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.

Immaculate Heart by Camille DeAngelis

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Immaculate Heart by Camille DeAngelis
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (291 pgs)
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

When visiting Ballymorris in Ireland for a funeral, a down-on-his-luck American reporter learns of a story that happened only months after his last visit many years before. A group of four teenagers, three of whom are family friends, claimed to have been visited by the Virgin Mary. Almost twenty years later, one of them denies it ever happened, another has left the small town, never to be heard from again, another has become a nun, and the fourth has been locked away in a psychiatric ward for many years. At the time, news of the visitation brought much wealth and tourism to this dreary Irish town, but as the years went by, and after the Pope refused to officially recognize it as a true Marian Apparition, what had been seen as a miracle began to feel like a curse, and this reporter believes there is more to the story than the townspeople are letting on.

As he seeks out each of the four stories, each begins to take a different and sinister turn. Surrounded by secrecy and confusion, the journalist must decide how much of what he’s uncovering is the truth, how much of it is lies, and much he can trust the four witnesses-one of whom he’s become infatuated with-or for that matter, himself.

What happens when the story gets bigger than anyone ever imagined? It’s a real humdinger.

I’ve got to start by saying I’m not sure what to think of this book. I went in with one frame of mind, but have since changed it. I thought about this book after I finished and discussed it with friends. Yeah, I discussed it.

The main thrust of the story is an American reporter who happens to be in Ireland and is interested in a story about four teenagers who claim to have been visited by the Virgin Mary. I went into the book with the mindset that this doesn’t really happen. But I also mentioned that I changed my mind. The author isn’t trying to force the reader to believe in these sightings, but rather to get the reader to reconsider his or her beliefs. I did.

The book also brought into mind how four people can be a witness to a certain occurrence and each handle it in a different way. We’re all different and we should celebrate that. We should celebrate what makes us that way and how there really are one-size-fits-all…anything.

Now I mentioned earlier that I had a hard time with this book. I did, but maybe that was what the author wanted. To get me to think and wonder. If so, she succeeded.

If you want a book that will make you think, wonder and reconsider, then this might be the book for you.

Island in the Sea by Anita Hughes

ISLAND
Island in the Sea by Anita Hughes
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press-Griffin Books
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (292 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

Juliet Lyman is a senior executive at Yesterday Records. Music is her passion and she’s very good at her job. That’s why her famously philanthropic boss Gideon sends her to Majorca, Spain to work with a very tortured, but talented client. Lionel Harding is one of the best song writers of the 20th century, the multi-Grammy award-winning lyricist of the third most recorded song in history. But now he’s 42 and six months overdue on the his latest paid assignment. Juliet is not leaving Majorca without either new lyrics or a very large check.

To Juliet, business comes first. Emotions are secondary, and love isn’t even on the menu. But to Lionel, love is everything, and he blames Gideon for his broken heart. He’s determined to show Juliet that nothing is more important than love, but Juliet is just as determined to get Lionel to create the music that made him famous. If she can sign up local talent, even better. Her new friend Gabriella has a voice like an angel, but she’s not interested in fame. Her grandmother, Lydia, wants the world for Gabriella, and she wants Juliet’s help to give it to her.

As her professional and personal lives start to mix for the first time, Juliet is forced to reevaluate her priorities. Gideon hasn’t been totally honest, and love may be the only thing that gives them all what they need.

I haven’t found many books set on the island of Majorca so I knew I had to read this one. I used to spend summers there when I was growing up so reading Island in the Sea was part nostalgia and part interesting story.

I thought the author did a wonderful job describing the flora and fauna. I imagined myself back there. The story was an interesting one but it never held my interest as much as I would have liked. There was nothing wrong with the pacing of dialogue or even the characters, but somehow I wasn’t able to connect with them, especially the lead character, Juliet, as much as I would have liked.

While a good part of the story does take place in the present and in Majorca, there were constant flashbacks of Lionel and his relationship with a woman called Samantha. While it was interesting to read, it sort of took away from the present story and sometimes the switches were abrupt and short. I did like the storyline with native resident Gabriella and how loyal she was to her family.

All in all, it was an interesting read, and if you’re looking for something with a setting that will be new to you, I’d say give this a try.

Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau

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Every Anxious Wave by Mo Daviau
Publisher: St Martin’s Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (273 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

Good guy Karl Bender is a thirty-something bar owner whose life lacks love and meaning. When he stumbles upon a time-travelling worm hole in his closet, Karl and his best friend Wayne develop a side business selling access to people who want to travel back in time to listen to their favorite bands. It’s a pretty ingenious plan, until Karl, intending to send Wayne to 1980, transports him back to 980 instead. Though Wayne sends texts extolling the quality of life in tenth century “Mannahatta,” Karl is distraught that he can’t bring his friend back.

Enter brilliant, prickly, overweight astrophysicist, Lena Geduldig. Karl and Lena’s connection is immediate. While they work on getting Wayne back, Karl and Lena fall in love — with time travel, and each other. Unable to resist meddling with the past, Karl and Lena bounce around time. When Lena ultimately prevents her own long-ago rape, she alters the course of her life and threatens her future with Karl.

A high-spirited and engaging novel, Every Anxious Wave plays ball with the big questions of where we would go and who we would become if we could rewrite our pasts, as well as how to hold on to love across time.

Take complication upon complication with a wormhole thrown in for good measure and you’ve got an interesting read.

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into when I picked up this book. Every Anxious Wave started out rather fluffy and retro. The idea of a wormhole where you can go back and visit concerts from the bands of your past… seems cool. Had the book kept with that theme, I would’ve been totally on board. Think of the concerts that could be seen! How many could be videotaped for posterity or videotaped in better definition? It’s mind-boggling.

But there’s a twist. Karl, the main character, accidentally sends his friend not back to 1980 to prevent the killing of John Lennon, but to 980 AD. Oops. At least in 1980, he could get back—there’s tech that could help. Not in 980. So what’s a couple of guys to do?

For me, this is where the believability sort of went downhill. I liked the idea of the mistake with the date. Hey, he’s stuck and we’ve got to get him back. Cool idea. But there were things in the book that didn’t quite get explained. Like how’d he get the wormhole? Where’d it come from? Was there a downside? I would’ve liked a little more explanation so I understood the mechanics of the wormhole, but I must say I was distracted by the idea of going back to visit concerts.

The other thing I had a problem with was the relationship between Lena and Karl. The whole thing felt forced. Like, they were together and that’s great. The development just didn’t feel like it was there. I did like the complications brought in for these two, but I wish there had been more of a jump into their emotions than happened.

Still, this was a fun read and made me long for the concerts I never got a chance to see given by musicians that died before my time. Thank you, Mo Daviau for that trip down memory lane.

The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas

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The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Genre: Historical, Mystery/Suspense, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full Length (353 pgs)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Stephanotis

It is 1880 and Gracy Brookens is the only midwife in a small Colorado mining town where she has delivered hundreds, maybe thousands, of babies in her lifetime. The women of Swandyke trust and depend on Gracy, and most couldn’t imagine getting through pregnancy and labor without her by their sides.

But everything changes when a baby is found dead…and the evidence points to Gracy as the murderer.

She didn’t commit the crime, but clearing her name isn’t so easy when her innocence is not quite as simple, either. She knows things, and that’s dangerous. Invited into her neighbors’ homes during their most intimate and vulnerable times, she can’t help what she sees and hears. A woman sometimes says things in the birthing bed, when life and death seem suspended within the same moment. Gracy has always tucked those revelations away, even the confessions that have cast shadows on her heart.

With her friends taking sides and a trial looming, Gracy must decide whether it’s worth risking everything to prove her innocence. And she knows that her years of discretion may simply demand too high a price now…especially since she’s been keeping more than a few dark secrets of her own.

There’s always something special about the last book you read before the calendar flips over to a new year and The Last Midwife was no exception. I spend the holidays relaxing reading this book and have to say it was hard to put down.

The main character, Gracy is a midwife in a Colorado town during the gold mining days. Her voice pulls you into the story and you like her straight away. She seems kind and sweet so when she’s suddenly accused of killing a baby, you’re put on edge and want to start reading more chapters.

It’s not just Gracy who’s a great character in this story, but just about everyone she comes in contact with. Each one seemed to jump off the page and I liked the way the author gave them all some sort of secret to keep hidden.

The author did a wonderful job portraying the town and how people actually lived and sometimes suffered through this period of history. You get a feel for what women went through during pregnancy and childbirth and just how tough the female of the family had to be to survive.

I felt like this book not only offered me a wonderful read but also a well told history lesson rolled in there too. The pacing was perfect and I found myself spending more time reading each time I picked up this book. This was the first time I’d read anything by this author and now I’ll be looking for more titles written by her.

Ms. Dallas has set the bar high for my New Year reading and I hope the next book I read is just as enjoyable. It’s one I suggest you add to your winter reading list.