The Gull Motel by Amie Denman

GULL
The Gull Motel by Amie Denman
A Barefoot Book
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (140 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Savvy Thorpe needs a vacation. Finally finished with college, she heads to her favorite shabby motel on Florida’s Gulf Coast where her aunt and uncle always save her room twenty-four. She quickly finds out, though, that The Gull Motel is not just her home away from home. It’s hers to manage while her aunt and uncle take an extended trip.

Skip McComber, The Gull’s former maintenance man, has been working on Savvy’s nuts and bolts for years. Now the new owner of the bar next door, his mission is to renovate a pirate bar while being a walking temptation for the girl he can’t get off his mind.

For Savvy, keeping her cool running a motel in Florida heat is one thing, but navigating the steamy waters of a former fling takes a whole other kind of savvy. In addition to the motel and the man next door, Savvy stumbles on a plot to swindle land from the residents of Barefoot Key. Devalued properties tumble like dominoes until Savvy musters her colorful crew from The Gull Motel to make the pillagers walk the plank.

Savvy has some great ideas for revitalizing The Gull Motel, but is it too little too late?

Savvy sure has a lot on her plate for a young woman fresh out of college. Not only is she completely in charge of The Gull Motel, but she is also trying to gain acceptance into a training program that would give her access to the finest hotels in the country. However, as Savvy puts more time and effort into sprucing up The Gull, she finds that the old motel and its quirky staff are quickly wiggling their way into her heart. As if that weren’t enough, Savvy unearths a plan that might threaten everything the residents of Barefoot Key hold dear. Can Savvy save The Gull and the community before it’s too late?

Savvy is definitely a woman who works hard and always plays by the rules. She does her absolute best no matter what job she’s been given. Even though Savvy plans on getting into that special training program, she doesn’t treat The Gull as second best. She works hard to make improvements without losing sight of what makes The Gull special. I admire her dedication and integrity.

Savvy and Skip are an interesting couple to watch. They have really good chemistry, but I thought it was a little odd that they never truly addressed their spring break fling. Savvy and Skip have been dancing around their attraction for years, and Ms. Denman provides a few glimpses into their hormone charged past. However, I was left wanting more. Knowing a bit more about their history would have made Savvy and Skip’s romance more compelling.

I must say that the Halloween party and the costumes of the motel staff is my favorite part of the story, especially Savvy’s costume. I won’t spill all the details. However, I will say that I have to give Savvy credit for not only trusting Skip to pick out the costume, but also for actually wearing it to the party. This really showed that Savvy can let go and have some fun and doesn’t take herself too seriously after all.

The mystery surrounding the nefarious plans for Barefoot Key was pretty simple. Even though it was quickly and easily solved, it still served to add just the right amount of tension into this otherwise light and fun romance.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Gull Motel. I had fun watching Savvy balance the challenges of managing a motel and her personal life. Not quite ready to leave summer behind? Pick up a copy of The Gull Motel for an afternoon of pure entertainment.

Rosi’s Time by Edward Eaton

ROSI
Rosi’s Time by Edward Eaton
Publisher: Dragonfly Publishing
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (246 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Rosi Carol has managed to settle into her Uncle Richard’s New England castle, despite having her family’s so-called gift thrust upon her. Rosi has the ability to step through time, which means she also bears the responsibility to be time’s Guardian. Or rather Apprentice Guardian, as her Uncle Richard keeps pointing out. When she and her friends are dragged through a time portal into the past, Rosi must determine not only where they are but when they are and how to restore the timeline.

It’s one thing to read about the past. It’s quite another to suddenly be sucked into it.

Uncle Richard plays a slightly more prominent role in this plot. He was such a mysterious and aloof figure in Rosi’s first adventure that I was pleased to get to know him a little better. The relationship between these two characters seems like it is terribly complex for reasons that have been hinted at along the way. I would have liked to have even more information about Uncle Richard’s gruff persona and why he made certain decisions, but I was glad to finally have answers to some of my questions about him.

Rosi hasn’t grown or changed at all since I first met her. The first novel in this series sets up her personality and history so well that I was sure she would have had a chance to correct — or at least acknowledge — some of her faults along the way by now. By no means do I expect her to be perfect, but it was disappointing to see that she was as self-centered and critical as ever given all of the opportunities she’s had to learn from her experiences.

Some of the most interesting scenes discuss the differences between linear and non-linear time. This concept was addressed in detail in Rosi’s Castle, but I was glad to see them brought up again. I’m so used to thinking about time as something that is measurable, concrete and not able to be revisited that the refresher was helpful.

The pacing was slow at first. It would have worked better if this my was first introduction to Rosi’s world, but as someone who was already familiar with the background information I was antsy for the introductions to wrap up so the real action could begin. Approximately the first quarter of the plot is focused on this material. For me that was a little too much.

While I would have preferred that the most important details from Rosi’s Castle were recapped more quickly, writing it this way does make it convenient to read this book out of order or on its own. The reader doesn’t need to know anything in advance. That is a good thing for this particular series, and I would suggest going back to the beginning to catch up on previous events to anyone who enjoys this tale.

I’d recommend Rosi’s Time to anyone who like time travel stories.

Forgiving Jackson by Alicia Hunter Pace

JACKSON
Forgiving Jackson by Alicia Hunter Pace
The Brothers of Beauford Bend
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (207 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Edelweiss

Coming home to Beauford Bend opens up old wounds for four sexy, successful brothers, but the love of a few good Southern women will heal their hearts and change their lives forever.

Country music heartthrob Jackson Beauford isn’t used to hearing “no” for an answer. When a tragic fire at one of his concerts stirs memories of the blaze that claimed his family years ago, all he wants is to go back to his childhood home in Tennessee and wallow in his grief. But he arrives home to chaos … and a Southern magnolia with her heels dug in.

After suffering a vicious attack in New York City, Emory Lowell returned to Beauford Bend, a place she’s loved since she was a teenager. Now in charge of Around the Bend Elegant Events, she’s not about to let a spoiled superstar take away her livelihood. The boutique artisan town of Beauford depends on this business, and so does she. With its high walls and around-the- clock security, Beauford Bend is the only place she’s ever truly felt safe.

Jackson insists she close down his late aunt’s business and leave him in peace, but quiet Emory refuses to budge, knowing this is a battle worth fighting. As a passionate attraction flares between these two wounded souls, they discover there’s much more at stake here than business. Jackson may be just the person to help Emory face her past, and if she can help him learn to forgive himself, their love might be the key to turning Beauford Bend back into a real home.

Will two people with enough baggage between them to fill the lost and found of an airport, help each other heal or just cause further damage?

Jackson is dealing with a fire that erupted at his last concert, killing fans and band members alike, a fire that reminds him too much of the one that killed his parents and sister and which he feels personally reasonable for. Emory had her life shattered two years ago when she was a victim of sexual assault, and she’s still living with the fear, self-doubt, and mistrust from that horrible night.

Sexual assault is always going to be a very difficult subject to write about. It’s an extremely sensitive topic and it has to be justified. It shouldn’t be there in passing, an easy way to write some easy drama. And in this book at least, it’s not. It’s important to the plot and the character of Emory. The assault itself is not depicted, and we only have to read the barest details. The story is not so much about the assault as much as its effect on Emory and it’s handled both smartly and sensitively.

Emory has a curious mixture of strength and weakness to her that is both convincing but also heartbreaking. Throughout the book we see her grow and heal, and you can’t help but want to cheer for her along the way.

Nor is Emory’s the only story that deals with heavy material. I actually winced while reading about the death of Jackson’s sister. It’s not graphic, there’s not a lot of description, but the basic facts were awful enough that yes, I cringed a little when I read them.

But the heaviness of both our heroes’ backstories contributed to building a truly deep and meaningful romance. I rooted for them to find their ways, more than I have done for any other couple in a long time. They had so much farther to go and every step they took felt like a huge accomplishment which really spoke of how strong they both were.

There was a lot of plot in the book: Jackson’s issues, Emory’s issues, their relationship, Jackson wanting to quit music, Jackson trying to close the business, Emory trying to keep it open, Jackson’s relationship with his brothers. I was interested in all of it but wished some parts could have received a little more time.

The ending felt slightly rushed, with a too-convenient revelation tying up one plot thread, and certain things getting hurried along, particularly with Jackson’s story.

I loved the sense of community, with the book introducing you to a lot of the townsfolk and their businesses. I enjoyed getting to know everyone in Beauford Bend, and it felt like a real place, with real people.

This is the first book in a series, and I for one am eagerly looking forward to reading more about the Beauford family. Don’t let the darker aspects of this story deter you. It’s a lovely, layered romance, and one you’re sure to enjoy.

Marriage, Las Vegas Style by Terry Spear

VEGAS
Marriage, Las Vegas Style by Terry Spear
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (145 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Marcy Taylor wants a divorce, but she doesn’t want her husband to go after the family fortune, so she’s trying to do this the easy way, no fuss, no muss.

The only problem is Michael Lindquist doesn’t have a wife, and he’s sure she’s running a scam to try to get his family’s fortune!

It all began in Las Vegas when Marcy threw caution to the wind. Boy, was that a mistake. Twenty-five thousand dollars richer with a husband to boot and one powerful hangover, she’s got to right the wrong.

Now that Michael has a wife he doesn’t know he had, he’s not at all sure he wants to lose her. At least until he can unravel the mystery about her. And that’s how the roller coaster ride all began.

Mix a little alcohol with a mini rebellion, add in a Las Vegas preacher and poor decisions are a guarantee, right? Probably happens in many cases, but not in Marriage, Las Vegas Style. The heroine’s impulsive and drink induced moment of love at first sight makes for a real romance – too bad the hero can’t remember it.

The story has a few dilemmas to solve. First, have the hero remember his wife; second, help the hero’s father get a divorce; third, get the heroine’s father to see the light; fourth, and the biggie, fall in love all over again – sober. Talk about an ambitious book!

What the list doesn’t say is how much fun is in the process of fulfilling all four goals. There are quite a few moments of hilarity which made reading a treat. Brief appearances by Andy, Tomas and Rob enhance the story and a meeting of father and daughter ups the emotional suspense and introduces a pivotal moment of tension. There is even a surprise twist that makes things all work out. Imagine that!

I enjoyed the dynamics between Michael and Marcy. I liked watching them rediscover the very things that attracted both of them to each other initially but now they experience the courtship with clarity and assurance that the previous encounter surely didn’t have. The beginning of their relationship may have seemed like a fairy tale gone awry but their reality is much more convoluted, difficult and filled with unexpected hurdles. One of which is, Marcy decides she wants a divorce. Now how in the world is Michael going to deal with that just when he gets used to having a wife? I enjoyed the entire progression and I was greatly entertained. Ultimately, the happy ever after is reached and I liked the idea of the story coming full circle. Nice touch.

Most of the resolving of the dilemmas came about in a mostly logical process that I could accept. What I found hard to swallow was the 180 degree turn Marcy’s father took at the end. It was too convenient and rather anticlimactic. I mean, they meet and now everything is hunky dory, let bygones be bygones and no repercussions mentioned and no real apology issued? Seriously? And now it’s all okay? It was too saccharine for me to deal with. I’m happy for Marcy and Michael but that whole scene sort of fell flat for me. The other ‘mostly logical’ fix is in the form of using someone to make someone else see the light. I’m not too sure if a husband would be that completely clueless and the fact that the plan practically went off without a hitch, except for the unexpected escape, seems again, too perfect. I don’t think any human being can plan a devious solution quite like Marcy did and have it go their way. It just didn’t jive with me. The one good thing though, is that there were no loose ends. The author tied everything up in a nice little multihued bow.

Marriage, Las Vegas Style is a light, whimsical and enjoyable read. It’s not heavy or filled with too much angst so it’s the perfect book to read for a bit of romance and lighthearted fare. I think readers will enjoy the experience. There’s a lot to like and Marcy and Michael are actually very good together. Try it and see for yourself.

Death Rub by Ashantay Peters

RUB
Death Rub by Ashantay Peters
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press Inc
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (244 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thornapple

Class reunions can be murder – even after finding the perfect dress.

Struggling massage therapist Maggie Jenkins only worries about rent, ducking her fifteen-year high school class reunion and whether she’s too old for her new boyfriend. Until she finds her client dead with no one else in the building. And all clues point to Maggie.

Construction supervisor Cam Darrow knows the seven-year difference between him and Maggie means nothing when love is at work. Convincing her to believe in him isn’t easy when her first love returns to town, evidently set on winning Maggie back. Not to mention the increasing stack of evidence against Maggie makes Cam worry she’ll be permanently out of his reach – in prison.

When another of Maggie’s classmates dies, it’s apparent the Class of 1999 produced more than graduates. Will the murderer add Maggie to the growing roster of death?

This book is just the right kind of romantic mystery that would be perfect to curl up with a cold winter night or a lazy weekend afternoon.

Maggie has worked hard to build a life for herself as a massage therapist. She has a devoted boyfriend, even if the seven year gap in their ages has her concerned. She has all but forgotten the pain and betrayals from high school which are all in the past now. But, with Maggie’s high school reunion fast approaching, she is reminded of all those rivalries, and the backstabbing and teenage angst. It was a time in her life she would rather forget, but someone from her class is harboring more than just a little resentment. When a murder takes place, it looks like one of Maggie’s old classmate could be responsible, but it’s Maggie who becomes the primary suspect.

With people coming into town to attend the reunion, Maggie meets up with her old high school boyfriend, Travis, who claims he wants a second chance with her. But, her old nemesis from high school, the one who stole Travis away from her, is still hell bent on destroying anything that Maggie has.  When it becomes clear Maggie may be arrested for murder she and her friends do a little sleuthing on their own, which gets them some unwanted attention.

I agree that high school angst and the old pains we suffered can stick with us for years to come, no matter how silly that is. However, murder usually isn’t a part of the equation. In this case it is and I loved how Maggie and her friends became partners to solve the crime.

I enjoyed this book quite a bit and found Maggie a character I could relate to. She’s a little sassy and sarcastic at times, but is a good person with the same frailties all us are prone to, making her a believable and real character. The secondary characters are her friends Ginger and Katie. Each one of them adds their own quirkiness and humor and are super supportive of each other.

I am always a sucker for the amateur sleuth type mysteries. This book is a whodunit in the cozy mystery vain with a romantic suspense blend. There is no graphic violence, just a light mystery with great characters and a plot that kept me guessing all the way to the end.

Rosi’s Castle by Edward Eaton

CASTLE
Rosi’s Castle by Edward Eaton
Publisher: Dragonfly Publishing
Genre: Young Adult/Middle Grade, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (200 pages)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Orphaned, Rosi Carol is sent to live with her mysterious Uncle Richard in his eerie castle on the New England coast. Rosi feels even more of an outcast when she discovers the townspeople believe the Carol family has some kind of magical hold over New Richmond. Even her new friends are afraid of her. She soon discovers there may be some truth to the rumors. The castle seems to have a mind of its own with lights turning off and on and doors locking and unlocking with no one in sight. A strange dark cloud has dogged her since the train station. The ghosts of the Widows from New Richmond’s past blame Rosi for their husbands never returning from the sea. Her only allies are a Girl in Black (gone as suddenly as she appears) and Jesse (a paranormal reporter no one else can see). Can Rosi discover what the Widows want? What about the Girl in Black? Can Jesse help her find the answers or is he another big mystery? And why can’t her watch keep proper time?

The nice thing about moving to a new town is that it usually offers the opportunity to turn over a new leaf. If only Rosi knew why all of her new neighbours were acting so strangely around someone they’ve just met.

Rosi has several serious personality faults that reveal themselves early on in the plot. Her strengths were a little more challenging to figure out because they weren’t highlighted quite as much. I’ll admit that it took me some time to warm up to Rosi due to her tendency to judge things before gathering all of the facts, but once I got to know her better I was curious to see what would happen to her next.

It took me a long time to begin to figure out what was going on with Rosi’s uncle and his property. I understand that this is the first book in a trilogy, and I definitely wouldn’t expect the author to give away all of his secrets about the characters so early on. Having a few more clues early on about what Rosi was up against would have been incredibly helpful, though, due to the large percentage of the plot I spent feeling confused.

The atmosphere was deliciously spooky. One of the things I like the most about paranormal stories is how they bend the rules of physics in ways that don’t immediately make sense. Figuring out how and why those rules have been shifted is almost as interesting as learning what lead them to be altered in the first place.

Rosi’s Castle is a good choice for anyone who likes paranormal, young adult fiction.

Dawn of Love by Starla Childs

Dawn Of Love
Dawn of Love by Starla Childs
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (207 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Fiona would sooner risk the wrath of a legendary beast than submit to the brigands who chase her to the walls of Burgis Keep. There, she finds herself under the protection of the most unlikely guardian. When the rumors of a vampire stalking the halls of the crumbling castle prove true, will she have the courage to discover the truth of the curse?

The Beast of Burgis Keep likes his privacy. Cursed by the gods seven hundred years ago, Alasdair is almost a vampire, but fights his ever present hunger with each breath. Until Fiona Buchanan stumbles into his castle. She calls to him like no other woman has, and he is lost when confronted with her subtle beauty and ever-present charm.

A legend exists which speaks of a way free of his bloody curse, but is Alasdair capable of trusting Fiona enough to find the path to love?

Is Fiona the key to Alasdair’s freedom, or a temptation that will doom him for eternity?

A single poor decision cost Alasdair everything he cared about. Cursed by the gods, he has suffered for hundreds of years. By the time Fiona enters his life, Alasdair has just about given up hope of ever regaining his humanity. Alasdair definitely had my sympathy. He always strives to do the right thing. He desperately wants to be with Fiona, yet he knows that he is dangerous and he tries very hard to push her away. As Alasdair struggles against his feelings, Fiona and Alasdair are edging closer to their ultimate fate. Will Alasdair regain his humanity, or curse Fiona with eternal life?

Alasdair’s predicament definitely reminds me of Beauty and the Beast, which happens to be my favorite fairytale. As I read, I was very curious of how Ms. Childs would interpret the classic story. I really like how Ms. Childs revealed the origin of Alasdair’s curse in segments spread throughout the book. Each section managed not only to answer some of my questions, but raised new ones as well, further piquing my curiosity. While I enjoyed this quest for answers, I still had several unanswered questions by the time I finished reading the book. The gods and their motivations for meddling with Alasdair’s life were especially murky and needed more explanation.

Fiona and Alasdair are fated to be together and have really good chemistry, but they never seem very comfortable with each other. Alasdair alternately seeks Fiona out and then pushes her away. Fiona is understandably confused by this behavior. Consequently, their interactions are a bit awkward at times. Honestly, Fiona seems to spend more time with Derry, Alasdair’s friend. I understand that Fiona and Alasdair’s situation is unique, but I would have liked to see them get to know each other better in order to make their relationship more believable.

Overall, I found Dawn of Love to be an enjoyable read. Fiona and Alasdair’s story is interesting, and their happy ending is certainly pleasing. Fans of paranormal romance might want to give this tale a try.

To Love and to Cherish by Leigh Greenwood

CHERISH
To Love and to Cherish by Leigh Greenwood
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (354 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

After her husband’s death, widow Laurie Spencer is left with nothing but the money she finds in the saddlebags of a dead soldier. Determined to be independent, she invests it in a ranch with Jared Smith, but when she doesn’t have enough for a full partnership, she reluctantly throws herself in as part of the deal.

Playing housekeeper means plenty of time in close quarters with the sexy cowboy. Soon, they’re in each other’s arms, but personal demons keep Jared from admitting he’s falling in love. When he finally sees what was right in front of him, it’s going to take more than a lasso to get her back into his arms where she belongs.

Yes! To Love and to Cherish is another western historical love story that is a keeper—another Leigh Greenwoods novel that shows his artistry with words.

If you’ve read A Cactus Creek novel, you may recognize some names like Naomi, Colby, Noah, Dr. Keesling, and Norman (yuck).

But, there’s a new man in town, a rancher, Jared Smith, recently out of the army and now furnishing beef for the fort near Cactus Creek. He’s not well-known; however, he shows up to offer his condolence when Noah Spencer, the banker’s brother and Laurie Spencer’s husband, dies. Jared does not go unnoticed. His handsome, eagled-eyed appearance, his sensuality, and his air of self-possession and purpose cannot be overlooked.

Even though, her body quivers when she sees him, Laurie, the young widow, has no interesting in ever having another husband. First controlled by a strict father that makes her ashamed of her body and later controlled by the man her father forced her to marry when she was seventeen, Laurie thinks she will now be independent since her husband died. She can make her own decisions and control her own life.

When things do not work out as Laurie thought they would, she finds that she and Jared Smith have the same enemy. They conspire so they can each get what they want. The obstacles, risks, and conflicts mount up to what seems like an insurmountable level.

Intriguing, compelling events paced just right, subtle character development, a touch of humor, and a hint of secrets kept this reader turning pages. The subplots are like icing on a cake. They enhance the total flavor of the story. Best of all, the love story sparkles with both tears and laughter.

Many of the secondary characters grab the reader’s attention. Fifteen-year-old Steven, Jared’s nephew, won my heart. Then there is Norman Spencer, the banker; he really raised my hackles. He is an antagonist that lives up to the title.

Leigh Greenwood’s Cactus Creek is inhabited with flawed characters (some good, some not so good) whose lives are entwined and tangled. The reader gets to vicariously share in their resolute efforts to build their lives in Arizona after the Civil War AND also gets to enjoy a memorable love story.

Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick M Garry

FLIPPER
Finding Flipper Frank by Patrick M Garry
Publisher: Kenrick Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (263 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Walt Honerman has just about given up on life. He is thirty-eight years old and lives alone in a small apartment above a hardware store in Billings, Montana. But because of a promise made to a dying uncle, Walt embarks on a cross-country driving trip with two passengers: Moira Kelly, a young woman who had befriended Walt’s uncle during his recent hospitalization; and 76-year-old Izzy Dunleavy, a loquacious nursing home resident who wishes to return to his hometown of Crawfish Bay, Maryland.

During their trip, Izzy entertains Walt and Moira with elaborate tales of the grand resort he once owned in Crawfish Bay—a resort with a mythical reputation for being a place of good luck. But when they arrive in Crawfish Bay, a suddenly confused Izzy is arrested on a decades-old embezzlement charge.

After Moira insists on staying to help Izzy, she and Walt discover that most of Izzy’s stories are pure fiction. More discoveries occur when they meet Felix, Izzy’s former business partner, and Emily, a single mother who worked at the nursing home in Billings and who came to Crawfish Bay because of Izzy’s promise of a job at his fictional resort.

This mismatched group, thrown together as much by anger as by nostalgic affection, begins investigating the money Izzy supposedly embezzled when he disappeared from Crawfish Bay years ago. And despite his retreat from life, brought on by a past tragedy, Walt finds himself being pulled into the wake of wild dreamers.

Have you ever been around old people? They remember before like it was yesterday but might not know your own name. They can be crabby, stubborn and insistent. They’re often unhappy. So why would someone take them on a road trip 2,000 miles across country?

This was a surprising book. I expected it to be sort of a farcical tale. Instead Mr. Garry turned this into a look at humanity. He puts odd characters together, they travel and enjoy themselves for the most part, and they grow as they go.

Izzy is the old man. He’s going back to where he started. He fantasizes about his old business, how palatial it was, a lost love, and looks forward to seeing his old partner. Walt is the man whose uncle has just died. That’s how he got stuck with Izzy. It seems his uncle told him about going to Baltimore to see the game, and now he wants to hitch a ride. Walt has given up on life. He lost his fiancé in silly trick he and a buddy pulled and he doesn’t believe in love or life anymore. So what does it make if he takes Izzy along for the ride? Then, he suddenly has another passenger. A young woman visiting the nursing home wants to go, too. What’s one more?

As they travel, Izzy entertains them. Walt gets a bit irritated here and there, but he lets it go. Nobody is exactly what they appear to be. Izzy has some secrets (he may have forgotten them but they haven’t forgotten him), so does Moira, and Walt is still trying to find a spark to keep going.

I really enjoyed reading the escapades of Izzy and the budding romance between Moira and Walt. What bothered me was that death was waiting in the shadows. It goes with the story line and has a good message even if it’s a bit sad. The author handled it well. He has a clean writing style that is easy to read. He also made you really care about his characters. That’s what really matters in the long run.

You can take this trip across the country, too, just grab a copy of this book now. When you set it down, you won’t forget it quickly.

Embrace the Night by Caris Roane

Bella Media Management
Embrace the Night by Caris Roane
The Blood Rose Series: Five
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (122 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

He ignored his deepest needs for a hundred years…

Mastyr Vampire Jude has kept his distance from all women because he lost his wife and daughter to an enemy attack a hundred years ago. He won’t go through that kind of loss again. And he won’t jeopardize another woman’s life while the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs still pose a threat in the Nine Realms. But when Hannah saves his life by creating unexpected fire from the palms of her hands, he knows that something ‘very realm’ is going on with her and he can no longer ignore his long-suppressed desire for the beautiful owner of the Gold Rush bar. When his cravings for her blood and her body drive him to take her to bed and tap into her vein, his world shifts forever. But can Hannah make the adjustment to a life lived on the frontlines of an ongoing war? And if anything should happen to her, how could he ever live with himself?

There is something compelling about this series that keeps me coming back for more. Ms. Roane has created a world that mixes a drop of contemporary with a whole lot of ‘other’ and comes up with a new and fascinating twist for the vampire romance genre. So far, I’ve read every short and novelette that she’s written regarding the nine realms and none have let me down.

First, Embrace the Night is a standalone. There are some references to characters that I’ve met in the past but they show up like listening to a one-sided telephone conversation; they provide clues and information but don’t interfere with the main focus of the story: the romance between Mastyr Jude and Hannah.

The talent that Ms. Roane wields is formidable. Every story, no matter the length, always makes me feel like I got a full story, complete with emotional and sentimental undercurrents, action, drama, some humor, amazement and even some very sexy loving – emphasis on sexy. This tale is no different. The hero has experienced loss in the past that hurt him so bad, he’s adamant that he’ll never succumb to love again. The heroine is a woman who prides herself on her independence and is doing fine but finds herself wanting something that she should not, Jude. When they get together, passion simmers and pops until they succumb and something is unleashed that catches them both by surprise. What happens then is a journey. Jude and Hannah have to balance their newfound knowledge with finding acceptance in their new roles. What complicates the matter is the villain.

The villain and her horde are not explored too thoroughly here. That was done in Embrace the Mystery when the ‘who’ was finally revealed. In this story, enough is shared with a new reader to understand the danger without making a reader feel lost. The powerful fae sends a new kind of threat to attack Jude’s realm and the menace becomes personal when she targets Hannah. Jude has to make a choice, embrace his potential relationship with Hannah or lose her forever. Hannah has to decide how much her independence is really worth and what is she willing to lose to keep it. Both internal conflicts play nicely off of each other and provide a wonderful backdrop for an adventurous, romantic novelette.

The secondary characters that come to play are always interesting, helpful and give flavor to the storytelling. The one component that I believe the author relies heavily upon is Davido and his wife. They are nice people and interesting but they are a powerful couple who the author has used as a tool to get her main protagonists from point A to B. I believe that they are the glue or the facilitators that allow such short stories to flow in the cohesive manner I’ve come to expect. Not that it’s a bad thing, far from it, because it works. However, sometimes it comes across as too perfect or too helpful and I had a sense of that in this story. Then again, it’s also a way to keep the angst level low and the reading enjoyment high and smooth flowing. It’s a tricky balance.

Embrace the Night is a must read for vampire romance fans that are looking for something new, vibrant and fascinating. The concept of the Blood Rose is intriguing and the world Ms. Roane has created is full of nuances, fantasy folklore characters, vampires and lots of dire and interesting predicaments. Hannah and Jude made for a wonderful couple and their romance was delightful. If a reader hasn’t had the experience of reading this series before, this is a fun one to start off with. If anything, it might even intrigue a reader enough to read the previous books in the series. And that would be a great thing because a couple are even better than this one. Which is me saying – go forth and read. The Blood Rose series is pure entertainment and Embrace the Night is a great addition to the tales of the nine realms. I’m glad I read it.