable pace, without the couple having to have sex the very first night they are together. Jack is a real “man’s man” who is a self assured and self made man his friends and colleagues admire. His feelings of protectiveness and love are well portrayed, and result in his willingness to go above and beyond to keep her safe. The love scenes are sultry, the settings believable, and the chemistry is off the charts for Jack and Audrey. A couple that is well matched in every way, they are a perfect balance of naughty and nice. Bravo, Julia London, AMERICAN DIVA is another successful addition to the popular, Thrillseekers Anonymous series. Insightful, vivid portrayal of the music industry with all its pros and cons gave this reader much food for thought. I highly recommend this book to fans of suspense as well as romance.



Review by Wisteria

Friday, September 28, 2007

Review: Secret Agent Minister

Secret Agent Minister
By Lenora Worth

The minister of Lydia Cantrell's dreams had another calling. As his secretary, she knew the church members adored him. But she was shocked to discover Pastor Malone's past as a Christian secret agent. Her shock turned to disbelief when he revealed he'd made some enemies—and that he and Lydia were in danger.

As the kind, gentle pastor started leading her around corners and through dark alleys, Lydia wondered how she'd get through this. Sure, the stakes were high—and then there was the fact that she was head over heels in love with her secret agent minister.

This is one of the best romantic/suspense books I’ve read in a long time! The plot is unique, the adventure adrenaline-pumping, and the romance heart-thumping!

With the first line opening the book - “Someone was going to have to explain about the dead body in the bathtub. Really.” - to the final page, this story takes you across the country on a fast-paced race for your life. Rarely has a book so captured me and its characters so enthralled me. Lenora Worth has a way of crafting sentences and paragraphs that leave you breathless and feeling like you’ve experienced the story instead of just read about it.

Lydia Cantrell has been in love with her pastor and her boss for years. She just can’t make him see her. When they find themselves caught in a web of murder and age-old mystery, they are forced to flee and go deep into the heart of a secret organization.

This story is amazing. Lydia and Pastor Dev are two characters who drag you into their lives and who live on long after the last word is read.

I’m giving this book a LASR Best Book rating! This is the first such rating I’ve given out and it is most deserved. If you haven’t read this book yet, I encourage you to pick it up. You won’t be sorry. In fact, keep your eye out for any of Lenora’s work. I’ve read her other stuff and it’s well worth the purchase. This book is going on my Favorite’s list.

Book Rating:

Reviewed by Lily

Review: Survive My Fire

Survive My Fire
by Joely Sue Burkhart

Trapped as a dragon for centuries by a curse impossible to break, Chanda is consumed by rage. Her heart broken, her life ruined, her entire tribe dead by her own actions, she never expects the warrior outside her lair to know the secret of her curse. Let alone that she will fall in love with him.

Jalan survives the White Dragon's teeth and claws. He survives her fire. He even survives her love. But he doesn't come to break her curse or win her heart. Not exactly. His dark god will spare Jalan's tribe--if the White Dragon is sacrificed.

While Jalan must choose between the love of his heart and the safety of his tribe, Chanda realizes she may at last break her curse forever.

If she's willing to make the greatest sacrifice of all.

The dragon isn’t a new motif in fantasy fiction. Neither is the theme of a leader making hard personal choices to save his people. But Joley Sue Burkhart uses both to good effect in the novella Survive My Fire.

Jalan and Chanda belong to different tribes of a desert-dwelling race for whom the dragon part of them lurks just under the skin, all the time. Surrendering to the dragon induces a physical shift and the results are so violent that they try to avoid it. This novella is not for the squeamish or faint of heart. Ms. Burkhart’s vision of dragon shifters is gritty and realistic. The characters are not human and the way they conduct their lives reflects that. The conflicts are violent, as is the lovemaking between Jalan and Chanda.

That said, Survive My Fire is extremely well written. The world building is meticulous and the details are spread throughout with little to no infodumps to break up the action. Ms. Burkhart uses all her senses – especially smell – to create a distinct sense of the world her characters live in. She brings forth the realities of living in a desert climate with few resources and a waning supply of water, and the desperation of the clans very well without bogging down the romantic interactions between Jalan and Chanda. And even though their interactions are violent, there is tenderness there as well as they bond themselves to each other to save Jalan’s tribe.

Ms. Burkhart does a lot in a short amount of space, making each interaction between characters do multiple things. There are no unnecessary or gratuitous scenes or wasted words, and that economy and quick pace makes the pages fly by.

Survive My Fire will appeal to romantica readers and fans of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Merry Gentry series.



Review by Daisy

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Review: Rules of Gentility

Rules of Gentility
by Janet Mullany

"It is a fact universally acknowledged that a single woman of fortune and passable good looks amuses herself in London with fashion, philanthropic works, and flirtation, until a suitable gentleman makes an offer. I consider the pursuit of bonnets and a husband fairly alike––I do not want to acquire an item that will wear out, or bore me after a brief acquaintance, and we must suit each other very well." So begins this most unusual and engaging novel about Miss Wellesley–Clegg, a young woman living in Regency London who struggles to find the perfect man––and the perfect bonnet.

I started this book a bit uncertain as to what I could expect. The cover indicates it is Jane Austen meets Bridget Jones, which made me pause a bit. I am not a fan of Ms. Jones or her diaries.

I was pleasantly surprised and entertained from the beginning of this novel. It's told in alternating first person between the hero, Inigo and the heroine, Philomena and, at first I was concerned this would be a bother as I've never been a fan of that at well.

Ms. Mullany has converted me. In addition to her lively prose, witty plot and well-drawn characters, she has an interesting story and wonderful conflict. The dialogue is well-written and believable, and she cleverly weaves ALL the "typical" regency type plot devices into her story.

As it progressed, I was delighted to find that what begins as a fluffy regency romance deepens to something more. Miss Wellsley-Clegg learns much about life, and Inigo learns that sometimes it's important to pursue what you love instead of taking life one day at a time.

If you're a fan of regency, you'll LOVE this book. And, even if you've never really read in the genre, I can still heartily recommend it.

If this is an example of how well Ms. Mullany writes, I can't wait to grab the other book from her backlist. Dedication... here I come.



Review by Poppy

NOTE: LEAVE A COMMMENT ON THIS REVIEW, AND EARN AN EXTRA ENTRY TO WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF THIS BOOK, OR JANET MULLAY'S FIRST BOOK, "DEDICATION". See website for more contest details. Contest ends 9/29/07.

Review: Truly Yours


TRULY YOURS
By Barbara Metzger

Alone in the world, Amanda Carville has no dowry, no reputation left, and no one who believes her to be innocent of murder, since she was found holding the gun that killed her stepfather. Viscount Rexford also has his troubles. He's scarred by war, and cursed-or blessed-with the family trait of knowing the truth when he hears it, and his success at extracting the truth from military prisoners has left many doubting his honor and his methods. When Amanda tells him she didn't do it, he believes her. Tired of the truth business, Rex refuses to get involved...until his heart leaves him no choice.

Be prepared to stay up late to finish TRULY YOURS; this latest historical mystery is as engrossing as it is romantic.

Amanda Carville hated her stepfather. He stole her mother’s joy then he stole her life, he stole her inheritance, and now he has taken any chance of escaping his household away from her. Once she discovers the lies he is perpetrating, she is livid and vows to confront the villain. The only problem is, when Amanda returns home early from Almack’s, she finds Sir Fredrick Hawley already dead on his study floor. Getting caught with the murder weapon in her hand only lands her in prison, accused of the crime. Now she is an outcast, left alone to die in prison; no money, no family, and no reason to live any longer.

Jordan, Viscount Rexford, or Rex as he is called, is gifted with the ability to tell if a person is lying. Like all of the men in the Royce lineage, it is a double edged sword; they are ostracized if their ability becomes known. Going off to war to prove his mettle, Rex’s father arranged for young Rex and his cousin Daniel to be placed out of harm’s way, thus they became the Inquisitors, feared by one and all, called torturers and worse. Now Rex is back and trying to heal the scars of war and put his life back together. When his father sends him to London to save the life of this young woman, Rex has severe misgivings. What happens if she truly is guilty? How will he keep from falling in love with the lovely woman?

A beautifully portrayed murder mystery that will delight fans of historical and paranormal romance, TRULY YOURS is an all around satisfying read. Amanda and Rex wormed their way into this reader’s heart from the beginning. Both are wounded souls who find the missing piece of themselves in each other. With vivid descriptions of time and place, author Barbara Metzger pulls the reader right into Regency London, a willing participant in solving the mystery and becoming a part of the close knit family unit surrounding Rex, Daniel and Amanda. The secondary cast is a brilliant mix from Verity the mastiff to Daniel and the villains and Bow Street Runners as well. There is never a lull in the story. A grand addition to any historical lover’s library, TRULY YOURS is a treasure.



Review by Wisteria

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Review: Discovering Jenna


Discovering Jenna
By Kim Watters

Reclusive children's author Jenna Winslow hides behind her books to keep life from disappointing her. She'd rather spend her time in museums with the dinosaurs she writes about, than with the living…until she meets a man who makes her want to live again.

Matt McCutcheon is confined to a wheelchair but doesn't let life confine him. He's determined to unearth the mysteries of a woman whose physical scars camouflage wounds that go far deeper. But are his efforts to unlock the warmth and beauty inside Jenna enough to draw her into the land of the living?

Kim Watters has written a heartfelt story of hope and love. Discovering Jenna is a short but lovely story of two people who meet quite by accident and change each other’s lives.

Jenna Winslow has had her share of heartache; she has lost her parents, been in a horrific plane crash and her last boyfriend was only using her to become a paleontologist. When she meets handsome lawyer, Matt McCutcheon in her favorite museum she is reluctant to get involved with the outside world. She hides away, writing DeeDee the Dinosaur books for children, her one satisfying accomplishment.

Matt knows tragedy himself; a bullet when he was eighteen put him in a wheelchair, but he doesn’t let it get him down. When he meets the fragile Jenna, he senses a woman hiding immense pain and low self esteem. He also senses a kindred spirit in the young woman, one who shares the connection he feels. What will it take to bring her out of her shell? Will he be the one to unlock the woman hiding behind her scars?

A poignant story of loneliness and pain, of heartache and hope; Discovering Jenna is a lovely way to spend an hour. The characters are admirable in that they value the person behind the imperfections, not looking only at the surface. Matt and Jenna are warm and loving individuals that felt remarkably like friends. Though the story was short, it was a satisfying way to spend an hour; well worth the time spent. Author, Kim Watters has claimed a place on my “watch list”. Her descriptive power allowed this reader to step right into the museum and become a part of this romantic story.


Rating:

Reviewed by: Wisteria

Review: Web Of Deceit

Web of Deceit
by Kim Watters

Faith Callahan’s life is falling apart. Her husband is missing and presumed dead, returning to her childhood home doesn’t promise the peace and tranquility she craves for herself and her son, and her father’s hardware store is on the brink of bankruptcy. To top it all off, someone is watching her, breaking into her home and work, and making threatening phone calls. The only person she can trust besides God to help her is the man who was both her and her late husband’s best friend—the three amigos in high school.

And then there were two. Or were there? Sheriff’s deputy Adam Quinn needs to find out if his friend is dead, or just gone into hiding waiting to make contact with his wife. In order to find out so Adam can bring the suspected gun smuggler to justice, he needs to get close to his best friend’s widow—the only woman he’s ever loved. The deception grates on Adam’s spiritualism and soul as his heart falls for Faith all over again, but he has a duty to uphold the law and protect the town’s citizens.

When Faith and Adam meet again, their friendship rekindles on a deeper, more emotional level. Will Faith allow Adam back into her life after her disastrous first marriage full of lies and deceit? Will Adam risk his career to win woman he loves? Will Faith and Adam put their complete trust in God and let him guide them through these dangerous times?

Wow! This book was awesome. It caught me from the first page and held my interest to the very end. Ms. Watters has written a story where the characters have been put through fire and come out shining.

Faith Callahan’s world is anything but perfect. With her husband presumed dead, she returns with her young son to her home town looking for a new start and hoping to escape the strange happenings she believes are linked to her husband’s disappearance. Doubt, fear and mystery surround her, shaking the foundation of her beliefs.

Enter Adam, the friend from long ago, who has agreed to keep tabs on Faith to see if her not-quite dead husband contacts her. Caught in a web of deceit, Adam tries to protect Faith while keeping his cover.

I loved, Loved, LOVED this story. Adam is a strong character whose faith has been challenged, stretched and refined. Despite the disappointments and pain he has faced, he keeps holding on to life, faith and love. His struggles were real and gripping. I loved seeing him wrestle internally with his frustration and limitations and yet choose to keep believing. What a beautiful testimony that is so real and moving, a life that’s ripped apart and forced to rebuild.

Faith is a strong woman who faces her fears head on. I loved seeing her rise to each occasion, refusing to cower in fear and trembling. Her faith is tested when she comes face to face with a mother’s deepest fears and she chooses to beat the evil that’s invading her life.

This story has it all; love, faith, adventure, mystery. There were moments where I found myself holding my breath and alternately biting my nails. This book is the perfect balance of romance and suspense. There were some interesting twists as well as an ending that’s both surprising and satisfying.

I’m giving this one a Five Book rating. This is one I would recommend to any of my friends. Ms. Watters certainly delivers and you won’t be disappointed.

Book Rating:

Reviewed by Shauna/Lily

Monday, September 24, 2007

Review: The Welcome Inn


The Welcome Inn
by Elaine Cantrell,

Julianna can’t stand Buck Abercrombie! He’s rude, chauvinistic, and exasperating, and he’s her new boss. Why wouldn’t the bank loan her the money to buy The Welcome Inn? As manager she has proved her worth.

Worse yet, Buck’s criminal brother Travis works for him, and her friend Melanie likes him!


This wonderful contemporary romance starts in an abrupt attack. This is not, as one might imagine, full of terror, but full of power, strength and the most admirable would-be victim one could imagine. Julianna, the main character is self-assured and from the first, her own person. The hero in this tale sort of slides into the picture, as an afterthought. Personally, he is pleasant enough, although physically, he really captures the interest. "His eyes were a penetrating blue, his feature's rugged..." are enough to get the heart pounding, if the early action doesn't do it for you.

As a main character, Julianna is a standout, not just for looks, but because of her strong personality. She is not a 'brat' heroine, she is not willful - but she is strongminded, resilient, and competent. It is fabulous to read a romance where not only the hero is an admirable person, but our heroine is, as well. Cantrell pulls off these strong characters very believably. Dialogue is sharp, realistic, and moves the story along. The action and interplay is lively, and make this a fast read. Cantrell spends little time on details of the setting - poolside could be poolside at any hotel - likewise inn rooms and offices. She does offer one very nicely detailed vision, of a blissful beach that seems a paradise. The very ordinary enterntainments - movies, a meeting for ice cream, a swim - all complete and round out the characters, by sharing their lifestyles.

Almost-steamy sex scenes do not merely exist in this work as window dressing, but add to the plot. The plot carries this story, and all the twists do not disappoint. A second handsome man enters the picture almost at once. Renovations, inn operations, employee interactions, and the competitiveness between the main characters all create a complex web that is both fascinating and puzzling. A smattering of sybling rivalry and the occasional recollection of past events all ratchet up the stress. So, when Julianna finds herself targetted for reasons she can't guess, sorting out that mystery is just one more problem on her list.

The Welcome Inn is an compelling contemporary romance with super characters and a complex, enjoyable, and frequently exciting plot.

Rating:

Reviewed by Snapdragon

Review: A Dangerous Craving

A Dangerous Craving
By Amy Redwood

Chloe likes to steal--for her it s better than sex. For the last thirteen weeks, she steals flowers, and fantasizes about the man in the flower shop. When he catches her red-handed, she has the choice to turn fantasy into reality.

Daniel is a successful artist--a painter. While his sister recovers from an accident, he runs her flower shop--and tries to cope with his blocked creativity. Fascinated by the woman who steals each Friday a single flower, he hatches a plan to catch her and seduce her.

Whoa...seriously, whoa! I just finished A Dangerous Craving. I don't usually read stories this hot, but this was surprisingly good. Amy Redwood takes the reader on a wild ride from start to finish. The first thing I noticed was the ease of her style of writing. There was nothing jarring or out of place. There is no purple prose. The pace was quite fast; the book is only 38 pages long.

As for the content itself, it's pure fantasy. I don't condone stealing or unprotected sex with strangers, but that's why it's fantastical. This is definitely a 'bed time book'. Put the kiddies to bed and give the flannel pj's the night off! I think I might read it again. Bravo Amy Redwood!

I'm giving it a 4 and a half books, because I don't think I could recommend it to my friends.

Rating:

Reviewed by: Lavender

Review: Love in the Fast Lane

Love In The Fast Lane
By Jenna McKnight

Scott Templeton lives for the adrenaline rush, but when the ghost of a legendary race car driver suddenly appears in the passenger seat next to him, it sends Scott literally into a tailspin. Now he can't convince the guy to head toward the light and stop haunting him, not until Scott promises to make a special delivery.

Maggie Cooper has a five–year plan that involves making executive VP with a corner office and a salary that will cause a grown man to weep. What it doesn't involve is a high–speed hotshot who claims her dead father sent him. She doesn't care how charming Scott is, or how he seems to devour her with his eyes, or even how her shotgun–toting grandmother is playing matchmaker. Maggie is determined to resist, but Scott is just as determined to convince her that loving him is worth the risk.

When you, the reader, first meet Scott, anticipate a fun ride alongside a man who comes face-to-face with the impossible and who eventually embraces the possibilities it presents him. I give him credit for holding out as long as he did. I am not sure how well I’d have done with a ghost harassing me all the time. Beware of fits of giggles as you watch Scott learn about nature – up close and personal. I think you’ll enjoy watching how Scott how grows as a character until he comes to the realization that racing isn’t everything when you have someone to love.

Maggie, the ghost’s daughter, is a trip. She loves her grandma and it’s her love and concern for said granny that sets Maggie up to meeting Scott. After awhile, I get the sense Maggie is sticking around not just for her granny’s benefit but her own. Maggie’s got a wicked sense of humor and her repartee with Scott livens up the scenes wherever they occur; the barn, the porch or the bedroom. Maggie’s character growth stems from her rediscovering who she is and realizing she’d lost her way but had never realized it -– until Scott drove up to deliver his precious Hemi motor, the one her dad haunted him into delivering.

If you enjoy humorous quips, a love story whose HEA is hampered by the ghost of the heroine’s Dad, a cheeky but loving grandmother, colorful secondary characters and a mysterious sighting of a pseudo-Elvis then Love in the Fast Lane will take you to the finish line of romance. This book gets my checkered flag of approval.

Book Rating:

Reviewed by: Xeranthemum

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Review: Redemption of a Cavalier

Redemption of a Cavalier
by Kathy Otten

Trying to redeem himself for the death of his fiancee's brother, Wesley Cole has put himself in the front lines of every battle he's fought in the Civil War, until hours before his next major battle when he accidentally meets the one woman who's love and forgiveness can offer him peace.

Redemption of a Cavalier by Kathy Otten is an American historical - taking place during the Civil War. In fact, this short story drops the reader right into the heart of the action. The hero finds a long-remembered love, and an unexpected reception... but the possible fate of this couple cannot help but create an enormous amount of empathy in the reader.

I really enjoyed this tale, not in the least because of the fine (and accurate) historical details. Certain Confederate soldiers did indeed carry the super-accurate Whitworth rifle. Military action along the Ni River in May of 1864 is well-documented, and other, similar details throughout, are true to the time period. You don't need to be a Civil War buff to enjoy this story, but if you are, you will not be disappointed. For all that the action is military, this is a wonderful and heartfelt romance. It is beautifully written and all of the action is intriguing.

Rating:

Review by Snapdragon

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Review: Cupid on a Mission

Cupid on a Mission
By: Laura Hamby

Cupid’s on a mission to Chadwick, Kansas to reunite a couple separated by their past. Cupid, being Cupid, can’t help himself or limit himself to his assignment. When another unlikely pair come into Cupid’s sights, the god of love winds up with more than he bargained. Are there enough M & M’s in the world to satisfy Cupid’s love of the candy while he completes his mission to help Nathaniel and Gail overcome the hurts of the past and rediscover love is still there? Are Cupid’s arrows potent enough to encourage Rick to find that true love, Coralie, lives across the street?

Cupid on a Mission is a light-hearted look at new loves and old disappointments. When Cupid receives an assignment to help one couple find their destiny as soul mates he’s given the leeway to select another couple to nudge along the path towards true love. This is the story of those two couples, Rick and Coralie and Nathaniel and Gail, all of whom have been let down in the past by failed love and are reluctant to take a chance on letting new romance into their lives.

This is a refreshingly honest look at the perils of love in the modern world. Foregoing flowers, fluttering hearts and fancy words in favor of realistic characters and situations, Laura Hamby gives a new perspective on the quest for love. She doesn’t discount the old baggage and uncertainty that often accompanies lovers. Instead, she pulls those issues into the plot and deals effectively with them. I loved the M&M eating Cupid, with his unbridled glee at the lovers’ progress. This book is well written and entertaining. I can easily recommend it.

Rating:

Reviewer: Peony

Friday, September 21, 2007

Review: Luck of the Draw

Luck of the Draw
by Julie Lence

Royce Weston has little use for the opposite sex, until Paige Morgan deals him a hand he can’t refuse.Royce Weston knows firsthand women are exceptional liars, especially the one who has wormed her way into his family’s good graces by claiming amnesia. Since Paige didn’t heed his advice at the poker tables, he reasons a bit of “friendly” persuasion is needed to send her packing from Wooded Acres. But when she matches him trick for trick and has his ranch hands jumping to please her, Royce knows he’s met his match. A simpering miss she is not. Sassy and daring; if only she’d give him a reason to trust her...

Royce despises her - Paige knows that much is true. But she’s convinced he knows something about her past, and until he tells her abourt her family, she isn’t going anywhere. And if in the meantime she happens to tame this rough and tough cowboy, all the better. Any girl will tell you, it’s not how you play the cards, it’s the Luck of the Draw that counts.

Luck of the Draw is a light, easy read; a western historical about a woman caught in the wrong place and the men who rescue her and grow to become her second family. Paige Morgan is a likable heroine, especially after the Weston men save her from near-death and take her in. She becomes like a sister and daughter to them, and it is charming to see how each of the men, from the playful younger brother, to the gentle, concerned father, to the rugged and handsome but stubborn Royce, each fall in love with her.

Although the initial conflict seems a bit rushed, once Paige arrives at the Weston farm, the story really begins. Paige finds a new life for herself, trying to fit in with the Westons while also struggling to recall the painful past that has stolen her memory. Unfortunately, I also felt as though the story lost some of its punch at that point, and so the first third of the story moved rather slowly.

When Paige and Royce spend time alone at the farm, though, the reader finally gets to enjoy the simmering heat between them. It is a treat to watch the hero and heroine, both hurt by people in their pasts, fall in love and realize their self-worth again. The novel’s final showdown, a complex sequence of kidnappings and card games, is tense and well written, providing a satisfying conclusion. I’ll take a tough, sexy cowboy like Royce standing up for my honor any time!

Aside from a few point of view slips and some uneven pacing, Luck of the Draw is an enjoyable read, especially once the romance between Paige and Royce heats up.



Review by Dandelion

Thursday, September 20, 2007

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Short Story: In The Park

In The Park
by Erlynda Jacqui Chan


It is an unseasonably hot autumn afternoon. A thick layer of smog hangs over the city, filling my nostrils with the smell of burnt wood. The normally busy park is near empty, truly unfortunate for me.

I sit in the small cafe' at the corner, hidden and quiet with a clear view of the park across the road. On a more pleasant day, you will find me in the park lounging under the wooden canopy of angels and flowers. The spot offers me an unhindered glimpse of the world and its inhabitants. In an age where life moves faster than a speeding train, it's refreshing to see people stopping for a moment's rest.

There's a bench under the crimson flowered eucalyptus tree, where an elderly gentleman used to sit every evening. He always came with a brown bag which contained his dinner, either a sandwich or a plastic container covered with tin foil. He ate slowly, his mouth moving in a circular motion deliberately as if he were counting the number of chews before he swallowed. The blank stare on his wrinkled face usually embraced a contented smile as the park started to fill up. At times, he chuckled loudly at the children playing nearby, finding joy in the lives of another family. He ceased to appear last spring, I prayed he had moved on to a better place and I wrote a piece in his tribute. He was just one of my many muses.

You see, I am a writer, and have been for many years. I seek inspiration from those around me, in faces whose names I will never know. The park is my private bed of creativity, allowing me the privilege to silently observe the people who roam the open trails and discern the stories they tell.

Today, I hope to seek an end to a story that has slowly unfolded over the course of two years. I first saw them on a breezy autumn evening, two friends, a man and a woman. He was a tall, skinny lad with a jutting chin. She was easily a head shorter than him, dark hair and a face graced with an impish smile.

He ran head on into the wind, feet trampling on the golden leaves that littered the trail while she giggled, trying to catch up. Their infectious laughter rang loudly, as they teased and talked until the sky grew dark. There was such ease in their gestures, an affection so magnetic, I found myself speculating on the depth of their friendship. They came every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday evening. I took delight in watching their interplay wishing that there was such a friendship in my life.

The seasons passed, and in the winter of the following year, a new development began to unfold. Another character started coming with her, a handsome young man. They strolled hand in hand, giggling endlessly, a sure sign of two people in love.

Her good friend joined them from time to time. Not often and when he did, he maintained a distance between them, seemingly happy to give the young lovers some privacy yet the hesitant smile he gave her each time she looked at him led me to believe otherwise.

As the temperature continued to drop, a nervous energy came over him, he stayed further away, eyes darting back and forth, stealing glances at the happy couple. Soon he stopped coming altogether, I was saddened by his absence and what it might mean to their friendship.

Early the following spring I saw her sitting forlornly on the bench under the eucalyptus tree. Elbows on her knees, she cradled her head in her hands, her shoulders trembling. Her ever faithful friend stood just a few feet away, his features pained by the anguish of his friend. After a moment, he sat down beside her and placed a gentle arm around her. They stayed like that for a long while. I never saw the other man again.

They didn't appear again until late that summer. They went back to their old routine but something had changed. He no longer ran ahead like he used to, he slowed his pace to match hers. Their touches grew more intimate, their gazes upon each other lingered for seconds more. They spoke softer, like they were guarding some secrets between them. Could it be? Dare I hope that they finally saw within themselves what I had seen the first time I laid eyes on them?

Things came to a head a week ago. Against the rose tinted sky, they fought. It was not an angry exchange, rather one of confusion and frustration. Tears streamed from their faces as their hands motioned furiously, before they collapsed in each other's arms. They held on tight in a desperate embrace. Finally she broke free, leaving him to watch helplessly as she ran wildly toward her car, almost stumbling over. With a slam of the car door, she sped off.

I have been here everyday since, hoping to see them. Maybe today will be the day. I take a quick glance at my watch, it's already past six. If they were to come, they should be here by now.

They didn't disappoint me. I hold my breath as the familiar blue pickup rolled to a stop by the curb. Two figures climb out, a man and a woman, laughing, sharing a joke. I watch with delight, as he slides his arms around her, and places a kiss on her lips. Their faces beaming, they link their arms and walk off, following the trail that has lead them to this moment.

I smile, my spirit lifting. How can I not? In a chaotic world, filled with heartbreaks and missed chances, they have found one another. I pack my things and pay the bill. It is time I start work on their story.

About the author: Erlynda Jacqui Chan is an avid short story reader who after turning thirty, decided that it was now or never to fulfill her lifelong dream of writing. She resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and her short stories have been published in Gold Dust, Antithesis Common, 5th Story Review, The Green Muse and The Flash Flood.

Review: Cutter's Law

Cutter's Law
by Judith Rochelle

Morgan Cutter’s disastrous marriage has soured him on permanent relationships. Especially with women who think life begins and ends in “the city.” He is perfectly content with his life as Chief of Police in tiny White Tail, Texas, until Allison Moore comes into his life and makes him feel things he hasn’t felt in a long time. A weekend visit to San Antonio with her turns into a catastrophe and convinces him he’d been right in the first place. Allie has fallen in love with the tall, hunky lawman, and has quit her job and moved to White Tail to begin her pursuit of him. Only now his ex-wife shows up with a string of bad guys on her tail!

Judith Rochelle pens a fast paced love story about a city girl and a cynical small town police chief. When the decidedly dissimilar pair comes together, the fireworks are bound to be explosive.

Police Chief Morgan Cutter is cynical when it comes to women. A failed marriage has done a good job of souring him on females; in fact he hates them. His disdain for anything about “the city” is legendary, until a sassy Allison Moore comes to White Tail, Texas when her friend becomes involved with Morgan’s brother. Allison makes Morgan do and feel things he never thought to and it is downright scary to the cynical lawman; he had his heart broken once and doesn’t want to risk it again.

When Morgan takes Allie back to San Antonio, it turns into disaster for them, being the big city and all. Allie determines to capture the wily lawman when she falls in love with the big lug, so she quits her job and returns to White Tail, only to be confronted with Morgan’s ex-wife who has brought trouble to his door. Will she ever change the man’s mind about her city ways, or is the couple doomed forever?

Cutter's Law is a fast-paced and sweet romance with a hero many women would love to tame. Morgan is a wounded soul who is well deserving of the woman who invades his peaceful existence. Allie is no push-over; she is a smart and funny woman who knows what she wants and sets out to get it. The fireworks are explosive whether they are making love or quarreling; the many conflicts in attitudes and lifestyles put Morgan and Allie at odds on the road to happily ever after, with some sexy interludes along the way. With the plot twists and turns and the brilliantly described small town of White Tail, Judith Rochelle has captured rural Americana to a tee. An entertaining way to pass an afternoon, Cutter’s Law by Judith Rochelle is well worth the time spent.

Rated:

Review by Wisteria

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Review: Someone To Share the Sunsets

Someone To Share The Sunsets
by Kathy Otten

On her way to Texas at the close of the Civil War, Allison Nordstrom stops at a farm to return to his only surviving brother, the personal effects of a prisoner she once nursed. But instead of a warm welcome, she is met by a drunken, embittered man with a loaded gun.


Someone to Share the Sunsets by Kathy Otten starts off with a bang, as our heroine Allison dodges a bullet. This short story is set following the American Civil war and offers many fine details, from clothing to lifestyles. The dialogue is strong, and engaging. There are wonderful and unexpected touches - like that volume of poetry by Shelley - that give a real sense of authenticity.

The action is very surprising, and unpredictable. This story is about grief and letting go, but it is also about the future, about hope, and about allowing memory of the good times to fill one's mind. This American historical offers us wonderful characters and a delightful window into the passed.



Review by Snapdragon

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Review: Share The Darkness

Share The Darkness
By Jill Monroe

Hannah Garrett has always felt safe in the dark. It meant she never had to show people the truth. On the run from a man who wants to kill her, Hannah's learned to keep to herself and not get attached....
Until she meets Ward Coleman.

Being around her sexy coworker has awakened a need she'd forgotten — and it's not just this heat wave that has Hannah hot and bothered. But she can't afford to get too close, especially when she's not sure she can trust him.

What she doesn't know is that Ward is on to her and is determined to learn her secrets. And getting caught in a hot, dark elevator is the best place to find out all this undercover FBI agent needs to know.

Right away, I liked how Jill gets Ward all hot and bothered over an innocent ice cube. I enjoy stories that have alpha men turn into pretzels over a woman. And you can't get more alpha than an FBI man on the trail of a crook.

Hannah is a women you can come to care for, and certainly root for. She's had a rough life and an even tougher road to travel when she sticks up for the truth. I would hope that, should I ever be in her situation (and knock on wood I don't), I'd have the strength and courage to do what Hannah does and make the choices she makes.

It plays out perfectly so when it came time for the climax, the reader is ready to shout and cheer for Hannah when she gets her HEA with Ward.

Speaking about her choices, Hannah is running from a really scary creep who has help in getting back at her. I never suspected who the lackey was until Jill revealed all at the end. Oh, did I mention only one lackey? Ha! Jill played a masterful hand in weaving two suspenseful plots around our hero and heroine. It all works and it is exciting every step of the way.

I also have to mention that the title is directly linked to a secret Hannah has and one she has to learn to trust Ward with. That's another great thread throughout this romance: Trust -- how to earn it and how to give it. I have the feeling this relationship is going to last beyond the final line of the book which, I may add, is quite telling and simply beautiful. But you'll discover that once you read Share the Darkness.

Jill Monroe knows her way around an HEA. Read it and see for yourself.

Rating:

Reviewed by: Xeranthemum

NOTE: Leave a comment on this blog post between 9/18/07 - 9/21/07, and be entered to win an autographed copy of "Hitting the Mark" by Jill Monroe.

Review: Whiskey Shots, Volume 9

Whiskey Shots, Volume 9
By Jane Toombs

Blood Calls To Blood: Maire Nigend, forty plus and flat broke, can't believe her luck when she inherits a remote family estate—complete with lake. She's aware nobody gets something for nothing. Still, all she's required to do is, on Midsummer's Eve, build a bonfire on the shore of Lake Grendel and carry out a simple ceremony. No problem. Or is it?

Moon Changers: In California, Weylin Lupin's epiphany during a revival meeting leads not to the church, but to regaining his health by naked moon bathing. Others join him. Jacqui Somalio joins the group against her father's wishes, earning Weylin a dangerous enemy. Worse, one night under a full moon as the group chants, "Change! Change!" something in the nearby woods howls in answer…

Jane Toombs explores family ties and the boundaries of the paranormal genre in the mini anthology Whiskey Shots Volume 9.

The first story, Blood Calls to Blood, features Maire Nirgend who arrives at the family estate she is to eventually inherit only to find it comes with a legacy that will either become her greatest pleasure or her ultimate undoing.

It took a few paragraphs for me to get into Blood Calls to Blood. There were long sentences laden with lots of facts and back story. Once I got past that, though, I was well and truly hooked. The story had a gothic feel to it and Ms. Toombs does a great job of mixing big revelations and little twisty shocks which keep the plot on track and the reader off balance. Insinuations of incest may disturb more sensitive readers. Blood Calls to Blood will appeal to fans of old school gothics and the work of V.C. Andrews.

In the second story, Moon Changers, Weylin Lupin forms an alternative religion around the healing powers of the moon. Through it, he meets and falls in love with Jacqui who comes with an angry papa who has violent connections. In his struggle to keep Jacqui, Weylin discovers a long lost brother and the family secret that kept them apart.

I thought Moon Changers was the stronger story of the two. There were no long blocks of info-dump this time, and the pace is peppy. There were multiple point of view characters, but no confusing head hopping in the middle of scenes. Without giving away any fun surprises, Ms Toombs mixes two seemingly incompatible motifs to great effect. Moon Changers will appeal to fans of werewolf stories, particularly the work of C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp.

The stories in Whisky Shots Volume 9 aren’t classically paranormal romance. I would categorize them as dark fantasy with romantic elements. But they’re so interesting and well-plotted that they’re definitely worth your time.

Rating:

Reviewed by: Daisy

Monday, September 17, 2007

Review: Never Naughty Enough

Never Naughty Enough
By Jill Monroe

She's the perfect executive assistant - or at least she was until she agreed to be put under hypnosis at a party. Overnight, the very proper Annabelle Scott turned into a terrible tease. Now she doesn't "do" typing or filing and spends most of her time wondering which of the naughty items in her wardrobe might do a good "job" - on her boss.

Wagner Achrom is a sexy workaholic who barely knows that she exists. But she plans to change all that when she lets down her hair and clues him in to the fact that, in future, the new "Belle" plans on leaving her most intimate things where they belong - off! After all, she's learned firsthand that you can never be naughty enough...

Annabelle Scott is a woman like many of us; likes a guy and doesn’t quite know how to get his attention.

Wagner is like the guy many of us drool over; smart, hunky but clueless.

Enter the plan, the mantra and the manipulations of Annabelle’s good friend Katie and the reader is off to enjoy how spontaneous hypnosis has far reaching effects on the two characters. I think all of us have fantasies we repress for fear of reprisal or rejection or we’re just plain uncomfortable with how it makes us feel. You know, like deep down maybe we’re, well, naughty? Jill has fun with that concept; what happens when we lose our inhibitions and follow our inclinations with gusto.

I have to warn you, once Annabelle lets loose, we get to read some HOT scenes as she gives ol’ Wagner a clue as to how she really feels. And I give Wagner some credit; he’s quick on the uptake.

As with all good romances, you have to get a feel for your heroine and hero; to care for them and to see them as people you can relate to. Jill accomplishes that by giving these two endearing and repressed individuals their family pasts to overcome. They both have succeeded. They can see it in each other but not in themselves, and isn’t that the hardest thing to do? To forgive ourselves?

If you enjoy passionate characters, explosive sensual encounters, sweet and tender moments sprinkled with humor and an HEA worth smiling over, then Never Naughty Enough has more than enough to deliver. In fact, I bet you'll crack up when you find out how Annabelle saves the day and what little blue magic she uses to do it.

Rating:

Reviewed by: Xeranthemum

NOTE: Leave a comment on this blog post between 9/17/07 - 9/21/07, and be entered to win an autographed copy of "Hitting the Mark" by Jill Monroe.

Review: Love in Shadow

Love In Shadow
by Sonja Foust

Vivacious tomboy Shadow is in love with her boss and best friend, Lon, but loving him is complicated for other reasons. He's the widower of a beautiful woman, killed in a highway robbery by Shadow's own people, the fairies. Now, almost five years since her death, fairies attack their wagon train again, and this time Lon bears the brunt of it. Shadow has to leave, for Lon's good and for her own, since she'll never be able to atone for the sins of her people. Lon couldn't possibly love her in spite of everything? could he?

Love in Shadow is a short glimpse into a world where fairies are commonplace, and typically unkind and much persecuted. Shadow is a fairy who has left her own world and people behind. She works for Lon, and has since before he was widowed. His beloved wife was killed by fairies, and no one is able to forget, even Shadow who has fallen in love with him.

Lon is an amazing man of strong character, and it’s easy to see why Shadow would love him. She is a tomboy with a smart mouth, but is deeply devoted to Lon and his children. She would happily sacrifice anything for them, if she thought it would keep them safe and happy.

Overall, I enjoyed this story. It has some head-hopping, and one character who is inconsistent in his behavior toward fairies, but these things didn’t ruin the story – though they did take me out of it.

Still, with personable characters (especially Lon!), and an interesting plot that leads the reader down and emotional path and a lovely HEA, this quick read will bring a smile to your face.

Rating:

Reviewed by: Poppy

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Review: Better Late - Legend of the Celtic Brooch 6

Better Late [The Legacy Of The Celtic Brooch 6]
by Vivienne Lorret

A simple gift

She always wore the brooch as a constant reminder of the man she loved, and the life they never had. Now, after twelve years, she has a second chance.

A twist of fate

He never stayed in one place long enough to form attachments. Now, for the next two months he would battle his greatest temptation.

Looking for a quick read to finish the summer with? A short story that will end the summer on a bright note? Try Better Late, by Vivienne Lorret, the latest short story in the Legacy of the Celtic Brooch series. Each story is a stand alone book, set in different time periods with different characters. Better Late is a contemporary romance.

Sienna Logan knows what she wants and has known since she was sixteen: Rees, the man of her dreams. But dreams is the only place Rees has ended up - so far. Sienna is a self assured character that the reader will enjoy. As with any short story, the word count limits the amount of detail and character development that can be used. Vivienne Lorret does an excellent job of building Sienna’s character within this brief frame work. Sienna had a rocky past but one that she refuses to let hold her down. Where Rees on the other hand hasn’t coped as well. As far as strong rugged hero’s go, Rees falls short but he does have enough endearing qualities to ensure the reader will like him.

The romance between Rees and Sienna is built more on emotion than sexual tension. They are drawn to each other sexually but it’s the emotional bond that is built. While Sienna is sure that Rees is the man for her, Rees is just as sure he is never meant to settle down. Again, for the length of the story, the plot is well developed without large jumps and the back story is filled in nicely. The reader will have no trouble following the story line nor question why Sienna and Rees act the way they do. Just when the reader thinks Sienna and Rees are destined to be together, Ms. Lorret throws an curve into the mix. The reader wonders if maybe the magic of the brooch isn’t strong enough to bring this couple together after all.

Better Late is the only book in the Legacy of the Celtic Brooch series I’ve read but if this one is any indication - the entire series is worth checking out.



Review by Magnolia

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Review: Shadows in the Heart

Shadows in the Heart
by Jewels of the Quill

Rediscover chills and thrills…and quills…on Halloween!

Seven JEWELS OF THE QUILL AUTHORS offer stories with horrors, romance, shudders, woo-woo and a few giggles. Halloween lovers can expect to be charmed, bewitched and scared freaky.

A collection of scary and humorous stories for readers to enjoy during the spooky season...or any day of the year!

Shadows in the Heart - is an anthology of spooky-themed tales, all with paranormal elements featuring seven authors and published by Whiskey Creek Press. I suspect it was unintentional or coincidental, but guess that many of these authors are feline-fans.

The Unvanished Hitchhiker by Margaret L. Carter The innocuous little place at the end of the road houses two women; one cheerily competent, and the other, oddly knowing, even expectant. We know something will happen - and are not disappointed. The occurrence is bizarre, and still, believable.

There is that person inside all of us that wants to debunk the paranormal. When the main character sets out out to clear up the questions brought about by the strange occurrences of Halloween night, we are join her quest, impatient to discover what really happened. The writer presents a puzzle though, that is sure to intrigue.

When the Dead People Brought A Dish-to-Pass by Christine DeSmet is a paranormal mystery. It starts with tragedy - then a puzzle. Main character Alyssa is well-meaning, but tormented by her own past. Alyssa doubts herself, her sanity, and we share her - and perfect pussy Miss Millicent's -irritation, with the fleabag of a ghostly cat intruder, too. Threads of romance weave the story together offers a certain appeal and rather farcical humor. The premise is unusual and the story is a quick and entertaining read.

Trick or Treat by Carrie S. Masek has the immediacy and punch of the best of first-person narratives. We find ourselves in shoes familiar to most of us - walking house to house, hoping for the best treats... and just at that stage where one starts to wonder just where the treat cut-off age is. Derrick, chaperoning a six-year-old, has better plans in store, but adult concerns land him in disappointment. It is all so comfortably familiar - from the spooky dark walk to the hoped for candy (Snickers and M&Ms feature highly.) So, when things really start to happen, it is a total surprise. This is fast and fun, as well as incredibly imaginative and unexpected.

Ghost of a Chance by Karen Woods. A match-making ghost inhabits this tale. The courtroom setting catches the attention right off the bat. While much of the tale happens in retrospective it remains active and interesting. Strong characters really make this tale. The writer manages to balance grief delicately. This lively contemporary romance is sure to please. Most intriguing may be Mystery, the cat... who might be a cat, and then again, might not.

White Elephants by C. J. Winters: When a deadline looms, even the dead can't drag the twins from their commitments! This active story features one unfortunately-located skeleton, snappy dialogue, and (to save time) a self-appointed forensics team. The premise is a hoot and the story unpredictable. Who would have thought that resolving one minor problem (what to do with that unwanted skeleton in the closet) would lead to such offbeat adventures?

Papa by Karen Wiesner. In this is a dark and disturbing tale, guilt only serves to feed the terror. The darkness of the theme is enhanced by many images: from tombs, accidental death, endless grief and a place, called a "Grimm." Sin and guilt form a backdrop here, as well as the specter of a pact with the devil. It starts dark enough, but the growing awareness of a true horror waiting just around the corner will make even hardcore horror fans cringe.

The Beast by Jane Toombs The anxiety builds in this tale built around a costume ball. Our fuzzy-headed narrator leads us to question the sanity of our perspective. Why would she want to go as a bride - or better yet, a saint? Who exactly will be attending as the Beast Man, and why shouldn't he be mentioned? This tale charms us with its questions, twists our perspective, and requires our narrator to take things into her own delicate hands.

Rating:

Review by: Snapdragon

Friday, September 14, 2007

Review: Go Between

Go Between
by Dayna Hart

Between two races that hate each other, at the doorway between two worlds, can Claire find the strength to be the emissary they all need?

Book One of The Curtain Torn series.

Halfway through her twenties, her divorce, and a bottle of rye, Claire opens her birthday present—a “pressed fairy” book.

One of the fairies is neither pressed, nor a picture. He’s the sinfully sexy Dell, who’s been trapped inside the book for twenty years. The moment Claire frees him, goblins attack her house. Dell and Claire’s only option is to use a “Between”—a rift between their worlds—to escape into the land of Fae.

There, Claire discovers the elven queen, Eliane, has a mission for her—one that has her keeping secrets from Dell. And ousting the goblins from her home is only the start.

Dayna Hart has the beginnings of an interesting fantasy series in this, the first installment of her “The Curtain Torn” series.

The protagonist, Claire, has certainly had her share of misery at the opening of the book and, as I got to know her character, I found myself cheering for both her new opportunities and for her fledgling romance with Dell, the sexy elf who’s captured her heart.

Hart’s story line is imaginative and contains surprises throughout. It’s the type of story that will engage any reader of contemporary fantasy. From the opening through the first half, the story simply explodes with energy. There are twists, emotional highs and lows, danger and new worlds to explore. By the second half, however, the book becomes a set-up for the next installment in the series, and the plot becomes muddled.

What’s missing from Hart’s story is… the rest of the story. This is definitely a part one: much of this book seems to be a set-up for future installments. I’m greatly looking forward to those future installments, as I believe there’s enormous potential here, but I was left wanting much more than I got by the ending of this one.

The other issue I had with the novella is that some of the character dynamics were left in a confusing or unresolved state. There is a point in the story where Claire has numerous revelations about previous actions from Dell, and she keeps stating that “Now, she understands why…” The problem is, I didn’t. I got lost at this point in Claire’s journey. I was also lost by the actions of Eliane, who is either a partner, or an antagonist, or both, and this is another thing that’s still unresolved by the end of Go Between.

While I certainly want a book to leave me wanting more, I felt a bit like Go Between is really the companion book or back story for the next novella in the series.

Dell and Claire are engaging protagonists, and I want to know more about their individual stories and whom they will become during their upcoming adventures. The secondary characters, as well, whom I’m not going to reveal here, because a key character is one of the wonderful surprises of the story, are well-drawn, endearing and intriguing.

I will look forward to the continuing chapters in this series. Would I like to find out what will happen in the future? Absolutely. Did I love this book? Not so much, only because I felt like I needed much more from the characters and the story line by the end of this segment.

Book Rating:

Reviewed by: Sunflower

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Review: Copacetic

Copacetic
by Laura Hogg

Claire is a woman searching for true love yet at the same time, craves strength and freedom of expression in the year 1924. She is in serious danger from her boyfriend and must in the end, save herself.

Snappy dialogue charged with historic colloquialisms drives this short 1920s romance. The powerful lead character is balanced nicely by her caring, quite "swell" admirer, but this is no simple love story. Danger lurks; grave, personal danger. Fear won't repress this beautiful woman, though. Claire Hamilton voted for Davis, understands politics, and will live with respect, or else. This story is on the 'up and up -- It's a hit!

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Review by Snapdragon