A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, April 28, 2017

I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi- Feature and Review


"A heartbreaking and ultimately heartwarming read about life, death, and family." ―PopSugar, A Best Winter 2017 Book

A story from debut author Abby Fabiaschi that is "as absorbing as it is illuminating, and as witty as it is heartbreaking."

Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch...until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.

Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge...but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?




  I Liked My LifeI Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi is a 2017 St. Martin's Press publication.

This is a debut novel, believe it or not, but the writing is amazingly candid, vivid and beautiful. I can’t seem to find all the right words or ways to express how special this novel is. I absolutely loved it! All I can say is that I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone.

5 stars

This review is the copyrighted property of Night Owl Reviews. To read the entire review, click on this link:






Abby Fabiaschi is a human rights advocate and Board Chair for Her Future Coalition, an international nonprofit with a unique prosperity model that uplifts victims from human trafficking and extreme abuse. In 2012 Abby resigned from her executive post in high tech to pursue a career in writing. I LIKED MY LIFE is her first novel. She and her family divide their time between West Hartford, Connecticut, and Park City, Utah. Learn more at www.abbyfabiaschi.com.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Shadows on the Lake by Giovanni Cocco, Amneris Magella, Stephen Sartarelli - Feature and Review


A new atmospheric Italian mystery novel set in Lake Como, introducing the clever and captivating Inspector Stefania Valenti 
During the construction of a new road to the Swiss border in the mountains above Lake Como, the remains of a young man are unearthed on the powerful Cappelletti family's property. On the case is Stefania Valenti, forty-five, divorced with a young daughter, and a brilliant, determined police inspector. 
Her investigation takes her back to World War II and deep into the history of the region, a place that during the war attracted smugglers, deserters, secret agents, and fleeing Jews. Steeped in the beautiful atmosphere of Northern Italy, Valenti's investigation brings to light a family's secret, a tragic romance, and reveals a fascinating piece of Italian history.



Shadows on the Lake: A Stefania Valenti MysteryShadows on the Lake: A Stefania Valenti Mystery by Giovanni Cocco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shadows on the Lake by Giovanni Cocco and Amneris Magella, and translated by Stephen Sartarelli i s a 2017 Penguin publication.

I am impressed with this first installment in the ‘Stephania Valenti’ mystery series. This book was published for Italian audiences in 2013, but has now been translated beautifully into the English language. I hope the second book will be translated soon, so I can get started on it as soon as possible.

If you are looking for a fresh voice in crime fiction, featuring a unique locale, with likable and interesting protagonists, then you should give this book a try.

This review is the copyrighted property of Night Owl Reviews. To read the full review, click on this link: https://www.nightowlreviews.com/v5/Re...




Giovanni Cocco was born in Como in 1976. Amneris Magella was born in Milan in 1958. They are married and live in Como, Italy.

*Stephen Sartarelli is an award-winning translator and poet. He lives in France.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's Become of Her by Deb Caletti- Feature and Review


From National Book Award finalist Deb Caletti comes an emotionally riveting story of a woman falling for a man who may be hiding a dangerous secret—perfect for readers of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah.

“Guilty people keep secrets.”

Isabelle Austen returns to her hometown on a small, isolated Pacific Northwest island to take over the family tourism business after the death of her mother, a disapproving parent and a hard woman to love. Feeling lost, Isabelle is also struggling with a recent divorce and wondering if she’ll ever come into her own. Then her life takes a surprising turn: The mysterious Henry North arrives on Parrish Island, steps off a seaplane, and changes Isabelle’s world forever. From the beginning, their relationship is heady and intense—then Isabelle learns of Henry’s disturbing past, involving the death of a fiancée and the disappearance of a wife. Suddenly Isabelle is caught between love and suspicion, paranoia and passion, as she searches for the truth she may not want to find—and is swept into a dangerous game she may not survive.



What's Become of HerWhat's Become of Her by Deb Caletti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What’s Become of Her by Deb Caletti is a 2017 Bantam publication.

Once again, I’ve stumbled across an author with an impressive catalog, but for some reason has flown under my radar. But, as they say, better late than never.

This story is certainly different, both in writing style and characterizations. Immediately, the reader is clued in to the fact that our female protagonist, Isabelle, is about to experience a life altering change, and not in a good way.

Isabelle, recently divorced, has returned home to Parrish Island to take over the tourist business she inherited from her mother. Here, she meets Henry, a new resident with a sad and complicated past. The two make an instant connection, falling in love with reckless abandon. But, just as quickly, certain small warning signals begin to snowball into larger and much more disturbing alarm bells, when Isabelle begins to suspect Henry is not the man she believed him to be, and is quite possibly dangerous. Is he trustworthy? Are her suspicions warranted or is Henry being slandered? Is Henry simply moody, sad, or insecure, or is he possessive, manipulative, obsessed, abusive, or responsible for the deaths of two other women he was previously involved with?

I think it is quite easy, sitting back in the comfort and safeness of our surroundings and secure in our own relationships to pass judgement on Isabelle. She’s a woman in love, so she overlooks a few of Henry’s remarks despite her mother’s ghostly admonishments screaming in her head. Compared to her ex-husband, a man she had to drag kicking and screaming into marriage, Henry’s lack of hesitancy is heady and just what Isabelle’s bruised ego requires.

Still, I couldn’t help but exhale exasperated sighs as Isabelle continues to waffle. Her choices, her indecision, however, are exactly what makes the story so suspenseful, what had me as wrapped up in her paranoia and rationalizations, as Isabelle herself, which I can only presume is the desired effect.

The other interesting element to this story is the voice of Isabelle’s mother providing commentary to her daughter. In life, the relationship between mother and daughter was strained and distant. This situation seemed to give them a chance at posthumous forgiveness or maybe even redemption.

While we know, Isabelle has a cheering section, people watching out for her from afar, which is how we know what choice she should make, giving us a bit of an unfair advantage, it’s Isabelle who must decide her own fate. Will she do the right thing?

This is a fast-paced read, with exceptional moments of suspense, and although there are some frustrations, the story works in a, offbeat way, not only as a psychological novel, but as a cautionary tale, one that will leave you sizing up your next new encounter with a stranger, wondering what dark, twisted secrets they may be harboring.





Deb Caletti is an award-winning author and National Book Award finalist. Her many books for young adults include “Stay,” “The Last Forever,” “Essential Maps for the Lost,” and "Honey, Baby Sweetheart," winner of the Washington State Book award, the PNBA Best Book Award, and a finalist for the PEN USA Award. Her books for adults include “He’s Gone,” and “The Secrets She Keeps,” and her fourteenth book, "What's Become of Her," coming in 2017. She lives with her family in Seattle.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Art of Invisibility- by Kevin D. Mitnick- Feature and Review


Kevin Mitnick, the world's most famous hacker, teaches you

 easy cloaking and counter-measures for citizens and consumers in the age of Big Brother and Big Data.

Like it or not, your every move is being watched and analyzed. Consumer's identities are being stolen, and a person's every step is being tracked and stored. What once might have been dismissed as paranoia is now a hard truth, and privacy is a luxury few can afford or understand.

In this explosive yet practical book, Kevin Mitnick illustrates what is happening without your knowledge--and he teaches you "the art of invisibility." Mitnick is the world's most famous--and formerly the Most Wanted--computer hacker. He has hacked into some of the country's most powerful and seemingly impenetrable agencies and companies, and at one point he was on a three-year run from the FBI. Now, though, Mitnick is reformed and is widely regarded as the expert on the subject of computer security. He knows exactly how vulnerabilities can be exploited and just what to do to prevent that from happening. 

In THE ART OF INVISIBILITY Mitnick provides both online and real life tactics and inexpensive methods to protect you and your family, in easy step-by-step instructions. He even talks about more advanced "elite" techniques, which, if used properly, can maximize your privacy. Invisibility isn't just for superheroes--privacy is a power you deserve and need in this modern age.



The Art of Invisibility: The World's Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big DataThe Art of Invisibility: The World's Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin D. Mitnick
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Art of Invisibility by Kevin Mitnick: The world’s most famous hacker, teaches you easy cloaking and countermeasures for citizens and consumers in the age of Big Brother and Big Data- is a Little, Brown, and Company publication.

Online privacy is always of concern, but after the Snowden revelation, people became even more aware of how easy it is for companies and the government to spy on us. VPN’s suddenly became mainstream and browsers like DuckDuckGo and programs like Tor became commonplace alternatives, not because everyone was trying to cover up criminal activity, but because what they search online, their photos or videos, emails, etc. are private and we want to keep them that way, no matter how benign.

But, in just the last week, Congress voted to allow our ISP providers to sell our information to the highest bidder, which can mean anything you search online, including symptoms on Webmd, for example.

So, what do you need to do to protect yourself and keep your information safe and most of all, private?

Kevin Mitnick is an expert hacker, which has gotten him in hot water on occasion, but now works to help people ferret out illegal hackers and expose their methods, teaching people how to protect themselves and their clients, otherwise known as a penetration tester.

While some of the suggestions are easy to carry out, and I have already put those measures to good use, others seem a bit extreme, and are a lot of hard work. So, are all these steps absolutely necessary if I’m not doing anything criminal or visiting the ‘dark web’?

If you want to be absolutely invisible, then yes, you do. Even after putting on several layers of protections, I was stunned to learn that even with these safeguards, I only made my information harder to access, but I was still not totally hidden, could still have my activity traced and shared.

So, if you are in a dispute with your boss, going through a messy divorce, or anything of that nature, you will want to make sure there are no traces of your searches left behind that could be used against you, even if you are an ordinary law abiding citizen.

Remember, the slew of celebrity photos that were hacked and posted online a while back?

iPhone users were vulnerable, so although they didn’t break any laws, private information about them was hacked and exposed, which means you must protect your smartphones and tablets as well as your home, work, and school desktops and laptops.

Therefore, no matter how safe you think you are, no matter how careful you are, you probably aren’t as safe, private, or incognito as you might like to think, which is why everyone should read this book.

It’s a real eye opener for sure, and while I probably would never buy a laptop just one purpose, never tap into online currency, or anything like that, at least for now, it’s good to have this information, and who knows? If Verizon and AT&T continue to obtain information about my online activity – and here’s the real kicker- WITHOUT MY PERMISSION, I may have to resort to such drastic measures, no matter how extreme it might seem.

Overall, this is a very interesting and informative book, but also one that is, unfortunately, necessary. I highly recommend it to anyone using the internet at home, school, or work, as well as anyone using smartphones- which is pretty much everyone.





Kevin Mitnick, the world's most famous (former) computer hacker, has been the subject of countless news and magazine articles, the idol of thousands of would-be hackers, and a one-time "most wanted" criminal of cyberspace, on the run from the bewildered Feds. Now a security consultant, he has spoken to audiences at conventions around the world, been on dozens of major national TV and radio shows, and even testified in front of Congress. He is the author of The Art of Deception and The Art of Intrusion.

Co-author William Simon is a bestselling co-author of numerous books, including iCon (the biography of Steve Jobs) and Kevin Mitnick's previous two books. He has also written for USA Today and The Washington Post and been interviewed on CNBC, CNN, NPR and by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Time, Newsweek, and many other publications.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena- Feature and Review


How well do you know the couple next door? Or your husband? Or even—yourself?  

People are capable of almost anything. . . 

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . . 

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately focuses on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco  soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years. 

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of  deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.



The Couple Next DoorThe Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is a 2016 Pamela Dorman Books publication.

A hypnotic and atmospheric thriller.

This story starts off with a familiar- ripped from the headlines- setup where a couple, Ann and Marco, decide to leave their young daughter home alone while they attend a dinner party next door. They bring the baby monitor and check on the baby every half hour. However, when they return home from the party they discover the child has been kidnapped.

After reading the first chapter of this book, I heaved a heavy sigh, trying to stifle an eyeroll. This again? I had read a book, not all that long ago, with a nearly identical plotline.

However, it wasn’t long before the story morphed into one very twisted family drama that kept me glued to the pages, especially in the last quarter of the book, where the twists were relentless.

The buildup is a little slow at first, but the atmosphere is very edgy and I admit I fell into the author’s clever trap, playing along with what appeared to be the usual child kidnap case, with the parents being suspected and all those delicious skeletons falling out of the closet. But, I never could have guessed how it would all play out.

I love psychological thrillers and have read them off and on for many years. The genre seemed to change very little until the mega success of ‘Gone Girl’ caused a spike in its popularity. Now, I see a whole new, fresh crop of debut novelist, giving the genre a little facelift, which is a very welcome change. But, for me, I thought this one was a nice blending together of the traditional, ‘old school’ style with the new and improved structure.

While I would love to gorge myself on PT, they tend to work better for me if I space them out of bit. Thankfully, I passed on this one when it was first released, taking a slight break from the genre, so I didn’t burn myself out on it. As you can tell from my attitude concerning the first chapter, I definitely needed that space.

Thankfully, the story took off and gave my brain a real workout. I thought it was a wickedly fun mind trip even if it wasn’t the most properly constructed novel I’ve ever read and the pacing wasn’t always pitch perfect. I’ve confessed many times that I tend to be a bit jaded when it comes to thrillers, often guessing the plot twists well in advance, but, there were so many whip smart turns here, I never could have seen all the twists coming, even if I had my suspicions about one or two of the characters.

So, at the end of the day, it all boils down to how engaged or entertained I was and I have to say, I thought this was a pretty solid thriller and I enjoyed reading it.





Shari Lapena worked as a lawyer and as an English teacher before turning to writing fiction. She has written two award-winning literary novels, and her suspense debut, The Couple Next Door, was a New York Times and an international bestseller. A Stranger in the House is her second thriller.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers- Feature and Review


What’s real in a marriage built on sand and how do you abandon a man you’ve loved since the age of fifteen?

Phoebe sees the fire in Jake Pierce’s belly from the moment they meet as teenagers in Brooklyn. Eventually he creates a financial dynasty and she trusts him without hesitation—unaware his hunger for success hides a dark talent for deception.

When Phoebe learns—along with the rest of the world—that her husband’s triumphs are the result of an elaborate Ponzi scheme her world unravels. Lies underpin her life and marriage. As Jake’s crime is uncovered, the world obsesses about Phoebe. Did she know her life was fabricated by fraud? Did she partner with her husband in hustling billions from pensioners, charities, and CEOs? Was she his accomplice in stealing from their family and neighbors?

Debate rages as to whether love and loyalty blinded her to his crimes or if she chose to live in denial. While Jake is trapped in the web of his own deceit, Phoebe is faced with an unbearable choice. Her children refuse to see her if she remains at their father’s side, but abandoning Jake, a man she’s known since childhood, feels cruel and impossible.

From Brooklyn to Greenwich to Manhattan, from penthouse to prison, with tragic consequences rippling well beyond Wall Street, The Widow of Wall Street exposes a woman struggling to redefine her life and marriage as everything she thought she knew crumbles around her.



The Widow of Wall StreetThe Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Widow of Wall Street by Randy Susan Meyers is a 2017 Atria Books publication.

With Wall Street and finance, loop holes can go undetected for long periods of times, especially if everyone is doing well. But, sooner or later, the piper demands payment, something Jake Pierce finds out the hard way, which elicits very little sympathy from me, but it’s the innocent victims, like his wife and children, who will pay the ultimate price for his sins.

This story examines the lives of Phoebe and Jake Pierce, how they began dating as teens, got married, started a family, and experienced immense financial success, only to have it all come crashing down around them in spectacular fashion.

The story is told from the dual perspectives of Phoebe and Jake, alternatively, going all the way back to the beginning of their relationship in the 1960’s, and is told chronologically, ending with the fallout of Jake’s actions as he sits in prison.

This is a familiar tale, ala Madoff, one that is still very fresh in the minds of many people following the economic crisis of 2008. However, this is more of a character study and analysis of a marriage, of family life, as well as greed, and the many ways people may cover up lies or sins and even rope their spouse into helping them do something that isn’t exactly proper. Phoebe works just as hard as Jake to reel in investors, working alongside him in a social capacity as they wine and dine and romance potential clients. But, does that make her complicit in his misdeeds?

 In the meantime, Phoebe raises two children, embarks on her own enterprises without the slightest support from Jake, who occasionally scoffs or put down her business ventures or humanitarian efforts. But, Phoebe had no problem enjoying the spoils of their success, living a life of luxury, seemingly without the slightest clue that Jake was skimming off the top, or doing something illegal. Her only concern is a suspicion he may have been unfaithful to her.

What I learned about Phoebe is that she is not stupid, is actually a ‘good’ person, and is not as culpable as people are convinced she is.

Jake’s perspective shows us the ‘real’ Jake, and he is not the Jake Phoebe or her children believe him to be. Naturally, the reader can easily see through him, which made it very frustrating for me because I couldn’t understand why Phoebe couldn’t or wouldn’t see Jake’s true nature.

While everyone in the family becomes accustomed to living a pampered lifestyle, Phoebe, and by extension, her children, seem to remain grounded, while Jake’s greed took over and became his ultimate downfall. This was an interesting juxtaposition, and a book club topic, which gave me something to chew on.

Once the pyramid crumbles and Phoebe loses everything she had gained, becoming a pariah, she finds herself at odds with her children who do not understand why she continues to write and visit Jake in prison. Phoebe finds difficult to explain her loyalty because of one big secret she’s harbored all these years and because of the longevity of the marriage. But, personally, I wondered if she was looking for some kind of redeemable quality in her husband that she could point to that would make all her years with him seem less of a lie.

She endures many indignities because of Jake and while she bravely confronts her situation, it’s obvious Jake is still Jake and will never change. The question is what will it take to pull the wool from Phoebe's eyes?

When Phoebe finally does have that epiphany, it's fairly late in the game and after much suffering and tragedy. But, once it happens I felt a huge sense of relief, despite the lingering sadness and grief, because I felt Phoebe was finally free for the first time in her life.

This is an absorbing story which gives the reader an inside look at how it could be possible to remain ignorant of the crimes committed right under your nose and how easy it would be to look the other way if you did suspect anything was amiss, especially if you are insulated by money. It also examines the selfishness of such acts, not only against the obvious victims, but against those closest to you, who will perhaps suffer the most.

Overall, this book gave me a lot to think about. The family drama and the push/pull from all angles as Phoebe struggles to maintain her own place in life, not just as a wife or mother, while Jake plots and plans and sins and rationalizes and justifies his actions makes for some riveting scenes. The characterizations are very well drawn and believable, and enabled me to see all points of view, pass my judgements without qualms, and made me hope that others would come around to my way of thinking, eventually.

But, ultimately the question the story is begging me to answer is, “What would I do in this situation?’

The answer is not as easy, or black and white, as you might think.





I was born in Brooklyn, New York, where I quickly moved from playing with dolls to incessantly reading, spending most of my time at the Kensington Branch Library. Early on I developed a penchant for books rooted in social issues, my early favorites being "Karen" and "The Family Nobody Wanted." Shortly I moved onto Jubilee and The Diary of Anne Frank. 

My dreams of justice simmered at the fantastically broadminded Camp Mikan, where I went from camper to counselor, culminating in a high point when (with the help of my strongly Brooklyn-accented singing voice), I landed the role of Adelaide in the staff production of "Guys and Dolls."

Soon I was ready to change the world, starting with my protests at Tilden High and City College of New York, until I left to pursue the dream in Berkeley, California, where I supported myself by selling candy, nuts, and ice cream in Bartons of San Francisco. Then, world-weary at too-tender an age, I returned to New York, married, and traded demonstrations for diapers.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Of Cats and Men by Sam Kalda - Feature and Review


A stylish, illustrated gift book from an award-winning artist that profiles
notable cat-loving men throughout history in words and pictures.

Of Cats and Men presents a fresh approach to cat entertainment that’s smart,
sweet, and driven by beautiful art (instead of tacky photography, as many cat
books are). Appealing to both men and women, the “cat men” approach is a fun
twist on the “cat lady” stereotype and makes for a highly giftable book. The 30
men profiled range from writers and artists such as Haruki Murakami, T.S. Eliot,
William S. Burroughs, and Ai Weiwei, to historical luminaries such as Sir Winston
Churchill, Nikola Tesla, and Sir Issac Newton. In addition to the portraits, the book
features beautifully hand-lettered quotes about cats by some of the men,
including Twain’s “When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without
further introduction.”



Of Cats and Men: Profiles of History's Great Cat-loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and StatesmenOf Cats and Men: Profiles of History's Great Cat-loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and Statesmen by Sam Kalda
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Of Cats and Men: Profiles of History’s Great Cat- loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers, and Statesmen by Sam Kalda is a 2016 Ten Speed Press publication.

What a delightful book!

As a cat lover, I’ve heard all the old clichés, and usually laugh along good naturedly, but I’m happy to see people embracing our feline friends more than ever these days, and am especially happy to report more men are stepping out from behind the shadows of us ‘crazy cat ladies’ to boldly proclaim their love for these most majestic of creatures.

This book is short, mainly made up of some of the most charming illustrations of famous male cat lovers with their furry friends, and gives a brief accounting of the relationship between these famous men and their feline companions, as well as providing some insightful quotes along the way.

The ‘blurb’ give you a list of the famous cat loving men featured in this book, so I won’t go over that again, but one of my favorite quotes was from poet Charles Bukowski:

“If you’re feeling bad, you just look at the cats, you’ll feel better, because they know that everything is, just as it is. There’s nothing to get excited about. They just know. They’re saviours. The more cats you have, the longer you live. If you have a hundred cats, you’ll ten times longer than if you have ten. Someday this will be discovered, and people will have a thousand cats and live forever. It’s truly ridiculous.”

The illustrations are what makes this book so special! Wonderful, colorful drawings, that translate surprisingly well in digital format!! So, no matter which format you enjoy, this book is must for cat lovers, and would make a lovely gift!!





Sam Kalda is an illustrator and cat fancier based in Brooklyn, New York. He was born and raised in South Dakota—which sounds much more exotic than it actually is. His first book, "Of Cats and Men: History's Great Cat-loving Artists, Writers, Thinkers and Statesmen" will be released in April 2016. His work has appeared in the The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Vogue, as well as on products at West Elm.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Lawman's Convenient Bride By Christine Rimmer- Feature and Review



Feisty, fearless Jody Bravo's set to do everything for her baby. She doesn't need anything from anyone--especially the stepbrother of her baby's late father. But lawman Seth Yancy won't leave her to face parenthood alone, no matter how prepared she is. And even though Jody resists, soon she's taken in completely by his charms--and agrees to be his wife...


Hunky Sheriff Yancy's not without his fair share of admirers in Justice Creek. After a terrible tragedy years before, though, he's faced life alone. Now the real-life woman of his dreams just happens to be his bride--and pregnant with the child of his heart, if not his reality. So "father" is a role that will come naturally to Seth. And will "husband" really be that far behind?


 The Lawman's Convenient BrideThe Lawman's Convenient Bride by Christine Rimmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Lawman’s Convenient Wife by Christine Rimmer is a 2017 Harlequin Special Edition publication.

This is another outstanding installment in the Bravo series!

Jody Bravo discovers she is pregnant shortly before the baby’s father died. Quite by accident, Seth Yancy discovers Jody is expecting his late step-brother’s baby and immediately barges into her life, determined to help in any way he can. Marriage was the last thing on his mind, and love? Well, Seth had already met and lost the one great, true love of his life. But, he could be a father to Jody’s baby and they could be a family despite that, right?

 This is a special and tender love story about two people who have suffered terrible disappointments and have experienced tremendous losses, but discover that much to their surprise, they really can fall in love and have the happily ever after they never thought possible. But, realizing that possibility takes a little work, especially for Seth.

I got a kick out of the way Seth pestered Jody in the beginning. She is grateful for his concern, but you can tell he gets on her nerves a little bit. It was so funny and really cute, but eventually things turn serious as the couple began to slowly fall in love. Seth is dedicated and loyal, and pretty much everything you could ask for in a guy, but he really struggled with his feelings for Jody. His story was sad, and I felt sympathy for him, but I still lost patience with his stubbornness.

Jody was much more open, and was willing to put her heart on the line to make things work with Seth, but she deserved to have his whole heart, and so she had to make some hard choices. I thought she did the right thing, at the right time. She had given him plenty of space to sort out his feelings and so she had to do what was best for her and her daughter.

So, as you can probably guess, the emotions run deep in this story and had me really worried that this couple might not make it. But, the ending was absolutely the most charming and romantic conclusion you could hope for!!

 I really enjoyed Jody and Seth’s story and appreciate the depth and feeling of the characters. The plot is well balanced with sexy time, and serious, heavy drama mixed with lighthearted moments to make this a very well rounded and satisfying romance!

I highly recommend this one to all romance readers!!





New York Times bestselling author Christine Rimmer has written more than one hundred contemporary romances for Harlequin Books. She has won Romantic Times BOOKreview’s Reviewer’s Choice Award for best Silhouette Special Edition. She has been nominated seven times for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA award and five times for Romantic Times Series Storyteller of the Year. 

A California native who first longed to be an actress, Christine earned her theater degree from California State, Sacramento and then went to New York to study acting. Later, she moved to Southern California, where she began her writing career with short stories, plays, and poems. Her poems and short stories were published in a number of small literary journals. Her plays were produced at The Back Alley and Group Theaters in Southern California and have been published by Dramatists Play Service and West Coast Plays.

She now lives in Oregon with her family and two very contented cats named Tom and Ed. 

The Last Resort by K.S. Kovach- Feature and Review


From the winner of the XOXO Connects flash fiction contest comes a story about an uber-focused executive knocked off her stride by a riding accident and then swept off her feet when she least expects it!

Alejandra Barros doesn’t know the meaning of failure until fate pulls the rug right out from under her Louboutin stilettos.

Board of Directors’ meetings, corporate takeovers, and jet setting around the globe don’t allow for much of a personal life—and even Ali’s limited free time is dedicated to her beloved horses, show jumping at a championship level. When a freak riding accident shatters her wrist and messes with her confidence at work, her boss mandates a month-long hiatus. If she wants to save her career, she has no choice but to go.

Pebble Creek Lodge is not far from Denver, but the high-end retreat might as well be a world away from the frenzied pace of Manhattan. From the moment she arrives, Ali feels so out of place she’s practically ready to skip the whole “required recovery” nonsense and hop on the next plane back to New York. The only thing stopping her is the ranch hand Hank Mathis and his perfectly chiseled abs, which are intriguing and delicious enough to make her linger.

By the time Ali admits she’s in a bit of a funk, not even the moral and physical support of a gorgeous cowboy is enough to bring her back to her old self—especially when the object of her desires is secretly battling his own demons. To get her life back on track, Ali will have to decide what it is she’s really fighting to regain and what it will take to find it—or she’ll risk losing the one thing that could truly make her happy.



The Last ResortThe Last Resort by R.S. Kovach

The Last Resort by R.S. Kovach is a 2017 Pocket Star publication.

At first glance, Ali Barros has it all. She has a high-powered career, is successful, smart and confident- until for some reason, after a horse riding accident embarrasses her, leaving her with a broken wrist, she suddenly finds her confidence shaken to the point where she’s unable to focus on her job. Finally, her bosses insist she take a sabbatical, or else, which is how she ended up at the Pebble Creek Lodge, hoping the resort will help her regain her mojo.

Hank, a sexy cowboy, working at the resort, seems to hit it off with Ali and the two start up a fun and flirty banter, which is something Ali really needs, because she tends to take herself a bit too seriously.

But, as time passes, the couple takes one step forward and two steps back until they finally reach a kind of sorta understanding. Maybe now they can now lay the groundwork for what will hopefully be a long and happy life together.

First of all, Congratulations to R.S. Kovach for winning the XOXO After Dark flash fiction contest! Obviously, this author shows much promise, and this book certainly gave me a glimpse of her talent.

The story has an interesting premise, but it was a little buggy here and there. Nothing terrible, just a few kinks that kept it from reaching its full potential.

Ali’s overreaction to her accident is puzzling. I’m thinking it was more the humiliation than the broken wrist that bothered her, but why she dwelled on it to the point of distraction, didn’t really jibe with her projected image. Underneath all that ‘confidence’ was a girl who needed to work on her insecurities and had a lot of growing up to do.

Hank was the perfect guy to guide Ali on that journey, especially since he’s had to cope with issues considerably more serious than Ali’s, by comparison. He’s sweet and patient, but as Ali remarked, he’s not exactly verbose, and therein lies the rub.

There was a serious communication breakdown with this couple, something that could have been avoided had they been a little more mature. After a good deal of hemming and hawing they realize they have something that’s worth making a few sacrifices for, to see where things might lead.

This is not exactly a swoon worthy ending with tearful declarations of love, but considering the emotional growth that still needs some work, this may be the best place to leave this couple, realistically. I think the outlook is a positive one for Hank and Ali and I did enjoy their journey, even it was a bit unorthodox.

Overall, this one was a little wobbly and unsteady at times, but it is a light, easy, and enjoyable read from an up and coming author, that contemporary romance lovers might want to take a look at.

* I received a copy of this book as an XOXpert, the official street team of XOXO After Dark.





R.S. Kovach is slightly obsessed with Pachelbel’s Canon, but not so much with splitting infinitives. An art historian by training and a senior financial administrator by trade, she has worked at universities across three continents. Her native language of Hungarian has been only slightly more useful than her other obscure skill of quoting THE PRINCESS BRIDE, but being a Wattpad Featured author with over 3 million combined reads across various genres has given her the opportunity to write commissioned shorts for both THE GALLOWS and CRIMSON PEAK movie promotional campaigns. 

After winning the inaugural XOXOAfterDark.com flash-fiction contest, Pocket Star Books will publish her debut contemporary romance, THE LAST RESORT, in March 2017. She is also a featured author in the Gallery Books fairy-tale retelling anthology ONCE UPON NOW, out in October 2016. 

She lives with her husband and three boys in the greater Washington, D.C. area, and is currently seeking representation. You can also find many of her books on Wattpad or Radish Fiction.