Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain


Scandalous Ever After by Theresa Romain
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (326 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Does love really heal all wounds?

After being widowed by a steeplechase accident in Ireland, Lady Kate Whelan abandons the turf. But once her mourning is complete, her late husband’s debts drive her to seek help in Newmarket amidst the whirl of a race meet. There she encounters antiquities expert Evan Rhys, her late husband’s roguish friend―whom she hasn’t seen since the day of his lordship’s mysterious death.

Now that fate has reunited them, Evan seizes the chance to win over the woman he’s always loved. But once back within the old stone walls of Whelan House, long-held secrets come to light that shake up everything Kate thought she knew about her marriage. Now she wonders who she can trust with her heart―and Evan must decide between love and a truth that will separate him from all his heart desires.

Friends who long to be lovers, but fear crossing the line, Kate and Evan tiptoe around their feelings, but crave each other’s company.

The death of Kate’s husband, who was Evan’s best friend, leaves each of them with a heavy load; hers is a load of debts left by her unfaithful husband and Evan’s is a load of guilt. How they work through the conflicts makes attention-keeping reading.

When Nora and Declan, Kate’s children, enter the picture, with their views about life before and after their father’s death, the story gains depth. Their actions and words show so much about how children see, the often complicated, ways that adults handle things.

Kate and Evan are in the company of both their families as they find their way. The contrast in their families’ life styles and the way they see themselves reveals much about how Kate and Evan came to be the way they are – interesting reading. It is easy to see how the world has been gray to Evan most of his life.

The secondary characters, like Janet Ahearn and Mary O’Dowd, along with the back stories and how they figure into the things Kate and Evan must sort out dovetail together in intriguing ways. They even fit in with some of the underhanded ways of the antagonist, Finnian Driscoll.

I particularly enjoyed the dialogue with the nuance, humor, and understatement. The author has an amazing way of writing so the reader feels as if she is right there in the experience with the characters.

Abbey’s Tale by Katherine McDermott


Abbey’s Tale by Katherine McDermott
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (202 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

An immigrant from Ireland, Jeremy McKetcheon took the place of a wealthy New Englander drafted into the Union Army during the Civil War. Jeremy, terribly scarred by a shell that set fire to his tent, is now a reclusive lighthouse keeper on an island off the coast of Maine. He is haunted by flashbacks of the war, and never expects to find love, understanding, or acceptance.

Beautiful but blind from birth, Abigail Morrison sees the world through the intricate carvings her father brings back from Lighthouse Island when he takes supplies there. She wonders about the artistic carver and why he hides from the world. But when the opportunity arises for her to visit the island, she and her father are tossed overboard in a raging storm. Having seen their distress from the lighthouse, Jeremy attempts a rescue in the frigid waters, and all their lives are changed forever.

Abbey’s Tale was a sweet, endearing love story between Jeremy and Abbey. Jeremy, whose face was scarred while fighting in the Civil War, and Abbey who was born blind, were given a chance at love. While together they learned about inner beauty. They both helped each other to overcome their insecurities. Jeremy felt his face was repulsive and would rather be a recluse. Abbey worried no one would fall in love with a blind woman because they’d think she was a burden. From the moment Jeremy and Abbey met their lives changed for the better. If you add an amazing dog named Bailey, meddling relatives, crashing ships, and a criminal who threatens, robs and lies, then you have a recipe for a 5 star book. Oh! Let’s not forget Jeremy’s Irish accent, it was completely irresistible.

In a world that is full of judgmental people it was nice to read how Jeremy and Abbey showed the community what true love is. The plot thread with the criminal added an interesting twist with a bit of suspense throughout the story. I’d like to point out the plot thread when Abbey’s aunt and uncle meddled in Jeremy and Abbey’s relationship. It was well intended meddling and as a parent I understood, but I understood how Abbey felt as a child. As a wife I understood how Jeremy felt. I was all emotionally mixed up but then realized that is what family is about. It all worked out for the good. It’s a perfect example and lesson of why the young should respect and listen to their elders.

This was a well written story that progressed nicely and held my interest from the beginning to the end. I’m glad I chose Abbey’s Tale to read by the pool on my weekend. It was a wonderful, heartwarming love story. There was so much more to this tale that you just have to read it for yourself.

It definitely was a quality read that I’d recommend to others, especially to a reading club because there are thought provoking discussion questions at the end. I could see this book being turned into a movie in the theaters with a young Mel Gibson playing the hero and Julia Roberts playing Abbey. I’d love to see the lighthouse scenery that Katherine McDermott described come to life. I do think this novel would make a beautiful historical romance movie. Abbey’s Tale is a must read!

Myth City by Anya Howard


Myth City: A Modern Retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Anya Howard
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (92 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A modern Dystopian retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Romance author Anya Howard.

After a nuclear battle, globalism has claimed power over every aspect of human life. A select group of survivors have been given refuge in the technological haven called the City. Here, every aspect of daily life is dictated by the laws of the governing Elders. One brave woman dares to risk the severest repercussions when an attractive stranger arrives from a place the Elders claim cannot possibly exist. When this man’s skills with a musical pipe are sought by the Elders, the dismal world they govern will be changed forever by the simple breaking of their word.

There’s more to life than following the rules.

The world building was handled well. I really enjoyed learning about the different roles that people could have in the City. It was such a strict society that I couldn’t stop wondering how folks managed to live in that kind of environment for a whole lifetime. The more I learned about it, the more curious I became about how it might change after Graham, the attractive stranger, came to visit. The odd way the City was set up became even more clear when I compared it to how Graham liked to live.

This story would have benefited from another round of editing. I noticed multiple typos in it, especially when it came to run-on sentences and the misuse of punctuation marks. There were also some sentences that didn’t make sense because they were either missing important words or had extra words added to them in ways that weren’t grammatically correct.

The chemistry between Apple and Graham was wonderful. I liked the fact that their relationship was given so much time to develop before anything sexual happened between them. It made a lot of sense due to the rigid culture Apple grew up in. By the time they decided to finally touch, I couldn’t wait to find out what would happen next or if they’d end up together for good.

Myth City: A Modern Retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin should be read by anyone who enjoys modern twists on classic fairy tales.

Hoedown Showdown by Misty Simon


Hoedown Showdown by Misty Simon
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (194 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

With the Tasty Tomato Tournament just days away, the small town of Martha’s Point is all abuzz. This is the first year without a sure winner, and the competition is fierce to gain the judges’ approval, even before the tournament starts.

But when Ivy finds one of those judges dead in a shed across the street, things go from bad to worse. All she wanted was seven glorious, kid-free days of messing around with her husband. Instead, she’s going to be tracking down a killer, staying out of the way of a pickle-obsessed farmer, and dodging the new cop who seems out for her blood.

The Tasty Tomato Tournament is just a few days away and Ivy is very glad. Someone is destroying other contestant’s tomatoes and her husband has brought all his in the house in pots. He’s also brought in his gnomes. He says those make his tomatoes grow well. Maybe so, but they aren’t going to be in her house…

While she’s helping carry them back outside, her next door neighbor calls to her. She thinks she’s her husband and wants him to help her. When Ivy says he’s in the shower, she takes Ivy over to show her the problem. What she didn’t mention was that the problem was a dead body.

This is a cozy mystery that flows well, has plenty of action, romance between Ivy and her husband who are trying to vacation since their children are away for a week, cliques of town folk, tomato judges and more. The dead man was a tomato judge. It seems he got stung by wasps but there were no wasps around. He wasn’t all that stellar of a judge either. Then there’s the pickle man who’s handing out flyers and trying to get support for his festival.

With lots of suspects and bad behavior all around, you can’t guess who the killer is ahead of time. The rookie cop would like to blame in on Ivy and her husband. They spend a lot of time fending him off during their investigation. It makes for some amusing reading and a few laughs.

This was an overall good read and Ivy now has her own private investigator license. Life is going to get even more exciting in the future!

Steele and Stone by Kay Phoenix


Steele and Stone by Kay Phoenix
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (170 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Elle Thompson was raised in Denver. She paints. She hikes. She knows how to avoid cougar attacks.

The only cougars Michael Williams usually worries about are the ones that wear leopard print leggings on 5th Avenue.

But, when his acquisition firm sets its sights on Elle’s family business, his tidy life goes awry. As things unravel, so do all his preconceived notions of love and what makes a perfect partner.

Steele and Stone was a short story that can be read in a small amount of time. It captured my interest from the first page and managed to keep me turning pages until I reached the end.

Michael, the hero, wasn’t quite my type of man so I had trouble relating to him but for the heroine, he was Elle’s type of man and together they were relatable. I prefer a strong and decisive hero. I had more respect for Elle for staying focused on her priorities. Together they had to get past previous emotional hurts before their love for one another could flourish. It was a bit slow and tedious, yet still an enjoyable process that was accomplished before the book ended.

The plot wasn’t original and was quite predictable yet I still enjoyed the journey. The writing style was average. I think the characters, such as Michael’s Uncle John, could have been more developed to add a bit more substance, suspense and drama to the plot. I just felt like this book didn’t meet its full potential. However, my curiosity was able to overlook those flaws. I was like a fly drawn into the trap. I couldn’t look away. I needed to see how it was going to end. Actually, the ending was wrapped up quickly. Perhaps even a bit too quickly but at that point I was ready to move on.

I would recommend Steele and Stone to someone who is looking to pass time with a quick, easy and uncomplicated short story. This would be a great book to read on a two hour plane ride. I look at it this way – if you are starving to read a romance story then this would be a great appetizer!

The Itching Scars by Mohy Omar


The Itching Scars by Mohy Omar
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (22 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

A collection of short stories dealing with different kinds of scars we keep. They never said being human could be this hard. they never told us about the scars we would carry. they only told us that this is what it means to be alive

Have you every truly looked into the darker side of your psyche?

The Itching Scars is a collection of three short stories that examine the thoughts, actions and reality of humanity that many of us choose to ignore in our daily lives. To Court Death is the first short story that you will encounter and just like the title implies, it is a look at the courtship of death. Keep in mind that this is not the courtship of the character Death, but a courtship or love of the idea and symbolism of death. This story is primarily narrative with very little dialogue; yet the story is very clear from this vantage point. The reader obtains a fantastic view of death and the hold it has on the individual psyche.

The second story in the three story collection is called The Space Above, The Space Within. This story is told from a third person point of view and includes quite a bit more dialogue. This story takes a deep difficult look at governmental and societal controls. Votum is the main character in this story and it follows his life from the point when his father begins taking a stand against the thought control that their society enforces. The author does a fantastic job at making this world a real, believable construct and in effect, works to cause the reader to question how a society could become so focused that humanity is lost in the daily lives.

The final story is called Under The Rust. The title deceived me at first, but the story was epic. I especially loved the twist at the end, which I did not foresee coming. Under the Rust has a great amount of dialogue and interaction, this comes from a first person narrative encounter. This story is great to be set as last, because it ties the other two stories up to give a total glimpse into the human mind. Out of the three stories, this by far was my favorite.

The author has a great knack for storytelling and understands the use of the various points of view to bring about the best story. Where there was less dialogue, this was certainly cleanly replaced with important description and narration. The length of the book overall was shorter, I feel that none of the stories felt rushed or that anything was left out. I had a great time and enjoyed all three stories.

If you would like to consider looking into your own dark humanity by examining another individual’s dark thoughts and perceptions, this is definitely the book for you!

Sins of the Father by Winter Austin


Sins of the Father by Winter Austin
Publisher: Crimson Romance/Adams Media
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (191 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Newly pinned deputy Jolie Murdoch’s first big job as a McIntire County deputy is to locate a missing girl. What Jolie doesn’t expect is to stumble upon a corpse—the girl’s father—with a prime suspect still hanging around. But why would local bartender Xavier Hartmann go off the deep end and bludgeon a man to death?

A former marine, Xavier is barely coping with a traumatic brain injury, and he has no memory of what happened at the crime scene. He came to Eider to confront his past, not get embroiled in a murder as the number one suspect. To make matters worse, as the mystery deepens, Xavier finds himself drawn to the reluctant deputy.

As Jolie fights against mounting pressure to get to the truth, she realizes there’s more to Xavier than meets the eye. But someone is lingering on the fringes, determined to put a stop to her investigation and Xavier’s freedom. Will Jolie do her sworn duty or buck the status quo to give her and Xavier’s newfound passion a chance?

OMG, I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight. I need to sign up for another self-defense class since it’s been a few years. I own a gun but now I want a concealed-to-carry permit. If only my husband was a former marine like Xavier, the hero in this book. It’s amazing how I can get so wrapped up in a book and feel like everyone I know is a suspect.

Seriously, this was a great book! More suspense/mystery than romance but there was so much going on that there wasn’t much time for romance. Jolie, the heroine, had a lot on her plate as the newly pinned deputy. The moments Jolie and Xavier had together were spent on trying to prove his innocence. However, the couple of kisses they shared were breathtaking. I’d like me some Xavier kisses. 🙂

I had no idea that this was book three in a series until I had finished reading it. You don’t need to read the previous books however I am interested in doing so. Based on the well written plot in this story which blew my mind away, I’d like to read the other two. I loved the well-developed characters in Sins of the Father so much that I would like to get to know them a bit more by reading the two previous books. I enjoy reading strong leading heroines who stand up to their leading men. I think Winter Austin will have to be added my list of “favorite authors”.

I definitely recommend this book if you like suspense/mystery romance. It should keep you on the edge of your seat rapidly flipping pages like it did for me. The mystery kept me guessing until the very end and then everything is nicely wrapped up with no loose threads. While there isn’t an epilogue one wasn’t needed; Jolie and Xavier made their “decisive decision”. 🙂

Mating Heat by Jenika Snow


Mating Heat by Jenika Snow
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (46 pgs)
Other: M/F/M, Menage, Spanking, Anal Play
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Every shifter female goes through their mating heat, a time when they are most fertile, irresistible to the opposite sex, and unable to control their desires. It is a twenty-four hour period of intense need, and uncontrollable sexual appetites.

And I was that wolf-shifting female that just came into her mating heat.

But the two males I wanted to help ease me from this arousal-induced delirium, had never given me a second glance. Chase and Xavier, bear shifters, and leaders of our community’s security detail, are powerful and influential, and the ones I want…servicing me.

When they offer to help me out in the way I desperately need, I don’t know if it’s because I’m irresistible during this time, or because they want me for the female I am…the one that’s been in love with them since before I knew what the emotion was.

When Ophelia wakes up in her mating heat, she knows she’s in for a very rough twenty-four hours. Although having non-stop, unprotected sex with any male shifter would satisfy the lust overwhelming her, Ophelia only wants two men – Xavier and Chase. While Xavier, Chase and Ophelia had known each other for years, Ophelia is a wolf and both Xavier and Chase were were-bears. Can the three of them make it through Ophelia’s mating heat with their friendship – and maybe a new relationship – intact?

This is a super short but very sexy read. Although the two men are bear-shifters and Ophelia a werewolf, they all live together in a multi-shifter community that’s quite open and accepting. Obviously, the main thrust of the plot surrounds Ophelia going through her first mating heat – a twenty four hour period where she’s completely irresistible to all shifter men and where her heat can only be eased by the seed of her lover(s). Although I didn’t personally find the plot-device of her heat itself very sexy (it felt a little too close to metaphysically forcing the sex into the plot and onto practically any shifter male) the characters of Ophelia, Chase and Xavier were interesting and well written, and as they became intimate their chemistry and connection helped make the situation feel a lot sexier to me.

Some of the conversation felt a little stilted to me, I think because of the shifter-style of speech. Like how the guys sometimes called Ophelia “female” (for example: “Come here, female”), this didn’t feel or read as sexy to me. While I can understand the different pattern of speech could very well just be their style when in lust – it felt a little dispassionate to me; as if it didn’t matter that it was Ophelia herself the boys were having sex with, but any “female” in heat would have been just as good. It also read a little weird to me just how much Xavier and Chase did together at the same time, in multiple places they’d speak in unison, or do the exact same thing simultaneously. It made me feel a little like they were the one person in two bodies and that there was a special link or bond between them (and if this was so – why wasn’t this story written as a M/M instead?). While none of these issues individually detracted from the story, all rolled together it meant that there were a number of times while I read that I had to pause, either to remind myself that the different speech could be seen as shifter-ish or just take a breath to get back into the story. These things made the read a bit jolting to my experience and I usually prefer simply inhaling a wonderful shifter story, not being taken out of the moment by small twinges like this.

I really enjoyed the ménage relationship that built between Ophelia, Xavier and Chase. After “the talk” and they were all on the same page the love and lust binding the three of them together was lovely to read about and it was a pleasure to see their relationship bloom and grow. A steamy double penetration sex scene just rounded the story out wonderfully.

A hot and sexy ménage story that was good fun to read.

Love in the Golden Years by Ellynore Seybold


Love in the Golden Years by Ellynore Seybold
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (28 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Harold, a widower and a retired government worker, misses his wife and decides to take up a hobby. Courageously stepping out of his shell, he joins a scuba diving class, where he meets a vivacious widow and discovers new adventures.

Attractive and fun-loving Aletha spices up Harold’s mostly routine life with one surprise after another. Neither of them expect any obstacles to a nice relationship, but everything—from sexual malfunction to legalese to Aletha’s new career—seems to interfere.

Will they ever find married bliss?

Love in the Golden Years is an enjoyable sweet read that gives proof that a second love is possible. The story is mostly told from widower Harold’s view. Harold misses his wife of 42 years but finds his interest is sparked when he meets adventurous Aletha. Aletha is a widow and in her golden years is looking for something interesting. She takes to Harold, even though I think she is a little bit too much for him.

This is a short read, that had my attention from the beginning. I would have liked to have read a little more from Aletha’s point of view. I enjoyed reading how Aletha and her husband Norman met and their love seemed so real and actually touched my heart. I classify them as an adventurous and daring couple that won my heart. I hated to see that their 30 years of marriage ended so abruptly. Even though the introduction of their meeting was short and their marriage was mentioned briefly I enjoyed reading about their bond and closeness. I am glad that Aletha kept living and kept her adventurous side active.

Harold tells most of the story of their relationship. I get the feeling that Harold felt left out often, but he didn’t voice this to Aletha, perhaps fearing he would run her off. Harold enjoyed Aletha’s liveliness and I think this is what kept him around even though they faced conflicts.

The plot is interesting and the writing is simple and to the point. The characters are likable and I can picture them dancing and enjoying the night. Even though I am not in my golden years, the story can be relatable to someone of age because it varies from losing someone, starting a new relationship and the events that come with new beginnings.

I would recommend this pleasurable read to readers that enjoy reading about love and happy endings.

Salvaged by J.S. Marlo


Salvaged by J.S. Marlo
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (226 pgs)
Heat level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

STAR FISHER refuses to let the scar marring her face dictate her choices or the dreams haunting her nights affect her life. A skilled underwater investigator, she is hired as a scuba diver in an underwater salvage operation.

Captivated by the feisty young woman who shares little resemblance with his glamorous conquests, captain HAUK LUDVIKSON struggles against his attraction as they explore a century-old relic linked to the unsolved disappearance of a rich heiress.

With danger lurking under and above the water line, Star fights for her future-a future she may not salvage twice.

If you love an unpredictable suspense/mystery romance then this book is for you. Hauk Ludvikson, the hero, and Star Fisher, the heroine, as well as the other prominent characters, really kept me on the edge of my seat. J. S. Marlo created a complex plot that demonstrated originality. The cast of characters were brilliantly interwoven in a suspense/mystery that incorporated generations of families. I couldn’t read this book and multitask because I needed to concentrate or else I’d get confused with the web of characters. I grew to appreciate the dynamics of Hauk’s dive team. They couldn’t exist without each other working together to solve the mystery and protect each other’s back. I grew fond of Kyle’s humor, Scott’s wit and Arnie’s sensitive side. I could see Kyle and Scott being the heroes in their own books.

The chemistry between Hauk and Star was excruciatingly slow to blossom. Yet, when it did it was well worth the wait. Their focus was on solving the mystery and protecting each other from the consistent suspenseful danger. I personally would have preferred a little less suspense and danger and more romance but that’s just me. I definitely would have enjoyed an epilogue. The story concluded with a happy ever after ending between Hauk and Star, and the mystery was solved but there was no justice. Without justice or vindication how can there be closure?

With all the suspense and danger, the pace was smooth and quick. The writing style was flawless. I was engaged from the beginning of the book until the very last page. I didn’t want to put the novel down. I enjoyed discovering all the secrets along with the plot twists and turns.

I recommend this book for those who want to experience some action, suspense, solve a mystery all while getting romanced for a few hours. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. You won’t be disappointed.