Category Archives: Books I Enjoyed

Books I liked

#TuesdayBookBlog ‘Her Dear and Loving Husband’ by Meredith Allard @copperfield101

I read Her Dear and Loving Husband, a few months ago and realised I hadn’t yet posted my review on my blog, so here it is.


 Sweet, well – written Vampire novel

I didn’t realise it was part of a vampire trilogy when I started reading, so it was a surprise, and I don’t usually read this type of novel, but I’m sharing it today because enjoyed it very much.

I wrote ‘sweet’ in the headline because there’s nothing gory or shocking in the novel, which often puts me off vampires. It’s not a typical vampire novel for teenagers either, as it includes well-written, situations and a mature love story intended for adults.

It was easy to feel sympathy towards Sarah, who has moved from California to Salem after her traumatic divorce, as she starts having disquieting dreams and feeling a strange connection to places and people in the small town.

The plot gradually weaves between present and past, until the mystery is finally revealed. There’s a lot of historical information about the Salem witch trials, and the novel leans heavily on 19th century literary accounts of vampires such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The title is taken from Anne Bradshaw’s poem, My Dear and Loving Husband, which ties in with the touching love story spanning hundreds of years.

If you’re in the mood to suspend belief, you’ll easily be immersed into a world of loving vampires and friendly witches (although there is also a villainous vampire trying to sabotage their love story), because it’s very well written; the prose style draws you smoothly into another world.

It’s the first book in the trilogy, which is free at the moment, and although there’s no cliff hanger ending, you’ll need to read the next two novels to complete James and Sarah’s story.

I listened to the audible narration, which was beautifully read.

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Meredith Allard is the author of the bestselling novels The Loving Husband Trilogy, That You Are Here, Victory Garden, Woman of Stones, and My Brother’s Battle (Copperfield Press). Her newest release is the historical novel When It Rained at Hembry Castle, a great read for fans of Downton Abbey. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Visit Meredith online her blog.

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HAPPY READING!

21 Ingredients for a Great Novel #MondayBlogs

I’m a writer, but, as I’ve so often said, I’m more of a reader than a writer, because I admit that I prefer reading to writing.

I’m a great reader, which means I read a lot, much more than most people.

I’ve always read a lot, but in the last three-four years, I’ve been reading between eight and fifteen books a month, depending on weather I’m writing or not. Most of the books I read are kindle ebooks, but I also read some paperbacks and a few audio books a month, too.

I read contemporary fiction, especially independent authors, debut authors and some bestsellers.

I especially enjoy reading psychological thrillers, romantic suspense, crime fiction, paranormal (but not vampires etc.), women’s fiction, Chick lit, historical romance, and contemporary romance.

I finish and review almost every book I start, unless I don’t enjoy it. Reading is a pleasure, and life’s too short to read books that aren’t for me.

As a result of all this reading and reviewing, I’ve decided to write a very personal, and therefore totally subjective, list of ingredients that make a great novel.

Here are my ingredients, in no particular order.

  1. Good editing is basic. I don’t mean random typos, which I may not even notice, I’m talking about grammar, syntax, register, clichés, repeated words, too many dialogue tags, and punctuation.
  2. Not too wordy. I don’t enjoy reading too much information, which adds nothing to the plot or characterisation. I don’t mind an occasional ‘red herring’, but I’m not keen on plots that go all over the place and confuse me.
  3. Good writing, which means it’s pleasant to read. This ties up with the previous points. I really appreciate, clear and precise prose, which gives me the information I need to feel I’m part of the setting and get to know the characters, like Girl in the Ice. 

ice

  1. Short chapters and short paragraphs are easier to read. I’m very busy and sometimes tired, as most readers. I read for a few minutes here and there, often while commuting or travelling, on a lunch break, between chores, at the end of the day, etc. I don’t enjoy rereading long paragraphs to try to understand what the main point is.
  2. Not too long (although it can be part of a series). In general I prefer books between 70 and 80 thousand words, which can be read in a few afternoons or evenings. I don’t mind occasional cliff hangers, as long as part of the story is complete, otherwise I feel frustrated. I don’t mind reading part of a series either, I fact I quite enjoy it, as I’ve become invested in the characters and want to know more about their story, such as The Detective Jack Stratton books. (There are exceptions, by exceptional authors such as Ken Follet. I don’t mind how long his novels are!)

detective-jack-stratton

         6. Not too short (unless it’s a book of short stories). Most short novels I’ve read feel incomplete. I prefer a longer story.

          7. Engaging characters. Characters don’t have to be likeable, in fact I’m attracted to flawed characters, but I need to be interested in what’s happening to them and what they’re doing. Ideally, they need to be having a hard time, and I need to care about how they cope with their issues, such as ‘I Let You Go‘ in which a woman is coping with the results of a tragic accident she was involved in. i-let-you-go

           8. More than one viewpoint. Life isn’t monochrome, and although I have nothing against stories told from one point of view, I prefer at least two distinct voices. It makes the story more complex and I feel as if I have all sides of the argument. One person’s vision or viewpoint is necessarily limited. I love two first person narrators as ‘Gone Girl’.

gone-girl

          9. An overall meaning or message. It’s especially rewarding to read a novel when the events or feelings are part of something bigger than the story itself, for example a universal event, in which we could all experience, such as the overcoming the pain of the loss of a child, or a divorce such as ‘The Ladies Room.’

ladies-room

          10. Surprises or plot twists every 6-10 minutes. Sometimes novels drag because nothing much happens for pages on end. I need things to happen constantly to keep me turning pages. This needn’t big huge plot twists, it can be a change of scene, character, some news, anything that moves the action forward and stops the slow or dragging sensation, like Matt Cairns, Cold Blooded, which wastes none of the reader’s time in this gripping thriller.

Cold Blooded 2 (1)

          11. Unexpected big twist right before the end. I love this. When you think everything’s sorted out and there’s another unexpected turn, which makes you sit up. The last 10% is as important as the first 10%, because it’s what will stay in my mind and convince me to buy another book by the writer, such as ‘The Sister’.

sister

          12. Not too many main characters. Two main characters are often enough, although I prefer a few more, but too many can be confusing, unless it’s a complex family or historical drama.

        13. Defined secondary characters. I dislike lifeless secondary characters. All characters in the novel should all come to life, even if their role is secondary. Imagine watching a film where only the protagonists are good actors, but the rest are amateurs. The film wouldn’t be much good, would it? The secondary characters need to support the main characters, and they’re often entertaining and vital for moving the plot forward, like The Photographer’s Wife.

photographers-wife

         14. Concentrating the present-time action (narrator time) in a short period, for example a few days, helps me to focus on the plot, even though back story will also usually be included in flashbacks or conversations, such as The Ventian, which takes place over a weekend in Venice.

venetian

         15. Gradually including back story. The back story is usually necessary for the plot to develop and to get to know the characters, but the way in which it is gradually told will build suspense and add unexpected plot twists.

         16. Surprising angle to an old story. Most plots are familiar. So many stories have been told in so many ways that it’s hard to be original, but when it happens, it’s riveting! For example murder from the dead child’s point of view as in ‘The Lovely Bones’, or telling the story of a millionaire falling in love with a poor girl, set in the early 20th century between a fake medium and a railway baron, as in Baron.

baron

            17. Romance. Love is an important part of everyone’s life, falling in love, staying in love, overcoming relationship crisis, moving on, second chances, are all situations I love to read about, such as The Hollow Heart.

a-hollow-heart

         18. Humour. I enjoy reading comedies, occasionally, but a touch of humour is often enough. A humorous situation or character, lightens the drama, and it makes the story realistic; we all come across witty people, who liven up our daily lives. I love romantic comedies told from the point of view of men, which are often very amusing, such as Emma Chase novels, especially, Sustained.

Sustained cover

        19. Drama. I love reading about events which make me feel strong emotional reactions such as anger, fear, sadness even. I cried at the end of Who We Were Before, but I loved that the writer was able to provoke that emotion.

who-we-were

          20. Extraordinary things happening to ordinary people. I love it when what happens to the characters could happen, or could have happened, to me or people I know. It’s credible so I feel drawn into the story. For example a computer programmer who is targeted by the Russian mafia, as in Kissing my Killer.

Kissing My Killer 600x900

        21. The setting. I love it when the setting or a specific place in the novel becomes as important and unique as the plot or characters, not just the background. This can happen if it’s a city, village, or an idyllic landscape, or country house, such as in ‘Eclipse Lake.

eclipse-lake

Do you agree with (all) of these ingredients?

Can you suggest any other ingredients to include?   

 Let me know, I’d love to hear what you think!

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#Author Spotlight Jennifer Theriot & #BookReview ‘Out of the Box Awakening’ for #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today the Spotlight is on Jennifer Theriot, whose novel Out of the Box Awakening I recently reviewed as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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BLURB OUT OF THE BOX AWAKENING

Olivia is a good woman, a good mother, a good wife. She’s got it made. She doesn’t want anything to change.

Of course, it does…

Swept from her perfect paper-doll life in Houston, Olivia finds herself in Chicago, alone, betrayed, and far from home. Soon everything she thought she knew about herself and her life will be challenged. She has only courage, love, and her passion for music to carry her through the maelstrom—or draw her further in.

Ash is the man who has everything—everything except healing from the losses of a lifetime. His only peace lies in the sweet flow of music pouring from his guitar.

What happens when the married woman and the sexy handsome widower are thrown together by fate?

Out of the Box Awakening is a story about second chances, shared passion and shared joy. Jennifer Theriot has written a compelling book about what happens when two people find new life and new love for themselves and for those around them.

My Review

Out of the Box Awakening by Jennifer Theriot is a contemporary family drama with a hopeful ending.

Olivia, who is in her late 50s, is faced with making major life changes. Her children have grown up and left home, and she has to move from Huston to Chicago due to her husband’s new job. Her husband, Alan, is staying with his friend, Ash, who becomes Olivia’s supportive friend as her life unexpectedly falls apart.

We will follow Olivia through the discovery of betrayal and her traumatic divorce, as she gradually falls in love with Ash. She realizes she hadn’t really been in love with her husband for a long time before their marriage ended. For example, she loved music and dancing, while Adam didn’t, so she had abandoned her hobby until Ash and his son, who is a musician, open up a new world of music and dancing. The realization that she has been drifting through life with Alan, who had never really appreciated her, comes as a shock. For instance, there’s a scene when she’s in hospital and Ash phones Alan to ask about her medical history to fill in a form, but he doesn’t know the answers.

‘Alan, tell me you actually know something about your wife? I’ve got to get these forms filled out and I goddamn need your help.’

Alan replies: ‘I honestly don’t know.’

It’s devastating, but at least Olivia is fortunate enough to have found Ash, who is supportive emotionally and helpful from a practical point of view too. He teaches her to value herself, her body, her hobbies and her freedom. He encourages her to find a part-time job, to keep herself busy, motivated and independent.

Most romantic novels have young main characters, so it was refreshing to read a novel about a more mature love story including characters who were my age. There are also plenty of young people in the novel, such as Olivia and Ash’s young adult children, who liven up the story.

Although it can be read as a standalone because there is no cliffhanger ending, and the ending is happy, there’s still a story to be continued. I was thrilled to discover that there are two more books in the series. How will their new life together work out? They both have families and personal baggage, will they be able to start again? Life with Ash will be better than life with Alan, because at least Ash respects and supports Olivia, but Ash also has his secrets. His job in government security, which we know little about and keeps him away for periods of time, is intriguing. I’m looking forward to reading the next installment, Out of the Box Regifted which is already on my kindle!

Out of the Box book 2

Interview with Jennifer Theriot

1- Most romantic novels are about young couples, what were the challenges you faced writing a romance involving a mature couple?

There really were no challenges, per se. At first I wasn’t sure how well the readers would take to it though. Here you have a middle-aged couple, young at heart, still sexually active,falling in love and doing silly things.

2- I’ve read and reviewed book 1, Awakening, but there are two more, Regifted and Everlasting, what inspired you to write the ‘Out of the Box’ Trilogy?

When I finished Out of the Box Awakening, my characters wanted to go on – there was more of the story to tell, so I went with Out of the Box Regifted (where Olivia was ‘regifted’ to Ash by Alan). This one has a lot more ‘steamy romance’ in it, as Ash and Olivia’s relationship flourishes and he encourages her to be more spontaneous and uninhibited. The characters wanted to go one more, so I left a little ‘cliffy’ at the end of Regifted. In Out of the Box Everlasting, the story comes full circle. I have a little political conspiracy theory in Everlasting – with this being an election year and all. I figured why not throw in a little Trump-esque scenario 😉

The trilogy is complete and the order of it spells ARE (Awakening, Regifted, Everlasting)

My thoughts: I know what you mean when you say, my characters wanted to go on, because I had the same feeling as I wrote and even now that I’ve finished my trilogy! Some characters seem to have a mind of their own!

3- What’s your writing process like? 

By all means, non traditional! I live outside the box, so don’t follow the rules. I don’t use an outline, I’m pretty unorganized  and I wait for my characters to guide me. I write at night and on weekends, because I have a full-time day job crunching numbers.

Unwrapping Noel

4- What are you working on now?

Last Christmas, I wrote a little novella called Unwrapping Noel. It’s about a full-figured thirty something year old woman who was in a tumultuous and toxic marriage. She owns a PR firm and goes to the Silicon Valley on business during the Christmas holidays, where she meets a sexy silver fox named Leon Hallas who falls head over heels for her. (Did you catch the palindrome?)

I’m now working on the sequel to that, called Finding Joy. I love writing this couple!

5- What would you like readers to know about you?

I love connecting with new readers and I love to hear from them. I’m a people person by nature.

Here’s my author biography:

USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Theriot (pronounced Terrio) hails from the Great State of Texas. She is a career woman, working as CFO of a Texas-based real estate investment firm by day and does her writing at nights and on weekends. In her limited spare time, Jennifer enjoys being outdoors; preferably somewhere on a beach curled up with a good book. Spending time with family and friends, listening to music, watching a baseball game and enjoying a good bottle of wine are usually on her to-do lists. She’s mom to three grown children and ‘MiMi’ to four grandkids – all of whom she adores!

Jennifer took a chance that there could be an interest in romance with middle-aged couples who are finding themselves at a crossroads and wrote her debut novel Out of the Box Awakening, which centers on the hope of finding happiness and passion through unexpected heartache. It emphasizes the need for family and friends as Jennifer has learned in her own life. Grownup romance from the other side of 30 is how she characterizes her books. The books have also been described as “Mature Sexy” by one reviewer…

Jennifer

6- How can readers contact you or find out more about you?

As you can see below, Jennifer is very active on social media, so take your pick!

GOOGLE PLUS: https://plus.google.com/102404514817870981129/posts

WEBSITE: http://www.jennifertheriot.com

BLOG: http://jennifertheriot.com/blog/

AUTHOR FACEBOOK:   Jennifer Theriot, Author https://www.facebook.com/JenniferTheriotAuthor

TWITTER:  @ JenTheRiot https://twitter.com/JenTheRiot

BOOK BUB: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/jennifer-theriot

GOODREADS AUTHOR: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7082754.Jennifer_Theriot

AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Theriot/e/B00D8SW61C

AUTHORGRAPH: http://www.authorgraph.com/authors/JenTheRiot

Book Trailers

http://youtu.be/fJp9fUMiedI

http://youtu.be/PaOdiY-J2YY

http://youtu.be/cg4WXXGvqqg

7- Where can readers buy your books? buy links.

 UNIVERSAL BOOK LINKS:

http://mybook.to/OutoftheBoxAwakening

http://mybook.to/OutoftheBoxRegifted

http://www.amazon.com/Out-Box-Everlasting-Jennifer-Theriot-ebook/dp/B01D0S3JSI

http://mybook.to/ToccataObbligatoSerenadingKyra

http://mybook.to/FortuneBrawling

 http://myBook.to/CrazyLadyAuthorsCookbook

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Thank you so much for your visit, Jennifer. I’m looking forward to reading and reviewing more of your novels, which I’ll be sharing on this blog with my readers at a future date!

 

#Author Spotlight Mandy Lee & #BookReview of her Novel ‘You Don’t Know Me’

You all know why I love Romantic novels and Byronic heroes. If you don’t remember, check this post!

To sum up, they simply are tantalising, because the reader knows that this disgusting frog will become an irresistible prince, with the heroine’s invaluable help, by the time the novel / trilogy is concluded. To quote myself:

‘Byronic heroes are brooding, darkly handsome, and they have a secret, hidden past, which makes them behave antisocially. They are usually worldly, rich, cynical, destructive, and resentful. They have difficulties identifying and even expressing their emotions, and women find them extremely alluring. They are idealized yet flawed characters, who need to be recovered and repaired by the perfect heroine.’

But what are the heroines like? What kind of a woman can fall in love and transform this semi-monster into a cuddly teddy bear?

Answer: A feisty, intelligent, strong-willed, generous and loving spirit, who also has issues of her own to deal with, just like Maya.

Fishing for Hyenas and looking for sleeping Penguins: A story of

 

I loved ‘You Don’t Know Me’ right from page one. It is a well-written, well-plotted, fun and enjoyable, romantic and erotic read. When I started reading I thought, ‘This is the novel I’ve been waiting to read for months.’ I love romance, and I also enjoy an erotic twist, if the characters and plot are enticing enough, and Maya and Dan are an enthralling couple to follow.

Our heroine, Maya Scotton, is an artist with a severe case of painter’s block, who takes on an office job at a construction company in order to pay the bills. She meets the seemingly heartless and mysterious owner of the company, and they both embark on a steamy and complex relationship, which will keep you turning pages impatiently.

Maya is a friendly, funny and loveable young woman, who is denying her artistic talent, by running away from herself. She desperately needs the love, reassurance and security that Dan offers.

Yet Dan has dark demands and a shocking secret. Dan is not who he seems. You don’t know me ends with a revealing cliffhanger, and I’m impatiently waiting for book two.

There is suspense as well as romance, building up to a final shocking secret, which both links them painfully yet threatens to keeps them apart forever.

I love character driven novels, and all the characters in You Don’t Know Me are so well-crafted that I felt as if I could see and hear every one of them. Everyone who appears is valuable to the reader, because they have a specific role in the plot, which moves on with every page.

The big plus, at least for me, is that it takes place in London, mainly around the South Bank, which happens to be one of my favourite places! I’ve walked near and around GabrieI’s Wharf many times, but now I can’t wait to go back and have a coffee there, Dan’s favourite place! There are many more places to look out for. Mandy Lee has drawn me into the characters’ fictional world, and I loved it!

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                                             Dan and Maya’s London

One of the great things about being a writer, being a reader and reviewer, and having a blog in the 21st century is that you can meet and speak to other writers on Social Media. I ‘met’ Mandy on Twitter, by chance. I’m always interested in debut authors and romance, so I decided to give her book a go a few weeks ago. I was so impressed that as soon I finished reading it, I contacted her for an author interview and spotlight on my blog. I’m also telling everyone I know to give it a try. For less than the price of a coffee you get to meet a lovely young painter, fall in love, and visit London!

Here’s the interview:

Your author profile on Amazon says you work in the field of education. This means you have a full time, demanding job. I know first-hand because I’m a teacher! How did you manage to find time to write at the same time and what’s your writing routine?

Teaching is a demanding job and it’s been tough trying to fit it all in. When I get home from work, I generally take an hour or so to wind down, walk the dog, and get the dinner ready. Then I switch on the laptop and write for as long as I can. At the weekends, I do about six hours a day. In the holidays, it’s the same. I’m looking forward to giving up the full time job at Christmas, after which I’ll be taking five months off to finish the trilogy. After that, I’ll do a little supply to help pay the bills, but I’ll be able to focus a lot more on writing. I’m lucky. My family are very supportive.

What would you say to a reader to convince them to read your novel?

If you love a good story, then you won’t be disappointed! I’ve been told more than once that it’s a real page turner. Readers also tell me that they love the steamy sex scenes, and that they get thoroughly involved with the characters. It’s also pretty funny in places!

You don’t know me has romance and suspense, right to the end. You could have written a more traditional type of romance with a similar storyline, why did you decide to write an erotic instead of a more traditional type of romance?

I’m a big fan of erotic romance. I started off by reading the 50 Shades trilogy because all of my friends were reading it. I really didn’t think I’d enjoy it but I was hooked! I then went on to read other erotic romances. In particular, I loved Sylvia Day’s Crossfire series and I also lapped up the This Man trilogy by Jodi Ellen Malpas. I guess I just enjoy a good sex scene. On that level, it’s pure escapism. But the additional challenge with erotic romance is to weave the sex into the storyline so that it’s absolutely essential. I started You Don’t Know Me as an experiment to see if I could do it. Along the way, I think I finally found my genre!

Your novel has been compared to 50 Shades of Grey, I know you don’t mind this comparison, but in what ways would you say it’s similar and/or different to 50 Shades?

I’ve read quite a few erotic romances and there are similarities between all of them, the most obvious being the idea of the rich but damaged alpha male who’s unexpectedly brought to his knees by a woman. There’s nothing new in this. I think Charlotte Bronte might have got in there first with Jane Eyre, only without the sex! Having said that, I consciously worked to make my book different to 50 Shades. For example, my heroine isn’t an innocent ingénue. Maya’s a little older, definitely sexually experienced and she’s got demons of her own to deal with. She’s more than capable of giving Dan a run for his money, and while she’s willing to give him control in everything sexual, she won’t let him walk all over her outside of the bedroom. I wanted my male lead to be different too. Yes, he’s an alpha male with a shady past and kinky sexual preferences, but he wants to leave behind the hard core BDSM. Although it’s partly about the need for control, his interest in BDSM is more about escaping from who he really is. He doesn’t want that escape any more. As you get to know him, you also discover that he’s not a power-hungry control freak at all: there’s a much softer side trying to get out. And as I was creating my ideal man, he also needed a damn good sense of humour!

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You say in your biography that you are in the shadows and prefer not to share an author picture due to your job. I presume that if your wrote a more mainstream type of fiction, you wouldn’t be in the shadows. Why do you think there’s a stigma in being an author of erotica?

If I weren’t a teacher, I’d be more than willing to share a picture! In fact, I’d love nothing more. Generally speaking, I don’t think that there is a stigma attached to writing erotica, not any more. In my case, it’s just that some parents might have an issue with their children being taught by someone who writes explicit sex scenes. And more than that, I’m pretty sure that if the students found out, some of them would end up reading it, and that could cause all sorts of difficult situations!

What are you writing at the moment and what are your plans for the future?

At the minute, I’m working on True Colours, the sequel to You Don’t Know Me. The second draft is done and I’m now editing and revising. It should be ready for publication just after Christmas. Then I’ll be finishing the trilogy. Before I wrote You Don’t Know Me, I wrote a comedy trilogy set in the world of education. An agent showed interest in it at one point, but couldn’t offer representation. I’m having that edited at the minute and I’ll be self-publishing it under another pen name in the New Year. But the plan is to continue with erotic romance. I have notebooks full of ideas for future stories!

How can readers find out more or contact you?
Twitter – @mandylee2015
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Mandy-Lee-424286884398779/?ref=hl
Website (including blog) – http://www.mandy-lee.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14125711.Mandy_Lee

Where can readers buy your book?
Amazon UK
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0103IR52O?*Version*=1&*entries*=0
Amazon US
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0103IR52O?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

#Author Spotlight Gloria Antypowich & #BookReview of her Novel ‘Full Circle’

This week’s Author Spotlight features  Gloria Antypowich and her novel Full Circle.

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My Review

One of the reasons I read is to travel, and another is to encounter events beyond my daily routine. In Full Circle, I was alternately shocked, surprised, upset, and cheerful. I also travelled to Canada and found out what life on a ranch is like! So it was a satisfying read. I especially enjoyed the dialogues and the descriptive scenes which transported me to another continent.

The four main characters are very well-developed, which made me care about what would happen to them, and plenty of things happen! I read about many life changing and dramatic events in their lives, such as loss of parents and children, neglect, fear of commitment, divorce, betrayal, marriage, pregnancy, falling in and out of love, depression, as well as disturbing events such as child murder.

It is a romance, so it is not a spoiler to say that there is an optimistic ending. However, it is not an ordinary or simple romance, the story gradually unwinds and becomes more complex as the plot grows and the characters develop.
At the start of the novel Shauna Lee Holt is a successful accountant with her own business in a Canadian town, who promiscuously enjoys the company of men. We will learn that there is more to Shauna Lee than lust when Brad appears in her life, like a catalyst, and turns her world upside down, as he discovers (with the reader) the traumatic secrets of her past.

Brad is generous and supportive and helps her discover the healing power of love, instead of (or as well as) lust, and helps her face the truth and discover who she is and what she wants to make of her life.

Although Full Circle is part of a series, this can be read as a stand-alone novel. I have not read book one, The Second Time Around, but now I’m curious to find out more of the back story of the lives of Colt and Frank Thompson, the happy couple who seem to have everything, but are also struck by dramatic events in Full Circle.

There are two more novels in the series, The Hand of Fate and Second Chance, which I look forward to reading.

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I read and reviewed this enjoyable novel last summer and asked Gloria to answer some questions to get to know more about her work and her writing routine.

1- What would you say to readers to convince them to buy Full Circle?

If you are looking for something more than a traditional romance, you will enjoy Full Circle. Your first impression of Shauna Lee Holt could easily be disdain because, while she is a successful business woman, in her personal life she is promiscuous, sleeping with different men on a regular basis. When Brad Thompson arrives on the scene she hits on him immediately, but he is different from the other men she knows. He is attracted to her, but he is not willing to play her game. He makes it clear to her that he will not have sex with her until they have gotten to know each other and established the beginning of a truly monogamous relationship. He’s determined not to be another one in a string of guys in her bed, but she certainly does test his resolve.

Behind the façade she has created, Shauna Lee is a tormented person who feels unworthy of love and she doesn’t know how to be with a man like Brad. As he gets glimpses of her tragic past he begins to realise that she may never be able to give him what he wants. When they begin to make headway, shadows from her past come forward, like ghosts slipping through the cracks that Brad has pried opened in her armor. Will Shauna Lee let Brad stand by her side and help her like he wants too, or will fear overrule and cause her to slam all her emotional portals shut again?

This story is filled with drama. It revolves around betrayals, hatred, infanticide, regret, revenge, strong friendships and unconditional love. Bring your box of Kleenex when you sit down to read. There will be times when you may laugh, but I’m certain there will be more times when you will feel like crying.

2.What inspired you to write the Belanger Creek Ranch Books?

The Belanger Creek Ranch Series has been a long journey for me. Over 30 years ago I was fortunate to be able to attend RWA conferences in the USA for a few years in succession. Then one year I decided to go to a writer’s workshop in Regina Saskatchewan. That would have been a long two day drive for me, and my husband didn’t want me to go by myself, so he went with me. I had romanticised about the Cypress Hills. They are a high point of land that straddles the SE corner of the province of Alberta and the adjoining SW corner of the province of Saskatchewan: an anomaly in the otherwise flat land of the prairies. Exploring them was on my agenda for that trip. On our way back home to B.C., we detoured off Highway 1 and visited Loch Levan, then drove through the Center Block of the Interprovincial Cypress Hills Park, and across the Gap Road to historic Fort Walsh in the West Block. Among other things, I saw the biggest grasshoppers I have ever seen in my life on the Gap Road! I made notes and took pictures—we talked to a couple of ranchers and that was research for my first book. I wrote the book, had an agent who presented it to Harlequin, who in turn gave me a polite not-now letter, so I went on to other things. I published that original book as “Hearts at Risk” in 2011, and after a few people said they wanted to know more about the characters I decided to write a second book, “You Can Run,” in 2012.

Then my husband decided to write and publish his hunting memoir and his personal memoir, so I put my writing aside and dedicated my time to editing and revising his manuscripts. As well, there were 350 pictures in his personal memoir and 150 in his hunting memoir. I had to prepare those pictures for the publisher by converting them to black and white, editing them with Photoshop Elements where necessary and resizing them. Then I had to number them according to where they would be placed in the individual manuscripts and create place holders in 3 separate files for each book. It was a major project!

In 2014 I settled into my own writing again. I still loved and believed in the characters and story of my first two books (even though they were total flops) so I did an extensive rewrite of “Hearts At Risk,” and it became The Second Time Around, Book One of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series. Then I tweaked the manuscript for “You Can Run” and it became Full Circle, Book Two of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series.

I like a series of books if they relate to each other, but can be read on their own, and by the time I started writing again I knew I wanted to do a book that included a surrogacy. That book went through 3 title changes—at first I was going to call it “The Bastard and The Barren”. My husband has no input in my books (in fact I don’t think he’s even read books three and four), but one day he when he came into my office and when he saw the file name on my computer he was disgusted!! Any way as the book evolved—(or possibly I was the one who evolved) I decided the title was going to be “The Gift” Then when I did the very final edit—I knew there was so much more to that book than just the gift of surrogacy, and after I changed the last paragraph, I decided to call it The Hand of Fate. Two new characters had been introduced into the “Belanger Creek Ranch family” and the idea for A Second Chance, Book Four was spawned.

I choose to call the series The Belanger Creek Ranch Series, because thirty years ago when we drove through that country I had made a note about a small creek named Belanger Creek. I have no idea what the area is like now, but there was not a ranch there then.

glorias larger author photo

3. What’s your writing routine?

Insane!! I’m a total “pantster.” I’ll have an idea and I’ll do thorough research as background material. Then I’ll just jump right in and start writing—for hours and days and weeks and months.

Since my husband also writes, that is OK when he is settled in front of his computer, but when he isn’t, I think not having “a wife” for weeks on end gets frustrating. He doesn’t say much…although sometimes actions speak louder than words! My kids rag on me for living an unbalanced life—no exercise and sitting at the computer non-stop. Our oldest daughter and her family live upstairs (we live on the ground floor of the same house) and if she looks out of her bathroom window at midnight and sees the glow of the light from my office, she will go into their spare bedroom just above where I am working and stomp on the floor to let me know that she doesn’t approve! Our children and grandchildren are proud of my accomplishments—I have to correct myself here-they are proud of both of our accomplishments—but they just don’t get what it’s like to be a writer!

4-What are you working on now?

I am not writing right now—I am marketing, marketing, marketing!

But I have many ideas simmering on the back burner. I have done research for a possible rodeo series—I know a stock contractor, a bull fighter, a chuckwagon owner, a chuckwagon outrider and a bull rider, as well as a tie down roper. I do much of my research on line, but I like to get a feel for what characters would think and do from real life people if possible. Most of what I learn never makes it into a book, but it makes me feel that I can write with authenticity.

I also have a “series” that’s been on my mind for a few years—one book would be titled Too Little Too Late, another Meant to Be and the third would be The Ties That Bind. They are all about married couples whose relationships face challenges. Too Little Too Late and The Ties That Bind are not actually “happy ever after” books. Meant To Be has heartache but ends happily. They all deal with harsh realities of things that do happen in life. I have thought about them for so long, but am not certain that I want to go down that road yet.

I have also thought about doing a series about girls who arrived on The Bride Ships in the 1800’s—that’s more historical—but there is such fascinating, and yes, horrible stories to be gleaned from that time in the US and when the gold rush was in full swing in the Cariboo area of British Columbia, where I live.

Also I wrote another book years ago that was about a surrogacy contract that fell apart when the intended mother died. More than once I have thought about bringing it to life. I loved that book and still remember it clearly—it had a paranormal element to it.

So as you see, I have plenty of ideas to work on—and in honesty, undoubtedly less than 20 years to write—if I’m very fortunate. Oh mortality!! And the hand of fate! One never knows what will come into your life in a given time. So I choose to live one day at a time!

Lucy, Thank you so much for featuring me in your Author Spotlight!

It was a pleasure having you on my blog, Gloria.

****

If you’d like to contact Gloria, here are her social network links:

FaceBook: http://tinyurl.com/Gloria-Antypowich-Author-Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/glantypowich
My webpage is http://gloriaantypowichauthor.com/home/
My Blog: http://gloriaantypowich.com/blog/
GoodReads: http://tinyurl.com/goodreads-Gloria-Antypowich
Linkedin: http://tinyurl.com/Linkedin-Gloria-Antypowich

Purchase link:

My books on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Gloria-Antypowich-Amazon

Buy One Get One Half Price At Gatwick Airport

Book Review: Death on a Dacron Sail by Noelle Granger

Death in a Dacron Sail (Rhe Brewster Mysteries Book 2)

Death in a Dacron sail is the type of book I love to read. It’s the second installment of the Rhe Brewster series. Read my review of Death in a Red Canvas Chair, the first in the series, posted a few months ago.

The plot of Death in a Dacron Sail is again tightly woven with plenty of forensic information given by our nurse and amateur sleuth narrator. This time Rhe is helping with an unpleasant crime involving a missing child. There is plenty of fast-paced action and suspense, in spite of the idyllic small town location, and there are many surprises and twists, making it a gripping page turner.

It’s also very well written. The prose flows so smoothly that it is a pleasure to read.

Dacron

However, the very best part of this novel is the characterization. Readers won’t be interested in a good plot and wonderful writing if they can’t engage with the characters. Detective, crime thrillers, and mysteries often run the risk of being plot driven in detriment of character development, but that’s not the case here. On the contrary, the reader will love Rhe, because she is clever, and generous, and caring, but she’s also naïve, sometimes insecure, and others too patient with people who just don’t deserve it! I’ve wanted to tell her to be careful with someone who’s close to her since book one (no name so no spoilers!), and to stand up to her bullying boss! The other characters, both good and bad, are also so real they almost jump out of the page to watch you reading!

I know that now that she’s solved the present mystery, she’ll be involved with another riveting case shortly, but I’m just as interested in finding out how she sorts out her personal predicament, and the direction her personal life will take in book three.

By the way, just in case you were wondering, it can be read as a stand-alone novel, because the cases are independent, and although the main characters are the same, there is enough background information for readers to feel comfortable reading book two alone or first.

Noelle Granger

Noelle Granger

 

Death in a Dacron Sail is N. A. Granger’s second novel.

I asked  Ms. Granger to tell us a little more about Rhe, my favourite police consultant.

My main character, Rhe Brewster, is an Emergency Room nurse, which allows me to bring in medical knowledge, along with a healthy dose of anatomy from her friend, Marsh Adams, the assistant Maine State ME. Rhe is smart, daring, and has what I have called a yen for adrenaline, a not always good mix when she’s in the middle of an investigation.  She tends to leap before looking, which is why she gets herself into challenging situations.  However, she’s intelligent enough to get herself out!  I also wanted to give her a family life, one that many women could relate to: an occasionally prickly relationship with her husband Will (a lot more of that in Death in a Dacron Sail) and a loving relationship with Jack, her son, who is ADHD. MY son is ADHD, and more of that will figure into later books.

I also asked her why she writes crime fiction, and this is what she told me.

I like to write crime fiction because the scientific nature of it fascinates me – brings my background in anatomy and medicine and research together in one package. I also love doing the research for my books. I meet all sorts of people, all of whom have been very open to helping me understand their areas of expertise. I am an extrovert by nature, so this is great for my psyche.

Watch out for N. A. Granger’s  great Blog SaylingAway. 

Check it out on Amazon US or Amazon UK

Book Launch! Don’t Forget to Breathe by Cathrina Constantine

Today it’s my pleasure to take part in another Book Launch. I’d like to introduce you to Cathrina Constantine’s new  novel Don’t Forget to Breathe.

Blurb for Don’t Forget to Breathe by Cathrina Constantin:

Sixteen-year-old Leocadia arrives home from school to find her mom’s bloody body. Unaware that the killer still lingers, she rushes to her mother’s side, only to be grabbed from behind and then everything fades to black.

After a year of retrograde amnesia and battling personal demons, Leo’s dreams are getting worse—she’s starting to remember. More bodies are discovered and they seem to be oddly linked to her mom’s unsolved homicide.

When Leo allows her friend, Henry to drag her into the haunted Lucien Mansion, misty ghosts appear, ghosts that just might lead to her mother’s murderer.

Will Leo let her memories threaten her into a relapse or, will she fight to find her mother’s killer – only to become his next victim?

Cover constantine

 

Author Bio:

Cathrina Constantine resides in Western New York with her husband, five children, two Labrador Retrievers and two cats. Author @BlackOpalBooks & @CHBB_Vamptasy.

Her current books: WICKEDLY THEY COME, WICKEDLY THEY DREAM, TALLAS, And her newest novel from @CHHB_Vamptasy DON’T FORGET TO BREATHE.

When not with her family or stationed at the computer writing, you will find her walking in the backwoods with her dogs, conjuring up a new tale.

Constantin

Contact or find out more about Cathrina Constantine:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wickedly333
Blog: http://cathrinaconstantine.blogspot.com
Twitter: @cathconstantine

My Review of Don’t Forget to Breathe by Cathrina Constantine (4 Stars)

Finding your mother’s dead body, and realizing you saw and heard her murderer, although you can’t remember anything, is enough to devastate anyone, but especially our young heroine, Leocadia, who has grown into a confused and traumatized adolescent.

In addition, her father’s neglectful attitude to parenting (he obviously has his own problems), and her lack of any supportive adults, leads her to make some questionable decisions which will put her in danger, and even face to face with her mother’s killer.

She learns the hard way that her parents were not the ideal people she had envisaged in her childhood, and also comes across some destructive characters at her school, although fortunately she has some caring friends, too.

I had a hard time understanding the things Leo did, and how she coped, wanting to shout at her too many times! On the other hand, I really cared and worried about her and wanted to know what would happen.

This novel is well-written, engaging and exciting, and there are some suspenseful moments when everyone seems guilty of her mother’s murder. There are also some spine-tingling scenes in the cemetery and a haunted house.

I don’t usually read YA novels, in fact, this is the first one I’ve read in a long time. I felt sorry for the young people for seemingly not having much support or understanding from their elders. As an adult, I would have liked to have been able to identify or sympathise with an adult character.

On the other hand, the characters and events are convincingly portrayed, it’s entertaining, exciting, and has some paranormal and gripping moments, and I’m sure young adults will identify with Leo’s issues and enjoy this novel.

Amazon US link

Amazon UK link

Book Review: Unequal Affections by Lara S. Ormiston

Unequal Affections is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. It’s also one of the most beautiful, engrossing, and haunting books I’ve read. It’s clever, original, and enthralling.

You all know how much I love novels both set in and written in the 19th century, and you also know I’m especially fond of character-driven novels, well, this is the most obsessively perfect character-driven novel I’ve read in a long time!

Unequal Affections

Unequal Affections has very little by means of a plot, and there is very little action. On the other hand, the outcome is no surprise; we all know that Elizabeth married Darcy in the end! Yet, in spite of it all, this is a compelling, unputdownable read. I relished every chapter, every page, and every word, and I’ll no doubt be reading it again, because it’s a book to be savoured slowly and repeatedly.

I was never Jane Austen’s greatest fan, and one of the reasons why I prefer contemporary renderings of Jane Austen’s works, is because she never got inside her characters’ heads. It is true that she portrayed her characters through ample conversation and actions, but to my post-Freudian mind, I really miss getting inside the characters’ minds, and understanding why they say and behave the way they do. It’s probably my fault. I may lack imagination, or knowledge of the era, but I need the characters to tell me why.

Another fabulous aspect is how the author gets inside both their minds with equal balance. It would have been easy to give a one-sided account of how Elizabeth feels, with some hints at Darcy’s predicament. Some may argue that this is what Jane Austen did herself. However, the author gets into Darcy’s mind just as easily and convincingly as he gets into Anne’s, which is no easy feat, as his point of view is far more difficult to both ascertain and convey.

The best part is how both characters evolve in just a month their courting lasts, and even better is how the reader also evolves with them. I felt I saw all the characters in a new light, because although we are given Elizabeth and Darcy’s points of view, we are given insights to all the other characters, too, such as Elizabeth’s supposedly ‘awful’ mother, who finally seems far less awful to Darcy, and so to the reader.

When I finished, I felt as if I had been abducted. I felt I had been transported through a time-tunnel into Elizabeth and Darcy’s lives two hundred years ago. I was an invisible visitor, following them around, and impatient to know what would happen next. When I came back to January 2015, I wondered melancholically how marriage and relationships between men and women had changed so much. If romantic love and how it comes about and evolves can be explained, this novel comes very close to doing so.

By the way, there must be a sequel. I hope Lara S. Ormiston writes one, because I need to go back and see how they coped with the challenges their marriage would no doubt face.

If you’ve read Pride and Prejudice, you’ll love it. If you haven’t read Pride and Prejudice, you’ll love it, too. If you love historical romance, you’ll love it. If you love novels that deal with relationships between men and women, within and between families, you’ll love it. If you love psychological dramas, you’ll love it, too.

If you’re a Jane Austen fan, or if you like 19th century novels, or historical romance, see my review of Captain Frederick Wentworth’s Persuasion by Regina Jeffers, another fabulous retelling of a Jane Austen novel.

Book Review: The 20’s Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz, by June Kearns

I really loved this novel. It draws you in from page one with the setting, writing style, love story, and hint of humour.
It was easy for me to love it, because it has all the elements I enjoy as a reader.

20s girl
Firstly, I’m especially attracted to historical novels, and it is set in the past, specifically in the 1920s, as the title informs us, so we are able to glimpse at these challenging post-war years, during which the human loss of sons, brothers, husbands, and boyfriends, was enhanced by the drear financial situation.

Secondly, there are two spectacular and contrasting settings to experience, the fertile, green and rainy English countryside, with its polite and quaint inhabitants and lifestyle, and an isolated, hot and dry Texan ranch, with rough cowboys!

Thirdly, it is romantic, and I can’t resist a good, historical romance. However, this romance is not your typical instant love affair. It includes a long drawn-out courtship, with plenty of ups and downs and twists and turns between Gerry and Coop, and of course, the ghost!

Fourthly, the ‘ghost’ is cleverly, and convincingly, wound into the story from the beginning. Gerry’s singular aunt, Leoni, is ever-present. She brings them together after her death by means of her will, and spurs them on through wafts of her perfume, and the help of a cat…

The fifth reason I loved this book was due to the well-drawn and loveable characters, especially Gerry. I was really worried about what would come of her with her ruined book shop and disastrous financial situation, in which she was almost compelled to marry the wrong person out of desperation.

Again we have a Byronic hero, but he is from Texas (that’s why I’ll call him a Byronic-Texan hero!), who is mysterious, moody, undecipherable, intense, rich, and magnanimous. I already told you in a previous post why I love Byronic heroes, who cares if they’re Texan!

It’s no spoiler to say that it is a happy ever after ending, because as we all know, in a character driven romance, such as this novel, we presume a happy ending, the thrill of reading is precisely how the characters deal with conflict, and how this ending is eventually reached.

Although it’s no easy ride, you will not be disappointed! It’s a delightful novel that will make you laugh, and bite your nails, and worry, and believe in mischievous ghosts and of course, love.

Five stars because the humour, romance, historical, and paranormal aspects are carefully wound into a riveting tale which is delightful and unputdownable.

The 20’s Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz on Amazon US

The 20’s Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz on Amazon UK

Check out June Kearns Amazon page and watch her video about how she writes.

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