Willow’s Way by Sharon Struth

Willow’s Way by Sharon Struth
Publisher: Lyrical Press
Genre: Contemporary, Women’s Fiction
Length: Full (228 pgs)
Heat: Sweet
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Willow Armstrong, the once-famous “Queen of Weight Loss” and president of Pound Busters, succumbed to stress eating after her divorce. Now the scandal of getting caught on camera binging on pizza, and the internet-wide mocking of her new curves, may destroy her career. Add in a business advisor who drained her finances, and Willow is out of options—until she learns she’s inherited a house in England’s most picturesque locale, The Cotswolds.

Willow’s trip across the pond to sell the property and salvage her company soon becomes its own adventure: the house, once owned by grandparents she never met, needs major work. Plus, single dad Owen Hughes, the estate’s resident groundskeeper and owner of a local tour outfit, isn’t thrilled about the idea of leaving . . . Yet as Willow proceeds with her plans, she’s sidetracked by surprising discoveries about her family’s history–and with Owen’s help, the area’s distinctive attractions. Soon, she’s even retracing her roots—and testing her endurance—amid the region’s natural beauty. And the more she delves into the past, the more clearly she sees herself, her future, and the way home . . .

Willow’s Way is an apt title for this book – because Willow has definitely lost her way and this novel describes how she finds it again. The book opens with the fact that Willow, creator of a very successful and popular diet program, has been caught on film sneaking pizza. It sounds like a set up for a joke, but her life has become no laughing matter. She’s divorced, a trusted advisor has taken off with her company’s (and her own) money, and she’s a stress eater. Her board of directors are not happy that the face of their weight loss company has gone from a size 6 to a size 12, so the release of the video was not a good thing. As she’s weighing her options, she quite unexpectedly learns she has inherited a house in England – and makes a decision that quite literally changes her life.

I absolutely loved Willow… I can identify with her on so many levels. I love the way she took control of things. She was a fighter, it stood her in good stead. There were a lot of issues for her to deal with over the course of the book and dealt with them she did. In doing so, she learned a lot about herself and her past she never knew. She was the type of character I felt like I could sit down and have tea with.

The rest of the characters were just as richly drawn. Owen is just scrumptious and could quite easily become one of my favorite male characters. His daughter Jilly (and Henry, her dog) are just fall-in-lovable!

The setting is almost like another character in the book. I’m a not-so-hidden Anglophile anyway, and I felt like I had stepped into the pages of a Maeve Binchy book had she written English settings instead of Irish. I would have loved to live here.

There are no great conflicts in this book, but they aren’t needed. It’s a sweet look at one woman and her life and I stayed up way too late reading it! I was right there rooting for Willow all the time she was trying to find her way, and I was very sorry when the book ended.

I highly recommend this book!

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Next of Kin by James Tucker


Next of Kin by James Tucker
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Action/Adventure
Length: Full length (337 pages)
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork—and ends with the bone-chilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan?

When two more massacres decimate the Brookses’ ranks, Buddy’s hunt narrows. But his challenges grow as power, money, and secret crimes from the family’s past stand in the way. With Ben more and more at risk, Buddy steps closer to the edge, forcing a relentless killer to become more brazen, brutal, and cunning. Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test…and risk the lives of everyone he loves.

This is a book that I thoroughly enjoyed from page one to the end. Very well written, a plot that is full of suspense and an unpredictable ending.

Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family and New York Police Department Detective Buddy Lock is the one that is called to duty to protect Ben from a killer who is intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan. As long as the killer is still on the loose more massacres of the Brook’s family are happening and Ben and those around him are in danger.

I enjoyed the bond that Ben developed with Mei, Buddy’s girlfriend, but I felt that their bond developed way to quick. Buddy wasn’t around Ben that much but Ben quickly developed a fondness and need for Buddy. Ben is stated to be ten years old but by his actions his age seemed to be younger.

I like the formatting of short chapters. The author providing the character’s back story did help with the development of the characters and also helps develop a connection for the reader. The author didn’t delve into too much detail but gave enough insight.

The suspense starts from the first page and continues onward. For me the ending was not predictable. The book is excellently written, and the plot is well planned and staged out. The book kept my interest; the murders kept happening and Ben’s life was constantly in danger. Each chapter delivered an intense page turner bringing the reader closer to solving the mystery. This is an action oriented plot that did have a few instances that seemed unrealistic but still gave the story conflict to keep the level of suspense going.

I enjoyed how the author tied in the story with the Holocaust survivors and victims. Reading this brought something extra to the story and gave it realness by making it seem the events could actually be true.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

How To Lose An Alien in 10 Days by Fiona Roarke


How To Lose An Alien in 10 Days by Fiona Roarke
Alienn, Arkansas 2

Publisher: Nickel Road Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (698 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Alexandria Latham Borne is supposed to marry into one of Alpha-Prime’s most prestigious families. Her unwanted future fiancé has wealth, breeding, social status … and that’s about it. She is less than wowed during their luxury get-to-know-you journey to Earth. Once the spaceship docks in Alienn, Arkansas, Ria jumps at the chance to jump ship and explore the colony of extraterrestrials hiding in plain sight. Cam Grey takes his job as chief of security at the galactic way station and the Big Bang Truck Stop operated by his family very seriously, but even he needs a break. No one suspects the by-the-book enforcer’s secret refuge is the karaoke bar just over the county line from Alienn, Arkansas. It starts out as just another night of uncomplicated amusement. But no one is more surprised than the jaded Alpha when the gorgeous woman with blue-streaked hair sings her way into his bed — and his heart. When he learns his sexy karaoke singer has defied colony rules, putting them all at risk of discovery by the unsuspecting earthlings, he knows his duty. What he should do is lock her in the brig. What he does do is ignore all the rules he’s spent his career upholding. Cam’s also been burned by love before, but his mischievous Ria is a rule-breaker he can’t resist. Is she a heartbreaker, too?

Alienn, Arkansas is an alien base hiding in plain sight. Cam and his family, including many, many brothers, run the Big Bang Truck Stop, but below is a way station for alien spacecraft. Now there is a passenger missing from a luxury liner and it’s Cam’s job to find her. He has a problem because he’s just found the love of his life and doesn’t want to leave her to some spoil​ed​ space brat.

This book has comical overtones, with the brothers sparking off one another, and Ria – the love interest – having a secret of her own. I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed reading about their antics and wondering how they ​could ​get round the problems that ar​o​se from being an alien on earth. To top up his problems his Aunt Dixie and her friend go missing and he’s tempted to walk away from his responsibilities and spend time with Ria instead of doing his job.

A really good book with love, humor and a very enjoyable plot to hold everything together.

The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews


The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter by Mimi Matthews
Publisher: Perfectly Proper Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (241 pgs)
Heat Level: sweet
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snapdragon

England, 1861. A world-weary rake and a prim vicar’s daughter are thrown together during a holiday house party. Will they discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

A WORLD-WEARY RAKE
After years of unbridled debauchery, Tristan Sinclair, Viscount St. Ashton has hit proverbial rock bottom. Seeking to escape his melancholy, he takes refuge at one of Victorian society’s most notorious house parties. As the Christmas season approaches, he prepares to settle in for a month of heavy drinking…until an unexpected encounter changes his plans–and threatens his heart.

A PRIM VICAR’S DAUGHTER
Valentine March is not the drab little spinster she appears to be. When her new job as a lady’s companion lands her smack in the middle of Yorkshire with England’s most infamous rake, she resolves to keep her head down and her eyes fixed firmly on her future–a future which most definitely does not include a sinfully handsome viscount.

A MATCH MADE IN SCANDAL
A friendship is impossible. An affair out of the question. But when one reckless act binds them together, will two star-crossed souls discover there’s more to each other than meets the eye? Or will revelations from the past end their fragile romance before it begins?

Unexpected and enthralling are the best words to describe Mimi Matthews’ romance, The Viscount and the Vicar’s Daughter. Its hard to know where to begin… perhaps with a word about characters, as they are first and foremost. The mostly no good young viscount Tristan is unexpectedly sympathetic; the dear, unattached lady, Valentine, is equally unexpected, as her artistic proclivities are closer to her heart than making the required match…

No spoilers here! Suffice to say, we kick off with two likeable main characters, quickly realize that some of the lesser are also Very Much Not the required respectable Victorian types, and the unexpected is only compounded. Well before the house party kicks off, I was completely enthralled.

I can’t fault this one: it’s the best romance I have read in ages.

Tempest by Beverly Jenkins


Tempest by Beverly Jenkins
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full length (346 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

What kind of mail-order bride greets her intended with a bullet instead of a kiss? One like Regan Carmichael—an independent spirit equally at home in denims and dresses. Shooting Dr. Colton Lee in the shoulder is an honest error, but soon Regan wonders if her entire plan to marry a man she’s never met is a mistake. Colton, who buried his heart along with his first wife, insists he only wants someone to care for his daughter. Yet Regan is drawn to the unmistakable desire in his gaze.

Regan’s far from the docile bride Colton was expecting. Still, few women would brave the wilds of Wyoming Territory for an uncertain future with a widower and his child. The thought of having a bold, forthright woman like Regan in his life—and in his arms—begins to inspire a new dream. And despite his family’s disapproval and an unseen enemy, he’ll risk all to make this match a real union of body and soul.

Regan is a mail order bride. She and the doctor have written several letters to each other. He’s looking for a mother for his child. She’s looking for adventure and figures Wyoming will provide it. But their first meeting didn’t go well. After the stage was set upon by robbers, she got out her rifle and took care of them. When she sees more riders coming she shoots at them, too. Unfortunately, the man she hit was her intended…

Ms. Jenkins always writes a good story and this one is no exception. Her words flow well and she creates conflict as well as love in her stories.

The doctor was expecting a lady from back east. She was hoping for a love match. No one lied in their letters but meeting each other changes expectations. He has no interest in love. She wears denims and can do much more than household duties. Even worse, she has her own money.

Her husband’s mother-in-law hates her and has browbeat the young daughter. Another woman in town wanted him for herself and she’s very critical of Regan. But Regan can hold her own.

One of my favorite lines was when the girl asks her new momma if she and daddy were going to jump around on the bed like her friend’s parents did. Sure, that’s what they were doing…

With lots of odd relatives and friends, the two grow closer together. It’s great fun to watch how they respond to the challenges.

This was a very good read.

Antiques Frame by Barbara Allan


Antiques Frame by Barbara Allan
Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corp.
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (240 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

With their reality TV series, Antiques Sleuths, Brandy Borne and her quaintly kooky mother, Vivian, have a real hit on their hands. But another “hit” enters the picture, after a rival bidder becomes a one-woman show at their televised auctions—and it’s the estranged wife of Brandy’s police-chief beau, Tony! Soon the fine art of murder colors the scene, fitting Brandy for an ornately elaborate frame.

But when you’re inside a frame, it’s difficult to make out the picture. That’s why Brandy’s mom—her daughter now wearing basic jailhouse orange—must sort through a rogue’s gallery of suspects including a too-friendly farmer’s wife, a ratings-happy TV producer, a questionable husband-and-wife auctioneer team, and even the chief of police himself.

Brandy and Vivian race to determine how an empty antique frame can hold a deadly portrait, a picture worth a thousand dangerous words. Aided only by Sushi, their loyal shih tzu, and police dog Rocky, the wacky mother-and-daughter sleuthing team must learn the killer’s identity before they become the subjects of another masterpiece of murder.

Sarcasm absolutely at its best

I know the proper terminology for a review is not “it’s just as fun as can be” but that’s really and truly the first thought that comes to mind. This book is full of humor plus a few tips on finding good buys on authentic antiques. A slightly off-center, well okay, a crazy mother and her somewhat depressed daughter deal in antiques and murder. This whole series is set in a small town called Serenity along the Mississippi River. The town is a wonderful place to go antiquing as there are two or three great stores and our stars, Brandy and Vivian, continue filming their reality show, Antique Sleuths.

This series is mostly pseudo-written or narrated by the daughter Brandy but Vivian, her mother, is now and then allowed to add a chapter. None of this is confusing. In fact, the play and dialog between mother and daughter make this really work. Amongst all of the fun, there are still plenty of twists and turns. The descriptive writing is done well as is the character development.

Painting a picture in words is an important skill for an author no matter what genre might be his or her forte. Throughout this series, the author has drawn not just a map in the front of her book but also has crafted a complete snapshot. You begin to see the delightful characters, the small town, and even the day to day workings of the community. It’s as if you’ve lived there. What that creates is a reader like me who never wants to miss a book in the series.

This is Book 11 of the series called “A Trash and Treasures Mystery”. This reviewer happens to know another book will be out in April 2018 because I can’t wait to read it.

Angelica by Clabe Polk


Angelica by Clabe Polk
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Suspense/Mystery, Contemporary
Length: Full length (400 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

A long time ago, Angelica Vicetti did some very bad things with some very bad men. Now she’s built a new life for her family, far from Las Vegas. Now it’s all about to come crashing down. Angelica Vicetti of Las Vegas has become Angela Cassetta of Poplar Bluffs, just outside Atlanta, Georgia. She’s built a successful real estate agency, and the son she rescued from Vegas when he was a youngster is now a high school baseball star and destined for great things. But the mob bosses in Vegas who forced her underground haven’t forgotten about her. A string of hit men come to town to kill her, but each time she saves herself and her son, with the help of her friends and Mike Eiser, a local Sheriff’s detective who has seen far worse. Then things get even more complicated, when one of the hit men changes his mind and becomes strangely important to Angela in a whole new way … and a team of Federal agents come to town and ratchet up the odds. Suddenly, sleepy little Poplar Bluffs is awash in blood. Angelica will have to take it all the way to the edge and beyond – into murder, kidnapping, and lying to the Feds – to save herself and her son. But … can she survive the fight for her family’s freedom?

Did you ever think you’d like to run away and start all over? What if it became a reality, a frightening one?

Angelica, the title of this book, is the lead character in this series written by Polk titled “The Detective Mike Eisner Series”. She really got swept into the wrong crowd of people and while you might think that’s each individuals own business, it’s different when you have a child.

This is a really good storyline; lots of action and action written so that you can “see” it; in other words so that you can follow and understand. Truly Crime Fiction involving a lot of mob type characters and also the best cop of course…Detective Mike Eisner and his soon to be wife. At least all of the couples around are hoping they will tie the knot. It was very amazing to me that Polk could involve so many of the good guys and the bad guys in this story, and yet make them be very clear to the reader. When an author is good at writing dialog it is quite an accomplishment and I think that is the key here. I think this author happens to be very good at writing dialog and without our realizing it, a good book and a good story has passed and we’re sad it’s the last page.

This is listed in his book as the 4th book in the “Detective Mike Eisner Series”. There are 5 titles in the series in his book. Let’s hope Clabe Polk is working on number 6.

Habitat for Human Remains by Scott A. Lerner


Habitat for Human Remains by Scott A. Lerner
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre:Contemporary, Horror, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (258 pages)
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Snowdrop

For the forces of evil, Sam Roberts is catnip. Even during periods of calm, Sam knows that evil is just biding its time before challenging him again. So when he is asked to defend a wealthy shut-in charged with murder, he is suspicious. Why is the largest and wealthiest law firm in town hiring an outside attorney who is a sole practitioner to represent Mr. Blake May? Sam’s client resides in the sublimely creepy Frost Home, a “haunted” mansion given a wide berth by the residents of Champaign, Illinois. The house has been engulfed in rumors of death, missing children, and mystery since before the Civil War. Blake May is accused of not only murdering his girlfriend but decimating the remains until they look like marinara. But the agoraphobic middle-aged man rarely, if ever, left his rooms. If he indeed killed Heather, why can’t the police find a murder weapon? Everyone seems to want Blake declared insane rather than acquitted. Sam and his buddy Bob Sizemore know that Heather’s grizzly fate can’t be blamed on something as mundane as murder. There is a force at work in the house, and it seems to emanate from the mirror hung in the room where the remains of the body were found. Can Sam and Bob end the Frost Home’s eerie legacy of evil?

A funny horror story? Well, it really is.

Good grief, this was a creepy-crawly story with a mystery and even a love story all mixed in together. I will tell you in advance that this is not usually a genre I would read but this was so funny I couldn’t stop. The dialog that was created between Sam, the lawyer and Bob, his friend, had me giggling out loud half the time. One funny character and one relatively serious one were great creations by Scott Lerner. Lerner also pokes a little bit of fun at his own profession here but the legal world is not the focus of his story.

This story is about an attorney being offered a big case by a big firm. He can’t let it pass because of… money, of course. Even while picking up the check he is wondering why the firm would farm it out to him. It has a huge scary haunted house in it that you can just picture. It’s about the lives of two guys still looking for love and yes, it has a little bit of horrid scary scenes. How Scott Lerner managed to put all of this together and have me reading every page, I can’t tell you. However, I can tell you that this is well-written and Sam and Bob become your friends. I have said many times that any author that can make characters your friends and/or your enemies is a talented writer. Once you are caught right up in a story with your buddies, you will never miss a word.

This one is Book 5 in his series titled “A Samuel Roberts Thriller”. Looks like Books 1 through 4 are rated really high too so they must be just as good or better. Let’s read them too and hope he’s writing Book 6.

Grinders Corner by Ferris Craig and Charlene Keel


Grinders Corner by Ferris Craig and Charlene Keel
Publisher: Red Sky Presents
Genre: Historical (Vintage)
Length: Full (368 pgs)
Heat level: Sensual
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

Grinders Corner explores the world of taxi dance halls in the 1960s in all its raw hilarity. Saucy, sassy and sexy, but not the least bit erotic, it follows the adventures of three young women trying to survive in the glitter palaces of Los Angeles.

Like lambs led to the slaughter, Uptown, a newly divorced English major with panic anxiety disorder and no job skills, Voluptua, an out of work actress, and Mouse, a former child star trying to make a comeback all struggle to make enough tickets to pay the bills. Things get complicated when Uptown falls in love with a customer who happens to be a priest.

In Grinders Corner it was a simpler time, long before gentlemen’s clubs and pole dancers, and it happened in a place where shy, lonely men could talk to women, even dance with them, with no fear of rejection—for about fifteen cents a minute.

This book is a hoot! This is not the standard rom/com… it’s a book where misfits come together and make for themselves a new reality!

I had no idea that “taxi dancers” still existed into the 60s. I thought it was exclusive to the 20s and 30s. It was interesting to get a glimpse of a different time and a different way of living.

The story is told from the point of view of Uptown; however, it is based on true events in the life of author Ferris H. Craig (Mouse, in the book).

The characters are wonderfully drawn and some of the experiences described in the book were truly “laugh out loud”-able. Uptown starts the job as a naïve woman but under the tutelage of her new friends, Mouse and Voluptua, soon gets an education like she never experienced before.

Kudos to the authors for such a fun, entertaining work!

Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir by Lauri Robinson


Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir by Lauri Robinson
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical
Pages: Full length (288 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

To claim his heir…

…he must marry his enemy!

Gabe Callaway is outraged when feisty Janette Parker lands on his doorstep with her orphaned niece—though he soon realizes little Ruby is heir to his ranch! If Janette wants money, he’ll pay her off to keep the little girl in her rightful place. But all Janette wants is Ruby… Will Gabe do whatever it takes to claim his heir—even marry Janette?

If you have not read a Lauri Robinson book then I don’t know what you are waiting for. This is my fifth one and apparently she’s written thirty four. Why didn’t I discover her books sooner? Better late than never.

Sometimes when you read multiple books by the same author they become monotonous. This can’t be said about Ms. Robinson’s novels. I’m flabbergasted at how the author has once again delivered a flawless writing style that articulated an eloquent and fluent plot. Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir is another original work of art by Ms. Robinson filled with relatable characters and heartwarming drama that left me with unforgettable memories.

Gabe Callaway, the hero, was headstrong, handsome, and responsible with an endearing sensitive side that appeared on several occasions when he was around the heroine, Janet Parker.

Janet Parker was equally as headstrong, beautiful, and capable of taking care of herself. When Janet and Gabe were together it was fun to see who could outwit the other. I was thoroughly entertained when they were ultimately both outwitted by someone unexpected – a hilarious plot twist.

There’s so much more to this story than the synopsis alludes to. There is a tiny suspense story line involving Janet. I was riveted to the book well past my bed time. It was swoon worthy how Gabe became her protector.

I emphatically implore readers to read Married to Claim the Rancher’s Heir. I fell in love with Gabe and Janet and the epilogue sealed the deal.