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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Review: The Marian Kind

By guest reviewer: Nancy Lindley-Gauthier.

The Marian Kind
by Babe King

With summer heating up, Marian thinks it’s the perfect time to push her five-year relationship up a notch. But the body she gets close and personal with isn’t her lover’s. Or alive. Boyfriend Rob has some explaining to do, and a diamond ring full of promises to make if he wants to keep his girl.
The Marian Kind by Babe King is one of those tales that does not coax the reader gently into the story, but seizes them by the throat and hauls them directly into the front seat of the dusty pickup truck. When Marian discovers some other lady's er, enhancements in handsome Rob's gym bags, the game is on. Jealousy fuels the start of this story, but incredible attraction fuels the love affair. Think you can guess what happens next?

Never: not unless a granny with occasional, convenient 'dementia' has already occurred to you. There is nothing predictable here. From powerful and unexpected characters to bizarre events, this story keeps your attention. And the discoveries along the way - like how chocolate bubble bath might disagree with your average computer circuitry - only add to the fun.

Clever descriptions offer a bit of a giggle in between fast action scenes (the love interest is compared to an array of fresh-from-the bakery delights) and the romance sizzles all the way through. The Marian Kind by Babe King is a quick read because it simply won't allow the reader to step away.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Review: Love of My Heart

Love of My Heart
by Bess McBride

Aggie has done what no mental health therapist should do. She's fallen in love with her mysterious client, Bill. Aggie has recently purchased an old Victorian house on a hillside overlooking Commencement Bay in Tacoma, Washington; where she finds an old photograph of a Victorian era couple and a love letter written in 1885. The letter speaks of another love that can never be'that of Louise, the daughter of a wealthy English family, and her Irish lover, William. Heartbroken, Aggie soon begins to dream of the forbidden love between Louise and William, but in her dreams, William's face mirrors that of her beloved, Bill.Bill is in love with Aggie, and he can't figure out how to get close to her. If only he hadn't entered her professional doors as a client. How is he going to fix this?
Love of My Heart is a beautiful, romantic story with a mild supernatural bent. The two main human love interests are Aggie, a therapist who is attracted to her client and is torn between her needs as a woman and her profession's Code of Ethics, and Bill, who has secrets that he won't let out in therapy not the least of which is his own attraction to Aggie.

The secondary supernatural romantic plot centers on past lovers, Louise and William. Louise lived in the house that Aggie now owns and is instrumental in getting Aggie to listen to her heart by drawing Aggie into her dreams to re-live Louise's romance with William way back in the 1800's.

Due to the style of how the paragraphs of this book are presented, it was a bit jarring at times when it came to POV shifts or time shifts. If you can anticipate this style, then you will find it easier to enjoy the nuances of this romance story.

The author has a good handle on how it was to be a woman living at home back then; where daddy's word was law. Love was not enough to withstand the strictures of a prejudicial society and I was very frustrated and angry on Louise's behalf. Yet, I felt satisfied with the strengths she showed when she exercised the only options she was capable of for those times.

I found William O'Brien's love for Louise to be quite poignant and continued to be amazed at his steadfastness as I read the letters he wrote to Louise and in time, his old landlady. Best of all, was his yummy Irish brogue. I could well understand Louise's being attracted to a man with a sexy accent.

The best part of this story is that true love endures. The author gives the reader a HEA that ties up all the loose ends, even the supernatural. Interestingly enough, she wrote the course of Louise's and William's romance in a way that could mirror real life; decisions we make along the way affect our future in surprising ways.

I enjoyed reading about how a man and a woman from two diverse families, influenced and manipulated by the ghosts of the past, find love in the future. Ms. McBride has an incredible turn of mind.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Review: The Bloodmoon Curse

By guest reviewer Brandy Jones

The Bloodmoon Curse
by Karen Wiesner

Amberlyn Lyons has recently suffered a devastating miscarriage that has torn her marriage apart and shaken her faith. She quietly takes a nanny position at an isolated mansion without electricity, telephone, or ease of passage. The moment she walks into Bloodmoon Manor, Amberlyn deduces that all things aren’t as they seem. The eerily similar owners distrust doctors who, in thirty years, have been unable to cure their severely deformed daughter Katerina. Katerina both idolizes and despises Amberlyn for her beauty. Childishly cruel, Katerina enjoys tormenting the orphans by telling them tales of the malicious ghost that haunts the decaying mansion.

Amberlyn discounts the paranormal legends as made-up stories until she hears the shuffling of footsteps in the cold, dark halls and feels that she’s being watched at every turn. She knows the ghost is real and she must protect the children. But when she discovers a graveyard behind the mansion filled with babies who died at birth or shortly thereafter, she realizes the ghost of Bloodmoon Manor is really a family curse and she was brought there to uphold the family legacy of that curse. Either she finds a way to escape with the children…or she becomes the next Bloodmoon bride.

Available in print and eBook formats.

Amberlyn Lyons is suffering and seeking escape after the miscarriage that has torn her heart, and marriage, in two. She is sure her husband blames her for the miscarriage. Rather than face the possible end of her marriage, she leaves home and agrees to be the nanny to three orphaned children. At Bloodmoon Manor she finds three scared and malnourished children. Amberlyn knows that she was called to these suffering children by God. She has faith that she was led to them to help ease their pain over the death of their parents. Little does she know that her husband, Cain, is searching for her to seek forgiveness and to bring his wife home so that their marriage can heal. But Cain will have to fight unseen forces because his wife has been chosen for a terrible legacy, as the new Bloodmoon Bride.

Ghosties and ghoulies abound in this book of the paranormal bent. Combining the seemingly difficult genres of gothic romance, inspirational views, and a paranormal twist provide the reader with a different type of book. One that shows that faith in God is always rewarded and that the power of the heart heals all wounds.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Review: Hard Day On The Farm

By guest reviewer: Michelle Oberlander

Hard Day On the Farm
by Christine Columbus

When Molly Moved to the country, her new neighbor, George, made learning to drive the tractor a memorable experience. And that was just one aspect of farm life Molly found enjoyable.

This is one story included in the Rose Petals II anthology. Available in print and eBook formats.
Who knew tractors could be so sexy? Well, maybe not the tractors themselves, but like Ferrari's or Mustangs, they sure can offer an intro into a unique romantic interlude. Think I'm kidding? I kid you not.

A Hard Day On The Farm takes us to the little farming community of Edgewater where we get to meet Molly and George. Molly has high hopes for George but George isn't cooperating and she is getting antsy. Thoughts of George are coloring most aspects of her imagination which the author shares with us so we understand what drives Molly to plotting and scheming to get her way. I get the sense that Molly doesn't sit on the sidelines of life but grabs opportunities with gusto and in this story, that opportunity is named George.

George seems to be a sneaky guy. I think he knows that he is driving Molly nuts. He's written very understated so when he makes his move, it's a major "Wow" moment. You must have heard the saying, "Watch out for those quiet ones", yes? And hands are quiet, right? Well, George talks really well with his hands, and his lips and he knows how to work his tractor. *grin* However, when George does talk, he's pure romance and heat. Quite the man.

After reading this story, I went back and contemplated the title. A huge grin snuck onto my face with the realization that you could interpret those words with saucy intent. A Hard Day On The Farm, although short, is a fun and sexy romp that puts a delightful spin on vegetables, pickles and yes, even love.

Review: The Awakening

By special guest reviewer Sky Purington.

The Awakening
by Rynne Raines

Torn between fantasy and reality, Natalie Kendrick wakes each morning on fire, haunted by passionate dreams of Alexander, the nineteenth century gentleman she believes saved her life fifteen years ago. But when living outside the erotic dream world they share becomes unbearable, she seeks the help of a dream analyst. The solution seems simple: dream suppressants. But can Natalie bring herself to forever shut out the only man she has ever loved--from her head, her life and her heart?
The Awakening offers a crisp, refreshing read with a dusting of paranormal. As a reader, I was quickly engaged in Natalie’s internal struggle. She’s a believable character who tackles her dilemma, handsome Alexander, with a straight forward approach. The steam and sensuality unravel at a perfect pace throughout Natalie’s experience with the evasive rogue. Miss Raines captured my imagination and kept me guessing until the end. Well done!

Friday, July 27, 2007

Review: Bride From the Black Lagoon

By guest reviewer: Alice Teh

Bride From the Black Lagoon
by Dara Edmondson

Welcome to television's biggest new reality show -- Bride from the Black Lagoon. Contestant couple Kip and Jodi must overcome a series of challenges on a tropical island to prove they are meant to be together forever. But the show's producer and his assistant pull out all the stops to prevent them from winning the hundred thousand dollar grand prize. Will Kip and Jodi prevail? Will their relationship survive?
When I started reading Bride from the Black Lagoon, Dara Edmondson had me hooked from the beginning.

Jodi Bentley is a beautiful kindergarten teacher, and also a shopaholic. Her urge to splurge on branded items left her in a mountain of credit card debts, but still, she is unstoppable. Her fiance, Kip loves her very much but is troubled by her uncontrolled spending. He is still a struggling actor, trying to make it big. To overcome the debt problem, Jodi convinces Kip to take part in a reality show called "Bride from the Black Lagoon". Five weeks later, they are told they will be the first contestant couple.

The story develops on Black Lagoon Island where the show is filmed. Flown in via private plane, the couple meets with the charming producer, Evan Van Duran and Sky, his blonde bombshell of a production assistant. Jodi nicknames her The Plastic Barbie Doll. Little do they know, Van Duran has a hidden agenda and is using Sky to achieve his goal. Will Jodi and Kip win the prize money of one hundred thousand dollars? More importantly, will their love survive the test?

This was a great read. Thanks to Ms. Edmonson for a wonderful time!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Review: A Hint of Summer, A Duet of Two Stories

By guest reviewer Shauna Sturge

A Hint of Summer
by M.G. Braden and Cindy Green

Inheritance by MG Braden

When Chase Taylor's grandmother passes away she inherits the exclusive home their family calls 'the beach house.' Only there's a catch. She has to live in it for six months with Reece Weston, a man she'd never met until the reading of the will.

Is he a scam artist? Or will love turn out to be the best inheritance of all?

Summer's Return by Cindy K. Green

After a seven year absence, Parker Radcliffe returns to the alluring Outer Banks to sell his family’s beach house only to discover his realtor is spirited Arianna Morgan, the girl he could never have. While Arianna is determined to remind him of the life he left behind, Parker must decide whether he will follow his heart or family expectations.

89 pages - Sensual
Inheritance – MG Braden

This contemporary novel explores the lives of two people thrust together by an old lady’s will. Forced to share the inheritance of a beachfront home, Chase and Reese are pushed together by the stipulations of the will. They must live together in the house for six months in order to receive their joint inheritance.

This story was sweet, unique and fun. The pages sizzled with the chemistry of the characters, pulling the reader along for the ride. The disruptions of family and friends gave this couple some interesting obstacles to overcome on their path to love.

I enjoyed this story and thought MG Braden did another fantastic job of creating characters that were real, honest and exciting. This story will trap you within its grasp and have you laughing and loving with the characters. And, at times, reaching for something to cool down!

Summer’s Return – Cindy K. Green

This contemporary story gives the reader a look into simple, island life. It holds a carefree spirit throughout the story that is refreshing and invigorating.

Arianna Morgan has been waiting for Parker Radcliffe to return to the island. She longs to recapture the carefree fun of their childhood friendship and make him see that she is ready for love. Parker is wary of returning to the island. He’s under pressure with business and unexpected memories and rekindled feelings are only going to get in the way.

I loved this story. The characters came to life and their desires, hurt and pain were clearly felt through each page. Arianna’s carefree, flirty personality was infectious and had me laughing, cheering and hoping for a happily-ever-after. Parker was absolutely adorable. He was a mix of shy quiet boy and powerful male presence. His vulnerability was clearly shown and made me want to see him healed and willing to take a risk.

Cindy K. Green does not disappoint! With beautiful imagery and craftsmanship, she will have you hearing the waves, seeing the sunsets and falling in love!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Review: Where One Road Leads

By guest reviewer Nancy A. Lindley-Gauthier

Where one Road Leads
by Ceri Hebert

Krista knew that coming home would be the hardest thing she’d ever done, but she never imagined she’d find forgiveness, love and someone who’s out to kill her.

Krista Faye has decided it’s time to put her dark past behind her and face her personal demons in her hometown. Matt Burgess isn’t ready to have her back, especially when he finds out that they’re going to have more to do with each other than he cares for.

There’s someone, though, who wants Krista gone even more than Matt, and the two are forced to work together to find out who so Krista can make her dream come true. Along the way, Matt discovers a woman with passion, confidence and unyielding determination. Krista finds a man who is able to put aside everything he’s believed for fifteen years and look beyond the scars the past left behind into a heart that is at last ready for love.
This contemporary, realistic portrayal of a Boston photojournalist in the midst of changing her life is a powerful, riveting tale. We see both interesting and developing friendships in sharp contrast to self-reliance. Companionship - even in the shape of a particularly sterling character of a dog, plays a vital role. However, it is events, or more precisely, one event, that shapes this tale.

The repercussions of one historic event in the life of Krista seem long past; an echoing sorrow, no more. The details of the life of this photojournalist for a big newspaper provide a realistic backdrop for the main character. The sorrow explains some of her particular motivations. We meet her at an abrupt juncture with her past - the good, the not-so-good, and the worst, are all re-introduced into her current life, largely because of a family death. And though her aims in her return to her tiny hometown are selfless, she finds she must struggle as she re-examines a past she has tried to put behind her, and re-evaluate a relationship with a man she dared have no hopes about.

This moving story is driven by powerful events and even more powerful characters. This is small town life under a microscope, revealing the impact of memory and the driving power of blame, guilt, and revenge. Starting over for Krista Faye is not going to be simple...or easy. This is an unpredicatable but heartwarming intrigue that allows love to shine. Where one Road Leads, by Ceri Hebert is a compelling read.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Review: Harm's Way

Harm's Way
by Sandra Ferguson

Architect, Victoria Donavan learned the hard way to believe in concrete and steel and leave matters of the heart in the dust. After climbing from the ruins of a disastrous marriage to her murdered undercover DEA husband, she builds a life following one rule: never trust another man who loves danger. Victoria's carefully constructed world tumbles down when her private photos are publicly paraded across the Internet, her home is maliciously invaded, and she's almost kidnapped. One man can promise her safety, but can Victoria survive a close encounter with the truly dangerous Alex Harmon.

Security specialist, Alex Harmon exists by staying one step in front of the bad guys and keeping his clients alive. Living with the demons of a botched body-guarding assignment, he's sworn to never handle another female client. Four years long, Alex's personal vow holds true until his phone rings with a marker from the past being called due. Like facing a loaded double-aught shotgun, both barrels mean disaster. He can welch on the debt, or keep Victoria Donavan's exceedingly good-looking backside out of danger. And Alex Harmon never welches on a debt.

(288 pages) Hot

What is Victoria Donavan to do? She's being stalked and the person who is chosen to protect her is Alex Harmon, a man who "scares the paint off her toenails." She's been burned one time by a man who has a dangerous job and now she finds herself falling for another. And Alex finds himself in too-close proximity with the one woman he has never been able to forget. Can he maintain his objectivity long enough to protect her from being hurt... or will he end up being the one to hurt her?

Harm's Way is filled with suspense. With the end of every chapter comes the overwhelming desire to keep turning. The reader is drawn into the mystery of who has broken into Victoria Donovan's home and for what purpose? Every new clue, every new disclosure leads unceasingly to the end. The revelation of the stalker and the solution to the mystery come both as a surprise and an "oh, yeah" moment.

Victoria and Alex can't help being drawn to each other. However, because of the baggage they carry, they each fight the attraction. The tension between them builds with each passing chapter and when it finally explodes, it truly explodes. The reader is carried with every high and low on the romantic, sexual ride Victoria and Alex find themselves on.

Harm's Way reminded this reader of Nora Robert's suspense books. It was so good, I had a hard time putting it down. I'm looking forward to the next offering by this talented writer. I predict, and truly hope, we'll see much more of Ms. Ferguson. I'm her latest fan.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Review: Only Man For the Job

By guest reviewer: Michelle Oberlander

Only Man For the Job
by Liza James

She never should have left, he never should have let her. Too bad it takes two years and many sleepless nights to realize he's always been the Only Man For the Job.

Laney Peters is back in town, and this time she's here to stay. When she decides to have the master bath in her new home remodeled, she is unprepared to discover the love of her life standing on her front porch ready to fulfill all her needs.

12 Pages - Hot
This short story is quick in the telling but sufficiently long in heat. Right away we meet Laney Peters, a lady in dire need of a bathroom overhaul.

In saunters Keith Jansen, a handy man with the skills to do the job right.
The trick is that these two are fated mates who have a past steeped in misperceptions, hurt feelings and pride.

How do you ask for a second chance? How do you get past the past?

These two realize through their verbal thrust and parry that the passion they shared was the only true and uncomplicated thing they agreed upon with enthusiasm. Could it be the basis for reconciliation? Is the passion still as hot as they remembered? Is Keith really qualified to overhaul her bathroom and her heart?

After reading this, I'm still not too sure about the fate of the bathroom,
but I think Laney might be in good hands.

Did I say "might"?

If I had my own Keith Jansen, I'd hope I had more than one bathroom in need of remodeling!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Review: Return to Winter

By guest reviewer Nancy A.Lindley-Gauthier

Return to Winter
by Lynette Rees

When Stephanie Baynham comes home to Wales , the lover she ran out on nine months ago, Dylan Pryce-Jones, is waiting at the airport for her.
Will he understand why she left him without warning, during the afternoon of Matt and Sandy's wedding celebration?

Later, she returns to her apartment and finds a threatening message scrawled on her mirror: "You're Dead!" Could her life really be in danger?

(176 pages) Spicy
Return To Winter is a contemporary romantic thriller. There is a cleverly British setting that offers that a bit of old-world flavor, since a big part of the setting is in a castle. Yet, the setting comes with a very contemporary twist, as the castle is home to commercial "Celtic-style' wedding ventures.

From the start, the main character's concerns and actions are intriguing. In the earliest pages, readers will believe they can sort through these webs of love, admiration, and danger, but it is quickly apparent that this is a far more complex tale than it seems. The setting may be old but the threat is most definitely modern and presents an ever-increasing danger. There are some sharp, emotional contrasts between the evil intentions of the bad guy and the warmth of the holiday spirit surrounding those desperately striving to get away from him. And, as much as one roots for a certain romantically involved pair, one cannot help but feel badly for the one lost along the wayside.

This story moves ahead quickly with just enough description to give it an authentic air (like sponge pudding for dessert, piped-in Celtic music at the reception desk, and the like) although one does wish for more physical descriptions, at times. This story is carried on excellent dialogue and unpredictable action, and those who and enjoy the odd steamier scene will not be disappointed either.

Review: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Your Wedding

By guest reviewer Brandy Jones

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Your Wedding
by Cindy K. Green

Associate history professor, Kari Montgomery, has carried the feelings of loss and inadequacy ever since she broke off her engagement to Geoffrey Hudson. All that changes when she looks into a pair of steel blue eyes as she attempts to make it through a rain storm the day of her cousin Emily's wedding. But even though Kari begins to feel compelled toward him, she isn't sure if she can love again or if she is even worthy of that love.

Youth pastor Randy Steele has a sense of humor and a pair of remarkable eyes that make him fascinating to most of the women he meets. As he tries to get Kari to see her own worthiness and ability to let God heal her heart, he realizes that he also has something in his own life to heal - the relationship with his parents. But can he reach Kari and show her how wonderful life can be with God in control of their futures?
When Kari Montgomery ran through the rain to reach her cousin’s wedding, she never expected to literally run into the first man to make her heart flutter since she ended her engagement to her fiancĂ©e almost a year ago. She also didn’t know that he was the Youth Pastor of the church her cousin was soon to be wed in!

Randy (Randolph) Steel was doing a favor for the bride and groom when he found himself staring into a pair of green eyes whose luminosity seemed to sear his soul. He wondered if this woman, Kari, was the one he had prayed to God for; the one to walk alongside his path with God.

A funny Thing Happened On The Way To Your Wedding is a soul searching look at what makes the characters happy and how to serve God while doing so. Faith plays an integral part of the story whose ending will bring tears along with laughter to the reader. A must read for any fan on inspirational romance.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Heat Level Descriptions

Effective today, and for all future reviews, descriptions of what each "heat level" description means can be found here.

Review: Prairie Storm (Book Three in "A Town Called Hope" series

By guest reviewer Lianne Lopes

Prairie Storm
by Catherine Palmer

Evangelist Elijah Book is a fearless warrior for God--or so he believes...

When a helpless infant is entrusted to his care, his zeal becomes sidetracked as the fate of an innocent child rests with a woman Eli must trust in spite of himself.

Storms of hurt and bitterness threaten to overwhelm Lily Nolan after the death of her husband and child. If there is a God, how could he abandon her so completely? Can she risk opening her heart to the orphaned Samuel?

United in their concern for the baby, Eli and Lily are forced to set aside their differences--but only for Samuel’s sake. Neither will admit their growing attraction. When a life-changing decision threatens Eli’s rock-solid faith, they both struggle to trust God’s plan to see them through the storms of life.

When Lily Nolan and her traveling show arrive in the little town of Hope, Kansas, she discovers a half-starved baby in, of all places, the saddle bag of the traveling preacher. Reverend Elijah Book discovered the baby in the wagon of a dying pioneer family who had been attacked by renegade Indians. Though he doesn’t know the first thing about babies, he took it upon himself to care for the child. Lily’s loss of husband and newborn daughter to sickness is painfully recent, but she finds a measure of comfort in serving as wet nurse for the preacher’s orphaned child. The circumstances draw these two lonely adults together though they fight their attraction to each other tooth and nail. But will Lily’s past and her bitter unbelief in Elijah’s God keep them apart?

Prairie Storm, Catherine Palmer’s final book in the Town Called Hope series, ties up some loose ends from the previous two, while introducing a few more characters. There is the usual mix of humor and drama that make Palmer’s books so delightful, but this one had a slightly different tone. Maybe a touch more seriousness. At times I grew tired of Lily’s cynicism, but then, I did not live the life of hardships she did. The spiritual message, however, is clear. God can bring good out of any situation, no matter how horrible or painful. All in all, an enjoyable read and suited for women of all ages.

Review: Second Chance Rose

By guest reviewer: Michele Oberlander

Second Chance Rose
by Terry Odell
Part of the Rose Petals, Volume III anthology of steamy stories

Rose has had her chance at her one true love. Widowed, her home destroyed by a hurricane, she relocates across the country and discovers the special garden of the bedtime stories her mother told her as a child. When she meets Richard there, friendship blooms. But can there be second chances for true love?

Available in print or eBook format
What a delight this story turned out to be!

Terry took the theme of "love's second chance" and gave it a twist at the end that was pure magic.

Right away we meet Rose as she's experiencing a major upheaval in her life. On top of that, she's finally recovering from the loss of her husband, Doug.

The reader gets a feel for Rose's sensitive and caring nature and at the same time, we are treated to a character with hidden strengths; dignified and determined. She's drawing upon those strengths as she gets ready to take on a new direction in her life.

What I liked is the basis of those strengths; the love she received from her family as she was growing up. The flashbacks that show Rose's relationship with her mother were especially endearing and gave you a hint as to why Rose is the woman she is.

The introduction of the hero, the man who sweeps Rose off her feet, is the most subtle and natural I've seen. By the time Richard "officially" introduces himself, I just wanted to pinch his cheeks - he's so adorable. I'd probably have to stretch on my toes a bit to reach him though.

The see-saw of their budding relationship and the steps of falling in love were akin to the garden paths they walked; winding and weaving towards a glorious display of astonishing yet gentle beauty.

This story is rich in emotion, in romance and ultimately shows us that love's passion isn't always fireworks and crashing surf, but can be a deep and rushing river that ends up carving a beautiful landscape right before our eyes. And what we end up with can be just as we'd hoped and more than we imagined.

And the best part? When Richard and Rose finally get together. Oh, you want to know if there are fireworks? I heard a few explosions going off but I can assure you that Richard and Rose were a little too busy to notice. *wink*

Second Chance Rose: a first rate romance about love's second chances. Enjoy!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Review: The Broken Path

By guest reviewer Michelle Oberlander

The Broken Path
by Cami Checketts

Involved in a debilitating accident at age six, Ethan Searle believes women eye him with a mixture of pity and disdain. He's tried love before. He won't again.
Autumn Reader escaped her abusive marriage with her daughter, a stack of debt, and fear. Autumn's precocious two-year old becomes enraptured by Ethan. Autumn is on the path to following her daughter's example when her ex-husband reappears.

The first thing that catches your eye is the cover. I found it pleasing to the eye, especially the shadow that haunts the picturesque path. After reading the story, I looked at it again to see if it fit with the title and story. I say, "Definitely!" The cover invokes many meanings from my memories of the story. Clever.

The Broken Path introduces Autumn, a single mom who escaped a really bad scene of a first marriage. She's gone back to her home town to finish healing and begin living again. Because of her ex-husband, she has huge trust issues about men. The best thing that came from her nightmare of a marriage is Brittan, her daughter.

Cami has written the cutest character in Brittan. What a charmer. If I were to meet this little girl in real life, I'd want to hug her to pieces and spoil her rotten. You know that old phrase "Oh! The things kids say!"? Well, Cami has Brittan doing and saying some pretty interesting things that cracked this reader up and embarrassed the dickens out of her mom. The childish mispronunciations Cami has Brittan sharing with the handsome Ethan, whom she calls, "Effan", are endearing and so spot on, it's a joy to read.

Speaking of Ethan, the hero and love interest - he was interesting. I've read many stories where the main character has a scar or two and it causes them angst, but Ethan has some serious issues. Cami wrote his character like she must have known someone who had that kind of disability. The challenges, self-doubts and emotional pain ring very true. And yet, he finds the strength in and through his faith to survive.

Ethan and Autumn’s faith is a thread woven all the way through The Broken Path. It's pivotal in one scene in particular that had me sitting at the edge of my chair as I read.

As for the romance, Ethan's pursuit of Autumn and Autumn's pursuit of Ethan was like ... well, let's say their pursuit of each other was like watching someone drive a standard shift for the first time: forward motion in spits and spurts, lurching and stalling. Each of them thinks only of their individual faults. Because of this, they constantly jump to the wrong conclusions in their discussions. They are very human -- too easy to understand and, at times, very frustrating-- so by the time they finally get their true feelings out in the open, this reader was jumping for joy. Yes! I was so happy for them. Time for some lovin'. Psst. Ethan's a good kisser.

But watch out. Their happiness and faith get tested. A very believable outside conflict gets thrown their way.

Did I mention that Autumn's mom, Nancy, has the hots for the local plumber, Jacob? That's a cute little romantic sub-story, too.

All in all, The Broken Path is one you'll enjoy traveling because the HEA is emotionally satisfying and all the familial loose ends get tied up thanks to a little angel. How sweet it is!

Review: Falling

By guest reviewer Brandy Jones

by Imogen Howson

Linnet has a secret. It's going to knock her world to the ground.

Linnet has a secret that is tearing her apart. While her world falls apart around her, Linnet learns that it takes courage, and the grace of a new kind of friend, to learn that not all secrets are meant to be kept.

Falling by Imogen Howson is set in a distant future where there are those who are affluent enough to afford to live in tall towers above the clouds of pollution and toxins of the atmosphere. But, despite appearances, all is not perfect in the affluent world.

Linnete hides her secret well; she is a freak. Her mother's disapproval when she is without the wig that covers her hairless head makes Linnete fear that without her wigs, she is not lovable, or even likable. The reader's heart clenches at the harsh words Linnete’s mother utters to her daughter and the reader can’t help but wish a different future for this young woman so eager for her parents' acceptance.

Gecko never meant to spy on the young girl so different from the others of her class. Different not because of her hairless head, but because of the life that seems to glow within her. Gecko lives under all the pollution that blocks the ground from the sky, but he is able to reach their heights by climbing and even gliding on a pair of man made wings. He relishes the times he is able to spend with Linnete, even risking his life to do so because the people in her world would do anything, even kill, to keep those from below from invading their rarified world of privilege.

Natural forces are at work that may destroy Linnete’s world and even those within it, for the towers are not as safe as they are told. Now Linnete must decide whether to stay in the world she has known her whole life and risk death, or travel with Gecko to his life under the clouds of smog and find a home where she is viewed as normal and not a freak.

I adored this story. It was a modern retelling of the fable Rapunzel; where a young girl must escape the preconceptions of her life to find true happiness. This story was a fantastic read. I look forward to more stories from Imogen Howson with relish.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Review: Prairie Fire (Book Two in "A Town Called Hope" series)

By guest reviewer Lianne Lopes

Prairie Fire
by Catherine Palmer

Jack Cornwall has lost everything he’s ever fought for, everything he’s ever loved.

He’s lost his home, the Confederacy and its goal of a new and vital nation, and now his little nephew, Chipper. Grasping at the only ray of light to enter his life in recent years, Jack settles in Hope to be near the feisty, red-haired Caitrin Murphy--a woman whose zealous approach to life mirrors his own blazing personality.

But will the good people of Hope allow Jack to make a fresh start? Will Caitrin defy her family in her desire to help Jack? And will the long-kept Cornwall family secret destroy the hopes and dreams they have begun to build together?

From the ashes of the refiner’s fire can emerge beauty both graceful and enduring. In Prairie Fire, the flames that threaten to consume the town called Hope are overcome by the flood of love and forgiveness in the hearts of Caitrin Murphy and Jack Cornwall.
Prairie Fire, a Holt Medallion finalist, brings back the cast from the first book, adding a few new characters that will take the reader on yet another fun adventure.

Caitrin Murphy, newly arrived from Ireland, had her heart broken when the man she loved married someone else. She’s come to the Kansas prairie to stay with her sister’s family until she can sort out her life. One night she goes to the barn and stumbles upon an injured man in need of help. The man is Jack Cornwall, hated brother-in-law of neighbor and family friend, Seth Hunter. Cornwall is suffering from injuries brought on by his past as an outlaw as well as those incurred after a fist fight with Seth over custody of Seth’s young son. Caitrin sees past Jack’s hard outer shell, to the loving but tortured soul within. But when they realize their love for each other, they must face the anger and prejudices of the townsfolk. Will old hurts and biases keep these two lovebirds apart?

Once again Catherine Palmer brings the historical prairie alive through true to life characters that are entertaining and endearing, yet exasperating in their humanness. At times I found myself wanting to throttle the townsfolk, but had to remind myself that human nature is just that way. It’s a powerful message of the change and acceptance that can only be achieved through the grace of God and bowing to His will. A pleasant read for women of all ages.

Review: Redemption

By guest reviewer: Michelle Oberlander

by Judith Rochelle

Lisa Mallory thought her life couldn't get worse. She survived the marriage in hell to Charles Mallory and her role as a suspect in his murder. After four years she's finally getting her life back on track when her eight-year-old son, Jamie, is kidnapped. Three months after the ransom is paid he still has not been returned, and the only resource left to her is Ethan Caine, a burned-out black ops warrior who has shut himself away from the world. Tracking Jamie to the wilds of Mexico's Quintana Roo jungle, as they make their pans to rescue the child they learn that no matter the past, life can still offer them a future.

(196 pages) Spicy
The first thing to catch your eye is the cover. It definitely helps the reader get insight into the tone of the story as well as a hint as to what else is steamy in the jungle.

The story starts with a prologue that introduces our heroine, Lisa Taylor Mallory. What this short piece does is grip you from the moment Lisa says her final words to her dearly departed husband. From then on I needed to understand, "why?". There's a sense of great depths to her character.

My first introduction to Ethan Caine led me to believe Lisa's impression of him, that of a man past his prime and usefulness. Yet Lisa's brother, Josh, insisted she turn to Ethan for help in finding out what happened to her kidnapped son, Jaime. That decision intrigued me. It takes awhile to discover Ethan is also a character with a painful past. He's the kind of man romance readers love to see saved; the tortured hero. I was plagued with questions: What does Josh know? What could Ethan do that the FBI couldn't? And why? What damaged Ethan so bad that he is the way he is?

Like I said, Ethan is a mystery - will love be the key that solves it?

Redemption is an exciting, fast paced and engrossing story about two people with flaws and failings that should have beaten them down. Yet both are willing to do what it takes, like true survivors, to fight back. The impetus for the conflict is a mother's love for her missing child and is apparent from the get-go. You become aware, though, that there are two other love scenarios; the sneak attack and the one denied. It's up to you, the reader, to figure out who gets which kind.

Suffice to say the interaction between Ethan and Lisa is highly charged, emotional with sensual overtones and yet is well defined as they learn to trust each other with their lives and eventually, like all good romance stories, with their hearts. But before that happens they have to travel to Mexico where the pivotal action takes the reader into both its seedy underbelly and treacherous exotic tropical jungles. Their hunting for clues and connections had me reading nonstop, never knowing what was going to happen next. Toward the end, I had a good suspicion about the bad guy, but the actual revelation as to the true scope of what Lisa and Ethan were up against was a delightful surprise. Well, I liked being surprised, but I bet Lisa could have gone without that bit of twist.

Judith Rochelle has written an intense read that will satisfy lovers of romantic suspense novels. The passion and pain, the hope and... yes, redemption are interwoven into a satisfying read. You'll find yourself rooting for Lisa to find her son, rooting for Ethan to win the battle against his inner demons and cheering when love opens their eyes.

Now, Ms. Rochelle--what is Josh's story? He is a great brother to Lisa, but I bet he's got his own secrets. I got the feeling that there's something brewing but only you know what it is. Will you share?

Can I take the suspense?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Review: Prairie Rose (Book One in "A Town Called Hope" series)

By guest reviewer Lianne Lopes

Prairie Rose
by Catherine Palmer

A Town Called Hope, the inspiring series set in post Civil War Kansas, is the creation of best-selling romance writer Catherine Palmer. In the fast-paced Prairie Rose, impulsive nineteen-year-old Rosie Mills takes a job caring for the young son of widowed homesteader Seth Hunter in order to escape the orphanage in which she was raised. Rosie's naive view of love and her understanding of what it means to have a Father in heaven are quickly put to the test. Afraid of being wounded again, Seth struggles to freely open his heart--to his hurting son, to a woman's love, and to a Father who will not abandon him. Together Rosie and Seth must face the harsh uncertainties of prairie life--and the one man who threatens to destroy their happiness.
Rosie Mills is a foundling who has lived at the orphanage in Kansas City all her life. She's always longed for a home of her own, and at age 19, she is too old to stay on as a ward of the orphanage anyway. Sadly, there aren't many good prospects for a girl like her. That is, until she falls out of a tree and lands in the wagon, and arms, of handsome widower, Seth Hunter.

Turns out, he’s in need of someone to cook, keep house and take care of his motherless five year old son. It seems the perfect opportunity for Rosie until she arrives at the Hunter homestead, in the middle of nowhere on the Kansas Prairie. Trials abound for the young woman. There are those hardships normal to prairie life, as well as the constant threat that her employer’s brother-in-law could show up at any time to kidnap her young charge. But most shattering of all is when she realizes she’s lost her heart to Seth Hunter. Will Seth be able to forget the young wife taken from him years before, and in turn give his heart to Rosie?

In Prairie Rose, Catherine Palmer brings to life the joys and hardships of life and love on the prairie in the 1860s. I developed a new and enduring admiration for those pioneers who forged a life out of the soil and helped make America what it is today. Filled with light hearted humor as well as suspense, drama and romance, it is a pleasant read for ladies of all ages. And threaded expertly throughout the story is an even deeper spiritual theme of a soul’s deep worth to God, no matter what others may think.

Review: Tickle Fights and Barbecues

By special guest reviewer Allie Boniface.

Tickle Fights and Barbecues
by Marianne Arkins

Since her return to her childhood home following the deaths of her parents, Tina Springfield has been alone, with nothing but her prize-winning roses for company. Though she longs for friendship and romance, her innate shyness and her awkward work schedule have kept her from meeting anyone -- including her new neighbors. But when a little boy's baseball threatens her rose bushes, everything changes, and Tina discovers that small sacrifices can make a big difference in life.

11 Pages Sweet
This charming short story is another winner for author Marianne Arkins. In just a few short pages, she creates a likable heroine who has a lot to learn and a handsome next-door neighbor who’s healing a broken heart. A cozy suburban setting, the warmth of summer, and the imagined scent of roses in the air draw the reader in at once. But the scene-stealer in this story has to be the hero’s young son, Kenny, who Arkins uses in a charming, believable manner to bring her two main characters together.

From the opening page, readers will admire Tina Springfield’s independence and resolve, though we sense before she does that perhaps there is more to life than nurturing her prize-winning roses and sleeping with earplugs. Her new neighbor, Dan Phillips, is the perfect hero: handsome, kind, and doing his best to raise a son by himself.

The character of Kenny is what makes this story work, however. When he makes his appearance, we fall hook, line, and sinker for this charming little boy whose baseballs land squarely in Tina’s garden…and make her rethink her decision to keep to herself.

What I enjoyed most about this story was its non-traditional hero and heroine. Tina and Dan have both loved and lost before, and neither one is anxious to jump back into a relationship. There’s also a child in the mix, which has the potential to complicate a budding romance. Arkins handle these dynamics quite well, however. All of the complications make Tina and Dan’s realization that love can be right next door all the sweeter.

Marianne Arkins has a knack for creating everyday heroes who work their way into your heart after just a few pages. I’m looking forward to this author’s first full-length novel, as the only disappointment I feel after reading her short stories is that they aren’t nearly long enough!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What the "heat" level descriptions mean

Sweet: Contains no visual love scenes and no descriptive kissing, but can include sexual tension.

Sensual: Contains a high degree of sexual tension, steamy kisses and passionate clinches, but all fully consummated love scenes will be implied, not described, and with the bedroom door firmly closed.

Spicy: Contains actual love scenes and may include detailed descriptions of foreplay and consummation.

Hot: Contains sizzling and very detailed love scenes throughout and graphic, explicit content which may be offensive to some.

Review: High Noon

High Noon
by Nora Roberts

Police Lieutenant Phoebe MacNamara found her calling at an early age when an unstable man broke into her family's home, trapping and terrorizing them for hours. Now she's Savannah's top hostage negotiator, defusing powderkeg situations with a talent for knowing when to give in-and when to jump in and take action. It's satisfying work-and sometimes those skills come in handy at home dealing with her agoraphobic mother, still traumatized by the break-in after all these years, and her precocious seven-year-old, Carly.

It's exactly that heady combination of steely courage and sensitivity that first attracts Duncan Swift to Phoebe. After observing her coax one of his employees down from a roof ledge, he is committed to keeping this intriguing, take-charge woman in his life. She's used to working solo, but Phoebe's discovering that no amount of negotiation can keep Duncan at arm's length.

And when she's grabbed by a man who throws a hood over her head and brutally assaults her-in her own precinct house-Phoebe can't help but be deeply shaken. Then threatening messages show up on her doorstep, and she's not just alarmed but frustrated. How do you go face-to-face with an opponent who refuses to look you in the eye?

Now, with Duncan backing her up every step of the way, she must establish contact with the faceless tormentor who is determined to make her a hostage to fear . . . before she becomes the final showdown.
Ms. Roberts starts this book with a bang -- a man sitting on a high-rise ledge, his boss outside the door, a negotiator -- and seldom lets up on the excitement. It's been quite some time since a book has held my attention to the point where other things suffered, my writing, my home, my family. This one did.

In the beginning, I had to read this in little bites. But by the time I made it about a third of the way, I didn't want to put it down for any reason.

As she so quite ably does on a regular basis, Ms. Roberts made me fall in love with her hero. Duncan is an amazing guy, smooth but not smarmy, handsome but not slick, wealthy but not ostentatious. It's easy to see how he was able to chip away at Phoebe's resolve to stay unattached.

And Phoebe -- what a great heroine: Strong, capable, flawed.

There were only two things that detracted from the near perfection of this story: Nora Robert's trademark head-hopping, and the bits of the story from the POV of the villain. I'm used to her smooth POV shifts from hero to heroine and back, but this time her shifts also included the antagonist and those weren't so smooth. I also think that the story would have been even stronger without the few scenes from the bad guys POV.

Still, those things aside, this was another good, suspenseful read -- the kind I've come to expect from her hardback released. Thanks again to Nora Roberts.

Review: Romancing the Geek

By guest reviewer Brandy Jones

Romancing the Geek
by Terry Odell

Stephanie's lifelong dream is to design toys'sweet, cuddly toys. Instead, she's hired as a glorified typist. And not even with the rest of the marketing department, but way downstairs in the only available office, which she has to share with Brad, who's a total geek. A geek who's happy programming computer games full of explosions.

They agree to ignore each other while Stephanie waits for a desk to open upstairs. But when Brad has girlfriend troubles--like he can't get Lianne, the cocktail waitress to notice him--he swallows his pride and asks Stephanie if she'll teach him how to talk to women. She agrees, but he's having trouble passing her exams.

(34 pages) Spicy
Romancing the Geek is a short story filled with desires and dreams.

Stephanie Brinks wasn’t where she wanted to be, sharing an office with a computer geek while trying to climb the corporate ladder. But, she knew if she bided her time someday she’d get to design the toys made by the company she worked for. In the meantime, she’d make the best of her situation in the office with Brad Hewitt, a computer geek designing new computer games.

Brad Hewitt was nonplussed to find himself sharing an office for six months with Stephanie. He wasn’t comfortable around women and became tongue-tied when expected to interact with them. But Stephanie was different. In her presence he was comfortable, to be himself and to talk to her. So he hatches a plan. He’ll have Stephanie tutor him in how to talk to women!

What follows is a flirty look at how a shy computer geek and a confident woman come together for one goal; getting Brad a date. The ending is sensual and fun, just the way the characters evolve. A cute read for those who always wondered if a computer geek can be passionate, and for those who know the answer!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Review: First Class Male

By guest reviewer Michele Oberlander.

First Class Male
by Christine Columbus

Jenny decided to walk to the Post Office to pick up the package her co-workers claimed was waiting for her. However, when she got there the handsome clerk was unable to find the parcel, but he did find her heart.

(10 pages) - sweet
First impression of the cover: Simple and classy. The title made me think of a story of the perfect man. Imagine my pleasant surprise when I realized it was a clever play on words.

This is a short story that hones in on what we romance readers look for; girl meets boy, girl chases boy, boy doesn't call, girl thinks "whoops" and guy plans a "Gotcha!". Reverse chase. I loved it.

This story is told in first person by a plucky heroine named Jennifer. We jump right into a day of her life where work and serendipity play a pivotal role in her future. Jennifer finally has her life on track, or so she thinks. Her co-workers know otherwise and have a history of plaguing her with schemes to spice up her romance deprived life. This day is no different.

No scheme is as effective as the day serendipity brought her within the sights of Blake, a handsome man behind a service counter. Their first flirtation is sweet, endearing and believable. The snafu at her follow-up visit had me laughing as I could all too easily see myself doing the same thing and feeling the same way.

The pursuit of love with its humorous subtlety is a delight and makes this story a thing of beauty. The end of this novel rates high on my romantic "sigh" meter. This is one HEA that leaves you smiling.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Review: Ghost, Interrupted

By guest reviewer Brandy Jones

Ghost, Interrupted
by Sonia Singh

Anjali Kumar has spent her whole life trying to suppress her psychic talents, but when handsome ghost hunter Scott Wilder tracks her down for help with a case, she reluctantly agrees to assist him in ridding a single mother's house of a pesky spirit. Anjali is successful in getting the spirit to cross over to the great beyond, and to her surprise she finds herself embracing her gift and signing on to work for Scott's company, The Cold Spot.

The Cold Spot gains another employee in telekinetic Coulter Marshall, a charming Southern hustler who has made his way from Tennessee to San Francisco. But the three face serious competition from Scott's former fling, Vivica, who runs a ghost-hunting team of her own and doesn't share Scott's concerns for safety while hunting paranormal entities.
Ghost, Interrupted is a delightful and quirky look into the world of Parapsychology, or rather Ghost-Hunting. The Characters are entertaining and approachable, but most of all likable.

Anjali Kumar has hidden her psychic “gift” for years. Not only to please her family and fit in, but to make her life and her life with her family easier. After losing her job and feeling dissatisfied with her life, a not-so-chance encounter at the grocery store with Scott Wilder, a stock-broker turned “ghost hunter”, turns her life around. Instead of ignoring and hiding from her abilities, she decides to work with Scott and starts to feel acceptance for her abilities instead of shame.

Scott Wilder quit his high paying stock-broker job to follow a dream, to finally have a connection to the world of Parapsychology. Opening “The Cold Spot”, a Ghost-Hunting” firm, he has finally realized his dream and with a select team of gifted psychics he hopes the firm attains the respectability and reputation to become the best in their field.

Coulter Marshall knew he was different since he was a small child, even without his own mother calling him the ‘Spawn of the Devil’. On his own for more years than he cares to count and conning his way from one side of the country to the other, this Tennessee charmer will take his power of telekinesis from conning people out of money to a real job working with Scott and Anjali.

As Anjali, Scott and Coulter each come to terms with their abilities; each also learns their limitations and how to work together as team. Will their newfound successes convince them that they are worthy of the attention they receive from the public cause them to stick together, or disband their newfound friendships?

The quips, jokes and comedic laughs abound as well as a surprise romance. Sonia Singh delivers a delightful cocktail full of fun, humor, ghosts and love. All in all the book is a cute read full of surprises and laughs.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Review: Christmas Grace: A Duet

By guest reviewer, Shauna Sturge.

Christmas Grace: A Duet

*Christmas Grace* by Laura Hamby

Hannah Kelsey, now orphaned by the War Between the States, awaits patiently for news of her lone, surviving brother. A life that has been anything but easy is made more complicated by the Yankee soldier she finds lying in front of her cabin a few days before the Christmas of 1864.

*The Scent of Falling Snow* by Robin Bayne

Aideen O'Conner felt a certain twinge when Rob Novak walked into her dance studio. Was it because she thought he didn't take her seriously, or because she was afraid he would? When Rob visits his daughter's step-dancing teacher, he makes it clear he doesn't consider the activity a challenge. The real challenge comes when he learns the teacher's secret.
Christmas Grace – Laura Hamby

This historical romance is set at the end of the Civil war. Hannah Kelsey finds herself alone, struggling with the deaths of her family, the destruction of her home and the disdain of the community. As an Irish southerner who despises slavery, she is a target for scorn, suspicion and the unwanted attention of her young, confederate neighbor. As she waits for the return of her brother, she finds a wounded, union soldier bleeding outside her home. Moved by compassion and Christian charity, she tends his wounds and hides him from harm.

I found this story to be gripping, quick paced and beautifully written. It captured my attention from the first sentence and held it to the very end. It was a wonderful story about the power of miracles and was unique in its presentation, not at all like the many seasonal stories out there. It had some unexpected twists and left me goose bumps. I highly recommend this to anyone!

The Scent of Falling Snow – Robin Bayne

This contemporary novella is a sweet story about mistakes made and forgiveness granted.

Aideen O’Connor had lost her marriage, custody of her daughter and her self-respect. Through circumstances of her own doing she had hurt the people she most cared about and was struggling to put the pieces of her life back together.

When Rob Novak’s daughter expressed an interest in Irish dance, he found himself surprised that his tomboy wanted to compete in something he considered a “non-sport.” He found himself drawn to Aideen and realized there was a deep hurt that she kept hidden. As he tried to unlock those secrets, he learned that love and forgiveness are the most powerful tools of all.

I found this short story to be a sweet tale of forgiveness and the importance of learning to forgive oneself. I liked that the main character, Aideen, had made mistakes and was working to mend the hurt and distrust she had caused. I found the private guilt she lived with to be a great catalyst for the message of leaving the past behind and moving forward. This is another great, unique Christmas story sure to uplift the reader.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Review: Wedding Bell Blues

By guest reviewer Shauna Sturge

Wedding Bell Blues
by Linda Windsor

Josh Turner is one distraction that Alex doesn't need. After jilting her, he waltzes back into town to be best man in her sister's wedding. All Alex wants is to concentrate on planning her sister's nuptials, but she and Josh keep running into each other. Will she forgive him and give him another chance?
This first story of the Piper Cove Chronicles introduces you to a cast of unique and quirky characters. The Bosom Buddies are a group of four women who have pledged their love, support and devotion to each other…and to always speak the truth. These four women are as varied in personality as any four women could be, but they stick when the going gets tough.

I absolutely loved this book. Set in the fictional coastal tourist town, Piper Cove, these characters will grab your heartstrings and tug for all they’re worth. You will laugh, love and cry as you learn about the power of forgiveness and true love.

This first book follows Alex through the ups and downs of planning her sister’s wedding, handling a demanding manipulating father and decorating her sister’s future summer home. On top of that she has to deal with the emotions of unforgotten love as her ex-husband returns to their hometown…as the Best Man.

Wow! What else can I say? This story hooked me from the first sentence, reeled me in and held me by the heart until long after the final words were read. This is a powerful story with characters who will literally come to life and leap off the pages into your heart and mind. They will become friends. You will share their joys and heartaches and follow them on their journey of faith. This is another treasure by talented author, Linda Windsor.

Review: Lily's Captain

By reviewer: Xeranthemum

Lily's Captain
by Mary Clayton

Life and love had not been kind to Lily Merrow. Tragedy had robbed her of her youth. Yet suddenly, out of a clear blue sky, life and love returned.

Can Lily make up for wasted years and get a second chance at love? Find out in Lily's Captain.

12 pages
The cover with its simple rendition depicting a majestic yacht sailing over blue seas is lovely. Once you read the story, go back and savor the memory. It‘s a beautiful tie in.

In this short-shot view of a turning point in Lily Merrow's life, we are introduced to a woman who has clawed her way back from an emotional morass of loss. She is without a compass to guide her forward yet is aware the time has come for decisions to be made.

Enter Garrick Trent. A man who has made right choices in life for the wrong reasons and had some decisions dictated by unfortunate timing. The winds of change sweep them together for second chances at healing and love. It is said that when one door closes, another opens. But, sometimes life does a U-turn and you get to re-visit a door thought closed. One of love's greatest elements, hope, embraces Lily's Captain.

It's worth watching how Lily and Garrick take incremental steps to happiness and I found myself holding my breath after Garrick revealed his secret. I enjoyed reading this story through the window of a perfect moment.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Review: A Dragonfly in Amber

By guest reviewer Lianne Lopes

A Dragonfly in Amber
by Diana Gabaldon

With her now-classic novel Outlander, Diana Gabaldon introduced two unforgettable characters — Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser—delighting readers with a story of adventure and love that spanned two centuries. Now Gabaldon returns to that extraordinary time and place in this vivid, powerful follow-up to Outlander....

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland’s majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ... about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ... and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his....

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire’s spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ... in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ... and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves....
The second book in the Outlander series, A Dragonfly in Amber picks up where the first one left off...sort of. Once I got my hands on this book, I eagerly sat down to read and find out what happened next to Claire and Jamie. What a jolt to find the story open in third person, from the point of view of a vague character briefly mentioned in the beginning of book one. Even more jolting is the date, 1968, and the fact that Claire, with a daughter she didn’t have before, is present at that time period. With fear and trepidation, I plugged on. After all, I had put my trust in this author once before and had not been disappointed.

Claire is some twenty years older, with an air of sadness and loss about her that can only lead to one conclusion. At some point, she journeyed back through the stones to her own time. The questions are instantly aroused: When? Why? What happened?

Several chapters into the story, we begin to find out. We’re back to Claire’s first person account, and it truly is another roller coaster ride. As with book one, it is full of adventure, perils, and the love that sustains the two main characters throughout their experiences. Some might think there would not be much of a romantic spark that could be portrayed between a married couple, but I beg to differ. The romance is there loud and clear, and made that much more meaningful because they are married and so much in love.

The tone of this book is a trifle different, for there’s a shadow of fear and sadness sitting over it. We know, to some extent, what’s going to happen since history and the first chapters of the book tell us the Highlanders failed and were massacred at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. But there is also a tinge of hope. Maybe not all is lost. Or is it? I guess you’ll just have to read it and find out.

Review: Spinning Wildly

By guest reviewer Nancy A.Lindley-Gauthier

Spinning Wildly
by Elle Fredrix

Although Megan Dempsey hates amusement parks, she hates disappointing her 12-year old son even more. So when his plans with a friend fall through, he ropes her into going along. Things go downhill from there. First, an incident with a mustard-oozing hotdog paints her breast golden. Then running into--literally--Mitchell Carter, a man who has stirred her emotions for more than year, mortifies her even more. When their paths repeatedly cross, she recognizes interest in Mitch's gaze. Megan's day is about to get a whole lot better!
Spinning Wildly by Elle Frederix is a quick and fun dash into an intriguing romance, a romance that is far less simple than it sounds.

Cosmic payback in the form of a blob of mustard has to be the most original description and conveys with it (who would have guessed) a wealth of emotion, that no matter how improbable it sounds, the reader will empathize with this main character. We've all been in Mrs.Dempsey's shoes at one time or another. This story wastes no time, but leaps from minor personal embarrassment right to the fantasy man, leaving poor Mrs. D filled with the desperate desire to suffer short term memory loss. This short story is frank and funny light and a definitely twisty storyline. Romance becomes as much a spinning vortex as ever one finds in an amusement park ride. Climb on for spin!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Review: The King's Druidess

By guest reviewer Nancy A.Lindley-Gauthier

The King's Druidess
by Sky Purington

Chiomara Ruadh, Druidess of Ulster, will not be swayed from prophecy. If the Gods of Ireland request that she couple with the king, so be it. If it is also their wish that he marry another woman, who is Chiomara, a simple Druid, to stand in their way?

Erc Breac, king of Dal’Raida, can only think of Chiomara. Her beauty is surreal and the tales that follow her across the land unsurpassed. But that is not enough when faced with the obligations of a king. His people must come first. His future wife and queen, Macha, must come first. Yet, fate is a slippery thing. Will Erc risk the whole of his kingdom for what lays in his heart?

26 Pages
Sky Purington's The King's Druidess marries a possible past as it were, to fantasy. This evocative tale immediately draws the reader in. It is not merely a window to another world, but a world one can easily believe in, a world one searches the histories for. From the circle of stones to the power of that which is foretold, this is wild and beautiful and beguiling. Purington exhibits a richness of language and an imaginative vision. This story is suggestive, and haunting. It is carried by the power of desire, the power of passion, and the power of desperation. There is a richness here that is hard to convey.

From the mists of this other world rise both prophesy and loss, both love and the threat of tragedy. Certainly, the druids bring a sense of a particular history, but other legends are called in as well, for those that have read widely of times of old and legends half-forgotten will recognize names like Taliesin. So many references are hidden inside other meanings in this tale, richness develops further upon re-reading.

Sky Purington's newest short story, The King's Druidess will delight not only the faerie fans but those who love all the tales of old.

Review: Disco Angel

Disco Angel
by Stacy Dawn

Bobby Hues has his eye on the Disco Angel jiving around Electric Nights Roller Disco. But what would Miss Spring Break 1976 and the foxiest chick he’d ever laid eyes on want with a lowly grease monkey like himself?

Summer Benton’s heart started racing the minute she rolled her broken down ride into Bobby’s garage. When he gets a gig working at her favorite hang out, she thinks she has it made—but the quiet hunk still isn’t talking. A little push on her part starts the wheels rolling—in the wrong direction. Now she has to figure out how to lose the wrong guy, and convince the right one she digs him enough to be his Disco Angel, forever.

8 pages, sweet
Do you miss the seventies? Step back in time with Stacy Dawn and relive the days of disco, mirrored balls, Afros, and cheese weasels.

Ms. Dawn captures the feeling of the times with a cute story of two individuals who have a hard time getting together. Take a few minutes, get back to disco fever with Summer and Bobby, and find out how a soft-spoken man can finally tell the girl of his dreams how he feels.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Review: Outlander

By guest reviewer Lianne Lopes

by Diana Gabaldon

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an "outlander" — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord ... 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into intrigues and dangers that may threaten her life ... and shatter her heart. For here she meets James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, and becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire ... and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.
Never has a book so gripped me as this one did. I’ve questioned what it is about this book that, despite its 627 pages, made me begin to read it all over again.

The story is told in first person, from Claire’s point of view. Even if you’re not fond of first person, don’t shrug this one off. At some point in the narrative, it ceased to be Claire telling the story, and the events were happening to me. I was there, shivering in the misty cold of the Highlands, warmed by the tartan plaid of a friendly Highlander. I breathed in the tangy scent of pine or held my nose at the stench of 1700s filth and unwashed bodies. My back and legs ached from riding a horse for long hours, and I knew the despair of being in a foreign time, of feeling I did not belong. Then I fell head over heals in love.

I could not stop reading. Neglected my family. Went to sleep thinking of the characters. Woke up with them in my head. It was almost an obsession, and I could not wait to get back into Claire’s world.

Though strong and daring, Claire is not one of those cliched heroines whose rebellious temper tantrums make you want to throttle her. She is well balanced and likeable. And the hero, though maybe a little idealized, is very much a man with plenty of strengths, but faults and weaknesses as well, which only make him that much more endearing to the reader.

Though very much a love story, this is not your typical romance. It is not meant for a young readership, but for mature, preferably married women. There is violence, war, torture and even rape. The love scenes are graphic, yet without all the usual gory descriptions of body parts. They show the depth of love and passion that Claire and her Highland husband share, and for that reason are not exactly gratuitous. If you are a person of faith, you might find some of Claire’s beliefs about God–or lack of them–offensive. There is some bad language as well, but it is, refreshingly, not overused.

Read Outlander at your own risk. But be prepared for late nights, a messy house, and family members complaining that you aren’t paying them any attention.

Review: If We Listened

By guest reviewer Brandy Jones

If We Listened
by Jenna Bayley-Burke

Rachel and Evan Hansen are getting a taste of their own medicine. As teenagers they ran away and eloped, and now their daughter wants to follow in their footsteps. Looking back, Rachel and Evan wonder what would have been if they'd listened to the warnings instead of trusting their hearts.

(4 pages) Sweet
If We Listened is a short story set in the later years of a couples’ life. Rachel and Evan Hansen have been married for many years and in this story they are reminiscing on their past and whether their daughter, Julie should have their support in marrying at eighteen years old.

There is a strong sense of love permeating the story; the reader is given a glimpse at a marriage that has weathered storms, laughed, but most of all, loved. Rachel and Evan are still clearly IN love with each other, a caress, a shared look; all give the reader an intimate glance at the couples life. Married at a young age themselves, they come to terms with their daughter’s choice and never regret their own.

If We Listened is a sweet, romantic memory for a couple whose love has never faded, giving the reader a feeling of hope for love everlasting and a future filled with happy memories.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Review: Now That We've Found You

Thanks to our reviewer: Xeranthemum.

Now That We've Found You
by Marianne Arkins

For three years, the memory of Sarah Kirkman's dead husband has kept other men at bay. Her heart only has room for her six-year-old daughter, Melinda. On a vacation to the Smithsonian, the Kirkmans run into Doctor Duncan MacPherson, a paleontologist who befriends her dinosaur-obsessed daughter. Sarah's attraction to Duncan is undeniable but pointless-- he must leave for his home in Scotland the very next morning.

But Sarah has forgotten one important thing: Christmas really is for miracles.
My very first impression of Now That We've Found You came from the cover art. I started smiling immediately, and my mood lifted with positive anticipation. Sometimes the message from a cover is a good indication of what you are about to experience, sometimes not. I'm thrilled to say that this particular cover delivers the right message to the reader.

In this story there is a delightful child, Melinda, who exhibits the single-minded enthusiasm that six year-olds possess when they latch onto something that excites them; in this case, paleontology. Marianne captures that focus perfectly. I could "see" Melinda's personality, especially when she voiced her understanding of herbivores. That had me cracking a smile. Melinda's acceptance of Dr. MacPherson flowed naturally and believably.

The angst of guilt that the heroine, Sarah, deals with because of her attraction to the handsome Scottish doctor is not burdensome to the story. The conflict is delivered in just the right amount for the reader to understand Sarah as a person. Her dilemmas and choices could be our own. I liked the fact that at all times, Marianne remembers that Sarah is foremost a mother and handles her first kiss with Duncan with that in mind. The restrained passion resonated in that scene. It was quite hot!

The hero, Duncan MacPherson, is a yummy Scottish paleontologist guest speaking at the museum. I enjoyed the fact that he was written as a very male, caring man with a healthy dose of humor and yet acted like a ... quiet alpha. He knew he wanted Sarah, pursued her with classy and determined maneuvers and didn't fight making a commitment or admitting what he felt, as some alphas are wont to do.

The characters were a delight to watch as they fell in love. At no point did I feel this romance needed to be fleshed out more. Marianne tugged and stroked all the major emotional heartstrings that make this a must read for all romance readers who want an HEA that makes them feel good all over.

Once you've read the sigh-inducing ending you'll realize Now That We've Found You delivers romance! I can attest to that.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Review: Happy Meal

Happy Meal
by Christine Columbus

Mark's mother was notoriously stubborn and when she set her mind to dining at McDonald's there was no persuading her. He suspected his mom was up to something but would have never guessed that their weekly dinners out would end up with so many Happy Meals to come.

(10 pages) - sweet
Happy Meal by Christine Columbus is all its name suggests: a neat treat in a tidy little package.

This is a quick bubbly story that kicks off with fun repartee between a mother and grown son. The author's ability to describe people without every slowing the action is impressive. As I have come to expect from Columbus' works, a certain depth of character and a hint of compassion all leave the reader with the impression of a far longer and more involved tale.

The 'happy accident' involved here leads to the sweetest of romances, but I dare not give any more away. Mark this a 'must read' on your list.

Thanks to our guest reviewer: Nancy A.Lindley-Gauthier

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Review: Dog Days of Summer

Dog Days of Summer
by Kim Watters

An introvert at heart, newly divorced Emily Bryant will do anything to bring a smile back to her son's lips--even adopt a complete stranger's dog from a want-ad. But once she meets the owner, Daniel Gibbs, and the big-eared, furry mutt, Sir Isaac Newton, the smile she so desperately wants for Jeremy might just grace her lips as well.

I loved this story. Loved. It. Ms. Watters did a fabulous job creating real characters and deep emotion -- people and places we can care about. The heroine is still trying to get her feet under her and has many challenges: she doesn't know exactly who she is after remaking herself for her now ex-husband, a son who is desperately hurt by his father's abandonment, and introversion so extreme that making a phone call is painful.

When you introduce a handsome fireman and goofy dog into the mix, things can't help but be fun. They're also emotional and satisfying. My only complaint with this story is I wanted more. I want to be a fly on the wall as Emily and Daniel get to know each other. I don't suppose there's a sequel?