A Necessary Woman by A. E. Easterlin


A Necessary Woman by A. E. Easterlin
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (314 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Suzanna Worthington wants what most women wants–a husband to love her, a home to shelter her, and a child to bring her joy.

The battle at Manassas has stolen her fiance and destroyed her dreams. Channeling grief into healing, she assists the local doctor at a makeshift hospital, while her friends plot to find the one man who can fulfill all her desires…and his.

Now the war is over, and Jake Cantrell has come to find a wife. A self-made man with a huge ranch in Wyoming, he’s ready to settle down and raise a passel of sons to carry on his legacy.

Who will win her love? It could be the doctor who admires her, the Indian chief who captures her, or the man who wants to possess her and finds himself possessed by this necessary woman.

If you like daytime soap operas or drama then this book is for you. A Necessary Woman was eloquently written with a moderate steady pace from beginning to end. My curiosity kept me turning the pages with baited breath for the next dramatic scene to unfold.

While I appreciate a clever, unique plot with twits and unpredictably, I also need it to be realistically possible. The heroine, Suzanna, had so many men fall in love with her for her beauty and intelligence and had an unrealistic need to serve others that I kept thinking, “Come on, seriously?”

The hero, Jake, was hot as ever. However, he wasn’t perfect either. So together Jake and Suzanna made a great soap opera match. Their chemistry was intense and unavoidable.

Over all, I can honestly recommend this book for those who have extra time to pass and enjoy a book they have to suspend a bit of reality for. There was just something about this novel that was surprisingly irresistible that I couldn’t stop reading. There was a satisfying happy-ever-after ending. In fact I can easily see a sequel when Black Hawk returns!

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin


Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (401 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”

Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Victoria was only eighteen when she became Queen. Her mother and her mother’s friend planned on running the kingdom for her and she could just look pretty. Victoria had no intention of doing that and make it plain on her Coronation Day that she would be the Queen and make the decisions. Since no one thought she’d do that, she wasn’t trained. It was a good thing she had a Prime Minister who could help her figure out the problems and gently guide her to practical solutions. She was smart and did well at making her own decisions but she was lacking on political experience. He helped with that.

This author’s words sing from the pages. It’s hard to take historical fact and make an interesting book but Ms. Goodwin has done just that. It feel like you are reading a Regency romance but it’s more impressive because it’s about the real Queen Victoria.

She has several successes in her life, but she’s not doing so well in love. She’s grown quite fond of her Prime Minister. He helps her find humor, makes meals a pleasure with her family, and goes on horse rides with her. When he learns she’s getting a little too fond of him, he tries to distance himself. He’s too old for her, but he’s fond of her, too. Sometimes you can’t have the one you love but you don’t forget them.

Her mother and her friend are trying to set her up with her cousin. She thinks he’s a lump and is not impressed. Of course, she last saw him three years ago and he’s a bit better with age. He still doesn’t hold a candle to the Prime Minister. And, being Queen, she’s the one who has to propose.

While she rules a country she loves and tries to help everyone around her, she also manages to get rid of her mother’s lover (who is against her) and she works out who and why she should marry.

This is history that is alive in the retelling. Ms. Goodwin’s words flow well, the story is well told and it’s very enjoyable to read. Victorian times weren’t boring.

New Year’s Eve At The Corral by Debra St. John


New Year’s Eve At The Corral by Debra St. John
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (48 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Tina Perkins thinks falling in love with your best friend is a tired cliché. She’s had a flirty friendship with Nick Jameson forever, and she likes it that way. Until she’s dared to sleep with him and suddenly can’t stop thinking about what it would be like to cross that friends to lovers line.

Nick wants Tina. Badly. New Year’s Eve is the perfect time to make a resolution to get her into his bed. He doesn’t want to ruin the friendship they share, but adding ‘with benefits’ to the label would make things perfect.

As the clock ticks closer to midnight, there’s a lot at stake. Will a night of passion ruin everything or lead to a lifetime of love?

Nick and Tina both worked at The Corral and had been good friends forever. Even though Tina privately admitted there was a sexy attraction simmering under the surface of their friendship, she didn’t think a one night stand would be worth losing Nick’s friendship over. Nick loved being such good friends with Tina, but his hungry attraction for her was just too close to the surface. Despite his best intentions, this New Year’s he makes a resolution – to get out of the friend zone and into bed with Tina, no matter the consequences.

This is a fun romp of a short story. I am always a sucker for a plotline of friends-become-lovers, and this story didn’t disappoint me. While I didn’t find anything very fresh or new in the plot, I did enjoy both Tina and Nick’s characters. I found their friendship believable and their chemistry – while not hot – did sizzle and felt realistic to me. Readers looking for an erotic or overly descriptive romance in the bedroom might be disappointed, but I personally found the sex scene tastefully and briefly written. The consummation was satisfying for me and I felt it certainly added to the plotline of the story and wasn’t wasted or superfluous.

I was particularly pleased that the author didn’t throw in conflict just for the sake of having it there. I thought the heart-to-heart discussion Nick and Tina had was perfectly handled – honest and soul-baring without being overly dramatic. I especially was grateful that there was no “miscommunication” or half-hearted conflict inserted to add tension. I really feel the author should be commended for balancing the romance, intimacy and serious discussion.

A fun story about two friends becoming lovers and a short story I really enjoyed.

Perfect for You by Candis Terry

perfect
Perfect for You by Candis Terry
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (239 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Declan Kincade has spent so much time chasing success he’s almost forgotten how to just live. Lately though, his all-business routine has been thrown into disarray. Brooke Hastings is the best employee Dec’s ever had: polished, capable, and intelligent. After four years, he’s just realized that she’s also smoking hot. But their working relationship is too valuable to stake on a fling, no matter how mind-bendingly pleasurable it promises to be.

What’s worse than never meeting the right man? Finding him, and then working side-by-side every day while he remains absolutely blind to your existence. That is, until one temptation-packed road-trip changes everything. Teaching her gorgeous, driven boss how to cut loose and have fun is the toughest challenge Brooke’s ever faced. But it’s one that could give both of them exactly what they need, if Dec will take a chance on a perfect—and perfectly unexpected—love.

Bucket lists, family-love-in-action, and delightful humor are attention-keeping threads running through this love story that sparkles.

Feeling his mortality after the death of his parents, Declan Kincade, now wealthy at age thirty-three, realizes he is lacking in matters of the heart, and he has forgotten how to have fun. His single-minded focus on his career has made him oblivious to too many things. He did get a wakeup call when his twin brother Jordan mentioned Declan’s executive assistant was “hot as hell.”

Brooke Hastings, the beautiful executive assistant with her high IQ and bubbly personality, is a buffer between him and any disgruntled client; so by the time Declan sees the client everything is pleasant.

In spite of growing up under horrible conditions, Brooke knows how to have fun. Not only that, but she fantasizes about her gorgeous boss. Her passion for life is infectious; so, when they take a fifteen hour road trip to his family’s Sunshine Creek vineyard and stay in a cabin together, she makes it her mission to help Declan learn how to have fun—my goodness, the sparkle she adds to a their working trip sweeps the reader along from one adventure to another and some of them sizzle.

As they work with his brothers to put the vineyard back in the black, emotions race along at a fever pitch, with everyone in Declan’s family offering advice and “help” on all issues from love life to business.

How Brooke and the stranger Lili MacKay influence the Kincade family includes both business and emotions in a BIG way. The changes in Declan, as he and Brooke find their way to happy-ever-after, make one smile—“gotta” love that man.

Candis Terry’s insightful development of the characters is a joy to read. The dialogue shows personalities in most unique ways.

Perfect for You is a pleasure to read!

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection by Various Authors


The California Gold Rush Romance Collection by Various Authors
Publisher: Barbour Books, an imprint of Barbour Publishing, Inc.
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (448 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

This is a collection of stories from the California Gold Rush days, all featuring very different women. All stories strongly rooted in the Christian faith.

The Price of Love by Amanda Barratt—Lorena Quinn goes to San Francisco on a bet from her magazine editor who wants stories from the gold rush. As many men were in the 1800s, he is a chauvinist. The only way he can get her to go west is to promise her an Assistant Editor’s position—but only if she comes back an accomplished writer, single, and not in love! With a hundred men for every woman, the challenge is a big one. What her boss doesn’t tell her is that he has sent a letter to a former employee who currently lives in San Francisco. Not just any employee, but handsome Caleb who he is promising the same job to IF he can woo Miss Quinn and accompany her back to the East head-over-heels in love. Headstrong, determined Lorena does not plan to fail, but neither does Caleb. Although a good story, it felt rushed, and at times, a bit awkward, especially with the surprise addition of a baby, which seemed to take the story off track. Those who enjoy reading about life’s challenges will undoubtedly find a champion in Lorena Quinn.

The Best Man in Brookside by Angela Bell—This story begins with Donovan Gallagher striking it rich in the gold-rich waters of California then heading home to reclaim his young sister from the arms of a caretaker. But just as importantly, he wants to go home and start life over again, in spite of Sophia Heyer, the woman who wrongly accused him of thievery. Both Donovan and Sophia have their own interesting life stories, so much so, in fact, that I found it hard to decide who was the bad guy/girl and who was the good? Throughout the story, I wanted to cheer for someone, but never knew whom. The addition of the carousel had me excited, but the “vision” of it all never completely came together for me, and the Gold Rush portion of the story was virtually non-existent. Overall, this was a good story, but not my favorite.

Civilizing Clementine by Dianne Christner—Ever watched the old Doris Day movie called Calamity Jane from the 1950s? As cute as this story is, it is eerily reminiscent of said movie, without all the singing and dancing. It’s about a very unladylike woman, rough and tumble, who is not about to wear a dress, yet gets transformed in a lady, clean and refined, before our eyes. And the man of her dreams? Ah, well, we’ll let you guess. This is a cute addition to the collection, but I would have enjoyed a more original idea.

The Marriage Broker and the Mortician by Anne Greene—Eve Molloy, a dance teacher at an orphanage who happens to be a former orphan herself, decides to help the “of-age” girls who are old enough and must leave the orphanage to begin their adult lives. But what is an eighteen-year-old girl supposed to do all alone in 1850? Eve sets out to find them respectable husbands, but when she herself is left near destitute after a robbery, she finds herself in quite a predicament. Rafe Riley, a mortician, comes to her rescue—sort of, anyway. This story had an interesting premise, but it never seemed to gel. Too many, “oh, yes, then this happened, and oh, that happened too,” side stories that could’ve/should’ve been part of the overall story, such as the uncle and the cousin who seemed written in as afterthoughts. This tale would have been better as a full-length novel where it might have had a chance to develop into a full-fledged story.

The Lye Water Bride by Linda Farmer Harris—Jo Bass is an important woman in Dry Diggins, California, 1849. Not because she’s beautiful or charming, though I’m not saying she isn’t, but because she works at the bank and determines the amount of money given for each gold nugget. Jo and her brother Thad run the bank, but everyone thinks Thad is her husband, which made for some interesting, and often confusing, dialog. I enjoyed reading about “cashing in the gold,” which so little is written about, but overall this story seemed disorganized and had plenty of situations that only seemed to slow down the pace. With that said, this storyline is very creative.

A Sketch of Gold by Cynthia Hickey—Rose McIlroy is a devoted nineteen-year-old daughter, whose father fears for her safety in a world of wild men clambering for gold, so he talks her into cutting her hair and dressing like a boy so that no one will know she is a girl. But when Jack Westin befriends the two, things change. Interestingly, Jack has come west to sketch the miners and their search for gold, with a plan on sending them to a newspaper back East. As soon as he can, Jack wants to start his own newspaper in gold country. Adding to this interesting character is in finding out he is a preacher, too. It doesn’t take him too long to realize Rose is a girl, whom he falls madly in love with, in spite of her protests. The characters were very real, and the unsavory men had me on edge worrying about Rose. This was a well-done story.

Love is a Puzzle by Pam Hillman—Shanyn Duvall, along with her aunt, goes west looking for her missing father, who is a cartographer with the Sierra Nevada Typographical Surveyors (shouldn’t that be Topographical, Ms. Hillman?) Shanyn has not seen her father in two years and she feels certain he has found a place for them to put down roots. Unfortunately, her father is nowhere to be found and she soon receives the dreadful news that her father is dead. This story takes on the task of a rarely told side story to this era: Obadiah Duvall, her father, was not only a mapper, but also a puzzle-maker and artist. This is a delightful story that kept me turning pages and thinking about it long after I’d finished reading. If one can turn a novella into a full-length novel with more detail given to the history, this story would be a real winner.

The Golden Cross by Jennifer Rogers Spinola—From the Canton Province of China comes this story, which truly sweeps you away into a different tale about the gold rush days. Ming and her Uncle Wang sail to America with hopes that San Francisco is full of gold, just waiting for them. Life for the Chinese was vastly different from that of others, but both cultures believed the golden nuggets meant a better way of life. Religion played a heavy role in this one, but it is an unforgettable story, which gives a glimpse of another existence during California’s Gold Rush. Perhaps the best-written story in the entire collection.

Gold Haven Heiress by Jamie Jo Wright—The least “romantic” story of this collection borders on being one of the best. Thalia Simmons lives in a ghost town, and Jack Taylor wants to know why? Gold Haven is the deserted town and it has little to offer anyone at this point, except maybe someone who just wants to be left alone. And to be free. The first page of this story hooked me. I adored poor Thalia right away. This tale could easily have been fleshed out into a full-length novel just by adding more town residents, which would have been a major hit with me. Perfect characters with a very creative storyline. Great final story to round out this collection!

The mid-1800s had a different life story for everyone, which is what makes this collection so wonderful. No two stories are alike, and each are worthy of their own telling.

Through A Magnolia Filter by Nan Dixon


Through A Magnolia Filter by Nan Dixon
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (384 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Home is where his heart is…but what about hers?

Family was always a foreign concept to Liam Delaney. Until research into one of his documentary films brings him to Savannah and Dolley Fitzgerald’s B and B. Dolley’s passion for life and photography is infectious. When she becomes his apprentice, they’re the perfect team in every way. He’s finally found the home he’s always wanted, and it’s all because of her.

The only problem is that his dream is of a home and family, while Dolley craves adventure. They may be at odds, but Liam knows they can make both of their dreams come true together. He just needs to convince her…

All throughout Through a Magnolia Filter I found a heartwarming story that showcased the importance of family, following your dreams, and true love. I thoroughly enjoyed this tender heartwarming story.

Liam Delaney, the hero, was a sweetheart. He’s the kind of man you’d want your daughter to bring home and marry. I found him to be a tad bit nerdy with a dash of hot but so was the heroine, Dolley. They truly did bring out the best in each other. Their chemistry was anything but awkward. Together they were “sigh worthy”.

The writing was impeccable. I felt sympathy for Liam’s upbringing. I felt just as confused as Dolley did when she couldn’t make a decision. I was intrigued with the tips and suggestions Liam gave Dolley to improve her photography skills. I can’t wait to implement some of those tips the next time I’m taking pictures. The story flowed with such smoothness it was as if I was watching a movie in my head with all the sights and sounds. I had clear visions in my head of the pictures they were taking as if I was there with them.

The plot was original which was absolutely refreshing. Bravo to Nan Dixon! Through a Magnolia Filter also had a brilliant storyline. I loved the ‘cat and mouse’ back and forth over who thought who was using whom. The novel was great in toying with my emotions between Liam and Dolley. I appreciated the unpredictability.

In the end I was completely satisfied with the happy ever after and appreciated the reminder that “Home is where the heart is”. I highly recommend this book for a pleasant easy read that will leave a reader feeling fully satisfied.

Christmas in the Highlands by Madelyn Hill


Christmas in the Highlands by Madelyn Hill
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (201 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

A FAMILY FOR CHRISTMAS
CHRISTMAS IN THE HIGHLANDS, BOOK ONE

Laird Malcolm Sutherland needs a bride. He has few requirements of his new wife; demands he should have insisted with his former betrothed—namely, honesty, loyalty, and resources.

Lady Rossalyn Gordon will do anything to be rid of her tyrant father, even if that means deceiving the man who offers her an escape. If revealed, those secrets will either bring her mercy, or thrust her back into the hands of the devil who sired her.

When Rossalyn’s bastard of a father arrives at Sutherland Keep, going back on his word and ordering her return, Malcolm must decide if he can forgive his wife enough to listen to his heart and have a family for Christmas.

HIS BY CHRISTMAS
CHRISTMAS IN THE HIGHLANDS, BOOK TWO

Fiona Sutherland longs for love with the man she has pined after since she was a lass. When he weds another she is devastated, and questions why the man she pledged her heart to has forsaken a vow made in their youth. Could loving her be so hard?

Cameron Munro adores Fiona from afar, knowing her heart has been set on another. She is everything he desires—strong, loyal, and fiery in spirit.

Determined, he pledges to prove his love to her and win Fiona’s heart by Christmas.

Book One: A Family for Christmas

In order to feed his ever growing clan, Malcolm Sutherland needs an alliance with the untrustworthy, neighboring Gordon Clan. If a wife has to be part of the bargain, he can handle it—just so long as she is chaste. He’ll not love her, but if she is loyal, honest, and can dote on his clan it would be a boon, and he does need an heir.

Rossalyn Gordon agrees to be silent about her father’s perfidy—anything to escape her father’s filthy, stinking household with its leering, filthy, lazy, ‘more-threatening-everyday’ men. She prays Malcolm is not a vengeful man.

Once Gordon’s deceit is discovered, Malcolm is angry and informs Rossalyn, she will be by his side for all things and function as his wife, but he will not seek her counsel or her bed. Her heart breaks, but she and her secret are in a clean, happy keep, and safe.

The woman who had expected to marry Malcolm makes an antagonist to be reckoned with. Malcolm’s Sergeant-at-arms and life-long friend has his hands full trying to keep the peace .What I really enjoyed was the author giving this young woman some redeeming qualities along with an intriguing back-story that touched my heart.

Madelyn Hill’s writing skill makes the story sparkle. Very believably the despicable Gordon gets his comeuppance, the conflicts abate, Malcolm and Rossalyn’s love sizzles heating the pages, and Rossalyn gets a wonderful Christmas for the first time since her mother’s death.

Book Two: His by Christmas

Her dreams shattered, Fiona does a vile thing, totally against her true nature. The Sutherland clan sergeant-at-arms, Cameron Munro, her friend since childhood, calls her hand on it. She’s sick at heart about her actions, but tries to hide it. Determine to make amends; she goes back to helping the old of the clan who live in their small crofters, not longer going to the keep for meals and social life. She loves these old ones, tended them for years. They love her and know her well.

Cameron wants the stubborn, tart-tongued, beautiful, strong, and intelligent Fiona for his wife. But how to get her is a mystery to him. Women have always sought him, not the other way around.

The people, who rally around to help Cameron, make this story an absolute delight to read. The courtship has its hurt, bumps, and bruises. She hurts him, but Cameron perseveres. He’s been in love with her for as long as he can remember.

As Fiona comes to terms with her hurt, she see Cameron as he truly is, wants to make things right between them, wants HIM—his hugs and kisses. But duty calls him to the border—he comes home more dead than alive.

How Madelyn Hill creates a soul mate love out of all the hurt and chaos is not to be missed. Not only does she give the reader a beautiful love story that heats the blood, she also weaves together the diverse personalities so a sound, happy, clan emerges and the Christmas celebration is one to remember.

Christmas in the Highlands is a JOY to read any time of the year.

Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith


Flash of Fury by Lea Griffith
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Their spark is immediate

Kingston McNally lost men when someone betrayed his team, and now he’s out for retribution. His quest for the enemy’s courier leads him to Cameroon and Allie Redding, a petite Peace Corps volunteer as stubborn as she is brave. Their attraction is immediate, but Allie has secrets of her own…and she’s not giving them up easily.

But their secrets could burn them both

Allie’s life has been spent hiding in plain sight, but she’s had enough of her cloak-and-dagger existence. On her way home, her plane is hijacked-and King saves her life. But that doesn’t mean she owes him anything…even if he is the most damnably sexy man she’s ever laid eyes on. He’s got black ops and secrets written all over him, and trust is a two-way street.

Flash of Fury is definitely a book you want to start when you know you have a few hours to sit and read without any interruptions. Of course I didn’t know that when I started it but I wish I did because with a book as exciting and action-packed as this one was there was no way I could put it down.

I was hooked from page one; immediately on the edge of my seat with my eyes glued to the page. Right then I knew if this book kept up with the same intensity and pace I’d be up all night until I finished it. It did and I was. As I turned the pages I felt like I was a part of the scene as well as friends with the characters.

Allie Redding, the heroine, was a lovable character as we experienced her bravery and vulnerabilities through-out the story. One must ask themselves if they could endure all that Allie did and be as strong as she was portrayed. I would like to think I could if I had Kingston McNally, the hero, by my side as Allie did. King was a hero in every sense of the word. The sparks between them were immediate and consistent. Gosh, what I wouldn’t do to be rescued and loved by Kingston, if only I could have been Allie for one chapter.

As intricate as the plot was, it remained comprehensible, engaging, and kept me guessing all the way until the end. Brilliantly done! In fact, this story is book one in a series, therefore some of the mystery is solved but the epilogue led me to believe that the next book will continue to solve the mystery. The next book we’ll get to know Jude Dagan, King’s teammate, a bit better. As much as I enjoyed Allie and King’s romance I can’t wait to read about Jude’s romance with Ella Banning, another teammate, as the suspense continues.

I’ll have to add the author, Lea Griffith, to my list of authors to follow because her writing was superb and I need to read book two. I need to know the truth about Ella Banning. Flash of Fury was a fantastic read and I highly recommend reading this riveting book!

The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland


The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland
Publisher: Blackrose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (453 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

In the service of the Goddess…

The stubborn, spoiled, favored granddaughter of the Devi goddess Astoreth, Moreva Tehi has neglected to perform her sacred duty and now she must be punished for her transgression. Temporarily banished from Temple life, she is dispatched to Mjor—a backwater village in the Syren Perritory—to assume the roles of custodian of the landing beacon as well as the spiritual leader and commander of Astoreth’s garrison stationed there. In this perilous place of wild beasts, outmoded technologies, and harsh seasonal change, a fragile peace exists between the distrustful hakoi and the hated Devi, held together by an iron-clad Protocol—whose laws, if broken, could lead to war.

She will discover an ally in the kindly village healer Hyme and a dangerous adversary in Kepten Yose, her subordinate. But the gravest threat to Tehi’s future is the Mjoran chief, the charismatic, golden-haired Laerd Teger, whose elusiveness and cool disdain the Moreva finds both infuriating and fascinating. For it is he who will impel her to break her most sacred vows and seek out the dark secrets of her gods and her world, setting them both on a course that can only lead to damnation and death.

Tehi, Morev of the Devi God Astoreth, is sent to Astoreth 69 in the Syren Perritory for blasphemy against the Gods. Her punishment would have been worse if she hadn’t been the granddaughter of Astoreth. At the back of beyond outpost, she discovers a world previously unknown to her and gets into even more trouble.

The story follows her through a settling in period, antagonism from the villagers, helping the healer, learning unpalatable truths and then the book arrives at a dramatic climax. Woven into the story is romance and deception.

An original story, well written and engaged me right from the beginning. The only problem I had with the book was the length. It could easily have been one hundred pages shorter and still been the same exciting story. Being so long it runs the risk of the reader giving up before the end.

Definitely a true science fiction tale with conflict, romance and a brilliant ending.

Promises in the Dark by Karen Wiesner


Promises in the Dark by Karen Wiesner
Angelfire II Quartet, Book 4
Publisher: Writers Exchange E-Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (191 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Heaven’s promise, desire’s flame…

Return to Karen Wiesner’s award-winning Angelfire Trilogy. There are no scars like those inflicted in childhood, and no love like your first. Timeless couples Diane Hoffmann and Mikey Lund, Roxanne Hart and Jamie Dubois, Cherish Stephenson and Ty Foxx, and Sapphire Stephenson and William Decker seek out the unconditional love and healing of an angel and the scorching heat of unending passion.

William Decker has lived his life on the principle of ‘Better to not love what you never had to begin with’ and ‘You can’t be hurt by anything you haven’t invested yourself in’…and he can’t deny his life mottos have done little beyond keep him lonely.

Sapphire Stephenson married, had a child—and divorced—before she was out of her teens. Her entire life is wrapped up in being a good role model for her daughter and not trusting any man, living or dead. Decker seems to be the one exception. But is even he capable of more than promises in the dark?

William Decker, an orphan who grew up without warmth or companionship from those around him, has been a loner all his life, preferring solitude, loneliness and dark corners to friends, anything resembling a spotlight, and even love. When he met Roxanne Hart his first and only year of college, he’d found a center he’d unconsciously looked for all his life. Though Rox loved him deeply as a friend, she was in love with another man and he’d never really had a shot there, despite his relentless, decades-long loyalty. When she announces her wedding, William knows it’s past time for him to stop wishing for the moon, but, more than that, he realizes for the first time that he’d set his heart on an unavailable woman purposely. He’s lived his life on the principle of ‘Better to not love and lose what you never had to begin with’ and ‘You can’t be hurt by anything you haven’t invested yourself in.’ He can’t deny his life mottos have done little beyond keep him lonely…

Sapphire Stephenson married, had a child—and divorced—before she was out of her teens. But starting out life with a newborn and a mother who refused to understand why she couldn’t forgive her cheating, abusive husband, she’d taken the only jobs she’d been able to get, ending up as a bartender in a rough biker joint on Staten Island. Sapphire is certain of two things: That being a good role model for her daughter is the most important thing in her life…and that there isn’t a man alive worth any loyalty. The dudes who come through the bar have no respect for–let alone interest in– anything that isn’t transitory with the women around them. William Decker, long-time patron of the bar, close friend of its owner and now head of security, is the one exception to the rule she’s observed. He intrigues her the way no other man ever has. But is even he capable of more than promises in the dark that he’ll break without regret by the morning light?

“You’re a hypocrite” rattles around in Sapphire Stephenson’s head. Guilt plagues her.

Did Yasmine know about William “Deck” Decker, the bouncer at bar, the man who’d saved her from being raped and now takes her breath away with the steamy sex they enjoy in the bar’s office after her bartending duties and his bouncer duties are over for the night?

Being a good example for Yasmine, her sixteen-year-old daughter, had been Sapphire’s mission in life. She hadn’t brought a man home in ten years.

On the run for most of Yasmine’s life, with only each other to cling to, they’d been more than just mother and daughter; they’d been best friends until recently.

Beautiful, responsible, industrious, intelligent Yasmine, seemingly overnight, had become a rebellious teenager with a boyfriend too old for her. When Sapphire set rules, the angry “You’re a hypocrite” spewed out of Yasmine’s mouth.

Deck, tough, handsome, mysterious, and long-time customer, had stopped his heavy drinking and turned bouncer after Sapphire’s near rape. He’d know her for years and used her for a shrink as he sat at the bar drinking himself to numbness night after night. Rejection, he couldn’t come to terms with, had shredded his self esteem—for some reason he’d been deemed unworthy to be loved by his own mother and the women he’d protected and loved–still loves.

Deck’s “Whatever you want, honey,” sounds like a promise. But are promises made in the dark meant to be kept?

Once burned, twice shy, Sapphire questions her own actions, but being with Deck feels so right.

They all have emotional miles to go before they can find their happy-ever-after—making captivating reading.

Karen Wiesner does a super job of making a book that is in a series very readable as a standalone story. Her characters, with all their flaws, come alive and reach right in and touch the reader’s heart. As she weaves their back stories in, one’s heart grieves for the hurts they’ve suffered.

She makes Promises in the Dark a memorable vicarious experience for the reader.