Wylder Bride by Amey Zeigler


Wylder Bride by Amey Zeigler
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Hibiscus

Maisie Brinley rejected every bachelor in the Boston elite put forth by her social-climbing mother. Then Mother issues an ultimatum to marry a family friend—but he’s twice Maisie’s age. After corresponding with a stranger whose letters connect with her heart, Maisie crosses the continent for his love. When they meet, will he live up to her expectations, or will her escape be in vain?

Living in Wylder, Wyoming Territory—where men outnumber women ten to one—gunsmith Cyrus Haddock hides his disfigured face to avoid romantic rejection. Out of pity, he helps a friend woo a woman through letter writing. But his success backfires when Cyrus falls in love with the Easterner’s words. When they meet, will Cyrus hide his feelings or confess his love?

Normally it is a book’s blurb that will help me to decide whether or not to read it. Wylder Bride was no different. When the blurb mentions Wyoming, I always think cowboy or rancher. The blurb also describes Cyrus as having a disfigured face, which turns out to be different than I imagined.

The heroine said, ” I want a real man—one with gumption, grit, and passion.” While we all have a different idea as to what traits are in a real man, this declaration makes Maisie relatable, and I hoped she’d find what she was looking for.

All of the historical romance books I have read took place in England. All of the western romance books were contemporary. This is the first historical romance book I have read that took place in America and it didn’t disappoint me.

I did wish for an epilogue in this book, as many historical romances have. The reader is left to make their own conclusion. I loved these characters so much; I just wanted a little more and to see how their lives had panned out. However, even without an epilogue, this story was a great read.

Everything else I want to share about Wylder Bride leads to spoilers and I don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun. I really enjoyed reading this story and I highly recommend it.

Double Dipped by Terry Korth Fischer


Double Dipped by Terry Korth Fischer
One Scoop or Two)
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Accepting second best is good for her career, but first-grade teacher, Retta Curt, delays signing up for the disappointment. Given two weeks to reconsider her contract, she retreats to Gram’s cottage on Moon Lake, the last place she felt contentment. But the cottage is derelict; Cousin Julie, distant; childhood beaux, Dean, bitter; and Sweet Picks, the family ice cream stand, in danger of folding. Magruder, a surly newcomer, is buying and then neglecting properties until nothing remains of the idyllic lakeside community she remembers. When vandals target Sweet Picks, Retta’s dreams to recapture her happy childhood collapse, and the return to Moon Lake becomes a decision worse than accepting her teaching contract. Star-crossed, can she save the family business and rediscover happiness, or is Retta destined for a second-best future?

Ice cream is more than a sweet treat. Sometimes it’s the key to reinventing yourself!

The mystery elements of the storyline were well done. I especially enjoyed seeing how small-town politics complicated Retta’s attempts to figure out who was vandalizing local businesses in Moon Lake. Knowing everyone in town makes cases like these even trickier to solve due to the risk of damaging long-standing friendships or irritating the loved ones of the accused. The author did a great job of showing how complicated this stuff can be and why one must move carefully in communities like these.

I would have liked to see more attention paid to the romantic subplot. The chemistry between Retta and Dean was promising at first. I smiled as they reminisced about their childhoods and flirted a bit. It would have been helpful to see the tension between them continue to build later on in the plot. While I’m not the sort of reader who needs to see everything wrapped up neatly, there was room here to be clearer about what might happen to them next.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that explored the quiet, peaceful summers that so many characters enjoyed at Moon Lake. It was the sort of community where children could play outside all day without any grownup interference and where neighbors looked out for one another. The wholesomeness of it all was lovely and made for a perfect setting for the more serious elements of the plot that were revealed later on.

This is part of the One Scoop or Two series. It can be read as a standalone work.

Double Dipped was a lighthearted summer read.

Unlock My Heart by Jennifer Wilck


Unlock My Heart by Jennifer Wilck
Scarred Hearts, Book Two
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Abby Marlow, computer security expert, lands a job at the best IT security firm in the country. Her sole focus is financial independence so she never has to rely on others again, especially a man. But why does her boss make her wires short circuit?

Ted Endicott, CEO and founder of the IT security firm, is hard of hearing. Although an expert in his field, he’s still uncomfortable admitting his hearing problem to clients or employees. So why is he willing to accept Abby’s help?

As Ted and Abby work together, barriers fall away, and the lines blur between colleagues and lovers. But a security glitch in a client’s system shows one of Ted’s employees is the hacker, and all signs point to Abby. Can they get past the suspicion and find a future together?

I had actually read book one in this series but it was a long time ago and I forgot. I’m forgetting a lot of things lately but I do recall clearly that I loved book one. Well, I just have to tell you that I loved book two as much as the first one if not more! I started Unlock My Heart and didn’t stop until I finished it.

In the section “A word about the author”…and I quote “Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong, and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with a happily ever after.” That statement is the perfect description of the type of books that I prefer to read and it’s accurate for Unlock My Heart. I couldn’t have said it any better.

Abby, the heroine, is definitely smart since she attains a job at the best IT security firm in the country. She’s determined to be financially independent and to make her parents proud.

The story starts with the hero, Ted. Right away his vulnerability is revealed in a way that I was curious to learn more about. Ted is definitely smart, handsome and available.

Ted actually owns the IT security firm that Abby is employed at. It’s pretty much love at first sight but filled with complications from the get-go. There is one plot twist after another making it impossible for me to stop reading. Obviously the first conflict is the fact that Ted was Abby’s boss. I could feel the chemistry between them that they professionally couldn’t act on. Let’s just say that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough to reach the “barriers fall away, and the lines blur between colleagues and lovers.”

There are other characters in the plot line who are relevant to the success of this book such as Ted’s business partners. Ted’s college friends, Simon and Alexander, formed CAST to invest their money and use their wealth to help others.

The first book in the series was about Ted’s partner, Simon. I was thrilled that Simon made an appearance in book two. I hope Alexander and Caleb are considered as future heroes in this series. I want more and I don’t want to wait.

Jennifer Wilck has been on my “trusted favorite author” list for a while now. The Scarred Heart series is awesome. Unlock My Heart is going on my ‘Keeper’s shelf’ next to the first book, A Reckless Heart”. I hope other readers will love this book as much as I did.

Divine Vintage by Sandra L. Young


Divine Vintage by Sandra L. Young
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Paranormal, Romance, Contemporary, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Tess Burton is always up for an adventure. She’s risked her inheritance to open Divine Vintage, a clothing boutique. While modeling an elegant gown from an Edwardian era trousseau, her mind is opened to a century-old murder. Visions–seen through the eyes of the murdered bride–dispute local lore that claims the bridegroom committed the crime. Trey Dunmore doesn’t share Tess’ enthusiasm for mind-blowing visions, yet the appeal to clear his family’s tainted legacy compels him to join her in exploring the past. Aided by the dead woman’s clothing and diary, Tess and Trey discover that pursuing love in 1913 was just as thorny as modern day. As the list of murder suspects grows, the couple fears past emotions are influencing, and may ultimately derail, their own blossoming intimacy.

It’s never too late to make amends.

The lush descriptions of modern and historical Michigan City, Indiana made me feel like I was truly there. Some of the best scenes were the ones that described the buildings that existed in both eras, how they were furnished, and who lived in them. Those moments were vividly written and filled with fascinating details about what people did and did not value in a home or business in the early 1910s as well as the early 2010s. It was fun for me as a reader to compare and contrast them. Some things never change, but other social expectations about the places we live and work in most definitely have!

I would have preferred to see a bit more time spent on the character development, especially when it came to Tess and Trey. Their histories and the way their personalities interacted with each other were some of the most integral pieces to understanding their connection to the past. While I can’t go into a lot of detail about this without sharing spoilers, I would have gone with a full five-star rating if this had been developed more thoroughly. The basic gist of it was all there. It simply needed to be expanded upon.

One of the things I liked the most about this novel was how well all of the storylines flowed together. Ms. Young did an excellent job of weaving the paranormal, mystery, dramatic, and romantic elements of the plot into scenes that pushed all of them forward seamlessly. I often have a quiet preference for a particular subplot when so many genres are mixed together, but in this case, I genuinely enjoyed all of them equally. Each one was necessary for the entire story to be told, and it was delightful to see how much effort the author put into making sure that everything was tied together neatly.

Divine Vintage was a sweetly sentimental read.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree by Norm Harris


Fruit of the Poisonous Tree by Norm Harris
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Rated: 3 stars
Review by Rose

A female lawyer must prove a war hero’s innocence. Meanwhile, Navy SEALs hijack a Russian warship to stop a North Korean missile crisis.

Every now and again, a unique story comes our way, a story unlike any we may have read before. Such is Fruit of the Poisonous Tree, author Norm Harris’s critically acclaimed legal military mystery thriller. The story’s focal point is Faydra “Spider” Green, a dedicated Navy JAG lawyer who has lived her life in the shadows of a great and powerful man: her father, former President of the United States William Green. Green cannot heal the wound in his relationship with his daughter. His former power and influence curse Faydra and cause her to wonder if her accomplishments were her own doing.

A lawyer by trade, Faydra is both anxious and excited as she undertakes her first homicide investigation —the brutal murder of a Navy SEAL She reasons that a successful investigation will provide her the opportunity to validate her sense of self-worth. Faydra soon realizes that the accused man, a Special Ops Marine war hero, may be innocent thanks to her remarkable deductive abilities. The Navy is using her as a pawn in a complex cover-up.

Meanwhile, a seasoned Navy Sea Captain, Egan Fletcher, whose wife had died eight years earlier, struggles to balance his Navy career with raising a son. When the Navy purposefully pairs him with Faydra in a meeting, the two Navy officers embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure. It is a top-secret mission- impossible that will take them halfway around the world in an attempt to avert a catastrophic act of terrorism in the form of biological warfare.

Set against the dramatic backdrop of Washington State’s Puget Sound and the mystique of East Asia, Fadra’s story revolves around a woman who appears to be as pure as the driven snow—yet, she is driven by an insatiable need to complete any assignment, no matter how dangerous. Along the way, she transforms into a symbol of hope, perseverance, and a woman’s ability to overcome life-threatening events.

There is a lot going on in this book – the action is quite riveting. What starts off as a simple murder investigation soon becomes much much more.

The storyline was complicated, and quite quickly led to multi-layers of issues for the characters. There were some inconsistencies with the characters and there were instances when they were talking where the dialogue didn’t ring true, which took me out of the story several times. However, even with those, the adventure element of the story drove me on.

I enjoyed the characters and their relationships with each other. And, I loved how the title was explained in the book… I had wondered about that.

All in all, an interesting debut and start to what seems will be an interesting series about Faydra and her investigations.

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Love and Lavender Ice Cream by Sara Freeze


Love and Lavender Ice Cream by Sara Freeze
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Romance, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

A sudden summer storm drives Miss Sophia Selkirk into a confectioner’s shop filled with the delicious scents of ice cream and candies. Just as she settled in with her glass dish of delectable ice cream, a shadow falls over the table: the fiancé she jilted without explanation two weeks before has appeared. Can she trust him enough to reveal the secret that sent her fleeing from the only man she has ever loved?

Simon Warren’s entire life was jolted the night before their wedding when Sophia sent a brief note informing him she could not marry him. Now, he has tracked her down to this small confectioner’s shop, where over two dishes of ice cream, they will grapple with a secret scandal from the past and discover whether their love can overcome all obstacles.

Ice cream can’t fix everything, but it might be a good place to start.

Great chemistry is crucial for the romance genre. Luckily, Simon and Sophia had plenty of it! It was delightful to see how many different methods the author came up with for showing why these two people deserved to end up together. Ms. Freeze gave the audience plenty of information to work with, and she trusted us readers to put some of the pieces together for ourselves. It’s always neat when that happens.

I would have liked to see more character development. Of course, one can’t generally expect as much of that in a short story as in something that has a few hundred pages to work with, but I did find myself wishing for more detailed explanations of why both of these characters behaved the way they did. This was especially noticeable when it came to their discussions of how their pasts might impact the happy life they’d one dreamed of sharing together. Do note that this was a minor criticism of a tale I otherwise thought was nicely done.

The dialogue made me chuckle. I adored the fact that Sophia and Simon were both such witty and quick-thinking characters. Honestly, they could have discussed what to add to their grocery list or how quickly the price of tea was rising and still kept my interest. That was how much I enjoyed reading their banter! They were quite well matched for each other.

This is part of the One Scoop or Two series. It can be read as a standalone work.

Love and Lavender Ice Cream was a sweet treat.

A Pride of Brothers: Aiden by Peggy Jaeger


A Pride of Brothers: Aiden by Peggy Jaeger
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Suspense/Mystery/Thriller
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Mistflower

Lexi Buckley wants answers about her younger sister’s death. The police have labeled it a suicide, but Lexi doesn’t believe it. Stymied in her investigation, she doesn’t know where to turn next. After a chance encounter with a private investigator, she thinks her prayers have been answered.

Aiden Keane has never been an answer to a prayer before, but he agrees to help Lexi. A quirky combo of brains and beauty, the pixie blonde makes him feel things no professional ever should for a client.

When their investigation puts Lexi’s life in jeopardy, her safety becomes his number one priority. The hard part is not falling for her.

I loved Pride of Brothers: Aiden so much that I’m going to have to find and read book one, A Pride of Brothers: Rick. Why? Because a higher power beyond my control is demanding me to find and read the first book, at least that is what I tell my husband. Ha, ha. I love Ms. Jaeger’s books. She’s on my favorite authors list.

I can’t believe my good fortune to be sucked into another great series quite so fast! The hero in this book is Aiden Keane. *sigh* Just thinking about him gives me goosebumps. Lexi Buckley, the heroine, was one lucky woman to have a “chance encounter” with Aiden. I believe he really was the answer to her prayers in more ways than one. I loved how Aiden “has never been an answer to a prayer before” but he agrees to help Lexi. That statement alone makes me smile. Aiden is the complete package. He’s a private investigator for goodness’ sake! I know I’d like his help in keeping me safe and, shall I say, ‘warm’.

Lexi was a hoot! I loved her. She had this hilarious unique characteristic that’s endearing. You’ll have to read the story to find out what I’m talking about. It’s an instrumental characteristic throughout the book and it made me laugh out loud numerous times. Aiden found it irresistible. Together Lexi and Aiden had me not only laughing, but on the edge of my seat as they investigated her younger sister’s death.

I haven’t read a romance/mystery/suspense/thriller in a very long time. I was on a historical romance binge for a while. I forgot what it was like to hyperventilate over a suspenseful scene. There are more plot twists in this story than I can shake a stick at. I loved every second. I consider the plot to be original, creative and riveting.

I originally rated this book as a 5 but the more I type, the more I realize that I can’t stop talking about it which gravitated me towards rating this as a Best Book. I mean, I didn’t even mention the dog yet. Aiden has a dog. Ya’ll, it’s not just a dog. You need to read the story. If the dog doesn’t win you over then surely Aiden and Lexi will.

Did I mention that Aiden owns his own investigating company with his brothers? Oh, his brothers sound delicious. Aiden’s brother, Rick, is the hero and that’s the reason why I have to read the first book in this series. I met him in this story, and I would love to know how/why he decided to no longer be a bachelor. I don’t know if there are more books coming in the series but I do know that if there are, then I’ll be reading them.

According to the author’s website, the author writes “about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them.” That really resonated with me. I appreciate Ms. Jaeger’s style of writing and that is why she’s on my “favorite authors list”.

If you at all like suspense/romance/mystery thrillers with strong, gorgeous heroes and smart, stunning heroines that will take you somewhere without actually going anywhere, then pick up this book.

Sworn to Fly by Maria Imbalzano


Sworn to Fly by Maria Imbalzano
(Sworn Sisters Series) Book 3 of 3
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Rating: Best Book
Reviewed by Mistflower

Voted BoM by LASR Readers 2013 copy

Risk-averse ER nurse, Alyssa Beckman, is about to lose her job because of yet another bad decision. In order to put her life back on track, she books a week at a rustic mountain resort to ponder her next steps and rejuvenate. But when she arrives, she learns she’s enrolled in boot camp, an adventure program far out of her comfort zone.

While there, she meets Gabriel Sutton, a world-travelling high-fashion photographer who is in danger of losing his clients as well as his status if he doesn’t start following the rules. While hiking, kayak racing, and participating in team challenges, sparks fly between Alyssa and Gabe as they encourage each other to take different life paths. But will those paths lead them farther apart or bring them closer together?

I had zero inclination that this book was part of a series until I started the review and discovered that it’s actually book three of the Sworn Sisters Series. That demonstrates to me that Sworn to Fly can clearly be read as a standalone. I have never read a book by the author, Maria Imbalzano but I can assure you that I’ll be looking for more of her books in the future. Specifically, I’ll be purchasing the first two in this series without a doubt. I chose this book because the synopsis captured my interest. Now that I have finished the story, I am pleased that the synopsis was only a highlight to spark my interest. I compare the synopsis to the top and bottom bread of a sandwich. The story is whatever your absolute favorite sandwich filling would be.

I usually conclude my reviews with a recommendation to read the book or put it on a keeper’s shelf etc. I’m actually compelled to make such a statement at this point, Sworn to Fly is a must read. It is my greatest pleasure to claim this romance book as a LASR Best Book.

The heroine, Alyssa Beckman was easily someone I could know in reality which made it extremely easy for me to relate to her. Alyssa was more than just a character in a book. It felt as if she could be my neighbor, co-worker, sister, or in this situation, my best friend. Alyssa has three best friends that I’d like to get to know better. Apparently, they each had their own story previously in the Sworn Sisters Series. If their story is anything as good as Alyssa’s story then I simply must read them.

The hero, Gabriel Sutton is the meat of the sandwich. That just made me laugh out loud. If he’s the meat, then Alyssa is all the other fixings and condiments. Together they complete each other and the sandwich. That’s actually an awesome analogy for them and all the other characters are the chips, cookie and drink. The entire story is a combo meal. I can keep going with this analogy when I think of the series as a restaurant. I want to go back and get two more combo meals, which are the first two books, and I hope they will be just as delicious.

Gabriel and Alyssa are funny, overly dramatic and have amazing chemistry. I enjoyed reading their time together in the rustic mountain resort. Together as a couple they took my breath away. I’d really love to see this book made into a movie and I’m not talking about a Hallmark movie. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I actually love my Christmas Hallmark movies. I’m saying that I think there is enough material to turn this into an award-winning movie in the theaters.

The writing in this story was vivid, engaging and entertaining. I was able to visualize what I was reading while feeling what the characters were feeling as if I was at the scene. The synopsis intrigued me, the first page captured me and the best part is that there was even an epilogue.

This romance story was not a drive through fast food restaurant where the meal is finished in ten minutes and wrappers tossed into a trash can. This was a sit-down fancy lunch diner, where I took my time to eat and a waitress served me. Every bite was delicious, leaving me with a satisfied belly. I hope this review encourages other readers to give it a try. It’s a great book to sink your teeth into.

* The Perfect Distance by Dianne May


* The Perfect Distance by Dianne May
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 5 Stars
Reviewed by Larkspur

Before Finley Thompson’s husband died, he told her to run and keep running. So she relocates with her kids to a small town in North Carolina. Her false sense of safety ends when a runaway horse barrels into her yard and she meets her surly but disarming neighbor, CJ Sinclair.

As a permanently disabled Navy SEAL, all CJ wants is peace, and to build his animal rescue. His peace is interrupted when his sassy and beautiful neighbor stirs up his past, which threatens to uncover his connection with her dead husband.

But both Finley and CJ are hiding truths of their own, and digging into the past may unleash secrets from which neither CJ nor Finley will survive.

The Perfect Distance is an intense and emotional ride filled with suspense and romance. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this well written story and getting to know the two main characters, CJ and Finley. This small town story has intricate plot weaving, good pacing and the characters are easy to connect with.

Finley and CJ are two damaged people who have a lot of secrets. They had tragic pasts and do not trust people. When Finley moves next door to CJ, they find it hard to ignore the spark that ignites whenever they are near each other.

I loved CJ, he is a tough alpha male who is protective but also sensitive. He is a retired Seal who was injured on the job. I was excited to read this story because one of my favorite genres is stories about military vets who come home with scars and have a hard time acclimating. This story immediately drew me in and I devoured every word. I just couldn’t put it down. I wanted CJ and Finley to be together and get the HEA they deserve.

When I first started reading this story, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the number of characters being introduced so quickly, but as I kept reading, I found myself engrossed in the story. This intriguing story kept me guessing about who the bad guys were and what would happen next. I highly recommend this mesmerizing story; it will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Let It Melt by Margot Johnson


Let It Melt by Margot Johnson
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

How on earth did Jill, a single divorcee, land on a romantic Valentine’s Sweetheart Tour for couples? Worse, she’s paired with Jack, her daughter’s brash father-in-law, and everyone thinks he’s her valentine. Stranded in a Canadian prairie blizzard, how soon can she kiss this awkward evening goodbye?

Long divorced, Jack would love to charm Jill with his toned body and dynamic personality, but his wisecracks and obsession with fitness get in the way—especially when he nabs a post at the same school where she teaches.

Even the most romantic month of the year can’t melt their differences and sweeten Jill’s feelings….or can it?

Romance is in the air.

Jill and Jack were both well-rounded and memorable characters. One of my favorite things about both of them was that they sometimes stumbled over their words or accidentally said things that came out the wrong way and were interpreted as a little harsh instead of the playful banter they were shooting for. These missteps endeared me to them because those generally aren’t flaws that most writers choose for their protagonists. There’s something to be said for characters who can be a bit rough around the edges like that, especially once I got to know them well enough to be sure that they would soon correct themselves with what they actually meant to say.

I only have one small criticism of this story, and it has to do with Jill’s beliefs about dating again that she shared in one of the first scenes. She had recently been divorced by a man who broke her heart. Her emotions were still so raw from that experience that she didn’t give me any indication she was ready to dip into the dating pool again. I adored this character and thought her potential love interest would be perfect for her. My only hesitation had to do with the timing of their romance. It would have been helpful to have clearer indications that she was emotionally ready for such an experience as I wanted them to have the best possible chances of ending up together forever.

Some of my favorite scenes were the ones that described Jill’s struggles with her weight and body image as she attempted to create healthier habits for herself. These were topics she could be sensitive about at times, but she was also determined to make the changes she needed to in order to improve her health. It was delightful for me to discover how Jack’s own history with fitness and nutrition could be compared to hers. The author did a wonderful job of tying their backstories together and showing me how two people with such wildly different personalities could be the perfect match.

This series does not have to be read in chronological order, but I would definitely recommend going back and checking out Let it Snowball as well to anyone who enjoys this tale.

Let It Melt was a heartwarming Valentine’s Day novella.