Arielle Chandler oversees the interior design area at the wedding consultant business she co-owns with two friends Review courtesy of Romance Junkies..
Arielle Chandler oversees the interior design area at the wedding consultant business she co-owns with two friends. With one partner recently married, and the other newly engaged she questions her shaman grandmother's prophecy of finding her destined one. Arielle visits a favorite spot at Barefoot Bay to reflect and fate decides to intervene. She discovers something valuable in the sand, which causes her to question what may be beneath the hill and her possible 'The One'. Arielle cannot let him desecrate the hill until she validates her hunch, even if it may cost her their happily ever after and his job.
Luke McBain has spent fifteen years estranged from his family. His ten years in the French Foreign Legion has taught him to fight and kill, a fact that he is haunted by. He reunites with his sister in France. Gussie absolves him of the guilt he has carried because of his involvement in that fateful accident that scarred her. She convinces him to return home to the U.S. and Luke agrees when he discovers that the threat who drove him into the Foreign Legion has died. He is determined to make a life for himself in Barefoot Bay, one far different from in the Foreign Legion and France. An old high school colleague offers him a job of building a house on property he inherited, but the woman he literally runs over while previewing the land, threatens to cost him that new start.
I have been intrigued about Luke since his introduction in BAREFOOT IN LACE, book two in THE BAREFOOT BAY BRIDES trilogy. I knew from the clues the author dropped that his back-story was going to be heart wrenching. His life has been anything other than perfect. The accident that scarred his sister set off a chain reaction of back luck, and those trails help sculpt him into the man he has become. Yeah, it has its cons because Luke is skittish about risking his heart or following a career outside of building. I felt Arielle was the cosmic medicine he needed to let the past remain in the past, to close the door on the mental ghosts that haunted him. I love the nickname he chose for Arielle after learning how she got her name. I thought it was quite fitting and cute. I laughed how he could not quite get her Native American grandmother's name right.
Arielle has perked my curiosity since book one, especially how often Willow and Gussie relied on her intuition about certain decisions and people. I admit most of my interest was to learn where the source of her mysticism stemmed from. The direction Roxanne St. Clare took with it pleased me, and I love how she chose a tribe not widely known to be Arielle's Native American ancestry. Yes, I even googled the tribe's name to see if they actually existed. Arielle has weathered her 'weirdo' status well, without letting people's thoughts and opinions turning her jaded or cynical. She embraced her grandmother's teachings even knowing others may eschew her. I approve of how proud she is of her bloodline and her determination to preserve any Native American history, not just her own tribe. Arielle's mother rather reminds me of my husband mostly on his disinterest in learning about his Cherokee heritage. But what I loved the most is how she got the name Arielle. Up until that scene, I had been mispronouncing her name.
As much as I enjoyed the story, and Arielle and Luke, some parts baffled me. Chiefly I could not understand why neither Luke nor Gussie saw the importance of finding undocumented Native American artifacts. Even if the history is not prudent to you, it is still significant. I just had a rough time with that.
BAREFOOT IN PEARLS is the heartwarming finale to Roxanne St. Claire's BAREFOOT BAY BRIDES trilogy. The story had the right amount of suspense and danger to keep me riveted, with a dash of mysticism without crossing the book into the paranormal. I am sad to see yet another chapter in the BAREFOOT saga ended but hope for more spin offs.
Octavia Leander is a medician - a person who is a cross a between healer and priestess who relies on both herbs a Review courtesy of Romance Junkies...
Octavia Leander is a medician - a person who is a cross a between healer and priestess who relies on both herbs and magic to cure the wounded and sick. She has been keenly aware of her uniqueness, even among her own kind. Octavia is eager to leave the school that had been home since becoming an orphan and embark on the journey to her new life and employment. Mysterious threats and attacks plague her throughout her time on the airship. An epidemic onboard the ship forces her hand and causes Octavia to expose her caste. Yet, throughout the mayhem, she discovers unlikely allies who aid her against the assaults on her person.
Alonzo Garrett is a man troubled by his late father’s exploits and mistakes. He is a Clockwork Dagger-in-training, a position he has earned from family ties instead of earning it through skill. Alonzo’s superiors send him on an assignment to locate and keep their country’s strongest medician out of enemy’s hands. Octavia engages his interest and strengthens his determination to bring her to Mercia and into the protection of a safe house. The latest assault compromises his disguise, and he learns the hard truth about the mission and his role in the Clockwork Daggers. The realization makes Alonzo question anew his loyalty and allegiance to the Queen and his country.
Octavia’s character reminds me of the untested, youthful lead character in the old-style fantasy ‘traveling troupe’ books that I wish will make a comeback. However, the only difference between her and them, she is already proficient in her craft, yet learns aspects of it not taught in her school. She is a woman with normal weaknesses and shortcomings that makes her character less-than-perfect. Octavia’s modest too. Yes, she is aware of her strong attunement to the Lady, and the variations between her and other medicians, including her mentor, yet she is surprised at being labeled the country’s strongest medician. I do love how the author demonstrates both Octavia’s compassion and the workings of her caste at the start of the book. It helped give me a better understanding of what a medician does in order to heal or treat their patients. The only problem I had with Octavia is that I wanted her to be more mentally scarred by the trauma of her village’s destruction than what she displayed. It felt more as if she shrugged the whole ordeal off to oppose the direction of her inner thoughts.
I found Alonzo charming as a knight-in-shining armor type of hero. He was neither beta nor alpha but a perfect balance of the two. I felt there was more to Alonzo than what the author told in the story. He is haunted by his late father’s foibles to the point Alonzo thought he had to prove himself in the war. I love how truly distraught he became when he realizes Octavia is the lone survivor from a destruction his father had caused. It is sweet that he empathizes and understands her coolness towards him. He simply accepts it as his due. But what I liked most about him is that he does not blindly follow ordeals but he is intelligent enough to question those that jeopardize his ideals. Alonzo is conscious of their country’s shortcomings. I hope the author plans to delve further into his thoughts and personality in future books.
I began THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER knowing that it is Beth Cato’s debut book and first in THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER series. However, a particular scene with minor characters Kellar and his wife Adana provokes a feeling that there is a prequel. I wonder if the author plans to pull a Mercedes Lackey move and return to write the tale at a later date. Beth Cato did an exceptional job in her world building. I am impressed at how deep the author probes into the magic/religion. I like how closely healing and religion are intertwined, that a medician must use herbs, magic and faith to heal. The romance between Octavia and Alonzo is subtle but does not play an essential role in the story.
THE CLOCKWORK DAGGER is a brilliant unification of high fantasy and steampunk with magic and technology playing important parts in the world. The author’s storytelling voice bears a strong fantasy feel that I enjoy. The steampunk elements do not overbear the story or plot. Those same elements, with the exception of mechanical limbs, could easily be omitted and the book would still be great. ...more
Verity Long is a down-on-her-luck, unemployed graphic designer. She jilts her rich fiancé at the altar after learnin REVIEW COURTESY OF ROMANCE JUNKIES
Verity Long is a down-on-her-luck, unemployed graphic designer. She jilts her rich fiancé at the altar after learning what the man did to her sister. Verity now has to pay, literally, for the way she humiliated him. She has to sell almost everything in her house to pay off part of the debt accumulated from the lawsuit against her. The thought of having to sell her ancestral home hurts her, and no one in Sugarland, Tennessee, will loan her the money or help. Verity prays for a miracle to help her save her home. Her miracle comes in the form of a ghost she incidentally land-locks onto her property. The ghost offers Verity a solution to solve both their dilemmas.
Ellis Wydell is Sugarland’s sheriff and Verity’s ex-fiance’s older brother. He is considered the black sheep in his family for not following in the Wydell’s footsteps and instead choosing to join the police force. Ellis runs into Verity after he investigates a report of trespass. He suspects her of foul play but has no evidence to charge her. Verity tells him information only he knows about his deceased uncle, and that knowledge convinces him about her claim of speaking with ghosts. Ellis unenthusiastically comes to her for help on a little ghostly problem he has on his new property. He learns for himself the rumors about her are false, that Verity is not the gold-digger his mother and younger brother painted her to be.
Verity is such an easy and fun heroine to like. She charmed me from the first couple of pages. She reminds me of a certain friend of mine with the references of the expected decorum to a southern woman throughout the story, and her way of damning the consequences by speaking her mind. Verity is such a diverse character, full of flaws, uncertainties, sass, resourcefulness and courage. But what I admired most about her character was her guts to remain steadfast in a town that believed the worst in her just by hearsay. She handled their shunning with such aplomb and cheek, refusing to buckle, but to fight for what she loved. I also loved her eccentricity, not too many heroines would dare to have a skunk for a pet.
I confess to being leery of Ellis’s character after learning of his relation to Verity’s jerk of an ex-fiance. I wanted to dislike him on principal alone, especially for the cold and standoffish way he behaved towards Verity in the beginning. My opinion changed as his real personality became evident with his dealings with Verity. He never once behaved snobby or entitled. He is a man who trusts in his instincts, a cop thing I believe. His intuition saw the good in a homeless man and the inconsistencies to the stories about Verity. The more he spent time around her, the more Ellis saw the genuine woman. I want to say that Verity opened his eyes to his mother and brother’s conceit. I love how he held his ground and refused to bow down to his mother’s idea of the perfect girlfriend material for him. I do hope Ellis becomes Verity’s knight-in-shining-armor against his mother and brother.
I did wonder how the author was going to pull off more spunky and fun heroes and heroines different from the leading men and women of her DEMON SLAYERS and MONSTER M*A*S*H series. Angie Fox did not disappoint me. She has this imaginative way of creating such entertaining side characters also. Frankie the ghost is a hoot. He is such a devious fellow who made me laugh throughout the story with his antics. If I ever have to be haunted I want a ghost like him. Then there is Verity’s friend Lauralee. I commiserated with her instantly because I sympathized with her for having four sons. I have three and well know the headaches boys can cause.
SOUTHERN SPIRITS is a quirky and entertaining read that made me sad to reach the end. I did not want to stop reading about Verity and Ellis’s exploits. SOUTHERN SPIRITS is a promising start to Angie Fox’s THE SOUTHERN GHOST HUNTER MYSTERY series. It has humor, a touch of mystery and suspense, paranormal elements and a dash of budding romance. ...more
Molly Burnett never stays in one place long, always packing up and relocating to a new city once the urge strik
Review courtesy of Romance Junkies.....
Molly Burnett never stays in one place long, always packing up and relocating to a new city once the urge strikes or the newness wanes. She alleges that she suffers from wanderlust when in fact she is running to escape the memory of heartache. Molly has strong reasons for not returning to Hope, Oklahoma, yet she swallows her reservations to be a part of her sister’s wedding. She reminds herself that she must tolerate her ex high school boyfriend’s presence long enough to see her sister married and off to her honeymoon before taking off. An unfortunate accident keeps Molly in Hope longer than she originally planned. She is wrangled into taking her mother’s place on a town project that puts Molly in close proximity to the one man she wants desperately to avoid. Carter Richards is a prominent member of Hope and an established businessman who owns a small chain of auto-body garages in the area. He grows envious as another friend marries, reminding him of the absence in his life, the void he has yet to fill. Fate helps him run across Molly on the street, and it brings back old memories and feelings of their teenage romance. Carter suspects his blunder is to blame for Molly’s leaving twelve years ago. He wishes to make amends for his tactless behavior so he and Molly can finally have closure enough to move on and eventually settle down with someone. Carter decides to take a chance and rekindle their romance when Molly replaces her mother on the project of rebuilding of the town’s fountain. I had a rough time liking Molly or connecting with her. She does have a few qualities about her personality that helps redeem her. I did admire how selflessly she steps forward to handle her mother’s care so her sister could have a stress-free, memorable honeymoon. Then there is how she starts to pick up on the differences between the teenage Carter and the adult one. I do realize each person deals with pain and heartache in their own way, however, I felt Molly’s reaction went overboard. I admit I expected something far more sinister or darker to have prompted her to stay away from her parents and friends so long and was disappointed once I learned the truth. Carter made the entire story enjoyable. I found his enthusiasm for Halloween adorable. He reminded me so much of my husband – who given the chance, would have decorated our home the same way Carter did his. I thought it showed much growth and maturity on his part that he freely admitted to the tactless way he behaved toward the situation he and Molly faced as teenagers and regretted it. He won me over when the opportunity to make amends presents itself because Carter did not shy away from the opening, but approached it with patience. He paid attention to the cues Molly unconsciously gave off and retreated when she got too skittish. I squeed at the pet choice the author gave to Molly’s parents. I may be a bit bias since I own three dachshunds with one being a miniature. Most authors tend to choose bigger breeds for stories. This is the second book I found a dachshund in. Another thing I liked about the story is the rapport between friends, how the community looks after each other. HOPE BURNS is a light, yet sweet, story of second chances in a small town. HOPE BURNS is book three in Jaci Burton’s Hope series. I am eager to find the two previous books in the series in order to understand the backstory. I did notice a difference in voice between this series and the author’s PLAY BY PLAY series. There was sweetness in her writing that I prefer over her erotica ones. ...more
Wyatt Fontenot, like his older brother Gator, is a Ghostwalker. He has received far more than what he bargained REVIEW COURTESY OF ROMANCE JUNKIES....
Wyatt Fontenot, like his older brother Gator, is a Ghostwalker. He has received far more than what he bargained for when he agreed to undergo a top-secret experiment meant to enhance psychic abilities. Wyatt reluctantly returns home to the bayou to help his grandmother. He has dual reasons for returning: to give him and his two companions time to recuperate from a mission-gone-wrong and to allow his grandmother’s nurturing influence to curb his friends’ feralness. Wyatt learns that trouble awaits him, the scourge they all thought defeated, simply adopted a new face. Pepper is one among many orphaned girls Doctor Peter Whitney utilized as his personal experiment subjects. Whitney has augmented her with animal DNA to boost her seductive appeal to lure victims to their assassination by venom. Pepper’s refusal to kill a particular mark earns her the stamp of a failed experiment, unfit for use in the field and in Whitney’s private army. They instead assign her to care for three toddler girls. Pepper escapes into the bayou with one of the girls after learning of the termination orders against them. She and the child visit the only person in the swamp willing to dare the odds to aid them. I got super excited when I discovered Wyatt’s relation to Raoul, aka Gator, of book three, NIGHT GAME. Gator Fontenot has always been my favorite Ghostwalker hero, the one I always measure each hero in the series by. I did find Wyatt not measuring up to his older brother. He lacked Gator’s good-natured charisma and charm, yet Wyatt was not without his own merits. Wyatt is all about family. He considers his team members as family and treats them as such. He melted my heart with his single-minded determination when he hears about the atrocities done to children in the lab. I am still on the fence about Pepper. There were qualities about her I liked and disliked equally. Now I liked the fact that despite being raised to be a soldier and to kill, she maintains this small hint of innocence to her nature. That aspect about her character differentiates Pepper from the previous heroines. I really sympathized with her as she flounders to assimilate in a world so alien to the one she grew up in. Pepper was enhanced to be every man’s desire manifested, however, she is a woman plagued with normal female insecurities and worries. Now and then, those insecurities got a tad repetitive. I do have some complaints about the book. Mostly, I was disappointed that neither Gator nor Flame made an appearance. Flame’s name did get mentioned here or there. The other part I disliked was the sex and foreplay scenes. There were far too many of them in my opinion that they started to boggle down the pace until it bordered on redundant. I actually got bored to the point I skimmed over them to get back to the meat of the story. VIPER GAME is a great addition to Christine Feehan’s GHOSTWALKER series. Unfortunately, I am five books behind in this series because I lost steam with the books, yet VIPER GAME reminded me what I loved about them. I am happy that my wish for the author to revisit the Fontenot brothers came true. ...more
Derek DiMarzio, Marz to his friends, is a survivor from the Special Forces. He, however, did not escape his ter
Review courtesy of Romance Junkies....
Derek DiMarzio, Marz to his friends, is a survivor from the Special Forces. He, however, did not escape his term unscathed. The mission in Afghanistan that cost him a leg also robbed him of his good name and the lives of six men he considered family. Derek drops everything to heed the call for help from a former teammate. He is hell bent to use every computer and hacking trick in his repertoire to help his fellow comrades to clear their defamed reputations and gain back their stolen honor. Leads direct the team to a man named Manny Garza. Marz takes initiative and initiates contact with Emilie for the sole purpose to gain information on her brother Manny.
Emilie Garza works as a clinical psychologist at a college. She often donates her time weekly doing pro bono work for those with low-to-no income. Emilie is a divorcee who is rebounding from her ex-husband’s lies and betrayals. She is unaware of her brother’s unlawful activities or his involvement with a dangerous gang called Church. Manny’s paranoia and violent actions convince Emilie to help him get the professional help he needs. She is oblivious to Derek’s ulterior motives but he opens Emilie’s eyes to the person her older brother has become.
Derek is a man after my own heart. I never could resist a man with a wicked sense of humor, and he clearly had that in spades. His antics and mouth had me laughing so hard I drew questioning looks from my husband, sons and dogs. Yeah, I am well aware some of his wit and snark is a front to hide emotional and mental baggage, something I have done during my teenage years. Derek shows his selflessness when he wields that humor as a tool to diffuse tense situations and sets peoples’ minds at ease. But what I love most about Derek is how comfortable he appears in his skin. He has this positive, up-beat vibe about his amputation. He has made peace and accepted that it happened and does not allow it to lessen him. It is so inspiring to see a hero like him in stories. It is the reason why I find him so inspirational and a role model for anyone who has lost a limb to strive to own their disability, and not let it beat them.
Emilie is one of those characters who did not immediately grab my notice. Yet, her actions, words, and thoughtfulness towards others started to draw my attention. Clearly, she is a woman who cares about others. Emilie demonstrates that with her patients and her brother. She is the type of person who tends to care too much so that their actions wound her. Emilie has this grounded, homey quality about her personality that sets her apart from the previous heroines. It was her ability to accept Derek, amputation and all that eventually won me over. Only a special type of person can see beyond someone’s visible disability. I love how she treats Derek as if he is a whole man and not some invalid. That alone cemented my belief that she is the perfect fit for Derek.
HARD TO COME BY is the third book in Laura Kaye’s HARD INK series. The book did not disappoint, especially by aiding my Jeremy craving. Although Jeremy’s role is still minor, his character is so entertaining and easy to like. It is always fun anticipating the naughty t-shirt slogans on his shirts. I often read those funny slogans to my husband. The author introduced a new character late in the story that sort of hints to who Beckett’s possible heroine is, which makes me anticipate also.
HARD TO COME BY is a snark-filled, nail-biting action and fast-paced story. There was never a dull moment with the book. I hungrily ate the pages and grew disgruntled when disrupted. The author superbly plants a suspicion that there is a potential spin-off she can explore, once all the Special Forces members are in a relationship. Or perhaps that is just me hoping this series never ends....more