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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Review: Bewitched By Fate

Bewitched by Fate
by Lee Morrison

After five years of seclusion on Earth, Lucas Black, a warlock of living legendary status, realizes he can no longer deny his daughter her heritage, and agrees to return to Leto Island for the annual Halloween Festival. What he didn’t count on, was coming face to face with Ashley Stevens, the enchanting witch who began haunting his dreams a year ago. Will Lucas accept his fate with grace this time around? Or will he return to Earth and close the door forever?
I realize I'm using a cliche, but if you were to go a librarian's house for Halloween and say, "Trick or Treat!", I figure you'd get a book. Certainly I'd consider it a major treat if that book were Bewitched by Fate. Non-fattening too! *wink*

I was charmed by this story so completely that I would enjoy visiting this fantastical land again. The fact it's hidden in a black hole is unique for the type of story this involved. No space aliens, no starships, just witches and warlocks in a world in which they are the norm. And yet, as far out as that sounds, the main hero, Lucas Black is as human as a man can be.

Lucas is a father of a teenaged daughter. She is the ONLY reason he pushes himself to do things because she's the only person worth it. Seems he's lost his way since his wife died and doesn't much care about himself. Only, he can't see it and doesn't that smack of reality?

He's a charismatic and powerful man who is mired in memories. He's also starting to feel a bit guilty for enjoying these certain dreams, not realizing that his time of grief induced selfishness is about to end. Or maybe he does realize it and is fighting the knowledge ... maybe that's a 'martyr syndrome'? I bet we've all been there for one reason or another to various degrees. But something usually manages to come around and kick us in the seat of our pants to wake us up, right?

His kick comes from the delightfully female figurative foot of Ashley Stevens. She's a witch who teaches young witches and warlocks-to-be about what is truly important about who and what they are. She guides them with an earnestness and enthusaism I wish teachers had more of in our real world. The fun twist is that she appears in those dreams that haunt Lucas. Who says dreams can't come true?

Lucas' daughter, Erin, is the catalyst that brings the stubborn man/warlock and the patient and beautiful woman/witch together. Yet, never does this scenario feel contrived or forced. It flows naturally. I appreciated how the author set up Lucas' capitualtion because it didn't drag on and on and when it finally happened, it made sense.

At the end, I felt happy for Erin the most because, believe it or or not, I thought she got the best benefits out of her father's healing. This is a sweet and uplifting story. If you get overwhelmed by the spooks and hauntings of Halloween, Bewitched by Fate is the cure.

Review by Xeranthemum

Review: One Halloween Evening

One Halloween Evening
by Susan Lyons

Widowed Lynne is in a new town and so far her social life has revolved around her son and his family. She’s nervous about meeting new people but when her well-intentioned daughter-in-law arranges an invitation to a costume party, and even provides her with an escort, how can she say no? After all, it’s only one evening out of her life. But what an amazing evening it turns out to be – an evening that has her imagining all sorts of new possibilities.

One Halloween Evening is a light, sweet read about Lynne and Paul, two people starting again after their first marriages are over. On this Halloween night, their first date consists of a walk through the neighborhood, a run-in with a variety of trick-or-treaters, and a discovery that starting new relationships doesn’t have to be scary.

I enjoyed the description of all the Halloween costumes, especially Lynne and Paul’s, and thought the author did a nice job bringing the Halloween setting to the pages of this story. Their conversation both at and after the Halloween party was touching as well. It’s always nice to read about romance that strikes later in life and to remember that graying hair, wrinkles, and a few extra pounds don’t stop anyone from needing or giving love…even at the witching hour!

Review by Dandelion

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Review: Halloween Angel

Halloween Angel
by Tricia Ann Woods

Misty has disliked Halloween since she was a child. Now she has to attend a Halloween party at her boss’s request. She can’t get out of it and she wishes she doesn’t have to go. Misty is a plain Jane and would rather stay home in her pajamas’. Tammy is Misty’s best friend and they have shared an apartment since college. Tammy also works at the same company as Misty and Tammy is excited about the Company Halloween Party. Tammy and Misty go in search of their Halloween costumes, but Misty finds more then a costume when she is helped by a little brown haired woman.

Halloween Angel by Tricia Ann Woods is an easy-to-read short story. If you fancy one with guardian angel and beautiful ending, this is the one for you.
I can relate to Misty being bookish and a plain Jane. Like her, I would rather curl up with a good book than hang out with friends or attend an office Halloween party. She dreads Halloween and the fuss that goes with it.

Something magical happens at the costume store when Tammy, Misty's good friend and colleague, goes shopping with Misty to get their costumes for the party. From there, things start to get better and more exciting. Some romantic truths are revealed, too, towards the end.

Apart from a few typos such as ‘than’ spelled as ‘then’ (that happened twice) and ‘your’ spelled as ‘you’, plus some annoying repetition of names in the dialogue, this is an enjoyable read.

Review by Tulip

Review: Hallow's Eve

Hallow’s Eve
By Susan St. Clair

Kathleen refused to let a bitter snowstorm change her course. The open invitation to the community allowed her to join Richard, the Duke of Pentholl for Halloween celebrations. Alone and locked behind the dark castle walls Eve would confront the man who murdered her sister.

I found this to be an intriguing story with unexpected twists. There is fear, mystery, suspense, heartache, loss, disillusionment and love all packed into a few short pages.

Kathleen is a woman determined to face her sister’s murderer and uncover the truth. Braving fierce wind and weather, she brings her own storm to the castle, unleashing an unexpected evil.

This story starts off strong, giving a mysterious and foreboding feeling to the pages. I enjoyed the story, though I felt it was too short. There was so much potential to develop the story and extend the mystery, I found myself slightly disappointed when I reached the end. The plot is compelling with many unique twists and the author’s writing style is vivid, yet the jump from suspicion to happily-ever-after was a bit abrupt.

I would have liked to see more character development as well. Within these few pages Ms. St. Clair shows you two strong characters and I found myself wanting to know more, learn more, about their strengths and weaknesses, joys and heartaches. I felt like there was a whole world left to discover.

I liked this historical romance with its slight Scottish brogue woven into the dialogue. My biggest disappointment was that there wasn’t more of this story to read. I enjoyed the imagery and mood created by the author and wish I could have delved deeper into the story and its characters.

Book Rating:

Reviewed by Lily

Monday, October 29, 2007

Review: Halloween Knight

Halloween Knight
by Tori Phillips

Sir Mark Hayward had sworn never again to cross paths with Belle Cavendish, for though she was the daughter of his liege lord, the young she-devil had been the plague of his boyhood. But when Brandon Cavendish offered to make him a landed knight in return for rescuing his precious Belle, Mark could not refuse.

With such a prize at stake, how hard could it be for a clever knight to spirit one young woman away from her captors? How hard, indeed! For the ungrateful Belle refused to leave. And suddenly the simple rescue had become a full-blown invasion, with mischief and mayhem and a devious plan to rid the castle of all its vermin at a haunted banquet one Halloween night!

Halloween Knight was the first historical romance I’ve picked up, but it won’t be the last! This tale of a spirited young widow who is held captive by her brother-in-law, and the dashing playboy who is hired to rescue her, is a quick, enjoyable read: perfect for this time of year! Belle Cavendish and Mark Hayward grew up together, but it’s been eight long years since they’ve laid eyes on one another. Now, Belle is being held against her will by the evil Mortimer Fletcher, who wants to steal away Belle’s rights to Bordiam Castle along with her priceless family brooch. Belle’s father, Sir Brandon Cavendish, sends Sir Mark Hayward to save his daughter and promises Mark an estate of his own if he is successful.

Of course, the moment our handsome knight sets foot at Bordiam and sees Belle again, they both realize that a childhood flirtation has turned into passionate attraction. But Mark is up against a worthy enemy in the rescue of Belle. Along with his African helpmate, Jobe, and Belle’s younger brother, Kitt, he must find a way to prove the castle is haunted and scare off Mortimer before he destroys Belle once and for all.

Together, the characters join forces to run Mortimer and his cronies out of the castle, thanks to some nifty tricks and “hauntings” at the All Hallows’ Eve Ball. Just when the reader thinks Belle will finally be free, however, circumstances turn against Mark, and our hero finds himself in the hands of the enemy.

Belle is a charming heroine, beautiful and determined. Though she seems self-centered at first, she quickly realizes the only way to prove her love for Mark is to stand up for him, which she does at the end of the story in a surprising, wonderful plot twist. Mark is handsome and charismatic; he wins the hearts of every woman he meets, and his greatest challenge is to resist temptation and stay out of Belle’s bed. Every scene where these two characters are alone together is hot!

I enjoyed this book very much. Once I adjusted to the language of a story set in 16th century England, I found myself fully engaged in the plot. I cheered for Belle and Mark to put aside childhood arguments and end up together. I laughed at the antics of the minor characters. I flipped pages to find out the next plan for convincing superstitious Mortimer that his castle was haunted. And I was satisfied by the ending, especially Jobe’s role in bringing the hero and heroine together. The entire story portrays a wonderful time period when ladies were meant to be cherished, and men were handsome heartthrobs who lay down their lives to do so.

The only issue I had with Halloween Knight is that it is part of the “Cavendish Chronicles” series, and so there were unfamiliar characters and plot history. The author fills in the blanks well enough, but unless you’ve read the other books in the series, you may feel as though you’re missing out on some central information. However, the story stands alone well enough and was a wonderful introduction to historicals for this reviewer. I plan on checking out more books by Tori Phillips and hope they are all as engaging as Halloween Knight!

Would you like to win a gently used copy of this novel? Simply leave a comment on this blog post between 10/29/07 - 11/2/07 and you're entered to win (US and Canada, only, please). Drawing will be held 11/3/07. Good luck!

Review by Dandelion

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Reviews: Summer Love

Summer Love
By Susan Lyons

When Tessa’s husband passes away, she has a hard time imagining she can ever be happy again. But when her mom suggests they take her children to spend August at the beach—the same beach where Tessa had enjoyed so many youthful holidays—she knows the break is exactly what they all need. Once there, she slowly heals, and enjoys memories of her first love—her summer love—Daniel.

Maybe this month at the beach will bring her more than mere memories...

In this sweet story of new beginnings, Tessa is learning to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. In need of some quiet and rest, she takes her family to the beach where she spent her days as a young teen girl. She is bombarded by memories of a happier time and healing begins to slowly soothe the pain.

This story was so adorable and believable. It didn’t jump to a happily-ever-after, but allowed you to see the struggle and heartache of losing a loved one. It showed that time is needed to heal the wounds, but that there is joy to be found around the corner.

There was a feeling of hope and rainbows that left the reader believing in the promise of brighter tomorrows.

Reviewed by Lily

Review: Maya's Gold

Maya’s Gold
By Mary Vine

All famous mystery author Stanton Black wanted was to leave the flashbulbs of Hollywood behind. Hiding out in the wilds of northeast Oregon seemed like the perfect way to get over the attempt on his life while researching his work. His latest novel would draw on the history of his ancestors and the lore of gold country. Now, all he needed was a suitable tour guide.

Special education teacher Maya Valentine was no tour guide. After the death of her parents, Maya has come home to Salisbury Junction for the summer only to have an ailing friend talk her into escorting Stanton around the area. As a pattern of crime around her and the newfound gold on her property leads to a real-life mystery, her relationship with Stanton turns to thoughts of romance. A romance too impossible to consider.

Maya Valentine inherits her family’s summer home, situated in gold country, upon the early and unexpected death of her cardiologist father. Being a school teacher for special education students, she decides to spend her summer in Oregon at the house to grieve over her father’s untimely death and to make decisions regarding her own future and that of the house. Stanton Black, the famous and celebrated author has taken up residence in a nearby home to research his next book. But he has his own demons to fight. Trying to get over a recent attempt on his life, he is battling nightmares and visions of gunmen daily in his dreams.

Stanton Black hires history enthusiast Alice Roberts to show him the historically significant sites in this region. But through a series of events, Maya Valentine is given the “honor” of escorting Mr. Famous around. At first they clash and lock horns. Stanton is suspicious of Maya, thinking that she is a reporter trying to get an inside scoop. And Maya thinks that he is stuck up and arrogant. On top of this, adding suspense to this story is the fact that somebody wants Maya to sell the place so that they can get their hands on the supposed “gold” on her property. At first she suspects Stanton, because he was interested in buying her place. However, as both get to know each other they realize that their preconceived notions were not right and that the other person could be trusted. But could that trust turn into love? What about Stanton’s fiancée, the famous Michelle Karr? And will they decide to share that love with each other before it’s too late?

I really enjoyed this story! I could not put it down. The story has a believable story line and the characters are described very well. Maya’s hesitance in starting a relationship with an engaged man and Stanton’s trust issues are clearly portrayed; it is not written, but it is shown through the actions of the main characters. The suspense/mystery twist added to the story made it very exciting to read. Even though the readers are introduced to the villain early on, it does not detract from the story. The principals in the book are strong as well. Even though both Maya and Stanton are attracted to each other, Maya always draws the line before anything untoward happens, because she knows that he is engaged. And Stanton always respects that. That is one aspect that I really liked about this novel and hence makes this story extremely sweet.

Furthermore, I enjoyed the portrayal of Maya’s character very much. Even though dangerous and bad things happened to her, she does not let herself get down. And when nobody listened to her suspicions regarding the person who was trying to force her hand to sell her place, she takes matters into her own hands and decides to investigate. This lands her in some pretty serious situations, but that is part of the fun of reading this novel!

I would recommend this full-length novel to anyone. But be prepared to not get some things done, because once you start this story, you will not want to stop until the end!


Reviewed by Jasmine

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Review: A Continental Marriage

A Continental Marriage
by Susan Marie Knight

American Nicolette Turner has a bone to pick with the British. Not only are her country’s maritime rights being violated, but her English grandfather, Lord Eldredge, demands that she travel across the Atlantic to visit him. What she doesn’t know is that he intends for her to marry, thereby staying in England and having lots of babies.

The most eligible suitor is neighbor Victor Kincaid. Victor has severe money problems. Lord Eldredge offers to take care of the debts... if Victor marries Nicolette. At first Victor believes she’s a fortune-hunter, but soon becomes captivated by her. Can he convince her he wants more than a marriage of convenience?

When Nicolette Turner is forced to travel across the sea into "enemy" territory, to England and the estranged grandfather she blames for her family's hardships, she has no idea what awaits her. Her cantankerous grandfather is the least of her problems. English snobbery...gossiping tongues... and worst, the handsome baron who lives next to her grandfather’s estate, who seems to think Nicolette is a money-grubbing, uncultured savage from the backwoods of America.

From almost the first page of A Continental Marriage, I felt a connection with Nicolette. Though pretty and spirited, as any romance heroine should be, she did not come across as a cliche. I loved the way she thumbed her nose at a wealthy society who looked down on her merely because she was not English. But I also liked the way the author gave her a soft and vulnerable side. It gave her a well rounded believability which is all important for me, as a reader. I really felt I was there, living out this adventure, and I really enjoyed falling in love with the handsome Victor Kincaid. There were a few mild curses, but much less than you’d probably see in an hour of regular TV. And best of all, the focus was on the romance that developed between the two main characters, without the panting and groaning that make some romances feel more like a really bad prank call. The romantic tension was there without all that stuff, and a better story for it. A delightful read.


Reviewed by Violet

Review: The Watcher

The Watcher
By J.J. Keller

Museum curator, Emily Lucent, specializes in ancient Scottish swords. When she hears a Highland voice calling to her, she falls in love with the disembodied spirit seven days before her wedding.

Part of the Guardian Angel squad, Netzach is her watcher. He loves Emily desperately, and defies his deities to have her.

Her fiancé, Dr. Jon Hart, serves evil. He spouts words of love until Emily agrees to marry him. She wanted out of the engagement, he wouldn’t release her. Vengeance and anger took him to Scotland.

Will Emily survive Jon’s sharp blade and be reunited with her watcher?

I liked the idea of Zach as Emily’s “watcher;” he’s not only a hot guy, but a passionate one, overcome by love for her. I really liked the fact that he is not satisfied with watching and protecting Emily, however; he wants more. Meanwhile, Emily’s dissatisfaction with her own life leads her to consult a psychic, and when she discovers who Zach is, the stage is set for a grand romance between two people caught in different times. Whenever they have a chance to interact, it’s magic, and we really believe Zach and Emily are meant to be together.

One small problem with this story comes close to the ending. At the climax, the author inserts a series of flashbacks and memories meant to explain most of Emily and Zach’s prior relationship. For me, though, that took away from the tension and movement at the story’s most emotional point. However, the way in which Emily and Zach are reunited at the very end is touching and well done.

The writing here is solid, if not outstanding. One minor editing glitch in the opening chapter: Emily first has pale blonde hair, then light brown hair, then blonde hair again. Overall, “The Watcher” is a satisfying and romantic read, with the timeless message that love can conquer all…even if you have to wait a few centuries!


Reviewed by Dandelion

Friday, October 26, 2007

Review: The Songbird of Rushen Abbey

The Songbird of Rushen Abbey
By Gloria Wiederhold

Torn between two powerful lords, pulled toward one infallible destiny…

On the hauntingly beautiful Isle of Mann, legends say that King Alban will cross paths with a maiden gifted in song who will one day be his queen. Alban finds that maiden in Estelle Percy, a young woman known as the “Songbird of Rushen Abbey” and reputedly the descendant of royalty. However, Alban isn’t alone in his quest to claim the Songbird. Lord William Percy has set his sights on Estelle, too.

As these two powerful men vie for Estelle’s heart, their lives become intertwined in a web of love, desire and deceit in this sweeping, romantic adventure.

The Songbird of Rushen Abbey is enjoyable but the experience of reading it is not exactly smooth. Estelle Percy is the songbird of Rushen Abbey. She has a beautiful voice and is the daughter of Emmanuelle, the king’s mistress. Her mother was sentenced to live the abbey after her disobedience and died giving birth to Estelle there. Estelle grows up in the abbey and one day, she meets with Alban, the handsome king of Ellan Vannin. Both fall madly in love, but the king has a national duty to fulfill and cannot marry her. Other arrangements are made and Estelle finds herself in the hands of another lord. As it happens, this lord is in love with her too.

I felt the story was told a little haphazardly. As I read the novel, I could not help but feel like I was driving along a bumpy road. I kept getting abrupt jolts as the story jumped from one part to another. I wanted to feel for Estelle but I found it difficult.

The Songbird of Rushen Abbey has great potential for a wonderful story, but somewhere along the line, the plot gets a little tired. It is a tragic love story, full of passion and hardship. However, the characters need more nurturing. The story is written in an easy-to-read style but a little challenging to connect with meaningfully.


Reviewed by Tulip

Review: Lonely Places

Lonely Places
by A. L. Debran

Wounded and left to die on the Colorado plains, Elliotte Sorin is a woman with incomplete memories. Beau Hyatt saves her life and she vows that with this handsome brooding man she will never be alone again. As his gunfighter past intrudes into their lives, and his absences from her increase, her loneliness deepens.

She turns to Liam Mederi and finds endless love in his welcoming arms and smiling green eyes. Deadly jealousy rages when Beau questions the paternity of her unborn child and the two men meet in a violent confrontation that threatens to destroy more than one life.

LONELY PLACES, a western historical romance, is about three driven souls who strive for a connection that will relieve their loneliness. This story pulls the reader in with breath-taking action. The physical violence lessens as the story continues, but the psychological violence propels the plot along.

At the opening of the story, Elliotte, a woman whose past is so horrifying her mind refuses to remember it, lies wounded and near death on the snowy Colorado plains.

Beau, who cannot come to terms with his past, finds Elliotte, and takes her to his safe haven. There, Liam, the third person in the troubled triangle appears on the scene.

Debran creates flawed characters who touch the reader’s emotions from sympathy to revulsion. The twists and turns in the author’s well-planned plot kept this reader turning the pages in a quandary as to how the conflicts could possibly be resolved.

A philosophy of life threads its way through this sad story making it possible to believe Liam, Elliotte, and maybe even Beau can accept the past and find redemption.

Occasionally, syntax and author intrusion distances the reader from the characters but not enough to kill the interest in how Elliotte, Beau, and Liam will resolve the seemingly insurmountable conflicts.

This is a compelling and thought-provoking story that this reader hopes to revisit.

Review by Camellia

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Review: It Takes Moxie

It Takes Moxie
by Delia Deleest

It was supposed to be simple. Moxie Hamilton was going to kidnap an unsuspecting driver just long enough to get to an out-of-town train station and buy a ticket to Chicago. She didn’t factor in the stolen diamonds, being chased by a gun-wielding thug, or falling in love with her kidnap victim. The last one was probably one of her worst ideas, especially since she had a fiancé waiting for her in Chicago. Getting kidnapped wasn’t high on Ben Kincaid’s list of things to do, but that didn’t stop Moxie from pulling a gun on him and ordering him to take her out of town. From the steamy heat of St. Augustine, Florida to the crime-ridden streets of prohibition Chicago and everywhere in between, Ben and Moxie leave a trail of chaos in a cross-country caper that will change their lives forever.

This book is utterly captivating. Ms. Deleest has crafted a novel full of fun, dry wit, humor, adventure and romance. There is nothing boring or slow about this book. It is fast-paced and filled with hilarious situations and delightful dialogue that had me laughing out loud and my husband asking what was so funny.

And, Moxie. Now there’s a character I would love to meet in real life. Her zest and spunky personality draw you in for the adventure. I could certainly see why Ben, the wonderful hunk-o-man hero, allowed himself to be pulled along for the ride. Not that these characters were too perfect. They had their flaws which made them stronger, more believable and real. The characterization was beautifully woven and I found that the characters stayed true to themselves, making decisions that were consistent with their personalities, strengths, weaknesses and fears.

I also appreciated that this story didn’t get bogged down with scenic descriptions and long internal debates. The pages were filled with interaction between Moxie and Ben as well as with the people that crossed their paths. And what people they were, too. It was a wonderful cast of quirky and delightful secondary characters, each enhancing the story and helping to reflect qualities and character traits of Moxie and Ben.

I want to point out something about this book that I found exceptionally wonderful. The dialogue between Moxie and Ben was believable, relaxed and open. It left you with no doubt that these characters “clicked” on a different level. There is a comfort level to their conversation and interaction which makes the reader feel as though they are watching two soul mates discover one another. There’s no greater feeling than that.

I suppose after all my raving, it is no surprise I am giving this a LASR Best Book rating. How could I not? I’m already itching to pick it back up and dive into the adventure again!

Reviewed by Lily

Review: Dead Heat

Dead Heat
by Pam Champagne

Jenna Green struggles to make a name for herself on the racetrack after her father’s untimely death. Rye Cameron’s offer of a job to train his horses comes out of the blue. Aware of his reputation with women, she accepts the job despite her doubts. Soon she discovers the real reason Rye hired her and finds herself fighting for her life.

Warning! Don't start Dead Heat by Pam Champagne unless you have a couple of hours. Once started this book is near impossible to put down. It's like getting on a roller coaster - you can't get off until the ride is done or, in this case, until the book is done. Dead Heat offers as much heart pounding excitement as any roller coaster!

Jenna Green may possibly be one of the best heroine's I've ever read. Ms. Champagne struck the prefect balance between independence and dependence. Jenna is a strong woman but not so strong that she is annoying. Jenna is human, a woman the reader will instantly bond with. You will clearly understand her motives and her actions. Rye Cameron is 'Mr. Heartthrob' in every sense of the word. Ms. Champagne develops his character as well as Jenna's. While Rye isn't a knuckle dragging caveman, he is definitely an alpha male--a hot alpha male. In so many of today's romances, the heroine and hero spend so much time trying to establish 'whose boss' the romance part is hollow. Jenna stands on her own but is smart enough to realize, when people start dying around her, that she needs help from Rye. Rye wants to protect Jenna, but not in a "I'll lock you in my closet until you're safe" manner. He respects Jenna. This opens the door to a 'hot hot hot' romance.

The romance part of Dead Heat is great but the suspense part is outstanding. The action never stops! Jenna and Rye barely have to catch their breaths before yet something else happens. Again, Ms. Champagne's talent as a writer shines, while the action is non stop it's not overwhelming. I never shook my head thinking 'give me a break! This is soooooo out there.' The plot is well-developed with enough twists and turns the reader will easily be pulled in. The only disappointing thing about Dead Heat is the lack of development among the secondary characters. Jenna and Rye carry the entire story. Jenna's best friend, Dani has possibilities but they are never developed and what is alluded to is then ignored. The same is true with Brett, Rye's brother. Brett offers some resistance to Jenna and Rye's relationship, but because Brett is not fully developed, I really didn't care a bit about his thoughts.

Dead Heat takes place on a horse ranch in Lexington, KY. I'm not at all familiar with horse racing, but Ms. Champagne included enough detail with explanation that I was neither overwhelmed by it or left wondering. Jenna and Rye's compassion and appreciation of the talent the horses possessed adds yet another layer to their character development. The horses and racing are constantly kept in the story and always dealt with in a realistic manner.

Dead Heat will provide a great read for anyone looking suspense with a hot romance.

Review by Magnolia

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Review: Dressage Cowboy

Dressage Cowboy
by Nancy A. Lindley-Gauthier

Jessica is as resistant as her horse, but it isn’t the leg-yield she’s resisting. Who knew a would-be Gene Autry on a bay stallion would be jogging around her warm-up arena?

This cowboy is something of a stallion himself, and there is something about those fine masculine lines that are bound to attract a woman's attention. On the other hand, she'd better make the most of the few minutes she has to prepare for her dressage exhibit.

Is there a place for love anywhere near a horse show ring? Dressage Cowboy will drop you right at the in-gate for a glimpse of the action.

Jessica, an excellent equestrian, is having trouble with her horse on the day of an exhibition! She had been riding Olga, her horse with no trouble at all, until her friend Annie mentioned the “hunk” who was riding and exercising his own horse. When Jessica and Annie meet with said hunk, Frank Romero, Jessica is attracted to him. However, she refuses to succumb to his charms. But what are her negative and opposing feelings doing to her horse? As she gets more tense and resistant, so does Olga. Will she be able to ride her horse gracefully in the exhibition? Will she take Romero’s advice?

This sweet, short story was a very quick, but good read. The characters, even the horse, have a personality that can be felt through the story. I did not know very much regarding horse exhibitions, but after reading this story I become more interested. Dressage Cowboy shows that every emotion that we hold inside has a direct impact on the things we do on the outside. I would have liked the story to be a little bit longer, with more background. But this is an excellent story for a fun, quick read!

Review by Jasmine

Review: Her Knight of Seduction

Her Knight of Seduction
by Phyllis Campbell

Lady Megan Saxton will do anything—naughty if necessary—not to marry the drunken lord her grandmother selected. But when she thinks she's trapped herself a duke, will a mistake in identity have her falling in love with the man who put her family in financial ruins?

Clever Scoundrel, Edmund Knight will stop at nothing to take back the deed to his goldmine that has been stolen from him. When his enemy's daughter mistakes him for someone else, his plans change. Now he's after her virginity.

"Her Knight of Seduction" is a historical romance set in England of the nineteenth century. This is a lively read, with wonderful, full-bodied characters.

The manipulations of Megan Ramsey are both desperate and clever. Those manipulations are driven by the desire to help her family--making her an enormously likable heroine. This story sets off at a pace driven by need, by storm, and by two amazing characters. The dialogue is equally fast paced, engaging, and beguiling. The dialogue is often delectable banter; light, fast and frivolous. It's all quite improper of course, oh but it might be most fortuitous! For the Duke she must capture is, indeed, everything her heart desires.

The darker side of this earnest attraction becomes apparent--and endlessly entangling--when one realizes that everyone is not who they are portrayed to be! And the man we so quickly admire, (for he is described so deliciously,) is quite enough man to be any woman's heart throb.

Megan must think quickly, and desperately needs that impassive, gambler's face that she has so little skill creating. Then again, deceit wears many faces, and when it comes to manipulation, Megan is not the reigning star. Assumptions are always dangerous ground; and here, among plot twists and a number of strong characters, we discover there is not only one rakish character intent on joyfully scandalous behavior.

Must love give way to betrayal? Society, and the expectations of very upright British families, all hit just the right note here. From hiding in the bed chambers to very proper withdrawing-room conversations, this lively romance will keep you guessing (and hoping) to the end.

Review by Snapdragon

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Review: Deadly Connection

Deadly Connection
by Cierra James

Jenna Masters is celebrating a rare night out with friends. A chance encounter on the dance floor with a ruggedly handsome man begins a reconnection to a past she thought was behind her. Unaware that she is about to be thrown into the center of a major business storm, Jenna finds the stranger irresistible with an unforgettable smile. As Cole Rawlins, owner of Rawlins Enterprise, and his insubordinate partner struggle over company interests, Cole is led down a path of perilous events making him the prime target. While his life and future are at stake he is unable to erase the memory of Jenna Masters. The woman he met on a dance floor in Phoenix. Jenna and Cole’s paths cross heightening a fiery passion. Will the brewing web of deception and attempts on their life melt their intense attraction, or strengthen a promising new love.

Cierra James contemporary romance should find itself on the 'thriller' shelves as well: this is an incredible page-turner. From paragraph one, the action is fastpaced, the mysterious events--like the the missing briefcase, intriguing. The dialogue is brisk and realistic. The setting was at no point intrusive, but provided some wonderful moments, within this story. Especially of note is the sleigh ride.

The main characters are immediately interesting; one for the intensity of his personality, and the other, for the fearful, guarded way she views the world. Jenna's perplexing decisions regarding old relationships only make the hints about her past all the more cryptic. Her escape - and the decisions that lead to her escape, are accompanied by delicately-conveyed emotional ups and downs. In the modern world, a romance is often made more complex by ex's, and here, the issues with, and even old loyalties to, the ex-wife and ex-husband are given realistic treatment. Issues of trust and betrayal also play an important role throughout. And its more than just love that provides a motive for sabatoge...

Deadly Connection is a work that blends elements of romance with a developing mystery. Even though action makes up the larger portion of this story, James manages to convey the emotions--and sometime, confusion of emotions, with great and convincing subtlety.

Review by Snapdragon

Review: Jewels of the Sun (Book 1 of the Irish Trilogy)

Jewels of the Sun
by Nora Roberts

In the small village of Ardmore, Ireland, Gallagher's pub is the center of the lively seaside community and the home of three passionate siblings: Aidan, Shawn, and Darcy. As a world traveler and a barkeep, the eldest brother Aidan has just about seen and heard it all, but when a quiet professor from Chicago enters his tavern, he is instantly intrigued--and certain that there is more to Jude Murray than what meets the eye.

Jude has returned to her grandmother's ancestral home to sort out her thoughts, know her heart, and "find Jude F. Murray in six months or less." After a life of deliberate security, Jude finds herself recovering from a failed marriage and a disappointing career. With the pretense of a research expedition, Jude leaves her life in Chicago and moves into the charming house on top of the faerie hill. Surrounded by the awesome scenery and relieved by the simplicity of life, Jude excuses her visions of ghosts and faeries as signs of her mental recovery.

But the inhabitants of Ardmore, and Aidan Gallagher in particular, don't dismiss these apparitions with such convenient logic, and Jude learns to listen more carefully to the messages in the world. As Aidan and Jude draw closer to each other, Jude struggles to discover, balance, and define the complex parts of her soul.

How can you not love a book that begins with this line:

Obviously, without question, she'd lost her mind. Being a psychologist, she ought to know.

Nora Roberts, without a doubt, outdid herself with this book. It is one of my favorites of hers, one that I return to time and again. Jude Murray is an American trying to find herself in six months or less and she believes Ireland might just be the place to do it.

I was charmed right along with Jude at the picturesque town of Ardmore and its amazing inhabitants. After reading this novel, I truly believe that I could find this place on a trip to Ireland, it was so incredibly real and well-drawn.

The characters, too, became my friends: Jude, Aidan, Darcy, Shawn, Brenna.

Watching Jude as she slowly came out of her shell, finally began to find out who she was outside the expectations of her family and friends from Chicago, was a joy. As she embraces the way of life in Ireland, taking it bite by bite until she indulges in a crazy love affair -- not just with Aidan, but with the entire country.

Yes, this book had many of Ms. Roberts' well known POV shifts, but she is one of the few who handles that taboo smoothly, without jolting me out of the story. If you're looking for a solid romance with a touch of the paranormal, I highly recommend this book.

Review by Poppy

Monday, October 22, 2007

Review: The Rancher's Rose

The Rancher’s Rose
by Wilma Fasano

Rosemary Robbins kidnaps her sister’s child, Trevor, to protect the baby from being sold on the black market. She takes him to his father’s ranch in Western Alberta. Jordan Sterling, Trevor’s father, at first denies the child is his, and suspects Rosemary of questionable motives. In the interests of providing a good home for Trevor if Rosemary is discovered, Jordan, on the advice of his lawyer, suggests a platonic marriage of convenience. Rosemary agrees, reluctantly, for Trevor’s sake. Neither want platonic, but both are too stubborn to admit this. Which one will capitulate first and say, “I love you”?

What would you do to save a child from the most dastardly of schemes? That is the question Rosemary has to ask herself when she discovers her sister and brother-in-law’s diabolical plans.

Rosemary Robbins has taken care of her sister’s little boy since he was born. Never has there been a word of thanks or a contribution to expenses from her self-centered sister, Blair. Since her divorce from rancher, Jordan Sterling, there has been a steady stream of “uncles” through the child’s life with a new husband as the last and vilest of men in little Trevor’s life. When Rosemary discovers the couple’s plans to sell the child on the black market for $200,000.00, she takes him and runs, right to the baby’s father, Jordan Sterling, who has no idea he has a son.

Since his divorce from Blair, Jordan has become a recluse. Once a driving force in the ranching community of Western Alberta, Jordan has now become quite cut off from his former interests. When Jordan discovers Rosemary and a baby stranded in a snowstorm, he takes them back to the ranch. When told who the child is, Jordan is skeptical to say the least; Blair told him she was sterile. Contracting a marriage of convenience to protect the child, the couple determines to fight to the death to save this innocent child from harm, and along the way love just might creep into the mix.

The Rancher’s Rose is an emotional and well written love story of two admirable people who fight to save the life of an innocent child. The characters and situations are realistic, the drama well portrayed, and the love story poignant. Jordan and Rosemary are brave and intelligent individuals who are not afraid to fight for what they believe. Their devotion to each other and to the child is well presented; emotional and heartfelt at all times. The chemistry between Jordan and Rosemary is a living, breathing force that sizzles and pops whenever they share a scene. The portrayal of Blair and her husband is perfect in this reader’s opinion; evil at is most vile. A grand way to spend an afternoon, you cannot go wrong if you choose The Rancher’s Rose by Wilma Fasano. It is well worth the time and money invested.

Review by Wisteria

Review: Gunslingers & Ghostriders

Gunslingers & Ghostriders
by A.L. Debran

Gunslinger Matt Caddock is looking for the next place to sell his guns when blue-eyed widow Brenna Gérard intervenes. With Brenna at his side, he can finally fulfill his promise to a dying friend and hang up his guns for the love of a good woman.

But the lure of hidden gold, another man’s greed, the threat of losing his soul to the ghostriders in payment for the violent life he’d led, and the presence of a wandering restless spirit complicate his plans. Time is running out and Matt faces the ultimate sacrifice for love: His soul for Brenna’s life.

Gunslingers & Ghostriders is a tale of love in the old west. Brenna has suffered loss, but a voice inside her head assures her another will come to take the empty place in her heart. It promises her, too, that she will recognize the newcomer when he arrives. She finds a handsome, muddy man in a creek whose horse has rolled over him, so she rescues him and takes him home. Will Matt Caddock be the one to fill her heart again? And will the myth she’s reading touch his life?

A.L. Debran writes a story rich with vivid details that bring mesas, cowboys and ranch living to life. Cowboys ride again in Gunslingers & Ghostriders, bringing the past galloping into the reader’s mind so clearly it feels like time has been turned backward. The characters are flawed, both having issues from their pasts that affect their current situation. But this is a story of love and redemption, told in a straightforward manner, so the reader is fairly sure of the outcome. I like the fact that the myth is brought into play in this. It underscores what’s actually happening and gives an added depth to the story. Gunslingers & Ghostriders is an entertaining story.

Review by Peony

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Review: Avenue of Dreams

Avenue of Dreams
by Anne Whitfield

Molly Daniels is summer holidaying in a small town in the country to recover from a broken marriage. She’s hurt, disillusioned and unsure of her future. She last thing she is looking for is a man.

Sebastian Lord is the town’s most eligible bachelor, a title he hates. Having given up on a successful career in the city he now owns a small farm and is content to hide away there, away from the real world that has hurt him in the past. Since his fiancé was killed four years ago, he’s refused to enter the dating game again.

They’re an unlikely pair, but Seb’s wayward dog has a habit of bringing them together. They give into their attraction and share a hot summer together, but can they let go of the past enough to embrace a future together?

Anne Whitfield's lovely short story, "Avenue of Dreams," is unexpectedly eventful. The serene opening makes some of the ensuing action quite a surprise.

Delightfully descriptive prose sets a charming stage that suddenly becomes hotter than hot. The main character, Molly is both likable and well-developed. Her love interest is a surprising and unusual person, even if all one considers is his array of pets. Molly's resistance to that fellow is the only real conflict within the story. This leads to the story's one shortcoming: the interactions of the main characters seem overly fortuitous, or obviously contrived.

At times, this is a quaint and entertaining read, with the main character reflecting on sun-dappled leaves. Then, the storyline will leap to hot action out behind the barn. "Aveneu of Dreams" is enjoyable, and the sharp contrasts between serenity and sex will leave any reader a bit breathless.

Review by Snapdragon

Review: Love's Proof

Love’s Proof
by Catherine Palmer

In Victorian England, Jane Fellowes searches for the truth behind Newton's Box--which may in fact contain proof of the existence of God. Tension mounts as those who touch the box suffer strange, unexplained bouts of illness. As Jane and scientist Thomas Norcross pursue the mysterious box and seek to unmask its secrets, they discover that the strongest evidence is found in the heart, where faith and love reside.

Other than a couple Georgette Heyer books I read as a teen, I had not read Regency romance before. Frankly, as I teen, I didn’t even know what Regency was. But I must say, I learned a lot about that time period while reading Love’s Proof. So, this book was my first real introduction to the Regency romance genre. It sold me on the era so completely, and set me on a whirlwind of reading that drove my husband crazy. I managed to get my hands on all of Catherine Palmer’s Regency books, and felt a deep sense of disappointment when there were no more.

Love’s Proof is a sweet story of the love that develops between Jane Fellowes and Thomas Norcross, two very logical minded people searching for evidence Isaac Newton supposedly found for the existence of God. Along the way they discover a number of things about those they love, about each other, and about God. I highly recommend Love’s Proof for women of any age. I passed it on to my fourteen year old daughter, and she loved it, too.

Review by Violet

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Review: Retreat to Danger

Retreat To Danger
by Carol McPhee

Reclusive lobster fisherman Greg Sanders treasures his privacy, but the half naked woman on the beach magnetizes his interest. Had he known the danger of knowing her he would have stayed at sea.

This full length romance/suspense novel is immediately engaging. A looming threat is apparent from the very first sentence. Any suspense novel counts heavily on its plot to keep the reader engaged, but in truth, this book offers a wonderful read on many counts. Characters, plot, setting, all contribute to this work. It has the wonderful love-to-admire hero (although he is not obvious at first,) and strong, well-developed characters to engage the reader. McPhee's characters carry this story forward, even while we anxiously look for developments.

The beach setting is a pleasant panorama for the tale. Maine's coast is described deliciously, even though the creeping cold of the threat from her past--the animosity from her ex-husband--is ever present. When personal safety becomes a prime concern of a child, it cannot fail to reach people. The gnawing fear of our main character, Maureen, is bad enough, but the more peircing fear of the child fills the reader with dread.

More than the history of the people give this tale depth. The place itself has a 'history' and is home to more than one unresolved occurance. Maureen's first confrontation, surprisingly enough, is not with the man she fears, but with a neighbor in her new place of safety. In fact, the new neighbor is such a nasty person, (rude, intrusive, judgmental) we start to wonder just why Maureen and her son believe themselves safe where they are.

Unexpected twists and clever dialogue will keep readers turning these pages. Many small details lighten the mood at times. Its very fun to discover that the main character is a romance novelist, for example. The details of her 'story within a story' add a measure of insight to this work. Another point is the funny, unpredicatable personality of the dog. Local folks all have that air of 'true native character' about them.

This very suspenseful romance is a fun read with many wonderful high points.

Review by Snapdragon

Review: The Comanchero’s Bride

The Comanchero’s Bride
by A.L. Debran

When former Texas Comanchero Mingo Valderas falls in love with eastern shipping heiress Elizabeth Bradford White, little does he know that murder and kidnapping are soon to follow. For Mingo, it seems an easy task to get his herd of longhorns to his hacienda in Mexico then prepare a home for his new bride, but Grayson Beal, a powerful and dangerous man, has other plans.

Faced with overwhelming obstacles, Mingo and Elizabeth draw from strength of spirit and sheer determination of will to overcome bitter heartache as they embark on a life-threatening journey toward their only chance at happiness together.

Elizabeth White is instantly attracted to handsome Domingo, a man she learns is a Comanchero, or outlaw. He asks her to dance, then they share a meal, and their relationship builds quickly. When Elizabeth agrees to become the outlaw’s wife, she gets much more than she bargains for. Texas Rangers, an inheritance and kidnapping all bring new challenges to the young couple’s lives. Will their love survive?

The Comanchero’s Wife is an interesting story, with a wonderful premise. The refined woman, out of her element, falls in love with a rogue. It’s a classic story that A.L. Debran gives an intriguing twist with the Spanish elements. They are, in fact, very well written. I enjoyed the snippets of Spanish dialogue and reference to customs and proverbs.

While I enjoyed the story, I felt it was rushed in spots. I would have liked a more gradual build-up of attraction between the hero and heroine. They fell right into each other’s arms and were completely enamored with each other from the very first pages. The author tells a good tale; I only wish it had been told more slowly, that’s all.

Overall, this is an entertaining story. The Comanchero’s Wife has an ending that warms the heart. I look forward to reading more from A.L. Debran.

Reviewed by Peony

Friday, October 19, 2007

Review: Wired For Love

Wired For Love
by Amber Polo

Penny Sizemore is trapped in a cyber prison of her own design until an enraged guru breaks the code and turns her carefully constructed platform upside down. Two sexy geeks match wits in a hi-tech Cincinnati apartment. Sensual, a little edgy, and very funny.

Wired for Love is a cute little story. There are only two characters in the story and they are both adorable in their geekiness. I felt sorry for Penny who, although she's a genius and a billionaire, never leaves her apartment. She's a workaholic who survives on takeout food.

This story has loads of potential. It's full of humour and could go anywhere. Although I enjoyed what was there, this would have been loads more fun if the author had made it at least a little bit longer. I was just getting to know Gordon and Penelope and... it was over!

Note to Ms. Polo: More please.

Review by Lavender

Review: The Blue Lotus

The Blue Lotus
by Marisa Chenery

Kendra Miller finds herself intrigued by the gold pendant her brother sent her from Egypt. She finds the enameled blue lotus flower on it lovely, but the hieroglyphs engraved on the back are a mystery she wants to solve. After innocently translating the glyphs, she sets off a chain of events that can only end in disaster.

Nefertem, drawn to the woman who summoned him, knows his love for Kendra can only lead to heartache. Being bound to the pendant, his stay in her world is limited.

Together they try to stop the disaster Kendra has unwittingly set in motion; Nefertem fights the changes taking place inside him. If they fail, Kendra may pay for her actions with her life.

Chenery's "The Blue Lotus" is a contemporary romance that cleverly draws on elements that are both paranormal and somewhat historical. Even someone with only a vague interest in Egypt or its artifacts will recognize some of the references here.

Early on, anticipation builds around a gift that is not exactly what it seems to be. The gift, as one suspects, does become central to the plot.

The main character, Kendra, is a very genuine, easy to identify-with person. Her family and her friendships are important to her. So, when the unexpected happens, readers, (just like the main character,) must wonder what was behind the giving of the gift initially, and wonder what was meant to happen.

This is a curious tale, and Chenery adds a bit to the puzzle by allowing readers glimpes of the other main character's perspective on the unfamiliar world he finds himself in. Nefertem is an enigma, even when are shown his perspective.

Settings are not particularly well described, but are relatively unimportant to this tale, which relies on the the interactions of the characters to carry the plot. The dialogue, like some perspectives, seems odd at times, but needs to be, in the face of strange, even mystical occurances. Sexual scenes are powerful and well-written, fitting well with the plot.

Despite editing errors that tend to pull the reader out of the story, this paranormal romance is intriguing -- largely because it uses mystical elements that are offbeat, even among other paranormals.

Review by Snapdragon