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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Review: A Magical Encounter

A Magical Encounter
by Meagan Hatfield

Kaiya Galbraith had always known her father, the duke, harbored no love for her. Still, until it happened, she would never have believed him capable of bartering her life away to a stranger in return for coin to pay off his debtors. All hope of finding love appeared lost to her forever...until she was rescued by a being she'd only ever seen in her dreams. When the Elfin warrior, Hanarom Avindaul, plucked her from imminent death into the safe shelter of his arms, though, she discovered she was all too eager to stay.

Fantasy fans will slip into "A Magical Encounter," as if they are stepping over the threshold to a strange fairyland themselves. For all it is a far far world, the main character, Hanoram, experiences the absolutely classic family pressure to marry. He may be both Elf Prince and warrior, but there's no ignoring one's mother. He'd prefer to spend time with his horse, Yano, or friend and second, Felanir.

Human woman Kaiya experiences greater - shall we say - negative pressure, and finds herself abruptly forced to make her way on her own. Her resourcefulness and courage make her the strong woman character we hope to find, and cannot help but admire. Their first meeting is everything that could be imagined - their eyes meet, he recognizes her terrible pain and fear. She sees before her one of the elves she's heard stories about. Yet, there it is, she is one race, and he another. What happens in the next moments will not only effect the two of them... but the whole of Duchy of Seriador.

Dialogue in "A Magical Encounter," is strong and heartfelt. More impressive is the world Hatfield creates. It is easy to imagine young Kaiya's room high in the keep, the drapes fluttering in the gentle breezes caught by the castle's high windows. You can imagine the place as surely as you can imagine the soft fabrics between your fingers. Small details recieve close attention as well; like the flask decorated with wrought vines and berries, or the taste of honey-ed wine. "A Magical Encounter," is full of powerful emotion and evocative moments in the heart of the dark forest.

I was left hoping Hatfield produces another work of elfin magic. Soon.

Review by Snapdragon

Review: The Curse of Mayweather House

The Curse of Mayweather House
by Nancy Lee Shrader

Many of us enjoy Ghost Stories that frighten us and send us screaming into the night. The Curse of Mayweather House might be a Ghost Story, but love blooms brightly in the hearts of the undead — a love that has lasted over a century and will last through eternity. Leora Grace and Captain William Thomas Mayweather have searched the underworld of the dead, hoping that they would rediscover loves burning flame, that death's sting could not extinguish.

Demons lurk in the bowels of Mayweather House, enticing its victims into its dark maze of evil. This Evil has stalked Nancy Lee Abernathy her entire life, in an attempt to stop her from freeing the Mayweathers from the curse. With the aid of William and Leora Grace, Nancy Lee is spared the death that the demon planned for her on the day of her birth and all the other times during her life. Nancy Lee,
in turn will aid the ghosts in their quest for freedom.

A lengthy, discriptive prologue full of a rather sinister history begins this tale. It provides a background for the location, and introduces the narrator, (who haunts the property.) The action in this story takes place in and around "Mayweather House,' a house built above Devil's Bluff near Southhampton, England. The prologue is slow, but intriguing... and not entirely necessary.

In this twist on the classic haunting, the ghosts of Mayweather House must eventually reach out to the living, in a desperate effort to find freedom from their curse. The ghosts of Leora Grace and Captain William Mayweather cannot find one another, yet cannot escape the house; theirs is a double curse. The living person they reach, Nancy Lee Abernathy, is an amazing character that one immediately admires; determined, terrified, self-reliant, but also with some idea of what lay "behind the veil." She can sense a 'presence' from the first. She is not the 'classic' heroine type though, as she is not the beautiful young heroine, but an elderly, sad person who recognizes the burden of tragedy she carries. She is also reverent and respectful, and engages readers' sympathies immediately. Her one interest; she is intrigued by a puzzle, and involved with the supernatural. Through her, we hear the voice of long-dead Leora, and through her, we share the pain of separation and loss.

William and Leora may seem like the main characters in this tale, but in truth, this tale captures the lives of a number of characters, and all are important. There are fast moments here, action, as well as thrilling parts. On the whole however, this is a slow, thoughtful read, full of very good descriptions, insights, and emotions. The style seems old-fashioned, where words are meant to be savored and all the deeper meanings of events are meant to be understood.

This is a book for those who like a good ghost story, and who will slow down to enjoy a certain rich, descriptive quality in a work. This reader had difficulty assigning a number to this work as I don't imagine this will have broad appeal, but am giving it 4 books for its wonderful writing quality and great depth of story. Shrader's "The Curse of Mayweather House," is wonderfully original, intriguing and evocative.

Review by Snapdragon

Friday, May 30, 2008

Review: His and Her Dalmations

His and Her Dalmatians
by Grace Tyler

Callie and Hayden James have nothing in common, other than their last names and a pair of Dalmatians. Their relationship was just as volatile after their divorce, so they split up the dogs to maintain the peace. After two years apart, attending the wedding of mutual friends forces Callie and Hayden to see each other again. Can this event lead to a truce and sharing custody of the dogs?

His and Hers Dalmatians made me believe in new beginnings all over again. Callie is still recovering from the divorce from her delicious, wealthy ex, Hayden. Like in all romances, Callie and Hayden are both still strongly attracted to one another but their differences as people (Callie’s artistic temperament, Hayden’s logical calmness) keep them not only separated but permanently arguing it seems. Ms. Tyler managed to tug on my heart strings for the both of them, even in the beginning when Callie is all righteous indignation as she believes Hayden is a womanizer and Hayden, poor Hayden is mentally ogling his ex-wife and still knocked for a loop by the ending of their marriage. Yet the only things the couple seem to have in common are their babies, Ricky and Lucy, a pair of the most adorable Dalmatians I’ve ever read!

There were a few stumbling blocks for me though. I wholeheartedly approved of Callie, whose spunky nature is entertaining and empowering. And I thoroughly enjoyed Hayden as the ex-husband who slowly but surely realizes he wants his ex back. I fully expected Callie to give as good as she got and for a while, their verbal sparring is spicy and emotional, exciting to read. But once Callie realizes that Hayden is not as evil as she has painted him, she seems to lose all her spunkiness and turns instead into a worrying bundle of nerves. I felt for her yet I wanted her to not so easily fall apart especially after such a strong start.

Yet as Hayden continues to woo her, Callie rallies back and watching them fall in love all over again is one of the moments where I truly believed in happily ever after not just happily for now. The dogs play a huge part, bringing the couple together and at the end, doing their best to seal the deal permanently. Ms. Tyler pens a beautiful, modern love story in which I fell in love with all the characters and even made me want a pair of Dalmatians! Strongly recommended for those who believe in the beauty of second chances.

Review by Narcissus

Review: Substitute Bride

by Laura Lamperd

When Miss Emma Napier helped her friend, Abby, escape an arranged marriage, she little thought she would meet the dashing Marquis of Desborough. His lordship was looking for a wife so he could gain control of his inheritance. Emma seemed the perfect choice.

A gay and frothy Regency romance, packed with lively incidents and dramatic situations.

From time to time in our modern world where a woman is supposed to be “Jill of all trades and GOOD at all”, Regency novels are a dose of delightful medicine for gaining one’s balance again. I love them!

SUBSITUTE BRIDE by Laura Lamperd takes the reader to a time when women were valued for their appearance and social graces and considered of little value in other areas. Emma Napier manages to circumvent many limitations of the regency era as she proves her loyalty to her life-long friend Abby Derries.

Abby, afraid her uncle with whom she lives will force her to marry a man she hardly knows and who is much older than she is, seeks Emma’s help to escape her situation. Thus begins the adventure for two young women who have been reared in the country, far away from the intrigues of both the “high-born” and the “low-born” of London.

On their way to London, Emma is forced into a compromising position by the Marquis of Desborough who is known for his womanizing and wicked ways. Since her brother with whom she had planned to stay in London is out of the country, she goes to her great-aunt Matilda and asked if she and Abby may stay with her a few days.

Lady Matilda Langridge, delighted to have Emma and Abby for the season, arranges a social life that takes the two young women into a society they have only heard about. The reader gets to experience colorful balls, elaborate tea parties set in discreet parlors, and all the things wealth and privilege offered in the regency period.

Along the way, the squalid side of London comes into play for short intervals adding to the tension Ms. Lamperd creates as she shepherds not only Emma and the Marquis through a maze of intrigue and obstacles but also brings a happy-ever-after to secondary characters whom this reader found absolutely delightful.

SUBSTITUTE BRIDE is refreshing and laced with humor—a story to enjoy.

Review by Camellia

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Review: Golden Enchantment

Golden Enchantment
by Candace Morehouse

Sometimes the most coveted treasure of all can be found right beneath your nose.

When her father dies, Andrea Alexander decides to return home to New Mexico and continue his search for buried treasure dating back to the days of conquistadores. However, she didn't count on a mysterious figure shooting at her, a puzzle of clues and the involvement of her very masculine and handsome neighbour, Jake Houston.

Jake Houston remembers Andrea as the scrawny little tomboy next door who followed his every move. When they meet again years later, Jake is surprised to find Andrea has filled out in all the right places. Tempting as she may be, he is betrothed to another with no way out. Fighting his attraction to Andrea as he helps her solve the puzzle of the buried treasure will test his strength in more ways than one.

Destined to be together, will Andy and Jake find a way out of danger and around their problems to realize true love?

Candace Morehouse delivers a sensory delight in her debut novel, Golden Enchantment. Whether describing the electrical attraction between the hero and heroine, the gorgeous New Mexican terrain or the vividly drawn characters, this book is an enjoyable treat.

With the story beginning in 1880’s New York, Ms. Morehouse seamlessly shifted from the language and tone of a typical western to the more dignified tone of an American Victorian depending on whether the scene took place in New Mexico or New York—or from character to character, depending on their background. The character depictions and descriptions were superbly done—a fiesta of well-drawn characters from our spirited young heroine Andy, her greenhorn city-boy cousin Clarence, to the sexy and intrepid hero Jake and his Black widow fiancĂ©e Lupita.

My one qualm with the story would be the sudden and frequent point of view changes. I am a stickler for POV and the author had us in the heads of several characters within single scenes. It was quite bothersome and took my attention away from the story and the writing. With that in mind, I was still very much drawn into this story and immensely enjoyed the setting descriptions. They were so vivid; it was like I had really taken a visit to the New Mexican Territories in the 1880’s—a word picture to say the least. It was quite obvious the author knew and understood this setting and time period on a personal level.

It’s a great western story with a delicious cowboy hero which I would recommend to all readers.

Review by Orange Blossom

Review: The Witch and The Wolf

The Witch and the Wolf
by Marly Matthews

Arabella had inherited her mother's gift of witchery, but the one man that presented the greatest threat to her, the man who called himself the Wolf,
seemed immune to her powers.

Having fled the mobs of the revolution to England as a child, when Arabella returns to France she is enlisted to aid Napoleon's cause as a spy-until the man known
only to her as the Wolf abducts her and returns her to England once more.

I personally really enjoy historical fiction and this story pleased me. It takes place during the French Revolution and thereafter. The writing is such that I felt transported right into events and felt the fear and passion that was prevalent then. Transportation by horse and carriage, elegant clothes worn by elegant ladies, fawning gentlemen, the constant intrigues that were carried on behind the royal scene can all be enjoyed by the reader. The language and speech patterns here and there tends to resemble modern day language but on the whole language is authentic as well. I enjoyed the reminder of what had been taking place in the courts of England and France as they struggled with their hatred of each other.

The romance that Arabella De Maurier and Christopher Wyndham tried so hard to deny accelerates through the story building to a delicious crescendo at the end as true love prevails. Christopher refuses to give up on his love as Arabella twists and turns looking for a way to solve her problems. As hard as he tries Wyndham cannot stop loving her. It makes you wish for a man just like him for yourself.

I eagerly followed the ups and downs of the love the two main characters have for each other. Their relationship is stormy, but so touching in places it's sure to bring a smile to your face as it did mine. You'll want to pay close attention while you read so you don’t miss any of the juicy parts. It makes for a very fascinating time. There are many other threads of people’s lives and events woven throughout the main love story that also make it interesting to follow. All that passion and action and history woven together makes this a book you really should read!

Review by Verbena

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Review: When the World Is Right

When the World is Right
by Margo Hoornstra

Brian Hawthorne never meant to hurt his wife Casey, but he had. He never meant for them to fight. But they did. Hadn’t meant to spend the night alone at a hotel. But he did that too. Now all Brian wants to do is make amends. Assure Casey of his love. But, will she accept the gift he’s brought her and forgive him? And make their world right once again.

"When the World is Right,' gets contemporary romance just so cuddly-right!

The cover image says it all, from contemplative man to round-eyed kitten. Brian is admirably (although apparently slowly) sensitive, and Casey, the upset wife might give you a little glint of self-recognition.

The overall warmth of this story is carefully supported by the physical descriptions within. The snowy day, the warmth of the Dutch colonial architecture, and even the little calico kitten contribute to the heartwarming aura. The writing is vibrant and descriptive and places the reader right into each scene.

This is the ultimate feel-good romance; I'll be looking for Hoornstra's next.

Review by Snapdragon

Review: Tales From the Treasure Trove Vol. 2

Tales from the Treasure Trove Vol 2
a Jewels of the Quill Anthology by Bardsley, Hunter, Desmet, Pirri, Weisnet, & Toombs

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

SIX COMPELLING COUPLES discover romance, magic, suspense, danger, second chances, forbidden love, and the supernatural.

SIX ENTERTAINING SITUATIONS feature psychic lovers, spinsters and rogues, shape-shifters, topless touring boats, mysterious jewels…and even humans as an endangered species!

Hunter's Garnet Lake is the jewel of the collection. Her descriptions are thorough, and her places evoke an aura that carries the whole story along. From the buzz of the busy dragonfly at the lakeside to the intense lovemaking by the shore, her thorough descriptions make you feel like you are there.

In Toombs' The Turquoise Cat, main character Olivia has a mystery to solve... and this short packs all the punch of a full lenth thriller.

Pirri's For the Love of Saphire is both heartfelt and heartwarming; an historical notable for its outstanding characters. The intense feelings of her main character, Saphire are engaging. Her dialogues, while not snappy, offer a very plausible picture of the people, and their expectations.

Bardsley's Heart of Obsidian is a a real breath of fresh air among some really intense stories: you'll laugh out loud reading this super comic romance. Everyone in this story seems to not really be who they are (enter the psychic who's really a mechanic) and you will laugh your way from one unexpected event to the next.

The Amethyst Star by Weisner offers an intensely imagined, futuristic world that won't fail to thrill the paranormal fan.

Misbehavin' in Moonstone by DeSmet features a clever businesswoman, Kirsten, who's main goal is improving her business. She's the take charge sort who's almost comically surprised when she discovers the tables turned!

The stories are unified by superb writing styles, a frequently unpredictable twist, but all stand apart as distinct, original stories. A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend your time!

Review by Snapdragon

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Review: Truly Madly

Truly Madly
by Alicia Dean

A broken heart drove her away--a family tragedy brought her back.

After her parents’ murder/suicide, Isabelle Connelly returns to her home town to settle their estate. But a year later, with her business concluded, Isabelle still hasn’t left, even though she has every reason to. The townspeople shun her because of her family’s history of mental instability, she hasn’t gotten over her feelings for the man who shattered her heart, and now she’s a suspect in a murder and mysterious house fire.

Someone is out to frame Isabelle for the crimes. Failing that, it appears they plan to make Isabelle their next victim.

What could be better than a short murder mystery, all tied up with a romance? Well, add that dash of 'thriller' and you have "Truly Madly" by Alicia Dean. Her tense plot will keep you guessing -- and hoping!

Lovely and creative Isabelle Connelly could never be prepared for murder in the family. Even less so, the aftermath. Everyday, she copes with secrets, lies, gossip... and a terrible fear of what genetics might just mean to her. "What everyone says" is largely about her own folks. Friends do stand by her, from baker Brandon to handsome local cop Rick Hutchings.

But when the next murder happens; she might even be her own first suspect! The immediacy of the first person point of view gives this tale a powerful, visceral impact. The unpredictable storyline carries the reader through a whirlwind of emotions - not only from fear, to gratitude, but to downright hate. An amazing and powerful murder, romance, and more. Wow! You won't be disappointed by this exciting story!

Review by Snapdragon

Review: Takuhi's Dream

Takuhi's Dream
by Rita Trevalyan

A young professional woman is pursued by an alien monster that she cannot see or face. She wanders from one planet to another, only to have it appear again and again. What is this that she cannot face, and who is the man who is also pursuing her? Is she running away from an actual threat, or is she trying to escape her true destiny?

Ms. Trevalyan's 'Takuhi's Dream,' takes us into the Kenderited sisterhood, and the life of dedicated kulturologiest Takuhi. Discussion of sexual mores, enticing dress, and the invention of new psychotropic drugs all mark this a society far apart from Earth-norm. Takuhi recognizes the differences between herself and her sisters in the cloister, and from the first is confident enough to allow herself 'classic' tastes.

Society in this otherworldly place begins to feel familiar to the reader, and the culture and world we take for granted, somehow, we will see through distant eyes. As we quickly discover,Takuhi, the people she trained with and even her teachers are not human, although they have chosen to adopt human form. They train and dedicate themselves to the preservation of other cultures. Takuhi is one of the best of these - but she fears that the recent onset of nightmares indicate a psychic weakness.

She puts her worries aside to attend a party - only to discover her worst nightmares waiting for her there. Sanctuary may be her only answer - and she must count on family and friends to keep her safe. And still... the monster appears.

Takuhi's strange, exotic world and lifestyle are well-imagined, and presented. Trevalyan's character's are vibrant - not only Takuhi, the main character, but many others, including her parents, her 'sister' Sosumi or the handsome Erikaan, and the apparently well-meaning Cahill. More important characters share deep, moving relationships. RevMa, Kenga Chang- all swirl around Takuhi, and we can never be quite sure of who to trust - although neither can Takuhi.

The storyline of Takuhi's Dream is complex - at times, perhaps too complex - but for the paranormal reader, this story definitely presents many original points. Interestingly enough, Trevalyan manages to present a very different perspective on our own (Earth) cultures. More importantly, this is a journey of self-discovery, that for Takuhi, might turn into self-empowerment...but for that truly disgusting monster.

Review by Snapdragon

Monday, May 26, 2008

Review: Free Falling

Free Falling
by Mary Eason

Special Agent Rainie McClain wants out. Out of The Agency. Out of the shadow life that has consumed her for far too long. Walking away from The Agency means letting go of the only man she’s ever loved, her husband, Captain Roc Branson. But at thirty-eight, Rainie has seen all the violence and death she can handle. And after discovering she’s pregnant, she just wants a normal life.

But what can be normal about the reappearance of a long lost brother who may or may not be a sadistic killer, the heartrending demise of her marriage, and the web of lies that grows until she no longer knows who to trust?

It’s vital that she discover the truth soon...because what she doesn’t know, just might kill her.

A misleading phone call lands our heroine in well-known streets and back lanes of Washington D. C. Far from afraid, Law-enforcement trained Rainie McClain needs to plot her course in dealing with this one, obviously evil stalker. She proves more than equal to one deadly man- but she needs to find out his motives. The stalker's Middle-Eastern accent gives the game away, and he finds himself being interogated by one seriously deadly woman.

Law-enforcement trained, FBI agent Rainie McClain is on top of what might be a deadly situation - right up until she calls in the reinforcements. Not everyone is on her side, and from that moment on, identifying the good guys and the bad guys in this international thriller is part of the challenge. And, it becomes all to clear that even Rainie is operating outside of protocol.

Death, threats, and lies are a way of life now - but she is realizing that a change is very, very necessary. And, who, exactly is trustworthy to help her?

The immediacy of the first person point of view brings every moment of Eason's new romance/thriller into sharp focus. Eason's straightforward style and dedication to action develop a fast pace, that sacrifices not one bit of emotion. This extremely readable and unpredictable drama will have you on the edge of your seat. Eason offers supreme tension, both in mystery and in love. I highly recommend you grab this story and hold on for the ride!

Review by Snapdragon

Review: One Knight in Venice

One Knight in Venice
by Tori Phillips

One touch of Venus was nothing compared to the magic in the hands of Jessica Leonardo. The mysterious signorina was a woman unlike any Francis Bardolph had ever known, for she alone could make him face his most dangerous secrets – and still have hope for her love!

Though Sir Francis played the man of leisure, Jessica saw through his disguise. The man was dangerous – in ways that thrilled the private places of her heart. But would his desire still run hot when her true self was revealed – and her secret shame unmasked?

I adored this story of the passionate but physically flawed Jessica Leonardo and the lost, lonely knight Francis Bardolph who falls for her. Francis, an English spy working in Venice, originally goes to Jessica, a healer, to relieve his sore shoulder. Her strong fingers massage away his pain, and her oils and ointments soothe his physical hurt, but her intuition also sees that this young knight is nursing a broken heart. Francis knows his deceased mother was a silly, brainless whore, while his father is one of two great Cavendish brothers, either Sir Brandon or Sir Guy. But without any true knowledge, he feels alone and betrayed, unable to love another since he cannot love himself.

Jessica, meanwhile, has her own troubles. Born with a port-wine stain on one cheek, she wears a mask at all times and avoids being seen in public, not only from shame but also so that the Venetian Council of Ten will not denounce her for being a witch. Jessica is in deeper danger as well, for her Jewish parents have returned to their faith, after years of pretending to adopt Catholicism, and in the times of the Inquisition, any association with a heretic means instant death.

Francis and Jessica are drawn to each other from their very first meeting, not only physically but emotionally as well – both fill a void in the other’s life. Their slow, steamy courtship is a pleasure to read, especially since Jessica tries so hard to resist Francis’ advances, thinking no man can love her if he sees what’s beneath her mask.

Meanwhile, Francis is fighting off the most popular and lusty courtesan in the city, Cosma di Luna. He does everything possible to turn her away, while she does everything possible to win his heart, include having him followed so she can find out where he spends his idle time. When Cosma finds him at the house of a “witch,” it’s only a matter of time before she exposes Jessica to the Council, and the heroine is put on trial before the entire city.

What makes this story so rich is the combination of a wonderful love story set amid a time of true danger and corruption in Venice. One Knight in Venice takes place during Carnevale, and the rich party atmosphere both heightens Francis and Jessica’s romance and serves as a backdrop to the kind of opulent lifestyle that the rich enjoyed during this historic period and the poor and persecuted had to endure. The minor characters here are wonderful as well: Cosma du Luna is a desperate tramp that readers will love to hate; Sophia and Gobbo, Jessica’s foster parents, are loving guardians with questionable pasts; and Jobe, Francis’s good friend and protector, is a magnificent African sorcerer who can see the future and who comes to the couple’s rescue at nearly every turn.

I give this novel my highest recommendation. The combination of historic intrigue and a love story between two flawed characters who find each other despite repeated dangers will have readers cheering. Don’t miss One Knight in Venice!

Review by Dandelion


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Sunday, May 25, 2008

Review: More Than A Memory

More than a Memory
by Margo Hoonstra

Bad memories are rampant for newly divorced Leah Collins. Cold and alone on a late night bus ride home, she can hardly believe it when she happens to sit down next to rich, successful and still incredibly handsome Ed Barnes. The object of a teenage crush so many years ago. Ed remembers Leah too. One thing leads to another and they discover they have more in common than just memories.

Hoonstra's 'More than a Memory,' leaps so realistically from the pages, the story might be part of your own past.

Main character Leah Collins not altogether willingly finds herself in a place she'd left long ago... among people she'd not given second thought to in a decade. Sydney, Minnesota is a long way from Miami, in a whole lot of difference ways. Leah can't help comparing the who she is, to the might-have-beens.

And, when one of those might-have-beens offers dinner: well, perhaps home will be more welcoming than ever before.

Hoonstra pulls off this gentle, slightly introspective story beautifully. The short story medium was never so poignant.

Review by Snapdragon

Review: Melody of Love

Melody of Love
by Sarah Makela

Kathryn Walker's life is great, except for one area. Love. Still reeling from the disappointment of past relationships, her world is sent spinning when danger encroaches on her simple life.

Alex Brown is a rock star dealing with betrayal, but once he meets Kathryn... his sights are set

Ms. Makela's "Melody of Love" is a dramatic contemporary romance.

Customer service representative Kathryn Walker let her fantasy about Dying Stone lead singer Alex Brown turn her into the occasional night club groupie. Although she dreamed of standing out, she found herself in the crush of humanity at the concerts. She couldn't help her annoyance one night, at ending up half way across the hall away from the stage, but she was almost as annoyed with herself for letting herself turn into the hopeless little fan-girl. That is, until she rushed the stage and The Alex Brown bent to touch her hand...

And set off events that Kathryn finds nothing short of unbelievable.

Alex, rock star that he is, definitely lives within a rock star morality. From Jack Daniels to hopping in the sack with the ex, he is nothing unexpected - although he does have that rather bad-boy attraction, guaranteed to turn large numbers of the opposite sex into weak kneed 'fan-girls.' Pragmatic Kathryn finds herself worrying about getting the dishes done and taking the trash out, in order to make a good impression - and her delightful naiveté is absolutely wonderful. She isn't childish or immature - but comes from such a hugely contrasting perspective, that the sharp differences between them, just as people, is apparent. Can "innocent sweetheart" change Alex into the man he thinks he might really be?

They each, at times, are frustrated with themselves. Their personal questioning is perhaps visited a few too many times; becoming a bit repetitive and slowing the story. The earnestness might suit these characters, but a little humor would have been a relief in this rather heavy story. Plausibility issues and a sliding point of view give the reader a little pause here and there, but didn't affect my enjoyment.

If you've ever dreamed that "little old you" could be a band groupie, or be the one girl that caught the cute lead-singer's eye, this story is for you. It has a fresh, brisk pace. It is like being caught inside a teenager's fantasy. This is, overall an interesting and very readable story.

Review by Snapdragon

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Review: City of Secrets

City of Secrets
by Katy Reus

After being widowed at a young age, Jade Hadley is through mourning and wants to add a little excitement and romance into her life again. She gets more than she bargained for when she’s inadvertently involved in an international drug ring, and some scary men decide she needs to die. As if that isn’t bad enough, her deceased husband’s sexy best friend admits his long time attraction to her.

Security expert David McIntyre is in love with Jade and has been from the moment they met. Unfortunately for him, that was the week she married his best friend. For years, he’s stayed silent, giving her time to mourn. When he discovers she’s dating again, all bets are off. Seducing her isn’t the problem; it’s convincing her that what they have together isn’t purely physical. That might even prove to be a bigger challenge than keeping her alive.

Jade Hadley has made a decision to change her life. After her death of her husband four years ago, she has decided that she is ready to dip her toes in the dating field again. After all, her husband would have wanted her to be happy once again. So she takes off her wedding ring, gets into the right mind set and agrees to blind dates set up by her mother and sister. Soon she realizes that dating is not as easy as she had thought.

David McIntrye, has been Jade’s good friend since her husband, Aidan passed away. He has kept his distance, despite his interest knowing that Jade needs time to heal and grieve. Furthermore, having been her husband’s best friend, he does not want Jade to feel guilty. However, when he realizes that she is ready to get on with her life, he is not going to stand by the sidelines and let that happen. But other unseen forces are at work to destroy Jade’s life. Can David protect her and keep her safe?

City of Secrets was a very interesting read. Jade is a strong woman who is independent to a fault. And David is the rescues and typical protector. The element of suspense that Ms. Reus introduces into the novel is very exciting. Initially, it appears as if the mystery and the actual story have no connection. This confused me. However, as the story progress, the mystery also unveils. The story did not drag in any place and it moved at a fairly quick pace. The relationship between David and Jade also developed at a fairly constant, steady and believable rate. This was an excellent story, with wonderful characters and exciting situations!

Review by Jasmine

Review: Treasures of the Heart: A Jewels of the Quill Valentine's Day Anthology

Treasures of the Heart
Anthology by Jewels of the Quill: Karen Wiesner, Nancy Pirri, Julie Skerven, Carrie S. Masek, Karen Woods, Barbara Raffin, and Michele Bardsley

Rediscover the magic and romance of Valentine’s Day!

SEVEN JEWELS OF THE QUILL AUTHORS offer a story featuring a token of love—possibly small, but straight from the heart!

A collection of love stories for readers to enjoy on Valentine’s Day...or any day of the year!

A Rose for Romeo (Adventures in Amethyst Series) {contemporary romance} by Karen Wiesner (Dame Amethyst): What happens when a nationally renowned sex therapist and author begins to abhor every aspect of her successful occupation? She falls in love, of course. Dr. Melina Rose is sick of discussing, listening to, and writing about sex. She’s spent her life avoiding intimacy in her own personal life. After abandoning everything she’s worked all her life for, she returns to the small, peaceful town of Amethyst, Wisconsin she grew up in only to discover that everything has changed—everything except her crush on her sister’s old boyfriend Scott “Romeo” Romero.

The Sheriff Takes a Wife {contemporary romance} by Nancy Pirri (Dame Sapphire): After arriving home from her last modeling job, twenty-seven year old city woman, Summer Sanders discovers her young sister, Autumn, has left a note that she’s moved to Minnesota based on an advertisement in the newspaper: “Harmon Junction, Minnesota is looking for brides.” Summer has no choice but to try to stop her sister from making what could be the biggest mistake of her life. Summer’s first ‘taste’ of Harmon Junction is a run-in with the local sheriff, Nathaniel Whitefeather, who immediately issues her a speeding ticket. When he runs her license, he discovers California has revoked her driver’s license because of the non-payment of several speeding and parking tickets. The sheriff informs her that he’s obliged to place her under arrest until she pays off all of the tickets. Summer finds Nathaniel as infuriating as he is gorgeous, and the sparks fly between them each time they’re together. But she has a whole different life waiting for her in Monterey. Can she give up her plans for the sheriff who’s determined to get her locked up in his jail—or in his heart?

Penelope’s Problem {romantic comedy} by Julie Skerven (Dame Peridot): A carefree, hippy chick in the process of closing her Home Help Agency meets a conservative Assistant District Attorney. He needs a home-helper pronto because his mother is being ejected from her retirement home for instigating a food fight. Mix a matchmaking mother and a crystal ball and what do you have? Penelope’s problem.

Desert Rose {romance} by Carrie S. Masek (Dame Topaz): In the winter of 1991, an emotionally scarred young widow is determined not to become romantically involved with anyone, particularly not the sexy Marine sergeant who storms into her convenience store and accuses her of selling booze to his underage men. With the help of her two small children, he persuades her to let love back into her life, only to have Operation Desert Storm threaten to steal it from her forever.

Heart of Stone {paranormal suspense} by Special Guest Jewel Karen Woods: Geologist Katie McCord is being stalked by a person or persons unknown. When threatening deliveries are made to her rock shop, her brother-in-law, the local chief of police, calls in the only man who can help—Katie’s estranged husband, Army Ranger, Colonel Steve Moore. The only thing Katie wants more than never to see Steve again is his love. With both Katie and Steve united in the goal of keeping Katie safe, can the two of them survive long enough to work out their problems?

The Sting of Love {contemporary humorous romance} by Barbara Raffin (Dame Jade): Forest Ranger Kelly Jackson has been given the fluff job of babysitting Hollywood’s latest action star as he researches his next movie. When Zack Archer doesn’t follow her orders and falls into a ground hornets’ nest, she figures she can kiss good-bye her chances for advancement in the job she loves. But Zack proves to be a far more genuine article than she expects from a Hollywood action-adventure star.

Heart of Grace (Angels On Patrol Series) {paranormal romantic comedy} by Michele Bardsley (Dame Obsidian): The dream of every heart is love...Grace Talbot’s idea of opening a home for down-on-their-luck expectant mothers is crushed by the cold heart and legal rigmarole of lawyer Cal Malloy. Cal has his own reasons for buying the house and property currently occupied by Grace and several very pregnant women. He may be known in the business world as the Iceman, but when it comes to pretty, defiant Grace, his cool exterior melts away. Little does Cal or Grace know that an angel named Sophie is playing matchmaker...and when love’s on the line, she aims straight for the heart.

A Rose for Romeo by Karen Wiesner
A delightful short story by Karen Wiesner, A Rose for Romeo is one of those short stories that doesn’t leave you feeling unsatisfied.

Dr. Melina Rose closes her successful sex therapist practice to start her life anew. Dissatisfied with where her life has gone, she decides to return to her hometown, Amethyst, Wisconsin. Her only wish is to purchase her dream house and live a quiet uneventful life. Her dream seems not to be when she realizes that her dream house has been purchased by someone else. Scott “ Romeo” Romero is the lucky owner. He was also the only guy that Melina had ever loved. When she left Amethyst at eighteen she also left behind Scott. Can Melina find the strength to let Scott back into her heart?

I found myself falling a little in love with Scott. He is one of those truly genuine heroes. And Melina was so , dare I say it, sweet. This was a, ha ha, sweet short story that left me smiling.

The Sheriff Takes a Wife by Nancy Pirri
What a unique story for this day and age. Author Nancy Pirri writes about a small town of bachelors in search of wives. So desperate are the men of Harmon Junction, they take out an ad.

Summer Sanders is a high class model, and her sister has decided to answer the ad. So Summer goes to Harmon Junction determined to drag her back home. When she arrives she assumes the worst. That is until she gets arrested by the hunky local sheriff.

This is one of those stories where opposites definitely attract, and then butt heads. While not filled with scorching heat there was definitely passion. I loved watching Nathaniel and Summer fumble about in their path towards true love. It was a delightful story and I would love to read more of Nancy Pirri’s work.

Penelope’s Problem by Julie Skerven
Short and Sweet! Penelope is a free spirit, Lance is incredibly uptight. When Lance’s mother needs an in home caregiver, he hires Penelope. She isn’t his first choice, she is his only choice. Can a repressed District Attorney and a carefree girl find true love?

A nice, quick offering from Julie Skerven, who managed in just a few pages to develop two in depth characters that I really cheered for. I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Desert Rose by Carrie S Masek
When single mother Rose Hendricks meets marine Jack Rollins, he accuses her of selling alcohol to underage soldiers. Rose sets Jack straight on what really happened and he asks her out on a date. Not the response Rose was expecting. She isn’t looking for love, but there is something about Jack that pulls at Rose. When Jack is suddenly reassigned Rose must come to terms with her feelings for him.

I found this story especially touching. Carrie S. Masek wrote a charming and unassuming hero and a very strong heroine. I also loved the fact that she makes Jack a bit shy. Another of the Jewel authors I would love to see more from.

Heart of Stone by Karen Woods
Heart of Stone was not your typical romance story. The two main characters are already married. But Kate has always felt as though she was taking something away from her husband, Steve, an Army Ranger stationed overseas. An accident as a child has left Kate unable to have children. When Kate starts receiving threats from an anonymous person, Steve comes home to protect her. Can they mend the cracks that have formed in their marriage?

Karen Woods defiantly likes to throw twists into her stories, because there is a definite twist to this one. Read this heartwarming and unique short story to find out what makes Kate and Steve so special.

The Sting of Love by Barbara Raffin
The only thing I didn’t like about this story was the length. It was too short for my taste. Forest Ranger Kelly Jackson gets the enviable job of babysitting action star Zack Archer, while he researches a movie . When things go wrong, she starts to wonder if she will have a job on the morning. But, Zack has a surprise for Kelly. I liked the characters and having an action hero embarrass himself in such a funny fashion was very clever. I just wish it was a tad bit longer.

Heart of Grace by Michele Bardsley
I smiled while reading this story. I got all tingly with warmth, I sighed and almost cried. Whew, what a great story.

Grace Talbot has one dream, to open a shelter for down-on-their-luck expectant mothers. But Cal Malloy buys the run down house she shares with three pregnant women , and sends her an eviction notice. Grace’s dreams are shattered. Or are they? Grace decides that she can be just as underhanded as Cal. Can Grace and Cal find love? With a little luck and the help an angel named Sophie true love is just around the corner.

Michele Bardsley wrote a truly heartwarming story about love in all forms. This one will make you sigh and maybe even cry and I can’t wait to read what comes next from this author!

Review by Zinnia