Review: Wallflower Most Wanted by Manda Collins

Wallflower Most Wanted

Mass Market Paperback, 307 pages

January 30th 2018 by                  Published : St. Martin’s Paperbacks Edition

ISBN13: 978125010990                                 SeriesStudies in Scandal #3

As  a dedicated artist, Miss Sophia Hastings could care less about finding Mr. Right then finding the correct angle of light for her paintings.   However, when she overhears a conversation indicating that there was danger for local artists she had to get involved.  It appeared that someone was making forgeries of famous works of art and passing them off as the originals.  What she wasn’t anticipating though was having to accept the assistance of the new impossibly handsome vicar who insists on accompanying her in her quest for more information.

Reverend Lord Benedict Lisle feels that Sophia is no damsel in distress, but he is not about to let her wander off alone either.  He finds Sophia’s curious, free-spirited nature extremely  alluring and he is planning to save her from herself before she she gets further into a situation that is becoming more and more dangerous, and he was beginning to feel that he wasn’t about to lose the one woman who stirred more than just his heart!

*** I simply love a good mystery and romance and find it even better when the two protagonists seem so completely polar opposites.   However, one thing Benedict did realize right from the start is that no one should ever keep  Sophia’s art interpretation’s from being shown at the upcoming art exhibition.   Sophia’s art might be a bit disturbing but it was life  and not just the  lovely landscapes most genteel young woman were supposed to paint.

Their relationship grew throughout the story and it was a lovely development from regard, to valued friendship, and obviously a great passion for one another either wasn’t ready to admit to. I must say that this story was great, the culprit who was actually producing the fake masterpieces was quite a twist I never saw coming.  All in all, a wonderfully engaging story.

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: Seastruck by Thelma Mariano

Seastruck

Kindle Edition, 285 pages                                   Published May 12th 2016

ASIN: B01FMWFFU0                                         Rating:  5*

Due to a very OLD curse, it is a race against time for Lura, a real mermaid, to find her perfect mate –if she doesn’t she will keep her bound to another man for life.

What encounters Lura has had with mortal men though have caused her nothing but grief, but when she spies a man drowning in the Gulf of Mexico, a sacred law compels her to save him.  Funny though, she couldn’t understand why he seemed so different from most mortal men she’s ever had contact with.  Still.before the full moon cycle ends, she must mate with a human in hopes of conceiving.  Actually, it is her only way of preserving the ancestral memories of her dying race.

Now the man she saved seems to have all the genes she needs for her offspring, so she shape shifts into a leggy blonde in the hope of seducing him.  However, Tyler has just come from a divorce and though he is mesmerized by Lura he is not going to get careless and have another woman get pregnant even though his ex really wasn’t pregnant to begin with.  Tyler now practices safe sex and that is not what Lura is looking for.

When Lura is captured by a treasure hunter, he triggers an ancient curse that keeps her in his power.  Unless she breaks this spell, her captor will father her child and ruin her life forever.

***. Very nicely done, definitely a bit of fantasy, but who can really be sure mermaids don’t exist and wouldn’t it be grand if Mermaids were real.   After all – think about it –  even some of the oldest tomes were written about the mermaids of old!  Regardless, I thoroughly enjoyed this story.  I loved the description of how the mermaids change into two legged humans and how they live in the ocean.  I wanted to cry over the way the sea has become a huge dumping ground and the fish and turtles become caught in the garbage.

The interaction between Tyler and Lura, her grandmother and sister was wonderful and even though some did not get along with one another the closeness of their hearts was beautiful.

Bottom Line:   I loved this story and thought the dialogs were great and at times even funny as Lura became more and more frustrated trying to get pregnant.   Very enjoyable!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: The Gettysburg Ghost

Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 10.44.14 AM

As young children Daniel Sutherland and Sarah McKee met, fell in love, and knew one day they would wed. Their plans to wed would be delayed when war broke out and the call to serve and preserve the country Daniel dearly loved beckoned so with promises to write every day Daniel went off to fight. At first the letters came regularly then after some months went by without word from Sarah, Daniel learned from a new recruit that back home he’d been reported as killed. What shocked Daniel most was that Sarah had wed his best friend so soon after hearing of his death. Terribly hurt and bereft of hope the inconsolable Captain Daniel Sutherland bravely led his men in a battle in which he was mortally wounded. He died in Trostle House where his spirit remained as he couldn’t resolve the conflict of why Sarah, whom he loved so dearly and thought loved him, would have married so soon after hearing of his death.

Some 140 years later a very sad and beautiful Lindy Dennsison and her friend Jane arrived at Trostle House for the 136th Annual Gettysburg Reenactment. Having just come off of another failed relationship Lindy had decided to start life anew. However, she could never have imagined that the ghost she encountered in her room would reach out and teach her the true meaning of love.

There are times when I am simply at a loss for words, when beautiful, gorgeous, heartfelt, and memorable just aren’t strong enough to describe the feelings that a story suggests. It took me a while to read through this short novella because of tears that streamed down my face caused by the sheer emotional intensity of writing that this beautiful love story evoked. Mr. Rogone’s writing was pure poetry. The letters from Daniel to his beloved Sarah were so heart-wrenchingly beautiful that I had to re-read them several times through tear-filled eyes. While Daniel and Sarah’s story was so heart wrenchingly sad, Rogone ventured further in picking up the various threads of other peoples lives and weaving them all together in one believable story to bring forth the truth of that long ago betrayal. In so doing he brings new hope and love to those in the present. This was a truly beautiful and moving love story that should make anyone yearn for that once in a lifetime special soul mate that so few of us are able to find. Rogone will not disappoint with this dramatically moving, memorable and engaging love story. If you are in love or hope to be some day, this would make the perfect gift for that very special someone in your life, or just as a gift to yourself.

Marilyn Rondeau, Screen Shot 2018-03-22 at 10.44.14 AM

 

Review: A Devil in Scotland by Suzanne Enoch

DevilInScotland

311 pages                     Published January 30th 2018 by St. Martin’s Press

ISBN13: 9781250095459                                    Series:  No Ordinary Hero #3

Rating 5*

1806, Callum MacCreath had been a wild and crazy young man all his life – treating life as an unrelenting adventure just drinking and womanizing and no way is marriage in any of his plans.  However, when he learns his childhood best friend Rebecca, and his older steady and upstanding brother Ian announces that they plan to marry Callum’s world turns upside down.   He didn’t realize it but he wanted Becca for his own.  Having been drinking all day Callum was not in his right mind and not only made a fool of himself asking Becca to run away with him, but Becca turned around and gave him a scathing refusal.   Having heard their argument his brother Ian banishes him for his duplicity and betrayal whereby Callum was only too happy to leave Scotland forever….

1816 – Marrying Ian was the practical, logical thing for Becca to do. But once Callum sailed away to America, she missed his rakish charm and lust for life. Now, ten years later, Becca is a widow when a much-changed Callum returns to his Scottish homeland. Ian had died an accidental death, but will Callum blame her for his demise?  Now neither can deny their scorching attraction, but will Callum ever trust her when she is keeping company with the man Callum blames for his brothers death.

*** I have always been a big fan of Suzanne Enoch and I have to say she has never disappointed me with her talent in writing a fully developed novel with extraordinary characters which makes me want to complete reading it in one sitting.  Callum was a great character and it was a pleasure to see him remake himself, after being banished by his only brother and cruelly rejected by the woman he always thought of as his best ‘buddy’ and friend.

One thing he was positive of was that his brother’s death was no accident! Now that the title had reverted to him he knew he had to return to Scotland to discover the truth.  What he never expected was to discover he had a niece whom he hadn’t known about – a child who completely stole his heart from the first moment he met her and he would protect her with his very life.  The fact that her mother Becca was keeping company with one of the prime suspects Callum felt was responsible for the ‘accident’ that  claimed his brothers life.  He would never let his niece be in the company of such a man.

I highly recommend this book and all the wonderful characters you’ll meet from a young precocious child to the four footed pets who form a ‘pack’.   Absolutely wonderful sensual romance and suspense adventure!!!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: A Duke In the Night by Kelly Bowen

Duke in Night

book, 368 pages

Published February 20th 2018 by Forever                               ISBN13: 9781478918554

Series:   The Devils of Dover #1                                            Rating:  5*

August Faulkner is a man of many talents besides being a Duke.  As a young boy he lived by his wits and only by chance, did he inherit a dukedom when a tragedy happened to wipe out the many family members who were closer in line to inherit than he.  Having lived a most destitute childhood he swore he would never be in that poor again.  He is relentless in buying and selling  companies from the mismanagement of aristocratic families who now censure his actions.  So he now makes his transactions less noticeable by using middlemen which is how he managed to acquire Haverall School for Young Ladies.

Clara Hayward, the headmistress of the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, on the other hand, is above reproach. Yet when she’s reunited with August, all she can think of is the way she felt in his arms as they danced a scandalous waltz ten long years ago.  Even when her head tells her he shouldn’t be trusted, her heart can’t help but open to the very duke who could break it for good!

***  I was totally swept up in this love story between August and Clara.  He was not a romantic, and sometimes abrasive but I couldn’t help but believe that there was some good in him that Clara recognized in spite of the hurt he dealt her so many years ago.   Naturally his reputation over the last ten years preceded him and even though her passion was electrified by his presence Clara’s head was on straight and kept herself aware of the rumors of his womanizing and his behavior.

Just as Clara couldn’t help herself from her attraction to August, he was having similar feelings himself which he basically refused to let blossom.   August knew he wanted Clara (just like anything else he obtained for himself) but he was having trouble identifying the reason why!   It’s a guy thing!   However, just as I thought he would really screw it up, he came to Clara’s rescue and finally realized what he had almost lost.

Loved this book!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: As Bright As Heaven by Susan Meissner

BrightAsHeaven

Hardcover, 387 pages                                    Published February 6th 2018 by Berkley Books

ISBN13: 9780399585968                               Rating  5*

Set in 1918 Philadelphia, this was the story of an average family household of husband, wife, and three daughters, Evelyn, Maggie and Willa. The mother Pauline Bright had just lost her infant son and the and her family were dealing with their grief.  Change was in the wind men leaving to fight in the Great War and so life would go on.   However, when an opportunity came along for them to take their family out of the tobacco fields for a new life in Philadelphia, they decided to take the chance.

Not only was the Great War going on with daily lists of soldiers wounded or dead but an even worse enemy had entered the United States and that was called the Spanish flu.  The Spanish flu epidemic was a monster that killed with no cure in sight.  Yet, through it all the Bright family was reborn through the compelling story of a mother and her daughters who find themselves in a harsh world, not of their making, which will either crush their resolve to survive or purify it.

*** And with that said AS BRIGHT AS HEAVEN is probably one of the most moving books I’ve read in a very long time.  Brilliant!  The story shows the strength of the Bright family, the love and goodness of the family bond holding them together over overwhelming losses which would have crippled weaker souls to give up.    From each daughter you see the resolve and strength that kept them together weathering each hurdle that fate tossed in their path.     I simply could not put this book down once I started it and most assuredly am HIGHLY RECOMMENDING this be on your to read list.  FANTASTIC and MOVING story!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Where Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

WildCherriesGrow

Paperback, 368 pages

Published June 15th 2017 by Black Swan                            ISBN13: 9781784160739

Where the Wild Cherries Grow: A Novel of the South of France

Published February 13th 2018 by Thomas Dunne Books        RATING:  4*

I wasn’t terribly keen on this book from the beginning, but as I stuck with it I became more and more pleased with the writing.   At first the split between the time 1919 and fifty years later to 1969 was a bit aggravating but as I became more immersed in the story I found I had trouble putting this book down.

It wasn’t until I was finished did this line make sense to me “I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . .”

Emeline Vane came from wealth, from Norfolk, England – she had lost her mother, her brothers and now it was only her, her young brother Timothy and her uncle.  She is haunted by memories of those she lost and suffers bouts of melancholy, so much so that her uncle is taking her to a convalescent home  to recover.   However, during their stop in France, Emeline, having been given drugs to keep her calm regained enough of her mindset that she decided to run away – recklessly boarding a train to run from her uncle and the nurse who was her jailer.

Her journey led her to a tiny seaside village in the South of France. A kindly cafe owner, Maman, takes her in and Emeline discovers a world completely new to her: of oranges, olives and wild herbs, the raw, rich tastes of the land and using your own hands to care for yourself.

Soon a love affair develops with Maman’s son as passionate as the flavours of the village. Fifty years later, a young solicitor on his first case finds Emeline’s diary, and begins to trace a story of betrayal, love and bittersweet secrets that will send him on a journey to discover the truth before greedy relatives steal her inheritance away.

I really liked this story.  The writing was superb and the descriptions of the food and flavors made my mouth water.  So very sweet with a surprise ending I didn’t expect.

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Edge of Darkness by Karen Rose

Edgeofdarkness

Paperback, 608 pages                RATING – 5*

Published February 8th 2018 by Headline (first published November 2nd 2017)

SBN13: 9781472245854

Series: Romantic Suspense #20, Cincinnati #4

As the fourth and final book in Karen Rose’s nail-biting Cincinnati Series I cannot help but be sad – very sad!  Reading Karen Rose is such a pleasure and I know that while the Cincinnati Series is ending – Ms. Rose will be back with another series that will be equally good – or better!  

Homicide detective Adam Kimble is no stranger to battling demons working for a good year on battling his PTSD.   Meredith Fallon is a different kind of weakness: one that could actually be good for him, if only he would let himself depend on her. Meredith has loved Adam for a year, and seeing how hard he’s worked to deal with his PTSD makes her feelings only stronger, but she respects his need to work it out for himself.  Meredith keeps busy anyway: counseling sexually abused women to help them reintegrate into the world.  Yet someone doesn’t want Meredith helping woman and is ready to kill to make her stop!

***  As usual, Mr. Rose doesn’t pull any punches and slaps right into the middle of some of the worse type of killers around.  Killers who love to terrorize and bring the most pain to their victims.  In EDGE OF DARKNESS there are several folks who are killers and one boss who also delights in killing as well.

Meredith has escaped violence several times by people not wanting her to discover how much of an animal they are in how they treat their children, spouses and females of all persuasions.  But when Meredith takes one of her patients out to celebrate and is almost killed  the question becomes who were they trying to kill?  Was it Meredith or her companion.  In the meantime, Adam, assigned to Meredith’s case is fighting his own demons and trying to not break an oath he made to himself a year ago before he approaches  Meredith as a ‘new’ man.

This definitely a full body novel with a plethora of secondary characters all central and playing big parts in the tall of murder, violence, kidnapping, betrayal and greed.  In fact, it will take most of the book before you even get an inkling of who the real bad guy is!    Fast read – thrilling, exciting and simply one of the best!

Marilyn Rondeau

Review: Two Girls Down by Louisa Luna

TwoGirlsDown

Kindle Edition, 322 pages

Expected publication: January 9th 2018 by Doubleday

ASIN    B071HCW3V8

When there are no leads on missing persons, the first person you should call is Alice Vega, a PI who seems to do the impossible.  Like a dog with a bone, Vega is tenacious in digging for the seemingly smallest clue and finding missing children.

After two young sisters had disappeared from a strip mall parking lot in a small town, the devastated mother fearing that the police were doing nothing, hires an enigmatic bounty hunter.  The police in this small town are stretched to the limit fighting a drug epidemic so they aren’t about to give Vega any leads (not that they had any).  Needing some tie-in with the police, Vega hires a disgraced ex-cop, Max Caplan who only wants to put the scandal of his past behind him. But Vega needs the help and bulldogs him into helping her.

***  Wow, with very little to go on and practically no clues whatsoever, Vega proves she is the best!  She was like a bloodhound to untangle what few clues she had to go on. One thing for sure is that she was a very private individual and as she and Max followed all the threads that sprung up now and then I was hoping that these two lonely souls would get something personal going on.  One thing for sure they did form a wonderful working relationship!

The story was brisk and it was a fast read, with lots of twists and turns which made the finale a real edge-of -the-seat- thrill ride.   Whether we see Max show up in future Vega books is something I hope the author considers.  I really like Vega even though you never get to ‘know’ her.  Determined and someone you want in your corner if the need ever arose!     Great story!

Marilyn Rondeau