A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dearly Beloved - Only If You Dare and Night Stars and Mourning Doves by Margo Hoornstra- Review + Giveaway

Only If You Dareby Margo Hoornstra
Amazon | Barnes & Noble The Wild Rose Press
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: October 26, 2013
Length: 117 Pages

All the pleasures and none of the pain, that's what Cynthia Buckingham wants in a relationship these days. A one-night stand with Jonah Colt seems to fit that bill perfectly. Newly divorced, she's too busy planning her daughter's wedding for any serious involvement. Besides, her true passion is helping victims of PTSD reclaim their lives.

Waking up after spending the night with a woman he barely knows, Jonah is stunned to realize sex for the sake of sex isn't enough for him anymore. A veteran of more military battles than he cares to count, he wants to forget it all and focus on peaceful civilian life. Except flashbacks won't allow it.

Falling for Cynthia makes Jonah regret his weakened state, but he'd rather hide the truth than face it. When she sets aside everything she believes in to help him heal, can he accept her help--and her love?

“Jonah. I was wrong, and I’m so very sorry.”

His hand froze on the gear shift. “About picking up your car? I can just give you a ride home then.”

He obviously wasn’t going to make this easy for her, but who could blame him?

“You know, I always tell my patients they need to focus on reality, to believe in what is, and go from there.”

“I understand you care about your patients. I’m not one of them.”

What did he think? That she was creating notes for one of her counseling session? “I was wrong about—I should have admitted to myself how much you mean to me and let you know, too.”

“It might have been nice.” He didn’t respond with anything more, just put the car in gear and pulled away from the hospital.

The litany of confessions had already formed in her mind and, when she couldn’t contain them any longer, began to gush out. “I tried to pretend what we had together—” She paused when her voice cracked. “—wasn’t incredibly special. I wanted to believe I could enjoy a physical relationship and dismiss my emotions.” Her voice lowered. “As irrelevant.” She laid her hand on his arm, and a bicep muscle twitched then tensed. “And that was my biggest mistake of all.”

“You were only doing what was working for you, I suppose.”

Squaring up in her seat, she concentrated on the scenery passing by outside. He’d said very little as she went on and on. Because she hadn’t given him a chance to speak? Or because there was nothing he cared to share with her? Either way, she had to go for broke.

“I love you, Jonah.”


Only If You Dare (Dearly Beloved)Only If You Dare by Margo Hoornstra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Only if You Dare by ( Dearly Beloved) by Margo Hoornstra is a 2013 The Wild Rose Press publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This quick “lunch break” read is a nice contemporary romance that puts a spotlight on PTSD and how difficult treatment can be and how it takes a toll on intimate relationships.

Cynthia is a counselor helping those suffering from these issues, so it feels like a karma intervention when Cynthia meets Jonah, a courtroom judge, by chance.
Jonah is haunted by his military service and for that reason has kept serious relationships at bay. Cynthia has also sworn off relationships after her divorce. However, the chemistry between the couple draws them together, but it gets complicated as their hearts tell to let go and allow this relationships to develop and their heads warn of dire consequences. Can they learn to trust each other and allow love to sooth over the rough edges?

One of the drawbacks to really short stories is that the characters don't always have a lot of time to develop and grow. If this story has a drawback I would have to say missing out on Jonah's personal progress would be it. Of the two characters, I felt that Jonah was dealing with the darker set of circumstances, but it was Cynthia who held out the longest, simply refusing to let go of her fears and trying to divorce the physical from the emotional aspects of the relationship, which seldom ever works, and it nearly cost her dearly. So, it seems her story took first chair and I would have liked to have seen Jonah's progress more prominently featured.

I did appreciate the message I think the author was trying to convey and that would that all of us go through hard times in life, been deeply hurt by a break up, and while no one wants to repeat that sort of pain, we can't let fear deprive us of a second chance at love, and no one gets a guarantee, so trust is something that goes hand in hand with accepting a person warts and all.

Overall, this is an enjoyable read with a moral to the story all of us can learn something from.

Night Stars and Mourning Dovesby Margo Hoornstra
Amazon | Barnes & Noble The Wild Rose Press
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: February 22, 2013
Length: 90 Pages

Elyse Monroe may be her sister's maid of honor, but that doesn't mean she has to follow the bride's example and fall in love. Battle-scarred and weary from previous relationships, she has no desire to take a chance on another--no matter how many hints her little sister drops about the best man.

Devastating life events have taken a toll on Eric Matthews. After losing his wife and unborn daughter, he's come home to heal. Serving as best man at his kid brother's wedding is the only relationship he cares to contemplate--no matter how attractive the maid of honor.

Thrown together again and again by wedding duties, Elyse and Eric reluctantly agree to explore a possible relationship--only to have their casual date turn into a glorious night of passion. Can two hearts, convinced a happily ever after will never happen, recognize love when it finds them?
Excerpt “I have to tell you, Eric Matthews, you are not what I expected.”

“Not sure how to take that. You always prejudge people before you get to know them?”

“Just those I think may have the chance to impact my life.”

“Impact in a good way or bad?”

“Makes no difference.”

He put his hands on either side of her, effectively trapping her between the wall behind and his body in front. “It always makes a difference.”

“Your mother talked to me about you a little. You’re just not how she described you.”

“My mother’s been saying for weeks I needed to get out.”

“Is that why you called me? For your mother?”

“Not a chance.”

There was no opportunity for further discussion as his mouth reclaimed hers. On one part surprise and three parts delight her arms wrapped around his neck, hands clutching his hair as she, not Eric brought their kiss to another level.

As always with this man, heat emanated from the places he touched her. Except tonight after what they shared, the sensation was different.

“I want to make love to you, Elyse. I don’t want to wade through the formalities.” The words came out short and urgent.

Her reply was firm and breathless. “Every book on dating etiquette is telling me how wrong this is.”

His hands gently cupped her face as his lips tasted hers. “You need to quit reading.”

“I definitely need to quit reading.”


Night Stars and Mourning Doves (Dearly Beloved)Night Stars and Mourning Doves by Margo Hoornstra
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Night Stars and Mourning Doves (Dearly Beloved) by Margo Hoornstra is a 2013 The Wild Rose Press publication. I was provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So far, in reading books by this author, I have hit upon a noticeable theme, which I really like. Two people who are really hurting emotionally are drawn together and work to find a way to overcome huge obstacles in order to make their relationship work.

In this case, we have Elyse, a woman who had a very difficult childhood and then a very difficult marriage who meets Eric, her soon to be brother -in- law, a widower, with a young son. While Elyse's sister would love to see these two hit it off, Elyse has very serious issues to deal with, and Eric who is more open to the idea, will have a hard time convincing Elyse they could have normal healthy relationship, something she has never had. All the same, there is an undeniable spark between them, if only can find a way to work through their fears and pain to open their hearts to one another.

The subject matter in this story is very difficult and could be a little disturbing to some readers, although it is not graphically detailed. I did especially enjoy the revenge Elyse got on her ex. You go girl!

I also found the daycare a great backdrop to the story, but shook my head a bit at the overreaction to a spill on the sidewalk Eric's son took. A hard landing gets you a trip to the ER and cat scan these days. If I fell down and skinned my knee, my dad told me to rub some dirt on it. LOL! ( Just kidding- well.., not really) But, this is off topic.

Since the story is so short, there is not a great deal of time for deeply romantic gestures and the tone is of a more serious nature. These are not angsty college students or the under thirty crowd, so we are dealing with mature adults, who are coping with very serious problems. But, romance comes in all forms and the chemistry is palpable between this couple. It is a little hard to feel warmth from Elyse but she's getting there. Eric has to be the one to take the most risk, at least at first, but he does a great job of helping Elyse learn to trust, to let him love her, so she can love him in return.

So, overall another solid offering from this author, a great lunch time diversion. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Like many writers, it’s hard to determine exactly when my fiction writing career began. I remember composing a short story in grade school (I have no idea about what) which was chosen for publication in an all school anthology. A journalism class taken in junior high school led to a job on the school newspaper and a weekly column.

I always loved reading. I loved writing too. Someday, I thought, maybe when I grew up and received the right training, I could actually write a book. After all, I was often told, laughingly most times, I had an extremely vivid imagination.

Through the years, the desire to write was always there. I had so many ideas and characters roaming around in my head, so many stories. But the business of living—going to college, getting married then raising a family—took precedence over something as frivolous as writing a book.

Then one day out of the blue I was downsized—effective immediately—from a job I’d held for over thirty years. What seemed so unfair at the time, I now recognize the tremendous gift I was given that day. As I’m now able to spend more and more time doing what I love—writing romantic fiction—I find I really do have an abundance of stories to share.


  1. Thanks so much for the awesome reviews of NIGHT STARS AND MOURNING DOVES and ONLY IF YOU DARE, and your participation in Margo's blog tour, Julie!!!

  2. I'm so very pleased you liked my stories, Julie. Thank you for taking the time to read and evaluate them. Thanks, too, for having me here today.


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