Penshaw by LJ Ross

Penshaw by LJ Ross
Publisher: Dark Skies Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

When you sell your soul, the devil gives no refunds…

When an old man is burned alive in a sleepy ex-mining village, Detective Chief Inspector Ryan is called in to investigate. He soon discovers that, beneath the facade of a close-knit community, the burn from decades-old betrayal still smoulders. When everyone had a motive, can he unravel the secrets of the past before the killer strikes again?

Meanwhile, back at Northumbria CID, trouble is brewing with rumours of a mole in Ryan’s department. With everyone under suspicion, can he count on anybody but himself?

Murder and mystery are peppered with romance and humour in this fast-paced crime whodunnit set amidst the spectacular Northumbrian landscape.

When an old man is burned alive in his small, village home DCI Ryan first things it should be a fairly simple case. Only he quickly discovers there is plenty of decades-old tension simmering just under the surface and a number of old grudges and betrayals that have never really been put to rest. Also, with a number of the police divisions merging together – lines are blurring, and DCI Ryan’s team are no longer exactly who is trustworthy and who might have sinister other agendas.

I found this to be an interesting and decently plotted police procedural type of mystery story. There is a bit of romance in the sidelines between some of the main characters – two sets of very well-established couples and Jack and Mel are trying to sort out will they or won’t they take that plunge. I found the two main mystery plots to be very well written and solid additions to the story but found myself a bit disappointed with the whole Jack/Mel situation. Without giving too much away I found them both to act a bit immaturely – with Mel throwing a number of Jack’s previous mistakes in his face during an argument and Jack knowing he was in a bit over his head and refusing to reach out to Frank or Ryan to even get their advice – let alone ask for help. While each problem is excusable, it really felt to me like they were both showing how immature and not sensible they were being, particularly considering the fact they’ve each been in similar situations before and clearly not learned anything from it. It soured me a little on them both which was a shame.

That said I thought the arson investigation was a solidly written plot and I enjoyed the way the author linked the small mining town back to the past and really captured the feeling of both the residents in a small village like that and the way wounds can fester over time. I also thought the tensions and inter-office conflict with a number of the various police forces coming together and needing to work together as a unit was exceptionally well handled. With so many different groups – all having worked in their own divisions and teams for so long – and so many different dynamics and ego’s all being crammed together and suddenly needing to share and co-exist the drama and issues really felt well-handled and realistic. It added a lot of conflict and drama to the interactions and story without feeling as if plot devices were being dragged around the regular team and dynamics and things being added just to create tension. I thought it was a good idea and will be interested to see how it unfolds in the next few books.

This is a good story with two solid plots. While I feel it could be picked up without the reader having read any of the previous books, I don’t feel this is a good book to try that with. Personally, I’d read at least a few of the previous installments as many of the characters, history and teamwork that so strongly ties them together would need some explanation prior to this story. Having at least some idea on how the team works together and a general grasp of their history together is fairly important to fully enjoy this story I feel. But it’s a great British mystery and police procedural style of plot and well worth the investment.

Wilde Treasures by K.M. Fawcett

Wilde Treasures by K.M. Fawcett
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Rick McKinnon is on the hunt for booty…

…pirate booty, that is. With one week left to find the hidden trove before his mafia boss investor starts busting kneecaps, Rick discovers the location is inside a 200-year-old well on private property. Unfortunately, claustrophobic Rick gets stuck.

The last thing Willow Wilde needs after moving away from her thieving ex is to rescue a sexy hustler from her well. But when the fortune hunter offers a piece of buried treasure in exchange for her help, Willow gets swept into an adventure sure to solve her money woes and add to her man troubles. As long as she can guard against Rick’s sultry charms, she won’t get hurt again.

But the two aren’t the only ones searching for the lost loot, and rivals will stop at nothing to get the gold. It’s now a race against time as Rick and Willow chase a string of clues throughout the small town of Candlewood Falls. And to survive this dangerous game, they’ll have to learn to trust each other with their lives…and their hearts.

Oh, my goodness! Oh, my goodness! I have so much that I want to say. I started this book without any background. After I finished it, I did some research and discovered that I was the one who found the best treasure of all. I found a new series to escape into.

The “Dear Readers” note in the beginning of the book explains it all. Too bad I missed that page when I hastily started reading chapter one. In case you are an eager reader like me, let me tell you what it says. I don’t want you to miss it like I did. Wild Treasures is the fourth book in the Candlewood Falls series. (It can easily be read as a standalone.) “However, the end of one story doesn’t mean the end of your favorite characters. They can show up in any Candlewood Falls book at any time.” (That, folks, is my kind of series. Especially when I bond with the characters and hate to let them go when the story is over.) “Candlewood Falls is a unique world of connected stories by different authors whose characters, business, and events appear in each other’s stories.” (I’ve read one other series like this, and it is still my favorite. I sincerely will be checking out books one, two and three.) The “Dear Reader” note also says “Think of Candlewood Falls as a literary soap opera”.

Wilde Treasures is similar to my favorite movie, “Raiders of the Lost Ark”. Only set the movie in our modern times.

I was drawn into the story right away when I read the first paragraph. The leading man, Rick McKinnon, was love at first sight for me. He was sexy, smart and protective. He made me feel safe. The heroine, Willow Wilde, was spunky, smart and beautiful. When they were together, I could feel their chemistry sizzle off the pages.

I was thoroughly entertained, hunting for the treasure right along with Rick and Willow. Their bantering made me chuckle. The suspenseful parts made my heart race. Rick and Willow were both romantics at heart which I found heartwarming and endearing.

If you are looking for a swoon-worthy book, then I’d suggest this one. I’m still suffering from a book glow a day later. I’m ready to go on another treasure hunt with Rick and Willow.

This was my first K.M. Fawcett story, and it won’t be my last. I loved how her writing style brought the book to life. Like, I said, I’m the one that found the real treasure. Happy Reading!

Jane Austen Time Traveler by Rachel Dacus – Spotlight and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Rachel Dacus will be awarding a $20 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Lonely Regency romance writer travels to the future, meets her fans, dips into a pearly swimming pool, and falls for its owner. Can she ever go home again…

If Jane Austen’s novels had never ever existed, would we have rom-com movies and women’s fiction? But the young writer is discouraged by a publisher’s rejection and ready to give up writing. And an unwelcome marriage proposal she has rashly accepted spells her doom.

Someone must save history and Jane Austen! When a stranger calls and claims to be an interested publisher, a desperate Jane agrees to go with him to his office. That office turns out to be in the future. And it’s not an office, but a bookstore in southern California in 2024 where fans of Jane Austen gather every month to discuss her works.

Jane greets the Jane Austen Superfan Club, only to find that superfans can be super picky. Discouraged by their critiques, Jane wants different adventures. Even deadly, dangerous ones. And oh, yes! Romantic ones.

Her “publisher” had hoped to inspire Jane’s writing by showing her a book club devoted to her writing. But when she meets a tall, handsome superfan, Jane decides to chart her own course. She disappears with her new friend, and history may have to save itself …

Enjoy an exclusive excerpt from the book:

Jane sat up and looked out of the wall of glass. It overlooked the pool they had walked beside last night. Will was swimming with a most peculiar stroke, like a butterfly spreading its wings. He leapt from up the water and then disappeared under again, doing a stroke she had never seen, even at the seaside when the boys played in the ocean.

Jane lay still, contemplating the day and the swimmer.

She should get dressed and join him at the pool, to watch from nearer. Having only her new, silky outfit from last night, Jane wondered if she could wear it for another day. The idea of returning to the hotel and lacing up the layers of her old life returning made her shiver with dread.

Will had left George a message, Ubering their whereabouts, he had said. George would have to rest content with her absence for at least another morning.

Will’s rhythmic swimming mesmerized her as she listened to the sound of his hands and feet slapping the water. He changed to a smoother stroke, swimming quickly back and forth the length of the pool.

Jane dressed and joined him. The day’s warmth was beginning, so she was glad she had left off her jacket.

Will swam over to the side of the pool, dripping like the statues of Attic gods in fountains in Hyde Park.

“Did you sleep well?” he asked. When she nodded, he said, “I made breakfast for us, if you’re ready.”

“Breakfast would be wonderful.”

He swam to the far end of the pool, walked up the steps. Drying off with a blue towel, he wrapped it around his hips, which made Jane look up and around at the sky and gardens, anywhere but at the living statuary that was Will Fleming, a man who had kissed her last night.

RACHEL DACUS writes about history, love, family, and art — with a touch of magic. Rachel is the author of both prose and poetry. When she’s not writing or reading, she listens to music and walks through the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her architect husband and a lively Silky Terrier. She blogs about books and the writing life.


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Ryan’s Temptation by Amber Daulton

Ryan’s Temptation by Amber Daulton
Arresting Onyx Book 2.5
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Wrong place, wrong time. Now she’s running for her life.

Beautician Chanel Leroc can wield a pair of scissors like nobody’s business. After she witnesses a murder and lands on a serial killer’s hit list, she has to figure out how to protect herself—and fast. The killer tracks her down, but her sexy new neighbor, Dr. Ryan Naylor, drives the brute off.

The police dump the pair in a witness protection program, which doesn’t last long. Either the killer has a connection to the police, or he’s far more intelligent than they realize. All Chanel wants to do is get back to her safe life and get to know her neighbor better. Instead, she and Ryan hit the road and try to survive on their own.

How will they stay alive and keep their blooming romance intact with the killer hot on their trail?

I read the synopsis for Ryan’s Temptation and, no pun intended, I was tempted to read this book. LOL

If the synopsis didn’t arouse my attention, then the first sentence of the story surely did. “The piercing cry froze the blood in Chanel Leroc’s veins”.

Chanel is the heroine of the story. I am undecided if she’s brave or lacks common sense. Let’s think about it for a minute. Chanel hears a cry for help, and she asks herself, “What kind of person would that make me if I abandon someone who might be hurt?” I’d say that would make her a smart person. Chanel is a beauty beautician with no weapon. But does that stop her? Her choices wouldn’t be my choices, but it sure set up the suspense. What Chanel thinks next and what happens right after is the perfect setup for the story and plot. Chanel even meets her new neighbor in an unconventional way.

Needless to say, it didn’t matter to me at that point if Chanel was brave or stupid. Ryan is the new neighbor that Chanel couldn’t stop thinking about. Chanel can’t resist men with a cleft in their chin, or dimples. It’s remarkable that her new neighbor, Ryan Naylor, the hero in the story, has both. He is simply breathtaking.

If you like to watch the tv show “Criminal Minds” as I do, then this story might delight you as it did me. Ryan’s Temptation would make an entertaining episode for any of those crime solving police shows on tv. The plot is predictable as they come but I still rapidly turned the pages to solve the mystery. The romance was electrifying as much as the suspense was riveting. I couldn’t get to the end fast enough. Once I finished the book, I felt quite satisfied.

The story was well written as I read to find out “How will Chanel and Ryan stay alive and keep their blooming romance intact with the killer hot on their trail?”. This story is book 2.5 in a series but can be read as a standalone. If you are in the mood to raise your blood pressure either by a steamy romance or sitting on the edge of your seat, then this book might be a good choice for you. I’m glad I read it. Happy Reading!

When I Met You by Avery Easton

When I Met You by Avery Easton
Book 3 of the Hearts of Broadway series
Publisher: Uncial Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Broadway star Jazzy Summers doesn’t do showmances. The only thing she wants is to be the performer she’s been since she was a kid. And if that means she’s a bit of a loner, that’s okay by her. The work is her life.

Mateo Williams was the biggest pop sensation in the world fifteen years ago–until he wasn’t. When his third album flopped, the charismatic star mysteriously disappeared and was rarely seen again.

A chance meeting–and Mateo’s incredible smile–gives Jazzy butterflies. But when she learns more, she is quick to write him off. A workaholic like her and a slacker like him could never work.

And then they are cast as co-stars in a brand-new Broadway musical. Jazzy tries to remain professional. Mateo tries to remember his lines. But all of the secrets he’s keeping are hindering the work. Despite the undeniable chemistry between them, Jazzy’s patience is waning. As they fight toward opening night, tragedy strikes Mateo. And Jazzy realizes that friendships and a lifelong love do not have to be sacrificed. They might be everything she’s been working for.

This romance is interesting because I’ve been to one Broadway show, Wicked. I will never forget that show as long as I live because it was amazing. This story, When I Met You, was captivating because it gave me a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes of a Broadway play. Without this story, I can’t imagine I’d ever get that perspective anywhere else. It’s not like I know anyone that performs on stage. I never did theater in school. When I saw Wicked, I was curious as to how in the world they changed the stage between acts. When I Met You, answered many questions for me. Now, I have no way of knowing how accurate this story is, but it felt real to me.

I felt a genuine connection with the cast of characters as if I was watching a reality tv show. The heroine, Jazzy Summers, is the star performer in a new Broadway play and her co-star is the hero, Mateo Williams. I got to see how the performers came together as a family. I felt as if I was part of the Broadway musical, from the hiring, to the rehearsal, to the opening night. I felt all their joys and struggles.

Jazzy and Mateo have different backgrounds and baggage to overcome but that is part of the draw to this story. They actually met prior to being co-stars and that plot thread was entertaining and made me smile.

I will warn you that the relationship between Mateo and Jazzy has very strong chemistry where everyone in the room knows they are in love but them. Mateo is hot and cold which drove Jazzy (and me) nuts. This story was written so well that the ‘on again/off again’ did not feel like a headbanger. I felt Jazzy’s frustration but her good friend, Simone, helps keep the situation light. The apologies between Jazzy and Mateo helped me as a reader to feel compassion instead of annoyance. I’m a pretty understanding person and could easily forgive Jazzy and Mateo for being stubborn and blockheaded. Speaking for myself, I felt overjoyed when Jazzy and Mateo finally let down their walls and opened their hearts and took a leap of faith to give into their love a chance.

The epilogue at the end was the icing on the cake. It gave me a nice book glow for a few hours.

I’d put this book on my keeper shelf and recommend it to others to borrow. Even though this is book three in the series, it can be read as a standalone. I’m thankful I made the choice to read it. Happy Reading!

Summer People by Corinne LaBalme

Summer People by Corinne LaBalme
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Jessica Stratton’s long-cherished dream of opening her own Folk Art gallery in an idyllic Cape Cod setting finally comes true. However, her start-up is anything but smooth sailing.

Her ten-year marriage hits the rocks and, when the hunk next door to her shop – a brooding ecologist on a mission to save the planet – proves too irresistible to ignore, she’s got to relearn the rules of the dating game while working overtime to lure clients to her boutique.

Unfortunately, someone’s already far too interested in a 19th century example of advertising art in her collection and will go to any means – legal or illegal – to acquire it.

Maybe the planet isn’t the only thing that has to be saved…

After a reading hiatus, I was relieved and thrilled that the first book of the new year that I recently finished, Summer People by Corinne LaBalme, inspired me to write this review.

The synopsis stated that Jessica’s marriage was “hitting the rocks”. The reason the heroine’s marriage was falling apart was unexpected. It was an interesting plot thread that remained solid throughout the story. I was thankful the hero, Rick, lived next door to Jessica. It just so happens he was gorgeous and available.

Rick is a prime example of a true hero. He bailed Jessica out of a few humorous situations. I know I mentioned he is a hunk, but did I mention he can cook? He’s my kind of book boyfriend!

The cast of characters are well-developed and one of my favorites was Nancy, who is friends with Jessica and Rick’s landlord. I enjoyed the relationship between Jessica and Nancy because they demonstrated what it is to be a best friend.

I was delighted that my interest was captured so quickly when the story started. If you’ve ever listened to one of those self-help CDs and rolled your eyes at them, then the beginning of this book might crack you up like it did me. I was entertained from the beginning to the end and still find myself smiling as I reflect on this romance story.

There is a suspenseful plot thread referred to in the synopsis about someone who is far too interested in a piece of Jessica’s art collection. This particular person will go to any means to acquire it. This wrongdoer really knew how to raise my blood pressure.

The romance between Jessica and Rick was sweet, heartwarming and endearing. They certainly went through their share of trials and tribulations which made their happily ever after extra rewarding for me.

I haven’t any reservations in recommending this entertaining read. Summer People was a win for me. Happy Reading.

The Love of My Other Life by C.J. Connolly

The Love of My Other Life by C.J. Connolly
Publisher: Joffe Books
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Imagine you woke up with the perfect life . . . But it wasn’t yours.

Today is Josie’s 36th birthday.

Josie is a single British woman living in a tiny walk-up in Brooklyn. She misses her family, but her radio show is starting to go places. And sure, she could be a dress size smaller, but no one cares what you look like on the radio. The guy she’s had a crush on for months is finally going to break up with his girlfriend. She hopes.

She’s zipping through traffic on her way to meet her friends for dinner at a SoHo restaurant. There’s a screech of brakes, Josie crashes her bike and her world goes black.

Then something extraordinary happens.

She wakes up in hospital. The handsome stranger by her side, holding her hand and telling her he loves her, is Rob. Her husband of two years. They live in a chic Manhattan penthouse. She works in real estate. And she’s thirty pounds slimmer than when she got on her bike that morning.

Josie has no idea how she got here. This new life is everything she ever wanted. But there’s one very important thing missing . . .

And now she has to decide: should she go back to her old single life in Brooklyn or stay with the love of her nearly perfect new life?

What would you do?

What if you found yourself in a great situation suddenly, but the world around you wasn’t the one you had always known? Josie, turning 36, suffers a bike accident and wakes up to discover that her “husband” was a stranger. Also, she’s now suddenly wealthy.

This is a parallel universe type of story where two “Josie’s” live each other’s lives. They trade places. Both of their lives have advantages. Josie #1 (Me) and Josie #2 (Her) see benefits in staying in their new worlds. For example, Josie #2 now has her brother back. He never died in this world. She gets to enjoy seeing him fall in love and start a family.

Josie #1 is now living in luxury with a gorgeous man who loves her. However, both women will have to sacrifice something important to stay where they are. Interesting questions come up. They end up falling for each other’s men. Is it cheating when they get involved with them? Would it be worth going back to their rightful worlds?

Things escalate as the stakes get higher. Characters are developed well enough to differentiate and make a difference to the plot. Two sides of Josie come out, and the people around them have realistic reactions to them. Their worlds are described well enough to give readers a real feel for them.

This book is good escapist reading. Recommended.

White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz (Author), David Colacci (Narrator), Kathy Garver (Narrator)

White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz (Author), David Colacci (Narrator), Kathy Garver (Narrator)
Arcane Society, Book 2
Publisher: JOVE Books (Print), Brilliance Audio (Audiobook Publisher)
Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Relationships are challenging enough for most single, over-30 women. For level-10 parasensitive Clare Lancaster, they’re a minefield. The elite few who know her secret call her a human lie detector, and any falsehood, no matter how subtle or well hidden, sets her blood racing.
Over the years, Clare has come to accept that someone with her extraordinary talents is unlikely to find a suitable mate. And she’s even resigned herself to the fact that everyone, to one degree or another, hides behind a façade – including her recently deceased brother-in-law.

When Clare finds the body of Brad McAllister, the golden child of Stone Canyon, Arizona, the posh residents turn a suspicious eye in her direction. As Archer Glazebrook’s daughter, Clare is shielded from the law, but not the gossip. It seems that meeting the half sister and family she did not know until seven months ago was a mistake. Now her father summons her from California to play a role in his business empire, and Clare doesn’t intend on making the same mistake twice.

But after meeting Jake Salter, Archer’s “business consultant”, she is convinced that things aren’t what they seem. Salter’s careful conversation walks a delicate line between truth and deception, revealing and resisting. Something sparks and sizzles between them – something more than the usual electricity between a man and a woman.

Caught in a dizzying storm of secrets, lies, and half-truths, Jake and Clare will plunge into an investigation that demands every bit of their special gifts. Together, they must overcome their mutual distrust in order to unravel a web of conspiracy and murder.

This fast-paced story has it all. For starters, it has action, murder, narrow escapes, conspiracies, mad scientists creating designer drugs, psychical talents and powers, and best of all, a romance that thrills the senses and engaged my emotions. My most favorite term is what Clare calls Fallon Jones throughout the novel. If anyone has read the series, even out of order, Fallon’s personality is pretty much the same – abrasive. So, every time Clare says her pet-name for Fallon, I cracked up, giggled, grinned and thought it hilarious.

But Fallon isn’t the hero in this novel, Jake is. He makes for an interesting and fascinating hero. He’s not over the top in his actions, but the author uses words that kind of builds him up bigger than what he does and is. That’s okay because I’m glad Jake doesn’t do super-hero stunts; it made him more relatable and acceptable as an alpha-type hero. The good thing about Jake is that he likes a strong woman. Sure, he admits that he wished Clare didn’t do some of the things she did because it scares him spitless, but he doesn’t stop her or belittle her. He supports the heroine and backs her up whenever he can. He uses his brain, and yes, some of his psychical powers, but they aren’t infallible.

Seriously, I found the writing tight, the mystery well thought out, the dialogue great and the romance delightful with a few moments of spicy fun for those readers that prefer those scenes in a book. The story can stand on its own without them though – it’s that complete.

The above is my review of the print version. Now I want to mention the audio version that I listened to, twice. David Colacci does Jake’s voice and all the other male characters in the story, and Kathy Garver does Clare and all the rest of the female secondary characters. They are AWESOME! They both had emotion and clear differences between their characters. When a female villain breaks down and cries – it’s realistic and effective. When Jake is growly, or boldly laughs out loud or talks sultry to Clare, my heart goes pitter-patter. His voice for Archer cracked me up because it is brash, distinctive and LOUD, and David Colacci voiced the perfect Fallon Jones – crack me up!

I think the audio version was a real hoot. It kept me on the edge of my seat, and even when I listened to it a second time, I picked up things I missed on the first go-round, which helped me enjoy it just as much in the second reading/listening. It was a splendid experience and fans of the Arcane Society series really need to take the audio version of White Lies for a spin after reading the print version. Both are awesome because the writing and story are what makes it work. Romantic suspense has never been so fun!

*Their Marchioness by Jess Michaels

*Their Marchioness by Jess Michaels
Publisher: The Passionate Pen LLC
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

After nearly a decade of marriage, the Marquess and Marchioness of Egerton are going strong. A power couple with an intense physical connection. Only Elliot knows a secret about his wife. He knows that Merritt was torn away from her first love, Peter Reid when they were very young, hurtling her into their arranged marriage instead. So as her birthday approaches and they head to a secluded retreat for a week of pleasure, he has a very special gift in mind.

Merritt cannot believe it when Peter Reid arrives at the cottage her husband has let. Believes it less when Elliot suggests that for this week she could have every fantasy she ever imagined…with both men. It’s a suggestion impossible to refuse and she surrenders to pleasure more powerful than anything she’s ever experienced.

Peter is not the same man he was when he lost Merritt. Now a celebrated playwright, his patron none other than the Marquess, himself, he has more confidence in himself and what he wants. He wants Merritt. And he wants Elliot.

The question remains if the three can take a week of intense passion and allow it to become a lifetime of love.

If you are looking for an intense and passionate historical romance, you don’t want to miss this one. Their Marchioness immediately captured my attention, and I enjoyed the quaint setting and the three main characters.

This is an entertaining story about three people spending time together and exploring their feelings. I enjoyed reading about all the encounters between Elliott, Merritt and Peter. They are all vulnerable but willing to open their hearts to discover what might be.

I enjoyed every minute of this short and steamy romance.

Bloodstone by Rebecca Henry

Bloodstone by Rebecca Henry
Publisher: Finch Books
Genre: Young Adult (14 – 18 y.o.), Paranormal, LGBTQ, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

There’s something wicked in the wind on Ambrosia Hill and strength is held within a stone.

Zinnia knows nothing is as it seems in the witching world, and she realizes the aunts calling her back to the Fern House was not without consequences. Zinnia must embrace her witch abilities and undergo her biggest test yet. Can she learn to rely on her personal magic, the strength in others, and trust that what she sees isn’ t always reality? There’ s something wicked in the wind this Halloween on Ambrosia Hill and Zinnia must fight for those she loves most.

What might you find if you peeled back the stereotypes and looked at who someone really was?

The romantic subplot made me smile. I’ve enjoyed seeing it gradually develop from a friendship into a heartwarming romance since first meeting these characters in Amethyst. Not only was the slow burn approach perfect for them, it also gave me plenty of time to notice all sorts of similarities between them that make me think they’d be a great match. I can only hope that any sequels in the works will include more of this storyline as it’s such a nice contrast to the sometimes-scary work a witch must do.

Once again, I would have liked to see more character development. Yes, it is happening slowly, but I found myself wishing that Zinnia especially would be given more opportunities to show the audience how she’s changed as a result of coming out of the closet as a member of the LGBTQ community as well as accepting her identity as a witch. This was the only thing holding me back from choosing a five-star rating.

I know I’ve mentioned the beautiful world building in both of my previous reviews of the first two books in this series, but it continued to impress me this time around. Ms. Henry has been doing a wonderful job so far of feeding the audience exactly enough information about witchcraft and witch culture in this universe to keep my interest levels high. Just when I think I have it all more or less figured out, she adds yet another layer to it that deepens my previous understanding of how it all worked and makes me eager to see what might happen next. As far as this reader is concerned, there’s still a ton of ground to cover for these characters, and I hope for many more updates to come in the future.

While the plot itself could technically function as a standalone work, this is the third instalment of a series that should be read in order to best understand the complex and memorable world the author is building here.

Bloodstone made me yearn for more.