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.

C1PHER by Monica E. Spence


C1PHER by Monica E. Spence
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Historical, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (100 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Revolutionary War re-enactor Mary Banvard must travel to West Point during a thunder storm to authenticate papers concerning Benedict Arnold’s betrayal of West Point. Poor visibility causes a terrible car accident​, and she blacks out. When a masculine voice awakens her, she discovers everyone around her is wearing Colonial clothes. Odd. Who is this guy with the queue and the glasses who looks so worried?

Robert Townsend looks like a Quaker shopkeeper, but he is Culper, Jr., General George Washington’s most important spy. When Lady Mary Banvard, his fiancée, awakens following a carriage accident, she begins ranting about missing papers and traveling through Time.

Together Mary and Robert stumble upon a threat to their lives, their happiness, and the security of American generations to come.

Studying the past is one thing. Suddenly waking up in it is quite another.

The dialogue was fantastic. There were several times when I chuckled out loud at the things Mary said after she mysteriously found herself living back during the time of the Revolutionary War. She has a sharp wit, and it shone through the conversations she had with Robert and other characters during her adventures. The only thing better than this part of the plot was how funny it was to see how everyone responded to the things she said that made sense in our times but were unintelligible a few hundred years ago.

I would have liked to see more time spent developing the romance in this story. The characters involved in it were so different from each other that I needed more examples of what they shared in common. They were both fascinating people. I simply wasn’t totally sure that they would make a good couple because of how often their personalities and interests conflicted each other.

Mary was such an interesting woman. I loved her spunky attitude and how unflappable she was when she found herself in the middle of a crisis. She’s the kind of smart and steady person I’d want to have around if there were some kind of emergency. Her calm approach to even the strangest situations she found herself in made me adore her from the first scene to the last one.

C1PHER should be read by fans of light science fiction and historical romances alike. This is a nice blend of both of those genres!

The Cowboy’s Orphan Bride by Lauri Robinson


The Cowboy’s Orphan Bride by Lauri Robinson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (288 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Reunited with the cowboy!

Long ago, orphans Bridgette Banks and Garth McCain made a promise to stay together. But it’s been years since they were parted, and Bridgette’s almost given up hope! So when Garth’s cattle trail passes her town, she won’t let him leave her behind again

Sparks fly as they’re reunited especially when the cowboy catches Bridgette telling everyone she’s his bride! Faced with a past he thought he’d lost forever, Garth realizes this impulsive beauty might be the future he never thought he deserved.

Lauri Robinson created a genuine love story between Garth, the hero and Bridgette, the heroine. Garth possessed all the qualities I admire in a hero; strong yet sensitive, smart, thoughtful, honest, hard worker, brave and very handsome. Bridgette complemented Garth quite well. She was his equal in the ways that mattered. I was pleasantly surprised by her skills and talents. The banter between the couple had me cracking up. The chemistry between the two was obvious and on the shy side of being spicy. The fact that they knew each other in the past and have been reunited only leads me to believe that they were truly meant for each other.

The cast of characters were brilliantly developed and implemented throughout the story. They all had a relevant impact on Garth and Bridgette’s relationship as well as on me. I felt a connection with many of the secondary players. There were too many to name but Jo Jo was probably my favorite supporting cast member. I loved his tender heart and willingness to help. My least favorite secondary character was Cecil; however he was nicely redeemed before the story was over.

The plot was captivating and well written. I enjoyed reading a romance that took place in the west during the cattle drives. It’s an era I’ve always been intrigued by. I thoroughly enjoyed the little bits of suspense that was woven throughout the plot in regards to the selling of the cows, the possible dangers involved in cattle drives and the consequences of Bridgette’s not well thought out plans. Some of those not well thought out plans were hilarious. The plot flowed very smooth and made it impossible to put the book down.

I thought The Cowboy’s Orphan Bride was an amazing love story and I highly recommend this book!

Mine Forever and Always by Tammy L Bailey


Mine Forever and Always by Tammy L Bailey
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (192 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Just shy of fifteen years old, and during a fake and impromptu wedding ceremony, Lily Scott married her best friend’s brother, Henry Dalton.

It seemed harmless enough until he leaned in and whispered to her his true feelings, amorous words she has been unable to forget: Now you’re mine, forever and always.

Unfortunately, growing up pulls them apart and transforms Henry into a pompous scoundrel. When they meet again at a house party hosted by Henry’s sister, will Henry remember his once faithful promise to Lily?

As teenagers Lily and Henry take part in a mock marriage. Shortly after, adult interference tears them apart leaving Lily with the impression Henry regrets his action and no longer wants anything to with her. Lily is invited by Henry’s sister to a party at his family home and he takes every opportunity to ridicule her.

This is a nice book, but for something in the regency line there are a lot of times when Henry would be forced to marry Lily whether he wanted to or not. The passion between them is blurred with Lily wanting him but knowing she can’t have him and Henry apparently only wanting to argue with her.

The imagination brings the scenes and characters to life, and misunderstanding provides levity to the situation, as well as tension. I loved the sister Jane, she was such a lively young lady and I felt she and Waverley would make a good pair. I would have liked to know more of how Jane managed to twist the taking of a name out of a hat to get the response she wanted. Good plot.

Old Bones Never Die by Leslie A Diehl


Old Bones Never Die by Leslie A Diehl
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (274 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Just before Walter Egret is killed in a hit-and-run, he phoned his half-brother Sammy to report that he’d unearthed their missing father’s pocket watch, along with a pile of human bones. The project is put on hold until it can be determined if the site is an Indian burial ground. Then the bones disappear. Now Sammy and his brother’s three orphaned children want Eve Appel to go pro, applying her innate snoopiness to the trade of private investigator. Eve already has her hands full with her two consignment stores. What is she going to do? Sammy and Walter are Miccosukee Indians, and Walter was employed as a backhoe operator on a construction site for a sportsmen’s resort. Was Walter’s death murder or an accident? If the bones belong to Sammy’s father, how did they get there? Delving into these mysteries, Eve is aided by her usual crew of friends and family. This adventure will not only up the stakes for Eve as an investigator, but it will also open her eyes to life possibilities she never imagined. Book 5 in the Eve Appel Mystery series, which began with A Secondhand Murder.

Eve is thinking seriously of becoming a private investigator. She knows of one close to her office who would train her. She knows she’s busy with her consignment shop and the RV they use as a second shop, but she still has spare time and intense curiosity. Would it be too much?

This story is a mix about past and present, death long ago and death currently. With two Indian tribes in the area, future development is beginning in their little town but one is excited about it. It gets even worse when some bones show up at the construction site. The work is shut down until the bones are analyzed. Then the bones go missing, the construction man who found them is dead, and a watch that has been missing for years is missing again. Were the bones part of an Indian burial site? If not, who was it?

The pace moves well, there’s more than one mystery, and it all comes out by end of the story. I enjoyed Eve’s family, her lover and his family, and the mob man she’s friends with. Those close to her know she’ll do what she decides to do but they try to talk her out of it.

The romance in this story is soothing and poor Eve needs that in her life. Especially since someone is trying to kill her now because of her snooping.

This writer’s style is easy to read, she closes up any gaps in the story line and she’s made me want to read another in this series. Eve and Sammy are a joy to read about.

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.