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Friday, January 30, 2009

Noel by Rose Lerma



Noel by Rose Lerma
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Inspirational
Heat Level: Sweet
Length: Short (63 pgs)
Rating: 4 Books
Review by: Orange Blossom



Olivia Sawyer manages to get through the holiday rituals only by gritting her teeth. By the time Christmas is over, she's had enough. Enough of her family's ingratitude, their total lack of a Christmas spirit. Desperate times demand desperate actions.

Not in her wildest nightmare did she think her campaign to open their eyes and change their attitudes would take a whole year. But even as the next Christmas draws near, it appears that nothing has changed.

And then fate intervenes, and it's too late for changes.

I love Christmas stories, especially Christmas tales with a lesson attached—a lesson with a twist. And that is exactly what you get in Ms. Lerma’s novella, Noel.

Olivia is a woman who has been taken for granted by her husband and her entire family one too many times. Enough is enough. She decides to teach them all a lesson…but are they even listening? By next year, will anything be any different? Olivia is like many women I know. They love their families but find themselves being used instead of being thanked for all they do. I completely related to Olivia and really felt for her plight as the story begins.

This is a quick read that will leave you wanting to reach out to your family and thankful for them. It made me think of a holiday Hallmark movie but without the fluff. Not a romance, but a Christmas novel worth reading anytime of the year. Definitely worth the read.

Solar Wind by Carole Ann Lee



Solar Wind by Carole Ann Lee
Publisher: Awe-Struck E Books
Genre: Science Fiction
Heat Level: Sensual
Length: Full
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Iris

Outwardly Slater’s a cargo pilot. In reality he's a privateer defending the trade routes. His intergalactic freighter, Solar Wind, appears harmless, yet beneath the ruse lies an advanced warship.

Having escaped from slavery, Kira joined the underground, assisting slaves to freedom. With trouble on her heels, she stows aboard Slater's ship. She’s the last thing he needs and he vows to send her back home. If they only realized their parallel missions.

Slater uncovers a shocking web of greed and betrayal, and is staggered at how close Kira came to dying.

After weeks of close quarters, Slater finally locks-in the coordinates to take Kira home, he’ll have to make the painful decision to either let her go--or risk everything by taking a chance on love.

In this futuristic tale, Kira Delaney stows aboard the freighter of acquaintance Zeke Slater, after her father’s suspicious death and a string of odd incidents at his company. She hopes to find sanctuary and help aboard Solar Wind. While Solar Wind’s captain, Zeke Slater, is less than happy to have her aboard he can’t seem to find it in his heart to turn his back on this young woman. The two of them discover both a mystery, as well as a budding attraction.

Solar Wind is an interesting suspense and a romance I found to be very sweet. Zeke comes on strong at first, a hardened playboy type who only looks out for himself, but that’s only what he wants people to see. Kira is a young girl on her own and while Zeke’s brain tells him to get as far away from Kira as he can, Zeke follows his heart instead. It was this quality that drew me to Zeke. He’s such a wonderful, tough hero who falls so hopelessly in love.

Even if Sci-Fi isn’t your favorite genre, this book has a lot to offer. It's a particularly sweet story with a hero everyone will love.

Cornflower Blue by Kathy Pratt



Cornflower Blue by Kathy Pratt
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 3 books
Reviewed by Ivy

Misty Dawn James’ journey from Iowa farm girl to California girl is at times a bumpy road. The people she meets in California are much more complicated than those she’s left at home. Her Aunt Marigold, an aging flower child, is founder of the “Red HOT Club” for single women over forty. Her friend Jackie’s flamboyant personality and appearance frequently get them into embarrassing and tricky situations. Esteban introduces her to Latino culture in California, and Misty is soon won over by the loving and lively atmosphere that surrounds all of the family gatherings he takes her to. When Misty’s father dies and she returns to Iowa for his funeral, she is forced to make an extremely difficult decision. Can her relationship with Esteban survive the challenge?

Misty arrives in California after escaping the clutches of her controlling mother, just in time to bump into a sexy bartender from The Old Spaghetti Factory. With the help of her aunt and a few quirky friends, she lands a job at the haunted restaurant and finds herself attracted to Esteban—the young man who helped her out her first day in town.

Cornflower Blue is a tongue-in-cheek stab at the stereotypical “sweet” genre of fiction. While most modest romances do not deserve the syrupy categorization, Pratt strides over the boundaries with characters that push the definitions of what is good, bad, and acceptable in today’s society. She keeps her heroine chaste, but defies the reader to cast stones at the realistic cast that accompany her.

Being a sheltered farm girl would make city life tough for anyone, but Misty James must deal with how far she wants to spread her wings. As Esteban allows her into his lovely Latin world, there are choices to make. With her rowdy aunt’s influence and a little help from the restaurant’s resident ghost, Misty comes to turns with all of the possibilities that sacrifice and forgiveness can offer.

This novel reaches for the country-turned-city-girl scenario. Unfortunately, it comes across as juvenile at times, and the ghostly subplot seems unnecessary. However, I did find cause to smile on occasion despite my lack of enthusiasm. The story does not quite fit adult fiction, even in the sweet genre. It’s my opinion that young women and teens will find the trendy setting and theme of independence appealing.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Brightest Heaven by Masha Holl



The Brightest Heaven by Masha Holl
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal
Length: Short story
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Urania, muse of Astronomy, is disconsolate: technology flourishes, but true creativity seems lost. Then she meets Daniel Kettering, an astrophysicist who shines with inspiration. But he's about to make a discovery which will threaten time, space, and every existing world.

The Olympians order Urania to carry an ultimatum for Daniel: forget your research and get eternal life. Or else. But first, Urania and Daniel have to figure out who stole Daniel's research, save the universe, and defeat Chaos; and maybe find happiness.  

Masha Holl’s “The Brightest Heaven” offers us a view of Romanesque view of the contemporary world. It is a recognizable 9-to-5 sort of place, with all the academic underpinnings of a college town life--but the gods and goddesses of the old still sit in judgment, and don’t always approve of what they find.

Even when gorgeous goddess Urania finds something she does like, it doesn’t mean things will go her way! Creativity, inspiration – she, as one of the muses of the arts, appreciates these in humans, but modern humans have become cold, disinterested in nature, and unimaginative.

Daniel Kettering is completely outside her imagining, though, and outside her easy ability to predict. He thunders in to confront a sea teeming in reality and illusion. He is more than she hoped for in this cold, oblivious world. She is far outside his experience, or his well-disciplined mind. However; he is outside of hers, as well. The personal qualities given even the higher beings here make all the characters very human.

Urania contrives what seems a magical meeting, a meeting indeed made to unveil the theories of the stars themselves; but a certain level of recognition turns to something more like confrontation. The unexpected becomes the norm, as the life of handsome Daniel Kettering, and his clever daughter Zoe are forever changed. And, the life of one Olympic goddess shall not remain untouched, either.

“The Brightest Heaven” is beautifully written and entirely unpredictable. Dialogue is snappy and believable. Modern life interweaves with mythological characters as if perfectly naturally; as if indeed, space and time wove them together.

Warm, heartfelt characters bring this highly imaginative romp through space and time to life.

The Counterfeit Countess by Kay Furness



The Counterfeit Countess by Kay Furness
Publisher: Awestruck eBooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Orchid

The famously upright Francis, Earl of Surby is astonished when the beautiful Rosalind appears, claiming to be the long lost widow of his cousin, and wanting his backing to make her entry into society as the dowager countess.

But without a marriage certificate to prove her story, Francis refuses to acknowledge her, only to find himself tricked into doing it by the determined Rosalind. He knows she must be a shameless adventuress; the only problem is that the more time he spends with her, the less he cares. And with his moral duty on a collision course with his feelings, Rosalind herself discovers that her painful past is not as buried as she had hoped.

Francis, Lord Surby, is confronted by a woman who claims to be the widow of his dead cousin Tom. Convinced she is a fraud, he’s determined to stop her taking advantage of his family name. Meanwhile the females of his family are working hard to find him a wife.

Rosalind Fallows needs to be accepted as Tom’s widow so she can use the title of Lady Surby (Dowager). Her father has left her a wealthy woman, and she would like to enter society to find a new husband. She feels strongly that she must do this under the name of Lady Surby. To do otherwise would sully the memory of her husband and dead daughter.

At first Francis thinks Rosalind is trying to get the widow’s stipend, but when he realizes she is independently wealthy, he thinks she wants to use the Surby name to find herself a wealthy husband. Rosalind has a well connected distant relation who is at odds with the Surby’s. This lady agrees to launch Rosalind into society under the title of Lady Surby. Francis is forced to back down. He and his family must show their support for the woman he thinks is an imposter. Rosalind is determined to find proof to show Francis her marriage really did take place.

I have a soft spot for Regency novels and this is one of the best. The hero and heroine travel a roller coaster ride of emotion and humor. Francis is a strong Regency hero who believes himself in charge, but is in reality ruled by the females of his family. Rosalind was a feisty young woman who, as a widow, is not restricted by the strict rules normally accorded to single ladies of that era.

If you like Regency novels, you have to read this one. It’s a book you don’t really want to put down until you get to the last page. I would recommend this to Regency fans and people who are reading this genre for the first time. A must for all!

The Bargain by Catherine Stang



The Bargain by Catherine Stang
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Camellia

In the midst of war, two enemies will make a bargain that will change their lives forever.

Major Joel Bradshaw is the Chief Medical Officer in charge of setting up a new front line hospital for the Union Army. Unfortunately, his first task is to evict the women who live in the big plantation house he must commandeer.

Strong-willed Cassandra Beaumont is determined not to allow the Yankees take her home. But when her sister-in-law develops complications during labor, Cassie is forced to swallow her pride and ask the Yankee doctor she just threatened for his help. All she has to barter with are her nursing skills and so she proposes a trade that will bring her loyalties into question.

Joel, however, soon finds himself wanting much more than a business arrangement. Torn between his orders as an officer and his desire to protect Cassie, Joel finds a way to ensure the safety of all the Beaumont women – if only Cassie will say yes!

Tagline for the Finding Home series: Sometimes home is where you least expect it.

Trust and love – where can they be found when the will of one is forced on another? War makes conditions miserable for everyone involved in The Bargain as the Yankees take over the once-prosperous Beaumont plantation to use for a hospital in the waning days of the Civil War. While the war is the venue, it is not the primary focus. Love, responsibility for family and for the wounded takes top billing.

Catherine Stang creates such realistic characters, the reader can identify with them and their needs, fears, hopes and with the day-to-day struggles they endure to survive.

Cassandra (Cassie) the “face-life-head-on” older sister does what has to be done to protect her family and the plantation in the absence of her three brothers. While Dr. Joel Bradshaw, the Union military doctor, runs the hospital doing what he can as he finds himself sandwiched between protecting Cassie and her family as he carries out the orders of crusty Colonel Stanfield. Joel is a darling!

The Bargain shows how personal lives evolve in wartime and how political ideology has little to do with whom one falls in love with. The humor and indomitable spirits of the characters make this a wonderful story of humanity and its ability to overcome awful adversity.

Ms. Stang does a remarkable job of leaving the reader with positive, upbeat hopes for the many war-scarred characters – characters who, I’m sure, will appear again as the series continues.

I’ll be looking for the next book in this series.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Saving Cinderella by Donna L. Bolk



Saving Cinderella by Donna L. Bolk
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Orange Blossom

It's Cinderella in reverse when socialite Mallory Katherine Bellsford goes from riches to rags, compliments of Jonathan Ryan MacFarland, her guardian angel. Posing as taxi driver, Jonathan is waiting outside the church when Mallory, only moments away from say, 'I Do" learns that her fiance has a pregnant girlfriend.

Mallory soon discovers that the quirky Irish taxi driver is about to take her on the ride of her life. Jonathan has a mission to accomplish. He is charged with saving Mallory from self-destruction. He strips her of her identity and informs her that her life as a pampered rich girl is over. The only way to regain her former life is to open her heart. She must find, and then give, love.

Mission impossible, because Mallory doesn't believe in love. . . that is until Adam Chandler and his daughter Hope enter her life.

A guardian angel with an Irish lilt, a selfish debutante with a lesson to learn, and a bitter cowboy with a chip on his shoulder—you get all this and more in Saving Cinderella.

As the book opened, a wedding was in full swing only to be dissolved by shocking news which sends this Cinderella off on a new adventure escorted by her Irish guardian angel, Jonathan—a true sweetheart, if I do say so myself. It doesn’t take long before Cinderella, Mallory, meets Adam Chandler and the sparks start to fly.

I have to say that in the first couple chapters with Mallory and Adam they came across a bit too caustic. For a doctor and a single father trying to retain his daughter, Adam acted quite aggressive with our heroine. She can dish it out, don’t get me wrong, but it seemed a bit over the top. Fortunately, that didn’t last long as the plot developed and the sharpness smoothed out between them while still remaining simmering and, in my opinion, much more romantic.

My main qualm with this book was too much head hopping. It got confusing knowing whose POV I was in at any given time. And I had a hard time attaching to the characters in the beginning because of it. However, as the story progressed I did enjoy the characters very much.

Saving Cinderella has snappy dialogue and the plot really moved quickly—no dull moments. Overall it was chocked full of emotion. Ms. Bolk is a terrific writer who created some memorable characters. It is a story with a child in it and the child didn’t sound too old or too young and that child didn’t take over the story. Very well-done. The ending warmed my heart. All the loose ends were tied up and I was quite satisfied.

Veracity in Truth by Rose Renée Shelly



Veracity in Truth by Rose Renée Shelly
Publisher: Awestruck EBooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating 4.5 books
Reviewed by Orchid

This is a sweeping tale of desperate love, dark intrigue, ship wreckers, smugglers, and the mysterious Lord Draken Hazelmere. Veracity Beresford, pampered darling of Regency London, finds herself torn from her safe existence. Forced by Lord Hazelmere, she travels to the Devonshire coast, to Seacliff House, there to nurse her invalid uncle. Strange things occur upon her arrival.

Veracity soon discovers she is in the midst of devious plots by persons unknown. Then, when wreckers sink a ship, Veracity realizes that Draken, the man she now loves, may be the key to it all. Is he her salvation or damnation? Are he and her uncle involved in horrible crimes? Veracity, in truth, must find the answers in time to save her and those she loves.

Lord Draken Hazelmere, Earl of Penstock is a dark, mysterious man who follows his own path in life. A strong willed man, he doesn’t suffer fools gladly. His life is a mystery to the outside world, and he seems to prefer it this way.

Miss Veracity Beresford is alone in the world, except for an uncle living in distant Cornwall. Veracity loves the society life of London, but to date has kept her heart and reputation intact. A tad naïve, she is a romantic at heart but believes in being true to herself and her country.

Draken bursts into Veracity’s life when he bangs on her front door in the middle of the night. He has come with news that her uncle is ill and needs her. Veracity is at first reluctant to leave her life in London for the rough countryside of Cornwall, but Draken’s scorn goads her into agreeing to accompany him to her uncle’s home. Veracity takes up the task of getting the house and servants running smoothly but after an attack on her uncle, she begins to wonder if Draken is somehow involved. He also seems to have connections with the smugglers who were responsible for a shipwreck on the nearby coast. Veracity’s thoughts are even more confused when she realizes she has fallen in love with the dark, secretive earl.

At first Veracity seems totally self-centered and unwilling to put her life to one side to help her uncle. Draken’s comments sting her into action, but his opinion of her is quite low. Veracity develops an attraction to Draken, but thinks she is quite shallow when it comes to her uncle’s welfare. By the end of their long journey to Cornwall their opinion of each other has improved slightly. Faced with lazy servants and a badly run house, Veracity shows the steel beneath her soft exterior as she brings order to chaos. Draken is forced to take another look at this intriguing woman. Life between them is improving, but doubt and fear interfere with their future happiness.

Cornwall is well known for smugglers and shipwrecks, both of which help to make this an intriguing story. The story is slow to start but the pace picks up when the pair arrive at the uncle’s house and intrigue begins to wind its way into the lives of the hero and heroine. Misunderstanding and distrust conflict with feelings of the heart, but duty also plays a part.

I enjoyed reading this book and would definitely recommend it to others. The author has researched her subject well to make a well rounded background to an enjoyable read. A bit somber at times, Veracity in Truth is classified as being in the historical genre, but Regency readers would also like this book.

Secrets of the Heart by Jannifer Hoffman



Secrets of the Heart by Jannifer Hoffman
Publisher: Resplendence Publishing
Genre: Contemporary; Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Book One in the Douglas Family Series

Nicole Anderson owns a successful costume design business, has a wealth of small town friends and sleeps in a lonely bed haunted by demons from the past. She’s convinced herself her life is exactly the way she wants it and has shot down every marriageable man within a fifty-mile radius.

When Hunter Douglas is assigned the task of delivering a deceased friend’s children to their aunt, he must first convince the belligerent Nicole Anderson that she actually had a sister. Though forced to take his two charges to Minnesota, Hunter fully intents to persuade Ms. Anderson to allow the children to return to New York with him —without sharing his own little secret. The last thing he wants to do is fall in love with a woman who lives in a small Midwest town with neighbors who seem to know every move he makes.

As the heat index between Nicole and Hunter rises, a bizarre puzzle begins to unfold involving false birth certificates, a stolen suitcase, odd pictures, an elusive stalker, and a grandfather’s legacy that could turn deadly.

Secrets of the Heart by Jannifer Hoffman is a romantic suspense of high quality. Hunter Douglas is a genealogical investigator, single, based in New York. When an old flame commits suicide, she notifies the police beforehand and leaves a request for Hunter to deliver her two fatherless children to the half-sister she has never met, Nicole Anderson, an historical costume designer, single, living in rural Minnesota. The stage is thus set for a mystery of high intrigue: a web of cryptic secrets where nothing is as it first appears. And this book gets off to a quick start. I found myself hooked on the story and the characters within a few pages. The author does a superlative job of keeping the suspense level high throughout the book, even managing to skillfully boost the tension in the story’s final stretch.

My only objection, apart from poor proofing, is that the love story doesn’t quite live up to its potential. Each love scene is injected with a sexual intensity that seems desperate to exceed that of their first encounter. Although the intent is worthy, the results seem contrived, resulting in scenes that reminded me of lemmings hurling from heights. The love story is long on sexual delirium but short on the emotional deepening that would have made for a more beautiful love story.

But these minor objections aside, I recommend this book. Its suspenseful tempo will quicken your pulse, and it reads as urgently as any good thriller.



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Deadly Paradise by Kathleen Mix



Deadly Paradise by Kathleen Mix
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary; Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Camellia

Alicia Kincade’s two-year-old son is onboard her ex-husband’s airplane when it vanishes in the Bermuda Triangle. The authorities find no trace of the airplane and presume they’re dead, but Alicia is determined to continue searching. Brash pilot Jake Dawson accepts a search charter but vows to stay detached from Alicia and her problems. Yet every day he flies over the Bahamas with her by his side puts him closer to losing his objectivity. When clues indicate the boy is alive and mysterious accidents hint someone wants to kill Alicia, Jake resolves to protect her at any cost. He may run from love but not from trouble. Although Alicia refuses to be distracted from her search by Jake’s advances, she must team up with him to stay alive and save her child. Soon they find the danger to their lives is real, but so is the danger to their hearts.

A mother’s love fuels Alicia Kincaide’s determination to find her ex-husband and her baby boy Shawn who disappeared in the Bermuda Triangle. Wealthy, strong-willed, resourceful, controlled, and proper, Alicia is out of her comfort zone in the Bahamas as she searches. Recognizing her limitations, she hires a pilot to help her search.

The pilot, Jake Dawson, a disenchanted human being, is ex-military and is suspicious of rich women after being deceived by one. He helps for the money she offers but tells Alicia a search is a long shot because the authorities have already looked.

Both Jake and Alicia try to keep their distance from each other, but as the days go by they each feel a growing attraction for the other, which brings about emotional upheavals.

As she weaves this tale of suspense and love, Kathleen Mix invites the reader to the beauty of the islands and reveals the vast differences between the native people and the tourists that frequent the islands. The subtle clues mingled with danger and scheming minds of the antagonists keep the reader turning pages. A few of the secondary characters do little to enhance the story and slow it down a bit but only shortly.

Near the climax, as the action rises to a fever pitch, the story is a breath-holding experience. Deadly Paradise takes the reader from the mundane world and into a world where beauty and danger co-exist, uncaring about the human beings who strive for their deepest desire to be realized. The happy-ever-after brings a happy sigh of relief.

Gallimore by Michelle Griep



Gallimore by Michelle Griep
Publisher: Black Lyon Publishing
Genre: Historical; Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Orange Blossom

Jessica Neale's faith is lost the day of her husband's death, and with it, her belief in love. In a journey to find peace, she encounters a gentle, green-eyed stranger who leads her to the ruins of the medieval castle, Gallimore.

On his way to battle, Colwyn Haukswyrth, knight of Gallimore, comes face to face with a storm the likes of which he's never seen, and a woman in the midst of it who claims to live centuries in the future. The Lady Jessica of Neale is an irksome, provoking bit of woman to be sure. And she's about to turn his beliefs on end.

The product of a family rooted in pain and evil, Colwyn has focused on naught but himself—until Jessica. To a mysterious prophecy stitched on a tapestry, through the invasion of Gallimore itself, Colwyn and Jessica are bound together by a lesson in forgiveness and love—a bond that might be strong enough to survive the grave.

Castles, battle-hardened knights, time travel and a bit of the supernatural—what’s not to love about this book??

It didn’t take but a few pages to get sucked into this story. The author has an easy, readable style that draws you in from the get-go. Terrifically developed characters, spot on historical elements, and a story with a message attached. I loved it!

Both Jessica and Colwyn come into this story with baggage but not so much that it bogs the reader down. It only made them more interesting and approachable. I enjoyed the supernatural elements drizzled throughout the story. It brought out the horrific nature of the villain and also a means for bringing the hero and heroine together.

Beautiful, beautiful story although there was a certain suddenness to the ending. (Perhaps I wanted to see more of these characters) Regardless of that, it is one of the most passionate and sensual Inspirational romances I’ve ever read and so beautifully written. If you like fantasy or historical, this is a must read!

Revelation by Allison Grant



Revelation by Allison Grant
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary; Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Greer’s roommate, Brooke, is missing. A threatening phone message implies that she may be in terrible trouble. When handsome law student and the super's son, Salvador, learns about the strange incidents, he determines to keep Greer safe at all costs.

A body turns up outside the small University town where Greer and Brooke both grew up. It quickly becomes clear that the town is not a picture of academic bliss. It seems that more people have motives for silencing Brooke than there are people to miss her. As Greer uncovers this tangled web of deception and university politics, she not only has to speculate on Brooke’s choices of relationships, but on many of her own.

While Greer and Salvador search out the truth, Greer’s mother busily pushes the two of them together. And it’s working; they are growing ever closer. But will Salvador be able to keep Greer safe from the murderer?

Revelation by Allison Grant is a super romantic/murder mystery with a dash of suspense.

Lovely twenty-something Greer is a competent accountant for one of the big accounting houses, and she is perfectly appropriate to the corporate world from very fibers of her terrifically apropos grey suit. However, it seems the corporate world is quite though with her. On the heels of her suddenly jobless state, she accidentally discovers a threat made against her alarmingly missing room-mate, Brooke.

From friend Mavis from work to Brooke the intriguingly missing room-mate to Greg the departed and untraceable boyfriend to the super in her building and most especially to Salvador, the super's hulking nephew, there are a lot of characters introduced in the first chapters. Following all, and remembering a couple is a tiny bit of a challenge at the start, but they quickly sort themselves out into quite an intriguing cast of characters. Later characters, like her Mom and various university staff all seem more individualistically introduced. Among the lot of them, sorting out the good from the bad is the challenge; as it is for Greer, who is also in the midst of a major life change.

Salvador is big, handsome, and helpful. He is also smooth, as he proves when charming Greer's mother. He's also a help tracing the missing Brooke, who Greer realizes she never knew as well as she thought…but is she thinking about the motives of other people in helping her? There is, after all, a murderer loose… and you will so want to remind Greer of that, as she turns up potential motives and manages to annoy an entire university.

The setting in Halifax and Nova Scotia general is a bit different and occasionally delightful. The rather visceral impact of the first person point of view really works to heighten suspense in this tale. And, there are certainly some lighter moments (especially in Greer's mom's dedication to matchmaking!) This is unpredictable, enjoyable, and quite beautifully written.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Pocket Piece Cameo by R. Costelloe



Pocket Piece Cameo by R. Costelloe
Publisher: Saga Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Raised in a small Pennsylvania town, Jill and Blake seem the unlikeliest match of all. He is a star athlete, but as an oversized football lineman, he is self-conscious about his weight. She’s a thrill seeking acrobat and gymnast, a tomboy who prefers computers to boys. Allison, on the other hand, seems to have it all: beauty, brains, talent, and ambition, but epileptic seizures scramble her life and her vulnerabilities.

All three are affected by a treachery breathtaking in its audacity and shattering in its impact. Can any love, no matter how strong, withstand a betrayal perfectly designed to destroy it? Pocket Piece Cameo is a coming of age story that tests the limits of love’s resilience, of loyalty to a promise, of the distance that love can travel, and the worst from which it can recover.

Extraordinary detail is the hallmark of Costelloe’s Pocket Piece Cameo. Costello introduces football player Blake, along with several women, and takes us gently back into the past of each. Each character, although perfectly distinct, is treated with a certain, almost old-fashioned sympathy by Costello, as events unfold to expose who they are.

Denise, then Jill, and even Allison, all serve to reveal not only points about Blake, but their lives, themselves, become important within the tale. More than their loves, we wonder what they will do with their lives. They have triumphs, failings, attractions, illnesses, and even frustrations. All these things contribute to the people we see them become. The insights we gain into who they were and are build a greater and greater interest in the characters themselves and what their choices will be.

The multiple points of view is never my favorite, but is handled beautifully in Pocket Piece Cameo; in fact, the writing is lovely. It is not a fast paced read; far from! For one thing, there is immense detail in background areas (like football, for example.) This isn’t a negative point; the information is interesting in its own right, but this book is more for readers who will savor detail, enjoy background information, than for readers expecting fast action and events.

The complexity of this tale is part of its attraction – along with the complexity of the characters. If you give yourself the time, you will uncover insights into human psyche. This is far from a typical romance, but is enjoyable.

Paging Miss Galloway by Susanne Marie Knight



Paging Miss Galloway by Susanne Marie Knight
Publisher: Awestruck eBooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Orchid
MORE THAN SHE BARGAINED FOR: Danielle Galloway is determined to visit her convalescing brother. She won’t let her father’s lack of permission stand in her way. Disguising herself as Danny, a servant boy, she takes to the road to begin her grand adventure...only to have her money stolen and her face battered by street ruffians. Now how will she get to the resort town of Bath?

MORE THAN HE BARGAINED FOR: The Earl of Trelaine rescues a down-on-his-luck young lad. Against his better judgment, he takes Danny on as his page as he journeys to Bath. But this boy harbors a shocking secret. What’s the earl going to do when he discovers his latest act of kindness might hurl him into the parson’s mousetrap?

Danielle Galloway receives a letter from her brother Benjamin and learning he is ill she quickly decides to go and take care of him. Her father Sir Ambrose Galloway refuses to let her travel to Bath so Danielle cuts her hair and dons male clothes to become the servant boy, Danny. She sets off to catch the mail coach for Bath confident nothing will happen to her in the few days it will take her to complete her journey

Edward Sterling, the fifth Earl of Tremaine, is traveling to Bath to discover the details of his inheritance. As third in line of succession he had not expected to inherit the title or estate and has no idea if he is encumbered by debts or if he is now a man of affluent means. His time in the Royal Navy has made him a strong willed man, with an underlying streak of compassion.

Danielle soon finds life as one of the lower classes is not as safe as she thought. Before she can buy a ticket for the coach she is set upon by two urchins who steal her money and knock her unconscious. The Earl of Tremaine comes to her rescue and offers to take her to Bath if she will act as his page. She accepts, not being fully aware of the duties of a page. Edward soon becomes suspicious his page is female and takes steps to see the girl isn’t compromised. Danielle enjoys the journey but must always be on her guard to make sure her true identity is not discovered. Edward has plans for when they get to Bath, but so does Danielle. However, when they arrive they find things are not as either of them anticipated.

Paging Miss Galloway is a lighthearted novel of regency times. Danielle is an intelligent young woman who makes the best of an awkward situation. Determined to help her brother, who she loves dearly, she is willing to act as Edward’s page rather than give up her attempt to get to Bath. The interaction between the two main characters is at times funny, at others serious. Underlying the story is Danielle’s growing feelings for Edward, while Edward is at first nonplussed as to why he feels so protective of a young boy. Once he realizes his page is female, his feelings undergo another change.

I found this book very entertaining and enjoyable. I could feel an invisible string drawing the characters closer to each other, while each fought to maintain the distance required by their positions in life. It was obvious from Edward’s manners that although he was definitely a gentleman, he had not been brought up with the expectations of being an Earl. Danielle’s mother had died when she was young and her father tended to ignore her. She seemed to be unconsciously searching for love.

I did feel at times the dialogue became rather flowery and unbelievable, but on the whole the writing was strong and easy to read. I would recommend this book to lovers of Regency, especially those with a sense of humor.

Mary's Christmas Wish by Sheryl Coumans



Mary's Christmas Wish by Sheryl Coumans
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal; Holiday
Length: Short
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Peony

After a life-time spent regretting her decision to give up the her true love, Sister Mary Cantrell faces her impending death alone. When a familiar looking visitor dressed in a Santa Claus suit offers her a chance to go back in time, to relive that life-turning event, she finds the answer she'd been seeking was always there.

I wouldn’t have thought a story that opened with an elderly, dying nun breathing her last breath on Christmas Eve could turn out to be romatic but that’s exactly what happens in "Mary’s Christmas Wish." This story is short but it packs a lot of emotion into it. This reader fell into Sister Mary Grace’s life effortlessly and completely.

A story about the past and its secrets, and a life well-lived but still lacking in one small thing—or perhaps two—this sweet tale takes a turn that is unexpected but perfectly fitting. A stranger dressed as Santa comes into the nun’s room and asks what she wishes for. When she answers he prods, asking what she wishes for herself. Knowing she has nothing to lose, Sister Mary Grace answers.

I very much enjoyed this tiny treat. My only wish for "Mary’s Christmas Wish" is that it could be longer. The writing is strong, the style pleasing and the characters engaging. I would have liked to spend more time with this couple if it had been possible.

"Mary’s Christmas Wish" is a sweet tale that is sure to warm hearts!