Brynnde by M. Pepper Langlinais


Brynnde by M. Pepper Langlinais
Publisher: Self Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (212 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 5 stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Brynnde Archambault needs to find someone to marry, else she’ll be stuck with dull Mr. Dallweather. The answer to her problem arrives in the form of handsome and witty Viscount Burbridge, but just when everything seems to be going smoothly, scandal strikes and the engagement ends.

Meanwhile, Brynnde has no trouble matchmaking her friends and even her own brother. But while she breezily finds suitors for everyone else, for her time is running out. Must she resign herself to becoming Mrs. Dallweather? Or will Brynnde yet succeed in making a match for herself?

An unexpected gem, Brynnde will restore Regency readers’ joy in reading–and rejoice in discovering author Pepper Langlinais!

Quite properly, if I may say so, this regency romance offers all the correct components: the marriage-mart, the slightly-stifled leading lady, unexpected scandal, ballrooms and tea rooms and gossip! What’s more, Proper Regency though it is, Brynnde (the story and the character) manages to be a bit unpredictable. Brynnde, who “will not be treated like a heifer,” has a good head on her shoulders and is quite the match for sparring in the drawing room. Her combative conversations are superb!

There are a plethora of characters, but they are distinct, and never confusing. The author’s style gives a bit of flavor to this historical. Is it subtle word choice? A particular care when offering a phrase? I cannot quite put my finger on it, but she can twist a bit of ‘funny’ into action, unexpectedly. This is the most enjoyable story I have read in quite a while.

Bryndde is a fun, uncomplicated, well-written read that any fan of the genre should pick up.

Year One by Nora Roberts


Year One by Nora Roberts
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (419 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

It began on New Year’s Eve.

The sickness came on suddenly, and spread quickly. The fear spread even faster. Within weeks, everything people counted on began to fail them. The electrical grid sputtered; law and government collapsed―and more than half of the world’s population was decimated.

Where there had been order, there was now chaos. And as the power of science and technology receded, magick rose up in its place. Some of it is good, like the witchcraft worked by Lana Bingham, practicing in the loft apartment she shares with her lover, Max. Some of it is unimaginably evil, and it can lurk anywhere, around a corner, in fetid tunnels beneath the river―or in the ones you know and love the most.

As word spreads that neither the immune nor the gifted are safe from the authorities who patrol the ravaged streets, and with nothing left to count on but each other, Lana and Max make their way out of a wrecked New York City. At the same time, other travelers are heading west too, into a new frontier. Chuck, a tech genius trying to hack his way through a world gone offline. Arlys, a journalist who has lost her audience but uses pen and paper to record the truth. Fred, her young colleague, possessed of burgeoning abilities and an optimism that seems out of place in this bleak landscape. And Rachel and Jonah, a resourceful doctor and a paramedic who fend off despair with their determination to keep a young mother and three infants in their care alive.

In a world of survivors where every stranger encountered could be either a savage or a savior, none of them knows exactly where they are heading, or why. But a purpose awaits them that will shape their lives and the lives of all those who remain.

The end has come. The beginning comes next.

Get ready to read something unlike anything you’ve read by Nora Roberts before. I hadn’t even read the blurb before I picked up a copy of Year One and so had no preconceived notions of what I should expect. I’m really glad of that, though I will say that this book starts a trilogy that’s completely different from her previous works. It’s not romance, not really, though there are obviously relationships in the story and it’s not her typical annual trilogy following sets of people (either three or four women and men) who have some goal to reach and end up falling in love on the way.

Now that I’ve said what this book isn’t, let me tell you what it is. It’s fairly dark and depressing, and after the initial near-extinction of the human race, a battle of good and evil begins that is exceptionally reminiscent of The Stand by Stephen King. The book starts by showing us the unleashing of evil, in the form of a plague that kills more than 5 billion people. Additionally, many of the immune develop unexpected powers (they become witches or fairies or shape-shifters or other paranormal beings). There are good and bad in both the “uncanny” and those without new powers. Just like anything else, how things are used depends on the character of those who use them.

The story follows a few groups of people who ultimately merge together. We have Max and Lana, two lovers who were already somewhat aware of their powers prior to Doom (the name given to the plague), but became exponentially more powerful after. Then there is Arlys, a TV reporter who does her best to honestly and factually report about the demise of humanity and the world as we know it. Next is Jonah and Rachel, an EMT and a doctor. Each begins the trek out of the city (New York) on their own, and each set of folks pick up others on their journey.

This is not an uplifting romance, or a tale with much that is light. There are pockets of happiness, but they are few and far between. The world is ending. Violence is on the rise. The uncanny are being hunted, tortured and murdered. Evil is growing. Despite the fact that dark stories are not usually my preferred reading, I had a hard time putting this book down. I was completely invested in the characters, especially Eddie and Jonah who really grabbed me by the heartstrings. I needed to see what happened to everyone–but be prepared, just as in real life, not everyone is going to make it to the end.

There is also “the one”… the person who will apparently be the one who can save the world. I honestly found this a tad corny and struggled with the idea, but am reserving judgment until the next book which I imagine will give me a chance to be a bit more accepting. I also didn’t like the character arc Ms. Roberts gave Lana. I want to avoid spoilers, but I found her behavior at the end (a change of heart, you might say) to be a bit difficult to believe.

I’ve heard from others that they didn’t even bother to read past the first few chapters because this isn’t a typical Nora Roberts book. While I wish they’d have given the book a little more of a chance, they’re right. I recommend you pick up this book not expecting that. Instead, just be prepared to be engaged. Don’t force your own preconceived notions about what the book should be, enjoy it for what it is. I certainly did and can’t wait to read the next in the series. I, for one, am glad to see Ms. Roberts spreading her wings a bit and endeavoring to not just churn out something usual or clichéd. Despite the darkness here, she still engaged me and did the one thing I think she does best: created characters that mattered to me. Ultimately, that’s why I read books and it’s one of her strongest abilities.

Grab a copy. Read it. Then let me know what you thought.

Vessel of Power by Michelle O’Leary


Vessel of Power by Michelle O’Leary
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (389 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Lia must stop the elemental prince at all costs. Prince Destin is searching for the Vessel of Power, an object containing the might of the gods. His soulless father will use it to destroy their world, starting with her family. Lia will do whatever it takes to protect the Vessel, except she can’t seem to end this magnetic prince of fire. Destin won’t let anything stand in his way, even a gorgeous changeling with mayhem on her mind. He’s determined to prove his worth as son and heir by retrieving the Vessel for his father. Lia challenges him at every turn, but he burns whenever he’s near this tantalizing changeling. Torn between loyalty to family and desire for one another, Destin and Lia struggle to find the right path. Can they save their world and each other? Will finding the Vessel bind them together or drive them apart forever?

Lia has a very good reason to keep the Vessel of Power hidden.

Lia was prepared to do anything to stop Destin from finding the Vessel of Power, but one glance at the elemental prince gave her pause. Instead of a ruthless, power hungry royal, Destin is much more human than Lia ever could have imagined. Despite their vastly different backgrounds, Lia and Destin aren’t as different as they seem. If only they’d stop fighting long enough to realize it.

Lis and Destin have an antagonistic relationship right from the start as they have opposing views on the Vessel. Lia professes to want the Vessel to stay hidden to save the world from destruction, but Destin and his cousin, Rune, believe Lia has a much more personal reason for wanting the Vessel to remain hidden. It is very interesting to watch Destin, Lia, and Rune interact. Lia alternates between helping Destin escape the clutches of his uncle and putting her own stumbling blocks in Destin’s path. Even though they are on opposite sides where the Vessel is concerned, it is clear that Lia and Destin have great chemistry, and I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would take them to realize they’d be stronger together than apart. I do think that their relationship was rushed. It just seemed like one minute they were fighting and annoying each other and the next they were in love. I would have liked to see more of a transition between those extremes.

Rune is by far my favorite character. I liked him immediately, and he is consistently a bright spot in this tale. Rune is so much fun, and he always lightens the mood at just the right time. I found myself smiling every time he opened his mouth. Even Lia, who doesn’t open to others easily, can’t help but like him.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Vessel of Power. I hope that Ms. O’Leary has plans for a sequel because I’d love to spend more time with Rune, Lia, and Destin. Fans of fantasy romance won’t want to miss this novel.

Autumn Falls by Delia Latham


Autumn Falls by Delia Latham
Paradise Pines #3
Publisher: Pelican Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (243 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Autumn Warren and her friend Cecily determine to have one last hurrah before the crazy whirl of planning Cecily’s wedding. Autumn reluctantly agrees to lay off the barbed comments about her friend’s imminent move to Italy (for no better reason than that Cecily fell in love) and the girls rent an apartment at Cambria’s Paradise Pines Lodge for the entire fall season.Autumn’s reluctant agreement to remain silent regarding her friend’s upcoming marriage, in no way indicates a change of heart about letting a man into her own life. She’s watched enough friends get married and divorced to sour her on the subject of love and the sanctity of marriage. (Autumn isn’t exactly a religious person, but she doesn’t believe in divorce, and seriously…given the current divorce statistics, why even risk it?)But when she meets Russ Amundsen and his adorable daughter, Dalynn, she finds herself in danger of losing her carefully guarded heart. And what is it about the mysterious Miss Angelina Love—who may or may not own Paradise Pines—that makes Autumn believe her heart never stood a chance once she set foot inside the lodge?

Autumn doesn’t believe in love.

Autumn spent her youth watching marriages fall apart, and she vowed never to give her heart to a man. With her friend Cecily by her side, Autumn has avoided any serious romantic relationships. Now everything is changing. Cecily is engaged and planning on moving to Italy. Autumn can’t believe her best friend is about to fall into the trap of love and sets out to talk her friend out of marriage by going on one last vacation together. However, all Autumn’s plans go out the window once the pair arrive in Paradise Pines.

Autumn and Cecily have a close friendship and they’ve clearly spent years making great memories. I can understand why Autumn would be afraid of losing that. Though I have to say that Autumn’s plan of talking Cecily out of her marriage always struck me as selfish. Autumn didn’t seem to have any specific objections to Cecily’s fiancé. In fact, I’m not sure she’s bothered to find out much about him. Autumn isn’t trying to save Cecily from a bad marriage. Deep down, I think Autumn is just afraid of her relationship with her best friend changing.

Things begin to change the moment Autumn arrives at Paradise Pines and runs into Russ. Their first encounter is far from pleasant, but it isn’t long before the two find themselves drawn to each other. Unfortunately, Russ hasn’t had much luck in the romance department either. His divorce has left him with control issues that he struggles with daily. With Russ’ stony persona and Autumn’s skewed view of romance, they don’t appear to be a likely couple at first. However, I enjoyed watching them gradually break down each other’s barriers as they fell in love.

Miss Angie, the proprietor of Paradise Pines, is a wonderful person. She exudes gentleness and kindness and is very easy to talk to. She shares her Christian faith freely but never forces it on Autumn. I must say I truly enjoyed watching Autumn come to know God. The moment when Autumn finally opens her heart is simply beautiful.

I really enjoyed reading Autumn Falls. It is the third book in the Paradise Pines series, but it stands alone very well. It is a sweet, uplifting novel sure to delight fans of inspirational romance.

The Right Kind of Reckless by Heather Van Fleet


The Right Kind of Reckless by Heather Van Fleet
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (352 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Maxwell Martinez

I’m in love with a woman I can’t have, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop myself from falling.

The problem? Her brother’s my best friend.

I shouldn’t want her this much. Not when it goes against the bro code. Not when I’ve never been able to commit to a woman for longer than a night.

But one look into her eyes and I’m a mess for her. She’s my everything. And I have to walk away with nothing.

This is a second book in Reckless Hearts series. The series features three war veterans and best friends. The Right Kind of Reckless is a Max and Lia’s story. Max is Lia’s brother’s best friend and comrade. They been together in a battlefields and the friendship between them is strong. Max knows that Lia is forbidden territory but when he is around her he thinks with his heart. Lia is also in love with Max. She fell for him the moment she met him.

For me The Right Kind of Reckless was very different from the most of the romance novels I read; because Max and Lia confessed their feelings pretty early in the story. Until that moment the story was intense and emotions were high, but after the mutual revelation there is no more that sweet anticipation of what will happen next. From that moment on, the story focused more on Max and Lia’s happy end and HEA. This was definitely not something that diminished my enjoyment of reading this story; it just slowed the pace and toned down intensity.

Max and Lia are very lovable and complex characters. Each character have somewhat troubled past. I hoped that the author will deal a bit more with their pasts and traumas and issues but, she did not. Due to that characters remained a bit unfinished and they did not changed a lot.

All in all The Right Kind of Reckless is story worth reading. It is funny, it is sexy, it is told from POV of both Max and Lia. Although is second installment in the series it can be read as a standalone.

An Open Window by Rick R. Reed


An Open Window by Rick R. Reed
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (21 pgs)
Other: M/M
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Two men. One Christmas Eve that changes the courses of both their lives.

Henry’s homeless and only wants a warm place to sleep on the coldest night of the year. A forgotten open window in a darkened house entices Henry inside with the promise of warmth and comfort. He knows it’s bad, but he promises himself he’ll be out before the owner wakes on Christmas morning. Except he oversleeps and the homeowner, Jim, discovers a bearded stranger sawing logs under his dining room table. When the shock and the drama that ensues dies down, Henry and Jim discover that they might have found, quite unexpectedly, the Christmas miracle they’d both been longing for—love and home.

Henry needed to get out of the freezing cold, snowy night that Christmas Eve. Finding an open window into what he thought was an empty home, he climbed through – not wanting to die from exposure. Jim got an awful scare when Henry climbed in, and from that moment on both their lives changed forever.

Henry and Jim meet under what might be the most unusual circumstances that I’ve ever read before. I have to admit I kept fluctuating between disbelief – why didn’t Jim run screaming from the stranger that broke into his house? – and warmth from the compassion Jim showed Henry. Eventually I decided to stop thinking about the plot and circumstances and just roll with the story and enjoy it. I genuinely think it’s one of those situation that while completely realistic (homelessness and the seriousness of the elements connected to this) it also is virtually impossible to make it both real and romantic. So I ended up acknowledging that it was a different and interesting plot device – Henry and Jim meeting this way and Henry’s problems – but not questioning it too closely.

Taking the story in this different light made it a lot easier for me to enjoy. Henry and Jim both take time to warm up to each other, and reading about their fumbling as they learn about one another was really quite sweet. Readers looking for a very short, somewhat old fashioned Christmas story, one with heart-warming feelings and sharing of gifts and a real “Christmas spirit” type of feel will probably really enjoy this. There is no sex in this story, which I personally didn’t mind, though readers looking for a spicy romance might not be as happy with. I really liked Henry and Jim and was pleased with their happy ending. While I would have loved a little more detail on how they went from that initial meeting to their fully-fledged relationship, the very short word count definitely limited the author in what he was able to achieve so I feel this needed to be taken into consideration.

A heart-warming, old-style Christmas story about embracing what you have, making the best of your situation and always being open to receiving gifts, this is a good short story that I liked.

Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill


Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (355 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Welcome back to New York Times bestseller Sandra Hill’s Cajun country, where love heats up the Louisiana bayou . . .

Former Chicago cop Simone LeDeux is back home in the bayou, sharing a double wide in the Pearly Gates trailer park to help her mama recover from surgery. Her one rule: no Cajun men. Loved and left by too many double-crossing Cajuns, Simone puts bad experience to good use by opening Legal Belles: an agency that uncovers cheating spouses.

Suddenly she’s confronting a two-timer about to swindle his wife out of millions and antagonizing New Orleans bigwigs over an illegal sex club. Adam Lanier learns of the dangerous game Simone is playing . . . and the sexy single dad comes to her aid. Known as a rogue in the courtroom and a player in the bedroom, the ragin’ Cajun has Simone triply on guard.

With their crazy chemistry, danger on their trail, and infamous LeDeux relative Tante Lulu working her magical matchmaking, the bayou has never been this steamy.

Ms. Hill has become one of my ‘go-to” authors when I need a smile, entertainment and a romance that presses all my happy buttons. Her latest romantic adventure is Cajun Crazy and what I look for is found within its pages. I’m a satisfied reader, especially enhanced by the wonderful epilogue at the end.

My favorite character that stirs the plot pot is Tante Lulu with her close association with St. Jude. That woman’s faith is unshakeable and well known to all and sundry in Bayou Black, and for those that don’t know or worse, don’t believe, they will come to the conclusion that whether or not they believe, the type of things going on are too similar in nature to be simple coincidence. The conversations that result, the actions some characters take and the outcomes are totally grin-worthy.

Tante Lulu has her sights set on Adam and Simone, two people who have been burnt by relationships and love. They are both determined to avoid any serious entanglements. Adam’s daughter, Maisie, has other plans for her dad. Simone’s mom also has her own opinions about Simone’s single status. There are a whole host of secondary characters that flavor and color the community in which the hero and heroine now live in.

I found charming the many ways, clever or silly, serious or sophisticated words are mispronounced; it might be said they’ve been ‘Cajunized’. Some caused me to snort, roll my eyes or just outright laugh. It sure made the dialogue interesting.

The celebratory thread woven in for a good chunk of the book is Maisie’s planning of a ‘little’ party. That little nugget of an idea blossomed into opportunities for fun, hilarity and/or some good old fashioned head banging, face-palming groans. All are done with good intentions.

The external conflict comes from both Adam and Simone doing their jobs. At one point their cases cross and it becomes a dance of saying things that don’t say anything at all because the conflict of interest demands that neither one knows what the other is doing. Ms. Hill straddled that line quite effectively. The pursuit of the final outcomes produced some serious drama, and yet, when it could have gotten really nasty, the author has Adam rush to the rescue. Readers are in for an eye-popping treat of written description that left me with no choice but to giggle and laugh. Yeah, it was creepy too, but Ms. Hill’s writing prevented it from being overwhelming. Instead she shared the situation not only as a narrow escape but she colored the scene with the ridiculousness that it deserved.

I totally enjoyed Cajun Crazy because the novel delivers solid and believable character building. I liked meeting Adam and Simone, I adored the major role Adam’s daughter played in getting the hero and heroine together and I appreciated Adam’s final gesture of his love for Simone.

It’s all good, it’s fascinating and fun and makes Cajun Crazy an easy recommend for all Sandra Hill fans, new and old.

White Water Passion by Dawn Luedecke


White Water Passion by Dawn Luedecke
Publisher: Kensington Lyrical
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (230 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

The Montana Territory is one of the last outposts of the American West—where adventure as grand as the wide-open plains is around every corner, and passion as wild as the land itself beats in every heart…

Elizabeth Sanders isn’t afraid of anything, except what will happen to her beloved town if the Big Mountain Lumber Mill is destroyed. When she overhears a plot to do just that, she vows to put a stop to it, even if it means dressing as a young lumberjack to expose the saboteur. There’s only one problem with her plan—her brother’s handsome friend and fellow logger Garrett Jones, who arouses a desire within her soul as fierce as the river rapids.

When Garrett discovers that the odd new lad on the crew is in fact Beth, he’s shocked. A logging camp is no place for a young woman—especially the spirited beauty he’s admired for so long. Keeping her safe is easier said than done, however, as the attraction between them flares into true passion. As the danger mounts, Beth and Garrett must work together to survive the last log run down the wild rapids and claim any chance of saving the mill—and their chance at a future.

This book affected me in a way no other book has. I just finished reading White Water Passion and I feel emotionally and physically exhausted yet I feel like I just won something grand. I can’t even compare this feeling to anything in my personal life but I feel like I just participated in a river drive; as if I just survived riding a log down the wild rapids. I couldn’t wait to write the review for fear I’d lose this feeling that I have which is a feeling of amazing victory. There were so many unpredictable plot twists that were so suspenseful, I couldn’t read nor turn the pages fast enough. It’s amazing how I was sucked into the events in this story. Seriously, if I hear a twig snap behind me then I’m going to expect Garrett to save me.

Garrett, the hero … what can I say? He’s the complete package when it comes to a book boyfriend. Handsome, strong, smart, honorable and a leader, Garrett took his responsibilities to heart. He loved Elizabeth more than anything.

Elizabeth, the heroine, was awesome. She wasn’t your typical damsel in distress. I loved how her character developed. She was a brave lady who cared about others. I would most likely find myself being a friend of hers.

Together, Elizabeth and Garrett were part of an entertaining, exciting and suspenseful romance. I was impressed as to how well Elizabeth learned to manage the bateau. I’ve been in a canoe with my husband and I couldn’t paddle straight to save my life never mind against a current. I think my husband would have preferred if I was more like Elizabeth when it comes to paddling, cooking and chopping wood.

It was crazy how much I hated Victoria for most of the book and then ended up liking her at the end. I had no choice but to switch gears and genuinely change the condition of my heart towards that woman. I will forgive her but I won’t forget her. I pity the man that falls in love with her.

I really hope that Simon, Elizabeth’s brother, and Carrie, Elizabeth’s best friend, get their own book. I’d love to read how they develop into a couple with a happy ever after ending. Simon deserves to be loved.

Oh, and Wall, Garrett’s friend deserves a book of his own. I did almost wish that Elizabeth chose Wall over Garrett.

The only disappointments I had in this story were when Garrett discovers Elizabeth is on his crew dressed as a man. It is mentioned in the synopsis and I thought it was revealed too early in the story. I would have enjoyed keeping Garrett confused for a bit longer. That was a big pause for me. I don’t know how the other men on the crew didn’t figure it out sooner but it made for a fun read. The other disappointment was I really wanted an epilogue. I turned the page and there wasn’t one. I needed a little more afterglow. Unless there is a sequel and they will be mentioned then I could let it go. Otherwise, I would have liked a more conducive ending. The ending was a quick wrap up. It was too quick for me considering the pace of the rest of the book but I duly note that there weren’t any loose threads. They were just tied quickly.

Otherwise White Water Passion was a wild ride. I am very happy that I chose to read this book. This novel goes on my list of recommended reads. It was my first Dawn Luedecke novel and I don’t think it will be my last.

The Immortals and Other Tales by Victor J. Banis


The Immortals and Other Tales by Victor J. Banis
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Historical, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (90 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Edgy. Controversial. Thoughtful. Brilliant.

There are a lot of adjectives that have been used over the decades to describe the writings of Victor J. Banis. From his start in gay fiction, to forays into other genres such as mystery and horror, Banis’ unique voice has brought to life a myriad of characters and creatures, excitement and entertainment, as well as the trials and tribulations of love between both gay and straight couples. Gathered here are stories spanning more than five decades of Banis’ incredible career, including “Broken Record,” his first story to ever be published.

No matter how strong they may be, first impressions aren’t always correct.

In “New Kid in Town,” the main character had slowly come to regret her marriage to a kind, wealthy man who was much older than she was. She spoke of her spouse in such glowing terms that I was surprised by how tired she seemed to be of their relationship. The more I read, the more curious I became about what could be making her so unhappy. It was as much fun to discover the twist ending to this one as it was to try to figure out what was going on in advance.

While I deeply enjoyed the majority of the tales in this collection, there were a couple that I thought could use more development. “The Journey (a parable)” was one of them. There was one character, and he or she was never given a name, backstory, or any identifying features. I was intrigued by the idea of a narrator speaking directly to the audience about what they think human intellect can and can’t do for people who are on a literal or metaphorical journey, but I would have liked to see more time spent transforming this monologue into something that also included a traditional sort of plot at some point.

The protagonist in “The Canals of Mars” was a man whose face had been badly scarred in a lab accident. After his boyfriend left him, he had the chance to find love again with an old friend. As their love began to blossom, they both began to experience things that defied explanation. What I enjoyed the most about this tale was how many different ways it could be interpreted. Mr. Banis is quite good at tying multiple genres together in ways that I don’t typically see them combined, and this was one of the best examples of that talent of his that I’ve seen so far.

I’d recommend The Immortals and Other Tales to anyone who is looking for some truly creative mysteries.

Reel Love by Elizabeth Hartey


Reel Love by Elizabeth Hartey
Publisher: Crimson Cloak
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (486 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Rose

Annie Caslo is a successful, young doctor, but when she begins rethinking the career choices she’s made, she makes a decision to find a way to stay focused and achieve her true ambitions – that is until fate steps in and she is thunderstruck by Colt Ballard. He’s six foot three inches of heart-stopping hotness, an adept, roguish soccer star and also one of her interns. But he’s a player – on and off the field – and Annie has better things to do. Still, the combustible chemistry between them is impossible to resist – Colt brings out feelings she never knew existed and Annie’s swept off her reluctant feet.

When she continues to second-guess her life choices, opportunities and obstacles begin piling up higher than the greasy Mexican food stacks she hates to admit loving. While in a state of emotional turmoil, she gets a celestial visit from a hunky, Hollywood heartthrob, lookalike, who claims to be her guardian angel. He takes her on a magical road trip to self-discovery with the help of several, dearly departed film icons.

Drawn into the excitement of a life she’s always dreamed of, this new life threatens to shatter the LIFE and love she already has—unless her quirky angel can help her find a way to have it all.

Reading this book, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old adage “be careful what you wish for.” Annie Caslo became a doctor because that’s what her parents wanted for her, but she wanted to be an actress.  She was offered a job she could not turn down, but made the decision to only stay there a year, then follow her own dream.  Her plans are derailed when she meets Colt, and her life takes a very different plan than she envisioned.

The story is told from several points of view (including forays into Annie’s childhood).  While this helps explain what everyone is feeling (it was amusing seeing, at the beginning, Colt and Annie’s different views of the same incident in the coffee shop), it also prevented this reader from really connecting with Annie as much as I would have liked to.  I would have enjoyed being able to “feel” more of what Annie felt.  As it was, the many POV shifts never allowed me to completely immerse myself into the story.

The writing itself was clean with no grammatical issues.  Looking at it with an editor’s eye, there were areas that could have been tightened up more, but that is more of a personal issue on my part.

If you are a lover of classic movies, like I am, you will love all the references and quotes this author uses — it’s worth reading the book just for those!!  3.5 stars.