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Monday, June 26th, 2017
Book Review: The Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop by Tracy Corbett

I received this book from NetGalley.

This is a terrific book. Let’s start there. I’ll give you more below, but just know it’s a really good book and you should read it.

So to begin, The Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop by Tracy Corbett and available July 3, is kind of a romance, but while romance is a part of the book, it’s really about people figuring out their lives and going through difficult times and finding each other as friends and family. So if you’re looking for a strong romantic narrative, it’s not going to be coming. Doesn’t matter. It’s a fabulous read.

Back of Book Blurb:

Evie is busy running the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop and praying for an uplift in sales as soon as possible. She might be in the market of selling romance, but for Evie a new man is the last thing she needs!

That is until plumber Scott Castillo turns up to fix her boiler. She’s definitely not interested. But then, why does she keep ogling his rather attractive forearms? She’s been fooled before – she isn’t about to fall head-over-heels for some smooth-talker, right?

When he isn’t trying to balance paying the bills with caring for his sick mother, Scott has stepped in to help parent his 18-year-old nephew, Ben. Between that and working full time Scott doesn’t have time for romance. Until he meets Evie . . .

Love doesn’t always bloom the way you expect but for the customers of the Forget-Me-Not Flower Shop it might just be the perfect time for romance . . .

Set in Britain, the book follows Evie’s journey back to independence after a bad relationship. She’s running her dream flower shop, but she’s got a time crunch hanging over her head. She’s got only so much time before she’s got to buy the shop or lose out on her dream forever. She’s also got a chip on her shoulder and is terribly suspicious of men. Scott is a delightful guy, but bogged down in several crises of his own. He’s given up his business and his life in London to care for his disabled mother and his nephew, who’s mom–Scott’s sister–can’t seem to be bothered. His ex-fiance blew him off when he decided to care for his mother, and so he’s skittish of new relationships, but he’s also eager to know Evie.

Things quickly go wrong for both. Corbett follows each through their separate lives, then bumps them up against each other, often with disastrous results. Each of them are putting up fronts so nobody knows just what is going on behind the facades and how difficult things have been and are, and both are afraid of what the other might think. Gradually their secrets come to light and they share, growing closer as friends and maybe something more.

Woven through their growing relationships and acting as foils, are the crumbling marriage of Evie’s best friend Laura and her husband Martin, the passionate and devoted relationship of Scott’s nephew Ben and his soon-t0-be bride Amy, the troubled marriage of Patricia and David Robinson, and the quirky and delightful courtship of Josh and Saffy.

Layered on to these relationships are the friendships that help teach each of the characters–not just Evie and Scott–how to grow and how to hold firm to what they most need and desire.

This story is a relatively slow build, but the pacing is really perfect and the story so well woven that the end is incredibly satisfying. You don’t get any of those “too-stupid-to-live” moments, and when Evie seems determined to be blind or to react irrationally, Cordelia or Laura or Saffy or others are there to catch her up short and point out that her reality is different from what she understands. But you sympathize with her because you see that those reactions are realistic for where she’s been and she owns her mistakes and she doesn’t hide from growth. The other characters find both heartache and happiness–but in the end, it’s all perfect. 

I really enjoyed this book and I look forward to reading Corbett’s next book.

 

 

 

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Thursday, April 27th, 2017
Book Reviews

I’ve been doing some reading off Netgalley recently. I’ve not been getting my reviews up because I’ve been reading. So here’s a bit of a catchup.

The Graves by Pamela Wechsler (May 2 release)

Back cover copy:

I like romantic suspense and serial killer mysteries, and this looked right up my alley. It’s told in present tense, which can be offputting for some readers. Mostly it worked for me, making the tension more immediate, and discovering events as Abby does.

I waffled on whether or I liked Abby or not. She’s smart, but often seemed shallow. A lot is made out of her figuring out how to live without money since she’s been cut off from her parents’ money for dating a man they don’t like. There were times I got bored and annoyed with that, when I just wanted to tell her to suck it up. She’s had to give up luxuries, but she’s doing just fine. It seemed whiny. At the same time, her shopping addiction seems to mask a deeper pain. I think. I was never quite sure.

Abby’s also cutthroat, which she has to be in her line of work. That can be off-putting too, but in the case of Cassandra and Max, I was okay with that.

The investigation and courtroom parts of the novel were very well done. That’s what really wins in this book. It’s sharp and fastpaced and the killer isn’t terribly obvious, plus you have a stirring in of political maneuvering that adds depth.

The major thing I wished for in reading this book was more of Abby’s internal life. I wanted to like her more. I wanted to care more about her choices in life. As it is, she left me a little cold. On the other hand, I’m hooked enough to want to read the next volume in the series whenever it comes out.

4 stars/5

 

Owning It by Leah Marie Brown (May 2 release)

Back cover copy:

The chance of a lifetime . . . or just another bad decision?

Delaney Lavender Brooks needs to grow up. At least, according to her parents. After getting evicted from her apartment and wrecking her car, Laney is almost ready to trade in her paintbrushes and surrender to a more sensible 9-to-5 existence. Almost. Until she’s awarded an internship at a prestigious art gallery in Paris. What else can the free-spirited artist do but follow her dreams? Even if her latest attempt at chasing rainbows might cost her a real future . . .

Once in the city of lights, Laney is almost undone by the glaring truth: maybe she isn’t sophisticated or talented enough to make it as an artist—or an independent woman, for that matter. And when she’s hotly pursued by a seductive Frenchman, she has to wonder if she’s about to be a fool for love, too. Soon Laney’s greatest challenge is not proving herself to her parents, but having the courage to live the life—and love—of her dreams . . .

I know I’ve read Finding It, another in this series, but for the life of me, I can’t find my review. But anyhow . . .

This is a really breezy romance. Laney is a really fun character and I enjoyed her discovery of Paris and her romance with Gabriel. Laney’s quirky and not entirely put together. She’s often awkward, and she is genuine and kind. I came to care about her quickly. I like Gabriel as well, though for me, he was a little bit flat. Or rather, it felt like I didn’t get to know him very well. The book is far more about Laney’s journey and her maturing.

There are only two minor issues I had with the book. The first is that the slang gets a little bit much for me. I get a little bit overloaded. Not a big deal, though. The second is that I’d have liked there to be a little bit more to the ending. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I was looking for just a little bit more personal exploration.

All that said, Owning It was a whole lot of fun. It’s funny and sweet and joyful.

4/5 stars

 

Romancing the Rogue by Erica Ridley (now available)

Back cover copy:

When the new earl inherits, poor relation Miss Rebecca Bond must wed immediately or be out on her ear. The only man she’s ever loved is summoned to hear the will—but he already rejected her so soundly that they haven’t spoken in years. Yet who better than a rakish Viscount to teach her how to snare a gentleman who appreciates her charms?

Daniel Goodenham, Lord North-Barrows, regrets nothing more than the lost friendship with the one woman who treated him like a man, not a title. Fate has given him the perfect pretext to win her forgiveness—even if it means having to matchmake her to someone else. But now that she’s back in his life, he’ll do anything to convince her to choose him instead…

I should start by saying that I haven’t read an Erica Ridley book that I don’t like, and this one’s no exception. It’s an unusual setup and it took a little bit for me to buy the idea that Rebecca had essentially lived like a ghost in the mansion for so many years. Ridley made it believable, though. I thoroughly liked Rebecca. She has a sense of humor, talent, brains, and strength. She’s in a crap position and she knows it, but she keeps fighting for better.

I didn’t like Daniel much at first, mostly because he’d been an ass before the book started and I was irritated with him before I ever met him. He owned it, though, and by the end, he’s redeemed himself. He’s realized what he lost–and it’s not only Rebecca.

4/5 stars

 

 

 

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Saturday, February 25th, 2017
Running away from home

I did that. Ran away from home and to the Rainforest Writers Village where I got less work done than I wanted, but I did finish the fourth Diamond City Magic book (Yay!!!) and did some work on the second Mission Magic book. I also got to meet a lot of people I didn’t know, and spend time with others I do, and it was a good time. Patrick Swenson is so amazing for organizing and running this. He’s just fabulous.

I came back to aid the husband who had had his wisdom teeth out right before I left and developed dry sockets, which were very bad. Painful bad. He’s improved, but is still having some pain. In other news, the girlie is quickly becoming a teenager and I’m quickly losing my mind. My stress level is up and I’ve got a raging headache at this moment. I’ve got to seriously figure out some way to get through these next five years or so. Ten? Shit.

I need to learn to meditate. And maybe yoga. And exercise myself into the ground. This might get me through the hateful hormones.

Now I’m watching this very odd movie that is alternately bizarre and funny. I’m very amused. It’s called Mr. Right with Anna Kendrick and Sam Rockwell. Tim Roth has always been a good actor, but in this, he’s awesome. He does southern accent like nobody’s business. Plus he’s a really a fabulous actor.

Today was lovely sunny. Tomorrow the rain returns. Damn. I was looking forward to another walk in the sun with the dogs tomorrow. Maybe it will be a rainy walk. Or I’ll do some reading. I’ve been managing to enjoy some lately. Hoping for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, February 10th, 2017
Book Review: Dark, Witch, and Creamy by H.Y. Hanna

Book provided by NetGalley

Dark, Witch, and Creamy is a fun little contemporary fantasy with the beginnings of romance in it. Here’s the back of the cover blurb:

A witch, a kitty and dark chocolate magic…
Caitlyn is used to being the ugly duckling in her glamorous showbiz family… until the day she learns that she was adopted as an abandoned baby. Now, her search for answers takes her to the tiny English village of Tillyhenge where a man has been murdered by witchcraft – and where a mysterious shop selling enchanted chocolates is home to the “local witch”…

Soon Caitlyn finds herself fending off a toothless old vampire, rescuing an adorable kitten and meeting handsome aristocrat Lord James Fitzroy… not to mention discovering that she herself might have magical blood in her veins!

When she’s dragged into the murder investigation and realises that dark magic is involved, Caitlyn is forced to choose. Can she embrace her witchy powers in time to solve the mystery and save those she loves?

I enjoyed this book. It’s sort of on the cozy side of the mystery continuum, with fun and colorful characters and of course, chocolate. Lots of chocolate. I enjoyed Caitlyn and Widow Mags quite a bit, though I wish a little more about Caitlyn’s background had come to light. I also had some questions about Viktor and I hope those get answered in the future. I thought the magic elements were charming. My major complaint about the book is that while the bad guy is identified, the story seems a little unfinished (trying not to spoil it here). There is another book in the series that I think I’ll probably pick up. All in all, the book is fun and worth reading.

4 out of 5 stars

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Wednesday, February 8th, 2017
Book review: Combatting Fear by Sandy Vaile

I obtained this book through NetGalley.

I really wanted to like this Combatting Fear by Sandy Vaile. The description pulled me in and I thought it was going to be a fun romantic suspense. Plus it’s set in Australia, which was a big attraction to me (though there were no spiders in this book, which I found surprising. Or venomous snakes.)  Let’s start with the back cover copy:

How far would you go to save a child that wasn’t yours?

Mild-mannered kindergarten teacher Neve Botticelli leads a double life. Thanks to a childhood tragedy and her paranoid father, she’s a trained warrior with extreme survival skills who lives off the grid.

When self-made billionaire Micah Kincaid storms into town in search of his son, Rowan, he’s pushy, entitled, and stands for everything she despises. Micah can’t believe a kindergarten teacher is barring the way to him getting crucial information or even just a glimpse of the boy his cheating ex kidnapped. They share only one thing in common: either will do anything to protect the four-year-old, who they soon discover is being held for ransom by an outlaw motorcycle gang.

But as they work together to get Rowan back, they start to see beyond each other’s masks. Could falling in love be even more dangerous than hunting down deadly criminals?

The writing of the book is really good, and the end relationship stuff was well done. Plus there were a lot of elements in the book that worked well. The moments between Tony and Neve especially. The descriptions were evocative and made me feel like I was there. Where I ran into difficulties was with 1) the relationship development, and 2) uneven/contradictory character development.

I’m going to start with the second issue first. Both Neve and Micah were engaging and likeable. But they were also inconsistent and constantly waffled on issues for no good reason. There were no real triggers for much of their–but what if? thoughts. I got annoyed with both of them. Vaile justified their qualms and fears with a solid foundation. I got why Neve was suspicious of Micah and why he’d doubt her–at least at first. But then it kept feeling artificial as they got to know each other and still had the very same doubts without any real trigger for them.

Then Neve is billed as leading a double life. Not really. I was disappointed in that. And that she’s a trained warrior. It didn’t really come across. She’s weepy and nervous and generally sort of passive. And then she’ll have these sudden moments of warrior action and thinking, and then go back to the other. It’s aggravating. The warrior stuff comes out somewhat in the end, but still wasn’t all that warrior-like. I felt a little bit like there’d been a bait and switch.

The relationship development was also odd. Their attraction came at odd times and sort of out of the blue. The final development was really well done, but the development just didn’t feel organic or natural.

In the end, I felt the book was okay, but I didn’t come away feeling satisfied.

2 out of 5 stars.

 

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Sunday, February 5th, 2017
Book Review: At Close Range, Laura Griffin

I really love the Laura Griffin books. They are romantic suspense and have great characters and engrossing plots, but hot and compelling romance. At Close Range is the latest in her Tracers Series, of which I’ve read most, if not all. I have to check. This one includes characters from previous books, though it can totally be read independently of any of the others.

The book revolves around a double murder that quickly grows into more murders and a twisted investigation. Dani, our main character, is the lead investigator on the case. This is her first time leading, and she’s very nervous, though also very competent. Scott Black is a ballistics expert and former Navy SEAL who works at a local lab that provides forensic services to law enforcement all over the country. Dani and Scott go back to their teenage years. He practically grew up in their house–her brother’s best friend. His career in the Navy ended with an injury, and now he’s become a primary expert in his field. The two of them have sparks, but he’s not ready to cross the brother-friendship line to mess with Dani, and she’s pretty sure he’ll break her heart.

He is one of the experts called in on the case, but soon is implicated as a suspect. That puts them on opposite sides, because even though Dani believes in him personally, a good detective works on facts and evidence. Secondary characters are introduced and play important roles in the story, all the way to the end.

I didn’t love this story as much as some of Griffin’s previous books, but I liked it quite well. I thought the relationship between all the characters–professional and personal–were deftly written, particularly Dani’s relationship with her fellow cops. Her relationship with Scott had some places that I winced at, but I think that was a personal thing, and overall I thought it developed organically and realistically and romantically. The sex scenes were both hot and emotional, which is an art to do. The only major problem I had with the book was that the ultimate bad guy seemed a little bit farfetched. The twisted plotline was wonderful and kept me guessing, but I wish the ultimate villain had been more on the page pulling strings.

I would rate this 4.5/5 stars and totally recommend it and all the others in the series. Good writing, good suspense and mystery, wonderful romance. I read it pretty much in one sitting as soon as it showed up on my Kindle.

 

Friday, November 25th, 2016
Book Review: The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal

I like Christmas romance, and especially this year, it seems like a good inoculation against the unhappiness in the world and the stress of life and the holidays. I picked up Eve Gaddy’s The Doctor’s Christmas Proposal off NetGalley. I really like Eve’s writing and expected to really like this book. And a lot of it I did. But one unfortunately central element kept bothering me and while it was addressed somewhat at the end, not enough for me.

So here’s the story (blurb off Amazon):

Betrayed by his ex-fiancée, Dr. Wyatt Gallagher turns to the one woman he can always trust – his best friend, Mia Watson. 515tvf7nqlAfter moving away, Wyatt has realized he wants more than friendship with the beautiful artist. With that in mind, he convinces Mia to come to Marietta for the Christmas holidays. But wooing Mia is surprisingly difficult — especially given the passionate night they’ve already shared.

Though Mia Watson has loved Wyatt Gallagher for years, he’s always seen her as a friend, never a lover. Except for one unforgettable interlude when comfort turned to passion. Then Wyatt moved back to Montana, leaving Mia with an unexpected consequence of their night together–and soon, heartbreak to follow.

Faced with the fulfillment of her dreams, Mia knows she must reveal the consequences of their night together to Wyatt. But having withheld the truth for so long, will her confession destroy his trust in her, ending their friendship and any hope of a future together?

So obviously there’s some cool angsty stuff going on. Also, the setting is Montana, and having lived there for 15 years, I loved reading about it. From that third paragraph, you can guess that Mia got pregnant from Wyatt on their one night stand years before (which for her was not one, and for him–very confusing). More on that below.

The family and secondary characters were fun and interesting and warm. This isn’t a book of high drama, it’s quieter and more family focused. It’s a fairly gentle story in many ways. I liked Wyatt and Mia quite a bit and felt that their emotions and feelings for one another were real and strong.

Now this is going to be a spoiler, so if you don’t want to have that, don’t read more.

Read the rest of this entry »

Thursday, October 6th, 2016
Sirens Anthology Release Day

This is a really cool anthology that I wanted to share with you. I asked Cynthia, one of the contributors and one of the people who came up with the idea of the anthology, to come and talk to you about Sirens, her story, and the anthology in general. So without further ado, please welcome Cynthia:

My name is Cynthia Porter.  I’m here today to tell you that writing a blog post about Queens & Courtesans: A Sirens Benefit Anthology, is only slightly easier than writing my short story, Affairs of State, that is included in its pages.

Sirens is a conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature.  The conference describes itselfqueens as “part scholarly conference, part enthusiastic convention, part networking weekend, and part personal retreat.”  Attendees include readers, authors, librarians, booksellers, educators, scholars, and publishing professionals.  Queens & Courtesans is a labor of love created to benefit the conference where we all met.

This is the first time I have ever written a story to a writing prompt.  When we created the idea of the anthology, the request was for stories with a Queen and a Courtesan.  None of my current projects had characters like these.  I had to almost start from scratch.  The almost part was because the world I chose to set the story in was one I’d created years ago.  I shifted south of where my other stories have taken place and found myself in a royal court.

I knew I wanted my queen to be a mature woman, not a teen/young woman who has no idea of the trials ahead of her.  I wanted my characters to know who they were, to be confident in their abilities and their lives.

I think I wrote three drafts before my queen character finally got her name.  This is very unusual for me.  My stories are character driven.  Typically I know nothing about a story until I have a name.  That name brings the character’s personality, their back story, their hopes and dreams, and the plot!  With a normal story I’m stuck without a name.  Except for this queen.  She was more than happy to share her story, she just didn’t see the need to share her name with me.  It drove me crazy.  I would talk to her while staring at the story on my computer screen.  “Name, name, name– you need a name!”  She’s one of the rare ones who knew who she was without a name.  I had to work to find a name that fit her temperament.  Not my most difficult character ever, but absolutely one of the most quietly stubborn.  She was the Queen.  What more did anyone need to know?  Her name, as it turns out, is Arcalys.  True to form, it took about four drafts of this post to realize she’d done it to me again!

Lenzienne, or Lenzi, my courtesan, knew exactly what her name was from the very beginning.  She walked into a room, completely furious, and snarled her opening lines.  Her name flowed onto the page and the story followed.

The really difficult characters in Affairs of State were the secondary characters.  Three of them hung on to significant roles in the story.  A couple more exist as, well, names and nothing more.  The others all got cut from various drafts of the story.  Why?  Because they thought they were populating a novel.  I prefer the longer forms of storytelling because invariable my characters bring big ideas, themes, plots trailing behind them—none of which fit into a short story.  Borders, Barriers, Refugees, Magic, all this exploded into larger and larger arcs.  I shoved most of them aside, telling them “later”.  My editor, Jessica, jumped on several more.  She helped me focus what was more of a prologue for a novel down into a short story.

While my queen and my courtesan are happy with their “little” story, I’ve acknowledged that their novel needs exploration.  Once Queens & Courtesans is well and truly launched into the world, I’ll be letting all those characters, all that world-building, all those themes and plots to swirl out from the door where they’ve been lurking.

To get your copy of Queens and Courtesans in print or ebook, click here for Amazon, or  here for BN.

 

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Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
Link roundup

I am over the moon to say that Eloisa James likes my books! In an interview, she says so. I’m so very excited!!!!

In other news, Path of Fate is on sale this month on Amazon for $1.99. If you haven’t read it yet, now’s the time!

Theodora Goss has posted a lovely poem about being a witch. I adore it.

Ilona Andrews made a post about Russian history and dress with a link to some stunning pictures. Visit her post first because the explanation is really cool, then go look at the pics.

BookPushers posted a very nice review of The Incubus Job.

This has been my go-to fast chocolate cake recipe for birthday cakes. It’s incredibly chocolatey and moist and delicious and not a lot of work.

I’ve just read through all of Lexi George’s Demon Hunting in the Deep South series. It’s over-the-top romance in some ways, but doesn’t take itself all that seriously in that regard. Really funny stuff, though. And all the side characters are just too much fun. They are total candy/popcorn reads, and totally worth it.

 

Friday, September 2nd, 2016
Poisons

For no particular reason, I started looking at poisons today. I figure it’s something I’ll stash in the back of my head for future writing use.

The one I discovered today is Thallium Nitrate, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It’s a heavy metal. It cause hair to fall out, vomiting, organ failure, and general system failure, plus causes a burning/prickling sensation in the limbs. It will kill you in a high dose, but in low doses, it’s a slow road to death. There’s no antidote for it, and if caught soon enough, you can survive. It can be found by blood, urine, and hair. It leaves the blood pretty quickly, though, so if the blood test is all there is, then it might not get discovered.

I thought it could be a pretty good poison for a poisoner. Especially if it can be put into food. Be good for someone who wanted to cause a slow, diminishing death.

The stuff was used in the 50s in rat poison.

I’ll probably talk about more poisons in general. I find them interesting. I’m working on some murder/suspense stuff that could benefit from this sort of info.

In the meantime, I’ve a bunch of roses to plant and the weather is fine and the puppy boys are happy. Been reading Lexi George’s Demon Hunters books and they are frequently very fun. Just like candy, and funny urban fantasy romance.