Going to the Chapel by Mary Jane Morgan


Going to the Chapel by Mary Jane Morgan
Publisher: Self-Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (217 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Alstroemeria

Claire Coleman is mortified when a handsome stranger discovers her crying in a quiet country chapel—the very chapel where she was supposed to have married her high school sweetheart, and the place where she now hopes to feel her mother’s presence.

Custom builder, Sam McGinnis, has sworn off rescuing women in need. That is, until he finds a beautiful blonde sobbing her heart out in his almost-finished chapel. The woman is obviously in a world of hurt, and no way can he walk away from the heart-broken lady.

But will rescuing Claire put Sam’s own heart in jeopardy?

Going to the Chapel by Mary Jane Morgan was a very quick and easy read. Claire Coleman is your typical jilted lover who finds solace in Sam McGinnis, your typical bad boy who doesn’t want to settle down but has a heart of gold.

After Claire is dumped by her fiance’ and best friend, fate would lead her to the chapel where she would have been married, in which she meets Sam, the custom builder for the chapel. The reader can already see where this is going, but it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to read.

The writing is steamy, without too much conflict. The scenes are realistic but not graphic, which keeps the reader quickly flipping the pages. I also enjoyed the other characters in the book, but wished there was more interaction with them.

I wish there was more conflict between the main characters. From my understanding there were at least a couple weeks of conflict where the characters would not see each other, but that was kind of described in a quick paragraph before it was mostly forgotten and the issues were resolved without much work.

I think tension is one of the main qualities of a romance novel. It was built up really great with restriction at the beginning, but a little more follow through with the rest of the story could have added a whole layer of depth that any reader would have eaten up.

I enjoyed how quickly I read this book. I didn’t beat my brains out waiting for the main characters to notice each other, and I also LOVED the back and forth change in perspective. It is interesting to get the perspective of both characters, instead of just being in the mind of one.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a fast read that satisfies a taste for a fun romance story. It was light and heartwarming, with just a bit of sexy. A very nice combination.

Life in A Supermarket Basket by Michael Evanichko


Life in A Supermarket Basket by Michael Evanichko
Publisher: Crimson Cloak Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (176 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Alstroemeria

Vincent fidgeted as he waited in the ten-items-or-less lane, for he clearly had more than ten items in his dainty, little basket. As the line of impatient shoppers grew he was sure he’d be publicly humiliated for the sin of supermarket disobedience. The practice of stoning would resurface, only frozen Cornish-hens would be launched at his large frame instead of stones. If only he knew in a mere 7.34 minutes he’d be visiting the afterlife after being hit by a car, he would’ve checked his minor anxiety attack at the customer service counter.

As Vincent’s spirit rose above the mayhem, so too, did each of his purchased items, as each of them triggered a remarkable and occasionally embarrassing memory of his past. He was forced to examine his current state of unhappiness as he awaited answers to the lingering questions: Would his life end in the parking lot of his favorite grocer? Would he be accurate in the belief that heaven was non-existent?

Life in a Supermarket Basket contains elements of drama, suspense, romance and mystery, while narrated with sarcastic, comedic undertones by the protagonist, Vincent. It has elements of a Mitch Albom novel with touches of Augusten Burroughs-like humor. Each chapter is named after one of the grocery items, and begins with an illustration that foreshadows the events within the chapter. Life in a Supermarket Basket creates an environment completely relatable to a mainstream audience. Who hasn’t tried to sneak through the express lane with more items than allowed? Are heaven and the afterlife for real? And finally, we all have poignant food memories that piece our lives together like a puzzle.

Life in a Supermarket Basket follows the main character Vincent on his journey away from his average and sad middle aged life. After an accident at his local grocer, Vincent is forced to look back on his life in this humorous novel through the ghosts of grocery lists past.

The main character Vincent is a relatable man in his 40’s who has lost sight of what he really wants in life. As the reader travels with Vincent through his epiphanies of the past, an interesting picture is painted of a man who wants so much more.

Though the editing was a bit off at times, it did not take away from this oddly inspirational journey. References to religious beliefs were realistic and not at all preachy. This is not a conventional story about life and life after death, but rather it urges the reader to continue the journey through many strange and exciting twists.

The humorous quality of this fiction novel is definitely found within the pages. With Vincent there is no hiding the gritty details of life, and it is refreshing to see that one man’s discovery of soy milk can be another man’s discovery of self-worth.

A puzzle that comes together piece by piece, Life In A Supermarket Basket lived up to it’s excellent description. I would recommend this novel to anyone who wants a witty read that wraps up eloquently. No ends are left untied and it may just give readers their own grocery store epiphanies.

Sight Unseen in the City by Ruth Zavitsanos


Sight Unseen in the City by Ruth Zavitsanos
Publisher: CiaoSummer Press
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Short Story (78 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

It’s July 13th 1977 and New York City is languishing during a record-breaking heat wave. Linda Martinez is trying to succeed in her career while holding on to her Puerto Rican heritage she was raised to respect in the multicultural streets of the Bronx.

Linda meets Gabe when she enters a bookstore to escape the sweltering heat. Gabe is a distinguished, handsome man who helps Linda understand the death of her brother, Michael, who was killed in action five years earlier in Vietnam.

The time Linda spends with Gabe is nothing short of heavenly, and with Gabe’s encouragement, Linda finds herself thinking less about the scorching heat that all but suffocates a city held in darkness during an electrical outage, and more about fulfilling her life’s dream. At the dawning of a new day, Linda’s life, and her brother’s memory will take on a whole new meaning.

Linda is melting in the New York heat when she is rescued by young man who she feels a liking for. He tells her he knew her dead brother and they talk about Michael. When she tries to catch a train home he talks her into waiting for the next one, then the electricity throughout the city goes out. They sit and talk and this leads to a different future for Linda.

I liked the way this book was laid out. I thought I knew who Gabe was, but I wasn’t sure until two thirds of the way through the book. Well written and definitely caught my imagination. This is the type of life, aims and success most young women would like, but few have the determination to see it through.

Nice touch of her brother looking down from heaven and I particularly liked where he became confused by what to him was the future with clothes and manners very different to when he was alive.

Summer Dreams by Delia Latham


Summer Dreams by Delia Latham
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (173 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

The Getaway Of A Lifetime…Kinda.

Summer Callihan isn’t in Cambria for the beach or the ocean or the pine-scented air around Paradise Pines Lodge. She’s there as a companion to her flighty cousin, Deah–with the understanding that they will have separate agendas the entire time. Summer just wants to be left alone to dream up the romance novels she writes under a pseudonym.

A Real-life Hero Who Rivals a Romance Novel…Really!

But never in Summer’s wildest writer’s imagination does she dream of being caught in an undertow and almost drowning, only to be rescued by a wealthy artist. And when Logan Bullard proves hard to shake, Summer fears for her heart–especially when Deah sets her sights on Logan.

A Cupid to pull it all together…?

But at Paradise Pines Lodge, what’s meant to be has a way of happening…at the best time and in the best way. Miss Angelina Love–who may or may not own the place–has an “in” with Heaven’s own “department of romance.” And she’s determined to see Summer and Logan together.

Logan, an artist, has been dreaming of an unknown woman who he longs to meet. In his dreams she dances before the ocean but is swept away by a huge wave. At this point he usually wakes up, but he’s aware this event will happen, he doesn’t know when, but it will happen.

Summer, an author, and her cousin Deah are on holiday at the Paradise Pines Lodge. Summer has a niche above the beach where she loves to write in peace. At the end of one session she decides to praise dance on the beach. This is when Logan’s dream comes true and he acts the hero and rescues her.

This book is inspirational in many ways more than religion. This story gave a feeling of warmth and love. The Lodge owner Miss Angie provided the right amount of stability in the background and Deah provided the conflict. This book was well written and a lovely read. The only problem I had was I felt at times the religious aspect was told not shown. Miss Angie’s Bible quotes were good and in context, Summer’s praise dance was visually wonderful, but when Logan and Summer talked to one another every other sentence seemed to have mention of God, which is not a natural way to speak in every day life. While religious talk is to be expected in an inspirational book, it seemed to be a little over the top.

This is an enjoyable read and provided the warmth, conflict and resolution to make it excellent.

Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson


Red Door Inn by Liz Johnson
Publisher: Revell
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (354 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Marie Carrington is running from a host of bad memories. Broke and desperate, she’s hoping to find safety and sanctuary on Prince Edward Island, where she reluctantly agrees to help decorate a renovated bed-and-breakfast before it opens for prime tourist season.

Seth Sloane didn’t move three thousand miles to work on his uncle’s B&B so he could babysit a woman with a taste for expensive antiques and a bewildering habit of jumping every time he brushes past her. He came to help restore the old Victorian–and to forget about the fiancée who broke his heart.
The only thing Marie and Seth agree on is that getting the Red Door Inn ready to open in just three months will take everything they’ve got. Can these two wounded souls find hope, healing, and perhaps a bit of romance on this beautiful island?

Step into the Red Door Inn, a lovely home away from home tucked along the north shore of fabled Prince Edward Island. It’s a place where the wounded come to heal, the broken find forgiveness, and the lonely find a family. Won’t you stay for the season?

A One-Click that was totally worth the risk.

The story starts with Marie who is down to her last few dollars and needs to buy a ferry ticket to go to Prince Edward Island. While waiting she meets, an older man, Jack who just so happens to be in need of someone to help him pick colors for an inn he’s just purchased. While at the inn Marie meets with a few of the local residents, Aretha and Caden and things seem to be going okay for her until Jack’s nephew, Seth enters the picture and things begin to get rocky.

I loved all the characters in this book. They came across as lifelike and loveable and I found myself cheering each of them. What I enjoyed the most was the speed at which the author revealed why Marie was running so far from home. Nothing was dumped too soon into the story which I felt added to its appeal. Seth too has his own demons to bear and as they slowly begin to trust one another you find yourself wanting to read more at each sitting.

There’s a second romance weaved into this story which was also enjoyable and that’s the one between Aretha and Jack. The conflict was believable and just when you thought they’d turned a corner there was something else that got in the way and made you want to read on.

I can’t remember ever reading a book set on Prince Edward Island but Ms. Johnson did such a good job describing it, I think I’d like to see it for myself. If you like sweet romances with lovable characters, a realistic plot and an island setting, then I’d definitely check this one out.

Submerged by Dani Pettrey


Submerged by Dani Pettrey
Publisher: Bethany House
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (322 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Bailey Craig vowed never to set foot in Yancey again. She has a past, and a reputation–and Yancey’s a small town. She’s returned to bury a loved one killed in the plane crash and is determined not to stay even an hour more than necessary. But then dark evidence emerges and Bailey’s own expertise becomes invaluable for the case.

Cole McKenna can handle the deep-sea dives and helping the police recover evidence. He can even handle the fact that a murderer has settled in his town and doesn’t appear to be moving on. But dealing with the reality of Bailey’s reappearance is a tougher challenge. She broke his heart, but she is not the same girl who left Yancey. He let her down, but he’s not the same guy she left behind. Can they move beyond the hurts of their pasts and find a future together?

Dani Pettrey is a new to me author and I stumbled upon this book while browsing the free books you can read with your Amazon Prime membership and the tag “romantic suspense” drew me in. I’m happy to say, so did the book. The opening was riveting. There’s nothing like a plane crash to get your pulse racing and force you to turn the pages.

It’s set in small town Alaska and the two main characters, Bailey and Cole seemed to jump off the page as real life characters. Baily is determined not to return to Alaska but when her aunt is one of the victims of the plane crash she has no alternative.

Cole is a deep sea diving expert and has a soft spot in his heart for Bailey who at first comes across as someone with both a broken heart and spirit but I liked the way the author handled the character development. By the end of the story, Bailey was someone who was stronger and it was great to see her evolve and find peace with her past.

The action is literally non-stop, some strange things begin to happen to Bailey and the deep sea diving scenes to recover evidence from the crash, really puts you on the edge of your seat.

This is an enjoyable romantic suspense that will have you guessing until the very end and has made me want to check out more books by this author.

Pedal by Louis K. Lowy


Pedal by Louis K. Lowy
Publisher: Panoptic Books, an imprint of Assent Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (301 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Forty-nine and single. Fired from her lifelong passion: teaching music. Stripped of her self-worth. Can she reclaim her life through bicycle racing?

Joanne Brick’s thirty years as an elementary school music teacher evaporated into the rising sea of layoffs. A lifetime of dedication gone. At forty-nine, single with an ailing mom and bitter divorced sister, the future looked bleak. Family relationships soured as conversations moved to “the lettuce zone”-cold and crisp. Then one day, while cleaning out the garage for a yard sale, inspiration struck as she dusted off an old long-forgotten bicycle. And when she took her first ride she knew it was time to sink or pedal. “Onward! That was the answer that had eluded her earlier. There was dignity in that word. There was hope.” Never a sports fanatic and sorely out of shape, Joanne was barely able to ride straight, but she took up bicycle racing because it added purpose to her life. “Joanne increased her own speed. The wind whipped her face. The whirring of the spinning spokes and chains rose in pitch as she spun faster. She was flying again, beyond failed careers, spurned lovers, regrets, and mistakes. She spun even quicker. Her breath came in swift, hard grunts.” She pedaled past unemployment, failed relationships, family drama, and career loss. Her life began to fill with new friends, an inspirational Desert Storm vet turned cycling coach, and a sleek new physique from all the training. Then she ran into a brick wall in the form of Sheila Dominary, a women’s bike racing adversary. Will Joanne regain her confidence as she pedals toward redemption, romance, adventure, and life beyond unemployment? Pedal is an inspirational journey. It is a contemporary story that deals not only with family relationships, but also with life’s turning points and how ordinary people handle them.

When you lose everything you’ve ever worked for, what is there to push you forward again?

Joanne Brick loses her career as a music teacher after thirty years due to the district budget cuts. What is even worse is “music teacher” was her identity. Joanne finds herself out of a job, without money and at a loss as to who she is any longer. Joanne finds herself in a struggle that she never expected-to identify her inner passion and recollect her life.

Louis K. Lowy does an amazing job of showing how devastating life can be as well as intertwining how amazing life can be. Joanne is focused on the big picture, but like many of us, can miss out on what is happening in the right now. When life shakes her up, Joanne keeps pushing forward towards the goal. When the unthinkable happens and then the unimaginable happens shortly after that, Joanne proves that she is a fighter and refuses to give up.

Louis K. Lowy draws the reader in with a simple plot, to see Joanne put her life back together. Yet, what truly happens is that the reader becomes one in Joanne’s life, feeling her exuberance in training and then the crushing defeats that life hands her. The reader cheers for Joanne’s success and cries when she is down. All of this Louis K. Lowy draws in vivid detail, causing the reader to fully understand and see the life of Joanne Brick being shaped.

The ending of the book is one that many would not have imagined. Yet, when we look back at our own personal lives, we are often astonished to see where we are from where we began. This story is simply that, astonishing. I urge you to pick up a copy of Pedal and see if you have what it takes to make it to across the finish line!

Fallen Men by Brian O’Hare

men
Fallen Men by Brian O’Hare
Publisher: Crimson Cloak Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (299 Pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Fallen Men by Brian O’Hare is a story of three priests. All are good, spiritual men but why does young Father Ray Canavan Ray find himself on trial in a Dublin court for statutory rape of a minor? And why is his equally popular friend, Father Dan Patterson, raucously accused of murder by a member of his congregation as he attempts to celebrate a Requiem Mass? And why does Canon Tony Mulholland so lose sight of his priestly responsibilities that he tries to cover up Ray’s indiscretions by sending him to hide in Italy ?

When one sin destroys not just one life but several others, all the while leading them to a stronger faith.

Father Ray Canavan is a diocesan priest who struggles with a troubling past that he can’t quite remember when he meets beautiful Maria and less than charming Father McGennity. The diocesan priest struggles to come to terms with his vocation, a family tragedy and the desire to do God’s Will.

Fallen Men is a phenomenal story of tragedy, redemption, and the amazing Grace of God. The immediate sin and subsequent attempt at cover by the Church is one that the reader may often see in the newspapers and tabloids. Yet, what happens behind the scenes is where the real magic by Brian O’Hare occurs.

The reader learns about the heart of the priest at the center of the scandal, the pain that the media and presses cause as well as the desire to be free from the sin of sexual immorality. The humanness that the author shares with the reader is one that cannot be understated. It is easy enough to believe that the transgression was horrific, but the pain and suffering that the transgressor feels is not one that should be overlooked. When the Church looks to control the future damage that will inevitably come, even more damage is done to both the priest and the victim.

The full impact of the events that occur are not lost on the reader. What I truly enjoyed was the deeper plot of becoming more Christ-like. Father Dan, one of Father Ray’s best friends sees spiritual ethics as black and white; immediately causing a rift in the strong friendship. The initial knee jerk reaction by Father Dan and the impact that the search for redemption has on all of the priests in the diocese are lessons that the reader is drawn into first hand.

This is one book that you do not want to miss if you truly want to know what happens in the heart of a priest!

Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell

three
Three Amazing Things About You by Jill Mansell
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (384 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Hallie has a secret. She’s in love. He’s perfect for her in every way, but he’s seriously out of bounds. And her friends aren’t going to help her because what they do know is that Hallie doesn’t have long to live. Time is running out…

Flo has a dilemma. She really likes Zander. But his scary sister won’t be even faintly amused if she thinks Zander and Flo are becoming friends – let alone anything more.

Tasha has a problem. Her new boyfriend is the adventurous type. And she’s afraid one of his adventures will go badly wrong.

THREE AMAZING THINGS ABOUT YOU begins as Hallie goes on a journey. A donor has been found and she’s about to be given new lungs. But whose?

Imagine a life where you knew you had a short amount of time to live; how would you live those remaining days?

Hallie lives just such a life; without a very rare and risky transplant she faces the certainty of a short life. Yet, Hallie takes every opportunity to change the lives of those around her. Jill Mansell takes the reader on an adventure behind the advice columns. So often we read the columns, deliberate on the advice for better or for worse and then head off on our own lives. Yet, behind each article or column written there is a true to life person with their own hopes, dreams and fears.

From beginning to end, Jill tugs at the heartstrings of the reader and entices them into a world that many of us consider exists but are often thankful that those experiences and fears are not necessarily our own. The cast of characters including the cat which is at the center of a huge family dispute only add to the advanced storytelling that only Jill can weave together.

I especially enjoyed the various situations that Flo and Hallie end up in; especially when the men become involved. Overall the structure and plot layout was great. When beginning the read, there are an almost overwhelming amount of characters to keep track of and the reader and begin to feel a little overwhelmed. As the story moves along, the reader begins see what the author has in store and how everything flows.

This is an amazing read and challenges the reader to look beyond the superficial world that we tend to take for granted. The author challenges each one who reads the book to see more than just daily life but to see the impact that we, as an individual, have on the lives around us.

Broken Survivor by Jennifer Labelle

BROKEN
Broken Survivor by Jennifer Labelle
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (410 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Holly Hewitt is a survivor…

After witnessing her mother’s murder, Holly was returned to her abusive father. Resorting to drugs and alcohol, she ends up landing herself in foster care, where she is separated from her sister and utterly alone.

Zander Harrison is the light to her darkness…

Zander is young, athletic, and carefree, with the support of a loving family. But when Holly is placed in foster care with his brother’s in-laws, she turns his world upside down.

He’s driven to protect her, and to show her the past has made her strong, life is worth living, and love is worth fighting for. If only he can convince her to trust him and stop resisting their mutual attraction.

But sometimes even love isn’t enough to heal a shattered soul.

And all the hard work in the world can’t save…

A broken survivor.

Tears, heartbreak, sadness, and jubilation are waiting for you in this book!

Broken Survivor is an amazing story of challenges, frustration, of giving up and acceptance. The story follows the life of Holly Hewitt from young teenager to adult. Holly is forced to grow up quickly due to the broken home she lives in which finally culminates into the murder of her mother. Throughout the book Holly deals with the remorse of poor choices and the guilt that she has caused her mother’s death.

The author does an amazing job at chronicling the life of Holly and bringing her emotions to the forefront. Whereas Holly sometimes makes poor decisions and has to face the consequences, the reader is placed in a position to understand the thoughts that have caused Holly to take the actions which she has taken.

The internal struggles, disappointment and fears that Holly feels are feelings that resonate with the reader. The lack of a support system, a broken family circle and the ever consuming feelings of worthlessness and abandonment from being forced from home to home tear at the heart of the reader. Jace, the appointed School Social Worker tries to walk Holly through the grief and rebuilding processes but even Jace is forced to back down when Holly is unwilling to change her actions.

The relationship between Holly and her boyfriend Zander is one that goes beyond physical attraction. When Holly and Zander first spend time together, the reader begins to understand that Zander can see the beauty that Holly hides from the world. Holly holds back, fearing the destructive cycle of abuse that she has so often witnessed her mother being pulled into. The author is remarkable in portraying the sexual attraction and the internal struggle that Holly finds herself facing.

The author vividly reinforces the ever strong tide of emotions within Holly. The constant nightmares become more and more real, the memories that Holly struggles to repress come flooding back with a vengeance. The letters that Holly writes to her mother show her inward struggles and growing feelings of depression. These all add to the outward constant struggle that the reader is made keenly aware of through Holly’s interactions. One of the greatest quotes that I found which describe Holly’s feelings is: “it felt like I was trapped in the bad memories and couldn’t escape.”

Holly is a very likable character and for those who have gone through struggles similar to hers will find that the feelings, choices and struggles presented by the author are very real and approached in a very strong way. Several times throughout the book Holly struggles to understand her own emotions which have come to torment her.

If you want to read a story where you feel you grow as much as the characters grow and you wish to feel the raw emotions stir within you just like the author describes, I highly recommend this book! I could not put it down!