The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews

The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (241 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

England, 1861. A world-weary rake and a prim vicar’s daughter are thrown together during a holiday house party. Will they discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

After years of unbridled debauchery, Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton has hit proverbial rock bottom. Seeking to escape his melancholy, he takes refuge at one of Victorian society’s most notorious house parties. As the Christmas season approaches, he prepares to settle in for a month of heavy drinking…until an unexpected encounter changes his plans–and threatens his heart.

Valentine March is not the drab little spinster she appears to be. When her new job as a lady’s companion lands her smack in the middle of Yorkshire with England’s most infamous rake, she resolves to keep her head down and her eyes fixed firmly on her future–a future which most definitely does not include a sinfully handsome viscount.

A friendship is impossible. An affair out of the question. But when one reckless act binds them together, will two star-crossed souls discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

Unexpected and enthralling are the best words to describe Mimi Matthews’ romance, The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter. Its hard to know where to begin… perhaps with a word about characters, as they are first and foremost. The mostly no good young viscount Tristan is unexpectedly sympathetic; the dear, unattached lady, Valentine, is equally unexpected, as her artistic proclivities are closer to her heart than making the required match…

No spoilers here! Suffice to say, we kick off with two likeable main characters, quickly realize that some of the lesser are also Very Much Not the required respectable Victorian types, and the unexpected is only compounded. Well before the house party kicks off, I was completely enthralled.

I can’t fault this one: it’s the best romance I have read in ages.

Tempest by Beverly Jenkins

Tempest by Beverly Jenkins
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full length (346 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

What kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael—an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze.

Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life—and in his arms—begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.

Regan is a mail order bride. She and the doctor have written several letters to each other. He’s looking for a mother for his child. She’s looking for adventure and figures Wyoming will provide it. But their first meeting didn’t go well. After the stage was set upon by robbers, she got out her rifle and took care of them. When she sees more riders coming she shoots at them, too. Unfortunately, the man she hit was her intended…

Ms. Jenkins always writes a good story and this one is no exception. Her words flow well and she creates conflict as well as love in her stories.

The doctor was expecting a lady from back east. She was hoping for a love match. No one lied in their letters but meeting each other changes expectations. He has no interest in love. She wears denims and can do much more than household duties. Even worse, she has her own money.

Her husband’s mother-in-law hates her and has browbeat the young daughter. Another woman in town wanted him for herself and she’s very critical of Regan. But Regan can hold her own.

One of my favorite lines was when the girl asks her new momma if she and daddy were going to jump around on the bed like her friend’s parents did. Sure, that’s what they were doing…

With lots of odd relatives and friends, the two grow closer together. It’s great fun to watch how they respond to the challenges.

This was a very good read.

Antiques Frame by Barbara Allan

Antiques Frame by Barbara Allan
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (240 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

With their reality TV series, Antiques Sleuths, Brandy Borne and her quaintly kooky mother, Vivian, have a real hit on their hands. But another “hit” enters the picture, after a rival bidder becomes a one-woman show at their televised auctions—and it’s the estranged wife of Brandy’s police-chief beau, Tony! Soon the fine art of murder colors the scene, fitting Brandy for an ornately elaborate frame.

But when you’re inside a frame, it’s difficult to make out the picture. That’s why Brandy’s mom—her daughter now wearing basic jailhouse orange—must sort through a rogue’s gallery of suspects including a too-friendly farmer’s wife, a ratings-happy TV producer, a questionable husband-and-wife auctioneer team, and even the chief of police himself.

Brandy and Vivian race to determine how an empty antique frame can hold a deadly portrait, a picture worth a thousand dangerous words. Aided only by Sushi, their loyal shih tzu, and police dog Rocky, the wacky mother-and-daughter sleuthing team must learn the killer’s identity before they become the subjects of another masterpiece of murder.

Sarcasm absolutely at its best

I know the proper terminology for a review is not “it’s just as fun as can be” but that’s really and truly the first thought that comes to mind. This book is full of humor plus a few tips on finding good buys on authentic antiques. A slightly off-center, well okay, a crazy mother and her somewhat depressed daughter deal in antiques and murder. This whole series is set in a small town called Serenity along the Mississippi River. The town is a wonderful place to go antiquing as there are two or three great stores and our stars, Brandy and Vivian, continue filming their reality show, Antique Sleuths.

This series is mostly pseudo-written or narrated by the daughter Brandy but Vivian, her mother, is now and then allowed to add a chapter. None of this is confusing. In fact, the play and dialog between mother and daughter make this really work. Amongst all of the fun, there are still plenty of twists and turns. The descriptive writing is done well as is the character development.

Painting a picture in words is an important skill for an author no matter what genre might be his or her forte. Throughout this series, the author has drawn not just a map in the front of her book but also has crafted a complete snapshot. You begin to see the delightful characters, the small town, and even the day to day workings of the community. It’s as if you’ve lived there. What that creates is a reader like me who never wants to miss a book in the series.

This is Book 11 of the series called “A Trash and Treasures Mystery”. This reviewer happens to know another book will be out in April 2018 because I can’t wait to read it.

Angelica by Clabe Polk

Angelica by Clabe Polk
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full length (400 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

A long time ago, Angelica Vicetti did some very bad things with some very bad men. Now she’s built a new life for her family, far from Las Vegas. Now it’s all about to come crashing down. Angelica Vicetti of Las Vegas has become Angela Cassetta of Poplar Bluffs, just outside Atlanta, Georgia. She’s built a successful real estate agency, and the son she rescued from Vegas when he was a youngster is now a high school baseball star and destined for great things. But the mob bosses in Vegas who forced her underground haven’t forgotten about her. A string of hit men come to town to kill her, but each time she saves herself and her son, with the help of her friends and Mike Eiser, a local Sheriff’s detective who has seen far worse. Then things get even more complicated, when one of the hit men changes his mind and becomes strangely important to Angela in a whole new way … and a team of Federal agents come to town and ratchet up the odds. Suddenly, sleepy little Poplar Bluffs is awash in blood. Angelica will have to take it all the way to the edge and beyond – into murder, kidnapping, and lying to the Feds – to save herself and her son. But … can she survive the fight for her family’s freedom?

Did you ever think you’d like to run away and start all over? What if it became a reality, a frightening one?

Angelica, the title of this book, is the lead character in this series written by Polk titled “The Detective Mike Eisner Series”. She really got swept into the wrong crowd of people and while you might think that’s each individuals own business, it’s different when you have a child.

This is a really good storyline; lots of action and action written so that you can “see” it; in other words so that you can follow and understand. Truly Crime Fiction involving a lot of mob type characters and also the best cop of course…Detective Mike Eisner and his soon to be wife. At least all of the couples around are hoping they will tie the knot. It was very amazing to me that Polk could involve so many of the good guys and the bad guys in this story, and yet make them be very clear to the reader. When an author is good at writing dialog it is quite an accomplishment and I think that is the key here. I think this author happens to be very good at writing dialog and without our realizing it, a good book and a good story has passed and we’re sad it’s the last page.

This is listed in his book as the 4th book in the “Detective Mike Eisner Series”. There are 5 titles in the series in his book. Let’s hope Clabe Polk is working on number 6.

Habitat for Human Remains by Scott A. Lerner

Habitat for Human Remains by Scott A. Lerner
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre:Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (258 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

For the forces of evil, Sam Roberts is catnip. Even during periods of calm, Sam knows that evil is just biding its time before challenging him again. So when he is asked to defend a wealthy shut-in charged with murder, he is suspicious. Why is the largest and wealthiest law firm in town hiring an outside attorney who is a sole practitioner to represent Mr. Blake May? Sam’s client resides in the sublimely creepy Frost Home, a “haunted” mansion given a wide berth by the residents of Champaign, Illinois. The house has been engulfed in rumors of death, missing children, and mystery since before the Civil War. Blake May is accused of not only murdering his girlfriend but decimating the remains until they look like marinara. But the agoraphobic middle-aged man rarely, if ever, left his rooms. If he indeed killed Heather, why can’t the police find a murder weapon? Everyone seems to want Blake declared insane rather than acquitted. Sam and his buddy Bob Sizemore know that Heather’s grizzly fate can’t be blamed on something as mundane as murder. There is a force at work in the house, and it seems to emanate from the mirror hung in the room where the remains of the body were found. Can Sam and Bob end the Frost Home’s eerie legacy of evil?

A funny horror story? Well, it really is.

Good grief, this was a creepy-crawly story with a mystery and even a love story all mixed in together. I will tell you in advance that this is not usually a genre I would read but this was so funny I couldn’t stop. The dialog that was created between Sam, the lawyer and Bob, his friend, had me giggling out loud half the time. One funny character and one relatively serious one were great creations by Scott Lerner. Lerner also pokes a little bit of fun at his own profession here but the legal world is not the focus of his story.

This story is about an attorney being offered a big case by a big firm. He can’t let it pass because of… money, of course. Even while picking up the check he is wondering why the firm would farm it out to him. It has a huge scary haunted house in it that you can just picture. It’s about the lives of two guys still looking for love and yes, it has a little bit of horrid scary scenes. How Scott Lerner managed to put all of this together and have me reading every page, I can’t tell you. However, I can tell you that this is well-written and Sam and Bob become your friends. I have said many times that any author that can make characters your friends and/or your enemies is a talented writer. Once you are caught right up in a story with your buddies, you will never miss a word.

This one is Book 5 in his series titled “A Samuel Roberts Thriller”. Looks like Books 1 through 4 are rated really high too so they must be just as good or better. Let’s read them too and hope he’s writing Book 6.

Grinders Corner by Ferris Craig and Charlene Keel

Grinders Corner by Ferris Craig and Charlene Keel
Publisher: Red Sky Presents
Genre: Historical (Vintage)
Length: Full (368 pgs)
Heat level: Sensual
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Grinders Corner explores the world of taxi dance halls in the 1960s in all its raw hilarity. Saucy, sassy and sexy, but not the least bit erotic, it follows the adventures of three young women trying to survive in the glitter palaces of Los Angeles.

Like lambs led to the slaughter, Uptown, a newly divorced English major with panic anxiety disorder and no job skills, Voluptua, an out of work actress, and Mouse, a former child star trying to make a comeback all struggle to make enough tickets to pay the bills. Things get complicated when Uptown falls in love with a customer who happens to be a priest.

In Grinders Corner it was a simpler time, long before gentlemen’s clubs and pole dancers, and it happened in a place where shy, lonely men could talk to women, even dance with them, with no fear of rejection—for about fifteen cents a minute.

This book is a hoot! This is not the standard rom/com… it’s a book where misfits come together and make for themselves a new reality!

I had no idea that “taxi dancers” still existed into the 60s. I thought it was exclusive to the 20s and 30s. It was interesting to get a glimpse of a different time and a different way of living.

The story is told from the point of view of Uptown; however, it is based on true events in the life of author Ferris H. Craig (Mouse, in the book).

The characters are wonderfully drawn and some of the experiences described in the book were truly “laugh out loud”-able. Uptown starts the job as a naïve woman but under the tutelage of her new friends, Mouse and Voluptua, soon gets an education like she never experienced before.

Kudos to the authors for such a fun, entertaining work!

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Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir by Lauri Robinson

Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir by Lauri Robinson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical
Pages: Full length (288 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

To claim his heir…

…he must marry his enemy!

Gabe Callaway is outraged when feisty Janette Parker lands on his doorstep with her orphaned niece—though he soon realizes little Ruby is heir to his ranch! If Janette wants money, he’ll pay her off to keep the little girl in her rightful place. But all Janette wants is Ruby… Will Gabe do whatever it takes to claim his heir—even marry Janette?

If you have not read a Lauri Robinson book then I don’t know what you are waiting for. This is my fifth one and apparently she’s written thirty four. Why didn’t I discover her books sooner? Better late than never.

Sometimes when you read multiple books by the same author they become monotonous. This can’t be said about Ms. Robinson’s novels. I’m flabbergasted at how the author has once again delivered a flawless writing style that articulated an eloquent and fluent plot. Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir is another original work of art by Ms. Robinson filled with relatable characters and heartwarming drama that left me with unforgettable memories.

Gabe Callaway, the hero, was headstrong, handsome, and responsible with an endearing sensitive side that appeared on several occasions when he was around the heroine, Janet Parker.

Janet Parker was equally as headstrong, beautiful, and capable of taking care of herself. When Janet and Gabe were together it was fun to see who could outwit the other. I was thoroughly entertained when they were ultimately both outwitted by someone unexpected – a hilarious plot twist.

There’s so much more to this story than the synopsis alludes to. There is a tiny suspense story line involving Janet. I was riveted to the book well past my bed time. It was swoon worthy how Gabe became her protector.

I emphatically implore readers to read Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir. I fell in love with Gabe and Janet and the epilogue sealed the deal.

Grand Opening 2 by Carl Weber

Grand Opening 2 by Carl Weber
Publisher: Urban Books
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

The year is 1978, the Duncan brothers and their tough-as-nails women have vanquished their rivals and taken their place as the leaders of Waycross, Georgia’s criminal enterprises. However, their rise to power has not gone unnoticed, and the family is rocked when their mother, Ms. Bettie, is kidnapped and her body is found in a swamp.

No one knows who the killers are, but instead of drawing closer, the family is split when their grief-stricken leader, LC, is offered membership in the South’s most powerful black organization, the Council. Membership has its privileges, but they do not include his brothers. LC packs up his growing family and moves to Atlanta to open his first car dealership.

Unable to deal with his mother’s death, Lou Duncan searches for her killers with the help of an unlikely ally—LC’s ex-fiancée. Her presence may cost him his relationship with his brothers, but Lou is resigned to that fact because Donna’s help is instrumental in finding Ms. Bettie’s abductors. What he will soon learn is that his search for the truth will also lead him to discover a long-buried Duncan family secret.

I love the Duncan clan!

The characters are so real and each has their own personality and brings something interesting to the story. The writing is so well crafted that each individual’s personality makes the character seem so alive it’s as if they are interacting with the reader. The oldest Lou, Levi the big guy but a gentle teddy bear, unpredictable Larry and LC the brains of the brothers…I loved them all.

The author never disappoints and always delivers a plot that is entertaining and keeps me wanting more. This title was just as good as the previous titles. Reading about the beginning of the family helps the reader to understand and get to know the characters in depth for the stories that follow. The plot and the story line is consistent. There are a few typos in the beginning but to be honest after the kidnapping I didn’t notice if there were any typos because my focus was more on the actions in the book.

The plot is interesting all the way around. The suspense of who took the Duncan’s mom and what is the deal behind The Council made this an awesome read. The Duncans are family men and brothers that stick together through it all. They are strong men that marry and have strong women by their side. I look forward to reading more about the Duncan family.

I enjoyed reading this book and I highly recommend for readers that enjoy interesting suspense reads.

The Dating Diet by Daralyse Lyons

The Dating Diet by Daralyse Lyons
Publisher: Books To Go Now Publications
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (288 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

What if you found yourself climbing out of a bedroom window, naked, in the middle of the afternoon, to avoid being caught in bed with your married lover? Would you have second thoughts about dating?

After Shayla Ross discovers that yet another potential “Mr. Right” is, in fact, incredibly wrong for her, she decides to go on a diet. No. She’s not going to forgo her much-loved, sinfully-delicious girl scout cookies or her (admittedly too frequent) trips to McDonalds. Shayla is going on a dating diet.

An incredibly hapless and infinitely loveable heroine, elementary school teacher Shayla Ross decides to take her summer vacation from teaching as a period of self-discovery. Much to the chagrin of her meddling mother, Shayla sets out to find herself and, in the process, bumbles into a series of successive funny and heartwarming interpersonal interactions that will have readers falling in love with her.

A dating diet sounds easy, right? In reality Shayla find it’s not easy at all. After several dead end dates and a relationship with a divorced man, who’s not really free, she decides to swear off men for the summer. Things go well until she meets Dunkin but thankfully they decide to remain friends.

I really enjoyed this book. It is lighthearted and goes from one hilarious episode to another. Dunkin and Shayla play off one another in a series of one upmanship where they try to embarrass each other. Shayla gets involved in various disastrous events and her gay friend Brice involves her in his on again – off again relationship and after the dust has cleared everyone is able to see the funny side of things.

There’s the usual ex girlfriend, ex boyfriend relationship interference which add a bit of spice to the story. There’s also an air of mystery in a will they – won’t they get together and this is not resolved until the end. Even then a disastrous decision by Shayla could make it go either way.

As I got involved with the characters and the story I couldn’t help thinking it reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s style of writing. Amusing story with a light hearted approach and an underlying serious thread.

Texas Rebels: Elias by Linda Warren

Texas Rebels: Elias by Linda Warren
Publisher: Harlequin Western Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (224 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower


Maribel McCray knew moving back to Horseshoe, Texas, would mean facing Elias Rebel, the cowboy she was forbidden to love in high school. She just didn’t expect it to happen so soon. With her teenage son, Chase, in trouble, she needs Elias’s help. He may be a Rebel, sworn enemy of every McCray, but he’s also Chase’s father.

For the lone bachelor of the Rebel clan, there’s only one way to make up for lost years with his son—become a family for real. But Maribel’s distance runs deeper than the Rebel-McCray feud. Elias won’t settle for a marriage of convenience with the woman he’s falling for again. How can he convince Maribel some second chances are worth taking?

I really enjoyed this book. I’m disappointed that I didn’t find the Texas Rebels series by Linda Warren sooner. This is the seventh and last book in the series. I am going to have to go back and read the rest of the stories because I have a feeling I’m going to enjoy them based on how much I enjoyed reading this one.

I really need to point out that this story was a heartwarming romance about second chances. The heroine, Maribel, was written in a way that she could very possibly be me or someone I know. She has realistic issues that I can’t get into but I genuinely could understand from a personal perspective. In fact the advice she was given had a direct impact on me. Therefore I can consider this book to be inspirational. I quote, “You may not understand that kind of love, but sometimes people love the way they can”. That statement spoke to me and was powerful and meaningful to the plot. I admired Maribel for her courage and vulnerability as well as her ability to forgive.

I really connected with Elias, the hero, because he shared my values in a relationship. Elias and I both need vows of love to be shared at some point in the relationship. However, Maribel shared my values as far as needing to see love through actions not just with the words “I love you”. Together they demonstrated true love. I respected how Maribel and Elias were direct and honest with each other. No mind games.

When I read a romance book I want to be able to rave about it. I am so excited to be able to do just that. Everything was remarkable. The writing style, the plot, the characters, the pace, and the originality all had me captured from the start to the end. While this story was the ending in the series, fortunately for me it was my beginning. I will get to go back and meet all of the characters in the Rebel and McCray families that I briefly got to know and fall in love with in Texas Rebels: Elias.

I am quite thankful that I stumbled upon this book and I can definitely recommend it. Texas Rebels: Elias was an extremely enjoyable read for me. Just be prepared to “expect the unexpected”. This novel is more than meets the eye.