The Ghost of January by Mysti Parker


The Ghost of January by Mysti Parker
Publisher: EsKape Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (79 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Against her father’s wishes, twenty-year-old January Cooper elopes with her high school sweetheart and leaves for a fairytale honeymoon in Europe.

Two weeks later, she’s a widow, abandoned by her husband’s family and too ashamed to contact hers. She works her way across the continent, scared but determined to make it on her own.

Renowned food and travel blogger Diederik DeVries arrives in his native Amsterdam and hears rumors of a Ghost Lover who has supposedly left a trail of broken hearts all over Europe. A chance encounter with an American girl named Jan leaves him wondering if she could be this elusive legend.

Despite her fears of falling in love again, January is just as intrigued with the charming and handsome Diederik. Though he is determined to discover her true identity, she refuses to tell him anything about her past. All he wants is to break down the walls of her hidden heartache to find the real woman within. But will the ghosts of January’s past take her away from him before he ever gets that chance?

After the death of her husband on her honeymoon, January roams Europe, afraid to go home to hear her father say ‘I told you so’.

In Amsterdam she finds a job and meets Diederik who has returned to his home town for a short period. They become friends but Diederik becomes cautious when he learns she could be the Ghost Lover who slips away from lovers without any explanation.

This book may be short but it is well written and a compelling read. January’s nervousness of committing herself has taken over her life and the way the author introduced her emotions brought me into the heart of the story. Her desire to get closer to Diederik wavered with indecision and I fully sympathized with the way January swung from one decision to the opposite side.

Good book to read on a wet and windy afternoon as it took me into January’s world and fully engaged my mind.

Second Chance with the Playboy by Charlotte McFall


Second Chance with the Playboy by Charlotte McFall
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Full Length (183 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

At thirty-two, feisty Annabel Simpson is the youngest doctor to take charge of a ward in the history of Oakwood Hospital. A possible closure threatens her position and spurs her into action. Organizing a charity bike ride from Brighton to Lands End seems like a good idea until she comes face to face with her past in the form of playboy Marcus Chapman.

Marcus Chapman is still grieving the loss of his daughter. The Oakwood staff did everything in their power to save her. Now, it’s time to give back by donning his biker-leathers for the first time in years. Unfortunately, his teammate is the girl who broke his heart. Annabel has changed from the carefree girl she once was, and Marcus is determined to break down the barriers she has erected.

Can one charity event and her first love help her save the beloved Children’s Ward? Does she have the courage to mend their broken hearts?

Annabel is a doctor in the children’s ward of a hospital. When she’s advised the ward will be closing due to lack of funds, she organizes a fundraiser to keep the ward open. Marcus, a wealthy businessman, lost his daughter a year before and decided to not only make an anonymous donation, but also take part in the fundraiser. They meet and their past becomes their present.

This is a nice book, with characters that have a history and this keeps interfering with the present. Their misunderstanding is totally believable although as a reader I didn’t know if they were going to resolve their differences by the end of the book.

Unfortunately the timeline continuity of the story is not good. For instance it appears they last met four years before, when both were single, but Marcus’s daughter died at the age of 5 years old so the time since their original meeting must have been much longer. There are several other discrepancies in the timeline, too many to ignore. Plus in a couple of places there are obviously words missing between paragraphs.

In the background there is the mystery of why the children’s ward is to close? Where has all the money gone? What evil person would steal from sick children?

Although I enjoyed this book, if the problems were fixed it would be excellent rather than nice as the characters are strong and the conflict is real.

Mugs and Monasteries by Cait O’Sullivan


Mugs and Monasteries by Cait O’Sullivan
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Paranormal
Length: Short Story (73 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

When Orchid hunter Evie Bourke stumbles across a near deserted monastery deep in the Burren, she doesn’t realize that she’s the first person alive to see it. All she knows is that her life suddenly takes a strange turn and nothing will ever be the same.

Aiden Dunne’s family has been connected to Munster Abbey for generations, he is determined to find it and to find out what happened to his ancestral relative, the former Prior. What happened all those years ago and why does Aiden seem so familiar to Evie when they’ve never met?

Together they must face the Wanderer and dispatch him back to the darkness where he belongs before he destroys everything they hold dear. Can they trust each other before time runs out?

Evie Bourke is caught in a torrential rainstorm and takes shelter in a small house. There is a sense of evil in the place and Evie wakes in her own bed the next morning but can’t remember what happened the day before.

Aiden Dunne has spent years searching for the remains of a monastery where his ancestor was the abbot. As Evie’s memory slowly returns they join together to search for the reason for her memory loss and Aiden’s lost monastery.

Although short this is a cozy story. The link between the two main characters is not readily apparent and is only revealed gradually as the story progresses. The scenes of the past are very nicely handled and made me want to carry on reading to see the result of their endeavors. Nice book, well worth the read.

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.

Magic Spark by Sara Dobie Bauer, Em Shotwell, Wendy Sparrow


Magic Spark by Sara Dobie Bauer, Em Shotwell, Wendy Sparrow
Enchanted Book One

Publisher: Pen and Kink Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (215 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

The first of a trio of trilogies by three amazing romance writers. These stories all have two things in common: magic and romance!

“When Demigods Court Death” by Wendy Sparrow:
As the demigod of fertility, Aster Slone has a thriving doctor’s practice. In fact, the incidence of triplets has made it too thriving. He needs more time with his neighbor the demigoddess of death to dampen his powers. Chandra Linton being gorgeous and sweet makes his task less of a hardship. Hitting the zenith of heretofore-unknown powers without enough exposure to her match is killing Chandra. Accepting all that her crazy, but hot neighbor says is her destiny…well, it muddles her convictions, but her real concern is: does Aster want Chandra because she’s the woman he desires or because she’s Death?

“These Roots Run Deep” by Em Shotwell:
Spitfire, New Orleans weather girl, Cheyanne Murphey has everything, and that is exactly how she likes it. When she discovers evidence of her fiancé’s philandering, she refuses to let her perfectly cultivated image fall to pieces. Cheyanne has worked too hard, dragging herself up from the trailer park into New Orleans’ society, to give in without a fight…even if that means trading a year of her life in exchange for a love incantation from her ancestor’s spell book.
A skyclad, moonlit dance, a mysterious potion, and magic gone awry leave Cheyanne with a very peculiar life lesson: love can take on many forms, so be careful what you wish for.

“Destiny’s Dark Light” by Sara Dobie Bauer:
In modern day Charleston, lonely white witch Cyan Burroughs has waited her whole life to lead the battle against dark witches and eventually meet the man she is fated to love. A tragic trolley accident brings Liam Cody into her life. He is her destiny, but he’s also in love with someone else. Now, Cyan and her magic family must find the dark witch who caused the accident while Cyan fights her feelings for Liam—a charming Irishman with secrets of his own.

This book is contains three books written by different authors.

When Demigods Court Death by Wendy Sparrow

Chandra always feels down and can’t understand why others always feel ill or afraid when around her. Her neighbor moves in and his balcony explodes with greenery, she immediately feels a lifting of her spirits.
Chandra and Aster are opposites. I became very engrossed when their story unfolded in a most intriguing way. Their personalities came across very well, allowing me to enjoy the story and at the same time wonder how they would resolve their difficulties.

These Roots Run Deep by Em Shotwell

Another unusual story. What to do when you’re a witch and the love of your life cheats on you? Set in New Orleans, the three witch sisters have taken over from their recently deceased grandmother, but when Cheyanne discovers her fiancé Brett is cheating, she talks her two siblings into casting a spell to make sure Brett remains with her. It’s a case of be careful what you wish for. Good story.

Destiny’s Dark Light – Part One by Sara Dobie Bauer

A family of witches where the youngest one has yet to come into her powers. When Cyan finds her soul mate her powers are supposed to evolve, but all is not as it seems. Her soul mate is with someone else. A catastrophe muddles the waters even further.

I loved this story, unusual plot with humor and tragedy. I was bit put out when I found the end finished with the words “to be continued”. Now I have to wait until the author writes the next bit. Good story and well worth reading.

Despite being by three different authors, this book enthralled me and I eagerly went from story to story. Excellent read.

Reluctant Reunion by Ruth J Hartman


Reluctant Reunion by Ruth J Hartman
Publisher: esKape ePress
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (63 pages)
Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Orchid

Kennedy Cooper tries everything to stay away from her father’s alpaca farm. Being an actress in New York seems to do the trick. Until it doesn’t. When she fails to get enough acting parts, loses her part-time job, and breaks up with her boyfriend, she has no choice but to return. Seeing her father again is tough, but having to meet his new love interest reminds Kennedy why she’d vowed never to go home.

When Kennedy is out of a job and her boyfriend abandons her, she has nowhere else to go but home to the family alpaca ranch. Unfortunately Kennedy hates alpacas.

Settling back into the homestead is strange. Her mother’s death had been the catalyst for her moving to the city, but now she finds her father has a new woman in his life. Her dead brother’s daughter is also living at the farm and her father is unwell.

Put together all these elements and life for Kennedy is not the quiet stay she’d hoped it would be.

I liked this story, not a romance but it shows Kennedy’s feelings for her father, her home and the “other woman”. I really liked the way it unfolded. It may have been short, but it was well written and intriguing. Good book.

The Ghost and Mrs Miller by Sandra Tilley


The Ghost and Mrs Miller by Sandra Tilley
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Length: Full Length (359 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Libby Miller is a good Southern girl, and good Southern girls know the rules. But fate has no rules. On her nineteenth wedding anniversary, fate whips up a tornado of turmoil when Libby finds her husband Neil in the arms of his assistant. But the storm’s not over. Neil flips his BMW, and Libby comes home to find his ghost in the dining room. How is Libby supposed to grieve and move on with Neil’s ever-present, meddling ethereal presence in her life?

With her twentieth high school reunion looming, Libby finds herself torn between two men from her past. One man promises passion and a new beginning, and the other wants to pick up where they left off. Neil stirs up a maelstrom of mischief, making it almost impossible for Libby to sort through the rubble. Libby anticipates a confrontation between her two suitors–not a shadowy stalker who chooses the reunion as his setting for a showdown.

In Libby’s quest for independence, she rejects the one man who can save her. Can she compromise the price of her freedom, or will it cost her a second chance at love and put her life in danger?

On the night of her nineteenth wedding anniversary Libby discovers her husband has been cheating on her. After ramming his shiny white BMW with her tatty old car, she drives home with her mind in turmoil. Her children are away so she is able to give in to her emotions, but a knock on the door brings her more bad news. It’s Eli, a police captain who is also a a childhood friend. He has come to tell her her husband, Neil has been in a crash and has not survived the accident.

With most stories this would be the end of the matter, Libby would move forward and find a new love who her kids would adore and all would be well. This story is different as Neil refuses to move on to the other side. He haunts Libby who can’t help herself taunting him about his indiscretion. This leads to many humorous moments when friends look at her weirdly as she talks to Neil, who they cannot see.

There’s also the stalker who keeps driving past her house which is in a gated community. Eli tries to help and also helps with various tasks around the property, but another childhood friend is also interested in Libby. For a believer in ghosts this is a very apt story about what could happen when a husband dies at what he considers the wrong moment in his life. There’s also the question, does Neil approve of her moving on, or would he like her to remain true to him? Good read with a nice twist to the story.

Love on Longboat Key by Meg West


Love on Longboat Key by Meg West
The Keys to His Heart, Book 1
Publisher: Champagne Book Group
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (143 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Julie Joseph dreads spending Christmas in Florida with her cranky elderly parents. Yet that changes when she arrives at Sun Tower and meets the eligible bachelor whose equally quarrelsome parents have just moved into the penthouse. Thomas Briggs IV is hardly the type Julie has dated in the past: he’s tall, handsome, and out-of-this-world wealthy. He’s also the son of the CEO of Pilgrim Mutual Insurance, where Julie works as a copywriter.

Julie has just a few days to date Thomas before they both have to return to the ice and snow blanketing the Northeast. But there’s one big problem: Julie’s rival for Thomas’s attention happens to be her gorgeous, but mean-spirited boss at Pilgrim Mutual. Can Julie overcome the odds and beat out Amanda Ford to win Thomas’s heart?

Love on Longboat Key, the first in a trilogy of contemporary romance novels set on the barrier islands off Sarasota, is a sweet holiday tale about finding love on the beach.

Julie works for an insurance company in Connecticut but is in Florida to spend Christmas with her parents who live in a block of flats for the elderly.  Thomas works for the same insurance company in Connecticut and is in Florida to spend Christmas with his parents in the same block of flats. They have not met before their holidays.

The two come together and find discover they have mutual employers, in fact Julie’s immediate boss is Thomas’s ex fiancé. They take time out together to get away from the demands of their parents and enjoy the Florida sunshine instead of the Connecticut snow storms.

This is a sweet romantic story where two like souls from very different backgrounds come together and help one another with their family and work problems. Add to this the ex fiancé who expects Julie to work over Christmas and is also a little bit jealous about Julie’s friendship with Thomas, and we have a story with a green-eyed monster making it interesting.

I loved both main characters and Julie’s parents added humorous light relief. The conflicts in their relationship were addressed in a very sensible way, none of this did he – didn’t he? Will she – won’t she? If they were confused, they asked. This could have made it a bit insipid but it didn’t. The story was entertaining and sweet and came a a very satisfying end. I enjoyed it immensely.

Heartfelt by Kay Springsteen


Heartfelt by Kay Springsteen
Publisher: esKape Press
Genre: Contemporary, Inspirational
Length: Full Length (205 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Orchid

The story that began on a North Carolina beach with a blind marine, a divorced mother, and a child with Down syndrome continues as the young family struggles to adapt to a new addition. Now eight months pregnant, Trish worries about her baby, her daughter, and her husband. But maybe she should be more concerned with herself. Dan struggles to prove himself at work in the face of what others consider his disability. As he wrestles with his job, he is also concerned with life at home and the impending birth of his son. How will he connect with a son when he’ll never even be able to play a game of catch with him?

A truly lovely story regarding love in almost impossible circumstances. Both hero and heroine, Trish and Dan, have things in their past, and lurking under the surface in the present, which make both hesitate to take the final step into a relationship.

Dan is blind due to an explosion in Afghanistan, while Trish has a daughter with Downs Syndrome. Her daughter Bella, is gorgeous. She is the pivot around which the story revolves. A lovely young girl who is stubborn and determined, but who is loved by both her mother and Dan.

Living near the beach means life by the sea plays a big part in the story especially toward the end. Both Dan and Trish must decide what they want for the future, not what they know they should do, but what they want to do. Once this is decided they can then work out if there is a future for them together, although of course Bella has already made up her mind what she wants to happen.

A wonderful book with a warm and fuzzy story although at times it becomes a tear jerker. Great read.

The Road To Escape by Patricia Kiyono


The Road To Escape by Patricia Kiyono
Publisher: esKape Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Short Story (102 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Orchid

Tom Cooper left his high-pressure law practice in Indianapolis for life on an alpaca farm in the tiny northwest Indiana town of Escape. Though he continued to practice law, the farm provided a good life for him, his wife, and their five children. But when his wife died, grief consumed him. His withdrawal into himself damaged his relationship with his children, and they’ve all left. He’s resigned to taking care of the farm alone, but a disturbing medical diagnosis could change things.

Laurie Matthews left her nursing job in shame. The town of Escape has welcomed her, and she now owns the local diner. She’s attracted to the handsome widower who comes in for coffee and a hot meal but keeps her distance. Everyone she’s ever loved has died — her grandparents, her parents, her husband, and one other — one she still can’t bear to think about.

A romantic relationship isn’t on the agenda for either of them, but when the diner falls on hard times, Tom steps in to help, paving the way for them both to escape the loneliness in their lives.

Tom is a widower whose health is deteriorating; Laurie runs the local diner, but her past is catching up with her.

At first I didn’t realize this was a middle age romance, but it didn’t really matter as the love was obviously beginning to bloom. Unfortunately neither party wanted to admit their feelings for fear of being rebuffed. Their past personal life makes them move slowly toward each other, but there is also a hint of nastiness in the air.

This is definitely a sweet romance, no hot love scenes, no misunderstandings. The reasons for any delay in announcing their feelings are perfectly natural and show how a normal way of life can interfere with the way love is supposed to develop.

I loved the way both hero and heroine knew what the other was hiding, but didn’t reveal their thoughts so neither was aware the other had discovered their secret. Their passion was very much of a “tiptoe around each other“ style and at times I wanted to give them both a big push and tell them to get on with things.

At the end of the story I felt it had a satisfactory conclusion and could actually have left the door open for a follow up.