Dating Cary Grant by Emelle Gamble

GRANT
Dating Cary Grant by Emelle Gamble
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (220 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Dandelion

A career woman in Manhattan. Her small-town husband. The ghost of a hunky screen icon…Welcome to the comic romantic novel, Dating Cary Grant.

Tracy Connor is mulling over what to do about her marriage, her career and her life. While she’s mulling, she moves out of her family home in quiet Cukor, Connecticut and sublets a small apartment in a brownstone in Turtle Bay, Manhattan. There she meets – and becomes great friends with –the ghost of her film idol, Cary Grant. He’s the best kind of friend to her, a man who appeals to her on every level, and man she’s always regarded as “Mr. Perfect”.

Cary proves a very charming and pragmatic ghost who only she can see, and he has a co-conspirator on page, a certain red-haired screen legend named Kate, who spars with him as she opines and helps show Tracy the errors of her views on men, marriage, and just what real love is all about.

When Tracy moved out of her home with her husband Mike, she had not decided what to do about her marriage. When she met a man who looked just like Cary Grant, it really began to complicate things. However, it was not someone who looked like him, it was Cary Grant. I know, he isn’t alive any more, but there he was in her apartment building, talking, flirting and trying to get to know her better.

At this point, this story began to be really interesting and different. I wasn’t certain how this would make the story end up with a HEA, but I loved the way Cary Grant kept popping into her life, trying to help, but more often than not, causing more problems. I loved this story line, and when Katherine Hepburn popped in to help him, the story became even more fun.

How she actually handled the situation, and how she dealt with these spirits not only made the story more fun to read, but the author went into the mind and lives of Tracy and Mike in such a way that you could really relate to both of them. I could really understand each of them and how they had gotten to this point in their marriage. It really is a love story, not just a break up story, and It was so well written and had unique plot, that I just couldn’t put this book down until I had finished it.

I loved it, and I loved the way it ended and for any of you who are looking for a fun, yet serious in a way, romance, this one is for you.

Beauty and the Curse by Cathy Tully and KM Fawcett

BEAUTY
Beauty and the Curse by Cathy Tully and KM Fawcett
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (75 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Cursed by a jealous witch, wealthy recluse Anabel Charming is destined to grow uglier with each passing year. Only by having sex before her twenty-first birthday can this virgin’s spell be broken. Yet no man will agree to sleep with the humpbacked, pockmarked, one-leg-shorter-than-the-other “Freak of Park Avenue.”

When handsome Chase Singleton shows up on a quest to retrieve his grandmother’s long-lost talisman, which Anabel now possesses, Anabel is willing to give up the jewel…if Chase agrees to break her curse. With two days left before her chance at a normal life is lost forever, Anabel and Chase discover the reality of beauty, the power of sexual healing, and the meaning of love.

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that sentiment doesn’t work so well for a woman who loses self-confidence every time she develops another disability or disfigurement.

It was interesting to see how the relationship between Chase and Anabel slowly develops. Their lives are so completely different from one another that at first I couldn’t imagine them being friends, much less anything more serious than that. The authors did a great job fleshing out both of their personalities, though, and I enjoyed discovering what they do share in common.

Many of the phrases in this novella were awkward. While none of the sentences contained serious grammatical errors, their words were arranged in ways that sounded odd when I read certain sections out loud. I was never quite sure if they were intentionally worded this way in order to mimic traditional fairy tales speech patterns or if the text would have benefitted from another round of editing before it was published.

By far my favorite character in this story was Chase’s grandmother. Her wry approach to the reality of living in a world full of magic injects much-needed humour into the plot, and her warm, loving relationship with her grandson reveals the tender side of both of their personalities. If the authors ever decide to write a sequel to this novella, I would be quite interested in hearing more about this universe from this character’s perspective. She’s experienced quite a bit in her long life and I get the impression that she has a lot to say about it.

I’d recommend Beauty and the Curse to anyone who loves modern-day fairy tales or a heavy dose of whimsy. There is plenty of both to be found between these pages.

Druid’s Wish by Emma Weylin

WISH
Druid’s Wish by Emma Weylin
Love Cursed Book 2
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (142 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Bran Lawson is an ancient druid under a faery curse. When he encounters a half-faery woman, he feels the draw of a mate. Wanting the happiness denied to him for so long, he does the one thing he thought he’d never do. He asks the gods for help.

Irresistibly drawn to Bran, Kenna Fitzpatrick discovers he is her mate. When given the chance to free him from his curse, giving one more person the chance to abandon her, she must choose between her heart’s desire and giving Bran his freedom.

Anyone remember Zerek from Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series? The hero, Bran a/k/a Law, in Druid’s Wish reminds me of him. There’s a twist to this story that is very reminiscent and I grin thinking about it. I adored Zerek and Law is just as, if not more so, likable. The major difference for me is that Law is a lot more fun to be around and he has a lust for life and isn’t quite so negative when dealing with people he calls friends.

The one thing they have in common is having anger issues. But that is where the similarity ends. Law has some wonderful friends, tried and true and they have each other’s backs. He has a unique skill set and talent and he has a very interesting parentage. In fact, it plays a key role in how he ends up doing what he does and why he’s doing it. He’s not a very happy camper when I first met him in the story and once I read the book, it’s quite understandable.

Wait, I said Law has anger issues. He does. Every time he went a little nuts, and most of that had something to do with Kenna, the heroine, he got really aggressive, almost like a berserker, but not. I thought it was a bit too much during the story but then realized something. Law is like the Hulk from the Avengers movie. He doesn’t turn green, but he’s always angry. And that made me like him all the more because Kenna is his peace and I was very much entertained by the dynamics between the two of them.

The author cracks me up. Her heroine, Kenna, knits. And I laughed some more when Kenna was jealous because someone else was knitting things for Law. That was the cutest thing I’ve read in a while and is certainly a very unique reason for jealousy. I liked it.

I got to see Rune and Clover again in this book and that was a treat. Gypsy was there too and a few other secondary characters which made this book even more fun to read. However, this tale can be read as a standalone no problem because Ms. Weylin provided enough background for a new reader in a very natural and easy manner. There are even some new characters that I enjoyed getting to know.

The author also created some effective drama and suspense. The evil guys are truly a nasty bit of work. They deserved what they got but in the meantime, they made life a total misery for Kenna. Just who exactly was out to get her totally floored me. Thank goodness Law came on the scene to rescue her. It took a bit of convincing on Law’s part to make her believe that he truly could withstand and vanquish the bad guys, eventually, with a little help, but he finally did. That was some fascinating writing.

The happy ever after was well done. I was so happy for Kenna but more so for Law because of everything he went through. He deserved to be happy, content and surrounded by his family, as unconventional as everyone turned out to be. It won’t be smooth sailing because of their personalities but it will never be boring.

Druid’s Wish was a really good read with a fascinating plot and interesting characters. I am so relieved that Law has his own happy ever after and Kenna is perfect for him. Now I have to wonder about Boden. How in the world is Ms. Weylin going to help him? He’s in a bit of a pickle the likes of which I’ve never seen. I can’t wait to find out if he can find some sort of happiness too, and if the author does intend to ever write his story, rest assured it will be an auto-buy. I like this world she’s building and I would love to visit again. As it is, Druid’s Wish is a wonderful addition.

Zylan’s Messengers by Sid Goodman

ZYLAN
Zylan’s Messengers by Sid Goodman
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (300 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Not your run-of-the-mill sci-fi novel.

Three civilizations separated by billions of years in time and millions of light years in distance, come to life as their disparate histories converge to help the human race survive in 2408, when all of their bad decisions come back to haunt them.

Ecological disasters, resource depletion and pollution have finally overcome technology’s ability to cope, as a last minute technological reprieve is offered from one of the alien races … but with a cost.

Zylan’s Messengers reveals how one alien race was the proximate cause of the most destructive event in recorded human history; one that has never been fully explained, and how it forever altered the course of human development.

Zylan’s Messengers is a story of the human condition, and humanity’s unique ability in the animal kingdom to make conscious choices that were bad for their own survival as a species.

Science has cured many diseases and solved a lot of problems. Whether it can change the dark side human nature, though, remains to be seen.

Imagine following the development of three sentient species living on different planets over the course of millions of years. Each race has evolved unique characteristics due to the climate and natural history of their home planet, and yet all three face similar challenges based on the terrible mistakes of their ancestors. Mr. Goodman’s descriptions of these civilizations are so richly detailed that at times it almost felt as if I were reading three separate novellas. What makes this novel even more interesting, though, is how he slowly draws out the similarities among them. Not every character is necessarily likable, but their strong personalities are well suited to the plot, and I was impressed by how much attention was paid to characterization given that this is a heavily plot-centered tale.

Due to a prolonged exposition, the pacing in this book is a little uneven in the beginning. The narrator describes both well-known and somewhat obscure scientific concepts in detail in order to ensure that even people who aren’t particularly knowledgable about physics or astronomy understands why certain phenomenon take place. The pauses in the plot to describe why these things are happening are necessary and valuable, but it would have been helpful for this reader if some of these lessons had taken place a little later on instead. The beginning starts off with a fascinating series of events that I would have preferred to spend more time exploring before the lengthy scientific explanations begin.

As much fun as it is to read about otherworldly gizmos and playful descriptions of what aliens might look like, what I find most appealing about the science fiction genre is that it asks questions about ethics, morality and what our future might look like if we continue on the same path without necessarily providing clear-cut answers for any of them. This story excels at prodding the reader’s imagination and presenting old facts in new ways. If it is any indication of his writing ability I look forward to reading the author’s next book soon.

Zylan’s Messengers is an excellent choice for anyone who enjoys plot-centered hard science fiction. Why not give it a try today?

The Portrait by Hazel Statham

THE
The Portrait by Hazel Statham
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (194 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

England 1812

Severely injured at the battle of Salamanca, Edward Thurston, the new Earl of Sinclair, returns home to his beloved Fly Hall. Determined not to present his prospective bride with the wreck he believes himself to have become, he decides to end his betrothal, unaware that Lady Jennifer, for vastly differing reasons, has reached the selfsame decision.

Throughout the campaigns, Edward was often seen relying greatly on a miniature he carried, and it is to this token he clings upon his return. Will he eventually find happiness with the girl in the portrait, or will he remain firm in his resolve not to wed? Reason dictates one course, his heart another.

Edward and Jennifer are their own worst enemies.

I have come across few characters as stubborn as Edward and Jennifer. They are both so set on having their own way that they often speak and act without thinking. As a result, they fail to see the hurt they often inflict on each other. Even after the engagement is ended, Edward and Jennifer’s paths cross often because their brothers are best friends who can’t manage to stay out of trouble and are rescued by Edward on more than one occasion. The more time that Edward and Jennifer spend together, the more obvious their affection for each other becomes. Unfortunately, Edward and Jennifer are the only ones incapable of recognizing how much in love they truly are.

Jennifer and Edward have great chemistry. When they relax and enjoy each other’s company, they are very fun to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed their teasing banter as well as their more tender moments. As the story progressed, I must admit that I became increasingly frustrated with Edward and Jennifer’s inability to be honest about their emotions. For the most part, nothing stood in the way of their happiness except themselves. They seemed bent on making excuses and misinterpretations of all sorts. Despite my frustration, Ms. Statham always left a glimmer of hope that Edward and Jennifer would find their way back to each other, which made it a bit easier for me to tolerate their behavior.

There are a few interesting side stories sprinkled throughout the book. Some had more bearing on the main plot than others, but they were all amusing. I must admit that I expected them to impact Edward and Jennifer’s future much more than they did, and I was a bit disappointed when they didn’t. However, the stories do serve to illustrate what a kind, loyal, and strong man Edward is.

The Portrait is a thoroughly entertaining read. Edward and Jennifer are very likable and their happy ending is sweet if a bit surprising. I definitely recommend it to fans of historical romance.

Stepping Up to Love by Katie O’Boyle

Cover_SteppingUpToLove

Stepping Up to Love by Katie O’Boyle
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full (243 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Rose

When her boss Joel Cushman catches her using the spa shower at The Manse, junior accountant and graduating college senior Manda Doughty comes clean about the alcoholic drinking that has led her into a disastrous relationship with a predatory professor. Joel, who is also a trustee of the college, is faced with more problems than a beautiful, naked woman in his shower. While he’d rather make love all night with funny, brainy Manda, Joel knows his desire for her has no future if Manda cannot stay sober, grow up, and face her problems. While Manda immerses herself in AA, Joel uncovers harassment and embezzlement that threaten the existence of the college his ancestors founded. Can he fix the problems at the college without exposing Manda to public humiliation? Can Manda clean up her mess and trust the love she feels for Joel? The odds may not be in their favor, but miracles happen for those who are willing to change their lives and open their hearts.

This book deals openly, honestly, and with no holds barred about a couple of tough subjects: alcoholism and abuse.

The reader is pulled right in at the very first with a terrified Manda trying to sleep in her car at work. The story is less about Manda getting away from her abuser, though, and more about both Manda and Joel dealing with their own internal demons. With the help of AA and the 12 step program, they realize they have to take the time to heal so they can be the people they are supposed to be for each other.

Inspirational without being preachy, Stepping Up to Love shows just how relationships are supposed to work.

This is the first book of the series and that makes me happy. I’m looking forward to reading the next which I hope will revisit not only the area but the characters as well (a Justin/Gwen pairing, maybe?). Recommended.

Life Eludes Him by Jen Suits

HIM
Life Eludes Him by Jen Suits
Publisher: Devine Destinies
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (44 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

When the desire for life and love surpasses death…

A man finds love anew when he meets a woman several hundred years later. A different time for each, both wrapped up with intrigue for one another. They develop a friendship that withstands their differences. Plagued by his past full of hurt, a local ghost haunts the rooms of a dilapidated mansion set in the recesses far from modern civilization. Plagued by the normal every day humdrum, she takes on a case to survey an old, time worn mansion. Her interest is piqued. Armed with tidbits of the building’s history, she steps over the threshold and into adventure.

One of the things that has always puzzled me about the concept of soul mates is the question of what happens to would-be couples who never end up together. Are people like this doomed to be alone forever?

Claire is an intelligent, decisive property assessor who takes her work seriously. Her no-nonsense approach to her professional life works well with the plot. I quickly grew to like her and root for her success, especially once the paranormal elements of the plot begin to become more visible.

With that being said, there were things about Claire’s personality that I never understood. Her decision-making abilities are tested early on in the plot, and she doesn’t spend much time mulling over the very real risks involved in her options. Her risk-taking tendencies seem to clash with everything else I learned about this character. It would have been helpful if both sides of her personality were given more time to complement one another.

If there’s one thing I learned from Life Eludes Him it is that one should never underestimate the longterm memory of a community. Nearly every small town has its own set of local legends. One of the pleasures of visiting a new place is listening to the locals talk about the people and places within them that outsiders have never heard of, and this book are no exception to that rule. It was quite interesting to piece together what happened in the mansion based on what the surrounding community has remembered over the years.

I also would have liked to see more time spent explaining the science fiction elements of this short story. The paranormal themes are given more than enough time to develop, but I can’t say the same thing about the science fiction themes. What I did learn about them was fascinating, and this tale would have earned a higher rating had the brief allusions to certain phenomenon been explained more thoroughly.

The mansion was described in such detail that it quickly became my favourite part of the narrative. Old, abandoned houses often feel a little melancholy to me, and this one is no exception to that rule. What made this setting even more intruding was how much it has declined since it was abandoned. Even the most beautiful property will decay if it’s not taken care of properly, sometimes to the point that it’s difficult to see potential of it behind the mildew, dust, and broken or missing elements.

Life Eludes Him is a quick, satisfying short story that is a good choice for anyone in the mood for something supernatural and lighthearted.

Most Truly by Reina Williams

TRULY
Most Truly: A Pride and Prejudice Novella by Reina Williams
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (88 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Most Truly is a light, sweet Pride and Prejudice Novella, book one in the Love at Pemberley series.

Colonel James Fitzwilliam is home. The war has left him weary, battle-scarred—and a free man of fortune ready to find a wife. He travels to Pemberley, his second home. There he meets Kitty Bennet. Her unexpected charms soon have him questioning his familial duty and his expectations. A fight looms on the horizon when his aunt—Lady Catherine de Bourgh—and his parents arrive with their own plans for his future.

Kitty Bennet has found happiness. At Pemberley, she has improved herself and formed true friendships with her sister Lizzy and Georgiana Darcy. Kitty is captivated by the gentlemanly Colonel Fitzwilliam. But she will not be silly over a redcoat again, and she will not risk her happiness—or his family’s displeasure—for his attentions. Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy, Lizzy, and Georgiana have their say, and Kitty learns a new lesson—love will find you at Pemberley.

Have you ever wondered what happened after Pride and Prejudice ended?

I must confess that reading Most Truly was my first venture in to reading a story that followed the beloved characters of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Furthermore, Kitty and Colonel Fitzwiliam aren’t characters that I spent a lot of time thinking about after reading Pride and Prejudice. However, after reading the blurb for Most Truly, my interest was piqued. I found myself wondering if Kitty found happiness like her older sisters.

I enjoyed getting to know Kitty a little better in this novella. My previous assessment of her wasn’t entirely favorable. However, I liked Ms. Williams’ interpretation of Kitty’s character. She is a sweet young woman with a great sense of fun and innocence about her. Kitty’s efforts to improve herself and form lasting and meaningful connections with the people around her are certainly commendable as well. By the time I finished reading, I found I’d be happy to call Kitty a friend.

I do think that the relationship between Kitty and Colonel Fitzwilliam progressed too quickly. I would have liked them to spend more time getting to know each other before falling completely in love. They have excellent chemistry, and I would have liked to explore that more.

There are a couple obstacles on the path to Kitty and Fitzwilliam’s happy ending, but they were resolved much too quickly. I would have liked the various conflicts to be teased out more. This would have added more suspense to the story. While I enjoyed how the tale concluded, I was left wanting a bit more depth.

I found Most Truly to be an entertaining read. Kitty is a breath of fresh air, and her story is a good book to curl up with on a rainy afternoon while waiting for spring to arrive. Anyone who likes their historical romance short and sweet should give Most Truly a try.

The Love Thief by Daisy Jerico

LOVE
The Love Thief by Daisy Jerico
Publisher: Prism Book Group
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (65 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When the jewelry gallery she works at is robbed, Sandra is not just the prime suspect; she is the only suspect. Desperate to clear her name, she reluctantly agrees to work with sexy former jewel thief, Alex Daniels, to recover the jewelry and catch a thief.

He reminds her of the men who lounge half-naked across Ferraris in fragrance ads, aloof and confident in their looks. Alex can’t believe anyone as naive and trusting as Sandra can be for real. Thrown together to solve the robbery, Alex feels his heart begin to thaw towards Sandra. As his feelings become stronger, Alex must ask her to rekindle a romance to her recently paroled ex-boyfriend, who holds the key to solving the robbery.

In the end, Sandra must decide if it is more important to clear her name or follow her heart.

Sandra Bowles is rudely awoken at 3am to be informed the gallery she works at has been robbed. Despite the cold night air, she rushes over, partly to check on the pendant she’d spent every spare cent on commissioning, but also with a sick feeling in her stomach. She’d been wrongly accused of being a thief years ago and had worked hard to rise above the stain to her reputation. She finds not only is her pendant gone, but once again she’s under suspicion of being something she isn’t – a thief. The only thief she knows is her ex-boyfriend, Derrick Dane. Convincing Detective Alex Daniels that isn’t as easy as she’d hoped. When Sandra learns Derrick has been let out on parole, her world is turned upside down.

I found this to be a funny, lighthearted romantic comedy. With cheesy one-liners and a bunch of wit, this should appeal to readers across most age ranges. There’s a good plot revolving around the theft, Sandra’s pendant. Both Derrick and Alex are well drawn characters and Sandra is caught in the middle. An enormous stray dog – Viking – rounds out the main characters and I greatly enjoyed the book, laughing aloud in multiple places from all their antics. I found myself really invested in Sandra and Viking, and despite a rocky start with Alex also came to really like his character. The plot takes center stage in this book, and while there is romance, it’s very chaste and sweet (a few kisses only). I was a little disappointed in how quickly the plot was wrapped up at the end. It felt a little rushed to me, but all the loose ends were tied up so overall I have no real complaints.

For readers wanting a sweet, funny story this is a great place to start. The romance is soft enough I’d feel comfortable letting teenagers read it, or my grandmother. Funny and romantic with a prominent plot it’s a great, traditional romantic comedy. Recommended.

Savage Deception by RT Wolfe

Cover_Savage Deception

Savage Deception by RT Wolfe
Publisher: ePublishing Works!
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full (254 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4.5 stars
Review by Poppy

Busy juggling loan sharks and Amber Alerts, Detective Nickie Savage makes time when the FBI seeks her expertise with a child trafficking ring. But when Nickie discovers that the men running the ring are the same ones who abducted her as a young teen, the case gets personal.

Risking her badge, Nickie goes rogue. Luckily, she has Duncan Reed, along with his wire tapping and surveillance expertise. But Duncan also wants to take their relationship to the next level.

Now, Nickie must choose: break her own rules and risk her heart or forge ahead alone.

In a word… Awesome!

Savage Deception was a fantastic romantic suspense that kept me turning pages. While it’s technically the start of a new series, it directly follows another book in a previous series. When I first started reading Savage Deception, I hadn’t read that other book, and have to admit to being pretty confused. I don’t think it stands alone well … though I might have gotten things sorted over time, if I wasn’t already a big fan of the author, I might not have kept reading.

What I did do is read that other book and once that was cleared up, it was full speed ahead! Now I was fully engaged and loving every word. The plot here was tightly created with plenty of twists I wasn’t expecting. The heroine, Nickie, is put through the wringer here with her past bumping into the present and she finds out some things that nearly break her.

Don’t worry… she has Duncan. And he’s the most awesome boyfriend ever. I really do love the man and wouldn’t hesitate to steal him away from her if I could. He’s not perfect, thankfully, but his flaws make him that much more wonderful. I really love their relationship, and it developed well here. It’s sweet and romantic, hot and sexy, and really very realistic. They have their ups and downs, but thankfully they know they can trust each other and that makes everything work.

The secondary characters here were just as great as ever. Duncan’s family is so much fun. I really love them all and am glad to be able to keep up with what they’re doing. Nickie has a surrogate family, since her biological one is worse than useless. Her captain, her foster mom … they’re really what give her a solid foundation.

My confusion at the start, along with a few editing errors (the first I remember seeing in Ms. Wolfe’s books — these were wrong words or typos) are all that kept this from being rated higher. I really did enjoy the story once I got my head wrapped around it. It was everything romantic suspense should be: exciting, interesting, well plotted, romantic and had a solid, satisfying wrap up.

I’m sold on this new series and excited to continue on with Nickie Savage, at least as long as I get the whole crew of characters along with her!