Salvaged by J.S. Marlo


Salvaged by J.S. Marlo
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (226 pgs)
Heat level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

STAR FISHER refuses to let the scar marring her face dictate her choices or the dreams haunting her nights affect her life. A skilled underwater investigator, she is hired as a scuba diver in an underwater salvage operation.

Captivated by the feisty young woman who shares little resemblance with his glamorous conquests, captain HAUK LUDVIKSON struggles against his attraction as they explore a century-old relic linked to the unsolved disappearance of a rich heiress.

With danger lurking under and above the water line, Star fights for her future-a future she may not salvage twice.

If you love an unpredictable suspense/mystery romance then this book is for you. Hauk Ludvikson, the hero, and Star Fisher, the heroine, as well as the other prominent characters, really kept me on the edge of my seat. J. S. Marlo created a complex plot that demonstrated originality. The cast of characters were brilliantly interwoven in a suspense/mystery that incorporated generations of families. I couldn’t read this book and multitask because I needed to concentrate or else I’d get confused with the web of characters. I grew to appreciate the dynamics of Hauk’s dive team. They couldn’t exist without each other working together to solve the mystery and protect each other’s back. I grew fond of Kyle’s humor, Scott’s wit and Arnie’s sensitive side. I could see Kyle and Scott being the heroes in their own books.

The chemistry between Hauk and Star was excruciatingly slow to blossom. Yet, when it did it was well worth the wait. Their focus was on solving the mystery and protecting each other from the consistent suspenseful danger. I personally would have preferred a little less suspense and danger and more romance but that’s just me. I definitely would have enjoyed an epilogue. The story concluded with a happy ever after ending between Hauk and Star, and the mystery was solved but there was no justice. Without justice or vindication how can there be closure?

With all the suspense and danger, the pace was smooth and quick. The writing style was flawless. I was engaged from the beginning of the book until the very last page. I didn’t want to put the novel down. I enjoyed discovering all the secrets along with the plot twists and turns.

I recommend this book for those who want to experience some action, suspense, solve a mystery all while getting romanced for a few hours. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. You won’t be disappointed.

Rael by Colleen S. Myers


Rael by Colleen S. Myers
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (22 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Sixteen-year-old Rael, the Avaresh Prince survives the E’mani attack, but his sister is taken. Rael will do anything to get her back. Will he get to her in time or will he fail, just as his father predicts?

Rael’s people, the Avaresh, are generally peaceful. But their government knows to plan for all eventualities. So when they come under attack, Rael knows his duties – to protect the children. Can Rael do rise to the challenge when disaster strikes?

This is an interesting, very short story. There are a number of new words and a whole new universe all introduced in this snippet of a story. I found it a little overwhelming – a lot of information and explanation in a very short space. Although there is definitely action – the scene opens with an attack, which I feel was a great way to draw in the reader – I really feel that the shortness of the story just didn’t allow the author to really expand and show the reader the richness and depth of this new world. After reading through the story twice I had a much deeper appreciation for the author’s imagination and her way of managing to infuse action, treachery and a sort of hero’s awakening into such a quick story.

Readers should be aware that I feel this is a pure Sci-Fi style of story. There is no romance — not even a heroine really — just Rael as the main male protagonist. There also to my mind is not a happy ending. Bittersweet and heroic, yes, but not a happy ending in the traditional sense at all. While I feel this will appeal to readers who like quirky stories or darker endings – readers used to everything turning out well (either Happy Ever After or even Happy For Now) might not find this ending satisfying.

I greatly enjoyed Rael’s character – at seventeen he was almost a fully grown male and his love for his little sister was deep and really struck me as true. I did appreciate how the author crammed a whole lot of action, intrigue and danger into such a short story, but this really felt like an extract of a longer-length story. I was left not really knowing clearly what happened next, or how the events in this story unfolded right after where the ending left off. Add onto that the bittersweet, not-happy resolution and I felt a little down when I’d finished reading this story and normally that’s not how I like to finish on a book I read.

The characters, action and plot were excellent. I enjoyed the Sci-Fi aspect of this new world and I’d certainly be willing to give this author another chance. I’d pick up another of her stories again.

The Pact by Brantwijn Serrah


The Pact by Brantwijn Serrah
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (243 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Fleshlings and darklings… Rune-weavers and demons… When you walk in the land of the Reaper, who will survive?

Serenity Walker has cast runes for as long as she can remember. Her teachers call her a prodigy, and her secret studies hold the key to unlimited potential. Once an orphan left on an old woman’s doorstep, Serenity finally belongs. But when her mentor is murdered right in front of her, her hopes of a home die with him.

Her quest for vengeance leads her into a dangerous deal with a demon. Armed with its dark power and her own talent with the runes, she blazes a trail across the lands where ranchers and railroad men are kings, where the prevailing law is the law of the gun. To find the man who reshaped her past, Serenity offers up her future. She’ll face a world where weavers are hunted down to be hanged, whipped, or burned alive…but she won’t face it alone.

As Serenity’s mission takes her farther than most weavers are willing to go, she’ll have to decide who her true enemy is: the wicked men of the world, or the powerful demon inside her.

Serenity Walker is an orphan and rune caster who learns how to be a weaver of runes from Jack, the local Sheriff. When Jack gets killed she makes it her life’s work to wander the world and find the man who shot Jack and give him the most horrendous death possible. To do this she must become a member of the Black Guild of weavers and bind herself to a darkling demon.

This was an interesting book and well written. Usually a story with a lot of flashbacks can be a bit disconcerting, but the change of timing from past to present in The Pact only enhances the story. Serenity is a very strong character who has a goal in life and will pursue it no matter what. Even an attraction to another Black Guild weaver does not make her stray from her path. At times the story sent a shiver down my spine, but I had to finish reading the book.

I’m not sure whether I liked this book, but the story certainly made me want to carry on reading. It had depth and passion, not romantic passion, but the type of determination and fieriness which makes the strong, but likable character that is Serenity.

Summer Star by DJ Davis

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Summer Star by DJ Davis
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense.
Length: Full Length (285 Pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Loner and history buff Troy Hart gets more than he bargained for when his psychic connection to the past leads him to the mountains of Colorado. The legend of buried treasure is nothing new, but falling in love is—and that’s the last thing Troy wants.

Troy’s visions of the old west are all fun and games, until the ghost of an outlaw forces Troy to fulfill his dying wish. To save his own life, and the life of the woman he loves, Troy must follow a trail of greed, betrayal and revenge on a treasure hunt for lost Civil War gold.

Now the fun is over and the game is survival as Troy battles the elements, a dead man and his own heart deep in the remote high country.

Summer and Troy may have been friends in the beginning but chemistry and circumstances literally propel them into an adventure that spans time and threatens their lives and their new found love.

A hundred plus year old ghost and a treasure hunt are rarely on a first date agenda. If they could survive this, navigating a relationship would be no problems at all.

The beginning for me was a little bit difficult to get through because of the visions that Troy kept having. These visions caused Troy to slip back to the past. I wasn’t sure at first how to identify what was happening and who was the hero of this story. Troy was the obvious answer from the blurb but the new man I met carried quite a bit of weight in the story so I was curious to see how his story would play out. The back and forth from the past to the present was confusing at first but once I caught on to the quest, it made much more sense. From there, it just got better and better.

Troy and Summer aren’t perfect characters. They both had past issues in the relationship department. Seeing the ups and downs of their relationship was realistic and refreshing.

Summer Star is both fantasy and paranormal as well as a mystery. The romance was a slow build up that I loved. The timing overall in this story was a big win. The mystery of the ghost and the treasure was suspenseful and developed slowly as opposed to a ‘big reveal’ right at the very end. Readers who enjoy a romance that builds but also unravels the mystery at just the right pace, should give this one a read. Well worth the time!

The SHIVA Syndrome by Alan Joshua

SHIVA
The SHIVA Syndrome by Alan Joshua
Publisher: Burst Books
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (467 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Beau Walker is a man without a field. Teaching at a backwater university after being dismissed from a government project because of his ethical concerns and bureaucratic maneuvers on the part of a one-time friend, Walker is an academic pariah until two soldiers appear one day. His former friend needs Walker’s expertise, and the professor—who is haunted by both his empathic abilities and the memory of the one time they failed him—has little choice but to cooperate
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In the Russian city of Podol’sk, a project partially based on Walker’s work has gone horribly awry, killing thousands and leaving traces of mysteries that threaten humanity’s scientific understanding. Discovering what occurred, and how to prevent it from happening again, falls on Walker and his new friends…But as secrets and revelations accumulate, the team’s combined knowledge and abilities may be inadequate to stop what’s coming.

What happens when science kicks open the door for humans to reach god-like powers of creation and destruction? When human consciousness is made so powerful that it annihilates a city of thousands and impacts the moon’s orbit? Blending the paranormal and science fiction in a thrilling mystery, Walker and his team race to find the key to SHIVA facing military intrigues and supernormal assassins. What is at stake? The eradication of life on earth by thought alone.

Are you equipped to face the unthinkable?

Would you like to read a book that not only entertains but causes you to rethink the human mind?

The SHIVA Syndrome is a read that draws the reader in from the first page. The story follows the nation’s top scientists as they research the devastating effects of the human mind gone awry. Beau Walker is a scientist with a secret, he is an extremely powerful empath and this research is right up his alley. As Beau and his team get closer to cracking the secret of what happened in Russia, they begin to realize that it is not too far out of the question that it can happen right in the United States.

The author lays out a solid storyline with strong characters and powerful backstories. As the story progresses, characters that blended into the background begin to take development and soon the reader is immersed in a world of espionage, secrets and lies. The descriptions, dialogue, and events portray the reality that this novel could be happening in reality right now. The research was strong and had a solid foundation leading the reader to understand that the author has immersed himself in research or has a background in the topics he is writing about.

I personally loved the deep descriptions of the medical/biological components of the story. It is evident that the author has a strong background in the sciences and this cannot go unnoticed by the reader. Nothing is left lacking and the story flows smoothly without feeling forced. I found myself having a difficult time putting the book down since once the excitement began, it would rarely even taper off. I also found myself drawn to the characters; following their lives and being drawn in by their stresses and theories. The suspense from the plot was one that resonates with the reader long after the book is put down for the evening.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a science fiction journey that is so well researched that it truly could be happening right now! This was one book that caused me to rethink what happens behind closed doors.

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.

Courageous Cain by D.J. Davis

CAIN
Courageous Cain by D.J. Davis
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (335 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Josie Shepherd loves running free, with no one and nothing to tie her down—until a new job at a kennel introduces her to both an unexpected friend and a vicious, abused dog named Cain.

When Josie stumbles upon the body of a murdered woman, she runs to Deputy Gordon Wolfe, a disfigured man hiding behind his badge. His shy smile and affection for dogs make her reconsider what she’s running from.

Now she’s on the run from a serial killer and her own heart. But when her friend is abducted and Cain appears to be the murder weapon, Josie’s attempt to save them both lands her in the killer’s lair. Josie’s strength and Cain’s loyalty are tested to the limit as they fight for their lives. Facing a killer is one thing, but facing her love for Gordon is Josie’s greatest challenge.

Can Josie and Gordon help each other undo the lessons learned in their youth?

Josie is a complicated woman. Her childhood was very rough and left her with serious trust and commitment issues. Consequently, Josie keeps everyone at arm’s length. The only family she has left is her dog, Fletcher. Josie’s first instinct when she’s around people is to protect herself, but I loved watching her with dogs. She’s shares a bond with them that is absolutely beautiful and wonderful to watch. When Josie runs from a disastrous relationship, she ends up in Rockglen, a picturesque small town. Josie gets a great job working with dogs and makes some new friends. She even begins to fall in love for the first time when she meets Gordon. Just as she’s finally beginning to feel at home, her happiness is marred by the presence of a serial killer who has made Josie his latest obsession. Cain, an enormous and abused dog, is the only link to the killer. Can Josie use her unique bond with Cain to solve the murders, or will she become the next victim? I must warn readers that this book contains graphic violence that is very hard to read.

Josie and Gordon are a sweet couple. While their childhood experiences were drastically different, they are both very damaged. Josie grew up learning that love is a trap. Gordon believes no one can look past his physical appearance and truly love him. I thoroughly enjoyed watching them learn to open their hearts to each other. There were a few setbacks, but that made their journey feel all the more real. I have no doubt that they are well on their way to a beautiful future.

As much as I loved watching Josie and Gordon, I believe Cain is the heart of this story. My heart broke for the poor abused dog. Cain has spent years being physically and emotionally tortured, and yet when he meets Josie, I could see glimmers of the majestic, loyal, and playful dog he could have been had he been taken care of properly. I cannot give away all the details, but I will say that readers, especially anyone who has ever loved a dog, should have a box of tissues on hand when they reach the conclusion of this book. I sure needed them.

Courageous Cain is an intense and emotional tale. I loved watching Josie forge true and lasting bonds of friendship with humans and dogs alike. Readers looking for a powerful suspense would do well to pick up a copy of Courageous Cain.

Traitor Knight by Keith W. Willis

KNIGHT
Traitor Knight by Keith W. Willis
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (367 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

When Morgan McRobbie rescues a damsel-in-distress from a dragon, he expects she’ll swoon, murmuring “My hero!” Instead, Marissa has only loathing for the man everyone believes will betray Kilbourne. That’s fine with Morgan. A woman in his life would just complicate things.

A high-level informer threatens the kingdom’s security, and Morgan is out to stop him. Posing as a turncoat himself, he’s walking a fine line between honor and betrayal. A single misstep could result in disaster, and his mission is fraught with distractions: the pesky dragon, a pair of conniving courtiers, and the disillusioned damsel who’s certain Morgan can’t be trusted.

If Morgan’s going to save the kingdom, win the girl, and manage to stay alive, he’ll need to step up his game. Because the traitor is lurking in the shadows, and his scheme calls not just for the betrayal of Kilbourne, but also the destruction of Morgan McRobbie.

Will Marissa ever be able to trust Morgan?

Morgan is everything a good hero should be. He’s loyal, honest, smart, and brave. Despite all the good he does for Kilbourne, he has a horrible reputation. I must say that I was baffled by how the majority of people treated Morgan when it is clear to anyone who spends any length of time with him that he is completely devoted to his country and king. His situation is certainly an indication of the kind of damage rumors, even unfounded ones, can do to a reputation.

Morgan had no idea the direction his life would take when he rescued Marissa from the dragon. Morgan and Marissa have good chemistry and would definitely make a good couple, but unfortunately the terrible rumors about Morgan hang like a black cloud over any possibility of romance. After Morgan rescues Marissa, she agrees to dine with him. Morgan’s true personality shines through wonderfully, so I was very disappointed when Marissa doubts her instincts and persists in believing the worst about him. Granted, some of Morgan’s actions are very suspicious, so I can understand Marissa’s confusion. Despite the rocky beginning of their relationship, their encounters never fail to be entertaining, and I have high hopes for their future.

Just when Marissa is beginning to trust Morgan, he finds himself firmly on the wrong side of the law, and she is forced to take matters into her own hands. Her plan to reveal the true traitor is clever and well thought out, but will she be able to expose the true traitor in time to save Morgan?

I truly enjoyed Traitor Knight. Morgan and Marissa are strong characters I had the pleasure of getting to know. I recommend Traitor Knight to anyone looking for a good fantasy with just a dash of romance.

Twelfth Night Queen’s Deception by Rita Bay

WUEENS
Twelfth Night Queen’s Deception by Rita Bay
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (71 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Amelia Fontaine was betrothed to her cousin, Percy Westbury, while she was still in leading strings. When Percy and his family arrive for a long holiday visit, Amelia is dismayed by the prospect of the impending arranged marriage. With his estate in shambles, Percy flaunts his plans to use Fontaine Hall’s wealth to benefit his family’s fortunes. When Percy demands that Amelia end her friendship with her neighbor, Edward Thornton, will she choose to follow tradition or pursue happiness?

Edward Thornton, the Earl of Bridgwater, couldn’t remember a time he didn’t love Amelia. He didn’t believe her grandmother would insist on the arranged marriage, until the entire Westbury clan invites themselves to Fontaine Hall. When Edward discovers Percy’s secret life and his sinister plans for Amelia, he embarks on a campaign to rescue her. Will the Twelfth Night Queen help him save his beloved from her cruel fate?

Amelia Fontaine and Edward Thornton, Earl Bridgewater, live on neighboring properties and were both orphaned when they were children and were raised by their grandmothers. Before her parents died, they betrothed Amelia to Percy Westbury and now her grandmother feels obliged to keep to the betrothal.

I think this book is extremely well written and good reading. I sat down to see what it was like and didn’t get up again until I’d finished it. Wonderful story with oodles of intrigue and conflict. One grandmother can see no way out of the dilemma of Amelia’s betrothal while the other feels it best to end the engagement so her grandson can court the woman he loves. Percy has his own ideas on the future and this brings about the conflict.

One thing I would say is the title tends to give away the end of the story. Not completely, but maybe the last word could be left out of the title.

Often when I read a Regency romance I feel I want to shout at the hero and heroine to stop being so stupid and talk to one another. Not this time. The pair did talk, the heroine was not afraid to speak her mind both to the hero and her fiancé, not that it did her much good, but she did have her say. The author has written a really good book, short but sharp and engaging.

Silent Autumn by Veronica H Hart

SILENT
Silent Autumn by Veronica H Hart
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (360 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

In 2179 Taylor Female 8635 is content with her profession as a cosmetics designer. She gave birth to the requisite two babies in her teens and now enjoys privileges beyond the norm. When stopping at a power station Taylor inadvertently overhears a conversation between the leaders of the North and the South. They have a plan to destroy the leader of the West in order to gain control over food production. When Maximilian Male catches her in the shadows, he uses her plight as his opportunity to leave the North.

Together they travel across the country, passing abandoned and derelict cities, countryside inhabited by uneducated tribes, villages with a minimum of social organization and barren wasteland in their quest to warn the leader of the West.

Without her prescribed medication laced meals, Taylor learns what it is like to feel emotions, to experience joy and feel heartbreak.

A United States of America of the future that is no longer united. It has divided into three portions, North, South and West.

Taylor from the North accidentally overhears the President of the North and the Chairman of the South conspiring to eliminate the government of the West, she wants to return to her home and pretend she hasn’t heard a thing, but one of the secret service agents finds her before she can escape. Max, another agent, rescues her and they go on the run. Their aim is to warn the government of the West.

There is quite a serious aspect to this book with only a few lighthearted moments. The pair meet many different groups of people, people they didn’t know existed, and on the way a mother gives them her baby, then promptly commits suicide. The two have now become three – well, two and a half – but they continue their journey.

Max sounds like a hunk of a man while at first Taylor is a wimp, but she soon comes out of her shell and the two work well together. The concept of the country is a little confusing at first but basically it’s science in the North with normal in the South. Taylor and Max have no idea what the rest of the country or the world is like.

A reasonably good read but this is not a “can’t put down book”. I found I had to take a breather for a few days, then get back into it again as I needed to assimilate what I’d read before I carried on to the next part.