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Author: Regina Scott
Title - The Bride’s Matchmaking Triplets
(Lone Star Cowboy League: Multiple Blessings Series)
Set in Little Horn, Texas, 1896. After a scandal involving her father, Elizabeth Dumont worked tirelessly to pay for the care of Aunt Evangeline. When her dear aunt passes away, Elizabeth answers an ad for a mail-order bride. However, when she arrives in Little Horn, Texas, it is to find her intended marrying another woman. The Lone Star Cowboy League temporarily hires Elizabeth to care for abandoned triplet babies. She longed to be their true mother, but as a single woman she is unable to adopt. When her onetime sweetheart, minister Brandon Stillwater, offers a marriage of convenience, she agrees for the triplets’ sake.
A few years ago, back East, their insecurities drove Brandon and Elizabeth apart. Once again residing in the same town, the pair try to be cordial to each other. Yet when rumors threaten to ruin Elizabeth’s reputation, Brandon is unable to sit by and do nothing. He tells himself that the marriage of convenience is for the sake of the three abandoned boys, but the truth is that thought of Elizabeth ever marrying anyone else hurts. Neither wants to risk their hearts again, but the same old, wonderful feelings begin to bloom between them all over again.
***** FIVE STARS! The triplets (Jasper, Eli, and Theo) are crawling babies when the story begins, but by the end they are trying to walk. It was interesting to see just how much of a handful three baby boys could be. The author keeps everything realistic, so do not expect those babies to do anything magical to bring Elizabeth and Brandon together. They are simply babies being babies – and totally irresistible.
As the story begins, Elizabeth is already in Little Horn and caring for the triplets. The author tells the reader about the couple’s past, how they parted, and how each ended up in Little Horn in such a way that I feel as if I actually read about it all as it happened, rather than after the fact. That is some stellar storytelling! I read this entire tale in a single sitting and enjoyed every second of it. The story flows smoothly and the characters are all engaging, even the vexing old women who love to gossip. An excellent novel for any time of the year! *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Briar’s Patch (Adventures in Amethyst #7)
Briar Sankey has always been the most beautiful girl in Amethyst. During her school years she had several different boyfriends, but never fell in love with any of them. Now she is forty-seven and the owner of her late mother’s restaurant, Bea’s Café. With no family around any longer, Briar is hearing her biological clock ticking – loudly! She wants to have a baby before her next birthday in October. Having given up on love, Briar wants a sperm donor: however, she does not want some anonymous person that she did not know and could not vouch for his genetic traits. She wanted her child to be like Harper, her sixteen-year-old waitress. With that thought in mind, Briar considers Harper’s father, Roman “Bud” Marasek. He is not handsome, but who cares? He is a great father. He is sweet, shy, loyal, trustworthy, moral, and hardworking. Problem is that Bud would never agree to give her a child and not be involved in his/her life. He would insist on helping to raise the child.
Bud has no idea how to talk to his emotional teenage daughter about dating and boy trouble. Thank heavens Harper has Briar to talk to about it all. Harper practically considers Briar to be her second mother. Bud had a crush on Briar back in school, every guy did, but he fell in love with Evette. Since Evette’s death over a decade ago, Bud has not even considered getting remarried. Yet when Briar asks him to father a child for her, he begins to look at her differently. There is no way he would give her a baby with no strings attached, but perhaps they could go out on a few dates and see what happens.
**** FOUR STARS! I was thrilled to return to Amethyst and witness another couple come together. The only thing I did not like about the story is the fact that Briar is in her late forties. (Women are considered “high risk” if they become pregnant after thirty. “Very high risk” after the age of thirty-five.) For readers who think ahead, as I do, there is no worry about the baby if the parents pass away before the age of seventy because it would still have Harper, who would be adult by then. That was my very first worry upon learning Briar’s age.
This story shows that just because a woman is beautiful, it did not mean that she would only consider handsome and physically fit men. (In a small way, it reminds me of Beauty and the Beast. I have always adored the story and I just saw the newest movie release. So, yes, I may be biased because I love tales such as this.) The hero this time has a little extra weight and his hair is thinning. However, the heroine only cares about what he is on the inside. From my experience, men do not realize that women care more about how the men treat them, since that is how they will also treat their future children.
The author’s writing style is easy to read. There is no life-threatening danger, just a romance that will make readers sigh in satisfaction. Highly recommended; especially on a rainy or snowy afternoon. ****
Author: Sophie Jordan
Title - Fury On Fire (Devil’s Rock #3)
After spending a decade in prison (Devil’s Rock) North Callaghan is finally free. To forget the past, North loses himself in hard work and loose women. But the other half of his duplex home has been sold and the woman who has moved in is the prim and proper type – and SO tempting.
Faith Walters has been a social worker for over two years. At the age of twenty-six, she has finally moved out from her dad’s and purchased her own home. But the walls are thin and her inconsiderate neighbor is very noisy. He seems to have a bed partner every night of the week and getting her night’s sleep is not easy until he and his various playmates are done. Even then she is too fidgety to drift off quickly. The way he seems to watch her does not help.
*** THREE STARS! The author has ensured that I like the main male character, North, even though he was a convict, by explaining early in the story what and why he did to end up in prison. Now out, he comes across to me as being less honorable than when he went in; yet he still has a line that he will not cross. Still, I could never actually admire the man or come to care for him. (Yes, but I still like him. It is impossible for me to explain.)
The main female character, Faith, comes across to me as the sweet, proper girl next door. She not only takes care of her father – and her brothers – but being a social worker shows that she cares for the welfare of children. They are total opposites, yet somehow, are good for each other.
The writing style is slow paced. Several scenes and subplots seem drawn out. It took everything I had not to start skimming paragraphs or pages. This story is good to read on vacation, because one can easily put it down to do something else; however, it is not good to fill in a long afternoon. The two previous titles in this series are much better. ***
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Adventures in Amethyst Series Collection, Volume 1
(Books 1 – 4)
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Perfect Reflection (Friendship Heirlooms #5)
Elaina Houston’s best friend and coworker is Ethan Lynwood. Though they live in the same building, they live in separate apartment (on the same floor and there are no other tenants in the building.) This makes sense to the pair due to the fact that most of their waking hours are spent together.
Ethan hopes that he may be more than a friend to Elaina someday, but knows better than to push the issue. He knows all about her past and probably understands Elaina’s dating behaviors better than she does. Her parents had Elaina in beauty pageants and other competitions from a very early age. They expected perfection from her; for Elaina to enthrall everyone – especially judges. When Elaina eventually rebelled, she went all out and ended up falling from grace. But thanks to another friend, Elaina is back with Christ.
When Elaina goes out with a man she lets him know up front that it is as friends. She insists on paying her own way. Yet every single time the man would quickly want more. Elaina has to change her phone number often. The only man who has never pushed for more is Ethan. He is her rock. So why does seeing Ethan date anyone cause her grief?
Ethan may know all about Elaina’s dark past, but she does not know his. In fact, Elaina would be shocked if she ever found out. Therefore, when Ethan’s brother, Sebastian, says he is coming for a visit, Ethan has every reason to worry.
**** FOUR STARS! This story clearly shows that even the closest of friends may not know everything about each other. However, if one hopes for more than friendship, then truth and communication are essential. Deception only breeds misery because it is inevitable that the truth will be revealed.
Karen Wiesner’s writing often has me cogitating on a story’s meaning – this one more than any I have previously read. I not only found it to be insightful, but was entertained throughout the day as I read it. This novel would be perfect for book clubs to discuss and I highly recommend doing so. ****
Author: Kathy Carmichael
Title - Angel Be Good (Christmas Romance)
The Angelic Council has made a slight miscalculation. Lieutenant Danvers was supposed to die that day in Vietnam. They did not anticipate Daphne to interfere and end up dying in his place. On these very rare instances the newly deceased simply enters heaven early; however, Daphne insists that Leonard (the angel informing her of the Council’s error) go tell the Council to fix the problem and send her back. Returning to her past life is already impossible, but the Council does decide to allow Daphne to return and take over the life and body of another female due to arrive shortly. They only ask that Daphne do them one small favor.
Nathaniel Danvers is CEO of Danvers and Son, a leading department store chain in sixteen states and three countries. He has no idea how the beautiful lady managed to enter his office, much less the building, but he wants her gone. He does not believe in the guardian angel she claims is with her invisibly or anything else that he cannot see, feel, taste, or hear. Yet somehow the silent alarm does not summon help, the doors refuse to open, and he is being forced to watch his life story.
Daphne returns on Christmas Eve, several years after her early death. She has until the end of the night to help the son of Lieutenant Danvers change his ways or he will not make it to heaven. (It had been Nat’s mother who had asked the Heavenly Council for help.) So here Daphne is, paying an after-hours visit to Nat’s office. With Leonard giving flashes of Nat’s past, present, and future on various gadgets she has never seen before, Daphne is about to play Ghost to his Scrooge.
**** FOUR STARS! You do not have to be a fan of the classic tale A Christmas Story to enjoy this delightful romp (but it sure helps.) This romantic story has the same flavor; however, the author has upped the ante by having the “Scrooge” be in the twenty-first century and adding some chemistry between Daphne and Nat. (It does not hurt that Carmichael’s version of Scrooge is H-O-T either.)
Kathy Carmichael has a flare for telling a heartwarming, yet sassy, stories and this one will certainly put you into the holiday spirit! ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title – First Comes Love (Friendship Heirlooms #4)
The wedding of Winnie and Chad takes place in the prologue. Their daughter, Kally, is two years old. Winnie’s body is going through the motions. Her stomach is tied up in knots. She can still recall being in high school when her boyfriend, Chad Feldmann, had seduced her, even though Winnie had said no. Now they are wed, but Winnie feels as though she lost her self-respect that day long ago; and when she became pregnant at the age of fifteen, Winnie’s life was no longer her own.
Chapter One begins two years later. As on her wedding day, Winnie is having trouble accepting that her whole life has changed when it does not seem as though Chad’s life has changed much at all. She is the one who was ostracized in high school because she was pregnant, while he got pats on the back from his buddies. She is the one stuck doing the housework, two jobs, all the childcare, and making sure the bills are paid, while he works his one (full time) job and comes home to relax. Winnie really wants to enroll Kally in a preschool, but Chad was against it until it became too late to do so. His excuse was that they did not have the money and Winnie was doing okay handling Kally. So when Chad informs her that he has quit his job, registered for college, and has already paid for the first semester, Winnie explodes.
It takes awhile, but Winnie’s explosion finally opens Chad’s eyes. He did not consult Winnie about going to college full time (for five years to get a dual degree) because he knew she would have talked him out of doing it while they lived paycheck-to-paycheck. In fact, Chad does not tell Winnie what he has done until his first day of class was less than two weeks away. Now Chad realizes he has been a colossal, selfish idiot. He has always believed that his way is the right way, and he cannot accept anyone else’s interpretation of right until the damage is done and all that is left is the fallout. This college situation is just the latest in a long line of selfish decisions he has been making his entire life. And unless he does something to change his ways quickly, Chad may lose his daughter and the only woman he has ever loved.
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Forever & All That Jazz (Friendship Heirlooms #3 – Inspirational Romance)
Jasmine “Jazz” Pepowski and Pastor Wesley “Wes” Horace had been engaged once before. Wes broke it off and both of them suffered while apart. As the story opens, Jazz and Wes have been married for nine months. Nothing else matters to Wes but serving Christ and coming home to Jazz. The pair can seldom find any private time with each other due to (chronically needy) parishioners.
It is no secret to Wes that Jazz had been a wild child and her father, Henry, let her do anything and everything without supervision. Wes knows what Jazz helped her friend, Ashley, through while they had been teens and the consequences both ladies now live with. But Wes had been miserable without Jazz in his life. The Lord has given them a second chance to be together.
Their nine months of bliss hits a major road bump when Henry can no longer hide his heart disease from Jazz. The doctors at the hospital say that Henry needs surgery to get an ICD implant. This will monitor and regulate his heart rhythm. Once done, Henry will still only have six months to a year to live. During this time, Henry will need twenty-four hour care. Jazz wants her dad to come live with them in the tiny parish. She wants to be with her father constantly during the short time he has left. But Wes feels as though Henry is trying to steal Jazz away from him. He wants Henry to be put in a hospice home. It was not natural for Wes to be a sensitive, sympathetic, sweet person, the way he is trying now. Wes admits to himself that he is beyond selfish and absent minded. He knows it to be a huge flaw; however, Wes does not want Henry to live with them. Wes believes Henry would receive the best care living in a hospice house. An added benefit would be that Henry would not interfere with his private time with Jazz. After all, Jazz can go to Henry if the nurses call her. Wes simply cannot understand why Jazz wants to be with her father as much as much as possible.
As for Jazz, she cannot believe that her husband, a pastor, does not understand her wanting to care for her father during the short time of life he has left. Jazz wants to be the one to take care of her father and spend as much quality time with him as possible, yet Wes is all but telling Jazz to choose between her father and her husband. How can Jazz help Wes understand that she simply could not live with the decision to put her father in a hospice home? And if their marriage is going to survive, Wes and Henry will have to eventually sit down and reconcile their differences.
**** FOUR STARS! I must admit that I was amazed that such a selfish man would become a pastor. He has no trouble counseling others, yet when it comes to his private life Wes wants everything his way. However, by being this way, the author shows that pastors are simply human, like everybody else. Jazz is the type of woman who enjoys being a full time house wife. She actually enjoys taking care of the home and doing everything for Wes. But she also understands that for a marriage to work, the two must compromise on things; especially during times of family trouble. The author clearly explains why Wes is the way he is, but I still find it difficult to believe that Wes is so ignorant as to why Jazz wants to spend time with her father.
Author Karen Wiesner has crafted an excellent Inspirational Romance that shows how one must lean on the Lord during times of strife and/or confusion. This helps between Wes and Henry, as well as between Wes and Jazz. This story has no life-threatening danger or surprises; just a pure romance where the main characters must look within themselves for answers. So few stories are written this way any longer. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Cowboy Fever Series (5 Complete Books)
Fever, Texas, is a small cattle town. It was at least an hour from any city of consequence. Fever is considered to be at the center of the South Plains. It is located between the Permian Basin to the south and the Texas Panhandle to the north.
This novel is about five neighboring ranches – the Lewis Ranch, Triple Aces Ranch, May Ranch, Sanford Ranch, and the forthcoming Mackenzie Ranch – and the people who live there.
Wings “Mac” Mackenzie is co-owner of Mackenzie Environment & Infrastructure. The engineering firm is quite successful, even though Mac’s brother has married, had kids, and now only consults. Mac is very old fashioned. He wants a loving wife at home, raising the kids and taking care of their family. Problem is that most modern women are more interested in having a career than a family. Out of all the women Mac has known, one stands out, above the rest – Amanda Grant. She is the charming millionaires he has seen at various of her father’s parties over the past twelve years. Each time he saw Amanda, she had been with someone else. This time, however, they were both unattached to other people.
Amanda Grant is a successful interior designer. When Mac asks her to come down to Fever, Texas, and renovate the fixer-upper ranch he has purchased, Amanda hopes it is Mac’s way of being alone with her before asking her to marry him. Yet after only a week together on the ranch, Mac leaves her to go deal with a problem at a project site. After three months pass, the ranch is ready to be lived in and Christmas is only couple of days away. Amanda decides it is time to admit to herself that she has (once again) fallen in love with a man who does not feel the same way about her.
Mac could tell something was wrong when he hung up from his weekly phone call to Amanda, but he had no idea what it was. An on-the-job injury helps him realize that it was time to become a full-time rancher and spend the rest of his life with Amanda by his side. Yet when Mac arrives home, it is to find Amanda gone.
**** FOUR STARS! This is what I call a “feel good” story. Its main focus is on the relationship budding between the two main characters. The secondary characters are from the neighboring ranches. In this story, there are glimpses into the lives of those neighbors. Amanda fits right in with everyone in Fever. I have already come to care for Maggie May and her small son. I could almost hear her Southern twang. If this is a taste of what is to come, than I look forward to the rest of the stories in this novel. ****
Lance Olsen, Triple Aces Ranch co-owner, used to date Janaya Gaines in high school. They even had planned to elope. When Janaya suddenly dumped Lance and left for a singing career in Nashville, Lance turned to her older sister, Colleen. Lance and Colleen eventually wed and had a son, Gav. Colleen and Gav were everything to Lance, until they died in a fire. It has been four years since the horrible day his family perished. Lance’s heart is still numb and only his ranch matters any longer. Yet when Janaya comes home to Fever, Lance loses his numbness and rage takes its place.
All Janaya’s life, she has had to be careful of her back-stabbing sister. Colleen had always gotten everything she set her mind to. That was usually everything that Janaya had wanted. No one could ever replace Lance in her heart. Staying away from Fever was the only thing t hat kept her anger and resentment at bay. But now Janaya has come back to Fever to stay. To say she is surprised at Lance’s hatred for her would be an understatement. Perhaps coming home was a mistake.
**** FOUR STARS! In this story, both main characters have lost those dearest to them. What bothers me is that Lance knew something was odd when Janaya dumped him, yet he did not pursue the answers to his questions. However, that is not abnormal for most teens. I am eager for the next episode and plan to begin reading it immediately. ****
Jared Chapman is foreman and co-owner of Triple Aces Ranch. His grandmother had brought home an orphan, Alana Hamilton, long ago and Jared gave his heart to her. He never regretted it; however, it had always been difficult for Jared to express his feelings. So he kept them hidden.
Alana returned those feelings but never believed that someone as wonderful as Jared could ever see her as interesting. Alana believed that Jared considered her no more than a sister. (Though Alana had never been adopted into the family, she had been raised on the ranch.) Alana accepted the proposal of the only man who expressed interest in her, Holt Bowman. Holt was an up-and-coming politician, but he took his stress out on Alana. When word finally reached Jared of Alana’s abuse, he all but ran to her rescue.
***** FIVE STARS! The author tackles a situation of which most authors would not dare – physical and emotional abuse. Alana has a friend in town (who also used to live in Fever, Texas). Though only a secondary character in this story, she is vital to the plot. She will also have her own story told later in this omnibus. *****
April St. Clair and her father had lived in a filthy hovel since her mother’s death. Her father never paid much attention to her and April’s meager wardrobe was all third-hand or worse. She studied hard and was considered to be a geek, her nose always stuck in a book. At graduation, she had been petrified to have to deliver the valedictory address. She held the highest grade rank in nearly thirty years. Upon finishing the speech, April was relieved to be heading back to her seat, only for Shawn Jacobs to stick out his leg at the last minute and cause April to go sprawling. The entire school had laughed at her and April vowed never to allow Shawn to ever humiliate her again. Years passed …
April St. Clair is now a high-powered lawyer and has been made a partner. When April learns of her father’s death, she is shocked. April never knew her father was sick. She returns to Fever and learns that her father has a young mare at Triple Aces Ranch and that he had wanted Shawn Jacobs, and no other, to train her. No matter her harsh feelings toward Shawn or how much he considers her to be stuck up, April would fulfill her father’s wish. Whether he liked it or not, Shawn Jacobs would train the mare…because he is now the one who needs money.
**** FOUR STARS! April is a wonderful role model. She went from rags to designer outfits. She worked hard as a teen and even more so as a young lady alone in the big city. She earned every cent. How could anyone not be impressed? Even a bit envious? There are several lessons in this terrific tale, but the main one I heard was to never judge someone until you have walked a mile in her high heeled shoes. ****
Around five years ago, Ken Abrams, Triple Aces Ranch co-owner, and his wife, Karla, were madly in love and expecting their first child. But tragedy took that unborn daughter and the two reacted differently. Ken seemed totally unaffected by the loss. He did not want to talk about it and did not even appear to grieve. The very next morning, Ken was back out on his horse, doing ranch work, as if nothing had happened. But for Karla, her world had shattered and she could not forgive Ken for diving into his work and forgetting all about his wife. Ken is the only man Karla has ever loved, but after five years apart she knows that she has to decide on whether to divorce Ken or confront him about the loss of their child.
Ken never knew why Karla left him. The death of his daughter tore him to pieces and only by working could he keep himself together. The few times he contacted her, Karla had been seething and cold. Ken believes she blamed him for the death of their unborn child. But then Ken is – basically – kidnapped by Karla’s four brothers and taken to the exotic dance club that Karla has been working as a waitress to make ends meet.
**** FOUR STARS! This story is a wonderful way to conclude this omnibus. It is riveting and holds onto the reader’s attention whether she wants it to or not. For the readers who noticed that one other female character has not has her story told, do not fret. The sixth story, Drifter’s Heart, is soon to be published. I can hardly wait. ****
Author: Alexx Andria
Title - The Buchanan’s Baby (Erotica Romance)
Nolan Buchanan, CEO of Buchanan Enterprises, receives an anonymous note stating that he is a father and where the child could be found. Knowing it would probably be a hoax, Nolan travels to San Jose to learn the truth.
When Shannon Garrity first realized that she was pregnant from her one-night stand, she did some research on Nolan to see if he would be a decent father. Shannon did not like what she discovered. Nolan was, and still is, a perennial lover of women. Shannon decided that it would better for the baby to have a single mother rather than having a careless playboy in the picture; therefore, she begins to raise the child alone. But now Aubrey is nearly three-years-old and Nolan has shown up. The rich playboy is still as handsome as ever, but Shannon refuses to allow Nolan to teach her daughter any of his bad habits.
Nolan quickly learns that popping up and demanding Shannon change her way of living – and Aubrey’s last name – was a bad move. The lady cares nothing about how powerful he is in business or how much money he has. She has been doing a fantastic job with Aubrey, so he cannot complain there. Nolan decides that he needs to change tactics. Yet should Nolan succeed, could he be the father that Aubrey needs? And could he convince Shannon to give him a chance with her heart?
**** FOUR STARS! Be warned that this is one H-O-T novella. I’m used to reading this author’s romances, under the name of Kim Van Meter. I have always been amazed by her storytelling ability, but every now and then I enjoy an erotica. As Alexx Andria, this writer has proven to me that she is not nearly as tame as I though her to be. Andria’s characters are vivid and portrayed so realistically that, had they been real, I could have called them friends. The author actually seems to breathe life into her characters. (There are not many authors that I can say that about either.) A sweet, yet wild ride! ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Destiny (Inspirational Romance)
Christian “Chris” Riley, Elizabeth Horace, and Oscar Albright grew up together in Peaceful, Wisconsin. After graduation, Chris moves to Los Angeles to get away from everyone and everything that has been dictating his life. On his own, Chris takes control of his own life. Though Chris has long known that Elizabeth loves him obsessively, even he was surprised when she follows him to L.A. It did not surprise Chris to see Oscar moving to L.A. with her. Oscar has been in love with Elizabeth for years too. There is no way Oscar would allow Elizabeth to live in such a bad section of Los Angeles without him. Over the next thirteen years, Chris has become the owner of a game design technology company. He has been in short relationships with various women, but whenever he needs a shoulder or for someone to tell him that he is a good person, Chris goes to Elizabeth. Deep down, Chris understands that she alone will always love him, no matter how far he strays or how much he hurts her when he spends a night with her, disappears the next morning, and avoids her until he needs her again.
When a serial killer rapist’s attack of Elizabeth is mercifully thwarted, Oscar and her best friend, Yolie Thorp, are there for Elizabeth. The attack changes Elizabeth. She realizes that Chris is not a good man for her. She had always seen what she wanted to see, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Chris is not a hero, not the way Oscar has been all her life. Now, viewing things more clearly, Elizabeth begins looking at Oscar in a different light.
Chris had known Elizabeth had something important to tell him the day he left her – again – but he had ignored her calls and left for the Bahamas with his current girlfriend. When Chris finds out about the attack on Elizabeth, his entire world is rocked. But after racing back to Los Angeles, Chris learns that Elizabeth has finally seen him for the cretin he really was. Elizabeth severs the ties between them and Oscar sets a defense perimeter around Elizabeth that is all but impenetrable. Chris knows that the only way to get her back is to give himself to the Lord. God begins changing Chris from the inside out, but it just may be too late.
***** FOUR & A HALF STARS! This story shows that, quite often, what you are desperately searching for in your life has always been there, unseen due to its familiarity. And as with Elizabeth, it also shows that love is often blind. Too blind. The lucky ones realize it before it is too late.
Once again the author, Karen Wiesner, has written an inspirational romance that kept me reading far longer than I should have. (I rescheduled a dentist appointment just so I could finish it.) I stress that this is an “inspirational” romance, meaning that the characters in the story are Christians and often turn to the Lord for guidance. In this story, Chris lost his faith as a preteen, due to the influence of his uncle. For those who like to be notified if a story has scenes of abuse, assault, and the like, this tale only mentions Elizabeth meeting the killer and later, after the attack, glosses over what happened. I do not believe that anything is told/shown that should hold you back from buying and enjoying this inspiring romance.
I would also like to mention that a card game (called Destiny Poker) is played in this story. A small section, in the back of this book, tells how the author came up with the game. Since the idea first came to mind, Destiny Poker has been tweaked and refined and is now available to the public. You can find details on how to play Destiny Poker in the book (and possibly on the author’s web site). The author has even made a special card deck, which you may choose to order. (I have a deck. The back of each card has a picture of the book’s cover. I have to admit that the cards are gorgeous.)
This is a stand-alone story. No other book needs to be read to fully enjoy it. The characters have well developed backgrounds and are so believable that, were they real people, I could have called them my friends. A wonderful story to curl up with on a cold night or take with you on a plane or vacation. Very heartwarming. *****
Author: Regina Andrews
Title - Light of the Heart
(Sterling Lakes #1, Inspirational Romance)
Cascade Preston is a well known stained glass artist. Cascade believes her life is going just fine until her cousin/employee, Abby, breaks the number one rule: No jobs from Sterling Lakes. Cascade still harbors a lot of hate and resentment for the city that had turned blind eyes as her father physically abused her mother. So when a gentleman arrives claiming that she is holding up the renovation of a church in Sterling Lakes, Cascade tells him that he is mistaken since she never put in a bid for the project. This is when Abby confesses to forging Cascade’s name. Feeling bad for the man, Cascade agrees to give him referrals to other artists, but she ends up going to St. Luke’s Church to take a look at the construction site.
Brendan “Dan” McQuay is the project manager for the church’s renovations. Every day the stained glass lady, Cascade, fails to show up at the site he loses money. And Dan needs that money to help pay for his mother’s care. Confronting Cascade about her tardiness reveals why she has not been making any appearances. After Cascade comes to look over the site and speaks with Father Greene, she decides to take the commission. Dan is happy to be able to finally get back to work. But there is something about Cascade that tugs at his heart. Dan has never allowed himself to even think about becoming involved with anyone during at a project, but this lady just may be an exception to his rule.
**** FOUR STARS! Let me state up front that this story is an Inspirational Romance. Bluntly put, this means the two main characters are Christians and look to God for guidance. This romance has no danger or suspense, excluding a boat accident. It is purely a love story about two people who grew up with life handing them lemons. Both, especially Cascade, need to learn how to make lemonade, so to speak.
Neither main character has turned away from their religion or faith. There is wise advice littered throughout the story and quite a bit of soul searching. Unlike many books on today’s market, this one is not stuffed with “filler” pages where nothing interesting really happens. The author writes only what is necessary to move the plot along. (Though I am a bit surprised that Dan never even once considered pressing charges due to forgery or breach of contract.) The main characters have well developed backgrounds; however, I often wanted to know more about their siblings and a few of the secondary characters. Perhaps in the next episode of this series (to be titled Angels of the Heart) will shed some light on at least a couple of them.
The town of Sterling Lakes had a dark background one generation ago. It is up to the residents of this generation to heal from it and possibly make it a nicer place. If it is up to Regina Andrews – and I dearly hope it is – Sterling Lakes is about to become a much better place to live. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Clumsy Girl’s Guide to Falling in Love
(Friendship Heirlooms #1, Dec. 2012)
Zoë Rossdale is the clumsy girl who somehow ends up in a tangle on the ground or spilling something across the dinner table and has Habanero-colored hair that always seems to go in the wrong direction. Zoë has never trusted a single person in her life (for good reasons) except her late mother … until four years ago. That was when Zoë opened herself up to Curt. For a few months, Zoë had said and done things with him that she had never with anyone else. Zoë loved Curt with all her heart. She gave him everything, including her virginity. Then he unceremoniously dumped her – by phone message – for a woman with huge breasts. A woman who treated every man around her like a pet. A woman who only paid Curt attention whenever she wanted something from him.
Somehow Zoë has become best friends with three gorgeous women. With their help, Zoë has tamed her wild hair, gotten a roof over her head, purchased a small and flattering wardrobe, has a job as a receptionist/secretary for a patient boss, and she is going to school to become a better employee. Everyone says she looks beautiful, but Zoë still feels like a dodo bird. And then Zoë literally runs into the only man she has ever loved.
Curt Bertoletti does not want to simply work as a chef or waiter at the family’s Italian restaurant, Ciatti’s Italiano. Instead, Curt went to college so he could help with the financial side of the business. As the youngest in a large family, his older siblings have never let themselves see his potential. They often treat him as a joke. But Curt wants to expand the business. He has plans to secure the restaurant’s future. If only his family would take him seriously.
Over the past four years, Curt has often thought about Zoë. Gaining her trust had been a monumental feat. Curt had never been as happy as he was during his months with Zoë. And then Curt had solidified her distrust of men, him in particular, by betraying her. Losing Zoë has changed him profoundly and he realizes just how badly he wants her back. One way or another, he would have to prove to Zoë that he loves her and would remain faithful to her alone. She will not make it easy for him to win her back. She is justified in her distrust. If she makes them both miserable on the road to redemption, so be it. He will do anything for Zoë – except give up.
**** FOUR STARS! What I did not mention in my synopsis is that no one in Curt’s family, except his mother, has ever approved of Zoë. The woman that Curt had dumped Zoë for is also in this story. So Curt has his work cut out for him in proving his fidelity to Zoë. Another thing I did not mention is that Zoë and Curt both have big Maine Coon Cats. If not for those two cats, the pair may never have gotten back together.
This is an Inspirational Romance, meaning that the characters often turn to God for His guidance. If you are not a Christian, you will still enjoy this tale very much, because the author does not shove religion down the throats of her readers. This story focuses on the trust and romance of the main couple. That is one of the things I like most about the author, Karen Wiesner.
Each character has its own developed background; however, the main and secondary characters have fully developed ones. Zoë’s roommate will have her story told in a later title. Zoë’s two other friends had their stories told in the Family Heirloom Series (of which this new series is a spin-off). Each title is a stand-alone story and, as always, each story is fabulous! ****
Author: Kemberlee Shortland
Title - Rhythm of My Heart (Irish Pride)
Set mostly in Dublin, Ireland. Artist representative, Eilis Kennedy, had been raised in the worst area of Dublin’s Northside. She had worked hard to better herself and get away. Now she works for Eireann Records. Eilis always keeps an ear out for talent. When she discovers Kieran Vaughan playing in a seedy pub in Northside, Eilis knows he is a rare find and offers him a contract.
Kieran is an aspiring blues guitarist. Just as he is about to give up his dream of a career in music, Eilis walks in and says she wants to be his manager. Neither Kieran, nor Eilis, expects it when they feel such a strong desire for each other. Kieran recovers first. Accepting the contract would put him exactly where he wants to be – on the road to stardom and in the company of a woman he desires. But Eilis is much more wary. The few times anyone had shown an interest in her, it had been for their own gain. Therefore, Eilis thinks her feelings are not honestly returned by Kieran. Eilis has a full, curvy figure and believes she is less than pretty.
Fergus Manley is Eilis’s boss at Eireann Records. When he notices Kieran’s interest in Eilis, he is jealous. Fergus has been trying to lure Eilis into his bed for quite some time. Determined to add Eilis’s notch to his bedpost, Fergus decides that he may need to stoop to an all-time-low tactic.
**** FOUR STARS! This author was born and raised in Northern California. In 1997 she went to live in Ireland for six months, where she married a man who convinced her to stay. Since then, Kemberlee Shortland has been picking up some Irish words and British slang. This information is told in the back of the book. I mention it because Kemberlee uses slang in this story several times. If you are like me and have never heard the slang word(s) before, you will have no trouble figuring out what the word means by how it is used in the sentence. (In fact, there was only one slang used that I am not positive that I figured out correctly or not – Bickie.) Since the author still spends time in both Ireland and America, she knows what readers from both parts of the world enjoy in their romance stories – and she delivers.
This story will especially appeal to those who are full-figured or consider themselves to be lacking in appearance or self esteem. (Let’s face it; this describes most people in the world.) None of the characters in this tale are perfect. They actually come across to the reader as human and realistic. Those who play first or secondary characters have well developed backgrounds.
I am also proof that you do not need to be a fan of the Blues of Jazz to appreciate Kieran’s smooth voice. (I actually kept hearing Randy Travis in my head.) The notes played and the talent described still manages to reach the reader. The rhythm of this story will capture the hearts of many. ****
Author: C.H. Admirand
Title - A Wedding in Apple Grove (11/1/12)
The town of Apple Grove, Ohio, is unlike any other. Everyone is friendly but nosy; small in population but big in heart. When the locals need any handiwork done, they know that there is no job too small for the Mulcahy sisters: Megan, Caitlin, and Grace. Meg is the oldest sister. The petite redhead works hard in the family-run business. All day long she makes her scheduled rounds to fix whatever needs fixing in the homes of Apple Grove. Since this is a small town, everyone knows everything about everyone, and not all customers pay in cash. A few bake the most mouthwatering deserts that the entire Mulcahy family is more than happy to receive them in lieu of cash.
Daniel “Dan” Eagan is determined to put his ex-fiancé and his ex-buddy firmly in the past. Dan is looking to make a new start in Apple Grove. The only person Dan knows in the town is Aunt Trudi and according to her, Dan will fall in love with the place. Dan has only just crossed into the county when he spies a lady walking on a fence as if it were a balance beam. Dashing from his car to the fence, Dan reaches the redhead in time to catch her as she falls. The instant their eyes meet, neither can deny the attraction that springs up between them. Meg no longer believes in romance and Dan fears another rejection, but their hearts refuse to be denied. And when Meg’s past collides with her future, it may take all the residents of Apple Grove to keep their romance from short-circuiting.
*** THREE STARS! I must admit that there are some very interesting characters that live in the town of Apple Grove. It is the type of place that resembles Mayberry (from the Andy Griffith Show). Everyone seems to know about everyone else’s families and gossip spreads faster than a virus among kids in school. This story starts out pretty slowly and many character names are thrown at the reader early on, but you will not have to worry about trying to remember them all. To help readers out, the author has listed the cast of characters in the front of the book for quick reference.
Though the relationship between Meg and Dan is the primary focus, there are one or two others happening simultaneously. Watching Honey B. make a certain sheriff crazy with her internet dating is just as fun as wondering what color the little beautician will dye her hair each week. For me, there are times that Honey B.’s love life was even more interesting than Meg’s! By the story’s end, I was grinning from ear-to-ear and wondering who finished up Mrs. Doyle’s perm – if anyone.
I am eager to return to the people of Apple Grove. I have come to care for several and I find it awful to leave them, even if it is only for a short while. Admirand needs to write faster! ***
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - First Love (Angelfire Series #2)
Darlene Foxx learned long ago to never rely on anyone. Darlene lives in New York City. She is a floral designer at Cherished Flowers and has been with the store since its beginning. Though she left her hometown years ago, Darlene has still not put her horrible past totally behind her. She has a long list of guys who have walked out on her since then. So, basically, Darlene has created solid walls around her heart and refuses to let anyone in. But there is one man, Jason "Jace" Radcliffe, who always manages to get through her defenses. Darlene and Jace have known each other since childhood. He was her first love. For the past eighteen years Jace would show up at her apartment, stay a few weeks or months, and the moment Darlene let down her defenses he would walk out of her life. But now Darlene's life has changed drastically.
When Jace walked out two years ago, Darlene began dating Todd Roziminski. The moment Darlene informed Todd that she was pregnant, he walked out. He took all her money with him. Now Darlene is almost eight months along in her pregnancy. She has sold all her nice things to get money for the baby. Each day Darlene works long hours, walks home, and crashes in bed from exhaustion. Darlene is not really awake when Jace walks into her apartment and back into her life.
Jace has been in love with Darlene forever, but she never lets him get close. Each time she walls herself away, he leaves. Yet he always ends up returning. After being gone two years this time, Jace has decided to return and never leave Darlene again - no matter how much she hurts his pride. It shocks Jace to find Darlene pregnant, her hair cut short, and with little more than an old couch to her name. Jace knows that Darlene wants to tell him to get out, but he manages to keep her from saying the words out loud. He knows that he deserves her anger. He, like everyone else, left her. But now, even though she would never admit it, Darlene needs help. And whether Darlene likes it or not, Jace is determined to stay this time. He will regain her trust and win back her heart even if it takes forever.
**** FOUR STARS! In this story, both Darlene and Jace have major emotional turmoil. The main trouble between them is Darlene's feelings of being unworthy and her refusal to tell Jace how she feels. I simply could not understand Darlene's stubbornness until she finally told Jace how life with her parents had been. The author clearly shows how vital communication is in a relationship.
Though this is the second title in the Angelfire Series, it is a stand-alone story. You do not have to read any other title to enjoy the tale. If you are searching for a light romance, something perfect to take with you on vacation, then this is it. I loved every minute with Darlene and Jace. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title – Home (Inspirational)
Ayodele “Della” Flynn had grown up in Peaceful, Wisconsin. It was there that Della had met and married Declan. After Declan goes into business with Hannah Powell, Declan moves them to Chicago. It did not seem to matter to Declan that Della would be miserable in Chicago. So Della ends up spending years in a city she hates, constantly making all of the sacrifices that her husband asks of her.
The only bright spot in Della’s life is her young son, River. Della has kept close contact with Declan’s parents, Leila and Shamus. Declan has not spoken to his parents in over a decade, but Della would often call, write, and send them pictures of the grandson they had yet to meet. As the business Declan and Hannah created fails, Della begs her husband to cut his losses and for them to return to Peaceful. Yet Declan refuses. Declan is not concerned that they are living in a bad section of the city or that he is putting the safety of his son and wife at risk daily. Therefore, Della finally decides it is up to her to put River’s safety and needs first. No matter how much Declan demands they stay, Della and River are leaving. On their last morning together, Declan admits to having an affair with Hannah. This betrayal cuts her deeper than any other Declan had committed previously. And as Della waits for River to finish his last day of the school year, she receives the call from Hannah that would forever change her life. The business is burning to the ground and Declan has been in a fatal car accident.
After the funeral, Della and River finally leave Chicago to begin their new lives in Peaceful. Leila, Shamus, and their nephew, Cade Somers, are supportive and do all they can to help. Cade turns out to be the friend Della so desperately needs and River quickly adores him. But when Cade admits to wanting more than just friendship with her, Della’s fears and insecurities reemerge.
**** FOUR STARS! Karen Wiesner writes stories that touch the hearts of her readers. This one is no exception. The character of Della is compassionate and sympathetic. She knows that she has drifted away from God and is striving to find her way back. Della is fiercely protective of her young son and does whatever is needed to ensure his care and safety. I found Della to be a good mother, even though she bowed to all of her husband’s wishes for too long. The son, River, charmed me from the start and is sharp as a tack. I hope to return to the town of Peaceful someday. ****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - Like One of the Family (Family in Paradise #1 / SuperRomance 1778)
Set in the Caribbean, St. John. Filled with white beaches, blue waters, and tropical drinks, most people consider St. John to be paradise. For Lora Bell, it was her childhood home and only a source of painful memories and obligation. If it were up to her, Lora would still be in Chicago. The only real reason Lora has now come home is because the family resort, Larimar, is in trouble and she has the power of attorney. Once in St. John, Lora learns that the situation is direr than she could have ever imagined. Lora's grandfather ("Pops") has early onset dementia. He loses time and often believes his wife is still alive. Pops hid his declining health well. Now it would be a miracle if Larimar was not sold out from underneath their feet because Pops has not paid the resort taxes in years.
Heath Cannon was the poor, neglected island boy who had been abandoned by his parents at the age of ten. Though Heath is now an adult, he has never forgotten that he owes everything to the Bell family. Lora has no idea that she had probably saved his life when she gave him the basket of food so long ago. Then Pops gave him a handyman job at Larimar and Grams had home schooled him. Basically, Heath had grown up at Latimar. Pops and Gram were like parents to Heath. The fraternal twins, Lilah and Lindsey, were like his sisters. But the oldest Bell girl, Lora, has always been different. Lora never was like a sister to him. Heath has had a crush on Lora from the first day they met.
Heath had tried to reach Lora in Chicago for about a year before his certified letter finally forced her to actually take notice of Larimar's troubles. The instant Lora steps from the ferry platform, Heath knows she has not changed. Lora is still the sour-faced Bell that everyone remembers. But Heath also knows that Lora had always been expected to be the responsible one. While her sisters were out at dances, on dates, or hanging out with their friends, Lora had been at Larimar studying hard. Currently, Lindey is in Southern California "doing the actress thing". Lilah has been at Larimar, but Larimar's problems are too much for her to handle. Heath could probably have handled it all, but he does not have the power of attorney - ergo, no authority to get information, much less make decisions or change anything - and Lora had ignored his emails and phone calls for a year. Therefore, when Lora arrives at Larimar with a huge chip on her shoulder, Heath meets her head-on with a huge chip on his shoulder too. It is said that there is a fine line between love and hate. It is also said that opposites attract. Lora and Heath are like oil and water. They may not mix well, but the chemistry between them is highly flammable. Lora and Heath must put aside their grievances with each other and work together to care for Pops and to save Larimar before they lose everything.
**** FOUR STARS! Thanks to this story I now know that one of my cats is what an islander would call a COG. (A cat that often acts like a dog, such as playing Fetch.) Author Kimberly Van Meter greatly suffered as she spent time in St. John visiting a childhood friend and doing research for this novel. After all, who would actually WANT to spend time on an island exploring the local customs, enjoying the white beaches, or living like a local by sitting on the porch during a tropical storm? Yet because of all these sacrifices, Kimberly Van Meter was able to create a believable romance with all of St. John's local flair and common etiquettes. I could almost hear the Crucian accents and see the bright white beaches as the crystal blue waves pounded its shores. This author brought everything to vivid life!
The character of Lora is a workaholic and known to be brutal - even low enough to stab a coworker in the back or plant false evidence to discredit any competitors. Lora is no sweet miss, has no friends, and certainly does not know how to be one. Therefore, Lora was not high in my estimations. I found it difficult to like her. But when I stopped reading for a few minutes and actually put myself in Lora's expensive designer shoes (and pretended that I grew up as she had), I realized that the author was spot-on about how I would look suspiciously at people - even those I knew in my childhood. I did not like admitting that I probably would have reacted as Lora's character was written.
On a future note, the second title of this trilogy is named "Playing the Part". It will be Lindsey's story and is due for release in early September 2012. The last sister, Lilah, will have her story released sometime early 2013 and it will be titled "Someone to Believe In".
If you want to feel the full effect of this novel, read it on the beach or while you are outside enjoying a hot and sunny day. ****
Author: Bella Riley
Title - With This Kiss (Emerald Lake #2)
Rebecca Campbell is the innkeeper at Emerald Lake Inn. She had been engaged to the owner, Stu Murphy, until recently. That was when she had walked in to find Stu kissing someone else...a man. Rebecca and Stu had not been in love though. In fact, Rebecca had planned to break off their engagement. So the pair was actually relieved to know that they could remain friends. Stu asked Rebecca not to tell anyone his secret, and though Rebecca was no good at keeping secrets, she had agreed. But then Stu left town that night without telling anyone why; however, Stu did leave brief messages to his family members saying that he had to go away and think for awhile. This means that Rebecca has not only been left with Stu's secret, but to also let everyone know that the wedding has been canceled without revealing exactly why. Elizabeth, Stu's mother, blames Rebecca for (somehow) causing her son to run off. Rebecca feels lucky that only Elizabeth seems to be blaming her. That is, until Stu's brother, Sean, arrives in town for the wedding.
Coming home and falling for his brother's former fiancé was not what Sean Murphy had planned. Yet Rebecca's sweet smile and loving heart is simply irresistible, even for someone like him. It is obvious that Rebecca knows why Stu disappeared. The lady's face is an open book. She probably even knows where Stu went to. No matter what he feels for Rebecca, Sean cannot give his heart to her while secrets are between them.
**** FOUR STARS! More is happening in this story that I reveal in the synopsis. Sean may be upset with Rebecca for keeping a secret, but he has been keeping one for twenty years. That secret has caused harm to his entire family. To make things even tenser, Rebecca is not only running the entire inn and planning weddings for other couples. In about two weeks, she will host the First Annual Tapping of the Maple Festival. The event would bring more tourists to Emerald Lake and help the local economy, but one local resident has filed a petition to stop it. There is also trouble between Elizabeth and Bill (Sean's parents) and a ghost in Rebecca's bedroom.
Needless-to-say, this author has so much going on that I never had time to grow bored. Unlike most novels, this one does not slow down in the middle. There are no hot bed scenes that would cause you to blush should one of your kids open the cover for a peek either. (The chapter ends, leaving most to your imagination.)
Bella Riley has written an irresistible contemporary romance with charming characters set in an unforgettable little town. I can hardly wait to revisit Emerald Lake. ****
Author: Jules Bennett
Title - Caught in the Spotlight (Harlequin Desire)
Mia Spinelli has been the assistant of Olivia Dane, one of Hollywood's most beloved icons, for six months. During this time, they have become close. Even Olivia's daughter, Victoria "Tori" Dane, a world famous fashion designer, adores Mia. Mia loves her new job and more than excels at her duties. Mia has kept no personal secrets from either Olivia or Tori. Both know that Mia had been the assistant of Anthony Price, Hollywood's top director, prior to becoming Olivia's. Back then, Mia had been used as fodder for the media, which claimed that she and Anthony were lovers. Refusing to let the lies break up Anthony's marriage, Mia had resigned as his assistant.
Hotshot producer Bronson Dane is every woman's walking fantasy. Believing his mother and sister to be blinded by Mia's act of innocence, he intends to keep the assistant close. If Mia plans to learn Dane secrets and then report them back to her lover, Anthony, Bronson would be there to stop her. When passion flairs between Bronson and Mia, both agree to explore and enjoy their time together with no strings attached. Having been lied to and manipulated by a scheming woman before, Bronson locks his heart away and refuses to trust Mia. But he wants her whether she was lying or not.
As for Mia, she is having a difficult time keeping silent about something that could tear the Dane family apart. She had stumbled across the dark secret shortly before coming to work for Olivia. The secret is not Mia's to reveal and telling it would only hurt the people involved. Should Bronson learn of the secret, and the fact that Mia had known and kept silent about it, Mia would lose his trust forever.
**** FOUR STARS! The character of Mia is portrayed as honest, hard working, and extremely loyal. She is the total opposite of Bronson, who is a cynic. For me, watching the pair clash was like witnessing a multiple car-pile up on a freeway - a mangled-up mess with a good chance of Bronson exploding. The author, Jules Bennett, opened the story in such a manner that my attention was instantly captured. Due to a variety of sub plots and surprises, I found it difficult to fall asleep that night, no matter how exhausted I was. I wanted to see what was going to happen next.
As an added bonus, there is a short novella tucked into the back of this book. Billionaire's Baby is written by Leanne Banks. I enjoyed it so much that I read it twice.
Both stories are well written and I hated seeing them end. (Hmm, perhaps Tori will get her own story told someday. Hey, I can hope!) ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Baby, Baby (Family Heirlooms #1, Christian Romance)
Thirty-seven-year-old Tamara Wolfe married Robert right after finishing high school. While Robert worked at the waste treatment plant, Tamara stayed at home to care for the house and kids. The last of her children is now in preschool and Tamara has too much idle time on her hands. To fill the void, Tamara decides to make a business out of her long-time love of creating designer gift baskets. She never dreamed that Robert would be totally against it. Robert continuously tells Tamara that even though their friends and family members enjoys them, the baskets are not worthy of selling to strangers.
Robert's father has always told him that a man who does not provide for his family without help is the worst kind of loser. Therefore, Roberts sees Tamara's basket business as a threat to his manhood. What will happen if her business thrives? Would she spend extra time with her basket business and not keep the house clean or take as much care of the family? Worse, what if she CAN keep up with the house, kids, and even ends up making more money than he did? Robert begins to wonder if Tamara needs another baby to keep her so busy that a basket business is simply not possible.
At the same time, Robert is having trouble at the plant. Robert has been a plant operator for twenty years. He is now up for the position of plant manager. But Wayne, who has only been with the plant five years, is also up for the promotion. Wayne has a college degree and the city manager believes it to be more important than experience. Should Wayne get the promotion, what would Robert do?
**** THREE & A HALF STARS! The Wolfe family greatly resembles the Cleaver family from the old television show "Leave It To Beaver". It is up to Tamara to care for the children, keep the house spotless, take the kids to (and be part of) all after school activities, and have a hot meal (usually made from scratch) waiting on the table when Robert comes home. Even Tamara's nights are not her own. All Robert must do is work his eight hours and come home for Tamara to pamper him.
Author Karen Wiesner brings the Wolfe family into the new century. Though it is obviously due to the influence of Robert's father, the mind-set about only the man being allowed to financially support the family is a thing of the past. And I am in awe of Tamara. Personally, I can think of very few women who have been crafted from the same mold as Tamara. (Keeping the house totally spotless, cooking all the meals, and caring for all the kids more than makes a full time job. Yet instead of relaxing for the few precious hours that she has for herself, Tamara prefers to turn her hobby into a part time job!)
I had a bit of trouble believing Robert's stubbornness at first, especially as I witnessed him down-playing the talents of a woman he was supposed to love, until it dawned on me HOW he came to be this way. My epiphany came from a minor character, Robert's sister. Wiesner's subtle inclusion of his sister is what finally, to me, made Robert's character believable. If you are looking for a sweet, Christian romance, you have no need to go any further than here. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Shadow Boxing
(Family Heirlooms #2, Christian Romance)
THE PAST: As a motherless teenager, Justine Morris took care of her dying father alone. Only stolen moments with Joshua Samuels helped ease her stress. When Justine realized she was pregnant, the pair wed to avoid problems within their Christian families and began building a life together for their new daughter, Vashti "Vash".
THE PRESENT: In two months Vash is to leave for college. But Vash has no need for a degree in psychology to notice that her parents' marriage is in trouble. Almost two decades together and they still act uncomfortable around each other, as if on dates very early in a blooming relationship. Her parents are obviously attracted to one another, yet each is independent to a fault. All the signs point to them separating and eventually divorcing once she leaves for college.
In the hope of stopping Justine and Joshua from making the biggest mistake of their entwined lives, Vash has set in motion plans of her own. The three of them are to spend a week on a Christian outreach mission's trip. The trio will help build a house for a Mexican family that had lost their home in a mudslide. During this time they will sleep in tents, have no communications with home, and (hopefully) Justine and Joshua will come to learn how they honestly feel for each other.
**** FOUR STARS! In this second story of the Family Heirlooms series, we return to Peaceful, Wisconsin. As with most of today's families both the husband, Joshua, and the wife, Justine, each enjoy their own career. The main problem is that by marrying due to a sense of responsibility, instead of allowing their romance to take its natural course, their relationship became as if frozen in time. The author, Karen Wiesner, has done a wonderful job of showing how such a couple can have conflicting emotions and how vital open communications are. As for Vash, I hope to see more of this intelligent young lady in future books of the series; even if it is only as a counselor for other main-couple characters. Brava! ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Foolish Games
(Family Heirlooms #3, Christian Romance)
Peter Samuels has owned and operated a Christian book store for fifteen years now in Peaceful, Wisconsin. One year ago he lost his wife, Lydia, to a brain tumor. Peter honestly has no idea how he would have coped if not for the help of Lydia's best friend, Kimberly Wolfe. The thirty-four-year-old lady has been a close friend to the entire Samuels clan since her childhood and has worked in the book store since its opening. In fact, Kimberly is the only reason his store has not gone out of business after Lydia's death. Peter has two kids. They have known Kimberly all their lives and consider her to be an honorary aunt or second mother. And speaking of the children, James and Brenna seem to be finally moving on. This is partly due to Kimberly's presence. However, Peter is still grieving for Lydia.
Kimberly Wolfe has always loved Peter, though she has been careful to keep the knowledge from him. When Peter fell in love with Lydia and then wed her, Kimberly had been happy for them. She could easily see their love for each other. They were a perfect match. When Lydia died, the pain cut Kimberly as deeply as it did Peter and she did everything she could to help Lydia's family make it through the aftermath.
An innocent kiss at a New Year's party leads to a growing awareness between Peter and Kimberly. Peter is not sure he can love again or if his friends and family would consider his new feelings for Lydia's friend to be wrong. Kimberly is not sure whether her love for Peter is right or wrong either. Even if she can be with Peter, Kimberly must first deal with her fears borne of the past. Kimberly's domineering father had used the Bible to justify his God-given right as head of the household. Kimberly cannot forget how her father had literally destroyed her mother with his mental, verbal, and sometimes physical abuse. Even though Kimberly no longer lives in his home, her father still tries to control her. Due to this, Kimberly fears trusting any man and has never allowed any man to get close enough for a real relationship.
Can Peter see Kimberly as more than a friend and employee? Can Kimberly ever forgive her father or trust Peter not to someday become just like him?
**** FOUR STARS! This story has several characters. Those who play large roles are well developed, while those with lesser roles are not. (After all, why learn a detailed background of someone who is only mentioned in passing or appears for a brief cameo or two?)
Lydia had been a huge part of Peter and Kimberly's lives before she died. The author has done a terrific job of explaining this, as well as why Peter and Kimberly worry about whether their growing love for each other is wrong. Kimberly's character is caring and forgiving, except where her father is concerned - for good reasons. The reader quickly understands that Kimberly really was happy for Peter and Lydia's marriage to be so wonderful. Kimberly was not then, nor is she now, the type who would consider trying to steal Peter from Lydia. Kimberly never comforted Peter in hope that he would turn into her embrace or something like a rebound. The author made Kimberly the exact opposite. The lady is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside. (Kimberly is the type of person that I would love to be able to call my close friend.) Yes, there are people in today's world that are as caring and sincere as Kimberly's character is, but they are few and far between.
In this story, Wiesner shows that each person needs to follow the path God leads them to, even if by doing so the person disappoints their family. That path is not always easy either. If there is one lesson that I have learned about the author it is this: Stories by Karen Wiesner warm my heart like a cozy fire on a chilly night. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Glass Angels (Family Heirloom #4, Christian Romance)
Set in Wisconsin. Three years ago Samantha "Sam" Samuels had been sexually assaulted by Ryder Feldmann. Pastor Samuels, Sam's father, had been counseling Ryder and had kept urging Sam to befriend the man, even though Pastor Samuels had known that Ryder was a convict. Pastor Samuels's evangelistic ambitions had made him blind and he made Sam go out with Ryder. Since that horrible event, Sam refused all contact with her father. The most tragic part about that time in Sam's life was that she had been love with Kyle Feldmann, Ryder's older brother.
Kyle testified against his brother during the trial, but he could never blame her for breaking up with him. Now, three years later, Kyle owns Feldmann Christian Divorce Counseling where he counsels others. His son, Chad, is fifteen-years-old, a difficult time in a young man's life. Though Kyle and Chad have always been close, recently Chad has been putting distance between them. But Kyle understands the teen's need for some independence and he does his best to give Chad the space he desires. It is Summer Break and instead of getting a part time job, Chad spends most of his time with his girlfriend, Winnie. Kyle has known Winnie (basically) all her life. Kyle is happy to see the life-long friendship blooming into romance. Kyle tries to also keep up with news about Samantha.
Over the past three years, Sam has lived in an apartment between Peaceful and La Crosse, where she has been attending college. Her friend, Jordan Palunachek, has started a rape counseling clinic called Glass Angels. The largest corner office has been held for Sam, waiting for her to finish earning a Master's Degree in psychology. Samantha believes God has been leading her to this path; to help women who have gone through the same trauma she has. Samantha is surprised to learn that Glass Angels is in the building owned by Kyle and that her clinic shares the building with Kyle's counseling center.
Sam has never blamed Kyle for his brother's sin. They both quickly realize that their feelings for each other have not dimmed. They begin dating again. Kyle cannot accept that their love will not work out this time. He wants so much to help Samantha heal. He will need to be painstakingly sensitive and slow, because though the assault was three years ago, Samantha has not really begun to heal. To make matters worse, Ryder is about to be released from his prison confinement and he has not changed one bit.
***** FIVE STARS! There is even more going on than I reveal in my synopsis, but to touch on everything would more than double the story's description. The author shows that bad things can and do happen to good people, but it is for each person to decide whether they will break and crumble under the pain or bend and find a way to make their pain work for some good. Karen Wiesner often takes Christian Romance from its normal shelf and propels it well beyond all expectations. This story is a prime example. Stellar! *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Shards of Ashley (Family Heirloom #5)
Ashley Savage grew up in an uncaring family. Since the age of five her mother, Corinne, abused Ashley in several horrific ways. Mentally. Verbally. Physically. Later Corinne wed but nothing improved for Ashley. In fact, Ashley's abuse worsened. Her pampered half-sister was nothing less than a bully. Corinne and her husband, Pedro Ramirez, played at being Christians. The Ramirezes delighted in telling everyone at church about their sinful and wayward daughter, Ashley. No one asked Ashley for her side of the story. Ashley never said one word of ill against her family or in her own defense. Everyone believed the worst of Ashley.
Now an adult, Ashley no longer turns to drugs or sleeps around. Today Ashley is the sole owner of A&A Design. She has become a success in every sense of the word. The only person who knows even a bit of Ashley's history is Jasmine "Jazz" Pepowski. Jazz is Ashley's closest friend, but even Jazz does not know every horror that Ashley has locked away in her mind.
The one man who has the annoying ability of getting through her defenses is Jay Samuels, a military chaplain. In six months Jay will retire from the military and become the local pastor. As the story opens, Jay has Leave for one week and Ashley is picking him up from the airport. For Jay, simple friendship is no longer enough. Not when he has seen her strength, the way she had picked up the pieces of her shattered life and rebuilt herself from scratch. Ashley has never allowed anyone to get close to her. She pushes everyone away, including Jay. But during his week home, Jay plans to somehow convince Ashley to marry him. To accomplish this, Jay needs to find out about every dark secret in Ashley's past. Jay needs to make Ashley see that she could trust him even if she could not trust another single person. But Jay does not realize the extent of all Ashley has walled off within her own subconscious or what keeps her from giving herself to God.
***** FIVE STARS! This is the fifth story within the Family Heirloom series. Once again Karen Wiesner is tackling a hard topic that most authors would avoid like the plague. When one, such as Ashley, has been dealt several, various abuses and yet, somehow, still manages to straighten out her life and succeed, then the LAST thing she is eager to do is to put her trust in another human being. When that same person has begged all her life for God to help her, save her, and then for Him to never heed her distress, then the LAST thing she is willing to turn to is her faith in God.
Wiesner not only goes into the needs for Ashley to deal with her past, her issues with trust and control, and of finding her way back to God. The author also looks at the how many Christians often fail to help their neighbors. In this story, Ashley is wild and has done many sinful things; however, no one in the congregation ever thought to wonder WHY the teenager was doing it all. Because Ashley never defended herself or told anyone that her parents were telling lies, her fellow Christians assumed she was guilty and gathered around the "poor parents". In reality, no real Christian likes to believe that they may have overlooked such crimes happening to the children within their church. Yet it happens more often than you would think. As I read Ashley's story, I found myself looking at the young kids and teens around me in a different light. Perhaps those wild teens drinking on the street corner are seeking escape from something worse at home.
If you have not read the previous titles of the Family Heirlooms series, you will still fully enjoy this story. Each title is a stand-alone tale. However, if you have read them, I am happy to inform you that Samantha Samuels and Kyle Feldmann, from "Glass Angels" (Family Heirloom #4), are wed in this episode. And if you are familiar with Wiesner's "Kaleidoscope series", you may notice a small reference to the Kaleidoscope building too. Noticing that made the setting more believable to me, especially since the reference was made "in passing" - instead of being used as a plug for another series.
If you are looking for a Christian Romance that will touch your heart, while also opening your eyes to a new way of viewing the world around you, then this author is for you! Not just this story, but ALL of Karen Wiesner's stories are this way. As for this individual story, you will be treated to a realistic, well written tale that will capture your attention almost immediately, hold onto it until the very ending, and will long linger in your mind. I am unable to explain how much I loved Ashley's story. In a word: "Indescribable!" *****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - The Past Between Us
(Mama Jo's Boys #1, SuperRomance 1694)
Cassandra "Cassi" Nolan and Thomas "Tommy" Bristol had grown up together in Bridgeport, West Virginia. At the age of ten, Cassi had been a rich girl, one of the popular kids. She had also been the only person in school to walk up and befriend the twelve-year-old poor boy. Tommy had been one of three white foster boys living with Mama Jo, a single black woman. Mama Jo had adopted the three kids with the worst personal histories. Though Mama Jo was a small woman, her sharp gaze could cut a person to the core.
The past between Cassi and Tommy is just that - the past. Now Cassi Nolan is wanted by the law and FBI Agent Thomas Bristol is the one assigned to bring her in. He has spent the last two months tracking the little thief down. The evidence in her file clearly shows that Cassi has changed. No matter what he once felt for her, Tommy cannot let those guileless blue eyes trick him into letting her go.
Cassi is claiming herself to be innocent of all charges. She has been on the run for two years. During that time she has been hunting down information on her stepfather, Lionel Vissher, who Cassi says murdered her mother to get his hands on the family's fortune and is currently after her. But Tommy has heard countless criminals claim similar tales and he refuses to fall for her act...even if her story is starting to make sense.
***** FIVE STARS! Sizzling, suspenseful, and full of drama well describes this story, the first of a new trilogy by Kimberly Van Meter. This talented writer has taken a strong man with a horrible past and (basically) handcuffs him to the one woman in the world able to see through all of his emotional barriers to the raw wound still bleeding upon his heart. The author injects honor within his veins and an all-consuming desire to follow the law (to the letter) within his soul. Not content to stop there, Van Meter follows this up by making sure that his slippery and deceitful prey is none other than his first love. It all adds up to create one of the most captivating romances I have read this year. I did not really need that night of sleep anyway. *****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - A Chance in the Night (Mama Jo's Boys #2 / SR #1700)
As a kid, Christian Holt had been helpless to stop his mother from selling herself to men. Much of her earnings went to support her illegal drug habit. Christian had been eleven-years-old when she died from an overdose. Eventually he ended up in West Virginia with Mama Jo, a petite black woman with a big heart, the wisdom to understand what a troubled teenager needs to straighten himself out, and strong-willed enough to make the teen actually want to change. Mama Jo raised Christian up right, along with his two other foster brothers.
Now an adult, Christian is a bartender at an upscale bar in Manhattan. He has solid plans to open his own nightclub in the near future with a buddy. First, however, they must entice an investor to aid them set things into motion. Christian has always been able to read people well. Yet unknown to Christian, his keen sense is totally wrong when it comes to Skye. She is Belleni's best call-girl but, no matter how you look at it, the pretty lady is just like his mother. She sells herself for cash. To Christian, this means she is not worth his time and he refuses to give into his attraction to her. But when Skye's rich client becomes physically violent, Christian cannot ignore the situation. After all, Mama Jo would have never let him live it down. Saving Skye's life ends up changing everything.
Belleni offers only the best to his clients and they pay him well for the privilege of booking a date with Belleni's elite stable. The man is smooth and charming on the surface, but turns vicious when crossed. The only person more heartless than Belleni is Vivian Forrone, his right-hand-man (so to speak). Vivian is a sociopath draped in a socialite's body. In her own twisted way, Vivian has been in love with Belleni for over two decades. They had even been lovers at one time in the past. She knows Belleni goes through women and Vivian has always kept her jealousy in check. But five years ago, Belleni saw Skye and his infatuation with the woman still shows no signs of ebbing. Belleni had entered Skye's life when she had been most vulnerable. Using his charm, Belleni impregnated Skye and she has been in his power ever since.
No matter how much four-year-old Nico physically resembles Belleni, Skye D'Lane loves him with all of her heart. Skye would do anything for her son and Belleni knows it. Belleni keeps Skye isolated from her family and uses Nico as leverage against her. Skye is now Belleni's best girl and earns him much profit with the clients. She lives alone in a cheap, small apartment. To keep Skye from running away, Nico lives with Belleni. If Skye wants to see Nico or spend an afternoon with her son, she must earn the privilege. Skye is not looking for a hero when Christian swoops in and rescues her from a violent client. Yet after only a short time in his company, Skye cannot stop from wondering if Christian could help her and Nico escape Belleni. The problem is that by doing so, Belleni would go after Christian, as well as his family.
**** FOUR STARS! Christian Holt is the second of Mama Jo's foster sons to get his story published. In my personal opinion, this tale is not as exciting as the first, but the danger is just as real. (The previous title is "The Past Between Us" and involves Christian's foster brother, FBI Agent Thomas Bristol.) For readers with soft hearts, I will state that the child, Nico, is never harmed or ever in any real danger. So if you tend to pass on stories involving a child, rest assured that this story is safe for you to read.
Kimberly Van Meter has a creative writing style, with a unique flavor all its own. I really wanted to begin reading another novel once I had finished this one; however, I found myself unable to do so. I cannot express exactly why, but these characters kept lingering in my mind. They almost seemed to demand that I sit quietly and enjoy the warm and humorous feelings that the author left me with. Whatever the reason, this is one romance that will quickly capture your imagination and warm your heart. ****
Author: Kimberly Van Meter
Title - Secrets in a Small Town (Mama Jo's Boys #3 / SR #1706)
In Dayton, California, twenty-five years ago, Owen Garrett had been at the tender age of eleven, when his life shattered. His father, Ty Garrett, had been the leader of a racist cult at Red Meadows. Ty had been killed, along with many others, when the FBI raided the compound. It had been a massacre. Young Owen had been sent to live with an aunt, who relinquished custody of Owen to the state. Eventually, Owen landed in the care of Mama Jo, a petite black woman with more heart and wisdom than anyone Owen had ever met.
Today, Owen Garrett is the owner of Big Trees Logging. He has returned to Dayton so that his family name would not always be associated with only bad feelings due to the town's history. The logging business should help bring good things to the town and, hopefully, change the public perception of the Garrett name. This is hard to do, thanks to a reporter who keeps writing articles about his company. Piper, the journalist, is painting Owen as a man with no heart, stating that his company is cutting down the forests without any consideration for the environment.
Piper Sunday is a reporter for the Dayton Tribune. The ambitious lady has dreams of landing a Pulitzer someday. The incident at Red Meadows may be her ticket to receiving the award, as well as earning a position at one of the more well known papers. Piper believes that she has found proof that Owen's father was innocent. Her source claims that Ty was deep undercover with the FBI when the raid went down and that the shooting was a cover-up. But no one is willing to talk about the event. Piper cannot help but wonder why everyone is trying to bury all knowledge about what actually happened at Red Meadows. It is starting to feel as if everyone has something to hide, including her own parents. Piper refuses to stoop digging until she learns the truth.
Reluctantly, Owen and Piper team up to uncover the truth of what really happened at Red Meadows. Spending time together has each seeing the other in a new light. But even so, would they ever be able to fully trust one another?
***** FIVE STARS! This is the final story in the trilogy about Mama Jo's Boys. Owen is the one who feels he must prove himself worthy to the Dayton community. Since Owen lives in California and Mama Jo stays in West Virginia, Mama Jo's role is much smaller than in the previous titles. However, Mama Jo is not forgotten. If a woman begins to mean something to one of her boys, then Mama Jo has to meet her and decide if she is worthy. During Thomas's (The Past Between Us) story and Christian's (A Chance in the Night) story, hints were given about Mama Jo's health possibly declining. Everything becomes clear in this episode.
Kimberly Van Meter's stories are a true pleasure to read. *****
Author: Trish Jensen
Title - For a Good Time, Call ...
Sherry Spencer may be thirty-years-old, but anyone looking at her would believe her to be a teenager. Although her face reflects pretty innocence, inside she has the determination of a bulldog. She has been so busy making a name for herself in the advertising field that she has not really been bothered about her lack of dates. Sherry works for Simpson & Bailey. She is an advertising marvel. She has won every major award her industry has to offer, and some they do not. Sherry has so many clients and accounts that her boss, Fred Simpson, allows her to accept or decline taking on any new ones, no matter how big.
Sherry knows she is a wiz. She had worked hard to become one. Yet Sherry is not the cynic so many in her profession are. She has remained the nice person she was when she began her career, but she is no push over. So when Sherry reads "For a good time call Kit" on a twenty dollar bill, she dials the local phone number to warn the poor lady. After all, who knows how many bills were floating around with the lady's number on them. However, Kit turns out to be a man. One who actually demands that Sherry shred the twenty dollar bill. When the demand fails, Kit offers to meet with her and exchange the twenty for another.
Christian "Kit" Fleming is the CEO of Bella Luna Industries, Inc. Having grown up in an environment that nightmares could be made from and having seen what marriage could do to people, Kit refuses to ever wed. Every woman Kit dates is informed of his rules up front. Kit gives no promises of monogamy, commitment, or love. Whether it be his business or private life, Kit must have full control. Unlike his childhood, Kit would never again put himself in a vulnerable position. Vulnerability makes a person weak.
While exchanging currency with Sherry, Kit realizes that she is the young ad genius he is due to meet in the boardroom the following morning. Though Kit believes she is a thoroughly irritating, stubborn female, he still wants her on the Bella Luna commercial project. She appeals to him like no woman he has known. It is more than just her intelligence or pretty face. She possesses an elusive quality that makes him eager to learn everything about her. Kit's problem is that Sherry has absolutely no fear of him. She could take his business or leave it. She could take him or leave him. Kit has zero control over Sherry. Which makes her dangerous. But one way or another, Sherry will be his next acquisition. Kit fully intends to sleep with her someday soon. And Kit plans to make certain their time together would be on his terms, by his rules.
***** FIVE STARS! Author Trish Jensen has penned a romance that is ambrosia for the heart strings. Fans of Jayne Ann Krentz's early books (such as Family Man and Wildest Hearts) will especially enjoy this battle of wills. No wimpy hero or heroine, both are secure in their business positions, and neither plans to give an inch. In my humble opinion, this is Jensen's best story to date. Exhilarating! *****
Author: Trish Jensen
Title - Nothing But Trouble
(Previously published as "On the House")
Laura Tanner grew up without a mother. And a father who saw her as nothing more than an inconvenience. She wed her boyfriend right out of high school and moved to New York, where he intended to make it big as an actor. Laura found the courage to dump her husband eight years ago. Since then she has made her own way in the world and is determined to never feel threatened by a man again. Not physically or emotionally. Laura has spent those eight years working her tail off to build a business. Now Laura owns and operates a bar called Nothing But Trouble. It is in a section of Manhattan that is close to Wall Street and caters to stockbrokers and lawyers. Laura may look fragile, but the self-reliant lady runs a classy place and she tolerates no grief from her clients. In her entire life, Laura has never met a man who did not want to take whatever his self-centered heart desired. But all bets are off once her Prince approaches her bar counter.
Brandon Prince had not been born with a silver spoon in his mouth. No, he had been born with five of them. He has just passed the Rhode Island bar exam and is taking a break before starting his job in the Newport County District Attorney's office. While visiting his buddy, Ned, a stockbroker on Wall Street, they wind up in Ned's favorite bar. And when two huge guys begin causing problems, Ned informs Brandon not to interfere as Laura enters the room. (Laura would not appreciate the help.) Once Laura disables the men and tosses them out of her establishment, Brandon's future has been cast. Nothing will do for Brandon except winning Laura.
When Brandon asks her out on a date, Laura explains that the odds of that happening were the same as Elvis walking in to play a game of pool. Brandon takes up the challenge. Then Laura agrees to go out with him when donkeys fly. Well, that is doable too. But Brandon soon comes to realize that he wants more than a few dates with Laura. Brandon wants this little spitfire in his life permanently. And when Brandon really wants something, he has a way of somehow making it happen.
**** FOUR STARS! If you are looking for hot bedroom scenes, go elsewhere. This little gem is pure entertainment. It has a small cast of eclectic characters and simply overflows with humor, witty dialogue, and romance. When you finish reading, do not be surprised to notice if you give a huge sigh of contentment. After all, is it really possible to hate a gentleman who is so assiduous in courting the lady he loves? ****
Author: Kemberlee Shortland
Title - Constant Craving
(Short sequel to "A Piece of My Heart", Irish Pride series)
Since they have brought the twins home, life has not been the same for Kate and Mick Fairhill. They never go anywhere or do anything together anymore. Mick is determined to give Kate and the twins the life they deserve. Therefore, Mick spends all his waking hours working their farm and adding an extension to the house. Liam Conneelly, Kate's father, helps Mick daily with the work.
Kate is becoming depressed. Her life revolves around the babies and the house. She wants some alone time with her husband. Problem is that Mick is constantly working. Kate tries often to speak with Mick when he comes into the house, but he is too tired to even listen. Getting undressed and, hopefully, a shower take about all the energy he has left after a full day of work. The construction noise is so bad that in order to get any sleep Kate and the twins often travel to the Conneelly Farm. Mary, Kate's mother, is always happy to care for the babies so Kate may get some much needed rest.
When Mick tells Liam why he is working so hard and how guilty he feels about falling asleep while Kate is talking, Liam gives Mick some advice on how to deal with a new family life and romance. At the same time, Mary is giving Kate some romantic ideas as well. Will Kate and Mick manage to hold their new marriage together?
**** FOUR STARS! This short story is a sequel to "A Piece of My Heart". If you have not read the previous title, I highly suggest you do so. You will not find yourself lost if you do not, however, the characters went through a lot and knowing about those events would make this story more special. (The price for "A Piece of My Heart" is low and the price for this sequel is [at the time of this review] under one dollar.) Both titles are part of the Irish Pride series.
To me, the nicest thing about a short story or novella is that there is no room for "filler". Every word of the story is needed and none are wasted or added. I, as the reader, am guaranteed a good tale in a small amount of time. And this author, Kemberlee Shortland, writes some fantastic stories!
Kemberlee Shortland has a creative writing style that easily communicates to readers all of the ardent feelings which Kathe and Mick feel for one another. Readers who have been married and then had kids will especially enjoy and empathize with the Fairhills' delimma. This story may be short, but it will linger in your mind for a long time. ****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Retired and on the Rocks
(Denim-Blues mystery #1 / June 2010)
Denim "Den" McHart and a former cop named Sylvia "Syl" Price have been partners for five years. They run a successful private investigations company. During their time together, Den and Syl have dad an on-again, off-again romance. Currently their romance is in the off position.
Den is upset that Syl refuses to trust him with whatever secret she is holding back. Not only that, a month ago Den had been shot in the leg. He feels guilt for having put Syl in danger. Fearing a future repeat, Den retires and tries to restore antiques.
Sylvia lures Den back to the office and ensnares him in a new case. Client Naomi Deva had been jilted at the alter recently, only moments before the vows, when the groom caught her in the closet with his best man. Mayor Thomas Julian, Junior, is demanding the return of the engagement ring that is worth over one hundred grand. But the ring has gone missing.
Syl loves Den, but fears he will look at her in disgust should he ever learn that she had killed her abusive father in self-defense. Syl believes that action is what caused her mother's mental condition. The only person who knows all about it is her former partner, Detective Orlando Bateman.
Believing Den retired and out of Sylvia's romantic life, Orlando finally confesses his love to her. But it is up to Sylvia to decide if she can return his feelings or if she will break down and let Den (and his lady-roving eyes) back into her life. Either way, Orlando will stand beside Syl's decision and remain her friend, even if it tears his own heart apart.
**** FOUR STARS! I do not read much Christian Romance, but when I do Karen Wiesner is one of my absolute favorite authors. This story will clearly show you why.
This is the first mystery in a new series. The case involving an expensive ring begins and ends here. It is a stand-alone tale. The private lives of the main characters get equal time. The author does not force religion down the throat of the reader, but the characters' beliefs certainly help each one to deal with personal troubles. I find this jewel to be a fulfilling story of trust and faith. Memorable! ****
Author: R.C. Ryan
Title - Montana Destiny (McCord Cousins #2, 4/27/10)
The city of Gold Fever came by its name honestly. And everyone knows about the legendary McCord curse. All the McCord men have died trying to locate their ancestor's lost gold. When old Coot McCord died, his will brought three McCord cousins back to the Lost Nugget, the working ranch they grew up on together. Jesse, Wyatt, and Zane McCord reside on the ranch with their Aunt Cora as they continue Coot's search for the missing treasure.
Emergency medic Marilee Trainor grew up as an Army brat. Having been moved dozens of times in her life, Marilee has finally chosen Gold Fever in which to settle and dig some roots. Driving the ambulance makes her happy. Often Marilee will fly her small plane to deliver and pick up supplies for various businesses in her new town. But no matter how busy she keeps herself, Marilee finds that a certain rugged, sexy cowboy is managing to slip himself into her heart.
Wyatt McCord has been all over the world, but Coot's ranch is the only place that has ever felt like home. Lately there has been a lovely emergency medic that has captured his interest. When Marilee stumbles upon a clue to the McCord gold, she immediately delivers it to the ranch. That is when Marilee becomes a target in a mysterious killer's sights.
***** FIVE STARS! Watching this wild rebel and independent woman attempt to coexist was so much fun. This is the second McCord cousin's story. Though I enjoyed Jesse and Amy's story in the first book, Montana Legacy, it is my opinion that Wyatt and Marilee's is even better! (If that is at all possible.) The author, R.C. Ryan, delivers an ongoing tantalizing mystery suspense with heart warming romance. Sinfully yummy! *****
Title - Montana Legacy
(McCord #1 / Feb. 23, 2010)
Author: R.C. Ryan
The Lost Nugget is a working ranch in Montana. Grandpa Coot had purchased all the surrounding land possible, so the ranch now boasts thousands of acres. Three McCord cousins and their families live with Grandpa Coot and Aunt Cora in the massive house. Jesse McCord, the oldest cousin, never leaves the ranch. However, the other two leave when their parents move away from Montana. Once adults, Wyatt and Zane do not return to the Lost Nugget until they receive word of Grandpa Coot's death. The estranged cousins are brought back together for the funeral. The will forces the trio to remain on the ranch together and to continue Coot's search for the family lost fortune.
Amy Parrish is Jesse's lost love. As a teen, she had moved away suddenly, with no word of explanation. Now she has returned to care for her ailing father. Their feelings for each other have never dimmed, but neither is willing to hand over their heart for fear of rejection. Danger lurks them as well, because someone close is threatening Amy and Jesse's very lives.
**** FOUR STARS! A well written story with fully-developed characters that I easily came to care for. The tempers of the cousins are short and they enjoy venting their anger with their fists; however, the author makes it clear that they never abuse innocents. The unknown enemy does not begin causing trouble until half-way into the story. Until then the story focuses on reuniting the cousins and bringing Jesse and Amy back together. By the end, I felt as though I had read two back-to-back novellas. (Before danger starts and after.) However, since this title is the first of a trilogy, I understand that a solid foundation for all three titles needs to be built. The author does a fabulous job of it too. I eagerly await the next McCord cousin's story in May, 2010. ****
Author: Sue Swift
Title - Puckheads
Zoë Whipple's filming company is known for being one of the best. Zoë's perfectionist attitude always has her digging for answers and trying to find beauty in her work. Zoë agrees to film a documentary about the Portland Thunder hockey team's championship season. She never expects to fall in love with the team's captain, Daniel Crasseau, or for him to feel the same way. Neither does Zoë expect to find herself in the middle of a major media scandal or the target of vandalism by an unknown person.
When a rookie ends up dead on the ice, Zoë begins searching for answers and discovers that illegal painkillers and steroid usage is very common. A leak to the press has the team members blaming Zoë for all their recent misfortunes and at least one person is out for Zoë's blood. Even Daniel believes Zoë is the one who leaked out the drug news, despite her denials, and accuses her of imagining nonexistent conspiracies. Can Zoë continue making the documentary? Can the Thunder team still somehow win the championship? And is it possible for Zoë and Daniel to survive it all and remain together?
**** FOUR STARS! I could not help but like the character of Zoë almost instantly. She is intelligent, full of life, honorable, and the pride in her work clearly shows. I am disappointed in the character of Daniel though. I understand that "hockey players are poisoned by testosterone overload" (quoted from story), but no matter what he thought to himself or told others, his actions simply never showed he really loved Zoë. (At least not enough for me.)
As for the story itself, the author clearly showed how loud, thrilling, and intense the game of hockey is. I could almost see Zoë's jump and yell in excitement as she attended her first live game. The pressure players are under to perform well on the ice is shown too. It is no wonder that there is a lot of potential for the use of steroids and the abuse of other drugs. Whether you are a fan of sports or not, I have no doubt that you will enjoy this romance. ****
Title - White Rainbow
(Wounded Warriors #6)
Author: Karen Wiesner
Our story begins on January 2, 2009. Flint Jackson is known in the corporate world as the dreaded "Black Knight". He has made it his personal vendetta to crush all he feels has done him wrong. On this rainy day, Flint watches his father's funeral from a remote distance, gloating over the fact that he had achieved revenge. Flint has never forgiven his father for moving the family to Chicago when he had been eleven-years-old. His father had devoted his life to starting his own business and making it a success. Flint ruthlessly stole that business and crushed his father. Next on his agenda is to do the same to Nelson Cosmetics. On the same day Flint's family left Milwaukee, his girlfriend (also a preteen) went to California, even though he had begged her not to go. It does not matter to Flint that Jessie was only going for three months. It does not matter that neither Flint, nor Jessie, knew his family would be gone when she returned. She left him. So Nelson Cosmetics is on his radar.
In July, 2010, Jessie Nelson is found in a back alley with no pulse; however, the paramedics succeed in resuscitating her. She wakes up in a hospital bed. After years of living a selfish life, full of bad choices, and hurting everyone that loved her, Jessie is finally determined to change. But after spending most of her life in a self-destructing life style it would not be easy. Yet one year later, Jessie is still living her new Christian life. Many have forgiven Jessie for her past sins and some have not. Jessie has found a job in the family business which she loves. She volunteers at the local Wayward Angels shelter. She has made each day so full that this is not time left in it for her to get into trouble. Then Flint Jackson comes back to Milwaukee.
Only two months ago Flint had been in a horrible car wreck. No one knows how he survived. All Flint knows is that after the accident, over thirty years of built-up rage has disappeared. Just in time too, because Flint had been on the verge of completing his hostile take-over of Nelson Cosmetics. Now Flint wants only to make amends to everyone he has harmed. He is in town to confess to Jessie what he had almost done to her. As a new Christian, he is seeking atonement. What Flint is not expecting is the deep feelings for Jessie that, apparently, have not gone away.
**** FOUR STARS! The release date for this title is Summer, 2010. (No ISBN as of this review's date.) This story is basically about two people who are sorry for a lifetime of misdirection and are trying to turn their lives around with the help of God and their friends and families. If you are looking for a story with danger, suspense or passionate romance, check out some of Karen Wiesner's other series. This story is a Christian Romance.
Hearing Jessie and Flint's personal tales - of which I left out A LOT - gave me an inspirational boost. It is always amazing to me that no matter how badly you have lived your life or harmed others, there is forgiveness. And these two did some pretty bad stuff! If you are going through a rough time, this story may be just what you need. ****
Authors: Christine Spindler, Karen Wiesner
Title - Tears on Stone (Falcon's Bend #2)
Twenty-nine years ago Dorothy Hawks killed her abusive husband in self defense. The law took away her two young children and placed her in jail. When released, Dorothy began "S.O.S." (Society of Survivors) to help teach other women how they could protect themselves and their children.
Forty-nine year old Pam Garland is an abuse counselor and a major member of S.O.S. She often refers women to the organization. She has also been the legal guardian for MaryEmma and Shelley Gold since their abusive stepfather died years ago. Shelley had married an abusive man, Jack Wilson, and has a four-year-old daughter, Ariel. Ever since Jack died in a fire last year Shelley has been in depression. MaryEmma has taken over the role of caregiver to Ariel, hoping Shelley will get better. When disaster strikes, Pam has MaryEmma, Shelley, and Ariel pack quickly. They leave Springvale, Minnesota, without any notice to anyone. At MaryEmma's suggestion, they go to Falcon's Bend, Wisconsin, where MaryEmma spent the happiest time of her childhood (unknown to Pam).
Jordan Shasta was eleven when MaryEmma moved away from Falcon's Bend. He never forgot her or the stone garden she loved. Now the stone garden in his back yard is an overgrown mess. Jordan's wife, Kaitlyn, walked out last year without a backward glance and moved to Dallas, Texas. Jordan has sole custody of their eight-year-old daughter, Nicole. When MaryEmma moves in next door, Jordan hopes to get to know her again. Nicole hopes Ariel will become her new best friend. MaryEmma now seems withdrawn and keeps to herself, but Jordan is not above using the excuse of wanting to revive the stone garden to draw her out and spend some time with her. Shelley sleeps all day and parties most nights with numerous men. All the while, Pam is setting up a new S.O.S chapter in town and keeping her wards on short leashes. It soon becomes obvious that, unknown to Jordan when he was childhood friends with her, MaryEmma's life has been one long nightmare ... and it is not over yet.
***** FOUR AND A HALF STARS! Let me warn readers in advance that there two scenes of rape flash-backs. They are short, but I understand that some readers prefer to pass on books with any scenes at all. There is a lot of physical abuse throughout the story as well, but most are just mentioned in passing. I do not believe anything in this story will trigger anything for those who have physical abuse in their (real life) backgrounds.
That said, let me get to how much I enjoyed this story! Though there are two authors, I could never tell which parts were written by either. The duo must have the exact same writing style. There are a few sub-plots to keep things moving along at a brisk pace. I never found myself getting bored. The characters are well developed and I came to care for many of them. I look forward to more stories in Falcon's Bend. *****
Author: Pamela S. Thibodeaux
Title - Tempered Joy
Tamara and Craig's children are all grown up now; Amber with her own children and husband is making a new life and Ace is now a champion bull rider. Life seems ideal, but then tragedy strikes and tests not only the members of this tightly knit family, but also the young woman who, despite teasing and her own troubled past, loves Ace. Yet, Lexie will soon find that her love is what is needed when the Harris family stands on the brink of compounded tragedy.
***** Of all the books in this series, Tempered Joy is the most difficult to summarize. It is far more than an inspirational romance, for one thing, and for another, I do not want to risk giving away any of the pivotal surprises. Suffice it to say, it lives up to the title, as joy shines through despite heartaches that will make more than one fan weep, I dare say. Through it all, faith and love shine in the words, but not in a bland, falsely optimistic fashion. So often in novels, Christians face the sad moments and tough times with stoic piety that makes real Christians want to be ill because we do react badly to our hurts in this world, and not always in ways that honor our Father. Ms. Thibodeaux lets her characters be true to life without falling away from their faith. Her words are a ministry, showing any Christian who reads these books that you can come through your negative emotions even if you aren't rejoicing over the circumstances that invoked them. You will eventually be able to, with His help. She also depicts us in a way that can show non-believers we're people too. *****
Author: Gracie C. McKeever
Title - Sisters of Emsharra
(Fantasy Erotica / 2 books in 1)
Guardian Seductress (Book One)
Kalika Enlil had been a skilled sorceress, stronger in mind and body than the average Inanna. The Inanna are an ancient and superior race of beings that survive on the energy and life-force of humans. Had Kalika followed law, she would have gone far. Instead, Kalika was working to change the old ways. Kalika believed that if she gave birth to a human's son, his very existence may end the border wars between the Inanna of Emsharra and their enemy, the Sebiter of Gaiam. Her child could end the indiscriminate, unnecessary killing and enslavement of the humans. Her child would be the beginning of a new regime and a solution to the human conservation issue. If all continued as in the past, there would soon be no humans left.
Genesis "Gen" Enki had promised Kalika to watch after her son. Gen barely escaped with the new born before Kalika was arrested - only moments after giving birth. For twenty-eight years Gen watched over Alex. Alex had been adopted by Glenn Ryan and now resides in New York City. But the Inanna have found them. It is pure luck that Alex does not die in the assassination attempt. His father, Glenn, does though. The time has come to tell Alex about his heritage. Gen's main problem is her attraction to the now very adult Alex.
Alex Ryan has known since he was six-years-old that he was different from everyone else. He has enough to deal with just being a telepath. Now this hot woman is telling him that he is not even fully human. Half of his being is some sort of succubus and energy vampire combo. Alex soon finds out that being a hybrid is not so bad after all. He has several untapped powers, such as shapeshifting. Gen says he has "spirit-boost" within him too. It is a rare, regenerative component which is coveted by Inanna and Sebitu alike for its aphrodisiacal qualities. It also makes him even more of a target, according to his hot Amazonian bodyguard.
**** An erotica with a decent plot! This is a rare find; therefore, I want to make sure that fans of the Erotica genre know about this title. The next book, also given within the same cover, begins one year after this one ends, but with different main characters and problems. ****
Predator's Salvation (Book Two)
Twenty-four-year-old Mateo Diaz's fantasy woman could never be a human. He wanted a dangerous type of female, like the one who had killed his parents and brother. But that particular woman existed only in his nightmares. Mateo is en route to the home of Alex Ryan for some sort of special meeting when he finds himself abducted by a woman with wings. In Mateo's mind, the woman is like an Amazonian dominatrix and he admits to himself that the very thought is enticing. However, he is not so happy to find himself shackled and informed that he is now her property.
LeMia "Mia" Enlil is an exiled premier huntress of Emsharra. She may be Inanna, but she rejects the Alliance and New Regime. The human male, Mateo, is to be a pawn in her game of vengeance against Alex and Genesis. However, slowly Mia finds herself enjoying her new slave too much and unknown emotions begin to form within her. But since she is responsible for the death of Mateo's family, there is no way the man would forgive her...not that she wanted his forgiveness, of course.
Mateo's body could not decide whether to hate the alien or love her. He shockingly realizes he ceased to be unwilling at some point of his captivity. He is further shocked to realize his mind no longer lingers on thoughts of escape. As for Mia, Mateo ceased to be a pawn the minute he had swapped energy with her and had survived it with minimal physical damage. As the two try to figure out what is happening between them, others are tracking their location. One set of people has hopes of rescuing Mateo before Mia kills him. The other tracker wants to kill Mia, Mateo, and their potential rescuers.
**** Be warned of S&M in these two stories. No one under the age of seventeen should read these tales either. That said let me say that BOTH stories actually have decent plots. The backgrounds of the main characters are not fully developed, but more than enough is told so that I, as the reader, felt that I understood what motivates each character. By including Ryan and Gen in the second story, the author made the situation a bit more believable to me. All-in-all, I highly recommend this book to fans of erotica. And do not worry if any alien terms confuse you, a glossary of terms is at the end of the book - but I never needed to use it even once. Fantastic! ****
Author: Lynn A. Coleman
Title - Trespassed Hearts
Jordan Lamont expected new opportunities when he moved to Maine, but they didn't include having lobster bisque dumped on him twice, much less falling for the waitress who did it. However, Randi Blake has undergone her fair share of heartache and is not quite ready to trust and love. Despite this, Jordan is able to get into her heart until something happens that makes her wonder if she wasn't right to avoid the pain that love can bring.
*** Though not a profound story, this is a quick, light read with several lessons included. It's a sweet read that shows how important trust and forgiveness are. ***
Author: Pamela Tibodeaux
Title - A Hero For Jessica
From their first encounter, Paul Seville and Jessica Aucoin are fascinated by each other. When she turns to the handsome attorney for help in dealing with an issue from her past and a change she wants to take in her writing future, Paul becomes the hero she needs. Is Jessica who he needs?
***** I dare you not to smile before this story is over. The only possible flaw is its brevity. I could have easily read Paul and Jessica's story for another couple of hundred pages. Romans 8:28 is played out with a sweet reality that will encourage you and give you hope. I can believe that this might really happen, thanks to the characters being so true to life. Ms. Thibodeaux has a gift; if you read her works you will give yourself one. *****
Author: T.L. Schaefer
Title - The Saints of Midland
When her brother goes missing on Halloween night, Amanda Sims naturally goes in search of him, but soon finds herself on a very different quest. When she is joined by sheriff's deputy, Josh Kent, they encounter a mystical Keeper of the Way in the woods who seems to know both of them. Perhaps impulsively, Amanda offers to give up a bit of herself to gain her brother's safety. Immediately, she and Josh are thrust into another world where they will be guided by a parrot speaking the Queen's English, where magic is real, where ghosts and vampire like beings walk, and the dead linger, waiting for a prophecy to be fulfilled. The pair's arrival signals that what they have awaited might be about to come to pass. If Josh, a living ghost, and Amanda can pass three trials and defeat the evil Mage, all the lost souls will be free. If not, they will be in a form of Hell forever.
*** Beautiful prose illustrates this magical journey with vivid word pictures. I particularly liked the twist on how ghosts should be, as played out in Josh, and the parrot who was much more than he seemed. This is a different sort of epic quest, managing to have a huge scope without the excessive verbage that can bog down so many journey themed novels. ***
Authors: M.G. Braden & Cindy K. Green
Title - Hint of Summer
Two couples find love at two different beach houses in this sweet pair of stories. In the first, The Inheritance by MC Braden, Chase Taylor and Reece Weston are compelled by the terms of her grandmother's will to live in a beach house for six months, at the end of which time they have a choice to make about what to do with it. Before it's all over, unless crossed wires get them into trouble, they will find out that no matter where a house is located, it's love that makes it a home. In the second, Summer's Return by Cindy K. Green, Parker Radcliffe returns to what had been his family's summer home for years to sell it. In the process, he reconnects with his first love, Arianna Morgan, and discovers that the feelings are still there. Yet, one wrong word could shatter their chances of having so much as a summer love.
**** These quick reads prove that a romance can be sweet, passionate, and romantic without being graphically sensual. Either one would work as a longer, more fully developed novel, yet if you have only a brief amount of time to read, these are great mental snacks. ****
Author: Cindy K. Green
Title - A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Your Wedding
On her way to a wedding, Kari Montgomery gets caught in the rain, but fortunately encounters a handsome man who knows what it means to be chivalrous. She doubts she'll ever see him again, but as it turns out, he's at the wedding, marrying the happy couple. From the moment they meet, Kari and Randy seem to hit it off to such an extent that gossip starts flying about them being engaged, yet somehow, they never quite get it together. Kari has a lot of baggage and Randy just is not sure how she feels about him. Yet, the way they keep bumping into each other seems to indicate that there could be a divine plan in action on their behalf.
**** This is a fun, refreshing, non-preachy read. Faith is simply part of the main characters' lives. The people come across as being real and imperfect, but still individuals who are decidedly Christian. If you find it a challenge to find wholesome romances that are not sappy, the problem is now solved. Cindy Green is proving that nice does not mean wimpy. ****
Author: Judith Rochelle
Title - Echoes of the Past
Heiress Lindsey Ferrell's life is turned upside down and put in danger when a stalker begins haunting her. In response to her plea for help, her old friend, Quinn, sends Nick Vanetta of Guardian Security to keep her safe. Initially, the two fail to get along at all, but the sparks turn into something like passion quickly. Even as they get closer to one another, the stalker does as well. Finding out why this person is after Lindsey and how to stop them will require a journey deep into the past to uncover secrets that Lindsey could never have dreamed existed.
**** I did not see the ending coming at all. It's a very clever twist and startling. If you love a good mystery, then I challenge you to take this one on. ****
Author: Rita A. Karnopp
Title - Kidnapped
Laura Palmer always looked at the pictures of missing children, hoping to help reunite a child and its parents, but when she sees her own daughter's face, her world is shattered. Across town, her husband, Aaron, is learning the same thing as she; that their beloved, adopted daughter, Amie, was not placed for adoption legally, and they may lose her. Moreover, with their own marriage on the shakiest of grounds, it seems they will lose each other as well as a result. However, neither confides in the other and each begins taking steps to find out more about the situation. Their investigations stir up a hornet's nest that endangers the family's very lives. The Palmers may not live long enough to worry about custody issues.
*** Though at times the story seemed a bit convoluted, the heartbreaking issues it raised and the high level of tension kept me reading and made me care about what was going to happen to this couple and to their daughter. This is an intriguing story that is impossible to put down once you get into it. ***
Author: Debbie Wallace
Title - The Senator's Daughter
As a favor to his friend, Senator Adams, Brent Howard "kidnaps" the other man's daughter, Sophie, on the eve of her wedding to Jonathan Lord, a man the Senator does not trust and who he believes is forcing the girl into the union. Although this is the correct conclusion, Sophie is none to pleased with being abducted and displays a spirit that Brent is forced to admire, though it is inconvenient, as she tries to escape. Over the course of the ordeal, the two realize that they are in love, but Sophie's fiancee is determined to get her back, no matter what it takes or who he has to kill.
**** Classic elements and fast paced action make this an easy to read, enjoyable story. Though I never quite understood why Brent didn't just tell Sophie the truth, that did not detract from the overall quality of this book. ****
Author: J Morgan
Title - Ghost of a Chance
Jessica was just an ordinary girl until the day she was stabbed in the back, literally. If things had been going normally, she would have seen the light and gone to Heaven, but no such luck. She finds herself standing at the crime scene, desperate to be noticed, and someone does see her. Deacon Chance is a cop on leave whose life changed when he gained the ability to see spirits. Now, one has invaded his life, and he is okay with that. What he is not okay with is the fact that Jessica is still not safe, even if she is dead. She is the focus of a war between Fallen and Holy angels and the danger just keeps getting thicker as the devil tries to stop a prophecy handed down since Eden from coming true.
***** There is a perfect balance of humor, romance, and chilling action in this fast-paced tale. I loved it all, from Jessica's sarcastic observations, to the talking cat, the the guest appearance by the Archangel Gabriel. The ghost/human soulmates angle was utterly charming and very well explained. I can see a possible series here, and just hope that is not mere wishful thinking. Three cheers to Ms. Morgan. *****
Author: Lauren N Sharman
Title - No Worries
A wrong turn results in Gypsy Cooper finding her direction in life. When she strays onto Rebel McCassey's land, a friendship that turns into love begins. It's that love that could be the key to her salvation when her evil father is released from prison and comes looking for revenge, but her love may also have a salvific benefit in Reb's family.
*** What is lacking in technical execution is compensated for by the heart in this story. Reb's family is unusual, but has a warmth that makes all their flawed natures become treasures. Love proving to be the way to conquer evil is a timeless message, delivered in a winning fashion. ***
Author: Mary Eason
Title - That's What Friends Are For
Ever since meeting his friend Kevin's wife, Sophie, Erik has wanted her for his own, despite the unsavory things Kevin told him about her. The words just don't match what he perceives her to be. Then, Kevin is killed, leaving Sophie emotionally wounded, needy, and alone. Erik steps in, offering her a home and job that she's glad to accept. Over time, their friendship begins to turn to something deeper, but the doubts linger, and not only on his part. Even after they accept the mutual attraction, both Erik and Sophie have a lot of issues with which to deal before anything can be real between them.
*** Erik seems almost too good to be true, except for his nagging mistrust and refusal to simply ask Sophie what is wrong. Of course, many of her actions are equally unfathomable. However, despite this, That's What Friends Are For is a quick, sweet, and pleasant romance. ***
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Wayward Angels
(Bk 4 Wounded Warriors series)
Gregg Stevens used to be a rock star. He recorded Christian music with Mission Records's label. He could have any girl he wanted. But soon he lost his music and he stopped singing. Now Gregg has left his wild life behind and accepted God. Gregg operates Wayward Angels, a rehab shelter in Milwaukee for troubled teenage guys. One boy in particular, Diego, is hard to help. Diego looks sickly often, lives on the streets, and is constantly on the run from the law. If the police catch Diego they will return him to his abusive family. Gregg knows he must move slowly with Diego and prove to the boy that he would never betray his trust, but that is hard to do with a teen so wary. In the meantime, Gregg needs to hire a handy man for the shelter. Gregg never expects for a female to apply for the position. Unlike all the other applicants, she can actually fix anything and everything mechanical. Even better, Gregg finds himself falling in love with her. However, she is hiding something big from him and she refuses to open up.
Stormie Knight is bipolar. Any time she admits it to a guy she is dating, he leaves her. Needless-to-say, she does NOT want to tell Gregg for fear he will reject her too. Stormie had only recently gotten out of an abusive relationship that had ended with the guy committing suicide right in front of her. Hours later, the police found Stormie in her wrecked car. Gregg Stevens was playing on her radio.
Stormie is thrilled to get the job at Wayward Angels. Stormie and Gregg begin dating, but she can't bring herself to tell him of her bipolar disorder. Wanting to be "normal" Stormie quits taking her medication. Therefore, she begins acting strangely to Gregg but refuses to explain.
**** Gregg and Stormie's tale is full of problems. Not only with their own relationship, but with Diego's personal problems. There are scenes that will make you laugh, cry, and even feel exasperated. So keep a box of tissues nearby and enjoy this episode of the "Wounded Warriors" saga. It'll tug on your heart strings. ****
Author: Jean de Cherie
Title - The One That Got Away
(A HeatWave Tingle / Erotica)
It is Christmas Break and the college students are out for some much needed down time. Kelly Samuel has always dreamed of being with Randy Taylor. But Randy's eyes are on another.
Disappointed, Kelly goes home. Her roommate, Ter, has company according to the empties lying around. Kelly decides to quietly go to her bedroom and fantasize about Randy. But Kelly is startled when a guy walks in and joins her private party. A guy much better looking than Randy could ever hope to be. A guy who knows how to please.
**** This is a very short erotica story. It will not take you long to read it at all; however, enjoy it you will. About half the story is one long, hot bed scene. No romance here. Just desire. If you want to get your mind off your troubles for a bit, this little story will do the trick. No one under age 17 should read this little one night stand. ****
Author: Ann Durand
Title - A Promise To Keep
Karen Hudson's idyllic world is shattered when the young, single father of one of her students whom she is falling for vanishes, taking his daughter with him. In the days following, she learns he is wanted for murder, and now she is suspected of being his accomplice. Her own life wrecked, Karen goes in search of the truth, only to discover it is far more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.
*** Though the pacing is a bit off and the villainess a bit over the top, this story reads like a television murder mystery. The tempo increases towards the end, creating tension to keep one on the edge of your chair, and aside from the suspense, there is a certain heartwarming element that is attractive. ***
Author: Janet Elaine Smith
Title - A Christmas Dream
Susan Quincey had lost her husband, Mark, in Desert Storm. But Susan still had a part of Mark, in Jeremy. Jeremy is almost four-years-old and is the spitting image of the dad he never knew. The two live in Duluth, Minnesota, far away from any relatives. So they are alone and the weather is icy cold as Christmas draws near. The weather is just one more reason Susan cares nothing for the holiday season.
When her car battery dies after work, her boss, Kevin Dockter, helps charge it up and then follows her home. Soon Kevin finds himself falling in love with Jeremy, as well as, Susan.
***** This one is the PERFECT reading material for those chilly afternoons in early December. Make some hot cocoa, wrap up in a blanket in front of a fire, and read some hours away. This Christmas story will warm your heart and make you believe in miracles. You may want to keep that tissue box handy. There are some very touching moments and the ending is ... well ... perfect. *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title: Waiting For An Eclipse
(Wounded Warriors: #2)
Kristina Ingram has been a counselor at Eisner University's Drug Crisis Center for five years. That is also how long she has been in love with Steve Thomas, who has just become "Associate Professor". Steve is very attracted to Kristina as well, but they have kept their distance because Steve is married. Knowing about his wife's drug addiction and her past of being a star in sleazy films, Kristina made sure that Steve knew he could come to her if he ever needed to simply talk.
Steve is at his wit's end! His wife, Jess, has been in bed with every man possible and shooting up drugs almost constantly —- all in front of the kids. The two youngest want away from Jess. The oldest keeps defending Jess, even though she only uses them all.
Steve must now decide if it is better for the children for him to stay with Jess or divorce her. If he chooses divorce, he would be in a battle for custody. If he chooses to stay, Jess's actions could harm the children.
*** This one is fiction for mainly women. It clearly shows the trauma families deal with when one of the parents are addicted to drugs. The characters are well developed, but the plot is slow. Great light reading for a rainy afternoon. ***
Author: Erica DeQuaya
Title: Backstage Affair (Erotica)
Genera "Gen" McCanton had her play stolen before and was determined that history would never repeat itself. Her first off-Broadway production was titled "A Song for Stephanie". She left her Chicago home for a temporary room in Manhattan to help her friend and director, Stephen, with casting and rewrites. When Judith, the silent partner and main backer, all but announced that her brother WAS going to play the male lead, Gen saw red. It did not matter to her that Edward Aldin had experience in front of a camera!
Edward had been in hiding since his fiancée, Tessa, had died in the 9-11 attack. "A Song for Stephanie" was the first thing to catch his interest again. Besides, he owed his sister for helping him when he lost Tessa. If Judith wanted him to star in the play, then he would do it. He never expected the intense desire he felt for Genera or for her coldness toward him.
Genera and Edward's attraction grew, much to Judith's dismay. But they knew that before they could even think about going forward, they would each have to face their past demons and put them to rest.
**** Very well done! Be warned of many hot love scenes. This story is for those of us who hate having the chapter end just as the passion gets hot between the main couple. With both main characters having dark pasts to overcome, the author guarantees a lot of tension and passion for her readers. Recommended! ****
Author: Robin Bayne
Title: Cougar Lake
Colton "Colt" Reece and Tia Fauncini had been in a boating accident years ago. While Tia had been recovering from it and Colt had partial amnesia, Cami (Tia's sister) had stepped in and made Colt believe he was romantically involved with her instead of with Tia. Unable to be sure whether it was Cami or Tia that was lying, Colt went with Cami since she was the one who was always nearby at the hospital. Hurt, Tia backed off - and away from them both.
Colt's grandmother had left him "The Cougar & Cardinal Inn" where he, Tia, and Cami had grown up. Only moments before the auction was to begin for the inn, Colt decided to keep it. His problem was money. There were back taxes, inheritance taxes, remodeling - the list was long. Tia solved the problem. Tia gave all the needed money and became his live-in partner.
Both of them loved the inn and wanted to make it flourish anew. Yet the past kept getting in their way. Tia never lost her love for Colt, but refused to set herself up for heartache all over again. Now if only Cami would quit calling!
**** Sheer delight! The author has succeeded in making the main AND the co-characters all have their own personalities. They are easy to care for and very well developed. WONDERFUL! ****
Author: Anne Carter
Title: A Hero's Promise
Dane has loved Jessica for years, but years ago forsook that love. They each married other people, and although his marriage fell apart, Jessica's was a happy one, until death intervened in a horrific accident that left her a widow with a young son. Despite her grief, Jessica is able to open her heart to another, longing to adopt her orphaned nephew. However, as an actress, she has a somewhat damaged reputation, that is not helped by her being a single parent or associating with known bad boy Dane. At first, she dismisses both of Dane's helpful suggestions, that she either renounce him, or marry him.
The second idea won't leave her mind though, and eventually, she gives in to the suggestion of a convenient marriage. This works well for Dane, giving him not only the woman he loves, but a caring step mother for his children who suffer at the hands of their cold, callous mother. Can the two overcome all the things that stand between them, such as Hollywood, grief, and misunderstandings?
***** In this tender and touching story that peels away the veneer of Hollywood to show love is there for you, no matter what. Dane is the consumate hero, flawed, yes, but with the kind of heart that braves the toughest obstacles. Jessica's caring is extraordinary. In her sorrow, she is able to look beyond her own pain and put others needs beyond her own. This charming book is so very moving and hopeful that if you have just watched the bleak news or read the depressing things in the paper, you should read A Hero's Promise. It will revive your joy. *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Falling Star (Angelfire Trilogy, Book 1)
Nate Jovanovich was a man of God who had broke the heart of young Aurora "Rori" Mason by marrying her rival, Jenna. Deeply hurt, Rori ran off with Brett Foxx, the town bad boy. Years pass...
Nate is a widow with a young daughter, Andrea. When he sees Rori again the passion still sizzles between them. However, Rori's life has gone down hill. Brett had been very abusive to her. When Rori finally left Brett, she took the only job that allowed her to make and save money quickly so she could go back to school. She was a stripper! Could they still have a chance at happiness?
***** This is certainly a different type of hero and heroine! I wondered how the author could get together a preacher and a stripper. Well, she succeeded! Rori may have started off her life badly, but she became someone that I proudly cheered on to victory. Brava, Karen Wiesner! *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Reluctant Hearts (Wounded Warrior Series, Book 1)
Wendy Thomas knew how to take care of herself, as well as everyone else. At the tender age of seven, her parents took her to the airport so she could find her own way to a Broadway show and back. Her parents never worried about her, even if she disappeared for days. They believed Wendy could do no wrong. Wendy grew up to be pretty, caring, with high grades, and about to go to college.
Paul Randall was the ultimate bad boy. Even the gangs steered clear of him. Wendy and Paul found themselves deeply attracted to each other. Against his will, Paul fell in love with her. However, he knew he had to let her go or she would give up all her dreams for him. Problem was that Wendy did not want to be let go. Paul would have to hurt her, badly, for her own good.
**** Wendy is a bit hard to believe, but she and Paul suit each other well. This book targets those who do not want danger in their stories, just pure romance! Wonderful light reading! ****
Barri Bryan: title - Imperfect Paradise
Recently widowed, Zoe Martin was a middle school English teacher. Her husband died of Leukemia and Zoe needed an income during the summer months. Multi-billionaire Holt Hamilton's job offer seemed too good to be true! Zoe was to move onto his ranch for twelve weeks to help sort through articles and family treasures so a biography could be written about Holt's deceased wife, Sarah. Sarah had been an actress, well known, but not with a nice reputation.
Clinton McCann was Holt's attorney, as well as, Holt's illegitimate son. Also in residence was Maggie, Clinton's sister. Clinton hated Zoe immediately! Holt had told Clinton he was going to marry Zoe, without mentioning it to Zoe beforehand. Therefore, Clinton saw Zoe as a fortune hunter. No one believed Zoe's innocense and she was unable to simply leave due to the contract she had signed.
Zoe had fallen into a house of lies and deceits. With all his blackmailing ammo, Holt was a puppet master and everyone, including Zoe, must dance to his tune!
***** This one is like a Romance, Modern Contemporary, and a Gothic in one! The team of Barri Bryan seems to get better with every book they publish! I cannot stress to everyone enough of the incredible talent within these pages! I could not read quickly enough! Highly recommended! I eagerly look forward to the next release by this author! *****
Kathleen Culligan Techler: title - Barriers
Set in Florida. Marya was residing in the home on Sea Grape Key that her parents had left to Marya and her sister, Penelope. Sea Grape Key was isolated from the mainland. To reach it, you either must own a boat or use the ferry. Residents loved the isolation. The beaches were not crowded by tourists and crime was rare. Marya intended to remain on the island once she finished going through her parents' things. Before his death, her father begged Marya to search the house and locate a secret hidden there before Penelope found it. The secret could hurt Penelope terribly.
Penelope was a model who preferred the city. She flew down between shoots to be with her fiancé, Drew. Drew was planning to open a contracting business on the island. He planned a bridge to connect the island and the mainland, to build several homes, and drastically increase tourism. He simply could not, or refused, to understand why Marya and the other residents were against all of it!
Marya and Drew clashed horribly, yet were physically attracted to each other. They could not avoid each other since Drew dated Penelope and Marya was the home care physical therapist for Drew's uncle.
** Marya and Uncle Walt were very well written! I could not help but love everything about them. However, in my personal opinion, nothing else about this story appealed to me. Drew seemed to think his uncle was worthless and could do nothing by himself. He also seemed to believe everyone should agree with all his plans and have no opinions on anything. Penelope's character was not believable to me. She never seemed to have a real thought in her head. No one could seem to please her and she constantly whined.
Again, this is all my own personal opinion. I just cannot think of any type of audience to recommend this story to. I kept wishing that Marya would find someone better than Drew. **
Joanie MacNeil: title - Trouble Or Nothing
Set in Canberra, Australia, present date. Forty year old Natalie Harrigan had just landed the coveted position of CEO of the recently established Training Advisory Council. Being female, the Board was keeping a sharp eye on her. Since bubble baths and wonderful music relax her, Natalie had a Walkman with headphones on as she rested in the tub, mentally preparing herself for the following work day. The last thing she expected was for a naked man to slam open her bathroom door!
Twenty-eight year old Luke DeMarco had basically grown up with his best friend Jack Harrigan. Jack's older sister, Natalie, had been his dream girl his entire life. Since neither Natalie, nor Jack much used their place, he used his spare key to let himself in and make himself at home. He had landed a new position as Director of Public Relations and intended to get a good night sleep before his first day on the job! But finding Natalie nude in the tub was quite a surprise!
Natalie and Luke had twelve years difference in age. That bothered Nat, but not Luke. He was determined to make her see he was not a little boy anymore and definitely did not see her as too old for him. Until he found his own place, he could use their time at work and at home to make her see how much he loved her.
**** A delightful romance that will please all its readers! Joanie MacNeil has taken a modern day situation and turned it into an enjoyable reading sensation! I loved every minute I spent reading this one! Recommended! ****
Lyn Lawrence: title - Magnolia House
Lucinda 'Cindi' Lynn has come to the Magnolia House to rest and recover. Her mother had just passed away after battling cancer and Cindi recently had surgery on her vocal cords. She has come to this house with mixed feelings, because the house belongs to the mistress of her father, a woman Cindi has never met and isn't really sure she wants to. Consuelo, her fathers' mistress, left for South America before Cindi arrived, to search for Cindi's father, who disappeared two months ago and is feared dead.
The Magnolia House isn't quite as peaceful as it seems to be. The house is supposed to be haunted and when strange things begin happening, Cindi starts to believe it is. But when the caretaker overhears a conversation between her fathers' lawyer and the cook, things begin to make sense. One thing is for sure, someone is trying to either scare Cindi into leaving, or they are more than willing to kill her to get her out of the way. But who is behind everything? Who can she trust?
**** Excellent! Author Lyn Lawrence has done a wonderful job of capturing the mystery and magic of Louisiana and blending it beautifully into a fascinating story. MAGNOLIA HOUSE gives you suspense and mystery, love and suffering and learning how to live again. It is quick reading and makes for a delightful book to wrap the day up with. This reviewer looks forward to seeing more work from Ms. Lawrence. ****
Pat Snellgrove: title - Model In Flight
Wendy Nyberg was a successful model in New Zealand known as Willow. The professional name helped keep her private life just that, private! Her parents were well known public figures and, to be blunt, SNOBS! Her brother, Damien, was in love with a woman that their parents believed to be below his class. The family was in a major rift! And Willow was falling for a man that could destroy her life as she knew it!
Taj Holland flew helicopters for The Search and Rescue Service. His private life was not much better than Willow's. The difference, however, was that Taj did what he liked and did not care what other's thought! (His father constantly nagged Taj to enter the Diplomatic service, with no success.) It took a lot, but he finally got Willow to agree to go out with him.
The attraction between the couple was strong. They had more in common than they thought. But their families would try to snap the thin thread of love the two had connected between them. Time for everyone to learn that their love was stronger than prejudice!
*** Great story line and plenty of obstacles to keep it all interesting! I found a few typos, but that is seen in most books. Flows smoothly and will easily keep the attention of its readers! Recommended! ***
Rita Hestand: title - Pretend Mom
Dixie Kincaid was a rock star on the top of the charts. After living in New York for seven years, she was called home y her step-mother, Emily. Everyone thought she had come home because of her father's will or to wreck Kevin's marriage, or for some other scandal. However, Dixie ignored the mean gossipers and only wanted a vacation from work. She wanted to see her family and find out what Emily needed.
Mike Dalton ran a nearby ranch. His wife had died three years ago. He took care of the ranch and his beloved four year old daughter, Amanda. The gossips expected Mike to marry the town beauty, Janet. But Amanda had her own thoughts about Janet. No, Amanda wanted Dixie, if only as a pretend mom until Dixie had to return to New York.
***** A sweet story of two people who separated and were later brought back together for a second chance to know each other. I never stopped reading it until it ended. Amanda just stole my heart. Yes, I will gladly recommend this one to all! *****
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