The Weekend by Alan Winnikoff

The Weekend by Alan Winnikoff
Publisher: Books To Go Now
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (127 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Over a single weekend two people try to figure out if they are right for each other. In the process, they learn more than they might want to know – about each other and themselves.

Sometimes you just need a break from life, The Weekend is designed to give you that break.

Carolyn and Jeff meet up for a weekend in a luxurious Manhattan apartment on Friday night. Although things don’t go initially as planned, the weekend moves forward and the two work out subtle differences and learn much about each other over the next few days. The story is a smooth look at how life outside of the concerns and confines of work progresses for two individuals who wish to disappear into the city.

Although the story only spans Friday evening, Saturday and part of Sunday; we get a deep glimpse into the lives and motivations of both Jeff and Carolyn. While work is discussed sparingly, we begin to see and understand their true passions and desires. Both individuals are in a time of transition in their lives, both professionally and personally and both individuals lean on each other in their quest to discover who they are as a person.

Deep reflective conversation flows smoothly, laying out the deeper plot. While there is some sex and more sexual tension, there is a stronger focus on the individuality of two people coming together as one in an undecided world. Not to give away any details, the story itself looks at more of the psychological understanding and fulfillment of two people taking time away from a world of deadlines, goals to be met and expectations. The Weekend ends as weekends often do, with a desire for more but still a satisfaction and sense of renewal. Again, just like weekends do, there is a longing for another weekend in the future but a sense that one must work and strive for that weekend if the weekend is to be enjoyed to the fullest.

I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of The Weekend for your own weekend reflection!

Heart of Ice by Sibelle Stone

Heart of Ice by Sibelle Stone
Publisher: Books to Go Now
Genre: Historical, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (213 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Will their passion for each other be a blessing, or fulfill an ancient curse and destroy them?

Lucinda Stafford is uniquely unqualified to serve as governess for the children of a handsome inventor. But, she’s determined to prove to her family she’s not a fragile, pampered heiress who can’t take care of herself. She didn’t plan to be attracted to the man who makes her furious one moment and whimper with desire the next. When danger threatens, can she save two innocent children from a terrifying nightmare?

Grayson Thorne has only weeks to prove his geothermal plant can generate electricity, or he’ll lose much needed funding. He’s desperate to hire a new governess, but shocked when his housekeeper returns home with a beautiful, educated female who awakens long dormant desires. She’s the perfect choice, if he can manage to keep his hunger for her kisses and fantasies of taking her to his bed under control.

An ancient Icelandic curse hides in the hills, haunting the residents of Thornehús. Grayson and Lucinda may be swept away by passion, but they must face an unspeakable horror that threatens them all.

A temporary position as a governess has left Lucinda with permanent attachments.

Lucinda is a smart, outspoken young woman. Unfortunately these are not qualities that are appreciated by the other members of society. However, Lucinda just can’t imagine herself in the role of a subservient, silent wife. When presented with the opportunity for a taste of independence, Lucinda happily accepts a position as a governess. For someone with no experience with children, Lucinda sure is a natural. I love how caring and patient she is right from the start. She never treats the children like an obligation as past governesses have. Instead, she treats them with respect and gentleness. Her warmth and genuine affection wins the children over almost instantly.

Even though the children take an immediate liking to Lucinda, Grayson has a much harder time accepting Lucinda into his life. While Lucinda and Grayson are physically attracted to each other, their personalities clash frequently. The majority of their exchanges are antagonistic, and while it was entertaining to watch them irritate each other, I found myself wishing they had more positive interactions. Privately they admire, respect and even develop affection for each other. I just with this had been more clearly demonstrated in their actions rather than just their thoughts.

Heart of Ice is mainly a Gothic romance, but there are elements of steampunk present. I must admit that the parts of the tale that dealt with technology did jolt me out of the story a bit, but not enough to ruin my enjoyment.

I was expecting the paranormal element to be a larger part of the story. The curse alluded to in the blurb loomed in the background for nearly the entire book and only became a frightening force at the very end. Even then, it was wrapped up much too quickly. There is very little explanation given on what exactly was going on and why Grayson and his family were being targeted. Despite this issue, the climax of the story is chilling and does come to a satisfying conclusion.

Heart of Ice is certainly an enjoyable read. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical romance with just a dash of the paranormal mixed in.

Lightning over Bennett Ranch by Amber Daulton

Lightning over Bennett Ranch by Amber Daulton
Publisher: Books To Go Now
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (51 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Melody Bennett’s parents trampled on her teenage romance with a drifter ten years ago. He disappeared without a word of goodbyes on the night they had planned to run away together. Since then, she cast aside her foolish notions of happily ever after and worked hard alongside the hired help to care for the majestic horses on her family’s beloved ranch. She refused to give love another chance and resigned to live her life alone.

Max Fortaine returned with a heart guarded by secrets and a sizable bank account that took blood, prayers and tears to fund. The cowboy disrupted Melody’s peaceful existence with stolen kisses and a promise for more. After a lifetime of running, mistakes and regrets, he vowed to reclaim the only woman he ever loved… if only her overprotective father didn’t stand in his way.

He left her in the hotel room. They were running away together and he never came back. She’s gotten over it and has pretty well forgiven him. She wishes she could forget him. That experience has made her prickly about relationships with all men. None of them are up to her standards. Especially the one her mother is pushing her towards.  They were dating and she caught him in bed with someone else, so he can go to hell…

Ms. Daulton has written an easy romance read with a western setting. The story has a feeling of authenticity. It’s something that could happen when two people love each other and one is trying to protect the other. I found it to be an easy read and wanted to shove the two main characters together before they resolved their own issues.

Melody finds out Max is in back in town by accident. The ranch hands are sharing gossip and she knows they are talking about her. She braces them and finds out he has bought a neighboring run-down ranch. She’s still living at home but she’s become a horse breeder and is building her future stock. She works for her father to pay the costs for her and her stock. She decides she’ll go check out Max. That’s either a blessing or a big mistake.

Max has a reason he’s been away for so long but he’s hesitant to tell her. She’s demanding to be told the truth. He gives her part of his reasoning and then asks if she can wait for the rest. He wants to meet with her and her father for that part.

Mr. Daulton shows the conflicts clearly, lets you know the love isn’t dead, and even manages to help Melody convince her parents she knows what she wants. Anybody who has controlling parents will understand Melody’s predicament.

This novella is a short read but it’s worth it. It flows well, has a good story line, and ends well. Take a walk in Melody’s boots and pet her horse. It’ll make you feel better.