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

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.

Bad Way Out by Paul Carr


Bad Way Out by Paul Carr
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (324 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

In a case of corporate espionage, a Key West businessman hires Sam Mackenzie to retrieve technical information stolen from his company. He’s told that confidence man Jack Craft recommended him. Sam has been burned by Jack before but this looks like easy money.

The job turns out to be anything but easy, as a caper flush with government agents, assassins, and conspiracy ensues. Not to mention a beautiful CIA agent with questionable motives has her eye on Sam, and mob thugs are after him for fallout from a previous job.

As the fireworks fly, Sam turns to his partner and a computer expert for help. The deeper they probe, the more they risk becoming collateral damage in a secret operation worth millions.

There’s no good way out of this one.

Bad Way Out is comparable to riding a thrilling rollercoaster in the dark! Sit down, buckle up and hang on for your life because you have no idea which way the plot will turn. I didn’t want to get off this ride. When the story was over I wanted to either ride it again or read another one of Paul Carr’s books. Fortunately for me, Bad Way Out is the newest release in the latest Sam Mackenzie thrillers by Paul Carr. The novel was easily a standalone book and I, for one, can’t help but relate this book to a James Bond movie.

Sam, the main character, was courageous, clever and gave me a case of hero worship. I wouldn’t classify this as a romance book by any means. However, Sam does show interest in a woman named Simone but there isn’t any developing romance relationship like you’d expect in a romance story.

There are other characters that made an impression on me that were pivotal to the plot of the story that I’d like to read more about in another Sam Mackenzie thriller.

If you’re interested in the other Sam Mackenzie thrillers after you read Bad Way Out then here they are, Long Way Down, The Cayman Switch, and The Black Palmetto. I am definitely going to look into reading another Sam Mackenzie thriller!

Bad Way Out was fast paced, unpredictable and highly entertaining! Paul Carr has just become my new favorite thriller/suspense author! I appreciate reading an intriguing story by a skilled writer! Well done!

The Mermaid and the Murders by Rachel Graves


The Mermaid and the Murders by Rachel Graves
The Monster Beach Series
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (275 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

Teenage mermaid Danika DelMar loves high school more than anything in the ocean. She fights with her mother about joining their pod, but she fights her hormones even more. No matter what her body says, she’s not ready to kill someone with sex. Things get harder when Danika falls for a new boy at school. He claims to be a sea creature like she is, but she isn’t sure she can trust him or herself.

When a dead body shows up at Danika’s reef she risks giving away her secret to make sure the police find the victim. It doesn’t stop the bodies from coming. Soon she’s lost her friend and the first boy she ever loved. Danika is sure a sea creature is involved, and she’s the only one who can help. As her friends become targets, Danika races to find the killer.

Is the ocean safe for anyone?

Danika leads a difficult life. While she loves high school and learning, she’s terrified that others will discover that she’s a mermaid. Danika is part of the popular crowd at school, but her relationship with her friends is confusing and dysfunctional at best. Danika thinks that remaining part of the crowd is the best way to hide her secret, but she is clearly miserable. I felt that she would have been better off finding friends she could actually trust. However, I will say that by the end of the story, I saw many positive changes in Danika’s relationship with her friends.

Danika should feel at home in the ocean, but she doesn’t quite fit in there either. She’s been resistant to learning about life as a mermaid for as long as she can remember. Her pod’s casual disregard for human life frightens Danika even as her hormones and curiosity drive her to learn more about the mermaid way of life. When the bodies of a few humans and a mermaid appear in the ocean next to her reef, Danika knows she has to find the culprit before she becomes the next victim.

Danika’s relationship with Sam is definitely a bright spot in this mystery. The attraction between them is apparent from the start, and I could tell they would be a cute couple. However, I think they fall in love and move into a serious physical relationship too quickly. Also, Sam tells Danika that he is a salt golem almost immediately after meeting her. I’m not sure why he chose to reveal his secret so soon and would have liked some insight into his thought process. Could he somehow sense that Danika was different too, or was he just tired of hiding?

One of the things that drew me to this book was that it was about mermaids. I know a little bit about them, but not much, so my curiosity was piqued. I found the beginning of the story a little frustrating because very little is explained about mermaid life and how things work. In fact, Danika doesn’t seem to know much either, which I find a bit unrealistic. I know that Danika relishes her life on land, but I would think that for her own survival she’d want to know more about what she is.

Overall, I liked The Mermaid and the Murders. I enjoyed learning about mermaids and the mystery surrounding the murders was wrapped up in a satisfying way. I recommend this tale to anyone looking for a romance filled with unique creatures.

Smoke and Mirrors by Taylor Anne


Smoke and Mirrors by Taylor Anne
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (228 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Drug deal and Murder: In her fight for justice, Abby Monroe is forced to flee to protect herself and her family, seeking out the only man she’s ever fully trusted. Seeing him again threatens not only her safety, but her heart as well.

Injuries and Betrayal: After a close call with death, Graeme Tucker made some changes. No women, no danger. Just him and his beach bar. Until Abby shows up asking for his help and twisting his heart.

Lies and Deception: As Graeme and Abby struggle to stop a gang of ruthless criminals, old flames are rekindled. But all is not as it seems. Will Graeme stand by his word to protect Abby, or does he have a sinister agenda of his own?

Smoke and Mirrors literally caught my interest with the first sentence. I love when that happens. In fact I had to stop and make a decision – do I continue reading knowing it might be one of those books I’m not going to want to put down and I didn’t have much time at that moment? Or wait until I can sit uninterrupted? I chose to continue reading as fast as I could.

The heroine, Abby Monroe, is an average everyday woman who happens to find herself in a not so average predicament. The hero, Graeme, isn’t the average everyday man. In fact he has such an interesting history that when Abby and Graeme are together they are anything but typical. In fact the suspense/mystery surrounding them was spellbinding. When you consider the combination of suspense/mystery and their chemistry, it was a miracle I was able to put the book down when I had to.

It was a thrill to pick it back up the next chance I had. The pace was consistently swift and smooth, and the writing style was excellent.

So why the three point five star? I had a small issue with part of the plot. Without spoiling anything I will only say that I do not think Abby took the reality of her predicament serious enough. I felt she was selfish and irresponsible. In the real world when put in that type of situation, I’d hope the individual would heed the advice that was given by a professional and not act or think like they knew better. I do understand it’s a story and that the plot had to be written that way so she could meet Graeme, but I would rather have seen her meeting him with a different course of action. I have an issue when one person puts others at risk because of their own selfish thoughtlessness. Abby actually did this again later in the book and I will admit that it definitely resulted in more suspense. Perhaps that is what made it a great book. However, that hiccup over the heroine’s decisions didn’t set well with me. Thank God, Graeme was man enough to ensure a happy ever after ending!

I will say the plot twist at the end was a surprise that I didn’t see coming and was well played out. I am curious to see if Abby’s best friend, Lace, and Graeme’s best friend/co-worker, Cooper, will get a book of their own. I’d be interested in reading their story.

A Bodyguard of Lies by Donna Del Oro


A Bodyguard of Lies by Donna Del Oro
The Jake Bernstein FBI Series Volume 1
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (453 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Poinsettia

FBI agent Jake Bernstein goes undercover to investigate an American grandmother suspected of war crimes during World War II. Jake runs into complications when his growing attraction to the woman’s granddaughter challenges his obligation to remain emotionally detached. As the investigation intensifies, a neo-Nazi group tries to prevent him from learning the truth as Jake struggles to stay alive long enough to either prove the woman’s guilt or exonerate her.
Despite Meg Larsen’s mounting passion for the handsome stranger, she suspects he is not who he claims to be and strives to protect her elderly grandmother. Eventually, Meg is forced to trust a man who has become both their nemesis and bodyguard.

Jake was itching to get out of the office. He might not live long enough to regret that decision.

Jake is very good at his job. He’s smart, attractive, and he has certain skills that make him a valuable undercover agent, especially when women are concerned. The assignment sounded simple enough, but the deeper he digs, the more complicated the task becomes. Jake becomes convinced he isn’t being told everything. Will he discover the truth before it is too late?

Jake strikes me as a man who has reached a point in his life where he is ready for a change, but hasn’t quite figured out what exactly he wants. All that changes when he meets Meg. Suddenly Jake finds himself wanting a more serious relationship. Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse. Jake tries to keep his personal feelings in check, but he simply can’t help falling for Meg. Jake and Meg are well suited for each other, and I liked watching them get to know each other even though it was bittersweet. I knew he’d eventually have to tell her the truth, and I wasn’t sure their budding romance would survive. I do admire Jake for trying to be as honest possible with Meg. He gently leads her to the truth, never forcing anything on her. She is a smart woman and he knows she’ll eventually put all the pieces together and discover the truth about her grandmother.

Mary, Meg’s grandmother, is a very well rounded villain. I really enjoyed the chapters the covered her past and activities during WWII. It gave context and depth to her that really made her come to life in my mind. It would be easy to write Mary off as nothing more than an evil Nazi spy, but like all well-developed characters, she is a blend of good and bad. She did some horrible things, but also some very good things. I don’t like her, the choices she made, or the things she stood for, but she is also human. She cared deeply for her family, and she raised Meg in a very loving home.

I must admit that I wasn’t completely satisfied with the ending. I was convinced that Jake wanted something permanent with Meg. I hoped for a very happy ending for the couple, but was disappointed. I know that Jake and Meg care for each other. I can only hope that Jake and Meg find a way to a happier ending in the next book of the series.

I truly enjoyed reading A Bodyguard of Lies. The characters were intriguing, and the plot was well paced and exciting. I highly recommend A Bodyguard of Lies to anyone who enjoys romantic suspense.

The Good Neighbor by Gina Blake


The Good Neighbor by Gina Blake
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (35 pgs)
Other: M/F, Voyeurism
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

It’s Saturday night and the only action Mia Daniels has to look forward to is watching her neighbors having fun through binoculars. When she spies the sexy hunk she’s been crushing on pleasuring himself, there’s only one thing to do—”borrow some sugar.” Will he give her what she asks for or what she wants?

Mia was bored and horny. With no sexy plans of her own, she decides to use her high-powered binoculars and live vicariously through her neighbors. When she catches sight of Brent masturbating after a shower, she settles in for a lovely show.

I found this to be an interesting and steamily written short story. While the prose was a little purple in places for my personal taste (“he’s fiddling with his goodies”) the action was certainly explicit and hotly written. I also thought Mia deserved major kudos for bravery – after watching Brent go solo she decided to go after what she really wanted, and that courage was a delightful surprise.

Leave your brain at the door, throw away logic and reality and settle back to enjoy this sexy romp of a story. I enjoyed both Mia and Brent’s characters, found them refreshingly direct, and the chemistry between them was scorching hot. I was particularly pleased with the happy ending – I feel the author did a great job wrapping up the short interlude and giving both Mia and Brent satisfactory endings.

Readers looking for a short, steamy and very slightly kinky read should find this story enjoyable.

A Necessary Woman by A. E. Easterlin


A Necessary Woman by A. E. Easterlin
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (314 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Suzanna Worthington wants what most women wants–a husband to love her, a home to shelter her, and a child to bring her joy.

The battle at Manassas has stolen her fiance and destroyed her dreams. Channeling grief into healing, she assists the local doctor at a makeshift hospital, while her friends plot to find the one man who can fulfill all her desires…and his.

Now the war is over, and Jake Cantrell has come to find a wife. A self-made man with a huge ranch in Wyoming, he’s ready to settle down and raise a passel of sons to carry on his legacy.

Who will win her love? It could be the doctor who admires her, the Indian chief who captures her, or the man who wants to possess her and finds himself possessed by this necessary woman.

If you like daytime soap operas or drama then this book is for you. A Necessary Woman was eloquently written with a moderate steady pace from beginning to end. My curiosity kept me turning the pages with baited breath for the next dramatic scene to unfold.

While I appreciate a clever, unique plot with twits and unpredictably, I also need it to be realistically possible. The heroine, Suzanna, had so many men fall in love with her for her beauty and intelligence and had an unrealistic need to serve others that I kept thinking, “Come on, seriously?”

The hero, Jake, was hot as ever. However, he wasn’t perfect either. So together Jake and Suzanna made a great soap opera match. Their chemistry was intense and unavoidable.

Over all, I can honestly recommend this book for those who have extra time to pass and enjoy a book they have to suspend a bit of reality for. There was just something about this novel that was surprisingly irresistible that I couldn’t stop reading. There was a satisfying happy-ever-after ending. In fact I can easily see a sequel when Black Hawk returns!