Charmed by Charlie by Amanda Uhl

Charmed by Charlie by Amanda Uhl
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (232 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Everybody loves marketing whiz Charlie Solanger–except the woman he really wants.

Creative genius Charlie Solanger has it all: good looks, money, intelligence, charm. And when he swoops in to save Reynolds Paint Company with a brilliant marketing campaign, he has all the ladies in the office vying for his attention. Everyone except math whiz Valerie Wilson.

Val’s not happy Charlie stole her promotion. Worse, his brand of flirtatious charm is reminiscent of her cheating ex-fiancé. So, how come she can’t get him out of her head? The more she challenges him, the more interested–and interesting–he becomes. What secrets is Charlie hiding, and who or what is behind the sudden mysterious drain on their company’s funds? The only way to find out is to join forces. Then it will be a battle of wills…and a triumph of hearts.

If you enjoyed any of these following soap operas: General Hospital with Luke and Laura, or Days of our Lives with Hope and Bo, or Santa Barbara with Eden and Cruz, then you might love Charmed by Charlie.

This book was just what I needed in my life to escape the reality of Hurricane Irma approaching. Which was no small task given the nonstop media coverage. Valarie, the heroine, wasn’t the only one charmed by Charlie, the hero. I was completely smitten.

There’s no other way to explain it other than to say I felt like I was watching a soap opera that was predicted to win the Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series. Valarie would win the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and Charlie would win the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series. Bernie would win the Outstanding Supporting actress in a Drama Series. George would win the Outstanding Supporting actor in a Drama Series. If there was a trouble maker award then it would go to Julie. Amanda Uhi would win the award for Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama writing series.

I enjoy books where I find myself being emotionally invested in all the characters. I enjoyed the dialog between them, the drama, the misunderstandings, the suspense/mystery, the chemistry, the banter and even the moments of heartbreak. The plot with the characters was brilliantly orchestrated into a “charming” romance story. The pace of the book was a lot faster and consistent than Irma was traveling towards Florida. I couldn’t put the book down.

In no way am I making light of Hurricane Irma; I’m well aware of the destruction she has left behind. I am merely pointing out the strength of Charmed by Charlie. The fact that I was given a few hours of reprieve from my harsh reality is a testament to the quality of this book. Therefore, I enthusiastically recommend this book to all my friends and family.

Luxury Model Wife by Adele Downs

Luxury Model Wife by Adele Downs
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (166 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Antiques expert Steve Carlson must face the mistakes of his past to discover a treasure he never imagined: the heart of a vulnerable yet determined widow. TRUE RICHES Twenty-eight-year-old Victoria Van Orr just lost everything. With the death of her billionaire husband went his mature patience and warm encouragement…and the veneer of acceptance from everyone else. His friends and colleagues now ignore Victoria, and if her stepson succeeds she just might be forced back to the streets upon which she was raised. But money was never her goal. All she wants is love. Real love. Antiques expert Steve Carlson knows the value of everything. Pain and betrayal? Those he gave away—and now they’re coming back. His worst mistakes were all with one man: an old friend, the son of a father figure and now the stepchild of a beautiful young widow who wants Steve to help auction off the family estate. To help Victoria, Steve must face his past and become a better man. To find true love, he will discover her surprisingly pure heart, vulnerable yet determined. And beyond price.

Victoria Van Orr, Steve Carlson, and a wealth of minor characters come alive as Adele Downs weaves an intriguing story that has LOTS of surprises in it. Luxury Model Wife lures in, then takes the reader on a vicarious adventure that is breath-holding at times—filled with suspense, mystery, danger, humor, and love.

Victoria’s back-story is a rags-to-riches one, while Steve’s story is one of a young man’s, not always good, decisions as he struggles to find a place where he fits. When their lives come together emotional sparks ignite, but big trouble also moves in to make life difficult.

The primary antagonist Jimmy Van Orr, a former good friend of Steve’s and Victoria’s stepson, is the catalyst for all kinds of havoc. His back-story, from his point-of-view, is a real eye-opener and his motivation for his actions astonish.

Other characters like Steve’s competition in the antiques business, a website builder, a nerdy rookie cop, an antiques restorer who practices psychometrics, and a very observant cockatiel that talks, plus another pair of antagonists (won’t tell who they are, that would be a spoiler) keep the story humming with action.

How a foundation for social good and a happy-ever-love for Victoria and Steve come out of all the chaos make a story with unusual happenings that captivate.

While Luxury Model Wife is not a long story, it is filled with emotional events, some that repel and others that sizzle with love. All of them grip the reader’s attention.


Her Immortal Viking by Adele Downs

Her Immortal Viking by Adele Downs
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (90 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Myrtle

Divine intervention. That’s all Penny asks. Freedom from overwork and mountainous debt. She sings songs of praise, chants like a yogi, and rubs her belly like Buddha until the crystal charm on her navel shimmers, all hoping to draw the attention of someone—anyone—“up there.”

In the west, beyond the seas, from the place between Heaven and Earth, an immortal hears Penny’s cries. Once a renowned Viking warrior, Gunnar has been cast into eternal servitude by an angry god. Now, while Penny sleeps, he comes to Earth to grant her wishes. But Penny is about to wake up, and so is every desire she’s ever known. To claim their fairy-tale ending, Gunnar must find a way to clear his name. Not only must his sword arm and courage stay strong, but their powerful love must cross the divide of a thousand years.

Gunnar does dishes! Penny makes a wish and it comes true beyond her wildest dreams. If only we could all be so lucky.

Beautiful Penny Farnsworth is a hardworking waitress and college student trying to make ends meet, but with a student loan hanging over her head and a worthless boyfriend in tow, life is spiraling downward.

Swoon-worthy Miguel, boyfriend and hopeful male model, has it made with Penny. She cooks, cleans, and financially supports him – she evens lusts after him. But when the story opens, Penny has already decided that her “slob and a mooch” of a boyfriend needs to get out of her trailer and out of her life. She wastes no time in throwing his belongings out the door. “Adios, Miguel.”

As a student of literature and mythology, exasperated Penny stands amid the mess in her trailer left by Miguel and looks to the heavens pleading, “Can anyone up there hear me? Will someone help me out?” The author explains, “She asked the questions as if up there held mystical realms where gods, elves, and fairies took pity on human suffering.” Excellent!

Soon, Penny begins to rub the “crystal pendant at her navel” while chanting “Om.” This scene is sure to make any reader smile, but we all know what happens next … Disappointed Penny goes to bed, alone, a little weepy, exhausted, and no better off than she was before.

However, later that night the sounds of banging pots and pans startle Penny out of a deep sleep. She is up and headed for the kitchen with plans of giving her ex-boyfriend a good tongue-lashing for coming back, but instead of Miguel, she finds a gorgeous goddess of a man – and he’s doing her dishes! Meet Gunnar, an immortal who once was a Viking warrior, now cast into servitude as a Light Elf, who has been sent by the god Freyr in answer to Penny’s call.

If you’ve ever dreamed of the perfect man, Gunnar is probably him. He is kind, compassionate, brave, and loyal. He is also beautiful, both inside and out, and his talents are unsurpassed, none more so than in Penny’s bedroom.

On the downside, the romance between Penny and Gunnar felt too rushed for my tastes. I would have preferred more buildup before they found their way to the bedroom. I’m not even sure I had a clear picture of what they were wearing, or know much about Penny’s overall appearance. So, a few more pages adding visualizations would have been especially nice. There were also a few minor formatting mishaps and editing slip-ups, such as some omitted and/or extraneous words, which have a way of proving to your subconscious that you’re reading a story rather than living it.

Plain and simple, this story is FUN! It is a quick read (only 90 pages) and is hard to beat when looking for a lively and sensual tale. If you like romance, mythology, or real-life relationship stories (Miguel) or tales of godlike immortal love (Gunnar), this story should not be missed!

Naturally Yours by Adele Downs

Naturally Yours by Adele Downs
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (98 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Who will save a man who saves the world?

Paramedic Mickey Kendall hasn’t slept a full night since his return from Iraq. He rescues victims by day and protects the innocent after dark. Mickey doesn’t do it for glory; he wants absolution, not admiration. He lives by the rule: No personal contact after a rescue. That code meets the ultimate test when Mickey saves a child’s life on a roadside and declines the parents’ invitation to dinner at their upscale restaurant.

Master chef Amanda Greer lives by the principle that delicious food and good company build bridges. When she learns Mickey has refused her business partners’ hospitality, she persuades him to change his mind. The handsome paramedic visits her restaurant and Amanda joins him at his table. Their unexpected chemistry turns kinetic and leads to a passionate kiss.

In Amanda’s arms, Mickey finds relief from the stressors that haunt him, but resists falling in love. When Amanda challenges him to face his demons and accept the love she offers, Mickey arrives at a crossroad. The war-weary paramedic must first save himself to claim the woman who reignites his passion for living and revives his wounded heart.

Mickey is a trained paramedic and stops to help a distressed woman with a child who is choking. Little does he know this will lead to his meeting the woman of his dreams.

Both Mickey and Amanda have trauma in their recent past. When the son of Amanda’s business partner is saved by Mickey he agrees to come to their restaurant for a “thank you” meal and the attraction between them is instant.

I found the interaction between Mickey and Amanda so believable I could see them in the various situations. Mickey, so uncertain of himself that he wouldn’t cross the line and tell Amanda his real feelings and why he was afraid to take the next step. Amanda, thinking Mickey hadn’t found her as attractive as she’d found him. Usual non-communication but done in a way that I could see and believe the thoughts going through their heads.

When at last Mickey gets ready to address his feelings he gets it wrong again. Poor innocent male!

Loved this book. Short but full of emotions and confusion. It brings in the anguish of the past to be smoothed by the romance of the here and now. I found it very enjoyable to read. A book that stands on its own without being rushed or shortened to make it fit.

I’ll Be Waiting by Wendy Lynn Clark

I’ll Be Waiting by Wendy Lynn Clark
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (29 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Skylar Robinson has been corresponding by daily email with her high school crush, military helicopter pilot Luke Zemakis. They plan to meet during their five-year reunion cruise and see if they are still ensnared in the same intense feelings that overwhelmed their opposing personalities in high school. For Skylar, despite a steady stream of convenient relationships — including a current boyfriend who wants to propose — the only man she’s ever been serious about is Luke. And she’s ready to tell him. But then the unthinkable happens: Skylar journeys to the wrong marina and misses the reunion boat…

Skylar Robinson is keeping her promise. All through her final year in high school she tried to show Luke Zemackis how interested she was in him, but circumstances always kept them going in opposite directions. On their last meeting they agreed to meet again in five years’ time if either were interested in something more. But Skylar got her addresses mixed up and she found herself forty miles away from their rendezvous. Panicked, she races to meet Luke and hopes desperately that he’s still waiting for her.

This is a sweet story that jumps back in time and spends the first half of the story as a flashback, explaining the circumstances as to why Skylar is rushing to meet Luke. While the storytelling is very sweet – almost innocent – it felt strange for such a short story to be half told as a recapping of past actions. I feel the author might have done better to start us in that past time – full of high school hopes and innocent crushes blooming into more – and then jumped ahead to five years’ time. That is just my personal preference but I feel it would have lent the story more an air of “in the present” and action/showing – not telling. Skylar’s humour and good sense of fun, however, shines through and her character is a delight. Luke is a little harder to read – a shy, studious high school boy and a serious teenager growing into a man. He’s attractive, but I didn’t feel the “zing” usually present in romance heroes. This possibly was due to the story being told from Skylar’s point of view, or perhaps the fact that for so much of the story they were in the “flashback” mode and kids – five years younger.

I loved the author’s story-telling voice. A clear, simple tone that helps showcase the innocence and simplicity of both Skylar and Luke to perfection. While I found a few things a little unrealistic (like the constant mentioning of “yes I’ll go out with you, unless I get a boyfriend”) the story left me feeling good and warm, with a smile and very happy. Appropriate for teens and older who are interested in sweet, happy romances but not wanting anything too heavy. Aside from a few descriptive kisses at the end I found this story to be really lovely, with nothing sexy or shocking.

A great short story, one I’d recommend for readers looking for something happy and on the sweeter side. Lovely.