The Hands of Time by Irina Shapiro

The Hands of Time by Irina Shapiro
The Hands of Time: Book 1
Publisher: Merlin Press LLC
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Time Travel, Historical
Length: Full length (247 pages)
Heat Rating: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

When a young woman vanishes without a trace from a quaint fishing village on the coast of England, only one person knows the truth, but he remains silent allowing the authorities to search for her in vain.
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Meanwhile, Valerie Crane finds herself transported to the year 1605. Terrified and confused, she turns for help to the Whitfield brothers, who take her in and offer her a home. Both Alexander and Finlay Whitfield fall in love with the mysterious woman, who shows up on their doorstep, creating a love triangle that threatens to consume them all. Valerie must make her choice, deciding between the brother who will lead her down the path of destruction, or one who will give her a love she couldn’t find in her own time.

When a woman accidentally travels back in time several centuries, things are not what one would expect. Valerie, a modern-day woman, finds herself back in the year 1605, in England, during the time of James I/VI. She meets two charming, handsome brothers who show interest in her.

Interestingly, she chooses one rather early in the book but is still close to the other brother. Valerie marries her new love and becomes pregnant; then tragedy strikes. Her husband becomes involved in the Gunpowder Plot, a plan to blow up the king and parliament because of repressive policies toward Catholics. What happens next is a tearjerker and makes this novel not so much a romance as a time-travel story with heavy romantic elements.

Valerie and one brother have to make a hard choice, and they find that being related to a “traitor” has terrible repercussions. They must leave England forever. They get on a ship and head to the primitive Jamestown settlement in Virginia (Note: the author used a little artistic license with the historical dates here, but it worked).

Throughout the story, Valerie’s sister tries to find her missing sister in the present. Working in the art field, she comes across an old portrait of her sister from the seventeenth century and is shocked. She will make a decision carrying heavy risk and try to find her sister, setting up a nice transition into the next book.

The twists and turns keep things moving swiftly. The setting is well-written, rich with historical details, and the characters are realistic and likeable. This is an entertaining read.

Beautifully Damaged by Laura Pavlov

Beautifully Damaged by Laura Pavlov
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (340 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Hibiscus

Peyton Kroft was his forever, until the unthinkable happened. Walking away all those years ago had been the right thing to do, but he’s ready to put the past behind him. Moving to San Francisco and hiring his first love, the city’s top designer, is a good place to start. Yet it stirs up feelings he thought he’d buried.

Men with erectile dysfunction now can avail this affordable priced drug to add viagra sale more enjoyments in bed. Why is the function of the thyroid gland important? The thyroid gland is an endocrine gland located in the front of the throat. commander cialis As the name says generic the medicine is viagra canada price bought this no exception to this rule. online prescription cialis We offer big discounts every day on selected medications. Jackson Vance broke her heart. He took half of it with him on his way out of town. Picking up the pieces hadn’t been easy, but more than nine years later, Peyton is living her best life. Coming face to face with her first love is not on the agenda. He is beautiful, broken, and everything she’s ever wanted.

The past still hovers like a dark cloud. But every dark cloud has a silver-lining.

I chose this book based on the blurb. Two parts caught my attention: “The past still hovers like a dark cloud. But every dark cloud has a silver-lining.” To me, this said that while the characters may have issues, there will still be a happy ending. “Peyton Kroft was his forever, until the unthinkable happened.” With the term “unthinkable” death unfortunately came to my mind. When I saw that Peyton was mentioned more than once in the blurb, I figured that Jackson must have hurt her somehow and I was intrigued enough to want to find out more.

Jackson Vance is definitely “book boyfriend” material. Aside from the cute way he decided on Peyton’s nickname, he behaved like her champion/protector. He pulls an attacker off of Peyton. Broody describes Jackson very well and I couldn’t help but fall in love with him a bit myself.

“And even through today’s darkness—there was light. There was Jackson. Always Jackson.” This is one reason why I love broody male characters to begin with. Even knowing his past and issues, Peyton is able to see the good in Jackson.

Usually in the other second chance romance stories I read, when the couple got together that was the end of the book. This one had a twist that I enjoyed. A really good story!

The Mine by John A. Heldt

The Mine by John A. Heldt
Northwest Passage #1
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Time Travel, Historical, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Full length (279 Pages)
Heat Rating: Sensual
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Lavender
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In May 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can’t use, money he can’t spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of swing dancing and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE is a love story that follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

The Mine takes us back to the eve of the U.S’s entrance into WWII. We meet Joel Smith, a college-aged man from the early twenty-first century who accidently stumbles through a time portal into the past.

He believes he shouldn’t interfere with the past, but he does so anyway. He just can’t help himself. He saves a guy being beat up, gets welcomed into his family, and meets his own young grandmother. He gets a job and bets on sports’ events he knows the outcomes of in order to get a fist full of cash. However, the guy is charming and quite affable. He does good things with his money.

To further complicate things, Joel pursues an engaged woman and wins her away from her fiancé. Seems like that could lead to trouble. Several situations are set up that really create great suspense. For example, Joel grows close to the man his grandmother dated before she met Joel’s grandfather, knowing the man will die in the war. Will Joel try to save him with foreknowledge and at risk to his own existence? And what about the war? Could Joel do something? Should he enlist?

This is a real page turner and very well written. The secondary characters are important to the plot and are multi-dimensional. The period details are great, and the relationships are realistic. For an enjoyable tale with a vintage flair, this is a good one to check out.

Stolen Kiss with the Hollywood Starlet by Lauri Robinson

Stolen Kiss with the Hollywood Starlet by Lauri Robinson
Brides of the Roaring Twenties, Book 2
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Historical
Length: Full length (368 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

An innocent country girl…

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In this Brides of the Roaring Twenties story, hotshot lawyer Walter Russell knows an innocent country girl like Shirley Burnette is going to find it tough in cutthroat Hollywood. A stolen kiss with this bright, young singer may be worthy of the silver screen—but Walter hates show business and has sworn off starlets. He knows he should steer well clear…if only he wasn’t so compelled to help her!

Have you ever gone to a rock concert where you idolized the band and at the end they do an encore and you still don’t want it to end and you scream for another encore? Then you go home and you’re still pumped over all the songs they sang and full of adrenaline. That’s this book in a nutshell. I love the author Lauri Robinson and this book ‘rocked’. I didn’t want it to end. Just when I thought it was over there was an epilogue and then a mini epilogue. I’m still walking around with a book glow.

Stolen Kiss with the Hollywood Starlet is book two in the Brides of the Roaring Twenties series. I did read book one and I feel book two could be read as a stand alone if needed. I actually loved book two more than book one. I’m definitely hoping there is a book three on the way. I want more in this time era. This series is the first time I’ve ever read any romance novel written in the roaring twenties and I love it. Talk about refreshing!

The hero, Walter and the heroine, Shirley left me feeling in love, full of hope and inspired to follow my dreams. I loved the interaction between the two. From the moment they met I was smitten with them as a couple. They were heartwarming, comical and sexy.

In fact, all the characters are relatable and easy to bond with. This is what makes the Brides of the Roaring Twenties series so wonderful. It gave me a sense of friendship with in the community. In a world with corruption there are still a few good people.

From beginning to end I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. This was an ooh la la book for me. That translates to I would read this book a second time. I definite recommendation. This is a tangent but I’ve never been to a book signing but if I ever did it would be to a Lauri Robinson book signing. This was my eight book by her and it might be my favorite one so far. It’s definitely going on my keepers shelf.

Every Breath by CJ Burright

Every Breath by CJ Burright
Music Love and other Miseries Book 2
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (367 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

She wants the full fairy tale. He’s no prince offering a happily ever after. True love may have met its match this time.

True love… Happily ever after… The full meal-deal fairy tale… Glamour girl Gia Hellman almost had it all until death stole the love of her life. Two years and a string of dead-end hook-ups later, she’s through fooling around. Love will be hers again, but sexy, one-night-only lawyer Ian O’Connor doesn’t fit into the equation. No matter how charming or tempting, he’s neither knight nor prince, and she’s done kissing frogs.
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Prestige… Power… A pristine reputation… Ian O’Connor allows nothing to derail his goal of becoming the next partner in the most distinguished firm in town, not even Gia, the curvy vixen in sparkles and pink stilettos who haunts his fantasies. With a past full of long-buried secrets, he never breaks his rule of only one night with any woman. But when the case to propel Ian to the top requires working with Gia, and a slip-up results in a fake engagement, keeping his distance may be the trial of his life.

As the passion between them builds and rules break one by one, Ian must decide between protecting a secret that could destroy him or risking it all for Gia’s dream of happily ever after. If only Ian believed in fairy-tale endings…

When Mr. Right only wants to be Mr. Right Now. Gia is looking for someone who wants forever with all its emotions and trappings and Ian just isn’t that guy. At least not, yet.

This book tested my patience almost as much as Ian tested Gia’s. Not in a bad way! I simply had to remind myself the context of the story. Gia had found “the one” and lost him. How could any guy measure up to someone who felt like her literal other half? And be so exactly the opposite in every way. Don’t get me wrong, Ian is something. But he’s so much more than the face he wears in public. The shark in the courtroom. The consummate ladies man who doesn’t do more than one date with any one lucky lady.

I kept going back to something Gia decides that she wants for herself. She wants love that is totally organic. It took me a minute to wrap my mind around what that would look like but as I read the story, I began to see it even before Gia recognized it. The pacing of the story is actually just perfect for what both Gia and Ian need to get to the point where they are doing the relationship thing and it just kind of snuck up on them. It’s was beautiful!

The story is about more than just the developing bond between Gia and Ian, there’s a really interesting side story they’re dealing with. How would they get close enough to a client to actually help them? How would they find the information they needed with almost nothing to go on? It was intriguing. I had to know how it would end and hoped for the best.

An excellent conclusion to this min-series. I loved Ian and Gia’s story! He’s so self assured but she’s not going to settle for scratching an itch. I admired that about her character. I would suggest reading the prequel short story to really appreciate the chemistry between Gia and Ian. Not completely necessary but it adds to their overall story. Both are well worth the read.

Before He Vanished by Debra Webb

Before He Vanished by Debra Webb
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full Length (256 pgs)
Heat: Sensual
Rated: 3 stars
Reviewed by Poppy

His disappearance changed her life forever.

Twenty-five years ago, Halle Lane’s best friend vanished from their Tennessee town. When a childhood photo brings Liam Hart to Winchester, Halle is certain the man is the same child who vanished. Now Liam seeks out Halle to help him investigate the circumstances of his mysterious past. Can Liam and Halle uncover the truth before a killer buries all traces of the boy Halle loved—and the man he may have become—forever?

I grabbed this book because I really love the author. I’ve read many books by her before and I was excited to give this one a try. The storyline was intriguing: a 25 year-old mystery of “the lost boy” from Winchester, TN.
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There is a previous mystery mentioned at the start of this book, so I’m guessing it’s part of a series (likely written by different authors, as Harlequin tends to do). That said, I never felt as if I was missing anything. Really, the two main characters, Halle and Liam, are who we have featured about 95% of the time, so it doesn’t have an ensemble feel to it. I certainly wasn’t lost at all and it doesn’t have a lead in to another mystery, so it’s solidly a standalone.

I like Halle a lot. She was besties with the boy who disappeared, and some of the story is told in brief flashbacks where you can tell how close they were, even as very young children. She never could completely move on with her life because of his disappearance. It affected things, including her failed marriage.

Liam took some time to grow on me. I understand his confusion and denial, but sometimes he came across as throwing a temper tantrum instead of handling things like an adult who’s also a very successful businessman. Some of the story was very obvious and he wouldn’t accept anything, even things that clearly were factual and true. I get that it meant his entire life was a lie, but he was occasionally cruel in his behavior, figuratively slapping Halle with his words.

I also didn’t feel chemistry between them as adults. The funny thing was, in the flashbacks they were so close and easy with each other…I could tell if they’d been allowed to grow up they would have always been close. It was during those scenes I could absolutely believe they’d fall in love and be together forever. But as adults, Liam spent so much time being angry around Halle, I struggled with their relationship, and the HEA ending didn’t feel believeable.

The mystery was decent, though, and although I figured out much of it, the actual complete truth was something I didn’t see. Wanting to see how it all played out kept me turning pages. And, like all of the author’s books, the writing was vivid and evocative, allowing images to play out in my mind as I read the words.

So, while this may not have been Ms. Webb’s strongest book (in my opinion), it’s certainly entertaining and I’m glad I read it. And, I’m definitely excited to try whatever she has coming out next.

Every Minute by C J Burright

Every Minute by C J Burright
Music Love and other Miseries Book 1
Publisher: Totally Bound Publishing
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full Length (355 pgs)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Honeysuckle

Introverted teacher versus unstoppable violinist. She wants to be alone. He wants her heart. Let the games begin…

After the unexpected death of her musician brother, third-grade teacher Adara buries her grief, avoids all music and vows to exist without attachments. Social solitude works perfectly…until she’s forced to share her classroom with the new music mentor, a man who rattles her carefully constructed cage and sparks emotions she prefers to keep chained.
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Always up for a challenge, violinist Garret is a master of patience and persistence, and the minute he meets Adara, he knows what he wants. Her sharp humor and haunted eyes inspire him in a way he’s never felt before. He makes it his mission to chip through her shields and breathe her back to life—no matter how hard she resists.

Even as Adara struggles to keep Garret at a distance with each clash of wills, each smile he coaxes, each kiss he steals, her resistance crumbles. But when the past catches up with them both, they will discover that some promises are meant to be broken…and others are worth risking everything for.

Grief is powerful. Like takes prisoners and holds them in darkness powerful. For Adara, losing her brother, the embodiment of joy and sunshine, was practically debilitating. She was alive but not living. It would take someone with a eye to see beyond her walls and a boat load of both patience and persistence to knock them down for her. Because that’s what she needed. Grief had built some seemingly impenetrable barriers. Who knew a swashbuckling band geek with an amazing musical talent would not only crack those walls, he would have her waiving the surrender flag to the rockin’ beat of Metallica’s Enter Sandman. You’ll want to read the book to get that reference.

I can honestly say I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book. I read the prequel, Every Kiss, because I knew it would be short and I wanted a sample of the writer’s voice since I had requested Book 3, Every Breath, to read and review. That’s when I first met Adara. Just six months out from losing her beloved brother to the most horrible disease of cancer. She was closed off, hard to talk to, hard to like for this reader but I was mostly reading to get a feel for Gia and Ian who are the stars of Book 3. I knew that Adara and someone named Garrett were the feature in the first full length book so I was curious to see who could possibly pull her back from the abyss.

Only someone like Garrett Ambrose could have managed the nearly impossible. He stayed. He annoyed and chipped away at her every excuse and every defense. Bless him, he’s adorable and I had to keep reading to see what he would do or say that kept her in the present rather than allowing her to mourn the past. He’s very clever and I was thankful he didn’t give up on her.

The story isn’t completely focused on Garrett winning Adara over. He’s come home from a music tour but trouble followed him. That was an interesting side story that had me on the edge of my seat when it took a very heart wrenching turn.

Ms. Burright’s writing voice is excellent and I’m so very glad I didn’t give up on Adara because I can see her being important in the next book. I look forward to reading it to find out.

The Universal Guide to Human Racing by Jordan Oldbury

The Universal Guide to Human Racing by Jordan Oldbury
Publisher: Self-Published
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (131 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Join Tim Bloom, PR superstar, as he embarks on the campaign of a lifetime. Tim boarded a plane home hoping to ease his conscience and repair his broken heart. Little did he know he would be thrown into a journey around the world and beyond with the fate of humanity in his hands.

When God is challenged for leadership of the world by a would be dictator, he turns to Tim Bloom to manage his election campaign, restore his image, and help push his agenda. God’s opponent is deity turned businessman Louis White, an ambitious challenger who would enslave humanity for his own purposes who runs a campaign of fear, bigotry, and lies.
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Are Tim and God up to the challenge? When a secret enemy lurks in the darkness ready to destroy them all, allegiances will be tested, hearts will be broken, and cups of coffee will be drunk. The Universal Guide to Human Racing is the seminal comedy/fantasy/political/religious/satire/sci-fi novel you didn’t know you wanted to read.

This is one election that no one can miss.

I liked the world building. Exactly the right amount of time was spent describing who God was and how he differed from the average person’s understanding of him. His species was a unique one, and there were plenty of things about how their society worked that stretched my mind in a good way. I enjoyed the process of getting to know this character as he campaigned to remain the deity in charge of Earth.

The pacing was often slow and uneven. As excited as I was by the blurb, I had trouble focusing on the storyline in certain spots because of how much time it took for the plot to develop new twists or for the characters to react to the old ones. It sure would have been helpful to have more stuff happening in general. The blurb was certainly filled with great ideas that were never fully explored.

There was so much humor woven into this story. I was wonderfully surprised by how often it made me chuckle. The author did a good job of using different sorts of jokes, too, from irreverent moments to gentle jabs at all sorts of assumptions a reader might make about what God would or wouldn’t want from humans. These scenes were clearly meant to not only make the audience laugh but to keep the plot moving forward as well. I liked the way Mr. Oldbury made sure they fulfilled both purposes equally.

The Universal Guide to Human Racing should be read by anyone who likes tongue-in-cheek books.

Tiny Imperfections by Alli Frank & Asha Youmans

Tiny Imperfections by Alli Frank & Asha Youmans
Publisher: G P Putnam
Genre: Contemporary
Length: Full length (306 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Review by Aloe

All’s fair in love and kindergarten admissions.

At thirty-nine, Josie Bordelon’s modeling career as the “it” black beauty of the ’90s is far behind her. Now director of admissions at San Francisco’s most sought after private school, she’s chic, single, and determined to keep her seventeen-year-old daughter, Etta, from making the same mistakes she did.

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As admissions season heats up, Josie discovers that when it comes to matters of the heart–and the office–the biggest surprises lie closest to home.

Josie is now an admissions office at a private school. She skipped college to go into modeling, thinking she would make more money that way, but it was not to be and, as she aged, she could no longer compete with the young ones.

She sees some things in common with her mother. She was dropped off at Aunt Viv’s when she was four. She left her child with Aunt Viv’s while she chased her career goals. But Etta is growing up now and she just wants the best for her. There’s a problem, though. Etta is smart and she wants her to go to a well accredited college and get a good job. All Etta wants to do is dance. She wants to go to Juilliard. Josie is not happy with that but Aunt Viv is on Etta’s side.

In the meantime. Two gay dads come in to meet her during admission. She calls one of them the golden boy and she wishes he wasn’t gay. When her aunt has a heart attack, it turns out he’s her doctor.

Everything in life is just a tad off but the author does an excellent job tying it together by the end of the book. Between the school and Etta’s fight for the music school, Josie is busy all through the story. It’s easy to relate to her problems. Most moms worry about their children.

This was a pleasant read and the ending was very good, too. The author draws you in and really makes you care about her characters.

The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio by Belle Ami

The Girl Who Loved Caravaggio by Belle Ami
Publisher: Tema Merback
Genre: Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Mystery/Suspense
Length: Full length (272 pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Lavender

Art historian Angela Renatus knows she’s different. She can see into the past—into the lives of the greatest artists of all time—but are her visions a gift or a curse?

Angela and her fiancé, Alex Caine—a former Navy Seal turned private detective—recover precious works of art for private collectors, museums, and galleries. Enlisted by the Uffizi Gallery in Florence Angela and Alex investigate what is considered one of the greatest art heists in history—the theft of Caravaggio’s “Nativity”. But the deeper they delve into Caravaggio’s life, the more Angela realizes that her visions about the tortured artist go far beyond the missing masterpiece.

A web of secrets and lies entangles Angela and Alex on a twisted and treacherous journey into Caravaggio’s very own heart of darkness…and the truth could propel the couple to a point of no return.

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In modern-day times, Angela, a psychic woman and art historian, has nightmares about this duel. Unfortunately, her fiancé Alex is in her bad dreams, as the killer, the brilliant artist Caravaggio. Alex is aware of her past lives with Alex, and flashes of these are interspersed to add excitement to the plot. Caravaggio’s work is dark and bloody, and his character has been maligned by history, but is this an accurate assessment of him? As Angela relives pieces of his life, she and Alex travel around Italy in quite the adventure. Angela’s visions of the future add more tension to the plot.

Alex discovers there’s a mystery concerning Angela’s family in the perfect subplot. What is her father hiding?

We get treated to mini art history lessons in between moments of intrigue and espionage. The way Angela describes paintings allows readers to visualize them with clarity and understanding. Emotion is vividly painted with words that create stunning imagery.

The process of art retrieval and investigation is enlightening. We also learn a lot about Italian food and culture. It’s really brought to life. Sensuality wraps its way around the story, and the chemistry between Angela and Alex is hot. Sex talk is ubiquitous and serves to show the deep connection between the couple.

The danger picks up constantly. Could the Mafia be trying to stop them?

Angela discovers a bigger mission wrapped around her smaller, more dangerous mission. There are plenty of fascinating situations in this novel and unpredictable episodes. The paranormal is a natural part of the flowing narrative. This is a good story that readers are likely to enjoy.