2014 Summer Collection: Anthology Sweet/Sensual by Markee Anderson, Stephanie Burkhart, Gerald Costlow, Larry Hammersley, Jory Sherman
2014 Summer Collection: Anthology Sweet/Sensual by Markee Anderson, Stephanie Burkhart, Gerald Costlow, Larry Hammersley, Jory Sherman
Publisher: Victory Tales Press
Length: Full Length (193 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet, sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia
Five complete sweet to sensual stories from five multi-talented authors in settings to make any summer occasion more special. Included are:
Meet Me In Seattle by Markee Anderson
Madysen Duke has been coerced to participate in a reality show with her teacher friends. But little does she know, her high school flame is also along for the ride, with intentions much different from hers. Even though she’s out for the money, he’s trying to thwart whatever crime is happening right before their eyes.
Arrow Through The Heart by Stephanie Burkhart
Summer vacation and the Fourth of July brings Ella to New Hampshire while participating in a tennis competition. Logan is an innkeeper’s son who bumps into Ella and invites her for an ice cream. Attraction flares and they enjoy spending time together, but each has their own plans for their life. Then disaster strikes Ella. Can a summer attraction truly become a lasting relationship?
Taking Liberty by Gerald Costlow
Liberty “Libby” Bell is a waitress at a roadside diner, trying to hide from an abusive ex-boyfriend who refuses to leave her alone. She strikes up a romance with Roger, a hunky local fireman, and seems to be getting her life back into gear. Then her ex-boyfriend tracks her down.
Will she be forced to leave Roger and run away again, or see the ex-boyfriend and risk a violent confrontation?
And if that isn’t enough to handle, suddenly there’s a serial killer in their midst.
Marcy’s Struggle by Larry Hammersley
Marcy Mason is in her final year of graduate school, pursuing a PhD in chemistry. She has brains and looks, but struggles in the romance department. She met Ross Franklin in undergraduate school when she was a senior; he was a freshman and second-string quarterback. Her problem – she was hung up on Leroy Doyle at the time.
Leroy is married and moved away, but Ross, now star quarterback, isn’t convinced she’s over Leroy. When Leroy arrives on campus to give a lecture, Marcy must make all the arrangements. After contact with Leroy, Marcy admits to what she’s known all along—she’s over Leroy and wants Ross in her life. Can she convince Ross to look past their different backgrounds and give love a chance?
The Garden by Jory Sherman
Summer brings forth fresh vegetables in the garden and with them, the ultimate fight against insects and wild critters to protect those vegetables. Harvey enjoys his garden, especially the corn – watching it grow, providing food for his beloved wife Ruth. Then, something unusual happens in the garden and his corn begins to disappear.
This collection of short stories is a good way to unwind after a long day of dealing with the real world. The sweet to sensual stories have many facets beside romance. Each story takes the reader to a different emotional place.
“Meet Me In Seattle” by Markee Anderson is much like “The Amazing Race” on TV with many characters. Most of the characters are not well developed, but the reader sees a diverse group that engages the imagination with a sense of mystery and intrigue involved. It seems what is supposed to be a game may have a darker side. The twist at the end grabs one’s attention is such a way the story takes on a whole new meaning.
“Arrow in the Heart” by Stephanie Burkhart is a sweet, straight-forward story with an antagonist that keeps the reader alert. Logan Donovan and Ella Perchekov, the hero and heroine, have very different life styles that could derail a budding romance. How these two cope with danger and their differences keep the reader’s interest.
“Taking Liberty” by Gerald Costlow stirs a mixture of emotions. Clyde Barrows, whether insane or just one of the-walking-dead after he buries his wife, keeps the reader’s senses on high alert.
Libby, the diner waitress, and Roger, the fireman, are the primary characters and their love for each other makes one’s heart feel good. But the appearance of the abusive ex boyfriend brings about some adrenaline-pumping action that keeps one turning pages.
Detective Jorgensen is rarely seen but plays a part that had this reader guessing about how he’ll deal with the information he has. This story is thought-provoking.
“Marcy’s Struggle” by Larry Hammersley takes the reader into the college world where young people struggle to establish a place for themselves in the working world that is fraught with challenges. Not the least of the challenges is sorting out emotional feelings and conflicts that arise when love slips in and demands a place in the planning.
Marcy Mason, a PhD candidate in chemistry, and Ross Franklin, the star quarterback, are miles apart in their interests and where their careers will probably take them upon graduation. Added to that jealousy, others’ expectations of them, and self-doubts keep their lives in upheaval.
The minor characters’ manipulation and influence have Ross and Marcy struggling to find common ground. How they finally deal with all the conflicts and feeling is most satisfying.
“The Garden” by Jory Sherman, though set in the present, seems almost like a wrinkle in time.
Harvey and Ruth escape the hustle and bustle of city life. They move to a ninety acre country place where Osage Indians once lived. Harvey’s has a garden that he loves. What happens in it and how he reacts creates an eerie, intriguing story.
The touch of humor, the mystery and confrontation all add up to make this story a delightful, entertaining read.
2014 Summer Collection: Anthology Sweet/Sensual, while not my usual type of reading, was attention-keeping and a nice break from the usual.
Empath Katrina Shepard spends most of her time alone, preferring solitude to the constant press of the pain and emotion of others. When she meets publishing tycoon Kassian McAllister at a party she finds herself intrigued. He is the first man she can’t read. Maybe she isn’t the only one with strange psychic powers. An Earthbound Angel, Kassian has spent the better part of a century hunting Jack the Ripper. His personal quest for vengeance has locked his heart and emotions behind a tightly guarded door. But Kat reawakens the emotions he thought long dead. As they grow closer they both learn truths about themselves and see a chance for love. But Jack the Ripper still roams the Earth and Kat has become the ideal target. Will Kassian finally have his revenge or will he lose yet another woman he loves?
A dark and gritty investigative tale of Jack the Ripper brings two similar souls together. With empath Katrina Shepard’s life at risk, along with Kassian McAllister personal vengeance, under the circumstances will the two end up discovering more?
The author has a nice writing flow along with a talent for telling a detailed story. The story started out with my full interest; giving me hopes that this was going to be a good story. The sexy rich Kassian is right there to save Katrina in her time of need, and thankfully he is not willing to let her go because she may still be in danger. They were perfect strangers but the author’s skills displayed an attraction that was so obvious that it could not be denied. Katrina and Kassian just seemed to fit and have a connection to one another. It’s a refreshing read to let the attraction heighten without carrying the relationship prematurely to the bedroom.
Kassian was a likable character. Throughout the book he showed he knows how to take control of many situations. I liked that Kassian has fame and money but he still has a kind heart in offering Katrina safety. I also like the true friendship between Kassian and his long time friend, Luca Fiorell. Also, it was admirable that Kassian stayed committed in getting Rapier, even with it being 100 years since his sister disappeared.
There was a slow build to the plot climax. For a story that speaks of murder, as a reader I was disappointed to only hear about the murders and not see them on the page. The majority of the story was spent on the romance and relationship part of the story. I was almost half-way through the book before the killer’s view was mentioned or any visual of murder was given in detail.
Something I found strange was that halfway through the book, in the middle of kissing mind you, Katrina reveals to Kassian who her father is. She says she found a picture of him and her mother, but she never knew who her father was, so how did she come to the conclusion that the man in the picture was her father? The family relationship of who Katrina’s father and brother is didn’t add anything to the story, in fact it boggled it down with a complex tangent that took away from a already busy plot about a killer, a blossoming romance, vengeance for a missing sister, and the witch and earthbound lifestyle.
There were interesting and unique actions mentioned like the men tattoos turning into daggers, and a cat turning into a man. There were words used that were in reference to earthbound and empath that I am not familiar with and I give thanks to the author for including a understandable definition within the storyline.
Undiscovered Angel is an entertaining read that is sure to give pleasure to those that enjoy a good paranormal romance.
His heart may be the last thing she ever steals . . .
Marlowe is a pickpocket, a housebreaker—and a better actress than any professional on the stage. She runs with the Covent Garden Cubs, a gang of thieves living in the slums of London’s Seven Dials. It’s a fierce life, and Marlowe has a hard outer shell. But when she’s alone, she allows herself to think of a time before—a dimly remembered life when she was called Elizabeth.
Maxwell, Lord Dane, is intrigued when his brother, a hired investigator, ropes him into his investigation of the fiercely beautiful hellion. He teaches her to navigate the social morass of the ton while his brother attempts to confirm her true identity. But Marlowe will not escape so easily. Instead, Dane is drawn into her world of danger and violence, where the student becomes the teacher and love is the greatest risk of all.
This is more than a love story; it’s a story of a family’s quest to be reunited, a journey of one man from self-involvement to awareness and a triumph over the machinations of a villain. Through it all is entertainment, fascination and excitement.
Earls Just Want to Have Fun sounds like a silly romantic jaunt in Regency England. It’s actually not silly at all but filled with hard truths of life on the street. The author does a good job of depicting the harshness, the struggles and the hopelessness of the people stuck in Seven Dials. The words like snapper, dubber and tilter lent an authentic air to the tale. Stuck in that mire amongst thievery and cutthroats is the heroine, Marlowe. A reader is quite aware who she really is based on the beginning but one of the book’s plot threads is how to get her back to where she belongs and that’s no easy task.
I crack up thinking about Max’s brother, Brook. In the back of my mind I hear Max say to Brook like Hardy did to Laurel (1930s), “Well here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.” And what a mess it was. Max is so self-righteous and opinionated – and boring. He needs someone like Marlowe and readers are clued into that fairly quickly due to the skill of the author. Marlowe’s method of speech perplexed and discombobulated Max something fierce which created some of the most fun and amusing scenes throughout the novel.
I appreciated how Ms. Galen took the time to detail Max’s high-brow attitude in the beginning. It showed me a man I wouldn’t want to know, and through the course of trying to re-make Marlowe into Elizabeth, he changed, became a better man, a better person who finally understood what it means to be in love and to be loved. I really liked him by the time the book ended.
Marlowe a/k/a Elizabeth is a plucky, spunky survivor. She has no memory of her true history except some faded memory that seems like a dream. She is very distrusting of Max and the worst punishment he visited upon her was a bath. The one thing that stands out for me about the heroine is that she avoided being too clichéd. I’m thrilled. Usually when the bad guy threatens, the heroine turns into a stupid martyr and tries to act like she’s her own island. Not so, Marlowe. She had gumption and was actually very brave to do what she actually did do. For me that saved the story. If the author had her character do anything else I would have been greatly disappointed. Instead, I was treated to a heroine I was more than willing to read about, and enjoyed every minute of it.
Another treat was the seduction of Marlowe and its culmination. It was very sexy, sultry and had a lot of emotional impact. It complicated their relationship somewhat but that’s what made the novel more compelling and interesting.
Earls Just Want to Have Fun is a very well written tale that entertains in a big way. It’s busy, suspenseful and at times even a nail-biter, but it’s balanced perfectly with humor, fun, whimsy and strong emotions. Historical romance readers have a treat in store for them with this book. It has good triumphing over evil and a reluctant hero saving the day. It’s quite a roller coaster of a read with a completely satisfying happy ever after conclusion. The writing makes it easy to recommend the book to other romance readers. I liked it. What I liked too was the hook of getting to know Brook. He’s a man in serious need of a woman and I can’t wait for his turn. Bet it’s going to be fun!
A Reckless Desire…
Lady Clarissa Bevington is in trouble. A reckless indiscretion has left her with two choices: ruin her family with the scandal of the Season, or marry Mr. Kincraig, the notorious scoundrel mistaken as her lover. Desperate and disgraced, Clarissa vows to love and cherish a veritable stranger, a man whose eyes smolder with danger—and undeniable desire…
An Unexpected Arrangement
As an agent for the Crown, Lord Donovan Blackmer has spent the last two years guarding Clarissa’s grandfather from an unknown assassin while disguised as the rakehell Kincraig. His mission may now be over, but his duty has just begun. Salvaging his beautiful, impetuous wife’s virtue will cost him his fortune and his position as an officer—but it might save him from the ghosts that haunt his own past. When their marriage “in name only” leads to exquisite seduction, Donovan must risk the only thing he has left to lose . . . his heart.
An agent of the Crown and a spoiled girl could never work together, could they? They come from two different worlds, right? Wrong. Lily Dalton makes them work, and work beautifully.
The plot is intense and there are a few twists that spice it up along the way. But the main attraction of the novel by far were the two main characters. The way Dominick acts honorably towards Clarissa despite losing everything because of the situation, and how Clarissa grows up into a determined and fair woman after making a huge mistake was a wonderful insight into their personalities. At first it seems they couldn’t be more different, but through mutually deciding to make the marriage work they become far more alike and compatible.
I especially liked the first part of the novel in which Clarissa and Dominick were thrust into an unwanted marriage and the conflict between them is tangible. Unlike in other historical romances, their union started off with no attraction between them and no desire on either of their parts to be married. Clarissa was even portrayed as a rather frivolous, spoiled girl. But as the story developed and their marriage progressed, we got to see a different picture. The fact that their union started off inauspiciously but they were both strong enough to accept it and make it successful told of the strengths of their characters and made me love them so much more.
I felt the long epilogue was redundant and it spoiled the whole effect by tying up all loose ends rather too neatly. Other than that, the narrative was engaging, the characters as well, even though I haven’t read the previous two novels in the series and I didn’t know anything about them and their histories. But now I want to know all about them and I’ll be sure to read their stories too.
Never Surrender to a Scoundrel was a delightful read with lovable characters and an inventive storyline. The narrative will grip you and pull you into the story until you will sigh with satisfaction at the sweet ending.
Second Chances by Magdalena Scott
Ladies of Legend: Return to Legend
Publisher: Turquoise Morning Press
Length: Short Story (85 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia
Second chances. Sometimes the hardest part is believing they exist.
Anne McClain Bradley returns to her small town roots after an absence of 30 years. Pete Garrity is in Legend, Tennessee, for a new start in a place where nobody knows him.
Ms Adeline Bynum, recently deceased, has a hand in bringing them both here.
Legend has a way of healing broken hearts. But can Anne and Pete let go of the tragedies of their pasts in order to have a future together?
All Anne wants is some peace, but she might get more then she bargained for.
The last couple years of Anne’s life have been filled with hardship and tragedy. When she returns to Legend, all Anne wants is some tranquility and time to heal. If anyone deserves a long rest, it is Anne. Pete is the last person she expected to see in her hometown. Pete’s reappearance in her life is problematic. His presence forces her to face some things in her past she’d rather forget. Does Anne have the courage to face the past, or will she let her second chance slip through her fingers?
I have to admit that I wasn’t quite sure what to make of Anne and Pete at first. It was clear from the start that Pete was attracted to Anne, but I wasn’t sure how she felt until much later. I do wish there had been more interaction between them. While I knew how Pete felt, it was hard to get a real sense of their chemistry because they didn’t spend much time together. In fact, Anne seemed intent on avoiding Pete because of something painful in their shared past. Despite this issue, I did enjoy watching the town of Legend work its magic on this reluctant couple.
Ms. Scott did an excellent job at slowly revealing the past connection between Anne and Pete. Anne’s past is certainly painful, but as I read, it became clear that there was much more to it then I first realized. Ms. Scott left a trail of clues that seemed to point in a heartbreaking direction, but the situation wasn’t quite what it seemed. The conclusion was very surprising and even a little refreshing. I no doubt that Anne will now be able to fully heal and open her heart to new possibilities.
I enjoyed reading Second Chances. Anyone looking for a fast yet heartwarming romance should give Second Chances a try.
A SUMMER FLING . . . OR SOMETHING MORE?
Merry Atwater would do just about anything to save her dog rescue – even if it means working with the most stubborn man on the planet. It’s hard to avoid the sparks that fly with TJ Jameson, the ruggedly sexy cowboy in charge of the children’s camp where she’s just taken an animal therapy job. But commitment is not Merry’s style, and TJ clearly wants more than just a roll in the hay.
TJ Jameson isn’t looking for anything complicated-just a peaceful life on his family’s ranch with a wife and kids. “No-strings” Merry Atwater doesn’t fit that bill, no matter how irresistible she is. But when he sees how Merry gets through to his autistic nephew and the other kids at Camp Blue Sky, TJ’s a goner. If he doesn’t give in to the now, he might just lose his shot at forever . . .
It all starts with a camp for children with special needs.
TJ Jameson with his autistic nephew in mind sets up a camp especially for children with special needs. He is looking for an animal trainer who could bring a couple a couple of trusted and trained dogs to help the kids, including his nephew Noah. However, things become heated when he meets Merry Atwater, the owner of a volunteer dog rescue service.
I loved the fact For Keeps includes dogs because they played such a big role in this. This story was not only about TJ and Merry. It was about forgiveness and taking chances.
After the first initial connection between TJ and Merry, the relationship between them grew slowly. The spark that flies between them is entertaining enough that the slow growth is not apparent. I think the eventual build-up was needed not only for Merry’s past but for other characters’ as well. Each character was entwined within the plot so well that even the slightest change would have brought a huge change to the climax. Every character had an important part to play.
The story that was woven caught my attention and kept it through out until the end. Recommended!
Melody and her teenage daughter, Kristen, have moved to Colorado for a fresh start. She’s still not 100% where she wants to be in terms of her body yet but she is finally comfortable with herself and is living completely as a woman for the first time in her life. To thank Kristen for being so wonderful she promises her daughter riding lessons, something her little girl has always dreamed of.
While waiting for the lesson to start, she’s happy to see her daughter amidst the horses that she loves so much, but Melody does not expect the handsome man who sits down next to her—a man who proves to be Kristen’s instructor and idol—to be interested in taking Melody out on a date…
Life is full of twists and turns. If only Melody knew what to expect from the future.
Kristen has normal moments of teenage angst, of course, but behind all of those temporary disagreements lies a strong, healthy bond between mother and daughter. The relationship between Melody and her child caught my interest immediately. Seeing how it evolved as they both adjusted to their new life only made me more curious to find out how everything would unfold in their lives.
The romance in this story happened a little too quickly. While I rooted for Melody and Derrick, Kristen’s instructor, to find a way to work it out, I would have preferred to see them get to know one another better before attempting to date. The chemistry between them would have benefited from having that extra time to develop, although I could definitely see the spark igniting between them as it was written.
Melody’s character development was interesting. She comes across as someone who is incredibly guarded and private for completely understandable reasons. The glimpses of her back story made me want to learn more about her, especially when they dove into topics that made her feel anxious or unsure. I empathized with her concerns and really hoped that at least some of them would be unfounded. It made me wonder what her personality would be like if a sequel to her tale was written ten or fifteen years in the future.
I’d recommend Horse Crazy to anyone in the mood for something heartwarming.
All that clever, passionate Ravenna Caulfield wants is to stay far away from high society’s mean girls.
All that handsome, heroic Lord Vitor Courtenay wants is to dash from dangerous adventure to adventure.
Now, snowbound in a castle with a bevy of the ton’s scheming maidens all competing for a prince’s hand in marriage, Ravenna’s worst nightmare has come true.
Now, playing babysitter to his spoiled prince of a half-brother and potential brides, Vitor is champing at the bit to be gone.
When a stolen kiss in a stable leads to a corpse in a suit of armor, a canine kidnapping, and any number of scandalous liaisons, Ravenna and Vitor find themselves wrapped in a mystery they’re perfectly paired to solve. But as for the mysteries of love and sex, Vitor’s not about to let Ravenna escape until he’s gotten what he desires . . .
Pure romance is in store for a reader when they pick up their own copy of I Adored a Lord. There is the primary story and then there is a sub-romance going on that reminded me very much of a fairy tale. Happy ever afters abound, even though a couple aren’t about romance but more like comeuppances and justice served. It’s a fun treat.
The book starts off reading like a fairy tale narrative, setting up the background of the heroine in preparation for what comes later. It’s an interesting touch. That being said, the author continued to plop narrative and telling throughout the book. I found the novel to be a bit wordy and reading speed was reduced. That doesn’t mean the plot, characters, environment or dialogue weren’t engaging – they were. I enjoyed the premise, the intrigue and the hunt for clues in addition to the dynamics between some of the secondary characters. There’s a lot to like about this novel.
The author was ebullient with her descriptions of the Romeo and Juliet play the prince wanted to stage. In fact, the details included in most chapters were overly thorough and time was spent painting scenes for a reader. Many readers will enjoy that kind of depth of detail; it bogged me down. I prefer action and dialogue and brisk plot movement and I’m glad to say that were it counted, Ms. Ashe came through. If the scene with a villain or a spiteful viper was onstage, the author tightened her writing to provide a solid impact. I appreciated that.
The romance between Vitor, the hero, and Ravenna, the heroine, is a slow sensual build. I liked how she initially rebuffed him. I enjoyed his pursuit of her, and for most of the book the heat level was sweet, until it was not. When their passion finally was fully explored, it wasn’t fully explored. There’s an interesting twist and a wonderful bit of drama that coincides with that event. It wasn’t until much later that they were able to get past all the bullets and evil plots and interruptions and finally be relaxed and be together the way they wanted to be. What harm can a little water do anyway?
Overall, this was a fun standalone novel. I liked the mystery of the who-done-it, the search for clues and how practical and pragmatic Ravenna was about it all, and Vitor’s appreciation for her brains and logic. This is an engaging historical romance with a touch of mystery that I do recommend to other romance readers. It’s worth checking out. Even the author’s note at the end was fascinating and provided a reason to believe in Vitor’s family dynamics. I quite enjoyed reading this tale and am looking forward to reading another in the series.
She fell deeply in love with him in the early days of her childhood. And in return, she captured his heart the moment he first cast gaze his gaze upon her…
Renowned artist Mariah Jennings, hired to paint a thirteenth century Scottish castle, gets the shock of her life when she encounters the handsome knight who has dominated a lifetime of portraits and sketchbooks. But Sir Cailen Braithnoch is no ordinary ghost, nor did he suffer an ordinary death. Magic of the blackest kind cast a pall over the knights centuries ago. As the ghost and his lady seek to unravel the paradox surrounding his death, black arts, otherworldly forces, and a jealous rival conspire against them.
Will fate keep them apart, or is their love destined to last through the ages?
Mariah has finally met the man of her dreams. Unfortunately, he’s a ghost.
Mariah never imagined that the man she’s been drawing since she was old enough to pick up a pencil actually existed. However, Cailen is no ordinary man. He’s a ghost who died under very unusual circumstances. Cailen and all his knights died in the same battle and have inhabited their castle ever since. I found this fact troubling and intriguing at the same time. I eagerly dove into the pages of this story wondering if Mariah would be able to solve the mystery surrounding Cailen and his knights before it was too late.
I must say I think Ms. Peterson’s interpretation of ghosts is interesting. I found the social lives of the ghosts particularly entertaining. These ghosts aren’t content to simply haunt the castle. They attend parties and make friends in their afterlife. I could clearly picture ghosts from various centuries dancing the night away.
I thoroughly enjoyed watching Mariah and Cailen get to know each other. Even though they had an immediate connection, I’m glad that they were able to spend time together as a couple. Their circumstances are certainly unusual, but I think they work around the limitations posed by Cailen being a ghost very well.
I do wish some of the secondary characters had been a bit more rounded. Some of the other knights had a lot of potential to be interesting secondary characters, but this never really happened. The other knights stayed in the background for the most part. I also wanted to know more about the villain of the story. It is clear that this character wasn’t always bad. I wanted to know more about what set them on such a terrible path.
I enjoyed watching the mystery of unfold bit by bit through dreams and memories of various characters. Ms. Peterson built the suspense by gradually revealing one small piece of the puzzle at a time. I will admit that the pacing was a little slow at times. However, my patience was rewarded. The conclusion of this tale is definitely intense and had me on the edge of my seat.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Spirit of the Knight. Ms. Peterson’s ghosts are fun and entertaining, and Mariah and Cailen make a great couple. Fans of paranormal romance would do well to pick up a copy of Spirit of the Knight today.