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Monday, December 31, 2012

Dakota Cassidy Scores Again With Her Latest Accidentally Paranormal Novel...

THE ACCIDENTAL GENIE
An Accidentally Paranormal Novel 
Dakota Cassidy
Berkley Sensation
ISBN 978-0-425-25324-3
December 2012
Paranormal Romance


Werewolf Sloan Flaherty's manning the OOPS hotline--that's the Out in the Open Paranormal Support hotline, not expecting for any major 'accidental paranormal' calls to come in when he gets a doosey--Jeannie Carlyle's stuck in an old gin bottle--that's right, a gin bottle--and wants to get out pronto! With no one available in the office to help, it's Sloan to the rescue. He manages to shake Jeannie--who's now a genie dressed in harem pants and tiny bra--out of the bottle and back to size yet in the process, somehow they're tied together and can't be very far from each other without a very painful psychic pull. The recently reformed love 'em and leave 'em Sloan notices Jeannie's outfit and her attributes, but knows better than to act upon it or the OOPS females consisting of  other paranormals will come gunning for him for taking advantage of a vulnerable client. So the gorgeous Sloan's melded to a lovely but skittish and emotionally wounded lady who's somehow a newly made genie who can telepathically grant wishes...and besides finding her adorably attractive, he likes her, too...unlike the scores of one-night stands he's famous for...it's up to the OOPS gang to find all the magical answers to the questions of how and why, and help Jeannie adapt to being a genie--if they're not all killed in the process thanks to the secrets Jeannie's holding close to her chest...then there's the attraction between Sloan and Jeannie...are they destined for an eternity together?

I thoroughly enjoyed this latest entry in the Accidentally Paranormal series. Dakota Cassidy's at her wild and wonderful best with all the flying zingers and barbs and LOL dialogue between Nina, Wanda, Marty, Sloan--and Jeannie fits right in with them all. There's a particularly nasty villain as well as an heart-warming episode involving Nina that'll make readers laugh, cry, and wonder what the heck?! Especially endearing are secondary characters Mat, the mixed up flying carpet, and djinns, Nekaar and Najim,  THE ACCIDENTAL GENIE is a fast and furious and fun read!

Reviewed by Debora Hosey
4 1/2

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Deceive a Duke - Review

HOW TO DECEIVE A DUKE
Lecia Cornwall
Avon Publishing
ISBN# 978-0062202413
December 2012
Historical Romance

When Rose Lynton runs away instead of going through with an arranged marriage to the Devil Duke of Temberlay, her sister Meg steps in to fill the role of the blushing bride. She's harbored a secret crush on Nicholas Hartley and is not past helping her family by doing the duty her sister would not. A soldier and hero, when Nicholas' older brother dies in a duel, he comes home to do his duty to his family and marry. Yet, the morning after, he realizes it's not Rose he married, it's the hoyden of the family. He soon gets over his anger as he realizes he's not all that upset because Meg is definitely a beauty and someone he's very attracted to. However, there are others who were in on his brother's demise and will stop at nothing to finish off Nicholas.

This first part of this book is great, with the characters being used and manipulated, yet still are able to find some kind of peace between them. What hovers between is a series of misunderstandings, jealousies and non-communication that really has no place in this story. Nicholas has a mistress when he marries, but does not let Meg know that he's gotten rid of her, which causes Meg lots of heartbreak. There is also the insecurities that Meg has felt all her life, being the only red head in a family of blonde sisters. She's bright, bold and head strong, but yet she feels inferior and Nicholas does little to reassure her. Then there is the thread of his brother dying in a duel that was supposed to have stemmed from something Nicholas did. Then what could have been a pure character driven romance, turns into a conspiracy story, yet it changed again into something entirely at the end as Nicholas rides back off to battle. I felt that the first part of the book was written with an entirely different ending in mind, then something happened to cause the author to switch endings and wrapped up in a dark mire.

Rating: 3
Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones

Sunday, December 09, 2012

STILL LIFE WITH A SHAPE SHIFTER

STILL LIFE WITH SHAPE-SHIFTER
Shifting Circle-Book 2
Sharon Shinn
Ace Books
ISBN: 978-0-425-25681-7
November 2012
Paranormal
Melanie has spent her life protecting her sister and living for the days that she comes home to visit. As time passes these visits become few and far between and Ann seems to be less when she does show up. Ann is a shape-shifter and has always been the center of Melanie's world. Even as an infant, Melanie spent more time caring for her than her own parents. Ann's mother had a tendency to roam as most shifters do and as Ann grew up eventually Melanie ended up as her only caretaker. When a reporter comes to town wanting to write a book about shape-shifters, Melanie is terrified, even though she is completely drawn to Brody Westerbrook. Ann shows up shortly thereafter and is looking sicker than usual and has another shifter in her midst. She claims he is the love of her life, but Melanie fears that her life is in danger, whether from the reporter or just an unknown illness she isn't sure. But Ann has no fear of Brody and immediately sets up a matchmaking scheme. As Ann and her boyfriend continue to come and go at will, Melanie tries her best to avoid Brody, but finds strength in his friendship as she fears she is losing her sister. Meanwhile other shifters play important rolls in the background in the story. I found STILL LIFE WITH SHAPE-SHIFTER to be very poignant and sad, but overall a lovely romance. If you are looking for something different than your everyday shifter romance, Shinn may very well fit the bill.
Reviewed by Lori Sears
Rating: 4

The Fangover


THE FANGOVER
Erin McCarthy and Kathy Love
Berkley Sensation
ISBN:  0-425-25323-6
November 2012
Paranormal Romance

Erin McCarthy and Kathy Love join teams to create the unusual tale, THE FANGOVER.  After the unexpected death of her musician brother, Johnny, vampire Stella drowns her sorrows in alcohol and seeks comfort from her vampiric friend, Wyatt.  Wyatt’s loved Stella for years, and now that he finally has the chance to show Stella how much he cares for her, things go awry.  Surprisingly, each of Johnny’s bandmembers also has some strange experiences; Berto Cortez awakens married to a newly turned vampire, Saxon has a cross burned into his forehead, and Drake is missing a fang. No one knows exactly what happened, but each of their situations must be resolved in order to bring about those happily-ever-afters.

As a paranormal retelling of the popular movie, THE HANGOVER, this novel is likely to appeal to readers who appreciate a heavy dose of humor mixed in with their romance.  THE FANGOVER has an abundance of characters that can be hard to keep straight.  There’s plenty of romantic tension, as well as plenty of convoluted twists that are entertaining and surprising.  An engaging read!

Reviewed by Angela Etheridge
Rating: 3

Her Sky Cowboy


HER SKY COWBOY
The Glorious Victorious Darcys
Beth Ciotta
Signet Eclipse
ISBN:  0-451-23847-4
November 2012
Romance (Steampunk)

Set in a steampunk era unlike any I have encountered thus far, HER SKY COWBOY is the first book in the new Glorious Victorious Darcys series.  Amelia Darcy is disinterested in marrying well, she is much more interested in the inventions created by her eccentric father.  When her father is unexpectedly killed in a tragic accident, Amelia decides she must help save her family from destitution by seeking out an invention of historical importance.  If Amelia can find the invention, then the prize money affiliated with pursuit will restore her family’s finances.  When she sneaks away on her father’s kite-cycle and crashes into an airship of Tucker Gentry's, Amelia is stunned to be in the company of the famous man. Tucker agrees to help Amelia on her quest, but neither realizes that a villainous man has them both in his sights, determined to have Amelia and the invention for himself.
 
HER SKY COWBOY has an usual premise that is pervasive throughout the tale. The actions of the time travelers that created this alternate reality have a significant impact on the worldwide culture of the world.  The historical implications of time travel are thought-provoking, and the romance between Amelia and Tucker is steamy, steamy, steamy.  It is clear that Amelia’s brothers will each have their own adventures, and it will be intriguing to see the final outcome of the overarching storyline.
 
Reviewed by Angela Etheridge
Rating: 3

Saturday, December 08, 2012

New Dee Davis book!

DOUBLE DANGER
A-Tac Series
Dee Davis
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN# 978-0-446-58293-3
December 2012
Romantic Suspense

When new member and ex-SEAL Simon Kincaid comes face to face with his past, it's more than the memory of his best friend, Ryan, who died in the war. Her name is Jillian Montgomery, Homeland Security, who is working with the A-Tac team in investigating a helicopter crash at a hospital. But there are more questions than answers, and most are leading to the Consortium, A-Tac's nemesis. Jillian is now a widow trying to put her past with Ryan behind her, but she can't forget Simon and how she had fallen for him all those years ago in college. It's hard to do since Simon was the one she really loved, but he broke her heart and she never fully recovered. Working together, they will confront their past demons as well as working with the rest of the A-TAC team in figuring out what the Consortium is really up to, even as the bodies start piling up.

I love second chance love stories, combined with thwarted love, guilt and searing passion, DOUBLE DANGER has everything in one explosive book. Davis handles her characters realistically, and manages to twist the plot nicely to avoid recurring themes. Scoop this one up, but beware, you will most likely be unable to put it down once you start! The ending will leave you breathless with anticipation!

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Interview with Petie McCarty


 TRRC Interview with Petie McCarty

  
TRRC              Hi Petie welcome to The Romance Readers Connection.  Congratulations on the release of your second novel, CATCH OF THE DAY, how challenging has it been to continue the momentum of your debut, EVERGLADES? 

PM                  Maintaining momentum month in and month out is certainly a challenge I think all writers face. There are only so many markets an author can approach, and the competition for the available advertising is steep. Competition for market space is doubly difficult for digital authors. Industry estimates that only 29% of the reading public has electronic readers, and that's up almost 10% over 2011. So right there, digital authors' access to the total reading market is reduced to 29%, and then you'd have to factor out the non-fiction readers from the total, too. What all that means is digital authors have to be very focused and very dedicated about their marketing efforts to be successful. The good news is the future can only get brighter with increasing numbers of readers going digital. I have been very fortunate in that a substantial number of my Everglades readers have already asked when my next book will come out.

TRRC              Petie, how does an aquatic biologist delve off into writing romance?  How much of an influence has your career played in your writing?

PM                  It's really not such a stretch when this particular aquatic biologist is lucky enough to have spent a large part of her career working at "The Most Magical Place on Earth," where fairy tales are common fare and really do come true. J
My career had a huge influence on my debut novel Everglades -- the story of a photojournalist on an airboat safari who gets stranded with her hunky airboat guide in the famed River of Grass. I spent two years of my career surveying Florida waterways by airboat, and everything that happens to the heroine Kayliee in the Everglades -- the bug storm, the leeches, the spiders, getting stuck on a tussock, falling in near a gator -- has happened to me at some time during my career. Talk about writing what you know!

TRRC              Many writers have rituals or routines to get their creative juices flowing especially when trying to meet a deadline.  What are some of the things you do to begin the writing process? 

PM                  I have been incredibly fortunate with my writing in that the idea for my next novel always arrives in one piece beginning, conflict, and finale -- Wham! It's suddenly front and center in my imagination. A movie starts running in my head, characters and all. Then I spend the next couple of days speed-writing scene bullets to try to keep up with the movie. Usually only secondary characters are added or changed during editing. Partial ideas flit in and out of my imagination all the time, triggered by day-to-day events, but I know which novel is next when the entire movie arrives at one time.
                                   
When deadlines approach and a final draft manuscript or final edits are due, I hibernate in my bedroom office, and my husband abides by the "deadline rule" -- interruptions only for blood, fire, tornado or hurricane. The best part is he's always waiting with a glass of chardonnay to celebrate when I eventually crawl back out.

TRRC              How much fun has it been so far?  Were there times when you wanted to throw in the towel?

PM                  I think the fun part is the actual writing of the story. The rest is just plain hard work -- every weeknight and every weekend spent editing, marketing or doing online blog posts and online interviews. J
                       
Quit? Oh yeah! I threw in the towel three separate times before I was eventually published. Either my sister Katy or my best friend Clare lured me back each time, which is why Everglades is dedicated to them.

My best advice to writers -- perseverance in everything. The great Stephen King said it best "The only difference between published and unpublished writers is the published writers never gave up." And I'm proof positive of that.

TRRC              Tell readers about Everglades and the main characters Kylie and Skye?  I have to say, I truly appreciated the amount of time you took to define all the characters, their relationships and interactions.  An added bonus is learning about the work being done to save the Florida Everglades.

PM                  Kaylie Heddon is a photojournalist who has come to the Everglades to work on an article that will help her uncle John – a politico who’s making the restoration of the Everglades one of his top priorities.  She ends up stranded alone with her handsome and enigmatic Seminole airboat guide, Skye Landers, and quickly learns that trust means everything in the dangerous River of Grass.  But when secrets from Skye’s past surface, Kaylie and Skye are soon on the run from more than just gators.

Skye is the hunky airboat guide I never got when I had to do aquatic surveys. J So of course, I tried to make him as sexy as I could. And by the time I was done, I wanted to be Kaylie. I created a story imbued with an environmental flavor, which is a comfortable match for romance readers who love nature and the out-of-doors.  That meant Kaylie had to be a staunch environmentalist. The conflict between Kaylie and Skye over the Everglades mimics real life politics over this delicate and priceless wetland, and I wanted to bring attention to the pollution plight of the Everglades and make my readers care about this precious ecosystem.
The process of falling in love definitely speeds up in life-or-death situations, so I threw Kaylie and Skye into a few of those to keep things exciting. Airboats are probably one of the most dangerous means of transportation, thus it wasn't hard to do. Then I threw in a surprise finale to keep the readers hooked.
Once the scene bullets were down, I did a ton of research to avoid offending anyone in the decades-long and ongoing controversy between agriculture and environmentalists over the maintenance and fate of our beautiful River of Grass. The research on the Seminole Tribe of Florida was the fun part. The Tribe is really made up of clans just as Skye Landers explained to Kaylie, and his "panther" clan really exists. I researched the chickees at length to keep them authentic for Wren's camp in the story.

I went to high school with two full-blooded Seminoles, brothers and twins. The brothers were two of the toughest guys in school, yet the most kind-hearted and always operated with their personal code of honor. So when you meet the Robles twins about halfway through the story, you'll see how my high school classmates turned out -- all grown up.

TRRC              CATCH OF THE DAY, what in world made you want to write about a female bass angler in a very male dominated sport?  What kind of research went into this particular story?

PM                  This is an easy question, and it goes back to my job again. I routinely survey lakes for aquatic vegetation, and my survey partner is a professional angler with the National Bassmaster Southern Opens series. He would always come back from his three-day tournaments around the south with plenty of fishing stories, and then one day, the movie popped into my head. What would happen if a girl entered an all-guy tournament and then stage it in the Doc-Hollywood-esque town of Loon, Alabama?

While I did some research, my survey partner provided most of the technical background, teaching me basic tournament rules and procedures and editing my final draft for fishing faux pas. In fact, I rewrote my entire finale after my partner brought back a whopper of a tale -- albeit true -- from one of his fishing tournaments. Seems one of the professional anglers actually jumped a beaver dam with his bass boat to get to the good fishing on the other side, and then won the tournament. You'll have to read Catch of the Day to see how I worked that in. J

TRRC              Cody’s reason for entering the contest is admirable, how did you plot out balancing that aspect of her character with the story’s overarching theme? 

PM                  Cody enters the Look Lake tournament because her father had fished in it every year, and when he passed away, she thought she'd feel closer to him and maybe not miss him so much if she fishes the tournament, too. Meanwhile, the women of Loon decide to adopt her as their personal mascot, and before Cody knows it, she's competing for women's fishing rights in Loon.

Cody's tournament partner, Special Ops Coast Guard captain Gage Connor comes to Loon to resolve an old family dispute and to search for the girl who was his first love. Meeting Cody throws a wrench into his well-laid plans.
                        Your heart will always recognize your true love, even if your eyes are blind.

TRRC              Petie, thank you for joining us today, can you tell readers what you have coming up next?

PM                  In April 2013, Desert Breeze will release my third novel, One More Chance -- the first of what I think of as my Rescue Angel Romances. Each story will have an angel hidden in them, and the reader doesn't find out who the angel is until the finale. If I've done my job right, I'll fool the reader every time.  
In One More Chance, Kellen Brand's inheritance turns out to be a whopper -- one dilapidated farm in West Virginia and one guardian angel. Since no sane woman would choose to live in Riverside, Kellen vows to sell her farm and quick. Her handsome neighbor Luke Kenyon must block the farm sale or risk exposure of his family's secrets.
While Kellen has one potential buyer, she faces a town full of objectors. Someone is trying to frighten her off, and Luke is forced to step in and rescue her more than once. Unfortunately, Kellen has a penchant for finding trouble. She stumbles onto a clandestine hazardous-waste-dumping operation next to her farm, and she prays Luke has one more rescue up his sleeve. It's her only hope of staying alive. Unless her mother really did leave her a guardian angel…
Thank you for allowing me to spend time with The Romance Reader Connection members, and I'd like to wish everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday.  
If you find time to read over the holiday, please give me a try, and visit my web site at www.petiemccarty.com.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Angel

THE ANGEL
Tiffany Reisz
Harlequin Mira
ISBN: 978-0-7783-1399-1
October 2012
Erotic
 
Nora Sutherland (Born Eleanor Schreiber) returned to the arms and bed of Soren without looking back, at least not for long. When Soren is placed on a short list to become Bishop, he sends her away to try to and sway their decision away from him. Suzanne Kanter already has a dislike of the Catholic Church because of her brother Adam’s death. When she receives an anonymous tip via fax that Father Marcus Streans (Soren), a Catholic Priest, up for bishop has a conflict of interest, she immediately suspects child abuse. Michael Dimir, a 17 year old boy who Nora and Soren are teaching the ways of becoming a submissive, fell for Griffin the moment he saw him. Michael feels that he is too young, that he has nothing to offer Griffin, and to top it off his father would never agree to it.
Just like in the first book “The Siren” this book is written in different points of view. After the first two chapters, you become used to the flow and find yourself ready for the next chapter to see what happens to Michael, Griffin and Suzanne. When it was revealed that Soren was a Catholic Priest, it was a shock! I loved this book and getting to meet the different characters, I can’t wait for the next book to see what happens with my new favorites Michael and Suzanne.

Reviewed by Tasha Taylor
Rating: 4

Werewolf in Denver

WEREWOLF IN DENVER
Wild About You Series
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Penguin
ISBN: 9780451238641
October 2012
Paranormal

Kate Stillman, leader of the HOWL (Honoring Our Werewolf Legacy) movement, is dead set against the mixing of humans and werewolves. The driving force behind this movement, her sister Penny. Penny married a human and to hide her true nature she turned away from her family and adopted children to prevent them from being half-breeds. Penny feels like Tom is her true love, a concept Kate doesn't believe in. Kate feels that mating with humans can eventually kill the Were gene and with the population being low already, they cannot afford the chances of half-breeds turning out to be human.

Duncan MacDowell, Scottish leader of the WOOF (Werewolves Optimizing Our Future) movement, believes that humans and werewolves should be able to fall in love. He believes that Were's and humans could learn a lot from each other. While trading insults via the Internet with Kate over the past few months, Duncan has developed a strange attachment to the feisty young woman. So when they get stuck in a remote cabin due to a blizzard, Duncan sees this as an opportunity for them to put their differences aside for a night of keeping each other warm. Only can one night really be enough?

He believes Were's should be able to mate with humans while she believes Were's should only mate amongst themselves. With Woofers and Howlers counting on them to prevail, can they overlook their different political views and discover true love, or will their opposing views be the nail in their love coffin. This is the fourth book in the series and I loved it just like I loved the others. Some of the characters from the previous books make an appearance so readers get to catch up with them. The chemistry between Duncan and Kate is genuine. Kate wonders if Duncan can love her since she is not human. I can't wait to read the next book!

Reviewed by Tasha Taylor
Rating: 4 1/2

An Enjoyable and Compelling Early Victorian Romance


TWO SINFUL SECRETS
Scandalous St. Claires #2
Laurel McKee
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-455-50548-7
November 2012
Historical Romance: 1840s England and Paris


To escape the stern environment of her aristocratic home, a rebellious Lady Sophia Huntington sneaks out to engage her well-developed skills in high stakes gambling. At one such encounter, her partner is none other than the famous actor and owner of the Devil's Fancy gaming establishment, Dominic St. Claire. Though masked, Sophia knows who her opponent is and she is excited and attracted to the golden haired Adonis despite their families' centuries-long feud. The attraction is intense, and after a few moments of sensual bliss, Sophia can not risk being unmasked and escapes...several years pass and Sophia is abroad after being disowned by her family for eloping with a drunkard army captain who died a few months into their marriage. She must earn her living, and a friend offers her a position at her Paris gaming establishment. There she meets up again with Dominic St. Claire and the attraction between them sizzles again and Dominic knows instinctively that this is dark-haired beauty who so excited him and captured his imagination three years previously. Dominic knows that a relationship between a St. Claire and Huntington is impossible, but still he is drawn to Sophia and can not stay away. The St. Claires's world is the theater, and Sophia's family, the one she wants to return to, is a highly respectable, stern aristocratic family who already disowned one son for marrying a St. Claire. Will their love overcome the infamous St. Claire-Huntington feud--is there any truth in the fiercely held belief that the Huntingtons done the St. Claires wrong centuries ago, and if it does, will they stay alive long enough to thwart the villain who seeks to destroy them?

The Huntington-St. Claire feud continues in TWO SINFUL SECRETS, Laurel McKee’s latest entry in the entertaining Scandalous St. Claires series. McKee masterfully creates the headstrong, less-than-na├»ve heroine, convincingly and sensually writes Sophia’s and Dominic’s love story, and beautifully weaves the story within a story device through the seventeenth century diary of Mary St. Claire Huntington to show the misunderstood origins of the St. Claire-Huntington feud. Especially enjoyable are the Parisian setting and the theater and gaming ambiance. TWO SINFUL SECRETS shows the few options of  young women who rebelled from the strictures of the increasingly  repressed society of early Victorian England and what they must do to escape its physical and psychological confines. 

Reviewed by Debora Hosey
4  

Sunday, November 11, 2012

New Western Romance

BEAUTY AND THE BOUNTY HUNTER
Lori Austin
Signet Eclipse
ISBN# 978-0-451-23827-6
October 2012
Historical Romance

Alexi Romanov is a con artist and master of disguise, traveling around the country leaving men's wallets a little lighter and women's beds a little warmer, he has taught Cat O'Banyon everything she knows. Cathleen Chase went from a Georgia belle before the Civil War, to an infamous bounty hunter, with just as many diverse personalities as it takes to get her prey. Just one eludes her, however, and he's the one she's been after since he killed her beloved husband some time back. With another bounty hunter closing in on HER, she teams up with Alexi for protection, but their steamy and passionate affair has hidden threads. When Cat finally realizes there is something else worth fighting for, it just may be too late. She becomes the prey and the hunter has closed in on her.

For those that love historical western romances, this is one of the better ones that has come along in a long time. Gone are the cheesy cowboys, instead find yourself immersed in a story that has unorthodox characters filled with many different shades, facets and secrets. Alexi and Cat are two personalities that have been shaped by their past, which is slowly revealed over the course of the book. They have had a past together, filled with passion and harmonious lies. It was so rewarding to find a book that has intelligent, witty and no holds barred characters. This was such an intricate book, with layers upon layers of truth slowly being revealed about the two characters. It was hard to put down! The first of a new series by this very talented author - it's a definite don't miss!

Reviewed By Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4 1/2

Sunday, October 28, 2012

More Great Fall Books.....




Hello to all of you out there. I have a few reviews to post as I sit here waiting for this hurricane to come up the East coast. Hope you enjoy these books!

A FOOL’S GOLD CHRISTMAS
Susan Mallery Harlequin
HQN ISBN: 978-0373777020
October 2012
Contemporary Romance

 This charming holiday romance gives us Evie Stryker’s story. A dancer, she was introduced in previous stories as the Stryker sibling who felt like an outsider. Conceived during her mom’s brief affair, she has been estranged from her mother and brother for years. When she's injured, she is forced to come home to recuperate. Evie is not going to succumb to her brother’s best friend, Dante Jefferson.

Dante is a jaded cynical lawyer who has reluctantly come to Fool’s Gold to manage Rafe Stryker’s business. When Evie begins teaching in a dance studio above his offices he finds his attraction growing to the beautiful dancer with a tinge of sadness under her scrooge-like attitude. These two delightful characters have a lot of emotional baggage between them. While the story is formulaic and somewhat predictable, it is still a heartwarming holiday tale told in true Mallery fashion. In other words, well-plotted, with excellent character development, and an emotional pull that will delight.

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating: 4


BAREFOOT IN THE RAIN
Roxanne St. Claire
ISBN: 978-1-455-50827-3
October 2012
Contemporary Romance

This second Barefoot Bay novel is Jocelyn Bloom’s story. As a “Life Coach to the Stars” she has become embroiled in a scandal in which she is accused of having an affair with one of her client’s husbands, a famous movie star. Her Los Angeles business in shambles, she has come back to her home to try and escape the media. Jocelyn returns very reluctantly and only because her best friend Lacey is building a resort there and offers refuge.

Jocelyn dreads seeing her aging father, a former deputy sheriff who in his younger years, was physically abusive to his wife and daughter. Jocelyn also dreads the childhood and high school memories of the only boy she ever loved, Will Palmer. Will, formerly a professional baseball player, now works as a carpenter at Lacey’s new resort. Little does Jocelyn know that he is now in the unlikely role of caretaker for her dad, who has developed Alzheimer’s. He recognizes no one from his past.

This is a terrific story, even better than the first in the series. It has so many themes including long term friendships, disorders of aging, childhood trauma and abuse, and domestic violence. In spite of these very intense issues, at the heart this is a romantic love story between Jocelyn and Will. Their story returning them to each other is heartwarming and lovely. I am really enjoying this series.

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating: 4 1/2


THE SHEIKH’S CLAIM
Olivia Gates
Harlequin Desire #2183
ISBN: 978-0373731961
September 2012
Category Romance

In this second book in the Desert Knights series readers are introduced to Prince Jalal Aal Shalaan who wants to be the king of Azmahar. His affair with Lujayn Morgan, which lasted for several years, has ended some time before and Lujayn has married someone else. Now a widow, she is startled when she once again encounters the handsome, enigmatic prince and finds that their attraction to each other has not wavered.

For Jalal there is really only Lujayn, even though he seems to be quite good at making a mess of their relationship. Filled with contradictions and misunderstandings this book is also passionate, complex, and one very hot romance. There is something to be said about the writing style of this very talented author. I’ve said it before: she has found her groove and these stories just keep getting better and better. We still don’t know who will be the new king of Azmahar! While we wait for this Jalal and Lujayn were certainly interesting to watch as they negotiated their relationship.

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating: 4


PITCH PERFECT
Luann McLane
Signet Eclipse
ISBN: 978-0-451-23780-4
September 2012
Contemporary Romance

This novel takes place in Cricket Creek, Kentucky. Part of an ongoing series about this small town characterized by friendliness, good eats, and the Cougar Creek baseball team, this books focuses on Mia Monroe and Cameron Patrick. Mia is on the run from her pampered life as the only child of a very wealthy businessman, who happens to be a silent owner of the baseball team. Cameron is one of the their star players, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks with a tendency for fighting and getting arrested. Now his job is to play good ball and avoid trouble.

Mia’s car breaks down and she ends up working as a waitress in the Wine and Diner. Forced to make due with no money she quickly learns that waitressing is not her forte. At the same time she and Cameron are drawn together like metal shavings to a magnet. As their relationship progresses and it becomes more and more important for Mia to reveal who she really is, the plot gets interesting. A secondary story involves Mia’s father and his secret relationship with a woman in Cricket Creek.

Other characters from past books are described and readers are quickly drawn into the drama and fun of this small town. The early scenes of this book were laugh out loud funny. While I thought the relationship between Mia and Cameron could have been deepened, this is a very entertaining book and sure to please fans of this author.

Reviewed by Jeri Neal
Rating: 3

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DESTINED TO PLAY - Bloome Review

DESTINED TO PLAY
Indigo Bloome
Avon
ISBN:  0-06-224347
October 2012

Erotic Romance


In DESTINED TO PLAY, psychologist Alexandra Blake travels away from her family to deliver a series of lectures; when she reconnects with old flame Jeremy Quinn, Alexandra spirals into an exploration of sexuality that surprises her.  Told in first person, the novel flashes between the present and the past, showing the reader the depths of Alexandra’s attraction to Jeremy.

I want to make it clear that I am a huge fan of the Erotic Romance genre, and the BDSM sub-genre in particular; check out my Goodreads page, and you’ll see I keep myself stocked in erotic romance!  With that said, I had a very difficult time getting through DESTINED TO PLAY.  I had some real problems with the text, from the adultry that the main character seemed to have planned before she ever left home to the BDSM-style elements that are in no way true to those who live in the lifestyle. The concepts of safe, sane, and consensual are thrown out the door with this book.  I also felt that while there was plenty of sex, there was a lack of romance; I think the author intended the romance between Alexandra and Jeremy to pick up from where it left off years ago, despite the fact that Alexandra is a married mother of two.  The scientific elements of the story did spark my interest, though they made the sex act a little more clinical than I prefer.  It also seemed that Alexandra resolved the problems in her marriage just a little too easily.  DESTINED TO PLAY is the first in a trilogy, so perhaps the next book addresses some of these issues.

Reviewed by Angela Etheridge
Rating: 2

Monday, October 22, 2012

Paranormal Pick

SACRIFICE THE WICKED
Dark Mission-Book 4
Karina Cooper
Avon
ISBN:978-0-06-212769-3
October 2012
Paranormal
Simon Wells isn't your average everyday man, he is so much more. Simon is dangerous and everything that Parker Adams should avoid, especially when she starts to realize that he is a witch. Parker is the Director for the Mission and her job puts her in charge of those who hunt down and imprison witches, usually with a death sentence. Simon is an agent, and it appears he has ulterior motives and Parker just can't seem to figure out what he is up to. What makes things worse is his sexuality. She is drawn to the man and that is just to damn bad, because the last thing she needs is a sexy bad boy in her life. All hell is breaking lose in her world and agents are dying right and left and it looks like she just might be next in line. But, if said bad boy has anything to do with it, nobody will touch what he is quickly becoming to think of as his! Karina Cooper's Dark Mission Series puts a totally new spin on the world of witches in the post apocalyptic world and leaves you begging for more. My only criticism in this latest release is that she left us hanging and now I will have to wait to see what happens next!
 
Reviewed by Lori Sears
Rating: 4

My Scandalous Viscount - Foley Review

MY SCANDALOUS VISCOUNT
Gaelen Foley
Avon
ISBN# 978-0-06-207593-2
October 2012
Historical Romance

As a "Lady of Information", when Carissa Portland tries to help out Sebastian, Viscount Beauchamp, otherwise known as "Beau", from a compromising position, she unwillingly becomes involved in one of her own. Having known Beau, and loathing him for a long time, Carissa is now forced to marry him! While Beau can't believe he is married to Miss Busybody herself, he's willing to make the best of it until he realizes that he can't trust her. She has secrets, one that could threaten her life, but then so does he. Will they be able to trust each other and forge ahead, or will they be undone by the danger that lurks in the shadows?

Foley writes great characters, and even better heroes. Beau and Carissa should be engaging and fun to read, especially with their past, so while they were entertaining, given their past, they could have been so much better. The secondary characters of the other members of the Inferno Club, Trevor, and even the mysteriously "gone bad" Nick, will be eagerly awaited.

Reviewed by Jennifer Jones
Rating: 3

The Lady Risks All - Laurens Review

THE LADY RISKS ALL
Stephanie Laurens
Avon Publishing
ISBN# 978-0-06-206863-7
October 2012
Historical Romance

The world believes that Lord Julian Delbraith, Duke of Ridgware, disappeared twelve years ago. In truth, in order to save his family, he turned into Roscoe Neville, king gambling lord - straddling the line of the real world and the world much more shadowy. When Miranda Clifford followed her brother into one of Roscoe's den of iniquities, she set out to rescue him. What she discovered was something quite different. Meeting Roscoe proved much more than Miranda imagined, and when her brother went missing, she enlists the help of Roscoe to find him. The two embark on a journey of dangerous proportions. Roscoe can't believe he let Miranda into his private life, but their attraction is deep and mutual. Julian knows to have Miranda would be subjecting her to a life not fit for respectability. Will he be able to let Miranda go, or will he have to choose between his two very different worlds?

Laurens superbly wields her magic in this intriguing romance, filled with danger and passion. Julian/Roscoe is a complex hero, with serious problems that force him into a virtual world where he hides his true identity. Miranda is a head strong heroine, who knows what she wants and isn't afraid to go and get it. Another gem from a great author!

Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones
Rating: 4

Great Historical Romance Reading With Alissa Johnson's PRACTICALLY WICKED

PRACTICALLY WICKED
Alissa Johnson
Berkley Sensation
ISBN 978-0-425-25803-3
October 2012
Historical Romance

Miss Anna Rees desperately wishes to escape her life. Her mother is an infamous courtesan who views her daughter as an object and one to enhance her own reputation as a kind and generous mother. Anna lives a solitary existence with only a former governess and a well-stocked library for friends. Lonely with no social experience and little contact with the male sex, she engages in conversation with a drunken and newly designated viscount in mourning, Lord Dane, who lost his way one night attending one of her mother's riotous parties. That conversation changes both their lives when both sense the uniqueness in the other and that they could be friends and much more. Dane promises to call on her the next day...but unbeknownst to Anna, her mother repeatedly turns him way and refuses to deliver his notes to her. Four years pass...and Anna learns she is the bastard daughter of the late Marquess of Engsly and he had promised money for her upkeep. Anna determines to visit the new Marquess and make their connection known and hopefully he will honor his father's debts. All Anna wants is a country cottage and a dog of her own all away from her mother's type of life and the gossip rampant in the demi-monde...the Marquess and his family welcome Anna with open arms and claim her as one of their own...but the family's good friend, Lord Dane is suspicious about Anna's motives and he vows to get to the bottom of the matter without letting his heart and his past rejection by her get into the way...but as they both intuited four years previously, their encounters show that they belong together. Can Dane convince Anna that he loves her as she is, practically wicked, and that she is the perfect wife for him forever?

PRACTICALLY WICKED is a lovely, delightful and touching Regency historical that evokes laughter and tears throughout. Ms. Johnson's writing and voice make PRACTICALLY WICKED  a rich reading experience . Anna and Dane are indeed perfect for each other and the reader will fall in love with Dane as he courts her. This is a book to savor and enjoy!

Reviewed by Debora Hosey
Rating: 4 1/2

Merry Christmas Reading with Victoria Alexander's WHAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS


WHAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS
Victoria Alexander
Kensington
ISBN 978-0-7582-5568-6
November 2012
Historical Romance


In 1897, widowed Camille, Lady Lyndingham, seeks to provide a  Dickensian English Christmas for Prince Nicolai Pruzinksy of some minor European country, in hopes it will provide the perfect ambience for him to propose. Because most of her somewhat eccentric family will be elsewhere for the holiday, she employs an odd assortment of a down on their luck acting troupe to stand in for them and the household servants. Camille convinces her twin Beryl to go along with the plan and all goes well until Grayson Elliott returns to England and visits after a decade or so abroad. Best friends since childhood, each was secretly in love with the other, but Grayson never declared his feelings until the day before her wedding to another man. Each waited for the other to do something to stop the marriage but to no avail so Camille continued with the wedding to the suitable, affable, well-connected and rich older man. Now Gray has returned rich as Croesus and wanting to win his heart's desire...once he learns of the farce about to begin from a too talkative actress, he wants in because it will keep him close to Camille and give him a chance to persuade her of his love. What seemed like a brilliant idea goes wildly awry and mayhem ensues as actors forget their parts and horrors upon horrors, the real family unexpectedly arrives home...and then to Camille, the prince seems less and less like a prince while Grayson seems more and more like the prince of her dreams.

Yes, Virginia, Santa is real and proves it by gifting us readers with the sparkling,  effervescent and scintillating WHAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS. This book thanks to the writing magic of Victoria Alexander has everything to make your holiday reading merry and bright, including if I may say so, Christmas Carrolls...prepare to LOL and smile and enjoy the various oddball characters and welcome all the surprise twists and to cheer Camille on to get on with it and listen to her heart and Gray! Whether it is your Christmas list or your To Buy list,  WHAT HAPPENS AT CHRISTMAS belongs on them all! 

Reviewed by Debora Hosey
Rating: 4 1/2

Friday, September 28, 2012

Obsidian mystery releases for September

MURDER OF THE CAT'S MEOW A Scumble River Mystery by Denise Swanson. ISBN: 978-0-451-23781-1. Skye is convinced that her house is haunted and her fiance will never be able to stay there. She is determined to get the ghost out, so Wally can move in. But before that happens, she is called to the bowling alley where a riled up contestant is choking a cat show judge for insulting his feline. The scuffle is broken up but the next morning the judge is found dead. Now Skye has to put her sleuthing skills to the test. Cat style. Skye is a likeable character who seems like everyones best friend. This is a witty read that will leave you cracking up.

Rating: 3.0


LAST WOOL AND TESTMENT A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery by Molly MacRae. ISBN: 978-0-451-23782-8. The first in a new series! Kath Rutledge has taken over her departed grandmother's fabric store, the Weaver's Cat. Upon arriving to town, Kath finds out there has been a murder and her grandmother was the prime suspect. Before she can clear Ivy's name, Kathy encounters a looming presence in the form of a gloomy ghost. It turns out this spectator wants to solve the murder from beyond and Kath is more than willing to let him try. A great beginning to a new series that focuses on family and friendship. I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. A solid read.

Rating: 3.0

Reviewed by: Kathy Fisher

September Mystery reads

The Sept reads were great this year. There are so many good ones to choose from! Here are a few recaps of those I finished recently.

These are Berkley releases:

BUFFALO BILL'S DEAD NOW A Wind River Mystery by Margaret Coel.  ISBN: 978-0-425-25271-0.  If you enjoy Native American themed books, this one is for you. The regalia of Chief Black Heart in Buffalo Bill's Wild West show are being returned to his people. But the cartons are empty and art collector Trevor Pratt believes theives stole them in route. Vicky and Father John think Trevor knows more than he is telling and when he winds up dead, they know their instincts were correct. While trying to track down the stolen goods, they will also have to untagle a weave of lies that have tied two Arapaho familes together. This is a fast paced, emotional story that will entrance the reader from beginning to end.

Rating: 4.0


THE DARLING DAHLIAS AND THE CONFEDERATE ROSE by Susan Wittig Albert. ISBN: 978-0-425-24776-1. A small town mystery story set in the south during the Depression era, the Darling Dahlias are an eclectic group of women who stand beside each other through thick and thin. Mostly thin during this time. When one of their own is thought to be the source of a theivery at the bank, each one closes ranks to protect her. The strength of families during this time is amazing and those of us that live now, could learn a thing or two about stretching our resources, standing up for a true cause, and protecting those we care most about. A good solid read.

Rating: 3.0


DEATH WITH A BOW An Accessories Mystery by Grace Carroll. ISBN: 978-0-425-25156-0. Things have not been stellar for Rita lately. Her job is great but her love life is at a stand still. And then the upscale botique she works at hires a new sales girl. Who is all that in a neat and tidy package. Shoved in the back room to answer phones, Rita is not happy. But is she mad enough to kill? Some think so when she is the one to find the new girl dead on the sales floor. Rita better start with a good sales pitch, and fast! This is a cute read with a lot of fun fashion advice. A breath of freshness in the mystery world.

Rating: 4.0


WALL-TO-WALL DEAD A Do-It-Yourself Mystery by Jennie Bentley. ISBN:978-0-425-25556-8. Avery and her partner, Derek, are fixing up a cute little condo. They bargained for a quick flip, not a nosey neighbor. When the busybody ends up dead, Avery suspects foul play and soon everyone is a suspect. It seems some people have deep secrets. But are any of them worth killing over? Hopefully Avery finds out before she ends up on the receiving end.  A sweet mystery with a little romance added in. The characters all mesh together well and are fun to learn more about.

Rating: 3.0


DEATH WHERE THE BAD ROCKS LIVE A Spirit Road Mystery by C.M. Wendelboe. ISBN: 978-0-425-25611-4. FBI agent Manny Tanno thought he had left his tribe and the reservation behind him years ago. But now, he finds himself back at the beginning and knows you can never fully escape your past. In Badlands National Park, there is a place that was used as a bombing range. The Lakota refer to it as the Stronghold. Sixty five years later, the Sioux tribe would like any remaining ammunition defused in the Stronghold. When the company finds human remains near a live bomb, Tanno and the tribal police are called to investigate. As the body is removed, two more are found. The remains are close together but happened years apart. What really happens in the Stronghold? Tanno has to delve back into his own past to find out what is going on in the present. A strong read about the intricate tribal lives on a reservation. The insight into these proud, magnificent people is rewarding. Tanno is a down to earth hero. This story will suck you in quickly.

Rating: 4.5


MURDER UNMENTIONALBE A Sweet Nothings Lingerie Mystery by Meg London. ISBN: 978-0-425-25157-7. Emma abandoned her life as a big city fashionista to help her aunt Arabella breathe new life into her old store, Sweet Nothings. As she settles back into Paris, Tennessee, Emma begins to breathe easily. Until her old life collides with her new one in the form of her ex. When he is found dead inside the door of Sweet Nothings, Emma will need to put on her pantyhose and figure out what is going on. A neat story about vintage unmentionables and the betrayal of a friend.

Rating: 3.0


TREACHEROUS TOYS A Renaissance Faire Mystery by Joyce and Jim Lavene. ISBN: 978-0-42525158-4. Jessie Morton is back at the Renaissance Faire Village working as an apprentice to the new toy maker. But when Chris Christmas is found dead just hours after her arrival, Jessie's holiday plans begin to melt away. It's just like her to try to unwrap a mystery. This series is so much fun! A world away from the world, at the Villiage, people live their jobs. The reader never knows what is going to happen, who is going to show up, or what secrets will be revealed. A lively read!

Rating: 4.0


HOW TO TAIL A CAT A Cats and Curios Mystery by Rebecca M. Hale. ISBN: 978-0-425-25129-4. An albino alligator is loose in San Francisco, which is exciting news. But Rupert and Isabella have better things to do. Who cares that they are cats, they have a more important job such as helping to look into the mysterious Steinhart brothers. They were 1900's era benefactors who provided hte orignal funding for hte alligator's aquarium. And to get to the bottom of it, Oscar's niece needs to follow the money, even when it leads to unsavory places. This is a fun read where the cats help solve the mysteries unearthing the biggest clues. A good read for cat lovers everywhere.

Rating: 3.0

All books reviewed by Kathy Fisher

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Christian Police Romance reviewed

ABDUCTED
Janice Cantore
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
ISBN# 978-1-4143-5848-2
August 2012
Christian Romance

Second in the series, ABDUCTED follows officer Carly Edwards as she adjusts to refocusing on her new relationship with her ex-husband, Nick. Also added, she has to figure out what's going on with her best friend and roommate, Andi, who seems to have some anger and resentment towards Carly. As new Christians, she and Nick have focused on trying to get close again, but instead he starts pulling away, seemingly because of his injury. Now Carly's partner, Joe, and his wife have their baby kidnapped from the hospital. As Carly tries to find the baby, she connects with reporter Alex, who while nice enough and a good friend, keeps asking her out. Carly has to look toward God for guidance and faith that things will happen as they are meant to, even at the bleakest moments.

Not having read the first one, there was the unfortunate side-tracking of trying to piece things together from the first book (Nick's affair that led to their divorce) and other less major events, but it wasn't enough to detract from the story. Face paced and full of emotional turmoil for Carly, it is a nice romance, mixed in with a little police-drama, that makes for a good Christian read.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones
Rating: 3

Thursday, September 13, 2012

THE DARK EARL

THE DARK EARL
Virginia Henley
Signet Eclipse
ISBN: 978-0-451-23600-5
August 2012
Historical Romance
Thomas Anson is forced to watch as the home he loves is auctioned off to the highest bidder to pay for the debts of his father. Watching this he vows to restore his home at Shugborough no matter what it takes. In comes Harriet, the answer to his prayers. Harriet (nickname Harry) comes with a rather large dowry and is very attractive. Harriet however, only wants to marry for love. She is searching for the love that her parents have and will settle for nothing less. As time progresses Thomas begins to fall for Harriet but can he convince her that his love is the real deal?
This was my first read from Virginia Henley and I was not disappointed. The cover alone is tempting. Thomas was a little frustrating at times because he was very focused on restoring his home and lets that get in the way of his relationship with Harriet. If you like historical romances then you will like this book.
Reviewed by Tasha Taylor
Rating: 3

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

August read: THE BRIDE WORE PEARLS

THE BRIDE WORE PEARLS
Liz Carlyle
Avon Publishing
ISBN# 978-0-06-196577-7

After the death of her husband, Lady Anisha Stafford leaves India and returns to London with her two sons. She comes to be with her brother, who is a member of the secretive St. James Society. Rance Welham, the Earl of Lazonby, is sent to meet her and the chemistry between them is sizzling. Rance is trying to clear his name of murder, even though he's been cleared by the courts, he feels he needs to clear his name in public opinion. Rance knows he cannot have Anisha, because being seen with him would ruin her, but Anisha has other plans.

I would recommend the reader begin with one of the previous books before reading this one, or it could get confusing. Slow paced and delicately intertwined with mystery, this one sometimes gets bogged down. I found myself putting this down quite often and having a hard time getting back into it. Fans of Carlyle might enjoy this one, but it was a hard one for me to get through.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Jones
Rating: 2

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Some last minute summer reads!


ANNE OF HOLLYWOOD
Carol Wolper
Gallery Books
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5722-7
July 2012
Contemporary
Anne Boleyn is high on romantic optimism. She is dating her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Henry Tudor, a wealthy Hollywood power broker. Anne is well aware that she can be replaced in a nanosecond. So she utilizes everything she has to continue her reign as Henry’s favorite.
Ms. Wolper tries to embrace the historical Anne Boleyn in this modern adaptation. She implements jealous and back-stabbing friends, an ex-wife and one-sided Hollywood politics. Is it equivalent to the true story of Anne Boleyn and the Tudors? It certainly tries to; but a true history buff will be disappointed, however,I found the book unique and quite entertaining.
Reviewed by Charlene McConnell
Rating: 4
 
 
THE ELUSIVE MR. McCOY
Brenda L. Baker
New American Library
ISBN: 978-0-451-23689-0
July 3, 2012
Women’s Fiction
Watching a man in a coffee shop isn’t out of the ordinary for investigator Jason Cheddick, but getting caught doing it, is unusual. When the man suddenly collapses minutes into their conversation, Jason finds out that he man has two identities: one as Eric McCoy and also as David McCoy.
Kendra McCoy is an ambitious business woman. Her husband, Eric, a political analyst, is “perfect” because he allows her to concentrate solely on her catering business. Lesley McCoy, a daycare worker, is married to David, a wildlife guide. Even though he is gone for weeks at a time, Lesley is content.
The two women meet at the hospital, both finding out their husband is in a coma, they are faced with defining the biggest lie of their lives.
This book grabs your attention from the very first page. Ms. Baker surprises everyone when she reveals the “real McCoy!”
Reviewed by Charlene McConnell
Rating: 4
 
 
 
 
THE GIRL SHE USED TO BE
David Cristafano
Grand Central Publishing
ISBN: 13-9780446582216
March 2010
Contemporary Fiction
At the age of six, Melody McCartney and her parents witnessed a brutal murder committed by Tony Bravaro, a New York mob boss. The family is forced into the Witness Protection Program to keep them safe. Twenty years later, Melody is weary of her life. To overcome boredom, she uses the Witness Protection Program to relocate and reinvent herself.
Unexpectedly, Melody is faced with two new men in her life. Sean, her new caseworker, who is trying to transition Melody to her new location and Jonathon Bravaro, son of Tony, who promises her freedom and a normal life. Does she ignore the Feds and believe the words of the son of a Mafioso killer? Melody begins an unpredictable and dangerous journey.
This is Mr. Cristafano’s debut novel and it is very well-written and enormously entertaining! Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year!
Reviewed by Charlene McConnell
Rating: 4 1/2