Review: When Time is A River by Susan Clayton-Goldener

WhenTimIsaRiver

Published September 6th 2017 by Tirgearr Publishing

ASIN:  B0741DSKCK Rating:  5*

Because I’ve read the National Writers Award Winner Book  A BEND IN THE WILLOW by Susan Clayton-Goldener I was more than happy to be able to read and review her newest book WHEN TIME IS A RIVER.    Now that I have read both, I know that with this author, who writes with heart and emotion and a very fresh and eloquent voice, she is an author who must be placed on an auto-buy list.

The dynamics of the family that had Emily their 3 year old child kidnapped from a park, while her much older step-sister Brandy was in charge of  watching her certainly played a huge part in the intense emotional play of the story.   Yes, Brandy was not on the best of terms with her new step-mother who was once her professor father’s student and only 4-5 years older than Brandy, but that was never a factor in what Brandy felt for her baby sister.  Brandy was probably more of a mother to Emily than Christine (the mother) was.

Unbeknownst to Brandy, was that she and Emily had been stalked for weeks by someone who wanted Emily – the perfect child.   Brandy was quite beautiful and talented but for a noticeable scar on her cheek which she’d received when she fell out of her stroller at age 3 and was caught in the escalator at a department store.    The trauma was intense for Brandy because all her life she wanted to be an actress and singer.  But when Emily disappeared from her stroller while Brandy was in a restroom keeping an eye on the stroller wheels and talking to Emily, the stalker came in and took Emily right out of the stroller without Brandy ever knowing she was gone.    This incident trounced any kind of trauma Brandy had ever had over her scars.  Enter Detective Radhauser who is brought in on the case, and insists Brandy stay out of the investigation – however, Brandy’s tortured soul and guilt wouldn’t allow her to just sit around.

With the story set, be aware that the pages will fly by as Brandy chases down every clue she gives to Radhauser.   Radhauser insists Brandy stay safe and away from the investigation but Brandy wouldn’t listen and when she discovers more than she ever wanted to know, she must race before it was too late to save Emily.

Bottom line:   Top notch story and deserving of another award!  Highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: Once A Rebel by Mary Jo Putney

Once a Rebel

September 27th 2017 by Zebra Historical (first published May 30th 2017)

Series  Rogues Redeemed #2                  Rating:  5*

This was truly a fully fleshed out and wonderful read.   To summarize the plot, Callie and Lord George are childhood best friends and neighbors with horrid fathers.  Callie’s father decides to rid himself of her and announces he has found her a husband.  He’s three times her age, a man she’s never met and will take her away to Jamaica to live.  Callie runs to Lord George and they decide to run to Gretna Green; they stop to rest and the father’s alerted by one of Callie’s sisters, found them.   In trying to save Lord Georges life who was being beaten to death by her father she promised she would marry the man and be a good and dutiful wife.  Later Callie was told that George had been killed on his way to Botany Bay.

It’s fifteen years later, and Callie is widowed with two step-children and living in Washington, as the British are invading and trying to burn it down.   She sends her family and retainers off to Baltimore fearing for their safety, while she remains behind to keep her home and dressmaking business safe from looters and approaching British soldiers.  Unfortunately, unbeknownst to her some rebel snipers had such into her home and used the upper floors to try and assassinate the top British officer as he rode through town.   The soldiers blamed Callie and just as she was about to be raped or worse, a hero came to her rescue.

The hero turned out to be Lord George, now calling himself Gordon who had survived and was sent on a mission by relatives to try to discover and save the missing widow, and/or provide for her if she wouldn’t come back to England.  They both recognized one another and the friendship they once had allowed Callie to trust Gordon to see her to her step – family and decide whether to remain in America or go back to England.

This was a real adventure, packed with an enormous amount of American history and a wonderfully sensual romance.   I can’t say much more about it other than it was on those hard-pout-down reads!

Highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Lullaby for My Sister by Nancy Barone

LullabyForMySisterbyNancyBarone200

Talk about dysfunctional family and mystery melding into one thrilling page-turner then you really must pick up LULLABY FOR MY SISTER.  One hears about atrocities like this but in our society, one assumes the bad step-mother would be more like the one  found in Cinderella.

Since the death of their mother Valentina Mancino, age 9,  had been her little sister Lucy’s protector and guardian since her father had taken to drink and left all responsibility on Valentina’s small shoulders.  Fifteen years later Valentina has achieved her goals of a rising career.   Valentina still watches over Lucy, who has issues and no goals in life.

In an attempt to help Lucy become a bit more self-sufficient Valentina hires a carpenter to remodel their childhood home into a profitable multi-family whereby Lucy could live off of the income, or at best sell the property and get a great price due to it’s location.

When the remodeling began, Valentina comes across an old suitcase containing a blood- stained childs dress leading to a trail of secrets that will have the reader pretty much shocked with the twists that come up once the secrets are exposed.

Written in flashback mode one can follow the story and get some idea of the horrors Valentina lived through during her childhood all the while doing her best to protect her little sister.   All in all this was a deeply moving story, with a final twist that I never saw coming.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Beauty Like the Night by Joanna Bourne

BeautyLikeNight

Orphan of the French revolution and sometime British intelligence agent, Severine de Cabrillac has attempted to leave her life of spying behind her.  Now she devotes herself to investigating crimes in London and finding justice for the wrongly accused.

Raoul Deverney, an enigmatic half-Spaniard with enough secrets to earn even a spy’s respect, is at her door demanding help. She’s the only one who can find the killer of his long-estranged wife and rescue her missing fourteen-year-old daughter.  After much debate Severine reluctantly agrees to aid him, even though she feels the growing attraction between them makes it quite unwise. Their desperate search for the girl unleashes treason and murder. . . and offers a last chance for two strong, wounded people to find love.

*** I have been a long-time fan of Ms. Bourne’s Spymasters series and have quite enjoyed each and every one!   Obviously BEAUTY LIKE THE NIGHT ended up in a class by itself!  The two main protagonists while attracted to one another, started out terribly opposed to working together, in fact not quite trusting one another.

Raoul was a tough character to embrace, caustic and arrogant, it was hard to embrace him even as later he did seem a bit more likable.  Not that Severine was easy to get close to as her life had been unusual and she had learned not to give her trust to just anyone!   Although once they did agree to combine their intelligence, they did work well together.    What made the story even better was the search for Raoul’s missing daughter (whom he denied vehemently that he was not the father).   In trying to discover what was going on once they discovered that they needed to stop an assassination, the action deepened and it was edge of the seat reading while they tried to catch the assassin.

Bottom line:  The story was totally engaging and the ending was wonderful if not surprising.  Highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: My Fair Lover by Nicole Jordan

My Fair Lover

Lady Katherine Wilde believes she has overcome any romantic feelings toward Brandon Deverill, who rejected her six years ago. Now that the rogue needs polishing to claim his title and inheritance, she’s willing to strike a practical bargain: Kate will mold the brash privateer into an acceptable English nobleman if Deverill will safeguard her from brigands on a voyage to recover lost family treasure.

Brandon had often thought of the day he turned Kate away from his bed all those years ago. Even a rake such as he couldn’t seduce an innocent beauty before sailing into battle. But now that he’s inherited a title and must take a suitable bride, it is Kate he sets his sights on.  Brandon never grew up in a home with love and the notion of love was something he’d never before experienced.  However, Brandon soon realizes he’d gladly trade his life to save a woman who has captured his heart.

***  Nicole Jordan and her ongoing series of Legendary Lovers has been both a success for her and brought extreme enjoyment to me.  While I appreciated the banter and the seductions I did feel something missing and that would be just a bit of suspense with something more to overcome than just Brandon not realizing his feelings for Kate as love.

The contretemps with the pirate Louvel was and should have been expanded to a much higher level rather than the small tiff it seemed to represent.  Other than that the seduction was sublime and and sensuality irresistible.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

AreYouSleeping

Hardcover, 336 pages                        Published August 1st 2017 by Gallery Books

ISBN13: 9781501157660                      Rating: 4-1/2*

Josie Buhrman has for the last ten years hidden and trying to escape the dysfunctional and tragic family she grew up in.  After her father’s death and her mother’s abandonment to run away and join a cult leaving her and her twin sister Lanie to live with an Aunt, life had never been the same.   Lanie, her other half did a one-eighty and spiraled out of control getting int all sorts of trouble, but what truly blew the closeness the twins once had was a betrayal Josie simply could not forgive.

Now, Josie has finally put down roots in New York with the love of her life, best friend and live in partner Caleb.  It’s taken a long time for Josie to develop the kind of close attachment she has with Caleb, but when a phone call from her cousin comes thru begging Josie to come home for her long lost mother’s funeral, her first though was that her carefully constructed life of lies was finally going to have to be explained.

An investigative reporter Poppy Parnell was running a ‘True Crime’ episode of the murder and supposedly false imprisonment of the person who was charged with her fathers murder.  The podcast had become a hit and in an effort to keep Caleb from learn the truth she again lied and left for the mid-west in order to attend the funeral of the mother who abandoned her and her sister.

***  This was a really great read with characters i found to be pretty much fleshed out and eventually discovering all the secrets both twins had buried deep from the tragic night of their father’s murder.  I’m sure a psychiatrist would delight in reading this tome for great examples of how one buries trauma from their mind.

The story was fast paced and very interesting with a plethora of high emotions, blame, betrayals and mental instability.   Bottom line is that this was a very enjoyable read .

Marilyn Rondeau

Wicked Bite by Rebecca Zanetti

Wicked Bite

Publication: August 1st 2017                               by Lyrical Press

ASIN: B01MXC6VTY             Series:  Realm Enforcers #5

Rating: 5*

Tessa Lansa is on the hunt for the manufacturer and dealer of a new drug that is targeting and killing her fellow witches.  She believes that her best clue to finding him is through the Grizzly motorcycle club.  Her best bet was to get close to the their leader, Bear – strong, silent and muscular.  Tessa knew she could help him heal from severe damage to his body after his last battle to save his sister. Getting close to him before she betrayed him would be dangerous, but that was exactly what she had planned.

Deep down Bear knew better than to trust a witch, but he also knew that he was dying a little every day and if he didn’t let Tessa try to heal him he would be dead soon. Plus Bear was having a hard time trying to ignore the pushy little witches lush body and knock-out smile!

***  One of the things I am most sorry for Ms Zanetti is that I didn’t start the Realm Enforcers  from the very beginning.  [Something I plan to rectify in the near future].  I was totally absorbed in WICKED BITE from the very beginning. Not only was Bear a great he-man type hero, but underneath he was just a really big teddy bear!   Tessa, on the other hand, was a kick-ass super witch.  She had healing powers which seeing as how she could inflict so much damage it was probably a good thing she could  then fix what ever she broke – especially if the damage was the end product of a disagreement with Bear!

The dialogs between Bear and Tessa were amusing and their disagreements were sometimes hilarious. Actually, I found the ‘King’ of the realm the funniest but that was before he began to start negotiating with Tessa over another matter.   Then again enter in some of the other immortals from the ‘realm’  who were there to either assist or assassinate and you can find one heck of a lot of entertainment  along with the suspense of who the mole was and where all the leaks in strategy were being fed out to the enemy.  The big question here was who could you trust?

Bottom line:  The action was non-stop; the romance was terrific; and I am going to be looking forward to finding the earlier books to this series because I really enjoyed this author’s writing and sense of humor!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Too Scot to Handle by Grace Burrowes

Too ScottoHandle

Mass Market Paperback, 400 pages July 25th 2017 by Forever

ISBN13: 9781455569991      Series:   Windham Brides #2

Rating: 4-1/2*

During his military career, Captain Colin MacHugh was loved and respected by the men he led.  Stern yet fair, using common sense when needed to deal justly with all situations.  Now, he has become a titled gentleman, and still fighting – only to keep his bachelorhood safe from all the marriage minded mama’s and their debutante daughters.  Then he meets Miss Anwen Windham and her demure nature and keen intelligence masks a woman whom he can admire.  Her compassion towards the less fortunate children of London was not for show, but purely from her heart.  When Anwen asks for Colin’s help to raise money for the orphanage, he is more than happy to oblige.

*** As always, Ms. Burrowes embellishes her stories and characters with creativity and freshness.  I absolutely fell in love with Anwen’s ‘boys’.  Anwen was not going to let her boys lose the only home they had ever known, but it was Colin who knew enough to realize just what they truly needed – purpose!  I loved Colin’s understanding and kindness towards the boys as well as listening and taking into consideration Anwen’s ideas and concerns.

Because Colin was new to the ton and his wealth came from trade, the false friends he had initially fell in with he soon discovered were NOT his friends.   Colin was not ashamed of how he worked for his wealth but the spoiled aristocrats were spoiled and wanted to bring him down a peg or two.   Loved how Ms. Burrowes handled all these small attacks on him.

The romance was built slowly and was completely wonderful while others tried to undermine Anwen’s dreams for her boys, and her romance with Colin.   All in all – Ms. Burrowes continues to hit it out of the park with her deliciously fresh and creative historicals.

Marilyn Rondeau

 

Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

MarriagePact

Kindle Edition, 432 pages                                               Publication: July 25th 2017 by Bantam

ASIN:  B01M4PWDWF Rating:  4-1/2*

Okay, THE MARRIAGE PACT is definitely a WOW book – total psychological suspense and then some!  It asks the question, “How far would you go to protect your marriage?”

In this page-turner you have two newlyweds, a picture-perfect couple today, after growing out of some very definitive free-living younger days.  Alice was once an up-and-coming singer with a band and had an album or two.  Now she is a successful lawyer whose future seems quite bright.  Jake is a partner in an up-and coming Psychology practice.  For both the future looks enormously bright.

As a marriage gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients Alice and Jake are invited to join an exclusive  and secret mysterious group known as the Pact.  Seemed harmless enough with it seemed one goal – to keep their marriage, fresh, intact, and loving forever.   Who wouldn’t want that?  The rule book also contained other things as well with some of the rules not necessarily alarming at the time but as their lives and “Friends” they were introduced to at glamorous parties Jake and Alice began to feel as if they had made a huge mistake.

The tension was quite palpable and Jake and Alice started to think of ways out, particularly after Jake was warned by a former colleague who told him disturbing truths of how the Pact dealt with those who wanted ‘out’.

Bottom line:   A really great read with fast pacing.  Definitely highly recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau