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Monday, November 30, 2009

Another Memory by Pamela Ridley

Another Memory by Pamela Ridley
Publisher: Genesis Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary (interracial)
Length: Full (352 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Camellia

Ten years after the death of her baby, husband, and mother-in-law in an airplane crash, forty-two-year-old Chelly Whitaker understands nothing is permanent. Disconnected from life with only the ghostly visits of her daughter, Maya, to hold on to, she fills her days with activities. But when it comes to romance, Chelly is convinced she has no love left to give.

Sean Price, thirty-three, having faced the death of his mother and the impending death of his previously absent father, realizes the brevity and fragility of life. This compels him to cling to the roots he does have and strive to build a future that embraces love.

Sean's father, Kelvin Price, relies on insight, wit and help from Maya to guide Sean in shaping a positive future as Sean and Chelly let go of devastating memories, face a threat to their lives, and learn to love again.

“Time is precious. Don’t waste it.” Kelvin knows what he is talking about. He is dying of cancer. He challenges Chelly Whitaker about her no-serious-relationships attitude. She says she can’t love again. He says if that is true then she is just like him—just waiting to die. Chelly knows she lives with the feeling that the “best part of life is over. By protecting herself from future hurt, she’d effectively disengaged from life”, but fear keeps her from changing.

Chelly’s time is full of doing: making money, helping others, writing plays, directing plays, while all the time avoiding any meaningful connection with others that might stir to life emotions that she cannot handle. An independent woman with an air that says, “This is me, deal with it”, Chelly set boundaries long ago when her baby and husband died in a plane crash and she was left behind to grieve. The arrival of Kelvin’s son Sean brings the winds of change and the boundaries begin to blur.

Sean Price, now in his thirties, was thirteen years old the last time he saw his father. The phone call that brought him to his father’s bedside set his life on a new course that threw him off-balance. Sean set goals, makes plans, then implements actions to reach those goals. He baulks at emotions and uncontrollable events disrupting his way of doing things. He does an abundance of soul-searching and compromising before he gets himself back on track. He had to learn, “Things are as things will be”. He is adrift for a time until he realizes, “…not knowing what you want can lead down many different roads, but somehow you end up where you need to be”.

Promiscuous sex and the fallout thereof is a driving force in the plot and creates surprises, heartaches, horrors, and, at least one time, happiness.

Customs of one of the many cultures in American is showcased in ANOTHER MEMORY with well-written dialog, actions, relationships, and examples of love that reaches across time.

Some secondary characters are so memorable. Maya is the greatest of these. She bridges some emotional gaps that humanity, through time, has pondered. Baby Riana touches the heart with so little effort on her part. Brenda Rankin and Jaden Lightfoot give the reader pause for thought about where the lines are or should be drawn between caring, meddling, and paranoia.

When good things happen among so many heart-wrenchingly sad things, one has the urge to shout for joy. ANOTHER MEMORY is full of life, living, dying, and all the emotions involved. This story reaches in and touches the heart.

One Snowy Knight by Deborah MacGillivray

One Snowy Knight by Deborah MacGillivray
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: Historical, Holiday
Length: Full (378 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

One Last Hope…Lady Skena MacIain has seen much hardship this year, and she fears worse is to come. For a bloody battle in Dunbar has left her a young widow, and her Scottish fortress without protectors. She wishes she could be as hopeful as her babes, who believe the Cailleach, the Lady of Winter, will send them a miracle in time for Christmas. But life has taught her that things can never be so easy…

One True Love?
Until a mysterious warrior is found amid a blinding snowstorm, sick with fever. As Skena nurses the handsome knight back to health, even she begins to believe he might bring salvation to her little keep—and passion to her life, as his body awakens a long sleeping desire within her…a desire her touch stirs in him as well. But his wounds speak of danger, and Skena will soon learn, his past carries a secret that could shake her home—and her heart—to their very core…
Deborah MacGillivray has delivered a lovely Christmas story.

Noel de Servian is a man who wants a family, a place to be, peace in his life. He is generous and gentle, as well as a fierce and capable fighter, who does not hesitate to protect those he cares about. While he is searching for one glen, he stumbles onto another during a fierce snowstorm. In doing so he finds all that his heart desires and goes from being lost to being found.

Lady Skena MacIain is a widow whose main goal is holding onto the keep, Craigendan, for her children. She fears the Campbell menace as well as Edward I, who may take away her powers and leave her son without an inheritance. Skena is a smart and beautiful—but not in a conventional way. Skena has an inner beauty and self-assurance as well as valor. She braves the elements and finds a knight in the snow and manages to bring him home and keeps him alive despite the odds.

When it appears that Skena’s husband is not dead, mysterious things begin to happen. Intrigue follows quickly as it becomes apparent that something—or someone is plotting Skena's downfall. With her life in danger, she turns to the one man who can help her. Noel, the stranger whose life she saved.

This story has something for everyone and offers mystery, romance, intrigue and excitement.

The 3rd book in the Dragons of Challon series, this is absolutely a book you will want on your keeper shelf. I've read it twice and will likely read it again soon. One of those 'can't-put-it-down kind of books! Honeysuckle highly recommends this wonderful book.

Turtle Soup by Danielle Thorne

Turtle Soup by Danielle Thorne
Publisher: Awe-struck Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Length: Full (159 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Sea turtles may be endangered but after an encounter with marine biologist, Jack Brandon, nothing will stop Sara Hart from naming her deli Turtle Soup.

When Jack takes a job at the nearby Georgia Aquarium, Sara finds the environmental poster boy at her door, hungry and carrying a chip on his shoulder.

Neither thinks the other has what it takes, until a scuba class reveals what lies beneath the surface. It will take food, friends, and a little help from Mother Nature, to help them see that making a difference isn’t all numbers and glory.

It must begin with love.

Jack Brandon, who might be just a tad rough around the edges, proves the value of his heart straightaway when author Danielle Thorne reveals his career choice: devoted to endangered sea turtles. Sadly, our heroine, the Entrepreneurial Sara doesn’t experience any of Jack’s finer points when she bumps into him… and in fact, still smarting from the altercation, she names her brand-new deli ‘Turtle Soup.’

Readers don’t need to guess about these two personalities; both are stubborn, hard-headed and used to a leadership role, both in life and in their jobs. And, both are actively outdoorsy, which brings us some lovely, and beautifully described diving adventures. After their initial clashes, we begin to see some possibilities for the relationship. After all, a man has to eat, and Sara can surely cook. Yet, things have a way of twisting around (and poor Sara ends up twisting around, when she starts to worry that her own enjoyment of eating has lead to a larger than required derrière…) So, although there are some places where readers will think they can predict where this is all heading, Thorne keeps you guessing. Sara can be a lot more direct than we initially suspect too! Love a confrontational heroine!

I like how some of the supporting cast are really their own people as well. I absolutely shared Sara’s frustration with the niece and helper, bubble-brained Carly, and as for the deliberately obnoxious Jessica, I’d still like to shove her up-turned nose into the cheesecake. Ms. Thorne can really create an incredibly believable and beyond aggravating character.

Witty, original and unexpected, this is a delightful read. This author's style is both clear and readable.

Finally, this has just the most appealing cover: kudos to the cover designer.

The Phoenix Charm by Helen Scott Taylor

The Phoenix Charm by Helen Scott Taylor
Publisher: Dorchester Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Suspense
Length: Full (318 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Larkspur

Cordelia has sworn she’ll abstain from looking into Michael’s future—particularly when the image in the gilded smoke of her divination mirror shows him half naked. Yet she can’t resist watching the sexy rascal slowly running his hand down his ribs, over his abdomen, flicking open the button on his jeans with a little flourish like a magician performing a trick.

Respectable wise woman Cordelia restrains her secret water nymph sensuality with the Celtic symbols painted on her skin. But Michael’s powerful fairy glamour leaves her breathless, off balance, struggling for control. When Gwyn ap Nudd, the Welsh King of the Underworld, steals away Michael’s infant nephew, Cordelia must work with him to save the child. But how can she trust her instincts with Michael tempting her to explore the hidden elemental depths of her nature and insisting that she believe in the power of…THE PHOENIX CHARM.

Helen Scott Taylor takes us on a whimsical journey to a hidden realm filled with fantastical beings. A journey where our hero and heroine Michael and Cordelia fight a battle against evil to save an innocent and discover a love that may conquer all.

In The Phoenix Charm, Ms. Taylor shows off her eloquent storytelling abilities by inviting her readers along on this magical trip. Her dialogue is flowing, flawless and informative as she tells of her mystical characters and their elusive domains hidden in plain sight of the mortal realm. Beings who are unbelievable and yet she makes us believe, some frightening some funny some kind and some evil, but all wonderful. Her hero and heroine Michael and Cordelia are a remarkable pair and yet she fully acquaints us with not only them but all of her well developed characters by giving them each a story to tell. Her plot is fancifully unique and sometimes terrifying. The love scenes are spicy yet sensual and artfully described.

So if you love paranormal adventures with mystical magical creatures and if you love epic battles fought for good over evil and if you love your romance on the sizzle burner then this read has all those bells and whistles. And yet you ask, ah but what is the Phoenix Charm. Well, my friends let me just say that the discovery is well worth the trip.

The Phoenix Charm is Helen Scott Taylor's second in The Love Knot Fairy series.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Target by Judith Rochelle

Target: The Protectors Series, Book 1 by Judith Rochelle
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (330 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

They're trying to kill her, and she doesn’t know why. Kathryn Holt knows only that she has to get far away as fast as she can. In a frantic, cross-country odyssey, she transforms herself from pliable Kathryn to feisty, determined Kate Miller, staying one step ahead of the killers on her trail. Then Fate delivers her into the hands of Quinn, a dark knight with a tortured past, who sees protecting her as his chance for redemption. But can he expose the killers in time to save her? And will the explosive chemistry between them be their downfall or their salvation?

Exhausted and scared spitless, Kathryn Holt (aka Kate Griffin) stands by the dead clunker that made it from California to this unknown stretch of dark highway somewhere in Texas. Too long without sleep and adrenaline depleted, she knows it is only a matter of time before Peter and his associates find and kill her. She doesn’t know why but she does know that she has a flash drive they want that might buy her a little time.

Quinn, a recluse loaded with guilt about the death of his wife and child, cannot stand NOT to help her. Maybe if he helps, he can find enough peace to sleep at night. In his bones, he feels that his life will change and maybe not for the better, but he helps anyway.

Her fears and his reluctance to get involved make them an uneasy pair but an incendiary chemistry flames up as they size up each other. Once Kate feels safe, at less for a time, she has a meltdown. Knowing she needs human contact, he holds her close and lets her cry until the emotional hurricane inside her runs its course. Neither of them can resist after the emotional storm passes. They make love. Quinn, after four years of feeling dead, comes alive. They both keep their own secrets, but they work together to save each other in a special way.

The secondary characters keep the plot at fever pitch and press Kate and Quinn into action that places them both in imminent danger. With a powerful drug cartel and corrupt lawmen hell bent on doing away with them, Kate and Quinn must use all their wits and connections to stay alive.

TARGET is full of danger and love. How the danger is dealt with makes a thriller of a story. However, the love that flares to life makes this a sizzling love story and a celebration of life. With hair-raising danger and breathtaking love scenes. Judith Rochelle entertains with action that zips along at full throttle.

Catch Me in Castile by Kimberley Troutte

Catch Me in Castile by Kimberley Troutte
Publisher: Samhain Publishing Ltd
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full (220 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Water Lily

Seeing dead people is bad enough. Loving him could make her one of them.

When the mother of all panic attacks prompts Erin Carter’s boss to pass her over for promotion, her mind doesn’t just crack. It explodes like an egg in a microwave, shattering her career along with the company car she crashes into the office building.

The death grip she’s kept on her sanity slipping, she takes a friend’s advice and flees to Spain. There she finds comfort in the healing arms of surgeon Santiago Botello—until a fifteenth-century ghost warns her that being with Santiago is dangerous, possibly even lethal.

Santiago has his hands full protecting his sister from a dark curse and his family from a very modern-day psychotic killer. The last thing he needs added to his plate is a neurotic American. Yet something about Erin tugs at his heart so hard he wants to wrap her in his arms and never let go. No matter the risk.

Erin’s attraction to Santiago makes her the killer’s next target. Survival means she must face her greatest fear, solve an ancient murder mystery—and hang on tight to the one man she’s fallen crazy in love with.

Erin Carter is subject to anxiety attacks. In fact, her entire family seems beset with psychological problems. Following a major breakdown, she goes to Castile, Spain with her friend and co-worker Maria Bottelo. There, Erin falls for Maria’s hunky brother Santiago and finds she’s not the only one with psychological problems. Maria and Santiago’s mother is insane and the ghost of a nearby castle, Serena, doesn’t have the strongest grasp of reality either.

This book has all the makings of a great read—a hunky guy, a spooky castle, a crazy old lady, and a ghost with a mystery—however it also has too much insanity for me. The crazy old lady worked, but wasn’t capitalized on. The repeated references to Erin’s panic attacks made me want to tell Santiago to find a nice sane girl.

I found Serena’s tragic story the most interesting part of the book. I wanted to know what happened between her and her rich boyfriend in the past and why she was haunting the castle. I liked the setting and the background of historical Spain. Unfortunately, I found the connection between Serena’s tragic story and Erin’s tenuous and the resolution weak. The conclusion is exciting, but not totally believable.

Catch Me in Castile has so many elements that almost hit the mark that I want to keep my eye on Ms. Troutte. I believe future books will achieve what this book didn’t quite.

Cherished Witness by Melanie Atkins

Cherished Witness: The New Orleans Detectives Book One by Melanie Atkins
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Short (131 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Kelly Watson, aka Teresa Pastral, threw the Fifth Amendment out the window when she testified against her mob boss husband at his murder trial. Now divorced, she has begun a new life in the Witness Security Program.

Only...the mob finds her, thanks to handsome ex-lawman J.T. Romano, who uses her as bait to lure the man who murdered his wife and unborn child to town. To ensure her safety, she is forced to trust J.T., the man who has betrayed her to the mob. But can she trust him with her heart?

J.T. Romano is a former police officer who will do anything to get revenge against Yuri Calamondo, the man responsible for taking the lives of J.T’s wife and unborn child. Teresa Pastral, now Kelly Watson, works at J.T’s brother’s restaurant. She’s been in the Witness Protection Program for a year after she testified against her husband and Calamondo. Calamondo also has a score to settle and it’s not long before he catches up with Kelly. Will she have to take on a new identity and always look over her shoulder? Or will she decide to draw the killer out and be done with the nightmare forever? Will she and J.T escape danger and have a happy ever after?

First of all, I loved the opening of this book. It grabbed my attention and made me want to read more. The book is just 131 pages so it’s a quick read, but you’ll enjoy it in a couple of sittings anyway because it’s fast paced with non-stop twists and turns in the plot. As Kelly says ‘danger and sex are rough on the nerves’. They’re also a delight for the reader too.

I loved both the characters of J.T and Kelly. Atkins does a super job of making you feel the danger and the passion along with them. The dialogue is natural and the back story about the couple unfolds at just the right spots in the plot. There’s lots of sexual tension and lots of stuff I didn’t see coming. The secondary characters are also well drawn and add more layers to an already solid story.

If you’re a fan of women in jeopardy/romantic suspense books, don’t miss this one. Even if you’re not, it’s worth a read. I’m not sure if this is Atkins first book but I know Cherished Witness is the first of six titles in the series. I can’t wait to read the second one.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Sweet Redemption by Susan Macatee

Sweet Redemption by Susan Macatee
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short (69 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Fern

On a cold December night, Union infantry captain, Jonathan Hackett is pinned down on the Fredericksburg battlefield trying to escape Confederate fire. But a creature of the night, more dangerous than any enemy soldier, stalks him. Jon must fight for his life as well as his soul.

Maddie Emery has lost everything dear to her. Her husband and parents have passed on and her brothers are off fighting in the Confederate Army. She's alone, trying single-handedly to hold onto her family's farm, when a Yankee soldier collapses across her stoop.

Maddie and Jon form a bond of love and desire, but as Jon exhibits signs of becoming the creature he fears most, is their love enough to fight off the evil of a centuries old vampire bent on destroying them?

When I read the blurb for Sweet Redemption, I wondered if it was possible to pull off a paranormal vampire romance that takes place during the Civil War. I was thrilled when I finished the book because I learned that not only was it possible to write such a story, but by offering something that is unique and fresh in an predictably saturated genre, author Susan Macatee has managed to separate herself from the rest.

The story starts off by placing you directly in the middle of the action with the hero, Captain Jonathan Hackett. The events that have placed him in the center of a battlefield, next to a mortally wounded young man, will endear him to you immediately. He’s tortured by decisions he made in the past, but wants to make amends. After Jon is retrieved from a decimated battlefield by a Priest that offers shelter from the harsh winter elements, he discovers he’s only exchanged one danger for another. Attacked and left to die, Jon wanders through the countryside.

Searching for help at a nearby house, he is taken in by the lovely widow Maddie Emory. From here on in, the clock is ticking. The Priest that bit Jon isn’t a priest at all, but an ancient vampire, and he has returned to claim Jon as a minion and to take Maddie as a prize. With Jon changing into the very creature he abhors, he knows he has to destroy the Arnwolf, save Maddie, and get away from the woman he can’t stop thinking about before he does something unforgivable–like drinking her blood.

I love books that snag your attention from the start and maintain it throughout, and Sweet Redemption didn’t disappoint. The writing is wonderful, the pace is nice and brisk, and the romance between Jon and Maddie is set at a believable simmer. I enjoyed the twist that brings it all together in the end, and felt the resolution to the vampire issue Jon faced was wrapped up beautifully.

Be sure to put this story on your TBR list. Civil War junkies and vampire fans will love this one.

The Benefactor by Margaret Reyes Dempsey

The Benefactor by Margaret Reyes Dempsey
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (222 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

They say the truth will set you free...

After her parents' tragic deaths, eight-year-old Kate Barrett began receiving anonymous gifts from someone called Secret Friend. Years later, after landing a challenging job and the apartment of her dreams, she is caught off guard when another package shows up at her now unlisted address. Troubled that someone is watching her every move, she sets out to discover the stranger's identity.

The pressure rises when a coworker's flirtatiousness crosses the line and Kate makes a disturbing discovery at work. Just when things couldn't get more bizarre, love comes from a surprising direction, and shocking clues to the mystery surface in an unthinkable place. But nothing can prepare Kate for the truth about Secret Friend, the deaths of her parents, and how her destiny has been cunningly manipulated.

The “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” beginning of The Benefactor is deceptive. Suspense creeps in early when Kate Barrett’s “secret friend” sends a gift to her new apartment before she moves in and even before her name is listed at the new address.

As the plot takes twists and turns with layer after layer of Kate’s past life being peeled away, she feels off balance and must re-evaluate past events while moving along at warp speed in her new job at eTown Technology. Kate, bright, college-educated, and dedicated is on the fast track to success.

Michael Callaghan, owner of eTown Technology, watches Kate and encourages her to make the most of her talents. He rewards her with promotions and pay. He stays in the background with Frank Tarantino being the visible “boss” up to a point. However, Michael exerts pressure when Frank steps over the line with Kate. Michael’s past also had layers to it that he does not reveal. His anonymous philanthropic works take on new meaning as the layers of his past begin to peel away. The Benefactor, a story about a quest for redemption and about the power of forgiveness, lures the reader in.

The secondary characters help develop the complexities in the story and add some interesting insights into the various ways people cope with their circumstances—circumstances that cannot always be seen as just black or white, the shades of grey in between must be considered.

Margaret Reyes Dempsey’s unobtrusive writing style makes the story flow and propels the reader along with a mixture of bumps and smoothness along the way that keeps the reader’s interest fully engaged.

Marrying The Invisible Man by Rachel Michaels

Marrying The Invisible Man by Rachel Michaels
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short (46 pages)
Heat: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Katie Bartlett’s mother is driving her crazy, and she'll do whatever it takes to get her wedding-obsessed mother off her back. Thanks to a joking comment from her best friend, David, Katie decides she to have a fake wedding, to a fake groom--the Invisible Man.

David Williams has been Katie’s best friend since kindergarten. He knows Katie doesn’t see him as anything more, but the further she gets into planning her wedding to another man—albeit a fictional one—the worse he feels.

With the wedding underway will Katie finally realize the Invisible Man is David?

Katie is annoyed. In fact, she’s so annoyed with her mother for nagging her toward marriage that she plans a fake wedding as a joke, but also as a way of striking back and making a statement. This is typical Katie, who has built a solid reputation for pulling zany stunts and adventures.

Her partner in these excursions is David, the friend she has known since kindergarten. For two decades he has been someone she could count on, someone who is always there. His constancy is so reliable that it is like a force of nature, so invisibly sure that Katie has long since taken it for granted. Just as invisible is the love he has long felt for her but always hidden for fear it would not be returned.

Planning a wedding that is pure theater starts out with everything copasetic—yet another of Katie’s energetic escapades—but it soon starts disturbing the equilibrium between them. A bit of competition for David’s attention is the catalyst that puts the process in motion.

For the most part, this is a lighthearted tale, written in prose that’s simple and smooth flowing. The story is even faster moving for being dominated by dialogue of high quality. This one is easily doable and a pleasure to do in one sitting.

But what makes this an interesting, thoughtful read is Katie. She is an intriguing and unusual character. For one thing, there’s this irony to her makeup in that she is just as strong willed and, well…dominating as the mother she is trying to put in her place. This provides fuel for wondering what David sees in her. And this is the puzzle that gives the story a suspense feature without which it would be entirely predictable.

Marrying The Invisible Man is freighted with ironies that give it spice. For this reviewer, it was a worthwhile study in the forces that attract people to that one love of a lifetime.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lila’s Vow by Diane Wylie

Lila’s Vow by Diane Wylie
Publisher: Vintage Romance Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full (329 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 5 Books
Reviewed by Water Lily

The quest for love, honor, and revenge leads to spying, kidnapping, and danger for Union cavalryman, Captain Jack Montgomery and his wife, Lila. Schoolteacher Lila Sutton finds her one true love when cavalryman Captain Jack Montgomery rides into Gettysburg. But receiving word of his death leads her to seek her own type of revenge. Imprisoned for a year, Jack returns to an uncertain future filled with turmoil and danger when all he wants is Lila.

Diane Wylie delivers good Civil War historical with romantic elements.

Jack Montgomery attracts Lila Sutton’s interest the moment he and his cavalry unit ride past her Gettysburg, Pennsylvania home. The battle of Gettysburg is horrendous. Jack is one of the thousands of injured soldiers brought to the town for care. Every house is overrun and residents like Lila Sutton and her mother are pressed into nursing duty. The attraction between Lila and Jack quickly grows. They marry but the war presses on, tearing them apart—at least temporarily.

Diana Wylie has a gift for taking the harsh realities of life in the Civil War and interweaving her characters into the fabric. The battle of Gettysburg, the horrors of Andersonville, the confederate submarine Hunley all become characters under Wylie’s hands. Lila and Jack’s story is compelling, but for me, as wonderful as the love story is, it almost becomes secondary to the history. The Jack’s capture and incarceration in Andersonville and Lila’s stint with the Pinkerton agency show Wylie’s grasp of the many levels of life and experience in this tumultuous time in our country. I particularly enjoyed this story’s exciting and unexpected climax.

Lila’s Vow is a standalone book that fits perfectly with Wylie’s book Jenny’s Passion. Lila and Jack’s story interweaves with Jenny and David’s, making the two books a perfect gift set. If you’re a fan of historical tales spiced with romance, Lila’s Vow is definitely worth picking up.

Chick Magnet by Mary Martinez

Chick Magnet by Mary Martinez
Publisher: Siren-Bookstrand
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (211 pages)
Heat: Sensual
Rating: 4 Books
Reviewed by Fennel

Madison McCullough is moving on. Her ex used her as a babysitter for his young son while he wined and dined other women.

Brady O'Neill is a Formula One race car driver recuperating from injuries sustained in a near death accident.

Brady's sister wants him to face life once again. Believing her son to be a chick magnet, she encourages Brady to take him to the grocery store to try and meet women.

When Madison and Brady meet oranges roll, thanks to Payton, Brady's nephew. The first eye contact over the fruit table makes the air sizzle. No matter how much Madison resists the attraction, she and Brady are destined for each other.

This is a delightful story, with an intriguing thread that centers around baby Eddie. Eddie is not a main character, nor is his mother, but they are integral players.

When hot shot racing car driver Brady O’Neil’s and Legal Aid worker Madison McCullough’s eyes meet in a crowded bar, the world, as the saying goes, disappeared. Instant chemistry send Madison running, and Brady chasing.

Mary Martinez presents two strong characters, who both have dreams, compassion and integrity. Their strength draws her reader in, and it is the way her characters deal with all the obstacles she puts in their way that keeps the reader turning the page. It's a shame, then, that this story is littered with numerous typos, missed and added words, and in one place a sentence that could not be interpreted.

Despite the many editing issues, this story is packed with plenty of conflict, and material which is balanced with warmth and love. This is a captivating story and one well worth picking up.

The Trouble With Tessa by Lainey Bancroft

The Trouble With Tessa by Lainey Bancroft
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (336 pages)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 Books
Reviewed by Camellia

At thirty-five, Erin Sanders has resigned herself to a single, childless lifestyle. Then dynamic Tanner walks into her office and proposes that she pretend to date him in order to assess the mental well-being of Tessa, his orphaned niece. Erin falls hard and fast for the man. As an added bonus, she and the delightful Tessa come to adore each other. But like all things too good to be true, she discovers her perfect stud may be a perfectly deceptive dud.

Thirty-five-year-old therapist Erin, emotionally locked down and controlling, helps others resolve their problems. She does the “right” things but often for the “wrong” reasons. Unable to get over some bad choices she made in the past, Erin comes perilously close to sabotaging her chances for a future full of joy, love, and being adored.

Tanner, bless his heart, does things for the “right” reasons, but his deceptions, omissions, and his need to keep control and protect bring a ton of misery crashing down on him. He does so want to do what needs to be done to take care of those he loves.

Tessa is the most appealing of all. Her sense of humor, common sense approach to life, and her acceptance of others add a delightful freshness to the story that lightens some of the dark and heavy problems that Erin and Tanner have to drag out into the open and deal with before they can move on.

THE TROUBLE WITH TESSA is filled with characters that seem so real. They deal with prejudice, financial worries, care of the sick and aged, catastrophic illness, babies born out of wedlock, and inner conflict that cause a barrel of tears and any number of sleepless nights.

The roller coaster of emotional highs and lows keeps the reader turning pages. The author’s occasional misuse of words causes a stutter from time to time, but the compelling need to find out what happens to these characters keeps the reader’s interest.

THE TROUBLE WITH TESSA, a story of forgiveness, acceptance, and unconditional love, examines attitudes that hurt, but it also shows how love can overcome monumental obstacles.