Search

So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Tag

Texas

A New Hebby Roman! Esmeralda and the Second-Hand Suitor (Snowbirds Book 2)

I am Adelina Amouteru, the phantoms whispered to my father, speaking my most frightening thoughts in a chorus of voices, dripping with hatred. My hatred. I belong to no one. On this night, I swear to you that I will rise above everything you’ve ever taught me. I will become a force that this world has never known. I will come into such power that none will dare hurt me again.” ― Marie Lu, The Young Elites

Three years. That’s how long Esmeralda has before she loses half her worldly goods. But time is growing short on fulfilling the humiliating codicil in her father’s will, that Esmeralda find a husband or hand over half of her family’s grapefruit orchard to her drunken, and yes, male, cousin. The ‘son’ her father never had. Forty and single, shy and, yes, a 40-year-old virgin, Esmeralda was surrounded by gossips and grasping divorcées living on the farm, so she picked up stakes and moved to Brownsville, hoping to find a man to marry so she doesn’t have to give up her home. A man who will love her for her instead of her orchard and the natural gas wells on the property.

Determined to help, Esme’s neighbor sends her off to the local senior recreation center to meet the people there. And Esme does meet someone. Hank, a two-time divorcée from Wisconsin who lives in a Jayco at the beach. Older than Esme would have preferred, his lackluster approach to a work ethic and double divorce status makes him the antithesis of what Esme was looking for. But there is just something about him that draws her, no matter the work ethic her father pounded into her head and her Catholic upbringing that says anyone who is divorced twice is a two-time loser.

Esmeralda and the Second-Hand Suitor is the second book I have read by Hebby Roman. The first, Catalina and the Winter Texan charmed me, gifting a lightness to my heart I hadn’t known in a long time. Ms. Roman’s characters are of the over-40 set, with histories and years of baggage trailing behind them as they embark on new journeys to late-in-life love. It isn’t easy, not by any means. Blended families, histories often filled with pain, loss and betrayal, all these things make us who we are. Finding a way to fit those jagged edges together isn’t easy, and watching Esmeralda and Hank was both painful and uplifting. Esmeralda is filled with guilt over a childhood accident her father never forgave her for. Hank too wears guilt like a shroud from failures that both are, and are not, his fault. Watching their story made me laugh – and yes, cry – and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

Hebby Roman is one of my ‘heroine authors’ – an author who writes the truth in such a way that anyone, young or old, can grow and learn from her stories of life, loss and love. If you haven’t read her, you should.

I received Ms. Roman’s book from her in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. Love ya, Hebby!

Volunteer Firefighters Have The Heart . . . #romanticmystery #volunteerfirefighters

“Every quirky girl doesn’t have to be the best-friend character. It’s a very limiting and self-fulfilling prophecy. People only write things that will get green-lit, so they write to those stereotypes.” – Felicia Day

But Then . . .

“Stereotypes lose their power when the world is found to be more complex than the stereotype would suggest. When we learn that individuals do not fit the group stereotype, then it begins to fall apart.” – Ed Koch

The author of “A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas” has tried very hard to stereotype herself and her work, to fit  into a very narrow, very self-limiting pigeonhole.

Pigeonhole: Verb (used with object) to assign to a definite place or to definite places in some orderly system:
to pigeonhole new ideas.

Trey Duvall is a rancher, proud as can be of his Wildcat Ranch. He’s also the top volunteer firefighter of Wildcat Bluff, the town that pulls out all the stops for its Christmas festivities. Misty Reynolds pulls into town just in time to help Trey put out a suspicious fire, leading him to dub her his “Christmas angel”. Unfortunately, Misty’s past has left her with terrible memories of fire, and of Christmas time. As the two are unwittingly thrown together again and again, can Trey win Misty’s trust — and her heart Misty’s trust — and her heart? Texas volunteer fire departments as part of Assistance to Firefighters ...

Sigh. I hate when this happens. You see, like other books I have reviewed, and suggested a wider audience consider, this book doesn’t fall into the “Only Read If You Like Mushy Romance” category. The characters shouldn’t be typecast as “Hunky Hero” and “Insipid Pseudo-Heroine” with a “Hero Rides in on His White Horse and Saves the Day” insipid sort of blurb such as this book is stuck with. It needs something more along the line of pointing out that the town of Wildcat Bluff is filled with quirky, unusual characters who care deeply for their town, their people, and their history. An important part of that sense of community is their volunteer fire department and all it does to keep their community safe.

“There are bad things happening in Wildcat Bluff just before their Christmas in the Country celebration. Arson fires are spreading in the tinder-dry countryside, exasperated by the ongoing drought, and cut fences and grass fires are threatening Trey Duvall’s historic cattle ranch. When Misty Reynolds rolls up to a grass fire Trey is putting out in his pasture and he runs out in front of her to try and stop her for help, he has no idea that she is actually there as a troubleshooter for Texas Timber, the company that has had a Christmas tree farm burned already, and had others threatened. Finding the arsonist means that Misty has to stay undercover and spend time questioning, and suspecting, everyone in town. And when she learns that Trey has a bone to pick with Texas Timber, he moves straight to the ‘suspect’ column.”

housefire-kitten3
Volunteer firefighter saving the life of a kitten with a pet oxygen kit. Please as your volunteer fire department if you can help with a benefit for Pet Oxygen Kits to help save pets caught in fires! Thank you!!!!!!
https://i0.wp.com/www.petoxygenmasks.org/assets/images/logo.gif
Because the Pet’s Life They Save May Be Your Own™ Click the logo to visit the “Pet Oxygen Mask Initiative” to make a difference! Thank you!!!!

OK, I am not known for my stellar ability to write blurbs, I give you that. But mine gives a better feel for what is going on. Misty isn’t a blond bimbo, Trey isn’t a hulking Alpha male bent on getting into every woman’s pants he can hold down long enough, and the people of the town are as important to the character list as the two main characters. There are important messages in the book about community, about overcoming horrors in your childhood that carry over into adulthood, and about the ways in which power and greed can destroy everything a community tries to build. The people of Wildcat Bluff are kind, they help one another, and the volunteers literally risk their life every time they go out on a call. The community has pulled together to form a strictly volunteer department, put on bake sales to buy equipment, and are proud of who they are and what they do. That deserves a lot more credit than it gets – either with the cover, or with the blurb.

 

Memorial Service for West, Texas (my old hometown) volunteer firefighters killed while fighting the April 17, 2013 fertilizer plant explosion. The memorial service honored those first responders and two civilians who tried to fight the fire and were posthumously named volunteer first responders.

If you like books that highlight a sense of community, that include a mystery, suspense, a few thrills – and yes, a good romantic storyline – overlook the blurb and the cover and give this one a try.

You will note I didn’t post the cover of the book in my review – any of the photos on this page give more respect to the book than the totally lame cover does. I am disappointed that the publisher tried so hard to minimize, pigeonhole and lower the impact of the book. I hate seeing that happen to books with such promise, that many will simply skip over based on poor art and a poor blurb.

It is still available for request on Netgalley.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own. If you enjoy my reviews, please take a moment to “Like” my review on GoodReads. Thank you!

“A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas” is in preorder status until publication on October 6, 2015.

 

vfisoftexas

In case you haven’t noticed – this has a “Save the Kitty!” aspect – and I couldn’t resist adding a couple more “Firefighter Saves!!!!” Photos. Firefighters RULE!!!

I was SOO SCARED!!! And Then! And Then! This FIREMAN showed up!!!!!

Thank you, Mr. Fireman!!! Kisses!!!!

About The Author

Kim Redford draws her inspiration from a Texas lifestyle of cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, rodeos and small towns to create her bestselling novels. When she’s not writing steamy romances, she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider. She divides her time between Texas and Oklahoma. A Cowboy Firefighter for Christmas is first in her Smokin’ Hot Cowboys series with Blazing Hot Cowboy coming soon.

I don’t know about the “bestselling novels” thing. Her site is nonexistent, and goodreads shows only this book, set to publish October 6, so maybe she is writing under a pseudonym? If this is indeed her first book, I hope she will widen her audience by moving away from sticking herself into a single cubbyhole with her publication, marketing and cover strategy. The whole “steamy romance” thing is self-limiting when she can write good stories that encompass a wide ranging storyline such as this book exemplifies.

Review: Bear Attraction (Shifters Unbound 6.5) by Jennifer Ashley

18759787I am hooked on Jennifer Ashley’s “Shifters Unbound” series. Set in Austin, Texas – an old stomping ground of mine – the series is set in the Austin Shiftertown. After the outing of shifters, they are rounded up (no matter if they are living in the outback of Alaska – the humans turn them in… cretins!) and shoved into broken-down slums to live all together, wolves, cats, bears . . . wow. Humans are really dumb.

This edition of the series focuses on one of my favorite characters, Rebecca. A Kodiak bear, Rebecca is captured and removed from her home in the woods of Alaska (really, people? All the isolated acreage in Alaska, and you have to drag her all the way to Texas and stuff her in a house with four other bears?!) Used to being mostly alone and able to wander and roam at will, being stuffed into a house with so many others is uncomfortable, to say the least. And the shock collars shifters are forced to wear, to keep them from “Attacking Humans! Shriek!!” are not only uncomfortable and demeaning, the darn things HURT if you have to defend yourself from humans with guns . . . I have watched Rebecca through the other books in the series, and was glad to get to the book that focuses on her. After getting in trouble for going for a run in the wrong place (Stupid humans. Building their pharma company so near Shiftertown. Just what are they up to, anyway?? I don’t trust them!) Rebecca is forced into the care of Walker, a human male who is the muscle behind the Shifter policing agency, until a missing shifter groupie is found.

This book was a surprise given what Rebecca and Walker find during their search – a good surprise. I hope to learn more about that in future books – that Ms. Ashley doesn’t let that drop. This is definitely “summertime and the reading is easy” reading, but I always enjoy Ms. Ashley’s work.

Giveaway! Kelsey Brown: Personal Assets (Texas Nights #1)

Problems In Paradise Cover - FinalGIVEAWAY!

About the Book

Problems in Paradise (Texas Nights #3)
by Kelsey Browning
Author of Texas Nights Series
Co-author of The Granny Series
Release: July 14, 2014
Genre: contemporary romance, romantic comedy
Format: ebook

Book Links:

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from iBooks
Buy from Books-A-Million
Buy from Kobo
Buy from GoodReads
carina

 

 

 

Book Summary:

Eden Durant hasn’t always been Eden Durant. She’s made a fresh start in Shelbyville, Texas, far from her mother’s notoriety. Running the Paradise Garden Café is as much excitement as Eden wants—or it was, until she meets Beck Childress. Although he’s the one man who could expose her past, she’s willing to open up enough to see if he might be her future.

Chief Deputy Childress is determined to get to know the real Eden, when he isn’t busy cleaning up after the sheriff and running in the election to replace him. When several men fall sick after eating in Eden’s café, he investigates even as her mysterious past raises both his suspicions and his protective instincts.

As their relationship heats up, so do the pressures of Beck’s campaign. When Eden’s secrets are revealed, jeopardizing his dream of becoming sheriff, he’ll need to choose: serve and protect the town he loves or the woman who makes it home.

Giveaway!
Kelsey is giving an ecopy of Personal Assets, book one in the series, to one commenter on this blog!  personalassets
rafflecopter

 

Praise for Texas Nights Series:

Problems in Paradise:

“Starring a sexy lawman and a woman with a scandalous secret, a deliciously fun read.” – Shannon Stacey, New York Times bestselling author

Personal Assets:

“A hot man, a headstrong woman, and sizzling chemistry set against a homey Texas backdrop—Browning’s contemporary debut has all the assets that count!”  -Ruthie Knox, USA Today bestselling author of Flirting with Disaster

 “Sinfully hot, sassy, and laugh-out-loud hilarious—everything a southern romance should be!” -Macy Beckett, author of the Sultry Springs series

 Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning

paradiseChristlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz

I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg

First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.

Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!

First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.

And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.

Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.

Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.

It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.

This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!

So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!

* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2

This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014.

About the Author:

kelseKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from iBooks
Buy from Books-A-Million
Buy from Kobo
Buy from GoodReads

Review: Problems in Paradise: A Texas Nights Novel by Kelsey Browning

paradiseChristlike communications are expressions of affection and not anger, truth and not fabrication, compassion and not contention, respect and not ridicule, counsel and not criticism, correction and not condemnation. They are spoken with clarity and not with confusion. They may be tender or they may be tough, but they must always be tempered.-L. Lionel Kendrick

Hypocrisy is not a way of getting back to the moral high ground. Pretending you’re moral, saying your moral is not the same as acting morally. -Alan Dershowitz

I have a big problem when the sanctimonious, holier than thou congressmen and women go on national television for six hours and beat somebody up with a stick, and not because I’m ‘Ms. Manners.’ That’s not what bothers me. People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. – Bernard Goldberg

First thing to know? Buy this book. Really. If you are into intensity, romance, suspense and intrigue, and enjoy a good mystery, all rolled into one, this is one to buy right away. And don’t just buy it and put it in your “TBR” pile. Read the darn thing, OK? Then write a review. I would love to hear what you think.

Now that that is out of the way, you get to listen to me rant like a crazy person. Yep. That’s me, you all know I can rant with the best of them. And here goes!

First, Kelsey Browning is one kick-ass Texas gal. Of course, I see that she is now living in Georgia. Smart girl. Second, she has Texans down pat with a capital Sanctimonious A’hole. Common wisdom is that fiction books should draw you in, allow you to identify with the characters and create a world-view you can identify with and remember long after you put the book down. In Problems in Paradise, Browning does that in spades. As I was reading the book, I suffered fury with the power of a thousand white-hot supernovas, and the rage of a bipolar bunny on speed . . . Let me at that (b)witch! I will gnaw through her ankles, nom nom nom!!!* Because, believe me, Browning has Texas women down to a science – and the science has more to do with quoting “Love your neighbor” while pouring arsenic in your sweet tea than being there for you. In this case, quite literally.

And yes, before you wonder, I did 10-years in Texas (does it sound like I was doing a prison sentence? Hum… yep, pretty much!) Honestly, the only characters I really cared for were Eden Durant, the main character, and her girlfriends, Allie, Roxanne and Ashton. All with their own difficult times in Shelbyville, Texas, these four ladies have backbone and spirit, and more guts than a Texas feedlot. However, the rest of the town? Uh, not so much. What we see is a town full of, from my experience, your “Typical Texan” – sanctimonious and vicious, hypocritical, gossip mongering and mealy mouthed ‘witches-with-a-capital-B” women and wanna-be-tough, vicious, sanctimonious, hypocritical grab-handy males who think with their little heads instead of the ones on their shoulders. Well, of course, there are probably more brain cells in their little heads than their big ones . . . hum. Will have to consider that possibility.

Anyway! Browning has done a brilliant character study into small-town Texas mentality. Though, I suppose any small town in any state would probably be up to the same kind of cruelties this town is up to, given the opportunity. However, in Texas they always do the sanctimony up right. People here didn’t lie, didn’t try to get ahead at the expense of others. Yeah, what bullshit. Yep, pretty much wraps it up for you with a pretty little bow.

Eden is fairly new to this small, Texas town, and for the last two years she has operated her own little natural, organic foods café, Paradise – her own little paradise after a miserable, awful, very-much-no-good previous life. Serving locally sourced, organic foods, with a rotating menu and the freshest selections possible, Eden is running in the black, running around in her overalls and mukluks with her hair in braids, keeping her head down and keeping to herself, trying desperately to recover from the horror story of her previous life. All is going well, until one night someone breaks into her beloved café. That instance starts a chain reaction – a chain reaction designed to destroy her life. Odd poisonings, break-ins, and a climate of bible-banging hypocrites doing everything they can do to make themselves feel better by extinguishing any joy she might gain from life drives Eden to close her beloved café. Then things only get worse as her past crashes down on her and we learn the full extent of the betrayals and the heartaches that she has suffered in the past – and that now are returning to not only hurt her, but to destroy her very sanity. As the old Chinese proverb says: May you live in interesting times. And poor Eden is in for more interesting times than she ever could have imagined.

It is hard for me to decide how many stars to give this book. Oh, part of me wants to give it five stars simply because it had me screaming and storming around the house, yelling at the walls and crying in my 16-year-old-Glenlivet. Memories are a beyotch, aren’t they? I didn’t just identify with Eden for what she is going through now, but also what she went through in the past. Families can be total nightmares – but Eden’s more than most. But then, to be fair, I have to pull down a single star, though I really don’t want to. You see – as much as I enjoyed despising the characters in this book with a white-hot passion, I also felt in a way that the characters were just a bit over the top – caricatures drawn with a bit too wide of a brush. Of course, not to say they weren’t realistic to my experience . . . why is it that old, married men find it acceptable to crawl all over young, beautiful women – but when their wives find out about it, it is the woman’s fault??? I know, I know, men think with their little heads, not their big ones. But shouldn’t they take the blame for being the douche bags they are? Urg! Drives. Me. Nuts. Actually, it makes me ashamed of my sex. But be that as it may, it is, indeed, realistic and there isn’t anything I can do about it but gripe and moan and pour more Glenlivet.

This is, of course, this is a book which is heavy on the romance, so there is a hero. Beck is the Chief Deputy of their little burg and the surrounding county. A brilliant burn-out from a 100-hour-week New York financial position, and with his own pain in his past, Beck has returned to his home town and his position as CD, and is actually a fairly interesting hero. Kind and compassionate, he wishes to do all he can to help and protect the citizens of his county. But even more, he wishes to know, and love, Eden. Sort of hard when Eden is a riddle wrapped in an innuendo, with a ‘Plexiglas cocoon around her.’ As things become more and more dangerous for the townspeople, and for Eden, he is working hard to find the culprit who is threatening Eden and poisoning the town. Not a bad hero, all-in-all, but at the same time, I have a very strong feeling that, though he may ‘love’ Eden, he doesn’t respect her or what she stands for, what is important in her life. Here is where my four stars now begins to teeter on the edge of three-and-a-half stars. Though he supports Eden in many ways, late in the book I begin to feel less positively about their relationship as Eden begins to slip into the dreaded ‘heroine gives up her identity for the love of a man’ trope. Not badly, not to the point where I wanted to throw my Nook across the room for a wholly different reason, but bothersome. But then, Voltaire, the Blue Tick Coonhound does go a long way to bucking up his image, so I guess that will keeping my rating from dropping further. Gotta love a good dog!

So. I’ve had my rant. Go ahead. Get the book. Do it. Then tell us what YOU think about it. Would love to hear!

* Thanks to Celia Kyle for the reference from Ball of Furry, Ridgeville Series #2

This book was provided to me by Carina Press and Harlequin Enterprises Limited in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

Publication Date: July 14, 2014.

About the Author:

kelseKelsey Browning writes sass kickin’ love stories full of hot heroes, saucy heroines and spicy romance. She’s also a co-founder of Romance University blog, one of Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers. Originally from a Texas town smaller than the ones she writes about, Kelsey has also lived in the Middle East and Los Angeles, proving she’s either adventurous or downright nuts. These days, she hangs out in northeast Georgia with Tech Guy, Smarty Boy, Bad Dog and Pharaoh, a Canine Companions for Independence puppy.

Buy from Amazon
Buy from Barnes and Noble
Buy from iBooks
Buy from Books-A-Million
Buy from Kobo
Buy from GoodReads

Review: Spirited Legacy by Kate Baray (Edited:Links Work Now)

edd8a-spiritedlegacy-1900x2850
Click to purchase

The library, with its Daedalian labyrinth, mysterious hush, and faintly ominous aroma of knowledge . . . – P. J. O’Rourke

I understood right from the start that every set of library doors were the sort of magic portals that lead to other lands. My God, right within reach there were dinosaurs and planets and presidents and girl detectives! – Deb Caletti

When I first met Lizzy in Lost Library, the first in Kate Baray’s wonderful Urban Fantasy Romance series, I was, in a word, charmed. As I said in my review, Lizzy is much like me – She works at home, rarely sees even her own clients, and has a terrific best friend, Kenna. She just never sees herself as anyone who is brave or anyone who could be spectacular in any way.

Of course, in the manner of all things, Lizzy’s comfortable little world blows up in her face when a seemingly ancient book shows up on her doorstep. Well, she supposes it could be a book. If it weren’t blank, that is. And when a hotty McHotterson of a werewolf shows up on her front porch looking for the book, well, all thoughts of safe, calm comfortable Lizzy are blasted right out of the metaphorical water.

Now, in Kate’s second book, Spirited Legacy, both Lizzy and her Alpha werewolf (Boyfriend? Mate? Pack Member? Maybe?) John are back in Prague, ensconced in the Library, drawn there once again by Harrington, Director of the Inter-Pack Policing Cooperative, or IPPC. Just as friendly as ever, if you find controlling stuffed-shirts to be amenable, Harrington has called Lizzy back to the Library to continue her work on translations of the magical books found within. But to a much more serious purpose than simple research. For at the end of LL Sarah, Lizzy’s co-kidnapped from the first book, was injured, severely, saving Lizzy’s life. And the only way to save Sarah’s life may be to find a cure within the Library itself. And the fact that Harrington, a top caster, has offered to mentor Lizzy, is yet another encouragement.

Come, come, time calls our close complots to action.
Go, Proximus, with winged speed flie hence,
Hye thee to Wales: salute great Vortiger
With these our letters; bid the king to arms,
tell him we have new friends, more forces landed
In Norfolk and Northumberland; bid him
Make haste to meet us; if he keep his word,
Wee’l part the realm between us. –
Ostorius, The Birth of Merlin, or, the Childe Hath Found His Father, ACT III SCENE V – Ascribed to William Rowley, and occasionally (most likely spuriously) to William Shakespeare

Of course, life isn’t getting any easier for Lizzy than it has been since the happenings in LL. Even the resident ghost is throwing rocks at Lizzy’s head – literally!

I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks. I do, I do, I do, I *do* believe in spooks, I *do* believe in spooks, I do, I do, I do, I *do*! The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz, 1939

After injuring the evil Zach Worth, soul sucker extraordinaire, at the end of the last book, Lizzy and her compatriots don’t know if he is still even alive – but all bets are on that he is – and that he has something even more evil up his sleeve than anyone ever imagined. What is a poor Caster to do? Is it not bad enough that John slipped in a, “Oh, BTW, you are my mate now and Female Alpha of my Pack and also BTW, my Pack hates you, even though they have never met you?” smack upside her head? Oy.

The previous cast of characters are all present-and-accounted-for, and we get to meet some awesome new characters, like Harry, Sarah’s healer (Yes, yes, “Harry the Healer.” Well, at least he thinks it is funny.) Oh, and did I mention the dragons?!

Kate’s writing remains crisp, her character development spot-on, and the intensity in this book keeps the reader enthralled from first page to last. There is a bit more relationship building between Lizzy and John, her Alpha boyfriend who is trying to pull his pack out of the Dark Ages in terms of their view of the world. John is one of the more interesting Alpha characters on the scene today. Much like Kate Daniels’ Curran, John comes off at first as all macho-macho man, and yet, if you look closer, there is a great deal of compassion and understanding underneath all that drool-worthy body and drive to protect. Independent Lizzy is having a heck of a time managing the transition from Totally Independent Lizzy to part of a couple, and John is having a hard time learning that sometimes being the full-time protector isn’t the right way to go. But they are getting there, and again, this is one of the more interesting couples that I have read in Urban Fantasy recently.

I highly recommend both books in the series, and would suggest that you grab a copy of Lost Library and read it now. And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway to win a copy of Spirited Legacy. If you can wait that long, that is. Once I ended LL, I couldn’t wait to start SL!!

I received an ARC of Spirited Legacy from the author, Kate Baray. This fact does not influence my reviews of either book.

400a0-giveaway252812529
Rafflecopter Giveaway!!
Buy Now
Buy Lost Library here

26d45-website_author_ej 3dab5-goodreads_author_ej c0334-twitter_author_ej 26660-facebook_author_ej

Buy Now
Buy Spirited Legacy Here

 

It’s Here! Bitter Chocolate by Dawn Greenfield Ireland – Book Giveaway!!

Bitter Chocolate cover

Want to win a copy of Bitter Chocolate?

Cool!

rafflecopter
Click to enter to win!

I held off on my review of Hot Chocolate as I waited to post the Bitter Chocolate Tour! But now that it is here, you will see my post for Hot Chocolate on the next page. Enjoy!

And now, with no further ado, my review of Bitter Chocolate!

Publisher: Artistic Origins Inc (June, 2014)
Category: Cozy Mystery
Series: Hot Chocolate Series- Book 2
Tour Date: June 30-July 30, 2014
Available in: ebook, 400 Pages, With Recipes

I admit it, as I have admitted it before. I grew up in the South. And yes, that does include Texas. Oh, I most definitely didn’t live the “gold spoon in my mouth” kind of Southern, but still, I know the voice of the South. And the voice is in full cry in this, the second in the Alcott Family Adventures series.

I dearly love the state of Texas, but I consider that a harmless perversion on my part, and discuss it only with consenting adults. – Molly Ivins

How can you look at the Texas legislature and still believe in intelligent design? – Kinky Friedman

If you got the money honey I got the time and when you run out of money honey I run out of time. – Willie Nelson

When we left the Alcott ladies at the end of Hot Chocolate Madge, Lila Mae and Dorothea had been through a rough time. When the husband of Bambi, the hotty blond bombshell nurse for their 92-year-old father, Bernie, was murdered the ladies found their lives turned upside down.
Now, in their true “Southern Lady” style, the girls have gone into seclusion, resting, relaxing (well, as much as three high strung Southern Ladies can relax!) And things are, of course, “interesting” again, in the “May you live in interesting times” way, as ‘baby’ Dorothea finds herself pregnant at 55 years old. Hey, aren’t you supposed to be dealing with hot flashes at 55, not morning sickness? Needless to say, Dorothea and her hubby, Henry, may be happy about the babies (!), but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a lot to take in!

Twins? How wonderful!

Are you crazy? Vonnie and Charlie are in college! By the time the twins get that age, I’ll be in my seventies!” Dorothea said.
And then, of course, there is Bambi, pregnant by the selfsame 92-year-old father of the Alcott girls, (Hey! I did say in my review of the last book that Daddy was “grabby handy” right?) Now enjoying the wealthy passed on to her by her murdered husband, the disreputable Jimmy Ray Chaline, she has become close with the girls, and spends lots of time coming to grips with her new fortune and new family. So, there is a lot of baby talk going on in this newest installment. But not all is babies and butterflies, of course, and what happens next is funny, complicated and a book which could only be found in the southern climes. . .

This is a “yummy” mystery, as was quite apparent in Hot Chocolate as the girls toured Houston’s high-class restaurants, as well as the offerings of their own household cooks. And you will find recipes on the back of this volume as well – yum! And the whole funny, quirky cast returns in Bitter Chocolate as well, though a few new Houston socialites appear as well, including mute Cousin Benny, uh, make that Teddy, a victim of PTSD and yet another quirky, odd-ball character thrown into the gumbo pot of the Alcott family. And now Bernie has decided he can’t live without his Bentley.

Where’s my Bentley?

Daddy, we sold your Bentley ten years ago.

So, we add Chewie, Lila Mae’s houseman’s cousin, as Bernie’s chauffeur. Well, we never said the whole cast were WASPs!

Then there is Tilly, niece of Zoe, the wife of Alcott family attorney, Walter Branson. We first met Tilly, of course, in Hot Chocolate, when the hard drinking, coke snorting thirty-two-year-old came for a visit, and was subsequently accused of murdering the unctuous Jimmy Ray. Now, cleared of forking over Jimmy Ray, she is being forced by the family to dry out and get a life real life. But the whole “getting a real life” thing runs into a wall when Tilly’s gangster daddy is found murdered. What’s a rich, entitled, chocolate loving family to do?

Ireland’s characters, setting, and attitude are purely River Oaks Houston Southern. Mansions and food, shopping in the best boutiques and food, oh, and chocolate and food, let’s not forget Alcott Chocolates! I will admit, I found this a more refined and readable volume of the Alcott Family Adventures. I still found the constant references to just how much money these people wallow in to be rather, well, snobby I suppose you could say. A half-dozen Bentley’s at $276,000 a pop, all by themselves could feed poor families for several years. Be that as it may, the wealth is the backbone of the storyline, and I was able to put it aside as being important to Ireland’s tale.

I received this book from Ms. Ireland in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

BLURB:

The characters you loved in Hot Chocolate are back with more escapades of life in Houston’s wealthy River Oaks.

Lila Mae is in a tizzy over the Chocolate Ball – a huge event that she and her sisters, Dorothea and Madge, host every year. But due to unusual circumstances, Dorothea and Madge dump everything in Lila Mae’s lap. If it weren’t for Julian Gillespie of Event Is King, the Chocolate Ball would have melted.

Bernie, the Alcott sisters’ 92-year-old father, decides he wants his Bentley back. The sisters and Bambi are horrified. They hire Joseph’s cousin Chewie as Bernie’s new chauffeur.

Wolfram, Lila Mae’s new astrologer, gives clues of things to come. This leaves Lila Mae and her sidekick Amelia with brows furrowed.

On her day off, Amelia decides to bake a chocolate blueberry pie. She discovers she needs to make a grocery run. When she returns home, she discovers her kitchen door is slightly ajar. Arms loaded with groceries, she toes the door open.

Three things catch her attention: a vase of flowers on the kitchen island that was not there when she left the house, her marble rolling pin covered with blood… and a dead body on her kitchen floor.

Amelia’s eyes drift toward the dining room and beyond – is the house empty, or is there a murderer inside? She backs up, turns and hurries outside. After setting the bags on the ground, she slips back into the kitchen and snaps a picture of the dead guy. Then she calls Detective Chance Walker, Lila Mae and finally… 9-1-1.

Praise for Hot Chocolate:

“This cozy mystery is a raucous romp.  A light, quick read, it is laugh-out-loud funny all the way through except maybe for the scene when the murder victim is discovered and the scene when the murderer declares themselves tho even those two scenes have elements of slapstick visuals incorporated into them.

The plot is quite masterfully constructed and kept me guessing right up to the moment the culprit was revealed and that is not easy to do as I’ve read or watched so many mystery stories I often figure it out well before the halfway point.

Where the story truly shines though is through the characters of which there are many yet each one is fully rounded and uniquely eccentric.

Food itself is nearly a character in the story and several of the recipes featured in scenes are included in full at the end of the novel.”-Joy Renee Davis, Joystory”

“Hot Chocolate is a captivating tale with vivid and fun characters. I could almost visualize myself socializing with them, and I definitely enjoyed their interactions with one another. They felt like real sisters, albeit high-society ones.

All the players are in place, and we think we have them figured out. So when something unexpected happens one night at the bowling alley, the Alcotts, Bambi, and countless others are caught up in a mystery that had me turning pages rapidly. Who or what could be responsible for the shocking events? What will Bambi discover when she starts searching through her husband’s dresser drawers and files? And what other surprises await the Alcotts?

Through all the excitement and intrigue, we are gifted with wonderfully descriptive moments in the lives of the characters, including the delicious food they enjoy. The dishes are presented so realistically that I could almost taste them. As a final pleasing treat, there are several wonderful recipes at the end of the book. A five star read.”-Laurel Rain Snow, Chocolate and Mimosas

“Hot Chocolate is a light-hearted Southern comedy. The Alcott sisters are the epitome of Southern culture. They are each other’s fiercest enemy and closest companion.

One of my all-time favorite shows is Designing Women. The Alcott sisters, Dorothea, Lila Mae, and Madge could be the Sugarbaker women. Picture Suzanne Sugarbaker every time you read something about Dorothea and you’ll be rolling on the floor laughing every time she hollers and faints. It doesn’t get better than this.

The plot is well written and from the very first page there is no doubt these women live chocolate as much as the company they own makes chocolate. From the cocoa colored Bentleys to the hot chocolate they start their day with, this book is full of chocolate – what could be better than that?! The characters were dazzling creatures and full of spunk making the book an enjoyable read. I found no grammatical errors and the book ended with a surprise you won’t see coming, a definite plus in book world.” – Donna McBroom-Theriot, My Life, One Story At a Time

“I never read anything by Dawn Greenfield Ireland before, but she definitely knows how to write mysteries the way I like them. The story is filled with twists, turns and eccentric characters that are essential in writing a cozy mystery. It’s fast-paced and keeps the readers on their toes. There are also some giggles and a dash of romance thrown into the mix. At the end, she includes some yummy recipes that are featured in the book. Suddenly I’m in desperate need of a hot chocolate with some marshmallow fluff.

This book is delicious!”- Yvonne, Socrates Book Review

“I love reading a good cozy mystery and when it’s paired with good old fashioned southern charm and whit well I’m sold! “Hot Chocolate” by Dawn Greenland Ireland    gave me that plus a plenty of offbeat characters,along with a fast moving plot with a murder mystery woven in,  sprinkled together with a liberal amount of humor in to make this a book that I just couldn’t read fast enough!

As I read this story I couldn’t help but think that it would make an awesome movie. Set in the south with more than a few quirky characters that had me laughing out loud on several occasions.As I read the story I found the characters getting stuck in my head and could just imagine their southern twang.

If you enjoy reading a fast paced mystery that has more twists than a winding country road, along with vivid descriptions of people, food and places that will grab your imagination and hold on tight until the final page your certainly going to enjoy “Hot Chocolate.” I loved this author’s storytelling ability and look forward to reading more of her work.”-Brenda Casto, VW Stitcher

About Dawn Greenfield Ireland:

Dawn Ireland is the CEO of Artistic Origins Inc, a 100% woman-owned publishing and technical writing service company that has been doing business since 1995. She’s an award winning independent publisher and author of The Puppy Baby Book , Mastering Your Money, and Amazon Best Seller Hot Chocolate (the first in the series, and her fifth novel). The Hot Chocolate audio book was awarded the AudioFile Earphones Award on Valentine’s Day 2014.

Her family feature film screenplay A Girl and Her Dog was awarded a Kids First! Endorsement by the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media in October 2012 and optioned by Shadow Cave Productions in February 2013.

Originally from Feeding Hills, MA, Dawn migrated to San Antonio in 1968, then when her first son was one years old, her family moved to Houston where work was more plentiful. After 40+ years of heat and humidity, she has her sights on the Pacific NW.

Dawn is the co-author of the animated screenplay Memoirs of a Dog which won the Spirit Award of the Moondance Film Festival (children’s category) September 2011. Her dark comedy Plan B was a finalist in the Table Read My Screenplay script competition in 2010 and years before that, Standing Dead won the Women in Film and Television (Houston Chapter) screenplay award.

Stay tuned for The Last Dog (futuristic/sci-fi 2015), and Spicy Chocolate (2016).

 

Mountain of Dreams by C.L. Bevill Now Published!

mountainofdreams
Click here to purchase from SmashWords!

Book Two of The Dreams Series is out.

Once the world was normal. The day after the change, there were new creatures galore and nearly every human had vanished. The survivors gathered together to make a new society and Sophie, a seventeen-year-old from Oregon, does her best to fit in. Desperate to find a reason for living, she travels east to Washington, D.C. to meet with the new President of the U.S.A. and finds that existing and living are two very different things. The old world hasn’t really been left behind and human treachery continues to threaten their existence.

The first book, Sea of Dreams is currently FREE!!! Click on the cover to order it from Smashwords!

seaofdreams

In a single night, everyone has vanished. Only Sophie remains, a typical seventeen year old girl from Oregon. While hiking with her father, she goes to sleep one night and wakes up to find that a sea of dreams has washed over the world, irrevocably changing everything. Electricity no longer works. Technology has ground to a halt. Towns have disappeared. New animals, unicorns, gryphons, and giant beasts for which Sophie has no name, have appeared. In her determined quest to understand and to endure, Sophie finds other survivors. Zach, young, handsome and full of his own secrets is one. There is Gideon, a fifteen year old leader of a group of other survivors in the California Redwoods. There is also the Burned Man, an individual who wants Sophie dead for both thwarting him and escaping his sinister intentions. All have special psychic abilities in common, which leads Sophie to believe that is the reason they survived. Sophie’s premonitions, Zach’s eerie dreams of Sophie before the change, and Gideon’s supernatural powers of perception all link them together in a very dissimilar world. Sophie’s recently developed empathy to one of the new creatures, something that resembles both a firefly and a pixie, will guide her in her burgeoning role as both protector and protagonist in a startling newborn period. Magic is real. Technology is gone. The new and the old must learn to coexist or be vanquished forever. Sophie struggles to understand her responsibilities and to stay alive and one step ahead of the Burned Man.

As you may know from my previous posts, C.L. Bevill is a wonderful author. I can hardly wait to read these two books!

Review: Veiled Eyes (A Lake People Novel) by C.L. Bevill

Veiled Eyes C.L. Bevill – An atmospheric, wonderful tale

veiled eyes
Click the cover to order.
If you are a discriminating reader of
atmospheric tales, you MUST read
this book…..

Louisiana is, in her heart, a mystical, magical land. In the bayous, where government and politics hold little sway, the real beating heart of the land resides. Here, the songs of her blood sing out in the voices of the birds, the roar of an alligator, the sound of the wind in the leaves. Her skin is this land of water and warm air, her hair the Spanish moss, growing lushly from the limbs of cypress trees rising full and strong from the bayous. She breathes the scent of water and growth, flowers and fecundity. And in this land of age and history, even the people of the lands are strange and wonderful in their own way – and some are frightening beyond all reason. For bad reasons, but for what they consider good ones too. Frightening.

Anna St. Thais knows nothing of this land, or its people. Abandoned on the doorsteps of a church in El Paso when only a few weeks old, Anna is alone her whole life, battered from pillar to post, from orphanage to foster home. Life has never been easy, and her luck has never been good. However, she has always had a ‘little friend’ living in the back of her head, helping her to make decisions, warning her of danger. And a voice in her head that visits her on occasion, sneaking into her dreams and touching her heart.

When we first meet Anna, she is hitchhiking across the country, trying to reach New Orleans where her foster home friend, Jane, has offered her a new job and a new home. It’s tough to keep your job as a car mechanic when the bosses jerk-off son drops a car hood on your hand to try to take your job away and give it to his just as jerk-off friend. And, with her usual string of bad luck in full force, she is mugged, robbed, had her car taken – and she hasn’t even made it all the way across Texas yet. Forced into hitchhiking, her ‘little friend’ in her head, that usually protects her from making bad choices when it comes to trust, checks out and leaves here alone. Alone, to accept a ride from a psychotic.

Terrified, drugged and in pain, the presence is back with a vengeance, determined to rescue Anna, whether she believes the presence exists or not. What follows is a story of mysticism and history, of stories and family. This is a beautifully written story, blending the voice of the Lake with French Cajun patois, with a smoothness and depth that draws in the reader and sooths the soul.

This is a fantasy, but it is much more. It is a tale of history and belief, of stories and hope. The people Anna comes to know, her unknown family, are a family in truth – a group of people bound by blood and belief, and by an incredible talent that turns their face from the world.

You can’t love every person in a tale, but as a whole, these people I truly loved. They are close and caring, determined to protect their family and their way of life. The story is complex and richly written, and draws in the discerning reader immediately. There were some issues that were a bit confusing, when it came to the italics used for mind-to-mind communications, however, I am not sure that those problems weren’t due to formatting for Kindle. I have seen that sort of thing often. Otherwise? I fell into the book to the point that I could nearly feel the breeze off the bayou against my skin. It was wonderful, lush and rich as a bite of praline.

 Highly recommended.

 

 

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑