Beginning January 1, 2013

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Monday, December 31, 2012

Saturday, December 29, 2012

December Romance Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ For the Love of the Goblin King by Shona Husk

For The Love Of A Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (276 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

In a Faraway Land...

There lived a man who was trapped—his only companions a horde of goblins consumed by their lust for gold. He thought he was lost forever, thought that no one would ever remember he'd been noble.

A Fearless Warrior.

Now he has been thrust into the human world once again, but so much has changed. How can he ever be rid of the darkness after so long in the Shadowlands?

It Starts with Dreams of a Castle...

And a woman who takes his breath away and makes him forget the pain of his past. He knows he must protecet her at all costs. And perhaps in saving her, he can finally learn to love again.


Friday, December 14, 2012

For The Love Of A Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk

For The Love Of A Goblin Warrior by Shona Husk
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (276 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Peppermint

In a Faraway Land...

There lived a man who was trapped—his only companions a horde of goblins consumed by their lust for gold. He thought he was lost forever, thought that no one would ever remember he'd been noble.

A Fearless Warrior.

Now he has been thrust into the human world once again, but so much has changed. How can he ever be rid of the darkness after so long in the Shadowlands?

It Starts with Dreams of a Castle...

And a woman who takes his breath away and makes him forget the pain of his past. He knows he must protecet her at all costs. And perhaps in saving her, he can finally learn to love again.

It wasn't Merlyn's fault that he had let the anger and pain consume him until he embraced the goblin curse. After years of caring about nothing but finding more gold, Merlyn needs to not only adjust to being human once more, but to the modern ways of humans.

The way Nadine and Merlyn's stories intertwine made the story entertaining. They may not have ever met one another, but their lives, as well as those around them, seem to all be brought together by one common link: the Goblin curse. Though Merlyn and his family were the only ones to suffer the actual curse, the fact that others had to deal with it both in the past as well as the present added an interesting twist to the story. It made me want to read more, and see if they could discover how much they truly had in common as well as see if they could get past what can possibly destroy their budding relationship.

Nadine's story was one of tragedy and strength. Nadine was robbed of a loving family, which could have broken her as a child and into her adulthood. Instead of letting this deny her a good future she found the strength, even as a child, to keep hope alive and continue to live her life. I can see how this can be inspirational to many, including Merlyn who needs someone's strength as well as his own to help him deal with the changes he has to learn to accept.

Merlyn is a man of honor even if he doesn't believe in it. He shows how there is strength in being a quiet observer and how it can help one grow. He made me want to go find a park bench to sit on just to find out what I can learn from the world around me. While I enjoyed all of the previous stories featuring his family and men in arms, Merlyn has a strength even after such a tragic story that makes him a stand out.

I am not sure if this is the last story of this series, and I am crossing my fingers hoping I can see Merlyn and Nadine again, even if only in my dreams.

Pack of Lies by Kimila Bowling

Pack of Lies by Kimila Bowling
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (178 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Tulip

For as long as Rae Taylor can remember, she's felt others' emotions as if they were her own. With the untimely death of her grandmother, she leaves the city and returns to the quiet town of New Haven, hoping emotions won't interfere while she mourns her loss.

Gage Archer has also returned home to New Haven and to the pack he left behind. Luke Bainer views Gage as a threat to both his growing alpha position and his attraction to Rae. Developing feelings for a woman outside the pack can be dangerous. Where Gage will do anything to keep Rae safe, Luke has other ideas.

As Rae struggles to control her special talent, no one is aware her gift is linked to a secret. A secret that could destroy Rae and the pack.

A dark twist on this compelling shifter romance from debut author Kamila Bowling. Readers will be captivated with this sensual love story. It grabs you with the first page and won't let go until the last. It's a twisted tale of secrets, lust and murder. Can I just say: I loved it and can't wait for more from this promising new author.

Death brought Rae Taylor back to the town of New Haven. All she wants is to mourn the loss of her Grandmother, the last of her family. Instead, she's fighting off the unwanted advances of an old friend. Her old friend, Luke, seems to think he has some claim on her. But Rae is more interested in exploring her renewed acquantance with Gage, the boy she once shared a sultry kiss with one long ago summer. And the atmosphere of the town where she spent so many of her childhood summers has changed to one of malevolence. Some of the townsfolk are using intimidation and violence to control the town. And wild wolves are attacking people all over town...including Rae, who is rescued by a mysterious black wolf. She is intrigued by her mysterious protector and the growing bond between them.

Gage Archer left town amid suspicions that he murdered his girlfriend. Now, he's back to protect the girl he wanted all those years ago. A loyal friend to Luke, Gage walked away from Rae, the girl they both wanted to claim. But Luke has changed and so has Gage. He regrets leaving all those years ago so he's not running any longer. If Luke want's Rae then he'll have to fight Gage for her.

When a string of murders and wolf attacks start back up suspicion turns toward Gage and the black wolf. Either he's guilty or someone is going to a lot of trouble to make it look like he is. Rae's not sure what to believe. She just knows there's a close bond between her, Gage, and her wolf protector.

Luke is a ruthless would-be Alpha who takes what he wants. He uses his job as sherriff to control the town and its women. And now he's staked a claim on Rae, his old girlfriend. But first he'll have to turn her against Gage.

Pack of Lies is a dark and twisted tale of passion and intrigue. Passion for love and passion for killing. One is sweet, one is dark. One man is good - wanting only to protect. One man is evil - wanting only to dominate and destroy. Rae's life is on the line as she decides which man to trust.

I really enjoyed this story with all of its dark edgy passion. Rae was a unique heroine who changed a lot during the story. Boy, did she ever. And Gage was one dreamy hero. Every girl oughta have one just like him. And I loved all those twists and turns the story took with bad guys coming out of the woodwork, surprises and secrets revealed left and right, and one hell of climactic ending that came way too soon. Pack of Lies left me wanting more from this promising new author.

Mine to Keep by Jannine Corti-Petska

Mine to Keep by Jannine Corti-Petska
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (123 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Lady Elizabella Aldrich receives notice of an inheritance in Padua, Italy. Arriving from England, she discovers another heir lays claim to the castle. An unreasonably handsome Italian rogue stands between her and the castle she’s inherited.

Leonardo Da Mitri never met the noble who included him in his will. But after one look at Lady Eliza he relishes the challenge of defeating the beauty to make the castle his own.

Astonished to learn they must wed and remain married for a year, it soon becomes apparent someone does not want the nuptials to take place. As Eliza fights her growing desire for Leo, he fights for his life. Will he walk away from his inheritance—and Eliza? Or is he willing to risk everything to stay married to the woman who has claimed his heart as hers... to keep?

Lady Elizabeth Godwin has inherited a castle. Though not a wealthy, land-endowed one of her fantasties, it’s hers and Lady Elizabeth is determined to make the best of it. Leonardo Da Mitri’s solicitor informs him he’s been endowed with an Italian castle upon Lord Calendri’s death. Surprised, as he’s not of noble blood, Leo nevertheless decides to follow where his fortune might lay. Both Leo and Lady Elizabeth insist on the solicitor explaining how they can both be in possession of the same castle. What follows are certain conditions that shock and secretly entice them both.

A wonderful historical novella, this story made me laugh, sigh and thoroughly enjoy both Elizabeth and Leo’s adventure. While the language sometimes made me pause – with both the old style of speaking and a few Italian words peppered in neither of these detracted from the story. Both Leo and Elizabeth could be stubborn and difficult, their attraction was undeniable. The spice their relationship and interactions brought to the book really made it sparkle.

Hard core historical readers might find some nit-picks, but I really enjoyed the world, settings and characters. The romance builds slowly but is no less sensual because of that. The author manages to juggle the history elements, different social settings and intertwine an intriguing plot to wrap it up into a wonderful book I thoroughly enjoyed.

That Night on Thistle Lane by Carla Neggers

That Night on Thistle Lane by Carla Neggers
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 360 pages
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Review by: Camellia

More than just make-believe Librarian Phoebe O'Dunn deals in stories, but her passion for history has taught her that happy endings are rare. Her life in Knights Bridge, Massachusetts, is safe and uneventful…until she discovers the hidden room.

Among its secrets is a cache of vintage clothing, including a spectacular gown—perfect for a gala masquerade in Boston. In the guise of a princess, Phoebe is captivated by a handsome swashbuckler who's also adopted a more daring persona. Noah Kendrick's wealth has made him wary, especially of women: everybody wants something.

When Noah and Phoebe meet again in Knights Bridge, at first neither recognizes the other. And neither one is sure they can trust the magic of the night they shared—until an unexpected threat prompts them to unmask their truest selves.

After all, it takes more than just the right costume to live out your personal fairy tale. It takes heart…and the courage to be more than you ever dreamed.
Maybe it’s “the ghost”, maybe fate, or maybe just Phoebe O’Dunn losing her marbles and accidently finding the door to the secret room in the library attic. Regardless of how she finds it, it changes her life and entices her out of her comfort zone. It makes her take a close look at who she is and what her hopes and dreams really are.

Phoebe is a “good soul”, content, comfortable in her own skin, sensible, dependable, protective of her family and friends and helpful to all. As director of the public library in Knights Bridge, she touches many lives from the children to the senior citizens that lived at the assisted-living community. “Once burned, twice shy”. she’s had no romantic relationship since her fiancé jilted her within two days of her father’s death. But in the secret room something nudges her. The gorgeous Edwardian dress she finds with all its accessories makes her long for more. All alone, she attends the masquerade ball in Boston dressed in the Edwardian costume with a unique mask—just to watch, she tells herself.

She has her “Cinderella night”, her night of mystery. A lean, smooth muscled swashbuckler with fantastic blue eyes, and sexy voice, says, “Dance with me”. They glide with grace about the dance floor and everyone admires. He makes her feel like she is floating on air, sexy, wanted and more—desired. She slips away. As she leaves, she hears a one-sided phone conversation with her swashbuckler mentioned—she feels uneasy.

Noah Kendricks, ex-CEO of NAK, a high-tech entertainment business, is a billionaire with more money coming in all the time, is visiting his longtime friend and business associate Dylan MacCaffrey. Dylan has been invaluable in the building of NAK. While Noah created ideas, Dylan had watched his back and taken care of the business end of the fast growing corporation. They are both trying to find their footing after leaving the day-by-day running of NAK in the capable hands of others. In Knights Bridge, where Dylan’s fiancée Olivia Frost lives, they both stick out like a sore thumb.

Noah doesn’t do anything halfway. Something happened when he and the mesmerizing lady in the Edwardian dress danced. He wants to find her and enlists Dylan to help. They set Knights Bridge’s population abuzz when word gets out about their very own librarian Phoebe and the billionaire Californian with the tabloid reputation.

How Phoebe and Noah maneuver their way through the tangled web of scary emotions, the best-intended meddling of friends and family, and the logistics of homes a continent apart. They cope with an undercurrent of mystery and suspense that makes them edgy. All this gives the reader a vicarious experience not to be missed.

Carla Neggers, with her artistic style, deals with life issues like death, grief, secrets, and life-choices as her complex characters, with their varied relationships, individual differences, and hang-ups, live their lives, overcome their fears, and take risks to find their happy-ever-after. Her perfectly placed metaphors and humor make the story rich and a delight to read.

If you read Secrets of the Lost Summer, you will recognize many of the characters, but That Night on Thistle Lane stand alone quite well. However, it is fun to catch up with what is going on in Olivia Frost and Dylan’s lives since they found each other in Knights Bridge. Also Phoebe’s sisters and mother gives us more fun-filled moments as well as soon heart-touching ones. Loretta, the L.A. lawyer plays a small but significant role in the unfolding of a mystery that brings an exciting twist near the end of the story. Then there is Julius Hartley P.I. from Los Angeles. I’ll leave him to your imagination—don’t want to spoil any part of the plot—it’s too good.

That Night on Thistle Lane makes one feel good about being part of humanity. Of course, more than one happy-ever-after is always a special bonus to enjoy.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday With a Vampire 4 by Susan Krinard, Theresa Meyers and Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Holiday With a Vampire 4 by Susan Krinard, Theresa Meyers and Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Holiday, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (357 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Don't be afraid to snuggle up with these sexy, immortal heroes. They will weave their way into your fantasies and spice up your cold winter nights.

Halfway to Dawn by Susan Krinard

Amid a supernatural war between the races, can Fiona, captain of the human special forces, and Kane, a compelling fugitive from the vampire army, risk working together to attain peace on earth?

The Gift by Theresa Meyers

All Cullen McCormack wants for Christmas is the missing locket that holds the key to his immortality. But will Angelica, the woman who now flaunts it about her exquisite neck, also claim his vampire heart?

Bright Star by Linda Thomas-Sundstrom

Immortal Dylan McCay has vowed to protect the secret origins of his species at all costs—until he meets Savannah, a passionate astronomer on the brink of discovering the elusive Christmas Star….

Three stories guaranteed to warm up the holidays!!

Each author writes with a smooth flair that kept me in my seat. I couldn't put the books down because I had to know what would happen. Although the three stories aren't connected, I had no problems losing myself in their worlds and zipping through this anthology in a couple of hours.

Halfway to Dawn poses the human-vampire conflict trope, but it's written in a fresh way. Fiona and Kane might be on the opposite sides of the war, but I couldn't help but want them to get together. I could understand where both were coming from. Kane wants to be his own man--no longer under the rule of the vampires. Fiona wants the war to be over. Hey, who can argue? And when they come together for the holiday and spicy hot scenes, it's totally worth it.

In The Gift, the locket's the thing. Okay, so Cullen's soul is stuck in a locket. To get free, the woman who owns said locket must choose him as her true love. Sounds easy, but it's not. He's on his fifth go-round. I felt for Cullen. The guy wants a break and if it means being Angelica's, then so be it. The note from Angelica's mother was a tad strange, but then, I suppose if someone told me there was a strange man attached to a locket, I might fear him, too. But I liked the story and I loved how Ms Meyers wove in the Christmas spirit. Definitely a keeper.

Bright Star was my favorite. I love the work of Ms Thomas-Sundstrom and this story didn't disappoint. Savannah wants the man of her dreams for Christmas. She also happens to be looking for the elusive Christmas star. Finding both would be beyond her wildest dreams, but why not be wild? Dylan doesn't want her to find the star. If she finds it, she'll open up a whole new can of worms. I love how these two come together and how Dylan struggles with his mission over his feelings. It's a white hot read that you won't want to miss.

If you're looking for a paranormal twist on the holidays, then this might be the book for you!

Wait Until Dark by M. L. Buchman

Wait Until Dark by M. L. Buchman
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (376 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Name: Big John Wallace Rank: Staff Sergeant, Chief Mechanic and Gunner Mission: To serve and protect his crew and country.

Name: Connie Davis Rank: Sergeant, Flight Engineer, Mechanical Wizard Mission: To be the best...and survive.

Two Crack Mechanics, One Impossible Mission

Being in The Night Stalkers is Connie Davis's way of facing her demons head-on, but mountain-strong John Wallace is a threat on all fronts. Their passion is explosive, but their conflicts are insurmountable. When duty calls them to a mission no one else could survive, they'll fly into the night together—ready or not.

Heart-in-throat, adrenaline-pumping action immediately pulls the reader into a lethal situation in the dark of night—the night stalkers' world.

Whether it is the Hindu Kush Mountains in Afghanistan, the Ukraine, the white cold of Sweden or just the training grounds of Nevada to test new equipment in the Black Hawk, the reader is swept into a hi-tech military world that boggles the mind and sends the heart racing; then comes the exquisite love story that is woven into Wait Until Dark. It puts the emotions into a veritable tail spin. The many levels of love that reach to the depth of the soul and bring tears, smiles, laughter, and deep-down satisfaction make this story memorable.

Sergeant Connie Davis, mechanic and gunner on the Black Hawk Vengeance, knows what she bargained for when she drove herself to the limit to become a member of SOAR (a night stalker). She is ever aware that death can be a nanosecond away, but doing her part to complete a mission drives away her demons and gives her life purpose. Alone in the world and always an outsider, she finds herself in unfamiliar territory with Staff Sergeant John Wallace, chief mechanic and gunner on the Vengeance.

Connie is a complex character that the reader comes to know bit by piece as she does her job with a speed and efficiency that her superiors have never seen before. Professionally she is confident but in personal life, she flounders, always guarding against getting emotionally hurt. She already has all the hurt she can bear.

Getting to know the true Connie is like peeling an onion a layer at the time. She is truly a work in progress that allows the reader to see her mesmerizing metamorphosis. When she switches her remarkable ability to concentrate from work to lovemaking—WOW! And when her own unassuming self wins the hearts of the Wallace family, one feels like celebrating to know she is loved for the person she is—flaws and all. Her relationship with Grumps, John’s grandfather, is eloquent in its own rusty-tractor-repairing way. Their connection with and acceptance of each other is something special that the reader is privileged to vicariously share.

Big John Wallace and Connie work together with professional ease and trust. She is quiet and calm and in sync with him as they keep the Black Hawk ready and fit for the demands made on it. He is easy-going, humorous, likeable, steady, a good friend, loyal and has the ability to help Connie feel safe like she has not felt since she was thirteen years old. His connection with people is something that she has never had. His family adores him as he does them. But all their love has never wiped away his feeling of not belonging. Yet he admits he does what he does to try to make their world a safe place. How he and Connie complete each other and how unconditional family love slips in and gives redemption to both of them makes spellbinding reading.

M L. Buchman’s ability to keep the reader right in the middle of the action is amazing. The detailed descriptions about missions, the feel of the Black Hawk as it takes enemy fire, the hair-raising scraps through mountain passes, the in sync actions of the Vengeance crew with each other and the trust they have in each other, along with their faith in Viper their partner helicopter captivates. The reader’s senses and emotions are bombarded with what is happening sometimes in a subtle way and at other time in a full-out assault.

If you have read other “night stalkers’ books, you will recognize some of the secondary characters that loom big as life in their part in Wait Until Dark. Major Emily Beale and Mark “The Viper” Henderson are still a high voltage couple full of humor, love, and abilities that astonish. There are even some VIP characters in the story that add a touch of mystery and intrigue as well as a bit of humor.

Exquisitely written, sensory-loaded, and soul-satisfying  Wait Until Dark is a phenomenal vicarious adventure for the reader that is full of secret military missions, farm life, family love, and best of all that precious soul mate kind of love that Big John and Connie have. It keeps the emotions and senses on full alert from first to last pages. Super good reading!

Transitions by D.A. Lascelles

Transitions by D.A. Lascelles
Publisher: Mundania Press, LLC
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (61 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Transitions takes us on a journey through time. In modern day Birmingham , a group of university students become embroiled in a love story almost 2,000 years old as the ghost of Gaius Lucius, a Roman officer tries to reclaim his lost love.

What can Helen, a driven and ambitious student with high hopes for the future, do to solve this ancient riddle? And why is Brandon making late night visits to her house with tokens of love?

What happens when a desperate Roman soldier from ancient times has only one shot at his goal, and that means arriving in modern-day England to make things happen?

Gaius Lucius is a hard working, sincere, Roman who is losing his beloved wife. He tries everything to save her, but she’s sick, dying. His last option is so unconventional that he’d normally laugh it off as a joke. However, there are no other options. Gotta give the guy points for fighting to the end for love.

He shows up on a college campus in a non-corporeal form to disturb the lives of some students.

This story flips back and forth between his tale in the past, and that of the present college students. Their perception of the occurrences is frightening.

Brandon is a loner, Helen is ambitious yet not confident in her physical appearance, and her friend Tina is easygoing and likeable. At first, Helen does something to make her unlikeable. She accidentally hurts Brandon but is then in too much of a hurry to assist him as he’s lying on the ground bleeding. Brandon may be a loner, but he has things to recommend him. Then strange things happen to him, mainly, the Roman starts to take over his life. Things get really weird for him. For an odd reason, he likes Helen, the woman who knocked him over then ran off. He can’t stop thinking about her. Next, Helen keeps thinking about him. A possible romance is in the offing.

Helen, Brandon, and their friends, as well as the Roman are realistically drawn. The style and language of the story are presented well. The mystery in the plot keeps things going. One doesn’t know what to expect. This is a unique story of one love found and another lost.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lone Star Joy by Kathleen Ball

Lone Star Joy by Kathleen Ball
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: contemporary, suspense/mystery
Length: short story (130 pages)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sunflower

Sexy, Cowboy, Stamos Walker runs a work release program for nonviolent male prisoners. When Joy Courtland shows up on his doorstep, he assumes she's the nanny. He hands her his son and rushes out to work.

Joy, a convicted felon, bonds with little Dillon immediately. Stamos isn't happy when he returns and finds out Joy is not the nanny.

While trying to get Joy back to prison through the proper channels, Stamos realizes Joy is not a killer. He doesn't want her to go back to prison. Stamos is willing to try everything he can to keep Joy safe even if it means marriage.

Joy has a new shot at life, if someone doesn't ruin it for her first. The opening of Lone Star Joy had me intrigued right away. The heroine, Joy, has just been released from prison on a work release, and I wondered, what she could have done.....

It isn't easy for her, though. She has a past that promises to catch up to her. Not everyone wants to give her a second chance. Not when they know exactly what they claimed she did. Not when she spent years in prison for a crime that anyone would cringe over. Yet Joy has this kindness about her. She also has this fear and worry. But this woman is one strong character and she's had to endure a lot if her life, only to keep getting it piled on. I like Joy. She held promise right from the start, and all I wanted was to know her story, and how she got where she did. Thank goodness for men like Stamos, that believes in second chances.

What can I say about Stamos? He's one heck of a hero. He runs a ranch, has an adorable son, and he believes in people. Though at first glance at her file, he can't have Joy on the ranch, but a series of events keep her there, and Stamos gets a glimpse of what Joy is really like. That makes him start to wonder... The one thing about Stamos is that he has a caring heart. He's very willing to help. There was one spot in the book, however that he has a huge character flaw. There was a scene where he acted too much out of character, completely out of nowhere, and there was no rhyme or reason why, especially when he'd been so understanding and kind throughout the rest of the story.

Still, overall the story flowed well. The chemistry between Joy and Stamos was believable and executed well. The conflicts and tension arise, and it only made their want and need even stronger. The suspense element played out well. There were a few secrets and surprises revealed. It's a great blend of contemporary and suspense. Ms. Ball has done a great job with this book.

If you need a dose of romance, mystery and well created characters, why don't you have a little Lone Star Joy of you own?

Sarah Quanli by Jackson Keene

Sarah Quanli by Jackson Keene
Publisher: Treble Heart Books
Genre: historical
Length: Full (329 pgs)
Heat level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Review by Snapdragon
The beautiful yet deceitful Rossalyn McDonald had twisted the knife deep in David Adam MacDougall’s big heart. He was extraordinarily handsome: chiseled muscles, kindly soul, thoughtful personality, and totally faithful. Any other lass in his Scottish Highlands village would have cheated her own sister to become his bride.

Now David’s entire being felt broken. He felt into a thousand pieces. Now he only wanted to reach the faraway city of Beiping China where he was called to be a missionary. But before arriving in that mysterious mistress of the orient, he would face uncertain dangers.

The year is 1904. The bloody Boxer Rebellion is only four years past. Much of northern China still seethes with undercurrents of resentment and hatred of all things Western. If David can just make it to the ancient city with body and soul intact, if he can just survive, there he’ll find his new purpose, his new home, and his new people.

There, he’ll meet the woman he comes to believe is the love of his life. The lithe, athletic, saucy, highly intelligent and equally independent Xiu Li!

As a basketball fan, the new novel ‘Sarah Quanli’ seemed promising on so many levels: billed as ‘A Story of Betrayal, Death, Love. And Basketball.” With that in mind, the story set off unexpectedly: from an unanticipated time, and chased by an entirely unpredictable plot. The story line is the absolute best part of ‘Sarah Quanli.’ However, the writing style is frustrating; at times long-winded, at other times, just plain confusing.

Big hearted and broken-hearted, David Adam MacDougall sets off to become a missionary in Beiping, Northern China, in 1904. He leaves behind a full life: both friends and family, and the woman he so loved. His good friends are well established –as are his own religious beliefs, inherent athleticism, and sense of fair play. There are many instances when we see how his inner strength carries him through adversity. Yet, his love for Rossalyn sets him at odds with a cousin, then others. David, miserable, will eventually set off across the sea…It is merely the beginnings of his adventure. Bandits and ruffians await, new friendships and challenges, as does, perhaps, another chance at love. Throughout it all, he clings strongly to his Christian beliefs.

Although I had a preconceived (and completely wrong) idea about what to expect, derived from “basketball’’ in the description, I was not disappointed at all in this very different-than-anticipated story. Mr. Keene’s vision is plainly original and the story itself is unpredictable and engaging. Yet, the writing style or editorial choices often interrupt the tale’s flow.

The quality of the storyline deserved far better than a 3 star rating – but the challenge in reading this brought down the score. Still, for a thoroughly original story, do read ‘Sarah Quanli.’

Body Heat by Susan Fox

Body Heat by Susan Fox
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: contemporary
Length: Full Length (320 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Sunflower

It's Getting Hot In Here. . . Maura Mahoney expects to spend her thirtieth birthday the way she's spent so many others. She'll work at the Cherry Lane retirement community, have a quiet dinner with her parents, and end the evening with a solo hot chocolate before turning in early. Sedate, but safe. Then Jesse Blue turns up at Cherry Lane, ready to do community service to avoid jail time. And suddenly, prim, by-the-books Maura can't stop thinking about a sexy, motorcycle-riding bad boy who seems wrong for her in almost every way.

But beneath his gruff exterior, Jesse is a man of surprises. He's filling the once drab community center with color and life. He's bonding with the residents. And he's prompting scorching, wild dreams Maura would never be bold enough to act on. Or would she? Because the way Jesse looks at her, Maura could swear that this heated, smoldering attraction runs both ways. . .

Trouble comes in all shapes and sizes. But trouble is definitely NOT welcome at Cherry Lane. A little too late, because Trouble just walked in. There's more than meets the eye when it comes to Jesse Blue, and readers are about to discover the truth beneath his rough exterior.

The line may be cliché, but you've heard of it: don't judge a book by it's cover. And don't judge a person by their exterior appearance. It doesn't help that there's a record with that gruff look, but still, you can look past that too, right? Maura isn't too sure of this Jesse character coming into Cherry Lane, but let's just say that Jesse entering her life changes things for her. Maura is a people pleaser. She's always had to be. She had to please her guardians, be the perfect child, and now that she's older that has just kind of stuck. Some think she's an ice queen. It's not something Maura is very happy about, which is understandable. She and Jesse are polar opposites, have had different backgrounds, but they have a mutual understanding of each other in some aspects. Their sexual chemistry comes on strong and only gets more intense as the story goes along. Maura doesn't want to feel the way she does for Jesse, for various reasons. She has a tendency of driving me nuts, but I can relate to Maura on multiple levels. Watching her grow during the book was a pleasure. I love her strength and her ability to accept people as they are, even if it isn't at first glance.

Where to start with Jesse? He's a flawed hero, indeed, but isn't everyone full of imperfections? Jesse has a good heart, through, which is what makes him so lovable. Even though he dis something that in the eyes of others wasn't right, he stands by his actions with a firmness like you wouldn't believe. He has this soft side with wanting to help others. The mystery of Jesse was like Christmas presents. You only get a hint here or there, the anticipation drives you wild, but little by little, you get to unwrap the life that is Jesse's past and present. I love how he changes Maura for the better, teaches her to loosen up a little bit and enjoy life for what it is, instead of making everyone else happy.

The entire story is written with zingy dialogue, lighthearted and witty narrative, and characters that you can't help but fall in love with. Jesse and Maura are a little outside the box, but I think many people can relate to them and their situations on many occasions. Ms. Fox writes a great story with sizzling tension. I couldn't keep my eyes away from the pages. One of my favorite stories by this author by far! The setting, the plot, the characters, they all stole my heart. The one downside is that in a few places the story seemed to lag, there wasn't always a high amount of action, but overall, I couldn't get enough!

If you like a good heartwarming romance, give Body Heat a shot.