How to Impress a Marquess by Susanna Ives

How to Impress a Marquess by Susanna Ives
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (265 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

TAKE ONE MARQUESS: Proper, put-upon, dependable, but concealing a sensitive artist’s soul.

ADD ONE BOHEMIAN LADY: Creative, boisterous, unruly, but secretly yearning for a steadfast love, home, and family.STIR in a sensational serialized story that has society ravenous for each installment.

COMBINE with ambitious guests at an ill-fated house party hosted by a treacherous dowager possessing a poison tongue.

SHAKE until a stuffy marquess and rebellious lady make a shocking discovery: the contents of their hearts are just alike.Take a sip. You’ll laugh, you’ll swoon, you’ll never want this moving Victorian love story to end.

How to Impress a Marquess showcases the hypercritical snobbery of “high society” in England in the late nineteenth century. However, it begins to sizzle and sparkle when Lilith Dahlgren and George, Marquess of Marylewick have to seriously deal with their unique relationship.

Lilith and George are about as far apart in their thinking as two people can be. Yet, both have been shaped by traumatic events in their younger years. George is all about responsibilities, duties, drudgery, orderliness, family, position and “proper” behavior—all childish things have been put away. Lilith is about art, freedom of spirit, and survival in a world where people have failed her time and again. Her natural compassion and joy for life make her an easy target for people who take advantage of her. These traits keep her in hot water with George much of the time, and he is the one who controls her money.

As the author filtered in bits of back story, my heart ached for those two. But Lilith’s “atrocious behavior,” according to George, made me laugh and want to encourage her. She can almost make stern George smile at times with her antics.

Lilith has a secret, special talent. She is the writer of “Collette and the Sultan” a serial story that all of London, regardless of class, waits eagerly to read week by week. She and her muse get her in a spot that threatens to break her heart—creating stay-up-late reading!

Some of the secondary characters like Penelope, George’s sister, Beatrice, Lilith’s half-sister, Lady Marylewick, and Lord Charles add sub-plots and depth to the story that makes How to Impress a Marquess remarkably good reading while giving the reader a glimpse of the political and social tensions of that time in history.

Compliments to Ms. Ives for a creating a compelling love story, beautifully written, with spicy but nice! .

Safe Harbor by Jennifer Moore

Safe Harbor by Jennifer Moore
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (112 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

The shy daughter of a powerful politician, Melanie Owen is fed up over her father’s attempts at controlling her life. Hiding out in Lobster Cove seems like the perfect solution. But a misunderstanding and unwarranted act of heroism bring the town’s doctor, Seth Goodwyn crashing to—and through—Melanie’s front door. Seth’s attempts to repair the situation insert him into her life, raising Melanie’s worries of losing her new-found independence to another controlling man.

His inability to save his sister has impacted Seth Goodwyn’s entire life, and Doctor Seth is a fixer. He meets quiet, unassuming Melanie and figures she needs his help. But before long, he struggles against the realization that to keep her, he may have to let her go.

Seth sees Melanie every day, but he still hasn’t quite managed to work out how to talk properly to her and get her to trust him. He’s a self-confessed fixer, and it’s clear that Melanie needs help. Seth is determined to become that man, he just needs the right opening.

I found this to be a lovely, really sweet story. Seth and Melanie don’t rush into everything – they’re both quite layered characters who have plenty of skeletons in their closet. I really enjoyed the fact neither were simple, easy people. Seth is definitely a fixer and needs to save those around him – but that need stems from a very specific time when he couldn’t do so. And Melanie is on the surface a shy young woman, determined to make her own path – but there’s so much more that lies in her previous life, where her determination takes root from. I found these to be really interesting, complicated people who grabbed my attention and it was a pleasure to watch them not only come together, but learn about each other.

This story is set in Lobster Cove – and while it’s clear there are plenty of other stories set here, I had no problems following along, even though I picked up this book up without having read any of the previous other stories. I was a little disappointed with the ending. While Melanie was awesome confronting her demons from the past, I felt the resolution to the problem was just a little too pat. After such a momentous build up – pretty much the entire story – having everything just fall perfectly into place and be accepted in the final moments really felt unrealistic to me. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a happy ending, I need that from my romance, but after a huge build up to this climactic scene, it felt so easy and smooth I couldn’t help but wonder if that was it and I’d missed something.

Having said that I strongly feel that for me; the most important aspects in a romance story are a) the romantic relationship and b) the characters. Both of these were excellently handled to my mind. I loved the slow, sweet blooming of the relationship between Melanie and Seth and I particularly enjoyed some of the baseball humour and the way they both kept it light but their connection flourished.

A lovely, sweet and warm love story between two deep and interesting characters.

Alien Contact for Kid Sisters by Edward Hoornaert

Alien Contact for Kid Sisters by Edward Hoornaert
Publisher: self
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full (323 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Review by: Rose

Marianne Harmon is sick and tired of being just the kid sister of the famous queen of Kwadra Island. Although she daydreams about being a warrior, when rebels bomb the royal ball she’s shunted to one of the many tunnels that honeycomb Kwadra, where she awaits a captain of the valiant Royal Guardians.

Quinn Lebatarde, a scam artist fleeing the police, dons the uniform of a Royal Guardian killed by a tunnel collapse. When Marianne mistakes him for her bodyguard, Quinn can’t decide whether to save the feisty maiden, fall in love with her—or kidnap her. With bloodthirsty rebels pursuing them and a treasure map in his pocket, what will he choose?

I really enjoyed this book and all the characters (especially Quinn.. the banter between him and Marianne had me giggling.) Even though this is the second book in the series, it can easily be read alone- although it did make me want to read the first book to find out more about the Kwadrans and how Marianne’s older sister, Elinor, became the Kwadran queen.

The characters are all fully drawn—they have their faults, but they grow over the course of the book. The chemistry between Marianne and Quinn is reminiscent of that between Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone (not a coincidence that this movie is referenced in the book blurb!) The action was strong, and the hardships Quinn and Marianne go through on their journey plays a great part in their growth.

Mr. Hoornaert’s writing is clean and tight—it was a pleasure to read and I’m looking forward to reading more of his works.

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Lies, Love and Redemption by Kelli A Wilkins

Lies, Love and Redemption by Kelli A Wilkins
Publisher: Medallion Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (350 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Shot and left for dead, Sam Hixton stumbles into a general store on the Nebraska prairie and collapses into the arms of Cassie Wilcox.

Cassie’s world is turned upside down when the handsome stranger drops into her life. Sam is another complication she doesn’t need: her business is dying and her trouble with the townspeople is escalating. Yet she’s determined to keep the store open — no matter what the cost.

As Sam recovers from his injuries, he hides the truth about his identity and convinces Cassie to let him work in the store. He’s attracted to her and admires her independent nature but quickly realizes Cassie’s in way over her head. They fight their growing attraction, and Cassie questions whether she can trust her fragile heart to a mysterious stranger. Will he accept her once he knows about her troubled past?

Cassie resists Sam’s advances and represses her feelings until one fateful night when they give in to their fiery passion. Together, they work out a plan to save the store but find their efforts are thwarted—and their lives endangered—by the locals.

Sam’s secret returns to haunt him and pulls him away just when Cassie needs him the most. Will he regain her trust when she learns the truth? Cassie has everything invested in the store—can she save it and find true love with Sam before it’s too late?

From the first page I was hooked! The plot was clever, engaging, and I was full of anticipation for what would happen next since there were several twists and turns. The plot wasn’t totally predictable and was mostly believable. I experienced some pleasant surprises.

Sam Hixton, the hero, was shot and left for dead but managed to stumble into Cassie’s store with a “help me” and “hide this”. If there was a “Pause Life” button I’d have pushed it then. Thank goodness such a button doesn’t exist because at 40% through the book there was a scene that literally had me stumbling and muttering to myself in a not so pleasant way. Up to this scene the author did an excellent job drawing me into the story and making me feel involved with the small struggling town with the complex locals that resided there.

The synopsis actually refers to a fateful night when the hero and heroine gave in to their fiery passion. The placement and timing was farfetched and unbelievable. Seriously, Sam is irresistible but not that irresistible. There’s a sentence that said “it wasn’t the ideal time, but he wasn’t about to argue”. The only thing that was fateful that night was the fact they chose that moment to not be able to repress their feelings another moment longer. I know this is a romance, and their desire was inevitable, but come on. Right then?

Even though the story was able to draw me back in, it was never the same; it didn’t have the same gripping power over me as it had before that ‘fateful’ event. Just when I was able to put the scene out of my mind, the couple referred to it later in the story as if it was a personal inside joke between them. They admitted that they wished their first time together was a different place and time. I could only agree with their assessment.

Regardless, I was still hooked to find out how in the world was she going to save the store and how in the world their love for each other would endure through all the obstacles and complications. I really loved it when Sam stood up for Cassie to the locals. Each time he did I was cheering “Ha! Take that!” As much as Cassie was stubborn, she was smart enough to know when to bend and when to apologize when she went too far.

The author did a good job securing a happy ending for all involved leaving me feeling justified, vindicated, and with a sweet closure. It was a nicely wrapped happy ending. It was like eating a really delicious meal that left you with mild heartburn. You know you’d eat it again but next time you’d bring the antacids with you. 🙂

Fallen Star by Allison Morse


Fallen Star by Allison Morse
Published by The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical (1970s), Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (315 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

Who killed 1940s screen goddess Gloria Reardon? Her unsolved murder hypnotized the public with its scandalous details and shocked two generations.

Avid feminist and aspiring filmmaker, Kate Bloom discovers long lost footage that holds the key to who murdered her grandmother. Legendary movie star, Gloria Reardon, may be dead, but friends and lovers from the Golden Age of Hollywood’s heyday are still very much on the scene, and it seems everyone has something to gain or lose from Kate’s discovery. Enlisting the youthful and brash film restorer Dylan Nichols as her closest ally, Kate becomes haunted by Gloria’s glittering past. Caught between glamorous Old Hollywood and the gritty, exciting New Hollywood of the 1970s, Kate is determined to find out what really happened to her grandmother and in the process becomes the killer’s new target.

The long-ago life and love of a Hollywood star feed this ’70s era mystery.

Kate Bloom found out about violence–and desperation–first hand, as well as getting too close to some of the worst of Hollywood. But, it made her strong.

Gripping and gritty, honestly, the opening violence was a little of a turn-off for me, but played so into character development, that I came to see it as central to the story. Is Kate Bloom a victim or a fighter? Her plight, as well as her determination, captures reader’s hearts and interest from the first.

Before we have the details of her quest or grasp her determination, we find ourselves hoping that she will somehow recover the sweet, well-meaning girl that started the story. The crime, men in her life, the competition to get into the Hollywood world or ‘compete’ with successful all fall second to that.

Dylon Nichols is quite a different story. He is successful. He also seems an opinionated piece of the Hollywood structure. When he fails to recognize her talent and her creativity, we can already tell these two will not hit it off.  At first, we don’t even want them too. However, his insight might be useful, especially as Kate pursues proof about grandmother, Gloria Reardon’s death. While we are pretty sure Kate is right about him being a jerk, he’s useful and she has an agenda…and somehow, we readers find ourselves mirroring the thought process of our main character. It makes the story all the more believable, as does the great inside look at the industry; at how scripts and talent are acquired.

This is an unusual mystery as Kate is chasing down proof of who killed her grandmother. She has strong suspicions (and some special access to info) from the start.

Filled with fear, anger, frustration: Fallen Star delivers action in an unpredictable, fast-paced fashion. A great read.

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Black Diamond by Susannah Sandlin



Black Diamond by Susannah Sandlin
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense
Length: Full (266 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

For some people, the untamed beauty of the bayou is a place to hide. For Louisiana wildlife agent Jena Sinclair, it’s a place of refuge—one where she can almost forget the tragedy that scarred both her skin and her soul. But when the remains of yet another fisherman turn up, Jena realizes that Bayou Pointe-aux-Chenes is not safe for her…or anyone else.

The mysterious deaths aren’t her only problem. A dangerous drug known as Black Diamond is circulating through Terrebonne Parish, turning addicts into unpredictable sociopaths. Jena’s investigation leads her to Cole Ryan—a handsome, wary recluse struggling with his own troubled history—who knows more than he’s willing to admit. If they want to stop the killer, Jena and Cole must step out of the shadows of their pasts and learn to help each other…before the evils lurking in the bayou consume them both.

It was good to catch up with Jena Sinclair and the folks from the bayou. The book starts with a bang–a rather gruesome and honestly tragic death-by-alligator that broke my heart. It plopped Jena right back into an investigation after she was cleared to start working again. Everyone but Jena herself trusts her to do the job and make good choices, even (or maybe especially) her loquacious new partner, Mac.

But the crimes don’t stop with that body…there’s also a new drug in town, Black Diamond (or BSC, for “bat shit crazy”) and Jena finds out her younger brother is using. She brings in her former partner, Gentry, to help her make the right choices about that.

Cole was an interesting person. When we first meet him, he does something that makes me wonder if he’s at all trustworthy. Understand, I read an ARC that didn’t have a blurb, so I didn’t know who Jena’s love interest would be. Thankfully, Cole redeems himself. He’s a loner, true, and scarred (by the end, he’s scarred inside and out, but healing), but it’s those very characteristics that make him appeal to Jena. She’s scarred too, from nearly dying in book one, to doubting herself and her looks. She doesn’t think anyone could possibly find her attractive again.

Filled with plenty of twists, Black Diamond kept me turning pages. Nearly 1/3 of the book had Cole, Mac and Jena in a lot of peril and left me a bit breathless. I do wish a little more time had been spent developing their relationship (the book is definitely heavy on the suspense), but it still worked for me. Additionally, if you’re looking for a book with lots of sex, this isn’t the one for you. I think the physical part of the relationship between Jena and Cole was handled just right, but any more books seem really heavy on the sex. I was pleased that the author focused more on emotions than putting tab A into slot B.

I’m really enjoying the series and look forward to the next… who will be up next time? There are a couple folks Ms. Sandlin can choose from. I can’t wait.

Song of the Blackbird by D. B. Michaels

Song of the Blackbird by D. B. Michaels
Publisher: Dream Tower Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Action/Adventure, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (378 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Healing must start from within…

Desperate to reconnect with her half-brother, Emma Edwards takes her new medical training and secures a doctor’s job at the prison where he’s serving a sentence. But what she finds there is worse than she ever imagined…tough rules and even tougher men, gangs powered by drug money and corruption. Emma must find a way to keep her brother alive until he’s freed even if that means lying to the one man she should be able to trust…

Unless you find someone to share your pain…

Warden Maxim Chambers doesn’t believe a woman should be working in a penitentiary, especially one like Emma – a woman even a hardened man like him can’t get off his mind. He’s spent too many years building walls around his heart to let himself care about anyone. But when Emma is almost hurt in a prison assault, Maxim can’t deny his feelings for her. But what is the connection between Emma and the prisoner named Sam?

And accept your past.

When secrets are revealed, danger and death run through the prison. Only the truth can save Emma and Maxim…if it’s not too late.

Song of the Blackbird immerses you in a whole new world – a gritty, violent world where things you have always believed turn out not to be true. It is a compelling story of sorrow and loss, of hope and second chances, and most of all, of the power of love.

Song of the Blackbird is a unique read that grabbed my attention from the beginning. Emma Edwards’ love for her brother caused her to sign up to work at the local prison when she could have been a doctor at any ivy league medical facility. I like how the book opens and grabs you from the first few pages. Suspense is introduced early on opening questions on how Emma becomes a doctor and how her brother Sam Morris ends up on a path less fortunate. And what secret is the mean and rude warden Maxim Chambers hiding?

I enjoyed this story and it’s array of characters. My first thought was there is a lot of medical staff who work at this prison. The author got all of the character introductions out of the way in the beginning and I wasn’t sure where the story was going to lead. I enjoyed the unpredictability of the story. The characters were developed and given realness. I am not sure how I felt about Emma at the start. She came across to me as dramatic in the sense that she went to the extreme to have contact with her brother, but then on the flip side I loved her commitment to family, to being the big sister and keeping that family connection with her brother. She could have written him off and lived her life without her brother and his unlawful antics. She took a stand and actually she risked a lot to let her brother know she cares and she was there for him no matter what. I enjoyed the friendship that Emma has with Kiley. Kiley was always offering her help and assistance and she didn’t judge or criticize Emma.

I enjoyed the quiet romance between Emma and Maxim. I like how the author built their relationship slowly and that their relationship brought out each others good. Maxim is displayed as a strong and hard man, but we come to find out why. I found the parallel lives of Emma and Maxim to be interesting. They both had a reason ending up working at the prison. They both had a life of events that brought them to this moment.

The story was always moving but I did feel that a few parts of it went kind of slow or could have been left out. I like the concept of the birds and how Emma took notice of the birds because this was something her brother enjoyed and a connection that they shared. The medical details, events and terminology incorporate in the story gave the story realness. The harshness of prison life was touched on but I am sure this is a lighter version of what actually happens. I think the author did a good job on touching on the roughness but still not making it an uncomfortable read.

The twist in the story I was shocked by and for some reason was truly hoping it was a dream. And the ending was a bit long, drawn out and overly dramatic; like the author didn’t know how to wrap up the ending or was trying to meet a page quota. The story was basically over with, the reader knows how it was going to end but the author was still giving details.

I enjoyed the story. This is one that I am glad I read. It is a kind hearted read; the ending isn’t all happy but you are left with a feeling that the main characters will be okay.

This is a unique read that I would recommend to a reader that is looking for a fresh storyline that contains love for family, romance and the harshness of working in the prison medical field.

The Pirate’s Lady by Suzanne Hoos

The Pirate’s Lady by Suzanne Hoos
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (319 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Cate Whitfield harbors revenge in her heart for the bloodthirsty pirate who murdered her betrothed. So she’s stunned to learn that he is to be her father’s guest of honor at one of his revelries—and even more upset to discover that Captain Alexander Chase may not be the scoundrel she believes.

Even though she has publicly branded him a criminal, feisty Cate mesmerizes Alex. But the former pirate isn’t about to let her accusations deter his own agenda for vengeance. He’s returned to Promise, New Jersey, to retaliate against the man who murdered his father … the man who just happens to be Cate’s father.

Trouble is, he may be falling in love with her, and she’s hell-bent on seeing him punished. Can these two wounded hearts find out the truth before it’s too late, or is their love doomed to walk the plank?

This book has so many threads that it’s like a giant spider web that captured me and I didn’t know which way to turn. There is a grand cast of characters that were so plentiful and diverse that this novel could be made into a mini-series. It kind of reminded me of the TV series, Dallas, back in the late 1970’s, but better. There were so many twists and turns with multiple plots all woven together that it amazed me that Ms. Hoos was able to keep them all straight and on point.

Here’s a warning for readers – there are jarring scene shifts. Even though I didn’t have a big problem with them, they were a bit abrupt. There I was, in the zone, reading a scene when all of a sudden I’m somewhere else exciting, then I’m yanked out again and back into where I was before, still exciting, still fascinated but it takes a split second to reorient. This happens throughout the book.

There are some scenes that contain some graphic, rough sex which take place between a bad pirate and a secondary character. I was okay with them but some readers may not be.

I wanted to make this review longer but I can’t go into details because everything I might say would be a spoiler. Everything is so interconnected it’s just not possible to pinpoint any one thing.

Ms. Hoos was able to take care of all her characters and plot threads to provide a satisfactory conclusion. There’s action, double crossing, secrets, lies, revenge and so much more to be sucked in by that I wasn’t able to put the book down. Even the dialogue was good, and the chemistry between the hero and heroine absolutely worked.

Cate and Alexander’s journey to their happy ever after left me breathless. Make sure you have time to sit down and concentrate on this story. This is one of those stories I won’t forget anytime soon.

Reunion for the First Time by K. M Daughters

Reunion for the First Time by K. M Daughters
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (257 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Lizzie Moran is desperate to help her best friend’s husband recover from grief-stricken despair after her friend passes away. But their love was unlike anything Lizzie has ever seen. A love she knows will never happen for her, considering the bad choices she’s made.

Jack Clark is ready to take whatever measures necessary to yank his brother out of the abyss he’s fallen into after his wife’s death. And when he meets the lovely Lizzie who has the same goal, he is perfectly willing to put aside their differences, for the sake of his brother.

Tensions escalate when Jack and Lizzie are forced to attend a reunion together—and the fact that Lizzie’s former fiancé, the man who dumped her the same day her parents died, will be there doesn’t help. But an unlikely matchmaker has a plan—and if it succeeds, Jack and Lizzie might just realize they are meant for each other.

Elizabeth Moran is set up for a momentous emotional journey, a journey that a romance reader would not want to miss. With well-developed characters, emotions running high, and high-tension conflicts, this story captivates from the very first page.

Elizabeth, a compassionate philanthropist, Pulitzer Prize winning photographer, and former Peace Corp worker is a friend to treasure. Because a special friend needs her there, she is attending the tenth reunion of her college class, something she has avoided up to now. The memories of things that happened, at her graduation time, still hurt beyond belief.

Her friend Charlie, the still grieving husband of Elizabeth’s dear friend Mariposa, who died of Leukemia, agrees to be her escort during reunion.

I’m convinced, sweet, caring Mariposa whispered from Heaven that he should complete the matchmaking she had started. Charlie, unbeknownst to Elizabeth, sends his brother Jack P. Clark in his place. Elizabeth is furious, but when her one-time fiancé, Wallace Prescott, shows up, Jack outmaneuvers him at every turn. Held close in Jack’s arms as they dance, Elizabeth feels safe, protected from the man she had given her heart and virginity to only to have disappeared from her life.

How Wallace acts and his deceptiveness is hair-raising.

Reunion for the First Time grabs and holds one’s attention with simmering love, twists, surprises emotional obstacles, and an antagonist who really raises one’s ire. Emotions run the gamut from sorrow and anger to ecstasy in this very readable story.

Camp Wedding by Kay Springsteen

Camp Wedding by Kay Springsteen
Publisher: EsKape Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (120 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

A blind Marine, a nervous bride, and an adorable child with Down syndrome who loves them both is an equation for another tug on the heartstrings in the story behind the Heartsight nuptials. Is Trish ready for life as a military wife? Is Dan ready for the challenges of being a father to a precocious 6-year-old? How will Bella add her special brand of magic to the day?

Wedding jitters magnify every little thing that seems to be going wrong right before Trish’s wedding. She’s even more frustrated at how her husband-to-be handles those small ‘bumps in the road.’ Readers become conscious, early on, that these are two very different people. However, Springsteen does a wonderful job building our belief in their mutual and heartfelt feelings. This only makes us more impatient as even more ‘bumps’ appear. Right from the start, the characters carry this wonderful little story. Subtle humor lightens some conversations…as does the odd embarrassing predicament.

There are too-sweet moments, and abrupt changes in point-of-view disturb the flow of the story. However, these are small complaints in what is overall an engaging, heartwarming tale.

Although this is a continuation from the story ‘Heartsight,’ it is a story unto itself and reading the precursor isn’t necessary. Camp Wedding is utterly charming on its own: