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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Blue Gold by Lindsay Townsend

Blue Gold by Lindsay Townsend
Publisher: Siren Bookstrand
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (370 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Ancient Egypt, 1560 B.C.

Ruling Upper Egypt from Thebes, Pharaoh Sekenenre has many enemies. Aweserre, whose grandfather seized the crown of Lower Egypt. Kamose and Ahhotpe, his son and daughter, who plot to rule in his place. And, most dangerous, the storm-god Set.

It is a time of famine. To prosper a man must be civilized and ruthless. Ramose, priest and Vizier, is all of these. Kasa, a farmer, must learn to be like him to survive. Neith, wife of Ramose, is driven, first to drink, then to courage. Hathor, who killed her son, finds love, desertion, then a second chance at love. Tiyi, the gentle masseuse, is desired by many, but desires only one.

Watched by the gods of Egypt, the conflict reaches its climax in war. The pyramids, a thousand years old when the story begins, play a crucial part.

Behind all is the god, Set, with his question: 'What am I?'

[Epic Historical Romance. Contains non-consensual sex and sex between half-siblings.]

A sweeping epic set in ancient Egypt, this story encompasses life as it was lived then, told masterfully by Ms. Townsend. Her style is a little drawn out, but the detail is luxuriously embedded in a story so compelling the reader will not want the book to end.

What I love most about Ms. Townsend’s prose is the ability to give the reader an almost holographic entry into life and times long past. You smell the fear, feel the passion, the frustration and anger, and burn under a hot, unforgiving sun, among other delightful stirrings of the senses.

The story could have been shorter. Given the length and depth of the piece, I got lost more than once in the maze of people and places, the number of which makes the story at times difficult to follow.

All in all, Ms. Townsend gives us a well-researched, believable tale. Her talent is phenomenal and the breadth and scope of her work is to be applauded. I look forward to more of her work.

Coincidence by Rebecca Savage

Coincidence by Rebecca Savage
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary; Suspense
Length: Full
Heat: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Violet

Lori’s ex-fiancé framed her and made certain she went to prison in his stead. Now she’s out, and he wants to shut her up. He’s hired a man to stalk her, threaten her and tell her to leave the case closed and accept her fate.

Lori’s never been that obedient, and she believes in making her own fate. Her new friend Sal Tarentino is right there beside her, cheering her on.

Can they win? And find a way to turn their coincidental meeting into…happily ever after?

Lori is a woman scorned who will do whatever it takes to clear her name. Joseph, her ex-fiancé, had framed Lori and she served time in prison for that man. Lori lost everything that ever mattered to her: her friends, family and her fiancé. No longer would she take it lying down. On a quest to clear her name, Lori moves to a small town to live in seclusion when incidents start occurring to make her change her mind about reopening her case. What she hadn't counted on, though, was

Sal, a devilishly handsome attorney who has Lori reconsidering love once again. Sal will stop at nothing to show Lori, he will be there and will not hurt her. Can a love for the two of them survive her past?

Lori's character really spoke to me. She was a strong willed, sassy, brassy woman who had been wounded right to her soul. She used defense mechanisms to help her cope through situations she thought might become detrimental to herself. She definitely had the walls up around her heart but then along came Sal. Sal had to be one of my favorite characters in the book. He was a man determined to persevere through whatever Lori had to throw at him. He knew there was more to Lori than just a hard hearted woman. He was always there at the right time for Lori and tried to show her how to love again. Lori and Sal's characters brought to the story a combination of love and suspense. It was a story of determination, challenge, compassion and intimacy on a level other than the physical. The secondary characters in this book, like the brothers, really made me feel the bond. Each had the others' back.

Coincidence gripped me from the first page, and I was reading just as fast as I could. The plot line was amazing and I did not see the twists coming. The end of the book was breathtaking and jaw dropping. It ended in the most perfect way.

Rebecca Savage should be awarded for her unique way of capturing the hearts of her readers with suspense and drama. I enthusiastically recommend you read Coincidence for a suspense-filled read that will take you to another time and another place. You can expect to experience a variety of emotions throughout Coincidence. This book was very well written with humor, action, conflict and some very hot love scenes. Coincidence will not disappoint!

I will be rereading this book often. I would love to see this book become a series, perhaps a book for each of the brothers. I have found myself thinking about this book when I am not reading it and I love it when a book can do that to me. Ms. Savage, you can be proud of Coincidence and know that you have found a new fan in me!

Brought to Life by Dara England

Brought to Life by Dara England
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary; Paranormal
Length: Short (121 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Primrose

Megan's dashing Duke escapes from a novel into real life.

Megan Hurst's life has taken some unexpected turns: First she loses her heart to the dashing hero of a novel. And then she meets an amnesia victim who seems just like him.

The mysterious stranger needs her help to piece his past together, and the closer the two become, the more questions arise about his resemblance to a "fictional" character.

Megan's romantic feelings and her bizarre suspicions bring her to an impossible question... Has she dreamed the Duke to life?

"Brought to Life" is a charming story with a fairy tale feel that you can’t help but finish reading with a smile and a wistful sigh on your lips.

Megan is a currently unemployed starving artist. At her the prompting of her friend and roommate, Carlita, she starts to read a book entitled Noble Hearts. In this sappy, cliché-filled romance novel, Megan first encounters the Duke. As she reads on, she is drawn to the character.

Enter another man. One who happens to look just like the Duke in the book. A car hits him and Megan helps to get him to the hospital. The guy, whom Megan calls Duke, has lost his memory. And the few pieces that do come back to him, bear a striking resemble to the character Duke. When Duke mentions that he knows the book, Megan realizes that she can’t tell truth from fiction. And as she starts to fall for him, maybe she doesn’t want to.

Many characters are introduced in the story. I can’t mention them all but every single one is three-dimensional, with quirks and flaws, and quite likeable. People you could see yourself being friends with. Carlita doesn’t want Megan to get hurt. Megan just wants to be happy. Duke, well, he’s a mystery. You’ll have to read it to find out more about him.

"Brought to Life" is a quick, fun, enjoyable read. And as you dive deeper into the novel, you’ll have a hard time putting it down. The ending is the best part and will cause you to want to find a Duke of your own to kiss.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Till September by Jana Richards

Till September by Jana Richards
Publisher: Awe-Struck EBooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (150+ pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Edelweiss

The longer Quinn Anderson stays at the bed and breakfast on Hannah Kramer’s farm, the more she finds herself drawn to him. For the first time since her husband’s death, she can imagine herself with another man. But then she discovers the truth about Quinn’s purpose in Saskatchewan. He’s there to buy farmland from her cash-strapped friends and neighbors and resell it to foreign buyers. How can she love a man bent on destroying the people she cares about and a way of life she loves? How can Quinn convince her that he wants to build her community instead of destroying it? Can he make her believe he loves her before time runs out in September?

Hannah is a young farm widow with a grade school son and she has just turned her homestead into a bed-and-breakfast. When Quinn shows up, looking for accommodations, they are immediately attracted to each other. They agree on an arrangement in which Quinn stays the summer as a boarder, meals included, in exchange for heavy part-time work on the place’s upkeep. The attraction they feel quickly builds a head of steam, but a lie stands between them. Unknown to Hannah, Quinn is really an agent for a land development company, one Hannah already despises, that is looking to buy up some of the area farms. Quinn’s initial impulse to withhold his true purpose for being there turns into a fascinating web of deceit that constantly, and suspensefully, threatens to topple their relationship.

The characters are engaging and easy to relate to. Quinn is an ethical agent, intent to giving fair value for land much in demand by other families. Hannah’s attraction to the handsome stranger is tempered by loyalty to her husband’s memory, by a desire to succeed as an independent businesswoman, and by something else: a desire to fulfill promises made to family members about disposition of the land.

The story is not without small weaknesses. There is a boss/subordinate relationship that many readers (who have had bosses) will find unrealistic. And some of the tension in the first few chapters seems premature. Hannah expresses fear of losing Quinn before she really falls for him. Then later on, the characters, especially the minor ones, have this consistent tendency of reading each others minds. But these are minor quibbles compared to the suspense deliciously constructed around resolution of the main plot line, made more tantalizing by interesting subplots.

This story gives a touching view of farm life: its moments of beauty, of belonging, of tradition, its demanding workload, its pressing risks of failure, all punctuated by an overriding love of the land, hence a desire to keep it despite gathering hard times. And the book features well written prose. Parts of the scenes are beautifully rendered, giving us a sense of poignant rural stillness.

Storm Chasing by Donica Covey

Storm Chasing by Donica Covey
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Paranormal; Fantasy
Length: Full (201 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Orange Blossom

There’s a storm brewing and the race is on—will it be love or a natural disaster…

Storm Duile is what they call an Elemental; a witch with special powers over one of the four aspects of nature, in her case, air. Her sisters have issued a challenge: Be the first one to find a mortal in her element, make him fall in love and propose. She's sure she can be the first one; she just has to find the right mortal.

Enter Vance Nodin a storm chaser for the National Weather Service working out of Red Cabin Oklahoma. He's too preoccupied in his research developing a new severe weather early warning device to be bothered with a little thing like love.

When they meet, lightening crashes and Storm is set to stir the air with this hunky weatherman. Can she win the contest or will her heart be blown away?

Come along for the ride in Storm Chasing--a story both comic and seductive with witches, storms, talking familiars and a sexy adventurer/scientist.

This second book in the Elemental Desires Series by Donica Covey begins exactly like the first with the four sisters meeting at a local mortal eating establishment and making the challenge between them to have a mortal fall in love with her. Except this time the scene is written from the perspective of the eldest sister, Storm, who is the elemental of the air. (Must be tough being a witch with this much time on her hands.)

The hero of the story (Vance) calls Storm ‘a wild and free spirit.’ And that is Storm to a T. She embodies the characteristics of her element. Her emotions are as unpredictable as the weather she has power over. Storm is very confident at being able to entrap an unsuspecting mortal. After having read two of these books, I get the feeling that these witches don’t know or understand mortals or the mortal realm very well. But once they dip their finger into the mortal pool they no longer wish to return to things as normal. It was quite fun watching Storm not only fall in love against her wishes but also try to conform to normality on earth. Things like getting a job, cooking dinner or even driving a car.

I love that this series is written about smart (yet sexy) men--scientific men. They are Alpha mixed with Beta so I guess that makes them Gammas. Ms. Covey shows us that smart is sexy--at least I found myself more attracted to a man with a brain. It isn’t all about the body, ladies. Vance may be a man of science (a meteorologist) but he’s also an adventurer seeking out to tame those unpredictable tornadoes. And maybe he’ll find a way to tame Storm too.

In my last review, I compared the Elemental Series to the tv show Bewitched and in this sequel the author actually has her heroine watching that particular show on the television. Priceless! I loved it! If you like your paranormals with a humorous flare, witches who control the elements and fall in love like the rest of us then make sure to read Storm Chasing. Curl up with it close to the fire on a cold, stormy night. It’s sure to keep you warm.

Blood's Price by Colleen Love

Blood's Price by Colleen Love
Publisher: Absolute XPress
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (176 pgs)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewd by Poinsettia

Two cultures, two lives, one path.

Rendered helpless, captured and stripped, Elizabeth Smythe is taken away from her privileged life and everything she knows. Her captor, Spirit Walker, treats her with gentle compassion, winning her trust and love. Elizabeth discovers Spirit Walker is so much more then just a strong man and beautiful Earth Spirit.

When Spirit Walker receives word a woman he admires has been given to a neighboring tribe to dispose of, he rescues her. Despite not knowing who or what he is, she shows neither fear nor weakness toward him or her fate. Her strength earns his respect and more important, his heart. Opposition from both of their cultures tries to separate them. Can their love withstand the heat?

Elizabeth Smythe and Spirit Walker come from two different worlds, but when fate brings them together, it isn’t long before the embers of attraction burst into a passionate fire.

As the story opens, Elizabeth wakes up to find that she’s been abducted by a group of Native Americans, but has no memory of how or why she was taken. She’s soon given to a man named Spirit Walker, a Native American who was raised by a white family before he returned to his tribe. His work as an emissary between the two cultures first brought Elizabeth to his notice, though she doesn’t remember him.

Spirit Walker takes Elizabeth farther away from the life she has always known. Despite her circumstance, Elizabeth remains strong. Her courage serves to further endear her to Spirit Walker, who has always admired her from afar. Respect quickly turns to love, but their journey will not be an easy one. Will the elders of Spirit Walker’s tribe accept Elizabeth? What will Spirit Walker’s white family and the white community in general think of their union? These are just a couple of the obstacles Elizabeth and Spirit Walker face on the path to their happily ever after.

First, I must mention how greatly I enjoyed Ms. Love’s descriptions. “Thick darkness shrouded the world in a stifling and sticky blanket. The ink of night replaced the sweltering heat of the sun, offering little respite.” Descriptions like this pulled me into the story so that I could actually feel the night around me.

As a heroine, Elizabeth was very likable. She’s caring, strong, and independent. Even though she feared for her life when she discovered she’d been abducted, she never showed it. Her courage was inspiring. Spirit Walker seemed a little harsh at first, but it wasn’t long before his gentle nature was revealed.

I did have a couple of issues with the story. The first was the speed with which Elizabeth and Spirit Walker’s relationship became physical. Even though Spirit Walker has admired Elizabeth for a while, he doesn’t really know her, and she certainly doesn’t know anything about him. They didn’t speak to each other at all during their first few days together. After Spirit Walker revealed he could speak English, he explained how and why she was taken, and how he rescued her. A day later their relationship became physical. I would have liked to have seen more sexual tension as they got to know each other better. In my opinion, that would have made the love scenes even more intense and meaningful.

The villains were my other issue with the story. Their reasons for hating Elizabeth and Spirit Walker were simple, and resolved or explained away very quickly. I would have liked to see these conflicts and the clash between the white culture and the Native American culture explored a bit more in depth.

Despite those problems, I truly enjoyed reading Blood’s Price. The main characters were likable, and their devotion to each other was moving. Anyone who enjoys a touching romance filled with spicy love scenes should pick up a copy of Blood’s Price today.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Sealed With a Promise by Mary Margret Daughtridge

Sealed With a Promise by Mary Margret Daughtridge
Publisher: Source Books, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (363 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Camellia

Can the strength of her love temper his need for revenge?

Navy SEAL Caleb Delaude had a less-than-ideal childhood. His biological father abandoned his family at Caleb's birth and left them to a life of poverty, refusing to help even as his mother lay dying. So when he is assigned to protect the powerful senator who he suspects is his father, his vicious grudge turns into a strong urge for revenge.

But then he meets biology professor Emmie Caddington, a close friend of the senator's daughter. He thinks he'll use her to spring the secret of his illegitimate birth on the senator's unsuspecting family, but his interest in Emmie begins to get complicated.

He's a SEAL 24/7, and that doesn't leave much time for women or love. Her fascination with him finally makes him feel good about himself, but when the truth finally comes out, will their budding relationship be nothing more than a means to revenge... or is she the key to his salvation?

SEAL, alpha male, genius Chief Petty Officer Caleb Dulaude aka “Do Lord” finds Emmie, his perfect ticket into high society where he needs to be to fulfill a promise made at age fifteen. As best man for his friend and commanding officer, he meets her and makes plans. Battle hardened, not averse to lying to complete a mission, yet having a unique integrity, Caleb makes an intriguing hero. He says he is an “Alabama cracker raised in a trailer located on the hind end of nowhere” which may be true but is far from who he really is at this time in his life. He learned to be tough, streetwise, and pragmatic at an early age. He came to believe in honor, accountability, trust, and pride through his training as a SEAL. The vulnerability, longings, and sensuousness that Ms. Daughtridge reveals about him along with his ability to be in two realities at the same time makes him even more complex. Yet, his obsession with Senator Teague Calhoun is the flaw that threatens to be his undoing.

The bridesmaid Emmie, ugly duckling among swans, is Caleb’s perfect ticket. Unassuming, academic, and an expert at fading into the background, she has a poor opinion of jocks “who have a sense of entitlement and are unwilling to take seriously anything that didn’t directly impact their own egos”—a category she feels the arrogant SEALs fit into. She has many facets to her personality that emerge as the story unfolds, facets that she is not aware of because of self-esteem issues that started when she was twelve years old. Her loyalty and willingness to go to any length to help those she loves is beautifully depicted by Ms. Daughtridge’s smooth, unobtrusive writing style. The metamorphosis of Emmie is amazing, the emotional, physical, and social change in Emmie lifts the spirit and makes one want to cheer. She is “priceless” in so many ways not the least of which is her sense of humor that astounds.

Mary Margret Daughtridge’s descriptions awaken the senses to a level that makes a reader gasp for breath and sigh with satisfactions. Primal and earthy at times, sensual, enchanting, and tender at others, the love scenes simmer, sizzle, and soar. The mirror scene is truly magically and tells so much about both Emmie and Caleb.

Some of the secondary characters such as Aunt Lilly Hale, Pickett, Grace, and Vicky add depth to the happenings in Sealed With A Promise. Family values, friends’ unswerving loyalty, and the innocence of children and their need to be protected from the self-serving actions of adults, all create sub-plots that stir the conscience and intensify the story as events force life changing decisions to be made by Emmie and Caleb.

Sealed With a Promise is beautifully written and tells a fantastic story that if full of intense emotions. EXCELLENT!

Daredevil and Dormouse by Giulietta Jones

Daredevil and Dormouse by Giulietta Jones
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (193 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Books
Review by Camellia

Can a diffident dormouse and a rugged daredevil find lasting happiness? Widowed single-parent Sylvia Paget thinks not.

Assistant to three wealthy, assertive bachelors should be a snap for a woman accustomed to life's challenges. Yet from her first day on the job--when she reports to work in her son's penguin costume--Sylvia's future at Sagorski Industries wobbles. Her intimidating new boss Mac Sagorski lacks that sense of whimsy so essential to any retiring mouse trying to pass herself off as an overdressed penguin. Nor is Sylvia a match for Mac's two elderly partners, who are bent on personal growth the hard way and attract more trouble than five ferrets in a box.

Love isn't possible. Not between a danger-dealing giant with a swashbuckling gait and a small, shy creeper who stores soup and nutshells in her blouse. Or is it?

Petite Sylvia Paget may be a dormouse but she is a tenacious one as she survives her husband’s death, his financial betrayal, and the abandonment of the in-laws. Once she lands a good paying job with Sagorski Industries, she meets the challenges with determination. She tackles an office that is in total disarray, placates Mac Sagorski’s two aging partners, and, at one point, carries out orders to the letter even if she is dressed in a penguin costume. Taking care of her eight-year-old son Timmy and paying off her husband’s debts is her mission. Sylvia has no time for romance, but she wonders, “How could one pair of clear blue eyes spear a person’s heart and leave her winded from the impact?”

Big, strong Mac Sagorski, and expert at dousing oilrig fires, finds himself always thinking about his new employee. Alone for weeks on dangerous jobs, he makes up his mind that he must deal with Sylvia, but this shy sorceress, this timid temptress has him under her spell and he cannot decide how to court her without scaring her away.

DAREDEVIL AND DORMOUSE has author intrusion and seems rushed at the end. However, it is full of wonderful phrases such as “nettle in his frayed flannel pocket like a house-proud gerbil”. The humorous and heartwarming expressions reveal so much about the characters and make delightful reading.

Mac’s partners, Slim and Charlie are old rascals that do try Sylvia’s patience but she perseveres and the interaction they have brings a unique humor to the story.

One especially poignant love scene, the humor, and memorable phrases make DAREDEVIL AND DORMOUSE enjoyable reading.

Mr. Hyde’s Assets by Sheridan Smythe

Mr. Hyde’s Assets by Sheridan Smythe
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (286 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 books
Review by Verbena

Mr. Hyde was fit to be tied! Rugged Austin Hyde was up to his brawny biceps in a bizarre situation. His mad scientist brother had gone and appropriated Austin's "assets" to impregnate a tycoon's widow at his fertility clinic. Worse, rumor had it that the elegant Candice VanAusdale might be making a baby simply to inherit big bucks—without having a clue the kid would be his! Mr. Hyde was fit to be tied, but not tied down by a web of lies. Yet how to untangle "Dr. Jekyll's " deception?

Clearly Austin had to go undercover. Invade Candice's isolation. Get close enough to the breathtaking blonde to see for himself what the woman was made of. Hiring on as her handyman seemed the perfect solution. Trouble was, the bashful beleaguered beauty unleashed Austin's every possessive male instinct. And soon he ached to make both mother and child his own. Blast! How dare "Dr. Jekyll" domesticate Mr. Hyde?

Imagine the worst possible scenario, something that never would be expected to happen involving invitro fertilization and you’ll love this story. It’s a twist even the most bizarre minded person wouldn’t think of. The characters; two half brothers Jack and Austin Hyde are totally different but fiercely loyal to each other. They actually have their own story that feeds into the plot of this story very nicely. And the rich, gorgeous widow, Candice Van Ausdale although grieving over her husbands death determined to continue HER life in spite of her in-laws spiteful attacks.

The pace is great, events keep moving and keep you involved in the story line. The plot follows a OMG, feel good… feel bad exchange. One minute you have a sigh of relief as things smooth out and then again back to the edge of your chair as the plot twists. I look for a read that I cant put down and that’s how I felt about this. There is sex, sweet sex and great love being portrayed by the characters. The reader feels totally empathy with Austin character. He’s the man you’ve always dreamed about. Candice is like the girl next door, sweet, naïve and stunning throughout the story. You will growl as things start to go bad for the pair. Austin’s brother Jack adds to the story or should I say his bumbling causes the story. The housekeeper, Mrs Merryweather adds her own dramatic punch as she aids and abets the action. There are even animals, a lovable ferret and a huge Great Dane with puppies to convince you that this is the boy and girl next door -- only better!

It all comes together in the end. A skillful author has created this story. It’s not earth shattering or world changing, just a good read. And it will make you believe once again in good overcoming evil.

The Grand Finale by Janet Evanovich

The Grand Finale by Janet Evanovich
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (246 pages)
Heat Level: sensual
Rating: 4.5 Books
Review by: Orange Blossom

Berry Knudson had a talent for disaster, but when she climbed a tree to rescue a kitten, she wasn't prepared for the scrumptious hunk undressing in a nearby window, or her dive downward that smashed Jake Sawyer's pizza and won his heart! But was there room in her chaotic schedule for a risk-taking inventor with dreams? She took classes, delivered pizzas, and cared for three eccentric old ladies she rescued from the train station. But Jake thrived on a challenge, and he could be very inventive. Could he teach her there was time to make butterscotch pudding and let herself be loved?

Is there another fiction author writing today as good as Janet Evanovich? I’m sure some of you might disagree and I too enjoy many different authors, but I have to say that I just love Janet. If you’re feeling down, need some humor in your life or a moment to forget the realities of life and relax—then this is the book for you.

The Grand Finale is one of Janet’s romantic comedies that she wrote back in the ‘80’s. In fact, this particular title was her first LoveSwept novel and the last to be re-released just this year. I’ve read several of her older titles and I have to say this one is just laugh out loud funny. Seriously, I broke out into laughter several times. The style of her writing is the same as in her ‘Plum’ books and I finished this one in a weekend which is short of a miracle in my busy life.

Some readers might complain about certain facets of the plot but her characterizations blow all those points to the wind. And I give the author some leeway here because hey it was one of her first books. She has grown as an author but it doesn’t mean that this one isn’t just as enjoyable. Berry is a lovable heroine—not too sweet and not too jaded. She has a PLAN and she’s hoping to see that plan through to fruition except now there is an impediment. And his name is Jake Sawyer, sexy inventor and now elementary teacher. Jake knows from the get-go with Berry laying on top of his smashed and destroyed pizza that she’s the one for him. And he has his own PLAN to get her to see things his way. I absolutely adored the secondary characters in this book: i.e. The three old ladies that Berry adopted. They add even more of that Evanovich charm. Think Grandma Mazur from the Plum series.

On top of it all is the humor. Let’s just say that the opener had Berry plummeting from a tree while trying to save a kitten and in the process sees our hero in his altogether and lands right on top of his pizza. And right after that her jeep commits suicide. As in it takes off down the street and over a cliff. And that’s just the first chapter.

I found The Grand Finale to be a thoroughly enjoyable book from a favorite author of mine. A humorous jaunt that made my weekend that much more care-free and relaxing. I know I plan to pick up another one of her previously published romantic comedies during the week. I hope you’ll do that same. Definitely worth the read.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Thirteen Souls by Lanion Wills

Thirteen Souls by Lanion Wills
Publisher: Swimming Kangaroo Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full (307 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Camellia

Gene DuBois, cynical and distrusting by nature, is fascinated with Heather Winstrobe from the first moment he sees her. He doesn’t believe in ghosts, spirits or mediums and certainly doesn't believe her warning that he is in danger. What is she after? His money? The treasure that is supposedly buried somewhere on his land? Or are her motives even more sinister? Blinded by his desire for her he stands to lose everything, including his life.

Fraught with extreme emotions, THIRTEEN SOULS reveals some of the best and the worst deeds of human beings. The instant, overpowering sexual attraction Heather Winstrobe and Gene DuBois feel for each other shocks and intrigues while the sadistic, graphic scenes of cruelty and torture of both past and present time horrify.

The happenings that Gene and Heather encounter are strongly influenced by evil deeds and social mores of the past.

Clairsentient, Heather, the daughter of socially elite and old-wealth parents, uses her innate talent to secretly help others. She touches things or gets impressions and becomes a “spontaneous involuntary medium". With this gift (or curse), she helps spirits resolve problems so they can “cross over”. The spirit of Jessie, a slave girl who lived at Summer’s Respite plantation in the early 1800’s speaks through Heather.

Gene DuBois, scarred both physically and emotionally, returns home to a forty acre tract of land left to him by his abusive father. In dealing with the problems of developing the forty acres, he incurs the wrath of his mother and his brother Harlan. His determination to find closure for the misery and suffering of his childhood puts his life in peril. It also brings about the revelation of evil that costs many lives during slave times.

I thought of the “Ghost Whisperer” TV series as the story of the ghosts on the forty acres unfolds. Lanion Wills creates a breath-stopping tale of life at Summer’s Respite during Emile DuBois’ life. The parallels drawn between that time and Gene’s time are intriguing. They create a sense of urgency to continue reading to be sure Gene survives.

One of the themes in THIRTEEN SOULS is that abuse breeds abuse--so often seen in present day accounts of children who have been abused becoming abusers. Also, the Stockholm Syndrome becomes apparent as the novel progresses.

Many of the secondary characters are well developed. They add depth and a multitude of emotions to the story. Others serve their purpose but stay on the periphery as little more than shadows.

The characters and events in THIRTEEN SOULS will linger in this reader’s mind more because of the horrifying story of cruelty than for the present day love story that emerges as the story unfolds. But, seeing how good triumphs over evil is so satisfying.

Love, Lilies, and the Unbroken Straw by Teri Wilson

Love, Lilies, and the Unbroken Straw by Teri Wilson
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary; Inspirational; Paranormal
Length: Full (191 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 5 books
Reviewed by Orchid

Christabel Wilde’s life has just turned upside-down. With little more than the clothes on her back and her newly rescued Chihuahua tucked under her arm, she makes a pledge to start over and applies for a job as a groom at a horse rescue farm. Nevermind that she’s never been up close to a horse before, she has a bigger secret to hide. A mysterious gift her new neighbor, Dr. Declan Armstrong, is determined to uncover. When the irresistible veterinarian volunteers to give her riding lessons, Christabel knows it could be the end of her secret. With the Easter holiday approaching, she tries to remember that sometimes what looks like the end is really a new beginning.

Christabel was worried something was wrong with her health, but then she knocked over a snowy white Chihuahua on a lonely country road. As soon as she touched the little dog her confusion cleared and she knew she’d been given a gift. She packed her belongings and moved away from all she knew to take a new direction in life.

She takes a job at a horse rescue farm but keeps her gift secret. Most of the people on the farm wonder why such a novice with horses would want to work as a groom. After the first few days Christabel knows she’s made the right choice; she feels a natural empathy with the horses and can’t imagine doing any other job. Her happiness is enhanced by the attraction she feels for Declan, the resident vet.

Declan is instantly fascinated by Christabel, but he senses she is hiding something. He teaches her to ride and they grow closer. Their feelings for each other grow stronger, but neither is willing to admit this. Christabel knows she cannot give her love to Declan until she has told him her secret, but she is afraid he will treat her revelation with scorn.

Love, Lilies, and the Unbroken Straw is a sweet, sensitive story which shows the full range of Christabel’s feelings for her amazing gift, the horses and most of all Declan. Christabel is a warm, vibrant woman who at first appears to be shy and retiring, but Declan brings out the best in her. As their relationship develops she shows the strength she usually hides from the world. The Yellow Rose of Texas Equine Rescue Center provides a warm, comfortable backdrop to the triangle of love developing between Christabel, Declan and the horses in need of their help.

Although the setting is Texas with its hot summers, I would recommend this book be read beside a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate on the table within easy reach. It’s the type of story which leaves a satisfied, warm feeling inside so it’s essential to find a comfortable place to settle before starting to read Love, Lilies, and the Unbroken Straw.

Do You Hear What I Hear? by Teri Wilson

Do You Hear What I Hear? (Hoofbeats And Heartstrings Book One) by Teri Wilson
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Thanksgiving and Christmas), Paranormal
Length: Full (192 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Lilac

As a child, Simone Littleton adores the European folktale that animals are given the gift of speech at midnight on Christmas Eve. She makes a wish to talk to animals "forever and ever" and, when her pet Dalmatian asks her for a biscuit, she discovers her wish has been granted. Now Simone is all grown up and she uses her unique gift to rehabilitate unwanted horses. When racehorse trainer Chet Wallace rolls into San Antonio, with chocolate eyes and dimples blazing beneath his black Stetson, romantic sparks fly. He is immediately drawn to the beautiful woman who has a mesmerizing affect on both his horses and his dog, but his less than enthusiastic response to Simone's claims threatens their budding romance. It takes a scheming Jack Russell terrier and a dose of Christmas magic to convince Chet she just may be telling the truth.

Filled with a bit of magic and a tender romance, Do You Hear What I Hear? is a sweet story that will touch the heart.

In this touching story, Equine Massage Therapist and Aromatherapy Practicioner, Simone Littleton, has a hard time being taken seriously among those on the racing circuit and in the barns in which she works, especially since she can talk with animals, a gift she has had since making a wish one Christmas Eve as a child. When horse trainer, Chet Wallace hires her to care for his horses he is taken with the young woman, but her belief in her ability to communicate with animals threatens to make him the laughingstock of the racetrack and puts a crimp in their potential relationship.

I loved the whole concept of this story and Simone’s ability. I mean who hasn’t wished they could know what their animals were thinking? In this story Simone does. But throughout, I saw how her gift could be both a blessing and a curse. Because of her ability, Simone often learns of the hard and difficult lives some of the animals in the story have faced as most of them are rescue animals with pasts that are heartbreaking. And kudos to the author for using rescue animals in the story. By doing so it brings out awareness for the plight of some of the animals in real life.

But not only does Simone’s gift affect her own emotions, it also affects her relationships with others as she is frequently treated as an outcast, some of which is self-imposed as she is reluctant to share her gift. It also presents a big obstacle for her and Chet to overcome as he believes she needs mental help upon learning of it. I couldn’t really blame Chet for his reaction, but I didn’t care for his treatment of Simone when he confronts her. However, I loved how the two of them grow closer and work to overcome their differences as they discover their common interests. They were great characters who were perfect for one another and I was touched by their relationship and by Chet’s actions to help Simone feel like she belongs.

Speaking of great characters, one of my favorite characters in the story is of the four-legged variety. Pollock, Chet’s matchmaking Jack Russell Terrier, is a pooch with personality and I fell in love with the little fellow. The author did a wonderful job of giving him as well as the other animals in the story, mostly rescue horses, personalities and stories of their own even though we primarily hear from Pollock.

This was truly a sweet story and if you are an animal lover or even you just want a fun, yet touching contemporary romance, I recommend you check out this one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Ten Ways to Melt A Man’s Heart by Phyllis Campbell

Ten Ways to Melt A Man’s Heart by Phyllis Campbell
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (246 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5
Reviewed by Orange Blossom

Whoever said the quest for love wasn't comical never met Charlene Randall. Her search to find Mr. Wonderful leads her to the last place she ever expected-the arms of her neighbor.

Owner of a successful company, Damien Giovanni is fed up with money-grabbing women. But Charley isn't like this. She wants to try the Internet article, 10 Ways to Melt a Man's Heart on his former friend. Jealousy hits him head on like a locomotive without a driver. What would happen if he tried the 'ten ways' on her?

Laugh-out-loud funny and sizzlingly sensual, Ten Ways to Melt a Man’s Heart has permanently found a place on my book shelf.

Romantic comedy isn’t easy to write. If it’s over the top, readers will be laughing at you with a snicker, but done right and it’s a keeper for me. And Ms. Campbell has done it right. Charlene (Charley) Randall is one of those women who doesn’t realize that she’s bloomed into one of the gorgeous people. She has insecurities to fill a warehouse and crazy accidents seem to follow her like a stray after the butcher. When she decides that she’s had enough of doing things the wrong way, she begins to follow an on-line article on the Ten Ways to Melt a Man’s Heart. And the comedy abounds. It all makes for a thoroughly delightful story.

Phyllis Campbell hasn’t been dubbed the ‘Queen of Sexual Tension’ for nothing. She hit gold with Ten Ways… and her Italian love-machine Damien Giovanni. He just oozes sex-appeal and somehow the author’s words enter your imagination and you can see Damien just as vividly as a picture on a page. The magic between Charley and Damien will warm the cheeks and enter your heart. A terrific read.

Sexy, sensual and funny—you can’t miss with this one. Ten Ways to Melt a Man’s Heart is a winner!

My Man, Michael by Lori Foster

My Man, Michael by Lori Foster
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Action/Adventure; Contemporary; Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (325 pages)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Tiger Lily

Knocked out in one world, he’ll take on another.

On the verge of a title shot match, fighter Michael “Mallet” Manchester is injured in a car accident. And just as quickly as his career was taking off, it’s over. Then Kaylie Raine appears, offering him a second chance at becoming whole. Even though Mallet thinks it’s the pain medication talking, he accepts her challenge. And on an extraordinary journey with Kaylie, he’ll get a chance to fight again—to save the woman who has saved him.

He’s a fighter who, through no fault of his own, has to give up his fighting career. She’s from the future and in dire need of his fighting services. What’s a man to do? Follow his conscience and gut instincts to the 23rd century. Such is the story of My Man, Michael.

In this the fourth installment of her SBC Fighter Series, Lori Foster diverts from the normal contemporary story and gives Michael “Mallet” Manchester his own unique journey to figure out who the man is inside the fighter. If you want a contemporary telling of his life, then this book may not be the one for you, but don’t let that fact keep you from giving My Man, Michael a try. Ms. Foster writes a captivating story with plot twists that keeps the reader glued to his or her seat regardless of the time period. The issues the characters deal with are real, relatable, and exciting.

I like that Kayli Raine wasn’t the average damsel in distress. She is the warrior leader of her colony and only wants Mallet to help defend her people. She easily protects her people, but she understands the concept of give and take, which is critical for a leader. On his part, Mallet proves that sometimes an alpha male can be capable of taking orders.

This story has many things the reader could relate to, even though it is set in the future. Who hasn’t felt the first blush of love, only to also feel inadequate at the same time? Once the blush turns into lust, we can all relate to the moment we realize that lust is really love, such as with Mallet and Kayli.

Looking for a sensual romance? Want a dash of action and adventure to keep the story light? Add one dominating leader, plus a hunky fighter in love with an independent woman, and you have My Man, Michael. I give this novel 5 books!