Dragon’s Trail by Joseph Malik


Dragon’s Trail by Joseph Malik
The Outworlders, Book One
Publisher: Oxblood Books
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (436 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

“I didn’t come here to sell my soul. I came here to buy it back.”

Once dubbed “The Deadliest Man Alive,” Jarrod Torrealday is a former Olympic saber hopeful and medieval weapons expert banned from competition for killing another fencer in a duel. He now scrapes by as a stuntman and technical consultant for low-budget fantasy films.

A young sorcerer from another world offers Jarrod the gig of a lifetime: adviser to the war council for a magical realm teetering on the edge of collapse, with a foreign army massing just beyond its borders.

Swept into a treacherous and deadly world of intrigue and conspiracy, Jarrod soon learns that the enemy mastermind is also from Earth, and has laid the foundations for a new kind of war.

Jarrod has nothing left to lose.

Jarrod’s life is in shambles. At the height of his career, he lost it all and has been in a tailspin ever since. When Crius, a sorcerer from another world, approaches Jarrod with the opportunity to be a hero again, he gladly accepts. Fortunately, Jarrod isn’t going alone. His good friend Carter, also an exceptionally skilled warrior, is invited as well. Together they have the power to turn the tide of war.

Jarrod and Carter adapt to the medievalesque world of Gateskeep very quickly. While they are well versed in the weaponry and armor of that type of civilization, I would think that knowing about it would be quite different from actually living it. They did have quite a bit to learn, but they acclimated to their new surroundings just a bit too easily for my taste.

Jarrod is a very likable character. He doesn’t tolerate bullies, and he never hesitates to stand up for those in need of his help. His fighting and weaponry skills are far beyond anything the people of Gateskeep have ever seen. While many are impressed with Jarrod’s skill, others seek to eliminate him immediately. In fact, Jarrod finds himself in so many fights that I began to wonder if he would even live to see the war. However, Jarrod wins practically every conflict he becomes tangled in. Ordinarily, I would say this is unrealistic, but Mr. Malik makes it seem completely plausible. As if his skill in combat weren’t enough, Jarrod also has the brains to back up his brawn. He has the ability to analyze his enemies and predict their next moves on the battlefield and off. As I read, I eagerly anticipated his confrontation with the sorcerer.

Perhaps the most striking thing about his novel is Mr. Malik’s attention to detail. Absolutely everything, the fights, weaponry, people, animals, weather, etc., is described meticulously making this strange new world feel very concrete and realistic. Consequently, I feel that this is not a book to race through. It is a book to savor and soak in all the details.

I highly recommend Dragon’s Trail. I thoroughly enjoyed following Jarrod and Carter’s adventures in Gateskeep, and I look forward to the next installment in the series. Fans of fantasy would do well to pick up a copy today.

Exit Signs by Patrice Locke


Exit Signs by Patrice Locke
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (332 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Researcher Tracy Price is trying to find a dead writer and forget a live musician.

Rock star Jesse Elliot is sure Tracy is demented, and she believes he wouldn’t recognize the truth in a lineup of Bibles. Their only hope is to stop trying to read each other’s minds and start speaking their own.

Anyone who has ever had a crush, felt betrayed, or been forgiven will appreciate Tracy’s struggle to claim the life she never knew she wanted.

Tracy’s carefully choreographed life did not include a romance with a musician.

Tracy is content with her quiet life as a researcher. She isn’t looking for love, and certainly never would have pictured herself in a relationship with a celebrity, but somehow that’s exactly what happens. What starts as an awkward, professional relationship slowly develops into a life altering romance neither Tracy nor Jesse could have anticipated.

Tracy is a really fun character. She’s a smart, funny, good-looking woman with a successful career, although I must say her penchant for strange snack combinations alternately intrigued and repulsed my taste buds. Even though Tracy has a lot going for her, she doesn’t seem to think much of herself. All her romantic relationships have been disappointing and she doesn’t anticipate that changing. At most, she imagines she might end up with someone who is just okay. I find that rather sad. Tracy is completely unprepared for Jesse. He is unlike anyone she’s ever met, and I like the way he challenges her to set higher goals for herself.

I really wanted to like Tracy and Jesse as a couple, but they never really gelled. I truly like them both as characters, but only separately. They never seem comfortable around each other. None of Tracy’s friends think her relationship is a good idea, but Tracy keeps insisting it is the right thing for her, at least at the time. However, I don’t believe she actually feels that way. She’s always waiting for the moment to escape and she’s determined to misunderstand everything Jesse says. Jesse is prone to be self-absorbed. In fact, I had absolutely no inkling that he likes Tracy until he called her up months after they had finished working together on his project. The chemistry just wasn’t there for me.

I really enjoy Ms. Locke’s writing style. “I hate it when eyebrows take it upon themselves to enter conversations.” Tracy’s inner dialogue is hilarious and lines like this had be laughing out loud throughout the story.

Despite my issues with the characters’ chemistry, I did enjoy reading Exit Signs. Tracy and Jesse are likable characters who have a bumpy road to a strange but ultimately happy ending. Fans of contemporary romance might want to give this book a try.

The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower by M. S. Spencer


The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower by M. S. Spencer
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (325 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

In both the best and worst first day at work ever, docent Claire Wilding meets the man of her dreams, but her carefully rehearsed guided tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she’s drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons, of secret cabals and hidden treasure. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss. A George Washington expert, he haunts the Memorial, his manner evasive. What is his secret? Claire fears she’ll fall in love with him only to learn he’s a thief or even a murderer.

Juggling eccentric mothers and an increasingly smitten Ernest, our heroine must find answers in a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust, whether our first president strayed, and if she and Gideon will ever be together.

Is Gideon just a George Washington enthusiast, or is he tangled in a web of lies and murder?

When Claire accepted a job working as a docent at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, she never could have imagined how complicated her life was about to become. Finding a murder victim in the tower is just the beginning of a mystery filled with spies, thieves, and vandals. As Claire tries to solve the mystery, Gideon sweeps Claire off her feet, but can she trust him? Is his appearance at the tower on the day of the murder merely a coincidence?

Claire’s first day of work couldn’t possibly have gone worse. As if a murder wasn’t bad enough, Claire’s life is further complicated by the attentions of two very different men, Gideon Bliss and Detective Ernest Angle. Claire is instantly attracted to Gideon, and their relationship becomes physical at lightning speed, but Claire can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something. I must admit I had serious doubts about Gideon and his motivations as well. Consequently, I could never get comfortable with their relationship. I didn’t feel as though they really clicked as a couple even after the truth was revealed. They didn’t seem to spend much time together, and for a good chunk of the story, Claire was pretty sure Gideon was up to something. This doesn’t strike me as a very solid foundation for a good relationship.

I truly felt sorry for Detective Angle. He is clearly smitten with Claire, and she does not feel the same way. Claire doesn’t set out to hurt him, but once she realizes he has feelings for her, she does nothing to dissuade his attentions. Instead, she uses his attraction in order to get inside information on the progress of the case. I found this rather off putting. I think Claire is better than that, and Detective Angle doesn’t deserve to be led on in such a way.

There are several mysteries intertwined within the pages of this book, and while they were intriguing, I must admit I also found them to be unnecessarily complicated as well. Keeping the various threads of the mysteries straight is quite a task, and while the ending felt a bit forced to me, it was still satisfying.

Overall, The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower is a good book. The pacing is quick and the mystery is interesting. I recommend this tale to anyone looking for a steamy, romantic suspense.

The Pirate’s Revenge by Sarita Leone


The Pirate’s Revenge by Sarita Leone
The Lobster Cover Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (118 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Still grieving the loss of her father, Mary Sweet finds solace strolling the seashore at Quinn Beach. There she meets a handsome stranger who seems to share her sadness. He is utterly alone in the world, and praying to assuage his grief with this change of scenery.

Revenge is a strong motivator, especially for a man who’s been mistreated his whole life. The promise of pirate’s gold colors Henry Titchell’s view–yet not so much that he can’t see the beauty in Miss Mary Sweet. But while Henry is a stranger to Lobster Cove, he has not “stumbled” upon the place as he would have Mary believe. Instead he seeks retribution rather than rest

When Mary realizes the newcomer is not who he seems, will her heart be willing to forgive his sins?

Henry has a choice to make.

Tales of pirate treasure draw Henry to the picturesque coastal town of Lobster Cove. In the beginning, the source of Henry’s sorrow isn’t clear, but it quickly becomes apparent that he has never known a kind or gentle word. When the truth of his upbringing is finally revealed, it is heartbreaking. After Henry’s tormenters meet a fiery fate, he is finally free to make his own way in the world, and Henry decides to seek out a fortune. However, the people of Lobster Cove aren’t what he expected, and Henry certainly never anticipated meeting Mary. Will he pursue the gold or Mary’s heart? I eagerly anticipated learning the answer.

The romance between Henry and Mary is sweet. They are both wounded and seek to find peace on the beach. Instead, they find each other. I enjoyed watching Mary and Henry get to know each other. Their talks on the beach are lovely, and it is clear they will make a great couple. The only obstacle to their happy ending is Henry’s inner turmoil and his belief that he is unworthy of love and kindness. Mary is smart, and she can tell he’s hiding something. Mary has never given Henry a reason to doubt her sincerity. As I read, I wondered if he’d ever find the courage to tell her the truth.

Lobster Cove is the perfect place for Henry to heal his battered soul. The people there are generally kind. There are a few suspicious folks, but nothing serious enough to put Henry in any real danger. As Henry began to realize he could build a life in Lobster Cove, I liked watching Henry’s eyes open to a new life filled with possibility.

Reading The Pirate’s Revenge was very enjoyable. I liked Henry and Mary very much and had fun following their budding romance. Fans of sweet historical romance should give this book a try.

The Mermaid and the Murders by Rachel Graves


The Mermaid and the Murders by Rachel Graves
The Monster Beach Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (275 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Teenage mermaid Danika DelMar loves high school more than anything in the ocean. She fights with her mother about joining their pod, but she fights her hormones even more. No matter what her body says, she’s not ready to kill someone with sex. Things get harder when Danika falls for a new boy at school. He claims to be a sea creature like she is, but she isn’t sure she can trust him or herself.

When a dead body shows up at Danika’s reef she risks giving away her secret to make sure the police find the victim. It doesn’t stop the bodies from coming. Soon she’s lost her friend and the first boy she ever loved. Danika is sure a sea creature is involved, and she’s the only one who can help. As her friends become targets, Danika races to find the killer.

Is the ocean safe for anyone?

Danika leads a difficult life. While she loves high school and learning, she’s terrified that others will discover that she’s a mermaid. Danika is part of the popular crowd at school, but her relationship with her friends is confusing and dysfunctional at best. Danika thinks that remaining part of the crowd is the best way to hide her secret, but she is clearly miserable. I felt that she would have been better off finding friends she could actually trust. However, I will say that by the end of the story, I saw many positive changes in Danika’s relationship with her friends.

Danika should feel at home in the ocean, but she doesn’t quite fit in there either. She’s been resistant to learning about life as a mermaid for as long as she can remember. Her pod’s casual disregard for human life frightens Danika even as her hormones and curiosity drive her to learn more about the mermaid way of life. When the bodies of a few humans and a mermaid appear in the ocean next to her reef, Danika knows she has to find the culprit before she becomes the next victim.

Danika’s relationship with Sam is definitely a bright spot in this mystery. The attraction between them is apparent from the start, and I could tell they would be a cute couple. However, I think they fall in love and move into a serious physical relationship too quickly. Also, Sam tells Danika that he is a salt golem almost immediately after meeting her. I’m not sure why he chose to reveal his secret so soon and would have liked some insight into his thought process. Could he somehow sense that Danika was different too, or was he just tired of hiding?

One of the things that drew me to this book was that it was about mermaids. I know a little bit about them, but not much, so my curiosity was piqued. I found the beginning of the story a little frustrating because very little is explained about mermaid life and how things work. In fact, Danika doesn’t seem to know much either, which I find a bit unrealistic. I know that Danika relishes her life on land, but I would think that for her own survival she’d want to know more about what she is.

Overall, I liked The Mermaid and the Murders. I enjoyed learning about mermaids and the mystery surrounding the murders was wrapped up in a satisfying way. I recommend this tale to anyone looking for a romance filled with unique creatures.

A Bodyguard of Lies by Donna Del Oro


A Bodyguard of Lies by Donna Del Oro
The Jake Bernstein FBI Series Volume 1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (453 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

FBI agent Jake Bernstein goes undercover to investigate an American grandmother suspected of war crimes during World War II. Jake runs into complications when his growing attraction to the woman’s granddaughter challenges his obligation to remain emotionally detached. As the investigation intensifies, a neo-Nazi group tries to prevent him from learning the truth as Jake struggles to stay alive long enough to either prove the woman’s guilt or exonerate her.
Despite Meg Larsen’s mounting passion for the handsome stranger, she suspects he is not who he claims to be and strives to protect her elderly grandmother. Eventually, Meg is forced to trust a man who has become both their nemesis and bodyguard.

Jake was itching to get out of the office. He might not live long enough to regret that decision.

Jake is very good at his job. He’s smart, attractive, and he has certain skills that make him a valuable undercover agent, especially when women are concerned. The assignment sounded simple enough, but the deeper he digs, the more complicated the task becomes. Jake becomes convinced he isn’t being told everything. Will he discover the truth before it is too late?

Jake strikes me as a man who has reached a point in his life where he is ready for a change, but hasn’t quite figured out what exactly he wants. All that changes when he meets Meg. Suddenly Jake finds himself wanting a more serious relationship. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Jake tries to keep his personal feelings in check, but he simply can’t help falling for Meg. Jake and Meg are well suited for each other, and I liked watching them get to know each other even though it was bittersweet. I knew he’d eventually have to tell her the truth, and I wasn’t sure their budding romance would survive. I do admire Jake for trying to be as honest possible with Meg. He gently leads her to the truth, never forcing anything on her. She is a smart woman and he knows she’ll eventually put all the pieces together and discover the truth about her grandmother.

Mary, Meg’s grandmother, is a very well rounded villain. I really enjoyed the chapters the covered her past and activities during WWII. It gave context and depth to her that really made her come to life in my mind. It would be easy to write Mary off as nothing more than an evil Nazi spy, but like all well-developed characters, she is a blend of good and bad. She did some horrible things, but also some very good things. I don’t like her, the choices she made, or the things she stood for, but she is also human. She cared deeply for her family, and she raised Meg in a very loving home.

I must admit that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending. I was convinced that Jake wanted something permanent with Meg. I hoped for a very happy ending for the couple, but was disappointed. I know that Jake and Meg care for each other. I can only hope that Jake and Meg find a way to a happier ending in the next book of the series.

I truly enjoyed reading A Bodyguard of Lies. The characters were intriguing, and the plot was well paced and exciting. I highly recommend A Bodyguard of Lies to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense.

Spirit Ridge by L. A. Kelley


Spirit Ridge by L. A. Kelley
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (318 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

A dark shadow rises.

San Francisco in 1885 was a dangerous place for those who crossed Colin Doyle. To Nob Hill elite he was a successful businessman. To the underbelly of San Francisco he was The Mick, a criminal mastermind ruling from the shadows. If a buyer’s tastes ran to opium, a whore, or a politician, The Mick could name a price. No one who betrayed him ever escaped the city alive.

Until now.

Nell Bishop is a fearless investigative reporter for the San Francisco Dispatch. She’s on the run to the Arizona Territory with the one witness who can expose Doyle’s corrupt empire and stop the plan to extend his evil dominion to the West.

Marshal Sam Tanner of Spirit Ridge in the Arizona Territory fought the visions sent by his Apache blood. They always foretold a death he couldn’t prevent. Then Sam dreamed of the coyote with golden brown eyes who warned of a black shadow spreading evil across the land. Did the message call him to help the beautiful woman who stepped off the stagecoach? Can Sam and Nell elude the mysterious dark riders who dog their trail or will the next vision mean death for both of them?

Adventure, romance, humor, and the call of Apache spirits weave together a Wild West adventure where either murder or justice can come at the twitch of a trigger finger.

Nell has never been one to back down from a battle, but will her next clash cost her life?

I liked Nell from the moment I started reading. She’s feisty, smart, compassionate, and resourceful. Nell is an extraordinary woman forging a unique path for herself in life as she uses her position as a reporter to expose criminals and those who take advantage of others. Unfortunately, Nell’s latest target, businessman Colin Doyle, might be her last. His scheme is far more nefarious than Nell ever imagined, and Doyle has the resources to pull it off.

As Nell pursues Doyle, her path becomes tangled with Sam’s. Their attraction to each other is clear right from the start despite Nell’s unusual disguise. They work very well together and it immediately became clear to me that they would make a great couple. Nell and Sam find themselves in some pretty dangerous and intense situations, but when Sam has a quiet moment with Nell, he lays his feelings out in the open immediately. However, Nell isn’t quite ready to surrender her heart for fear of losing her identity and independence. Sam proves himself to be a true hero in that moment. He makes his feelings plain, but gives Nell the time and space to make her own decision. Even as Nell tries to push Sam away, it was clear to me that this couple was destined to be together, even if they need a bit of a push from the spirits that guide Sam to make it happen.

Ms. Kelley has a great sense of humor that shines through in the dialogue of various characters, particularly Daisy, a delightful secondary character well on her way to becoming Nell’s best friend. Daisy’s colorful interjections are always good for a laugh.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Spirit Ridge. Nell and Sam are wonderful characters, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to follow them on their adventures. Fans of historical romance will certainly want to pick up a copy of this fast paced romance today.

Wild Goose Chase by Jan Romes


Wild Goose Chase by Jan Romes
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (269 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Olivia Pence has been a word-nerd and all-around geek forever, which didn’t exactly win her a ton of friends growing up. It did, however, snag the attention of a like-minded geek, Dezz Casey. Instead of becoming fast friends, Dezz became a competitive thorn. The rivalry continued through grade school, high school, college, and now as co-workers for Brilliance magazine.

The most annoying thing – Dezz went from being a homely dork to six-feet-three-inches of hotness that infuriates Olivia to the point of madness. Their boss has had her fill of the chaos and orders a two-week cooling-off period where they’re to travel (separately) and find serendipitous situations to write about.

Will the time away fix their work issues and their hearts? Or will it amount to a wild goose chase that drives them farther apart?

Will Olivia and Dezz finally figure out what their families have known for years?

Olivia and Dezz’s “relationship” has spanned decades. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of the situations they find themselves in. Through all their ups and downs, they refuse to acknowledge what everyone else already knows. Olivia and Dezz are in love. Unfortunately, neither of them know to express their feelings in a healthy, adult way. The friction between them is evident from the very first page. Consequently, their battles have become increasingly epic and both Olivia and Dezz are at a breaking point. Will they open up to each other, or let their road trip take them in separate directions?

I can’t believe Olivia and Dezz have fought with each other for so long. They have great chemistry underneath the intense conflict they generate. While it was entertaining to watch them pick at each other, it was also bittersweet, especially when they reminisced about the past. Each memory pinpointed a missed opportunity to change the dynamic of their relationship. Neither one seemed to know when to stop, especially Dezz. There were so many times Olivia showed a softer side and instead of responding in kind, he chose a sharp jab. When Dezz finally begins to understand how much time he’s wasted, he makes a desperate play for Olivia’s heart, but is it too late?

While I enjoyed watching Olivia and Dezz spar, I feel that it was drawn out too long. The whole book was about them trying to find a different way of life, preferably together, and it almost happened several times. Unfortunately, something always happened to keep them apart and then either Olivia or Dezz would lose their nerve and walk away convinced they didn’t belong together. This generated a lot of interesting tension, but it became a bit much after a while. I won’t spoil the story with too many details, but I will say that there is a point when they find their way to each other again and they seem set for a happy ending. After everything they’ve been through, all the confessions, and all the revelations, the moment finally seems right for a total reconciliation, but everything falls apart again. It was very disappointing to build up to what could have been a happy moment only to have it snatched away yet again. It was just one time too many for me.

Despite this issue, I am pleased to report that this strange couple does eventually find their way to a happy and satisfying ending. Readers definitely need to have patience when following the misadventures of Olivia and Dezz. I’m sure their future will be interesting to say the least.

I enjoyed reading Wild Goose Chase. Olivia and Dezz are well rounded characters and their relationship is undoubtedly intriguing. Readers looking for a book with a couple on a difficult road to romance will certainly want to give Wild Goose Chase a try.

Love Supernaturally by Charlotte Copper


Love Supernaturally by Charlotte Copper
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Holiday
Length: Short Story (74 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Cassandra Wilson, angel and first-year nurse, spends her days helping other people. Day after day. Life after life. While her best friend feels the young nurse needs a little love in her life, Cassie avoids serious relationships. She saw what her mother went through, and unless Cassie can find another angel to spend her life with, love and a family are not in her future.

An innocent night out with Fraser, a university junior and varsity hockey player, leads to something more serious and Cassie begins to experience feelings she’s been trying to avoid. But the sudden discovery—by both herself and Fraser—that Fraser is a witch, combined with his need to please everyone around him, poses a challenge to the couple’s happily ever after.

Romance is not part of Cassie’s plan.

Cassie has no intention of getting into a serious relationship unless she finds another angel. Cassie believes her mother’s union with a human and her birth were the root of the depression that consumed her mother. It is a heavy burden to carry. As I read, I wondered if there were other angels Cassie could talk to. She knew there were angels working in the hospital. Could she have asked them about her mother’s experience? Cassie has convinced herself that she is content with the life she’s chosen, but I wasn’t so sure. She’s an intelligent, sweet young woman, but she seemed sad to me. Will Cassie’s ban on romance do more damage than good?

I liked Fraser immediately. He’s friendly, caring, and handsome, and he wiggles his way into Cassie’s heart before she knows what’s happening. Fraser and Cassie have the potential to be a great couple. When Cassie figures out that Fraser is a witch, he doesn’t take the news well and their budding romance is derailed. Fraser doesn’t automatically accept everything Cassie tells him. His entire world has changed, and he needs time to process that. I find that very realistic. When Fraser’s world is rocked by another change, will he and Cassie find strength in each other, or let their chance at love slip away?

I would really like to know more about Cassie and Fraser’s world and the rules that govern it. Are there lots of angels and witches or are they rare? Do angels and witches cooperate with each other often? Are there other supernatural creatures? What sort of training do angels and witches go through as they learn to control their powers? While Ms. Copper provides enough information to make this story satisfying, I felt like I’d just skimmed the surface, and I was left wanting to know more.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to read Love Supernaturally. It is a fun and quick story sure to delight romance fans.

Love and the Pursuit of Law by C.K. Charlotte


Love and the Pursuit of Law by C.K. Charlotte
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (94 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Ivy Smythe is one of the first women admitted to practice law in England. Intelligent and independent, she hopes to work for women’s rights and defend those less fortunate. She is shocked when her law partner father insists she defend a young aristocrat accused of murdering a prostitute.

The Honorable Bryan Henderson is the son of a baron and a member of the Society of Bright Young People. His privileged life of wild parties is threatened by the death of his older brother and the discovery of a corpse at his family’s estate. The last thing he needs is a lady barrister!

While Bryan attempts to show Ivy who has the power in their relationship, Ivy struggles with her conflicting roles of barrister and attractive young woman. Together they experience the excitement of London’s Jazz Age and a growing attraction neither can deny.

Ivy’s first client is far from desirable.

Ivy has worked very hard to become and woman barrister, and she has lofty goals about the type of clients she’d like to represent. When her father insists that she take Bryan’s case, she is anything but pleased. Bryan doesn’t seem to take anything seriously, including the suspicions of murder. Can Ivy get him to see the gravity of the situation before it is too late?

Ivy is a very intelligent and pioneering spirit. She’s had to work extremely hard to achieve her goal of being a barrister, especially at this time in history. Her passion for the law and the work she does shines through in her conversations with others. Despite her zeal for her career, Ivy doesn’t command much respect. She keeps insisting she’s a barrister, but when the situation begins to feel hopeless, Ivy wilts and the glimmers of her new-found confidence fade away. She gets pushed around and distracted quite a bit by the men in her life throughout the story, especially by Bryan. She can’t be blamed for falling in love, and I understand that Ivy would want to relax and have some fun after leading very serious life. However, Bryan is suspected of murder, and I felt that she needed to be more forceful in making Bryan see how serious the situation was.

Bryan made an interesting hero. He seems like a typical playboy at first, and he sets out to distract Ivy from her purpose by dragging her to multiple parties. However, I do see quite a bit of change in Bryan as the story progresses. Underneath Bryan’s flippant exterior lies a more serious man who is masking his pain by playing a role. I think his character had more potential that I would have liked to explore in greater depth.

I enjoyed reading Love and the Pursuit of Law. It is a quick and entertaining read easily read in one sitting. Readers looking to take a spin through the Jazz Age might want give this romance a try.