Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon

Bel, Book, and Scandal by Maggie McConnon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (249 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Maggie McConnon rings in Christmas in Bel, Boiok, and Scandal, the third adventure for everybody’s favorite Irish-American culinary artist turned amateur sleuth.

Bel McGrath tries her best to keep herself on the straight and narrow but she just has a taste for trouble. This time danger arrives in the form of a newspaper left behind by visitors to Shamrock Manor―and a photograph that jolts Bel out of the present and back into a dark chapter from her past. The person in the photo is Bel’s best friend Amy Mitchell, long gone from Foster’s Landing, at a commune in upstate New York shortly after her disappearance. The picture, and Bel’s burning desire to find out what happened to Amy―and whether she may still be alive―is the catalyst for a story in which old secrets are revealed, little by little…and certain characters are shown to not be as genuine as Bel once thought.

A really fun mystery including a chef but not one that gives you recipes!

I really enjoyed this mystery. Its main character is named Bel (short for Belfast) and she is a chef; come home to live with her parents after what to most would be called a culinary disaster. She is chief cook and bottle washer somewhat at Shamrock Manor. Shamrock Manor is their lovely old Irish home; one which has been restored to hold banquets and parties. I loved all of the cooking jokes and food preparation talk but this is not one of the trendy new mysteries that has a recipe at the end of every chapter; for that matter, it has no recipes at all.

What it does have is excellently described characters and a really good storyline. I would call this a cozy. I liked reading the interplay amongst the McGrath family, the few tussles and aggravations of living all together, with a healthy dose of genuine love mixed in. Definitely a storyline involved enough to make you think. I was surprised at the end just as we all want to be with a good mystery.

This is Book 3 and the series is called the “Bel McGrath Mysteries”. This third book can easily stand alone. I enjoyed it without ever feeling confused because of not having read the first two books. On the other hand, it did make me want to read Books 1 and 2.

Run So Far by Elizabeth Monvey

Run So Far by Elizabeth Monvey
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (78 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When Kyle stumbles into a truck stop diner, he just wants a bit of time to try to remember the weekend that has changed his life. He meets trucker Delaney Vance and when the older man invites him to travel with him across the US, Kyle thinks it’s the perfect opportunity to relax and find his memories. As the two men start to get comfortable with each other, unexpected emotions start to develop on both sides.

Del is a man trying to forget the past and he’s done a pretty good job of it away from people, trucking for a living, and forgoing personal relationships. But all of that changes as Kyle worms his way into Del’s heart.

The past is about to catch up with both of them. With Kyle’s memories come a difficult and scary decision to make…ruin his family or hide the truth. Can Del help him navigate a future when he himself can’t shake the ghosts of his own past?

Kyle is running and ends up in a truck stop diner to try and decide if he really wants to go through with his half-baked idea to ruin his family. While there he meets Del and they both surprise each other by agreeing to continue along Del’s way and go together to his next trucking stop. Kyle had no idea he would run so far, nor what he’d find when he reached his destination.

I found this to be a well-plotted, interesting story. Kyle knows that he’s seen something terrible, something that can ruin his family, but the trauma has given him a sort of block to help protect him from the true depths of what he’s facing. Running seems like the only option available and so he takes it, albeit with no real planning or forethought. While it seemed incredibly convenient that he met Del at the diner (and that they were so strongly attracted to each other) they both quickly realize they can help each other. The sizzling sex doesn’t hurt, either.

I liked how we, the reader, only got to learn about the plot as Kyle remembered it in bits and pieces, but I couldn’t help and feel that this made the story seem a bit choppy. It also seemed slightly weird to me that while Kyle is recalling all these traumatic, emotional memories he’s having hot and sweaty sex with Del. I’m not sure how these two polar-opposite things could have been balanced better, but it made the whole story feel a little uneven for me, bouncing back and forth from erotic sex to intensely emotional recollections about a possible murder. It just felt quite uneven to me.

The drama was very well written and I felt incredibly connected to Kyle and his plight. I eagerly turned the pages, wanting to see what he’d recall next and how the pieces would fit together. In this respect I feel the author did an amazing job with the writing and this really made the story well worth reading to me. With interesting characters and a gripping plot I would happily try more stories by this author.

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride by Kathryn Albright

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride by Kathryn Albright
Publisher: Harlequin/Mills & Boon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (288 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Wedding bells in Oak Grove…

Raising her son alone, penniless Sylvia Marks has had enough of being the subject of town gossip. But when her son is seriously injured she’ll do anything to save him…even kidnap handsome Dr. Nelson Graham!

Nelson knows what he wants in a wife; she’s to be amiable, biddable and skilled in domestic chores. Gun-toting Sylvia Marks isn’t what he had in mind, but as the two are forced together he realizes she’s exactly what he needs!

I first became aware of the author, Kathryn Albright, when I reviewed “Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove”. “Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove is one book with two stories. One story is written by Lauri Robinson, “Surprise Bride for the Cowboy”. The other was written by Kathryn Albright, “Taming the Runaway Bride”. Even though it’s two books in one, they are connected by sharing the setting and characters. I still think that is the best book I’ve ever read. I still don’t understand how two authors could write a book sharing some of the characters and yet I didn’t feel like I was reading a book written by two authors. If I could be morphed or transported anywhere I’d choose to be transplanted into Oak Grove, Kansas to live among all the townsfolk. I would love to personally meet all the characters I’ve grown to love. After reading and reviewing “Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove” I reviewed “Winning the Mail-Order Bride” by Lauri Robinson which introduced Fiona Goldberg and Bret Blackwell, who made an exciting appearance in “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride”. There is one other book that I reviewed before “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride” that involved my favorite town of Oak Grove and that one is “Western Christmas Brides”. That book has three stories in it but the one that is relevant to this review is “A Bride and Baby for Christmas” by Lauri Robinson. I just can’t get enough of this Oak Grove utopia. A reader does not need to read all the other books prior to “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride” but I think I loved “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride more because I have read the other books. When I saw “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride” posted I knew I just had to read it. The fact that Lauri Robinson was the author who introduced Fiona and Bret yet they made an appearance in Kathryn Albright’s book, “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride”, made me feel again that Kathryn Albright and Lauri Robinson are in fact the same person. Yet when I Googled their names, my theory is wrong. All I can say at this point is that I will continue to read any book written by these two authors and most definitely if it is set in Oak Grove, Kansas. I know that there are still some eligible bachelors in Oak Grove. I hope they continue the Oak Grove series.

With all that being said, The Prairie Doctor’s Bride was a heartwarming novel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop suffering from this Oak Grove, Kansas book hangover; which is the inability to start a new book because I’m still living in the last book’s world. This novel has all the makings of a great love story.

Sylvia Marks, the heroine and the hero, Dr. Nelson Graham are an admirable couple. Together they are entertaining and emotionally exhausting in a rewarding kind of way. They are both incredibly relatable as are all the cast of characters which is one of the reasons they are unforgettable. It was nice to see Nelson find his match. He was introduced in “Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove” in the first story “Surprise Bride for the Cowboy” by Lauri Robinson. That book ended with a plot twist involving the doctor that I didn’t see coming. I remember it had me smiling like a silly goose long after I finished the book. I typically don’t read series but in case you couldn’t already tell, I am in love with this one.

When I started reading The Prairie Doctor’s Bride I was overcome with this comforting and familiar feeling. It was like going home.

I guess I’d compare the Oak Grove series to the T.V. show Little House on the Prairie in some ways but better. There were friendly and not so friendly town folk. There was Mr. and Mrs. Gallagher who ran the Oak Grove mercantile. Neither one of them were welcoming to Sylvia. They’d be an example of the not so friendly town folk. These unfriendly town members added the conflict to the story which made it interesting. Then there were mishaps that happened from living on such harsh lands. There was always something happening that made me want to turn the pages. The writing style was fabulous. The plot was fun and creative. I can’t think of any constructive criticism. This book was a pure delight.

If I could give an award out to best series it would be to this one. There is just something about it that has hit home with me. I heartily recommend all the books I’ve mentioned in this review. They are books I’ve put on my keeper shelf. Lauri Robinson and Kathryn Albright are two authors that I would consider actually collecting their books. They make me happy and feel good. The Prairie Doctor’s Bride made me feel courage and hope.

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride had the best ending. I’m going to end with that. I totally recommend spending time with this novel to all readers and to consider purchasing the other books in this series!

The Nanny and the Playboy by Sam Crescent

The Nanny and the Playboy by Sam Crescent
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (140 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

Wayne Myers is a playboy, and doesn’t have time in his life for children. When a little boy is handed to him with the claim to be his son, Wayne knows without a doubt that he’s not the father. Until he can prove it, though, what the hell is he to do with a damn kid?

Temperance Michaels has been a nanny for twelve years, and she’s tired of the constant heartache when she has to walk away. She knows she has to find something else to do with her life, so when she gets a call from Wayne, her first instinct is to turn him down. But after hearing about the young boy who has lost his mother, she caves.

Now that Wayne has a nanny, he intends to lead his own life again. But he didn’t anticipate being attracted to the raven-haired beauty. Temperance is not like any of the women he’s ever been with, and she’s getting under his skin. With Temperance and Timothy in his life, Wayne has the chance to find out what it’s like to have a family of his own, at least for a while. After temporarily enjoying having a woman and a kid, he intends to give them both up.

Will this playboy take a chance or return to his womanizing ways?

This was another great book from Sam Crescent !

This book had a solid plot that immediately grabbed my attention along with my heart. Wayne knew beyond any doubt that Timothy wasn’t his son so he planned on giving him back to the social workers as soon as possible. Then he hired Temperance Michaels and found himself helplessly drawn to the curvacious nanny. Temperance blew into his life and paired up with the tiny tot to thaw out his cold heart. Their story was romantic, sexy and emotional.

Temperance, Wayne, and little Timothy were awesome characters who won my heart in this touching romance. Like most of Sam Crescent’s characters they were vivid, so it was easy to connect with them, especially after Wayne finally opened up to Temperance about his past. I really wanted to smack him at times but forgave him for some of the things he did. Temperance was super nice but never let anybody run over her either. They were just perfect together and had me cheering for them all the way.

The Nanny and the Playboy kick started a new series by Sam Crescent. I loved this one and can’t wait to read the next book in The Nannies Series.

Not Perfect by Elizabeth LaBan

Not Perfect by Elizabeth LaBan
Publisher: Lake Union
Genre: Women’s fiction, Contemporary
Length: Full length (331 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Tabitha Brewer wakes up one morning to find her husband gone, leaving her no way to support herself and their two children, never mind their upscale Philadelphia lifestyle. She’d confess her situation to her friends—if it wasn’t for those dreadful words of warning in his goodbye note: “I’ll tell them what you did.”

Instead, she does her best to keep up appearances, even as months pass and she can barely put food on the table—much less replace a light bulb. While she looks for a job, she lives in fear that someone will see her stuffing toilet paper into her handbag or pinching basil from a neighbor’s window box.

Soon, blindsided by catastrophe, surprised by romance, and stunned by the kindness of a stranger, Tabitha realizes she can’t keep her secrets forever. Sooner or later, someone is bound to figure out that her life is far from perfect.

I’ll start by saying I really enjoyed this book. I liked Tabitha, the main character, from the beginning, and who wouldn’t? She’s now a single mom to two children because her husband’s suddenly disappeared, leaving her with a once lavish lifestyle and no way to pay for it. She can’t ask for help or let anyone know about her predicament because he’s left a note that concludes with a threat about telling people what she did. But what exactly did she do? Tabitha like many of us feels she’s done one too many things and feels the guilt.

The story pulled me in immediately and I liked the way the author made Tabitha a sympathetic character by opening with Tabitha taking things for them to eat but keeping tabs on what she’d need to pay back once she got a job.

It’s a believable story and I think that’s what made it work, well at least for me. The dialogue is natural sounding and the pacing spot on for an enjoyable read.

I also enjoyed the bigger question the story asks and that is can anyone be truly perfect and do the little imperfections in our lives really prevent us from being perfect?

If you like women’s fiction with some believable characters and interesting conflict, I think you’ll enjoy this one.

Half-Built Houses by Eric Keller

Half-Built Houses by Eric Keller
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Charley Ewanuschuk has been mistreated all his life and now survives as a ghost, moving through society as unnoticed as possible. However, when a murder occurs behind the half-built house he is squatting in society takes notice of the introverted homeless man as he becomes the prime murder suspect. Brian Cox managed to charm his way into a good job in a national law firm but, when the recession hit, he learned that charm is a disposable commodity. Fired by the firm and forced to take on Legal Aid files to pay the bills, Charley’s murder trial becomes Brian’s first major case. However, this will be no straightforward case. As the trial progresses it becomes apparent forces are working behind the scenes to ensure the homeless man takes the fall for a crime. Told from the point of view of the accused, the lawyer, the detective and the manipulator, Half-Built Houses provides all the thrilling intrigue, clever ingenuity and interesting individuals readers have come to expect form classic courtroom dramas.

I am one to cheer for the underdog and when Charley Ewanuschuk, a homeless man who has a history of being picked on and is accustomed to being classified as the less fortunate, I find myself cheering for his innocence to be proven. Will legal aid attorney Brian Cox be able to prove that Charley isn’t a killer?

I enjoyed every part of this book. The author’s writing style, the realness of the characters and definitely the plot structure. The vivid accounts told with liveliness and intensity makes this an astonishing read that I didn’t want to put down. Charley is a homeless loner who has minimal skills in communicating. At the end of his work day he finds solace in a half-built house. It was touching how the author described Charley’s feelings in how such a small space of four walls in the basement of an unfinished home could make Charley feel human and like a man. There was something about Charley’s life, his struggle that drew me in, that made me empathize with him and his situation. Brian doubted Charley’s story but as he got to know him he too started to cheer for the underdog. It finally felt like someone was on Charley’s side, that he had someone to look out for him. Charley having someone to speak for him and fight for him made me cheer even more because this meant Charley had a chance.

As Brian digs into Charley’s past the story builds in intensity and as the case unfolds the climax reaches a high point. The wealthy have a means to protect themselves and their own. Even though Jason was the last person seen with the deceased female, and the circumstances make him look like the guilty party, Jason’s father Hugh Young pulled out all the stops to cover and protect his son and their family name from being mentioned in this murder. As Hugh tries to cover up Jason’s involvement the conflict rises. The twists and cover up helps build a strong suspense. The author exemplifies skillful storytelling in this moving novel that kept my attention from page one until the very end. This is absolutely a book that I will remember for a long time to come.

This is a warning that once you start reading you may not be able to put the book down. If you enjoy suspense this book will not disappoint. This is a title that you definitely don’t want to pass up.

Cajun Thunder by Keely Jakes

Cajun Thunder by Keely Jakes
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (59 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play, Spanking
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Becker Baptiste is on the run and was sent to Paladin to ask for their help. Exhausted and battered, he is trying to keep his infant niece, Sabine, from being murdered. When he meets a naked man on the road into town, he worries that maybe this isn’t the place they should be hiding from Sabine’s mother.

Roane Jackson had given up on finding his mate, but when Becker arrives with a baby strapped to his chest, Roane realizes his life is about to change in more ways than he can count.

Will Becker accept that the naked man’s claims that they are mates? Will he be able to keep Sabine safe from her mother? Will Roane ever put on clothes?

Except for his team-mates whom Roane saw as family, he pretty much hated all other people. Normal people, those who had no idea the way life truly was, annoyed him no end. So when he catches scent of his mate while roaming around in his mountain lion form, Roane is surprised and quite curious. What he finds is a man with an enormous back-pack, two suitcases and a carry-all close to his chest. The fact his mate already had a baby in tow was enough to shock Roane more than he could believe. His world is instantly turned upside down.

Becker, Sabine and Roane are not your usual family dynamic, and personally I adored them all the more for being a little outside the box. The pace of the story felt a little too fast for me personally. Becker and Roane meet and although I can understand Roane wanting to move fast on his mate after waiting so long it really felt like they just jumped straight into bed, fell instantly in love and it all happened in the blink of an eye. I thought the plot itself (as to why Becker and Sabine had come to Team Paladin) was quite interesting and fresh, but with so much uncertainty and fear it made Becker falling so quickly in love even less realistic to me. How he could leave Sabine with the other Team members mere hours after meeting them—particularly considering the danger he and Sabine were in—just didn’t make sense to me. It seemed silly and risky and I really struggled to understand how Becker could place so much faith in virtual strangers.

After that, I just disconnected my brain, sat back and enjoyed the ride. And to be honest I enjoyed the story an awful lot more once I stopped thinking about what was logical and realistic, and just rolled with it all. Once I’d put my brain in this gear I thoroughly enjoyed the fast, almost maniacally crazy pace and the sequence of events that unfolded. I loved catching up with a number of the other couples from previous stories and seeing how the town itself was going. I also enjoyed how both Roane and Becker’s characters were interesting and Becker in particular had multiple layers to him.

Readers looking for a logical, relatable story might not find this book gives them the sort of read they want. Readers, however, looking for a fast paced, interestingly plotted piece of escapism fiction should definitely give this a try. I enjoyed the plot, liked the characters and found myself at the end happily satisfied with the light read.

Girl at Christmas by Rhoda Baxter

Girl at Christmas by Rhoda Baxter
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (93 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Tammy is normally at her happiest at Christmas when she has the flat to decorate and those perfect days between Christmas and New Year to relax. But when her long term partner dumps her, with no real explanation, her Christmas looks very bleak.

Lawrence usually spends Christmas watching DVDs and catching up on his paperwork. At thirty one, he’s already stuck in a rut.

When Lawrence has a sudden heart attack, it is Tammy who comes to his rescue. It turns out a happy Christmas can be made from the most unexpected ingredients.

Girl At Christmas is a novella in the award nominated Smart Girls series. If you like authors like Lindsey Kelk, Sarah Morgan or Milly Johnson, it’s perfect for you. Grab a copy and get into the Christmas spirit today.

This book’s title doesn’t even hint at the sublime and sweet romance between its pages. I applaud Ms. Baxter’s presentation of two people finding each other just at the right time when both are ready to discover and accept love and a new future. Girl at Christmas is a character driven romance about two very likeable people that seem so real, they easily could be someone I’d be proud to know.

The novella focused on Tammy and Lawrence. She’s been hurt emotionally and he’s in danger physically – two very convincing reasons to care for this couple. Honestly, I’m having a hard time putting what I want to say in words. It’s not because I don’t believe this is a well written book – it is! Ms. Baxter has a way of making the heroine and hero’s path to love so sweet, and compelling and honest that I just wanted to hug them both. The author paid attention to the little things that people do to show interest, to show they care and because both of the main characters were a little shy, they were super adorable. I actually felt HAPPY to know them. I can’t remember actually being happy while I watched a romance unfold – interested, fascinated, and entertained,sure, but not happy in the way Girl at Christmas made me.

I liked how the author painted her characters to be slightly geeky; it was part of their charm. I also liked the three main supporting casts of Walter, Olivia and Suzie. Their friendship and camaraderie enhanced the novella and contributed significant emotional touchstones. The one character that caused a lot of the angst is Tammy’s ex, Jeff. I concur with Suzie’s opinion of him. I’m glad that Tammy finally found clarity where that bozo is concerned.

The one thing that stood out to me was Tammy’s recollection of Jeff’s opinions about things she liked, and that includes celebrating Christmas. The joy she experiences when she’s with people who see it the way she does is incalculable. The ending is more a happy for now because it’s a beginning of something beautiful. As to what makes me believe that Tammy and Lawrence’s strengthening love and HEA is inevitable stems from their conversations towards the end. But don’t take my word for it – try reading Girl at Christmasfor yourself and see why I feel so positive about Tammy and Lawrence’s love and future.

Written Off by Sheila Lowe

Written Off by Sheila Lowe
Publisher: Suspense Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (254 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

In the dead of winter, handwriting expert Claudia Rose journeys to Maine to retrieve a manuscript about convicted female serial killer, Roxanne Becker. The manuscript, written by Professor Madeleine Maynard, who was, herself, brutally murdered, exposes a shocking secret: explosive research about a group of mentally unstable grad students selected for a special project and dubbed “Maynard’s Maniacs.” Was Madeleine conducting research that was at best, unprofessional—and at worst, downright harmful, and potentially dangerous? Could that unorthodox research have turned deadly?

Claudia finds herself swept up in the mystery of Madeleine’s life—and death. But she soon realizes that Madeleine left behind more questions than answers, and no shortage of suspects. The professor’s personal life yields a number of persons who might have wanted her dead—and her academic success and personal fortune clearly made her the envy of fellow faculty members. The University anticipates being the beneficiary of Madeline’s estate—but that seems in question when a charming stranger, claiming to be Madeleine’s nephew, turns up brandishing a new will.

The local police chief prevails upon Claudia to travel into town to examine the newly produced, handwritten will. Rushing back to Madeleine’s isolated house to escape an impending storm, Claudia becomes trapped in a blizzard. With a killer.

When her boss asks her to go to Maine and find the manuscript he was helping write, Claudia is anxious to go. It’ll be a trip out of town (her fiancé is out of town now anyway) and it will be interesting. No one knows where the manuscript is…

This book is part of a series but it stands alone fine. It centers on forensic handwriting. Claudia does this for a living and she’s good at it.

This author draws you in as she explains the facts of the case. The professor writing the manuscript was killed. You have two professors who weren’t fond of her and she was running a private group that including those with mental problems. Trying to weed through who might have done what is difficult.

Just to make it a bit more interesting, the manuscript is about a woman serial killer who is in the local penitentiary. Claudia is curious enough to visit with her and she finds a woman sorrowing over the loss of her children. You begin to wonder if maybe one of these students might have been one of her children…

As Claudia finds herself learning more about the college and the students, she finds faults in almost all of them. Everybody has some but some are more deadly than others. Tempers are short in this world and violence can spring up in an instant.

The suspense is good, the stage is set for the reveal and the killer was not on my list of suspects. One thing about it, the psychologist not only finds out who did what, she also learns something about her own self.

This is a good read that’s hard to put down. If you have any interest in reading handwriting, there’s a lot of good information about that included in the story. You may even have to watch how you write in the future. You’d don’t want anyone to think you’re a psychopath…

Abbie and the Alien Official by Jessica Coulter Smith

Abbie and the Alien Official by Jessica Coulter Smith
Intergalactic Brides 14
Publisher: Changeling Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (119 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Abbie prides herself on being a strong, independent woman. Having been on her own since she was seventeen, she’s taken care of herself, doing whatever was necessary to keep a roof over her head and food on the table. But when she loses her job, her car, and her apartment, she begins to think maybe it’s time to admit defeat and ask for a little help. Even if it means becoming the bride of an alien and living on another world.

Councilman Larimar has only wanted one thing since he reached adulthood. A mate. But his duties have kept him from seeking a wife, no matter how many tempting humans enter the bride program. They’re all attractive, and certainly any of them would do. Then he meets Abbie. The moment he sees her, touches her soft skin, he knows he wants her more than his next breath.

Despite Larimar’s reservations when it comes to Abbie, he finds he can’t keep his hands to himself, and the only place he wants her is under his roof and in his bed. When she accidentally ends up pregnant, he knows he has to do whatever is necessary to make her his, and not just because she’s carrying his child. Even if it means studying human mating customs, or inviting her crazy mother to live with them.

One way or another, Abbie will be his.

If you read the synopsis, it pretty much sums up the whole story but it does not capture the emotion that the author manages to inject into Abbie’s character and situation, nor does it hint at Larimar’s gaffe. For such a respected, responsible and hardworking individual, the hero finds those stalwart labels flying out the window in his pursuit of Abbie. It’s the ability to touch a reader’s feelings and sensibilities that made this short story worth reading.

I take umbrage over the wording in the synopsis about Abbie’s mom. The heroine’s relationship with her mom is the strongest emotional element in the story and it’s there that I found the strength and depth that gave this tale that half bit more in the rating. Sure, the sex is well written and gives erotic romance fans their due, but I need more than that. The power of engagement comes from the hero’s fallibility and the heroine’s unconditional love.

There were light brushes of conflict or consternation or annoyance throughout book but the main effect I received from reading this short story was optimism and hope. Okay, so there were a few grins and the enjoyment of some hanky-panky too, so overall, Abbie and the Alien Official was a good read.

If a fan likes their romance with an alien flavor that engages just as well as an erotic Earth-bound romance, then this tale is a perfect short-shot of fun.