Third Son’s a Charm by Shana Galen


Third Son’s a Charm by Shana Galen
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (416 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Quince

Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke’s daughter’s bodyguard will be easy―but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion…

Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he’s offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington’s stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.

Lady Lorraine wants none of her father’s high-handed ways, and she’ll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard―until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan’s protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he’s always done―fight for what he wants.

Amazing, this story is absolutely amazing. When I started it I wanted to read it in one sitting and on the other hand I did not want to end it.  Third Son’s Charm is a story about Ewan Mostyn and Lady Lorraine. Ewan is a son of a nobleman; but he is the third child and also because of his learning disabilities his father does not like him. Therefore he joined the army and became a decorated war hero. Ewan is a strong and silent type. He is perfect material for a bodyguard. So it comes at no surprised that Duke of Ridlington hired him to watch over his daughter Lady Lorraine. Lady Lorraine is Ewan’s complete opposite. Where he is silent, she is chatty, where he is big, she is petite. But as every romance novel reader knows: opposites attract. I absolutely adored the way Ewan and Lorraine’s attraction was described. Each scene containing the two of them was filled with electricity and high emotions.

Both characters are amazing and they both have their own issues. Ewan was bullied as a child because he was big and because of his learning disability. Due to that his self-esteem is low. But he is not full of pride and thus not afraid to ask for help. On the other hand he acts like nothing can break him and undo him… until Lorraine. Lorraine has her fair share of issues. Although she is a daughter of duke and high expectations are put on her, she bends rules and misbehaves all the time. She is stubborn, determined and bright and she has a kind heart.

Besides being very hot, this story is also funny and it contains some adventure. I highly recommend reading it. Third Son’s a Charm is definitely a wonderful beginning of the series about younger sons of nobility who were all members of an elite military group. I am anxiously looking forward to the next story in the series.

Nicholas: Lost Innocence, The Demon Series Part 6 by E.H. James


Nicholas: Lost Innocence, The Demon Series Part 6 by E.H. James
Publisher: Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Horror, Paranormal, Historical, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (83 pages)
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

On a September night, in 1962, five-year-old Nicholas Starke finds himself alone on a street in Fairfield.

Confused and frightened, he is rescued by a kind couple. When that same couple adopts him, he is able to move on with his life…Only the people in the town of Fairfield won’t let him. And when met with angry and frightened stares, wherever he goes, his parents decide it best to move. But where can you go, when strange happenings follow your every move?

Will Nicholas hold on to what is left of his innocence, or will his brother’s influence be his downfall?

Nobody chooses the circumstances of their birth or what kind of childhood they had, but everyone always has a choice when it comes to how they behave.

The world building in this series keeps getting better the further along in it I go. It was very good in Beyond The Red Door four year ago, and it’s only gotten better since then. There were a few scenes in the beginning that are only now starting to pay off fully for the characters. I’ve enjoyed seeing how the author has developed this universe so far, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

I would have liked to see more character development for Nicholas Starke. He had a lot of exciting, frightening, and unexpected things happen to him in his life, but I didn’t see many examples of him changing as a result of these experiences. It was also difficult at times to get a feel for his personality. Other than him having a tendency to be cautious, I was never quite sure what other words could be used to describe him.

The creative plots twists are one of the biggest reasons why I enjoy this author’s stories so much. Nicholas: Lost Innocence was just as full of surprises as I expected it to be, especially once the main character grew up and began to explore who he really was and where he came from. I was so interested in finding out where those moments would all lead to that I couldn’t stop reading.

This tale is the sixth in a series. I’d recommend reading the first five before moving onto this one due to how much backstory was covered in them.

Nicholas: Lost Innocence, The Demon Series Part 6 should be read by anyone who enjoyed the first five installments of the The Demon Series.

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride by Kathryn Albright


The Prairie Doctor’s Bride by Kathryn Albright
Publisher: Harlequin/Mills & Boon
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (288 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Wedding bells in Oak Grove…

Raising her son alone, penniless Sylvia Marks has had enough of being the subject of town gossip. But when her son is seriously injured she’ll do anything to save him…even kidnap handsome Dr. Nelson Graham!

Nelson knows what he wants in a wife; she’s to be amiable, biddable and skilled in domestic chores. Gun-toting Sylvia Marks isn’t what he had in mind, but as the two are forced together he realizes she’s exactly what he needs!

I first became aware of the author, Kathryn Albright, when I reviewed “Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove”. “Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove is one book with two stories. One story is written by Lauri Robinson, “Surprise Bride for the Cowboy”. The other was written by Kathryn Albright, “Taming the Runaway Bride”. Even though it’s two books in one, they are connected by sharing the setting and characters. I still think that is the best book I’ve ever read. I still don’t understand how two authors could write a book sharing some of the characters and yet I didn’t feel like I was reading a book written by two authors. If I could be morphed or transported anywhere I’d choose to be transplanted into Oak Grove, Kansas to live among all the townsfolk. I would love to personally meet all the characters I’ve grown to love. After reading and reviewing “Mail-Order Brides of Oak Grove” I reviewed “Winning the Mail-Order Bride” by Lauri Robinson which introduced Fiona Goldberg and Bret Blackwell, who made an exciting appearance in “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride”. There is one other book that I reviewed before “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride” that involved my favorite town of Oak Grove and that one is “Western Christmas Brides”. That book has three stories in it but the one that is relevant to this review is “A Bride and Baby for Christmas” by Lauri Robinson. I just can’t get enough of this Oak Grove utopia. A reader does not need to read all the other books prior to “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride” but I think I loved “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride more because I have read the other books. When I saw “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride” posted I knew I just had to read it. The fact that Lauri Robinson was the author who introduced Fiona and Bret yet they made an appearance in Kathryn Albright’s book, “The Prairie Doctor’s Bride”, made me feel again that Kathryn Albright and Lauri Robinson are in fact the same person. Yet when I Googled their names, my theory is wrong. All I can say at this point is that I will continue to read any book written by these two authors and most definitely if it is set in Oak Grove, Kansas. I know that there are still some eligible bachelors in Oak Grove. I hope they continue the Oak Grove series.

With all that being said, The Prairie Doctor’s Bride was a heartwarming novel. I’m not sure if I’ll ever stop suffering from this Oak Grove, Kansas book hangover; which is the inability to start a new book because I’m still living in the last book’s world. This novel has all the makings of a great love story.

Sylvia Marks, the heroine and the hero, Dr. Nelson Graham are an admirable couple. Together they are entertaining and emotionally exhausting in a rewarding kind of way. They are both incredibly relatable as are all the cast of characters which is one of the reasons they are unforgettable. It was nice to see Nelson find his match. He was introduced in “Mail Order Brides of Oak Grove” in the first story “Surprise Bride for the Cowboy” by Lauri Robinson. That book ended with a plot twist involving the doctor that I didn’t see coming. I remember it had me smiling like a silly goose long after I finished the book. I typically don’t read series but in case you couldn’t already tell, I am in love with this one.

When I started reading The Prairie Doctor’s Bride I was overcome with this comforting and familiar feeling. It was like going home.

I guess I’d compare the Oak Grove series to the T.V. show Little House on the Prairie in some ways but better. There were friendly and not so friendly town folk. There was Mr. and Mrs. Gallagher who ran the Oak Grove mercantile. Neither one of them were welcoming to Sylvia. They’d be an example of the not so friendly town folk. These unfriendly town members added the conflict to the story which made it interesting. Then there were mishaps that happened from living on such harsh lands. There was always something happening that made me want to turn the pages. The writing style was fabulous. The plot was fun and creative. I can’t think of any constructive criticism. This book was a pure delight.

If I could give an award out to best series it would be to this one. There is just something about it that has hit home with me. I heartily recommend all the books I’ve mentioned in this review. They are books I’ve put on my keeper shelf. Lauri Robinson and Kathryn Albright are two authors that I would consider actually collecting their books. They make me happy and feel good. The Prairie Doctor’s Bride made me feel courage and hope.

The Prairie Doctor’s Bride had the best ending. I’m going to end with that. I totally recommend spending time with this novel to all readers and to consider purchasing the other books in this series!

Magic in her Eyes by Donna Dalton


Magic in her Eyes by Donna Dalton
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Full length (310 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Meredith Talbot has a secret. In fact, she has nine secrets – her own and those of the eight orphans at Seaton House, a home for children. Each of them has a special talent that if exposed would get them labeled as witches. It is her responsibility to protect the children and their secrets and keep them safe from persecution. Marauding Indians force them into a nearby fort where their safety is threatened by fanatical townspeople and a captivating army officer who try to unmask the children’s extraordinary abilities.

Lieutenant Preston Booth has one goal – to serve and protect his country. The military is the only life he has ever known. It’s the only life he wants. When a child is abducted and Preston goes after the culprit, Meredith has a vision of what will happen to him.

Does she risk everything by exposing her gift? Or keep her secret and risk losing him forever?

Meredith has visions. She can’t control them and she needs to be next to a deep rooted tree to bring them to life, but she can see the future. When she tells her parents her stepbrother is going to be killed by their bull, no one believes her. When it comes true, her father bans her from the house. She has nowhere to go. She finally travels cross country to her aunt’s orphanage. She can help run that.

All the children in orphanage have special powers, so they spend time inside learning to control them and they are sworn to silence about such things when in public. All is going well until the Indian threat comes close to them and they must join the others in the fort.

This story is set during the time Indians were being relocated to reservations. The author describes life at that time and the hardships everyone faced. If hiding abilities isn’t hard enough, they have to eat at the mess hall. While there, one woman gets in Meredith’s face and tells her she can’t be friends with the lady she invited to sit with them. One of the girls tells the woman secrets from her past and they suddenly called witches!

There’s danger, lots of action, Meredith finds herself falling in love with a soldier, and the ending is exciting. The story flows well and it’s a joy to read. When a boy goes missing towards the end of the story, you find yourself worrying about him just as much as Meredith. It’s also fun to watch the soldier who didn’t like children come under their spell. This was a very good read.

Wyatt’s Bounty by Kim Turner


Wyatt’s Bounty by Kim Turner
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (292)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Bounty hunter Wyatt McCade is taking down outlaws one at a time. He’s been in love with Tess Sullivan for years, but she refuses to give in to her feelings. Reeling from the rejection of his marriage proposal, he chases bounties with little concern for his own safety. When word reaches him that Tess never left for Boston, he rides for Cheyenne to confront her. Instead, he is ambushed and left for dead.

Doctor Tess Sullivan shattered her heart by refusing Wyatt McCade’s marriage proposal and making the biggest mistake of her life, by holding onto a secret. Pining for his return, she blames herself when he arrives in Cheyenne near death. Forgiveness comes quickly in his arms, but she finds herself a pawn in a deadly game of revenge.

When McCade lands are threatened, Tess is caught in the balance. On the bounty hunt of his life, Wyatt will risk everything to rescue the woman he loves.

Oh my goodness! What a great book! Wyatt’s Bounty just has to be made into a movie in the near future. I had no idea this book was book two in “The McCades of Cheyenne” series until after I finished reading it. Therefore it’s safe to say it can be read as a standalone. There was enough awesomeness in Wyatt’s Bounty to have its own movie. I am very curious and want to buy book one which is called Sawyer’s Rose and see if it’s as spectacular as its sequel and if it should be included to make one featured film. This is my first book written by Kim Turner and I might have found a new favorite author. I did Google her to see what other books she has written. I was that smitten with her writing style. Wyatt’s Bounty was absolutely entertaining from the beginning to the end.

Wyatt McCade, the hero, was amazing. Everything you’d want in a book boyfriend. If you look up the definition of a hero you’ll see Wyatt McCade. I easily swoon for cowboys naturally but Wyatt was my everything.

Dr. Tess Sullivan was a fabulous match to Wyatt. She was intelligent, caring, strong and of course beautiful. I was a little jealous of her but it was made very clear that she was the only woman for Wyatt. He didn’t have any interest in anyone else. I would never have stood a chance.

I already stated that the writing style was phenomenal from her word choice to her sentence fluency. There was a well-established cast of characters that flowed like a well-oiled machine. They all interacted and cared for one another. There’s a warm sense of community in Cheyenne enhanced by an organized web of characters all synchronized into a rhythm of love, joy and family. No bounty, outlaw, or land stealing thief stands a chance in their town. Not with the McCades of Cheyenne!

I was easily transported into the action. The plot had me frozen to my seat. I wasn’t moving for anything. There was never a boring moment. It was one unpredictable, emotionally provoking scene after scene. Not in my wildest imagination could I have thought of all the details that were implemented in this masterpiece.

Is there anything about this book that I wish was different? I can’t find one criticism. It even had a prologue and an epilogue. The ending was as solid as the entire book was. The novel gave me complete closure leaving me feeling more than satisfied.

I don’t have any qualms about recommending this book. I found this book full of love and romance. My expectations were more than met. Wyatt and Tess filled my emotional love tank. I guess the only criticism I can come up with is that I didn’t want it to end.

Fire Born by Rayanne Haines


Fire Born by Rayanne Haines
Book 1 The Guardian Series
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Genre: Action/Adventure, Contemporary, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (256 pages)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Independent, tough as nails, and fierce to her core, Alex Taleisin can’t quite believe it when she has to fight for her life against something not-quite-human in the YMCA parking lot.

That’s when her aunt lets her in on the family secret. They’re immortal—Elementals to be precise, and Alex is the long-lost daughter of the strongest female warrior of their time.

Her guardian (a freaking Dragon!) and the sexiest man Alex has ever seen gives her a choice. Go with him, learn how to control her fire, and find her father’s people, or try to survive on her own. It’s an easy choice considering she’s only twenty-six. And the Elders may already be on her trail thanks to the fight with the nut job in the parking lot kick-starting her dormant DNA.

Enter an insane grandfather, a shifter with a hidden agenda, and a witch with a shoe addiction, and suddenly loner Alex is wishing for a quiet house in the hills with the dragon she’s falling for.

But a fight is coming and Alex knows the only way to find her answers is to trust her powers and become the warrior she was destined to be.

Despite being set in the present, this story also refers to the history of the guardians. Alex comes into her powers which include fire. Collum, her dragon guardian, must keep her safe until she is a full elemental, able to control her magical urges and make them obey her wishes.

This is a wonderful story of dragons, magic, and the solving of an ancient mystery which has bearing of Alex’s past, in particular who her parents were. Life for Alex is mixed up and becomes more so when the weird Elders of the Elementals interfere.

I loved the way this travelled all over the world, but would point out that the author should research her venues. The island off the south coast of England is called Isle of Wight (pronounced white, but not spelled that way). This error took me out of the flow of the story and it took a while to get back into it again as I kept looking for other mistakes.

I really enjoyed reading this book as it had a bit of everything fantasy and in the main was well written. Definitely worth 4.5 stars.

The Lady’s Arrangement by Colleen L. Donnelly


The Lady’s Arrangement by Colleen L. Donnelly
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (368 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Neither Rex nor Regina wants a spouse, but they do have needs.

Ranger Rex Duncan needs a false identity—just long enough to uncover a ring of Kansas ranch thieves. Answering Regina’s ad for a temporary husband, he leaves his beloved red dirt of Oklahoma to assume that disguise. But the most obstinate woman he’s ever known confounds his assignment, and with hair the red color that has always made his heart beat a little faster.

Regina Howard needs a new Mrs. in front of her name—just long enough to reclaim her deceased husband’s ranch, since Kansas law won’t allow women to own property. When Rex answers her ad for a husband who can take orders as part of a brief business arrangement, she finds this stubborn man ignores her every command. Yet a good man is far more than just a name…

I started this novel anticipating a romance between Ranger Rex Duncan and Regina Howard. The synopsis piqued my interest. It sounded like I was going to get to read an intriguing sequence of events with some sensual true love mixed in. While all my expectations weren’t exactly met, I was pleasantly satisfied with the plot thread of uncovering the ring of Kansas ranch thieves.

I believe Regina, the heroine, would describe this book as a tranquil and sophisticated piece of work that was slow to evolve with its abundance of verbiage. I think Rex, the hero, would say this book would be a great book to bring on an extra-long relaxing vacation.

Ranger Rex needed a false identity to infiltrate and uncover the villains. While Regina Howard needed a new husband’s name to reclaim her deceased husband’s ranch. I quote “Neither Rex nor Regina wants a spouse, but they do have needs.” I interpreted that incorrectly. The “needs” they needed weren’t romantic needs. In fact, this book barely qualifies as a romance for me. The writing style didn’t have the emotional conflict of a ‘cat & mouse chase’ romance between two unlikely people, instead I consider this book to be more of a mystery. The entire book was about uncovering the ring of murderous thieves and land grabbing cutthroats .

The synopsis says that Regina “is the most obstinate woman” Rex has ever known. I agree with that statement. I think Rex deserved a better leading woman to be matched with. She was from New York and the setting is in Kansas. Regina adapted to Kansas but still had that New York style class about her. Rex is a Ranger and skilled at being a rancher. Well, Regina would use these words that most people don’t use in every day speaking. Rex wouldn’t know what some of the words meant and I felt that made Rex look dumb. Then, Rex had “ranch” lingo that he used that Regina didn’t understand but it still made him look dumb. I think this might have been an attempt at humor to make me laugh, however, it made me dislike Regina for the way she belittled Rex and therefore I was unable to connect with them as a couple. This is especially true since there was little chemistry between them. There has to be more for me than “she looked good in a pair of pants” and “he was strong”. I understand that not everyone likes public displays of affection. It was obvious that Rex and Regina grew to care about each other by their actions. Sometimes, thoughtful actions speak louder than words.

Despite my disappointment in the lack of open affection in the romance department, Rex’s false identity to uncover a ring of Kansas ranch thieves was worth the read for me. Oddly enough, for some reason this book reminded me of a Scooby Doo episode. Rex would be a mix of Fred and Velma and Regina would be Daphne. There is a character that would be the unmasked villain at the end but that would be a spoiler so I can’t mention the character’s name. There are clues along the way though and it wasn’t a totally predictable plot. There were a few surprise moments which I appreciated. I grew up loving Scooby Doo so I enjoyed this book from the point of view of it being a mystery.

I do think The Lady’s Arrangement was worth my time to read because it had a nice ending. I liked how it came full circle back to how it all started. I would recommend to readers of sweet romantic suspense and mysteries to give this novel a try. I know my mother and my mother-n-law would love this book because they enjoy clean, innocent, and well written stories between two adults who grow to respect and care for one another.

A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase


A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (396 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Not all dukes are created equal. Most are upstanding members of Society. And then there’s the trio known as Their Dis-Graces.

Hugh Philemon Ancaster, seventh Duke of Ripley, will never win prizes for virtue. But even he draws the line at running off with his best friend’s bride. All he’s trying to do is recapture the slightly inebriated Lady Olympia Hightower and return her to her intended bridegroom.

For reasons that elude her, bookish, bespectacled Olympia is supposed to marry a gorgeous rake of a duke. The ton is flabbergasted. Her family’s ecstatic. And Olympia? She’s climbing out of a window, bent on a getaway. But tall, dark, and exasperating Ripley is hot on her trail, determined to bring her back to his friend. For once, the world-famous hellion is trying to do the honorable thing.

So why does Olympia have to make it so deliciously difficult for him . . . ?

Get ready for a novel that ends as adorable as the beginning is rascally. I know this book is a romance but the tone, pace, dialogue and descriptions all inspired joy, smiles, happy anticipation and delighted laughter. This has to be one of the most upbeat romances I’ve read in a long time. It’s fun with a capital F.

Usually the groom is the no show at a wedding but in A Duke in Shining Armor it’s the heroine who does the fleeing and her madcap dash for freedom is witnessed and then abetted by the hero, the Duke of Ripley. Of course, he’s just there to make sure she’s safe until she changes her mind and goes back to his best friend to get married. He’s sure she’s going to change her mind, isn’t she? Okay, not this time but she will, right? What follows is a charming and hilarious adventure as Lady Olympia runs from what she knows she should do, what she always does because she’s so proper, and ends up learning more about herself in a few days than she’s ever learned in all the years before. It’s shocking! It’s eye-opening and I never knew what pickle she’d get into next. Olympia is a riot.

Ripley, though his aunt calls him Hugh, was a thoroughly wonderful hero. Seeing him slowly discovering the wonder that is Olympia has high entertainment value and I was charmed. At first he was noble, then tempted; he fights the temptation and then comes the ‘kiss’. It’s at that point he opened the Pandora’s Box called Lady Olympia Hightower and the book turned sensual, seductive and very romantic. A Duke in Shining Armor shifted into high gear and became a novel I could not put down. I can’t even begin to tell you all the things the poor hero had to deal with in trying to keep up with the heroine.

The only thing that made me roll my eyes is Ashmont. He really needs a wakeup call and a boot in his derrière because he was so weak! He and Blackwood were secondary characters and Ripley’s best buds, but Ashmont is the one who created the impetus for the entire conflict. Of course, he is the perfect character to get his story next because Ashmont’s uncle thinks a lady like Olympia is perfect for him. I almost (pinches fingers) feel sorry for the guy when Ms. Chase pairs him with a lady who’s more than a match for him. That is one book I DON’T want to miss!! In any event, he and Blackwood set off on the adventure of ‘retrieving his bride’. Here’s the thing, he came across as … still a boy. By the time this novel wraps up, I got the sense that Ashmont is finally getting a clue.

I adored how the author had Ripley and Olympia play. The hero is imaginative and full of fun and he helps the heroine see she’s capable of being spontaneous and silly and the sky wouldn’t fall. I enjoyed his yearning for her but beating himself up because he shouldn’t. I mean, he IS the best friend of the intended groom. That was a great conflict and I liked how Ms. Chase handled it.

There is so much I want to say, I’m having a hard time trying to rein myself in. A Duke in Shining Armor is refreshing, amusing, well written and a lot more labels I could tack on. I think the happy ever after ending is perfect. It’s just a great read and I loudly say, Don’t Miss This Book!

Mrs. Claus by Rhonda Parrish, editor


Mrs. Claus by Rhonda Parrish, editor
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Paranormal, Holiday, Horror, Contemporary, Historical
Length: Full Length (214 pages)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

When you think of Mrs. Claus, do you imagine a quiet North Pole homebody who finds complete fulfillment in baking cookies, petting reindeer and crafting toys alongside elves? How about a magic-wielding ice goddess, or a tough-as-nails Valkyrie? Or maybe an ancient fae of dubious intentions, or a well-meaning witch? Could Mrs. Claus be a cigar-smoking Latina, or a crash-landed alien? Within these pages Mrs. Claus is a hero, a villain, a mother, a spacefarer, a monster hunter, and more. The only thing she decidedly is not, is a sidekick.

It’s Mrs. Claus’ turn to shine and she is stepping out of Santa’s shadow and into the spotlight in these fourteen spectacular stories that make her the star! Featuring original short stories by Laura VanArendonk Baugh, C.B. Calsing, DJ Tyrer, Jennifer Lee Rossman, Kristen Lee, Randi Perrin, Michael Leonberger, Andrew Wilson, Ross Van Dusen, MLD Curelas, Maren Matthias, Anne Luebke, Jeff Kuykendall, and Hayley Stone.

Santa might have demanded the lion’s share of the attention in the old myths about the North Pole, but that’s all about to change for good reason!

In “The Asylum Musicale,” Lizzie, a patient at an asylum, quickly began to wonder where Yessica Klaus, the newest patient there, had come from and why she seemed to be capable of things that no one else could do. The foreshadowing in the early scenes was excellent. I especially liked Lizzie’s descriptions of her life before she was committed and how she responded to Yessica when she began to feel threatened by her. She was a complex person who seemed to believe several contradictory things at once, so it was a lot of fun to weigh the various things she told the audience against each other and come up with my own theories about what was going on before the big reveal at the end.

All of the stories in this collection were creative, diverse, and well written. I never would have guessed that Mrs. Claus could be interpreted in so many different ways or that she could be frightening in one plot and sympathetic in the next. “You’d Better Watch Out” was the only tale that I thought could have used a little more plot development. While I loved the idea of Nick and Fianna Claus adopting a house full of children, I would liked to see a little more time spent on explaining why Fianna ended up with such an unusual part-time job and how she and her husband decided to take in so many kids. With a little more development, this instalment easily would have been my favourite part of the entire book.

“Good Morning” followed Nick and Eve on the one day of the year when they awoke from their slumber and used powerful magic to help Nick deliver presents to every home on Earth. By far the best part of the storyline were the references to who these characters were before they became Santa and Mrs. Claus. One of the things I’ve always found most thought provoking about this couple was how little attention anyone ever paid to why these beings gave away presents or how they ended up together. This story had the most inventive take on their backstories by far, and I deeply enjoyed reading it.

I’d heartily recommend Mrs. Claus to anyone who loves modern spins on traditional fairy tales.

Bandit’s Bride by Gail MacMillan


Bandit’s Bride by Gail MacMillan
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Historical
Length: Full length (284 pages)
Heat Rating: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Is Louisa Abbott a witch? The villagers, who saw her burn the ship where her doctor husband’s body lay with others who had died of an unnamed illness, believe so. Even worse, she communicates with animals. No one, other than her Native friends, is interested in her healing abilities, so she lives alone, companioned by a wolf who owes his survival to her. Brodie MacMillan is a Highland bandit with the New Brunswick law hot on his trail, despite the injustice of the accusation against him. When he arrives at Louisa’s remote cabin desperately wounded and nearly frozen stiff, her magic might save his life, but how can he rescue her from the wrath of the villagers and then from the vengeful woman who is out to make him pay for past deeds?

He’s in the tavern having a beer when his nephew comes in and tells him he needs to come with him right now, there’s a witch outside. He asks if she’s green with a big wart on her nose and he gets told no. When he sees her, all he can do is stare. She’s a beautiful female picking up stores at the market next door. He hears them taunt her and offers to help carry her goods out. She lets him and thanks him and he’s smitten.

This author not only paints a picture of a beautiful land, she takes you back to the time period and makes you believe you’re living there with them. It’s easy to get caught up in the romance and you feel their disappointments and sorrow as one woman plans to bring his family down.

He’s the bandit. He and his friend he calls his brother fought in Scotland. They’re in America now and they have left the bandit life in the past but actions of the past come back to haunt them. He makes the mistake of trying to help a woman who’s laying in the snow and has lost her horse and then she drugs him and accuses him of rape. His brother arranges his escape but he gets shot. He thinks he’ll die in the snow but he finds the witch’s house…

With a mix of Indians, pirates, rebels and more, the story is exciting and full of action. There isn’t a dull moment in this book. The woman after him is dangerous and wicked and the final confrontation is an all-out war with some sad consequences. It’s a happy ending, though. Love wins.