Beginning January 1, 2013

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Time to Love by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

A Time to Love by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Publisher: Champage Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (181 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Reclusive songwriter Samuel Baird lives on a remote Arkansas mountain drinking his life away. The last thing he wants is a woman to complicate things but during a spectacular thunderstorm, a woman arrives just in time to save his life. She says she comes from the late 1800's and he thinks she is crazy but Annie still manages to gain his attention and affection. To reach a happily ever after, Samuel and Annie must overcome several obstacles, past and present, but in the end, they find the happiness that they seek.

Samuel Baird is disillusioned with life. Betrayed and divorced by his wife and the loss of his job, he has retreated to an isolated cabin on Rich Mountain where he buries his sorrows in the whiskey bottle. Several years later he dreams of a woman. When the real woman turns up in the middle of a storm Samuel thinks he's dreaming but she's still there in the morning.

Anna believes she has come forward in time over 100 years but Samuel finds this difficult to believe. He admits Anna is a bit strange in the way she speaks and some of her actions. How can he prove she's wrong? Will he be able stop himself falling in love with this orphan from the storm?

For a man who has no respect for himself, our hero is soft and gentle when it comes to Anna. He doesn't want to frighten her and finds it nice to have someone look after him for once. Unexpected visitors, family problems and illness force both of them to face the truth and ask if there is any future for them.

I'm not sure whether I really liked Samuel, but Anna was sweet and tender; the type of woman I'd want to have as a friend and neighbor. At first I thought the story would be too introspective but as I read on I found it pulled me in until I wanted to find out what would happen next. The scenery surroundomg the main characters was vivid. I could see the view from the cabin deck, the lodge on the top of the mountain and the cemetery. The author has a way with words that brings the story to life.

This is a lovely soft romance with no highs or lows, but it does have an element of doubt. How can a woman who believes she's from the past cope with modern day equipment and morals? What can Samuel offer to any woman when he buries himself in the bottle instead of facing his fears?

There's no "daring do" in this book. To me the ideal time and place to read it would be curled up beside the fire on a winter's evening so I could relax into the moment and enjoy a cosy love story.

Dance Macabre by Susanne Saville

Dance Macabre by Susanne Saville
Publisher: Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (74 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

London, 1897

Caught in a web of poverty and injustice, Lily Rafferty takes employment in a dancehall. Though she loathes being viewed as a pretty piece of meat wrapped in silk for the enjoyment of the West End gentlemen out for a bit of slumming, she can't help but feel her luck is about to change.

Rhys Trevan Morgan, Viscount Talfryn is a vampire with a mission. Another supernatural creature prowls the night leaving a trail of blood and gore in its wake that eventually leads him to London's East End and to the Barbary Coast dancehall. He doesn't need the distraction of coming to the aid of a young woman forced to strip and parade herself on stage for the voyeuristic pleasure of the club's wealthy patrons.

Soon, the momentary distraction becomes a craving Rhys can't resist and he wonders if the fair Lily will be the end of his frightful curse or the vehicle of his destruction.

This was a cute little story filled with light drama, an interesting twist and a heroine not afraid of what she needs to do to survive. Well, okay, she was a little skittish until a hero with an icy demeanor stepped in to even the odds. The by-play between the secondary characters was like a tennis-match and it kept the pages flipping.

Lily is the heroine. She’s not a typical heroine for the period romances I usually read. She’s not a governess, nor part of the ton. No, the leading lady is an orphan down on her luck and, way back then, a woman without a family or protector had little option for decent employment. The emphasis is on decent. The author’s set up of the environment that this little tale takes place in was well done. The despondent atmosphere came through loud and clear as well as Lily’s eventual acceptance of what she’d need to do if she wanted to eat. What I liked about her character was her feistiness. Even though she was trying to give herself a mental pep-talk about doing what she had to, her inherent goodness and sense of right and wrong still battled within her. She wasn’t broken yet and I liked that. The best thing about this story is that she didn’t have to completely let go of her principles, only her inhibitions. I found out that there’s a lot more chutzpah in Lily’s backbone than I at first believed. And, she has one heck of kick.

The man with the stiff and noble bearing is Talfryn. He’s an exercise in contradiction. At first he’s harsh, then there’s a hint of a thaw and then he gets all growly and intense. Well, more intense. He’s fighting a literal internal battle and the author came up with an awesome explanation of his condition. It made this tale all the more interesting because it means that perhaps there might be another story out there with an even bigger battle in the offing. As it was, in Dance Macabre the exploding conflict came at a time I least expected it. It sure made me sit up and take notice and I really enjoyed that. It was an unpleasant surprise for the protagonists but it sure made for some great reading for me.

The most romantic element was Lily’s eventual reaction and sacrifice on Talfryn’s behalf. That was very interesting, even if it was a bit bloody. I also liked how it ended as it was filled with a combination of impressions: sweet, saucy, pragmatic, hopeful, a touch of shy and eventually a healthy dose of joy.

The editing was good, the pace brisk, and watching the hero and heroine come together was a delight. The villain wasn’t who I thought it would be but there was a point in the first altercation that makes made me question something that Talfryn revealed to Lily later in the story. Did the clothing protect him? Why didn’t it affect him earlier? These questions are being deliberately obtuse because I realize that if I ask what I really want to ask, it’d be a spoiler and I don’t want readers to miss out on the surprise. But there is something that seems amiss and I wonder if other readers will catch it too. No matter whether the answer is yes or no, the action and light drama really worked and I had a great time.

Dance Macabre is a compact book of action, surprise and spicy romance. The author’s descriptions provided a real feel for the ambiance of the dance house – depressing and resigned with a coating of false bravdo. Lily stuck out like a fish out of water and I was so happy to have Talfryn rescue her even if it was a bit unconventional in manner. I had fun, was entertained and enjoyed the hero’s fight with himself. Happily for both Lily and me, he lost and the rest was delicious reading. I’d recommend this short novella to paranormal romance readers in a heartbeat -– it has a little bit of the best of everything and is time well spent.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Princess Charming by Nicole Jordan

Princess Charming by Nicole Jordan
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (343 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Thanks to the mischievous meddling of his matchmaking sister, Ashton Wilde meets a damsel in distress during the midnight magic of a lavish ball. But Maura Collyer isn’t looking for a prince—or an intimate pairing with any member of the scandalous noble Wilde family.

Intrigued by Maura’s beauty and daring, Ash is determined to aid in the rescue of her beloved stallion, gambled away by her wicked stepmother to an evil viscount. As their adventure becomes rife with peril and passion, Ash suspects he’s found his heart’s desire.

Even though her dearest friend may be her self-proclaimed fairy godmother, Maura is mortified at being pushed into a romance with a notorious rake such as Ash. Dashing and charming, he comes to Maura’s rescue just in time to help her steal back her precious horse. As they flee across the countryside, she can’t resist his sweet seduction. But is her prince playing a role in a fairy tale to test an improbable theory, or is the love awakening in her heart proof of her own happily ever after?

Maura Collyer may seem a “Cinderella type”, but in truth she is a strong woman of action in an age when women, especially commoner women, regardless of their talents and intelligence, had little power or position in society. Maura does what she has to do, according to her way of thinking, and is willing to suffer the consequences. Her innate sense right and wrong and her sense of humor and sense of self-worth help her in times of despair. However, her pragmatic approach to life is not enough to stop her heart from loving Ashton Wilde, even though she tells herself he is off limits.

When her best friend’s brother, Ashton Wilde, the eight marquis of Beaufort, rides to her rescue, partly to appease his managing sister Katharine and partly on principle, both he and Maura get jarred out of their comfort zones.

Ashton, known for his outrageous roguish ways, long ago became bored with the “same-old, same-old” English Ton society. He gets an adrenaline and testosterone rush as he helps Maura rescue her adored and prized stallion, Bold Emperor. His “take-control” ways get challenged often by Maura, since she is used to giving orders and managing her own racehorse breeding stables. Theirs is a relationship that sizzles even though they both claim it is only a temporary arrangement.

The plot develops smoothly in Princess Charming as the primary characters drive the action with vivacious, intriguing personalities, with wit, and with intelligence that outwit antagonists like the selfish step-mother and the supercilious snob, Viscount Deering. These antagonists do make life difficult for Maura. Many of the secondary characters, especially the Wilde family are compelling. A tragedy early in the Wilde clan’s lives made them a tight-knit family. Each of their personalities adds to the richness of the story. They are an interesting, wild, intelligent, and mysterious assortment of “can-do” people.

Ash and Maura’s honest, open sexual attraction to each other and the steamy love scenes are incredible “time-outs” from the social posturing, malevolent maneuvering, and family meddling. Princess Charming races along with fun, emotional upheavals, underhanded deeds, and unending social strictures.

Nicole Jordan’s “just-right” adjectives, her subtle metaphors and captivating descriptions propel the reader along in a vicarious experience that makes the heart race and often brings a smile or chuckle. But most of all, it takes the breath away with a love that promises the best is yet to come for the hero and heroine.

Delightful entertainment!

Downsizing by W. Soliman

Downsizing by W. Soliman
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (238 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Dianthus

Fat girls aren’t supposed to have fun.

Maxine Small is invisible in a crowded room because no one can see through all the extraneous layers of fat to the sensitive girl lurking beneath. No one except local heartthrob Noah Fenwick. But he too lets her down when he ups and marries Maxine’s best friend—her pretty, skinny best friend whom he always pretended to hate.

Maxine runs away to university and doesn't see Noah again for ten years. Slim now, she returns to her home town as a successful lawyer, hoping to lay the ghost that’s Noah to rest.

With three children, Noah is trapped in a loveless marriage with no escape clause. Drawn toward him as strongly as ever, Maxine learns the true reasons behind his marriage to Cassie but, with the children being used as human bargaining tools, there’s nothing Noah and Maxine can do about their feelings, is there?

Life is never easy, especially when you are the nerdy heavy girl in love with the town hunk. Maxine’s love for Noah has nothing to do with his looks and more to do with the man he is when only she is around. With her tender heart Maxine fell hard for Noah, but kept her feelings to herself waiting for the fall out that she knew was bound to happen.

After life pulls her away from all she knows for thirteen years, she is finally coming back to bury the ghosts of her past. What she finds, though, could be her undoing. Will Noah catch her before she falls again?

Noah knew he would never love anyone like he had Max. She knew him in a way that no one else ever really could, and her leaving torn him apart. He never really got over her. When he hears Max is back in town, Noah knows this is last chance to finally tell her just how much she means to him, and he is willing to fight so the ugly duckling can see just how beautiful she is to this prince. When life comes crashing in on him and Max, will everything he wants slip through his fingers again?

This was a great story that really pulled me in from the first It was wonderful to watch Max grow from the shy girl in love with the popular boy to the powerful woman coming home to find her place in the world. Ms. Soliman really hooked me in as a reader, and made her characters so believable it was hard to see the story end.

I’ve never read anything from her in the past, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but this book really set the bar high for me. The deep emotion, the three-dimensional characters and the well-written plot really left me wanting more from Ms. Soliman and I can’t wait to read more of her works in the future. She would make a great addition to anyone’s reading list.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Landed by a Flyboy by May Williams

Landed by a Flyboy by May Williams
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Recent Historical
Length: Short Story (55 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Bertie Stevens has problems. Her brother is MIA in the war in Europe, the bank threatens to foreclose on her home, and the pilots from the local airbase think her resort's beach is some kind of landing strip. Still, she keeps her little resort in beautiful Cape May running through the dark years of WWII. When Captain Greg Marsh comes to quarter at her estate, he's an unwelcome symbol of the war right in her kitchen. The angry sparks flying between them at first soon turn to sparks of another kind when the passion they feel for each other can't be denied. Bertie's always sworn she wouldn't get involved with a military man. Will Greg's handsome face, confident swagger, and sincere personality cut through her reservations?

Landed by a Flyboy has angry bankers, a hunky Naval officer, and a lot of twists and turns.

There is a lot going on in this snazzy little book. I nabbed Landed by a Flyboy because I have a love of pilots and an interest in all things from the WWII era. May Williams manages to combine the uncertainty of the times with some interesting characters in this short story.

As I said, this is a very short read. If you’re looking for lots of description, then this book might not be for you. Yes, I got an idea of where the book took place, but I didn’t really feel like I was there.

Don’t get me wrong, there is a lot going for this book. Greg is an interesting character. I liked that he wasn’t perfect and wasn’t above letting Bertie know exactly how he felt. The scene where he worked on the car was my favorite because it was sexy in a “being taken care of” sort of way. I sighed happily after reading that scene.

As much as I loved Greg, I had some issues with Bertie. She’s in a strange situation. Granted, her brother is missing. Granted, she’s carrying a huge load. Still, I wasn’t sure why she was so angry at Greg from the very beginning. Greg comes across as a perfectly decent guy, but if there was more explanation as to why she keeps a cool distance I might have been able to identify with her more.

Still there were moments of sweetness and heat that I’m glad were there. I got to see the blossoming feelings between Greg and Bertie and it was fun.

If you want to take a sentimental journey through wartime 1940’s, then this is the book for you.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke

Trouble at the Wedding by Laura Lee Guhrke
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (380 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Book Rating: 4.5 Books
Reviewed By Dianthus

Annabel is about to marry the perfect man . . .

The last thing Miss Annabel Wheaton desires is true love. She learned the hard way that love makes a woman foolish and leads only to heartache. That’s why she agreed to marry an earl who needs her money. He’s got a pedigree and a country estate, and he won’t ever break her heart. There’s only one problem . . .

Christian isn’t about to let her marry that pompous prig . . .

Christian Du Quesne, Duke of Scarborough, thinks the stubborn heiress is about to make the biggest mistake of her life, and he’s determined to stop her. Tempting beautiful women is Christian’s forte, after all. When her family offers him a nice sum of money to stop the wedding, he’s happy to accept.

Falling in love with Annabel was never supposed to be part of the bargain . . .

Annabel Wheaton is new money. After her father hits it big in goldmines, she is thrust into a world of riches that were never thought possible. Growing up dirt poor in a tin roof shack, the idea of more money than she could spend in a lifetime is almost impossible to imagine. But she is learning money can’t buy you class, and it sure can’t buy you love. All money can buy you at the end of the day is heartache and an air of falsehood. With one broken heart and a failed marriage under her belt will the idea of giving love a second try be worth gambling on or is this a sign that she needs to cash in her chips?

Christian Du Quesne, Duke of Scarborough, is living a life that he never planned. After the death of his older brother he must step into the role of Duke and it has left a bitter taste in his mouth. Being a notorious rake, gambler and all around bad boy is something Christian has relished in, but now he has to grow up overnight. After one look at Annabel, Christian knows that he must possess her. There is something about her that calls to the real Christian, and not this man he has had to become.

This was a wonderful book and it was a pleasure to read. The characters were really well thought out and the story line moved at a nice, believable pace that really worked with the time period of this tale. I would have liked to see how things turned out for Christian and Annabel after the wedding, i.e. babies, Dinah’s coming out party, etc. But outside of those possible hanging details (which could make for a follow up story to this book) I truly enjoyed this read. I have read Laurie Lee Guhrke before and this book just reaffirms my thoughts that she is an author to follow and that nothing of hers will disappoint a reader. This is a book that would be great to reread and recommend with friends looking for a new author.

Deadly Obligations by Tamara McHatton

Deadly Obligations by Tamara McHatton
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (151 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

A Green Beret captain, Garrett Jensen, has two great loves in is his career, the other is his family. The continual demands--and absences--as the commander of a Special Ops unit become too much for his wife, Catherine, and although she will always love him, she files for divorce, wanting a normal and safe life for their girls. But danger, wrapped in the guise of Garrett's latest assignment, strikes too close to home, and husband and wife must team up again, against the deadly drug underworld, in order to save their children. Their enemies are within, and without, but which is which is the ultimate question.

Garrett thought everything at home was just fine. He’d never been more wrong about anything in his life.

When Garrett came home from his latest assignment, he discovered his personal life was in shambles. Not only had his wife, Cathryn, filed for divorce, but she’d moved the kids out of the house they’d shared together. I felt Garrett’s pain and confusion as he walked through the rooms of his empty house. However, Cathryn had suffered a great deal in Garrett’s absence. I couldn’t help but wonder if Cathryn and Garrett would be able to see past the pain and find a way to work things out, or if their marriage would become another statistic.

Cathryn and Garrett are two of the most stubborn characters I’ve ever come across. They both have completely different views on their marriage and history together, and this causes frequent arguments. In fact, Garrett and Cathryn spend so much time fighting and lashing out at each other that it was a little hard to get into the story at first. I found myself taking breaks from reading Deadly Obligations because I needed to pull away from the intensity of the fights. The thing that kept me coming back to the book was my curiosity as to how things between them would turn out, and the hope for a happy ending.

I liked Garrett. He’s a strong, loyal, and passionate man, but I found myself shaking my head over his actions many times as I read. I admired his dedication to the military, but disliked the fact that he took his wife and children for granted. He assumes Cathryn and his daughters are fine while he’s away on missions, but it takes something as drastic as his wife filing for divorce to get his attention. Even when he learns of her plans, he arrogantly believes he can swoop in and smooth everything over. However, I was very pleased that Garrett lost a bit of his ego as the story progressed. Very gradually, he began to see things from Cathryn’s perspective and then he truly began to make up for lost time.

I admired many things about Cathryn. She’s a loving mother willing to do anything to protect her little girls. Even when she doesn’t feel strong, she makes sure that her girls are okay. She only cries behind closed doors. Though she suffered a terrible loss, Cathryn still manages to hold her life together. That sort of strength is hard to come by.

When Garrett and Cathryn stop fighting, they make a good team. After they learn their daughters have been kidnapped, they work together to bring them home. While it wasn’t exactly practical for Cathryn to be on such a dangerous mission, I’m glad she convinced Garrett to let her go. It gave her a chance to see the harsh reality of Garrett’s work and gave her some much needed insight into his character.

I must mention that I was not entirely happy with the way the story ended. I won’t spill the details, but I will say this: Garrett and Cathryn go through a lot of pain and turmoil throughout the story. In the last chapter of the book, they are finally on their way to finding some peace and happiness together. However, on the very last page something happens that could rip it all away again. Usually, I’m okay with an open ended conclusion, but after a book as intense as Deadly Obligations, this last minute twist felt unnecessary. I have to assume the author is planning a sequel, but it doesn’t make the ending easier to swallow.

Despite this issue, I thought Deadly Obligations was a good book. I liked Cathryn and Garrett, and I enjoyed watching them learn to work together and rediscover their romance. I recommend Deadly Obligations to anyone looking for an intense military themed suspense.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Words Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart

Words Spoken True by Ann H. Gabhart
Publisher: Revell
Genre: Historical, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (353 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Adriane Darcy was practically raised in her father's newspaper offices. She can't imagine life without the clatter of the press and the push to be first to write the news that matters. Their Tribune is the leading paper in Louisville in 1855. Then Blake Garrett, a brash young editor from the North with a controversial new style of reporting, takes over failing competitor the Herald, and the battle for readers gets fierce.

When Adriane and Blake meet at a benefit tea, their surprising mutual attraction is hard to ignore. Still, Blake is the enemy, and Adriane is engaged to the son of a powerful businessman who holds the keys to the Tribune's future. Blake will stop at almost nothing to get the story--and the girl. Can he do both before it's too late

Love is a light that keeps the darkness of evil at bay. However, memories of fear in a dark closet and echoes of the words—God does not listen to bad girl’s prayers—rules Adriane Darcy’s response to many things that happen. In spite of this psychological hang-up, Adriane is a strong twenty-two-year-old woman who uses her unique talents as she helps her father, Wade Darcy, run the Tribune, a popular newspaper in mid-nineteenth century Louisville, Kentucky. The burden of guilt she carries about her mother and step-mother threatens to sabotage her chance at happiness The time comes when she must make a decision, “honor thy father” and marry the man he wants her to marry or marry the man she loves, for “God is love”. Her struggle almost debilitates her, but courage and faith keeps her doing the best she can in a troubled time. What an incredible vicarious introspective experience the reader has with Adriane!

Blake Garrett, the editor of the Herald newspaper in Louisville, is in direct competition with the Tribune, but in love with Adriane. He came from New York and brought with him his own share of guilt that impedes his ability to feel worthy to love. However, he knows the first time he sees Adriane Darcy that he has loved her all his life, he just had not known it until he saw her. In his efforts to print the truth, he creates dangerous enemies that have a strong hold on Wade Darcy and also Adriane. His tenacity and unflagging energy gets him into trouble, but they also help him find a way to survive and thrive for himself and for Adriane when it seems the dark has truly absorbed all the light in their lives.

Ann Gabhart weaves a beautiful tapestry of a tale with the golden thread of love shining among the varying dark shades of evil in political corrupt, prejudice, and disregard for human life. The iridescence of Adriane and true blue of Blake woven in with the golden thread make a beautiful design, while the pastels of society ladies create part of the landscape design that seems to get mixed with the dark designs of evil. However, some of the secondary characters have varying shades of golden threads, some rather tarnished and some finely polished with age, and some even a little dirty and unpolished, but they enrich this compelling story.

Wade Darcy’s love for Adriane seems to have become tarnished over time as his precious Tribune becomes his first love. The old polished gold is Beck, longtime friend of Wade Darcy and his right hand man in the pressroom. He loves Adriane (Addie to him) as if she were his own daughter. He has shielded her, taught her, shown her how faith in God sustains in all things, and protects her with his very life when needed. The unpolished gold that twines itself near Adriane in the tapestry is Duff, the Irish lad who is loyal to Adriane and guards his family as best he can in troubled times, while the dirty gold is the dog Mr. O’Mallery who never agreed to belong to anybody, but is always there for Adriane when she needs a friend to listen to her.

Antagonists Coleman Jimson and Stanley Jimson and their henchman make up the dark evil as they contrive to control. The horror of the “slasher” who kills young Irish girls, the rioters who roam the streets killing and burning made many dark scenes in the tapestry. They create a terror that makes the heart rate jump into high gear.

Ms. Gabhart’s beautiful, thought-provoking story brings to life a time in American history not often remembered—a time when the right to vote, so taken for granted in our day, was not a given. It was a hard-won privilege. In a unique way, she weaves inspirational bits and pieces into the lives of the characters in this time in history and does it naturally and simply, giving the story a rich texture.

Words Spoken True has subtle foreshadowing, exquisite metaphors, and remarkable characters who have their flaws. Some of them steal the heart, others are frightfully mean, still others are fluff that drift with the whims of society. Most of all, there are those who make a poignant impact and linger in the mind long after the book has been read and put on the shelf, more than likely, to be read again and again.

Murdering Eve by Kelly L. Lee

Murdering Eve by Kelly L. Lee
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (358 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Sunflower

Eve Moore is very likely going insane. In one week's time, she has clear memories of surviving a murderous attack by her dead husband's mistress, teleporting to another Realm, learning her best friend isn't human, and uncovering the existence of trolls, Titans and mythical Gods. If she hadn't gone off her nut, Eve wouldn't be coming to grips with the fact that her mother had an affair with an immortal and she is apparently their love-child.

But since she's getting pretty comfortable with it all, she figures she's probably strapped down somewhere cold and antiseptic with drool dribbling down her chin. Except if she's locked in sanitarium, as she must be, why is she so damn scared of the God of War who threatens to send her soul to the Underworld? And why does the mere glance from a gorgeous man, one that she was tasked to find and return to Olympus, set fire racing through her veins?

Whether it's reality or lunacy, Eve has no idea, but she is on one hell of a ride. If only she could get that red-headed harlot who tried to kill her the first time to cease and desist on the murder attempts, she could enjoy her psychosis in peace…

You know you've had a bad day when your car breaks down and leaves you stranded in the middle of nowhere. Or when you've had the worst week at work dealing with coworkers. That's bad, right? At least you weren't a victim of attempted murder and learned information that would change the way you see the world forever. Yeah, that's a tough week. The heroine in Murdering Eve has gone through hell and back, and it isn't even over yet.

A country song came to my mind while reading this story, one that talks about finding who your friends are when a string of bad luck occurs. Just when I thought things would get better for this heroine, a new surprising element popped up and the chaos began again. Eve is one tough cookie, though even if she'd prefer to live in the state of denial, and chalk it up to a wickedly crazy dream.

Eve is matched with a man that defied an order for the greater good and is paying his price. He's a man with no regrets. Whit Blackstone is a strong willed man who listens to his gut and heart. Where does that get him? Sent to earth to live among the humans. Now that Eve has discovered some truths that might have been better left untold, he has found a purpose in what was supposed to be his punishment.

This book puts an exciting new twist to the contemporary fantasy world. The characters drew my attention in, along with the fast pacing of the plot. There's plenty of action and suspense to go around as well. Eve and Whit make for a great leading couple, and the cast of characters, good and bad, kept me intrigued the whole way. Ms. Lee is an author to watch! In this thrilling and enchanting beginning to what looks like a new series, readers have a chance to fall in love with a world unlike ours, one with a simple good vs evil plot, but the elements that make up this storyline takes a fresh unique spin.

I look forward to more books from the author. If you enjoy a contemporary fantasy novel that explores a new take on mythology and characters that fly off the pages then don't miss Murdering Eve.

Familiar Light by Sarah Balance

Familiar Light by Sarah Balance
Publisher: Noble Romance Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (35 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Jasmine

Seven years of longing comes down to just one night.

Laney Kent returns to Barrier Shoals hoping to reunite with her first love, Bridger. She anticipates his reception might be chilly, but what she doesn't expect is to become the victim of a deadly obsession … or that this night with Bridger could be her last.

Bridger Jansen tangled a lot of sheets trying to forget about Laney, but his heart knew what the rest of him refused to admit: he could love no one else. He's determined not to forgive her for leaving him without explanation, but when he fails to protect her from a vicious attack, the person he can't forgive just might be himself.

Have you ever fantasized about your first love and wondered what would happen if you hooked up again? So does Laney. And she intends to find out.

I read this author for the first time not too long ago and immediately fell in love. I love her style, her writing and her voice. She has this amazing talent for drawing you in and making you fall in love with her characters in a very short space. Her talent also extends to telling a full story in a very short format that doesn't leave you feeling like something was missing. That's not easy to do in short novellas that usually equal less than fifty pages. Ms. Ballance's writing is the kind that leaves me thinking about the characters, and the story, long after I have finished it. She has gone on my “must read” list and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she will write a full length novel at some point, because it would be one to remember, without a doubt.

I loved all of the characters in this story. Even Holden, the secondary character, came through loud and clear with his own sexy style. Bridger, the lead male, is a sexy “man's man” who seems more like a cowboy transplanted to the beach rather than the beach bum that I expected given the locale. Laney is a strong, yet vulnerable, girl next door. The type that I would have been friends with in high school and kept in touch with long afterwards. The setting is great as well. With the beach as a backdrop, which (in my mind) projects the sense of relaxation and calm, you quickly realize how sinister it can be and the author portrays both very well. Also, what has the potential to be spookier than an old lighthouse?

The idea that Laney would return after seven years and that her relationship with Bridger would immediately pick back up where it left off seems somewhat unrealistic, but Ms. Ballance manages to convince me it's possible with finesse. Given their connection and the circumstances, it's not necessarily an unreasonable consequence of the situation. The fact that Bridger seems to be at odds with himself over what he wants and what he believes should happen make it believable. The story line of the serial killer is suspenseful and creepy and the perfect catalyst for the two of them coming together.

Without giving anything away, it looks like this has been set up to be a series, so we will get to revisit Bridger, Laney and Holden at some point in the future. Personally, I can't wait and I will be watching for the next book. If you are looking for a new author, or a just enjoy a short, quick, enjoyable read then definitely check out 'Familiar Light'. You don't know what you are missing if you pass this book, or this author, up.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Liar’s Guide to True Love by Wendy Chen

Liar’s Guide to True Love by Wendy Chen
Publisher: Carina Press
Genre: Contemporary
Heat Level: Sweet
Length: Full length (238 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed By Dianthus

Wedding planner Cassandra Hanley is in the business of making other people's dreams come true. But for some reason, whenever she meets a potential mate of her own, she finds herself telling little (and not so little) white lies. She's not trying to sabotage her relationships on purpose: as a people pleaser, she just naturally tells men what she thinks they want to hear.

When Cassandra meets Nick, she's determined to be herself this time—until she learns he abhors weddings. So she recasts herself as an advertising exec, and now she's scrambling to cover up the lie...with more lies.

Into the tangled web wanders Cassandra's college sweetheart, Kevin. Kevin, the one man who knows the real Cassandra, and loves her anyway. Could he have been The One all along?

Torn between the past and the present, Cassandra is about to learn that you can't plan the perfect life the way you can plan the perfect wedding.

Always the wedding planner but never a bride. That doesn't sound quite right. Being a wedding planner should be a truly rewarding career. Who wouldn't love spending each day helping create the "Big Day" for couples everywhere? At least that's what Cassie wants to believe. Until recently, Cassie has never seen it as anything but something she was really good at and enjoyed doing. And if she's able to make a living while she was at it, than it's two birds with one stone. Adding a relationship to her already hectic life could bring her to her breaking point. The only thing more exciting would be if a blast from her past sent her straight over the edge!

When an old flame, Kevin, comes out of the woodwork, he tempts Cassie to reconnect and question why they ended things all those years ago. Kevin wants her to believe that he has grown up/changed but the mixed signals he keeps sending is slowly driving Cassie crazy. Cassie gives new meaning to "analyze 'til you're paralyzed". Could he be for real this time, or is he just using her as a filling while waiting for the next best thing to come along?

Then there's Nick. He's a new guy in town, and newly single. Nick has a past too, and has no problem keeping secrets from Cassie all while trying to get to know her better. Don't judge Nick too harshly just yet. Cassie could teach him a thing or two about telling lies.

With a group of four friends, lots of emails and texts over her love life, Cassie may just find that she is better as a solo instead of adding a plus one to her date book.

This was a cute story that showed how every girl needs a great group of friends to help her go from girlhood to finally becoming an adult. And when that doesn’t always work, late nights with a bottle of wine can make any situation easier to understand. Okay maybe not, but it made for some pretty funny scenes. I really enjoyed this work. The characters were realistic and the story line itself was unique and kept me interested up until the last page. The only thing that I wish was that Wendy Chen would have finished out the last scene between Cassie and her friends and not left such a cliff hanger. Not once did I find the story lagging or forced. If some light chick-lit is what you're in the mood for, Wendy Chen's debut novel should fit the bill nicely.