Love’s Dangerous Challenge by Ellynore Seybold


Love’s Dangerous Challenge by Ellynore Seybold
Publisher: Black Opal Books
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (238 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

During the Reign of Terror in France in the late 1700s, the common people amused themselves by watching the heads of the nobility roll, severed by the guillotine. When Eduard Saulnier falls in love with Countess Annise de Brisson in 1793, he fears that, as a commoner, he will never be allowed to court her. But Annise is staying with her aunt because her parents have been sized by the revolutionaries and condemned to die by the guillotine. Eduard approaches the old lady for permission to court Annise, knowing his chances are slim. However, he is totally unprepared for the old countess’s answer—yes, he may court and marry Annise, after he gets her parents out of prison…any way he can.

Every once in a while, love at first sight happens, but would a man risk his life to prove this? Eduard does. The setting is Revolutionary France, and the dangers are high and everywhere. Luckily, Eduard is a commoner, but he falls for a young aristocratic woman. Since her parents were carted off to prison and scheduled for a probable execution, Eduard has to go to Annise’s great aunt to ask for Annise’s hand in marriage. When the aunt says he can have her blessing if Eduard can get Annise’s parents out of prison, he’s afraid, but luckily for us readers, he takes up this challenge.

What follows is an adventure driven by suspense. Eduard recruits some interesting friends with controversial jobs, such as the executioner. He is a nice young man and likeable from the start. Annise is also likeable as are her family members and Eduard’s friends and family. The author has done a good job at filling out the characters. They are kind-hearted, and their honorable actions are driven by their personal faith, giving them all integrity.

As a reader with a degree in French, I found the world building of this time and place to be exciting and accurate. The challenge given to Eduard was a perfect set-up for suspense. The test was also easy to believe because it required that Eduard have help, and he realized he needed it.

The tone to this story is sweet. The characters have gratitude for what they have, and the love is an innocent young love. There are many tender kisses.

Some questions came up for me as a reader though. Sometimes things happened too easily. For example, why did Annise’s relatives accept Eduard, a stranger, without a remark? Why did another aristocrat, Lukas, accept Eduard’s surprising secret and take it the way he did? Everybody seemed to just accept and be happy upon hearing revelations, and without doubts. Perhaps the tension could have been higher.

This is a pleasant read though, and I’m glad I read it. It was a breath of fresh air reading about people with integrity doing things for good reasons.

Another Kind of Hero by Lynn Hesse


Another Kind of Hero by Lynn Hesse
Publisher: Desert Breeze Publishing
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (114 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

At forty Helen Kendall is divorced, full-figured, and big-haired. She enjoys working at the Pick’n Pay and running the show until sleazy David Hoffman becomes the assistant manager. Helen’s plan to get David fired includes her older sister’s help. Mavis says, “No,” because the last fiasco infuriated her husband and tarnished her reputation at church. Mavis resists until her best friend, Wanda, communicates from the beyond concerned about her godson’s push-animal parties and a drug-related murder.

Unbeknownst to the Kendall sisters, undercover DEA Agent Dewey Blackmon is investigating the drug pipeline running through Forsyth off I-75. Dewey suspects David is laundering drug money through the Pick’n Pay.

These two events converge when a casket of money and drugs at the Pick’n Pay storeroom makes the body count rise. The loyalty and love between family, friends, and partners in small-town America is threatened when two strangers carrying guns come to Forsyth…

An interesting book, some told from the point of view of the dear departed (now a ghost) and other interesting characters of the human type. I had a difficult time getting started in this book. Truthfully, I couldn’t figure out which character was which. A new name would come up and I caught myself thinking “well, now, who is this? “

As I read on, the book seemed to move a little better, the ghost added a little humor and the plot became clearer. It may be that the plot was not clear until the characters became better developed and I began to identify with Helen and Wanda and the ghostly Mavis, the love interest Dewey, and many others. Those are of course the names of some of the good guys. Who remembers the names of the bad guys? Although, there were some true villains in this story. The other possibility of my feeling of confusion at first may be because this book is full of subplots. There were many crimes being committed by different crooks, everyone trying to cheat the other guy. That being said, what started out slowly may be the very type of book many people like to read.

Once the story sort of fell into alignment and I had the characters sorted, it piqued my interest and began to flow well. It became a book I was anxious to finish reading to discover who won. Lynn Hesse has another book and both of these have good reviews. I would suggest checking both books out.

March Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks


Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by Kerrelyn Sparks
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full length (320 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

TRUTH―OR DARE?

Gwennore is an Elf able to track down the cause of a certain illness and heal it―a valuable asset to her people. But when she is thrust into the realm of the dragons, she discovers a haunted place of power, passion, and magic―one that is plagued by an ancient curse. When she meets the smoldering General Silas Dravenko, Gwen knows she’s entered a whole new world of trouble. She’s been raised never to trust a dragon. So why does making a deal with the devil feel so good?

Silas has no way of saving the royal family he’s served for years. But when a beautiful, innocent elf comes bursting into his world, Silas is awakened to desire in a way he’s never felt before. But how can he trust a sworn enemy. . .and how can he live without her, in Eight Simple Rules for Dating a Dragon by New York Times bestselling author Kerrelyn Sparks.

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

Chesapeake Crimes : Fur, Feathers, and Felonies by/edited by Donna Andrews, Bob Goffman, and Marcia Talley


Chesapeake Crimes : Fur, Feathers, and Felonies by/edited by Donna Andrews, Bob Goffman, and Marcia Talley
Publisher: Wildside Press
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full length (206 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Thirteen members of the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime spin tales crime around the theme of animals. A pet groomer. A pet crow. A dog named Rasputin. Exploding cattle. Even an octopus figures in a mystery. Contributors include: Chris Grabenstein (Introduction), Shari Randall, Carla Coupe, KM Rockwood, Alan Orloff, Eleanor Cawood Jones, Robin Templeton, Barb Goffman, Marianne Wilski Strong, Linda Lombardi, Josh Pachter, Joanna Campbell Slan, Cathy Wiley, and Karen Cantwell.

I am not normally a lover of short stories but these were so fun. Each story was long enough to have a plot, yet all were cute and easy to read. Even the table of contents page containing the title of each story was interesting enough to make you want to read them and at least give you a giggle. This is the perfect book to sit on your bedside table, or read on a short commute, or for a lunch break or stuck in with your books when you are supposed to be working on something.

These are all mysteries of a sort and yet each story has its own personality. Each story was complete with different “characters”, quite interesting characters at that. One aspect of this set of short stories is that while each story was complete in and of itself, the flow of the stories in the book was fluid. Nothing ever seemed jarring. It’s as if they are in the perfect order. I have often said I was jealous of an author’s ability to put their thoughts all in order to create a book. This has occurred here even in a book of short stories. I hope this will seem a compliment to both the editors and writers as that is how it is meant.

I’m sure these editors have more compilations in this “Chesapeake Crime” series and I think they are definitely worth checking out.

Gone on Sunday by Tower Lowe


Gone on Sunday by Tower Lowe
Publisher: eiffeltowerpublishers
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full length (293 pages)
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

Polio disabled Cotton Lee’s leg, but not her sexuality, not her mind, and not her ability to connect the murder of her friend Little Mary in 1972 to that of Bead Baker in 1932. Gone on Sunday follows the lives of the Baker family, their black servants, and the townspeople they knew in Homeville, Virginia. Alternating between 1972 and 1932, Cotton Lee’s investigation into the murder of Bead Baker brings out secrets kept for decades. With suspects ranging from a housewife, to a cook, and even a rumored witch, Cotton Lee needs to find the solution to the first murder in order to know the history of the second.

Family can mean everything…or not.

Does saying I read this book in a day give you an idea how much I enjoyed it? Maybe not, but I read it in a day because I couldn’t put it down. I just had to know what happened. This is truly a “sit on the edge of your seat” crime mystery set in the deep South. While trying to solve a crime in 1972 a crime of a similar type in 1932 becomes of interest. This is a story about some realistic but ridiculous prejudices. Some were quite typical of the times. A southern small town full of prejudice and many secrets, mixed with people that like to tell secrets and hurt others can make quite a story. None of these were going to keep Cotton Lee from continuing to search for the murderers.

Really an enjoyable book with interesting and very likeable characters. I liked Cotton Lee. She’s strong, a little mouthy and a little over the top sometimes but she has more to prove than others might. There are also a few detestable characters as every good crime mystery should contain.

This book does switch decades of 1932 and 1972 from chapter to chapter. This is not written as you might think. It’s not the “oh no another flashback” type of story. While I did have to turn back a page to check what year I was in occasionally I can’t say this bothered me. Nothing ever seemed unclear and I think this is because Lowe has the characters so well-defined. It would be very difficult to mix up characters in this story as her plot made it very clear who was in what decade, what story, forty years apart. This is really two stories all about the same murders. Both entwined but never complicated.

This is Book 1 of the “Cotton Lee Penn Historical Mystery Series”. I am in great hopes there will be a Book 2.

Her Bodyguard by Sam Crescent


Her Bodyguard by Sam Crescent
Curvy Women Wanted #8

Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short story (56 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Thistledown

Lucas Evans is a personal bodyguard, and he’s been called in when a world-famous pop star was stabbed on live television. No one knows who did it, and it’s up to him to protect the beautiful young woman. He’s a professional, but when it comes to Kate Swanson, all he wants to be is unprofessional.

Kate had been receiving death threats long before she was attacked, but Kate doesn’t have a clue who’d want to hurt her. The only person she feels safe with is Lucas. He’ll protect her, but it’s not just safety that he makes her feel. The attraction between them is undeniable. Kate has never allowed a person into her heart or her bed. She’s seen how ugly breakups go, and she doesn’t want that. But Lucas is different, and Kate craves his touch more than she does performing on stage. He gives her a chance to be herself, and there’s a freedom with being with him that she’s not had since she rose to stardom.

With the threat looming over her head, is there any way that Lucas can forget that he’s her bodyguard, and finally give her what she’s been craving? Can Lucas bring himself to love the starlet? Can he protect her from someone who is intent on hurting her?

Kate Swanson is a singer with a stalker on her tail and Lucas Evans is the bodyguard who is going to protect his employer with everything he has. Only one complication: Lucas finds the luscious pop star at the center of his growing desire and when the stakes get high, so does the heat between them.

Curvy and full of life, Kate wants to sing and please her fans. When a stalker corners her and she is wounded, she takes the much needed step of hiring a bodyguard. Lucas Evans is everything she could want. The older man is attentive, seeing to her safety and even holds her at night when the terrors become more than she can bear. But when their mutual attraction sparks into something deeper, she might lose more than her heart.

The tension between the two characters is a driving force of the story, as is the mystery of who could be stalking Kate. As the flame burns brighter between the two characters, so does the risk to her well-being.

Overall I enjoyed the quick read, but wanted to have more character depth with Kate. The interplay between the older man and younger woman was scintillating as was the threat of unknown violence with Lucas as her protector. The book was a fun, adventurous spin on my e-reader that fans of American Idol and The Voice will particularly enjoy.

Antiques Frame by Barbara Allan


Antiques Frame by Barbara Allan
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (240 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

With their reality TV series, Antiques Sleuths, Brandy Borne and her quaintly kooky mother, Vivian, have a real hit on their hands. But another “hit” enters the picture, after a rival bidder becomes a one-woman show at their televised auctions—and it’s the estranged wife of Brandy’s police-chief beau, Tony! Soon the fine art of murder colors the scene, fitting Brandy for an ornately elaborate frame.

But when you’re inside a frame, it’s difficult to make out the picture. That’s why Brandy’s mom—her daughter now wearing basic jailhouse orange—must sort through a rogue’s gallery of suspects including a too-friendly farmer’s wife, a ratings-happy TV producer, a questionable husband-and-wife auctioneer team, and even the chief of police himself.

Brandy and Vivian race to determine how an empty antique frame can hold a deadly portrait, a picture worth a thousand dangerous words. Aided only by Sushi, their loyal shih tzu, and police dog Rocky, the wacky mother-and-daughter sleuthing team must learn the killer’s identity before they become the subjects of another masterpiece of murder.

Sarcasm absolutely at its best

I know the proper terminology for a review is not “it’s just as fun as can be” but that’s really and truly the first thought that comes to mind. This book is full of humor plus a few tips on finding good buys on authentic antiques. A slightly off-center, well okay, a crazy mother and her somewhat depressed daughter deal in antiques and murder. This whole series is set in a small town called Serenity along the Mississippi River. The town is a wonderful place to go antiquing as there are two or three great stores and our stars, Brandy and Vivian, continue filming their reality show, Antique Sleuths.

This series is mostly pseudo-written or narrated by the daughter Brandy but Vivian, her mother, is now and then allowed to add a chapter. None of this is confusing. In fact, the play and dialog between mother and daughter make this really work. Amongst all of the fun, there are still plenty of twists and turns. The descriptive writing is done well as is the character development.

Painting a picture in words is an important skill for an author no matter what genre might be his or her forte. Throughout this series, the author has drawn not just a map in the front of her book but also has crafted a complete snapshot. You begin to see the delightful characters, the small town, and even the day to day workings of the community. It’s as if you’ve lived there. What that creates is a reader like me who never wants to miss a book in the series.

This is Book 11 of the series called “A Trash and Treasures Mystery”. This reviewer happens to know another book will be out in April 2018 because I can’t wait to read it.

February Book of the Month Poll Winner ~ The Pleasures of Passion: The Sinful Suitors Series by Sabrina Jeffries


The Pleasures of Passion: The Sinful Suitors Series by Sabrina Jeffries
Publisher: Pocket Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (387 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

When Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is forced to flee after killing a man in a duel, he expects his secret love, Brilliana Trevor, to go with him, or at the very least wait for him. To his shock, she does neither and sends him off with no promise for the future. Seven years and one pardon later, Niall returns to England disillusioned and cynical. And being blackmailed by the government into working with his former love to help catch a counterfeiter connected to her father doesn’t improve his mood any. But as his role as Brilliana’s fake fiancé brings his long-buried feelings to the surface once again, he wonders who is more dangerous—the counterfeiter or the woman rapidly stealing his heart.

Forced to marry another man after Niall was exiled, the now widowed Brilliana wants nothing to do with the reckless rogue who she believes abandoned her to a dreary, loveless life. So having to rely on him to save her father is the last thing she wants, much less trusts him with….But as their scheme strips away the lies and secrets of their shared past, can she let go of the old hurt and put her pride aside? Or will the pleasures of their renewed passion finally enable them both to rediscover love?

READ THE FULL REVIEW HERE!

The Devil’s Cum In His Eye by James Cox


The Devil’s Cum In His Eye by James Cox
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Short Story (83 pages)
Other: M/M, Anal Play
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed byFern

Cop by day, erotic writer by night, stripper on the weekends, and Tomkin Coburn just found a dead body in his bedroom. But which occupation lead to murder?

Coburn has his teenage son in tow and a detective that seems to be interested in his butt as well as his innocence. He’ll do anything to protect his kid and the intense feelings he has for Detective Luke Early. The evidence quickly mounts against Coburn—murder weapon, body fluids, and oh yeah, no one in the world seems to know who the dead guy is.

Together, Coburn and Luke find themselves in the path of a killer, but can they unravel the mystery before it’s too late?

Tomkin was a police officer by day, an erotic romance author by night and a stripper over the weekend. Despite the busyness of his life, he enjoys every moment – until he wakes up next to a dead lover. Luke might be the detective in charge of solving the case, but that doesn’t mean he’s not attracted to the handsome Tomkin. Can they work out who is trying to frame Tomkin?

I have to admit, I really wasn’t keen on the title of this story. But after it had caught my eye numerous times I figured I just *had* to give it a try and I’m very glad I did. The mystery around the dead body was really well written and I thoroughly enjoyed the slightly noir feel to the writing style. This story could have turned all dark and angsty, but I was pleased that the author managed to inject just enough humor into it to keep the plot developments light and breezy. I thought the balance between noir detective story and comedy-of-errors was perfect and this really helped sell the story as a whole to me.

Luke and Tomkin’s characters were fun, smart and understandable and I enjoyed how even though they were clearly attracted to each other from their first meeting they didn’t simply hop right into bed. Luke was meant to be investigating Tomkin – for murder no less – and while they didn’t hide their attraction they were both sensible enough to not act on it until they had a number of other (non-Tomkin) suspects for the crime and they could both start a relationship without the treat of the investigation hanging over their heads.

While the mystery of who murdered Tomkin’s lover definitely is front and centre of this story there are a few deliciously hot sex scenes that left the romance reader in me very satisfied. This is a very strongly plotted story though – so readers looking for a sex-laded, erotic-heavy story mightn’t feel as happy as I did with the strong mystery plotline. Personally though, I loved it, an interesting mystery with a few good suspects – and although I guessed the ending – overall I liked that the plot took dominance over the sex. The fact Luke and Tomkin ended with an excellent start to their relationship was definitely a happy bonus for me.

A great and surprising story I will enjoy re-reading.

Watch Me by Jody Gehrman


Watch Me by Jody Gehrman
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genre: Mystery/Suspense, Contemporary
Length: Full length (308 pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

For fans of dark and twisty psychological thrillers, Watch Me is a riveting novel of suspense about how far obsession can go.

Kate Youngblood is disappearing. Muddling through her late 30s as a creative writing professor at Blackwood college, she’s dangerously close to never being noticed again. The follow-up novel to her successful debut tanked. Her husband left her for a woman ten years younger. She’s always been bright, beautiful, independent and a little wild, but now her glow is starting to vanish. She’s heading into an age where her eyes are less blue, her charm worn out, and soon no one will ever truly look at her, want to know her, again.

Except one.

Sam Grist is Kate’s most promising student. An unflinching writer with razor-sharp clarity who gravitates towards dark themes and twisted plots, his raw talent is something Kate wants to nurture into literary success. But he’s not there solely to be the best writer. He’s been watching her. Wanting her. Working his way to her for years.

As Sam slowly makes his way into Kate’s life, they enter a deadly web of dangerous lies and forbidden desire. But how far will his fixation go? And how far will she allow it?

A gripping novel exploring intense obsession and illicit attraction, Jody Gehrman introduces a world where what you desire most may be the most dangerous thing of all.

I hadn’t read a psychological thriller in what seemed like forever and had high hopes for this one. I liked the opening of the story which is told in two points of view, Kate and Sam, first person, present tense narration which seems to be the norm now. Having said that, with this immediacy I felt I should have connected with one of these characters…I was hoping it would be Kate as she was the one being stalked, but I just couldn’t.

The story line is great, college professor being stalked by student who seems to come more unhinged as the story progresses. However, I couldn’t feel as scared for Kate as I’d like to because I just didn’t like or really feel like I was worried what might happen to her. Sometimes she came across as someone who you couldn’t believe is mature enough to be a professor. Other times, other than the literary connection between Sam and Kate, I couldn’t see why he was so obsessed with her.

Having said that, some of the dialogue is dazzling and their inner thoughts sometimes funny, especially in the opening chapters. The pacing is fast and I think this is a story that you really need to stick with because it’s thrill and creepy factor does pick up toward the second half of the book.

I know I’m a reader who likes to really connect with a character and that’s probably the reason this book didn’t resonate with me but it might for you, especially if you prefer plot driven books.