A Twist of Betrayal by Allie Harrison

TWIST
A Twist of Betrayal by Allie Harrison
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full Length (266 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Justine Franklin is taken hostage during a store robbery and little does she know the robbery is just a stage for something much bigger. She soon discovers her husband, the man who holds her heart, a respected officer of the law, is not the man she thought he was.

When Dan Franklin learns his wife has been kidnapped, he knows the past he’s kept hidden from everyone, even Justine, has come back to haunt him. While their memories give them strength, their deep love will soon be put to the greatest test.

Dan’s terrified he can’t save Justine or the child she carries. And though he is not afraid to do whatever it takes to get Justine back, can he do it and keep safe the secret he’s kept for the last decade? Or will his past destroy them both?

This book is an awesome adventure of suspense and as the title states its truly a twist of betrayal. Justine Franklin a Public Defender has been seemingly happily married to police officer Dan Franklin for six years. The majority of the time any bad deed done in our past will surely catch up with us. Dan is a man that can vouch for this. The book opens with the couple having a heated disagreement prompting Justine to leave the house in anger. Her decision to go to the grocery store is timed with the grocery store robbery. Unfortunately Justine is kidnapped. Will Dan be able to save his wife and still keep his unlawful past a secret?

From the very beginning this book had my attention. To discover early on that the kidnappers know Justine personally only made my suspense greater. The timely flash backs give a back story of Justine and Dan’s past and also adds dimension to the storyline. The author timed the flashbacks at the appropriate time and gave enough suspense to keep me entertained and still had my interest on how the story would unfold. True enough I had a feeling that Justine would be saved, but boy were there many twists that the author complied to make this a book that I enjoyed and would recommend to any reader that is looking for a good suspenseful read.

I enjoyed the writing style. How the novel flowed was perfect. The plot was told with true talent. This is a book that you can’t judge by the cover. The blurb is interesting enough but the cover lead me to think the context would be something totally different.

The bad guys were truly bad. They devised a plan and I guess with all bad intentions they thought they would actually get away with it. Dan is a man of determination. He is a strong officer with attractive features. A man that is adamant on upholding the law and has a deep concern about public safety. He was a favorable character to read about. He is a man with faults but inspire to do right. Justine is a professional woman and as with any relationship she balances work and marriage as best she can. With the turn of events of an unexpected pregnancy and the kidnapping Dan and Justine’s marriage is put to the test. This is a well written, well thought out story a reader of suspense and action wouldn’t want to miss out on.

Blackbird Summer by EM Shotwell

SUMMER
Blackbird Summer by EM Shotwell
Publisher: City Owl Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (343 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Daisy

When people fear the unknown, being Gifted is a curse.

In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide.

No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan.

An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.

New Adult and Young Adult genres mix in this late coming of age story. The protagonist, Tallulah, has a path laid out for her by her magical family, living in semi-secrecy in the rural south, but she, and the non-magical community, are set to buck the trend. This storyline would be typical for a young coming of age story, apart from the fact Tallulah is much older than most looking to fight against their family values and find love where she wants it.

Her romantic interest is likeable, attractive and not the obvious choice for the area she lives in. Being new to dating and in her early twenties, their relationship is unusual for this age group. She’s new to everything, curious and excited to get to know him better. Their kisses and care for each other felt genuine. However, the insistence on cutting away from the sex scenes often left me wondering if a sex scene took place, or not. It was a little too ambiguous in some scenes. Were they making out, interrupted by the next plot point before they could get any further in love making, or did they go the whole way? I still have little clue.

The main plot takes a group of these young magical people, including the protagonist, and pits their wits against a local danger, a person who has been attacking their magical community and inciting hatred in the non-magical nearby town. Their fight back is believable for a group of young adults, but I found myself asking questions: ‘why do they not talk to their parents’ and ‘what are the parents doing about all this?’ Very often it seemed the parents were happy to provoke the nearby town and ignore the issue of who was the perpetrator, upping the stakes and tension level without much logical reasoning. I felt to be more realistic, the parents needed to show a more active fight back, logically looking into who could have caused the attacks against them as well as hitting out at anyone that doesn’t like their community. In many places, it felt like the older generation were more than happy to accept their fate, or incite it.

That said, the mystery of the attacker was fairly well-kept. I guessed who they were about half way through the story and was proved correct, which is better than some murder mysteries. I felt a few more red herrings could have been used to truly disguise the attacker, but it wasn’t badly done, and I was gripped by the storyline until the very end, staying up late to finish the book.

I enjoyed the creative magical community which was created out in the sticks, and the new approach to magical ‘gifts’, with some I’d not heard of before. This rural community was well-built and had a real charm to it. I also found the climatic final scene within this community to be satisfying and enjoyable. There was more worry and pain than joy, but it was a realistic ending to the polarised feelings of those who could use magic and those who couldn’t.

In essence, this is a dark fantasy, coming of age tale. We see and hear of bombs, rape, murder, prejudice and violence against women. It’s all shown in context, but it’s the kind of dark human behaviour which we don’t usually see in a fantasy romance. It gives the story some extra punch, but it does mean I came away from the story feeling a little darker about the human race as a whole. If shades of grey are what you enjoy in your fiction, this book is for you. I, for one, look forward to a sequel, hopefully one with slightly less prejudice.

Jigsaw by Stella Barcelona

MediaKit_BookCover_Jigsaw
Jigsaw by Stella Barcelona
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (406 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rated: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

Foraging the cyber-world for puzzle pieces…

Zeus Hernandez, a Black Raven partner, is pulled away from a top-secret project to be the personal bodyguard to lawyer Samantha Fairfax. Terrorists have rendered the future frightening and uncertain, but Zeus and Samantha’s past makes two things crystal clear: she’ll be furious to see him and he can’t refuse the job.

Sorting pieces as stakes rise…

Danger surrounds the International Terrorism Tribunal, a court convened to combat terrorism. Samantha is thrust into the limelight when her mentor dies as the trial convenes in Paris, France. Her role requires steadfast focus and nerves of steel. She’s determined to do her job and move her life ahead, according to plan…without Zeus. He’s determined she’ll reconsider.

Completing the puzzle as their worlds collide…

As personal drama escalates behind closed doors, terrorists take aim at an Achilles’ heel that is capable of crippling Zeus, Samantha, and Black Raven. While forcing puzzle pieces to click into place, a personal reckoning looms for these two strong-willed people. There’s no denying they might be better off apart…but they fit together so well.

Wow! What a ride!

Jigsaw is everything I expect in romantic suspense. It has the perfect balance of sexy romance and edge-of-your-seat suspense. I was engrossed from the very start.

Sam is a bright, ambitious woman. She has some familial advantages that open doors for her, but she earns the spots she gets. Her latest job, though, comes when the previous person dies … and they aren’t sure if it was a natural death or murder.

Enter Zeus. Hand-picked by Sam’s grandfather to guard her, he and Sam have a past. A very hot, very emotional past. It’s hard for him to agree to taking care of her, but he doesn’t think anyone else will do as good a job (despite how much he trusts the other Black Raven people).

The book starts out quickly, with a member of Sam’s inner circle dying and Zeus and his people hit the ground running. There’s a running theme about privacy being a thing of the past. Jigsaw refers (mostly) to a program they use to find things out about, well, anyone. It sorts through every bit of data available online and reminds the reader just how much is out there.

The romance between Sam and Zeus was the only reason this wasn’t a solid five star book. Zeus is ready to give their relationship another try, but Sam is stubborn and resistant. While I understand her desire to not be hurt again, it’s clear to the reader that Zeus is sincere and that she’s crazy about him. Their physical relationship starts up again pretty quickly, but she’s not willing to commit emotionally. It doesn’t help that she has a boyfriend she’s intending to marry down the road.

Also, near the end, Zeus’ brother shares something with her that felt a little intrusive. I get he wanted to help his brother, but it kind of felt as if the author wasn’t sure how else for Sam to find out about this, and instead of just finally trusting Zeus and opting to give their love another try, she suddenly had everything wrapped up in a little bow about the past.

That said, I really did love the author’s voice. She’s a master of the written word. Everything flows, there’s nothing that felt stilted or that pulled me out of the story. The ease of the writing made the book like a movie in my mind. Clean. Clear. Interesting. So well done.

Also, this is book two in a series, and I didn’t feel at all lost. Yes, I could tell I was missing out on some things that might have made my experience even richer (for instance, the book opens at a wedding and was likely between the characters from book one). But the author does a bang-up job filling a new reader in. It stands alone very nicely.

All-in-all one of the best books I’ve read lately. Recommended.

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Pirateless In The Caribbean by Jill Jaynes

PIRATE
Pirateless In The Caribbean by Jill Jaynes
Publisher: Unical Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (80 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Stephanie will do anything to make partner at her law firm, even if it means going on the totally unnecessary Caribbean vacation her boss sends her on, and returning with all the items on his stupid scavenger hunt list.

Little does she know that magic is hitching a ride on this vacation from hell, courtesy of her friend Nichole who has knit a little pirate-y magic into the sexy monokini bathing suit Stephanie has tucked away in her suitcase.

She may find all the items on her list, but what is she supposed to do about the pirate who sails away with her heart?

Stephanie works twice as hard as anyone else in her office as a contracts lawyer. Five years of long days and no breaks has her pretty tightly wound, though, and when she snaps at a client she’s ordered by her boss to take a holiday. This is how she ended up on a small Caribbean island with no desire to be there. With a list from her boss of relaxing holiday items to do and a promise that the owner of the resort was a personal friend of her boss, Stephanie has no option but to take the stupid holiday and do what she’s told.

I really enjoyed the writing style and pacing of this story. While Stephanie could have come across as sour person or a workaholic pain, the author managed to inject enough humour and characterization into Stephanie that I connected with her almost immediately. She seemed to me not just to be stressed from her high-pressure job, but also in such a rut and so used to working madly that she no longer knew how to switch off and unwind. The list of tasks – and analogue camera requiring proof! – made me laugh and in a very short number of pages I was on board with the whole scheme and plot for the story.

I rather liked Rick’s character too. He was a lovely not-pirate and I was seriously impressed with how much of a gentleman he was especially when it came to Stephanie. While the conflict was rather clichéd, I found the rest of the story surrounding it was fairly novel and fresh to me. This helped me get past the slight frustration of the thankfully quick scene when Rick and Stephanie confronted each other, and allowed me to simply enjoy their holiday fling together. I thought the sex was steamy hot but not outrageous, descriptive but not smutty. Romance readers won’t be disappointed with the ending either, I found it a deliciously Happy Ever After and felt it really finished on a high note.

A fun, warm, lighthearted romance I found this to be a wonderful book. I loved watching Stephanie unwind and her and Rick find their happy ending together. A sexy, summery beach romance that is sure to appeal to many readers.

Taken by Amy McKinley

MediaKit_BookCover_Taken
Taken by Amy McKinley
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Paranormal
Length: Full (240 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Forged through a childhood trauma and cursed by the Fates, Layla vows never to be at another’s mercy. With determination and training she evolves into a deadly weapon and quiets her inner demons—until the prophecy activates, shattering her peace. The gods who want her dead converge and the hunt to end her life truly begins. The skills that Layla honed for protection become an unconscious tool for death and destruction, threatening not only the gods but her family.

Entrenched in clan turmoil, Thaull’s life hangs at a precipice. He’s faced with a condition known only to his kind, the soul-divide. If not dealt with, his soul will rip in half and he will turn into an unstoppable, ice-cold killing machine. As he hunts the traitor within his Phantom Warrior clan he worsens. A fragile thread of hope remains. The love of a female, freely given, can save him. Through a premonition of an alluring demigoddess, he gambles his very existence in the chance she will be his salvation. ‬‬‬‬

She will go dark from her curse. He will go numb from his. To survive, Layla must risk trusting another or become another.‬‬‬

An interesting paranormal romance with a Greek mythology background.

I’m not sure what I expected when I picked up Taken, but it was nothing like what I found on the pages. Though technically, this takes place on modern day earth, except for saying that’s where Layla lives and has her workshop, we may as well be in a fully fantasy setting. The world-building in this book is pretty complex, and honestly I had some moments of being a little confused. That may be partly due to the fact this is the second book in the series, and it really throws you right in to the action with not a lot of background to begin with. I haven’t read book one, and I do recommend that you do — it’s a good story! Why not start at the start?

The author has a wonderful ability with words, though. The book is complex and detailed and very well constructed and edited. That makes it a joy to read.

Layla was a interesting heroine. I didn’t much like her at first, though. She’s independent to a fault (sometimes a little stupidly), brash, arrogant … but with her bloodline and background, that’s not completely unexpected. Thaull has the patience of Job to deal with her. But deal with her, he does, and quite effectively. I really liked him a lot and could see why he managed to wear down Layla’s protests.

I’m not a big fan of the “fated mates” trope, which does exist here … sort of. Thankfully, the author deals with it in an interesting manner and Thaull is a little subtle about that. He’s not subtle about much else, however, and Layla doesn’t love his bossy manner. At least not at first. She does, however, love his hot self and they definitely indulge in some sexy times. That said, the sex scenes are pretty subtle and occasionally even take place off the page.

So much happens in this book. As is typical with Greek mythology, everyone is getting into the game. it’s a massive chess board and a dozen people are moving the pieces. Sometimes the action happens so abruptly, though, I got a tad bit disoriented. There are lots of characters, lots of settings and lots of subplots that take a bit to sort through. Honestly, though, that just ultimately makes for a better story.

Taken is unique. In a world jam-packed with paranormal romance, this one stands alone.

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Finding Mimi by Gerald A. Jennings

MIMI
Finding Mimi by Gerald A. Jennings
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (56 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

David McClain, retired teacher, is depressed as he faces the fourth summer since the death of his wife. The big Victorian house, once full of the happy sounds made by his beautiful wife and three lively daughters, now is silent, and he has resigned himself to stoic loneliness.
But life still has more in store for him than he imagines, as a series of dreams begin to haunt him, awakening echoes of a forgotten love…Who was she? Why can’t he remember? Does she still exist?

Do dreams carry an underlying message that points to a situation in one’s waking life that remains unsettled? Sometimes, digging deeper is the only way to know.

David McClain knows true love better than most. Meggie was all any man could ask for in a wife. She was beautiful. She was smart. And she loved him with all her heart, just as he loved her. Together they raised three wonderful daughters before her untimely death brought his world crashing down. Four years have passed since Meggie’s death, and now, for no apparent reason, David has begun to have dreams of another woman. One whom he feels he should know, but cannot see her face well enough to remember.

Pastor Mike encourages David to seek out the help of their mutual friend, Ben, a psychologist, to help decipher the meaning of his sudden recurring dreams. Ben finds his friend’s dreams interesting enough to warrant writing a paper about them. David, however, is only interested in finding their meaning. Then one day, a dream comes when David finally sees her face clearly: Mimi.

Although this novella has an interesting tale to tell, it is disappointing in that it does just that—it tells the reader about every event. There is no firsthand experience with the sights, sounds, tastes, emotions, or lives of its characters. As a reader, I did not get to live the story with its characters, but rather stood in the background for its retelling. One early chapter gives the entire long ago backstory of the main character’s original meeting (dialogue and all) and his subsequent relationship with Mimi via a counseling session with his friend and therapist, making this feel more like an extra-long synopsis than a novel.

Finding Mimi is a quick easy read with a hint of mystery, and you’ll not find a single typo or misused word. It might be the perfect novella to take along on your next flight or quiet getaway.

All I Ever Wanted by by Katrina Mills

WANTED
All I Ever Wanted by by Katrina Mills
Publisher: City Owl Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (320 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

You Can’t Go Home Again…Except For Summer Love.

Eat a stick of butter or return to her hometown? School teacher, Kinsley Bailey, would rather risk the caloric overload. Staunton, Virginia is laced in bad memories of a mentally ill mother, an estranged father, and the first boy who broke her heart. Yet the news of her father’s death has forced her return to the nightmare. Now in the heat of the summer, Kinsley’s left unraveling the mysteries surrounding a house, an antique gun collection, a flabby basset hound, and a safety deposit box that no one in the family wants to discuss.

After a series of tough breaks, army soldier, Bastian Harris, desires the serenity of small town life in Staunton. Even with women signing up for his shooting courses and emphasizing their desires for a different kind of target practice, he keeps his nose down and his gun in his holster. Yet when a certain auburn-haired blast from the past comes blazing into his shop to sell her dead father’s antique gun collection, he might have to reconsider the tranquil life and take up arms for the one woman he never could forget.

Kinsley Bauley is a 33 year-old school teacher forced to return to her hometown due to the death of her father. Kinsley is full of resentment mostly towards her father, who took off when she was eight and never contacted her again. She also holds some grudges toward Bastian Harris, her childhood best friend and first heartbreak. Now she is back and she will find out some inconvenient truths that should have been told to her a long time ago. Also she will meet Bastian again.

Kinsley is an interesting character; she was working in a corporation and one day she decided to become middle school chemistry teacher. She has a good life, but she still is dreaming about her first love. I had mixed feeling about her during the story. Sometimes I perceived her as a strong and independent woman, and sometimes she acted like silly immature little girl. But in the end she turned just fine.

Bastian Harris is yummy hero. He is cool, he is nice, he has a daughter he loves a lot and he is much more down to earth than Kinsley, although he has his own issues. But his issues are much more real than Kinsley’s. As a couple they are great match; sweet and lovable.

The story is set in a small town and it has all the regular characteristics of stories in this kind of setting i.e. colorful characters, noisy and amusing old ladies and funny animals (in this case a dog).

My biggest issue with All I Ever Wanted is the foundation on which the whole story is built. I find the idea way over the top that Kinsley was thinking about Bastian for so long. I cannot believe that she kept wondering for 20 years why he did not continue a relationship after the kiss they shared when they were both 13 years old. I cannot believe that she was dreaming about him for 20 years, while pursuing her career, making big bucks and having a good life.

If you do not try to analyze backstory too much and take it as it is, All I Ever Wanted is a lovely and funny story.

A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase

HOUSE
A Stranger’s House by Clare Chase
Publisher: Choc Lit
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (233 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

What if you were powerless to protect the person you cared about most?

When Ruby finds out that her partner has done the unforgivable, she has no option but to move out of their home. With nowhere else to go, a job house-sitting in Cambridge seems like the perfect solution.

But it’s soon clear the absent owner hurts everyone he gets close to, and Ruby’s faced with the fallout. As violent repercussions unfold, her instinct is to investigate: it’s a matter of self-preservation. And besides, she’s curious…

But Ruby’s new boss, Nate Bastable, has his eye on her and seems determined to put a stop to her sleuthing. Is he simply worried for the welfare of a member of staff, or is there something altogether more complicated – and potentially dangerous – at play?

Ruby is a writer, but when her long term relationship ends she takes a job house sitting with the help of her best friend. However, this job becomes life threatening when people start dying.

It took several pages for me to really get into the plot and grasp what was going on because it was a little confusing, but then it got good. Really good!

The owner of a house contacts a company that deals with the house sitting. The owner, whom Nate and Ruby never meet face to face, becomes a very important part of the story. Though they never meet the elusive man, they discover a lot about the kind of man he is and what it means for Ruby because she is house sitting. Ruby comes to work for Nate, who owns the house sitting company, through a mutual connection. What starts as a convenient working relationship evolves into so much more when Ruby begins to uncover the secrets of the house.

As a writer, Ruby is naturally curious and there’s plenty to discover on this assignment. First and foremost is the absentee owner who likes to play with women. And then there are the mysterious deaths.

The characters were for me what made this book special. Nate and Ruby had an instant attraction from the beginning. Though this book is more mystery than romance, I was able to watch their relationship develop and witness them learning to trust each other through the incidents and deaths that occur in the book. Through everything they learn a lot about each other.

The mystery and attraction turned romance is a perfect beach read. The mystery took some time to develop but that time was insightful towards knowing more about Nate and Ruby and their relationship. The climax was the highlight because all of the clues and bits and pieces that Ruby unraveled. It all came together for a realistic and satisfying conclusion.

Haunted Souls by Kathryn Knight

HAUNTED
Haunted Souls by Kathryn Knight
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (336 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Four years ago, Emily Shea and Staff Sergeant Brett Leeds agreed to part with no strings attached. Sparks flew during their brief affair, but fate intervened, sending Brett overseas. When an unexpected pregnancy derailed Emily’s own plans, her attempts to locate Brett were soon overwhelmed by the challenges of single motherhood. Now, Brett has returned home, and Emily is forced to share her secret.

Despite feeling betrayed, Brett is determined to forge a relationship with their son, Tyler. As the former lovers battle both their inner demons and their mutual desire, another presence enters their lives—Tyler’s imaginary friend. Soon, however, the chilling evidence points to a different conclusion: a ghost has formed a dangerous connection with their son. Emily’s attempts to help both a lost soul and a friend in need spiral toward a deadly confrontation, and Brett must race to save Emily before he loses her again—forever.

Haunted souls indeed.

The book is about haunted souls, both the paranormal ghost variety and live souls/people with pasts that haunt them day and night.

The book is multi-layered with intricate plots, including a ghost and a secondary story dealing with the main characters and how their relationship will turn out. This is initially the main plot until Tyler’s friend makes their presence known. That ghost wasn’t going to be ignored for sure. In a neat twist, that doesn’t give the story away, the ghost is a catalyst to bringing Emily and Brett together.

Emily and Brett have a past. The chemistry, attraction and beginnings of love were there but the timing couldn’t have been worse. Without the paranormal element, this book would be counted among the “secret baby” tropes. When Brett learns that Emily hid his son from him, he’s understandably livid. Emily realizes that she can’t hide from him anymore and he deserves to know his son more.

The story starts from there and the author, held back some… meaning not all was revealed in the beginning and that was a good thing. It kept me on my toes wanting to know more and more and curious as to how and when the author would include the paranormal element. She didn’t disappoint.

The romance and the attraction was there regardless of Brett still being angry with her. The book is a great romance with a hint of mystery regarding the ghost.

With every chapter I read I got to know the characters more and saw their relationship develop as chemistry and passion collided. Perfect combo and an enjoyable read.

A Lady’s Secret by Sarita Leone

SECRET
A Lady’s Secret by Sarita Leone
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Heat Rating: Sensual
Length: Full Length (219 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Aghast that she fell into the arms of a scurrilous rake, Lady Amy Spencer tries to find a solution that will save not only her pride but her reputation as well.

Lord Oliver Gregory realizes as he watches from afar that his childhood friend is no longer a child and his affections have changed.

Can love bloom among the roses, or will the past ruin any chance for a happy future?

A Lady’s Secret is a gentle love story that is in the undercurrent, but foreshadowing lets the reader know it is there just waiting to bubble out at an emotional time. The ebb and flow of the writing makes this story a pleasure to read. It entices one away from the modern world and into seventeenth century England.

Gracious me, honest communication could have saved these likeable characters a lot of grief and worry, but then we would have missed the fun of the conflict, and how they finally get up enough courage to speak and the results that follows.

How to understand the workings of women’s minds totally eludes Lord Oliver Gregory. He has a house full of women he feels responsible for. His misspent youth had not prepared him for his “lordly” duties, duties that he now takes very seriously. His story is somewhat a “rite of passage” story. His best friend and manservant is his mainstay as he navigated this passage and continues to be a tried and true friend a he sorts out a doings of the women he cares about.

Oliver is ever so grateful for his contented, efficient mother who keeps the household running smoothly. He senses something is not quite as it should be with his sister and her new husband Nick, the Duke of Waterford. The two family friends, Miranda and Amy Spencer, who are staying with them, keeps Oliver on his toes. Miranda, the bluestocking sister, is besotted with him—how to stay her friend and not get trapped into marriage is tricky business. Amy, usually so independent, adventurous, fun-loving and smiling, has become tired, worried, sad, sick, and weepy. Moreover, she declares “all men are liars” not to be trusted. Talk about a tangled web to unravel—entertaining reading indeed. Bridget, the maid, is another issue. WOMEN!

What’s a man to do? Plus, he finds himself in love—a brand new experience for him. How he manages to win her love makes most enjoyable reading.

This is the third book in A Willowbrook Manor series, but it stands alone beautifully.