Blade of Darkness by Dianne Duvall


Blade of Darkness by Dianne Duvall
Immortal Guardians
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Paranormal, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (382 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Dana Pembroke has been able to glimpse the future of those she touches for as long as she can remember. But she never saw Aidan coming. When the tall, dark Celt with the charming grin yet world-weary eyes walks through her door, the future she sees for him is one full of violence, danger, deception… and passion. Because amidst the terrifying battles that unfold in her visions, she also sees herself in Aidan’s arms and in his bed. Dana knows she should keep her distance, but the tender moments and laughter they share entice her even as she finds herself thrust into a world of vampires, immortals, and other preternatural beings.

Immortal Guardian Aidan O’Byrne has been hunting and slaying psychotic vampires for nearly three thousand years, so visions of bloody battles don’t trouble him. The battles Dana foresees, however, show Aidan’s brethren turning against him, so he can’t help but feel alarmed. While he spends as much time as he can with Dana, struggling to decipher her dire predictions, Aidan finds himself utterly smitten. Hope rises that he has finally found a woman who can banish the darkness and loneliness that plague him. But when vampires begin targeting Dana and a powerful enemy spawns chaos, will fate grant them time to find happiness together?

You know how some novels can take a week to read even though it’s really good but your progress is kind of slow because it’s heavily detailed, wordy or intricate and you have to spend time letting it gel? Well, have I got news for you. Forget that happening in Ms. Duvall’s latest Immortal Guardian adventure. Finishing the book was a compulsion that overtook even the interest to eat. Seriously, the balance of dialogue, descriptions and action, never mind the wonderful love scenes between Dana and Aidan – all of it was sheer perfection. The writing was strong and evocative, the plot suspenseful and gripping, and the characters are those a reader can fall in love with. There is nothing slow about this book. I devoured the entire story in one day!

Blade of Darkness left me breathless; every single feeling and emotion a story can evoke is brilliantly brought to life with an impact that left me clamoring for more. I don’t know how Ms. Duvall does it but she consistently delivers a high impact, thoroughly engaging story in each installment that follows a gifted one finding love with an Immortal Guardian who never thought to find true love. It’s the best hook in the world and this author does it justice.

I lost count as to how many times my heart was in my throat during the sword battles as Aidan and his brothers fought against the insane vampires. Drama and gripping suspense shot through the stratosphere when it became apparent that Gershom is back and has a few new tricks up his sleeve. It’s shocking and yet so typical of a Super Villain, a classification of which he more than earns – he defines it.

Only once does a reader get into the villain’s head and it was enough to convince me that Gershom deserves to be taken down. For the most part, the book stays in the point of view of both Dana and Aidan and that’s fine with me because there is no question they are the stars of this book and their romance is unconventional to say the least.

Secondary characters abound but they were more than welcomed. Practically every one of them is someone I’ve fallen in love with before in past novels. They do a wonderful job of supporting Aidan and Dana – more than this humble review can reveal. My heart hurts for Seth though. And David. When will it be their turn is what I’d like to know. In this novel I get to see Seth experience extreme emotion which makes him even more alluring as a future hero. I just adore his role and how he really loves the people under his command. They’re family and that theme of family shows itself in surprising and rewarding ways throughout Blade of Darkness.

I usually don’t talk about book covers but for this review I will mention just a couple of things. First, the guy is yummy, that’s a given. But look at his eyes! Finally someone has paid attention to some of the characteristics that make a hero so special. In this case, an Immortal Guardian named Aidan. The cover for this novel rocks!

There is so much more I want to say, to share, to comment on because Blade of Darkness.takes place in a world that is rich, vibrant, and at times almost real, that even when I reached the last page, I didn’t want to leave. Also, I’m guessing here, but Aidan’s ‘as you will’ seems like a nod to the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride – a movie I absolutely adore. As he says to Princess Buttercup, ‘as you wish’. I wish Ms. Duvall much success because I want her to continue writing about this world until every Immortal Guardian finds love, until everything Seth fought for and protects is relatively safe, and maybe, just maybe the two lone warriors we all respect will find love too.

Blade of Darkness is a must read, a must have and a book worth the space on a reader’s keeper shelf. Dana and Aidan’s story is extra special and wonderful and I’m thrilled that such a misunderstood hero finally finds a woman to love and cherish. What more could a reader wish? I’m a very, VERY happy reader.

Battle for Love by Valerie Bowes


Battle for Love by Valerie Bowes
Publisher: Roane Publishing
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (189 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

It’s not easy, being an unmarried woman in the England of 1814. But Nancy Worth will not marry where there is no love, and every man in her small Sussex village is either too old, too young, or has a face like a fish. Except for the handsome Bartholomew Boult, and he has his own reasons for pursuing her.

When, against all the odds, Nancy does find love, both her family and his are determined to put a stop to it. He is gentry, and she a farmer’s daughter. With lies and gossip flying, as well as the unexpected resumption of war, it seems everyone is trying to separate her from Will Carlton.

Even Napoleon Bonaparte.

While Napoleon lingers in Elba the Regency period is in full swing in England. Nancy Worth is not one of the aristocracy, her father is a landowner and although they are well off they are not considered to be of the same social level as the Squire and his family. Nancy finds herself with two suitors. One she loves and the other who, unknown to her, wants her for his own selfish ends.

Regency books are a joy to read, but the main characters can often be a bit silly, acting in ways that seem unnatural. This book has a heroine and hero who are quite natural in their actions and the misunderstandings that always happen in romance, are believable and had me urging them to sort out the difficulties before they were overwhelmed by family members who felt they knew best.

Even the bad guy had a ring of truth to his actions and in the end I felt quite sorry for him. I have to admit I didn’t envisage the resolution to be quite so dramatic, but it was well handled and I felt a great satisfaction when I finished the book. Good story, good characters and lovely to read.

Lost in Vengeance by H. R. Savage


Lost in Vengeance by H. R. Savage
Wolf Creek Shifters Book 1
Publisher: Loose ID
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (300 Pages)
Other: M/F
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Sorrel

Shifter Catrina Macintyre has roamed the wilderness of Alaska as a lone wolf for six years. Imprisoned in her wolf form by a promise to her mother, she seeks the opportunity to discover the truth about her parents’ murders. When an Alpha saves her and takes her to his pack, she has to decide whether he will aid her…or destroy her.

Killian Stone is the Alpha of Wolf Creek, determined to save what the Shifter race is quick to dismiss or kill: lone-Shifters. After years of disappointment, finding Cat was a relief. That is until the intriguing and challenging she-wolf reveals a past could put his pack in danger.

Their undeniable attraction toward each other threatens to collapse Cat’s defensive walls. She’s torn between the hope of a future, and the lingering pain of her past. The truth may be more than either of them anticipated, threatening not only Cat, but the whole Shifter race.

​ Will Killian convince Cat to abandon her quest for vengeance before it destroys them all?

What attracted me to this book was the storyline. However, I was reluctant to read it for the same reason, since I had recently read a book with the kind of same story line before and that book was not as good as it could be.

This one was worth the curiosity of ‘will it be better?’ because I absolutely loved it.

I loved how the story started and the development of the characters and the plot while more backstory was seamlessly shared.  What I enjoyed more were the main characters and their relationship, and how they started. The supporting characters for this book are just as interesting as the main ones. There is a second book in this series ( I just checked) and I am reading it, as soon as I read this book again.

Lost in Vengeance was a diamond. I did not expect it be good and it shocked me how much I was into it until the ending and the HEA. I love a book with a good HEA. Recommended.

Caves in the Rain by Bob Bickford


Caves in the Rain by Bob Bickford
Publisher: Champagne Books
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery, Paranormal
Length: Full Length (259 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Mike Latta can’t forgive himself for the death of his daughter. It was a freak accident, but fathers should protect little girls from the bad things that can hurt them. He didn’t, and a descent into divorce and the bottle has gotten rid of every happy ending he ever hoped for.

A year of solitude on an island in northern Hollow Lake, away from the booze and the reminders of grief, may be the last chance he has. There’s more than peace and quiet on the lake though, because the ghosts of a long-ago murder haunt Echo Island. If Mike can’t figure out what the ghosts want from him, it may cost another little girl her life.

This story begins with a young boy setting his mother’s bed on fire and killing her. It’s easy to tell this read has a wicked character in it. He’s a bit like a chameleon and doesn’t show his true colors often.

A recently divorced male comes to town ready to settle on an abandoned island. His daughter died and it tore his marriage apart. His wife gave him the island and he plans to try to get himself together there. The only problem is that the island has ghosts. And the ghosts follow him…

Murder surfaces several times in this story. If you have a man who has no guilt, no conscience and a volatile temper that’s a very bad combination.

Mike tries to avoid the ghosts. He doesn’t recognize them as such when he first sees them but when he gets accused of acting wildly and talking to himself by his pickup, he realizes nobody else sees them. They pester him. And one day he finally understands why.

The story moves right along and has lots of action. The killer is someone easy to hate. He also has lived in the community long enough everyone believes his side of the story. That makes it hard when a ghost has told you how they got that way. Who believes in ghosts? And how do you solve a ten year old murder?

The ending was a bit abrupt and seemed a bit false but sometimes life is strange. Nobody that evil should have survived so long…

At Last in Laguna by Claire Marti


At Last in Laguna by Claire Marti
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full (160 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Snapdragon

Alyssa Morgan has secretly been in love with her older brother Nick’s best friend, Brandt Dempsey, since she was an awkward, lonely teenager. When she catches the bouquet at Nick’s wedding, she throws caution to the wind and propositions Brandt to a two-week fling. He’s tried to ignore how Alyssa has blossomed into a strong, talented, gorgeous woman because as his best friend’s baby sister, she’s off limits.

After they share a mind-blowing kiss, Brandt struggles to fight their undeniable chemistry. His tragic childhood scarred him, but he pushes it deep inside, only allowing the world to see a wealthy, carefree entrepreneur. Forced to work together on Brandt’s latest charitable venture, Brandt and Alyssa’s passion cannot be denied. Alyssa knows he’s the one. Can she convince him they belong together?

Readers are intrigued right from the very start of At Last in Laguna. We cannot help but wonder exactly what has gone on before…and where on earth could this relationship be going?

The mention about how to find a ‘happily ever after?’ seems insane: Alyssa and Brandt don’t seem to be heading to any such ending. They can barely be in the same room together.

Brandt…oh she is so bitter about Brandt!

This is a twist on love-at-first-sight: More like, love at first kiss. Or would it be second? And can it be love? There is rejection, unrequited emotion, the desperate empty feeling of non-passion; who cannot relate? We cannot guess where this fast-paced and emotional start will bring these two. At Last in Laguna is entirely unpredictable.

I didn’t care for the changes in point-of-view, not because they weren’t well-written, but because it left no air of mystery on either side. Seeing both sides did not add to the plot, although I can’t say (for sure) that it detracted, either.

The powerful physical scenes would be enough to drum up fans regardless of the rest of the storyline; yet this is also well done, with influential secondary characters and a meaningful backdrop. There are a number of ups and downs, revealing more and more about each of our main characters; Brandt and Alyssa.

Powerful characters and an unusual conundrum plus plenty of hot action make this a top choice read for any romance fan.

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Little Girl Gone by Margaret Fenton


Little Girl Gone by Margaret Fenton
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (254 pgs)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Claire Conover is back in the sequel to Little Lamb Lost. She has taken a 13-year-old girl into custody after she is found sleeping behind a grocery store. The girl’s murdered mother is found at a construction site owned by a family friend, then the girl disappears. Her mother worked in an illegal gambling industry in Birmingham. Things only get more complicated from there. Is it possible the girl pulled the trigger? She doesn’t have a lot of street smarts, so where could she have run? Claire has to find the answers, and the girl, fast.

She works for the county child welfare division. It’s the beginning of a new school year and she knows her workload will pick up. Teachers see a lot more than they should on the line. They report injuries and she must intercede and get the child help. She gets a phone call about a young girl found sleeping in a box outside. The girl won’t tell them anything…

The first thing Claire does is try to get the girl to talk. All she gets is a name. She is lucky that the home she wants to place her in has an opening. This lady is sincere and helps the children get off to better start in life. The only problem is that as soon as she’s been fed and cleaned up, the girl skips. Then they find out her mother is dead. Did the girl kill her?

The social worker keeps trying to trace her. She meets a lot of volatile people, visits homes she wouldn’t want to live in, finds abuse in other places, and she keeps closing in on the girl. However, will she get there before the killer does?

This is a hard look at family dynamics and expectations. Children experiment, children rebel and children defy. Not all parents react the same way. Some hurt their children in their frustration. That’s inexcusable but it happens. You can tell the author has worked in social work because she’s very honest and believable as you read the story. It flows well and she keeps your mind going trying to figure out what happened before the end.

Hear Me Roar by Joy Smith


Hear Me Roar by Joy Smith
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (273 pgs)
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Ginger

Jan Simmons never expected trouble to move into her quiet Charming Way cul-de-sac. Nor did she expect her husband Jeff’s weakness for fast money to drag their once happy family into danger.

When her husband turns to crime, Jan, a people-pleaser with little self-worth, must release the death grip she has on her failing marriage for the sake of her children and draw on her inner strength.

As Jan fights to free her family from a web of lies and deceit she also battles to save herself.

Life can give us the unexpected, but when your husband turns to living a life breaking the law what does a wife do? Jan Simmons has a lot she is dealing with. It’s hard when her husband Jeff, the breadwinner of the household, lost his job and has to take a lesser paying job. I am not sure if the loss of his job ignited this change for the worst in Jeff, but this is the path he is traveling…a bickering, cheating drunk. Jeff is a character that I found very unlikeable. His priorities never seemed to be on his family and as the story goes on he gets caught up in a web of a mess and loses all sight of being a family man.

I enjoyed the author’s style of writing, but the story starts out slow. There wasn’t anything exciting about the life of a stay-at-home mom tending to kids, baking and conversations with other stay-at-home moms.The lack-luster husband who shows signs of a second life helped give the story something to look forward to. It’s a predictable story that was drawn out too long.

The new neighbor to Charming Way, Frank Carlucci (Digiorno) brought interest to the storyline but left me wondering why did he only have one card game at his house and why did he let Jeff accrue such a debt which in turn set the stage for Jeff to veer down his path of lawlessness.

Even though the story told of mafia behavior with drug dealing and kidnapping there wasn’t really any action. The story tells of a kidnapping but doesn’t show the events. I would have liked to have read the action. There were more details shared on the mom’s day than there were on the action details that must have taken place during the kidnapping and the trouble Jeff was involved in.

Jan didn’t start out as a strong woman but she eventually saw she had to provide for her family and protect their lives from the life her husband started to bring home. I like that Jan is a survivor and a fighter. She always kept her children’s best interest in mind. Maybe her growth and strength is the reason behind the title. Jan evolves from a housewife to finding her footing to being a business owner and mom of two.

The story is well written. It shows the courage of a woman taking charge of her life and the livelihood of her family. If you enjoy reading stories of women and their growth into a strong lioness be sure not to miss Hear Me Roar.

The Berghof Betrayal by Michael McMenamin and Patrick McMenamin

The Berghof Betrayal by Michael McMenamin and Patrick McMenamin
Publisher: First Edition Design Publishing
Genre: Historical, Thriller, Mystery/suspense
Length: Full (433 pgs)
Rated: 5 stars
Review by Rose

“Weiland Herzfelde has absolutely reliable information that the Nazis plan a fake attempt on Hitler’s life which is to be the signal for a general massacre. The sources of his information are the SA in Dortmund and a tapped telephone conversation between Hitler and Röhm.”
The Diaries of Count Harry Kessler, February 1933

Winston Churchill receives startling news from a German aristocrat in early 1933 after Adolf Hitler is appointed Chancellor of Germany. The aristocrat has learned of a plot to stage a fake assassination attempt on the new German leader that the Nazis will use as a pretext to declare martial law and liquidate their political opponents. Unknown to Hitler, however, his enemies within the Nazi party—the Black Front—are conspiring with renegade elements of his own SS to turn the fake assassination attempt into a real one.

Churchill tells the American newspaper titan William Randolph Hearst of the fake plot and, together, they persuade Mattie McGary, Hearst’s top photojournalist and Churchill’s adventure-seeking Scottish god- daughter, to investigate. Mattie readily agrees in large part because exposing the fake plot may help her finally shed the unfortunate reputation she has in Germany as “Hitler’s favorite foreign journalist”.

Soon after she leaves for Germany, Mattie’s fiancé, the American lawyer and former MID agent Bourke Cockran, Jr., also travels to Germany to help his publisher client, Freedom House, acquire the rights to Rear Area Pig, an expose of Hitler’s less-than-heroic wartime service. Once in Germany, both Mattie and Cockran find themselves in peril at the hands of the SS loyal to Hitler who will stop at nothing to keep Cockran from acquiring the book and Mattie from learning the truth about the fake plot.

Threats to Mattie multiply when SS agents working for the Black Front attempt to coerce her into joining the real plot to kill Hitler. When Cockran learns the Black Front intends to kill Mattie along with Hitler at his alpine retreat, the Berghof, he reluctantly seeks the help of Reichspresident Herman Göring and Kurt von Sturm, a top Göring aide who is also one of Mattie’s former lovers. The one-time rivals for Mattie’s affection quickly conclude that there is only one way to protect Mattie. They must take out the Black Front snipers before they can assassinate Hitler. And time is running out…

This is the fourth book in the Winston Churchill 1930s Thriller series, but it’s the first one I’ve read. Oftentimes that would be a bad idea, but I’m so glad I took a chance on this. Sure, I might have had a deeper understanding of the characters had I read the earlier two books, but I had absolutely no trouble following this one.

It’s a long, complicated story and is not a quick or easy read. It is, however, one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It’s detailed, nuanced, and beautifully written. Be aware, it’s very much true to the times and what was going on in the world. There were some pretty depraved individuals around, and the authors do not hesitate to show you what they are capable of.

A blend of historical figures and characters created for the story make this look the world in the 1930s an easy way to learn about what was going on– it’s obvious the authors did their homework. There is a wonderful addition at the back of the book where they share what parts of the story are historical fact and which are created for the story. I appreciated this completely because the two were so seamlessly woven together that I wasn’t sure which were which!

A wonderful job! I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series.

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Charmed by Charlie by Amanda Uhl


Charmed by Charlie by Amanda Uhl
Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (232 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Everybody loves marketing whiz Charlie Solanger–except the woman he really wants.

Creative genius Charlie Solanger has it all: good looks, money, intelligence, charm. And when he swoops in to save Reynolds Paint Company with a brilliant marketing campaign, he has all the ladies in the office vying for his attention. Everyone except math whiz Valerie Wilson.

Val’s not happy Charlie stole her promotion. Worse, his brand of flirtatious charm is reminiscent of her cheating ex-fiancé. So, how come she can’t get him out of her head? The more she challenges him, the more interested–and interesting–he becomes. What secrets is Charlie hiding, and who or what is behind the sudden mysterious drain on their company’s funds? The only way to find out is to join forces. Then it will be a battle of wills…and a triumph of hearts.

If you enjoyed any of these following soap operas: General Hospital with Luke and Laura, or Days of our Lives with Hope and Bo, or Santa Barbara with Eden and Cruz, then you might love Charmed by Charlie.

This book was just what I needed in my life to escape the reality of Hurricane Irma approaching. Which was no small task given the nonstop media coverage. Valarie, the heroine, wasn’t the only one charmed by Charlie, the hero. I was completely smitten.

There’s no other way to explain it other than to say I felt like I was watching a soap opera that was predicted to win the Daytime Emmy award for Outstanding Drama Series. Valarie would win the Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series and Charlie would win the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama series. Bernie would win the Outstanding Supporting actress in a Drama Series. George would win the Outstanding Supporting actor in a Drama Series. If there was a trouble maker award then it would go to Julie. Amanda Uhi would win the award for Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama writing series.

I enjoy books where I find myself being emotionally invested in all the characters. I enjoyed the dialog between them, the drama, the misunderstandings, the suspense/mystery, the chemistry, the banter and even the moments of heartbreak. The plot with the characters was brilliantly orchestrated into a “charming” romance story. The pace of the book was a lot faster and consistent than Irma was traveling towards Florida. I couldn’t put the book down.

In no way am I making light of Hurricane Irma; I’m well aware of the destruction she has left behind. I am merely pointing out the strength of Charmed by Charlie. The fact that I was given a few hours of reprieve from my harsh reality is a testament to the quality of this book. Therefore, I enthusiastically recommend this book to all my friends and family.

Serial Intent by Steve Bradshaw


Serial Intent by Steve Bradshaw
Publisher: Griffyn Ink
Genre: Contemporary Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full length (306 pgs)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Stargazer

When Lindsey Fetter opened her eyes, the man that killed her husband was standing at the end of her bed. When Charlie Dunn pocketed his cell phone, he could only stare at the empty ice on Lake Michigan; the man that killed his wife and son had been released. When Ellen Dumont visited her parent’s gravesite alone, it never occurred to her that would be her last moment on earth.

450 murders is a slow year for Chicago Homicide Detective Aaron Wolfe, but he carries them with him. Long ago he had to learn how to bury the pain and angst so he could navigate the carnage and hunt the killers. But years of a rising crimson tide and failing legal system were more than he could bear. There were too many innocent victims, and too many killers escaping through the legal cracks. On the eve of his resignation, Wolfe saw the man convicted on the Dunn murders would be released–another legal maneuver. When Wolfe took on the Fetter and Dumont cases, his sick world took another turn. Some were killed by sniper fire and others had their skulls crushed with bare hands. Wolfe knew two horrific factions had engaged in a dark war that would change everything.

Can Wolfe uncover the secret force on a reckless mission to remedy a failing legal system? Can he stop the skull-crushing beast terrorizing the city? Or will Wolfe succumb to his scars and allow a new justice to prevail in a city of predators?

The justice system can be manipulated and no one sees this more glaringly than the police that enforce the laws.

Aaron Wolfe is a veteran homicide detective that has seen his share of death. When it appears that a vigilante group is hunting down criminals that manipulate the system, Aaron must decide which side of the line he stands on. Aaron has a past and many scars from his years of service; this proves beneficial as he sizes up the crime scene in a matter of seconds but can be very detrimental in his interpersonal relationships.

Serial Intent is a startling look inside the American Legal System and the long standing impacts that various plea bargains and judgments have on those personally affected by the crimes. When the reader first opens the book, there is a neat listing of 16 main characters. While reading through the book, the reader gets to experience life from each of the 16 characters’ point of view. This can be both fascinating and daunting.

Steve Bradshaw has a unique story telling ability-essentially he is able to bring the reader into the moment of time that the character and story is focused on at that moment. From time to time this can be difficult to track and follow and I occasionally found myself confusing characters. Realistically, this story seems to be most effectively told in the fashion that the author writes it. There is a strong sense of mystery and suspense throughout the book and each character is fascinating and dynamic.

Each character brings a deep back story and a reason for existing in the story. The dialogue between characters is crisp and believable and the confrontation and conflict between the many primary characters is realistic. The description of forensics is strong and very in-depth throughout the entire story. The entire flow of the story is smooth from beginning to end.

If you love a good mystery that focuses on the legal aspects of modern crime, you won’t want to miss Serial Intent!