Max and Rosie by Arnold Greenberg


Max and Rosie by Arnold Greenberg
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (49 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Max has been in love with his wife Rosie ever since she sat next to him in their Chaucer class nearly forty years ago. Now she is dying of Alzheimer’s. He devotes himself to taking care of her, bringing her tea and toast each afternoon, going to the park to feed the ducks, and reminiscing.

When he can no longer care for her alone, he hires Robin as Rosie’s live-in nurse. As time passes his attraction to Robin grows. They share meals, movies, and confidences while Rosie fades further away. He dreams of kissing Robin and telling her how he feels—but wonders could she ever feel the same about him. When Rosie dies, Max dreads the day Robin will move out. What will he do without her vibrant ways, her sweet smile? What will he do without her?

Some people say age is just a number. Does this rule also apply to falling in love with an adult who is much younger than you?

Max was such a likeable guy. His devotion to his wife was plain to see, especially as he adjusted to how quickly Rosie was losing all of her memories. Watching him grieve the loss of their relationship as she forget who he was and all of the happy years they’d had together made me blink back tears. I wanted more than anything for him to somehow find a happy ending for himself.

There were pacing issues when it came to the development of the relationship between Robin and Max. Nothing happened between them for a long time, so I was surprised by how quickly things started moving once they began to explore the possibility of becoming more than friends. This didn’t seem like something either one of these characters would do because of how thoughtful and methodical they were in the rest of their lives. I would have really liked to have more hints about their shifting feelings earlier on so that the later development of their relationship wasn’t so sudden.

I liked the fact that the main characters in this tale all had well-rounded backstories. Knowing how Max and Rosie had spent the last thirty-seven years together was just as important as hearing about Robin’s childhood and learning why she decided to become a nurse. I felt like I got to know all three of them incredibly well because of how much time the author spent tying their pasts to the lives they were currently living.

Max and Rosie should be read by anyone who is in the mood for something bittersweet.

The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower by M. S. Spencer


The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower by M. S. Spencer
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (325 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

In both the best and worst first day at work ever, docent Claire Wilding meets the man of her dreams, but her carefully rehearsed guided tour of the George Washington National Masonic Memorial falls apart when she discovers a dead body. Together with Detective Ernest Angle, she’s drawn into a dark world of black ops and Italian renegade masons, of secret cabals and hidden treasure. Also cloaked in mystery is her new love Gideon Bliss. A George Washington expert, he haunts the Memorial, his manner evasive. What is his secret? Claire fears she’ll fall in love with him only to learn he’s a thief or even a murderer.

Juggling eccentric mothers and an increasingly smitten Ernest, our heroine must find answers in a complex web of intrigue, including which black ops agent to trust, whether our first president strayed, and if she and Gideon will ever be together.

Is Gideon just a George Washington enthusiast, or is he tangled in a web of lies and murder?

When Claire accepted a job working as a docent at the George Washington National Masonic Memorial, she never could have imagined how complicated her life was about to become. Finding a murder victim in the tower is just the beginning of a mystery filled with spies, thieves, and vandals. As Claire tries to solve the mystery, Gideon sweeps Claire off her feet, but can she trust him? Is his appearance at the tower on the day of the murder merely a coincidence?

Claire’s first day of work couldn’t possibly have gone worse. As if a murder wasn’t bad enough, Claire’s life is further complicated by the attentions of two very different men, Gideon Bliss and Detective Ernest Angle. Claire is instantly attracted to Gideon, and their relationship becomes physical at lightning speed, but Claire can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something. I must admit I had serious doubts about Gideon and his motivations as well. Consequently, I could never get comfortable with their relationship. I didn’t feel as though they really clicked as a couple even after the truth was revealed. They didn’t seem to spend much time together, and for a good chunk of the story, Claire was pretty sure Gideon was up to something. This doesn’t strike me as a very solid foundation for a good relationship.

I truly felt sorry for Detective Angle. He is clearly smitten with Claire, and she does not feel the same way. Claire doesn’t set out to hurt him, but once she realizes he has feelings for her, she does nothing to dissuade his attentions. Instead, she uses his attraction in order to get inside information on the progress of the case. I found this rather off putting. I think Claire is better than that, and Detective Angle doesn’t deserve to be led on in such a way.

There are several mysteries intertwined within the pages of this book, and while they were intriguing, I must admit I also found them to be unnecessarily complicated as well. Keeping the various threads of the mysteries straight is quite a task, and while the ending felt a bit forced to me, it was still satisfying.

Overall, The Mason’s Mark: Love and Death in the Tower is a good book. The pacing is quick and the mystery is interesting. I recommend this tale to anyone looking for a steamy, romantic suspense.

The Marshal’s Pursuit by Micki Miller


The Marshal’s Pursuit by Micki Miller
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (212 pgs)
Heat: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Penny Wills is devastated after the murder of her father. Things get worse when she learns he arranged a marriage for her to a man she doesn’t love. Her only way out is to catch the villain who killed him and collect the reward money.

Marshal Garrett Kincaid can’t believe Penny has followed him for three days without his knowledge. Now he has no choice but to take the prim little hellion with him on a manhunt.

They track the killer together until their attraction to each other pushes their passion to the limit. Anger and embarrassment send Penny sneaking off in the middle of the night. By dawn she’s riding, pursued by an outlaw, a spurned fiancé, and one irate marshal.

Oh, my goodness, this was a very good book. From start to finish The Marshal’s Pursuit was a delight.

Penny, the heroine, was an admirable character as she was forced to adjust to life without her father there to support her after he was murdered before her eyes. Circumstances went from bad to worse before she met Marshal Garrett Kincaid, the hero.

With a big smile on my face I can tell you that Garrett was hilarious but deadly serious when necessary. I completely understand why Penny fell in love with Garrett because I did too! Together their passion for each other made this book irresistible to put down. I grin every time I think of Garrett and experience a bit of a book glow.

The author, Micki Miller, did an outstanding job of writing scenes that had me on the edge of my seat or laughing my head off. At one point Penny was being pursued by a dangerous outlaw, an angry finance, and a madder-than-a-hornet Garrett. There was a scene where Penny was suddenly surrounded by a “melding of trees”. I won’t spoil the story for you by telling you what that means. Let’s just say that I could barely read what happened next. The suspense was unbearable and yet, nothing could prevent me from turning the pages. The plot was definitely clever, unpredictable and fun. I especially enjoyed the scene where Garrett and Penny were checking into a hotel. I couldn’t stop laughing, it was absolutely hysterical.

I enjoyed this book very much. So much so that I was sad when it came to an end, but it sure was a sweet ending. All the threads where nicely wrapped up with a happy ever after. I absolutely recommend this book for a fun, and easy read.

Everything Bundt the Truth by Karen C. Whalen


Everything Bundt the Truth by Karen C. Whalen
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (320 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Recent widow, Jane Marsh, is determined to recapture a rich, full life. She strives for youthful fun by riding a bicycle downtown on her lunch hour in a suit and heels, smoking cigars, eating at hipster restaurants, and re-entering the dating scene, even if her dates prove to be peculiar.

Her most fervent desire, though, is to join an exclusive dinner club. She auditions, but is barred when her housekeeper is found murdered, and she and her guest list become the suspect list. Her, a killer? So what if her two late husbands died under suspicious circumstances. It doesn’t make her a killer.

Having passed off a store bought Bundt cake as her own creation, she may have committed a culinary crime, but never murder!

Jane is getting ready for a dinner party and she wants everything perfect. She’s made special dishes, has laid out the table and is going down her list checking off everything that needs to be done. When she finds that she forgot the creamer, she asks her girlfriend to go pick it up for her. She’s worried about her house cleaner who hasn’t arrived on time. It’s her first visit, and Jane is hoping she’s good at what she does. She was recommended by her girlfriend who assures her she’ll be there in time to get the work done and she’ll be happy with it. She’s pleased to see her show up and start on her job and she tells her to finish up by a certain time and that she will be back with her Bundt cake in a bit. She leaves and returns to an empty house. Empty except for the body in the basement…

This is a cozy mystery and, of course, Jane becomes a suspect. When the police aren’t finding the killer and the dinner club won’t approve her membership until the killer is found, Jane has a new mission: Find the killer herself.

There are a lot of shady characters in the past of the woman. Jane is sure one of the dinner club members wouldn’t have done it. But it takes a lot of time weeding through the facts and reading between the lines. In the meantime, the murdered woman’s son dies.

The story read well, the author made you feel Jane’s fear and uncertainty, and she threw in some humor, too. Stronger characters would have enhanced the story. There are almost too many events going on; it tends to shade the mystery story. The way it ended was pleasing and it would be easy to walk into another story from here. Jane appears to be settling down and another story about her would be fun to read.

Better to Give by K.K. Weil


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

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

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

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

Our past experiences should not always shape our future outlook.

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

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

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

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

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

Allegiance by Marilee Brothers


Allegiance by Marilee Brothers
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full (312 pgs)
Heat: Hot
Rated: 4 stars
Review by Poppy

Transplanted California girl, Melanie Sullivan, vows to stay in Oregon until she nails the killer of her best friend, Dani. Mel’s ability to search a soul for innocence or guilt is a big plus. Her love for Billy the Kid, former Marine and now a detective with the 3 Peaks police department is also a factor in her decision. She’s not quite sure what’s going on with Billy. Has the PTSD from his Middle East deployments returned?

When a hate crime is committed in 3 Peaks, Mel is recruited by sexy Homeland Security agent, Mick, who requires her soul-reading ability. Mick doesn’t hide his feelings. He’s more than eager to step in if Billy steps out, a complication Mel doesn’t need or want. As she goes undercover, Mel embarks on a dangerous journey, aided by her Uncle Paco and devoted friends. Along the way, she learns a valuable lesson about the power of forgiveness.

Filled with interesting and unique characters, and a heroine with a unique ability, Allegiance was absolutely entertaining.

We jump right into the story, after an off the page quickie with her boyfriend, Billy. Mel is sure she knows who killed her best friend and is basically stalking him in order to prove it. She’s asked for help from another friend, Mick, who wants to be more than friends… but then more things start happening.

Okay, first the one and only thing I didn’t like about this story: the point of view. It’s told in first person, present tense and it honestly drove me crazy. Had I known this ahead of time, I likely wouldn’t have selected it for review, because it’s the one POV I can not stand. Despite the engaging stories and characters here, I kept putting the book down and struggled to make it through simply because of the chosen POV. This is absolutely a personal preference, but I had to put it out there because it overshadowed everything else for me.

That said, the author’s done a fantastic job populating her story with interesting, quirky characters. While it’s clear there was a story previous to this, I had no issues at all keeping up with this book. Perhaps my experience would have been richer if I’d read the first book, but I honestly didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

I liked Mel. I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes…the ability to “read” a person by looking into their eyes would be both disturbing and annoying. As much as we might profess the desire to know the truth, it’s a heavy burden to bear.  She handles it quite well.

I definitely had my preference for which of the two men who wanted her I liked best. I’m not going to say here because I want to avoid spoilers, but I don’t think my preference was the same as Mel’s despite the way things were situated at the end of this book.  I didn’t feel like she had honest feelings for the one she’s with at the end, so the next book should be interesting.

The mystery kept me engaged and turning pages and the wrap up was solid and believable. But the strength of this story was absolutely the characters. I’m a huge fan of character driven fiction, so that was a huge plus for me.

All in all, Allegiance is a good book. Likely had a different POV been chosen, I’d have rated it higher and enjoyed it more. If that type of thing doesn’t bother you, then I highly recommend it… it’s a solid book.

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Death Benefits by Sharon Saracino


Death Benefits by Sharon Saracino
Max Logan Series Book 1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (205 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Max Logan’s insecurities have consumed her to the point she has allowed them to skew her perceptions of people and circumstances. She has grown progressively more bitter, sarcastic, and solitary since her divorce and feels as though she has spent a lifetime getting the short end of the stick through no fault of her own; still she trudges on.

Things can always get better, right? Of course, it’s hard to cultivate optimism when she finds herself dead, the victim of a D.I.E (Death in Error) caused by an overeager Grim Reaper in Training. She brokers a deal to be sent back to Earth as a temporary substitute for the Superintendent of Spiritual Impediment.

Can a girl who can’t recognize her own problems rectify the issues of the living impaired? Or will she discover that concentrating on their issues gives her a new perspective on her own?

What do you do when you slip in the shower and wake up dead? This is what happened to Max Logan. She wakes up in the foyer of the afterlife – which looks like a dirty bus depot – and finds her life has been cut short by accident. What to do? Bargain for another chance at life.

This book is hilarious. Max feels extremely sorry for herself, divorced, unemployed and living above the garage of her father and stepmother and now she’s dead through no fault of her own. Her ex interferes with her second chance at life and her outlook changes to consider others, rather than herself. She has to temp for the supervisor of the afterlife and her challenges come thick and fast. She doesn’t even have time to get over her accident.

Max is a very innovative heroine and the book is definitely one that can’t be put down until it’s been read from beginning to end. I was chuckling all the way through. This makes it sound as if there’s no mystery or conflict in the story, but there’s plenty on each page.

To sum up the book has reflection, confusion and lots of humor with a very likeable heroine.

Hidden Bloodlines by Karen Van Den Heuvel


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Pirate’s Revenge by Sarita Leone


The Pirate’s Revenge by Sarita Leone
The Lobster Cover Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Short Story (118 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Still grieving the loss of her father, Mary Sweet finds solace strolling the seashore at Quinn Beach. There she meets a handsome stranger who seems to share her sadness. He is utterly alone in the world, and praying to assuage his grief with this change of scenery.

Revenge is a strong motivator, especially for a man who’s been mistreated his whole life. The promise of pirate’s gold colors Henry Titchell’s view–yet not so much that he can’t see the beauty in Miss Mary Sweet. But while Henry is a stranger to Lobster Cove, he has not “stumbled” upon the place as he would have Mary believe. Instead he seeks retribution rather than rest

When Mary realizes the newcomer is not who he seems, will her heart be willing to forgive his sins?

Henry has a choice to make.

Tales of pirate treasure draw Henry to the picturesque coastal town of Lobster Cove. In the beginning, the source of Henry’s sorrow isn’t clear, but it quickly becomes apparent that he has never known a kind or gentle word. When the truth of his upbringing is finally revealed, it is heartbreaking. After Henry’s tormenters meet a fiery fate, he is finally free to make his own way in the world, and Henry decides to seek out a fortune. However, the people of Lobster Cove aren’t what he expected, and Henry certainly never anticipated meeting Mary. Will he pursue the gold or Mary’s heart? I eagerly anticipated learning the answer.

The romance between Henry and Mary is sweet. They are both wounded and seek to find peace on the beach. Instead, they find each other. I enjoyed watching Mary and Henry get to know each other. Their talks on the beach are lovely, and it is clear they will make a great couple. The only obstacle to their happy ending is Henry’s inner turmoil and his belief that he is unworthy of love and kindness. Mary is smart, and she can tell he’s hiding something. Mary has never given Henry a reason to doubt her sincerity. As I read, I wondered if he’d ever find the courage to tell her the truth.

Lobster Cove is the perfect place for Henry to heal his battered soul. The people there are generally kind. There are a few suspicious folks, but nothing serious enough to put Henry in any real danger. As Henry began to realize he could build a life in Lobster Cove, I liked watching Henry’s eyes open to a new life filled with possibility.

Reading The Pirate’s Revenge was very enjoyable. I liked Henry and Mary very much and had fun following their budding romance. Fans of sweet historical romance should give this book a try.

A Heart Made for Love by Linda Tillis


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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