Sweet Inspiration by Linda Carroll-Bradd


Sweet Inspiration by Linda Carroll-Bradd
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (50 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Dependable Cadence Wills yearns for excitement. The owner of a yarn business, she is pulled in every direction by her demanding family. Haunting dulcimer notes draw her to a practice for the musical festival, and she spies an intriguing stranger.

Musician Rafe Frasco is a rover, bouncing from one competition to the next. Interest ignites at his first glance at the woman who is enthralled by his music. He is drawn to Cadence whose heart seems big enough to encompass everyone within her reach.

A fantastic opportunity for Rafe presents Cadence with a major problem—is she strong enough to negotiate the business deal that will take him away…maybe forever?

Cadence is getting very tired of being the reliable person in her family. If one of her sisters isn’t asking for her to organise the theme and menu for one of their parties, someone in her extended family is making some other request that gnaws away at her day. Determined to be spontaneous, she leaves her small shop for a quick walk in the sunshine. When a haunting melody captures her attention she follows the sound of the music, intrigued. She meets Rafe, a tall, dark and mysterious man who instantly steals her affections. Can this man be part of her future?

This is a lovely, sweet romance story with plenty of steamy chemistry. I loved how Cadence was a sweet, small-town girl. I felt a bit bad that she’d managed to allow herself to be used a bit (in a nice and kindly sort of way) by family and friends around her. Cadence sits on a bunch of committees, babysits at the drop of a hat for her sisters and acts as a counselor and go-between for far too many people. All to the extent where her own dreams and desires are stifled. I loved how when Rafe finally walks into her life Cadence’s own desires suddenly come into the fore and she gets the courage to finally go after some of the romance and adventure she secretly yearns for.

While the storyline is mostly very sweet and slow, there are a few steamy kisses and a passionate clinch. Rafe and Cadence spend the night together (completely platonically) too so I’m not certain it would be appropriate for teenaged readers – but all other age groups should find this a wholesome, character-driven and excellent romance story. Overall I found this story to be very wholesome and in some ways empowering. Sometimes very good people can find it difficult to say “no” when friends and family ask for favours or help and shelving their own dreams and needs in the process. I loved how Cadence decided to follow her heart with Rafe and start their adventures together. I found it to be a powerful, loving and very happy storyline and I really enjoyed it.

Readers who like a bit of steam and spicy kisses with their romance, but nothing too physical or sexy should find this a good balance with an interesting storyline and some memorable characters.

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.

Better to Give by K.K. Weil


Better to Give by K.K. Weil
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (106 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

For most people, the holidays are a time of warmth, happiness and celebration. But to Jenna Samuels, they mean only one thing. Mounting debt. A single mother, Jenna struggles to make ends meet and to her, it’s a season of excess and distress.

James Garrison is in over his head, too. His ex-wife said he wasn’t equipped to take care of his twins, and now that he’s got joint custody, he fears she was right. They’re wild, spoiled, and always fighting. When they knock Jenna’s daughter into the “Gifting Tree,”—a part of their town’s charity collection—the parents are immediately attracted to each other. But James has had his fill of cold women and Jenna won’t make the mistake of falling for another man who disappears when life gets too heavy.

As their paths cross, James and Jenna must decide whether first impressions are accurate, or if sometimes, people are not what you assume at all.

Our past experiences should not always shape our future outlook.

Jenna has had her share of men that run off and James has had his share of women that are manipulative and have their own agenda. But, when both of these parents meet, the sparks fly. But the sparks flying are not only in love interest but also in temper when James’s twins knock Jenna’s daughter into the Giving Tree.

K.K. Weil tells this fun, romantic story from both the perspective of Jenna as well as from the perspective of James. The reader is able to climb into the head and the mindset of both in order to fully understand what is happening. The author pays special attention to the past experiences of both characters with their previous failed relationships while keeping a true honesty that not everything is perfect between the two characters.

Misunderstandings threaten the budding relationship and add on top of that the mixture of children from previous relationships. Then, financial woes and ex-spouse intrusion creates a mix that is ripe for discord. K.K. Weil handles these situations elegantly, keeping the story moving and the conflict believable. The tension that arises between both characters is relatable to the readers and is one in which engrosses the overall plot. The interaction and bond between the children is believable and fun.

This was a fun story of love and overcoming initial complications in a relationship. K.K. Weil does a great job at keeping the Giving Tree at the heart of the story from beginning to end, which ties in the title Better to Give. Overall the story was heartwarming and gives the reader a separate and distinct view of the world of love.

If you are looking for a fun romantic story with love at the center, then be sure not to miss Better to Give!

You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne


You May Kiss the Bride by Lisa Berne
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (289 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

In an unforgettable debut, Lisa Berne introduces you to the Penhallow Dynasty—men destined to marry, but hesitant to love.

Wealthy and arrogant, Gabriel Penhallow knows it’s time to fulfill his dynastic duty. All he must do is follow the ‘Penhallow way’: find a biddable bride, produce an heir and a spare, and then live separate lives. It’s worked so well for generations, certainly one kiss with the delectable Livia Stuart isn’t going to change things. Society dictates he marry her, and one chit is as good as another as long as she’s from a decent family.

But Livia’s transformation from an original to a mundane diamond of the first water makes Gabriel realize he desperately wants the woman who somehow provoked him into that kiss. And for all the ladies who’ve thrown themselves at him, it’s the one who wants to flee whom he now wants. But how will he keep this independent miss from flying away?

A rags-to-riches story, You May Kiss the Bride is not a happy story much of the time and love seems an impossibility. How the author weaves love in among all the manipulation, gossip, conflict, and intrigue makes page-turning reading.

This is especially true since Gabriel Penhallow does not hold women in high esteem and is not looking for love. He just needs a suitable woman of society–intelligent, has substantial wealth, and in good health—to produce his heirs.

His managing grandmother met Lady Glanvilles and daughter, Cecily in Bath and declares Cecily to be good wife material for Gabriel. The two of them attend a house party at the Glanvilles, with Gabriel intending to ask Cecily to be his wife.

To escape the vacuous activities of the house party, Gabriel Penhallow rides out alone and gets lost in the forest. He sees Livia Stuart. He is entranced. She looks like a ragged but beautiful wood sprite. But his haughty elite self surfaces and he tosses coins to her for information on how to get back to the Glandvilles. BIG MISTAKE!

Livia Stuart, the poor orphan relative sent home to Ealdor Abby from India when she was very young,expects and gets nothing.more than food and shelter from her wastrel Uncle Charles and her “medicine” addlepated Aunt Bella. She has no money, no education, and no prospects; even though she’s now of marriage age. She is Lady Glanvilles and Cecily’s charity case. They, snobbish and snide, give her Cecily’s hand-me-down clothes and invite her to events at their home.

How Livia and Gabriel become betrothed and plan to use each other sets up conflict, rejection, loneliness, and heartbreak. Not until Gabriel and his grandmother come to recognize their self-centeredness and entitlement attitudes almost destroyed what they hold dear, do they come to recognize the value and joy of having Livia in their lives.

Lisa Berne creates a compelling story with great pacing that is an early nineteenth century rollercoaster ride. GOOD ENTERTAINMENT!

Heather in the Mist by Madelyn Hill


Heather in the Mist by Madelyn Hill
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (250 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Snapdragon

Forced to wed to save her clan, Lady Rogan Cameron agrees to wed without love. What her father doesn’t know is Lady Rogan has plans of her own-plans to keep her from a loveless marriage. Can she save the clan before she has to say “I do?” Ian Albright abolished all ties to Scotland after his family betrayed him and he is now nursing a wounded ego due to an unfaithful fiancée. He pledges never to return to his home until the fateful day he accepts an invitation to his dear cousin’s wedding. The minute he sees his cousin’s betrothed, his heart is captured. If only she didn’t belong to another . . . Lady Rogan and Ian have known each other since they were young and bent on vexing each other. Now, the only thing they find vexing is the fact Rogan is betrothed to another. Together they fight their growing attraction while investigating the forces bedeviling the clan. Yet at every turn their foe appears and wreaks havoc. When tragedy strikes, their hopes are dashed again. Can Lady Rogan and Ian’s love win when fate seems determined to keep them apart?

Unexpectedly intriguing, Ms. Hill’s Heather in the Mist sweeps readers directly to 16th century Scotland. The old castle walls and a certain splash of brogue team with a delicate touch for scenery, to give a real sense of place.

Young Miss Rogan’s problem is all about duty, an important alliance…and meeting parental expectations. An arranged marriage is hardly an exceptional problem for the time, but the story takes unexpected turns and is simply not predictable. Explanations and backstory do slow the pace early on, but the action quickly takes over.

Rogan is both quick-witted and very capable; she rides astride like a man and oversees her family’s clan as if she’d been the eldest son, not daughter. She’s by no means the ‘marriage victim’ her plight might at first suggest. She’s such a determined character, readers find themselves rooting for her from the very first chapter.

Yet, almost at once, the challenge is less about her than about her people. She rises to the occasion…for it will mean struggle and sacrifice. Given the beginning, that an unexpected relationship develops is (no spoilers here) also a surprise! There is more than one interested party in the picture, but Rogan has her people to consider, too. The attraction between the two builds suspense throughout almost the entire tale. Fans of the historical romance will find this delightful.

Hidden Bloodlines by Karen Van Den Heuvel


Hidden Bloodlines by Karen Van Den Heuvel
J. C. Classified Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (296 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Gutsy Colorado attorney Victoria Bailey has just successfully prosecuted a serial killer—or has she? Betrayed by her college sweetheart, she’s vowed to remain single and dependent on no one but herself. All goes according to plan until her best friend’s wedding rehearsal. A missing groom, a murdered trial assistant, and an unexpected encounter with two men from her past bring her well-controlled life crashing down.

Highly decorated, retired Navy SEAL Christian Van der Kruis has seen much death and is ready to experience a new life. Now part of a global special ops organization, he attends a wedding, never expecting to be brought face-to-face with death and the only woman he ever loved…Victoria.

Victoria, a successful lawyer, is unease about a case she won. Had she prosecuted the right man? She is determined to put business aside when she arrives at the legendary hotel and chapel where she is to be bridesmaid for her friend, Elizabeth. How her case and the wedding party get all mixed up together creates some nail-biting reading.

With all the evil doings going on, getting a wedding worked in seems almost impossible. However Karen Van Den Heuvel weaves together, old grudges held since the settling of Eutis Park, Colorado, a wedding party where the groom goes missing, a haunted hotel and its ties to a building in Denver that Elizabeth bought; the revisiting of an old love gone awry, the blooming of a new love; demonopathy, exorcism, and more. She keeps the reader on edge with strange noises, rooms with secret doors, old hidden tunnels occupied by evil doers, a possessed little boy, a strange acting new law partner, and a freak storm in March.

Victoria’s encounter with David, the man who, without warning, dumped her to become a priest brings back old memories and hurts that shaped her life the past few years. However when she encounters his brother Christian, an ex-Navy SEAL, who now has a search and rescue business, she sees and responds to him differently than she did in college. This is, indeed, a ray of sunshine in a dark, stormy story.

While I felt like I’d come in at the middle of a movie, I was glued to the story, reading like mad so as not to miss important information. I’m not sure I ever got all the characters straight. However, the story is so compelling, I just had to keep reading to see how all things worked out.

Karen Van Den Heuvel has a unique writing style. She does a masterful job of tying up loose ends and finally slips in more than one happy-ever-after that I always love to see.

Shattering Glass by Conner Coyne


Shattering Glass by Conner Coyne
Publisher: Gothic Funk Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (328 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Just when the whole world has written off the city of Arkaic, Michigan, billionaire A. Olan puts up funds for a new university in an abandoned psychiatric hospital. There, strange engines turn human memories into electrical power. Join students Samo, Monty, Ezzie, and Dunya as they study, work, flirt, explore, and battle powers of ancient evil. Will they survive their first year of college?

Get ready for a mind-bending adventure!

Shattering Glass by Conner Coyne is one of the most unique reads that a person can read and still grasp the underlying story. The primary focus of the story is four students from various walks of life who begin their first undergraduate years at Arkaic University in the struggling town of Arkaic Michigan. The university is essentially a previously decommissioned asylum, which leads to some unique and fascinating descriptions of architecture that still haunt the school.

The author takes the point of view of the various students and a couple of secondary characters to tell the tale in depth. Fascinating and strange events begin even on the first day of registration and the students will often shrug off or accept these strange events. At first, I was almost put off by the blatant strangeness, but recalling my own undergraduate years, I can see how perception is often held to be determined by the person doing the viewing.

The lives and interactions of Samo (ironically whose name changes after his roommate decides that Samo is more relevant), Ezzie, Monty and Dunya are fun and adventurous-nearly as strange and unique as their own names. Their reactions to things that happen, their perseverance and the constant strange events lead to a fascinating take of the college world and college experiences. The dialogue is structured and strong and the descriptions of strange events makes the reader feel deeply entwined within the story itself.

I must admit, that midway through the story I felt lost and I struggled to find the core root of what was happening, and I feel that this was actually an intentional twist with the way the author interacts with the readers to pull them deeper into the plot. Almost like making it through mid-term the story then picks up in believability and straps the reader back in for another roller coaster ride.

As the story moves along, the reader grasps what is in essence, one of the most colorful and unique stories written, with events that seems so strange and complex, that they could never happen. Upon finishing the book, the author explains the rational for the layout, the various events and the inspiration for the story itself. Suddenly, the events and experiences that the four students have do not seem so obscure. Then, when one takes into consideration previous academic and undergraduate years-the entire story base seems nearly plausible.

If you want to take a break from everyday life and re-experience the first year jubilation, confusion and near insanity that a freshman at a four year university experiences, this is the book to bring those feelings to life!

A Heart Made for Love by Linda Tillis


A Heart Made for Love by Linda Tillis
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (302 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

In rural Florida, 1903, Mae Hinton cares for her father and younger brothers, trying to fill her deceased mother’s shoes. Her life is shattered and her faith tested when her innocence is stolen by roving miscreants. Left unconscious, unable to identify her attackers, she pledges to help other victimized women. She pursues an education and learns to deal with bigoted ministers, well-to-do hypocrites, and men with higher regard for their livestock than their women.

Edward Finch is nearly done with medical studies in England when he comes home for the holidays. Love flourishes, and Mae seems close to achieving her dreams of both true love and a haven for victims, once she can explain to him why she carries a pistol. Then her new-found happiness is upset by a murder as one of her attackers returns. She may settle this herself…or she may find that vengeance truly belongs to God.

The foreshadowing and the spiritual connection the Hintons have with the dead Ruth Hinton make A Heart Made for Love intriguing. While living, Ruth taught her children to be responsible to family and to love the Lord. After her death, her spirit communes with the children and with Garth, who’d been a loving husband.

When trouble comes and innocent Mae Hinton “pays for the sins of others’ as Dr. Walters, her long-time friend and mentor, says, the Hintons rally together, do what has to be done, and stay strong with the help of Ruth’s spirit.

Mae’s horrific experience sets the whole family on a new course in life, with Dr. Walters help. The doctor’s nephew, Dr. Edward Finch, and Mae fall in love. While this love story adds a special emotion, it is not the major part of the novel. As the story moves along, a lot of characters get involved.

The page-turning part of the story begins when Mae inherits a vast estate where she, with the help of her family, begins her home for abused women and children.

The heir, Langford Hardwick, who had expected to inherit it all and still could have it all under a given condition, becomes an antagonist on a mission. The journey the reader is taken on with Hardwick; add a very different layer to the story with a lot of new characters and some horrible events.

The past and the present get intertwined as good and evil engage in battle.

How Linda Tillis ties up loose ends and creates a happy-ever-after for so many of the characters is captivating. A story that starts with such a shocking event that ends with such promise for so many realizing their dreams coming true, leaves one feeling life, with work and the right attitude, even bad things can be used to bring about good things.

Sweet Lake by Christine Nolfi


Sweet Lake by Christine Nolfi
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Chick Lit
Length: Full Length (332 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Linnie Wayfair knows just how many people are counting on her. But knowing doesn’t make doing any easier.

Everyone in Sweet Lake, Ohio, wants her to muster all her business sense and return the Wayfair Inn to its former glory. Her parents hope she’ll forgive her scoundrel of a brother and reconcile the family. The eccentric Sweet Lake Sirens want her to open the inn—and her heart—to new possibilities. And her hilarious lifelong friends Jada and Cat are dropping none-too-subtle hints for her to ignite a romance with Daniel Kettering, the sexy attorney who’s been pining for her for years…

Now a shocking turn of events will open old wounds and upend the world Linnie has carefully built. She has to make changes quickly—and the results, though not entirely what she expected, might be what she’s been yearning for all along. ​

​Comfort food served up in a book. That’s what Sweet Lake is for me.

I’ve never read anything by Christine Nolfi and this was a great introduction to her work. The writing flows well and kept me engrossed. I felt like I needed to know what would happen to Linnie and company.

I do have to admit I’m not big into chick lit and this book felt a lot like it. There is a relationship that goes on (no I won’t spoil it) and that added to the story. But there is a deep bit of comfort to the book. I knew when I started, this wouldn’t be terribly complicated and that was fine. That’s what I wanted. There are complications, don’t get me wrong. The characters I wanted to hate I did and the ones I wanted to love…well, you get the idea.

Linnie has issues–she’s supposed to save the inn, but she’s the second child and a girl at that. Her parents believe the oldest son is the one who should run the family. Don’t we all know someone like that? Someone who is put upon by circumstances they don’t control? That’s what helped me to identify with Linnie. ​Having lived in a situation where the male of the siblings was valued over me, I could see where Linnie’s anger came from. She’s trying to do what’s right in a totally wrong situation. I rooted for everything to work out for her. She deserved a happy ending.

​If you want a book that’s got lots of drama, the whole community in on the situation, small town feel and a touch of romance, then this might be the book for you. ​

Lord Logic and the Wedding Wish by Melynda Beth Skinner


Lord Logic and the Wedding Wish by Melynda Beth Skinner
Publisher: Pedestal Books
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (222 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Oil and Water…

Born on the same day, best friends and fiercest rivals Orion Chase and Artemis Rose are separated when they’re eight. When they come together once more as adults, nothing has changed. Still best friends, still oil and water.

When Artemis arrives on foot at his country estate, the ultra-logical, ultra-fashionable Orion Chase, the Earl of Lindenshire, is happy to welcome her–at first. Rejected by her mother’s family, Artemis, the granddaughter of an Earl, has been living as a Gypsy for the past 16 years and lives her life guided by signs and portents. But Artemis’s outlandish Gypsy ways can’t bother Orion, who hides his scientific bent with a facade of fashionability. After all, Artemis won’t be around long–or will she?

Orion’s not happy when his mother hires Artemis as her companion. And he’s even less happy when the ton mistakes Artemis for his mistress. A sham betrothal to save both of their reputations is in order–but it turns out that Orion is the only one who believes the wedding won’t happen!

This is such an adorable story. If you think the title is cute, just wait until you delve into this novel’s pages. The theme is ‘friends to lovers’ except a lot goes on between when they knew each other as kids, and when they meet as adults. Their mutual and fond background gives Miss Artemis Rose and Orion Chase a solid base to work with but their experiences in the ensuing years between kids and well- mannered adults creates a challenge to overcome. You see, Orion deals in facts, in theories he can prove with touch, observation and the use of his brain and technical tools of the time. Artemis on the other hand, has had an unconventional upbringing. The main influence in her life has been the beliefs of the Romany people and the heroine believes in signs, tea leaves and portents, basically obscure things based on conviction of her beliefs, not science. To say that this drives Orion barmy is an understatement. That dichotomy between the two protagonists is why I enjoyed this story very much.

What made this book especially delightful were the other ladies in Orion’s life; his mom, Lady Lindenshire and his really good friend, Mrs. Robertson. Between their conniving antics and belief in what Artemis believed, truly the hero didn’t stand a chance at resisting his falling in love with the heroine. Oh, he tried. Yes, indeed he tried, but the very last chapter proved to me that Orion’s path was forged many years before. Love has a way of making the impossible, possible. The most romantic part in the whole book which provided a definite ‘awww’ moment was that one scene that brought Artemis and Orion full circle to when they were kids. It left me in no doubt whatsoever that their happy ever after was guaranteed and they lived happily ever after.

The only element that hindered this story from being a higher rating was Orion himself. He resisted a bit too much, too long, and then there was Artemis for whom things just seemed to work out so perfectly. For every dip there was an immediate high, for every negative, something would happen to make the sweetest of lemonades from the profuse lemons that seem to be thrown at the heroine. Reading about the plot conflicts in this book was like eating Sour Patch Kids – it’s sour for just that little bit, then Bam! it shifts to the sweetest, yummiest flavor to enjoy. I think that’s why they are addicting, and why I couldn’t stop reading about Orion and Artemis.

Lord Logic and the Wedding Wish delivers a solid, enjoyable romance story. The heroine is quirky and adorable and the hero is a handsome geek who becomes his own man. In the end, he accepts himself for the person he is and ceased chasing a dream that was never his own. His personal growth was another of the strong elements that made this novel worth reading. For fans of historical romance that focuses on the relationship and romance, and not the bedroom, this is a recommended read.