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Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

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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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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Executive Lunch

Maria E. Schneider

Kindle Book

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002M3FL16

Nov 9, 2009

Author Blog: www.BearMountainBooks.com

Sedona O’Hala is an ordinary gal making a living working for a successful but ordinary computer company called Strandfrost. She works in a testing lab, reviewing software, testing computer programs and leading a non-glamorous life. After outwitting three thugs that tried to attack her and a coworker she gets the attention of the corporate board and thus blunders into an undercover assignment. In one jump she goes from a lab worker struggling paycheck to paycheck to a ladder climbing company executive. With this new assignment she is given the chance to live every girl’s dream. She is set up in a luxury apartment with a new wardrobe and a fancy car. She can have what she wants and it’s all paid for. Does it sound too good to be true??? Nothing comes without a price – right? The new lifestyle won’t last forever and while living it she has to try and figure out who is dipping into company funds. She is hired to find out who is stealing from the company and she must find out before the criminals realize anyone is onto them or that their secret computer program is being debugged.

Sedona vows to play her part convincingly as she tries to get information on missing computer equipment and hacked programs. She isn’t always sure if she is dealing with company insiders embezzling money or serious criminals after something more. If she fails, she could lose her job or maybe even her life. While solving one puzzle, others crop up. For a time there seems to be danger and betrayal all around. In the end there is more than one crime to solve and Sedona finds herself in a few dangerous situations.  Along with the danger comes a hint of romance, strengthened friendships, family secrets and personal growth. The author shares ups and downs, frustrations and humor as she describes the escapades of Sedona’s double life. 

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy this book by self-published author Maria E. Schneider. I work from home and I’ve never been in the corporate world. Mysteries aren’t my favorite genre and I’ve never been much into sleuth capers. So, why did I even decide to read this book? I took a peek at Maria’s blog and online postings at bearmountainbooks.com. After a little reading there I felt like I knew her and wanted to give her book a chance. She is down to earth and realistic. She isn’t expecting her works to be on Oprah’s next book list but rather is writing for the enjoyment it brings to her. She wants to share stories to bring enjoyment to others. I felt that was worth giving her book a read.  It took me a few chapters to settle in and enjoy the characters. The opening scene put me in the middle of drama and action before I knew who the characters were. However, as the book went along and I got to know the characters I enjoyed the mystery solving and appreciated the opening scene more.

There are several characters readers will like and some they will despise. While a few scenes were a bit of a stretch for me and a few dragged along, overall the author presented a believable corporate setting with realistic office banter and a touch of corruption that can seep into any company.  Sedona is witty, smart, and seemingly fearless in the face of danger. The author did a nice job tying up the loose ends in Executive Lunch while leaving open many possibilities for new story lines with this leading lady should she choose to write a sequel.

This is an inexpensive, lighthearted, action filled story that I recommend if you like mystery, humor, and believable characters. As you read you will be given bits of information along the mystery-solving trail. You may think you know whodunit or what is coming next but then again, you may just be surprised.

–Pearl

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sentence-of-marriageSentence of Marriage

By Shayne Parkinson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Original Publication Date: 2006

Book I in the three-volume saga, Promises to Keep

Buy Link: http://www.lulu.com/content/472164

I’m a very lucky girl in regards to the books I’ve been getting for review. They just keep getting better and better. Sentence of Marriage by Shayne Parkinson is no exception. It’s book one in a three-volume set titled Promises to Keep and one of the best historical novels I’ve had the pleasure to read in years.

New Zealand farm life in the 1880’s is hard and twelve-year-old Amy dreams of a life beyond the boundaries of her small community. Although snug in the warmth of her family’s love, Amy wants to be a teacher and experience the excitement of living in a city far from the isolated valley she calls home.

When losing her mother shortly after her birth, Amy and her older brothers are raised by an adoring father and strict, but loving Granny. Six months after Granny’s death, Amy is adjusting well to managing their home alone. When her father returns from a business trip with a new wife in tow, Amy and her brothers are shocked, but determined to make the best of it. Unfortunately Susannah finds farm life less than appealing and generally makes life miserable for all, especially Amy. Two and a half years later, Susannah’s younger brother comes to stay for the summer and Amy makes a choice that will change her life forever.

Although some of the plot is predictable in Sentence of Marriage, this in no way diminished the impact the story had on me because of the fresh way it was presented. The characters come alive on the page and with the breathtaking imagery drawn by Parkinson, the cinematic effect is undeniable. I felt as though I were watching the events unfold on a large movie screen. The author has a special gift for using specific words and phrases to bring the period and location into reality without it being overdone. The fact that I sat up reading until three-thirty in the morning, knowing I had to get up before six, speaks for how riveting the story is. I found it impossible to put down.

Not many people are totally good or totally evil and the author offers a superb mix of both good and evil characters with both good and bad traits existing in both. I was fascinated by Amy’s father, Jack, and enjoyed watching as different facets of his personality emerge. But one of the best characterizations I’ve ever seen is in Ms. Parkinson’s portrayal of Susannah—a selfish, conniving, self absorbed woman who seems, at times, to be on the verge of madness. Yet the author wisely gives the reader small glimpses of Susannah’s humanity, making her even more frighteningly real.

Negatives?? I screamed when I realized I’d read the last page. I wanted more, more, more, and I wanted it very badly. That’ s not a true negative though, is it? I have a feeling the story is about to take a decidedly even darker path, but I’m not worried about that. Sentence of Marriage has a darker storyline, but the warmth, humor, love and affection emanating from the characters make it both appealing and captivating. I’ll be buying a download of Book II in the Promises to Keep saga later this week and I heartily recommend this series to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and even those who don’t usually.

–Willow

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