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Author: Regina Scott
Title - A Convenient Christmas Wedding (Frontier Bachelors #5)
(Release Date November 8, 2016)
When Nora Underhill learns that her brother, Charles, and his wife, Meredith, are coming to live in Seattle, she knows it is to draw her back into a life of drudgery. Yet this little seamstress has no intention of allowing that to happen again. In a bold move, Nora proposes a marriage of convenience to Simon Wallin, a rugged logger. In return for Simon’s protection from her overbearing family, Nora offers one hundred and sixty acres of prime farmland.
Simon shoulders the responsibility of caring for his family. That includes his mother, sister, brothers, their wives, all future babies, and the animals. By his calculation his family would just scrape through this winter with enough food for them all. He accepts Nora’s proposal, hoping that he is not making the worst decision of his life. But little by little, Nora’s warmth opens his heart. Simon’s family adores Nora and hopes to see their relationship grow into a true marriage with love. And by the looks the pair shares, that may happen in the near future.
***** FIVE STARS! This story targets the readers who enjoy a Christmas romance story without a lot of danger and tension. After a rough week at work, this way exactly what I needed to help me relax over the weekend. Charles and Meredith bring much drama to the story, but the primary focus remains on Nora and Simon. Nora’s character is honest, warm, and kind-hearted. She loves to do things for others, including the adoptions of a few interesting animals – such as the dog who can talk! Simon’s character is focused mainly on his growing family with no thoughts as to himself. He likes things told to him straight up and no surprises. It is wonderful to watch Nora simply be herself and end up making Simon realize that his life can have the loving happiness that his brothers do.
If you have read the other titles in this series, you will see familiar names as secondary characters. However, you do not have to read any of the other stories to fully enjoy this one. It stands alone. And so does this author! I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. *****
Authors: Christina Skye, C.H. Admirand, Pamela Morsi, Linda J. Parisi, Jeff DePew, Lori Avocato, Connie Corcoran Wilson, Mathew Kaufman
Title - Romantic Times: Vegas (Volume 2, Anthology)
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: Jill Shalvis
Title - Christmas in Lucky Harbor
(First two novels in series and two short stories)
Maddie Moore leaves L.A. (after dumping her abusive boyfriend and losing her job) for the little coastal town of Lucky Harbor, Washington. Her deceased mother, Phoebe Traeger, has left a ramshackled inn to Maddie and her two half-sisters, Tara and Chloe. Maddie is hoping for a new beginning and sees potential in the Lucky Harbor Resort, but a lot of work would be needed simply to bring the inn back up to code. Maddie's biggest problem is convincing her sisters to agree. They want to sell the place, divide the money, and go their separate ways. Money is another problem. The place needs a complete makeover and not one of the sisters has the money for the enormous task.
The contractor Maddie hires turns out to be the hot guy she has recently tried (accidentally, of course) to run off the road. That faux pas had been followed by Maddie tipping over Mr. Hottie's motorcycle shortly thereafter. But unlike the loud men she has ever known, Jax Cullen takes it all in stride. Worse, Jax is making it difficult for Maddie to remember that she has sworn off men.
***** FIVE STARS! As the first sister to have her story told, Maddie is the meekest. Considered to be "The Mouse", Maddie is learning to speak up for herself. Watching this mouse transform into a lioness is pure bliss. The author has given each sister her own unique personality. Yet as different as the three half-sisters are, each has managed to wiggle their way into my heart. THAT is but one sign of a talented writer. "Simply Irresistible" is fun, full of humor, and simply delightful in every way. *****
Author: Hope Ramsay
Title - Last Chance Christmas
Lark Chaikin has no idea why Pop’s last request was to be cremated and his ashes to be spread on the eighteenth hole of a mini golf course in Last Chance, South Carolina. As far as Lark knows, Pop had spent less than two weeks in the small town forty years ago. But she must admit that now is a good time. Taking care of Pop’s ashes gives her an excuse to avoid work briefly and try to come to grips with her nightmares. Lark is a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer. Her photos told the emotional story of what was happening in the war-torn parts of the world. On her recent assignment in Libya, Lark lived through something that has her shaken up. She can no longer bring herself to click the shutter on her camera. She has a little over a week to deal with Pop’s ashes and pull herself together. Christmas Day would see her on a flight to Africa and back to work. Lark learns that the Bible Belt is nothing like home in New York. From the minute she arrives in town, Lark is made to feel very unwelcome.
Police Chief Stonewall “Stone” Rhodes has enough trouble in his life. The last thing he needs is the daughter of the most notorious man ever to set foot in Last Chance causing problems. Her father, Abe, is blamed by many for the death of his grandfather. Lark’s presence has his father furious. No one really knows what happened on the eighteenth hold of Golfing for God that long ago night. Did Zeke have an accident? Or had he been beaten and murdered? But, again, Stone has enough troubles of his own. His wife, Sharon, died six years ago in a car wreck and Stone is still grieving. Lizzy, his teen daughter, is sweet on the new boy from Michigan. David’s family is Jewish, while Lizzy is Christian, and the boy’s mother does not want David to be friends with Lizzy; she want the family to move back to Michigan. Then there is Stone’s eight-year-old daughter, Haley, who believes that she has been seeing a crying angel for many years. Haley is convinced that The Sorrowful Angel wants to earn her wings and return to Heaven. Could his life possibly get any worse?
Stone’s father is standing in Lark’s way of fulfilling Pop’s last request, so while she is stuck in Last Chance, she may as well try to find out what happened forty years ago. As Stone and Lark spend time together, her digging into the past is causing much ado in town. And it looks as though the event of forty years ago just may repeat itself.
**** FOUR STARS! This is a heartwarming story that is perfect for any time of year. It has romance, an old mystery, and even a bit of suspense (when the body of a local man is found) and mayhem. The story’s main focus is on Lark and Stone, but the two daughters get some time in the spotlight as well. Because I live in South Carolina, I was a bit disappointed when Lark received such a hostile welcome, but as the background of the town became clearer I could easily see why the locals would wonder if she was up to no good. Lark’s character goes the extra mile to help Stone’s family bring the Spirit of Christmas back into their lives. By end of the exciting climatic ending, you will be unable to say that angels do not exist and watch over us. I plan to read this story more than once before the New Year. I found it to be downright magical! ****
Author: Katie Lane
Title - Hunk for the Holidays (Christmas Contemporary)
Cassandra “Cassie” McPherson is a workaholic. She has always worked hard for her family’s construction business. She is too busy to socialize. Whenever Cassie needs a date for a party or office function, she simply calls an escort service. So when James shows up Cassie assumes he is her hired escort for the evening’s party. Unlike any of her previous escorts, James not only fills out a tuxedo nicely, but he is intelligent, observant, and extremely charming. For once, Cassie is tempted to do what she never has before – have a one night stand.
James built his company, Sutton Construction, from scratch. It is now a million dollar company. As a workaholic with a growing business, he has had to attend several business parties and mingle with all sorts of women, but he has never met anyone like Cassie before. When James realizes that Cassie believes him to be her hired escort, he goes along with it. By the end of the night James has decided that he wants to spend more time with the lovely spitfire. But before he does, James intends to let Cassie know who he really is: her family’s fiercest business rival. However, James never gets a chance to tell Cassie, thanks to the alcoholic drinks. And he wakes up the next morning to the feel of Cassie doing some wild things to him. Now his dilemma is trying to figure out how to reveal who he is without losing the woman of his dreams.
**** FOUR STARS! Avid readers know that the best thing about the holidays (Oct. – Dec.) is the holiday themed stories that are published. This is one of the most fun and entertaining Christmas romances that I have read in the past few years.
Though the story’s main focus remains on Cassie and James, the author includes a side romance between two secondary characters. Then there is Cassie’s ninety-year-old Aunt Wheezie who is always ready to give love a gentle push – or a hard shove when necessary. Add in a mangy cat and some nosey neighbors and you are guaranteed to be entertained. Highly recommended! ****
Author: Victoria Alexander
Title - What Happens at Christmas
(Christmas Regency Romance)
Young Camille had wed a man who was substantially older than her, and they had spent eight comfortable years together. Now Camille is a very wealthy widow and is looking to remarry. This year for Christmas, Camille wants a wedding proposal from Prince Nikolai Pruzinsky, of the ruling family of the Kingdom of Greater Avalonia. She does not love the man, but fully expects to fall in love with him after they are married. Since Nikolai has been reading novels by Mr. Charles Dickens, he mentions wanting to experience a traditional English Christmas. Camille decides to grant his wish. Of course, her family has never been what one might call proper, but by a very good stroke of luck everyone is out of the country for Christmas this year. Camille hires a troupe of actors to play the parts of her family, as well as all the other servants. What could possibly go wrong with such a brilliant plan?
Young Grayson Elliott did not confess his feelings of love to Camille until the day before she was to marry. From the kiss they shared that day, Gray could tell that she returned his feelings. Yet he had been too late. He spent the next eleven years on business travels and amassing his fortune. But this year Gray is spending Christmas with his family. Gray tells himself that he is over his feelings for Camille and that seeing her around the area would not be difficult. He should have known better.
Camille has always had some sort of impulsive adventure going on; however, this time her scheme borders on outrageous! Be that as it may, Gray never ignores an opportunity when it presents itself. So when Camille introduces him to Nikolai, Gray insinuates himself into her household by announcing that he has come to spend Christmas with Cousin Camille. Let the games begin!
**** FOUR STARS! I have long enjoyed stories by Victoria Alexander. She always cooks up a wild, romantic plot and spices it up with several tablespoons of wicked humor. This time the author has created a farce to end all farces. The story begins shortly before December Twenty-First and concludes on Christmas Day. Though this time frame is only five days, mad mayhem runs rampant in each one. Not only are the hired troupe filled with poor actors, but Gray is simply delighted to add more chaos into the mix. (I refuse to reveal what he does. Hilarious!) If anything could go horribly wrong for Camille, it does. But for the reader, that is a good thing. I am proud to highly recommend this jewel for your Regency/Romance Christmas list this year. ****
Title - A Girl’s Guide to Guns & Monsters (Anthology)
The Drifter by Jane Lindskold: Prudence Bledstoe rides into town on a big buckskin stallion. She has a rifle in her saddle boot and six-guns on her hop. Prudence is hunting a hunter. A paranormal problem. A personal problem for her to put out of its misery, before it kills all.
**** FOUR STARS! A terrific story to start this anthology off right! Set in the old west, but with a suspenseful supernatural element. ****
Author: Mike Arsuaga
Title - Subspecies
(Subspecies #1, Erotic Dark Paranormal)
Doctor James "Jim" White is a vampire. He lives among the humans and teaches at a university. When he steps into the library and spies a lovely blond, Jim has no idea that he has just met the love of his long life.
Samantha "Sam" Johnson is a lycan. (Her kind hates the term werewolf.) She also lives quietly among the humans. Sam leads the good doctor to her apartment, expecting to give him a good tumble in bed before making a meal of him. Both are shocked when they learn what species the other is. Lycans and vampires live for centuries, each relegating the other to myth. The pair decides it would be safer for both of them if they began hunting together. Jim gets the prey's blood and Sam "processes" and freezes the meat for later consumption.
Jim and Sam begin scouring the internet for other non-humans. Lycans and vampires together are called subspecies. The pair creates a web page, Critters of the Night, that the subspecies community quickly recognizes to be the first support group of their kind. Jim and Sam even begin a local support group and others begin to join, but they are all careful so as not to become known by the humans. Whenever a group member needs help, Jim and/or Sam rushes to their aid. And when Detective Charleze Borden of Missing Persons begins to suspect Sam of murder, a couple of group members are there to help eradicate any possible evidence.
Both subspecies have major problems when it comes to reproduction. So when Samantha becomes pregnant, subspecies worldwide take notice.
**** FOUR STARS! No one under the age of seventeen should read this book. There are graphic bedroom scenes (one unwilling/forced), violence, and gore. I stress to all that this is an Erotic Dark Paranormal Series. Consider yourself warned.
This is the first title in the Subspecies Series. It is written in the First Person and follows Jim. My synopsis only reveals a small portion of the story's events. Much more happens than I tell. This title reveals how both species start to come together for the betterment of all. This also means that a form of leadership is needed and, of course, not everyone will be happy about the changes.
Author Mike Arsuaga has created a believable and pretty realistic story that managed to capture my attention quickly and keep my interest until the very end. Fans of the HBO series "True Blood" should seriously consider giving this novel a chance. Very dramatic. ****
Author: Cara Covington
Title - Love Under Two Benedicts (Lusty, Texas #1 / Erotica)
Five years ago Kelsey Madison sat in the car outside as her husband and little boy went into a store. Her heart had shattered as she watched a crazed killer gun them down. The shooter was caught, but not the accomplice who had been sitting in the getaway vehicle. Kelsey's gaze had met the accomplice's, but the shock had been too much and her mind blocked it out. From then on, Kelsey knew her life would always be empty. There simply was no love left within her to give.
Thanks to the nagging of a good friend, Kelsey has moved to Lusty, Texas, and has opened up her own restaurant called Lusty Appetites. Kelsey had thrown herself into the business and it has become very well known. It even attracts people from far away. The local paper ran an article about the victim-turned-entrepreneur. Kelsey did not know that the horrible events in her past would be mentioned, but the paper handled it well. Of all the people who read the article, two special ones began making plans.
Wesley Connors is a mayoral candidate. His rich sponsor expects a statewide campaign. Connors's face is to be flashed on television screens everywhere. The article reminds Connors that Kelsey had seen his face through the car windshield outside the store. She would be able to recognize his face on television. Before Connors could begin his life in politics, Kelsey would have to be silenced - forever.
Deputy Matthew "Matt" Benedict and his brother, Steven, had their eyes on Kelsey since her first day in town. Knowing about her horrific past, the men knew it would take Kelsey awhile to even become aware of either one of them as men. But when Matt sees that Kelsey has finally taken notice of them, he and Steven begin their campaign to win her heart. The men understand her resolve not to get involved romantically. They would allow Kelsey to believe that is okay. However Matt and Steven plan to seduce the lovely lady into their bed and get her body so addicted to their's that her heart would have no choice but to join in.
Just as Kelsey is becoming used to being in a town full of ménage marriages, as well as being in a ménage affair with two hunky brothers, a mother abandons her five-year-old son, Benny, at Kelsey's restaurant. Kelsey agrees to care for Benny until the law enforcement can locate his mother. Matt and Steven convince Kelsey to move into their home with the child. They have a huge home with plenty of room and the men could help her look after Benny. Matt would keep looking for the missing mom. Steven, who takes care of their horses, would help entertain Benny. For the brothers, everything is going perfectly, until someone begins trying to kill Kelsey.
**** FOUR STARS! Cara Covington did a great job of describing the reaction of how a woman would feel (in my unexperienced opinion) should she have witnessed her family murdered. I totally believe it would take years for a woman to be able to feel emotions again...if ever. It was interesting to watch Kelsey slowly open up to Matt and Steven. As for Connors, the author spends a lot of time showing him stalk Kelsey, but not enough time actually doing anything about his problem. I kept expecting more danger. Kelsey did not even know she was in danger for most of the story. I am very disappointed there.
Unlike many eroticas, this one did not have the pain and humiliation of spankings. Kelsey does get a single slap/sting once or twice, but never turned over a guy's knee and spanked like a child. (Thank goodness!) Kudos to Covington for that! This is a wonderful story that I happily recommend to romance readers who enjoy hot and steamy bedroom time in their stories. ****
Author: Annette Blair
Title - Kissingate Magic
(Novella from the Mammoth Book of Scottish Romance)
Set in 1846, Kissingate, Scotland. Five years ago Jacey Lockhart became pregnant. The father had been Gabriel "Gabe" Macgregor, a poor Vicar's son. The baby did not live. Becoming an unwed mother had severe consequences. Jacey's mother, the lady of Lockhart Keep, declared Jacey a disgrace and disinherited her. Since the Lockharts owned the parish living, Jacey's distant cousin, Nick, offered to be a scapegoat for her. By naming Nick as the babe's father, the Macgregors did not lose the parish and Gabe did not lose his living. (Gabe planned to become a Vicar too.) Jacey became an outcast and left in humiliation with her heart broken.
But now, after five years, Jacey is returning. Jacey's mother no longer lives. Gabe, who had wed Jacey's widowed sister, Clara, is not a widow himself. Since Clara's death, Bridget (Clara's young daughter), rarely speaks and never laughs. Though Gabe is Bridget's step-father, he has always felt as if she were his by blood. Bridget used to laugh and play with Gabe, yet now the grieving four-year-old will seldom even look his way. When Gabe writes Suttie, an ageless puppeteer, to come help cheer Bridget up, it never crosses his mind that Suttie would also bring Jacey. Seeing Jacey again is both a blessing and a curse. Gabe still loves Jacey but cannot shake his hurt feelings from her betrayal of having had a baby by another man. However, what hurts Gabe most is that Bridget instantly adores her aunt. To Jacey, Bridget will smile, hug, talk, and laugh. Yet the child's attitude toward Gabe does not alter.
As for Jacey, had Clara never died she would never have returned to Kissingate. Only for her niece would Jacey do so. Jacey must face a condemning village, Gabe among them, a flock who considers him a saint and her a sinner, to see by whom Bridget would be better raised. If Gabe turns out to be what Bridget needs, Jacey will stay in the area, even though she would still be shunned by all, to help in her care. But if Jacey believes that she would be better for Bridget, then Jacey will claim her niece and take her away. Either way, Jacey will never reveal the truth about five years ago. Better Gabe hate her forever than for him to lose all he loves.
***** FIVE STARS! Jacey is a strong-willed heroine with a stoic nature. Gabe's feelings toward Jacey are best called ambivalent. The author, Annette Blair, has given both a talent for prevarication. When it comes to Bridget, the seemingly star-crossed-lovers find themselves in quite a quandary. The results of all this is a story that will incite your interest and leave you with a warm feeling of pleasure. As a bit of added spice, the author has tossed in one or two twists and surprises. The biggest of which I never saw coming. No one can fire a reader's imagination better than Annette Blair! Excellent! *****
Author: Karen Wiesner
Title - Classic Tales of Horror Retold, Vol. I
(Woodcutter's Grim Novella Series)
"Papa" (Loosely based on Hansel & Gretel)
Six months ago Randall Parker's ex-wife, Josephine, had died in a horrible car accident. With Josephine had been their children, Henry and Grace. Randall's new wife, Amy, feels that the car accident would never have happened had Randall not left Josephine for her. Randall keeps explaining to Amy that there had never been any love in his previous marriage. He had been miserable, so he would have left Josephine eventually. Over the last couple of months, Amy has fallen into deep depression. Randall finally convinces Amy to come away with him to an isolated cabin in the northern part of Wisconsin, in the town of Woodcutter's Grim.
Upon reaching Woodcutter's Grim, the pair cannot help but notice all of the oddities. It is Halloween, yet the town looks deserted. The city's population sign only claims two. The church's sign proclaims that Judgment Day had arrived. Randall's watch, as well as Amy's, has stopped working. And what is with all the piles of sugar that are showing up everywhere?
When the couple reaches the cabin, more sugar piles are seen. Amy insists that Josephine has sent the children back from their graves for revenge. She has been seeing and hearing the kids for months. Until they arrived at the cabin, Randall never heard Henry and Grace calling for him, but now he does.
***** FIVE STARS! This story gave me the exact same eerie feeling that I experienced as I watched the movie titled (based on a video game) "Silent Hill". This tale is the first of a novella series about the Great Evil that dwells in the town of Woodcutter's Grim and its surrounding woods. The Great Evil likes to manifest itself in dark, twisted versions of fairy tales. My advice is to not read this story at night if you are alone. *****
Authors: Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Alessandro, & Candice Hern
Title - It Happened One Season (4 Regency Novellas)
The Seduction of Sebastian Trantor by Stephanie Laurens
Sebastian Trantor never thought he would need to wed. After the war ended, Sebastian spent his time increasing his fortune, restoring and settling into the gothic monstrosity he had purchased, and then indulging his interest in ancient languages, scripts, and cryptography. But Sebastian's solitude ends when his brother arrives. Viscount Coningsby has been unable to provide the family with the heir needed to ensure the title and entailed estates remain in safe hands. Should both brothers die, everything goes to a cousin, "Mad Freddie". Once in London, Sebastian is disgusted with all the simpering misses. During a ball, Sebastian escapes to the host's library for some solitude. The last thing he expects is for a young lady to pick the library's lock and then begin going through desk drawers.
Young ladies of the ton are being blackmailed. Miss Tabitha Makepeace is determined to find out by whom and to put an end to it. Fortunately for Tabitha, her search for answers catches the attention of Sebastian. She is unable to break the coding used and he is an expert on the matter. When the two are caught in a compromising position, Tabitha agrees to pretend they are engaged until her mission has been concluded. However, Sebastian intends to use their time together to convince Tabitha to marry him for real.
***** FIVE STARS! This story is more of a mystery suspense than romance, yet I feel it earns a full five star rating. The romance is not omitted. Instead, it slowly blooms between the couple. Well done. *****
Favorite Story Quote:
"Another blasted crush." Sebastian sounded distinctly unamused. "Enlighten me - why do ton hostesses consider assembling more guests than can comfortable fit in their rooms a good thing?"
"You'll have to hold me excused." Tabitha inclined her head to a pair of distant acquaintances. "That's something I've never fathomed myself."
Only Love by Mary Balogh
(Major) Jack Gilchrist had spent seven years in the army. The past five years he spent living in the country. He never even gave thought to marrying anytime soon, if ever. But when his brother, Matthew, Earl of Waterton, informs Jack that it is up to him to produce an heir - and quickly - Jack heads to London. In a fortunate coincidence, Jack meets up with the widow of Colonel Pritchard. Jack had met her while in the army. He recalls that she had been a plain, shy lady. Jack decides Cleo Pritchard would be the perfect choice to become his wife. But Cleo begs to differ. She never became pregnant while married before. Fearing she may be barren, Cleo offers Jack a sort of compromise. They would become lovers. If Jack impregnates her before the end of the Season, Cleo will marry him. Otherwise, they would part ways.
**** FOUR STARS! Needless-to-say in this story the main couple needs more private time than in the other novellas. Yet the author still manages to build a real and lasting love between Jack and Cleo. Most of the story involves Jack overcoming Cleo's reservations. ****
Favorite Story Quote:
"Which, like the color white," he explained to her, "is not the absence of anything but the containment of everything. I sometimes believe that if only I could understand nothing, I would know everything. And sometimes I feel I am about to grasp it - and then it eludes me."
Hope Springs Eternal by Jacquie D'Alessandro
Miss Penelope Markham used to teach art in Italy. But scandal forced her to leave Italy in disgrace and return to England to contemplate a future that looked very bleak. Lack of funds has her residing in one of the poorer sections. Just before she is accosted, Penelope is rescued by Captain Alec Trentwell.
Alec had been the commanding officer of Penelope's late brother, Edward. Through the letters Edward received from his sister and shared with him, Alec feels as though he has known Penelope for years. Now that Penelope has returned, Alec needs to meet her. He plans to introduce himself, then confess his part in Edward's death. Quick, impersonal, emotionless. Never once had he considered that he would be standing on the street, heart and head pounding, and gripping a knife after scaring off a man who would have harmed her. Nor had he imagined that by looking into her eyes, he would be so enthralled. Words fail Alec. Unable to express his guilty conscience, yet feeling a deep sense of responsibility toward her, Alec comes up with a way to remove Penelope from her unsafe quarters. Alec commissions Penelope to paint his portrait. Penelope would stay at his family's townhouse, where his brother, the Earl of Crandall, is currently residing with his family. (So Penelope would be well chaperoned.)
Due to Alec's older brother being unable to produce an heir. The task has been shunted off to Alec. But none of the dozens of society diamonds affects him as Penelope's kisses do. Their marriage is swift. Happy for the first time in so long, Alec keeps putting off his confession. However, the one year anniversary of that horrific day at Waterloo is rapidly approaching. Admitting his part in Edward's death can no longer wait.
***** FIVE STARS! I cannot help but admit that this is my favorite novella within this book. Penelope is not afraid to stand up for herself. She stands on her own two feet with her head held high, asking for nothing from no one. Yet she is honest, straightforward, and gracious - even to those who are not so pleasant toward her. The story is full of sass and witty dialogs. I actually caught myself chuckling several times. A brilliantly crafted tale. *****
Favorite Story Quote:
Alec's brow collapsed into a scowl. "I wasn't barking orders. I was merely -"
"Telling me what to do. In a very commanding way."
Fate Strikes a Bargain by Candice Hern
Captain Nathaniel "Nat" Beckwith has not yet been able to shake off that final stand at Waterloo. He is battle hardened and battle scarred, in both body and mind. Duty has been engrained into Nat. So when his elder brother, Lord Dearne, informs Nat that he must marry and produce an heir to the earldom, Nat prepares to do his familial duty. But Nat does not enjoy being out in society. Before stepping into the crush of party guests, Nat does "a bit of reconnaissance" from behind a potted orange tree and meets Miss Philippa Reynolds.
Philippa had been born with a displaced hip, causing her to walk with a severe limp. Despite her physical flaw, she does not wallow in self-pity and is tired of being smothered from her over-protective family. Within half an hour, Nat proposes marriage to Philippa. She is not insipid, clingy, dramatic, or complicated. She will not mind living away from society and is pleased with the idea of having children of her own. Her only requests are that Nat continue to be straightforward and honest with her, and to never coddle her. If she needs help, she will ask him for it. She desires to be treated as a normal lady. She is lame, not an invalid. With their bargain made, Nat and Philippa need only get through the Season.
**** FOUR STARS! This story shows that just because a person was born with a defect, it does not mean s/he is an invalid. Philippa's crooked hip and severe limp does not keep her from enjoying life. Nor does it make her an idiot. She is very intelligent. Philippa has a clear understanding of how her defect causes others around her to feel and she strives to put them at ease. I cannot help but admire a woman such as Philippa. And I will long remember this heartwarming tale, as well as its moral. ****
Favorite Story Quote:
"I am Miss Reynolds. Philippa Reynolds. If anyone should ask, we will invent someone who made the introductions. An elderly dowager, I think. Yes, the dowager Lady Kumquat, who sadly fell into a fit of the vapors and had to leave, the poor dear."
Author: Leah Brooke
Title - Crescendo (Erotica)
Set mostly in Philadelphia. Julianna Lovette quit Avante's without a reference. Ken, who runs the business, never did any work but did take all the credit for Julianna's accomplishments. The last straw had been when Ken demanded bed-relations. Julianna now has her own small designer/decorator business, Lovette's Designs. The small jobs Julianna is receiving are not enough to get a better place to live, much less cover all the overdue bills. In a desperate, long-shot hope, Julianna puts in a bid to design and decorate the new Crescendo hotel resort.
Julianna's romantic life has never been exciting. Wanting to find a way to spice it up, she makes the mistake of seeing a man she had met at a club owned by her friend, Gabriel Durand. David turns out to be a rough Dom and Julianna flees. In pain and deeply humiliated, Julianna drives (dangerously) back to her apartment. It is three in the morning. She wants to be alone. She wants a shower. She wants to forget. Getting out of her car, the hysterical woman cannot see through her tears. She falls, adding more painful scraps to her body and dropping her keys. Just as Julianna believes her night can get no worse, two men surround her. Luckily, these men are not the muggers she first assumes.
Nicholas "Nick" Morietti is the dark haired owner of Crescendo. Golden haired Steven "Steve" Vanguard is an ex-Army Ranger, head of security for Crescendo, and Nick's business partner. The two handsome men help Julianna reach her apartment safely and through the confrontation with David a short while afterward. Nick and Steven find themselves enchanted, totally enthralled with Julianna. Upon learning her name and silently realizing she is one of the design bidders they were about to pass over, the men decide to give her bid a second look. Nick and Steve had intended to give the contract to Avante's. A bit of researching and a background check reveals that Julianna is the reason Avante's has such a great reputation.
Neither man can stop thinking about Julianna. Reluctantly, they agree to share her. Understanding Julianna's strong skittishness with men, the duo put their heads together and creates an iron-clad strategy which ensures they have every advantage, including after hours (for needed meetings, updates, etc). But an enemy from Steve's past is back for revenge. Nick and Steve must protect Julianna from those who seek to use her against them.
**** FOUR STARS! Warning! No one under the age of seventeen should read this book. Out of all the eroticas I receive, only a few are worthy enough for me to take the time of writing up a review. This title is worthy! For those wondering, the story surrounds two men and one woman. Both of the men are doms. Sometimes the erotic sections include only Julianna and one of the men. Sometimes all three are involved. No whips. A few "light" toys. No real pain. And, of course, a happily-ever-after.
As for the plot, Steve's enemy is his former captain/friend. Someone is also sabotaging Julianna's progress with decorating the new hotel, causing her to fall behind on her Crescendo contract. I would guess that almost (but not quite) two-thirds of the book is actual plot and story line. Personally, I believe the story would have been better had there been more danger. I would not have minded giving up one or two of the sizzling, private sections of the story in order to read more danger and suspense. I plan to keep an eye on Leah Brooke's future novels for the next year, in hope of finding another tale set in the business world - with suspense, danger, and main characters between the ages of thirty and forty-five. Perhaps I will give Gabriel's story a try when it is released. ****
Author: Sophie Oak
Title - Three to Ride (Nights in Bliss, Colorado #1, Erotica)
One year ago Elizabeth Courtney went on a blind date with the friend of a friend. Tommy Lane had set off a few red flags, so she had politely declined his offer for a second date. Instead of taking her hint, Tommy began stalking her. During that year, Elizabeth had to deal with his phone calls, letters to her boss, and vandalism. The police had done nothing. Cops tended to stick together. Even Tommy's partner sent Elizabeth threatening phone calls when she built a case against Tommy. But during the last twenty-four hours, Tommy went way too far. Elizabeth could not add arson and attempted murder to her list of charges. With the help of the doctor and nurses who treated her wounds in the hospital, Elizabeth did the only thing possible. She changed her identity and ran for her life.
Due to Tommy catching up with her once, she is on the second of the three identities that had been given to her. Currently her name is Rachel Swift. She has been on the run for over a year. Rachel's money has been depleted. She needs to earn more before she could hit the road again. Rachel finds herself in the oddest little town. Bliss, Colorado, is populated by the strangest, but friendliest, characters. Rachel is a waitress in a diner. Stella, the owner, may be the sanest person in town. But Rachel decides that the most wickedly handsome man is Maxwell "Max" Harper. Max has eaten every meal in the diner during Rachel's two weeks employed there. Stella says the big guy has a bad rep and an even worse temper. People approach Max as if he were a dangerous animal who might pounce at any second. However, Rachel is beginning to understand that Max may be crusty on the outside, but is sweet on the inside.
Max has been excruciatingly polite to everyone in Rachel's vicinity. His anger issues disappear whenever the lovely waitress is around. She is the first girl in Max's thirty years to ever catch his interest. Usually it is his twin brother, Ryan "Rye" Harper, who approaches the girl that they would end up sharing. But over the past year Max and Rye have not shared their women. They still share everything else though. The brothers are like two halves of one person. Whenever one brother is hurt, the other feels the pain too. So it is no surprise to Max when Rye returns to town (from a crime-fighting convention) and is just as intrigued with Rachel as he is. Of course, Rye simply has to try his charm on Rachel and Max finds it amusing that Rachel turns cold toward Rye; however, the brothers can tell that it is Rye's sheriff uniform that bothers the lady. The girl is obviously in trouble. Max and Rye are going to find out exactly who or what Rachel is running from and help her deal with it, whether she likes it or not.
When Max catches Rachel in a small lie, his temper explodes. Worse, Max makes the mistake of yelling at Rachel in the middle of the diner. Rye is standing outside of the diner when Max stumbles out the door and Rachel begins beating him over the head with a dozen roses. Seeing this, Rye simply cannot help it, his fascination with Rachel turns into love. In fact, everyone in Bliss begins to worship the lady. Rachel is the only person that has ever been able to stand up to the bear of the county. And Rachel may very well be the only woman able to take on both Harper brothers.
**** FOUR STARS! This extremely hot romance with lots of humor and more than just a touch of danger. Rachel starts out with only Max, but somewhere around the middle of the story Rachel begins having relations with both brothers simultaneously. I do not recommend anyone under the age of seventeen reading this book. (No duh!) But there are no hard core toys or gadgets.
The cast of local characters are pretty eccentric. This town has everything from the sane Stella to Crazy Mel and his paranoid alien theories. (At least Mel has not shot anyone as yet.) Author Sophie Oak has written a hot romance that simply oozes with witty dialogs, humorous scenes, and suspenseful moments. Downright exuberant! ****
Author: Sophie Oak
Title - Two to Love (Nights in Bliss, Colorado #2)
Twenty-five year old Callie Sheppard takes care of everyone except herself. Caring for her mother, who is fighting cancer, is becoming too stressful and Callie needs a break. To that end, Callie has her friend, Stefan, set her up with two guys wanting to share a woman for a wild weekend fling. Finally, Callie was going to lose her innocence. The men are Special Agents Nathan "Nate" Wright and Zane Hollister. The two DEA agents are about to go on a long, undercover assignment to take down an outlaw biker gang called the Barbarians. Their weekend together turns out to be better than any of them could have predicted. But, eventually, the weekend comes to an end. Six years pass.
Bliss, Colorado, is a little town nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Rio Grande runs through Bliss, splitting the town through the valley. Callie lives in a cabin that is isolated from the rest of the valley. Now that her mother has passed away, Callie feels that the time has come to move on with her life and she is giving serious thought on moving to Denver. Callie wants the kind of love Rachel found with the Harper twins. Having grown up in Bliss, Callie knows that there is no one she desires to settle and have a family with. But before Callie can put her plans into action, the new sheriff arrives. It is none other than Nate, and Zane is with him.
Zane's cover had been blown and he has scars that testify to the brutal torture he had undergone. No longer agents, the pair have come to Bliss to heal. Nate and Zane are determined to win back Callie's broken heart. But when the Barbarians enter Bliss with revenge in mind, the former agents need to keep Callie safe as they somehow end the bounty out on Zane's head.
**** FOUR STARS! This is the second in Sophie Oak's sizzling hot series about the intriguing people that live in Bliss, Colorado. This is M/F/M. (Two men sharing one woman.) Consider yourself warned in advance. No one under the age of seventeen should read this book.
If you have not read the previous title, Three to Ride, you will not find yourself lost. The main trio from that story play secondary roles in this one though. Much more is told about the odd locals. To quote part of the story that describes Bliss, "an entire town of people whose percentage of gun owners dwarfed the national average." These locals take care of their own. When the Barbarians threaten Callie, the entire town pulls out their guns. It is a fun thing to see...uh, read. (Whatever.)
The author keeps a suspenseful and dangerous theme running, while still inserting her unique signature of quirky humor. I am dearly coming to love Sophie Oak's sense of comedy relief. I hope that I have the opportunity to read and review more stories from this author. ****
Authors: Gena Showalter, Shannon K. Butcher, Jessica Andersen, & Deidre Knight
Title - On the Hunt (4 Paranormal Novellas)
Ever Night by Gena Showalter
At midnight, marking her eighteenth birthday, Rose Pascal finds herself transported to a dark dimension - a world ruled by a warrior king who hunts and kills her kind. King Vasili of the Northern Realm intends to use Rose for information on other Dimension Walkers. Every year, at midnight marking her birthday, Rose must return to "Nightmare". On her first trip Vasili interrogates her and informs Rose to learn how to fight dirty during the coming year, as well as to seek out information on others like her. On Rose's second trip, Vasili spars with Rose. She returns to her world beaten badly. But on her third trip, Rose and Vasili cannot deny the passion that consumes them both.
**** FOUR STARS! This story would make a terrific full-length novel. As a novella, it is just a bit unbelievable at times. Rose goes from pure hatred and disgust to undying love and adoration within a few short paragraphs. After first being scared for her life and next having to fight and being pummeled, I simply could not see love happening instantaneously. The ending seemed a bit too easy also. A great story with a terrific plot line, but had it been full-length it could have been more fully developed.
Author: Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Title - The Wyndmaster's Lady (Dark Fantasy Romance)
When Commander Sierran Morgan of the Ibydosian Forces disobeys a direct order to slaughter an entire city of innocents, he is sentenced to be a prisoner of Dragonmoor until he dies. However, everyone knows it is really a death sentence because the laird of Dragonmoor Keep is Charles Henry Allen, who has predilections for murder, mayhem, and mutilation. Since the Dungeon Master is a member of the Justonian Royalty (he is King Edmond's brother), no one interferes in how he treats the prisoners within his dungeons.
Lady Anna Celeste Allen is the only child of Lord Charles. Celeste's father has basically kept her a prisoner all her life. She is not allowed to leave Dragonmoor Keep, not allowed to enter various areas of her home, and no one is allowed to look at or speak with her. The only company Celeste receives is when she dines with her father, who she believes to be a physician in the local clinic. Celeste is the most precious thing in her father's eyes and he has kept her totally innocent in all ways.
When Sergeant Vargas DuMond and his men storm Dragonmoor Keep to liberate their commander, Celeste finally learns that her father is the total opposite of her beliefs. After having spent a long time under Dragonmoor Keep as the Dungeon Master's entertainment, Sierran had given up on being granted a quick and merciful death anytime soon. But then Vargas arrives with Lord Charles and Lady Celeste in tow. Celeste gets to see the results of the torture inflicted upon Sierran by her father. Noticing the Dungeon Master's rage of Celeste seeing the truth, Sierran orders that Lord Charles and Celeste be taken with them as they travel to Vista del Mar, his home on the island of Zykanthos.
While the Dungeon Master's evil imagination dwells upon the horrors that may be forced upon his daughter, Celeste is tending to the wounds that are covering Sierran's entire body. But as Celeste and Sierran fall in love, the commander's cruel family (who reside in Argonne, a few miles away from the island of Zykanthos) are brewing plans of their own.
***** FIVE STARS! Author Charlotte Boyett-Compo has created strong and compelling characters which quickly grabbed me by the throat and refused to let go. This story is not set on our world, but the setting reminds me of our Regency Era. I warn readers that this, in my opinion, is Dark Fantasy Romance. As in reality, the good guys do not always win every battle or confrontation. Rescue does not happen before torture. Anyone who cannot handle reading of torture and a brief sexual assault should not read this story. For those who are still brave enough to open this book, you will be rewarded with a tale that will stroke your imagination and have you sitting on the edge of your seat as you cheer the good guys onward to victory. An absolutely stellar story! *****
Authors: Sandy Sandfort, Scott Bieser, Lee Oaks!
Title - Escape From Terra, Vol. 1 (Graphic Novel)
Authors: Listed with titles
EDITED BY: Christian Dunn
Title - Legends of the Space Marines (W40K Sci-Fi Anthology)
Authors: Various (Listed with each title.)
Edited by: W.H. Horner
Title - Blood and Devotion (Fantasy anthology)
Edited by: Jetse de Vries
Title - Shine (Sci-Fi Anthology)
Authors: Noted with each title.
Title - Tales from the Treasure Trove, Vol. VI
(A Jewels of the Quill anthology)
Edited by: Alex Davis, Nick Kyme & Lindsey Priestley
Title - Death & Dishonour (Warhammer Fantasy Anthology)
Authors: Janet Chapman, Sandra Hill, Veronica Wolff, & Trish Jensen
Title - Ladies Prefer Rogues (4 Time Travel Novellas)
Title - A Touch of Dead
(Sookie Stackhouse Anthology)
Author: Charlaine Harris
Title - The Stories In Between
(Anthology of Sci-Fi, Pulp Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, & Comics)
Authors: Various (Listed below)
The beginning of this book has a forward by Joseph Gangemi and an introduction by Greg Schauer. Do not skip them. I found them to be as entertaining as the actual stories. Each story also begins with an illustration to set the mood. If you are a fan of Science-Fiction, Horror, Pulp Fiction, Comics, or Gaming then I strongly urge you to pick up a copy of this anthology. Parents, be warned that much of this book is for mature audiences only, so do not give a copy to you thirteen-year-old kid. (Wow, look at all the teens running to snatch up their own copy! There is nothing like the forbidden.)
Below I list each title with a small synopsis and rating. Remember that the ratings and my thoughts are MY opinions. Mine only. What I love, you may hate, and vice versa. One thing is for sure; every one of these authors and illustrators are beyond talented.
Title - Hot For the Holidays (4 Seasonal Paranormal Novellas)
Authors: Lora Leigh, Angela Knight, Anya Bast, Allyson James
Title - Holiday Brides (3 novellas)
Authors: Farrah Rochon, Stefanie Worth, Jewel Amethyst
Title - Homecoming (Mercy Thompson Graphic Novel)
Author: Patricia Briggs
Editors: David Lawrence & Rich Young
Artwork: Francis Tsai & Amelia Woo
Mercy Thompson is a walker, a magical being with the power to shapeshift into a coyote at will. As a child she had been handed over to Bran Cornick "the Marrok" who ruled the werewolves, to be raised. The Marrok is the biggest, baddest werewolf of all. Since the age of sixteen Mercy has been on her own.
Mercy leaves Portland for an interview in the Tri-Cities of Washington. Mercy hopes for a teaching position. She ends up being hired by a nine-year-old named Tad as a mechanic for his father's auto repair shop. Tad and his father, Zee, are part of the Fae. Mercy finds herself in the middle of a war zone. She would have left, but the Marrok erred and Mercy decides to spitefully stick around. Seems the Marrok has sent Adam Hauptman to deal with a band of rogue werewolves in the area. Adam is an Alpha, leader of the Columbia Basin Wolf Pack. And whether Adam or the Marrok likes it or not, Mercy is making the war for territory her business!
***** FIVE STARS! An outstanding and original graphic novel set in the Mercy Thompson universe. If, like me, you have not read any of the Mercy Thompson novels, then you are in for a sweet treat! For those fans who have kept up with the series, you will finally get to see how Mercy and her mentor, Zee, met.
As most know, when morphing into another form, the clothes being worn are shredded. The illustrators have done an amazing job of keeping true to that fact by using some pretty cool techniques. I could not be more impressed! Very tastefully done indeed! Mercy's personality and her sense of dark humor flows naturally and I often found myself chuckling aloud as I read. More than once my son stopped, while walking by my room, to glance in and wonder what I was laughing at. That just made me laugh louder.
In the back of this hardback graphic novel, readers will find an art gallery and an interview of the author, Patricia Briggs, by David Lawrence. Will there be more Mercy graphic novels in the future? The interview has me believing there will be. But this one is an original story; made especially for this graphic form. I have no doubt what-so-ever that fans will flock for this major collectable item. And new fans will be won as well. A magnificent graphic debut that will be long celebrated! *****
Author: Sherrilyn Kenyon
Artist: Claudia Campos
Title - The Dark-Hunters (Manga, Graphic Novel #1)
While Kyrian of Thrace was out fighting the Romans, his wife was at home welcoming them into her bed. For a chance to kill the wife who betrayed him, Kyrian swore his allegiance to Artemis and fights as a Dark-Hunter in her army against the daimon predators. Artemis has Kyrian's soul and he is immortal until something finally kills him. Believing all women are treacherous, Kyrian has spent over twenty-one hundred years alone. Every night Kyrian prowls the streets protecting humans from, not only the normal evils of humanity's nature, but also from daimons out to steal their very souls. After being ambushed one night, Kyrian wakes to find himself handcuffed to a beautiful human female.
Amanda Devereaux just wants to be normal. The rest of her large family can practice spells, hunt vampires, and do all the paranormal stuff. Amanda has rejected and suppressed her powers since she was a child. Unfortunately for her, fate will not leave her in peace. Mistaken for her vampire hunting sister, Tabitha, Amanda is kidnapped and handcuffed to the most handsome and arrogant man she has ever laid eyes on. As much as she hates the thought, Amanda and Kyrian are stuck with each other. Once free of the cuffs, Amanda is still marked for death. By day she can go and do whatever she pleases, but until Kyrian can find and kill the daimons toying with them, Amanda must spend her nights either by Kyrian's side or within his fortress of a home. Amanda is the key to everything. Should Amanda die, so does Kyrian, and humanity is doomed.
***** FIVE STARS! I have always wanted to read the Dark-Hunters series, but never had the time. So I am thrilled to find out that the series is being released as a graphic novel, manga style. Manga style basically means everything is backwards. The beginning of this graphic novel is where the back normally is. The right page is read before the left page. On each page you must read/view the panels right-to-left as well. Do not worry. Within a single minute you will have the rhythm and the action begins.
This volume is NOT a stand-alone story. It ends at a dramatic spot and will be continued in the next volume. This manga novel does not just ooze drama; it hemorrhages with excitement in a paranormal world that will surprise you. Most excellent! *****
Title - Love on a Harley (6 novellas)
Secrets and Lies by Rebecca Andrews
Wess McKade is ex-Special Forces with his own security business. When Wess receives a call from his friend, "Bobby" Preston, he finds himself agreeing to protect Bobby's sister, Ella. It seems that Bobby is being blackmailed for something that happened ten years ago at a party (involving all three of them). Unless Bobby pays, Ella will be harmed. That night at the party had been the last time Wess saw Ella. Could Wess make Ella forgive him for disappearing?
**** Great story, but I could tell a lot was cut out (so it could be a short story). Because of this, it did not flow smoothly. But the plot is really good. This one deserves to be a full-length novel. ****
Author: Morgan Leshay
Title - The Legacy of Sleepy Hollow
It has been twenty-five years since Ichabod Crane departed the quaint little village of Sleepy Hollow. Few know the truth of what happened on the fateful night that the Headless Horseman rode on his midnight cadavers. The truth is about to be revealed.
Icharus Crane, eldest son of the late Ichabod, rides into Sleepy Hollow looking for Abraham "Brom Bones" Van Brunt. His father had always described Sleepy Hollow full of prosperity and abundance. Yet as Icharus enters the town all he sees is ruin. Few remain in town. Homes are showing lack of care. The fields are untilled and barren. Worst of all, Abraham is dead. Icharus enters town just as Abraham's funeral ends. Thus Icharus turns to Abraham's daughter, Katherine, for the fulfillment of a promise. Icharus claims Abraham promised Ichabod tithe and title to the parcel of land bordering Sleepy Hollow beyond the Western Woods.
Braughton "Brau" Van Ripper has been a close family friend of the Van Brunt's for quite a few years now. Many expect Katherine and Brau to soon wed. Brau had mapped out his futures several years prior, intending to gain control of Sleepy Hollow. Since Abraham died sooner than Brau expected, the only way to gain control is by marriage to Katherine. Brau believes he has complete control over Katherine. After all, she is only a female and will do as he tells her.
Katherine learns the promise was real and, as the legal heir, goes behind Brau's back to hand over the papers to Icharus granting him the land. Katherine warns Icharus that something lies within the boundaries of his property that someone desperately desires. Even so, Icharus takes the land. In return, he promises to team up with Katherine and work to bring prosperity back to Sleepy Hollow.
**** I believe everyone knows the legend of the Headless Horseman. Author Morgan Leshay takes this classical tale and adds on another generation for readers to explore. Romance blooms and danger lurks in the shadows, enticing chills down the spines of all who dare to pick up this story for some stormy late night reading. The characters are not as well developed as I would have liked, but the links to the characters from the classical tale makes this story seem believable. Well done and more than worth your time dive in and read. ****
Authors: Stephanie Laurens, Mary Balogh, Jacquie D'Alessandro, Candice Hern
Title - It Happened One Night (4 Novellas)
The Fall of Rogue Gerrard by Stephanie Laurens
Lydia Makepeace needs to infiltrate the home of Lord Alconbury in order to retrieve a letter her sister had written. Problem is that Lord Alconbury has several guests and nightly orgies that do not end until past dawn. After scoping out Alconbury's home one evening, Lydia returns to the inn and is shocked to see Lord Gerrard "Ro". Perhaps Lydia can get a bit of help. **** A bit of adventure with this romance - and who would not enjoy that? ****
Title - Planetkill (W40K Anthology)
Voidsong by Henry Zou
Inquisitor Obodiah Roth is dispatched to Sirene Primal. His mission is to investigate the mild psychic disturbances emanating from the planet. Obodiah is on-world for close to a month before his group meet the female Blade Artisan named Bekaela. At first Obodiah believes Bekaela is guarding the ship behind her from intruders. Instead, Bekaela of the Blade is guarding against whatever lay within from getting out.
**** This is the first time I recall reading about an inquisitor being so new to his career. The author has done a pretty good job; however, Roth does not come across as being ready for a solo investigation, no matter how minor it was supposed to be. ****
Mortal Fuel by Richard Williams
The planet of Bahani has been depleted of all natural resources. The result is for the Imperium to evacuate and leave Bahani's people to their doom, except from some Bahani who are bonded to the Navy. Midshipman Dal Marcher is with Governor-Adept Kaizen when the area is attacked. His heroism under fire, which also saves Kaizen, gets Marcher promoted to Sub-Lieutenant. However, once aboard the Relentless Marcher becomes a pawn. The ship's captain has been dead several months and First Officer Tomias Ward is acting Commander. Needing to put those beneath him back into line, Ward sets Marcher up to become an example. At the same time, there is a Bahani saboteur in hiding, waiting for the perfect time to dispense revenge on behalf of his people.
***** This story happens BEFORE the beginning of the novel Relentless. If you have already read the novel, you will already know most of the characters. If not, the author has done a terrific job with minor explanations and you will have no trouble what-so-ever. More than one nice bout of irony comes into play as well. *****
The Heraclitus Effect by Graham McNeill
They wear a variety of Imperial uniforms, but are the opposite of what the uniforms stand for. The group consists of former members of the Raven Guard, Adeptus Mechanicus, and more. Warsmith Honsou is after revenge against one who had walked away from a fight. Ardaric Vaanes is the new champion of Honsou. It is Vaanes's duty to train the monster recently created, known only as the newborn. The newborn is a creature of Chaos. Biological hot-housing, demonic magic and debased tech of genetic theft has accelerated his growth with strands of geneseed from Uriel Ventris (a man Vaanes loathes). Their target is a planet well loved by Ventris. This is where they will leave a terrifying message.
*** Though very interesting as a whole, there is a lot of unnecessary scenes and information. The title of the story does not make any sense until close to the ending. This story reads as if it were a segment ripped out of a full-length novel. ***
The Emperor Wept by Simon Dyton
Life-Eater is what the Imperium of Man uses to administer Exterminatus. However, an evolved Life-Eater is about to be used for the planet's sterilization. It is named The Emperor's Tears. When the Doom Warriors use it for the first time they learn the true meaning of betrayal. "Doom ye!"
*** Fans of the Adeptus Mechanicus will get a very interesting glimpse into the chapter this time. ***
Phobos Worked in Adamant by Robey Jenkins
The Fabricator Lords, the Nine, hear that the Planet Killer is coming to Celare Artem. Desperately needing some sort of defense, the Nine allow Archmagos Ghuul to explore the ancient alien relics for possible salvation. Ghuul finds it in the form of a shield generator which can cover the entire world. However, the device requires one last element to work, life-force.
**** This story shows that many people will gladly make sacrifices to climb the corporate ladder. The author did a wonderful job. ****
Seven Views of Uhlguth's Passing by Matthew Farrer
The planet of Uhlguth misses its master and all the ones who once worked upon its back. Not content to sit and wait for a new master, Uhlguth begins to travel. Uhlguth will travel forever if that is what it takes. The rogue world's velocity dashes apart all in it path. Its travels will even go through the most chaotic of spaces. During its search, seven entities notice its passing.
** I simply did not like the writing style of this story. Squeezing seven different views, not including Uhlguth's, into such few pages only succeeded in making the story choppy. I would have rated this story even lower, except that I honestly enjoyed the sixth view about a captain, a seer, and a spirit revolting. The author should turn the main character, Ashya Drael, and the spirit revolting synopsis into a full-length novel. **
Mercy Run by Steve Parker
An ork warlord has sent seventeen massive asteroids hurtling through space on a collision course with the Imperial planet of Palmeros. Just before Sergeant Wulfe and his crew were scheduled for evacuation, they are pulled for one last mission. The Cadian 81st Armored (tanks) are ordered to escort Sister Superior Dessembra of the Adeptus Sororitas and two others from the Order of Serenity to the town of Ghotenz on a mission of mercy.
***** I would dearly enjoy seeing more of Sergeant Oskar Wulfe and his men in future novels. This leader understands the necessity of successfully completing the mission, but still has enough humanity to feel pain when forced to make extremely tough decisions with little or not hesitation. The author has done an outstanding job with this story. *****
Author: Sharon Kay Penman
Title - Devil's Brood
**** If, like myself, you adore the Lion In Winter, either version, then you will be caught up instantly in this sweeping epic of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine. How their passion for one another began to turn into the bitterness that would eventually lead to their family being at each others' throats is revealed in detail and with such vividness that you will feel as if you are there. The author's research is clearly evident, yet, she does not bog her readers down in a slow moving plot, but brings history to life. ****
Author: Allison J Pittman
Title - Saturdays with Stella
*** Owning an unruly dog can be a challenge, but for the author, it proves to be one of the best things that ever happened to her. When she takes her dog, Stella, to obedience classes, Allison begins to reflect on how like the canine she can be in relation to her Master, God. Through watching Stella's lessons and applying them to her spiritual life, she gleans lessons that are applicable to us all, such as sitting at the Master's feet, staying, letting go, and more. Pet owner or not, you'll discover something new that will help you as you walk with God. ***
Title - Mysteria Lane (Paranormal Anthology)
In the town where magic and mischievous love reign supreme, there's always something going on. This year, Mary Janice Davidson gives us the story of the Desdaine Triplets, who scorn love, until one of them stops disdaining the emotion and shakes up things. Definite sibling envy is plaguing Glory the witch of love as her sister manages to experience what she seems incapable of finding, namely love. Then, the man of her dreams, thanks to a magic pen, sees her in a new light as Gena Showalter pens a "tawdry" tale. Susan Grant gives us a fun, heartwarming story of a demon who longs to be human, but finds herself assigned to Mysteria to save Satan's bacon or risk being removed from existence. Finally, P.C. Cast comes through with laughs and love as a vegetarian discovers a new way of life, per se, with a sexy as sin vampire.
*** You need not fear excessive graphics, much more is implied than shown. Snappy humor and witty puns keep these stories moving, and there is a fine mix of authors, each worth reading on her own. ***
Author: Linaia Lee
Title - Of Atlantis
Archimedes loves his royal father, even though the older man carries as much or more fear of his son than any he might have when going into one of the many battles the King of Atlantis faces. Rather than the halcyon, highly advanced civilization many authors have portrayed the lost kingdom to be, this Atlantis is much like Greece or Rome, albeit a touch more magical Treachery, violence, forbidden love, religion, and politics make up the complex web that forms its society until the day the waves sweep it into being nothing more than a legend. Yet, it is not the end, for its last royal, Archimedes will live on through the ages. This is his story.
**** In great detail, the author brings life in this imaginary society to such life that you can believe it truly existed. Archimedes moves from boyhood into being a fascinating man with a rich history that readers will look forward to discovering in the books yet to come. One particularly wonderful aspect of this novel is the beautiful poetry that highlights it. That feature alone will make bibliophiles want to buy a second copy, the audio form, to be able to hear the music of the words as well as reading them. ****
Title - The Magical Christmas Cat
(Paranormal Christmas Anthology)
*** Readers are in for a stocking full of fun when they open this treasure chest. Nalini Singh kicks things off with a return to her Psych/Changeling world, where the "cat" in question is also a very handsome uncle who finds himself fascinated by his nephew's teacher. Though they come from different worlds, the couple knows that being together is their only option for happiness. Erin McCarthy has two people in love who may have met once upon a dream, but now want their love to exist in real life. Maybe the cat can help make it come true? Erin McCarthy adds humor and charm to the book in her offering. A cursed cat statue is a questionable Christmas gift that identifies a young woman as the final victim of the Soul Collector. Once she has been taken, a demon will walk again, unless a man sworn to stop the evil, at any cost, intervenes in Linda Winstead Jones' spectacular entry in this collection. For some, Lora Leigh will have rounded out the set perfectly as she returns to her breeds series for the last of the tales, but others of us may find it overly sensual. However, anyone who is in love with love or cats, will be charmed by at least a couple of these stories. ***
Author: Marianne Mancusi
Title - Razor Girl
When Molly was fifteen-years-old, people thought her dad, Ian Anderson, was a mad scientist. Ian was a scientist, but just because the man totally believed that the end of the world, as we know it, was about to happen did not mean he was insane. Ian bought an old fallout shelter, packed it with food and supplies, and gave it a timer so it would unlock after six years. Convinced the end was close, he made Molly come home directly after school and practice martial arts with him for several hours.
When a super flu begins spreading, no one really gives it any serious thoughts. But when rumors begin about hospitals turning people away, no matter how sick they were, Molly and Chris Griffin (a neighborhood and school friend) listens. The pair go to a local hospital to see if rumors are true. Not only do the two learn that it is true, but they see their first zombie! Of course, they tell no one. Who would believe the daughter of an insane scientist? But after Molly sees a zombie kill someone, she agrees to her dad's numerous suggestions of allowing him to perform surgery to give her a few enhancements for defense. It is very shortly thereafter that Ian escorts Molly and her mom into the shelter beneath their home and locks them within for six years.
Twenty-one-year-old Molly emerges from the fallout shelter a different person. After hearing the shelter unlock, Molly's mom dies. Once her mom is cared for, Molly begins her journey to Florida (two states away) where she is to meet her dad at Disney World. According to Ian, while Molly was in the shelter, he and some scientist friends of his would be creating a safe haven for any humans that manage to survive the apocalypse. Molly has no doubt she can make the trip alive. Thanks to her dad, Molly has four inch razors under her nails (that she can extract and retract at will). She also has ocular implants (to see in the dark), mirrored plates covering her eyes (fused to her skull), an internal GPS navigation (linked to an old-time satellite to allow her access to special databases Ian left up and running), and her body has nano computers (which make her stronger and faster).
It does not take Molly long to come face-to-face with her first zombie. She also meets up with Chris. He is now called Chase and explains that the "Others" may be cannibalistic zombies, but unlike the old horror movies, the Others are smart and often hunt in packs. Chase and a few guys have a small camp set up in the toy section of Walmart. They take care of eight kids found since the apocalypse. Disaster strikes, leaving Chase and the kids alone. Molly, Chase, and the kids must band together and struggle toward Disney World in hopes of finding safety.
***** This book will appeal to a large audience, especially for those gamers out there who played "Fallout". This book runs much like two stories. One chapter shows before the apocalypse, the next shows afterward, and it continues to alternate. Normally I detest this type of set up; however, the author did a terrific job and this method actually works extremely well. Molly and Chase are easy to identify with, no matter your age. (Anyone teen and up anyway.) There is a romance which blooms between the two main characters, but the story remains focused on the plot at all times. As with all good books, this opens with danger and will grab your interest immediately. Stellar! *****
Author: Dawn Thompson
Title - Rape of the Soul (Historical Suspense / Gothic)
Present Day: Jean Fowler Maitland travels from Maine, USA, to Cornwall, England, in hope of learning whatever happened to her grandfather's sister, Jean Fowler Chapin. The Fowler family believed the woman had married Malcolm Chapin, in 1885, and fled with him to the Cragmoor Estate in Cornwall even though she had just been notified her father had died and the funeral was imminent. The Fowler family turned their back on Jean Chapin and never knew the truth. But Jean Maitland is determined to find out if her namesake had really been so horrid. To this end, she locates the owner of Cragmoor at St. Michael's church. His name is Vicar "Edward" Marshall, Esq. The vicar still has the journals of his great-grandfather, Vicar "Elliot" Marshall, in his possession. Elliot dutifully kept his journal up-to-date. However, the ending to the tragic tale the lady has come to learn is still unknown. Elliot died before he could put pen to paper. Edward decides the American has the right to know what is written within the journals. Jean Maitland would spend the next twenty-four hours as his guest and hear the tale.
London, 1863: Reverend Elliot Marshall's trap overturns on the lawn of Ramsey House, the resident of the magistrate, Sir John Chapin. Elliot remains with Sir John until his collarbone hears from three breaks. During this time he two become friends. Elliot learns about Sir John's nineteen-year-old daughter, Mary (his pride and joy), as well as the fifteen-year-old son, Colin (to whom he cannot tolerate because his wife died giving birth to the boy). Recently Sir John has received word from Amy Croft, the housekeeper at Cragmoor that Mary is dabbling with the occult and gypsies. The end result is that Sir John would build St. Michael's Church in Cornwall, near Cragmoor, and Elliot would be its first vicar. While the church is under construction, Elliot would reside at Cragmoor with Mary and Colin (when the boy was not away at school) to straighten Mary out by any means necessary.
Elliot falls in love with Mary on sight, but she has become a witch in all but name. As for Colin, Elliot sees something of himself within the teen. Since Sir John refuses to be a father to Colin, Elliot becomes one in his stead. Mary dies giving birth to Malcolm, the result of a violent assault. From this first breath, Malcolm seems evil. Malcolm's birth kills more than one person at Cragmoor that night and Colin becomes master of the estate before he is ready.
***** I can neither write a short review of the book, due to the length, nor give a full synopsis without ruining the story for you. The birth of Malcolm is where the real start of the gothic tragedy begins. I now stress to you that this novel was written over twenty years ago. Back then books, especially those with a gothic flavor, did not always have "happily-ever-after" endings and violence was not always glossed over. If you cannot deal with reading some scenes of cruelty, then this novel of suspense is not for you. Enough said on the matter. You have been warned.
For those of us bold enough to read it, this story is non-stop drama. There are a few typos, but seldom have I read a book without any. The paperback version is oversized (6X9) and the font is smaller than most books. Therefore, you will find this a long novel. (More for your money.) Most of the characters are well developed. "Present Day" characters are not seen often, so even though I know WHO they are in relation to the historical characters, I never came to care for them. On the plus side, not seeing the "Present Day" characters often also means the historical story is not interrupted at pivotal moments. I suspect there will be mixed feelings on the ending and can say no more bout it without ruining it.
In case there are people reading this review who like to collect rare items, let me say that this title is the very first in the new Highland Press Legacy line. These will be books in which the publisher believes will still be talked about many years from now.
All-in-all, this is a very haunting story that I doubt I will ever forget. Very memorable. *****
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: C.D. Baker
Title - 101 Cups of Water
**** Sometimes, everyone needs a reminder that they can't do it all, that God is supposed to be the pilot, not the co-pilot, or that they need to be more honest, get more rest, find ways to increase the joy in their lives, etc. The author has penned 101 reminders, miniature essays that bring to light things readers probably know, but tend to forget or not think about as often as they should. This is a great gift, even to yourself, and can be used as a regular devotional or just something to keep handy for when you need a spiritual lift. ****
Authors: Martin H Greenberg & Brian Thomsen
Title - The Reel Stuff (Sci-Fi Anthology)
*** If you've ever watched Minority Report, the Outer Limits, Millennium, Enemy Mine, or any of a number of science fiction movies in any format, you have probably felt like there was more to be said, that perhaps there was a layer of meaning the visual just failed to convey. There is a good reason. The stories that inspired many top rated and less than top rated, much less selling films are gathered here in this collection of short stories that will flesh out the movies that they inspired and help them make more sense, in many cases. In some, it will leave you wishing that things had been included that were not, but overall, it should help you appreciate and understand them. ***
Author: Graham McNeill
Title - Imperial Munitorum Manual (W40K)
Every now and then a W40K novel mentions the manuals. Normally it is during a narration, where Readers see (or "hear") an officer's thoughts as s/he dwells on duties or regulations. But have you ever stopped to wonder exactly what was in those manuals? Better yet, did you ever wish you could actually have one of them? Here is your chance. This is the "revised edition of the first published 945.M41". It begins with a preface by Seward Rosencraz, Chancellor of the Estate Imperium, followed by a Logistical Officer's Chain of Command. The contents of this manual, in my own words, are as follow:
Part One - History and procedures.
Part Two - Regiments, Raising and Structure, Supply Needs, Shipping of Equipment for the Cadian 91st (Sentinels).
Part Three - Requesting of Equipment. (This section even mentions "the wholesome and nutritious" victuals supplied.)
Part Four - Care and Maintenance of Equipment, Unauthorized Modifications, Procedures and Punishments for Laxity in Maintenance.
Part Five - Identification of the items for front line troopers.
Part Six - Identification of the weapons for front line troopers.
Part Seven - Identification of the items issued to support platoons and squads.
Part Eight - Identification of the items issued to senior officers and specialist personnel.
Part Nine - A selection of forms for the many and varied situations likely to arise and how to deal with them.
Of course, no Imperial manual would be complete without some extra sections to inform troopers about famous people (a few paintings are illustrated), badges and insignia (each clearly shown and told why there are given to select heroes), and even the guidelines for calling in a fire mission. More than once the manual stresses that the maps enclosed must not fall into unauthorized hands, so soldiers (uh, readers) must keep this manual safe. And above all remember the motto of the Departmento Munitorum: "Only the awkward question; only the foolish ask twice."
***** I really enjoy how realistic the author, Graham McNeill, made this manual. I would not be surprised at all to learn that most W40K authors keep this gem close by as they create their stories, for quick and easy reference. Littered throughout the manual are the quotes all W40K fans know by heart (and, I admit, use in conversations with family members and friends in the military) such as: "Ammunition isn't free - make your shots count!" Even the texture, color, and shape of the manual are realistic. (So much so that if you are in the military and have this in your locker, at first [and second] glance it looks like it belongs there.) Outstanding! *****
Author: Tanya Huff
Title - Blood Bank (Paranormal Anthology)
**** Over the years, there have been several short stories following the further adventures of Vicki Nelson and Henry Fitzroy, and readers have had varying levels of success in tracking them down. Now, they have been collected in this anthology that will prove itself to be a great favor for those of us who had just about given up on locating the tales. Henry's past, how he and Vicki cope with life, or unlife, after they part, and how Mike copes with being in love with a vampire are the main focus. An added bonus is the shooting script to one episode of Blood Ties, the series. Blood Bank is a must read for Henry/Vicki fans. There's humor, angst, and passion on every page, making this a worthy continuation of the full length novels. ****
Author: Sigmund Brouwer
Title - Broken Angel
A peculiar deformity makes Caitlyn both a pariah and teaches her the strength that status will require of her. After being abandoned by her father, for her own safety, she becomes a fugitive in a world where reading, especially the sacred word of the Bible, is forbidden. Those who violate this law face stoning and worse. Though she does not know why, Caitlyn is public enemy number one and finds herself on the run, searching for answers and for the way out of Appalachia, something few dare try to attain and fewer manage to accomplish. And, when she learns the truth, she will know her destiny.
*** You are immediately thrown into a strange and, for someone who is addicted to reading, terrifying world. A little more background information and explanation to set the scene would have been greatly appreciated. However, the fast pacing helps make up for that. Though not billed as inspirational horror, Mr. Brouwer has masterfully managed to equal Perretti in conveying fear and a sense of persecution in a spare amount of words. ***
Author: Alice Kimberly
Title - The Ghost and the Femme Fatale
An old time film noir former bombshell, Hedda Geist, is nearly killed at a revival festival, and shortly thereafter, those who attended the Festival begin to die. Because the cops are completely off base in their investigations, Penelope Thornton and her ghostly partner, PI Jack Shephard, take on the case. Jack remembers Hedda from his days among the living, and many of the clues lie in his past, when he was alive, so that's where he takes Penelope. Once upon a time is now with this charming pair on the trail of a killer.
**** Time travel, magnificent, spectral rogues, mystery, and romance, what more could a girl want? Jack is one of the most charming spooks since Daniel Gregg haunted Mrs. Carolyn Muir. This book also solves a mystery for me personally; where did one of my favorite authors go, Alicia Alfonsi, and now I learn she's writing mysteries under two names and I have a whole new series to track down, something I advise everyone coming to these books for the first time to do. ****
Author: Tracy Grant
Title - Beneath a Silent Moon (Historical Fiction)
Charles and Melanie Fraser's return to England following their adventures abroad should have meant a settling down into their newly wedded life; however, almost immediately they are plunged into intrigues that reach across nations and have their roots in the Fraser family tree. Murder, secret societies, family conspiracies, and espionage prove to be tests for their love pose threats to the stability of England itself.
**** Clearly well researched, this is a book that offers fans of the genre a substantial round of reading. In depth details and complex plots offers the audience something with shades of the Scarlett Pimpernel meets Dan Brown and Jane Austen. Though at times it felt as if some past information about the Frasers might have been lacking, overall it should not alter your enjoyment of the story. ****
Author: D. N. Simmons
Title - Desires Unleashed
(Bk 1, Knights of the Darkness Chronicles / No one under age 17)
Humans now know that they are not on the top of the food chain. The supernatural races of the world do not want humans to fear them, so they agree to living with some special laws (many of which are still in the making). The government has created the Special Unit Investigation Team "S.U.I.T." to deal with all supernatural crimes. Each member of S.U.I.T. is recruited from the best-of-the-best-of-the-best.
S.U.I.T. Detectives Warren Davis and Matthew Eric have been partners about five years now. For the past three of those years, Matthew has known that his partner is a shape-shifter. No one else has figured it out and the partners wish to keep it that way. Warren's extra abilities have come in extremely handy on tough cases before, but their new case will put the abilities of both men to the ultimate test. Headless bodies are being dumped near the Desires Unleashed dance and strip club. The heads are missing, blood is often missing, and the bodies seem partially eaten. Is this the work of a supernatural or a human group intend on shifting blame on the supernaturals though?
Annette Balfour (human) is a dancer for Desires Unleashed. Her roommate, Natasha Hemingway (human), has just landed a new job for the "Chicago Word". During their night of celebrating, the two are in a car wreck. Annette's boss, Daniel Alexander (master vampire), has just promoted Annette to daytime assistant manager. Regretting that he is unable to visit her in the hospital, he sends his right hand man, Xavier Richards (vampire). When Xavier meets Natasha, his lust goes off the radar.
Natasha does not take her medicine while in the hospital. It is there that Natasha learns that the medicine she has taken since age five is not to help migraines. Instead, it is to repress dreams. As the reasons for this unveil, Natasha realizes that she can help S.U.I.T. with the killings.
**** There are typos in the story, but only a few really jumped out at me. All-and-all, I could ignore them, but felt my review would not be complete without mentioning the errors. I also feel that I should warn potential buyers/readers that this is not your typical paranormal. A large part of the story is filled with HOT scenes. These scenes contain people that swing both ways.
This story crosses genres. I would label it: Supernatural Erotica Mystery Thriller. The beginning chapters of the book help readers get acquainted with the characters and any special abilities they may have. I would say that there are six major characters, in sets of twos. Scenes shift between the two detectives, the two roommates, and the two vampires of the club. There are some secondary characters, but I will not go into those. The groups slowly merge together as the case progresses. This is a stand-alone novel, meaning the mystery is solved; however, the story is left open for future tales of these characters. I only wish more attention was paid to the plot (case) than the erotica sections. A very good foundation for the "Knights of the Darkness Chronicles". ****
Title - Dead of Night (Paranormal Anthology)
Amy and the Earl's Amazing Adventure by Mary Blayney sweeps her titular characters back in time, ostensibly to make sure a coin is in the right place when it needs to be, but they discover much more to their mission as they find destiny - and love. A twist in time takes Laurel to ancient Scotland in Timeless by Ruth Ryan Langan, where she is the "dead" ringer for a woman who has been missing. Stepping into the role of the chieftain's wife is eased by the fact that she quickly comes to love Con, however, when and if time untwists, what will become of that love, and will it unkink in time to save her from the killers who believe now that they have to redo their job? If you liked Peggy Sue Got Married or the recent Lifetime movie about marrying one's prom date, then On the Fringe is your cup of tea. In Ms. McComas' story, a wife, tired of the daily grind, is swept backwards in time to rethink her choices. The best of the bunch, Eternity in Death by J.D. Robb, has Eve Dallas investigating the murder of a wealthy member of a vampire cult, which she presumes to be like the present day Goth clubs, but is there more to it than that? Could the undead be real? Eve is forced to face her own past issues as she once again finds justice for the dead.
**** I admit, for me, the Eve Dallas story alone was worth the book's price. As always, the strong character relationships and tightly woven action make her words sing. However, I found that Amy's Amazing Adventure and to a lesser degree, Timeless, were pleasant bits of fun; both well constructed and swiftly moving. Each of these three could easily have been an engaging entire novel, if expanded. Though I found On the Fringe somewhat disappointing, it was not badly written, just held no appeal for me. ****
Authors: Julie Kenner, Jade Lee, Marianne Mancusi
Title - These Boots are Made for Stomping (Paranormal Anthology)
*** The Red Shoes, Ruby Slippers, Glass Slippers. Magic shoes fascinate women; okay, let's be honest, ninety percent of women do not require that they be magic. Yet, even that remaining ten percent of us would be intrigued to get a pair of the shoes featured in this clever anthology. Jade Lee's pair brings out the inner fighter/vixen for a teacher who feared for her life until she put them on. This is the hottest in the trio, and the least paranormal, fyi. However, the remaining two are simply fun delights for anyone who loves comics and fantastic reads. Marianne Mancusi's shoes turn a woman who already had plenty of extra skills, albeit not entirely wanted ones, into a bona fide super heroine, just when she's more interested in romance. My favorite of the three is Julie Kenner's entry, which returns us to the world of the Protectors where an ordinary woman finds herself getting in the way of a Protector seeking redemption through a successful mission. Helping the Silver Streak is a dream come true, but she fears wrecking his chances. Whether you are in love with shoes or not, get your shoes on, even if they're just house ones that you put on to get to the computer and place the order, and get this. ***
Editor: Denise Little
Title - Mystery Date (Paranormal Anthology)
*** There's literally something for everyone in this fun filled anthology detailing the highs and lows of dating, complicated by the added factor of at least one half of the couple being something more than, less than, or other than human. The first story truly lives up to the title of the anthology, when a young lady discovers both a mystery and a date after playing the game, "Mystery Date." The most intriguing stores deal with members of the Greek Pantheon and their trials and tribulations in the world of mortal dating; however, the Celtic mythos is also represented. There are two rather sour notes in the anthology, with one that reads more like a horror story than romance or comedy, and be warned, one date takes place between a same sex couple, so there will be some of us who want to just skip that. I must point out one entry in particular that was just too short it was so much fun. Anne of One Gable by Jean Rabe will appeal to anyone who is in love with the classic movie channel and finds that most of their movie idols died before they were born. ***
Title - Love Under the Mistletoe (Christmas Anthology)
Forever Love by Leanne Burroughs
Set in Kansas. The year is 1880. Hank Beaumont sold half his hotel to a couple by the last name of Ashbury. When the couple arrived, they would finish purchasing the other half. When Hank learns the stage coach has been set upon by bandits, he springs into action. The men on the stage coach have been murdered and one lady has been kidnapped. Hank catches up with the bandits just before they were about to harm the lady. Sure enough, the lady is named Jessica Ashbury, who has just witnessed the murder of her loved one and a couple of the bandits got away, taking the other half of his hotel payment. Hank and Jessica are now partners. Hank soon finds himself attracted to the grieving lady. If that is not enough, the hotel has two residential ghosts.
It Must Have Been the Mistletoe by Judith Leigh
Set in the present. Kasey Michaels is fed up with her ex-husband humiliating her. Kasey finally decides to start anew. An ad for Mistletoe, a small town near Nashville, Tennessee, catches her eye. The quaint sounding town claims that magic and dreams still come true there. Sure enough, Kasey finds herself falling in love with the town on her very first day there. Nick Klaus owns the toy store and he hires Kasey on-the-spot. It is obvious to Nick that Kasey has been hurt. So he holds hope that she may soon begin looking at him as something other than her boss.
Gingerbread & Mistletoe by Amy Blizzard
Set in the present. The state is Indiana. Matt Watson is a pastry chef. For the last three months he and Bethany, a coworker, have been planning an entry for the Hoosier Bakery's Gingerbread House contest. Should they win, they would get a cash prize and a guaranteed salary increase. However, Bethany drops out at the last minute. At home, Matt helps his upstairs neighbor take up a pink tree. Riley Callahan is an artist. Matt has always thought her pretty, but odd. When Riley offers to step in Bethany's place and help with the contest, Matt is shocked to hear himself agreeing.
Calling Hailey's Bluff by Billie Warren Chai
Set in the present at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. When the lunar rover stops working General West calls in Hailey James, the one that had fixed it last time. Hailey hoped to fix it and return to Vegas before HE could return to the space center. Hailey is eight months pregnant. The father is Lt. Col. Todd Coppersmith, for whom the USAF is his life. To keep the man she loves from resigning his commission and being miserable (and possibly end up hating her for being the cause), Hailey tells everyone she is only six months along and that Todd is NOT the father. Todd shows up before Hailey can finish fixing the rover though. She must now put on her best poker face and bluff.
A Chorus Singing Love by Gerri Bowen
Set in the Regency Era. When the Countess of Spode invites Melody to celebrate the Christmas holiday at Spode Hall, she accepts. The Countess's brother, Trevor Wilde, Earl of Ardmoor, is sure to be there. As much as Melody loves Trevor, he seems to loathe her. It all went back to the "Unfortunate Incident" ten years prior. Obviously Trevor still blames her. Because of her, he now has a peg leg. And thanks to the dratted wood nymphs Melody spoke to back then, anytime she is near Trevor wants to ravish her. Melody hopes to find a moment to explain and sincerely apologize, even if she must hold Trevor at gun point to do it.
A Very Special Man by Deborah MacGillivray
Set in the present. Desdemona "Dezzy" Vashon writes romance. This is hard to do when there is no romance in your life. Her only close friend is Simon, a very large cat often mistaken for a small panther. But unknown to Dezzy, Simon is not really a cat. Yet in order for Simon to change back into what he really is, he needs Dezzy to make a wish and kiss his nose.
***** Past or present, mortal or not, the end of the year holidays always seems to be filled with magic. Even though I received this book in January, I could not help but smile. It does not have to be November or December for me to enjoy an anthology set during the Christmas season. Since I am sure others feel as I do, I urge them to pick up this gem. Hopefully that means you too! Each story is well written, with a strong story line and romance aplenty. Only one or two of the stories have a love scene and they are tastefully done. I honestly could not find fault with any of these tales. Each one is worth five stars. I find that rare in an anthology and is the main reason I urge Romance fans to pick up a copy of this book. You will not be disappointed one bit. *****
Editor: P.N. Elrod
Title - My Big, Fat, Supernatural Honeymoon
**** They say that when the honeymoon is over, the magic in the marriage has fizzled. For the bridal couples in this collection, surviving the honeymoon will take a bit of magic. Whether you like werewolves, were anything elses, wizards, witches, ghosts, pirates, or vampires, there's something in here for your enjoyment. Rachel Caine continues the saga begun in the preceding volume of the series by giving us a tale of undead pirates that is more fun than the last two pirate movies combined. Fans of the Women of the Otherworld by Kelley Armstrong will love seeing things through Clay's eyes. The first line of this story is priceless. Katie Macalister brings us more Dark Ones and we are treated to what may be the late Ronda Thompson's final gift to her readers. If you love Harry Dresden and the author who created him, Jim Butcher, then you also get to whet your appetite while we wait for the next in that series. No, Harry is not on his honeymoon, just has to find a bride who went missing from hers. However, his partner in this endeavor is someone I'd love to see more of in the series, if Mr. Butcher is reading and taking hints. Rounding out the collection are Lilith Saintcrow, Marjorie Liu, P.N. Elrod, and Caitlin Kitteredge. I've only touched on the highlights. To get a full appreciation and start off your reading year well, dive in for yourself. ****
Author: Deborah MacGillivray
Title - Cat O'Nine Tales (Anthology)
Ian St. Giles went to his neighbor, Katlyn MacKenzie, to complain - again - about her cat's behavior. He ended up with a dinner date.
Getting It In The End
When James Kinlock, a book reviewer, was assigned to cover a week-long Historical Romance Writers Renaissance Faire, his first thought was that it was going to be the longest week of his life. That changes when he literally bumps into a goddess with a big cat. Too bad she despises him. Turns out the lovely author is one he enjoys giving horrible reviews about.
Double, Double, Toil & Trouble
The feud between the MacKinnon and Grant families has gone on for over a century. Tempers had started to cool until the rightful ownership of a five-hundred-year-old castle came into question. Gillian Grant's family was supposed to inherit the castle when Cian McKinnon's grandfather passed away. Instead, it went to Cian. Gillian's temper is as wild as her cat is fat and Cian loves the fact.
Rider In The Storm
Ciara MacIain's fiancé, Derek Adams, died exactly seven years ago due to a drunk driver. All this time Ciara has grieved. She finally decides it is time to let go of Derek. Very shortly afterward, Ciara stops to help Roarke Devlin, whose car had gotten stuck in the exact spot Derek had died. Ciara cannot help but think there is something special about Roarke. Her cat, Sinnjinn, agrees.
Devil In Spurs
Desdein Deshaunt played the part of the ton buffoon to hide his true identity. He was a horse breeder by day and a buffoon by night. He was also a highwayman on a mission to crush those responsible for his father's death.
All I Want For Christmas Is A Hula-Hoop ... And A Mother
Keon Challenger is firmly wrapped around his five-year-old daughter's little finger and he knows it. Little Allison did not simply write Santa a letter and send it out in the post; instead Allison sent Santa's letter via email. Sometimes his little girl is too intelligent and mature for her own good. Shortly before Christmas Eve, Keon drives Allison to her ballet class and meets the new teacher, Leslie Seaforth. Looks like Keon's daughter and Leslie's cat have the same Christmas present in mind this year.
Blue Christmas Cat
Dara Seaforth (sister to Leslie from the previous tale) has felt lonely since her cat, Dexter, passed away six weeks ago. How is Dana supposed to write a hot romance by deadline when her own life is so empty? Then Dara hears the mournful meowing outside, in the snowstorm, and rescues a freezing British Blue cat. The tag on the cats collar gives the feline's name, Elvis. The cat's human companion, Rhys St.John, is someone Dara is already familiar with.
Chicken What Du Hell (Or Bubba The Cat Plays Matchmaker)
Royce Torqhill Remington Kinross, the thirteenth Marquis of Dunmoor and Seafeld, was tired of gold digging women constantly hounding him. Now he goes by the name Remy Kinross, in New Orleans, and hides behind a Cajun accent. The only woman making him look twice lately is Catonia Flemyn. But every time she stops by it's because his cat, Bubba, has left another serpent gift for her. (BTW, Bubba is cousin to the cat of the first story.)
A Very Special Man
Desdemona "Dezzy" loves the huge cat, Simon, which had somehow found and adopted her. But she has no idea that Simon is not really a cat.
***** Nine short stories and novellas that will amuse everyone - whether they like cats or not. Historical Romances, Super Natural, Modern Contemporary...this book has a bit of everything. Enchanting tales for the most wicked, award-winning author today! Spellbinding! A treat for all! And a puurrr-fect way to spend any winter night. *****
Author: Annette Blair
Title - Gone With the Witch
(Triplet Witch Trilogy #2)
The Cartwright sisters are identical triplets. Each have their own unique psychic gift, in addition to the bonds they share together. Storm is the Goth sister, blue hair color and all. No one understands Storm's power. Storm hears and sees the present, of all things. For most of her life, Storm has been hearing children crying. Her sisters, Harmony and Destiny, thought it was buried guilt making her hallucinate and they kept mute about it. In truth, Storm needs to go on a journey and learn what her spiritual psychic mandate is. Since Storm keeps hearing a baby cry whenever she is around Aiden McCloud, the hunky best man at Harmony's wedding, she decides to follow the sound of the cries.
Aiden McCloud is a wanderer. He has never wanted to set down roots. Aiden owns a motor home and goes where ever he desires. Lately, however, he has been desiring a certain sorceress with blue hair and sassy attitude. "How can a guy ignore a walking orgasm in the shape of a Goddess with magick laughter and satin skin?" But Storm's talk about going on a psychic journey to find a crying baby somehow connected to him just scares Aiden. Therefore, Aiden did what any brave man would do in that situation; he ran! Too bad for him that Storm's powers include telekinesis, if she is passionately mad enough, and she is beyond furious when Aiden tries to run. Time for a little abduction.
Once Aiden convinces himself that he would go alone with Storm's quest of finding a crying baby somehow connected to him (just to prove her wrong, of course), his eyes begin to really open. On their journey, Storm stops the motor home whenever she hears a crying baby's psychic plea. Seeing Storm rescue a few kids begins to shake him up. After all, if Storm was right about those kids in need, then perhaps she really does hear... No! Not something he wants to think about. This is not all fun for Storm either. Her gift for locating kids in need of rescuing leads her to a casino. Within, Storm meets an older version of herself, except with a wicked way of looking at life. Yes, "throw a little water on that woman and watch her melt. Her name is NOT Glinda!" Storm also finds an unexpected surprise. (But you must read to find out what it is.)
As the two travel, their attraction to each other intensifies to frightening proportions. Their little love trip is even hitting the national news. But most importantly, Storm must learn to trust her instincts, accept her powers, and be true to herself if she were ever to have any hope of ever loving a wanderer.
***** A spellbinding story that totally knocked my socks off! No ghosts this time around. Instead, a much more serious topic is covered. Once again I find myself in awe over the author's ability to make the characters so memorable. This is a perfect for your next vacation or day alone and will leave you with a big smile on your face. Author Annette Blair writes priceless romance adventures. *****
Author: Orson Scott Card
Title - A War of Gifts (An Ender Story)
Zeck Morgan's dad is the minister of a church. However, just because the father is a minister, it does not mean he is nice. Truth is, the father is physically abusive to Zeck. Zeck does not understand this. Zeck believes his father is "purifying" him. Representatives of Battle School test Zeck, find he has photographic memory, and whisks him off to Battle School. Zeck learns what they want him to, but refuses to participate in "killing" targets in the war games.
Even though one member of the Rat Army refuses to kill targets in the games, they are still in second place. At first everyone was upset that Zeck would not even try to help the team. Even so, they soon began to ignore Zeke. They did not really hate Zeke, they simply learned never to rely on him for anything.
In Battle School, there is only one curriculum: the strategy and tactics of war. Since the children are gathered from all nations, all races, and all religions, it makes perfect sense that there is no open observance of any religion. In Battle School there is no room for cultural differences.
When Zeke sees a member of the Rat Army quietly leave a Sinterklaas Day gift in another team member's shoe, he decides to take it up with Colonel Graff. Thus, a war of wills (and gifts) ensues, and it is a war that the staff of Battle School never prepared for.
***** If you look at this hardback book from the front cover, it is about 3/4 the size of a normal hardback book. There are approximately one hundred and twenty-five pages in it. That is why this book costs only about half the price of normal hardbacks. In this case, Orson Scott Card proves that size does not matter. If a reader sat down and read from cover-to-cover, as I did, it will take you around two hours, if that. However, I cannot begin to describe how awesome this story left me feeling. Once again, little Ender Wiggins shows his advanced maturity. The moral behind the tale is serious, very straight forward, and Card managed to tell it in a way that only he can. MAGNIFICENT! *****
Author: Alyssa Day
Title - Atlantis Rising
What begins as a potential diplomatic alliance between the witches and Atlantis turns more personal when Erin, a witch who is a myth come to life, and Ven, the King's Vengeance, meet. Ironically, her goal in life is to avenge her family, who was slaughtered by vampires, so she needs vengeance is more ways that one! Ven is what her heart needs to heal, and she is needed to heal the dying queen and her baby in Atlantis. Family matters and romance aside, Erin and Ven will become key players in the war against the blood sucking ancient Roman Emperor, Caligula, who has only become more depraved in the aeons since his "death." The stunning final battle will leave you hungry for more.
**** Tightly woven and action packed, this is a treat for readers as old concepts are reinvented and given fresh spins. The world established in book one remains fresh and fascinating as the people in it gain more depth and personality. Erin is an even more intriguing heroine than Riley, and Ven is dangerous without being broody, as warriors too often tend to be. Dive in! ****
Author: Melody Carlson
Title - An Irish Christmas
In the early sixties, a small family, recently shattered by the loss of a father and undergoing the transitional period of the son into adulthood, takes a journey to Ireland at Christmas time. Both the mother and son, Colleen and Jamie, take turns telling the story as they wrestle with inner demons and secrets they have kept from each other and that have kept them apart. Those secrets can either tear them apart forever, or bring them a touch of God's grace and hope, if they will allow His plan to unfold and not be hard hearted.
**** Although slow moving and complex, this is a touching story about imperfect people who are very real. Jamie and Colleen offer the readers hope, because they wear masks with those they love, as so many of us tend to do, unknowingly at times. The grace and love that shines through make it worth the struggle to get through the overly leisurely paced narrative. ****
Author: Deborah MacGillivray
Title - Riding the Thunder
(Sisters of Colford Hall, Book 2)
Jago Fitzgerald (Mershan) would do anything for his oldest brother, Des. After their father committed suicide, in front of ten-year-old Des, Des became the man of the family. Des helped out their mother and practically raised Jago and Trev (Jago's twin). After years of planning, the time for revenge has come. Mershan International has completed all the arrangements for Montgomerie Enterprise's hostile takeover. This action will complete the Mershan family's revenge on the Montgomerie family. It does not matter, especially to Des, that the man who committed the ruin of their family is dead. Closure would come with the ruin of the granddaughters. Des and Trev were off dealing with two of the Montgomerie sisters overseas. Jago's target is in Kentucky.
Asha Montgomerie's brother, Liam, is doing his best to keep the family's horse ranch. Their father, in England, is doing everything he can to force the sell. Asha is being pushed by their father to sell her restaurant, The Windmill. But Asha is the sole owner of the restaurant and she will NEVER sell it. Asha also owns the small motel, swim club, laundromat, and the drive-in theater. The Windmill is a haven for lost souls, of the past and the present. People in the area know that there are unspoken rules about The Windmill Restaurant (and the drive-in). The first rule is to never touch the Wurlitzer 2000 jukebox in a threatening manner. The restaurant's ghostly duo does not take it kindly. The second rule is to change nothing. Third is not to sit in a certain booth after dark. There are other rules, but the locals simply accept them all as normal.
When Jago drives up, it does not take Asha long to figure out he works for the company trying to claim her teeny community and wipe its existence off the map. She has no idea how far up the corporate ladder Jago really is though. As for Jago, the instant he looks at his alleged enemy's granddaughter, he knows that she is destined to be his. The question is how to get Asha without her realizing exactly who he is and why he came to the area in the first place. The more Jago sticks around, the more he finds himself becoming part of the strange community. Jago begins to understand Asha's fey spot in the world. A sanctuary for ghosts, a jukebox with a mind of its own, a Cajun cook, a cat with no name, a guy named "Oo-it" and an aging Jedi Master. Jago has to make a choice between the love for his brother and his growing love for Asha and the area. A storm is coming...
***** This is book two in the Sisters of Colford Hall series. In my opinion, it is even better than the first (The Invasion of Falgannon Isle). Trust me, that is saying something! Author Deborah MacGillivray gives each character a realistic touch, but the main characters (Jago and Asha) are downright striking. I came to deeply care for them. The secondary and background characters snuck up on me. I have no idea how these crazy people became so important to me. But as I neared the end of the book, I dreaded the thought of never seeing them again. Now THAT is talent! All-in-all, I found this to be a delicious frolic in a magical world. Perfect! *****
Authors: Jennifer Cruise, Eileen Dreyer, & Anne Stuart
Title - The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes
For years now, the Fortune sisters have been living in hiding from their Aunt Xan. She killed their parents and stole their powers, and the girls just know that the witch will do the same to them if they are ever caught. One Friday before Halloween, the chickens come to roost. First, Danny James shows up on their door, asking questions about the past. Though the eldest, Dee, can literally feel her hackles rising, she's just turned into an owl after all, she can't help but be attracted to this very hot package of trouble. The youngest Fortune sister, Mare, isn't so sure her aunt is all bad, and besides, her powers are miniscule. Plus, she's annoyed with Dee and feeling like she came in third in a three horse race. Then, a corporate executive from the head office and her first love both show up, wanting to offer her bright futures. Middle sister Lizzie just wants to make things better for her family and she's tried every spell she can find to do it, but just keeps creating rabbits and shoes. Her efforts have not gone unnoticed though. Elric the Magnificent has arrived to see who is disturbing the universe, but he soon realizes he's found his soul mate, or been sent to her. It's clear that Xan is after the sisters, and the three men may just be bait or bribes. If the sisters want their happily ever afters, they're going to have to use powers they hate and make tough choices in the name of love.
*** If you're expecting Charmed, you might be disappointed; the Fortunes are not as in control as the Halliwells. However, this is just as much fun as one of the better episodes. The authors' voices blend seamlessly, so that you would swear only one person wrote this enchanting book. Though, I must admit that only one is a name I associate with paranormal work, I hope her compatriots continue to keep on writing on the mystic side of life. ***
Authors: Sherrilyn Kenyon, Alethea Kontis
Title - The Dark Hunter's Companion
A world that has grown to be as complex as the one ruled by Acheron and Artemis has its own lore, mythos, and a rich history, not to mention an ever expanding cast of fascinating beings who populate it and keep readers hooked. Even if you have read all the books, you might, at times have trouble remembering every detail. Such a book as this will help keep you straight. Every race is listed and their history detailed. There is also a census of every character of every book, divided by what sort of entity they are. Then, there are factual sections, giving insight into Greek culture and the culture of New Orleans. The best part is the guide to Acheron. However, the bonus features runs a close second, including interviews with Sherrilyn Kenyon, Acheron, Simi, and deleted scenes, as well as a short story.
**** If you love Ms. Kenyon's intricate universe, then this is a must read. If you know someone who does, it's less time than you think until Christmas, so make them happy and give them this. ****
Author: Lisa T Bergren
Title: The Betrayed
The Gifted continue their quest for St. Paul's lost letter, seeking the guidance they need to fulfill their roles in the prophecy and to serve God. Even as they come closer to their goal, the forces of darkness assemble against them, and now it seems might have won a victory. Betrayal delivers them into the hands of a sorcerer who is determined to make the Healer, Daria, his own. Alone with the enemy, it will take every amount of faith and grace available to the young noblewoman to resist the pull of temptation to give in to her fears. Will her friends be allowed the grace to deliver her?
**** Gripping suspense and action abound in this sequel, proving that Christian novels need not be tame and blah. Ms. Bergren brings spiritual warfare to vivid life in a rich setting that will appeal to fans of not only stories with a message, but of history as well. ****
Author: Patricia Rice
Title: Mystic Guardian
While trying to find a solution that will keep her pregnant sister and herself from starving to death, Mariel espies a "golden god" who ignores her hail and boards a ship that takes him away from her. Since her late mother foresaw that such a man would save them, Mariel calls upon her unusual powers to follow Trystan l'Enforcer to his hidden, island home. Such a thing should be impossible, and necessitates that she wed Trystan and become bound by an oath of silence to never reveal this magic island of Aelynn. Before the vows can be taken, Mariel escapes, taking with her a magical chalice that Trystan must get back. Unfortunately, when he catches up with Mariel, it has already been sold. Now, they must recover it for the survival of his home, then work out all the personal problems they have. By this time, not only must he wed her, but desperately wants to, and the attraction is no less on her part; however, they live in different worlds, literally, and that may be one fact that cannot be overcome.
*** Ms. Rice has created a world that brings to mind visions of Shangri-la or Brigadoon, yet with more magic. Merfolk, enchanted cups, and visions add depth and allure to this unusual tale. Readers will eagerly await the rest of the trilogy after this initial taste. ***
Author: J.K. Rowling
Title: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
The time has come for Harry Potter to meet his destiny and to end the spell of terror that Lord Voldemort has cast over the wizarding world for years. To achieve this end, he must abandon his lightweight, normal for a wizardly teen-aged agenda and set off on a quest to find and destroy the remaining Horcruxes that hold bits of his nemesis' soul. However, the journey is a long one that will be grueling on physical, emotional, and mental levels. Harry will finally learn the truth, perhaps more than he wants to know, but all that he must know in order to make the most difficult decision of all.
***** I have no doubt that this is a somewhat useless review and my fellow Potter addicts will buy the book, if they have not already, regardless. Nonetheless, let me say it is a brilliant read. Though it ended on a somewhat more positive note than the Thomas Covenant series tends to, it left me with that same feeling the conclusion of one of Mr. Donaldson's novels does, a feeling of having seen something profound. All I can say to those who object to the books on Christian grounds is this; I am Christian and you'd have to be blind not to see the overtones of Christianity replete in the pages. Self-sacrifice, love, and redemption are the ties that bind the story together, not magic. There is not as much humor as in the prior novels in the series, but I didn't expect there to be. It is a dark read, a sad one, but a good sort of sadness. I was disappointed in some ways, but no story is perfectly able to please everyone in every aspect. It is a fitting end. *****
Author: Jacquie Rogers
Title: Faery Special Romances
Faery Much in Love (1199) As punishment, Shaylah cannot return to Faery World until she completes the Queen's Quest to help Sir Darien find his true love. Hard to do since Darien's cousin died a month ago, leaving eight orphans in his care. But this task would not be so daunting if young Princess Keely would not interfere.
Much Ado About Faeries (1599) Caedmon protects the Portal in his charge well. But Queen Yana has decided it time for him to chase down his betrothed, Gracie, from the human world. He has only two thousand years to raise an heir to maturity; else, the powers of the Portal would be ceded to the queen. While in the Human World, Caedmon must also check in on Queen Yana's changeling nephew, Bill Shakespeare. If only Princess Keely were not around to "play". Sometimes, Keely can be worse than goblins.
Faeries of the Caribbean (1655) Myra Baker, a serving winch, wishes for a faery godmother and Keely appears. Myra wishes to wed a son of a viscount and hear the wind from the sea. Next thing Myra knows she is on Captain Devlin's pirate ship, somewhere in the Caribbean.
Faery Thee Well (1750) Due to a couple of recent deaths, Rhionne must bear the child of a man chosen to be Lugh of the Sun. Yet in order to ensure the child will be born on Beltaine Eve, Rhionne must receive his seed this very night. Should Rhionne fail, all will suffer drought and famine for a year. The human man chosen as Lugh is named Duncan. But what happens should Duncan refuse?
My Faery Lady (1814) Gryffyn (Lord Kembell in the Human World) is in London for a year making his contribution to humanity. Gryffyn chose optics and discreetly uses his magic to make designer spectacles for ladies in Society. This is how he meets "Effie". Gryffyn finds himself drawn to the human female, but she is betrothed to a duke. Even if Gryffyn and Effie were to somehow get together, she would have to choose to live in the Faery World.
A Faery Good Bet (1850) When Zachary Dillon is beat close to death, he stumbles through a Portal into Faery World. Gwennyth, the Faery World Healer, has to bond to the human male in order to save him. But when Dillon returns to the Human World, Gwennyth loses her healing magic.
The Duchess and the Dirtwater Faery (1885) When Isabelle's wagon gets stuck in the mud in the town of Dirtwater, in Idaho Territory, Kegan comes to the rescue. Kegan may be the blacksmith and unofficial sheriff, but he is also a faery. Who better to deal with the hired guns that come looking for Isabelle?
Faery Foxy Flapper (1926) Princess Keely keeps telling Jazzie that Blair is her true mate. But it is Quinn's kisses that curl her toes.
Faery Hot Date (1968) Sean Morgan is more than simply a dentist. He is the Region Sixteen Tooth Faery. Candi brings her daughter, Moriah, in because the child had been trying to pull out her tooth in hopes of getting enough money to buy a present. Sean has no time for dating. He has told Keely that many times. But Sean cannot help being attracted to Candi. The LAST thing he should do is hire Candi as his bookkeeper.
Faery Good Advice (Time Unknown) Keely runs Virgin Freedom Travel in the Human World and needs to book some vacations soon. Keely thinks she may be saved when the call comes in for a virgin honeymoon trip for Tyler Grant and his fiancée. But then the fiancée not only tells Keely that she is dumping Tyler and running off with someone else; the lady also tells Keely to be the one to inform Tyler that he has been jilted!
***** Ten couples and ten romances within one terrific book! Princess Keely seems to pop into each story somehow. The first romance story begins in England, the year 1199. With each tale the years pass and eventually end up in the United States of America. As the reader, it was as if I journeyed through time and history with Keely, who gets her own romance story in the end ... with an interesting twist.
Author Jacquie Rogers has a winner with this gem. Recommended! *****
Title: Bad-Ass Faeries (Anthology)
Part One: Warrior Faeries
First story is "Bad-Ass Faeries" by Monica Richards. Unknown to the human developers, they are caught in the path of a war between the Red and White Faery clans.
Second story is "Cybernetic Assassin Faerie Hasballah" by Adam P. Knave. It is about an assassin and his Ogre target.
Third is "Make Love, Not War" by Lee C. Hillman. The Far-im and Brownies fight over a nesting grove site.
Fourth is "Heart of Vengeance" by Don C. Wilson. A Penn sociology professor comes face-to-face with a canotili.
Part Two: Outlaw Faeries
First story is "Ballad of the Seven Up Sprite" by Brian Kosciensik and Chris Pisano. An outlaw Faery stops in town for a drink and finds himself in a show down.
Second story is "Snow in July" by Jeff Lyman. A pixie village and some outcasts battle birds.
Third is "House Arrest" by Keith R.A. DeCandido. A house Faery is questioned when a member of the human family residing there dies.
Fourth is "A Pressing Problem" by Donald W. Schank. A mercenary is also a publisher and wants to publish a book made of pressed faeries.
Part Three: Wild Faeries
First story is "Hidden in the Folds" by Jesse Harris. In a far off sacred place, a weary ronin learns a hard lesson of dark magic.
Second story is "Pennidreadful" by Lorne Dixon. When a man accidentally kills his lover, he calls for help. But help comes in the form of a tiny magical creature who loves to commune with the dead.
Third is "On Oberon's Throne" by L. Jagi Lamplighter. Pretending to be kind, Puck begins war with the trolls and must make a deal with an arms dealer.
Fourth is "Sally Smiles" by James Chambers. Kids love their dolls, but what if the dolls worship the kids?
Part Four: Street Faeries
First is "The Faerie Queen of Lo Mein" by Vincent Collins. A little street faerie must battle a sewer rat for some left over Chinese food.
Second story is "Hollow Dreams" by Elaine Corvidae. A member of a street gang is a changeling. When his gang enters a house by the river for gin, the changeling just may be their only hope of ever leaving alive.
Third is "Wings of Soul" by R. Allen Leider. A Faery grants the wish of a young girl to stop a drug dealer in the area.
Fourth is "At the Crossroads" by Danielle Ackley-McPhail. Gavin and the Wind Walker go out to rescue their Faery friend.
Part Five: Faeries Noir
First story is "Down Those Mean Streets a Faerie Must Go" by John Sunseri. A Faery private investigator tries to find out why a Faery supposedly suicided.
Second story is "Endgame: A Tale of Terrorbelle" by Patrick Thomas. Ms. Terrorbelle hunts monsters; they have serious bit.
Third is "The Last Night of the Lazarus Brothers" by C.J. Henderson. A new drug is made from the bodies of faeries. Detective Morcey plans to get rid of it, with a little help from Rita of course.
**** Part Five does not have a fourth story. (Perhaps one story was dropped.) So here are nineteen Faery tales which in no way resemble the cute little faeries of our childhood. Some stories are written better than others, but all of them have a serious twist that I could not help but be fascinated by. A terrific anthology that I am proud to recommend! ****
Author: Eden Bradley
Title: The Dark Garden (Erotica)
Rowan Cassidy is a mistress at Club Privé. It is the most exclusive BDSM club on the west coast. The club used to mean so much to Rowan. Yet for the past few months, things have changed for Rowan. The submissive, beautiful, and obedient boys no longer tempt her. Though Rowan's body is bored, her imagination is not. She writes dark and lusty stories. Problem is that writing does not sate her the way she yearns for.
Both members of a couple cannot be Dom. When Christian Thorne enters the room, Rowan instantly knows he is a Dom; therefore, off limits for one such as her. Yet her body reacts to him in a way she has never felt before. So when Christian offers Rowan a deal, she accepts. Rowan gives Christian thirty days to "free" her true self, her Sub self. But Rowan is not the only one who unlocks the hot passion from deep within.
**** Be warned that no one under the age of seventeen should read this novel. This is not just erotica. This has a lot of BDSM. If you do not know what that is, then you are NOT ready for this walk on the dark side. The author devotes as much time to the blooming romance between the two main characters as she does to the sensual parts. The main male character is an artist, in more ways than one, which gives his character an added spark when it comes to touching and feeling. All-in-all, this is one HOT novel you won't soon forget. ****
Title: Daemonifuge: Heretic Saint
(W40K Graphic Novel)
Heretic.Witch. Daemon-wench. Child of Chaos.
Ephrael Stern of the Adepta Sororitas. She is a Battle Sister. She is a Daughter of the Emperor. In fact, Ephrael was all these things even before she had been born human. She did her duty and she did it well...until she died. When she is resurrected, things change.
Renegade. Outcast. Thrice-Born.
While in a lost convent of the Adepta Sororitas on the edge of nowhere, Ephrael is chosen to be the "Keeper of Secrets" by the "Screaming Cage" on Parnis. Inquisitor Silas Hand gave everything, including his life, to keep Ephrael alive so she could do her duty by delivering the secrets to the Black Library.
Saint. Weapon of Light. Scourge of Chaos. Daemonifuge!
Ephrael is changing within. The knowledge within her is transforming her. She is slowly learning what she has become and what she can do. Until the transformation is completed, she must simply survive and wait for "The Pariah" to find her. The Pariah is to guide her through the secret paths between worlds. Surviving is not easy. She must live through captivity by aliens and their battle arenas, The Ordo Mallous (Daemon Hunters), an inquisitor out to slay Silas's killer (thinking it to be her), and the Dark Ones who make their lairs in the secret paths between worlds.
***** Excellent graphic novel set in the W40K universe! Be sure to have plenty of light as you read. When the text is in italics, it is very hard to make out some of the words due to the font chosen. This is another graphic novel that would make an outstanding full length novel series, such as the Malus Darkblade series has done (and is still doing). Dark Fantasy, battles aplenty, faith, betrayal, pain and blood...it's all in here. Out-freaking-standing! *****
Author: Julie Kenner
Title: Demons Are Forever (Kate Connor, Bk 3)
Until fifteen years ago, Kate and Eric Crowe were Hunters. They roamed the globe searching for and destroying demons. They retired to San Diablo, California, when Kate was pregnant with Allison "Allie". But Eric died while Allie was still young. Kate eventually remarried to a man named Stuart Connor, who treats Allie as if she was his own. Just under three years ago, Allie became an older sister to little Timmy. On the surface, they look like such a nice and normal family.
Well, Kate Connor may live in the suburbs, but she is certainly no ordinary soccer mom. Until recently, Kate was happy with a normal life. Stuart is about to run for San Diablo County Attorney. Timmy is well into the Terrible Twos and thinking about entering the Horrible Threes early. Allie is a teen, complete with all the drama the title brings. That is more than enough for any woman to handle. Kate only came out of Hunter retirement because demons began showing up in the area and Kate is determined to keep her family safe. Few people know of Kate's secret life. Laura Dupont, her neighbor and best friend, helps with research. Eddie Lohmann "Gramps", once her alimentatore (coach/mentor during Hunter years), may be over eighty but you would never know it if you saw him kicking demon butt. Father Ben helps with archive research and helps hides the bodies (after the demon is banished) in the Cathedral catacombs. David Long, Coronada High's mysterious chemistry teacher who helps Kate hunt. And recently, Allie entered the elite circle, but only because she had been kidnapped by a demon a couple of months ago and almost became collateral damage.
Kate is now forced to reveal her secret life to Allie. Time is of the essence. Seems the demons are getting active again. Worse, the demons are attacking very close to home! From what little the demons reveal during encounters, they are attempting to release Andramelech "Andre", one of the high chancellors of hell, from his shackles. Should this happen, the entire world will be in deep trouble. Also, Kate learns that Eric had been an active Hunter until his death. Of course, Kate feels betrayed. Eric had kept his hunting a secret from her and often lied about his where-abouts. Clues now show that Eric had some sort of connection with Andre, had kept in contact with the Vatican, and knew another hunter named Nadia Aiken (who disappeared only five years ago).
Allie is almost fifteen-years-old now and looking forward to the day she gets her permit to drive. To look at Allie, you would never guess that only a couple months ago she had escaped being slain by a demon in the local museum. Allie now knows that demons are horribly real and that her parents used to hunt them down. Naturally, Allie wants to research the mystery surrounding her dad's death. After seeing her mom kick demon butt, Allie wants to train as a Hunter as well. Her mom only agrees because she knows Allie would train behind her back. And for some odd reason, the demons seem to be showing up where ever Allie is.
Looks like Demon Hunting runs in the family...
***** The story focuses more on the mystery of Eric's past and Kate's relationship with Allie this time around. Don't worry, there are plenty of demon battling scenes to enjoy. But by probing Eric's history and putting Allie into the mix, the author has opened up a whole new can of worms with lots of future plot potentials. This series just gets better and better! The author writes the character of Kate so well that I could almost believe she exists. I found myself empathizing with Kate's maternal instincts. I cannot recommend this novel highly enough. I eagerly await the next title, Deja Demon, due for release in Summer 2008! *****
Author: Sylvia Day
Title - Pleasures of the Night (Red series)
Long ago, a tiny crack had been made by the Elders between the Twilight and our world. There is no way to close the crack and keep the Nightmares out. They could only supply damage control. Nightmares are real beings. The dreams created by the human mind had given Nightmares a new power source to thrive upon. Fear, fury, misery are easily aroused through dreams and fed the Nightmares well. Should the Nightmares enter our world, they will feed on all human dreamers until the race becomes extinct. The Nightmares have done so to other worlds. The Dream Guardians enter a Dreamer's dream, becomes whoever he or she wishes the Guardian to be, and fulfills every erotic desire. By doing so, the Guardians keep the Nightmares at bay and the Dreamers safe. And whenever given the chance, the Guardian kills all the Nightmare entities he is able.
Legend has it that somewhere in our world is a special Dreamer, the Key. For centuries the Guardians have hunted the Key. The Key has the power to open the Gateway and allow the Nightmares free entry. Therefore, once found, the Key is to be eliminated. The Key will be able to bar both Nightmares and Guardians with her door. Once the Guardian gets inside though, the Key will actually be able to see into the Twilight. Thus, Guardians look for four abilities. The Key can see the Guardian's true feature, will know the Guardian's real name, can take control of the dreams, and any nearby Nightmares will become confused and disoriented.
Captain Aidan Cross has been a Guardian for centuries. He now doubts that the Key is anything other than a myth. Yet devoted to the cause, he continues his erotic duties with female Dreamers. Some Dreamers shut away parts of themselves so securely, not even the Guardians could enter. Usually this is due to past abuse or something. Being one of the best Guardians, the Elders send Aidan to the dream door of Dr. Lyssa Bates in hope that Aidan can persuade her to open her dream door to him, where others before Aidan failed.
Dr. Lyssa Bates has one of the biggest veterinary practices in San Diego. She also has one of the biggest cases of insomnia. Despite a battery of tests, nothing physically wrong shows up and no prescription medicine works. Lyssa has never been able to remember her dreams, but now she can't reach a deep sleep and it's making her sick. But then Aidan comes along.
Aidan is the only one Lyssa will allow into her dreams. No Guardian before or after him has succeeded. But the only thing Aidan sees when he is admitted entrance is blackness. Lyssa does not even know how to turn on the lights in her dream, much less see any fantasies. There is nothing wrong with the veterinarian, no past trauma, no mental illness. She just sits in the dark, wishing she could see. Being exclusively assigned to Lyssa, Aidan begins helping her to reach deep sleep, A.K.A. turn on her lights. Once done, Aidan becomes attracted to Lyssa, though this is forbidden. Worse, Lyssa has all the signs of being the Key. Even though Aidan knows Lyssa would never willingly open the Gateway for the Nightmares, should the Elders learn of Lyssa's abilities, they would execute her. Now Aidan must risk all, become hunted by his own people, to save the Key.
***** If you have read any title in the RED line, from Avon Books, then you already know that the series is called "Red" due to all the extra, extra steamy contents. So if you do not like erotica or mild erotica, do not pick up this title. You should also be at least seventeen-years-old.
Author Sylvia Day begins this novel out in the middle of a HOT Dreamer's dream. In the shadows are some Nightmares that the warrior would soon battle. Just knowing the hero was about to defend the lady from evil hooked me straight away. I never could resist a good battle between Good and Evil. This story goes the extra mile for readers by, not only having hot romance, but a sinister plot by beings which could be considered aliens or demigods. I do not know if I would classify it as Fantasy or Sci-fi, but I do know that this is one of the best stories I've read in a Romance category thus far this year (2007). I cannot recommend this RED book highly enough and warn readers to have plenty of free time before even opening the cover. Sylvia Day obviously knows what readers love! *****
Author: Melanie Lynne Hauser
Title - Super Mom Saves the World
Since the Horrible Swiffer Accident, Birdie Lee's life has undergone a dramatic change, from mild-mannered cashier/divorced mother of two to all that plus a secret identity as Super Mom, fearless defender of truth, justice, and the clean way. Though it's a tiring, dirty job, she has to do it. At least now she has a boyfriend and a membership in the JLA. Then, things start to really get weird. Suddenly, Mr. Clean is flirting with her and the scrubbing bubbles are purring at her, making her appear insane. However, that's not her biggest worry. There's something rotten at the new domed stadium and with the Little League team. At the risk of inciting public disfavor, Super Mom has to find out what. Fortunately, she's had a second Swiffer incident, so she's got even more power. But, with great power, comes a great amount of headaches.
**** Like Confessions of Super Mom, this is a fun read that is spot on with its humorous observations about life. Ms. Hauser's puns, hyperbole, and hidden in-jokes gives this story intelligent wit with a heart. ****
Title - Dragon Lovers
In The Dragon and the Virgin Princess by Jo Beverly, a high maintenance, Sacrificial Virgin Princess finds herself married to a clever knight who finds a loophole in the laws of her land to wed her without actually slaying the very cute, sweet dragon that, unfortunately, needs her blood to save two races. Hopefully, with a bit of luck and love, they can find a second loophole. Mary Jo Putney delivers a magical story of a knight searching for glory by slaying a dragon, but falling in love with one instead in The Dragon and the Dark Knight. Karen Harbaugh gives us a tale of Japan and a noble dragon who befriends an orphaned Dutch maiden in Anna and the King of the Dragons. Finally, noted historical author Barbara Samuel steps into modern times with Dragon Feathers, wherein a young woman whose heart has been broken and is searching for a new life finds that and more in her new home that comes with a dragon.
*** Though all these "fairy tales" are about dragons, each one is unique and magical in its own way. I dare you to keep from laughing out loud at the antics of Ms. Beverly's SVP and the dragon Seesee. This is a fun read. ***
Author: Maggie Shayne
Title - Sheer Pleasure
**** What does a logical scientist discovery the reality of lycanthropy, a playboy realizing that his secretary is more than a reliable helper, and a psychic's visions of murder and the breaking of a curse all have in common? Two things, love and the fact that they are written by the talented Maggie Shayne. The strongest entries in the collection are the bookends, Leather and Lace and Daydream Believer. In the former, if you ever wished Steve Trevor would wake up and realize Miss Prince was a gem in her own right, then you'll be smiling at the end of this one. Daydream Believer is an edgy murder mystery that I wish was longer, having a surprise twist at the end reminescent of Ellery Queen. Ms. Shayne's versatility as a writer is showcased here, and while it lacks her trademark vampires, this anthology is definitely worth your time, whether a new or old fan. ****
Author: Judith Lindbergh
Title - The Thrall's Tale (Reprint)
Mother, maiden, and crone, the three traditional faces of the "goddess" in pagan tales, provide the eyes that watch as the Norse culture shifts from the ways of false gods to the True religion of Christianity. The mother figure is Katla, a slave girl who holds Christian beliefs amid worshippers of Odin and the like. The defining moment of her life is her rape at the hands of a chieftain's son that leaves her scarred inwardly and outwardly and results in the birth of Bibrau, an almost demonic little girl who finds a truer mother with the ancient crone, Thorbjorg, Katla's mistress after she is sold. Thorbjorg embraces the old ways and teaches Bibrau to be a witch, like her, never dreaming that the girl will surpass her in darkness and evil. Yet, even as their poisonous ways dig deeper into the old and young woman's souls, the light of Christ reaches their world via two slaves who spread the gospel, offering Katla the first joy she has known in many years.
*** Fans of Jean Auel or Morgan Llewlyn will eagerly embrace this literary debut. Shifting viewpoints blend together to provide a full cloth depiction of a tumultous time in all its gritty glory. Though those in search of a fun or light read will find it daunting, those seeking literature and history will be delighted. ***
Title - Christmas Wishes
(Seasonal Romance Anthology)
Christmas At Home by Leanne Burroughs
Allison "Alli" Monroe has been a widow since her husband died overseas. With the war raging on and receiving no widow's pension, Alli must raise her five-year-old daughter, Becca, alone. Allie meets Ryan Burgess while in the general store. Ryan has been discharged from the Air Force and now needs the use of a cane to get around. Little Becca is about to teach them both some much needed lessons.
The Christmas Store by Ann Marie Bradley
When Aine Ross finds her fiancé in bed with another woman and then her own family tries to defend him, Aine decides to spend Christmas with her friend Holly. Holly lives up north, where Christmas is always white. Aine and Holly enter "The Christmas Store". An elderly couple perfectly play the roles of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Every customer writes a Christmas wish and hangs it on the tree. According to Mrs. Claus, all the wishes will come true. But Aine does not believe her wish could possibly happen.
Love's Eternal Hope by Amber Dawn Bell
Hope Lacey has been divorced, gone through bankruptcy, and lost her home. By order of the courts, Hope must vacate her home of twenty-eight years by Christmas Eve. She spies her favorite Christmas ornament (a nunne'hi of Cherokee mythology believed to possess magical powers). Hope wishes she lived long ago with the Cherokee clans. Her Christmas wish is granted.
Operation Family by Billie Warren Chai
Major Sean Spencer, Special Ops, US Army, had broken up with Ava Jefferson when she refused to quit her job of being a deputy after they were wed. Shortly thereafter, Sean was sent on an undercover mission and was out of touch for months. However, when Sean returns and is finally forced to walk into the county sheriff's office to pick up a couple of his men, he is startled to see a very pregnant Ava.
The Gift of You by Kimberly Ivey
Set in 1974. Single mother Liliana Brooks quits her job at Hamburger Palace to get away from her abusive boss. When she is attacked while walking home, Jake Delatorre rescues her and even hires her as a waitress in his own restaurant. That same night, Liliana's father threatens physical harm to her eighteen month old baby, Nicky. Without a second thought, Liliana packs up and goes to the only person she feels safe with, Jake.
The Patient Gift by Patty Howell
Leatrice "Lea" Novak has lost too many loved ones this year. With Christmas fast approaching, she begins hardening her heart in self preservation. Only Basil, her elderly black lab, is allowed into Lea's heart. Well, that is until Durham North's car gets stuck in the snow and he knocks on her door to use the phone. Basil decides it is up to him and the big man upstairs to bring this pair together; and in doing so, heal them both.
In Time for Christmas by Cheryl Alldredge
Over one thousand years ago, in Northumberland, Lord Gunnar said a prayer in the chapel for help and fortune. But a wench was not what he had in mind; especially one so unusual. In December 2006, Beth Markam receives an empty package from Jon Gunnarson, a stranger to her. The enclosed note claims it once contained hope. Turns out the empty package holds more than just hope.
Once Upon a Snowflake by Shelli Stevens
Lilly Rawson left her abusive husband. She and her four-year-old son, Ben, are en route to Northern California for a new life. But when her car spins out during a blizzard in Snow River, Oregon, all plans come to a halt. There is no way Lilly can make the deadline to begin her new job as head chef for a wealthy family. Luckily, Logan and his sister, Mindy, were there when Lilly's car crashes into a tree. In exchange for a temporary place to live and repairs to her car, Lilly agrees to be the new cook in Logan's Bed & Breakfast.
Joy's Christmas Wishes by Gerri Bowen
Lord Captain Geoffrey DeBohun is a second son, a widow, and has four children; therefore, he did not believe Lady Emily could possibly choose him over his older brother, an earl.
Miracle and Mistletoe by Kimberly Grant
It is Christmas Eve and a blizzard rages outside. Yet inside the toast home, Marla Anders and Chance Yardley sit, trying to finish decorating their Christmas tree. The beautiful scene would be perfect for a gallery painting if not for the tension hovering over their heads. Marla is waiting for a phone call from her doctor’s office. The results of her tests will decide her entire future.
The Christmas Wish by Rebecca Andrews
Six-year-old Kevin Connor is in line to see Santa when he spies a woman who is the mirror image of his mother, who died last year. When Kevin makes a quick dash toward her, his father, Ryan, goes after him. As Ryan gazes into Holly's face, he could almost believe she really was his late wife. As Holly St. Nick learns how hard the Christmas season is going to be for little Kevin, she agrees to spend a bit a time with the pair in hopes of gently helping Kevin understand that she is really NOT the lady he believes her to be.
All I Want for Christmas is a Hula Hoop...and a Mother by DeborahAnne MacGillivray
It is only three more days until Christmas and Kentucky residents are shopping non-stop. Five-year-old Allison Challenger's wish list is short, even though her father is wealthy. Most of all, she wishes for a kitty, a pony, a Hula Hoop, and a new mother. And this precocious angel has the perfect lady in mind to fill the position of that last wish; her new ballet teacher, Leslie Seaforth. Once Allison gets Leslie and her dad, Keon, to meet, Lady Fate takes over. The trio soon find themselves snowbound at Leslie's home in the countryside.
**** A full dozen of stories that will keep you smiling and happily humming carols even while you are being crushed in the shopping crowds by grumps. Once you finish this anthology, be sure to place it on your bookshelf or boxed among your decorations so you may reread this gem each December. ****
Title - Holiday in the Heart
(Seasonal Romance Anthology)
Christmas Wonderland by Leanne Burroughs.
Set in the USA, 1944. Most of the men are overseas, fighting in the war. Samantha Noelle has one month to find a new place to live. Her day job is not enough for a deposit. Luckily, she is hired at a department store as Santa's elf. Sam loves dealing with the children. But she sure does not like the elf costume and her boss.
The Power of Love by Kemberlee Shortland.
Set in Ireland, present day. Elaine and Ethan O'Donovan are devastated when the hospital doctor informs them that Elaine's heart is too weak to survive the birth of their unborn child. Sometime within the next few weeks, Elaine would die in labor. On Christmas Eve, though, anything is possible.
Sempre by Aleka Nakis.
Set in New York, present day. Amanda Law's teen son is in Colorado, spending Christmas with his father. So Amanda is resigned to being alone in New York for the holiday. But while viewing the city from atop the Empire State Building, Amanda meets an Italian man from her past.
Christmas Masquerade by Michele Ann Young.
Set in England, 1813. Clarissa Trevethon has long heard tales of people being lost on the moors at night. Yet when her carriage turns over and the post-boy is knocked unconscious, she must go looking for help. The only one nearly turns out to be a sullen man in a gate house.
Ballou's Christmas Wish by Keelia Greer.
Set in Texas, present day. Melody Barton and her West Highland white terrier, Ballou, are picking up some "Woofies" dog cookies when they meet Jorin Griffin. Melody and Jorin are not the only two attracted to each other. Jorin also has a "Westie" named Bonnie. More than anything, Ballou wants the two humans together so he can be with Bonnie. Problem is that Jorin is having problems with a female ex-employee who is obsessed with him.
The Christmas Curse by Rachel Michaels.
Set in the present time. Jenna Malone totally believes she is cursed to have a horrible Christmas every year of her life. Something awful always happens. Today is Christmas Eve. Her boyfriend broke up with her, via email, this morning. The right heel on her expensive boots broke. Her car is in the shop so she has to take the bus home from work. The bus splashes slush all over her hair and coat. Her slushy hair has frozen. What else could possibly go wrong? I will tell you! She can (and does) slip on ice and get knocked unconscious.
Maggie at Christmas by Diane Davis White.
Set in the present time. Professor Ethan Spencer cannot find a vacant room in town, due to multiple conventions in the area. Luckily, Maggie Donaldson agrees to let him stay in her spare room for awhile. But Maggie never expected to be attracted to the man; especially since she has only been a widow for two short years.
Rachel's Light by Victoria Houseman.
Set in Charleston, South Carolina, 1783. Rachel Levine has been the governess of Eve and Joshua Stein for six months now. This will be the first holiday season for the children without their mother. They love their father, but he has become bitter. Yet when their father asks Rachel to marry him for the sake of the children. She cannot help but agree.
The Greatest Gift of All by Candace Gold.
Set in America. Claudia Sykes still hurt from being jilted by her fiancé, had to be forced to attend a dance at church. When a horrid man approaches Claudia and refuses to accept the word "No", Claudia believes she should have stayed home after all. Then she meets Adam Devine. Claudia finally risks her heart only to have the Army Reserve order Adam to Iraq.
Victoriana by Heather Hiestand.
Begins in Tacoma, Washington, present date. Robyne Arthur is shopping for small Christmas presents when she spies a Christmas cracker. Upon gently tugging the ends, she is transported to a strange place called Victoriana. The place seems to be England in the 1900's. And every single day is December 17th.
Tempt Me Twice by Anna Kathryn Lanier.
Set in Yorkshire, England, 1844. Thanks to her late husband, Meghan Shelton de Vries is financially secure for the rest of her life. Therefore, Meghan can spend all her time with Marissa, her six-year-old daughter. But during a gathering for her cousin's wedding, Meghan literally runs into the man she loved seven years ago. Worse, the man seems to realize that he is Marissa's biological father.
Blue Christmas Cat by DeborahAnne MacGillivray.
Set in the Highlands, present day. Romance author Dara Seaforth is snowed in on Christmas Eve. Even with her deadline looming, Dara is unable to write. Of course, she knows why depression has set in. There is no one visiting to bring Christmas cheer. Add to that her beloved cat, Dexter, died six weeks ago and Dara is unable to break the habit of talking to him. And lastly, Rhys St. John has returned to the area. Dara has loved him since she was eighteen. Now, fifteen years later, he still does not seem to know she even exists. In one weak moment, Dara makes a wish to Dexter's spirit for a new companion...and a British Blue kitty begins meowing outside her door.
***** Twelve stories that would put even Scrooge into the Christmas spirit. It does not matter what TYPE of romance genre you prefer. This book has a little bit of everything. The stories are set in the U.S.A. and Europe. Some take place in the past, some in the present, and one story takes place in both! I strongly suggest that you put on something comfortable, brew up something hot (tea, coffee or cocoa will do), light up a fire, settle down somewhere quiet and begin reading this anthology. *****
Author: Avocato, Cameron, Daheim, London, MacPherson, & Sparks
Title - Sugarplums and Scandal
(Mystery Seasonal Anthology)
"All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth" is by Lori Avocato.
When Pauline's mother reads that a dentist is holding Mr. Leonard Niski's dentures hostage, even though the man's insurance has already paid for them, she tells Pauline to "Do something about this. Be a Good Samaritan for the holiday season." Pauline must admit that is does sound like dental fraud. Since she and Jagger investigate insurance fraud for a living, perhaps they should look into it.
"The Lords Of Misrule" is by Dana Cameron.
Set in London, Christmas Eve of 1722. Miss Margaret Chase "Mags" calmly accepts the fact that there are extra guests in the house tonight. Father had arrived home with two friends, rather than just one, and her brother, Tommy, came home from Oxford with a friend as well. However, Mags is not prepared when she learns that her mother's new jewelry has been stolen, before her mother even opens the jewelry case filled with stones. Nor is Mags prepared when the body of a footman is found. But with Margaret's keen observations, and a little bit of help, Christmas Day may still dawn with joy.
"The Ghost Of Christmas Passed" is by Mary Daheim.
Innkeeper Judith McMonigle Flynn may not have any guests during the holiday season, but the place is still full of family. Problem is that her mother, Gert, is not acting normal. Gert is about to tell Judith and Renie a bit about a certain family member that disgraced the family long ago. It seems as though the certain family member in question is making an appearance. Either that or someone else who looks mighty like him.
"Partners In Crime" is by Cait London.
Cecilia Lattimer is a professional organizer. Even though the small town of Dewdrop has been experiencing a rash of burglaries recently, someone seems to be going an extra mile on Cecilia. Everybody likes Cecilia personally, but hates how Cecilia is always trying to organize everything and everyone. Who could possibly be the one out to harm Cecilia? The police chief? Cecilia saw him with a mistress. Her ex-fiancé? Cecilia said no at the alter because she learned what a monster he really was. Her ex-husband? He left Cecilia for a younger woman, but still seems possessive of Cecilia. And just WHO is this stranger that rescued her from three men in an alley and then parked his camper in her driveway? Is he protecting her or stalking her?
"Holly Go Lightly" is by Suzanne MacPherson.
Nick Fredrick could not seem to get his late fiancée, Holly Townsend, out of his mind today. Perhaps because it is Christmas Eve. Even when Nick gets to his parents' house, signs of Holly still abound. It is soon obvious to all that Holly's spirit is trying to communicate some vital information and she has only one night get her joyous message through.
"A Very Vampy Christmas" is by Kerrelyn Sparks.
About five years ago some clever vampires figured out that a vampire's image could be recorded using digital technology. So now there is DVN (Digital Vampire Network), though few mortals know that real vampires are the stars. Maggie O'Brian has been a vampire since the year 1884. Now she plays the part of a mortal doctor in love with a vampire on the soap opera "As a Vampire Turns". She auditioned for the part in order to meet Don Orlando, who plays the handsome vampire in the show. Maggie may have the role the wanted, but Don is not the wonderful man she thought she would be. According to Corky, the ruthless media queen of the vampire world, Don changes women as often as his socks. When Don tells Maggie that he has had amnesia since he was turned into a vampire over four years ago in New Orleans, Maggie decides to see what she can learn.
**** A wonderful anthology with six tales set around the Christmas Season. I found something for everyone in this novel. No kidding. I read historical romance, mystery, suspense, ghostly spirits, and even vampires. Wonderful holiday reading. ****
Title - Santa Baby (Seasonal Anthology)
*** Three gifted authors present their readers a chance to decompress after the holiday madness and enjoy novellas that have a bit of sugar and a lot of spice. Lori Foster finds a man getting a Christmas Bonus he never expected from the boss he didn't want as his superior, but finds the lady perfect to love. Carly Phillips' Naughty Under the Mistletoe shows a young woman that she just needed the right twin to find true love. The star of the volume is Jennifer Cruise's Hot Toy, a wild and whacky ride wherein a loving aunt finds herself face to face with the one man in the world she does not want to see while trying to find the toy her nephew who has faced too many disappointments in life wants. In the process, she lands in the middle of a spy caper that will have you laughing outloud. This story alone is worth the book's price. ***
Title - The Four Redheads of the Apocalypse
The Four Horsemen (Death, War, Plague, and Famine) have died. As next of kins, their wives must now take on the duties. Problem is that these four redheads (well, one is blonde and colors her hair red) have absolutely no clue how to do the jobs! Satan wants to retire, but cannot until she finds someone else to take over her position. (Yes, Satan is female. No man can be bitchy enough to do the job well. Trust me on this.) So Satan not only hands the four women their new duties, but also hands over a contest. Whichever of them does the best job in their new positions will have Satan's job and all its perks when she retires.
(First story is War's, written by Linda L. Donahue.) Bunny is the new "War". Since Bunny is at a disadvantage with the other ladies, Satan gives her a bit of help in the form of an unlimited expense account and a bit of advice: No matter how it starts, no matter how it ends, a war is a war. All you've gotta do is start something. So Bunny goes Earthside and crashes the UN Security Council Meeting in progress. Unfortunately, Hell's accountants are less than pleased with the results.
(Second story is Death's, written by Rhonda Eudaly.) Zoe is the new "Death". If nothing else, Zoe is the busiest of the four. She has to show up, on schedule, to collect the dead. When she fails to show up to a huge car wreck, everyone (miraculously) survives! To say that the Grim Reaper, Zoe's Chief Minion, is upset is putting it lightly. So Zoe becomes determined to get better and win Satan's job! She is sick to death (pardon the bad pun) of having to deal with dead people. Reaper can have the job once she gets Satan's office!
(Third story is Plague's, written by Dusty Rainbolt.) Butterflye Plague-Pestilence is the new "Plague". She had been an attorney back when she was actually alive. So you would think that Butterflye would have read the fine print on her document before marrying Ossy. Alas, she did not. To make matters worse for her, Butterflye has a fear of bugs! Every time a cockroach rubs against Butterflye's leg in a show of affection, she cringes! This gives her extra motivation in winning the contest. But it is hard to get things done when her minions keep quoting rules and regulations from the various Unions they belong to. She finally decides to create a modern day plague, a computer virus unlike any before. The results thrill Bill Gates!
(Now comes Famine's tale, written by Julia S. Mandala.) Sara Lee is the new "Famine". She never had a weight problem until she became Famine. Now she has constant hunger pains and, if she is Earthside, everything she touches turns to dust. Sara Lee's minion is a too perky and cute little girl named Debbie who is constantly handing Sara Lee sugary snacks. It seems that every time Sara Lee comes up with an idea to spread famine Earthside, it backfires. Worse, often the backfires seem to HELP the other three Horsewomen.
***** I found this to be an over-the-top comedy with the quirky flavor of a Mel Brooks film. I highly enjoyed it! There are many pros and cons for this novel though. As for the cons, the book is less than a hundred pages and it is all in fine print. The cover art shows all four women with champagne glasses (and I could tell which woman was which Horsewoman by what is within the glass) but I had to look closely because the black and white photo makes it hard to tell what the item within each glass is! Lastly, this book is not bound by glue. Instead, staples hold it together. Yet the price is still high. As for the pros, each story is so hilarious that I could not help laughing long and loud while enjoying it. The bad puns are so good (pardon my oxymoron pun) that they would make Mel Brooks proud! My husband read the short blurb on the front of this book and told me to be sure to give it to him when I finish reading it. One of my co-workers, who happens to be a huge fan of Mel's, wants it after my husband is finished. The people who asked for it after that were told (nicely, of course) to go get their own copy. Also, if you happen to be lucky enough to know the author/publicist Selina Rosen, then you will enjoy Satan's character. I kept picturing Selina as Satan while reading and was tickled when I later found out that Selina is exactly whom Satan's character was based upon! (Kudos to me!) All-in-all, I highly recommend this short novel to all fans of comedy who are over the age of seventeen. Killer story! (Groan. I did not just say that!) *****
Author: James McIvor
Title - God Rest Ye Merry, Soldiers
***** This is a small book that was actually released in 2005. Now, in 2006, it is being reprinted in a small paperback for more people to discover and enjoy. The story takes readers back in history, to the Civil War. Through the eyes of soldiers' letters (Union and Confederate) comes a true tale of a Christmas miracle. It will not take you long to read the story since it is less than two hundred pages, but it is a book that you will find yourself reading more than once. Full of joy, sorrow, compassion, and courage, this is a story you will never forget. *****
Author: Greg Cox
Title - Infinite Crisis
Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman have been heralded as the world's greatest heroes, but now Batman's paranoia and Wonder Woman's act of making herself judge, jury, and executioner on live T.V. have created a chaos that not even Superman can deal with. Batman's invention, Brother Eye, a robotic satellite that acts like Big Brother of Orwellian fame, has decided to kill all paranormals, and not even its maker can stop its demented quest. Meanwhile, the walls of reality are crumbling to allow alternate versions of this world's heroes to break into it so that they can replace this world with one thought to be no longer real. If you thought the Crisis on Infinite Earths was chaotic and heart-breaking, in Infinite Crisis trumps it.
**** Don't let the comic book link put you off. This is an absorbing, complex story that is captivating. The dilemas faced are larger than life, but told in such a way that you can empathize with the pathos portrayed. Even without pictures, this story creates vivid images that will stay with you. ****
Title - Blue Moon Enchantment (Anthology)
Under the Faery Blue Moon by Dawn Thompson
Set in the Regency era. In the previous companion book "Blue Moon Magic", Puck and Oberon had caused chaos at a Blue Moon Ball. The pair had slipped something into the claret bowl in hopes of bringing a pair of humans together in love. Instead, the targeted pair were the only two who did NOT drink it. All the other humans are now lusting after each other and doing all sorts of things in the garden. It is up to Tatiana, Queen of the Faeries, to straighten it all out.
The Anti-Kissing League by Leanne Burroughs
Set in 1909. Geoffrey Standish left New York to spend the summer in Georgia and help his Aunt Ida Mae and Uncle Henry on their farm. The town had sunned Geoff's parents long ago, so he really did not want to be in the small backwater town. However, had he not come to Georgia, he would never have met Millie.
Leap of Faith by Jill and Julia
Marcella Richards is the best Chicago attorney around and over due for a much needed vacation. As usual, the only thing she can think of is Drew. He was the man she had hoped to marry eight years ago, but lost instead. While her thoughts dwelled on the past, Marcella makes a wish on the blue moon. However, she never expects to see a doll-sized gnomette appear and offer to send her back in time for a second chance at love.
When Mules Rush In by Jacquie Rogers
Set in 1882. Merlin was once King Arthur's advisor and sorcerer. But the days of old were over and considered only to be myths. Merlin still believes in the Auld Ways: do no harm and mentor his human. Merlin chooses to keep the form of a mule while he resides in Wyoming. The human Merlin mentors is Luke Tyson, a gambler and womanizer. But the stubborn mule is about to open Luke's eyes to a special lady named Willow.
The Star Traveler by Victoria Houseman
Set in South Carolina at the end of June, 2007. Dr. Hayley Stone specialized in fertility treatments. When her mother fell ill, Hayley quit everything to be with and care for her. Now her mother has passed away and Hayley feels adrift. Alice, an old friend of the family, tells Hayley about a legend which states that the night of the blue moon brings the Star Traveler, one who grants wishes of true love to those who truly believe and deserve it... Donovan de Lyon is a Star Traveler and everyone in his family seems to be urging him to find his special woman. But Donovan only wants everyone to stay out of his love life. In the meantime, Earth is having a blue moon, which means he has a busy night of magical work ahead of him. As Donovan approaches Earth, his spaceship's main computer (Rachel) decides to meddle in his love life too.
Sentimental Journey by Judith Laik
Back in 1942, Eve Larson kissed her military fiancé, Howard, goodbye and held her fear at bay when he shipped out. His plane ended up going down during a bombing raid. Three years later, Eve is a teacher and summer vacation has just begun. Unable to let go of her love for Howard, she intends to spend the summer months tending to her garden. While out during the blue moon, she wishes for Howard to return to her.
A Blue Vacation by Michelle Scaplen
Brenda Blake is an office data entry clerk who has not had a vacation in over four years. Then one morning Nick, a head salesman, and Tori, the slinky secretary, have an argument and break up. The couple had planned to spend time in the Bahamas in the near future. Tori gives her ticket to Brenda, who gladly accepts. So with a funky new haircut and determined to enjoy herself, Brenda is off to the Caribbean. However, Brenda never expects to find Nick as a roommate!
Blue Moon Magic by Ann Marie Bradley
Interior designer Claire Jacobs leaves her dead end job and accepts an offer in Key West, Florida. Upon the beach sets a lovely mansion fashioned after an 1886 European country castle. Claire's job is to give "Hotel Castle" a face lift and transform it into a twenty-first century luxury resort. Fred, the manager, informs Claire about Lord Archer, the earl who had the place built for his fiancée long ago, only for her to mysteriously disappear a week before they were to wed. The earl died shortly afterward. Folks say that Lord Archer now haunts the castle. Rob Archer, the owner of the hotel, was indisposed and would not be able to meet with Claire, but gave her free reign over the place. That night Claire strolled the beach under the blue moon and finds a man's ring...
Kissing Lessons by Sherrie Holmes
Abigail Fairweather is the daughter of the late Baron Fairweather. The wild, adventurous lady made a wish on the blue moon involving Viscount Selkirk. Later she is thrown off her velocipede (bike) while riding and toppled down a hill to land upon a strange, but very handsome man. Abigail assumes him to be Lord Selkirk's gardener and asks him to help her make the blue moon wish come true. However, the gardener is really the viscount and he has some surprises in store for her.
Muses in the Moonlight by Patty Howell
As a child Calli Winson was abandoned. She was raised in Allenvale by a wonderful, loving couple. But Calli always wondered why she had been abandoned. Now grown, Calli is an anthropologist at the Smithsonian in Maryland. Her adopted parents died ten years prior and she returns to Allenvale, Pennsylvania, to place flowers on their graves. Overwhelmed with emotions one night, Calli yells at the blue moon. That is how she meet Jacob Isaacs, a pastor at a local church. He offers her a friendly ear and they spend a long time talking. As they part, Jacob makes a wish.
Blue Moon Reunion by Gerri Bowen
Lady Piper of Auban has always been told to be careful what she wishes for. Piper is not sure what she would wish for in a man though. There has been three men in her life. The first was Sir Robin of Escewiche. But he ended up abandoning her. He was followed by two others who were cruel. If Piper ever wished for a man, it would be one like Robin, but he would not abandon her...Robin never abandoned Piper. He is currently a prisoner, chained in a dungeon. During all his horrible days he believes Piper to be the cause of his imprisonment. He wants nothing more than to have his revenge. During the next blue moon, Robin makes his wish.
A Wish Times Three by Jeanne Van Arsdall
Kathleen is an author with a looming deadline. Yet when her sister asks for her to care for Siena while she and her husband go to England for awhile, Kathleen still agrees. Siena is seven-years-old. Her teacher is out on maternity leave. The substitute is Dr. Kevin Collins, an archeologist. After a few accidental meetings between Kathleen, Siena, and Kevin, the little girl invites Kevin over for lasagna. It just so happens that the blue moon is approaching. Siena and Kevin have their wishes ready. But Kathleen is hesitant.
Moondance by Kemberlee Shortland
Set in Ireland. Ronan moved into the area a year ago and fell in love with Blánaid on sight. However, Blánaid has only ever thought of him as a friend. Ronan had once overheard Blánaid and one of her friends discussing what they looked for in a man, so Ronan knows that he is nothing like the one she dreams of. Yet as Blánaid and he watch the sun set one evening, Ronan takes a chance and kisses her.
Beneath the Velvet Blue Moon by Candace Gold
Nadine Stone and her parents spent summers at Lake Flint. At the age of nineteen, Nadine met Michael Greene. Under the light of the blue moon, they promised to meet each other next year in the same place. But Nadine loses her cellular phone, which had Michael's phone number on it, and then her parents died in a car wreck. Nadine was unable to return to Lake Flint as she'd promised and Michael never contacted her. If they were to ever see each other again, it would take a miracle.
Devil in Spurs by DeborahAnne MacGillivray
Desdein Deshaunt has waited twenty long years to get his revenge. Back then the Earl Whitmore and Viscount Kildorne murdered his father, but it could not be proven. By day Desdein is a horse breeder. While with the Ton he masquerades as a titled fop, the Marquis de Fournier. But during the deep night hours, he is the notorious highwayman known as the "Devil in Spurs". All was going well until his younger brother, Jeremy, did something rash and got arrested by Edward Findlater (Viscount Kildorne) who is currently the local area's magistrate. To rescue Jeremy, the Devil in Spurs kidnaps Lady Ashlyn and sends her magistrate father a note of ransom. Problem is that Desdein is attracted to his hostage, as well as her mangy old tabby cat, Cyril. Worse, Ashlyn reveals to him that her father believes her to be worthless and will not agree to bargain with the Devil.
***** This is the second book in the Blue Moon anthology series. The first, titled "Blue Moon Magic", was released only a few months ago and is still selling wildly. I predict that this companion book will do as well. Short stories are even harder to write than full length novels and this anthology has FIFTEEN magical tales by various authors. If you want some sweet dreams, read one of two of these stories just before bed. Terrific! *****
Author: Christie Ridgway
Title - Must Love Mistletoe
"The Perfect Christmas" is owned by Bailey Sullivan's family in Coronado, California. Many locals consider it a landmark. But Bailey hates the holiday. Nevertheless, she leaves LA and returns to Coronado to help save the family store from going under. Since the holiday season is in full swing, Bailey is hoping to get everything back up to par by the 25th and head back to LA.
Problem is that Bailey's parents are feuding. Her mother, Tracy, is hiding away and Bailey cannot seem to snap her out of it. In fact, Bailey cannot even get Tracy to step inside their store. No amount of begging or cajoling is working. That would have been enough for anyone, but Bailey knows she is in trouble when she spies Finn Jacobson, the boy she loved and lost ten years ago.
Finn wants nothing to do with Bailey. The last eleven months of his life has been a nightmare. Finn is part of the Dignitary Protection Division of the Secret Service. He is on "vacation" and visiting Gram while he comes to terms with what happened during an assassination attempt. One of his younger team members died in the line of duty and Finn lost his left eye. The last thing he wanted was to see Bailey again. However, she is the only one who asked about him and was not really wanting to know about his eye patch.
Neither Bailey, nor Finn, wants to rekindle their old flame. Or do they?
**** A good read for the Christmas holiday. This story will keep you in the holiday mood, but keep you far away from the shopping crowd (at least during the time you are reading anyway). Lots of hot bedroom scenes within this tale too. The author, Christie Ridgway, spends time with Tracy and her husband, Dan, too. They are Bailey's mother and stepfather. Watching Tracy and Dan is just as much fun as watching Bailey and Finn! All-in-all, this is perfect for a romantic evening at home, after a day of hectic holiday shopping. One word of warning: do not read unless your lover is home. Enough said. ****
Author: Kasey Michaels
Title - High Heels and Holidays
(A Maggie Kelly Mystery)
Maggie Kelly is a mystery writer who goes by the pen name of Cleo Dooley. She lives in a condo on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Across the hall reside the two men who popped out of Maggie's imagination of the Regency era. (Literally happened in the first book of the series.) Alexandre Blake, Viscount Saint Just, created for Maggie's historical romance writing period of the nineteenth century and Sterling Balder, his comrade and sidekick. Unable to tell the world the truth, Maggie tells people that Saint Just is Alex Blakely, a very distant cousin from England. Sterling does not cause women to trip over themselves or stand out in a crowd, so he does not need an elaborate alias. Anyhow, they have just returned from England (last mystery novel "High Heels & Homicide"), where they helped out the niece of a mob boss.
Christmas is close and Maggie wants nothing more than to get the annual family get together out of the way so she may start enjoying the merry season. This season, however, someone is delivering packages of rotting rats and death threats to the authors who collaborated on a mystery anthology, titled "No Secret Anymore", long ago. The book was a flop, but not so bad that it is worth killing over. Yet one minor author, as well as, the biggest name author (Jonathan West) has been found dead in their homes. They were made to look like suicide at first glance, but the killer wanted the police to realize they were murdered so subtle clues were left.
Jonathan had recently completed a new novel, which his agent claimed to be his best. So perhaps it is a rival's jealousy. One thing is for sure, Maggie and Alex better solve the case quickly or Maggie may be dead before the New Year.
***** Readers get to watch the characters of Alex and Sterling evolve some more in this soon-to-be bestseller novel. Alex and Maggie's relationship goes a bit further too. (There are no hot bedroom scenes to distract from the story though.) Author Kasey Michaels has created believable characters, each with their own quirks and personalities. I actually feel as though I know these people. Very classy, very well written, and very recommended to all mystery lovers! *****
Title - My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding
Nine bestselling authors come together and blend their talents to create a magical brew just for you, the reader. This novel is a collection of nine short stories. They are perfect for October reading, of course. The titles and authors are as follows:
Spellbound by L.A. Banks
Something Borrowed by Jim Butcher
Dead Man's Chest by Rachel Cain
All Shook Up by P. N. Elrod
The Wedding of Wylda Serene by Esther M. Friesner
Cursed by the Moon by Lori Handeland
Tacky by Charlaine Harris
A Hard Day's Night Searcher by Sherrilyn Kenyon
...Or Forever Hold Your Peace by Susan Krinard
**** This book has something for everyone, be it voodoo, shapeshifters, curses, magic, vampires, or even Greek mythology. And that is only a sample of the things found within these pages. I found myself laughing at parts, as well as, sitting on the edge of my seat during some very suspense filled moments. Wonderful Autumn reading! ****
Author: Rhonda Rhea
Title - I'm Dreaming of Some White Chocolate
*** Christmas is a paradox. One one hand, it's a celebration of the greatest gift ever given, certainly a joyful event. On the other, there's the sheer chaos, the overwhelming flood of stuff one must do to avoid being labeled a Scrooge, and the obligation to be happy when you are just tired. Christians feel all this too, perhaps more so than the Santa centric, caught between the sacred and secular as we are. In amusing ancedotes, the author relates her observations on this time of year. Peppered between the humor are reminders that Christmas is not about elves, sugar cookies, and shopping, but about Christ. That is the message she repeats on virtually every page. There's nothing new here, but it might make you smile. ***
Edited by Marc Gascoigne & Christian Dunn
Title - Flames of Damnation
(W40K graphic novel)
Here is a collection of Warhammer 40,000 tales that prove the courage and raw determination of the mighty Space Marines and Imperial Guardsmen. They hunt down and destroy all the enemies of mankind. They crush all invading greenskin (orks) hordes and lay waste to all the horrible forces of Chaos.
**** I found only a few flaws. Most readers either will not notice the errors or simply not care since they are so minor. Yet I could not help but wonder how an ork would know what "playing chicken" even meant. Otherwise, Warhammer 40,000 fans will love the non-stop battles described within these stories ... whether the humans win or lose. ****
Author: Christa Faust
Title - Snakes on a Plane
(Based on the motion picture)
Sean Jones is a Hawaiian surfer who, while riding a bike, ends up witnessing a murder by a sadistic Triad gangster, Eddie Kim. Sean thought he got away without anyone noticing him, but he was wrong. FBI Agent Neville Flynn gets Sean to agree to testify against Kim. Otherwise, Kim will just make Sean disappear later. The gangster never leaves loose ends.
Agent Flynn and Sean board the plane that will take them to LA for the court hearing. No one was to know what route or plane they were to take. But Kim did not get where he is today without having many deep moles. To silence Sean, Kim will gladly kill hundreds of innocent people. To do so, Kim has a large pallet filled with venomous snakes loaded onto the plane. As the vicious snakes are unleashed upon the unsuspecting people aboard the plane, it falls to Sean and Agent Flynn to battle the snakes and keep the panicked passengers from turning on each other.
**** If the movie is even half as great as the book, then expect some awards to be forthcoming. There are some tense situations that gave me chills. Author Christa Faust did an excellent job into making the movie into a novelization. This title is sure to be a best seller at the theater and the book stores! ****
Title - Blue Moon Magic
A short synopsis of each story (and there are fifteen) follows:
Bell of the Blue Moon Ball by Dawn Thompson is a regency. Oberon, the king of faeries, and the notorious Puck plan to have Lady Arabella and the Earl of Everton fall in love by drinking from a bespelled bowl of claret during a ball set on the night of a blue moon. Unfortunately, everyone EXCEPT the two drink the claret.
Where Sea Meets Skye by Erin Hatton is set in the present date. Hurt by her boyfriend's betrayal, Celine left Canada to visit Scotland. The unemployed Marine Biologist goes to the Isle of Skye to view the seals. She never expects to meet the selkies.
Angels in the Moonlight by Diane Davis White is set in the present date. Sadie, the Shady Angel, and her mentor, Pricilla, are sent to California. Their mission is to make Nathan, a musician, and Olivia, a singer, fall in love during the full moon.
Under the Pale Moonlight by Katherine Smith is a historical romance. Arthur Cameron had been born with a malformed foot, but never let it get in the way of what he wanted to do. Yet when it comes to Lady Alicia, he sees himself as inferior and unworthy of her love.
Ember's Desire by Meagan Hatfield is fantasy romance, set in "an Alternate Northern England" of the year 1750. Galenorn has never gotten a spell right. The witch decides to leave Wychwood. Instead of leaving, her spell releases Balder, the favored son of Odin, from his underworld prison. And Loki comes to kill them both.
Spellbound by Aysel Arwen is a paranormal romance. It could be set at any time, but seems to be set in the present. Emma loses her mother's wedding ring in some ruins. She returns under cover of the night in hopes of locating it. However, she finds more than just a circle of gold. She finds a love that comes along only once in a blue moon. First before anything else, Emma must break the enchantment upon him.
Enchantment by the Sea by M.J. Sager is a modern contemporary. Grayson had worked hard to change a ruined hotel into the best resort in the Caribbean. He knows that Clara is planning on writing an article about him in a magazine, even though she has yet to tell him so. Her boss, Benny, had already called and informed him of her arrival. However, Grayson is out to prove Benny wrong about Clara being an Ice Princess.
Suddenly You by Jaquelin Lorin is a time travel that begins in the present date. Celine has spent months restoring a portrait from around the 1870's. When she wishes she knew who the man was, Celine finds herself zapped back in time to meet him.
Blue Moon and the Warrior by Lee Roland is a paranormal. Allison camps out in the Utah desert, under a full moon, and dreams about a magical carnival. Within the carnival, she meets the perfect man. But will Allison recognize him when she meets him again in the real world?
Midsummer Magic by Kristi Ahlers historical romance set in the Highlands. During the night of a full blue moon, the Laird of Clan Fraser is returning home from a raid with his men when he comes upon a lovely lady swimming. Kidnapping her is easy. Getting her accept him is a bit difficult.
Secret of the Blue Moon by Billie Warren Chai is set in the present time. Zoey left New Mexico with no word to Jack. For twelve years Jake hated her for disappearing. Now he is a major in the Air Force. He pilots a rescue helicopter. When a storm hits, he is forced to land at Apache Indian Hospital with his injured patients. But he never expects to find that little Zoey is now the doctor in charge of the ER. And he is about to learn just how badly he has misjudged her.
Darkness and Dreams by Kimberly Ivey is a paranormal romance set in the present date. Paloma lost her husband a year ago due to a drunk driver. Now she volunteers at a local hospital. Her life changes when her psychic (or is that insane?), elderly neighbor claims that one of the comatose patients Paloma reads to is really her husband in a different body.
The Healer by Leanne Burroughs is a historical romance set in the Highlands. The Laird of Clan Drummon cares deeply for his supposed captive, Tory, though he thinks no one knows. When Tory gets poisoned, the chieftain has Warwick, his most trusted warrior, fetch the healer named Agnes. Agnes may be up in age, but she knows almost instantly how her laird feels about Tory. But that is not her concern. Agnes only fears her own reactions to Warwick.
In the Space of a Heartbeat by Keelia Greer is a futuristic vampire romance. The place is Earth. The year is 5046. Melania is an agent for the Central Galaxy Intelligence Authority. She uses her vampiric abilities in cases involving Immortals. Her current orders are to kill the terrorist that has infiltrated the Life Point Corporation and protect Dr. Kerrin, whose work is vital. However, the terrorist is Zelik, a vengeful, grudge holding vampire.
Rider in the Storm by Deborah MacGillivray is set in the present time. Ciara's fiancé, Derek, died in a car wreck exactly seven years ago tonight. She still grieves, but knows it is time to move on. After visiting Derek's grave one last time to say farewell, Ciara makes a wish upon the full blue moon. She wishes to begin living again. As Ciara drives home a storm breaks out. She is startled to see a car sitting in the exact spot Derek had died so long ago. Knowing it to be a bad idea, she stops and offers the stranded man a lift into town. Ciara is about to learn that miracles still happen.
**** This magical anthology has something for everyone. Regency, historical, time travel, contemporary, futuristic, and even delves into the magical realms of faeries, selkies, vampires, and the supernatural. All the tales have one thing in common. Each revolve around a full blue moon and the magical wishes made upon it. I loved every second that my imagination was immersed into these tales. As you read each story, you WILL find yourself believing in magic. And I bet you will be checking your calendar to see when the next blue moon will be. Outstanding! ****
Author: Jina Bacarr
Title - The Blonde Geisha
American banker, Edward Mallory moved to Japan when his daughter, Kathlene, was but a child. The child was instantly fascinated with the geisha ladies and their mysterious ways. She longed to become a geisha too.
In the year 1892, when Kathlene was fifteen-years-old, her father makes a powerful enemy of a prince. Knowing the prince intends to kill Kathlene, Edward hides her with Simouyé, the elegant mistress of the Teahouse of the Look-Back Tree. Even though it is forbidden to train foreigners in the pleasures known only to the geisha, Simouyé agrees. Thus, Edward leaves for America and prays the prince would not be able to locate his daughter. Simouyé disguises Kathlene and takes her into the wondrous world as a maiko, an apprentice geisha. Kathlene makes an instant friend in Mariko, another maiko. The two become close and intend to become geisha-sisters some day. But Kathlene also makes an instant enemy in Youki, another apprentice.
For over three years Kathlene studies the subtle ways of the geisha, learning the secret art that will enable her to pleasure a man like no other. Kathlene and Mariko are ready and eagerly await the final ritual that will allow them to become real geisha women. But danger lurks nearby.
Prince Kira still has his men searching for the blonde Kathlene. Baron Tonda, a samurai, believes he has located the daughter of the gaijin at the Teahouse of the Look-Back Tree. He fully intends to do as his prince ordered and kill the girl; however, first he will enjoy himself by purchasing the right to be her first customer. But the baron is not the only one who has finally found Kathlene. Reed Cantrell promised Edward Mallory that he would find Kathlene and smuggle her out of Japan and back to San Francisco in America. Kathlene falls in love with Reed, even though geisha law states never to fall under the spell of any one man. One thing is for sure, the baron plans to use Kathlene's body, then kill her, and there is no way she can escape with Reed until she gives the baron the geisha ritual of being her first customer.
***** Author Jina Bacarr takes her readers into the geisha world, behind the paper screen walls, and shows them what the forbidden world of a geisha is like. Here you will find erotica pleasures interwoven with a diabolical plot that will make you breathless and leave you begging for more. *****
Title: Tales From the Treasure Trove, Vol. II
(Second "Jewels of the Quill" anthology)
Garnet Lake by Liz Hunter is a romantic suspense. LeeAnn Armstrong has lost her job of twelve years, her fiancé, and her beloved grandmother. She goes to the cabin her grandmother left her in Northern Wisconsin on Garnet Lake. LeeAnn's memories of summers spent growing up there would sooth her shattered soul. Former cop Mike Hastings is there too at his parents' home. His wife and two children are dead and he has sent the person responsible to prison. Mike and LeeAnn were close long ago and the two find themselves still drawn to each other.
The Turquoise Cat by Jane Tooms is a paranormal romance. Olivia Sumner unexpectedly inherits her great-aunt's old mansion on Lake Superior and a cat named Mask. In the attic Olivia finds a strange medallion and a turquoise curio of a creature half human/cougar. At the same time, Raoul DeKalb, a DNR officer, is trying to locate a cougar people claim is roaming the area. Lately, Raoul has been having black outs. When he comes to, he finds himself naked and wondering what happened. If Raoul ever told anyone what he believes is happening, they would lock him up and throw away the key.
For the Love of Sapphire by Nancy Pirri is an American historical romance. Spinster school teacher Sapphire Jameson learns that her brother, George, has wagered away his inheritance and is begging for her help. Sapphire learns that George owns a lot of money to Patrick Falconer, the man she was once betrothed to. Sapphire had broken their engagement years ago due to gossip of his betrayal. Patrick is now a widower with twin five-year-old boys. They strike a deal; Sapphire is to be the nanny for three months to pay off George's debt. During that time, Patrick will try to find a new governess since the boys keep running off every one he hires. However, Patrick also plans to win his way back into Sapphire's heart.
The Amethyst Star by Karen Wiesner is a futuristic romance. Thirty years ago, the men and women of Earth went off to fight in Intergalactic War I, which forever altered their world due to all the pollution. Herbivores have all but disappeared. Carnivores have flourished. Man returned to Earth and found humankind on the brink of extinction. Help comes from two other worlds. The Patrollers are a breed of aliens with ESP and the ability to camouflage themselves and their charges in any situation. They become the protectors of the humans. The Hunters have strength, speed and instincts, allowing them to track and destroy the elusive and clever carnivores that have become the dominant species. The human males greatly outnumber the human females who are the last chance for the human race to survive. Lady Sher of the Amethyst Star is humankind's best hope. She understands her duty to her race, yet she drawn to Randolf, a Hunter, which is forbidden.
Heart of Obsidian by Michele Bardsley is a paranormal romance. It is part of the "Angels on Patrol" series. Sophie Malley's body is in the hospital, in a coma. Mac, her trainer in becoming an angel, gives her one year, as an angel, to help her brother and sister find their soulmates. In the previous anthology, Sophie helped her brother find his. This time, Sophie will help her sister do the same.
Misbehavin' in Moonstone by Christine DeSmet is a humorous romantic mystery. Chef Kirsten Peplinski has opened her restaurant in Moonstone, Wisconsin. When the men of the town suddenly seem to be "off fishing" every night instead of being with their women or spending their money in her restaurant, Kirsten knows something is up. She discovers a topless touring boat has set up business just outside the jurisdiction of Moonstone. When the news hits the papers, the mayor has a mild heart attack. The women are furious and Kirsten becomes the reluctant interim mayor sent to negotiate with the boat's owner, Jonathon VanBrocklin. But when Kirsten steps aboard she finds Jonathon waiting for her with a deal. She marries him, he docks the boat forever. And he refuses to take no for an answer. In fact, he already had the wedding planned before she ever met him! But Kirsten comes from a family of con artists. She returns to town and has the women help her teach the men, especially Jonathon VanBrocklin, a lesson they will never forget!
***** This anthology is even better than the first Treasure Trove volume, if that is possible! Six famous authors have put together six fabulous stories that readers will never forget! Here is Romance in all its wild and crazy forms, be they set in the past, present, or future. (The wind whispered in my ear that a third volume is due for release early 2007. I can hardly wait!) If you miss out on this novel, then you miss out on one of the best anthologies of the entire year. *****
Author: David Weber
Title: In Fury Born
(First in a new series!)
The tale/series begins in the middle of the thirtieth century. Alicia Dierdre DeVries is only fourteen-years-old when the military took an interest in her. Very few teens pop the test filters. Even fewer complete schooling shortly thereafter. Her psych evaluations are already astronomical. Age fifteen finds her in college. Before most people graduate high school, Alicia has finished college and entered the Marine Corps. Camp Mackenzie, the most grueling training ground where Marines are almost taken apart and totally rebuilt, is considered "fun" for Alicia. Directly afterward, she asks to join the Recon Marines and actually gets it. The Recon Marines are considered, even by their fellows, as among the Corps' elite. Once in the Gyangtse System, Alicia's military career really begins...round page twenty-five.
Alicia is considered "larva" by her fellow Wasps until her first real combat duty. Everything hits the fan eventually and Alicia matures quickly, very quickly, under fire. Those watching her at age fourteen still are and Alicia finds herself recruited into the Imperial Cadre, just before her nineteenth birthday. The Cadre are the Emperor's personal sword, paladins, and champions. They are the elite of the elite of the elite. Everyone else has one synth-link to worry about. The Cadre each have three. Alicia must undergo lots of surgery to have it all implanted. She also has a pharmacope, where her body injects itself with needed meds, from the inside, whenever needed. Some of those meds are unique only to the Cadre. One of those drugs is a neurotoxin which would automatically kill her if the need arises. The chance of long term survival in the Cadre is small.
Here I must skip lots. Let us just say that author David Weber outdoes himself with the battles and brilliant tactical moves. No one "retires" from the Cadre. They are simply classified "inactive". They may be reactivated at any time during their life to serve the Emperor and the Empire. Alicia is inactive only a few years when her entire family is massacred by pirates. Almost dead, Alicia finds help from an impossible source. She is "reactivated", of course, but believed to be insane when she tells how she accomplished the impossible. None believe her, yet no one can figure out how Alicia keeps doing the impossible. So Alicia and her impossible source go after the pirates themselves. Problem is that the pirates are not what they seem to be. If Alicia manages to find out the truth, the Empire may very well collapse!
***** Fans of David Weber's Honor Harrington series will fall in love with this new series featuring Alicia DeVries! Other than words such as "Fleet", "Imperial", and the military hardware used in Honor's novels, nothing is the same. You will NOT see familiar characters. To my knowledge, they are not even mentioned. No treecats either. As I stated, this is an ENTIRELY new series. The enemies within this story are not always human either. The Rish are giant and lizard-like. No, more like a T-Rex but on a smaller scale. I found myself just as enthralled with the Rish as Alicia. Enough said on THAT subject. I repeat, this is nothing like Honor Harrington! I stress that often because as unusual as Honor is, even without her treecat, Nimitz, Alicia is even more. Yes, she moves up in rank quickly, but that is normal in war time. All I can say without ruining the numerous surprises and twists is that I found myself totally blown away with Alicia. If the author continues this state of high standards for the next novel in the series, I may not be able to choose which is better; Honor or Alicia. *****
Author: Alice Duncan
Title - Lost Among the Angels (Mystery)
Since one paragraph on the back of this book sums it up so well, I quote:
"Raised in the ivory tower of proper Boston, when well-bred Mercy [Allcutt] gets a job with Ernest Templeton, Private Investigator, she's ecstatic. Ernie, a jaded ex-cop, is incredulous. Together, they must cope with a stray child, kidnapping, blackmail, murder, a toy poodle, a vamp, a stalker, Mercy's overactive imagination and Ernie's strong protective streak. Throw in a speakeasy, Chinatown, and a couple of down-and-dirty criminals, and Mercy and Ernie are in for a drama that will put the motion picture industry to shame. If they can survive long enough to tell the story."
***** This gem reminded me of the old Dick Tracy comic strips (that I avidly read as a child), as well as of the black and white PI movies we all recall with glee. The story is set in 1926, Los Angeles. I found myself totally immersed before the first few pages were read. Author Alice Duncan either did a lot of research or she grew up on stories of the era. Each character has their own personality. The characters all dress the parts, all the way down to the bobbed hair style, and speak slang. Don't worry, you won't be lost. This book is headed directly to my "KEEPER" shelf. Highly recommended! *****
Title - No Law Against Love
(Anthology for a Breast Cancer Prevention charity)
If you have ever found yourself rolling your eyes at some of the more stupid laws, then you are going to adore this novel. Over twenty-five stories fill up this anthology, each one dealing with at least one stupid or outdated law. Let me give you an example: In Florida, USA, there is a law that states "If an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle." In Great Britain, "A license is required to keep a lunatic." Yes, you read those correctly. No matter how many times you go back and reread them, the words will remain the same. Those two laws are still legal. Most of the crazy laws in these wonderful stories are still legal. The tales vary in time and place. Some take place in the present date, in the past, in the USA, in England, may contain magic... in other words, there is something for everyone! You simply cannot go wrong. Best yet, all profits from the sales of this novel go to breast cancer prevention. The anthology is not made up of unknown authors either. Here is a list of the seventeen authors (in order of appearance) that contributed stories for you to enjoy: DeborahAnne MacGillivray, Leanne Burroughs, M.J. Sager, Cheryl Alldredge, Marly Mathews, Jeanne VanArsdall, Victoria Oliveri, Cissy Hassell, Kemberlee Shortland, Diane Davis White, Rekha Ambardar, Jennifer Ross, Michelle Scaplen, Jacquie Rogers, Kristi Ahlers, Patty Howell, and Susan Barclay.
***** A stellar anthology that had me laughing, sighing in pleasure, believing in magic, and left me begging for more! Will there be a second anthology someday? I sure hope so! This is one novel that I will go directly to my "Keeper" shelf, to be read over and over again. Very highly recommended! *****
Author: Joan Medlicott
Title - A Covington Christmas
Ah! Yes! Our Ladies are back, and just in time for Christmas. To say I was absolutely delighted when I saw this newest book would be to put it lightly. Why? Because, through the years, the adventures of Grace Singleton, Hannah Parrish and Amelia Declose have entertained me more than I can put into words. Their lives are never dull, and, through this book, we have an opportunity to meet even more of their friends and neighbors and have another peek into their warm and creative personalities.
As the story opens, we find Grace hard at work with the Church’s new pastor, Denny Ledbetter, in the neglected attic of the Cove Road Church. As they clean away the layers of dust, they find a letter from 1963 that gives away the secret of a former minister and has quite an impact on five couples whom he married in the church many years ago. As it turns out, Richard W. Simms, the former minister, was never really a minister, so the marriages he had performed were invalid. Since these couples were never legally husband and wife, what will be the implications for their grownup children and grandchildren?
Of course these couples must remarry – and quickly. So, they enlist the help of our Covington Ladies and settle on a multiple wedding with a Christmas Eve ceremony in the Cove Road Church. There is much work to be done with the new brides, which our Ladies can certainly handle, but the unexpected extra work in getting the church itself ready was soon almost overwhelming. Here in the middle of November, the church furnace dies and there are no extra funds in the church budget to cover the repairs. Of course, everyone recognizes that there must be heat in the church, not only for the Christmas Eve weddings, but also for the yearly Christmas Eve church service! Then, to add to their problems, it is soon realized that the very walls and windows (which sustained a lot of smoke damage during the fire a couple of years ago) must be scrubbed and then painted. Last of all, there was also the problem of rotting floorboards in several areas of the church, which simply must be replaced.
As you might guess, due to the absence of any church funds our Ladies soon organize a wealth of volunteers to help with the work and supplies – no small task in itself. Then, we add to this mix the accidental finding of a valuable painting in the church, an unexpected snow storm, and a mysterious visitor who delivers beautiful, and very expensive, flowers every day as the work progresses.
***** I was enthralled with this story and with all the brides as they planned their wedding day. Each bride was unique and we got a glimpse into each of their lives up to this point, but I found that the predicament of one of them (May McCorkle) truly tugged at my heart. Regardless of whether you are new to the adventures of Grace, Hannah, and Amelia or a veteran of their antics, you will be mesmerized with this special holiday story. Joan Medlicott has done it again! *****
Author: Brent Hartinger
Title - The Order of the Poison Oak
Russel "Russ" Middlebrook is a sixteen-year-old who has recently come out of the closet and announced that he is gay. His best male friend, Gunner, is straight and very intelligent. Russ's best female friend, Min, is bi. Summer break has just begun. The three are going to be summer camp counselors. But they have no idea just how wild things will get. The ten-year-old kids they are in charge of are wild, hyper, burn survivors. It's going to take a lot to win their trust.
During this time, Min and Russ have their eyes on the same guy, Web, one of the other camp counselors. As for Gunner, he wants to forget girls for awhile. No relationship or tangles. However, he has met his summer match with Em.
**** Most of the book is set during the first two weeks of being counselors. The kids are used to being stared at and ridiculed, so of course they are going to test the counselors' limits. I have friends who are gay, les, and bi, so this tale made me feel as though I was getting a glimpse into their past lives. They HAD to of been through the pressure these three friends are going through. What KEPT me reading, though, were the burn survivor kids! These are some special kids! Of course, they are brats at first. (Gotta test the adults, you know.) This is not my type of book, but even so, I really enjoyed the novel. Terrific read! ****
Author: Arianna Hart
Title - Rebel's Lust (Erotic Sci-Fi)
Major Lara McDaniel does things by-the-book. She was in charge of Emperor Thomellt's safety on board his star cruiser. When a shipment of meat arrived from Empress Lisandra, the Emperor would not let Lara examine it before rushing it off to the kitchens for cooking. Since Lara was just getting off a long shift, she went to bed rather than eat. Therefore, she was the only person aboard that did not fall prey to food poisoning. It also meant that a group of kidnappers were able to board and take the Emperor without anyone being physically able to stop them. As soon as Lara discovered the Emperor had been taken, she set off in a small ship to trail the kidnappers. She ended up being ambushed.
Riley (no last name mentioned that I could find) is a former military squad leader and scout. Currently he is a space scavenger. While going through a pile of debris he has just collected, Riley comes across an unconscious Lara. Upon awakening, she immediately commandeers his ship and they are off to rescue the Emperor. Meanwhile, the Empress assumes command of the armies and is declaring war.
**** I stress that this is an Erotic Sci-Fi. There are many scenes that are not suitable for anyone under the age of seventeen. Now that I have done my duty in informing you of the exotic content, let me say that this story is very good indeed! I read the book for its story, not the erotica content. (It is just an added bonus.) It starts off with action, instantly catching my interest, which is a MUST with me. If a book does not start off interesting, then I drop it and pick up one that will. The two main characters have their own personalities and quirks, so I found them to be believable. The only down thing I can say about this title is that the ending seemed a bit rushed to me. However, this is one of the better erotica books I have had the pleasure of reading. ****
Title - Trespassing Time: Ghost Stories From The Prairie
***** Here are sixteen ghost stories by four tantalizing authors. Barbara J. Baldwin, Jerri Garretson, Linda Madl, and Sheri L. McGathy team up to give readers thrills and chills all night long. There is even an introduction by Troy Taylor who is the founder of the American Ghost Society.
As you begin reading each tale you cannot help but wonder how it will end. Take nothing for granted! Some ghosts are nice and mean the living no harm at all. Others are pure evil and seek only the demise of the living.
The title clearly states that these haunting stories are from the prairie. However, there is no certain time line. Some are present date, others are from the past, and one is even set a couple of years in the future. No matter the time, all are set in prairies. I hope in the future to see ghost stories from the mountains, the beach, the woods, and other such places. BRAVA! Give me more! *****
Author: Milena Gomez Alvarez
Title - EMOTIONS: Love Made Courageous (Poetry)
Here is a short book of poetry that you will read (over and over) for a long length of time. Instead of writing poetry on just life, fiction, and/or "what ifs", the author writes on the varieties of emotions.
I read one or two poems each night before bed. Then I allowed myself to sleep on it. Sometime during the next day my mind would think back to what I had read the night before. I came to realize that the author, Milena Alvarez, did not just write about her own emotions, but about MINE! The collection proved to me that by fully opening herself to her own emotions, Milena Alvarez could more easily see and understand the emotions in others.
***** The old saying "Never judge a book by its cover" holds true in this case. The cover has an attractive color scheme; however, it does not really draw the eye from anyone who may be simply passing by the Poetry section. (Perhaps if the cover looked more like an old journal?) Yet those who happen upon this gem WILL read it more than once, as well as, share it with friends. *****
Author: Trisha Howell
Title - Living In A Glowing World
If you love poetry, you’ll fall in love with Trisha Howell’s new book – Living In A Glowing World. As I read each page of this most congenial and mystical book, I was reminded of each season’s offerings, and each season’s reasons for being special.
Ms. Howell also takes her readers a step further into the seasons by adding new names to what we consider the normal lineup. Along with winter, spring, summer, and autumn, she has identified thaw and harvest. I wondered about the use of the two additional seasons, until I read their poetry and experienced the emotions that are hidden within each. After that, there was no doubt in my mind that Ms. Howell was absolutely correct – there really are six seasons.
Within the pages of this book, we can frolic through the many imaginations of winter with snow on our lips, or we can bask in the passions and fragrances of summer. It really doesn’t matter which season is your particular favorite, because throughout each our senses are constantly delighted and surprised by whimsy and visions.
Ms. Howell’s truly delightful and engaging children’s fiction is well known, but with this book she shows her readers a different side of her professional expertise. She has a diverse and wide-ranging talent for holding our interest in a variety of offerings.
*****I thoroughly enjoyed the magic and the indulgence of emotions that were dredged up within my soul by reading Living In A Glowing World. This book is deeply spiritual and profound. As I read - and then reread - each special poem, I delighted in the enlightenment as well as the pure joy that each one bestowed. This is a highly recommended book to curl up with, no matter what the season.*****
Author: Barri Bryan
Title - Chapter And Verse
(100 Love Poems)
This is a collection of one hundred love poems by the writing team of Barri Bryan. Some are long. Some are short. Each inspire romance, longing, and the many other complicating emotions that being in love can cause.
***** I found myself making very light pencil marks next to the titles I enjoyed most for quick reference later. Personally, my favorite is titled "So Sew", but there are so many wonderful poems that it is hard to pin point only one. A perfect five star collection! *****