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Posts Tagged ‘suspense’

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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scoundrels-kissScoundrel’s Kiss

Carrie Lofty

Kensington Publishing – January 5, 2010

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Scoundrels-Kiss-Carrie-Lofty/dp/1420104764

Author site: http://www.carrielofty.com

 

When I read the synopsis for Carrie Lofty’s ‘Scoundrel’s Kiss’ and saw that the story was set in the year 1201 I questioned whether I was the right reviewer for the book. I have long been a fan of the Historical Romance genre, but since this was a completely new time period for me, I’ll admit to being afraid I’d have to wade through pages of unfamiliar dialects and customs, hence detracting from my enjoyment of the story. I needn’t have worried. From its opening scenes I was completely swept away by this 13th Century tale of addiction and deception, of love and abuse.

In a life she can barely remember, beautiful and intelligent Ada worked as a foreign languages translator for noblewoman, Dona Valdedrona. Due to a case of mistaken identity, she was kidnapped and tortured. She turned to opium as a means of coping with the horrors she endured and the nightmares that would seemingly plague her for the rest of her life. Her need for the drug soon consumed her, and there was nothing she wouldn’t do to satisfy her addiction. In her new life, she lies and steals to obtain what she cannot beg or borrow.

Gavriel, a novice monk in the prestigious Order of Santiago, hides within the hallowed halls of a monastery in Ucles to try and escape some nightmares of his own. A former slave warrior, he took vows of chastity and nonviolence in the hope of atoning for the sins of his past. Healing Ada of her addiction remains his final test before he can become a full-fledged member of the order. What is at first merely a mutual temptation of the flesh soon becomes a battle of wills, but the pair discovers they must unite if they are to survive danger that lurks in unexpected places and defeat enemies neither knew they had.

Reading this extremely well plotted novel was much like watching a really great action adventure movie. Ada and Gavriel find themselves in danger from their first encounter, and things go from bad to worse for them as the story progresses, leaving the reader on the edge of her seat. Add to that elements of betrayal and deception, a few well placed love scenes, and political intrigue and you have a genuine nail-biting, can’t-put-downable reading experience. 

Though the characters are well drawn, I’ll admit it took me awhile to warm up to Ada. Headstrong and tough as nails, she seemed overly nasty at first. But as I journeyed deeper into her past I was able to understand her flaws better and I so loved watching her evolve into the character she became in the end. The equally flawed Gavriel, with his endearing blend of strength and self-doubt, came alive for me from the start. He is one of the hottest heroes I’ve come across in quite some time and I must admit Ada’s was not the only heart he captured! The story is populated with a cast of secondary characters that are no less lifelike than the hero and heroine, and the reader gets a sense of real people with very real struggles and triumphs.

In short, Carrie Lofty has created a dynamite story with interesting, likeable characters and a richly layered plot. By turns scorchingly sexy and tantalizingly tender, Scoundrel’s Kiss not only sizzles, it sparkles.

Honeybee

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the-last-sin-eaterThe Last Sin Eater

By Francine Rivers

Paperback, 1999

Tyndale House

ISBN-10: 0 8423 3571 4

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Last-Sin-Eater-Francine-Rivers/dp/0842335714

Allegory, Appalachia and Advocates: I’ll use these three words to describe this unique novel. I bought this book a year ago after reading other books by Francine Rivers. I had no idea what the book was about and to be honest, it’s not the type of title that normally appeals to me, but since her other books were so good, I bought it. I guess I must have read the first chapter or two because I found a bookmark placed between pages 20 and 21. I can’t remember why I set it aside originally, but I’m glad I decided to give it another try this week. The book starts off kind of slow and it took me a couple of chapters to get used to the mountain dialect, but it quickly grew on me and the book became enjoyable to read. The premise of the story fascinated me and I feel I got to know the characters right away. I was easily drawn into their lives. The author keeps interest high by hinting of things to come and leaving questions unanswered for a time then returning to them in later chapters.  Events and ideas are masterfully woven together and as an added bonus – – – I loved the ending!!!

Set in the mountains in the 1800’s Cadi Forbes narrates the story of her ancestors and an ancient burial practice involving a sin eater. According to the author’s note “The sin eater was a person who was paid a fee or given food to take upon himself the moral trespasses of the deceased and their consequences in the afterlife. Sin eaters were common in the early nineteenth century in England, the Lowlands of Scotland, and the Welsh border district. This custom was carried over by immigrants to the Americas and practiced in remote areas of the Appalachian Mountains.” Chosen by lot the sin eater in this story became an outcast who lived apart from all others high in a mountain cave and only entered the community at the time of death. Children and adults were cautioned never to speak of him and never, ever dare peek at him during a burial service, for doing so, it was feared, would bring curses down on them. This fictional account tells the story of the last sin eater to be appointed deep in the Appalachian Mountains. Strong, stubborn, Cadi Forbes has done something she thinks only the sin eater can help her with. She has lost a sister and her mother’s love, and after the passing of her dear granny she just can’t rest until she finds this man. Her journey is one of discovery, intrigue, and redemption, as she seeks the truth that turns her isolated community inside out.

Although normally only summoned in times of death, Cadi is determined to seek the sin eater out in life to beg him to take away the guilt for what she has done. Who is this sin eater? Does he help the dead? Can he help the living?

In the midst of the wondering and worrying about the sin eater Cadi becomes soul mates with Fagan the son of the feared and self-proclaimed community leader, Brogan Kai.  To truly help Cadi, Fagan must come to terms with family secrets in a community where questions are unwelcome but truth finds a way to push up to the surface. It’s never easy to confront your own family or to hear of their hand in tragic events. Will Fagan stand for truth even if it means going against his kin? This is a book filled with suspense and a book filled with hope. Readers are reminded that freedom can stand stronger than oppression, fear, and guilt. Readers soon realize that Fagan has his own secrets and his own reasons for seeking the sin eater. The two children work together with the help of an elderly neighbor and a local outcast to try and find answers. As they are seeking this sin eater, they learn that a “Man of God” has come to the area? Just as they have their own reasons for meeting the sin eater they are both curious to find out what this man of God has to say. Does he speak the truth? Will what he says be accepted by the people and what will happen if they won’t listen? Will a child lead the way? And . . . if tradition is broken what will become of the man they call the sin eater? I won’t answer these questions nor tell too much more of the plot because it unfolds as it goes and I’d hate to spoil it for anyone.

If you like a book full of rich descriptions and wonderful characters this is a book for you. These characters have depth and personality. You will grieve with them, pity them, fear for them, and rejoice with them. There are many characters to like in this book. There are plenty to dislike as well. Even the unlikeable characters are well portrayed and well defined by the author.  Themes in this book include mistakes and forgiveness, standing up for what’s right and going against the establishment, folklore and truth. The story is compelling and will make some readers stop and think about truth, traditions and why we do what we do when we do it. I was pleased to see that Rivers addresses the Appalachian culture with honesty and care. She does a great job presenting the tribal character of a mountain culture and easily moves the reader from feeling pity for these people to really relating to the emotions and frustrations they face due to tradition, isolation and a lack of options. Although the notion of the sin eater was new to me, the ultimate redemption presented is a familiar truth. I enjoyed my time with Cadi and Fagan and found myself cheering them on in more than one chapter.

This is a Christian novel that can also be classified as historical fiction. The biblical references are accurate and well placed. The historical aspect was well researched and respectfully presented. The biblical references are so entwined in the story that they don’t come off as preachy or forced. I believe even readers who don’t normally read Christian literature would enjoy this compelling story. The book contains adventure, danger and coming of age of the two younger characters. The characters are presented in a realistic way and placed in a captivating setting that fits the time period and honestly portrays the traditions of the mountain people.

I enjoyed the author’s descriptions of the mountain flowers, herbs and plants. It was interesting to be exposed to some of the truths, traditions, fears and beliefs of the mountain people. Although this book doesn’t take long to read, it is suspenseful, heartwarming, and well written. I recommend it for all readers. It would be a good choice for a family read aloud or a book club selection.

–Pearl

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2ndChance-JamesPatterson2ND CHANCE

James Patterson with Andrew Gross

(c) 2002 Little, Brown and Company

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/2nd-Chance-Womens-Murder-Club/dp/0446696633

 

I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about the Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson and company, so when I came across 2ND CHANCE, the second book in the series, at a used book sale, it seemed the perfect opportunity to see for myself what the Women’s Murder Club was all about.

The story opens with a horrific tragedy – a shooting spree at a church in a low-income San Francisco neighborhood which claims the life of an eleven-year-old black girl. As homicide detective Lindsay Boxer sorts through the wreckage of what appears to be a racially-motivated hate crime, a second shooting occurs, tearing the city wide open. With the political powers that be putting pressure on the police department, Lindsay decides she is going to need a little help from her friends; Claire Washburn, the city’s medical examiner, newspaper reporter Cindy Thomas, and Jill Bernhardt, Assistant District Attorney. As these four brilliant minds begin to piece together the clues, it becomes clear that the crimes are not just a racially-motivated killing spree, but part of the chillingly calculated agenda of a madman.

I have to say that so far every good thing I have heard about the Women’s Murder Club series is true. The premise is delightful – a city’s best and brightest women working together to get the job done. But far from being Superwomen, Patterson shows his readers just enough of the girls’ private lives and struggles to make them endearing and most of all, utterly human. The chapters are short and sharp, with most under five pages in length, making for quick and easy reading and adding greatly to the aura of suspense. 2ND CHANCE is a nail-biter if ever there was one!

I look forward to experiencing the rest of this wonderful series.

— Honeybee

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wendy walkerWorking Girl Reviews is excited to welcome Wendy Walker to our blog today.  

1.  Wendy, thanks so much for visiting with us and answering a few questions. Your novel, FOUR WIVES is up for review here at WGR. Tell us about the book and what inspired the story.

Four Wives was inspired by my life as a stay-home mom in the suburbs. All around me, I saw women who were conflicted by their deep love and commitment to raising their kids and the empty space that existed having left their other callings. This issue formed the first character I developed for the novel, whose name is Love Welsh. As I thought about this community and the people around me, I saw other issues worth exploring and I created characters and plot to give life to those issues. At the same time, I wanted Four Wives to be a fun, fast-paced read with lots of suspense. What resulted, I hope, is just that – a great read with deeper issues that linger long after the book is finished.

2.  FOUR WIVES paints a portrait of life in the suburbs as idyllic on the surface, but far from rosy in reality. Do you feel this could be true of any community—city, rural, small town, or more a symptom of wealthy suburbia?  

I think because these small, insular suburban communities are so homogeneous, there is a greater propensity to hide any thoughts or feelings that truly question the life choices that have been uniformly made. Here is an example of what I mean. Most of the families in these communities have working dads and stay-home moms. The women will talk about their discontentment with this situation up to a point, but it is only with their trusted friends (and sometimes not even then) that they will confess a deeper unhappiness that might lead to a change such as going back to work or even divorce.

3.  Your bio states that you’re a former commercial litigator and investment banker. Does this mean your desire to write came later or was it put on hold while pursuing your other career?

It came later for sure. I quit work as a lawyer when I had my first son. I really wanted to create more balance in my life, which had been so focused on work. But as I settled into stay-home life, I realized I was growing anxious and unhappy, so I tried to find something I could do in a few hours here and there each week that would be intellectual, meaningful and also a potential gateway to a career that I could pursue while being at home with my kids. Writing was what I found, and of course it had been in the back of my mind somewhere. My first inclination was actually to write legal thrillers!

4.  On your website it says you were trained as a competitive figure skater and are a long time supporter and board member of the Figure Skating in Harlem organization. Tell us more about this organization and your involvement.

FSH is a fantastic organization that targets at-risk girls in Harlem. By providing them with a full-service afterschool program, which includes skating and educational components, the girls gain self-esteem and self-discipline. This program has incredible success keeping girls focused on their studies and themselves during years that often lead to teen pregnancy and substance abuse. I became involved at its inception almost 12 years ago because it was started by my best friend from college, Sharon Cohen. You can check out FSH at http://Figureskatinginharlem.org !

5.  You have a new release coming in September 2009 titled SOCIAL LIVES. Is it along the same lines as FOUR WIVES or totally different?

Social Lives has the same basic structure as Four Wives in that it follows a few characters whose lives are intertwined. This time, however, the women live in an even wealthier community driven by hedge fund wealth, and the issues that underlie the characters and plot are a bit more serious and timely. From teenage promiscuity to the predicament of a wife whose husband is about to lose everything to a hedge fund scandal (sound familiar?), this book moves quickly and surprises readers all the way to the last page.

6.  Some of WGR’s readers are aspiring writers and, as most writers looking to be published, they’d appreciate knowing what it was like for you. Was it a long process? Did you send a hundred or so submissions, receive any rejections…?

It was long, but worth it! I started writing as a hobby with intention and because I was having babies during the first five years after I began, it took me about that long to finish a novel. The key for me in finding an agent and eventually selling my first book was getting professional feedback and revising heavily. As a self-taught writer, I knew I needed this and I found a wonderful writing professor who critiqued my work. This was so important for me and I found an agent soon after by sending out about 60 submissions using the books that are out there on literary agents and the like. There are many ways to break in and the first things any writer should do are perfect their manuscript, use any and all connections to get their work read, and then blanket the market to find an agent.

7.  Besides family and writing, what are your other passions?

I’m not sure I even remember! I love seeing my close friends for hours at a time over dinner or a walk. I like to run and hike and do so almost every day. But really, my work is writing and I love it. For so many years, it was my escape from the daily grind of raising kids and taking care of a house and I still view every hour that I am writing as leisure time. That is the very best part of this job for me!

8.  What’s a typical day like in the life of Wendy Walker?

Wake up to three little boys climbing in my bed. Make breakfast, get them dressed, drive them to school or camp. Then a run in the woods, and home to work. I start out with some PR or editing side jobs, and then hunker down on the floor by my fire or by my picture windows in my study to write. There is always lots of coffee involved! I can do this indefinitely, but usually only have a few hours before it’s time to pick up kids and drive them all over for sports and activities. From 2pm on, I am a mom again and that consumes me completely. By 9pm, I am usually in my bed watching some TV while I wait for my oldest to finish reading and puttering in his room so I can tuck him in. Then I tuck myself in. Very dull, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

9.  Is there anything about you that your readers would be surprised to learn?

OK here goes. I actually don’t read as much as other writers do and I don’t read books in my own genre (yikes!). I find that if I do this, my own writing style and process starts to take on the tone of what I am reading at the moment. So that leaves vacations and plane rides, of which I have few. Instead, I watch movies and great character- driven TV to keep my sense of storytelling alert. Also, I am an editor for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, so look for my books under those titles as well!

10. Wendy, thank you for spending time with us today. Anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Where’s the best place to go online to find out more about you and your work?

I think the message I really want to convey is that while my work is packaged in a way that resembles Desperate Housewives and the like, my novels are truly driven by real-life issues that I believe impact women everywhere. I have been so pleased to find that readers relate to my characters and the struggles they face. This is always my intention when I sit down to write and I hope that readers who enjoy this type of book will find me! You can learn a lot more at wendywalkerbooks.com. Thanks so much!!

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browngirlsBrown Girls

By John Wesley Ireland

Suspense Thriller

May 17, 2009

Buy Link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1937

Jack Nolan had his moment of fame having a best selling novel published at twenty-five and later writing the screenplay for the movie made from it. But Jack wasn’t thrilled with his new lifestyle or the hypocrisy of the people in it. His writing dried up. His agent was robbing him and his wife left, taking most everything his agent hadn’t. Jack went to the Cook Islands to get away and began taking freelance photos for the local newspaper. He stayed because he loves the islands. He loves the people.

When a tourist is found dead in one of the hotel swimming pools, no one seems to think it anything more than an accident, including the police. Jack isn’t so certain and his peaceful existence is about to explode. While he investigates the man’s death, a young girl disappears and Jack believes the crimes are connected. When the clues begin to add up, he finds himself dealing with the most monstrous criminals.

His personal life is disrupted as well by the arrival of an abused island girl to his home. Maina Rima’s family owns the land and the house where Jack lives and according to island custom she has the right to stay there. Jack isn’t thrilled with sharing his home with a roommate, but morally has no choice. Maina becomes a blessing in disguise, as she acts as his muse and he’s finally able to begin writing again. But Maina is hiding something that puts both her life and Jack’s in danger.

I’d love to say a lot more about this amazing book, but I don’t want to spoil the suspense for other readers. The author’s writing grabbed me with the first sentence and held me captive all the way to the last. A phenomenal writer, Mr. Ireland uses a scarcity of words that keeps the suspense high. Every line is significant—every word has importance. But even with that, his vivid descriptions of the islands and their people have a beautiful poetic flair that brings the scenes to life and absorbs the reader into the story. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes the genres of suspense, crime drama, mystery, or just a darn amazing read by an extraordinarily gifted writer. Don’t miss this one.

 —Willow

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theperfectpoisonThe Perfect Poison

By Amanda Quick

Putnam, April 21, 2009

Historical Romantic Suspense

Buy Link: http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Poison-Arcane-Society-Book/dp/0399155805/

Scandal—the stuff Victorian society thrives on. Botanist and member of the Arcane Society, Lucinda Bromley found herself embroiled in the juiciest kind of scandal when she was suspected in her fiancé’s death by poisoning, followed by her father’s suicide. Since then she has been ostracized by society. But Lucinda is no ordinary botanist. She has the paranormal ability to detect poison and volunteers her services to the police in suspected poisoning cases. When called in to inspect the body of a member of society, Lucinda is shocked to detect that the man was indeed poisoned and by a poison concocted using a very rare fern. The very fern that was stolen from her conservatory earlier. Fearing she may be arrested and convicted of the man’s murder, Lucinda only tells the police that he was poisoned, but doesn’t mention the fern. She calls on psychical investigator, Caleb Jones, to find the thief who stole her fern.

 Caleb, also a member of the Arcane Society founded by his ancestor, has the psychic ability to work percentages and solve problems by connecting seemingly unconnected facts. Believing Lucinda’s case may lead him to the man he’s been searching for, he agrees to take the case. As the two paranormal sleuths work together to solve the crime and save Lucinda from prison, passion ignites and leads to a romantic relationship. Because of his relationship to the founder who went mad, Caleb believes he too is slowly descending into madness, which prevents him from offering marriage.

I’m a huge fan of the Jayne Ann Krentz books written under her pseudonym, Amanda Quick. I fell in love with the Quick stories years ago when I picked up a copy of Ravished in a used bookstore. After that I searched for her books everywhere, now I preorder them. Although I love paranormal, I found the Arcane Society series a little lacking when compared to the author’s previous works. So, when I received her newest, The Perfect Poison, I didn’t start reading it immediately as I’d always done before. Now that I’ve had a chance to read Quick’s newest, I’m happy to see the author’s writing is returning somewhat to the older style. I found the suspense in this one a little weak, but the romance was lovely and the mystery interesting.

We met Caleb in a previous book and I was thrilled to finally get his story. I adored both Lucinda and Caleb. The way their romance develops is both delightful and refreshing. I like it when the hero and heroine know what they want and go about getting it without so much dillydallying and wishy washy excuses to keep them apart. The internal conflict was there because of Caleb’s possible decent to madness, but although this keeps him from offering marriage, it doesn’t keep him from passionately pursuing an intimate and professional relationship with Lucinda. I can take or leave sex scenes in a story, but the love scene in the drying shed between Lucinda and Caleb was one of the best and most romantic I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. Ms. Quick is a master of words and a phenomenal storyteller. I especially love her unique use of verbs that bring a sentence immediately to life.

So, although I still found the book not quite up to the standards of the earlier Amanda Quick stories, it was close and I highly recommend it to any reader who loves Victorian romance with light suspense.

Willow–

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