Watchmakers Heart by Juli D Revezzo


Watchmakers Heart by Juli D Revezzo
Publisher: Raven Queen Publications
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (127 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

For Miss Phoebe Lockswell, fashionable London tea parties and balls aren’t her style. Instead, she prefers to tinker tirelessly with a clockwork diffuser she’s built from scratch. If only she can get the invention to work on command, she might earn her way out of an arranged marriage to a repugnant member of the House of Commons.

London watchmaker Mortimer Kidd was brought up hard in the arms of an infamous London gang. Despite the respectability he strives for now, the gang leader is blackmailing him. When Mortimer sees Phoebe’s diffuser, he thinks he’s found a way to buy himself out of trouble. The brash Phoebe manages to steal his heart, however, before he can purloin her invention.

Will Mortimer’s unsavory past catch up to him before he convinces Phoebe of his devotion? Worse, once Phoebe learns the truth, will she ever trust him again?

Phoebe is the daughter of a well to do lawyer, Mort is a watchmaker. While she had engineered an animated statue to enhance love making, Mort is hiding a past that would threaten his life and friends from his childhood. If he allows Phoebe into his world it will also threaten her reputation and life.

When Phoebe’s father tries to force her into marrying the objectionable Sir Dugard, she resists and Mort comes to her aid.

This is a fascinating Victorian era love story. It travels from the affluent house of Phoebe’s family to the slums of Whitechapel. In the background is the mysterious Doggett who holds Mort’s life and future in his hands. A lot of the story is shrouded in mystery and the couple find their budding romance is fraught with problems, and even Phoebe’s best friend turns against her.

Murder, theft, blackmail all these are present at one stage or other of the story. It also shows a view of the stews of the east end of London. This is one of those books I couldn’t put down. I read it in one day as I wanted to know what happened.

The Heart You Need by Diane R Jewkes


The Heart You Need by Diane R Jewkes
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Historical, Action/Adventure
Length: Short Story (95 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When society reporter Adeline Ellsworth’s cousin, a police inspector, is murdered in 1896 San Francisco, she immediately sets out to uncover the truth. This could be her chance to leave frivolous fashion gossip behind for a career reporting on important issues. But her investigation leads to danger—and she wakes up tied to Alec McCairn, Lord Peyton.

In California to set up a new office, the Scottish peer definitely wasn’t looking for a romantic entanglement, especially with an independent, opinionated reporter. But he suspects the beguiling Adeline is in over her head and too proud to ask for help. He vows to protect her, no matter how hard she balks.

A widow, Adeline guards her heart carefully and doesn’t want Alec ruining her chance to expose this corruption, no matter how attractive or charming he is. But then the main suspect kidnaps her younger brother and demands Adeline’s research as ransom. To save him and crack the case, they must work together. But the biggest mystery they end up solving might just be how to capture each other’s heart.

Set in the latter part of the Victorian era, this romance has danger, excitement and mystery all wrapped into one. In a time when women are emerging as independent from the men in their lives, Linnie is a widow and a journalist with a leading San Francisco newspaper. Although she only deals with social and fashion issues, she longs to be an investigative reporter and her efforts in this regard lead her into danger. They also lead her into love when she meets Lord Alec MacCairn.

This book has it all. Spicy love scenes, dangerous adventures and even a kidnapping. Threaded through the story is a hint of humor which makes it believable and enjoyable to read. For most of the story I was wondering how on earth their love could survive when he lives on one side of the Atlantic and she lives on the shores of the Pacific. Linnie obviously wouldn’t leave her widowed mother and young brother, but Alec had responsibilities as the heir to a dukedom in Scotland. Very intriguing storyline with the two main characters accepting their love for each other, but wondering how they can make their love continue across the distance of two oceans.

The Sweet Spot by Elley Arden


The Sweet Spot by Elley Arden
Arlington Aces Book 2
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (116 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Once a Mets draft pick, Arlington Aces outfielder Giovanni Caceres never thought he’d be stuck playing in an independent league in small-town Pennsylvania. If he works hard and steers clear of trouble, he has a good shot of making it back to the majors. Until the team owner recruits him to give her niece hitting lessons and her repressed sister dance lessons…

Helen Anne Reed is being pulled in a million different directions, dealing with a struggling bookstore, her father’s Alzheimer’s, a controlling ex-husband, PTA madness, and now her daughter Macy’s desire to play baseball with the boys. Helen Anne is far more comfortable with pearls and aprons than cleats and gloves, but then sexy ballroom dancer-turned-baller Giovanni unexpectedly comes to her rescue.

When he reluctantly agrees to be Helen Anne’s dance partner for a school fundraising event, things heat up quickly between them, much to their surprise. Amid salsa lessons and ballpark bonding, can this vibrant charmer teach Helen Anne how to quit worrying and just let go? Or will Giovanni’s big league dreams bench this relationship before it even begins?

A divorced mother of one, Helen Anne runs a failing bookstore. Her sister Rachel has taken over the baseball team and her daughter Macy has decided to switch from softball to baseball. When Helen Anne needs a partner for a fundraiser for the school, her sister sets her up with one of the baseball players, Giovanni Caceres. Giovanni is desperately trying to return to big time baseball, but Rachel has other ideas for him.

This is a time of discovery for Helen Anne. Not only does she learn to dance the salsa, but she learns more about her daughter’s inner feelings and also how to love again. In fact she realizes she’s never really been in love before. I liked how Helen Anne went from a timid mother and bookseller, to a strong woman who was not afraid to stand up for herself. The development had its ups and downs, but the story flowed and developed in a totally believable, but also exciting way.

I won’t spoil the end for future readers, but I will say I enjoyed how the ending made me feel satisfied with the whole book.

You’ve Got Aliens by Fiona Roarke


You’ve Got Aliens by Fiona Roarke
Alienn, Arkansas – 1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (136 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Review by: Orchid

Librarian and aspiring journalist Juliana Masters has a mystery to solve: Who am I? Armed with the truth about her past, she can leave her humdrum present behind and get on with her future. She just needs to complete one lucrative investigative writing assignment and she’ll be on her way. All she has to do is prove aliens live and work out of a secret facility based under the Big Bang Truck Stop. No problem. Getting her socks knocked off by the Fearless Leader isn’t part of the plan.

Diesel Grey worked for years to achieve his goal of heading up the family business in Alienn, Arkansas. Mission accomplished, but being Fearless Leader of a galactic way station comes with a lot more headaches than anticipated. It’s hard to consider the shockingly well-informed writer a headache, though, especially when she makes him ache in all the right places.

If he’s not careful, he’ll give her everything she needs to blow his family’s cover and expose to the human world that aliens do walk among them.

All he really wants to do is sweep her up in his arms and never let her go.

If only his trigger-happy brother would stop erasing her memories …

Juliana is an orphan who accepts an assignment to earn money to fund research into who she is, where she comes from and what happened to her parents.

Diesel runs the family business in Alienn, Arkansas. He is the Fearless Leader of the galactic way station – which means most of the inhabitants of Alienn are aliens from Alpha Prime.

When the two get together the spark of true love flashes between them, but how can Diesel marry an earthling when he is has all the responsibility of his fellow aliens and the way station for intergalactic travelers?

This book was a bit slow to start but then the fun began. The inner turmoil of both main characters came across beautifully, filling out the story to make it a “can’t put it down” read. Every problem that arose was met with an understandable solution and the mystery in the background made the story even more intriguing.

I originally started reading this book because I liked the title, and I have to admit I wasn’t disappointed by the development and ending. Solutions slotted into place, even if they weren’t what I – as the reader – originally thought the answers would be. Excellent writing style with a good, thrilling story.

The Crimson Curse by Melissa J Crispin


The Crimson Curse by Melissa J Crispin
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Short Story (65 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Cursed and disfigured, Calliope must find true love before the final leaf falls from the Enchanted Tree. Being bound to her mansion on the outskirts of town leaves her with little hope.

Abandoned by his wife for a wealthy man, Bastian only needs one female in his life, his five-year-old daughter, Yareena. When she goes missing during a raging fire, fate brings him to a strange place where he encounters a woman wearing a golden mask.

An attack by rogues puts Bastian in Calliope’s care. As he struggles against pride and prejudice, Bastian can’t ignore his growing attraction to the kind soul behind the mask.

Yareena and the mansion staff do their best at matchmaking, but Calliope can’t reveal her darkest secret. Will Bastian discover her true beauty before it’s too late?

Calliope’s mother led her to believe the beauty spot on her face would deter men from courting her. A witch appears and offers to remove the spot, then casts a foul spell which leaves half of Calliope’s face a burned ruin. Before she departs the witch puts a curse on the entire household. Only true love will lift the curse, but if if the last of the crimson leaves of the Enchanted Tree in the garden fall before love appears, Calliope will remain scarred for the remainder of her life.

At first I wondered where this story was going as there seemed to be no reason for anything to change, but once the child Yareena appeared the mansion came alive again. Warmth also grew in Calliope when Bastian Chance, Yareena’s father, appears in her life. Constant misunderstanding and intriguing secrets hidden behind the mansion’s walls draw Bastian and Calliope together then pulls them apart. Warmth and lightheartedness from Yareena helps to solve their differences, before another one causes yet more problems.

A short story but with enough depth to catch my attention and hold it until the end of the book. A good read.

The Enchanted Swans by Christy Nicholas


The Enchanted Swans by Christy Nicholas
Publisher: Tirgearr Publshing
Genre: Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (135 pages)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

In pre-Celtic Ireland, Fionnuala was a fae princess, born to a life of luxury. She knew her duty and loved her family. She missed her mother, who died in childbirth when Fionnuala was but ten years old. Still, she had hopes and dreams of love and a full life.

All her dreams were stolen from her, ripped away in a torrent of envy and magic.

Now she must care for her three brothers while learning to live under an evil curse. Will she find a way to break the spell, or would they remain swans, tethered to three places for nine hundred years?

A fantasy story which reminded me of The Six Swans of Grimms Fairy Tales. Set in Ireland many years ago around 460 BC and gradually wending its way to 450 AD, this is the tale of a princess and her three brothers who are turned into swans by their wicked stepmother. They all belong to the Faerie people who are gradually moving to the world below as humans take over the surface of the world.

This story was rather bland. There were no highlights to get the reader excited, no battles, nothing. Any events which could have grabbed the reader were told rather than shown. For instance the stepmother’s changing the children to swans could have been an exciting event. Instead they went to sleep and woke up as swans – lost opportunity here. There were too many explanations and not enough depth to the story. Also punctuation and tense need to be looked at.

I thought the actual premise of the story was good, though, and the historical parts of the story were very interesting.  If you like stories with a pretty princess and three handsome princes, a dash of magic, and history of many centuries, this may be a book for you.

Death Benefits by Sharon Saracino


Death Benefits by Sharon Saracino
Max Logan Series Book 1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (205 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Max Logan’s insecurities have consumed her to the point she has allowed them to skew her perceptions of people and circumstances. She has grown progressively more bitter, sarcastic, and solitary since her divorce and feels as though she has spent a lifetime getting the short end of the stick through no fault of her own; still she trudges on.

Things can always get better, right? Of course, it’s hard to cultivate optimism when she finds herself dead, the victim of a D.I.E (Death in Error) caused by an overeager Grim Reaper in Training. She brokers a deal to be sent back to Earth as a temporary substitute for the Superintendent of Spiritual Impediment.

Can a girl who can’t recognize her own problems rectify the issues of the living impaired? Or will she discover that concentrating on their issues gives her a new perspective on her own?

What do you do when you slip in the shower and wake up dead? This is what happened to Max Logan. She wakes up in the foyer of the afterlife – which looks like a dirty bus depot – and finds her life has been cut short by accident. What to do? Bargain for another chance at life.

This book is hilarious. Max feels extremely sorry for herself, divorced, unemployed and living above the garage of her father and stepmother and now she’s dead through no fault of her own. Her ex interferes with her second chance at life and her outlook changes to consider others, rather than herself. She has to temp for the supervisor of the afterlife and her challenges come thick and fast. She doesn’t even have time to get over her accident.

Max is a very innovative heroine and the book is definitely one that can’t be put down until it’s been read from beginning to end. I was chuckling all the way through. This makes it sound as if there’s no mystery or conflict in the story, but there’s plenty on each page.

To sum up the book has reflection, confusion and lots of humor with a very likeable heroine.

Dragons of the Ice by C.L. Kraemer


Dragons of the Ice by C.L. Kraemer
Publisher: Rogue Phoenix Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (190 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Unexpected dragon shiftings have increased since the conference in China. More deaths being covered up inexplicably sends Lee Svensson to Japan to investigate from the Swedish Embassy. Why is it World Watch, Inc., a marketing company, is always on site when a shifter dies? Lee is charged to find out. When the husband of his wife’s best friend discovers an account he is managing, World Watch, Inc., is manipulating oil companies by buying up all available stocks, the two realize their paths are the same. Now that their wives have announced the impending births of dragonlings, it is imperative the men solve this riddle. An American dragoness shifter and former full blood warrior dragon will prove courage comes in all sizes.

Shape shifting dragon investigators try to determine why some dragons are shape shifting without intent. The bodies are hustled away but where and who is doing the hustling?

I love dragon stories and this was no exception, although there were several disappointments in the story. Several times some of the main characters mentioned they would “talk about it later” but never did. Also when something happened which showed dangerous intent, it seemed to take forever for any action to take place. A discovery by a servant who wanted to warn others of the danger, goes no further. Why not?

Other than the above inconsistencies, the concept of the story was great showing that even in the dragon hierarchy there is misconception, deception and the intention to harm others of their kind. Loved the little babies coming into the world and causing immediate chaos to their parents. The aftermath was a bit insipid, but on the whole this story was reasonably good.

The Girl on The Beach by Morton S. Gray


The Girl on The Beach by Morton S. Gray
Publisher: Choc Lit Limited
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (255 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

After divorcing her abusive husband, Ellie changes her surname and she and her teenage son settle in a small seaside town. Her past rushes into the present when Harry Dixon, the new headmaster, reminds her of her son’s father, a surfer she met just before her marriage. She sternly told herself this wasn’t possible as Ben Rivers had died in a surfing accident before her son’s birth.

Ellie and Harry pull backwards and forwards as she tries to make him confess his real identity, while Harry is determined to remain in character as the headmaster. Things come to a head when the past rears its ugly head and threatens to pull their lives into oblivion.

This book is a delightful contemporary romance set in a seaside town in England. The angst of teenage life shows itself in the past and present allowing the flashbacks to Ellie’s teenage years to come to the fore.

A pleasant book, not too dark, but a little bit of mystery added makes the story more intense, and there is also a touch of danger in the final pages. Thoroughly enjoyable.

The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland


The Moreva of Astoreth by Roxanne Bland
Publisher: Blackrose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (453 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

In the service of the Goddess…

The stubborn, spoiled, favored granddaughter of the Devi goddess Astoreth, Moreva Tehi has neglected to perform her sacred duty and now she must be punished for her transgression. Temporarily banished from Temple life, she is dispatched to Mjor—a backwater village in the Syren Perritory—to assume the roles of custodian of the landing beacon as well as the spiritual leader and commander of Astoreth’s garrison stationed there. In this perilous place of wild beasts, outmoded technologies, and harsh seasonal change, a fragile peace exists between the distrustful hakoi and the hated Devi, held together by an iron-clad Protocol—whose laws, if broken, could lead to war.

She will discover an ally in the kindly village healer Hyme and a dangerous adversary in Kepten Yose, her subordinate. But the gravest threat to Tehi’s future is the Mjoran chief, the charismatic, golden-haired Laerd Teger, whose elusiveness and cool disdain the Moreva finds both infuriating and fascinating. For it is he who will impel her to break her most sacred vows and seek out the dark secrets of her gods and her world, setting them both on a course that can only lead to damnation and death.

Tehi, Morev of the Devi God Astoreth, is sent to Astoreth 69 in the Syren Perritory for blasphemy against the Gods. Her punishment would have been worse if she hadn’t been the granddaughter of Astoreth. At the back of beyond outpost, she discovers a world previously unknown to her and gets into even more trouble.

The story follows her through a settling in period, antagonism from the villagers, helping the healer, learning unpalatable truths and then the book arrives at a dramatic climax. Woven into the story is romance and deception.

An original story, well written and engaged me right from the beginning. The only problem I had with the book was the length. It could easily have been one hundred pages shorter and still been the same exciting story. Being so long it runs the risk of the reader giving up before the end.

Definitely a true science fiction tale with conflict, romance and a brilliant ending.