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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Review: Love Letters

Love Letters
by Annette M. Irby

Randy Ambrose has penned scores of love letters to his wife, but she's never seen them. He fears she won't receive his affections, and her rejection would destroy their marriage. He also fears strong emotions, including passion. For ten years, he has kept his heart hidden. Jordan Ambrose is trying to pretend Randy's emotional distance doesn't hurt. She has erected walls to protect her heart. When she finds a box of ardent letters written from R to J, she hopes they?re to her. Randy has some explaining to do, and their tenth wedding anniversary is right around the corner. Can he rescue his marriage by taking an unprecedented risk and making a crucial confession?

Writer Randy Ambrose is on a deadline, but his wife, Jordan, can’t seem to understand his need for peace and quiet, as well as time. On the other hand, Jordan is tired of carrying the load of everything in their marriage while Randy runs after a pipe dream. After nine years of a strained marriage and a pair or rambunctious twins, will Randy be able to communicate with Jordan and really show the depth of his love–and passion–for her? Or will she just reject him...again? Through a series of love letters written over the years, maybe he’ll be able to break through the wall she’s built up around her heart.

Author Annette Irby has taken a chance with this story, but I think it was a chance well worth taking. I can imagine many married couples, though maybe not facing identical problems, do face similar challenges. A lack of communication, fear of really opening up hearts to one another and being hurt or rejected. This is not your typical romance, because it does involve a couple who is married, has kids, and is dealing with the every day sort of things like getting the kids ready for school, and fighting strep throat. I admit to wishing there might have been a little less detailing of the illness, but on the whole, the underlying issues of fear and frustrations within marriage made the story read almost like a suspense novel.

Being privy to both sides of the story, I found myself sympathizing with both spouses, wishing I could shake each of them and get them to face each other. Irby had me rooting for this couple and reading on to find out how they would resolve their issues. Although an overtly Christian story, the sensual rating is appropriate. I don’t mean that in a negative way. The passion shown had to be there to provide a satisfying read, considering the issues the couple had been dealing with. And you knew it was okay because, well, they were married after all. There were no vivid descriptions of sexual body parts, and the passion expressed was one centered on true love. For that reason, despite the sensual rating, I would feel free to recommend it to women of just about any age.

Review by Violet

Review: The Space Between

The Space Between
by Sandra Cormier

Margaret embarks on a Polynesian vacation with her husband in an attempt to save their marriage. The plane crashes, leaving Margaret marooned with David, a popular actor.

The challenges of survival pull them together. Her dormant sensuality reawakened, she fights her intense desire for him. Is the attraction he claims to have for her real? Or only the effects of their beautiful island home? Once rescued, they resume their former lives, attempting to put their shared experience behind them. They soon realize their passion can't be denied.

The Space Between is the story of two people that live through a plane crash and must struggle to survive on a deserted tropical island. At first glance the story seems fairly predictable. However, nothing is typical in this story. Margaret is a forty-something mother of three traveling with her husband to mark their anniversary. David is a fifty-something aging actor. When the plane crashes they must struggle with the fact they may be the only survivors and they may never get rescued.

I found the character of Margaret in a way beautiful. She is resourceful, strong willed and loyal, loyal to the memory of a man who has only ever held her back. But once she is on her own she re-discovers her inner fire and never looks back. Her growing attraction for David scares her and his attraction for her causes her no end of confusion, for why would he want her when he could have his pick of attractive women. She is also a woman who is finally finding her way in life and she isn’t sure that she wants to add a man back into the mix.

David is a famous actor, who even though married, finds himself drawn to Margaret. And it leaves him wondering about the happiness of his life. Once stranded with Margaret he struggles to not act on his attraction for her and also to protect her from the evil that is marooned with them. He is strong and in a way brave, but also able to accept that Margaret knows things he doesn’t and that he needs her to survive, just as she needs him.

The interaction between the two characters is filled with tension but also with understanding. They have found themselves in a very difficult situation and they need to accept the flaws and challenges of the other person. Sandra Cormier did a wonderful job of making you feel the blossoming trust and love that is developing between her two characters. I liked that the ending of the story has a bit of twist, but that it all works out for a very pleasant Happy Ever After.

The Space Between is the debut novel of Sandra Cormier, and let me say she is a wonderful addition to romance. Her mature characters are refreshing and well developed and that they can find love later in life gives us hope for the future. And Sandra does a really great job making you feel as though you are right there in that island paradise. This book was a fun, fast paced read, with just enough action to keep you on the edge of your seat. I would recommend it to all readers who are looking for a sweet book with just a little bit of spice thrown in.

Review by Zinnia

Review: Love Never Lies

Love Never Lies
by Karen Cogan

Julie had trust issues from a previous romance. Therefore, when she met the new counselor who was to office in the church, romance was the last thing on her mind. Yet, something about him captivated her. He was gentle and fun loving, patient, and had a good sense of humor. And, he was a widower with a young daughter who tugged at Julie’s maternal instincts. He seemed to be a good father and a devoted believer. In spite of herself, Julie was falling in love. She never imagined that a crisis would arise and that all the traits she loved might drive a wedge between them. Could he be trusted or would he break her heart?

Julie has trouble trusting men after a failed romance, and she has trouble trusting counselors. But, the parent of her newest Sunday school student is just that: a widowed man and a counselor to boot! Trying to fight her attraction for him, she manages to keep her distance. However, his lovely, young daughter tugs at her heart strings and she finds herself spending more and more time with the small family.

But dark clouds are gathering as Julie finds it hard to trust David. Being a counselor, he often has young, attractive woman in his office. And one particular woman, Robin, keeps popping up everywhere. No matter what Julie does or how positive she stays, she cannot seem to dispel the suspicion and distrust she feels. Will David and Julie’s relationship survive? And what is David’s relationship with Robin?

In this novel the author has broached a subject that is often a problem in many relationships: lack of trust. Even married couples have this problem. The situation is properly portrayed and Ms. Cogan shows how the main character deals with it very clearly. This was a very real novel. Usually, in a novel, when a character does something wrong, he/she realizes their mistake, asks for forgiveness and they live happily ever after. That was not the case in this story. The hurt that David feels due to Julie’s lack of trust is depicted through his struggle to forgive her. The dialogues are quick and snappy and making the story move along at a fairly quick pace. This is a wonderful novel for one of those cold winter nights.

Review by Jasmine

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Review: Tales From the Treasure Trove - Volume 1

by Anthology (12 authors)

TWELVE DISTINCTIVE AUTHORS offer new, short, exciting Tales from the Treasure Trove--each featuring a sparkling jewel!

TWELVE COMPELLING CHARACTERS discover romance, magic, suspense, second chances, true love, and the supernatural.

TWELVE ENTERTAINING SITUATIONS feature reincarnated lovers, thieves, vampires, angels, musicians and blind dates, mysterious jewels, masks, worlds...and even dragons!

In the anthology TALES FROM THE TREASURE TROVE – VOLUME ONE, the characters, unique to each of the stories they inhabit, come alive for the reader. The various styles of the twelve writers in this book give the reader a wide range of stories – paranormal, ghost, futuristic, contemporary, historical, etc. all with heartwarming romance.

A gemstone theme ties the stories together. Magic, legends and superstition lure the reader into a variety of environments. Some of the stories like “Turquoise Mask” and “Peridot Moon” vibrate with danger while stories like “The Amethyst Angel”, “Garnet Light”, and “Bloodstone Cure” lift the reader’s heart with hope and inner peace. Humor and the improbability of “The Best Kind of Opals” brings smiles and an ‘oh, come on’ feeling of shared fun.

Greed is the most predominate of the Seven Deadly Sins but LOVE overrides the bad to give the reader a happy-ever-after ending. Only one of the stories didn’t end the way I wanted it to. If one looks closely enough, there is a lesson about living in each story along with romance.

These accomplished writers have joined together to create a book to read without putting down. After a cover-to-cover read, you'll want to pick it up and read it again and again as times goes by. This is a book to be prized for your library of “keepers”.

Reviewed by Camellia

Review: For Kicks

For Kicks
Jenna Bayley-Burke

He’s about to show her ...

On the management fast-track, Breeze Cohen has no time for family. No interest in love. No inclination toward romance, lust, dating—or anything that doesn’t include retail business strategy and cornerstone client Nitrous’ most important product launch ever. No way is she going to let a live-for-the-moment, life-is-only-about-fun guy like Logan Chandler tarnish her professional reputation and derail her career.

... his plan for her isn’t just for kicks.

Recovered from a near-fatal bus accident, Logan has successfully moved from professional athlete to key player for Nitrous Kicks athletic shoes. Only one woman is capable of managing his project the right way, but the proper kind of management will take time together. And that’s exactly what Logan Chandler is counting on to help him get close to her heart and stay close—if he can ever catch up with her.

Breeeze is flying up the corporate ladder and she is not going to let anyone get i her way. Filled with the ambition to become the youngest store manager, she has ordered her life into all work and no play. She works hard and wastes no time to enjoy the sunset or the flowers. After all they are all frivolous things! And she is definitely not going to start a relationship since that would take time away from her goal.

Logan Chandler, a professional soccer player who quit the soccer playing field after an injury, is the opposite of Breeze. He embraces the moment and lives to enjoy his life. After loosing his parents at a young age he has decided that since nobody knows what is going to happen the next day, everybody should seize the moment. And since that is something Breeze does not know, he intends to teach her.

This was a very truthful novel. Breeze knows that since she is a woman working in a man’s world, she needs to work extra hard if she is to be recognized or promoted for any for her work. She knows that lying back and expecting things to work out, is not an answer. This feeling is often felt by many women in corporate office across North America. And in response to these feelings, they often neglect everything that is important – family, fun, and children – to make sure that they are seen as competent and able. Along the way many lose the other important things in life.

This story served as a helpful reminder to me to cherish the moments I have each day with family and friends, living with the knowledge that I might not have them with me in the next moment. The dialogue and writing are quick, short and snappy. It is a wonderful read especially when your belly is full and you have a roaring fire in the fire place!

Review by Jasmine

Review: A Tournament Knight

A Tournament Knight
by Marisa Chenery

To the world, and more importantly, her father, she was dead and Jacqueline meant to use that advantage to avenge herself on her father for her brother's death. She had worried at being discovered in her ruse, but it hadn't occurred to her that she might meet the one man she desperately wanted to call her own.

Sir Terric Aubrey, a landless knight, had expected to work the tournament circuit until he accumulated the money to by land for himself. He hadn't thought much beyond that. He certainly hadn't expected to find the woman he wanted for his wife facing him across the jousting field.

For readers who love knights and ladies of long-ago England, A TOURNAMENT KNIGHT will be a treat. By page five I wanted to know the fate of all the interesting people I’d been introduced to.

The heroine and her supportive family live on the Isle of Wight far from the intrigues of the English court. Yet, they are indirectly trapped in a tangled web of intrigue that finally becomes a concern of the King.

The absentee Earl, a man obsessed with greed and a desire for power, uses his family to get what he wants regardless of the pain and unhappiness it causes. Only with unconditional cooperation are the misused family and the household able to extricate themselves from the evil that threatens to control every aspect of their lives.

A TOURNAMENT KNIGHT is a story of sensual love but also a story of familial love and loyalty. The heroine’s family and household, even though not in agreement with her at times, support her pursuits to avenge her twin brother’s death, caused by their father, the Earl.

Jacquelyn, the heroine, shows amazing physical and emotional strength as she does, indeed, get revenge. Later, she seems to lose this strength when her father threatens to turn her mother out on the streets to be a pauper if Jacquelyn does not do his bidding. She succumbs to his demands and is wed to an old man who is dying in order for the Earl to gain more wealth and power.

The web of intrigue becomes more tangled in her new home and she fears for the life of her soon-to-be-born child. With stealth, she gets word to her family and they begin to weave a web of their own to negate the plans of Jacquelyn’s husband as well as the plans of the Earl.

The love scenes are very spicy, and there is no denying the sensual love the hero and heroine have for each other.

I enjoyed the trip back into 14th century England and, of course, enjoyed the unraveling of the web that allowed all the “good guys” to live happy-ever-after.

Reviewer: Camellia

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Review: Heatherfield

by M. Jean Pike

Deep in a box of used books, counselor Tory Sasser comes across a novel without an ending: Heatherfield. As she reads the story of scarred war veteran, Jake Benjamin, her tears fall on the pages—and she could swear new words appear where once there was nothing.

But the fictional town of Heatherfield isn’t all it seems, nor is its creator, Destiny Paige. When Tory’s car runs off the road into the mist, she’s transported back to the 1940s—into the novel, trapped by the spirits that govern the place through Destiny. Even more, Tory is caught by the honest warmth and complicated tenderness that is Jake Benjamin.

Realizing she’s falling in love with Jake, Tory is desperate to find her way back home to reality. Yet what is more real than true love? No, Heatherfield isn’t all it seems ... not at all.

I am a huge sucker for flawed characters, twisty plots, and humongous odds, and Heatherfield has all three in abundance. Combine that with the author's clear, simple language, deft use of period slang, and good dialogue and we have a hit on our hands.

Tory is burned out and discouraged by her job working with domestic abuse victims. When we meet her, she seems to be drowning in it. She obtains a book from a friend who owns her local bookstore and, even though it's unfinished, it deeply touches her. Those two elements combine with a car accident to transport her to 1940's Heatherfield where she encounters the hero. Jake is a physically and emotionally scarred WWII veteran whose combination of tough and tender makes one want to swoon and cling.

Tory and Jake's stakes are huge: If Tory falls in love with Jake, she might never be able to go home. But if she resists, she risks missing out on the love of her life and all of the happiness that goes with it. It's an awful choice, but if she didn't have to make it, the story wouldn't have been nearly as good. And she doesn't make it arbitrarily. Ms. Pike does a good job of setting up Tory's life before and during Heatherfield so that the reader clearly understands why she does what she does, but it's not so obvious that you can guess the ending.

The only criticism I have with Heatherfield is that a couple of character names were a little strange. Clyde Hardback owns the local bookstore. Destiny Paige is a romance novelist. The fact that their last names so obviously reflect their occupations gave me a bit of a pause but it wasn't enough to effect its overall rating.

I recommend Heatherfield for any romance reader, but particularly for those who enjoy old movies.

Review by Daisy

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Review: Take No Prisoners

Take No Prisoners
by Patti Shenberger

Okay, so announcing her upcoming marriage to the Sheriff in her hometown of Harmony, Michigan on a national television talk show wasn’t the smartest thing soap opera diva Frankie Canfield had ever done in her life. How was she to know the “pretend” nuptials would cause such uproar? Then things took an even further nosedive when Frankie found out the Sheriff she thought she was pretend marrying was dead and a new lawman had taken his place. Sheriff Jake Maxwell, the only man Frankie had ever loved and lost.

Shenberger takes us on an wildly fun and emotional ride in this contemporary, heartfelt romance.

Soap actress Francesca "Frankie" Canfield flippantly lands herself in some hot water while trying to drum up some ratings. The 'love of her life' is none to pleased with her antics, especially since he isn't!

Frankie is used to being top of the grapevine, where hounding press and calls for interviews are just tokens of success. It's a very different story for her victim, and a more personal level of attention she gains from the small home-town crowd that is so interested in this affair, however. The plot twists until the jokes on her; because it was gossip that kicked off her own career, and had one or two other effects, as well.

From sitting down for a chat with Regis to dating Geraldo, a starlet's life is never dull.

Life in the fast lane (and in the slow lane next it, too) was never so fun.

Review by Snapdragon

Monday, January 28, 2008

Review: The Undead Next Door

The Undead Next Door
by Kerrelyn Sparks

Three signs that something is very different with your mew man:

1. He sleeps all day . . . which would be annoying except he's so attentive at night.

2. He's attacked by sword-wielding assailants, yet insists he can handle it on his own.

3. He never seems to age.

Heather Westfield has always lived a quiet life, but that all changes when she helps a very handsome, very mysterious stranger. There's something not quite right about Jean-Luc, but still, she's never been with a man so charming, so attractive . . . so wonderful. Now if only a murderous villain wasn't after them, they might get their happily-ever-after.

This was my second vampire novel by Kerrelyn Sparks, and I have to say that she hasn't disappointed me yet. The author has a wicked sense of humor that shows up throughout the entire novel.

I enjoyed our heroine, Heather -- a fiesty, plump and creative woman who wasn't afraid to stand up for herself. Her attitude intrigues our hero, a famous fashion designer named Jean-Luc Escharpe, first because she insults his clothing designs and claims she can do better, and then just because he's not often challenged by anyone. The problem is, he's in her little podunk town to go into hiding for 25 years, before coming back as his "son", since people can't seem to understand why he hasn't aged at all the past fifty years or so.

Unfortunately, Jean-Luc's enemy, Lui, sees them together and assumes they are lovers and vows to murder Heather in order to upset Jean-Luc. Suddenly, Heather is forced to accept the protection of a group of men (many in kilts!) she's never met, to protect her, her daughter, and her daughter's nanny.

Along the way, she's starts suspecting that there is something a Jean-Luc and his friends. I chuckled at her original assumption!

And, oh! What a hoot! Jean-Luc deals with Heather's nasty, abusive ex-husband in a most creative way that I could see so clearly. It still makes me smile to think of it.

Ms. Sparks did a marvelous job creating a strong (sometimes too strong... her stubborness got her into trouble a time or two) and REAL heroine who stands up for her right to be a size twelve amongst the size zero models she finds herself surrounded by. She's proud of who she is and what she's accomplished. As well she should be.

The secondary characters are equally as colorful, and I enjoyed revisiting many of the people from previous books in this one. It's always wonderful to visit old friends again.

The way she handled the heroine's slow realization that the man she had the hots for wasn't entirely human was amazingly well done. And amusing. Heather realizes that Jean Luc is some type of immortal, but her guesses about just what he is runs the gamut...except for a vampire.

If you're looking for a chuckle and a hot romance, this is the book for you, especially if you've read the other books in this series.

Review by Poppy


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Review: Gracie and the Bad Hat

Gracie and the Bad Hat
by Vicki Gaia

'A bad hat': a person who deliberately stirs up mischief and commotion.

Grace O’Shaughnessy, a hat maker who lives in San Francisco, is determined to find a perfect man to love. Left at the altar because her ex-fiancĂ© had considered her too high-maintenance, Grace makes a list of the qualities she’s looking for in Mr. Right. Never again will she date an irresponsible guy.

Dedicating her list to Jane Austen, the way she sees it, Ms. Austen’s heroines always chose the gentleman over the rake. Everything is going according to plan, until she wakes up naked in bed with a stranger! Well, not a complete stranger…but a photographer she’d met at his opening. Living in the seediest neighborhood in San Francisco, he’s definitely not a suitable choice for a serious relationship.

Not at all a gentleman, Steven Levy is a man Grace’s mother would consider a bad hat. Worse yet, he sets out to get Gracie back into his bed, viewing her as a delicious challenge. Reeling from a bad affair, he wants nothing to do with love, but Gracie, with her long legs, honey color hair, and crazy hats intrigues him. Ready to prove her wrong about that damn list of hers, why can’t she realize finding a perfect man isn’t the same as shopping for groceries?

To Grace’s annoyance, Steven pops up everywhere! He won’t go away, and the more she’s with him the more their attraction grows. He shows her a side of the city she’s never explored. There is more to Steven Levy than Grace first thought, and she’s tempted to rip up her list. Anyone who loves his grandmother the way Steven does can’t be all that bad.

A self-confessed Janeite, I was drawn in by the premise of this book. Gracie is searching for her Mr Darcy. She even has a list of all the qualities she wants in a man. Jane Austen doesn't factor into the plot much more than that, although the characters' pride and prejudices keep them apart for most of the novel.

Grace just can't believe that Steven is the kind of guy she needs. He does not fit her list at all. He's a photographer, lives in a bad neighbourhood, and is quite anxious to get her into bed.

As Steven tries to seduce Grace, he finds he's falling for her. A big surprise for him.

Through most of the novel, Grace and Steven battle demons of the past: failed romances and Steven's strained relationship with his mother. Although the title and premise lead one to believe this is a light hearted tale, there are serious issues of drug use and mental illness. It gives the story substance.

While Grace and Steven's romance is the main one, I found myself drawn more to the secondary one between Mina and Robert. I just loved this couple. I can't say much about them without giving away their story but they were very real to me.

The story lagged a bit for me in the middle and there was a a sprinkling of silted dialogue here and there but overall, I found it to be quite an enjoyable read.


Review by Lavender

Review: Feliz Nueva York

Feliz Nueva York
by Helen Pilz

Spend Christmas Eve alone or with the man she's had a crush on for months? The choice is tougher than she thinks. Recently relocated from New Mexico to New York City, Rose Moreno has been too busy (and too shy) to reveal her attraction to fellow office worker, Brian Garner. Brian invites Rose to share a taxicab after work on a snowy Christmas Eve. Icy streets and a taxi fender-bender strand Rose and Brian at his apartment. How can a reserved, small town girl ever hope to win the heart of a sophisticated, big city man? She's going to need a Christmas miracle.

This is a sweet little love story. Author Helen Pilz has done a lovely job of developing her characters and background. Their actions show their emotions so well and the plot is quite plausible.

Best of all, after a very satisfying ending, she gives the reader a related recipe for some yummy sounding New Mexican cookies.

This quick read would be a wonderful filler to devour when you don't have time or energy for a longer tale. And afterward you can make the cookies for someone you love. :-)

Review by Black-Eyed Susan

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Review: Enchanting The Lady

Enchanting The Lady
by Kathryne Kennedy

In a world where magic ruled everything, Felicity Seymour couldn’t perform even the simplest spell. If she didn’t pass her testing, she’d lose her duchy—and any hope of marriage. But one man didn’t seem to mind her lack of dowry: a darkly delicious baronet who had managed to scare away the rest of London’s Society misses.

Sir Terence Blackwell knew the enchanting woman before him wasn’t entirely without magic. Not only could she completely disarm him with her gorgeous lavender eyes and frank candor, but his were-lion senses could smell a dark power on her—the same kind of relic-magic that had killed his brother. Was she using it herself, or was it being used against her?

One needed a husband, and the other needed answers. But only together could they find the strongest magic of all: true love.

Enchanting the Lady, Relics of Merlin is aptly named. It is enchanting! This is the first book in a series of Relics of Merlin books and I am already hooked. Ms. Kennedy’s strong plot, intriguing characters and this inventive new twist on romance make Enchanting the Lady one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.

In order to claim her rightful inheritance, Felicity Seymour must show that she has the magical abilities necessary to take her place among the peerage in Victorian England. But she has a problem: her magical powers have never been very strong. When she meets a baronet who is also a shapeshifter her world begins to change. Terence Blackwell smells ancient magic on Felicity and knows he must find out more about her and the secrets she holds. They wed and their already less-than-ordinary existence becomes still more intriguing.

The chemistry between Terence and Felicity is magical in its own right. With her keen wit and intelligence, Felicity is a woman whose supernatural shortcomings hardly seem to matter. Terence’s intuition brings the beneath the scenes maneuverings of English society to the surface. Together they work to uncover secrets that seem to be, at times, indecipherable.

Kathryne Kennedy’s attention to detail makes every page of this story shine. The reader sees everything, right down to the trimmings on Felicity’s clothing. That careful choice of words, with its one good sentence after another strong storytelling, is one of the things I enjoyed the most about reading this. Enchanting the Lady is one of those books I’ll take down every time I yearn to be pulled into a world of magic and love, and not so far removed from the historical real world that I have to suspend belief to enjoy myself. There isn’t anything not to love about this book! It is a definite keeper!

Review by Peony

Review: Bridge of Hope

Bridge of Hope
by Pam Champagne

Cyn Jenks can't stand the thought of life without her husband, Peter, killed recently in Iraq. As she stands on a bridge contemplating suicide, Peter's spirit appears. She can't believe it's him until he says, “You think killing yourself will make things right?"

Cyn isn't the only one to see Peter's ghost that night. Major Mike Spencer also witnesses the spectacle. And Peter has a request for Mike. "Please take care of her, Sir. She needs your strength."

Pam Champagne's Bridge of Hope is an inspiring, contemporary romance with an amazingly warm yet desperate aura. This story is about more than love, and more than friendship. It is about loss, and suffering, but it is also about how love heals. Its about personal strength, as well as turning to God for strength. It offers amazing parallels to romances during any time of war, the tales of sweethearts, waiting for word ... and reminds us of the costs of war. Memories can cruel--but also kind.

Cynthia, the main character, is utterly bereft, but hope soon steps in, and involves her in the daily life of those who have an abundance of hope. They also need her, nearly as much as she needs them. Champagne's writing is immediate, descriptive, and strong. This is not only a good story, but very well written.

This incredibly well-timed romance will speak to anyone who has ever had to be the one that waited... four books, and more than a few tears...


review by Snapdragon

Review: In This House

In This House
by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Bernard and Althea have lived their whole lives in the neighborhood, in the same house and have grown old there. But Doe Run’s lead smelter plant has been buying out the houses around them because of lead contamination fears and now the lots are empty weeds and only their house remains. Their neighbors are gone. They’re alone. Althea’s been sick and Bernard cares for her even as he remembers how lovely she once was, all the friends they once had and all the good times they enjoyed when they were young. He loves her and he’ll never leave her. They’ll never leave their home. But they can’t stop time and they’re only waiting for their lonely daughter, Jenny, to make one last visit so they can say goodbye to her and introduce her to the man they know she’s meant to be with…then they can leave this earth happy.

Bernard and Althea are no longer the young people they used to be. But they are still very much in love, and it shows. In fact, theirs is a love so strong it goes with them beyond this life.

Branded as a paranormal romance, I knew something was up, or was going to happen from the start of this story. I just didn’t know what. There was a bittersweet feeling to it, as Bernard remembered his youth, falling in love, and the good times he and his wife had shared with friends and family.

At first the changes were subtle, hinting that something was happening. But just as I finally caught on, the story turned and became about the couple’s daughter. I must admit, it was rather jolting. But all is well that ends well, and the romantic thread that started at the end felt like a promise of something more to come. If this author chose to do another story and pick up where this one left off, I would definitely read it -- it begs to be a longer piece. Short and sweet, this story is appropriate for women of any age.

Review by Violet

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Review: A Soldier’s Promise

A Soldier’s Promise
by Cheryl Wyatt

"My name's Bradley. I'm eight and have cancer. I want to meet a Special Forces soldier more than anything. Well, almost anything. Having a family would be nice."

U.S. Air Force pararescue jumper Joel Montgomery promised to make a sick child's wish come true. Well, not the family part—not with Joel's past. And so despite vowing never to set foot back in Refuge, Illinois, Joel parachuted onto the boy's school lawn to a huge smile. But another smile unexpectedly stole Joel's heart: that of Bradley's beautiful teacher, Amber Stanton, who was trying to adopt the boy. And trying to show Joel it was time for new vows.

Cheryl Wyatt’s debut novel is a dynamic story of love, faith, forgiveness and courage. She tackles the hurt of betrayal and abandonment with depth and intensity.

Amber has past hurts and deep scars. Her tender heart is always taking care of those around her. I found I liked her spunk, her humor and her ability to laugh at herself. Although her soft heart loved easily, it was easy to understand her fear and hesitancy to trust again.

Now, Joel. There is a man you can easily fall in love with. He is strong in character and strength. He lives his creed and takes his vows and commitments seriously, even when that means finding the courage to face his darkest memories. A tough, yet sensitive soldier. What’s not to love?

These characters were so much fun to watch. Bradley is so adorable and will just steal your heart with his courage, strength and determination to hope against all odds. This story will make you blush, cringe, love and laugh out loud. I recommend this story to anyone who wants to find a little bit of love, laughter and faith.

Book Rating: 4 ½ Books

Reviewed by Lily

Review: Come Round Right

Come Round Right
by Sarah C. Goodman

Claire Burke is a woman who has a plan for everything in her life. Number one on her agenda is getting out of Arkansas, working as a nurse in a large, prestigious hospital, and leaving behind the country life of her childhood. Then a summer visit to her grandparents’ farm tangles up Claire’s neatly designed plans more than she could’ve imagined.

Jake Weston, the easy-going country preacher with honey-colored eyes, just wants someone he can talk with, who will give him a break from the pressures of the ministry. His appreciation for the simple things of life challenges Claire’s idea of what being successful really means. Jake is a quiet man who keeps his feelings to himself. But local pageant queen Miranda Davenport isn’t making any attempt to hide her pursuit of Jake. But what does Jake think about Miranda’s advances?

Suddenly, Claire is questioning all her well-laid plans, wondering if she should stay in the tiny community of Dogwood after all. Claire struggles with herself as she tries to find God’s will, all the while falling in love with the farming life…and possibly with Bro. Jake, too. Claire searches her heart to find what she truly wants in life, and for a way to make it all “come round right.”

Claire Burke, who has just graduated with a nursing degree, is eager to get out of Arkansas and explore the big world outside her small surroundings. However, before she can venture out, she needs to visit her grandparents whom she has not seen in four years due to her studies. So she spends time on their farm as she waits for interviews from the big city hospitals. That is when she meets Jake Weston, the country preacher.

Eager for the simple things in life, Jake has immersed himself in this country living and is enjoying it. When he meets Claire Burke he realizes that she is someone with whom he can spend the rest of life. However, she is moving away to work. Is there any chance that she will stay behind with him? It seems highly unlikely. Added to that, Miranda Davenport has set her sights on Jake Weston and beware to anyone who even attempts to smile at him!

This was a very interesting novel. Filled with old-fashioned fun and country living, it transports you to the vast ranches and farms of western America. The characters are well-developed with flaws that they are trying to perfect. The side story of one of Jake’s parishioners add depth to this story as a whole. It portrays the forgiveness and salvation that God provides when we come to him. The only problem was that in some places, the dialouge and writing was a bit dragging. However, it always picked up quickly afterwards. This is a great read for country fans and anyone needing reading entertainment!

Review by Jasmine

Review: Raintree: Haunted

Raintree: Haunted
by Linda Winstead Jones

It’s more than a last name; more than a notation on a family tree. It’s a mark of destiny. Each family member has a special gift, an otherworld talent.

Gideon Raintree, a homicide detective, can harness electricity and talk to ghosts. He will need to wield gifts he’s kept hidden to solve his newest cast-a relentless serial killer unleashed by the dark Ansara wizards. But first he must deal with his reaction Hope Malory, his alluring new partner. He’d never planned on love in the midst of battle. With evil lurking at every turn, Gideon and Hope are in arace against time to save their love, their family and ….their newly conceived child.

Raintree: Haunted is a really great and unusual detective romance story. Ghosts and supernatural powers provide the paranormal ambiance. It is the second installment of the trilogy from Silhouette Nocturne. Raintree: Haunted could stand alone but it was a wonderful continuation to Raintree: Inferno.

Gideon Raintree, the hero, is a homicide detective. He is gifted--he can talk to the ghosts of the victims. This ability adds a dimension to Gideon that few hero’s have. That of deep compassion that is never questioned by the reader.

Hope Malory is a wonderful heroine and balance to Gideon. Hope will draw the reader in with her humor.

If the tension and passion in the relationship between Gideon and Hope doesn’t keep you flipping the pages, then the plot is sure to. The plot is filled with suspense. Not only do Gideon and Holly need to find a serial killer but they also need to deal with the Ansara wizards. For those that read the first book, you know the Ansara wizards are NOT nice.

I enjoyed this book as much as the first. The story quickly caught my attention and with characters that I liked and cared for it was an enjoyable book.

Review by Magnolia

Friday, January 25, 2008

Riding the Thunder by Deborah MacGillivray

Riding the Thunder by Deborah MacGillivray
Publisher: Dorchester
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Review by Poppy

A Storm's Coming...

It was all part of the plan. While his brother was in Scotland dethroning the Lady of Falgannon, Jago Mershan was headed to Kentucky. There he would do his share in avenging his father on the Montgomeries. Only, there was a monkey wrench in the works.

Just looking at his alleged enemy's granddaughter made Jago think of his classic black '67 Harley Electra Glide, a motorcycle with clean lines and sleek curves that promised the ride of a man's life. Asha was all woman--and the only woman for him. He'd bet she could go from zero to one hundred in the blink of an eye...and not even her claims of paranormal happenings in the diner she ran could put him off. He knew magic: He had a special name for the sights, the sounds, the tastes and smells of that perfect ride. There might be a storm coming, but it was one of passion, and together he and Asha would be...


Second in the Seven Sisters of Colford Hall series sequel to The Invasion of Falgannon Isle.


So, this story was nothing like I expected. I figured there would be humor (there is) and unusual characters (there are) and a convoluted, yet interesting plot ('s there, too!), but I didn't expect a ghost story. Or a murder mystery.

Deborah MacGillivray has packed this book full of a little bit of everything! Even better, it's well written and edited.

From the moment Jago Mershan rides into Kentucky, he's a little off-center. The entire place is like a moment out of the sixties, from the diner with its haunted jukebox to the drive-in theater.

But when Asha Montgomerie starts reliving the past through the eyes of teenager who died back in 1964, things get a little dicey. And when someone tries to kill them both, Jago determines to find out just what the heck is going on in the little back water town.

He's quickly adopted by everyone there, including the Cat With No Name who no one has ever seen before, so he feels a little guilty about the nefarious plans his family has to ruin the Montgomerie family as payback for an old debt.

I loved this book even more than the first in this series. With layer after layer of mystery and intrigue as well as a secondary romance between Asha's brother, Liam, and Netta, I didn't want to stop reading! The best part of this book, though, has to be the colorful supporting cast of characters--each so incredibly unique, yet believable, that I'm ready to pack up and move to Kentucky.

Deborah MacGillivray has consistently impressed me with her work, and has earned a place on both my keeper shelf and my auto-buy list. I can NOT wait until the next book in this series comes out. I'll be first in line to get a copy.

Do yourself a big favor and pick up the books in this series the minute you can. You won't be disappointed.

Review: The Medallion of Solaus

The Medallion of Solaus
by Kimberly Adkins

A Darkly Enchanted Artifact.
A Passion to Outlast the Centuries.

Solaus had but one wish of the medallion: to save his dying bride. But when he placed the pendant around his neck, his wish was changed by a malevolent twist of magic that made him Djinn, but also took away the knowledge of what he is and who he used to be. Flung from Ancient Persia into immortality, Solaus has only the memory that he did not save his true love—and nothing more as time begins to pass.

Eager for a fresh start, New York City photographer, Kaitlin Sommers accepts a rare assignment on a deserted island fortress off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt. Surrounded by the shadowy underworld of illegal treasure smuggling, Kaitlin finds herself in the arms of man who seems to spring directly from dreams of her past—a man Fate threatens to tear her away from a second time.

It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book with a time travel element in it. The Medallion of Solaus provided an interesting twist on the concept. While Kaitlin never ‘truly’ travels back in time, she visit the past in her ‘dreams.’ Ms. Adkins does a wonderful job of transporting Kaitlin and the reader to lush, exotic Ancient Persia, if only in dreams.

The Medallion of Solaus is fast paced, with equal amounts of suspense and romance. The reader will quickly be drawn in by legends and lore created in this novel. They are so well done, that it gave the book a really intricate sense of mysticism. The plot is well developed and filled with twist and turns.

The charisma and passion between Kaitlin and ‘Solaus’ is just well established. Kaitlin is a strong heroine, a woman with a career yet she isn’t afraid of love. Actually, she desires a man that will step in a care for her. She is attracted to Solaus and is willing to take the ‘leap’ of love. Solaus is a troubled hero, but not a dark brooding one. Ms. Adkins does a wonderful job of playing these characters off one another.

The cast of secondary characters is complete with the bad guy you didn’t except and the zany side kick.

I look forward to reading more of Ms. Adkins work.

Review by Magnolia

Review: The Dragon of Croatia

The Dragon of Croatia
by Valerie Everhart

Gavriel Dimitrios, the dragon of Croatia, is loose and with vengeance on his mind. Stubborn Callie Stewart, the woman responsible for his release from the ancient stone tablet may be too cozy with the smugglers Gavriel has vowed to capture. She becomes entangled in a web of supernatural intrigue when she stumbles over an ancient stone tablet and unleashes the dragon of Croatia, who appears every 100 years to aid the island’s inhabitants in their fight against smugglers to protect their heritage. He came to her in a dark cave, a dragon within a man—strength and power define his features.

Their shared passion and deceit has the Adriatic Sea at a boiling point as they delve into caves and race across islands, into the very heart of danger.

The Dragon of Croatia is a short hot spicy paranormal - romance for a ideal for cold winter afternoon. Callie Stewart is a strong well developed heroine. Her character is easy to like and understand. Often with a short story characters are condensed, but Ms. Everhart gives us characters that are rich in detail and multi dimensional. Josip, Annah, Petar, and Halsten all secondary characters are also clear and well developed. Gavriel, the hero, is hot, sexy, and a dragon. Not a whole lot more needs to be said there.

Again, given the restriction of the length of the book, Ms. Everhart develops a plot filled with suspense, humor and romance. Although, the sexual tension between Callie and Gavriel is never really developed, their romance is steamy from the very beginning.

Why I gave The Dragon of Croatia a 3 ½ book rates was mainly because a lot of things are rushed. This book could have easily been made into a full length novel. I had more questions at the end, than when I started, thanks mainly to the wonderful characters and interesting plot.

Ms. Everhart also did a wonderful job developing a vibrant setting, filled with lush details. The country side and caves, Callie visited were described in such a way, I almost forgot I was stuck in the middle of a winter storm blast.

Review by Magnolia

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Review: The Sweetheart Tree

The Sweetheart Tree
by Clover Autry

One life turned the Battle of Sunken Bridge.

Not a history enthusiast, Bree doesn't pay much attention while at the Civil War museum with her history-buff sister. Though letters behind glass and a multitude of initials carved into the Sweetheart Tree do cause Bree to wonder if she will ever find someone to love that wholeheartedly.

She never expected to be thrown back in time; or to find the answer in the warm gaze of a confederate lieutenant. A lieutenant who, should he live, will alter history.

While touring an ancient Civil War sight with her sister, Bree takes a little time to cool off under the Sweetheart Tree where decades of young lovers have carved their initials into the trunk. She falls asleep, and is swept back in time to the era of the Civil War. There she meets the man who steals away her heart. But she doesn’t belong in the past. Will the future tear them apart forever?

As I’ve said in past reviews, I’m a real sucker for a good time travel story. Although this one was short, it was no disappointment. In fact, I was impressed at the depth of characterization and setting for so short a story. It really drew me in, and at one point I found myself frightened to the point of near tears for the well being of the two main characters. There were a few grammatical errors which should have been caught during edits, but other than that, it was well done and an enjoyable read. I recommend it for women of all ages.

Review by Violet

Review: Secrets In the Shadows

Secrets In The Shadows
by Sheridon Smythe

The lovely widow Lacy had taken in two young children – and the rambunctious little angels wasted no time getting her into trouble with Shadow City’s new sheriff . . .

Adam came to town on a personal quest for justice – and nothing would distract him from it. Until chasing a mischievous young devil brought him face-to-face with a spirited woman’s shotgun . . .

After their first meeting, Lacy and Adam vowed to steer clear of each other. But soon Adam discovered Lacy’s childhood memories were the key to solving a fifteen-year-old mystery…

What neither of them knew was that an old danger lurked nearby, threatening their new attraction.

Looking at the cover of Secrets In The Shadows, I wondered how in the world the author could produce a love story from a hanging. She did and what a story!

Not long after, I started reading I thought, “The lady doth protest too much…", but her protestations proved to be an intriguing element of the story. Loving and caring toward her extended family and her neighbors, Lacey fears a man/woman love relationship because of abuse in her past. Her attraction to Adam sets her emotions aflutter in a way she doesn’t understand. She's much like a frightened kitten that hisses and claws, frantically trying to escape because it does not know the joy of being taken care of, cuddled, and petted.

I can see the story as a tapestry with many threads being woven together when Adam comes to Shadow City to fulfill a promise he made to his mother before her death. His learning Lacey is the key to his success joined with Lacey’s protestations create a revealing pattern in which the golden thread of romantic love becomes part of the design. While the love scenes do not have the finesse and subtlety I expected, they do not diminish the overall beauty of the design.

The author also weaves into the pattern the collective secrecy of the town’s inhabitants about the hanging that mingles with the dark thread of greed. This part of the tapestry influences the total picture.

The foundation pattern of the tapestry is the familial love revealed through Lacey’s relationship with many secondary characters that play important roles in the untangling of threads that bring to light the secret of the long-ago hanging. These characters represent people who often fall through the cracks in society but Lacey reaches out to and takes care of them. Ben, Takola, and Rusty are treasures whom this reader came to love. They are bright spots in the design.

Secret in the Shadows is a tale of tensions, truths, tempers, and good tidings—a treat to read.

Reviewed by Camellia

The Invasion of Falgannon Isle by Deborah MacGillivray

The Invasion of Falgannon Isle by Deborah MacGillivray
Publisher: Dorchester
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Review by Poppy


There was something about the Brigadoon-like Falgannon, something that kept most of its male inhabitants unwed. From Michael the Story to Callum the Bicycle--and we mustn't forget The Cat Dudley, the slyest poker-playing moggie in the Outer Hebrides--every male of the Isle had happiness dependent upon that of its Lady. So things had been since Pictish times, and so they would be long after the present day.

Despite her machinations, to this point B.A. Montgomerie had been unable to make her men happy. Her first marriage had been against their advice; her husband had been an Irishman, true, but he had failed to meet other necessary requirements...and things had ended badly. Now, another Irishman had come--and was making the natives restless. Yes, the men of Falgannon could sense Desmond Mershan's conquering Viking spirit and his desire for B.A.--which B.A. could sense herself. And while her men would never let anything happen that she didn't want, this Irishman had come to pillage and loot, and nothing was going to stop him. Staring into his vibrant green eyes, B.A. anticipated the battles to come.

What a fun book! Deborah MacGillivray is a "new-to-me" author and has wowed me right off the bat. The Invasion of Falgannon Isle (Book One in The Sisters of Colford Hall series) is chock full of colorful, unique characters peopling an amazing island and taking part in a fun, interesting and complex story.

When Desmond Mershan and his friends Dennis and Wulf show up at Falgannon Isle, it's as though they've found Brigadoon--but a Brigadoon with internet access and only four women (and two don't count!).

BarbaraAnne (B.A. for short) Montgomerie has to wed a black-haired man with green eyes to cancel the curse of Falgannon Isle. She's a young widow, having married a black-haired man with blue eyes already (not quite the right eye color to override the curse), and isn't quite ready to jump into another marriage, despite the need to find wives for the 213 single Scotsmen who live on the Isle. So, instead, she sets up an exclusive Falgannon Dating Website and brings prospective brides to the island.

Desmond, though, the is up to something. And he needs to take full advantage of B.A. to achieve his goals. He sets forth to pillage the woman at every opportunity!

Add in The Cat Dudley, a pet that isn't B.A.'s (just ask her, she'll tell you), a few larger than life secondary characters like Michael the Story, Callum the Bicycle and Michael the Fiddle, a pub called The Hanged Man, and the "Morn B.A." club and you're in for a rollicking good time. This is a story you'll want to put on your keeper shelf and visit again and again, because sure as shooting, you'll miss something the first (and second and third) time through that will make it new all over again!

Put a smile on your face and add The Invasion of Falgannon Isle to your collection.