Hidden Death by Jo Webnar

Hidden Death by Jo Webnar
Publisher: Highland Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (215 pgs)
Other: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When a severed hand is found in the Florida Keys, Detective Merri Kepke is called to the scene. She isn’t thrilled when the FBI sends an agent, who knows nothing about the Keys, goes strictly by the book, and doesn’t have a sense of humor.

A skeleton chained to a bucket of cement proves that a serial killer is dumping bodies in the Keys.

Although she would like to send Agent Chad Marlow back to Quantico, she needs the FBI’s resources, and he needs her local knowledge. They are forced to work together, and neither of them like it.

You never know how bad a person can be until you witness it firsthand.

I love to watch the crime shows on television. There’s something exciting about trying to figure out who did it and why. I thought they’d hit the high note for crime stories. I was wrong. Ms. Webnar’s book hooked me from page one and didn’t let go. The writing flowed well. The more pages I turned, the more I wanted to know what would happened next.

I liked that even though this was a crime book, complete with a nasty villain, the violence wasn’t graphic. Readers who want suspense without gore will appreciate this book. I also enjoyed the attention to detail. I felt like I was right there in the Florida Keys while I read the book. Kudos to Ms. Webnar for her research on the area. I do have to mention this point: with some books, it’s easy to figure out who did it. Not this book! Ms. Webnar kept me on the edge of my seat, not sure who was the bad guy and needing to find out. Loved it.

I did enjoy the sparing between Chad and Merri. They don’t want to be together and yet, I felt their mutual attraction. Ms. Webnar built the tension between them well. Both are great characters and I cheered them on, hoping they’d get their happily ever after. I wasn’t disappointed.

If you’re looking for a good mystery with a twist of romance, this book just might be what you’re wanting.

Ladybugs and Fireflies by Cheryl Aldredge

Ladybugs and Fireflies by Cheryl Aldredge
Published: Highland Press
Genre: Contemporary
Lenth: Short Story (142 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Feisty fraud investigator, Callie Roberts, isn’t looking for a knight in shining armor to rescue her. She’s perfectly capable of taking care of herself. She’s had to be. Now, her business is thriving and her goal of owning her own home is finally in reach…if she can land her dream client.

The last thing she needs is to be distracted by a man, especially when he’s the powerful New York attorney who’s in town to represent the man her dream client has hired her to investigate.

Taylor Powers’ big city law career has brought him success, but a trip back to his home state of Florida has him wondering if it might be time to think of coming home for good. The sweet, sexy woman he’s drawn to only confuses matters. Callie’s career has made her a pro at keeping secrets and that plays havoc with his zero tolerance for deceptive women. Yet she attracts trouble like a magnet, kicking his protective instincts into overdrive.

Can Taylor unravel the mystery that is Callie? And with a past full of heartache, will Callie ever allow herself to believe happily ever after really can come true?

While the title had me expecting something rather whimsical, Ladybugs and Fireflies is, in fact, a zippy and quite classic contemporary romance with just enough intrigue to allow for the unexpected.

Callie Roberts, investigator, has had a crappy history in the romance department. And it’s been ages since she had a date. Taylor Powers does not appear to be the man who’s going to change all that. Well, perhaps for a moment there he does look like he’s going to change all that. Anything can happen in ‘speed dating,’ let’s face it. However, this fancy lawyer is only going to make life – and very probably her job – more difficult. She doesn’t know that at first of course: because they share one look and are swept away. It all seems so perfect for a moment…

Callie, although sweet in a slightly southern way, is far from the elegant yet helpless belle-type southern gal. In fact, I found her to be a perfectly wonderful leading lady: she’s feminine but self-sufficient; a bit of southern charm but tough, or maybe stern. Maybe a tiny bit of that self-sufficiency is from from life rather than inclination, but I found her admirable just the same. And she has a faintly humorous outlook, much of the time, that gives the story a sort of happy aura.

Taylor is everything a leading man should be: dashing, protective, forthright… and we hope, even honest. He’s good, and we so want Callie to see that. Maybe he’s not the complex character she is, but readers will really like him just the same. His point of view might reveal a little too much, but it isn’t distracting. It does help us to understand his frustration and maybe allow us to feel a little bit frustrated with Callie too. Aldredge really has a way of conveying not just a believable character, but their emotions. Secondary characters are also well done (friends are important- just look what Sally gets Callie into!)and happily fully-drawn also.

Simply put, this is a very entertaining story. The plot is interesting and engaging; the character’s goals obvious and understandable. The backdrop is great – there’s a real southern small-town flavor. There’s a few fun unexpected twists, quips and fun, but readers will want to read this for the wonderful characters and the depth of feelings you’ll share as you go.

Aldredge’s Ladybugs and Fireflies is one with appeal for all romance fans.

To Woo a Lady by Erin E.M. Hatton

To Woo a Lady by Erin E.M. Hatton
Publisher: Highland Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (242 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 3.5 books
Reviewed by Aloe

A marriage of convenience. A sailor separated from the sea. An ill-advised wager. A spinster at her last prayer. A long-abandoned manor. A snob who must learn to look twice. From the flush of first love to an unexpected second chance, from the wilds of Upper Canada and the splendours of the Continent to the ballrooms of the ton: Six ladies will discover their hearts, and six gentlemen will learn what it takes to Woo a Lady. Set in the days of Jane Austen, a collection of 6 short stories.

Even though you know how the class system works and what is allowed and what is not, how do you tell your heart not to fall in love?

Ms. Hatton has written a series of short stories covering Regency England and the historical standards and expectations that existed then. Each story is different, offering different circumstances and different challenges. Each solution is unique and interesting. I especially liked how she made her characters vulnerable, yet strong. There are no wilting wallflowers here. The women know what they want (or think they do) and they are willing to work to get it. The men are strong, stubborn and even a bit understanding about the women’s expectations and the realities of the times and world they live in.

The author’s storylines are believable, enjoyable to read, and take you to a world of time past, with all its warts and pimples as well as beautiful homes and good times at public functions. It’s not all peaches and cream, but it’s real.

Ms. Hatton offers you a young lady who can have the man she was hoping for since she now has sizeable dowry – but now she’s not sure she wants him… Or, two that they marry to secure their future but never planned on falling in love. There are several more, but the one I thought was the most fun was the young man who bets he can get married in two weeks to whomever his friends pick. This one has the most interesting ending.

All of Ms. Hatton’s stories are well paced and fun to read. She does an excellent job of depicting the arrogance and ego of the day as well as how little choice or chance young women had for a love match marriage. Her stories will make you smile.