Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister

NOBLE
Noble Intentions by Katie MacAlister
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (391 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Noble Britton suffered greatly at the hands of his first wife, and he refuses to fall into the same trap again. This time he intends to marry a quiet, biddable woman who will not draw attention to herself or cause scandal. Gillian Leigh’s honest manner and spontaneous laughter attract him immediately. It matters little that she is accident-prone; he can provide the structure necessary to guide her.

But unconventional to the tips of her half-American toes, his new bride turns the tables on him, wreaking havoc on his orderly life. Perpetually one step behind his beguiling spouse, Noble suffers a banged-up head, a black eye, and a broken nose before he realizes Gillian has healed his soul and proven that their union is no heedless tumble, but the swoon of true love.

For anyone who isn’t aware of the amazing gift of hilarity that Ms. MacAlister possesses, they are in for an absolute treat when they read this latest madcap adventure in love and romance. The nearest comparison I can come up with is paring Lucille Ball with the 3 Stooges. The predicaments the heroine gets into and the things she says had me laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. Noble Intentions gets a best book rating simply because I couldn’t wipe off the goofy grin that wielded itself to my face by the time I came to the end of chapter two and stayed there practically until the end.

Noble, the hero, is all sorts of twisted up emotionally. He doesn’t trust women, with good cause, is protective of his young son, with equally just cause, and he doesn’t give a flying flip as to what the ton thinks of him because of what happened to him in his previous marriage. He’s a traumatized hero that just begs to be healed and loved. Not that he wants that. Not at all. He wants a wife that will be the antithesis of his vile first wife. What he gets is Gillian – and his life will never be the same.

Gillian gets into the silliest of pickles. She’s sort of scatterbrained, impulsive and embodies a healthy amount of joie de vivre. She’s enthusiastic and loyal once she decides that someone is family or that she loves them. No scheme, plan or endeavor is left untried, no matter how crazy it might be, if she feels it’s going to save or help someone. She’s part innocent yet saucy at the same time and she has the most amazing background to draw from. She’s a heroine I would love to call friend because I guarantee, life would never be boring or staid with a woman like Gillian around.

The absolute hardest part about writing this review is not giving spoilers. It pains me that I can’t share the scenes that had me doubled over with laughter. If I had to recount them, I’d run out of fingers and toes, there are just that many. Rest assured however, that they aren’t written in to be funny in and of themselves. Each plan that goes astray actually provides clues to a mystery and garners the heroine all the helpers she needs to solve the case. The secondary characters that populate the novel are as unique and fascinating as the heroine. The butler is a pirate, but not. Gillian’s cousin is demure, but not. Noble’s friends are interesting on two different levels – but only after reading the book will that make any sense.

Let me see if I can give any hints. The dogs made me giggle, Gillian’s innocence about broken men made me snort and snicker and out right laugh, the blue hand reminded me of Ms. Ball’s antics on T.V., the ladybugs totally cracked me up, Noble’s adventures with vases and broken noses, although should be serious and cause for concern, actually made me guffaw, chortle and again, laugh out loud, and enterprising literature bought off of a street vender provided many moments of giggles for me and crossed eyes for Noble.

As for dialogue, Ms. MacAlister was truly inspired. Sometimes it was like watching tennis or ping pong. Some scenes had it fast paced with a couple of characters going at it about two different conversations at the same time and somehow, it worked. Then there was Gillian learning some naughty cant from the streets and her applying it in unexpected ways. Cue another grin. Oh my gosh, the testicles! I almost fell to the floor when that conversation occurred. Where does the author come UP with that? It was pure genius.

Another endearing and charming habit of Gillian’s was how she referred to Noble in her internal dialogue. Lord of this or that – the titles themselves were moments of intense levity. Cue more grinning.

This novel wouldn’t have worked so well if there wasn’t the dark side to overcome, the hero and heroine to save and a child healed. No matter how many moments of fun this book has, there was a mystery to solve and it was a rather gruesome one. Little hints were sprinkled throughout and it was the dialogue that clued me in. When the villain was finally revealed, I wasn’t too surprised. What did shock me was the level of nutso this person achieved. I was totally grossed out as to what Nick, Noble’s young son, had to endure but at the same time, there was no better woman on the planet to love him enough to heal than Gillian. She truly was a beam of sunshine that brightened all their lives.

When I labeled this book as historical, I did not add paranormal. It’s not really a part of the book but towards the mid part, Gillian met someone. He gave her cryptic advice and he was sort of nice to her. He ultimately had a reason for being so but I didn’t find out why until the end. It’s only in reference to him that I would mention a paranormal element. It surprised me but after thinking about it, it made sense. This author loves to have fun with her characters. Why not throw in a clever twist?

Noble Intentions is many things: a cure for a bad day, a fun read, a terrific romance. It’s a novel with heart that doesn’t take itself so seriously. Yes, the ton has its rules and strictures, and certain behaviors are frowned upon. But this story refused to be dictated by them. It was about two people, unique and quirky, who find love in their own way and gradually the ton accepted them. Why? Because no one, not even stodgy, snooty peerage can resist the thrill and romance of a passionate true love. This book gets a hearty recommend from me and an assurance that this book is going on my keeper shelf. I simply love it when a madcap plan comes together. Don’t you?

Wolf at the Door by N. J. Walters

WOLF
Wolf at the Door by N. J. Walters
Salvation Pack Book One
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (243 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Foxglove

When this wolf comes knocking, there’s no turning him away.
Salvation Pack, Book 1

When Gwendolyn Jones inherits a Tennessee cabin from a great aunt she never knew, she quits her job and follows her dream to write full time. Meeting a stranger in a local cemetery isn’t a risk she normally takes, but she needs the information on his flash drive for an article she’s writing on werewolves. Later that night, when two honest-to-God werewolves come knocking on her cabin door, they’re definitely not Photoshopped.

Jacque LaForge is on a mission to retrieve a flash drive before it endangers his pack. He never thought he’d find a mate, but the chemistry between him and Gwen is unmistakably off the charts. Now to convince her he’s only trying to protect her from his vengeful former pack—led by his own father.

Gwen’s first instinct to flee only gets her a smashed car and a concussion. She wakes up in a dangerous new world she never thought existed—and in the arms of the one man who stands between her and certain death.

In Wolf at the Door, N.J. Walters builds a small community of werewolves, united in their desire to escape the cruelty and archaic beliefs of their Louisiana pack.

Meeting a man at midnight in a cemetery may not have been the most intelligent thing Gwendolyn Jones ever did. But the man promised her information she could use in her paranormal romance novel; information the man believed to be fact, although Gwen herself was sure the man was just another kook with a highly developed imagination. After all, only a kook would insist that werewolves are real, right? Back home, with the information on the flash drive the man provided, Gwen is interrupted by two hot, gorgeous men, men who transform into wolves before her eyes, and kidnap her to keep the story from getting out.

Jacque LaForge and his brother Louis don’t want to harm Gwen, but they know that their father will be sending someone to kill her…soon. Jacque and Louis, along with three others, left their Louisiana home and came to Salvation, North Carolina, to escape the outmoded ideas and cruel practices of their father Pierre, and form a small but strong pack of their own. When Jacque realizes that Gwen could be his mate, he is more determined than ever to keep her safe, but there is another problem; she could also possibly be a mate to Louis, and Jacque isn’t willing to share. Can Jacque keep Gwen safe from the assassins his father sends, and convince her to stay with him as his mate? Will Gwen learn to trust Jacque and the pack, once she realizes that there is no going back to her old life? Or will Jacque’s father find a way to destroy what Jacque has worked so hard to build, even Jacque’s mate, Gwen?

I like the world Ms. Walters has created here, and the charismatic characters that inhabit this place. Ms. Walters has a way of giving each of her characters some unique characteristic that sets one apart from all the others: Jacque has the strength, Gator is the amiable one, Cole is the gentle giant and so on with each of the five men here. And Gwen is the perfect heroine, determined to stay alive long enough to get away…at least at first. I enjoyed visiting Salvation pack, and hope there will be more in the future with this small but fiercely loyal pack.

Gwendolyn Jones is smart, determined and very independent. When her world is turned upside down by the knowledge that what she always thought of as fiction, werewolves, is in fact very much her new reality. Once she realizes that she is in no danger from Jacque and his pack, she learns to accept the security they are offering, but still holds on to the hope she can one day return to her old life. I like Gwen for her sassy attitude and her determination to keep moving on when life has thrown her a curve ball. Watching as she slowly grew to first trust, then love Jacque, and to respect and trust all of his pack was a true delight.

Jacque LaForge is strong, sexy and loyal to his close friends. When he first learns what Gwen has uncovered, he is determined to get the incriminating evidence back and keep her safe from his cruel and unscrupulous former pack, lead by his father. When he realizes Gwen could be his mate, as well as possibly his brother’s, he is more determined than before to keep her safe and win not only her trust, but her love. I like Jacque, because he was always honest with Gwen, and let her come to terms with her new life at her own pace. I like his patience, and really felt his love and caring for his friends as well as his mate.

There is passion, romance and also some danger in this. I like that the characters are, at times, vulnerable; not physically but often emotionally scarred and wounded, and that they are there for each other no matter what. There is a story behind each character, and I look forward to learning more about amiable Gator, quiet and massive Cole, scarred and quiet Armand and of course, Louis, the brother who just misses getting the girl…this time. The danger that comes from Louisiana shows Jacque and his pack that they need to step up their game, and increase the protection to keep Gwen safe from harm, and I found that each turn in the road brought choices for both Gwen and Jacque to face. Ms. Walters has written a fast paced roller coaster of a story, and I could not put it down once I started. I would recommend this for shifter lovers, romance lovers and I recommend you keep tissues and ice near to hand.

How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying) by Kerrelyn Sparks

VAMPIRE
How to Seduce a Vampire (Without Really Trying) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (267 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Vampire Zoltan Czakvar is on the hunt for the truth about his father’s death. He’s been searching for a very long time—since 1241, in fact. And he is not about to give up, even when he’s attacked by a woman with striking blue eyes and a hell of a right hook!

Neona is also on the hunt. She’s looking for a mate, and she thinks muscled Zoltan will work just fine. After all, men are good for only one thing. Soon, though, she realizes there’s more to this handsome vampire than just sexual prowess. But she’s keeping a secret from Zoltan, something so big that it will rock the vampire world.

Can their newfound love survive . . . even if their passion means the destruction of her world?

Shangri-La meets the undead, the wonder begins and Zoltan gets beat up by his own version of Xena, Warrior Princess. What’s not to like?

The first chapter lured me in with a giggle. The second ensnared me with a noble quest and by the third chapter I was getting dizzy from delight. Nothing challenges a man more than a woman who thinks she can best him in seduction because he’s bound to turn the tables and in the end they both are seduced by one another. Nothing intrigues a person more than a secret and the desire to solve the mystery. It certainly worked that way for the hero, Zoltan, and it worked that way for me. Once the plot started moving, the author kept the revelations coming at a fast clip and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.

The heroine, Neona, was a true warrior who could use a sword, bow and arrow and was a fierce protector of her people. What delighted me was her innocence. How could she be that way? Only by reading How to Seduce a Vampire will it make any sense. Let’s just say that Zoltan was in for a surprise.

True to Ms. Sparks’ tradition, there is a lot of humor and light hearted interplay between characters – human, non-human and animal. Some of the human/vampire to animal conversations were either funny, endearing, or played a key role in the dramatic suspense that later occurs in the story. It was a clever touch and I was greatly entertained. It also interjected a fresh spin that I truly believe will be felt in future books.

The dynamics between Neona and Zoltan were delightful. I enjoyed watching them fall in love in spite of the drama that went on around them. I liked watching the trust in each other grow and their talks about climaxes and sex gave me the giggles. The hero and heroine were so funny together.

Neona’s mother is a paradox. At first I hated her but then I learned her back story and I ended up only disliking her. By the end of the story, I’m not sure how I felt about her. How much of it was fear or zealous commitment or being the holder of power for so long? I’m not sure. She has her good points but maybe I’ll know for sure in future books. It might be worth finding out.

Once all the players are in place the action speeds up. Actually, getting all the players in place was frenetic, chaotic and dizzying. Nima might have been right about one thing – men are trouble. And Zoltan’s popping in and out, in and out, kept me wondering why that poor man wasn’t too pooped to whoop. Where’d he get all that energy? Why didn’t he get wiped out? He couldn’t have been functioning solely on the power of love, could he? I’m not sure but all that zooming around seemed just a bit over the top and was edging towards comical. Granted, the nemesis they were fighting wasn’t comical at all. That was taken seriously and created wonderful suspense and drama. So much so, I had to put the book down to take a short breather. But my overall impression was that I was reading a Marvel Comic wannabe. Not that that’s a bad thing – they’re usually full of adventure and heroes and How to Seduce a Vampire certainly is too.

I enjoyed the dialogue, was entertained by the mystery getting solved and now am left worrying about the kidnapped child. I really really hope Ms. Sparks has an HEA in the offing and whatever story it gets told in, that it doesn’t get too dark. I’m sensitive when it comes to kids. And this one is rather special.

This latest adventure in the Love at Stake series has many aspects that I’ve come to expect and enjoy after reading so many of the novels. How to Seduce a Vampire continues the tradition of a well told, entertaining read that should please fans of the series. It also presents intriguing new possibilities, problems and challenges for my favorite vampires and their loved ones. There is a returning bad guy that makes my ears steam and I hope the author gets rid of him fast. He’s bad news. The good thing about this book is that it’s also perfect for new readers. I think they’re going to be in for a good time if they choose this book for the first one.

Secrets of Seduction by Nicole Jordan

SEDUCTION
Secrets of Seduction by Nicole Jordan
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (323 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

The most charming Wilde cousin, Lady Skye has secretly loved the enigmatic Earl of Hawkhurst since girlhood, long before the tragedy that left him scarred both physically and emotionally. When Skye learns that the celebrated hero has returned to England from his self-imposed exile to make a cold marriage of convenience, she brazenly plants herself on his castle doorstep, determined to convince Hawk that she alone is his true mate and destiny.

An elite member of the Guardians of the Sword, Hawk has vowed never again to risk the pain of loving—but that’s before he deals with the most enchanting, annoyingly persistent seductress he’s ever encountered. One night of blazing passion leaves him impossibly torn. Will Hawk choose duty over love, or will he open his heart and let Skye’s healing light penetrate his darkness?

She’s going to get her man and she’s going to get him good–or bad. Doesn’t matter as long as he’s hers.

This is my first book by Nicole Jordan, but it won’t be my last. The characters were engaging and interesting. Many had flaws and were easy to relate to. The writing is mostly crisp, although there were some moments of telling and not showing me the story. At times I felt like I was right there with the characters and other times not.

I’ve said the characters were interesting. They were. Lady Skye is unique. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to get it. I liked that. Some of her methods were a tad…pushy. Actually, she was really pushy. I liked her, but there were moments I thought she over-stepped her boundaries. When she wanted something she got a tad abrasive. Now, that’s not to say she’s a bad character. She just knows how to get what she wants.

Then there’s Hawk. The guy is battered material. He’s been through the wringer. His wife and two-year-old boy were killed in a fire and he couldn’t save them. Talk about a downer! So he’s got a lot of pent up depression. I kind of liked his brooding quality–he had a good reason to be upset. What irked me about him was as much as he’s supposed to be this strong, commanding guy, he pretty much let Skye walk all over him in order to get what she wanted. He could get terse with her, but at the same time, he didn’t mean much of it.

Now, that sounds like I wasn’t thrilled with this book. I did like it.  And the side story with Rachel, Daphne and Cornelius was great. I would enjoy reading more about them. I also did enjoy the way this story progressed. I hated having to walk away from the book and even though the characters irritated me, they got under my skin and I was thoroughly engaged. I thought about them long after I closed the book. That’s a sign I was hooked.

If you want a book with a little pluck, a little spice, and a handsome Lord, then this might be the book for you.

Captivated by Stacy Deanne

CAPTIVATED
Captivated by Stacy Deanne
Publisher: Sugar and Spice Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (126 pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

When she first lays eyes on Mya Riley’s slashed up body, Baltimore Detective Lisa Swanson is certain that the Sandman, a ruthless serial killer from her past has reemerged. Lisa dives headfirst into the case with her partner Dee, and lovesick Winston Lewis, a detective who grows more captivated with Lisa by the day.

The Sandman wreaks bloodthirsty havoc throughout the city, and this time he is determined to make Lisa his victim.

Armed with intense hatred for the Sandman and a stifling fear of who might end up dead next, Lisa struggles to solve the case by the book. But when the Sandman switches up his plan and goes after her lover Jake…Lisa ignores all the rules.

It appears a twisted serial killer has once again taken the city of Baltimore by surprise. Woman are being hunted and once again Baltimore Detectives Lisa Swanson and Dee Quarter are called on the case. The evidence and method of the murders seem very familiar to Lisa. She believes it’s the work of the Sandman. Captivated is Book 2 in the Bruised series.

Five years prior Lisa worked with well known Detective Adam Mann. Adam has since retired, but with the killer back on the loose Lisa is in frequent contact with retired detective Adam. Adam Mann was once captivated by the serial killer, so much so the obsession with the case cost him his family. I feel the author did a good job in displaying emotions regarding Lisa because to me Lisa’s belief about the Sandman’s return was very believable. Other officers doubted her theory but she stuck with her instinct.

Winston Lewis is newly transferred to the Baltimore precinct. Winston is captivated by Lisa and working hard to get her attention. Unfortunately for him Lisa and Jake Jenson are six months into their relationship, which started in the first book in the Bruised series. I enjoyed how the author has such strong and committed characters. I like how Jake noticed something was wrong with Lisa and they came together and discussed it. Jake is wheelchair bound, and admits he lives through the adventures that Lisa face in her day job being a detective. This is so refreshing to have a man strong enough to admit this, and also be able to support Lisa in a positive way. Jake showed his emotions and expressed his feelings, and admitted that he still battles with old hurts but he continues moving on and living through them.

I also enjoyed the alpha male friction between Jake and Winston. Each man is strong in a level sense and not playing dirty to win Lisa over. Each man has a winning spirit and I found it hard to figure out which man to root for.

I enjoyed this book. The mystery of solving the serial murder cases along with the mixture of who will capture Lisa’s heart made for a pleasant read. The author told a complete story, and wasn’t too wordy nor too descriptive. It’s a winner for me to get a satisfying read without having to read three hundred pages of blah-blah that has nothing to do with the plot.

This author has a new fan! I highly recommend that you add this series to your reading list.

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

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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.