Asleep in Scottsdale by Vijaya Schartz

Asleep in Scottsdale by Vijaya Schartz
Publisher: Books We Love Ltd
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (62 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

When Talia runs over billionaire Kyle Dormant with her bicycle in the dog park, she considers their meeting a happy accident. He believes it is destiny, but her physician’s mind rebels at such notions. Their budding romance comes to a grinding halt when Kyle won’t wake up from deep sleep… with no medical explanation. Baffled and deeply concerned, Talia digs into his recent past for a plausible cause. Instead, she uncovers dark family secrets. Convinced Kyle’s condition was induced, and someone wants him dead, she is anxious to save him, but the closer she gets to the sordid truth… and a possible cure, the greater the risk to both their lives.

Kyle swore to never trust a woman again when his fiancé jilted him at the altar, in front of his friends, family and hundreds of paparazzi. His heart broken, his faith shattered, Kyle didn’t think he would ever emotionally recover. Two years later Talia crashes into him and Kyle finally finds himself willing to try again.

This is a well paced, traditional romance novel. I really enjoyed that neither Kyle nor Talia jumped into anything the moment they laid eyes on each other. I loved how the author infused the modern story with the feel of old-fashioned romance. Kyle might have been emotionally devastated, but he wasn’t bitter or too cynical. I found his past hurt an excellent reason for Kyle and Talia to go slow – to get to know each other and really connect emotionally and showcase the romance blossoming between them. I found this refreshing and lovely to read.

I also enjoyed how Talia wasn’t some weak, whimpering female wanting (or needing) a big strong man to rescue her. I liked Talia’s character and found her a good balance between willing to let Kyle help her and open herself to him, but still more than determined to keep the rest of her life independent and on her own terms. I felt the author did a great job balancing the two in Talia and enjoyed her character greatly. I thought the plotline was interesting (though a little predictable) and it certainly helped round out the story.

A sweet, enjoyable romance novel that I can recommend for all readers.

Yellow Moon by Ginger Simpson

Yellow Moon by Ginger Simpson
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (92 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Yellow Moon, a Lakota maiden, accompanies her family to the Sun Dance and becomes promised to a Santee warrior who’ll soon be chief. While accompanying Thunder Eyes’ clan back to his tribe, she and the other women are stolen by the Crow, and while in Plenty Coup’s camp is told she’ll become his second wife rather than be a slave. She finds friendship and help at the hands of his first wife, a Cherokee captive called Pretty Shield.

When Thunder Eye’s comes to rescue his betrothed, she begs him to take her newfound friend along, and the two women eventually become sisters-in-law. When the Crow come to extract their revenge, fate changes their destiny in a big way.

Yellow Moon, a young Lakota Sioux woman, must accept the fact that a husband for her has already been chosen, and he’s from a tribe that will take her far from the only home and people she has ever known.

The Sun Dance ceremony holds great importance to the Plains Indians, and this year Yellow Moon is of age to participate in the search for the sacred cottonwood. Her excitement is high and her mother is hopeful that she will be one of those chosen, but before the ceremony begins, a handsome young brave named Thunder Eyes follows Yellow Moon when she is sent for water. The two are drawn together from the very beginning into a relationship worthy of reading.

Thunder Eyes is the son of Chief Black Bear from the Santee tribe, and he is next in line for chiefdom. That makes him a pretty good catch for Yellow Moon! He offers blankets, a carved smoking pipe, and the promise of seven horses for the hand of their eldest daughter. A good trade, so the young woman’s parents choose Thunder Eyes as her future husband. As soon as the Sun Dance ceremony ends, Yellow Moon rides off with Thunder Eyes. Just the few days they have together on the trip back to his tribe, the two form a lovely bond, but before long the Crow attack and Yellow Moon is stolen.

Pretty Shields, a woman stolen long ago from her Cheyenne tribe, is the Crow leader’s current wife, but he decides he needs a second wife. Yellow Moon and Pretty Shields form a strong friendship and the two end up staying together for the duration of the book.

Although accurate, some of the vernacular used in the book, such as pale face, tom-toms, and Hau, gave an unwanted cliché and commercial feel to the novel, especially when, “’Taku eniciyapi he?’ He asked her name” has set the scene for the reader. Also a bit disappointing were events that deserved space in this story, for example, a much anticipated wedding ceremony passed with, “after they were officially declared husband and wife…” I felt cheated by not being able to see the ceremony, or know what the groom thought of the bride in her white doeskin decorated with turquoise, or even who attended the joining. The story would have fared better had it been further developed. Lastly, the story’s culmination seemed rushed and was unfulfilling.

The best of this story was its characters who were thoroughly alive for me. Some polishing and another one hundred pages expounding upon the story would have made this a real winner.

If you like Native American love stories, this quick read will take you to another time and place and allow you to meet people you’ll want to remember.

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A Savage Exile: Vampires with Napoleon on St. Helena by Diane Scott Lewis

A Savage Exile: Vampires with Napoleon on St. Helena by Diane Scott Lewis
Publisher: Books We Love Ltd.
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (127 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Isabelle, a young French maid, follows her notorious mistress to the island of St. Helena after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. She discovers quickly that a “beast” roams this remote island, and people are vanishing or found drained of blood. She falls in love with Saint-Denis, Napoleon’s valet, but this enigmatic young man hides a deadly secret. Hudson Lowe, the island’s governor—a vampire himself—plans to destroy the French. Isabelle rushes with her lover to stop the vicious outcome, and save her own life.

Can Isabelle earn her independence before the beast claims her?

Isabelle certainly is in a predicament. She has little desire to follow her mistress into exile with Napoleon, but Isabelle couldn’t turn down the amount of money the Countess de Montholon was offering to pay her. At first, the countess seems silly, but harmless. However, as time passes, Isabelle begins to see a change in her mistress. I really felt sorry for Isabelle. She desperately wants to get away from her mistress, but as woman on her own, Isabelle doesn’t have many options. Her best hope is to continue to serve the countess for a while longer until she can earn enough money to safely make her own way in the world. I couldn’t help but wonder if the money Isabelle was earning was enough to risk her safety by staying on an island inhabited by a vampire.

Isabelle is a strong woman with a plan for her future. The one thing Isabelle never counted on was falling in love. Saint-Denis, nicknamed Ali, wiggles his way into her heart. Unfortunately, Ali is a man with secrets that he isn’t comfortable sharing. Isabelle has a very hard time trusting Ali and even though she professes to be attracted to him, she never seems comfortable around him. Consequently, I thought the chemistry between fell a little flat for a majority of the story. This does improve a little bit toward the end as Ali opens up a bit, and Isabelle slowly learns to trust him.

There are several villains at work in this tale, and I’m honestly not sure who the worst one is. Isabelle’s employers are truly terrible and have no redeeming qualities. The Governor is a dark figure as well, but he doesn’t seem to be entirely bad. Even though he has little regard for human life, he does seem to care for his wife and her daughters. However, the Governor definitely has some evil plans regarding the French. While I was certain his ultimate goal wouldn’t be accomplished, I couldn’t help but wonder if Isabelle would be a victim of one of his schemes.

Overall, I thought A Savage Exile was a good book. Isabelle is likable heroine, and I enjoyed watching her make the best of a bad situation. Anyone who enjoys historical romance with a paranormal twist might want to check it out.