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Friday, October 31, 2008

Informally Yours



Informally Yours by Beth Caudill
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Holiday, Halloween
Length: Short
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Calla Lily

Each day Melinda Jenson goes to work at Formally Yours, a high-end formal wear store, unaware the customers and owner are members of the local supernatural community. On Halloween night, Melinda's boss asks her to make a simple delivery. Unwilling to disappoint her niece and nephew, she arrives late and has an unexpected encounter with a wolf. Now she’s chasing cute, furry forest creatures, and mated to a man she barely knows. “May you live in interesting times,” just took on a whole new meaning.

Halloween is my favorite time of year, so I was excited to read “Informally Yours” by Beth Caudill. The main character, Melinda, works at a high-end formal wear store. On Halloween, Melinda’s boss asks her to make a simple delivery to a male client. Since she already had plans with her niece and nephew, Melinda arrives late to her delivery. This is when things get strange for Melinda; she has an encounter with a wolf. Now she finds herself running in the woods and mating with a man she hardly knows.

I enjoyed this short story very much. Melinda is a very likable character. The story opens with Melinda bored at work, waiting to hand out candy at her sister’s house for Halloween. She couldn’t wait to see her niece and nephew so time felt like it was moving in slow motion. When her boss offers to let her leave early if she does a favor, Melinda jumps at the chance. Since she already promised to help her sister, she decided to make the delivery after. Then things really get strange for Melinda. She will find her life totally changed after this evening. The story is a fast paced, quick read. I love the way Beth Caudill writes such detailed passages. You can picture everything that Melinda sees throughout the story. I would recommend reading this sweet and sexy Halloween tale.

The Wild Sight



The Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Rose

Cursed with the Irish clairvoyance known as "The Sight," Donovan O'Shea fled to America to escape his "gift." Fifteen years later, his father's illness has forced him to return to the family homestead where years earlier, Donovan's mother disappeared into the fens and was never seen again. Now the same fens are offering up secrets, both ancient and recent, and restoring a terrible legacy that just may drive him mad. And if this were not trouble enough, a beautiful woman walks into his life, claiming to be his half-sister.

Rylie Powell never knew her real father. Her mother would only say he was a charming Irishman who seduced her, married her, and then abandoned her and his baby daughter. But after her mother's death, Rylie finds tantalizing clues about her father that send her off to Northern Ireland and an archeological site on Dermot O'Shea's property, the man listed on her birth certificate as her father.

Did Dermot O'Shea father both Donovan and Rylie? What is Donovan's connection to the Celtic High King Niall of the Nine Hostages? And what secrets do the fens hold that invites murder?

Loucinda McGary’s first book, The Wild Sight had two things going for it right off the bat. It’s set in my favorite country of Ireland and it’s filled with magic and romance. The fact that it turned out to be the kind of story that literally had me up ’til all hours of the night to finish it because I literally could not put it down was an added benefit.

From the first chapter of the book, Ms. McGary pulls you into the magic and mystery of Donovan O’Shea and his “gift.” And the air of mystery about his gift reels the reader in. What will the outcome be as Donovan is drawn without fail to a place he has good reason to avoid? And what will the outcome be as he meets Rylie, who claims to be his half-sister? Especially when they realize the attraction between them and are forced to fight against it.

Ms. McGary has richly drawn all the characters in this book and kept this reader guessing until close to the end how all the pieces tied together. But, she weaves distant past, near past, and present together is a masterful blend of mystery, magic, and romance. I will keep my eye out for more books from this author. She is definitely a writer to keep an eye on.

The Gypsy Legacy: The Marquis



The Gypsy Legacy: The Marquis by Denise Patrick
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Orange Blossom



One promise, two pendants…love that was destined to be.

Lady Christina Kenton's life is turned upside down when her gypsy great-grandmother gives her a pendant, along with a deathbed request—Tina must promise to marry only the man wearing its mate. But Tina cannot bring herself to make the promise, for her late stepfather has already pledged her hand to his long-absent heir.

Jay Collings, now the Marquis of Thanet, returns to England after an eighteen-year absence to honor a promise to a gypsy who once aided him, only to discover he must break his vow in order to secure his inheritance. The last thing he wants is a wife chosen by the father he despised.

Tina's gentle strength touches Jay in ways no other woman has. And, unknown to them both, she holds the key to Jay's promise and his inheritance. But just as their fragile relationship begins to take root, the legacy of her gypsy blood brings danger to their doorstep. Jay and Tina's destinies may be entwined—but will they live long enough to fulfill them?

“Once upon a time there was a gypsy girl named Nona…” And so the book ends but really that is where this story begins.

Denise Patrick has once again written a first-class historical novel in The Marquis. I love a good historical (especial the Victorians), and Ms. Patrick is fast becoming one of my favorite authors in the genre. Not only are her plots filled with living-breathing characters (at least they seem that way) but her plots are always intricate and involved. Along with getting hero and heroine together, there is also some family secret or mystery to be solved in order for these characters to find true happiness.

One point thwarting historical novelists is that their characters seem almost like the ones from a previous story. Not the case in The Marquis. They were fresh and interesting, and I felt as though I’d seen a photograph as they seemed so life-like. Tina and Jay are a true match in more ways than one. I enjoyed every moment I spent with them: the passion, the excitement, the suspense…the love. Wonderful couple worthy of being together.

Secondary characters really can make or break a story. I absolutely loved the secondaries in this book. The younger sister, Felicia, was especially a favorite and I can’t wait for her story which I know is coming soon. Then, of course, there is the villain threatening the heroine like in a good old-fashioned Gothic novel. But in this story, can the hero save the day or does the heroine have more up her sleeve then she has heretofore let on?

The Marquis is a delightful book of following your heart vs. following your destiny. Masterfully written, it will leave you wanting more and thankful there are sequels soon to come. Look out for this author. Ms. Patrick is going to make her mark alongside other greats like Georgette Heyer—mark my words.

Sex and the Psychic Witch



Sex and the Psychic Witch by Annette Blair
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Xeranthemum

Introducing the Cartwright sisters-Harmony, Destiny and Storm-triplets and unstoppable seductresses.

Harmony, the buyer for her sisters' vintage curio shop, can read objects and learn of their former owners. Now, a Celtic ring leads her to a castle on the coast of Massachusetts. King Paxton's money-pit is cursed, and he hopes that this leggy blonde can help him find peace with an angry ghost, a disgruntled renovation crew-and his own heart.

Sex and the Psychic Witch had me laughing, giggling and just flat out enjoying myself as I watched a woman totally charm and undermine a ex-military man’s determination to be unaffected by her.

King Paxton is described in the story in many a varied way by the heroine, Harmony Cartwright. Harmony not only has a way with words but with clothing, attitude, and ghosts too. She is a witch who is in touch with good karma and optimism. She stands her ground and is uninhibited to such an extent that she embraces who and what she is – no apologies. She loves sex, isn’t shy about it, but is particular just the same. And wait until you get a load of what she calls Mr. Paxton’s male anatomy. It is going into my vocabulary from this day onwards. Ms. Blair took a piece of purple prose and made it her own. Every time Harmony used innuendo, it sent me into gales of laughter. I don’t think I’ve read a book with such an animated character. And I have to love a character that has a passion for statement shirts.

Harmony’s animation is bemusing, perplexing and exasperating to King Paxton. At first he wants nothing to do with her, then, can’t get enough of her. His pursuit has him ending up in the most embarrassing and hilarious predicaments. A man with the sense of humor of a prune doesn’t stand a chance against a woman like Harmony. The evolution of King’s demeanor, his outlook on life and his belief system is a delight to watch. Not to mention his views about statement shirts. King is a hunk with baggage and he’s going to have to move it or lose it because Harmony is moving in.

I also really liked the set up of this story because it introduces King’s two best buds along with Harmony’s two sisters. I can see two sequels coming up easily. Ms. Blair developed the secondary characters to a perfect point because I want to read about them as well, preferably as soon as possible. Those other two guys, Aiden and Morgan, are quite yummy in their own right.

Add in a mentally touched ghost, unknown family members, flying kitty cats with attitude and a toy room that eerily comes to life and Sex and the Psychic Witch should keep you zipping through the pages as fast as it did me.

This story is a stand alone and from reading it, I realized that there is one book that came before. I guarantee you that I’m going to be finding it and reading it. If Sex and the Psychic Witch is a consistent example of this author’s writing style, she’s going to become a must buy for me. I love laughter and romance and this author seems to have it in spades.

Seek Ye First My Heart



Seek Ye First My Heart by Kimberlee R. Mendoza
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Length: Full
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Books
Review by Black-eyed Susan

Excited about running with the popular crowd and dating older guys, Cassi Russell can’t wait to start high school. But when her friend, Beth, blackballs her from the in-crowd, Cassi decides to get even. She sets her sights on Beth’s boyfriend, Kip Bryant, the quarterback. Her plan works beautifully, but not without a problem. Cassi never intended on falling for film geek, Neil Rosenberg; the first guy to ever see beyond her physical appearance. Now she must decide what is more important - revenge and popularity, or losing Neil’s friendship and love forever.

Seek Ye First My Heart is the third in the Russell family series by this author. The focus in this book is the Russell family's third child, 15 year-old Cassi, a self-focused, boy-crazy fashionista. Frankly, when I started the book, I didn't think I would like it because I surely didn't like the main character! I found myself rolling my eyes at her vanity, petulance, and self-absorption. I was ready to pull aside her clueless fictional mother and give her a piece of my mind concerning her wild daughter.

But I kept reading and somehow, someway - very gently - Ms. Mendoza changed my view of Cassi Russell. I began to see her as a young woman who was conflicted and confused and who needed love. I started rooting for her, hoping for her. I celebrated when she took a right turn or made an important self discovery; I cringed when she fell back into old patterns and blew it. I was beginning to care about Cassi, and, more importantly, I was getting sucked into the plot.

The author has a real gift for making a point without preaching at her readers; she lets the story itself give the message. Her passion, at least in this series, seems to be to gently remind her young adult audience to not judge others by their outward appearance or reputation. When Neil, a handsome techno "geek" looks past Cassi's behavior and beyond her outer beauty (something the other guys seemed to have difficulty doing) and shows appreciation for the person inside, it shows Cassi that she can be loved for who she is...at least she can, if she can keep her focus off of Kip Bryant, the hot-looking football jock.

Complaints? Only a couple, really. There were a few typos and one glaring editing snafu that got missed. The previous book in the series tells us about Cassi's older brother Nick. He had a wonderful girlfriend named Sherry who dies tragically in an automobile accident. In some earlier parts of this current story, the deceased teen is correctly labeled as "Sherry", but when Cassi gets a chance to comfort her brother, she refers to his girlfriend as "Shelly." Oops!

There are also some details that confused me a bit. For instance, the author mentioned the "ASB" posters on the walls of the high school. This reader, albeit a few years out of high school, has no idea what those are. Nor could I get any clues from an internet search. And where I'm from, cheerleaders might wear their uniforms to school on a game day, but on the first day of school AND on the second day? I found it somewhat difficult to believe that the cheerleaders were parading around school in their uniforms on a daily basis. I also fear that the author's mention of current movie and music titles will somewhat limit the appeal of an otherwise timeless story line.

Nonetheless, I would recommend Seek Ye First My Heart to any teenager looking for a clean and compelling romance to read between classes. Teens will resonate with the ubiquitous cliques and camaraderie, as well as the fears and insecurities of Ms. Mendoza's characters. Best of all, they will discover the importance of loving others instead of judging them without even realize there is a lesson being learned.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Love, Vampire Style



Love, Vampire Style by Toni V. Sweeney
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Xeranthemum

For over 290 years, Val had played fast and loose where women were concerned, so when he was ordered to think "marriage," rebellion set in...until he met Aneke, who was everything he wanted in a wife--except that she's human....

Love, Vampire Style is a story filled with fun, surprises and reading it was time well spent.

Valerius tickled my funny bone. For all his advanced age, all three hundred plus, he’s still fresh and full of life. Most vampire stories have them suffering ennui after being ‘alive’ for so long. This story was a pleasant change; there was no cynicism or dark brooding nor were there enemies salivating to take over the world. This is a story about any royal family and its duties and Valerius has been tapped to produce. Poor guy—I just hate being told to do something when all along I intended to do that very thing but when ordered to do what I was going to do, I don’t want to do it now because now its satisfaction and worth of doing seems deflated and demeaned. So too, Valerius. I understood his stance and I could relate. I liked Valerius so I was interested in seeing how he would handle the decree. He sneaked out.

Where he goes surprises me and further, how he interacts with Aneke when he meets her is charming. Watching Valerius’s attitude and demeanor change during what ends up as a courtship was endearing because he was adorably bemused. I enjoyed how and when his strength of character manifested. It’s not like Valerius is weak, not by a long shot. His history does have tragedy but he is a specie who lives and matures differently I think, than humans. And you know what they say, boys mature slower than girls.

I don’t believe I got to know Aneke very well, but her entrance alone could clarify her character. This girl has spunk and it not a pushover.

Both Valerius and I were surprised with the revelation about Aneke, although thinking back, perhaps I shouldn’t have been. I was enjoying the story too much to think too deeply. What really got me was the ending. If you’ve read a good share of vampire romances, you might recall that one of their claims to fame is their plans within plans; and plots and machinations that move people about like chess pieces. The final revelation shows cheek and clever maneuvering by the mind of Ms. Sweeney. The HEA between Valerius and Aneke is very satisfactory but no one is more satisfied than the organizers of the master plan. It would not have worked as well if Ms. Sweeney wasn’t such a clever writer.

Love, Vampire Style may be short but if you want to sit back and enjoy a paranormal delight, sink your teeth into this story.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Nightlust



Nightlust by Carrie Destler
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Amaranth

After Lucas Carstairs' fiancée Angelica is murdered, he embraces the dark eternity of a vampire. With immortality, he knows he'll find her again. Tormented and alone, he searches for her for over three hundred years, finally finding her in present day Los Angeles. His appearance in the city coincides with serial killer tagged The Mutilator. Who is this murderer? Lucas, Police Detective Jack Rogan or his partner Slater? Perhaps he's Allan Cooper, the intrepid reporter. Angelica is next on the killer's list, and Lucas comes face to face with the possibility of losing her all over again.

In the mid-1700’s, Angelica and Lucas fall madly in love. However, Angelica’s cruel father forbids their love. On the night that they are secretly betrothed, Angelica’s father catches them together and murders Angelica. Lucas is overwrought with grief and mourning. While holding Angelica’s cold body, he is approached by a stranger, whom he comes to know as Lord Elston.

Lord Elston offers Lucas the strength to exact revenge on Angelica’s father. In return, Lucas must devote himself to Lord Elston. Lucas accepts and Lord Elston turns him into a vampire. Now, Lucas has the power to kill Angelica’s father, which he does with ferociousness.

Lucas searches for Angelica for over 300 years and, finally, he finds her, reincarnated. Angelica feels an instant attraction to Lucas and feels like she already knows him, although she knows that she has never met him. After she falls in love with Lucas, he reveals everything to her. Can Angelica still love Lucas when she learns that he is a vampire? Will they be able to survive the attack from the serial killer, The Mutilator?

“Nightlust” by Carrie Destler was a short, enjoyable read. The plot was simple and well thought out and moved at a fast pace. The characters were likeable, though I felt that I did not get to know them as well as I could have. The writing was neat, but I did find several misplaced commas. If this book were just a little longer, to give a little more information to the reader, I felt that it would be much better. That being said, I enjoyed this book and I do recommend it to anyone who enjoys hot paranormal romance, but is looking for a quick read.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Trick to Treat



Trick to Treat by Kimberlee Mendoza
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult, Holiday
Length: Short
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Xeranthemum



Sarah Bradley has wanted to hang with the popular kids since her freshman year, and now she has the chance. All she has to do is survive a Halloween scavenger hunt with the "in" crowd. When the girls lock her in a haunted mansion, she feels the trick is on her. Then she meets Matt and begins to believe that maybe she got a treat after all. But what if "love" is part of the game?

Trick to Treat is a very sweet story with a poignant look at life during high school. I could easily identify with Sarah because I too was on the outside looking in. Unlike Sarah, I never had a “Carrie” moment when I realized that the ‘in’ crowd was using me for their own perverse enjoyment.

Initially, I felt bad for Sarah—but not for long. Her character would not let me. Sarah has spunk, a strong sense of self and comes from a loving family which believes in her. She’s gotten a good foundation and it holds her in good stead. Good thing too because her fortitude is tested severely.

Ms. Mendoza has the ‘in’ crowd pegged exactly. The dynamics of what makes up the clique is believable and their dialogue supported that.

Matt is interesting. The role he plays vacillates from hero, to anti-hero and back. Peer pressure makes normally nice people do some strange things and I guess a mark of character is when you are called on the carpet for those very things that made sense in the beginning but yet turn out to be moronic. Will the real Matt show up?

If one of your favorite movies is Sixteen Candles, then Trick to Treat should appeal. It has the same aspects of emotional growth, sweet discovery and paybacks. The HEA gave me the impression that we’ll someday be hearing at their 50th wedding anniversary party about how they came to be high school sweethearts. And what a great story that will be.


Tree of Buried Secrets



Tree of Buried Secrets by Cassie Exline
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Amaranth



A dark night. A terrible tragedy. A buried secret.

On the night of her elopement, Julia witnesses a tragedy that spawns generations of secrets. For too long she's managed to remain silent. Only when Julia is unable to carry her burden any longer does she dare confess what she saw that one dark night decades ago…

Warning: explicit sex, dark secrets and a lost love.

On the night of their planned elopement, Julia and Alex meet under the apple tree where they first met and fell in love. Alex wants to make love one more time as single people. Julia has reservations, afraid that her father may return home and catch them, but she cannot refuse Alex. They make love on the bed of white apple blossoms; and then tragedy strikes.

Julia keeps the dark secret of that night for fifty years. On the anniversary of that fateful night when her life was changed forever, Julia overhears her two children discussing what they believe is her secret. She is horrified by their assumptions and decides that she must tell her son, Edward, the truth, or at least, the part that relates mostly to him and his father.

This story centers on Julia, the apple tree, and her memories. The plot is simple, yet the way that it was written was both intriguing, and, at times, confusing. Before I understood that Julia was reminiscing and that the author was taking me back and forth between present and past, I became slightly confused. Once I figured that part out, it was a heart-touching story. I never guessed what the secret was until Julia revealed all to her son.

Cassie Exline did an excellent job of bringing to life the sorrows and joys that Julia experienced all those years ago, and her melancholy over what really happened that night. Ms. Exline spent a little time explaining Julia’s and her husband’s families and how the family business came to be. At the time of reading, I felt that it was too much information and taking from the story a bit. However, after finishing the book and understanding the secret that Julia had to reveal, I feel that Ms. Exline gave just enough information to help her readers understand the full story; and without that story, it would have all been a bit confusing trying to follow how that night and the following days and years progressed. The writing and editing was clean, and I am happy that I had the opportunity to read and review this book.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Courting Trouble



Courting Trouble by Renee Knowles
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Amaranth

Lord Anthony Darby is determined to marry a wife with an exemplary reputation. Then he sees his childhood companion, gorgeous, scandalous, Lily Kennyon again. And all he wants is her in his bed. He decides to avoid her. Until her father makes him an irresistible offer: he'll sponsor Anthony's entry into an exclusive club, if Anthony will accompany his outcast daughter to society events. Can Anthony resist Lily's sensual lure? Or will his hunger make him lose control?

Lily has always rued her impulsive nature. Never more than when her defiance led to an accident, which paralyzed her sister. Afterward, she decided if her sister would never marry, neither would she. Yet she wants to experience lovemaking. So, when Anthony courts her, she devises a plan to seduce him. But she fears she's falling in love. Then she discovers Anthony's attentions were all part of a pact with her father…

Anthony Darby is a newly appointed Earl. After traveling around the world for his studies, he decides that it is time to find the perfect wife and settle down. His future wife must meet specific requirements, because Anthony will take no chances on choosing an unfaithful woman like his mother.

While attending a party just before the start of the London season, Anthony is bored and can’t believe the undesirable ladies with whom he has been introduced. When Anthony comes face to face with Lilly, her beauty takes his breath away. He is even more surprised when he recognizes her as a childhood friend.

Lilly was the center of a terrible scandal last season and is still scorned by the ton. When she sees Anthony, she is overcome by feelings, since Anthony has always been the one that she loves. He was her childhood crush and hero and she can’t believe that he is back.

Lilly does not meet any of Anthony’s requirements for a wife; in fact, she is the opposite of everything he is looking for. However, his body and his heart are not listening and he quickly finds himself in an affair with Lilly and a deceptive deal with her father. When Lilly finds out about Anthony’s and her father’s deal concerning her, will she be able to forgive him and love him once more?

Renee Knowles did an amazing job with this book. A simple story line, full of passion and emotions, I was drawn in immediately. This story is very believable and I am sure that something very similar happened more than once back then. Anthony and Lilly experienced such deep emotions and Ms. Knowles conveyed those to me very well. If you enjoy historical romance with plenty of passion, you will love this book!

All the Way Back



All the Way Back by Cindy Spencer Pape
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Snapdragon

Drew Lawson left Wayback for the army a long time ago. Now he’s back, a little older and a lot wiser, but the past still haunts him. Music teacher Annie Zykov had a crush on Drew when she was a kid, but what she feels for the man is something else entirely. With Annie’s help, can Drew come to grips with his past and learn to face the future? Is love what it takes to bring him All the Way Back?

“All The Way Back” by Cindy Spencer Pape is a great new romance set in the rapidly growing town of Wayback, Texas.

A Texas-sized romance seems ready to kick off at the local barbecue joint, although our real Texas-sized hero has more on his plate than some old, sweet memories. The more recent past has left Drew doubtful of himself and his goals. He also seems a little lonely – making pretty and almost-shy little waitress Annie a dish that’s hard to pass up! Our heroine is much surer of what she wants – but spicing up her life with one handsome cowboy might require more of himself than he seems willing to give. From the first hint of wood smoke, you’ll start to feel the fire!

Compactly written, Pape still manages to give us a strong sense of who these main characters were and how they have matured. They are far from untried teenagers – although the past has shaped both of them. There in the wonderful “rodeo Mecca” they share a lot of friends, folks about town, and – to the surprise of both, they are very well-liked. The warmth of the town-folk really helps to make this story special. Annie & Drew fit right in to the immensely popular ‘Wayback Texas’ landscape - and indeed – the work is a wonderful addition to the Wayback Series.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Oh, So Right



Oh, So Right by Margo Hoornstra
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 Books

School teacher Megan Charles has known local business owner Randy Simms her entire life. Knows everything about him. She especially knows he’s nothing like her gorgeous mystery man. The one she’s absolutely positive is going to ask her to run away with him any day now.

Unlike Randy, her mystery man can take her to exotic, celebrity endowed locales. No way does Randy stand a chance to compete for Megan’s affections. Could he?

This is just a wonderful short story!

Ms. Hoornstra has done a lovely job painting a verbal portrait of two people who belong together and the circumstance that helps them realize it. There is enough conflict to keep it interesting; the action, pacing, and dialogue are realistic and move the story toward a sweet climax.

This would be a wonderful read in conjunction with a relaxing cup of tea. I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A Secret Treasure



A Secret Treasure by Lindsay Townsend
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Genre: Historical
Length: Short
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Snapdragon

The Greek island of Rhodes: luxurious and hot, beloved haunt of the Sun God, steeped in the mysteries of the past. In the late 1930s during the gathering storm-clouds of war, it is a dangerous place to fall in love.

When pretty, passionate Eve Burnett meets the darkly intriguing Julio Falcone, she is torn. As a man, Julio is powerfully attractive. As a policeman, he is bound to be a Fascist. Her brother, David, who is missing, is connected to the Greek Partisans who wish to liberate Rhodes from their Italian overlords.

Now, as David appears at their parents' house soon after Julio makes Eve's acquaintance, Eve is compelled to hide her brother and a mysterious gold statuette. The Fascists are looking for him and this secret treasure. Soon, Eve realizes that she may be forced to choose between the man she loves and the ultimate safety of her family.

Suspenseful from its opening lines, Townsend’s A Secret Treasure takes us on a journey through historic Italy and into a story that charms with its joys, terrifies with its suspense, and more than intrigues with very unusual and interesting setting.

Young Eve, a transplanted English girl, is desperate to discover the whereabouts of her brother – desperate enough to seek help from the authorities.

The Blackshirts run the charming Greek Island of Rhodes, during the thirties, but of course, but resistance is common. Many hate the fascists – and Eve is among them. To Eve’s horror, the one kind, sympathetic man who claims to be interested in helping her, is one of Them! In some ways, Julio Falcone, a carabiniero might not be considered one of them, but since he is introduced by corrupt Luigi Grasso, it doesn’t look good. Pretty and petite Eve seems to have caught his eye – but does she even want his interest?

Eve is far from sweet and timid. She is the child of scholars, with an interest in archeology, and can be both clever and confrontational. The reader will find themselves admiring her. Surprisingly, Falcone seems more forthcoming than expected… and intrigue builds around his efforts to unearth clues about Eve’s brother David’s disappearance. One worry becomes quite another, as unexpected twists develop. Poor Eve may yet regret involving the authorities!

The wonderful flavor of old Italy or, more correctly, Greece permeates this work, from cobblestone streets to the overhanging balconies. The jetty out over the sea seems fitting, and then we contemplate a simple dinner of fresh vegetables and fish. The time and place are well-established, descriptions delightful.

Local politics, gain and greed, and abuse of authority also are rife; perhaps revealing more about humanity than love stories usually attempt, and adding a great sense of depth (and contributing to the sense of foreboding). In all, the background details and sub-stories are immensely well-done and add quite an unexpected dimension to A Secret Treasure.

A few predictable occurrences hold this back from absolutely top notch, although it’s a more than worthwhile read as is. Especially wonderful, the main characters dilemmas – large and small – will keep you reading.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gateway to Heaven



Gateway to Heaven by Beth Kery
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Cholla

Life is rough when you’re gorgeous, rich, talented and so sexy that the media won’t leave you alone.

It’s certainly the truth in Christian Lasher’s case. He returns to the neighborhood of his childhood to escape the spotlight, hungering for a change in his creative endeavors. In the midst of his soul searching he meets Megan and is captured by the tantalizing hint of her hidden fires. Megan knows nothing about his wild, rebellious youth or his career as a rock star—and Christian would prefer to keep it that way.

There was much, much more to her than the role of a fragile victim.

Megan Shreve is a sculptor with creative depths and passions that tragedy had forced into the shadows. When she looks into Christian’s eyes she sees herself for the first time as an exciting, sexy woman. She longs to discover more of herself in Christian’s arms and in his bed.

Two passionate souls destined for one another—unless the stifling roles imposed by tragedy and fame rip them apart.

Christian is entranced by Megan the moment he first sees her, never once knowing what dark secret she holds deep within. Megan, with no memories of the tragedy that changed her life forever, doesn’t let it hold her back. Once the sparks start to fly, the truth must come out. Will Christian let his fame and Megan’s secret come between what they feel beginning between them or will he, and she, overcome it all?

Gateway to Heaven is a very emotional and steamy novel about overcoming your fears and reaching for what you want the most. Beth Kery has an amazing knack for creating intense sexual and emotional tension… without removing one piece of clothing. But, once they do? Watch out because your monitor will surely short itself out. I highly recommend this well-written, emotional story.