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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Between Floors

Between Floors by Beate Boeker
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short story
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Hibiscus

Sarah can't resist a swim in the luxurious pool of the Grand Excelsior Hotel, though she hates to return to her room in a bathrobe, dripping wet. Just as she braves the elevator, a gorgeous man joins her. Sarah curses her luck and pretends to disappear into thin air, when all at once, the elevator gets stuck . . .

I just loved this story. I could totally picture it happening as I've shared an elevator with people going to the spa in hotel robes and slippers. Everyone at one time or another has had the elevator not stop on their floor or go down instead of up.

Sarah is a doctor with a fear of elevators. The elevator she gets on goes back down instead of up. She then gets company on the elevator in the form of Marc Brandin, head-hunter. The tension in the elevator can be cut with a knife as you read of Sarah's unease. Then the elevator gets stuck.

I enjoyed the conversation between Marc and Sarah as Marc tries to get Sarah to relax. Ms. Boeker writes sharp, witty conversations that had me laughing at times. I learned intimate details about the characters that I didn't expect to in a short story. The ending was a little quick but I enjoyed the very end. It reminded me of an old 40's movie. Very suggestive. It lets your mind run with it.

I really enjoyed this story and look forward to reading more from Ms. Boeker.

Table for Two

Table for Two by Meg Allison
Publisher: By Grace Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Orange Blossom

Sandra Larsen and David Jenkins have nothing in common—except that their best friends just got married.

Despite their petty bickering and sarcastic barbs, David has fallen head-over-heels for the feisty restaurant critic. He has one week to convince her they should share a permanent table for two.

If you’ve never read a book by Meg Allison, you really should give Table for Two a try. I’ve actually read two other books from this author and once again she delivered a well-written and appealing read.

The heated tension between Sandra and Dave at the onset was conveyed in such a way as to be foreshadowing of the passion that lay just below the surface. As the story progressed and they grew closer to knowing the true person below the prickles, it became apparent how this story would play out; but it was done so masterfully that you just had to keep turning those pages or, in my case, keep pressing the button on my PDA, to see it to the conclusion. I did read this in one sitting and I rarely ever do that.

Table for Two is a sweet read but more than that it is an engaging tale of two people who just needed to take the time to get to know one another. It seems these days most readers are looking for a spicy sci-fi or fantasy book to read. But I must say that this charming contemporary story is one I recommend highly.

NovelTea Next Door

NovelTea Next Door by Cindy K. Green
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short
Heat level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by Bluebell

Second in the NovelTea Series: Government agent Grant Gerard knows he’s cocky. It’s the reason he can do this job day after day. He’s always kept his life simple and uncomplicated…until destiny took a turn when he met bookstore/tea shop owner Juliet Truesdale.

Armed with a new lead pertaining to known criminal spook, Alexis Guthrie, Grant enlists Juliet to aid the investigation which ends up at the door of her neighbor, Adam Trudeau. This investment banker neighbor of hers seems harmless enough despite his annoying interest in Juliet. Will this turn of events only usher in more dangerous or even deadly situations for the duo? Can Grant allow Juliet into his heart and keep her safe from the danger looming in the distance?

Hot on the trail of international criminal Alexis Guthrie, government agent Grant Gerard is delighted to find out that Guthrie’s possible link to his investment banker in Rolling Hills lives just next door to trainee secret agent and bookstore/tea shop owner, Juliet Truesdale. As sweet Juliet is Grant Hill's idea of perfection, he decides to partner with her in order to gain access into her heart as well as into her next door neighbor Adam Trudeau’s apartment. Can he keep his mind on the job when a serious distraction is standing close by?

Grant seems like the suave, sensible albeit cocky spy we all love to fantasize about. He made me laugh along with him as he stealthily intercepted the Chinese take out guy and taught Juliet how to pickpocket. He has many cards up his sleeve and I would love to see all of them. Juliet is a darling. Her simple nature and quick brain won me over in minutes. Their relationship has a solid base and a refreshing feel. The sparks can definitely be felt between them and the conversation is never stilted.

Even though everything happens at a fast pace you never feel rushed as your heart is pounding along with lead pair’s as they are madly dashing after the bad guy. Not even once did I complain about the first person perspective as I normally do; it just seemed fit for a story like this. I love the way the plot balanced the romantic relationship and the proceedings in the case. I must admit that their moves made me a little nervous at times as I was wondering whether they would make it or would get caught. The flow never got interrupted and I never left my seat before the adventure ended. Ms. Green knows how to end a book to keep her readers wanting more. NovelTea Next Door keeps you on edge and interested the whole time. The NovelTea Series has all the right ingredients of a winner series. I just hate that I have to wait to find out what happens next!

My Eyes Only

My Eyes Only by Judith Otto
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Historical, Young Adult
Length: Full
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Snapdragon

Childhood relinquishes its grip as the 1950s lure Mandy Rossiter into adolescence. For Mandy it is a time of comparing her body’s physical changes with that of her peers. When a classmate “gets into trouble” and old wives tales flourish.

Mandy feels robbed of identity as her friends wear makeup and trousers and her parents hold old-fashioned views.

Then one day an older boy pursues Mandy. The type her father forbids her to see, wearing stovepipes, slicked back hair, smart-ass, dressed all in black.

It is a time of young love. Of temptation. And betrayal.

Mandy’s story begins with the gift of a diary and her friend Peggy’s Big Secret.

Meant for her eyes only.

My Eyes Only is a compelling read, whether you are a young adult or older. This work is evocative, annoying, and utterly impossible to put down. The main character – who is in many ways a typical 1950s teenager – is frequently not admirable. Mandy seems to lack a moral code of conduct. She’s frequently coarse about topics we’d like, for niceness’ sake, to be a little more circumspect about. The story, from the outset, does not fit perfectly into any classic genre, but blends several.

The easy to identify with main character you will dislike, admire, and be fearful for (sometimes all at once.) There are a lot of elements to this story; it could easily be labeled the classic young-person’s journey/coming of age story, but the elements of romance and incredible interactions of various characters (some nice, some not so nice,) are terrifically important. Friendship – and how we treated our friends, is important; and this reminds us.

This book offers a perspective on the world’s expectations and on human interaction from the perspective of a teen. Confusion, self-doubt, self-consciousness make for an uncomfortable read at times – but it’s a discomfort you might well identify with, or at least, remember. And, although we foresee all kinds of doom for Mandy as she makes poor choices, there is that chance that she could develop into a nice person. She just might find that person who makes her want to do all the right things… for all the right reasons.

This work takes so many unexpected turns, and visits things like risk, betrayal, anger, and grief, all alongside self-discovery. Truth is, I can’t say I loved this book – but I read every word in one go, and I’ll not soon forget it.

Less Than Perfect Family

Less Than Perfect Family by Betty Hanawa
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Snapdragon

A bitter divorce has Sam Michaels wary of commitment. His friendship with Janie McDaniel is no more than whipped cream on the satisfying life he enjoys. Widowed Janie McDaniel is content with her life with her son. She’s not going to risk her friendship with Sam with a brief fling. When Sam’s daughter is killed in a traffic accident and his ex-wife sues for custody of his beloved granddaughter, Sam persuades Janie to marry him to ensure a two-parent family for Family Court. Now can the friendship they treasure stand up under the strain of trying to form a family?

Ms. Hanawa evokes an array of a warm emotions, in the midst of a continuing and subtle sense of fun.

The characters, dialogue and setting all lend this an entirely believable air – it is like glancing over at the very nice neighbors next door., and imagining a bit more than you actually see.

Janie, the main character, is one of those amazingly admirable heroines who is still very human, and real. Her day-to-day life might be anyone’s. The story opens with a slight dilemma…but very quickly, Janie’s greater challenges and past tragedies are exposed. Yet, she is a person forcing herself to cope, and is dedicated to her job. As a children’s writer, Janie has a very devoted group of fans; and perhaps a special understanding of children.

Janie’s sense of fun is strong throughout – and her quick banter moves the storyline forward. There is an underlying sorrow though.

Handsome (and vibrant) Sam, a grandfather, becomes important to her all too quickly. His sense of fun is a match for hers. Their powerful mutual attraction is undeniable –but each of them have lives and entanglements that they might choose to allow to impede a further relationship – a relationship that might just prove to be a little beyond steamy. However, The primary concern in each of their lives are the children in their lives. Child-related problems and misunderstandings will prove to be only their first trial. Although it may seem a tale of ordinary lives, this story is far from predictable. The intimate scenes are incredibly well-crafted.

Betty Hanawa has crafted an heartwarming tale about two people who completely treasure one another as friends – but can their relationship tolerate something more? Or do they risk a friendship that is deeply important to both of them? Less than Perfect Family is very simply a delight.

Jewel of the Adriatic

Jewel of the Adriatic by K.M. Daughters
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Honeysuckle

What happens when a nightgown model and a soap opera star meet in a Croatian village where millions believe the Mother of God appears to three visionaries?
Yugoslavian born Maya Lidovic owns Intimate Whispers, a New York based sleepwear company. Determined not to lose her faith in a secular world, she spends her vacations leading tours in Valselo where her parents run an inn.

Colin O'Reilly plays heartthrob, Dr. Brock Stone, on the soap opera Tides Of Tomorrow. Through various setbacks in life he's managed to keep God first. But now he's furious at God for taking his mother. Colin doesn't believe that God has sent the Virgin Mary to earth with messages of hope. He doesn't believe that God cares about the world.

Can a series of apparitions, prophetic dreams and earthy attraction draw these different people together when human frailties obscure the intention of the call that brought them to their destinies?

K.M. Daughters has written a lovely story of faith lost and regained, of love created and blessed by this faith.

When Colin agrees to accompany his elderly aunt on her annual pilgrimage in place of his mother, who recently died, he does it strictly out of love for her, refusing to allow a crack in his armor against religion.

Maya dearly loved Maggie O’Reilly and is overjoyed to see her son taking his mother’s place on the journey. She finds, however, that he is holding his feelings close, being deliberately disagreeable and not nearly as faithful as he should be. Maya, in her quiet, loving way, begins to chip away at his amour, with or without the benefit of his knowledge.

I so identified with this narrative right from the beginning, having once lost my own faith. The story is credible and well written. Colin O’Reilly is a wonderful hero who makes you sit up and take notice. Not an overly-macho, muscle-bound alpha, but a quiet, thoughtful man, a mental alpha, deep in his soul. I have to give this story 4 books.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Touch of Heaven

A Touch of Heaven by Gina Ardito
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Hibiscus

An Angel With a Bruised Spirit... After a humiliating breakup, Gianna Randazzo temporarily works at her family's pizzeria and rescues the stray cats that appear on her doorstep. Until the night the stray on her doorstep turns out to be a man!

A Devil's Bargain... With educated speech and sterling manners, Kyle Hayden isn't the average homeless man. Touched by his situation, Gianna offers him a place to stay and a job. And when he cleans up to reveal a super- hunk, he's the perfect phony, doting boyfriend to escort Gianna to her ex's upcoming wedding. Or maybe this time, love could be for real.

Hell Breaks Loose... Until the truth comes out. For while Gianna dreams of happily ever after, Kyle will soon return to the life he left behind--a life that won't include Gianna. Unless he can regain her trust and show her... A Little Slice of Heaven

I just loved this story. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy. I felt that I was part of the family. Most of the action takes place in the Randazzo family pizzeria, Villa Mare. We have a wide cast of characters who add to the story, each in their own way. From the ROMEO'S, who all want to take care of Gianna to Claudio, Sal and Hayley, to Brittany of the purple hair. Each helped me understand more of Gianna and Kyle and bring some very funny dialogue into play.

This is a Cinderella/Prince Charming story but the parts are twisted and turned and then flipped and flopped. For a reason you do not learn of until the end, Kyle Hayden is down on his luck and trying to make a living on his own. Gianna Randazzo is a soft touch for anything that is wounded and looking of a helping hand in spite of her own hurts. I loved how the story developed between Gianna and Kyle. I could see the romance develop and felt the emotions of both. With a little help from the surrounding characters, Kyle agrees to escort Gianna to her ex's wedding. There is cute fairy godmother-ish stuff that happens. Kyle is her knight in silver armor at the wedding. In typical fairy tale style, evil things occurs to throw a curve but I've read Cinderella many times and don't have to tell you how it ends.

If you're a fan of sweet, clever romance, you won't want to miss A Little Slice of Heaven!

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover

50 Ways to Hex Your Lover by Linda Wisdom
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Poppy

The sizzling love affair between Jazz and Nick has been off-again-on-again-for about 300 years. Mostly off, lately. But now Nick needs Jazz’s help, and while Jazz and Nick try to figure out their own hearts and resist their ever-increasing attraction, they must steer clear of a maniacal killer with super-supernatural powers. They are surrounded by a hilarious cast of oddball paranormal characters, including Norma, the chain-smoking ghost who haunts Jazz’s sports car, Dweezil, her ghoul of a boss, and Fluff and Puff, a pair of bunny slippers with sharp teeth and short tempers (watch your ankles!).

Looking for some hot fun with a touch of romance? Then this is the book for you!

Jazz, a 700 year old witch who is in exile on Earth (of a sort -- an imagined earth where paranormal beings share an uneasy co-existence with humans) and who has an on again/off again sexual relationship with vampire, Nick Gregory. Witches and vampires do NOT like each other at all, so their relationship is a big anomaly for them, especially since -- during sex, Nick is desperate to bite, but can't because witch blood can kill him.

It's been 70 years or so since their last encounter, and Jazz isn't feeling too friendly toward Nick. So when he looks her up, she expresses her feelings with a few scorching fireballs (which get her in trouble with the witch council, and add to the days of her exile). Still, he's insistent because vampires are disappearing and Nick thinks it has to do with a man Jazz thought she'd killed seven decades earlier.

The author has scads of interesting secondary characters, including Fluff and Puff -- the man-(and pretty much anything else) eating bunny slippers; Irma -- the ghost trapped in Jazz's vintage car; Krebs -- the human roommate who builds web pages for vampire dating services; Dweezil -- her creature boss, and many, many more.

And, if the story is a bit slow to start, and if Ms. Wisdom takes a while to really get rolling on the plot that should be driving the story (either the mystery or the romance, take your pick), the clever interaction between characters was enough to keep me reading. The heat between Nick and Jazz was very well written as well, and you can feel Jazz's indecision, frustration and understandable hesitation to start up with Nick again, given how badly their times together have always ended.

The love scenes are hot, hot, hot and utterly believable; and fairly calm, mostly centered Nick is a perfect foil to emotional Jazz, who frequently annoys Mother Nature by allowing her temper to flare and cause thunder rumbles where they have no business rumbling. I truly don't understand why Jazz keeps Fluff and Puff, since they seem to serve absolutely no purpose other than strange comic relief and general annoyance of the other characters (especially Krebs), but maybe that will either change or be explained. I'm madly in love with Krebs -- and I hope he gets his own story someday.

Truthfully, this was a tough book to review. So many characters are involved, so much is happening that it's hard to describe exactly why I liked this book as much as I did. But, fact is, all-in-all 50 Ways to Hex your Lover was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

On the Run

On the Run by Judith Rochelle
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Hollyhock

When Robin Fleming witnesses the murder of her sister, Jamie, her only thought is to grab her nephew and run, from her vicious brother-in-law. Running and hiding, covering their tracks, they eventually settle in Memphis to begin a new life. Robin, now Laura, though still grieving for her sister, is determined to make a good life for her nephew. Then illness hits Andy, and while Laura is dealing with that crisis, bad luck and unfortunate circumstances bring all the players together again and endanger everyone’s lives. Can Dr. Gage Hollander, who has fallen in love with Laura, find a way to save them?

By the second page of this book, I was very intrigued. This story did not take long to get started on the excitement. It would be so hard to be on the run and try to find a life you could live that would include romance and love but this author makes you believe you can overcome anything and hurdle mountains. It starts out right away with the murder. I fell in love with Robin and Bobby right from the beginning and hated C.D. just as much. It seems like you should reach out and introduce yourself to the characters, the author is so adept at describing the people and places.

There were a few minor typographical errors to overlook but not enough to detour from my eagerness to find out what happens next. In one part it states Robin hadn’t been there long but then in the next couple paragraphs it sounds like it has been months. I wasn't sure if I missed something in between or if it was just a mistake.

The author had such talent to describe the details so I actually felt like I was there. It’s like I was driving down the streets, afraid I was being followed by the villain. I felt as though I should look around the door or out the window to make sure nobody was there. This is an edge-of-your-seat story of a woman and her nephew’s difficult survival.

I did not want to quit reading until I had this story completed. This book was full of mystery, suspense and love. Whether it be suspense, mystery, romance or all three put together that you’re looking for, this is absolutely the book to read.

Dark Highland Fire

Dark Highland Fire by Kendra Leigh Castle
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Poppy

Gabriel MacInnes has led a charmed life. A Highland werewolf of Alpha lineage, he'd always thought that, as the second son, he would never have to worry much about responsibility. But with his Pack now squarely in the sights of an ancient and rediscovered enemy, everything has begun to change.

Exiled from the Drakkyn realm, on the run from the dragon prince who claims her as his own, the last thing Rowan an Morgaine wants is to deal with a bunch of overbearing shifters in the middle of nowhere. But when her hiding place on Earth is discovered, and with blood the only thing that can restore her waning power, the fiery demigoddess has little choice but to accept Gabriel as a protector ...

As the Earthly and Drakkyn realms converge, Gabriel and Rowan must decide how much they're willing to sacrifice for fate...and for one another.

Having read the first book in this series, Call of the Highland Moon, I couldn't wait to get my paws on this book! Gabriel was such fun in the first book, and I was all but foaming at the mouth to watch him find the one woman who could tame him. Rowan an Morgaine was up to the (very difficult) task.

Gabriel is a gorgeous man with a snarky, sarcastic sense of humor and is beyond stubborn. He also has women falling at his feet on a regular basis, so when Rowan is dropped into his arms (literally), and refuses to have anything to do with him, he's a bit gobsmacked. He's also incredibly turned on, and determined to have her despite the fact she's a nasty bloodsucker (and werewolves do NOT like vampires).

Yep that's right. Rowan is a vampire (of sorts) from a different realm who refuses to drink blood. And it's slowly killing her. Can I tell you how much I loved this woman? She was principled and bitchy and hot and sarcastic and just the perfect mate for Gabriel. However, Lucien (one of the villains from the first book) is equally sure that Rowan is his perfect mate and will do anything -- even make bargains with demons -- to have for his own.

So... what happens when you take a wildly sexy, stubborn werewolf who's certain Rowan is his mate, mix in a vampire demi-goddess who has already lost people she loved because of the warped desires of an evil dragon-shifter, and throw in Lucien (said dragon) who is more than a little imbalanced and already has a grudge against Gabriel's clan?

Lots of action. Excitement. Tension. And not a little humor. My absolute favorite part of this book -- a part that made me snort with laughter in an utterly un-ladylike fashion was when Rowan confronted Gabriel's ex-girlfriends. What a hoot!

Kendra Leigh Castle has penned another story with amazing characters, a fascinating and page-turning plot that was utterly unpredictable and some hot, hot, hot sexual tension! She even manages to help us understand why the villain does what he does, and by the end made me feel more than a little sorry for Lucien (enough to hope that he is redeemed). Also, Rowan's mysterious brother, Bastian -- do I dare to hope that his is the next book in the series?

This book stands alone nicely, and I don't believe you have to read the first, but I also highly recommend the initial book in this series -- not only because it was wonderful, but because it will make reading Dark Highland Fire even richer. Do yourself a favor and grab this book the moment it's available. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

To Tame a Cowgirl

To Tame a Cowgirl by Roni Adams
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Hibiscus

There has never been a hint of romance between long time buddies, Sara Sampson and Buck Weston--at least not as far as Sara knows. Buck, on the other hand, has wrestled with his strong feelings for her for a while now. Only his fear of losing their precious friendship makes him keep his heart's desire locked deep inside the relaxed, carefree exterier.

When Sara's father dies and stipulates in his will that she must marry Buck's older brother, Cord, or lose her life's goal--controlling interest of the Cattle Enterprise that is the Double B--Buck's left with two choice: risk his heart and best friend by telling Sarah how he feels or stand by and watch the love of his life marry his brother in order to secure what she has worked so hard to earn.

Will Sara choose to marry for love of the land or will she wake up in time to realize the one man who's always had her back, also has her heart?
Best friends forever. You grow up together, best friends. Just like brother and sister. When you do everything with each other, you sometimes forget to look and see what's under your nose. That is pretty much the story here.

Buck and Sara work and play together. There are four boys and four girls that are part of the Double B. It is pretty easy to see who will eventually pair up with who. The fun about this book is reading how Buck and Sara finally see each other. I loved the verbal sparing that went on between them. I laughed out loud when Sara commented in the bar about Buck's sex life. You could just feel the tension between them as things started to heat up. It was very well written and their relationship developed from friends to lovers in an unusual way. There were boyfriends and finances thrown in but the real bad guy was Satan, Sara's bull.

Ms. Adams has three more brothers and sisters to write about on this ranch. I know I'll be looking forward to reading more of her books. This one made me want to look in my own back yard and just made me feel good all over.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Reason to Believe

Reason to Believe by Leslie Ann Dennis
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Hibiscus

Lane Douglas is a die-hard realist, so when her superstitious grandfather tells her he will die if the tree planted long ago in his honor in Scotland is chopped down, she doesn't buy it for a second. But when her grandfather's health starts a downward slide, Lane hops on a plane and flies across the ocean to convince the landowner to spare the old, diseased oak. To her surprise the landowner is a devilishly handsome man named Conlan MacGregor. Practical Lane came prepared for a fight to save a silly tree, but she soon finds herself fighting to save her heart from falling under the magical charms of the hunky laird of Wolfscrag castle.

I found this to be a heartwarming story of love, family and belief. Lane is a strong business woman who loves her grandfather and would do anything for him. Unfortunately her grandfather, Poppa, believes his life is linked to an oak tree in Scotland. I found the grandfather to be both very sharp and very superstitious. He is able to twist the characters around to do his bidding throughout the story.

Conlan is a steady rock. He's been taking care of his family since he was eighteen years old. He is also a firm believer in Scottish tradition, superstitions, old tales and meanings of names. This leads to some fun conversations between Conlan and Lane. Conlan is very believable and stays true to character in the entire story. I had a hard time always believing Lane as she would keep getting rattled by tales of ghoulies and faeries. Not what I expected from a Texas businesswoman. Their romance was great. It developed quickly and the sparks keep flying through the story.

The story has pretty good secondary characters in the form of Conlan's brother Bayard and his sister Shannon. There is also the National Trust which wants to get its hands on Wolfscrag. Of all the minor characters, Poppa and Shannon played important parts in the story and were vital to the direction it took. Ms. Dennis wrote a very detailed book in which I could easily place myself.

Conlan and Lane are fated to be together in this heart-warming romantic tale which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

Curse of the Marhime

Curse of the Marhime by Dayana Knight
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

A routine visit to the grocery store and a chance encounter with a psychic plunges Pita Sedgwick into a dark world of shape-shifting, magic, and Gypsy lore. Pita finds herself on a plane to Romania, seeking the answers to her mysterious birth and in search of her biological family. Fate intervenes in the form of handsome seatmate, Niko Ionesciu. Pita is sure she’s found love and her history. But as her innocent fact-finding mission spirals into a dangerous game of revenge and deceit with the Gypsy Matriarch, the psychic’s words come back to haunt her. Can she trust the people around her with her terrifying secret or will the search for her family end in the ultimate betrayal?

Curse of the Marhime blends a strange, almost magical aura to contemporary times.

Pita Sedgwick has no need of fortune-tellers, but the one that accosts her so adamantly in the grocery store fills her with questions and foreboding. In moments, her ho-hum life begins to change. Ominous symbols reach out from her mostly hidden past. There is no doubt she is being warned – and perhaps called – but why? From the first moments, Pita’s life is intriguing, and the tense aura that builds around her is inescapable

Rich, sensual descriptions fill this work – from admiring the beautiful Montana sunsets to scrambling through dark forests – and Pita’s experiences are incredibly real and in the present. The sounds of crickets and tree frogs fill the night…as if it is any ordinary night – but the darkness will swell with possibility, and somehow, you will know something more is to happen. The first sign – a wolf – is a foreshadowing readers will grasp in a sensory, not so much cognitive way. The evocative quality of events, and sometimes just circumstances in this story, are exceptional.

Curiosity drives Pita (and the reader) to the fortune teller. She can only tell Pita so much, but undeniably, she can point her to old Romanian traditions – and a tale that Pita must uncover. Malevolence washes through these pages, as Pita – genuine in friendship, kind and believing herself to be from perfectly ordinary parents – sets off on a quest. She must rely first on her friends, but also, heavily, on a very special guide.

Throughout, Pita has a valuable friends, unexpected guides… and the love of her life (And he truly is a dream lover: wonderful heroic, and so much more than merely human – but I refuse to give away the magic of this particular secret!) But, will her quest supersede all?

This is not entirely a dark, sinister tale. There are some lighter moments, and certainly some wonderful, heartfelt and heartwarming moments: one of the most heart-wrenching is when Pita discovers the photographs of herself as a baby, with her family. She will remember the amazing blessing that her adoptive parents felt her to be. She will also feel that loss of family, and empathize with those who lost her.

In this unpredictable novel of love, desperation, and triumph, Dayana Knight has woven a thrilling and unpredictable tale. The pace is fast, descriptions clear, and the characters – even secondary characters – are wonderfully developed.

Cost of Freedom

Cost of Freedom by Carol A. Spradley
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Verbena

Abigail Matthews’ fate is decided the moment she pulls the trigger of the gun pointed at a British soldier. She is no longer seen as a devoted Loyalist to the Crown, but is marked as a traitor and faces a hangman’s noose. Already treading on dangerous ground with military smugglers, lifetime friend and Patriot William Jackson helps her flee the patrol. She reluctantly joins him on his Sons of Liberty assignment to Berkshire. They are soon embroiled in conspiracies involving hostile Loyalists and unstable Indian alliances. Abigail is forced to choose between her allegiance to Britain and her love for William. Her decision involves tremendous risks with an uncertain outcome, and she wonders if William’s dreams of a free nation are worth the cost. Cost of Freedom immerses the reader in the romance and intrigue of the rebel cause where capture means certain death . . . even for a woman.

This author has woven a brightly colored tapestry composed of real events with fictional characters. The thing that I liked the most was the feeling she created of the “tenor of the times.” Yes all Americans are aware of the events that took place between the Tories and the Patriots just prior to the Revolutionary War. But in this story you feel the pain of the Patriots, you are there during the Boston Massacre. You see to what lengths the Patriots went to strive for their freedom. You can feel the pull between choosing sides. You will also witness many of them giving all they had to give for their new country, sadly it was their lives.

The gentle love story between Abigail Matthews and William Jackson began in England where they grew up together. William is able to go to America and over the next six years Abigail loses track of him. When her mother sends her to the colonies she isn’t aware that she will be forced into taking her mother’s place in a marriage agreement. Abigail is portrayed as a young woman not aware of the dangers of the world. You’ll like her as I did because she tries to do what is expected of her in this new world but when cornered will fight for what she thinks is right. To describe her to you I would have to say she was beautiful but an innocent of the world, which is how the author portrays her.

When William and Abigail meet again in Boston, the attraction between them continues. William appears reticent, not sure of how he should involve Abigail if at all. The love story is sweet to witness between them. You are aware that the older brother Harrison is also in love with her but that is never pursued. “Nabby” is carefully protected from events happening around her by all that she meets. The many characters in the story have personal stories within the story. These are the stories that make that short passage in your history books come alive.

The book is a careful read. I found it made me very thoughtful about that part of history. The author makes the facts live for you. I highly recommend it to all.