The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz

The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz
Publisher: Mira
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy (Time Travel)
Length: Full Length (380 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

She has nothing to live for in the present, but finds there’s something worth dying for in the past…

From Tiffany Reisz, the international bestselling storyteller behind The Bourbon Thief and The Original Sinners series, comes an enthralling new novel about a woman swept away by the tides who awakens to find herself in 1921, reunited with the husband she’s been mourning for four years. Fans of Kate Morton and Diana Gabaldon will fall in love with the mystery, romance and beauty of an isolated South Carolina lighthouse, where a power greater than love works its magic.

Love comes in peculiar ways, but if we’re willing to embrace it we’ll win.

Tiffany Reisz has a way with words. I can’t lie. The author is a true story teller. As soon as I read the blurb, I wanted to devour this book. Who doesn’t like a time travelling romance? Who doesn’t want a happy ending?

I’m glad to say I got what I wanted from this book. The characters are interesting and the landscape fascinating. The descriptions of the lighthouse and what Faye sees are breathtaking.

But…as much as I liked the book, there were a few quibbles. The writing is good, no doubt, but I put the book down a handful of times and getting back into it was difficult. That’s not to say it wasn’t a good book. It was. But it had a hard time occasionally holding my interest. I also had a bit of a time with the jumps in time back and forth to 1921. I had to go back and reread to make sure I knew what was going on. Still, it was good.

I liked Faye, the heroine, too. She’s been through hell and come back. I didn’t always agree with her decisions, but hey, that’s fine. She’s a very twenty-first century woman and seeing her with a very twentieth century man–Carrick, was good. The thing was, I had a hard time connecting with her. I kept expecting more from her. But that doesn’t mean she was a bad character or it was an unsatisfactory read. Far from it. The author deviated from what I thought would happen and that’s fantastic. I’d rather be surprised and I was. Carrick was my favorite character. Strong, quiet and very Irish, I could practically see him whenever he was on the page. He’s the best part of the book for me.

If you’re looking for a book that spans time frames, that’s written eloquently and is not the norm, then this might be the book for you.

Sins of the Father by Winter Austin

Sins of the Father by Winter Austin
Publisher: Crimson Romance/Adams Media
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (191 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Newly pinned deputy Jolie Murdoch’s first big job as a McIntire County deputy is to locate a missing girl. What Jolie doesn’t expect is to stumble upon a corpse—the girl’s father—with a prime suspect still hanging around. But why would local bartender Xavier Hartmann go off the deep end and bludgeon a man to death?

A former marine, Xavier is barely coping with a traumatic brain injury, and he has no memory of what happened at the crime scene. He came to Eider to confront his past, not get embroiled in a murder as the number one suspect. To make matters worse, as the mystery deepens, Xavier finds himself drawn to the reluctant deputy.

As Jolie fights against mounting pressure to get to the truth, she realizes there’s more to Xavier than meets the eye. But someone is lingering on the fringes, determined to put a stop to her investigation and Xavier’s freedom. Will Jolie do her sworn duty or buck the status quo to give her and Xavier’s newfound passion a chance?

OMG, I don’t think I’m going to sleep tonight. I need to sign up for another self-defense class since it’s been a few years. I own a gun but now I want a concealed-to-carry permit. If only my husband was a former marine like Xavier, the hero in this book. It’s amazing how I can get so wrapped up in a book and feel like everyone I know is a suspect.

Seriously, this was a great book! More suspense/mystery than romance but there was so much going on that there wasn’t much time for romance. Jolie, the heroine, had a lot on her plate as the newly pinned deputy. The moments Jolie and Xavier had together were spent on trying to prove his innocence. However, the couple of kisses they shared were breathtaking. I’d like me some Xavier kisses. 🙂

I had no idea that this was book three in a series until I had finished reading it. You don’t need to read the previous books however I am interested in doing so. Based on the well written plot in this story which blew my mind away, I’d like to read the other two. I loved the well-developed characters in Sins of the Father so much that I would like to get to know them a bit more by reading the two previous books. I enjoy reading strong leading heroines who stand up to their leading men. I think Winter Austin will have to be added my list of “favorite authors”.

I definitely recommend this book if you like suspense/mystery romance. It should keep you on the edge of your seat rapidly flipping pages like it did for me. The mystery kept me guessing until the very end and then everything is nicely wrapped up with no loose threads. While there isn’t an epilogue one wasn’t needed; Jolie and Xavier made their “decisive decision”. 🙂

Salvaged by J.S. Marlo

Salvaged by J.S. Marlo
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (226 pgs)
Heat level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

STAR FISHER refuses to let the scar marring her face dictate her choices or the dreams haunting her nights affect her life. A skilled underwater investigator, she is hired as a scuba diver in an underwater salvage operation.

Captivated by the feisty young woman who shares little resemblance with his glamorous conquests, captain HAUK LUDVIKSON struggles against his attraction as they explore a century-old relic linked to the unsolved disappearance of a rich heiress.

With danger lurking under and above the water line, Star fights for her future-a future she may not salvage twice.

If you love an unpredictable suspense/mystery romance then this book is for you. Hauk Ludvikson, the hero, and Star Fisher, the heroine, as well as the other prominent characters, really kept me on the edge of my seat. J. S. Marlo created a complex plot that demonstrated originality. The cast of characters were brilliantly interwoven in a suspense/mystery that incorporated generations of families. I couldn’t read this book and multitask because I needed to concentrate or else I’d get confused with the web of characters. I grew to appreciate the dynamics of Hauk’s dive team. They couldn’t exist without each other working together to solve the mystery and protect each other’s back. I grew fond of Kyle’s humor, Scott’s wit and Arnie’s sensitive side. I could see Kyle and Scott being the heroes in their own books.

The chemistry between Hauk and Star was excruciatingly slow to blossom. Yet, when it did it was well worth the wait. Their focus was on solving the mystery and protecting each other from the consistent suspenseful danger. I personally would have preferred a little less suspense and danger and more romance but that’s just me. I definitely would have enjoyed an epilogue. The story concluded with a happy ever after ending between Hauk and Star, and the mystery was solved but there was no justice. Without justice or vindication how can there be closure?

With all the suspense and danger, the pace was smooth and quick. The writing style was flawless. I was engaged from the beginning of the book until the very last page. I didn’t want to put the novel down. I enjoyed discovering all the secrets along with the plot twists and turns.

I recommend this book for those who want to experience some action, suspense, solve a mystery all while getting romanced for a few hours. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. You won’t be disappointed.

Tilly Loves Johnny by Marion L. Cornett

Tilly Loves Johnny by Marion L. Cornett
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (217 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Newlywed Tilly Miner turns a deaf ear to rumors and gossip her husband, Johnny, is running parties where “complimentary” hooch loosens lips as well as pocketbooks for those looking to gamble. Some nights he crawls into their bed, smelling of sour rye mash; others, not even making it home until early morning. But her loyalty remains unwavering.

And then, the unspeakable happens. A few days before Christmas, Tilly discovers a bloody atrocity dumped on their kitchen table. A warning from the Ku Klux Klan? Johnny laughs it off as a joke. But, when he goes missing one cold night in February, 1929, Tilly is convinced someone or something prevents his return.

Her undying faith in Johnny is tested by righteous attitudes from her best friend’s mother and a too cruel mother-in-law, while a recalcitrant sheriff is convinced the man merely ran off.

Tilly Miner’s love and dedication for her husband Johnny kept my attention. The plot is interesting but seemed to be delivered in away that truly didn’t give it full justice. The book opens at the beginning of a card game, then follows with Tilly’s story of Johnny’s long nights of not coming home. Rumor has it Johnny is into various unlawful acts and when he goes missing. Tilly is the only one that believes in his return.

Tilly’s life is depressing and sad. I wanted something good to happen for her but it never did. She had this dark cloud over her through out the entire book. Though Tilly’s life was sad I was drawn in to continue reading. Tilly didn’t have an exciting life nor many thrills. It seemed the only joy Tilly had was her friend Rita Mae and their shared enjoyment in going to the movies. I felt that Tilly was cheated. She didn’t have a husband who truly loved her like she loved him. Johnny didn’t spend time with her, nor did he really show Tilly that she was a priority. Tilly lived in her family home on the second floor while her father lived on the third floor. Tilly’s mother has been deceased for years. Tilly and her father didn’t have a close relationship. Her father seemed more concerned with Johnny’s behavior and repetition than he did in how unhappy his daughter was.

I thought maybe when Tilly got pregnant that that would bring about some happiness to Tilly’s life. This only made me feel sorry for her daughter, Tiz because she was basically motherless. This book is an example of someone focusing on the bad and not on the good in life. Tilly enjoyed reading the town paper and making accessories but eventually she lost interest in these things.

I did like the small town interaction. The various characters that helped give the story realness. I liked the relationship that Thad Andrews, the milkman, had with Tilly. It seemed that was the highlight of Tilly’s day when Thad and Brown Molly, Thad’s horse, brought milk.

Even after finishing this book, I am still trying to figure out how I feel about it. While reading, there is the question is Johnny really dead or did he just leave town to avoid those that were looking for him. The ending was unpredictable for me. I give the author high praise for a creative ending. I was glad that the story gave a full ending in disclosing what really happened to Johnny and how other characters fared.

Spell Caster by Leah Hamrick

Spell Caster by Leah Hamrick
Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (165 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

Three paranormal short stories. One sweet, one dark, one fun. Which one will be your favorite?

Love Caster: There is nothing greater than pure, sweet love, and that’s something Anna Bowden knows all about. While trying to get the courage to kiss her boyfriend Killian, she has to deal with her overbearing dad, who will stop at nothing to tear them apart.

In the Darkness: After Anna Bowden witnesses someone—or something—lurking in her backyard, it starts a chain of frightening events that leads to a gruesome discovery.

First Holiday: Featuring the characters from Frost On My Pillow—be prepared for a sweet, fun, wild ride. While Ethan gives Lyla—who has never celebrated Christmas before— the task of finding out the true meaning of the holiday, he surreptitiously tries to tell her how he really feels, but before that can occur, a lot of decorating and snowball fights has to happen!

Three stories can be better than one!

Spell Caster is a collection of three paranormal short stories. The first two stories focus on Anna and Killian and the special powers they possess. The two stories are interesting in that they look at the world from the eyes of youth with special powers. Anna has the genealogy of witchcraft which is shunned by her parents, so she must hide her own powers from all of those around her. Strange things and strange interactions do occur and there is often little that she can do about it.

The third story involves paranormal aspects, but is much heavier on the beliefs and customs of those who walk the world without special powers. This story has two completely different characters who are at two completely different points in their lives than Anna and Killian. Though this story is very engaging it felt very out of place after reading the first two stories.

I did enjoy the characters from the first two stories, I feel that the two stories taken as one longer-continuous story would have the greatest benefit. Although the third story was enjoyable, I feel that I was left out in the cold. The character development from the first two stories greatly surpassed the character development in the third story. The backstory and history of the characters and the involvement of the supportive characters in the first two stories led to a more dynamic and involving tone. The title of the book is even slipped into the first story and is played on in the second story. Unfortunately, with the exception of a couple of minor instances in the third story, it seems almost completely separate.

Some of the dialog felt forced and did not flow smoothly. Some of the storyline in all three stories felt rushed and I feel that much detail had been left out, which in turn hurt the overall flow of the stories. I feel that one longer more involved and continuous story would have benefitted the overall theme and focus that the author is working to convey. I do appreciate and support the direction that the author has positioned the book as a whole, but I feel that a stronger and more involved story line would have done these characters more justice.

If you are in the mood for three fun stories that will challenge how you look at the world around you, I recommend picking up a copy of Spell Caster!

A Touch of Texas Irish by Linda LaRoque

A Touch of Texas Irish by Linda LaRoque
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (217 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Camellia

Heiress Aileen Lynch has just lost her mother to cancer, but her spendthrift stepfather insists she must cancel his gambling debts by marrying his disreputable associate. Fleeing Ireland with the help of her mother’s lawyer, she lands in Boston to stay with friends and is attracted to one of their visitors.

Doctor Samuel Walker is in town to attend a medical conference. When he meets the lovely young Irishwoman he is quite taken with her and, at his colleague’s entreaty, marries her and takes her home to Texas with him to keep her safe. Sam rationalizes that he doesn’t need a wife but he does need a mother for his son.

While Aileen strives to earn Sam’s affection, he vows never to risk Aileen’s safety or his heart—he’ll not father a child and watch Aileen die in childbirth as his first wife did. And falling in love is not in his plans.

A death, a dreadful demand, and a deceptive departure took Aileen Lynch from her home in misty, green Ireland to the arid Fort Stockton area of Texas.

The reader is swept along with the emotional and physical turmoil of eighteen year old Aileen Lynch as she, with the help of the lawyer who controls her money, avoids marrying or being mistress to Brian MacAuley, the man her “Da” owes gambling debts to. She goes to America to stay with the lawyer’s relatives. Here she meets the widower Dr. Samuel Walker from Texas.

Her new life begins in what is to be a “marriage of convenience” to protect her and to give Walker’s young son Tad a mother. Good reading finding out how this works out. As Aileen works to win over Tad and to make a home that feels like it is hers, she has an adversary in Ruth, a relative of Samuel’s deceased wife, who had planned to be Samuel’s wife.

The gentle love story that threads its way through all the day to day activities is predictable but still a joy to read. The twists and turns of events and the shocking climax makes for “gotta finish this” kind of reading. There is a shocker that brackets the total story that stands out – if would be a spoiler if I told!

Linda La Roque’s smooth, straight-forward writing style is a pleasure to read. The research is thorough for the modes of travel in the late nineteenth century, for the attitudes of the people about the Irish, and many other details that make A Touch of Texas Irish seem real.

Enjoyable Reading!

Irish Jewel by Julie Ann James

Irish Jewel by Julie Ann James
Publisher: The Peppertree Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (186 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

James takes her engaging characters to the gritty streets of Dublin, Ireland, where they become unsuspecting pawns in a twisted, tainted psychotic game of pure adulterated revenge from an unexpected and wicked mastermind. It is said to be true, that all families, have long-hidden secrets buried deep within their souls and locked away from all who might just go digging. Irish Jewel uncovers such a dark secret, so horrific that it could forever change lives when divulged. As the shocking truth surfaces, revealed for all to see, move across this chilling game board to determine where the grimy bread crumbs will end up…The suspense could kill you…

It should have been the trip of a lifetime that would end in the happiest day of her life. Now, Amy just hopes to make to the ceremony alive.

Written in a very classic and compelling “who done it?” style, Irish Jewel hit all the right notes for spine tingling thriller. I liked that I couldn’t figure out the mystery too early into the story but in retrospect, all the clues were there and it all came together for a very exciting conclusion.

Right away this reader was thrown into spin right along with Amy. Why was she being warned that the man she was about to marry wasn’t all he seemed to be? The more answers she finds, the more questions she has. I liked Amy and Michael together. They have really great chemistry so it was important to me to see how the author would resolve their story. I was cheering for them to not only make it to the wedding but to have their happily ever after. The author doesn’t make it any easier on Michael than she does for Amy. Not only does he have a suddenly missing fiance, someone is targeting his family.

Can I just say, Ms. James knows how to write a good villain! Seriously, this guy all about the evil!

There’s a lot going on in this short novel. The action starts early and the pace is fast. I was surprised at how quickly I finished it. One of the elements that I enjoyed but that also threw me off a time or two: there are several twists and turns. Just when I thought I knew where the book was going, a new element would suddenly come to life and off I’d go thinking in a new direction.

Readers who enjoy mystery, intrigue and just enough romance should give Irish Jewel a read. There’s a whole lot of story packed into this novella and it takes the reader on an exciting adventure half a world away.

Montana Christmas Magic by Casey Dawes

Montana Christmas Magic by Casey Dawes
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (149 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

When former tennis pro Logan Collins’s uncle dies, the injured athlete inherits a cabin in rural Phillipsburg, Montana. But there are a few stipulations to this inheritance: He’s not allowed to sell the place for six months, he must ask a girl to a Grizzlies’ football game, and he must order chocolates for the funeral.

Aspiring artist and temporary chocolatier Julie Thompson is curious about the good-looking New Yorker who walks into her sweet shop. She’s more than happy to share some advice on coping with life in the country with the new guy—and they’re soon sharing kisses as well.

Before long, Logan finds himself with all the trappings of permanence: a dog, a horse, and a woman who brings light into his dark life, yet he’s still torn. There’s a great gig teaching children and maybe even the chance to revive his tennis career waiting back in New York.

Can he persuade Julie that Christmas in Manhattan is just as inspiring? Or will the holidays be the final wrap up on their relationship?

Montana Christmas Magic was a sweet, innocent and tender romance between Logan and Julie. It’s the classic tale of the city mouse meets the country mouse which is actually referenced in the book. The synopsis is basically the entire story without the dialogue between the hero and heroine – two people who are at crossroads in their life when they meet, fall in love and then become torn with indecision. There are no sudden plot twists or anguish provoking story lines; just two honest people who want success, love, and happiness. Who doesn’t want that?

The story flowed steady like slow molasses without any hiccups or bumps. How Ms. Dawes described the scenery sounded breath-taking. I have never been to Montana so I was intrigued when Julie was describing the type of landscape she was painting. I felt pleased when Julie stood up for herself and decided to make her dreams happen despite the challenges and obstacles she faced. She possessed strength and determination yet was thoughtful and considerate of others. That’s something that I can’t say for Logan. Logan isn’t my ideal book boyfriend. He was selfish and weak. Any grown man that hasn’t cut the umbilical cord with their mother is not the man for me. Despite all that, the chemistry between the two was believable and endearing. They both just need more time to grow up and mature, especially Logan. I felt a bit like I was reading a young adult book.

There was an attempt in creating an interesting plot twist with the horse but it fell flat. In fact, I don’t recall that plot thread ever being resolved. What happened to the lady? Did she just give up? In the end I guess it doesn’t matter because the story really wasn’t about the horse.

In conclusion I’d say this book was a good book to read while waiting to get your oil changed. I don’t consider it a waste of my time but it’s not one that I’d put on my keeper shelf. I must point out that there was one line in the book that made the entire book worth reading, “Just because you’ve made a decision doesn’t mean it’s the right one.” I just wanted to shout “AMEN”!

Montana Christmas Magic did have a fast paced happily ever after ending that left me dizzy but satisfied. I imagined a director using a clapperboard saying “That’s a wrap”! If you are at a crossroads in your life and need inspiration then this book is for you. Follow your heart and your dreams with an open mind! Don’t give up!

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!