The Dark Servant by Matt Manochio

DARK
The Dark Servant by Matt Manochio
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Horror, Holiday, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (259 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

“Santa’s not the only one coming to town…”

It has tormented European children for centuries. Now America faces its wrath. Unsuspecting kids vanish as a blizzard crushes New Jersey. All that remains are signs of destruction-and bloody hoof prints stomped in the snow.

Seventeen-year-old Billy Schweitzer awakes on December 5 feeling depressed. Already feuding with his police chief father and golden boy older brother, Billy’s devastated when his dream girl rejects him. When an unrelenting creature infiltrates his town, endangering his family and friends, Billy must overcome his own demons to understand why supposedly innocent high school students have been snatched, and how to rescue them from a famous saint’s ruthless companion-that cannot be stopped.

He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you’re awake…

The holiday season has set in and so have several disappearances in Billy Schweitzer’s small town.
Billy is a young teen dealing with several growing up issues and battling depression. Reeling from the rejection of his crush, he is forced to go to class. All around him events begin to unfold as danger stalks the snow covered streets.

Billy is given an assignment for German class and with his friends uncovers an interesting being called Krampus whose tracks resemble hooves. They also correspond to tracks around some of the missing kids, including Billy’s own brother. It’s up to Billy and his love interest Maria to figure out what is really going on. Her brother is missing and time may be running out for them all. A major winter storm is approaching and the more facts Billy learns about who this monster is and what he wants from the residents of their small town, the more urgent and terrifying his task becomes.

This book hooked me from the outset. Stories of teen angst and social anxiety never fail to pull me in, but don’t be fooled–this is not a young adult novel. Billy is reeling from squashed dreams and the cold reality that things don’t always go as planned. When his brother is taken and other kids turn up missing, he begins to use the smarts given to him from his father, a very rigid but competent police chief, to piece the facts together no matter how crazy they sound.

Krampus, the demon who exemplifies the darker side of the Santa tradition has come to claim the naughty children and Billy might just be the one he is looking for after all. It will take all of his skill and cunning to beat a foe centuries old with a taste for the perverse and a talent for pain.

The facts about the Krampus legend were fascinating and the author explains how Krampus was used to keep children from misbehaving in historic times. How then, does one stop a Christmas demon? You’ll have to read this adventure to find out. The characters were good, but on occasion the dialog became a bit dry and unrealistic. The story itself was a page turner that had me opening my e-reader whenever I had the chance.

Wrongful Termination by Mike Farris

TERMINATION
Wrongful Termination by Mike Farris
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (191 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Bay Muckleroy is a modern-day Diogenes, looking for an honest man. His problem lies not in the object of his search, but in the venue—he is a partner in Black West & Merriam, the largest law firm in Dallas, Texas, where honest men are scarce. Bay came up through the ranks of the firm at a time when honor and integrity did not constitute character flaws. But times have changed with the influx of lawyers the firm hired laterally from other law firms. Lawyers like Tripp Malloy, who brought with him ten million dollars’ worth of legal business and a sacrifice-truth-for-wealth attitude. Infiltrating the power structure of the firm by the threat of taking their clients and moving on if challenged, Malloy and his ilk have brought a new era to the firm, one that Bay finds distasteful.

Enter Meg Kelly—a first-year associate who blows the whistle on Malloy’s chronic overbilling of clients. What she couldn’t possibly know was that something far more sinister was lurking beneath of the surface of those bloated fee statements. Something that Tripp and the firm needed to keep hidden. When she is fired for insubordination, Meg turns to Bay, her mentor, for help. Unaware of the tempest they are about to unleash, he champions her wrongful termination lawsuit against his own firm. But when they stumble onto a truth that threatens not only Tripp Malloy, but the entire law firm, they soon find themselves both in danger of being wrongfully terminated.

Meg Kelly is an associate lawyer in the firm of Black West & Merriam, the largest law firm in Dallas, Texas, and she has been assigned to work with two of the partners, Tripp Malloy and Bay Muckleroy. Her work exceeds all expectations, and her career as a lawyer is taking off. However, when she discovers that Tripp is billing for hours he never worked, she turns to Bay for guidance. The minute Tripp finds out about her investigation, he starts a smear campaign against her, resulting in her forced resignation. Bay supports her decision to sue for wrongful termination, but soon both of them realize that there is a lot more at stake than just overbilling. Bullets start flying as the action heats up.

The plot is intricate and complex. There are a lot of subplots within the story which help build the tensions. Very quickly this novel becomes one that can’t be put down. Dangers lurk around each and every corner, and the suspense becomes intense.

Bay is a sympathetic character. He is an excellent lawyer in the very best sense of the word. He has his own issues from his past, and that has made him a bit of a loner. He used to have more friends at the firm, but gradually, as the character of the lawyers working at Black West & Merriam has changed, he’s become more isolated. He is brave and willing to take chances to uncover the firm’s secrets, but he certainly gets a lot more than he’s bargaining for.

Meg’s character is also well developed and she is determined to do what is right, no matter how much mud gets slung at her. When the action heats up and she is in real danger, she still holds her ground, determined to see Tripp held accountable.

Mystery lovers are sure to enjoy Wrongful Termination. I was hooked from the opening pages and never disappointed.

Seven Days and Six Worst-Case Scenarios by Leslie Huggans

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Seven Days and Six Worst-Case Scenarios by Leslie Huggans
Publisher: Self
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: Full (271 pgs)
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Poppy

Mix dry wit with a juicy corpse and let it simmer over a red hot romance to serve up a wicked comedy.

Curious, quirky, crisis consultant Victoria Douglas needs a vacation, and to learn to keep her sassy mouth shut. Instead, she’s gunning a stolen SUV up a mountain with beer cans and bug spray as her only weapons in a fight for survival. She and her investigative reporter friend, Julie Tran, have landed in a Caribbean vacation crap-sandwich bursting with murder, narcotics, and one gorgeous piece of man-flesh.

College flame, Alex Marshall, professed his love and disappeared without a trace. Twelve years later he materializes at Victoria’s resort on St. Kitts and he’s got more charm and sex appeal than ever. Tingling lady bits and long-buried feelings aside, Victoria discovers she and Julie are at the center of a criminal conspiracy that stretches across two continents. They’ve got one chance to prove their innocence before competing nefarious factions feed them to the fish…or worse. Victoria has to decide just how far she is willing to go to save her life and mend her heart.

Full of fun, quirky characters and a solidly plotted mystery, with a taste of romance, Seven Days and Six Worst-Case Scenarios has something for nearly every reader.

Taking a vacation with your best friend should be simple and pleasant enough, but Victoria manages to get herself in trouble nearly from the start. She attempts to stop someone from escaping police custody and puts herself in direct opposition to the head crime boss in the area who sets out to punish her. Add in an old flame, Alex, plus Mr. X and his monkey and you have an edge of your seat thriller with the added bonus of humor and sexiness.

I’m such a sucker for stories with characters outside the norm, and this story doesn’t disappoint. Sometimes, though, so much attention is paid to them that the mystery portion of the plot gets a bit neglected. Not so, here. The romance isn’t quite as strong a part of the story, but it really isn’t meant to be the focus, so it never bothered me that it took a bit of a back seat to the rest.

Victoria is both funny and sometimes irritating. For every few times she made me laugh, I’d have a moment where I wanted to smack her. She’s sassy and irreverent, but so much fun to read about. Yes, the plot was very good, but it was the characters that kept me reading and will have me coming back for more.

The book was packed with so much, though, the wrap up felt just a tiny bit rushed. Nothing that ruined things or made me dislike the book. But really, it was the only downside to what was otherwise just a fun, intriguing, solidly written mystery with romantic elements. I really, utterly enjoyed it and can’t wait for more from the author, especially if we revisit these folks again!

A Life Unbroken by K. M. Hewitt

LIFE
A Life Unbroken by K. M. Hewitt
Publisher: Create Space
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (327 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

As the sole witness to a devastating accident at a secret Biological Weapons Lab, Alex McKay vanishes while on assignment in South America. Six years later… through luck and a twist of fate… she resurfaces in the U.S. with a new name, a new face and a new identity. Alex has a frightening story to tell and she knows it could send shockwaves throughout the nation and world… if she lives long enough to tell it.

A Life Unbroken starts out mild and gentle with just a hint of suspense. Then it escalates to a terrifying, horrifying time in Alex McKay’s life that is incredibly cruel. It goes from having a lazy nap after a good meal to a South American dungeon prison and finally to Washington D.C.

Her life is not her own for many years. How she copes when she knows her life teeters on the edge is spellbinding. How she rises from hopelessness to a position of power had me cheering for her every step of the way—at least, when I wasn’t holding my breath, hoping she’d survive with her sanity.

The major characters, both good and bad, depict the best to the worst characteristics of humanity. Much of the action reads like the things reported in the daily newspaper.

Cindy and Barry, two people Alex meets in the South American prison, are strong influences in Alex’s life as she moves into a life far removed from how she lived as a research scientist then a prisoner. At the Galindo estate in South America, the reader sees a new Alex McKay emerge under the tutelage of Alain Galindo, the rich oil man who has a common enemy with Alex.

Ms. Hewitt’s writing style is distinctive. While the main character, Alex McKay, a scientist, tells much of the story in first person, there are other characters’ point of views and author narrative. The reader needs to pay attention so the full benefit of the different point of views and the narrative can be appreciated. These aspects of the story reveal different facets of this mystery/suspense novel that give special insight into what is happening.

I stayed up far too late, reading to make sure some of the despicable antagonists got their comeuppance. Of course, I was also hoping for a happy-ever-after or, at least, a happy-for-now.

A Life Unbroken is the first in the Alex McKay Series. There are many characters introduced and involved in the machinations and clandestine dealings. I’m looking forward to seeing some of them again in the books yet to come.

Second Act by Marilyn Todd

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Second Act by Marilyn Todd
A Claudia Seferius Mystery
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (187 Pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

The latest adventure for the Roman sleuth and glamorous heroine of “I, Claudia Busy, busy, busy . . . A house full of actors, Saturnalia coming up, the Guilds to outmanoeuvre, creditors on her back and, ahem, a slight cash-flow problem to deal with; a mother-in-law straining her nerves to breaking point and a certain security policeman, well, disturbing her senses . . . and Claudia doesn’t even know about the murderer lurking in her house. Nevertheless, self-interest and a certain weakness for her aristocratic policeman lure her into lending some unasked-for help to his investigation into the Saturnalia Rapist, a mysterious and brutal figure terrorising Rome at this most festive season. Will she manage to unmask him, or will she just get herself into a whole lot of trouble?

Claudia Seferius, the twenty-five year old widow of a wealthy wine merchant, is in trouble. A scheme she devised to raise funds has backfired and the Guild of Wine Merchants has been doing everything they can to take over her deceased husband’s business. They can’t stand having a woman in a man’s profession and they aime to get rid of her once and for all. Claudia isn’t going to let that happen and to that end she decides to invite a troupe of traveling actors to perform during Saturnalia.

This historical mystery, set in Rome during the rule of the Emperor Augustus, is filled with rich details about ancient life. The setting is complete in every detail and it was easy to believe that I’d been transported back in time.

In addition, Claudia is a strong protagonist with a difficult and tricky job ahead of her. She is determined to outwit the guild. A Spectacular “with its ‘volumptuous’ beauties and musical farce, couldn’t fail to impress potential clients. And with four days of public holiday, that was a lot of clients Claudia could squeeze in to be impressed.” Caspar and his troupe of strolling players is just what she needs. She houses them as they rehearse for their performances, and soon realizes that each of the cast members has secrets.

The plot is intricate and riveting. In addition to the secrets held by the strolling players, there is a rapist, the famous Halcyon rapist, on the loose and Marcus Cornelius Orbilio, the sole member of the aristocracy attached to the Security Police, is upset, not only because of the new rapes, but also because he’d convicted and executed the Halcyon rapist last year. Had he executed the wrong man?

The mysteries abound, from minor to really terrifying ones, and the suspense keeps building. There are a number of really strong supporting characters to add depth to the story, and I found Second Act to be a real page turner.

Mystery fans, especially those who love historical mysteries, are sure to enjoy this wonderful story, the ninth in a series. And I for one plan to search out the first eight as I await what I hope will be the next novels staring Claudia Seferius.

False Alibi by Marguerite Sansone

ALABI
False Alibi by Marguerite Sansone
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (222 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

Library Assistant Cory Parker gets more than she bargains for when a rekindled childhood friendship with Elizabeth Strafford catapults her on the trail of a murderer. Cory and Elizabeth have more in common than having once shared a school bus. They’ve both lost people they love through violence.

Cory sets out to solve the murder of Elizabeth’s mother in order to give her friend the peace and closure she needs. The past bleeds into the present as Cory uncovers a murder plot gone bad, the truth of which threatens to destroy both women. A stranger interferes with Cory’s research as clues emerge, intimately tying Elizabeth to the killer. Evidence linking the murderer to the crime turns up in Cory’s possession, making her a target.

Cory closes in on the killer–just as the killer closes in on her.

Cory Parker still has nightmares from a car crash which she barely survived and her passenger didn’t. She’s returned home to live with her mother and work as a library assistant in the children’s department of the local library. She’s struggling at work, and her boss has given her a warning. But things turn around for Cory when she runs into a childhood friend, Elizabeth Strafford. Cory learns that her friend lost both of her parents when she was seven. Her mother was murdered and her father died in a plane crash the next day. The murder of Elizabeth’s mother has never been solved and now many years later, Cory decides to look into the murder with the hopes that she can give her friend some peace and closure, something that she herself has yet to find.

Cory is a very likeable protagonist. She has great investigative skills and she will do anything for her friend. Unfortunately, her skills turn out to be too good and the murderer feels threatened by her investigation. Soon both Cory and Elizabeth are in danger.

The suspense builds slowly at first and then picks up, turning this novel into a real page-turner. There are several action-packed chase scenes, all done without any cars, which had me holding my breath as I read.

In addition to the actual mystery and all the tension that builds around its solution, I was also very impressed by the handling of the tragedies in both young women’s lives. The characters felt very real and I sympathized with both of them. The tragedies were handled with great compassion and empathy.

Without giving away any spoilers, I’ll just say that the solution to the mystery was truly hair-raising and the reader knows the answers long before Cory does, which increased the tension for me, since I could see Cory walking into danger but obviously I had no way to stop her.

False Alibi is a gripping mystery which will not disappoint mystery lovers.

Playing Dirty by Helenkay Dimon

playing-dirty2
Playing Dirty by Helenkay Dimon
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (246 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

As an elite Alliance agent—the joint undercover operation of MI6, the British Secret Intelligence Service, and the CIA—Ford Decker lives for the adrenaline. But when he befriends sexy property manager Shay Alexander in hopes of finding her cousin, a known national security threat, Ford crosses the line, getting to know her better . . . in bed.

After being burned by her last relationship, Shay wants to take things slow. Yet she can’t keep her hands off the drop-dead gorgeous hottie who’s moved into her apartment building. So when Ford’s identity as an undercover agent is exposed, his betrayal cuts deep. Shay never wants to see him again, but Ford can’t let her go, not when her life is still in danger. He will sacrifice everything to protect her, then be prepared to walk away from the only woman he’s ever loved, even if it breaks him.

Playing Dirty is jam packed with action. All sorts of action: the mind-blowing hot action, and the cool action executed with military precision. And with characters like Shay and Ford, it’s no wonder that the novel never gets boring.

Although this is another novel about a special ops team, its highly trained individuals who seem heartless at first sight, but slowly we get to know their soft, loyal hearts, Playing Dirty is nevertheless different. Yes, Ford Decker (an alias, natch) is a trained killer and he doesn’t even blink when he has to take out a target. And yes, ultimately he falls for the sweet woman next door. But in between, a lot of things happen and many of them reveal the various shades of his character that make him more human than most romantic suspense heroes.

The difference lies in the fact that large portions of the novel are told from Ford’s perspective which is unusual for a romance novel. We see him reflect on the action in Shay’s bedroom, as well as in action when on his missions that are currently all focused on capturing a runaway scientist (Shay’s cousin) and stopping him from delivering a deadly toxin to terrorists. Although the dire consequences of the toxin getting into the wrong hands are explained, the story focuses more on the people and their motives, which I really appreciated. This was also why even the action sequences were never dull although they were very detailed.

Another thing I was really happy about was Shay’s portrayal. Despite having some bad experiences with men, she’s not embittered or overly burdened with her past. She’s uncomplicated and despite Ford’s faults, she accepts him as he is, but not in a way that would make it seem like she’s settling for anything less than she deserves. She’s realistic, understanding and loving. Because of that, the betrayal feels so much worse and I really felt for her. At the same time, the author managed to justify Ford’s actions in a way that made it possible for Shay (and the readers) to forgive him.

Playing Dirty is a fast-paced mission to save the world and the unexpected love that blossoms between Ford and Shay. Worth a read. Or two.

Sparks Fly by Daisy Jerico

FLY
Sparks Fly by Daisy Jerico
Publisher: Prism Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (79 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Carlisle’s dream of attending culinary school goes up in flames when she accidentally burns down her landlord’s shed while cooking ribs for a contest. Winning the cook-off would have provided enough money for tuition. Now she needs to win to replace the damaged building. Carlisle resigns herself to putting her future on hold while dealing with the problems of the present.

The hot fire chief who puts out the fire makes it clear she’s used up precious resources with her carelessness. He’s furious that she’s wasted his time when he needs every second to track down an arsonist who is escalating dangerously.

The far more serious problem is that Carlisle’s small fire draws the attention of the arsonist who doesn’t like anyone stealing the limelight. He comes after her with a frightening single-minded focus. Can Carlisle save herself and their budding romance from the flames of a maniac?

Carlisle has big dreams. She wants to go to culinary school in New York, to get out of her small town and really start to live her life. Winning the monetary prize of the barbecue contest is her ticket out of there and into school. When a small back-yard fire gets out of control, Carlisle can smell her dreams going up in the flames. Chet is a fireman and his team responds promptly to the call. There’s an arsonist loose and Chet knows it’s only a matter of time before there’s a dead body among the gutted homes popping up more and more frequently. Despite the seriousness of both their situations – the sparks fly between Carlisle and Chet, and soon the fire burning between them is too intent to ignore.

This is a really intense story. Despite the rocky start, it was clear to me from the beginning Chet and Carlisle were meant to be. From Carlisle almost burning her house down, to Chet nearly swallowing his tongue each time they came into contact with each other, their chemistry was burning hot and believable. I also enjoyed how Chet didn’t immediately turn into a slick, suave gentleman the instant he felt attracted to Carlisle. He dropped her peace-offering of brownies, he became stoic and silent in her presence. He wasn’t gauche or silly, but like a realistic man got it wrong a few times before he became easier and more charming around Carlisle.

I loved how the author hit the right balance for me between romantic-hero material and realism (ie not a perfect Prince Charming). It made me enjoy this story all the more. This also isn’t your average “guess it immediately” style of mystery. While the blossoming romance between Carlisle and Chet is front and center the plot of the arsonist is not some tame, throw-away thing. I found myself quite intrigued by it and really enjoying trying to guess who it was. The plot was twisty, with a few curve balls I didn’t see coming. I thought this was a really good blend between romance and suspense, this hit a lot of my checks on an excellent story with great characters and a proper plot I could sink my teeth into.

There is also a really strong secondary cast of characters that I thought helped flesh out the story and added extra depth. While I really enjoyed the plot surrounding the arsonist I was a little disappointed that Carlisle fell so easily (initially) into the “stupid heroine” trap. Thoroughly believable – what woman hasn’t acted crazily a time or two around a man? – it still made me wince when Carlisle took the bait, hook line and sinker. Carlisle generally wasn’t “too stupid to live” though and redeemed herself in my eyes with some of her later actions.

Overall I found this an excellent story, with well-drawn characters and a deep plot and with a mystery not easily solved. The romance is strong, but very sweet (only a few kisses toward the end of the story – nothing too steamy), suitable for those who prefer to see the slow build-up in a relationship and not have their romance graphic or fast-paced. A story I’d share happily with friends, family or even older friends I feel this is sure to appeal to a broad range of readers. Strongly recommended.

Dangerous Paradise by Linda Lee

DANGEROUS
Dangerous Paradise by Linda Lee
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (154 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

When her younger sister Carmen, whom she has watched over since her parent’s death, suddenly stops contacting her, Elisha fears something’s happened to her. She travels to the stunning and luxurious island resort from where she last heard from her.

Although evidence seems to indicate Carmen drowned during a snorkeling trip, Elisha is adamant her sister, an expert swimmer, is alive. After a near-death experience on the ocean, Elisha is determined to find the truth about her sister’s disappearance, despite repeated warnings from a handsome tour company owner to quit her investigation and leave the island.

Elisha just knows that her adventurous younger sister simply can’t be dead. When she arrives at the luxurious Perhentian Island resort, Grand Coco Malay, and starts to investigate she finds too many discrepancies, too many unanswered questions. People seem too eager to have her leave, and so she stays, searching for answers.

Elisha is an engaging protagonist. She has been responsible for her younger sister ever since her parent’s died, and her sister, a journalist who loves to travel, stayed in close touch with Elisha, sharing everything. So when Carmen writes about the handsome owner of the resort, Johnny, who disapproves of Carmen’s curiosity and her stubbornness when she is on the trail of a story, Elisha starts to wonder if there is something illegal going on in this idyllic paradise.

The plot moves quickly from one adventure to the next, and there are many plot twists. The suspense builds page by page, and Elisha has a very hard time trying to decide who to trust, who is telling the truth. Everyone has secrets, but which secrets are important. Elisha is convinced, because of a number of small incidents, that Carmen is still on the island, but she can’t find anyone to confirm that.

Dangerous Paradise is a real page turner, and I found it very hard to put it down. Danger abounds and Elisha is on her own, guided only by her love for her sister. However, I found the conclusion of the novel to be rather a let down. I won’t give any spoilers, but the ending didn’t seem to match the intensity of the rest of the plot.

Mystery lovers who want to take an exciting trip to an island resort will truly enjoy following Elisha’s adventures. She is a strong protagonist and the plot is non-stop excitement.

An Outlaw in Her Bed by K.E. Shade

BED
An Outlaw in Her Bed by K.E. Shade
Publisher: Breathless Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (55 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

When Ella realizes that her mysterious guest, Travis, has a deadly past, she has to come to terms that it may just be the cause of her husband’s untimely death.

Ella Gilby lost her husband to the perils of living in the wilderness of the new frontier. When her son finds a wounded man in the barn, she does what any Christian woman would do for a needy soul. She takes him in until he’s able to move on, but never expects the attraction to blossom between them.

With Death comes Life…

Ella’s husband was shot dead on the frontier of their farm. The very same night she finds an outlaw, Travis clinging to life. She heals him and gives him a place in her home in hope that he will be able to tell her who killed her husband but alas, he has lost his memory. Travis helps Ella and her son around the farm in return for room and board. In the meantime, the attraction between them blossoms into a relationship strong and sturdy enough to withstand the truth of Travis’s past and her dead husband’s killer.

I am very much in love with how this story turned out…The way a simple storyline was told, I fell into the world that was created. This is a short story, but it didn’t feel like it. The story was complete and full.

An Outlaw in Her Bed is set on a farm, so I expected some amount of farm work to be told and shown and I wasn’t disappointed. There was humor laced into the everyday work that was done. That was surprising to me but very much appreciated considering how the story begins.

This is a perfect short story for anyone who wants to read a historical but doesn’t have time for a full length novel.