Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday
Flashback Friday

All By Myself, Alone

All By Myself, Alone
All By Myself, Alone

Saturday, August 31, 2013

LOVE, PEACE, AND SOUL: BEHIND THE SCENES OF AMERICA'S FAVORITE DANCE SHOW BY ERICKA BLOUNT DANOIS

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Love , Peace, and Soul: Behind the Scenes of America's Favorite Dance Show Soul Train: Classic Moments by Ericka Blount Danois is a Backbeat Books publication, an imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation. This book is slated for release in Sept. 2013. Ah the memories! I have recently gotten into the performance arts/ entertainment books that have been offered on edelweiss and Netgalley. This one caught my eye on Netgalley and without hesitation, I requested it. Growing up in the seventies, I vividly remember watching American Bandstand and then immediately following Bandstand was Soul Train. this was a Saturday afternoon ritual for me. I loved the music, first and foremost, but I also loved the clothes, hairstyles, and of course the dancing. Reading this book took me down memory lane and had me grinning ear to ear as I reminisced about the seventies and all that was going on in those days musically. I was too young to realize the impact of a show on an entire country. I just liked watching it. In the late 1970's I had a personal tragedy in my life and was whisked away from my sheltered ,only child, environment. I lost contact with this music and the show and never ever knew the show had been on the air as long as it was. So, there was a great deal about the show, it's background, the heights of it's success and the low points that followed. I had no clue about Don Cornelius's personal life. I did know of his tragic death and was stunned when the news came out. As uplifting as this story is, it was also sad. I had no idea that Soul Train had become a joke to some people. The death of Cornelius wasn't even a blip in the news. But, I'm getting ahead of myself here. The book begins with Don's early life and how he came up with the idea of making a show similar to American Bandstand but with a black host and music played that was featured on the R&B charts as opposed to the top forty music played on Bandstand. The show started out in syndication which gave the show more freedom than shows that were tied exclusively to a specific network. There were not too many people that thought the show would last, even some of the investors were skeptical. But, last it did. The show became one of the longest running syndicated shows on television.<br />Cornelius had a deep baritone voice and was too cool for school. A flashy dresser, a perfect afro, and hip lingo catapulted the show into more and more markets. The music that was successful on the R&B charts began to cross over onto other charts as more and more people were being exposed to the music through the medium of television. The author did exhaustive research on this book. There were a lot of years to cover and the author managed to convey the influence of the show and it's ability to adapt to ever changing times. Soul music, R&B, then disco, then a more mainstream appeal to the beginnings of rap and hip hop. Don Cornelius weathered it all until rap and hip hop came along and he found it difficult to relate. Cornelius's health was also a factor in his decisions to delegate responsibilities later on. His passion and love for his empire began to diminish as people began to use him and his shows as a stepping stone to more mainstream recognition. He was taken advantage of by some of his most trusted business associates and then later in life became a target of jokes and disrespect.  In many ways the man was an enigma. He was loved and respected by some, and hated by others. But, that can be said of many successful business owners. A certain distance is often required by those in charge and at times Cornelius seems aloof and cold. Other times he was mean and without tact, and at other times he was funny and charming and seemed to really care about the proper influence and the correct image to portray for greater success. He as a mentor and good friend to many. The author posted a list in the back of the book of the shows and all the guest that appeared, in order. That must have been some task. But, it was so much fun to read off those names. The first episode featured Gladys Knight& the Pips/ Eddie Kendricks/ The Honey Comb/ Bobby Hutton/ and originally aired on October 2, 1971. Frequent guest were Barry White, The Jackson 5, Al Green, The Whispers, Bobby Womack, The O'Jays, and the Chi-lites. There were also athletes that appeared and danced on the show. Bill Russell, Walter Peyton and The Lakers all appeared on the show. The Soul Train dancers were also to become celebrities in their own right. Many were recognizable in public and went on to become successful in other venues. I can't remember having more fun reading a book like this. I went on youtube and looked up videos of the show and had a blast remembering the dances, the trends and most of all the music. Groups and singers I hadn't thought of in years like The Impressions, The Sylvers, The Manhattans, The 5th Dimension, The Trammps, The Dramatics, The Spinners, The Emotions, Teena Marie, Thelma Houston, and The Four Tops, just to name a few. Comedians like Richard Pryor were on the show and a then unknown- Arsenio Hall made an appearance on Soul Train. The bottom line is that this was one of the most influential shows to ever appear on television. A market previously untapped became a massive phenomenon. The many careers this show launched as well as dance trends, hairstyles, clothing styles all helped to catapult the shows success for years and years, even outlasting American Bandstand and many other copycats. Many people enjoying success today have Don Cornelius and his vision to thank for it. There is nothing in the book I can find to critique. The author researched well, provided insight into the business of entertainment, past and present. I really, really enjoyed this book. Thanks so much to  the publishers and Netgalley for the DRC of this book. A++
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A BAD DAY FOR ROMANCE BY SOPHIE LITTLEFIELD

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Bad Day for Romance by Sophie Littlefield is the fifth installment in the award winning "Bad Day" series. This is a Pocket Books publications a division of Simon and Schuster. This book will release in September of 2013. When Dotty and Kam decide to get married, it's a rushed affair, but not because it's a shotgun wedding. They just want to get married- now! But, a big wrench gets thrown into their plans when the minister's niece, Divinity, is accused of murdering her boyfriend and promoter. In order to keep from having the wedding postponed, Stella Hardesty agrees to help clear things up so Dotty's family can attend the wedding. When Divinity, a child beauty pageant winner,( beautiful on the outside- not so much on the inside),  and aspiring singer, gets a chance to be on a reality show, it looks like she might get the exposure she badly needs to launch her career. But, when her promoter continues to give out the choice spots to other women, he winds up dead. Divinity isn't the only suspect Stella and her trusty assistant, Chrissy uncovers. The world of "Reality TV" is not what it seems. The competition is deadly. Stella doesn't ordinarily work this type of investigation. Stella has an underground enterprise that helps battered women. But, her skills as a gun toting vigilante comes in handy as she and Chrissy come across some rather shady characters. In the meantime, Stella is struggling with the lukewarm relationship she has with her sometime boyfriend BJ. To make matters even more confusing, Stella learns that super hot sheriff- Goat Jones has openly admitted he has feelings for Stella. This book was terrific. Stella is a "mature" woman in her early fifties living  in Missouri. She is a seamstress by trade, a survivor of domestic violence, and has a huge heart. She also has not one, but two men interested in her. Because of her past, sometimes Stella questions whether or not she wants to be with any man. She has a business, she helps people in need, and she has close friends and family. But, deep down Stella knows she really wants a good solid relationship with a good solid man. But, is that man BJ or is it the sheriff- Goat? A behind the scenes look at reality TV and the little bit of soul selling people will do to have a shot at fame and fortune. I have no doubt that author's take on that world was pretty accurate. This book has everything you could ask for in a novel- laugh out loud screwball comedy, mystery and suspense, sweet and sexy romance, and a little sobering reality.  Stella was great. I wish there were more characters like her out there. She is a real inspiration. Live life to the fullest , no matter what your age. It's never too late for anything. The mystery was a real mystery. You will never guess who the murderer was.  So, the ending was a little bittersweet, but for Stella the ending was just perfect. This book would appeal to lovers of mystery, chick-lit and contemporary romance. Highly recommend. A good solid A. Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for the DRC of this book.
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Friday, August 30, 2013

BEYOND DUSK: ANNE BY SARAH M.CRADIT- A HOUSE OF CRIMSON AND CLOVER NOVELETTE

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Beyond the Dusk: Anne by Sarah M. Cradit is a novelette and part of the Crimson & Clover series. This story focuses on The Fontaines in New Orleans. Anne Fontaine Deschanel has arrived in New Orleans in search of her sister, Adrienne. Anne and Adrienne had not parted on the best of terms. All Anne wants is to reconnect with her sister again. She is aware of a brother named Nicolas, but they've never met. So, when Oz informs Nicolas that yet another person is claiming to be related to Adrienne, he decided to have a little fun with the girl calling herself "Jane".Presuming Anne is just another fortune hunter, he meets up with her at he hotel bar and deliberately keeps his identity from her. This is a very dangerous game  Nicolas is playing with "Jane". Suffice it to say, Nicolas rather underestimated Anne. He's gotten a whole lot more than he bargained for. I really enjoyed this part of the series. New Orleans is one of my favorite locations and I could see the gardens and flowers and smell the aromas of the city. Nicholas is a character I have mixed emotions about. I'm just not sure how to feel about him. He is a jerk a lot of the time, but when it comes to family, he is as loyal as they come, usually. He gets his comeuppance with Anne. You will not want to miss this installment in the series. Anne has a lot to offer and will be a valuable asset to the family. Another solid effort from Sarah Cradit. This one gets an A.
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Thursday, August 29, 2013

A WONDERFUL PIECE OF DARK MAHOGANY BY JU EPHRAIME


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A Wonderful piece of Dark Mahogany by Ju Ephraime is a 2013 copyright and is an Envision publication. I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. On the island of St. Lucia, Mel literally runs into Craig. Instantly, something happened between the two. Craig begins a routine of walking Mel to her bus stop every day after work. The two spend their evenings thinking of each other, knowing deep down that something special is brewing between them. They never have exchanged phone numbers or anything, but they see each other everyday. Finally, after several weeks, Craig can't hold back any longer and gives Mel a good, long, luxurious kiss at the bus stop.  But, the next day, Craig is MIA. Mel is so confused and sad she literally becomes ill. Not only is Mel dealing with these intense feelings for Craig, she is also dealing with the boss from hell. The man sexually harasses her everyday. His attentions become more and more aggressive as each day passes. Craig has many responsibilities running the banana plantation his family owns. He is having problems with his brothers, one has a drinking problems and youngest, Phillip, is a later in life child and spoiled rotten. After Mel and Craig get their wires crossed for several days, they realize they need to address their feelings for each other and where the relationship is headed. There are many issues the couple must face. They will have to put past relationships to rest, deal with Mel's boss, and the expectations of their families.  There may also be a few people that aren't too happy about the relationship between Craig and Mel and use any means to see that they don't make it as a couple. Ladies, if you could create the perfect man- Craig would be the prototype. He's more than attractive, he's absolutely beautiful with a set of golden eyes that are mesmerizing. But, that's not all there is to him. He is thoughtful, protective, and attentive, a true romantic. He just sweeps Mel off her feet. He has principles and takes his responsibilities to his family and his business seriously. Mel has had a bad experience in the past with a man, and is nervous about taking the relationship to the next level. She also has a value system she sticks to. She respects her parents and the fact that she still lives in their home, she is sensitive to their rules and value system. I LOVED the slow development of the relationship. This was a true romance novel. The "get to know you" stage, the "making out" stage and the occasional misunderstandings and nervousness about the future, THEN, we have the physical consummation. Again, Craig was dreamy. OK, I admit it, I have a crush on the guy. It would be hard resist this guy. The reason I tipped this novel up to the five star rating was because I liked the respect these two people showed each other and their parents. The value system they adhered to and the way they worked through their problems without a lot of immature behavior. The romance was so real and deep. We know these two were meant for each other and will have a long and happy life together. This book would appeal to all lovers of romance, especially those that enjoy contemporary novels. A+

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ALL DRESSED UP BY LUCY HEPBURN


My rating:  4 of 5 stars
All Dressed Up by Lucy Hepburn is a Diversion Books publication and was released in August 2013. I received a DRC of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Molly is on her way to Italy for her sister, Caitlyn's, wedding. With a romantic stop in Paris, Molly is sure her long time boyfriend, Reggie, is about to propose. Instead, he breaks up with her, leaving her alone in Paris while he jets back to the U.S. for his big break as an actor. Before Molly can digest what just happened, her sister calls in tears. Her dress will not arrive until the day of the wedding. So, Molly volunteers to pick the dress up for her on her way to Venice. Caitlyn's unspoken wariness at that idea has Molly remembering a whole lot of past hurts. Caitlyn thinks Molly will  damage the dress or screw up somehow. So, already feeling defensive, Molly becomes a nervous wreck when she arrives to retrieve the dress and it's not there. Once located, the designer's assistant, Pascal, is assigned to accompany Molly and the dress to Venice for a personal fitting. On the plane Molly meets a nice guy named Simon. The two get off to a rocky start when Simon disses the fashion industry, which just happens to be Molly's career and passion. But, when the plane has to make an unexpected landing and Molly winds up stranded with Simon and Pascal, and the dress makes yet another detour, the three of them get to know each other a little better. This book is hilarious. The dress goes through so many obstacles it's insane. Simon just wants to get to Venice, but gets caught up in  Molly and Pascal's dramas. So much so, that even though it goes against his personal principles regarding the fashion industry, he will do anything for Molly and that ridiculous wedding dress everyone is so hung up on. All these issues has Molly behaving like a bridezilla herself. She desperately wants her sister to have the wedding of her dreams, despite her personal reservations about the marriage and her jealousy over Caitlyn's close relationship with their mother. When Molly meets up with her mother she finally has the chance to get some of these things off her chest. But, a really serious situation develops that has Caitlyn and Molly realizing that there are more important things than big weddings and designer dresses.  While Caitlyn still gets her happy ever after, what about Molly? Is there a future with Simon or will Reggie have a change of heart? This book had the perfect blend of romance, comedy, and drama. Nothing was over done. It came out just right. I would recommend this book to anyone that loves romantic comedies, chick lit, and contemporary romance. This was a really fun book that deserves an A.
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

HOT PURSUIT BY LYNN RAYE HARRIS


My rating: 4 of 5
Hot Pursuit by Lynn Raye Harris is a July 2013 release and is published by Victory publishing. I received a DRC of this book from the author/publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Evie and Matt were best friends as children. But, as teens, Evie and Matt 'hooked up' and things were never the same between them again. With her reputation is ruins, Evie leaves the small Louisiana town of Rochambeau to become a chef. She eventually runs her won restaurant until her partner's connection with the mob is discovered and all of Evie's assets were seized. Now with her tail between her legs, she returns home and begins work in her mother's beauty salon. Matt is a member of HOT or Hostile Operations Team. His last mission cost two of Matt's men their lives and now Matt blames himself and his military career may be over. Home for his sister's wedding, Matt needs a haircut and saunters into the salon. He isn't sure what Evie's response to him is going to be, but he's not surprised when she is less than friendly towards him. But, they run into each other again and this time guns are blazing. Matt's instincts kick in and he steps in to save Evie. Then Evie discovers her younger sister has not returned home after a date. When she goes to her mother's she finds her mother in terrible shape and her ex-partner is dead. There is no sign of her sister, Sarah. Matt and Evie have to figure out what the kidnappers want and get it to them to save Sarah. They just don't know what they are looking for. In the meantime, things heat up between Evie and Matt. Although they care about each other it looks as if the two of them may not be able to work out their issues. But, before they can even get to that point they will have their hands full trying to get Sarah back and stay alive. This is a fast paced romantic suspense novel. The characters are easy to relate to and feel a connection with. Matt has had an up and down childhood and his family is a little dysfunctional. His team is really his family and his job means everything to him. Evie is trying to put her life back together and start all over from square one. I think many people can relate to that predicament. We see both these characters learn what is important to them and they find out just what they are made of. There is lot of action and hot romance. Matt, in my opinion, is a nice mix of Alpha and Beta and Evie is a strong woman that never gives up. Lovers of romance, action, and mystery suspense will enjoy this novel. Well written with equal part romance and suspense. This one gets an A.
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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Viper: Sons of Sangue by Patricia Rasey


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Viper is a July 2013 release, written by Patricia Rasey and published by eXcessia. I received a DRC of this book by the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. As a teenager, Cara and her good friend Suzi, are out clubbing. When Cara steps into the ladies room, she is shocked to find a couple having sex. This may have been nothing more than a really embarrassing situation, except when the man turned to look at Cara, he had blood dripping from fangs! Cara fled Pleasant and never told a soul what she had witnessed that night. Now ten years later, Cara is back in Pleasant working as a detective. Her latest case involves the death of several women, all of which had the blood drained from their bodies. Who do you think is Cara's number one suspect? Right, you guessed it- Kane Tepes. Yes, the same Tepes from Vlad the Impaler, also known as Dracula. It seems Kane and his twin brother, Kaleb are direct descendants. Kane is the president and Kaleb the vice president of a motorcycle club, The Sons of Sangue. They are all too aware of the killings in their town and are also out to put a stop to it. When Cara and Kane come face to face again after ten years, it's intense. Kane should have erased her memory ten years ago, but for some reason he didn't, thus breaking the rule of the club. But, he  is certain Cara won't tell anyone. He is also certain that Cara could be the next victim. When he insist on being Cara's bodyguard, the tension between them boils over- literally. HOT! However, Kane's brother and the other club members are not too happy about it. Not only that, but it appears an old enemy may be out for revenge against Kane, opening up deep, painful wounds for Kane. It's been a long time since a new vampire type paranormal romance has grabbed my attention. This one was a real treat. Hot alpha males in a motorcycle club, a serial killer, steamy sex, and romance with heart and emotion. I must also say, this seems sort of like an ode to the FX show "Sons of Anarchy". I LOVE that show! The author did a great job of pacing the story that kept you engaged from start to finish. The end was suspenseful and tense, but of course you know we must have out HEA. But, watch out Kaleb- your day is coming. Hopefully, in the next book of the series. This one gets a good solid A.
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Tuesday, August 20, 2013

ALL THE WAY HOME BY WENDY CORSI STAUB


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
All the Way Home by Wendy Corsi Staub was originally published is 2007. It has recently been reissued in digital format. When Rory was child her older sister, Carleen,  disappeared. In short order, her best friend also disappeared as well as several other girls in their town. Then Rory's father passed away, leaving her mentally ill mother behind. Rory couldn't handle it and left to become an artist. Her brother Kevin took care of her younger sister, Molly, and their mother for years. Now, Kevin and his girlfriend want to take a European vacation. So, Rory comes home for awhile. When she arrives she finds her mother's mental health is far worse than she imagined. On top of that her younger sister is resentful of Rory for staying away so long and is going through the early teen years. Molly does a great deal of babysitting for the young couple next door, Michelle and Lou and their two year old son, Ozzie. Michelle and Lou live in the house where Rory's best friend, Emily lived until she disappeared. Now Michelle, who is pregnant with her second child, and alone in the house much of the time, believes she hears noises coming from Ozzie's room and Rory thinks she can smell Carleen's signature perfume from time to time. When Molly's best friend, Rebecca, disappears on the anniversary of Carleen's disappearance, the town gets nervous and the media zooms in. This brings in a true crime author that may hold a secret to Carleen's activities right before she vanished. This is one of those books that left me in the limbo between a three and a four star rating. So, really, I would have given it a 3.5 if I could have. The Gothic ambience is right up my alley. Large old houses that may be haunted, mysterious and strange characters that may or may not be sinister, and a decade old unsolved case, plus dark family secrets that are finally revealed. Some parts of the book didn't work as well for me. The ending was a little over the top. A sort of been there, done that kind of thing.<br />I put this in the romantic suspense genre, but it's really more of a suspense novel without much romance. The last chapter hints at romance and that's about it as far at that goes. So, if you are looking hot romance, it's not in this book. But, if you want a fairly solid, pretty creepy at times, mystery, suspense novel, you will probably find this one enjoyable. Over all this one gets B/B-

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Monday, August 19, 2013

ROSE HARBOR IN BLOOM BY DEBBIE MACOMBER


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Rose Harbor in Bloom written by Debbie Macomber is a Ballantine publication was released in August of 2013. Set in Cedar Cove, Jo Marie has settled in to running the Inn at Rose Harbor. It's been a year since Jo Marie lost her husband ,Paul, when his helicopter crashed in Afghanistan. Although, he was presumed dead, his body was never found and Jo Marie held out hope that somehow, some way, Paul is still alive. In the meantime, Jo Marie has a house full of guest, a 50th wedding celebration and an open house to get ready for. Her handy man, Mark, was supposed to have the rose garden ready for the open house, but it became clear to Jo Marie that he wasn't going to make it in time. So, she starts work on it herself, only to have Mark get bent out of shape over it, which lead to an even sillier argument. Mark up and quit and now Jo Marie feels out of sorts about it. As her guest begin to arrive, Jo Marie welcomes Mary, a cancer patient. Mary has some things she needs to make peace with now that she is fighting for her life. One of those things is contacting her old love, George. The two of them parted ways eighteen years ago, but never stopped loving each other. Could they ever overcome the hurdles that kept them apart in the first place?  Kent and Julie are celebrating fifty years of wedded bliss. Their granddaughter has booked a party in their honor and the couple will renew their vows. (Awwhhh)  Annie is Kent and Julie's granddaughter. She recently broke off her engagement to Lenny after finding out he cheated on her a second time.  When she shows up at the Inn and finds out that her grandparents neighbor, when she was a teenager, drove her grandparents to Cedar Cove and plans to stay for the party, she is angry and flustered.  Oliver was the first boy Annie ever kissed. But, he ruined it by being a jerk afterwards. Annie never trusted him again. Oliver is the last person, next to Lenny, she ever wanted to see again. To make matters much worse, Kent and Julie are bickering non stop. If this wasn't enough to keep Jo busy, she gets a very disturbing phone call explaining that the helicopter Paul was in, has been found, but one of the bodies is missing. Could there be the slightest hope that Paul survived the crash? With her trusty companion, Rover, Jo deals with Mark's up and down personality, the dread of finding out Paul is without a doubt gone, and with her odd assortment of guest. The story of Mary and George is the most emotional, of course. Mary doesn't really have a definite prognosis, so we can only hope she is able to fight the disease and beat it. But, for the time being a very big part of her life that she had to make peace with is accomplished with the help of George. Once that is done, Mary must decide what her future will hold with or without George. Oliver is a little bit awkward with Annie. Cocky one minute, sweet the next, but clueless and hopeless the next. He's loved Annie since they were teenagers, but she can't get past the memory of Oliver as a teen ,unable to handle his feelings for Annie. But, as they spent more time together, the less off putting Oliver becomes. But the anniversary couple looks like they be headed for trouble if something doesn't happen soon. This story was cute, sweet, and had one the funniest moments in the book, thanks to something Kent says. Mark is an enigma. We don't know why he is the way he is, but I have a feeling we will find out more about Mark in the future. In the meantime, Mark has found a friend in Jo Marie and she has found one in him, which is a great start. I haven't read much women's fiction until about a year ago. I always thought of it was too emotional, sappy, and I HATE tearjerkers.  But, I have discovered that isn't always the case. Debbie Macomber is one of the very best in this genre.  Yes, there are emotional, real life issues in the story, but there was also a lot of humor, and the story always ends on a positive note. I can handle that.  I don't hand out five star ratings too often, but this one had me involved from the beginning. I read several books at once, usually, and I just kept coming back to this one to see what would happen next. You can't go wrong with this one. A+ Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the DRC of this book.
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Murder is Everywhere: Meet Susan Spann: Need a Detective? Ask a Ninja!

Murder is Everywhere: Meet Susan Spann: Need a Detective? Ask a Ninja!: Susan Spann and I share a passion for telling stories against a background of exotic history.  We also share an editor and met on a panel ...

Friday, August 16, 2013

HERO OF MY HEART BY MEGAN FRAMPTON


My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Hero of My Heart by Megan Frampton is a Kensington Love Swept publication, released in April 2013. Mary, a vicar's daughter, finds herself at her half brother's mercy after her father passes away. She finds her virginity being auctioned off. When Alasdair Thornham, the Marquess of Datchworth stumbles into the establishment and sees the dullness in Mary's eyes, he immediately recognizes that look. The poor girl had been drugged to keep her under control. Warring with his conscience and his wallet, he steps up and rescues the damsel in distress. Not really one for making plans, Alasdair does plan to marry Mary and see that her reputation remains in tact, then he intends to give himself over to his drug addiction, not caring what happens to him. However, he and Mary embark on quite an adventure. She must continue to avoid her brother, then Alasdair's cousin, with his dastardly plans. Mary also wants to meet the mother she never knew. Mary never expected to find herself dealing with a man with an opium addiction. Alasdair has lost his entire family and went through the horrors of war where he sustained an injury. Mary discovers dark family secrets about her brother and her parents. Together they work to get to London and establish Mary in her role as Aladair's wife and hopefully to let Mary meet her mother. In the process they fall in love. Each one of them loves and needs the other , but is terrified of trusting too much in the other one. What if something happens to Mary like all the other people Alasdair has loved? What if Alasdair can't keep his opium addiction at bay? I would really like to give this one a 3.5 rating. I went back and forth between the three and four stars. The deciding factor was that ever present pet peeve of mine about using language that no "lady " of this time frame would use. In this instance we were talking about the vicar's daughter. The F-bomb- really?  I didn't have a problem with Mary's sexual awakening and not being shy about expressing her physical needs to Alasdair. The other factor was that the ending seemed a bit rushed.  Other than that, I like the flawed hero, and the strong woman that brings him back from the brink. I'm a sucker for that stuff. As the title suggest, Alasdair was a hero for Mary too. A nice, and saucy, historical romance. I will give this one a C+/B-. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the DRC of this book.
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Thursday, August 15, 2013

THE EDGE OF NORMAL BY CARLA NORTON

My rating:  4 of 5 stars
The Edge of Normal by Carla Norton is a Minotaur publication set for release in September of 2013. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the DRC of this book. Reeve LaClaire is the survivor of kidnapping, rape, and torture. She was held captive for over 3 years and now a decade later, she is still unable to live a "normal" life. She is close to her father, but her sister has the 'shouldn't she be over it by now' attitude. Reeve also finds it difficult to be touched, to hold down a steady job, and to have friends, much less lovers. The media attention that has followed her since her abduction caused her change her name from Regina to Reeve. The nasty moniker "Edgy Reggie" as she was dubbed after she was found is blessedly a thing of the past.  Dr. Lerner is still her doctor after all this time. When another young girl is found after spending a significant time imprisoned, Dr. Lerner is consulted. However, Tilly Cavanaugh's parents are reluctant to bring him on board due to his being a man. They want to know if Reeve will come and visit Tilly and speak of her experiences with Dr. Lerner. Once Reeve agrees to see Tilly, a number of things begin to take shape. First of all there are two other missing girls. Tilly's kidnapper has been arrested, but there is no word from Tilly or the kidnapper- Randy Vanderholt about the other girls. Tilly's experiences are remarkably like Reeve's. The two girls bond uneasily at first, but eventually they are both able to open up about the horrors they both endured. Despite the arrest of Randy, things still don't seem to add up entirely. Tilly may have information she had been concealing for the protection not only of herself, but her family as well. But, once Reeve discovers Tilly's secret, she goes on a one woman mission to find the other girls and prevent more kidnappings. She is sure there is still at least one more predator out there and he may be a wolf in sheep's clothing. This book explores the difficult topic of surviving the experience of being held prisoner, being tortured, and raped repeatedly over a period of years. The  psychological damage that one would have to live with on a daily basis, and the inability of others to relate to being that type of victim. Families walking on eggshells, friends not knowing what to say or now to act around you, feeling distanced from the world as a whole. The physical and emotional scars that linger. The first part of the book deals with the aspect of Tilly's reliance on Reeve and her attempt to gain back some normalcy in her life. We also see law enforcement trying to gather as much information about the kidnapping and not really being all that sensitive to the victim or those trying to treat the girl. We are of course shown the media barrage that follows in the aftermath. Seeing your face of television, having the details of your experience splashed all over 200 cable channels, being analyzed and picked over. However, not all the members of the press were unfeeling. One member of the press was of great help in this case. The second part of the book deals with Tilly's startling revelation, Reeve being sworn to secrecy, and her own investigation. The heart pounding conclusion was incredibly intense.  The recent headlines regarding the Ariel Castro kidnappings has this subject fresh in our minds. But, this author has wrote true crime books about this subject a while back. She draws on her expertise to bring us a taut, emotional, and terrifying novel. Reeve, gets a new outlook on life after her experiences with Tilly and becomes a true hero. I would recommend this book to mystery/thriller readers. Be warned that the subject matter is emotional, but the author handled these subjects with delicacy and didn't put graphic descriptions in the book just for shock value. The author writes the story as though we are living events right along with the characters. This was very well written, suspenseful thriller - I thing it deserves an A.
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

CLAWS OF THE CAT BY SUSAN SPANN


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann is a Minotaur Press publication - a division of St. Martin's Press. This book was published in July 2013. Hiro, a ninja, working undercover to protect a Jesuit Priest finds himself in middle of a big mess, when a Samurai is murdered in the Sakura Teahouse, a young woman that recently became a convert of Father Mateo, is accused of the crime. Father Mateo is convinced she is innocent. The Samurai's son is convinced she is guilty and gives Hiro and Father Mateo two days to prove her innocence or he will kill the priest. So, with the clock ticking, Hiro becomes enmeshed in politics, family honor and secrets, and an odd love triangle. The owner of the teagarden is determined to protect the reputation of her business and is not helping with the investigation, and the accused continues to harbor secrets, possibly in an attempt to protect someone else. This is a very complex mystery. It was unique due to the Japanese location and customs. The attitudes regarding religion and women in the Japanese culture added additional complexity to the mystery. It was really very fascinating and engrossing. Hiro is an enigma. He's a man with a dark past, and although not really thrilled about this assignment, he and the priest forge a rather odd friendship. This book would appeal to any mystery lover. There was no graphic violence or language and only some mild mention of sexual content. Overall this was gets an A. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the DRC.
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Monday, August 12, 2013

DEAD SEXY DRAGON BY LOLITA LOPEZ

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Dead Sexy Dragon by Lolita Lopez is published by Forever Romance, a division of Grand Central Publishing. This is an introduction to a new shape shifting series, obviously about dragons. Stig Wyvern is an immortal dragon shape shifter. Every three years he goes in heat. This requires him to lock himself up during the night until it passes. He is currently going through intense struggles with his raging libido, when his military buddy's sister, Cora, shows up out of the blue begging him to let her stay there. This is the last thing Stig needs. Cora is human and love and sexual relationships with humans is forbidden in Stig's clan. Cora is a temptation, not to mention the questions she may have about his time in the basement. But, Cora is in terrible trouble. Her brother was recently killed in an accident and he left Cora with his gambling debts. Cora was forced to do something illegal to keep from losing her bakery business. Now the business is up in smoke and Cora is being pursued by some very dangerous men. Stig has no choice but to let her stay with him. Cora was confused by Stig's reaction to her showing up at his home. He had told her when Hector died, if she ever needed him, he would be there. But, he wasn't happy about her being there. Once Cora settles in her room, determined to get a good night's sleep, she begins having very erotic dreams. Cora has always loved Stig. She held on to the hope that maybe some day they would get together. Being in his home has only made her want him more. When the truth begin to slowly come out, Cora is stunned. Not only that, the inevitable takes place and Cora comes away with some rather unusual side effects. What Cora doesn't know is that Stig has enemies, and she may have very well become a pawn in their war. While this novella was an enjoyable escape and very sexy, there wasn't anything here that hasn't been done before, really. But, it's hard sometimes to judge a new series by such a short introduction. The series does show promise, however. I will read the next book in the series to see where it leads. Overall a quick, light hearted, sexy, fantasy/paranormal romance that I will give a C+.
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

A LAMP CALLED JEANNIE- A TWIST OF HUMOUR BY MYLES BEVIS- A SHORT STORY


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A lamp called Jeannie by Myles Bevis is self published short story. I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review. Henry Plint is an average guy with a lot of back luck. This is a syndrome his father referred to as PISS or Plint's Insidious Setback Syndrome. Henry works hard and is too nice. We all know that nice guys finish last. That appears to be the case with poor Henry until he spots a neighbor about to demolish an old lamp. Henry takes the lamp and begins to give it some TLC. Before too long, Henry's luck begins to change for the better. It seems that all the wrongs done to Henry in the past are righting themselves and people are paying for their backstabbing ways. But, sweet Henry doesn't let it go to his head. He actually pays it forward.  Has the Plint curse been broken? This is a really short story. But, really cute. This plays into the every man's fantasy of finally being able to see light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe all the bad luck can magically disappear and all those that wronged us will get theirs. Not only that we will be blessed a nice little fortune and live happily ever after. A nice daydream for most of us, and the only way that  would actually ever happen would be if we did find a lamp like Aladdin's. Although, entirely too short, this is a good way to spend your break at work or while you have a few extra minutes to yourself sometime during the day. I think most of us can relate to Henry and that makes this book especially fun to read. Overall a B.
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ARIELLE- IMMORTAL AWAKENING BY LILIAN ROBERTS

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Arielle: Immortal Awakening is the first in the Arielle series by Lilian Roberts. I received a copy of this book from the publisher and author for an honest review- through Goodreads. Arielle and her two best friends since childhood each have paranormal gifts or leanings. Some are at peace with it and have family support, and others are more private and want to just live normally. Now in college, Arielle and her friends, Eve and Gabby, are adjusting to their new independence. They have close friends and date, but Arielle, back home after her freshman year, meets Sebastian on the beach. The instant they meet, they both know there is something special between them. But, Sebastian has a few really big secrets and right away breaks a promise he made to Arielle. Hurt and angry, yet mystified as to why Sebastian pulled a disappearing trick, Arielle begins doing a little research on Sebastian. What she discovers shocks her. Sebastian has a wife, and he's lived for centuries. Although, he is married in name only, his wife's sole purpose is to make Sebastian's life a living hell. This means Arielle is in danger. The only thing Arielle knows for sure is that she is in love with Sebastian and no matter what she has to do, she will fight to keep their relationship for all eternity. First of all, while reading a few reviews on this title on Goodreads, I never heard anything about this novel being YA. In  my opinion this book fits right into that genre. So, to be honest, I don't really read a great deal of YA. I have two grown children, so I'm maybe not the best judge in this particular case. For me, the story was a bit disjointed. We move quickly through the girls' childhood, then to their lives in high school and then college. These are good girls that don't get into a lot of trouble and have good relationships with their parents. So, the first part of the book simply introduces us to the characters. Then we meet Sebastian. For me we never got much of an explanation as to how Sebastian obtained his immortality. We know his wife was believed responsible, but this part is glossed over. I did like the fact that Sebastian was not a vampire. This avoided a lot of messy details about how he manages to get blood etc. Plus, it's been done a million times over. When Arielle learns about Sebastian's immortality and the danger she may be in because of his wife, she still behaves carelessly by not taking the precautions Sebastian provided for her. Once the danger becomes real and Arielle learns her lesson, the story switches gears yet again. Sebastian's friends inform him of a work related crisis and he must leave to  take care of the situation. I'm not really sure why this part was that important to the book and I sort of zoned out for some of it. The separation gives Arielle time to do some thinking and the story leaves us guessing what her big decision is, although we are pretty sure we know what it is. The romance is superb, especially for the age group the book would appeal to. There is no actual SC, just the suggestion that the lovers fool around and avoid actually having sex. So, the focus is more on romantic love. Sebastian, is absolutely dreamy. He would be every girls fantasy. Despite their trials, Arielle is a lucky girl. This book would be excellent for older teens and young adults. There is a paranormal element, but nothing too dark or violent. I liked the romance and adventure. The book was too slow in some places and too rushed in others. However, I think it was an enjoyable read and I give it B-/C+.
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Friday, August 9, 2013

THE SUMMER OF DEAD TOYS BY ANTONIO HILL

4 out of 5 stars
The Summer of Dead Toys is a Random House publication released in June 2013. We are introduced to Inspector Hector Salgado during a very difficult period. He is on leave while he seeks therapy and things cool down a bit from Hector's breakdown. He nearly beat a man to death after discovering the atrocities the man had committed. Somehow, Hector was hanging on to his job. Hector is also dealing with his ex-wife that left him for another woman and the distance between himself and his son. When a young man, Marc, takes a tumble from a window, initially it's thought to be a suicide or a tragic accident. But, the boy's mother is having serious doubts and so Hector is unofficially looking into the situation. Upon closer inspection, Hector finds that things concerning Marc on the night in question do not add up. Marc's two closest friends spent time with him that evening. Both of them appear to be withholding information. Hector is partnered with a young girl that he becomes fond of. She is also going through some life changes and the two are able to commiserate. Hector has a few really good friends that are helping him stay on track and from being accused of things he didn't do. The sad story that unfolds regarding Marc's family life, and the odd pair of friends and their troubled lives is shocking. Marc's mother was not around when he was growing up and his father remarried. The second wife was unable to conceive and they adopted a little girl. This caused Marc to further distance himself from people. But, there is something that happened to Marc while on a trip to Dublin. Something that caused him to wish to reconnect with his mother, something that his friends say made him return home a different person. After examining Marc's blog it is discovered that he met a girl in Dublin and the name Iris continues to come up. The problem though is that Iris is dead. She died at the age of twelve in a bizarre drowning accident. Did Marc suddenly remember something about that long ago summer? What did his two friends know about it and did one of them shove Marc out the window? Also, sort of in the background the case that has Hector is hot water, is still ongoing. Hector and his ex-wife and son are being threatened. But, when things seem to be finally getting back to normal, the unimaginable happens. Set is Barcelona, Spain during the sweltering summer, this novel is a great start to what could become a good, long running crime series. I never guessed who the killer was. I also never thought about the other issues Hector was having until the very end, when we thought everything was going to all be alright. Then it wasn't. So, we are left with a little bit of a cliffhanger. This is a situation though that could take several more novels to finally resolve itself. We will just have to wait to see. Hector is hard to read. I didn't know really how he felt about some people. He has had a childhood that he worked to overcome, but came back to bite him at the worst possible moment, and we get the feeling he still wishes things could work out with his ex-wife.  But, at times Hector shows a fondness for his friends but, it's pretty low key. He does make a good listener, though. He is a quiet, thinking man most of the time. A very interesting new character. I'm hoping the next installment comes out soon. I'm excited about this series. Highly recommended for all mystery lovers.
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Thursday, August 8, 2013

ARTIFACT BY GIGI PANDIAN


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Artifact is a Henery Press Publication. This book is scheduled to be released in August of 2013. Jaya Jones is a historian living in San Francisco. All in one day she receives a package from her former lover, Rupert has a ruby bracelet enclosed with a note to Jaya explaining he need to keep the bracelet for him for awhile and that she would know what to do. He wanted her to call him, but that would be a little hard to do, because she also finds out the Rupert has been killed in a car accident. Seeking more information about the bracelet, she heads to the university and is referred to a graduate student named Lane. When Lane sees the bracelet he is very interested. Interested enough to seek Jaya out and go along with her to Britain to do more research- because Jaya is convinced that Rupert was on to something and was murdered. After flying to Britain, Lane and Jaya follow the clues to an archaeological dig in Scotland. Once introduce to the gang on dig, Jaya finds herself being reacquainted with Rupert's best friend Knox. When someone on the dig is murdered, Jaya is in danger and the number one suspect. Jaya's heritage and historical expertise come in handy when stories of fairies and other superstitions come out, but also the bracelet can be traced back to wars and rebellions from the 17 and 1800's that involved Britain and India. Jaya is a person that is easy to relate to. The story is told from her perspective. (First person narrative). She is smart, funny, big hearted , but tries to pass herself off as jaded and cynical. The mystery was well plotted with a few twist along the way. That could be irritating though, since it was always at the end of a chapter and I HAD to read the next one, then the next one. ( Grin) A solid whodunit, treasure hunt and light romance all in one. Yes, there are the inevitable comparisons to Elizabeth Peters. But, really ,who doesn't love Amelia Peabody? I think it's wonderful that someone has picked up where Peters left off and presented a modern day version of Amelia or Vicki Bliss. I LOVED it when Lane referred to Jaya by her last name. Cool! I'm impressed with this one. Overall a solid A.
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

THE 7TH WOMAN BY FREDERIQUE MOLAY


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The 7th Woman by Frederique Molay is a Le French Book publication. Originally published in 2006, this book was made available in digital format and translated into the English language in 2012. The translator is Anne Trager. Set in France, Nico Sirsky is the thirty-eight year old chief of police. He is one of the youngest men to have this position. The job is taking a toll however, and he is the doctor's office having his stomach examined for possible ulcers. In the meantime, a serial killer begins his reign of terror. A young woman is murdered in a most gruesome fashion. It is discovered in the autopsy that she was one month pregnant. When a second girl is murdered the same way and she also is one month pregnant it becomes obvious the police force had a HUGE problem. The killer begins making it rather obvious that Nico is really his target and begins to mess with Nico's family, putting anyone that Nico cares about in danger. That includes the doctor he has fallen head over heels in love with. Nico must also deal with his son and his ex-wife's depression, all while trying to out wit this diabolical killer. This is a very graphic, even gory serial killer crime novel. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. The blurb compares the story to the movie "Seven"  and the forensic TV show CSI. I can see where someone might be reminded of the movie. The forensics were very interesting and added a scientific angle to the story. This is a very grim story, with very little comic relief. The only humor is in watching Nico behave like a teenager as he falls in love. Otherwise the book is none stop crime solving. You will find yourself suspecting everyone imaginable. I enjoyed this one. I like reading crime stories written by authors from other countries, set in a country or city that I have never been to. I enjoy seeing how the police force and crime units to things as opposed to the way thing are done here in America. If you like gritty, forensic, and dark crime mysteries this one is for you.<br /> This was a really good crime novel. I highly recommend it. Overall this one gets an A.
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A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Frederique Molay graduated from France's Science Pro- and began a career in politics and French administration. She worked as chief of staff for the Deputy Mayor of Saint-Germain-en- Laye.  Meanwhile she spent her nights pursing a passion for writing. The 7th Woman too France by storm.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

STAKEOUT BY PARNELL HALL


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Stakeout by Parnell Hall is an Pegasus publication and was released in January 2013. This is a Stanley Hastings Mystery. Stanley feels like a real detective when he is hired by a woman to find out if her husband is having an affair. Stanley is staking out a motel where the man in question has gone. A woman never shows up, however. After waiting what felt like an inordinate amount of time, Stanley loses patience and goes to see what's going on. He finds the man has been murdered and almost immediately, the cops show up and arrest Stanley for murder. Stanley's lawyer, his wife, and a New York detective all get involved in the case as Stanley tries to find out who really killed the guy in the motel as well as another murder victim that could be related. Stanley's case turns out to be quite complicated. A mobster, his girlfriend and his wife, the woman that hired him and the manager of the motel all wind up being suspects. Stanley's lawyer is at his wits end as Stanley continues to get in his own way. Laugh out loud funny, this screwball mystery was an absolute delight. Stanley's conversations with his wife are classic, the descriptions of New York and New Jersey traffic had me bowled over in laughter. I highly recommend this mystery, and all the charming Stanley Hastings mysteries. I promise you will love these. Highly recommend!

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A DOVE AT MIDNIGHT BY REXANNE BECNEL


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A Dove at Midnight by Rexanne Becnel was originally published in 1993. This is a DRC copy provided to me by Open Road Media and Netgalley for an honest review. This book is now available in digital format. Lady Joanna witnessed something truly terrible as a child. As soon as she is able , she moves to a convent and waits for the day she can say her vows and become a nun. When Joanna' s father and his wife and son died, Joanna becomes the sole heir. In medieval England, this places Joanna in the middle of a political tug of war. Rylan decides that Joanna must be informed of her father's death and he must bring her back to be married to a man he will choose for her.   This will prevent King  John from gaining control of Joanna' s kingdom. When Rylan informs Joanna that she must return home and marry, she literally laughs in his face. She has no intention of leaving the convent. After his best attempts at persuasion, Rylan kidnaps Joanna. Rylan has his hands full with Joanna. She is far from the plain, biddable , demure nun wannabe he expected. Beautiful and fiery, Joanna fights him every step of the way. But, when they are waylaid by the king' s men, Joanna finds herself in an even worse situation in the king' s court.  Joanna and her friend must marry men chosen for them based on political and monetary advantages. When Rylan arrives, things really get interesting. Rylan begins plotting to get Joanna away from the John's grasp. Due to circumstances beyond her control, Joanna finds herself having to face the horrible demons of her childhood. This was a great medieval romance. Joanna holds on to her need  to  stay unmarried and in control of her future  with all her might. Rylan can't understand why Joanna is so opposed to marriage. He suspects something sinister,but Joanna will not confide in  him. He is single minded about his task, believing Joanna will come around once she is wed. What he didn't count on was his attraction to her and her ability to out think him. Neither of them could imagine that one day they would work together for a common goal, and find true love in the bargain. This one gets an A.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Boats, Trains, and Barns: Bookstores in Weird and Wonderful Places

Boats, Trains, and Barns: Bookstores in Weird and Wonderful Places

FOR THE LOVE OF LILA BY JENNIFER MALIN


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
For the Love of Lila by Jennifer Malin was originally a Leisure publication. This book was published in 2002. I received a digital copy of this book from the author for an honest review.  Lila was raised a bit unconventionally. She doesn't not wish to marry due to the strict laws about women's rights. She therefore skirts marriage to a cousin that her uncle was trying to force her into. At the age of 25, Lila is now able to receive her trust. Her uncle however is trying to make that impossible. This leads Lila to Tristan,a barrister that her father once mentored. Tristan is reluctant to help Lila cash in her trust. He is old fashioned and thinks she should save the trust for a dowry and marry, have children and all the traditional things women normally did. But, Lila is adamant. She has a cousin in France, her only living relative, and she wished to travel there to stay with her. Tristan is also heading to Paris, and Lila talks him into allowing her to travel with him. An unmarried and unrelated man and woman traveling together is scandalous, so Tristan is nervous the entire way to Paris as he and Lila pretend to be married. Any hint of scandal would of course ruin Lila's reputation, but it would also ruin any chances that Tristan may have of entering politics. Tristan agrees with Lila about the marriage laws and hopes to one day see these laws relaxed. In the meantime, he wished to get Lila safely to her cousin's and remove himself from the temptation Lila represents. Naturally, once they arrive in Paris, Tristan is appalled at the unconventional life that Lila's cousin has led and continues to lead without apology. This life is appealing to Lila, an aspiring author. She is introduced to some very influential authors and finds she doesn't fault her cousin's lifestyle at all. Her opinions and attitudes are a constant shock to Tristan. He desires her and wishes she would follow convention for the sake of her reputation. But, the temptation may be too much for the even the disciplined, staid, Tristan. This novel begins like many other historical romances, and initially I thought it might follow the more traditional regency type novel. However, this is NOT that sort of novel. An alternative lifestyle is explored as Lila and Tristan learn there are those who live happy lives defying convention. Lila's intense fear of marriage put her in direct  conflict with Tristan. She refuses to cave when Tristan wishes them to proceed with their relationship in the more traditional way. It looks as though the two of them will not be able to come to an agreement despite the love they have for each other.<br />If they are to have a happy life together, Tristan will have to learn to bend a little toward  free thinking and Lila will have to learn to compromise a little as well. Both Tristan and Lila learn that true love requires a little sacrifice. This was a really good historical romance. I loved the characters in Paris and the way Tristan managed to use is knowledge to help Lila with her trust and evil uncle as well as device a way to win her over completely. Overall I give this one an A.

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Sunday, August 4, 2013

ONE STEP TOO FAR BY TINA SESKIS


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One Step Too Far by Tina Seskis was published by Kirk Parolles and is an April 2013 release. The book begins in 2010. Emily decides to do what many people fantasize about. She packs a bag, withdraws money from the bank and skips out her husband, Ben and  her family.  She moves into a run down  flophouse. She immediately becomes friends with Angel. The two hit off and Emily changes her name to Cat and picks up Angel's habits. She steals clothes, drinks to excess, and begins doing drugs. While at first we have no clue as to why Emily has made this decision, we get the feeling she is really proud of herself. She gets a job and starts the bottom and works her way up in record time. She becomes close with her boss, Simon. It all seems like she pulled it off. She actually left her old life behind and started an entirely new one. Of course there is a back story. First of all Emily is a twin. While Emily has always been the stable, responsible, successful sister, Caroline was always going through one crisis or another. She had eating disorders, drug and alcohol addictions, abortions, and was always in and out of rehab. Emily's parent's marriage was a sham and finally they divorce after Emily's marriage. We begin to get the idea that something happened that drove Emily and Ben apart. Something disrupted Emily's life to the point where she thought everyone was better off with her out of the picture. I also felt like Emily was in denial and had been unable to face whatever had happened. Therefore, she became a different person -from the dependable Emily, to party girl, Cat. Meanwhile, bits and pieces of Emily's life unfold. We learn how she and Ben met, fell in love, and got married. We learn about Caroline's problems and all the stunts she has pulled over the years. We learn about Emily's parents and her philandering father. Finally toward the end of the book we begin to get glimpses of what Ben has been going through after his wife walks out on him. Eventually, though things catch up to "Cat" and she is forced to face up to the events that caused her to run away. If you have read any reviews about this book, you have been told there is a major twist at the end. There is a twist, an no, I don't anyone would ever be able to see it coming. Once you digest that new view of things, the author still keeps you guessing a bit. I was rather pleased with the ending. This was an interesting novel. The themes explored are difficult and the road was hilly and curvy, very painful and sad. But, I loved how Emily still managed to land on her feet. I'm not sure what genre to place this one in. It was a mystery, but not in the traditional sense. It was I suppose more a drama about life and family and friendship and the curves life throws at us that we either are strong enough to deal with or we find some other way of coping. Some recover and get their lives back on track and others are never the same. Thankfully, we get the idea that things will work out for all the people featured in the novel. Overall I give this on an A-. Thanks to the author and Netgalley for the DRC of this book.

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Saturday, August 3, 2013

THE AMERICAN HEIRESS BY DOROTHY EDEN


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The American Heiress by Dorothy Eden was originally published in 1980. Open Road Media has released some of Dorothy Eden's best loved novels in digital format. This one was a July 2013 release. Clemency Jarvis is betrothed to Lord Hazzard, Hugo, and is preparing to travel to England for her wedding. Her ladies maid- Hetty, will be making the journey with her. Although warned that since the war has broken out it is unsafe to cross the Atlantic, Mrs. Jarvis insist the wedding take place before Hugo must go into combat. So, they board the fated Lusitania ship. Clemency was an American from New York whose family was quite wealthy. Her betrothal to Hugo was certainly not a love match. Clemency and her mother just want the title and Hugo is in financial straights and needs Clemency's money. Clemency is spoiled and without much depth of character. She is silly, vain and self absorbed. But Hugo seemed taken with her during their short introduction. Hetty Brown, has lived with Clemency since she was a child. She is a servant in the house, but Hetty is all too aware of her heritage. Just one look at her and one would guess Hetty is related to Clemency, since the two could easily pass as sisters. So, when the ship they are on is wrecked, Mrs. Jarvis had insisted the three of them load themselves down with the jewelry they had brought in hopes of salvaging something and making it to a life raft. However, the majority of people on board were dead. When Hetty regains consciousness, she is wearing a bracelet with Clemency's initials engraved on them, making people believe she was Clemency. Mrs. Jarvis has been identified as one of the dead, but Clemency was never found. The temptation to step into Clemency's shoes was too great for Hetty. Knowing who her father was, gives Hetty the rationalization that she is owed just as much as Clemency. So, once Hetty arrives in England, she finds it all too easy to step into Clemency's role. But, be careful what you wish for. Hugo only has a short leave before he must return to war. This leaves Hetty with her sister in law, her mother in law and a woman named Julia. Julia and Hugo had once been in love. Julia is stunned when Hugo choses money and the restoration of his estate over Julia and a love match. Hetty has been told that Julia will not be turned out of the house. So, Hetty must deal with suspicions that she is not who she claims to be, the devastating images of the shipwreck, the jealousy and all consuming determination of Julia to wreck her marriage, and being haunted by Clemency. To make matters worse, her brother in law has been sent home from the war and she finds the two of them have a great deal more in common that she and Hugo ever had. The backdrop of the war, and the horrific effect of surviving a shipwreck and trying to maintain a front under a cloud of suspicion, Hetty is constantly ill at ease. She doesn't know if Clemency will ever show up  or if someone from her past will recognize her or if one of the ladies in the house will set a clever trap for Hetty to fall into. The suspense is nearly unbearable as Hetty deals with several huge personal blows, and with her increasing feeling for her brother in law, and the constant worry that Hugo will be killed on the battlefield, and of course the ever present and increasingly vindictive, Julia. Dorothy Eden was a master story teller well ahead of her time. Her talent for building suspense and throwing shocking twist into a story made her a regular best seller. If you read mysteries and romantic suspense novels you can see Dorothy Eden's influence in many popular authors today. Dorothy also wrote in the very popular Gothic romance genre  in the 60's and 70's. I was so excited when I saw that Open Road Media was going to release a nice size backlist of Dorothy's work in digital format. It's a real shame that these books were only available through used bookstores and Ebay. It's not like you can walk into a Barnes & Noble and purchase one these books now. So, many readers have been missing out on some really good stories and influential writing.  Now everyone can re-read their favorites or be introduced to this most talented author. This story in particular stands the test of time. This one is historical, suspenseful, and romantic. A++

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Friday, August 2, 2013

THE LAST KIND WORD BY DAVID HOUSEWRIGHT


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Last Kind Word is a Minotaur publication with a June 2013 release date. I received a DRC of this book from Netgalley and the publisher.  Set in Minnesota, this latest chapter in the Rushmore McKenzie series, finds McKenzie working undercover for the ATF and FBI in an attempt to track down a group of gunrunners. The small towns of Minnesota are drying up due to job losses, and lack of tax revenues. This group of armed robbers that McKenzie hooks up with are really just a group of people down on their luck and desperate. Going by the name "Dyson", McKenzie keeps the group busy by planning an elaborate armored car robbery. This keeps the group from attempting anymore robberies and gives Dyson an inside track on where the illegal weapons are coming in from. However, things don't go as planned. First of all McKenzie begins to sort of like some of these people and is even finding himself attracted to one of the women, or maybe two of the women. He is also stunned to find that everyone in town is aware of him and his planned robbery. Two deputies hold it over his head, a local crime leader wants in on the heist, and before he knows it, the whole thing has gotten way out of hand. McKenzie and his 'inner voice' have long conversations as he tries to outwit the local deputies, the others wanting a piece of the pie and someone that's a rat. He also ponders his relationship with his girlfriend and their future together. When the planned knock off the armored cars gets rolling a couple of unforeseen complications arise. McKenzie has to think on his feet and think fast. The first chapter will suck you in. Lots and Lots of action. The characters were all flawed, but weren't your run of the mill crooks. Like McKenzie, you can start to sort of relate to them and you don't want them to go to jail. More than once I wondered what McKenzie was thinking. Was he really going to go through with this robbery? Was he falling for another woman? I questioned whether or not McKenzie was starting to think he really was Dyson. However, he kept reminding himself to 'stay in character'. I loved this crime novel. It was really different and original. I loved McKenzie and his wit and humanity. He was one smart cookie. A wonderful cast of characters, non stop action and suspense.  If you like heist, capers, and crime novels you will not want to miss this one. I give this on an A.
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

TIN GOD BY STACY GREEN


My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Tin God by Stacy Green is an April 2013 publication. This is the first in the Delta Crossroads mystery series. Set in hot, sultry, Mississippi in the small town of Roselea, Jaymee Ballard finds her boss Rebecca, murdered. Nick lives in Jackson. When he reads about Rebecca's murder he sees an stunning resemblance to his wife, Lana. Lana was murdered four years ago. A note to Nick suggesting the two murders are connected sends Nick back to Roselea. With information Jaymee may have about Rebecca's murder, Nick and Jaymee begin connecting the dots that lead to Jaymee's all consuming search for her daughter, Sarah. When Jaymee was a teenager, she was seduced, then when she got pregnant, she was manipulated into giving the child up for adoption. Jaymee had begun to believe the adoption was illegal. When Jaymee had confided this to Lana, Lana being a social worker started looking into the adoption. What she found out may have gotten her murdered. When Nick learns of the connection between Rebecca, Jaymee, and Lana, he begins to unravel a black market baby ring, more victims of illegal adoptions, old family secrets, and a cover up that involves some of the town's most respected citizens. Jaymee is a girl trying to better herself, but before she can think of her own future, she needs to find her daughter. Nick is still dealing with the guilt of Lana's murder. His own ambitions left Lana alone and if he had been around when he should have, she might still be alive. When the two of them team up to get to the bottom of the murders and the illegal adoptions, they find they might have a chance for love and redemption. This was a very absorbing mystery. The author did an excellent job of putting you right there with the characters, as though you were living events right along with them. You can feel the humidity of the Delta. You can envision the  small town politics and good ole boy mentality that still held true. There are shocking revelations, and twist you won't see coming. There was a feeling of closure for Nick and Jaymee, but it was also bittersweet. We hope their future will be better than their past, and I think it will be. Overall a solid A.
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