I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi


I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (272 pgs)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

Maddy is a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother, host of excellent parties, giver of thoughtful gifts, and bestower of a searingly perceptive piece of advice or two. She is the cornerstone of her family, a true matriarch…until she commits suicide, leaving her husband Brady and teenage daughter Eve heartbroken and reeling, wondering what happened. How could the exuberant, exacting woman they loved disappear so abruptly, seemingly without reason, from their lives? How they can possibly continue without her? As they sift through details of her last days, trying to understand the woman they thought they knew, Brady and Eve are forced to come to terms with unsettling truths.

Maddy, however, isn’t ready to leave her family forever. Watching from beyond, she tries to find the perfect replacement for herself. Along comes Rory: pretty, caring, and spontaneous, with just the right bit of edge…but who also harbors a tragedy of her own. Will the mystery of Maddy ever come to rest? And can her family make peace with their history and begin to heal?

Maddy Starling had it all. A beautiful house, fulfilling volunteer work, a successful husband and a beautiful daughter. She is the glue that holds her family’s world together. But when she commits suicide unexpectedly, everyone’s world is rocked to its core, leaving her family to wonder what they missed. How could they not have known she was so unhappy?

I Liked My Life is told through three alternating points of view – those of Maddy, the deceased mother who isn’t ready to let go of her family, Eve, the almost seventeen-year-old daughter, and Brady, the devoted if absent husband. Sometimes I’m wary of being in so many characters’ heads at one time, but this really works as you get a more complete view of how the family worked prior to Maddy’s suicide and the obstacles they now have to overcome.

This novel touched me in several ways. First, as the mother of two teenaged girls, I saw a lot of them in Eve. In her rebellion, her sarcasm, and her pain. I could also related to Eve’s situation as a daughter myself. I’m lucky enough to still have my mother in my life and couldn’t imagine what would have become of me if I’d lost her in my teens. I could also relate to Maddy’s view on her relationship both with her daughter and her husband. It’s such a fine balance between giving them a little leeway and letting them run all over you. Maddy seemed to have found the balance of power that worked for them all, even if she wasn’t always completely satisfied with the outcome.

I Liked My Life is a rollercoaster of emotions. There are moments that tug at your heartstrings, others that make you laugh or rage in anger. In the end, it’s a story of a life cut short and those that are left behind wondering what happened. It’s also a story about how life goes on and that through the pain, you can find happiness again.

How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks


How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days by Kerrelyn Sparks
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (297 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Luciana grew up on the Isle of Moon, hidden away because of her magical powers. But when her father arrives, he offers her a choice: remain on the island or return with him and marry the Beast of Benwick in order to save their legacy—and her father’s life.

Lord Leofric, the Beast of Benwick, has not been touched since he was a child. Born with the power to harness lightning, he is a danger to everyone he touches. When he meets his betrothed, he expects a loveless, lonely marriage…until he discovers she’s vastly more powerful than he realized. But is she strong enough to withstand his touch?

If they can survive, their love will alter the future of the kingdom. But will their extraordinary powers cost them everything?

Talk about a meaty piece of world building! Ms. Sparks has embarked on a new series and if it means to go on as it’s started, then this should be an adventure that fans are going to gobble up. There’s mystical prophecy, power plays, subterfuge, shape changers, ghosts, secrets and noble deeds. There’s an intricate plot of intrigue and deception and the heroine, Luciana is the focal point. She was innocent and ignorant of so many things about the world outside the Isle of Moon where she’s lived all her life. She’s known nothing else except her sisters. One clandestine visit from a surprise visitor leads the heroine onto a path she never imagined, and for readers, the adventure begins.

Ms. Sparks was meticulous about setting the stage for not just this book, but for all the novels to come. She did it in such a way that captured my interest and kept it. Secondary characters are slowly introduced and each one propelled the plot forward, contributed to the conflict or assisted in the eventual blossoming romance between Luciana and Leo. I enjoyed watching them fall in love; not the easiest thing to do amidst such mistrust and evil portents dogging their steps. Thank goodness for Leo’s stalwart friends, friends like Brody. I really liked him and he provided comic relief every now and again. But Brody isn’t a jester – he’s brave, courageous and loyal and has a lot of hero potential.

There’s a very clever evil dude that made quite an impression. He’s diabolical, wily and I bet he’s going to be a reoccurring pain in the neck for future heroes and heroines in the series. He’s unlike any villain I’ve seen so kudos to Ms. Sparks for introducing a convincing adversary.

What makes Leo such a fascinating hero is his…talent. It’s a very scary and powerful ability that has the power to kill everyone. That kind of puts a kink into any romantic plans he has or would ever have. How in the world did the author come up with such a surprising and effective work-around I can’t even begin to imagine. But it works, it’s amazing and it made perfect sense within the world that Ms. Sparks has created.

There is suspense, drama, action and even some humor. Of course, when Leo and Luciana finally stumble upon a way to love each other physically, the romance zooms off the charts into the stratosphere of pure satisfaction. Those scenes simultaneously made me smile (lightening rod) and swoon (romance and joy). They were SO good together!

There is absolutely no doubt that How to Tame a Beast in Seven Days is going to knock readers’ socks off. It has that wonderful storytelling voice that Ms. Sparks is known for, plus characters that are engaging, well rounded and vivid. I am an ecstatically happy reader and I’m looking forward to going wherever the author is going to take me next.

Stormchaser by Cherry Adair

Stormchaser by Cherry Adair
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (353 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

DESIRE RUNS DEEP

Somewhere off the coast of Greece, a king’s ransom in gold, emeralds, and silver coins lies waiting at the bottom of the sea. Finding this ancient treasure would be a dream come true for marine archeologist Calista West. But that’s not why she’s here. She didn’t climb aboard Jonah Cutter’s magnificent yacht seeking fortune or fame. She’s come for revenge—against the sexiest, most seductive, modern-day pirate she’s ever encountered…

Like his famous half brothers, Jonah is a master of salvaging ships—and driving women mad with his movie-star looks and raw animal magnetism. Tall, dark, and devastating, he manages to make Callie forget her mission. Every moment they share under the hot Mediterranean sun is an erotically-charged adventure neither can resist. But when Callie discovers what he’s really after—the lost city of Atlantis—is it too late to change the course of her heart…or go all in with the lover of her dreams?

Looking for Atlantis! Wow, so not what I expected. Stormchaser is third in a series. I wasn’t aware of this when I selected it, and I had no issue following the story, though–as always–it will likely be a richer experience if you’ve read the others.

This is my second Cherry Adair book, and she definitely has a “way” that she writes. Regardless of the storyline, attraction between the H/h is hot, erotic and immediate. Looking for a seriously sexy story? Look no further.

Jonah reminds me of any good, fictional “pirate”. Yes, he’s the captain of a ship, but I could picture him hundreds of years earlier underneath the skull and crossbones. Dark, strong, mysterious. However, he’s far to honorable for that.

Callie isn’t as honorable, and it took me some time to warm up to her. She’s on his ship on a lie, a big one, and it was tough for me to forgive her for it because I liked Jonah.

The premise of the book was interesting, too … I love the idea of potentially finding Atlantis. It’s this big mystery that lingers and makes a person wonder. Very well handled by the author.

The only hiccup I had was the lack of a true connection between Callie and Jonah. Heat? Oh yeah, in spades. Lots of sheet time here. But that little “spark” that makes a romance reader’s heart go pitty-pat? I didn’t feel it authentically.

Still, Ms. Adair’s writing is strong, descriptive and very clear and visual. I’m only just now finding her, but thankfully, she has a full backlist for me to explore. And I assuredly will.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin


Victoria by Daisy Goodwin
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (401 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

“They think I am still a little girl who is not capable of being a Queen.”

Lord Melbourne turned to look at Victoria. “They are mistaken. I have not known you long, but I observe in you a natural dignity that cannot be learnt. To me, ma’am, you are every inch a Queen.”

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.

One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….

Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.

Victoria was only eighteen when she became Queen. Her mother and her mother’s friend planned on running the kingdom for her and she could just look pretty. Victoria had no intention of doing that and make it plain on her Coronation Day that she would be the Queen and make the decisions. Since no one thought she’d do that, she wasn’t trained. It was a good thing she had a Prime Minister who could help her figure out the problems and gently guide her to practical solutions. She was smart and did well at making her own decisions but she was lacking on political experience. He helped with that.

This author’s words sing from the pages. It’s hard to take historical fact and make an interesting book but Ms. Goodwin has done just that. It feel like you are reading a Regency romance but it’s more impressive because it’s about the real Queen Victoria.

She has several successes in her life, but she’s not doing so well in love. She’s grown quite fond of her Prime Minister. He helps her find humor, makes meals a pleasure with her family, and goes on horse rides with her. When he learns she’s getting a little too fond of him, he tries to distance himself. He’s too old for her, but he’s fond of her, too. Sometimes you can’t have the one you love but you don’t forget them.

Her mother and her friend are trying to set her up with her cousin. She thinks he’s a lump and is not impressed. Of course, she last saw him three years ago and he’s a bit better with age. He still doesn’t hold a candle to the Prime Minister. And, being Queen, she’s the one who has to propose.

While she rules a country she loves and tries to help everyone around her, she also manages to get rid of her mother’s lover (who is against her) and she works out who and why she should marry.

This is history that is alive in the retelling. Ms. Goodwin’s words flow well, the story is well told and it’s very enjoyable to read. Victorian times weren’t boring.

Hit Man by Michele Mannon

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Hit Man by Michele Mannon
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (300 pages)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Tulip

He always gets what he wants.

The seasoned seducer, who probably charms the panties off of every woman he meets. Diego is handsome. Arrogant. Dangerous. Far more dangerous than anyone I’ve ever met. And with one look from across a crowded room he has me; hook line and sinker, I’m his for the night.

Diego is not a man to mess with, I know that. I just can’t seem to resist his kiss, his touch. But can I trust him with my heart, with my body?

I’m being hunted for something I may or may not have seen, and Diego is my only way out of a world of death and destruction. If only I can believe his dark promises.

I absolutely loved this sexy, seductive and suspenseful book from Michele Mannon.

Aubrey came to Mexico with hopes of helping people but instead she stumbled into the middle of a very dangerous situation. Diego is a problem solver / hitman for TORC a secret government contractor. Aubrey kept bumbling into his mission and he kept saving her. Their chemistry was off the charts hot, flames instead of sparks, and the notorious seducer never knew what hit him.

I’m a huge fan of the Deadliest Lies Series and this book lived up to my every expectation. Diego and Aubrey were wonderful vibrant characters who immediately captured my attention with their passionate, sometimes comical, escapades. Diego was fascinated but at the same time suspicious of Aubrey. The sexy dirty talking hitman didn’t know quite what to expect from do gooder Aubrey. He tried hard but still broke the rules time and again to keep her safe.

Michele Mannon’s writing was excellent in this book. The plot was fast paced and intricate with surprises to keep me guessing until the end. I had a vivid picture of Diego and Aubrey in my imagination that gave me a real good “feel” for them. I saw Aubrey as a strong, but naive, funny soft hearted person, which is exactly the type of woman who could melt Diego’s heart. I liked her sense of humor, and tenacity and passion. I felt they were perfect for each other and was waiting for Diego to stop pushing Aubrey away for her own good though he made me wait a while for that to happen. Together they were the most fun couple that I’ve met during my romantic book travels.

Hit Man is the third book the DEADLIEST LIES SERIES. There’s no doubt this is my favorite so far and I happily recommend it to everyone. In the romantic suspense department this book is one of the best I’ve ever read. I loved it that much !

Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker

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Crazy Blood by T. Jefferson Parker
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (303 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cholla

The Carson dynasty rules the ski resort town of Mammoth Lakes in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. Founded by patriarch Adam, the town is the site of the Mammoth Cup ski race-a qualifier for the Olympics. But when Wylie Welborn, Adam’s illegitimate grandson, returns after a stint in Afghanistan, it reopens a dark moment in Carson family history: the murder of Wylie’s father by his jealous and very pregnant wife, Cynthia. Her son Sky, born while his mother was in prison, and Wylie are half-brothers. They inherit not only superb athletic skills but an enmity that threatens to play out in a lethal drama on one of the fastest and most perilous ski slopes in the world.

Three powerful and unusual women have central roles in this volatile family feud: Cynthia, bent on destroying Wylie; his mother Kathleen, determined to protect him; and April Holly, a beautiful celebrity snowboarder, on track to win Olympic Gold. But, as Wylie falls in love with April and they begin to imagine a life away from the violence that has shattered his family, history threatens to repeat itself and destroy them both.

Are things like jealously, greed, and craziness inherited? Are some people just born with crazy blood? That’s the question when half-brothers Wylie Welborn and Sky Carson set their sights on beating the other at the Mammoth Cup skiing competition. But which one will come out on top? Will slow and steady win the race or will the day be won by sheer audacity?

Wylie Welborn was once on top of the world. Now, upon his return home after a long stint in Afghanistan, he’s finding himself at a loss, trying to rebuild the life he’d had before. He’s a complex and interesting character, one I enjoyed very much, in spite of his struggles and inner demons. Although Wylie is content to ski and help out his family, when the chance at love comes around, he throws himself all into the opportunity. I found it interesting how, even though he was the illegitimate son of the town’s patriarch, Adam Carson, said patriarch embraced Wylie with open arms. It was a refreshing approach to an age-old situation. Even Adam Carson’s oldest grandson, Robert, treated Wylie like a brother. Adam’s younger grandson, Sky, on the other hand, had nothing but vitriol for Wylie.

Sky Carson is everything Wylie is not. Although an excellent skier, he’s headstrong, arrogant, and reckless. Aided and abetted in his hatred by his mother, the jilted Cynthia Carson, Sky makes it his mission to drive Wylie out of town, but not before he beats him at the Mammoth Cup. Despite the fact that practically every scene with Sky made me seethe with anger and frustration, I honestly felt awful for the kid. His mother was pregnant with him when she caught her husband cheating – of which Wylie was the result – and therefore spent the first thirteen years of his life without his mother. But the way he internalized all of his mother’s ‘crazy blood’ left me feeling out of sorts at times.

Crazy Blood is a sit on the edge of your seat kind of novel because you never know what kind of crazy is going to crop up next. Even though I have very little interest in competitive skiing, the descriptions were exciting and described in a way that even a novice could fully envision them as they happened. There is one serious twist near the end that caught me completely by surprise and stuck with me long after I finished the novel.

Favorite Holiday Food by St. Martin’s Press Authors – Guest Blog

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Long and Short Reviews welcomes St. Martin’s Press authors who are sharing their favorite holiday food! Click on the banner for the buy links.

Favorite Holiday Food
silent-night-star-lit-nightRuth Logan Herne 

We’ve got a great eggnog pie recipe, it’s positively decadent! Here’s the link to our cooking with the authors website “The Yankee Belle Cafe”

Multi-published, best-selling author RUTH LOGAN HERNE likes nothing better than writing stories that warm the heart and ease the troubled soul. The author of more than fifteen Love Inspired contemporary novels, the “Double S Ranch” trilogy with PRH/Waterbrook and inspiring women’s fiction for Franciscan Media, Ruth has also become proficient in writing successful novellas for Zondervan, Summerside Press and several highly acclaimed novellas for the independent ebook market. Equally at home writing about small town folks or delving into the heart of big city neighborhoods, Ruthy lives on a farm in upstate New York, one of the snow-belt capitals of the world with her family, farm animals and pets.

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it-must-be-christmasDonna Alward

Savory or sweet? There’s a Chocolate Chip Cheeseball recipe I got from Debbie Macomber’s site that I’ve modified that I love (plus: cookies!), and for savory, I make sausage-stuffed mushrooms that are easy and so tasty!

While bestselling author DONNA ALWARD was busy studying Austen, Eliot and Shakespeare, she was also losing herself in the breathtaking stories created by romance novelists like LaVyrle Spencer, Judith McNaught, and Nora Roberts. Several years after completing her degree she decided to write a romance of her own and it was true love! Five years and ten manuscripts later she sold her first book and launched a new career. While her heartwarming stories of love, hope, and homecoming have been translated into several languages, hit bestseller lists and won awards, her very favorite thing is when she hears from happy readers!

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candy-cane-christmasLaura Trentham

Broccoli Salad
My go-to potluck take-along…plus I make it every holiday. Basically whenever I can get away with it, because it is SO good.

2 bunches of broccoli, chopped
1/2 lbs cooked bacon, crumbled (I use the pouches of bacon bit to avoid the mess of cooking bacon)
1/2 med red onion, diced
1/2 cup golden or brown raisins
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/2 cup Mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup Mayo (Duke’s, of course:)
2T white vinegar
1/4-1/2 cup white sugar

Mix together broccoli, onion, raisins, sunflower seeds. In a small bowl, whisk together mayo, vinegar, and sugar and pour over salad. Mix gently. Chill for several hours or overnight to blend flavors. (This isn’t mandatory, but does improve the taste). Just before serving, add bacon and cheese.

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance including Caught Up in the Touch, Kiss Me That Way, and others. She is a member of RWA, and has finaled multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

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christmas-joyNancy Naigle

I did these videos last year while watching the Hallmark Movie~THE NOTE. Kelsey Browning and I co-author a fun southern cozy series called The Granny Series. There is a clip of her and then one of me in each of these fine uncut – unedited raw videos. The recipe for FaLaLa-LaLa-La Bon Bons is available as a PDF on my website. I also have two recipe cards printed up for cookies from my book, CHRISTMAS JOY. I can send those to you if you’d like! I’ll be posting them on my website as a free download after the book releases.

USA Today bestselling author NANCY NAIGLE whips up small-town love stories with a dash of suspense and a whole lot of heart. Now happily retired, she devotes her time to writing, antiquing, and the occasional spa day with friends. A native of Virginia Beach, she currently calls North Carolina home. Her books include Sweet Tea and Secrets, Mint Juleps and Justice, and Christmas Joy.

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do-you-hear-what-i-hearMargaret Brownley

Our Christmas dinner is five star dining at its best. That’s because my son-in-law is an executive chef and he treats us every year to prime rib with all the trimmings. I never ask for recipes because then I might be tempted to try them.

MARGARET BROWNLEY is a New York Times bestselling author and past Romance Writers of America RITA finalist with more than 30 novels to her credit. Not bad for someone who flunked 8th grade English. Just don’t ask her to diagram a sentence. Margaret and her husband have three grown children and live in Southern California.

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like-fresh-fallen-snow

when-snowflakes-fallTara Wyatt
My mom’s shortbread. Hands down. It tastes like Christmas and home the way nothing else does.

TARA WYATT is a contemporary romance and romantic suspense author. Known for her humor and steamy love scenes, Tara’s writing has won several awards, including the Unpublished Winter Rose, the Linda Howard Award of Excellence, and the Heart of the West. A librarian by day and romance writer by night, Tara lives in Hamilton, Ontario with the world’s cutest dog and a husband who makes all of her heroes look like chumps. Find her on Twitter @taradwyatt. She’d love to hear from you!

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big-packageOpal CarewTurkey (dark meat) and stuffing. Mmm. Unfortunately, now that I’m following the Paleo diet, making a stuffing I can eat is a challenge!

OPAL CAREW is the author of more than eighteen erotic romances for St. Martin’s Press including Forbidden Heat,Pleasure Bound, Twin Fantasies, and other erotic romance novels. She lives in Canada and makes regular trips to the U.S. to speak at conferences and industry events.

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march_christmas-in-eternity-springs Emily March I find a new favorite every year in the recipe exchange cookbook I put together from recipes sent in by my readers. Watch my Facebook page or join my mailing list for info on how to get your copy!

EMILY MARCH is the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, and USA Today bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the critically acclaimed Eternity Springs series. Publishers Weekly calls March a “master of delightful banter,” and her heartwarming, emotionally charged stories have been named to Best of the Year lists by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Romance Writers of America. A graduate of Texas A&M University, Emily is an avid fan of Aggie sports and her recipe for jalapeño relish has made her a tailgating legend.

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if-santa-were-a-cowboyMelissa Cutler
My grandmother makes the best fruit cake from scratch, and that’s no joke. I would share the recipe, but when I make it, it never turns out like Grandma’s, because she must put some secret ingredients in hers.

Melissa Cutler is the author of The Mistletoe Effect and the One and Only Texas series. She knows she has the best job in the world writing sexy contemporary romances and romantic suspense. She was struck at an early age for an unrelenting travel bug and is probably planning her next vacation as you read this. When she’s not globetrotting, she’s enjoying Southern California’s flip-flop wearing weather and wrangling two rambunctious kids.

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it-must-be-christmasMandy Baxter
My all time favorite holiday food is stuffing at Thanksgiving. Carbs be damned!

MANDY BAXTER lives in rural Idaho. She’s a part-time pet wrangler, a full-time sun worshiper, and only goes out into the cold when coerced. She loves black clothes, pink appliances and thinks junk food should be a recognized food group. In the summer, she can be found sitting by the lake, enjoying the view from her dock.

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Do You Hear What I Hear? by Margaret Brownley

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Do You Hear What I Hear? by Margaret Brownley
Publisher: SMP Swerve
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (92 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Welcome to Heywood, Oregon where three lost women find healing, hope and love under the bright light of the town’s old Star Inn this Christmas season.

Two bad things happened to Sally Cartwright that week. Three if she counted the pink slip received at the Home and Family magazine’s annual Christmas party. But nothing was worse than plowing into a snowbank and being stuck in a town she swore never to see again. A town she once called home. Now she must spend the long cold night in the car or follow the bright shining star through the woods to the old Star Inn. She chooses the inn and that’s where her troubles really begin…

Lumber mill owner, Rick Rennick, is in no mood for Christmas cheer. Having recently buried his father, he’s still trying to sort out the financial mess left behind. Unless Rick comes up with a miracle, the mill run by the family for generations is about to shut down for good. That would put a lot of men out of work and impact the future of the town. If things weren’t bad enough he’s now stuck at the old Star Inn waiting for the road back to his cabin to reopen. His luck takes another turn for the worse when he suddenly comes face to face with the past he’d sooner forget. For unless he’s seeing things, the only woman he’s ever loved is standing in front of the inn’s blazing fire trying to get warm. How is it possible that one chance meeting could stir up so many old memories?

Both Rick and Sally regret what happened between them, but his family lumberyard clashes with her tree-hugging ways and neither is willing to try again. It will take the storm of the century, one stage-struck young boy, a certain meddling “angel”—and even a cranky cat—to convince them that in matters of the heart, sometimes the second time around is best.

She’s only going home to see how her grandmother is doing and help her over the holidays. It’s not starting out very well when she slides off the road into a snow bank and has to walk to the local inn and see if they have a room for the night. Sally lives in the city now and is hoping her new job pans out. This is an interim vacation.

When she reaches the inn, they do have space for her. She also gets to listen to the boy recite his lines from the play he’ll be in. More than once. And, worse luck, she runs into her old flame at the inn. The weather has kept him from getting home, too.

Ms. Brownley writes a sweet romance that draws you in and makes you smile. Sally has all these reasons why she and Rick wouldn’t make a good couple. They are opposites. They eat different things, like different things and want different things. It wouldn’t last. The author almost convinces you of that. Good thing the innkeeper doesn’t give up on them.

With grandma getting together with a man who lives at the rehabilitation house with her, love seems to be in the air. When they decide to go to the play together, he races her wheelchair and grandma screams all the way there.

This is a light airy read with goodness between the lines. It’s a perfect holiday read. Anything that can put love in your heart and give you good feelings is a winner to me. You won’t be disappointed in this sweet romance.

All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

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All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (305 pgs)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

In the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut everything seems picture perfect.

Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, prefers to pretend this horrific event did not touch her perfect country club world.

As they seek help for their daughter, the fault lines within their marriage and their close-knit community emerge from the shadows where they have been hidden for years, and the relentless quest to find the monster who invaded their town – or perhaps lives among them – drive this psychological thriller to a shocking and unexpected conclusion.

What if something bad happened to you and there was a drug that could make your forget all about the incident? That’s the question and theme of All Is Not Forgotten. The story begins with the brutal rape of a young girl named Jenny, and her parent’s decision to give her a drug so she doesn’t have to deal with the memories of what happened to her.

The premise does draw you into this story but I found it difficult to connect with any of the characters in the book which I felt ruined what would have been a great psychological thriller. We’re never in Jenny’s head, neither are we privy to either of her parents’ thoughts. Instead the story unfolds through a distant narrator and one whose identity isn’t revealed until chapter seven. He’s a psychiatrist who helps Jenny and does play a part in the twist in the plot at the end of the story. However, I felt the story unfolded with him just telling us about what happened and all the secrets that come to light rather than us being showed the story unfold and how lives are changed throughout the course of the story. Not only was it all through his narration, but he relays to us what people told him and what he’d heard rather than us being able to see and hear it for ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, this is a great book with a very novel premise but because of the choice and style of point of view used by the author, I sometimes felt it was a struggle to read.

Remember that reviews are objective and I hope my personal preference won’t put you off at least giving this one a read so you can decide for yourself.

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

WANTED
Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (417 pgs)
Rated: 3.5 stars
Review by Poppy

Lisa Scottoline delivers another searing, powerful blockbuster novel that explores hot-button issues within the framework of an intricately plotted thriller. When a woman and her husband, desperate for a baby, find themselves unable to conceive, they decide to take further steps. Since it is the husband who is infertile, the heroine decides to use a donor. And all seems to be well. Three months pass and she is happily pregnant. But a shocking revelation occurs when she discovers that a man arrested for a series of brutal murders is her donor – the biological father of the child she is carrying. Delving deeper to uncover the truth, the heroine must face her worst fears, and confront a terrifying truth. Most Wanted is sure to be Lisa Scottoline’s most discussed, bestselling novel yet.

An intriguing premise leads to a crazy ride!

When Christine decides to use a sperm donor to start a family with her husband, Marcus, she had no idea what would happen next. They were allowed to see pictures of the donors in order to choose one who looked close to her husband’s appearance, so later when she sees an accused serial killer on TV, she’s certain it’s the biological father of her baby.

I was interested in the premise of nature vs. nurture that was present in both the book and in Christine’s mind. She’s so determined that her baby won’t have a serial killer father, she sets out to prove the man’s innocence. I liked Christine, though found it a little amazing that she proves such an apt sleuth considering her background as an elementary teacher who isn’t that proficient in much else.

My biggest issue with the story, honestly, was that I did not like her husband, Marcus in the least. I just couldn’t believe that they had a solid marriage, or support the idea of bringing a child into their unstable, difficult union, so it colored my overall enjoyment of the book. I spent much of the book wanting to slap Marcus silly.

I did, however, adore Griff! He was possibly the best, most interesting and well rounded character in the story. I hope he shows up somewhere again, because I’d love to revisit him.

The suspense portion of the story, while implausible really, was still interesting enough to keep me reading. I did want to know who the killer was…was it the guy who’d donated his sperm for he baby? Someone else altogether? It was enough of a question that I didn’t stop turning pages. Honestly, I was a bit let down by how the book ended, both in regards to the killer and that my romantic heart just didn’t buy the relationship between Christine and Marcus.

I’ve read a couple other books by the author and really enjoyed them. This one, while not up to the same level as those, still isn’t a waste of time. I think there’s enough meat to the plot and the characters to make it something I’d suggest picking up at your local library for a few hours of enjoyment.