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The Crimson Bed

By Loretta Proctor

Matador 2010  (Imprint of Troubador Publishing Ltd.)

Author site: http://www.lorettaproctor.co.uk/

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Crimson-Bed-Loretta-Proctor/dp/1848762887

Henry Winstone and his best friend, Frederick Ashton Thorpe, are artists during the Pre-Raphaelite movement of the Victorian era. Although Henry has pretty much forsaken the snobbish materialism of polite society, Fred isn’t quite so ready to give up his fastidious lifestyle. But even Henry must eat and has taken a commission to paint Eleanor Farnham’s portrait. Seeing the half finished portrait of Ellie at Henry’s studio, Fred is smitten and returns the next day to meet her. Deciding she’s everything he’s ever dreamed of in a woman, Fred pursues her and he and Ellie wed.

But Fred can’t let go of disgraceful events from his past and this leads him down a dark path of more shameful acts. Ellie too hides a painful past that affects her relationship with Fred. Their marriage deteriorates even more when Fred allows his mother to fire his jealousy with her vicious gossip of impropriety between Ellie and her godfather, Lord Percy Dillinger. When more appalling secrets come to light, not only is Ellie’s marriage in jeopardy, but her mental and physical health as well.

When I first began reading The Crimson Bed, I was hooked within the first few pages. Ms. Proctor is a highly gifted writer and knows exactly how to draw the reader in. At first I didn’t like any of the characters with the exception of Henry. But I couldn’t stop reading and I came to realize these characters were genuine, complicated and deeply flawed, which leant them a certain charm that was mesmerizing.

With such extraordinary characterizations, a gripping plot and well-researched historical backdrop, The Crimson Bed is an excellent work of fiction. This isn’t a gene romance, but there is a love story. The historical details of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the artists are exceptional. This is a character driven novel with elements of romance, suspense and mystery. I was so emotionally invested in the lives of these characters, I laughed, I sobbed, and I bit my nails to the quick during the tenser moments. I dare anyone to read The Crimson Bed and not be so affected.

–Willow

 

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One True Place

By Margaret Cunningham

Black Lyon Publishing: Coming June 15, 2010

When her husband, successful Orthodontist Burkett Cowley, dies suddenly in his office one bright summer morning, True Cowley is stunned. But becoming an unexpected widow is only the beginning of unpleasant surprises. When it comes to light that Burkett’s gambling debts have left her near penniless, True takes advantage of a free burial plot in their mutual birth place of Belle Hill, Alabama. True left Belle Hill as a child of four, after her mother’s accidental drowning death, and has not been back since. But when she returns for her husband’s funeral, True finds herself inexplicably drawn to the town and the family secrets it harbors. Shortly after the funeral, True sells her Florida home and returns to Belle Hill for good.

She is soon befriended by eccentric octogenarian, Maisy Downey, and Maisy’s handsome- beyond-belief nephew, Jackson Bean. The pair promises to aide True in her quest to understand the mother she never knew. But in her search for her roots, True uncovers more questions that must be answered and issues she must come to terms with if she is to resolve the past and move ahead into the bright, happy future that is offered. 

I enjoyed this story tremendously. True Cowley is a flawed but loveable character who I could sympathize with and cheer for with each turn of the page. I loved the interaction between her and Jackson and the way the romance developed slowly and sweetly. I also enjoyed the touching relationship True shared with her grandchildren. Having also enjoyed the author’s debut novel, Lily in Bloom, I was excited to return to southern Alabama and reconnect with some of the characters from that first book. The author’s skillful descriptions, both of people and setting, seemed to transport me into this charming village filled with unusual people and beautiful flora.

Margaret Cunningham writes with humor and grace, weaving a tale that is filled with romance and surprises. One True Place offers its readers so many things — romance, mystery, and a lovely story of a woman’s quest to reconcile herself with her past. I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a light, humorous, Southern love story.

— Honeybee

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Knight Everlasting

By Lisa Phillips

Black Lyon Publishing, May 15, 2010

Buy Link: http://www.blacklyonpublishing.com/Knight%20Everlasting.html

Vampire Paranormal Romance

Centuries old vampire, Tristan McBreen has pledged his allegiance to others of his kind who refuse to feed on innocent humans. Living in the verdant Georgia countryside with those of his faction he considers family, he prepares for the war he knows is coming. Even surrounded by those he cares for, Tristan’s existence is a solitary one. Never taking a mate and keeping his deeper emotions hidden is what helps him deal with being a vampire and the bitterness he still feels over the disconnection with his family centuries earlier.

All that may change with the immergence of Katie O’Reardon into his life. Tristan’s feelings for his fledgling vampire run deeper than even he imagines and Katie is just as smitten and just as determined to hide it. Deeply loyal to those who’ve taken her in, she’ll do whatever necessary to help stop Victor’s reign of terror on the innocents of Savannah. Victor’s unwavering desire for revenge against Tristan and the rest of his noble faction is fueled by his fascination with Katie. Knowing Katie to be Victor’s weakness, will Tristan allow her to act as a sacrificial lamb in order to defeat his enemy once and for all? 

Knight Everlasting is the follow up to Lisa Phillip’s Obsession Everlasting and never having read the first book, I was a little worried I might be lost when reading this new one, but that wasn’t the case. Ms. Phillips does an excellent job of inserting just enough back-story at the appropriate times to keep the reader informed and the plot moving forward. Fraught with both internal and external conflicts, Tristan and Katie’s romance was a joy to watch unfold. The story sizzles with sensual tension and a couple of well-placed scenes had the pages blazing.

Charming characters, excellent dialogue and a captivating plot make Knight Everlasting a true winner for lovers of this genre. Ms. Phillips’ talent for descriptions drags the reader from their comfy chair and slaps them right into the action. Sometimes descriptive passages can be overlong and drag a story down, but this author does them to perfection. Those readers who’ve read the first in this series, Obsession Everlasting, will be happy to revisit Simon and Fallyn while becoming acquainted with new characters, Sidney and Ryder. The ending leads the way to the next in this series. So if you love this genre, pick up both of these and stay tuned for the next.

–Willow

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Angel of Promise

By Sam Oliver

Fideli Publishing: 2010

Author Site: http://www.pathintohealing.com/ 

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Angel-Promise-Sam-Oliver/dp/160414209X

When I decided to read and review Sam Oliver’s Angel of Promise, I had no idea what to expect. I opened it up, read a few pages and was immersed in the story before I knew what was happening. At around a hundred and thirty pages, I read it straight through in about an hour. Then I went back and re-read most of it. Since then I’ve read certain passages several times. I found the premise both captivating and thought provoking. The bulk of the story takes place in The Garden of The Gods. I visited there a few years ago and can’t think of a better setting for a story like this.

Lee, a hard working man is feeling very much the loser. He’s lost his job, his faith in himself and is on the verge of losing his home and his family. His wife had planned a trip with their daughters to visit her sister in Florida. When their peaceful night is shattered by a break in, the police suggest she leave right away to decrease traumatizing the little girls anymore. Rose agrees and she and her daughters leave early the next morning.

Alone in the quiet house without his family, Lee becomes despondent and finds himself hating the world and no longer knows his place in it. Emotionally drained, he falls into a restless sleep and dreams of an Angel named Promise. The Angel tells him he’s there to remind Lee of who he is to help him remember the promises he made to the Angel the moment he was born. Lee finds this both interesting and confusing.

A couple of days later he finds being alone in the house unbearable and leaves to visit his family in Kentucky. After spending a couple of days visiting his parents, he leaves to visit his grandfather’s old cabin located in The Garden The Gods. Here we join Lee as he becomes intimately acquainted with the Promise Angel, and takes a journey to self-discovery and restoration—a rekindling of faith in himself and the world. 

As the back blurb states, this is a fictional novel and can be read by anyone of any religious background without having to filter it through your own beliefs. Angel of Promise is charming, inspirational, and captivating. A story both encouraging and motivating, I recommend it to all.

–Willow

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Lady In Black

By Craig Lynn Clyde

IUniverse  March 10, 2003

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Lady-Black-AKA-First-Dance/dp/0595264522/

Christmas time in Seattle, Washington; a time of glittering snow, twinkling lights — and murder. It starts with a mysterious phone call, the whispered words, “First, we dance.” From there, it leads to a sexual encounter with the beautiful “lady in black.” It ends with murder. As the bodies begin to pile up, homicide detective Jake Samuels finds himself in a race against time to uncover the murderer’s identity in a killing spree that has become all too personal. With no solid leads and no apparent motive, in order to solve this deadly case, Samuels might have to be the next to dance with the lady in black.

Some books are so engrossing you have to read them from start to finish, even if it means staying up all night. Craig Lynn Clyde’s LADY IN BLACK is definitely one of these books! This fast paced psychological thriller, set forth in short, delicious bursts, grabbed my attention from page one as I immediately began trying to piece together the clues to figure out the identity of the mysterious lady in black. The author’s writing style is almost hypnotizing and I found myself lured deeper and deeper into the intricacies of the story line with every turn of the page. The background info of the main character, Jake Samuels, is skillfully woven in, and the more I got to know and understand him, the more I liked him. Two parts smarts and one part good, old-fashioned luck propel him through the numerous tight spots he finds himself in throughout his investigation. The story was extremely well crafted and I admired the author’s skill in putting all of the pieces together from its opening scenes to its final, shocking conclusion. The author’s bio states that he is a screenwriter and I could easily see this story unfolding across the big screen. I really hope it happens, one day!

The only problem I had with this book was its numerous punctuation errors. I thought they stopped the flow of a plot that would otherwise move at breakneck speed. Even so, I recommend LADY IN BLACK to anyone who enjoys a tantalizing murder mystery that keeps them guessing till the very end.

 –Honeybee

 

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Thyme In A flask

By Glen Quarry

Eloquent Books – September 2009

ISBN-10: 1608607070

ISBN-13: 978-1608607075

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Thyme-Flask-Glen-Quarry/dp/1608607070/

Riddles, puzzles, fairy tales and mysteries; that’s what Thyme in a Flask is filled with. This delightful medieval tale follows seventeen year old Jon Chandler on a quest to find and destroy a magical flask. At the urging of his loved ones and for the good of the entire village, Jon, an apprentice sword maker leaves everything he knows of home and safety as he reluctantly accepts this responsibility and sets out on his journey. Along the way Jon will learn of power: power in the world, power in objects and power within himself.

In a parallel story line Princess Joanna discovers her father; King of the magical land of Elisinor has the power to travel in and out of time. The story is whimsical and entertaining even if it causes confusion here and there. Readers may scratch their head a little and feel the need to turn the pages back for a little rereading. Those who stick it out will eventually see how all the story lines and magical creatures fit together. They will discover the stopping of time, mystical places, enchanted characters, the magic of the flask and how two worlds intertwine.

The main character, Jon doesn’t set out alone on his quest. Readers also get to know his friends and travel companions, beautiful but flighty Dorthea and Samuel the gentle giant. Samuel is a tender hearted eight foot 480 pound giant friend. Although a little dim, he is reliable and endearing. Dorthea was raised as Jon’s sister, but early in the story it is revealed that this isn’t a birth relationship. The two have their squabbles and differences which often lead to conflict. However, they are united by a common goal and a strong will to fight for the good. Dorthea exasperates Jon as she challenges many of his decisions. It seems to be a love – hate relationship, but readers soon realize that Jon and Dorthea are on the brink of something much more complex than a sibling relationship.

Readers will be spell bound as they travel with Jon and Dorthea into a parallel world, where few have ever gone. The author paints a vivid picture of this new world. Readers will be transported in time as they journey with Jon in his attempts to locate the flask that has been missing for sixteen years. They will travel along as Jon tries to outsmart the demons and wizards who set up roadblocks to test his strength and skill. At times it will be hard to tell who is friend and who is foe. Puzzlers will enjoy the clues and riddles sprinkled along the way. Jon and Dorthea will be forced to solve riddles in their attempt to return to their time, their lives and find their true home. In the quest to find the flask the two learn many things about themselves, about life and love. Some lessons prove to be more powerful than magic. Will they come up with the right answers? Will they solve the riddles in time?

Glen Quarry’s fairy tale is chock full of twists and turns, plots and subplots, vivid characters and enchanted settings. Readers may sense hints of similarities with other popular fantasy books yet it is so unique, it really is unlike any other. The author introduces new characters with unique powers and a world of his own making. This is no copycat. It’s a brand new story in a new and very original world. Readers won’t want to put the book down but may want to go back and reread certain sections for clarity. Pearl feels it is one of those books that could be read more than once. There is almost too much to digest in one reading. It seems to be one of those books in which repeat readers are apt to discover new details on a second read through. This book would make a great family read aloud. It would be an enjoyable book to read, pause and discuss. It’s a winner for fantasy fans of all ages. Stay tuned, there are more adventures ahead. Glen Quarry is currently working on the sequel to his debut novel.

–Pearl

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Love’s Road Home

By Lisa Lewis

Black Lyon Publishing – 4-1-2010

ISBN: 978-1-934912-25-6

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Loves-Road-Home-Lisa-Lewis/dp/1934912255/

Author Website: http://www.lisalewisbooks.com/

Bethany Miller’s life was not going as she envisioned it all those years studying her butt off at Stanford. After working extra hard and earning her MBA a year early an internship with a prestigious accounting firm turned permanent and she landed a great job. However, the older guy that swept her off her feet turned out to be a money grubbing swindler embezzling company funds while framing her. After a trial, threats and a failed romance Bethany grudgingly agrees to do what she vowed never to do again – live the life of a roadie. She finds security with family, but can’t believe she is back on the road for a summer gig with her band manager dad. After the death of her mother Bethany was raised on the road and decided from a young age that she would take a path to a more stable, more settled life. Needing space from recent events and telling herself it was only temporary, she sets out to meet the band and find her place with the crew. She will be cordial, but she doesn’t plan to make friends. Still stinging from lost love and betrayal she plans to especially avoid the male band members including the gorgeous lead guitarist with his crooked grin and boyish charm.

Tom Crowley is looking for a break that will lift his band to the next level.  Music is his passion and after playing small clubs in small cities he is thrilled that his band, Roadhouse is embarking on its first major tour. He wants things to go smoothly and is slightly irritated at the last minute, hiring of a bristly female crewmember he meets the day of departure. She is nice to look at, but that may be a distraction he can’t afford. He vows to focus on music!

It doesn’t take long for the two to become involved. They share stories of their pasts, but Tom senses that Bethany is always holding back. As he is learning of her past hurts and worries, they suddenly come racing to the present when the police inform her that her ex boyfriend escaped custody and may be on the way to carry out some threats he made in the courtroom.

Tom’s jealousy soon fades and he takes on the role of protector. He quickly falls in love with Bethany. She is attracted to Tom and eager for a physical relationship with this sexy band member, but reluctant to declare love or make any lasting commitment. She doesn’t see herself married to someone on the road. That isn’t the life she dreamed of. She doesn’t want to travel full time nor does she want to be a wife who sits home while her husband is out on the road weeks at a time. When she first realizes she is falling in love, she is determined that it won’t work. Tom loves his music and if she loves a musician she can’t ask him to give up his passion or his dream.

The author did her research on bands, touring and life on the road. The language and atmosphere described was very fitting and realistic. The book was a little on the short side making the romance seem a bit rushed. The characters were likeable and well described. The genre is contemporary romance so intimate scenes are to be expected. Those included were fitting to the plot, but to be honest, they’re written in a little more explicit detail than Pearl cares to read.  Pearl feels that some details may be better left to the reader’s imagination. That is just a personal opinion and not a slam against the author or the book. The overall story was well written and the characters were suitably developed.

Both Bethany and Tom are likeable characters. They bring past hurts and struggles to their developing relationship. Tom is sensitive and sexy, eager to protect Bethany and make the relationship permanent.  Bethany is beautiful and determined. She enjoys the attention and craves the physical relationship, but is she ready to commit her heart?  Readers learn just enough of Bethany’s ex-boyfriend Eric Sharpe to dislike him and understand why she mistrusts men. Life on the road includes fans. Readers will enjoy the character of Cassiopeia Sommersby. The waiting, plotting escapades of this crazed fan brought a nice dimension to the story. Her attempts to win Tom’s love go from humorous to alarming to criminal. Her character keeps readers guessing and helps portray the vulnerability of both Tom and Bethany.

I really enjoyed the characters in this book. The author did a nice job helping readers get to know them early on in the story. Although not the main focus of the book, I enjoyed the relationship between Bethany and her father. At first I didn’t find it believable that a successful accountant would leave the business world to go on a music tour with her manager father. However, as the story unfolded and the author sprinkled events from Bethany’s past here and there it became a believable possibility. The revelation of childhood events show her vulnerable side and recent tragedy shows her need for protection. Although she hated life on the road, she craved the safety found with her father. She planned to tolerate the roadie job while buying herself a little time. Although she secretly liked to sing she didn’t expect to enjoy the road, the people or the lifestyle. She certainly didn’t expect to find safety or love from a handsome band member.

This energetic contemporary romance by Lisa Lewis will be available in April. It will be her first published book but I dare to say it won’t be her last. Love’s Road Home is an upbeat romance full of fun characters, clear descriptions and realistic dialogue. If you like rock and roll love stories, this book is for you.

 –Pearl

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