The Broken by Shelley Coriell

ROKEN
The Broken by Shelley Coriell
The Apostles Series
Publisher: Forever-Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (375 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

He took her life, but left her alive.

Three years ago, reporter Kate Johnson was the first victim—and only survivor—of the Broadcast Butcher. Scarred both physically and psychologically by the brutal serial killer, Kate lives life on the run, knowing that one day, he will find her and finish what he started.

In the pursuit of justice, you sometimes have to step outside the law.

Agent Hayden Reed spends his life chasing monsters. The only way to stay sane is to detach, but the second the Broadcast Butcher case crosses his desk, Hayden knows this is the case that might just cost him his soul. To catch this vicious murderer before he strikes again, Hayden must find Kate and earn her trust. For it’s her darkest secrets that hold the key to stopping this madman once and for all . . .

No matter what genre you enjoy, romance, mystery or suspense, I think you’ll find something to enjoy in The Broken. The opening chapter drew me in, threw me off course a little too, but we’re quickly introduced to Kate Johnson, the serial killer’s only surviving victim, and Smokey Joe, a blind Vietnam war veteran who was actually my favorite character in the book. Both his and Kate’s survival seemed bound together and when you cheered for one you cheered for the other.

As much as she’s been able to, Kate’s run away from the horror and begun a new life as Smokey’s minder, but like all good stories there has to be conflict, and in The Broken that’s in the form of the discovery of another woman killed by The Butcher, the serial killer who attacked Kate. Also, into Kate’s world walks FBI Agent Hayden Reed, who has issues of his own.

Kate thinks her brother is the killer but as the story unfolds, you along with Kate realize all is not what it seems. Bodies start turning up and also body parts, and there are lots of twists and turns that keep you reading. While the identity of the true killer wasn’t a sure thing, I had a pretty good idea who it was and was intrigued to see if I was right.

And there’s the relationship between Kate and Hayden. Both come to it with huge issues but you feel that they’re right for another and the only person who can heal each other’s wounds.

All the secondary characters were fun too. The pacing is fast and towards the end you find yourself just wanting to finish reading the story to figure out if your inclinations were right.

I’m not sure if the author is intending to write more about Kate and Hayden and yes, of course Smokey Joe, but I’d like to see where their next adventure takes them.

Love’s Prey by Meg Xuemei X

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Love’s Prey by Meg Xuemei X
Publisher: Silver Wheel Publisher
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (201 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Xirena’s life has never been an easy one. Deemed a thief, a brute, and a slut by one’s own family and schoolmates might take its toll on your average fifteen-year-old, but Xirena makes no apologies. Then she meets seventeen-year-old Kai, smoking hot and hell-bent on seducing her. But Xirena isn’t having it. Kai must prove to Xirena that his attraction is something more. When he does, Xirena opens to him. Softens around the edges.

Problem is, Kai’s ex-girlfriends are none too happy about this. They won’t allow anyone, especially an outcast, to have the boy they want and will stop at nothing to ruin Xirena. But Xirena stands her ground even if it means wrecking her one and only chance of escaping these backwoods forever.

Love is an incredibly powerful thing. Can it really heal every wound though?

Xirena’s abusive home life reveals itself almost immediately. Some of my favorite scenes in this book show how she’s learned to survive in such a dysfunctional environment. The coping mechanisms that work for her at home don’t always get the same results from emotionally healthy people. Knowing this part of her history so early on also made Xirena’s character development even more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

This book is full of poetry. The characters quote classic pieces of it to each other from memory and sometimes even write new ones. It was surprising to see it pop up in contexts that really surprised me. Most of the poetry I’ve read doesn’t cover the kinds of topics that it does in this tale. While the dialogue in those sections was beautiful, it was also distracting. I was never quite sure if it was intended to be a stylized version of how these characters actually speak or if I was supposed to assume they were literally speaking those exact words.

The budding romance between Xirena and Kai is sweet. The fact that he was older than her and much more worldly made me raise an eyebrow at first, but I was quite pleased to see how respectfully Kai treated her. He is careful to never cross the boundaries Xirena sets with him. That made me like him even more than I would have otherwise.

I’ll be recommending Love’s Prey to the people I know who don’t usually read stories about romance or teenagers. This is a solid introduction to either genre for anyone who is curious about them but not sure where to begin.

Jaded by Rhonda Eason

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Jaded by Rhonda Eason
Publisher: Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (248 pages)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thornapple

Syeesha Green’s miserable luck has finally changed. Not only has she landed a good job as a personal assistant to a high-profile socialite, but she has a new romance with her handsome law school classmate, Christian Chambers. Life couldn’t be better. Jade McCann knew the second she laid eyes on Syeesha that the young woman would be the perfect employee. Broke, beautiful, and naive, she was just the kind of woman Jade needed to carry out her plan. Now all Jade needs to do is convince Syeesha to seduce her husband so they can both score a lucrative pay day. When Syeesha discovers why she was really hired, will she sacrifice her new romance–and her dignity–to secure a fortune? Or has she learned some tricks from her cunning new boss to keep her character, her cash, and her man?

This book has more twist and turns than a Texas twister.

The title of this book is a double entendre/play on words. We all know what Jaded means, but in this case a main character has the name Jade, as well. So, the set up is something like this…

Syeesha has been working hard to get through law school. She has been laid off at the law firm she was working for and so at loose ends she accepts a job making a large sum of money being the assistant to Jade, a woman in the entertainment industry who has become very attached to the lifestyle her husband, a former actor and now a politician, has provided for her. But, Jade’s marriage is on the rocks and her husband has her in a bind due to the prenuptial agreement. Jade could wind up with virtually nothing if they divorce and her husband is making noises to that effect. Jade hatches a diabolical scheme to come out of her marriage with all she feels she deserves… and that’s where her new assistant comes into to picture.

What a wild story. Syeesha is just at the right place in her life to feel tempted by the lifestyle she sees Jade and her husband living. So, she is also at the right place and time to feel tempted by an incredible proposal Jade makes. Up until now Syseesha has been a good girl, doing what is expected of her. This is mainly because of her upbringing, having been raised by a strict and controlling military father. Syeesha is resentful of her father, but up until now she has stayed on a certain well disciplined path. But, if she agrees to help Jade she could find herself without any financial worries for a long time to come. With no other source of income, law school is out of the question, and she has the roommate from hell. The only positive thing in her life is the guy she is seeing, Christian. But, will she sacrifice Christian, and her moral code, for riches?

A tale of greed, the lure of easy money, the lengths people will go to in order to maintain their wealthy lifestyle, and how it can take over your life until you have nothing left of your soul. This was a very entertaining read and a bit of a cautionary tale too. The ladies will love super sexy and principled Christian, and the ending is a little bit of a surprise. If you like a book that will keep you guessing all the way until the end, steamy romance, and ….. sexy red shoes- don’t miss this one.

Thanks, and let me know if you need anything!!

Only You by Willa Okati

YOU
Only You by Willa Okati
Soulmarked #2
Publisher: Totally Bound
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (90 pgs)
Other: M/M, Anal sex
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Cactus

Lovers and best friends, the unmarked Nick and Barrett risked everything to present themselves as a bonded pair. They thought they were safe, but things are changing…

Nick and Barrett aren’t soulmates. Lovers for years, they’ve rolled the dice and taken a gamble on presenting themselves as a bonded pair. They knew the risks, but think they’re safe. They’re well over the age when soulmarks usually appear, and none of their friends or family are any the wiser.

Until now. After exposure to the incendiary reunion between his friend Ivan and Ivan’s soulmate Robbie, Nick’s soulmark has begun to emerge.

And Barrett’s hasn’t.

Faced with a devil’s choice, Nick and Barrett are forced to confront the real possibility of being driven apart—unless they can fight the animal urge to find their mates. Do they have what it takes to stand in defiance of double jeopardy, all for the sake of love?

Sometimes destiny throws a curve ball to even the happiest of lovers. Nick and Barrett technically aren’t a bonded pair. They don’t sport the matching soulmarks of such a pair but they’re best friends and have been in love since they met. Since neither of them have a mark, the pair decide to be together anyway and just pretend to the rest of the world. In a world where the only allowed relationships are those with marks, Nick and Barrett live, love, and laugh as much as they can together, all the while praying nothing changes for them. Unfortunately fate stepped in and Nick develops a soulmark on his neck. When Barrett fails to show a similar mark immediately they are devastated knowing they should part, but neither one wants to give up on their relationship, regardless of the consequences.

Only You is book two in the Soulmarked series by Willa Okati. I didn’t realize this when I got the book but it was easy enough to understand what was going on. There were certain characters and situations that I was lost without the previous information but since the focus of the book is on Nick and Barrett I could get by decently. I do think readers should start with the first book in the series and then move to this one but this definitely wasn’t one where new readers would be totally lost start to finish. That said the characters are engaging and I liked their relationship. I get the feeling there is a lot of instant love in this world of soulmarked pairs so it was nice to see a couple that built their relationship in a familiar way. Now they were faced with keeping that relationship together against the odds.

I think the story threw a few too many unnecessary tangents in to make the narration gripping. There is the set up for the third book with Daniel and the continuation of the first book with brief appearances by that couple. None of these scenes really added to the story or the main couple at all. Additionally I got the feeling that sex kind of cured a lot of the problems between the men. As long as they were having sex, life was good. There was very little communication between Nick and Barrett about how to solve their problem, instead a lot of aborted talks, sex, and deep individual thinking. I could feel their strong connection and love so I liked the ending, which seems obvious but I thought the book would go a different direction.

Overall I enjoyed reading this despite the fact that I came into the series late. I think it’s an easy read and one that fans of the author will enjoy. The writing is very typical of everything I’ve read of this author so I also think it’s a good book for those new to the author to see if they like her style. It’s not one I’d read again but I liked the side character of Daniel enough that I may check out his book next in the series.

Ruining Mr. Perfect by Marie Harte

PERFECT
Ruining Mr. Perfect by Marie Harte
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (331 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

It’s Not Easy Being Right…

Vanessa Campbell is a CPA by day and a perfectionist by night. She’s fit, successful…and decidedly lonely. She can’t stop thinking about the youngest McCauley brother, Cameron. He’s just like her: smart, attractive, and usually right—except when dealing with her.

…But Someone’s Got To Do It.

Cameron McCauley likes Vanessa a little too well. She’s a blond goddess with a razor-sharp tongue. She hates to be wrong, just like him. But she can hold a grudge and is stubborn to a fault—also like him.

A past misunderstanding has them rubbing each other the wrong way. Cam is dying to shake Vanessa up—get her to let loose. But if he succeeds, can his heart handle it?

It took a no nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is-and-make-no-apologies type of heroine to save the day and there’s no better character to get the job done than Vanessa Campbell, CPA.

I’ve been watching her character grow over the course of the series and catching tidbits of why she is so abrasive, proper, fastidious and aggressive. She’s a fascinating woman with hidden facets that were fun to discover to their full extent in Ruining Mr. Perfect. She has the reputation of making grown men cry so who could possibly get past that prickly exterior? Why, Cameron McCauley, of course.

It’s been quite enjoyable watching Cameron’s interest get piqued by the prim and proper Vanessa. Things really heated up in How to Handle a Heartbreaker with the hot stolen kiss, but the attraction really took off in this novel and it was a fun ride. Cameron is his own man. Always has been and it has caused various emotions between he and his parents. In fact the relationship he has with his parents is one of the external and internal conflicts in the book. And that conflict is what makes this story not a standalone read. Even if a reader missed Maddie’s story, they have to start with Abby’s to understand the calamity facing the McCauley household.

Of course the best conflict of the story was watching two strong-minded individuals navigate the course of a volatile and passionate relationship and the sexy sparks and fireworks it inspired. Once again, Ms. Harte provides readers with a multitude of sensual buildup, hot and steamy encounters and the bedroom door delightedly wide open.

One of the plot conflict highlights was when Cam met Vanessa’s parents for the first time. After all of the build-up and worry and internal dialogue, what came to pass was for me, anticlimactic. It had its moments but it didn’t meet my expectations. There was something missing but I can’t put my finger on it well enough to explain. Still, it was one internal conflict thread resolved.

Another facet of this story is the humor. I really was entertained by the repartee between the hero and heroine and laughed many times throughout the book. Vanessa and Cam were awesome together.

The pièce de résistance was the wrap up happy ever after ending. It was fun, funny, sexy and highly satisfying. It was true to Cam and Vanessa’s character and relationship and it was adorable. And true to form, Ms. Harte dangled the carrot of Mike and Del at the end to hook my curiosity and interest and it succeeded. I can’t wait until the next book because of all the McCauley brothers, his is going to be the most challenging. He has expectations and once a reader meets Del, they’ll realize she is the antithesis of any woman Mike has known. It’s going to be exciting!

Ruining Mr. Perfect is a great addition to the series and a fabulous read. It’s quirky, steaming hot and has enough emotional baggage to stir things up and keep it interesting. It’s mostly upbeat and always entertaining especially when Cam’s brothers and their wives are on scene to ‘help’ the two sparring lovebirds. Readers of the series are in for a treat when they pick up their own copy of Ruining Mr. Perfect. I enjoyed myself immensely and look forward to the next relationship adventure.

You Jane by Elizabeth Fountain

JANE
You Jane by Elizabeth Fountain
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (147 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Jane Margaret Blake’s problem isn’t her drinking. Sure, she’s missing work, and forgetting she’s already fed her cat, who’s getting a little fat. But Jane’s real problem is the reason she drinks: she writes stories that come true and wreak havoc in her life.

In her “fables” animals, people, angels, and the Universe itself conspire to destroy Jane’s last chance to be with her old love, or, just maybe, to bring her into the arms of a new love. Years ago, a fable pushed Jane’s best friend Charlie into marrying another woman. Now another fable shoves Charlie’s little boy in front of an angry dog – or worse, a wicked spirit bent on getting Jane and Charlie to face the truths they’ve spent a lifetime avoiding.

As her drinking and writing spiral out of control, Jane must finally discover how to write her own happy ending.

It’s hard to heal without acknowledging exactly what’s been broken. Will Jane be able to face her demons before it’s too late?

Jane’s flaws are serious and deep, but there was something about her that made me smile from the very first scene. There is something to be said for a protagonist who wrestles with her demons without having any indication beforehand of whether or not she actually stands a chance of beating it. It’s not necessary for me to like a protagonist as long as I believe in their mission and feel comfortable rooting for them. What surprised me the most about Jane was how quietly she grew on me as I plunged ahead into scene after scene with the hope that she’d be successful in her mission.

There were some issues with the pacing. The plot jumps from past to present so often that at times I had trouble remembering what Jane had been doing with her life before the last flashback. The flashbacks themselves gave me a clearer understanding of why Jane made certain choices, but they would have been even more powerful had there not been quite so many of them.

I really enjoyed the fables Jane comes up with when she goes into an altered state. They were original and beautiful. Just like traditional fairy tales, some of them had meanings that weren’t always immediately apparent. Attempting to figure them out was a nice interlude from the sad themes in this book, especially once the dark side of Jane’s personality becomes more apparent.

You Jane was one of the most thought-provoking stories I’ve read in a long time. This is a good choice for anyone in the mood for something that asks as many questions as it answers.

Unreliable Histories: A Tale of Cartography, Magic and Other Perils by Rob Gregson

 

HISTORIES
Unreliable Histories: A Tale of Cartography, Magic and Other Perils by Rob Gregson
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (324 Pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

If you enjoy tales of epic battles, fearsome dragons and dark, brooding evil, then you’ll almost certainly enjoy the works of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who, in addition to being very good at that sort of thing, had possibly the most splendid name in the history of the fantasy genre.

On the other hand, if you have a penchant for lovelorn vampires, feisty warriors and unnecessarily cryptic ancient prophesies, then you should have absolutely no difficulty in finding something suitable – albeit not in this particular novel.

But on the other hand (and this being a work of fantasy, having three hands is not entirely out of the question) if your keenest wish is for a strange and digressive saga about cartography, magic and perhaps just the small matter of changing history itself, then you’ve hit upon a niche in which this book is largely without peer.

What would you do if you discovered that you have a history, one in which you were a participant, but which you now have absolutely no knowledge of? This is what Myrah discovers, and she has an understandably hard time believing it.

Of course, two total strangers informing you that you’ve participated in some great quest carries very little weight in comparison to the certain knowledge that you’ve never done any such thing. However, there was also the fact of her occasional sense-scape departures and the two strange but especially telling encounters with herself—during which even she appeared to be saying much the same thing.”

The Western Reaches is a wild new world where it appears that history can, and in fact is, being re-written. Myrah and her friends get caught up in a dangerous adventure without fully understanding what their mission truly is. Myrah’s uncle sums things up admirably when he said:

“As I understand it, you plan to pursue some enormously ambitious but poorly conceived scheme that will almost certainly entail a long and dangerous expedition across uncharted territories, with little or no idea of what awaits you therein.”

Unreliable Histories is a fantastic adventure, filled with excitement, a healthy dose of humor, and a rich use of words to create a reality. Or is it real? Myrah is a wonderful character, complex, thoughtful, bumbling along at times, but still firmly convinced of her path even when she can’t figure that path out. Her companions, Alaethar, big, friendly, and harmless, but with a surprising ability to protect her, and Nevigorn the Enlightened, a wizard who knows things, sort of, are well-defined and very interesting characters as well. Alaethar has a hard time believing in a past which he can’t remember, in spite of the evidence that he really did have a different past. Nevigorn has no trouble with that, but he focuses on “Here,” saying that “there’s only what’s Here. If you’re not Here, then you’ve gone.” Myrah has to navigate her mission with the aid of her companions, something which isn’t always easy, but which is always exciting and frequently humorous.

Unreliable Histories is the first book of The Written World, a world which I found to be totally captivating. I am eager to return to this world in the second book, The Endless Land, and follow Myrah, Alaethar, and Nevigorn on their further adventures. Unreliable Histories comes to a satisfying end, after a lot of magic and excitement, and it works fine as a stand-alone. However, having entered into Myrah’s adventures, I’m very eager to continue with her.

Lovers of fantasy, especially those who enjoy the study of words and philosophical musings on reality, will love exploring the Western Reaches with Myrah and her friends.

Dangerous Lust by Lila Dubois

LUST
Dangerous Lust by Lila Dubois
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (91 pgs)
Other: BDSM, M/F, M/F/M, Menage, Anal Play, Forced Seduction, Fetish, Toys, Spanking, Voyeurism
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Leona is playing a dangerous game. To outsiders it might seem as though she’s a normal college senior with good grades, an internship and a post-graduation plan. But all the studying and partying in the world isn’t satisfying her. Not even her best friends know about her secret desire—to be a sexual submissive.

One night, lonely and frustrated, she arranges to meet with a Dom she’s been chatting with online. Master Clay is everything she imagined, but the experience is more intense and frightening than she’d anticipated. Bit by bit she slips into the world of sexual submission, addicted to the intensity of each experience.

Leona’s secret sex life leaves no room for anyone else in her life, even Brad, the geeky-sexy young computer programmer she meets at her internship. Until a chance run-in with Master Clay in the outside world leaves her reeling, and she turns to Brad for comfort and in lust.

When Leona decides to take a walk on the wild side and become a sexual submissive, she doesn’t understand the risks.

Leona looks like any other college senior but she has a secret. She has been in a relationship with a Dom online and makes arrangements to meet him. Heart in her throat, she connects with him and begins a cat and mouse game that just might land her in some hot water. Bit by bit she falls into Master Clay’s world, becoming more addicted with each session. When she by chance sees him out of the playroom in the real world, her carefully constructed barriers begin to collapse.

Master Clay is a man who gets what he wants and what he wants right now is Leona. Fresh and young, she is lovely and oh so pliant. She does the things he tells her to do but isn’t prepared for the depths of his desires.

Brad is the carefree app designer with a hidden life. He is set on a collision course with Master Clay. When Leona comes to him for comfort and sparks fly he knows he has to step in, but in doing so he may just bring the wrath of Master Clay down on both of them.

This story was a good one but I had a few technical issues with some of the scenes. During Leona’s sessions with Master Clay there were times when he manipulated her anally without lube and then times where he used it. There were other inconsistencies regarding nipple clamps. At one point he threatens to leave her in them all night and that physically cannot happen.  There was also the issue with the contract at the end-one minute she couldn’t be with anyone else and the next she is getting it on with Brad.

Overall the tension was good, the characters compelling and the neat twist at the end was great. Leona is a girl trying to figure out her kinky side and she has two very different men to choose from. Will she choose right? You’ll have to read this one to find out.

For a walk on the dark side, give Dangerous Lust a try.

You’re Not Safe by Mary Burton

SAFE
You’re Not Safe by Mary Burton
Publisher: Zebra / Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (392 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Camellia

He Will Never Forget

The broken body hanging from a tree in Texas Hill Country. . .the frozen figure huddled in a meat locker. . .only at second glance does the truth become apparent. What seems like suicide is far more sinister, and the terror is only beginning…

Never Forgive

One devastating moment changed Greer Templeton’s life and ended two others. Now, with a body found on her property and Texas Ranger Tec Bragg on her doorstep, Greer’s nightmare has returned. With each new victim, her link to Tec’s case grows, and soon it will be too late to run.

And Never Let Them Live. . .

Greer hoped the past was behind her, but an obsessed killer has never forgotten the bond that unites them. One by one, he will track down his victims, finish what was started–and make Greer’s dying wish come true.

Murder with unsettling, eerie elements grabs the reader’s attention from the get-go.

Mary Burton weaves a tale of mystery and suspense that made me shudder at times. She takes the reader into the setting so one can almost feel the sweltering heat in the hill country of the dry Texas summer as the temperature soars above 100 degrees regularly, while all the time pulling the reader into a tale that put down roots in events that happened twelve years earlier. Now, the things that grew from those roots are ripe for harvest—what a horrifying harvest it is.

Texas Ranger Tec Bragg is back in Austin after his stint on the border fighting drug cartels. The media coverage of his warrior deeds on the border make people a little leery of him. He goes about his duties with polite manners and soft-spoken words. Yet, the hard glint in his eyes and straight forward questions make it clear, he tolerates no nonsense. He is not happy when his nephew Mitch, who is back from Iraq with PTSD, goes to work for Greer Templeton, a person of interest in a murder investigation..

At age fifteen, Greer Templeton disappeared from Austin society after she was injured and her brother and his fiancée were killed in a car accident when she was driving. She cannot forgive herself and neither can her parents. They put her in Shady Grove, a ritzy place where “broken” rich children were sent to be “repaired.” Her Aunt Lydia, who owns a vineyard, comes for her when she is released from Shady Grove. With her aunt’s unconditional love and hard work day in and day out, Greer makes a life for herself.

Fulfilling a promise, she made to her dying aunt; Greer hires Mitch, a person Dr. Stewart at the crisis center recommended. This “good deed” really puts her in Ranger Bragg’s sights. He keeps close tabs on her and her activities.

As bodies pile up, all of them people who’d been in Shady Grove when Greer was there, the situation gets tense. Is she the killer? Even with this being a possibility, Ranger Bragg is attracted to her and she to him.

The possible suspects and spooky activity along with unidentified characters that slip in and out of the story, keep tension high. As new characters enter the story, I just knew I’d be able to guess who the killer or killers were. WOW, did I get a surprise!

Mary Burton never drops a single thread as she weaves a tale that involves so many characters with so many problems it makes one head swim. YOU’RE NOT SAFE is a gripping tale about people surviving the best they know how—some winning the battle and other losing.

Mary Burton delivers a scary suspense/ mystery story along with an in-depth look into the characters’ troubled personalities. EXCELLENT READING!

Pistols and Petticoats by Barbara Ankrum, Adrienne deWolfe, Sharon Ihle

PISTOLS
Pistols and Petticoats by Barbara Ankrum, Adrienne deWolfe, Sharon Ihle
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full Length (343 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

ETHAN’S BRIDE
Violet Bradford desperately wants a child. Believing herself barren, she answers Dr. Ethan Walker’s advertisement for a mail-order bride in Colorado, knowing he only wants one thing: a mother for his young daughter. Surely the joys of motherhood can compensate for a loveless marriage. But Ethan’s broken heart won’t stop tugging at hers. And Ethan soon realizes he must risk his heart again or risk losing it all.

SHADY LADY
Fiery singing sensation, Sadie Michelson, thinks falling in love is bad for business—until William “Cass” Cassidy, a hotheaded gunslinger, sets his sights on wooing her. But when a Texas Ranger arrives in Dodge City to extradite Cass for a crime of passion, Sadie must use all her wits and wiles to lure the law from her man’s trail. And that means risking everything—including Cass’s love.

BAREBACK BRIDE
Expert horsewoman, Shannon Winterhawke runs away from home to join the Buffalo Bill Wild West extravaganza. Shannon is hired on the spot, but the show’s head horseman, Seth Edwards, simply sees another flighty gal looking for a cowboy fling before settling down with some unsuspecting fool. But all bets are off as Shannon slowly sneaks into Seth’s heart and lassoes him with his own rope.

He never expected her to be pretty…

Cowboys have always seemed sexy to me, so that led me to read this anthology. There are three stories included about different points of history and they are all good reads. Why not jump on your imaginary horse and go along for a ride through the book?

In this anthology, we have ETHAN’S BRIDE by Barbara Ankrum, SHADY LADY by Adrienne deWolfe, BAREBACK BRIDE by Sharon Ihle and all three authors write a story with an interesting plot.

My personal favorite of the three was Ethan’s Bride. She’s a mail order bride and he’s a widowed doctor. He almost panics when he meets the train because she’s prettier than she appeared to be in her picture. After all, all he wants is a mother for his child; he’s not looking for love. If sex happens, that’s fine. It’s not a thing of love, it’s a need. For some reason, this does charm his new wife, Violet. She is in love with his child and it doesn’t take long before she can see behind his façade and understands it’s hurt from his past that is making him not take a chance with the future. Life for them gets much more interesting until things settle down. Ms. Ankrum touches on the civil war and its dead and how that influences the living. That added depth to the story and made it more enjoyable read.

Shady Lady is about a prostitute who has big plans for her future. They don’t include a kid from the past who now has a reputation as a fast accurate gun and a nickname of Rebel Rutter. When he wants to rent her for a month, she quotes him $6,000, knowing he can’t ever raise that much. She tells him he can’t rob a bank. So he does sharp shooting and others bet on him. He makes the sum but he’s not won the babe… Ms. deWolfe writes of sharp witted, mercenary prostitutes and cowboys that have barely been tamed. This is lot like the real west was and it’s not always pleasant.

Bareback Bride was fun. She’s part of Arapaho and a trick rider and shooter. He’s the horse boss and he first tests her on the back of bucking bronco without telling her, of course. When they incorporate a kiss in the Wild West routine they do, it sparks an extra interest in them both. This talks about Wild Bill’s show, throws in a protective family and ends on an impulse. It’s a fast read with no real surprises, but good fun.

There’s something here for everyone. If you haven’t read much about the west, you have some new territory to explore.