Review: April’s Glow

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: April’s Glow
Author: Juliet Madison
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: April 2016
Length: 138 pages
Series?: Tarrin’s Bay #4
Genre: Contemporary, Romance 

Distracting herself from a string of bad luck and a disastrous love life, bubbly April Vedora throws herself into her new business —April’s Glow, a candle store in seaside Tarrin’s Bay — the enchanting scents and colorful atmosphere provide a safe haven. But outside business hours she’s clueless about her personal life.

When a mysterious loner moves in next door, she can’t help but become intrigued, and ex-soldier Zac Masterson is equally fascinated by April. But both have sworn off relationships, and while April avoids her emotions by keeping busy and sociable, Zac hides away from the world — and his past.

As the pair chip away at each other’s facades and secrets are revealed, April fears that the man she is unwillingly falling for could represent everything she’s worked so hard to avoid. Or could they be just what the other needs?

They’ve shared their secrets over the back fence, but resolving the past is going to mean opening the doors to their hearts — and letting each other in.

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my review

April’s Glow is set in Tarrin’s Bay and is the fourth in the series. I had read the fifth book prior to this book and they can be read as complete standalones.

April Vedora has physically healed and recovered from a terrible accident, but she is still in an emotionally fragile state. She avoids listening to any songs with lyrics and hasn’t gotten over what happened. She is a spunky, talkative young woman who owns her own business, a candle shop called April’s Glow, and has a great group of girlfriends.

When Zac Masterson moves in next door, he is furtive and secretive. But he is kindhearted, leaving a mystery flower on April’s porch for her birthday. As much as April tries to ignore it, he is a hunk of a man. She also discovers he’s a bit on the strange side, a different kind of bird, and she winds up liking him after their many backyard over-the-fence talks, drop-in visits, and texts. Like her, Zac is also suffering from his past and he uses poetry on his anonymous blog as an outlet.

Being told from both their perspectives, readers get insight into the issues they are struggling with before they share those scars with each other. This was a slow, slow burn romance. It started as a friendship and then turned into more, and I really liked that it was done very well. It wasn’t rushed or stilted but a smooth, natural development.

Despite Zac’s obvious appeal, April’s familial relationship plays a hard role in her driving a wedge between Zac and herself. While she hates what her father is and does – and did in the past – she also enables him a little bit. She projects her father’s history onto Zac and pushes him away despite all the help and advice he’s given her. This creates tension and advances the plot for both of them as they work through their individual issues. This is a sweet read with sincere, genuine characters.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juliet Madison is a bestselling and award-nominated author of fiction in multiple genres, an inspirational coloring book artist, and a self-empowerment and writing coach. With her background as a naturopath and a dancer, Juliet is passionate about health, fitness, and living a positive life. She likes to combine her love of words, art, and inspiration to create books that entertain and empower readers to love, laugh, and live. Juliet lives on the picturesque south coast of NSW, Australia, where she spends as much time as possible writing books and as little time as possible doing housework.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter 

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Review: Tumble Creek

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Tumble Creek
Author: Louise Forster
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: April 2016
Length: 225 pages
Series?: sequel to Home Truths
Genre: Romance

Art teacher and occasional life model Sofie Dove wants to know what’s up with Brock Stewart. Everything about the ex SAS soldier turned police officer seems to scream passion—and it’s all for her—but he just won’t express it. All she knows is he has a past that still keeps him up some nights.

After a semi-trailer crashes through Sofie’s house and the driver disappears into thin air, Brock insists he’s the only one who can keep her safe—but can he, when they can’t seem to trust each other?

While Sofie works on figuring out why this man keeps giving her mixed messages, Brock is determined to find out who’s out to get her—as they both find out why falling in love is a bit like being hit by a truck.

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my review

My Thoughts

The plot revolves around a truck crashing into Sofie’s house and the driver mysteriously disappearing, as well as fellow citizen Britt up and disappearing. Rumor around town is she is in witness protection…but she isn’t. She’s on the run. Those looking for her – and what they think she left behind – also brought them to Sophie’s house.

While Sophie is trying to start something new in town – her art classes – that is quickly dashed away. After the first chapter, it’s never mentioned again and her classes don’t resume and Britt and her entire scenario never resurface, which I found odd and hinted at the underdeveloped plot and lack of a fully fleshed out story.

It seems Sofie’s actual job is working at her sister’s restaurant, Veronica, where she and her teen daughter now reside upstairs with her sister. After being left by her manipulative husband for a younger woman, Sofie got divorced, moved to Tumble Creek, and both she and her daughter changed their last names to her maiden name.

Sofie herself seems like an overly emotionally-wrought woman who can’t get a grip on herself. She literally grabs at people nearby for the first six chapters or so, and again later in the book, to physically steady herself from her emotional spells. Her dialogue with other characters, from Brock to her sister, seem filled with her jumping to conclusions and creating misunderstandings. It wasn’t an appealing character trait. However, I loved her relationship with her daughter. It’s the best feature of the book, IMO.

After the crash and Sofie’s daughter kicking her to shreds sharing a bed, Sheriff Brock (The Rock) insists she and her daughter move into his extra bedrooms. An extremely nice gesture. I found it unlikely that other sleeping arrangements couldn’t be made above Veronica‘s. And THEN. Then Sofie moves into Brock’s house. ALONE. By herself, without her teenage daughter. For Cripe’s sake, someone is out to get them for her ties to Britt, it has been explained to her that this is a dangerous situation, a parcel is being checked out by forensics. And she moves into a stranger’s house without her daughter. That was the moment I became very skeptical of the plot. Here was another big reason: when Sofie asked Brock what made him special, he replied that she did. NO. There’s nothing more to Brock than his love for his parents and some kind gestures. He has no development beyond that.

As soon as moving in, suddenly Brock and Sofie are a couple. Him calling her “babe” with every breath, and her being “his.” It was so neanderthal and didn’t seem right for two characters who’d been sizing each other up for six months to suddenly fall into live-in life like this. It was stilted and stiff. Once steamy scenes started up, they were SO corny. I cringed and almost quit reading at least a dozen times, but I kept holding out hope that things would get better.

They didn’t.

Sofie’s haughty grandmother has her own little story and Sofie’s ex surfaces trying to convince her to move back. This brings the plot out of Brock’s house and away from Sofie’s fascination with Brock’s armpits (mentioned about 50 times) and speeds things up a bit.

The mystery driver is eventually discovered. As is the contents of the parcel mysteriously left at Veronica‘s and the bearer of it. Britt and her whereabouts are not. That entire subplot is never flushed out. Takumi lets Sofie do something that could get her arrested and cost him his job – very against policy.

This book had great potential – I could see several ways Brock and his coworker Takumi could be more meshed into the storyline. I was shocked that one of the two driving factors of the plot just died and there was nothing more about Britt to the story. Some of the instances seemed odd, but all compiled together there were too many things that made the plot unbelievable.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Louise Forster grew up in a Victorian country town. She ran barefoot along dirt roads and loved looking through the leaves of tall eucalypts at the azure summer skies. Eventually, she grew up, and the country town became a suburb of Melbourne. Running barefoot to catch her train to work would have caused more than a few raised eyebrows so she opted for stilettos, of course. At eighteen, Louise traveled through Europe, parts of Africa and the Pacific Islands. These days Louise lives on the far north coast of New South Wales on a small property that includes her extended family, three dogs, three cats and all manner of wildlife.

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Review: Blue Steal

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Blue Steal
Author: Marnie St. Clair
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: September 2016
Length: 260 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Romance, Mystery

A witty, sexy and suspenseful story about a stolen necklace, a doomed hotel, and two people determined to get their hands on the jewels—at any cost.

Selina Migliore is smart and streetwise—with an ill sister and an elderly grandmother relying on her, she has to be. When fate hands her a chance to change her life, she’s determined to seize it. All she has to do is retrieve a long-lost sapphire necklace before the Empire Hotel is blown to smithereens. Nothing’s going to get in her way…

…except Jack Tierney, PI, who’s also on the hunt for the stolen jewelry. Jack is amused by his clashes with the pushy brunette, but as he continues to bump into Selina at strange times and in odd places, he starts to question who she is and what she’s doing at the Empire.

The pressure cooker really heats up when a new player enters the scene and it becomes apparent that Jack’s not the only one keeping an eye on Selina…

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my review

The Skinny

Selina Migliore is on a mission. She sets out for the once-grand Empire Hotel, where her immigrant grandmother fell in love with one of the hotel owners’ sons fifty years before. Now she is ailing in health and Selina’s sister has a serious illness that requires much more money than Selina makes as an executive administrator. Now that the ring in the famous Petrovsky sapphire collection has been found in the hotel where it went missing the night Nonna’s lover died all those years ago, Selina is there to find the matching sapphire necklace. It will solve all of her sister’s medical finances. There’s just one problem: Selina only has one week before the Empire is demolished.

Little does she know that fellow Empire resident Jack Tierney, P.I., is also at the hotel on behalf of the Petrovsky family to find the necklace stolen fifty years before. Once he finds inconsistencies with Selina’s story, they “team” up to find the necklace. Suddenly Selina’s great-uncle Lewis, her grandfather’s twin, finds an interest in Selina and establishes contact. While trying to riddle out the necklace’s possible hiding places, Jack and Selina both discover the mystery surrounding her grandfather’s death due to the Petrovsky sapphires just doesn’t add up. And Jack’s not going to let that go.

The Quote

Why they bothered creeping, he didn’t know. They could have banged around like a herd of baby elephants and no one would have batted an eyelid.

The Highs and Lows

  • Selina. She puts on a good front to Jack when caught red-handed searching for the sapphires. At this point, I’d already read about her botched engagement to a rich man (to pay for her sister’s medical needs), so it was saddening to hear her valiantly selling herself as a heartless gold digger to Jack in the linen closet. She’s such a good person, kind and caring and loving, that she is eager to please her great-uncle Lewis when he comes calling, no matter how socially awkward and strange he is.
  • Jack. He is a PI with a past he projects upon Selina, especially the money bit. While I could understand his pain from the previous relationship he denotes, I couldn’t quite grasp how after three years he hadn’t started moving past that and opened up even a little smidge to the possibility of a new person. Instead, he projected that old relationship onto Selina and continued to make ultimatums with her and with himself about trusting her. Despite this, he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame. As he digs deeper into the old police report about the stolen jewels and Andrew Holloway’s death (along with the Empire’s security guard), Jack begins his own investigation and uncovers some unsavoury tidbits that he is concerned about bringing to Selina’s attention, but he had already threatened her requiring some information after the night she gave him the slip…and slipped him something!
  • Lewis. For all these years he’s acted like a lone Holloway, turning Nonna away when she came to him and the family about her pregnancy. That doesn’t sit well with Selina and is the one thing she can’t let go of. Consequently, she is now a Holloway and named Lewis’s heir. She will inherit everything – as long as she doesn’t disappoint Lewis. His nature and mannerisms are slightly unsettling, but Selina chalks it up to living for fifty years without his twin.
  • Pacing and Mystery This is a fast-paced story without much deviation or subplots. The story brings in some of the hotel staff and Jack’s partner, Charles, into the investigation. When the original cop on the Holloway scene and a childhood acquaintance turn up, the mystery of what happened the night Andrew died intensifies and starts crystallizing into a third story than the two previously told.
  • The Ending. It was spectacular! There were so many elements to the ending that brought Selina back to the Empire. The ending was fitting and perfect. I did, however, wonder why the Empire hadn’t been torn down weeks after its closing like stated in the beginning of the book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marnie grew up in country NSW but now lives in a lovely leafy suburb of Melbourne with her husband and two gorgeous daughters. Apart from a deep and abiding love of all things romance, she has a wide array of embarrassing and/or unusual passions including playing Bridge, growing succulents, visiting deserts and getting down on the Zumba floor. No points for guessing which passion is the embarrassing one.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite 

Review: Memories of May

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Memories of May
Author: Juliet Madison
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: May 2017
Length: 161 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Women’s Fiction

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, but in Tarrin’s Bay, she’s about to find that love is stronger than time…

By day, single mother Olivia Chevalier runs the family’s bookstore and raises her nine-year-old daughter. By night, she escapes into a world of fiction where there is excitement, romance, and happy endings.

Both of her roles are endlessly rewarding, but Olivia’s life has not been without challenges, hard work, and disappointment. So when enigmatic travel writer Joel Foster walks into her bookstore – and her life – with his mantras of trying new things and taking risks, Olivia knows that nothing will change.

But when a family dilemma surfaces, Olivia is compelled to enroll in Joel’s writing course to tell the story of her grandmother’s life. With each new day and each new page, Olivia discovers secrets about her family and truths about herself, and finds herself yearning to rewrite the story she has planned and seek a life as intriguing as fiction.

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my review

The Skinny

Olivia Chevalier is a single mother who runs the local bookstore passed down by her grandmother, Mrs. May. Since having Mia, her life has been consumed by her daughter and Olivia finds herself being much more of an introvert and afraid of stepping outside of her normal. Her life and her time revolve around being able to provide for Mia. While commendable, Olivia’s life is bland and boring in Tarrin’s Bay.

When Joel Foster, author of a popular best-selling memoir, sweeps into town to run a few writing courses, Olivia is tempted to join the class. She wants to preserve the stories of her grandmother and write her grandmother’s memoir. As Olivia delves deeper into May’s life, she discovers a sweet romance with a young man named William before marrying her grandfather. Joel encourages Olivia to join his class and challenges her to do new things and make book-worthy moments. Their friendship slowly develops as Olivia works through the course and steps outside of her comfort zone.

The Quote

 “Life isn’t always magical,” she said, “but there are magical moments in life, if you let them in.”

The Highs and Lows

  • May. Now in her 90s, Mrs. May’s health has naturally declined. She loved living in her own independent community, but after a downward turn she is forced to move into a home to live out the remainder of her life. It is a blow to Olivia, who is extremely close to her grandmother. Before her time is up, Olivia wants to record May’s memories and write a memoir for her. It’s something new and out of the ordinary, but she wants to do it for her grandmother and for herself. She quickly learns Mrs. May had a secret admirer as a young lady – and it wasn’t Mr. Chevalier! Oliva wants to learn more about May’s secret letters and the young man who sent them. Olivia gets caught up in May’s stories of her sweet romance with William and I kept turning pages to find out, too.
  • Book-worthy Moments. When Olivia meets Joel for what becomes the first of their Friday lunch dates, Joel urges Olivia to do new things, embrace life. He challenges her to do one book-worthy thing each week. Where better to get book ideas? Olivia’s first new thing is eating a burger instead of her usual salad. New book-worthy moments include new animal shaped pancakes on Sunday mornings, getting stuck in a window, and a memorable camping trip. Joel’s insistence of new things has Olivia pausing in her overcrowded days to appreciate life and rethinking her own.
  • Mia. She’s nine years old and a hoot! She adds a little flair and zest to Olivia’s life. She’s just a fun kid – and a good kid!
  • Friendship. What I loved most about the story was the parallel between May and William and Olivia and Joel. Both couples started out as friends, helping one another, and a slow, sweet romance soon blooms.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Juliet Madison is a bestselling and award-nominated author of fiction in multiple genres, an inspirational coloring book artist, and a self-empowerment and writing coach.

With her background as a naturopath and a dancer, Juliet is passionate about health, fitness, and living a positive life. She likes to combine her love of words, art, and inspiration to create books that entertain and empower readers to love, laugh, and live.

Juliet lives on the picturesque south coast of NSW, Australia, where she spends as much time as possible writing books and as little time as possible doing housework.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Review: Red Dust Runaway

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Red Dust Runaway
Author: Eva Scott
Publisher: Escape Publishing
Release Date: June 2017
Length: 248 pages
Series?: no
Genre: Contemporary Romance

One jaded rock star. One sheltered classical musician. One hell of a red dust road trip…

Sheltered, coddled, gifted, Iris longs for something more than practice and performing. She wants to rebel, break the rules, have a hot affair, fall in love — to really live before happily committing to her classical music bubble. But her strict parents and her stricter schedule keep her confined to her gilded cage, even as she yearns desperately to be free.

Super star, successful, and sick of all of it, Kit just wants to stop. Stop the touring and the recording and the media and the bickering with his band mates. After two years on the road, he’s coming apart at the seams. He has to slow down, calm down, clear his head — to really think before recommitting to his rock star lifestyle. But his manager and the tour schedule keep him locked to his super star lifestyle, even as he rages against the confinement.

A chance encounter in a car park leads to a snap decision and an enormous risk: suddenly Kit and Iris are on an extraordinary road trip together across Australia, making their own choices, breaking all the rules. But reality is chasing them more quickly than they can know, and soon Kit and Iris will have to decide whether they are just running away — or running away together.

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my review

The Skinny

Christopher “Kit” Edwards is a massive rock star and burnt out on his band’s two-year tour and the hostile bickering. Steel Cutt has been a success since the Major discovered him as a teen, but he is beyond burnt out and fading fast as an individual, falling into the classic trope behaviors most associate with rock stars and fame. At the start of a two-week break with only promotional appearances, Kit decides to run away and return for the final shows. When he sees this beautiful siren in the parking lot loading up her car, he takes the chance she’s not a serial killer. As it turns out, they have music in common. Iris Harrington has lived under a rock her whole life, being domineered by her father’s engineering since she came to live with him at age eight. She’s walked a tight rope her entire life and has let her father plan out her future. She practices her violin six hours each day and is socially awkward.

She’s an introvert, and he’s an extrovert. Together they travel across Austrailia sight-seeing while Kit is hiding in plain sight. Iris has no idea who he really is, and he has no intention of cluing her in. It is the downfall to his great joy ride that requires the intervention of his best friend, Mick, to set to rights.

The Quote

 How did you go about waking up a grown man in the middle of a nightmare?

The Highs and Lows

  • The Plot. I loved the overall plot of Iris and Kit running away from their lives. They are both running from their own personal demons: Iris is running away from her father and his control over her, and Kit is running away from Steel Cutt, hostile band mates, and the domineering Major. When they meet in the parking lot, Iris is clueless about who he is. Ironically, I don’t think she’d really care about his fame and fortune and wouldn’t treat him any different knowing who he really is. They are both find their own way, growing up, and starting to take back their lives – and they’re doing it together.
  • Kit. It can be hard to make a rock star relatable, but it was easy to feel sympathy for Kit and understand his situation and why he desperately needed out. The Major uses his contractual obligations to keep him tied to Steel Cutt and all the promotional events he has overscheduled for them. When his father was dying, the Major refused to let Kit have time. He never got to be with his father, and then he died. His anger and rage are understandable, and then add in wildly jealous bandmates who create hostile environments. Music was his passion, and now it is quickly working to put him six feet under. He has pain every day and is popping pills and drinking himself to oblivion. Even then, he can’t sleep with the anxiety and pressure. Anyone would want to run away. With the Major’s constant threats, Kit is ready to quit Steel Cutt.
  • Iris. She is so far removed from reality, it is sad. Her mother died when she was eight, forcing her to go live with her father who was living his own life. He runs her life, directing her toward ambitions and mile markers he has set out for her. Anything less brands Iris a failure. She has spent her whole life training on violin. She never had friends – she doesn’t even know how to make friends! It is a sad, lonely life that she is starting to realize in her young adulthood. With the help of a neighbor and her Nan, Iris seizes something new and doesn’t look back.
  • Mick. I felt equal measures of love and guilt for Mick. He has been with Kit since they were teens. They are the best of friends, and despite what the Major threatens and spews, Mick always has his back. Mick is a fantastic guy and one loyal dude. After taking off with Iris, Mick is in hot, hot water with the Major. His own job and livelihood are on the line, and Kit has no regard for that. He does his best not to help Mick out with at least something to give to the Major, and I felt bad for him. But true to form, he is an incredibly loyal friend and intervenes for Kit. Man of the year right there!

I thought this was a cute, light, fun read. I flew through it rather quickly and enjoyed the journey of Iris and Kit. Their trip and travels take them all over Austraila and help Iris come out of her shell. I loved seeing her progress and stand up to her dad, and as the trip wore on I could feel the anxiety and stress Kit was trying to ward off by keeping silent on his true identity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eva Scott writes contemporary romance set in her homeland of Australia and historical fiction set in the Ancient World. Her books offer passion and adventure in some of the most beautiful and intriguing places in the world. Her heroes and heroines are strong, sassy and ready to rise to their challenges, and learn a little bit about themselves along the way.

Having lived overseas in Britain for several years, Eva returned to study Anthropology before heading off to live in Papua New Guinea for a year. There she met the love of her life, author G.W. Gibson, who was stationed there with the Australian Defence Force. The rest is history, romantic history.

She now lives on the Redcliffe peninsula with her husband, small son and an assortment of animals. When Eva is not writing she enjoys mentoring first-time authors, cooking up a story, practicing yoga and getting out on the bay on her stand-up paddle board.

Find the author: GoodreadsWebsite | Facebook | Twitter 

Review: The Black Sheep

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: The Black Sheep
Author: Patricia Ryan
Publisher: Green Darner Press
Release Date: April 2012
Length: 188 pages
Series?: North Moon Bay #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance

While house-sitting at a waterfront estate, sweet, straight-laced Harley is stunned by the arrival of her employer’s supposedly dead son, an Alaskan bush pilot with a bad boy rep who’s been wounded in an airplane crash. Coming home after years of estrangement–and a stint in prison–to make amends with the old man is difficult for Tucker, but not half as difficult as keeping his distance from the super-sexy but virginal Harley while they share the house, awaiting his father’s return.

Having given up on the idea that he’ll ever fully heal from his ravaged leg, Tucker balks when Harley urges him to swim as physical therapy–until she adds a unique incentive: “Catch me and you can have me.” Her certainty that he’ll never be able to swim that fast evaporates when he embarks on a rigorous training regimen, determined to claim her as his prize. But when she unearths the dark secret in his past, will she still be willing to pay up when the time comes?

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my review

The Skinny

Tucker Hale, the prodigal son, has returned home after 21 years after running off as a teen. After a plane crash and months of therapy, he still walks with a limp. Now he wants to reconcile with his father. He is surprised when he arrives at his father’s home that it is dark and he is gone, but the house isn’t empty. Harley Sayers, a 23-year-old college student, takes a bat to Tucker. She is housesitting for Mr. Hale for the summer while he is away on vacation.  Harley is flabbergasted when Tucker reveals his identity. She inferred from his father that he was long dead.

Harley convinces Tucker to remain for the summer until his father will arrive back home. She also wants to help him improve the strength in his legs. It is evident Tucker wants Harley, so she uses that to her advantage to help him with his legs. If he can catch her in the pool, requiring him to swim and strengthen his leg muscles, she will submit to him. It’s her way of admitting she does want him but requires him to put in a lot of effort and confront pain first.

The Quote

“That’s not fair.”

“I never said it was.” He was calmer now, weary. “It’s the truth. The truth doesn’t have to be fair.”

The Highs and Lows

  • Short. The entire novel is less than 200 pages, so it read more like a novella and was a quick read.
  • Age Difference. There is a bit of an age gap between the two characters, nearly 15 years. The age difference bothered me a bit, especially since Harley was only a couple years older than all the time Tucker’s been away. The perception of an imbalance of power was something I picked up on, and the fact that neither really mention their age or talk about the difference at all for the entire summer seemed ingenuine to me.
  • The Agreement. Harley wants Tucker to stay the rest of the summer until his father returns so that he could do what he came there to do. In order to battle the attraction they feel for one another, Tucker agrees to Harley’s bargain. He must swim and catch her before she reaches the other side of the pool. It requires him to continue his therapy and strengthen his legs. Tucker is striving for the day when he can slice through the water and be fast enough to catch Harley. As the summer wears on, the two share more and more time together and learn more about the other. Slowly a relationship starts developing.
  • Misunderstanding. On the day that Tucker does happen to catch Harley, she unwittingly discovered some series background on Tucker that completely changes her mind about him. What she thought she knew about him is shaken. Just what was he hauling in the Alaskan bush? Is that how he made such a lucrative business? Armed with this knowledge, she reneges on their bargain. It creates a mine of distrust and unease between the two of them, and Tucker resorts back to the smoking he had quit shortly after meeting Harley.
  • Explicit. The entire plot is leading up to intimacy and when it finally does occur toward the end of the book, there are two explicit scenes I wasn’t expecting. I also found that level of sexuality unauthentic for a virgin in her first ever sexual encounter.

 

 

Overall I enjoyed this book. The pacing makes this a quick and easy read. The plot is pretty predictable with minor twists and surprises, and in the end things work out for Harley and Tucker as well as other characters.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Patricia Burford Ryan (born August 9, 1954 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, United States) is an American writer of romance novels as Patricia Ryan, mystery novels as P.B. Ryan and erotica novels as Louisa Burton. She is the twin sister of the romance writer Pamela Burford.

She won a Golden Heart award in 1994 in the category “short contemporary series” and a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her book Silken Threads also won a RITA, the top award of the Romance Writers of America, for “Best Long Historical Romance” of 2000.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Review: Misty Lake

ABOUT THE BOOK

Title: Misty Lake
Author: Margaret Standafer
Publisher: Createspace
Release Date: June 2015
Length: 308 pages
Series?: Misty Lake #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Suspense

Samantha Taylor has lost all those dearest to her…her parents, her brother, and now the grandfather who raised her. When his will is read and some of his secrets come to light, Sam finds herself back in Misty Lake, Minnesota, a place that holds countless happy memories but, as she quickly discovers, just as many questions.

Jake McCabe, Misty Lake’s sheriff, is as curious as anyone about the town’s newest resident but it isn’t until Sam becomes the victim of a particularly cruel vandal that he meets her and gets a look at the house that has everyone in town talking.

As Jake races to keep Sam safe from the escalating attacks, he also works to break down the wall she has built around herself and to convince her that a life without love isn’t a life at all.

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon

my review

The Skinny

Samantha Taylor arrives in Misty Lake to sell the house she inherited from her grandfather, who was her caretaker growing up after her parents’ death. The house itself is so out of character from how she was raised with her grandfather, but it is clear he built this for her by including a lavish wood shop for her to continue her woodworking. Sam decides to stay in Misty Lake and build a beautiful china hutch for herself, for her late grandmother. It is a personal project.

Since Sam decided to stay, she also sought out Project Strong Star to host a small group of troubled teens to receive hands-on training as part of a summer camp. At the same time, very odd and disturbing things begin occurring on Sam’s property. Broken windows, brutally bloody animals, those kinds of things. Most likely a prank. Sam wants to keep these things to herself and not draw attention to herself. Soon Sheriff McCabe is made aware of the goings on and starts his own investigation. No one is excluded, including some of the Project Strong Star teens. Not long after, two of Sam’s cousins come to visit, and one remains with her in Misty Lake. Despite the sheriff and the new relatives in town, the incidents continue and heighten in severity. It is clear someone wants Sam to leave the house her grandfather left to her.

 

The Players

Sam Taylor – a new resident of Misty Lake; she recently inherited a property and opens a woodworking business

Jake McCabe – the sheriff

Jimmy – a persistent kid in Sam’s group; he has an older sibling who is big trouble

Jackson – a meticulous kid in Sam’s group mixed up with drugs; he doesn’t talk much

Mario – a reluctant kid in Sam’s group

Davis – a smart aleck kid in Sam’s group

Katie – a kid in Sam’s group in and out of foster care; worried about her dad

Zach  – a quiet, distracted kid in Sam’s group; she is concerned about his constant texting on a phone he shouldn’t have

Tyler Loomis – a PSS kid Zach hangs around with; he has the most serious of crimes at camp

Blade – Jimmy’s older brother; involved in a gang and pressuring Jimmy to join

 

The Quote

 “Try to remember that, in the end, the choices they make are their choices. You can teach, guide, encourage, and support but their lives and their decisions are ultimately their own. If one of them makes a mistake, it’s not your fault.”

The Highs and Lows

  • Surprise. There is a large element of surprise to the storyline. First in the opening with her grandfather leaving her such a property that once only housed an old cabin. Why didn’t he tell her? Then there are the strange “gifts” being left for Sam, which she tells no one about until someone else alerts the sheriff. Further still, Sam is surprised when two of her cousins mysteriously pop up for a visit. And more surprised when her cousin Susan wants to stay in Misty Lake.
  • Alone. Sam finds it strange that everyone in town and the sheriff all makes mention that she lives alone. Following the deaths of her parents, her grandmother, her brother, and now her grandfather, Sam prefers to stay away from people, even other relatives. It makes it easier for her when something happens to them. She doesn’t even have friends – doesn’t even know how to make friends. She is truly a recluse and likes to keep to herself.
  • The Investigation. When Sheriff McCabe turns the attention of his investigation to Sam’s PSS students, Sam is outraged. She vehemently defends all of them, despite her own suspicions. It seemed odd to me that she would do so without even knowing these students, but then the story of her brother comes to light and it all makes sense. During the investigation, Sheriff McCabe discovers that two kids from PSS have been disappearing from camp at night with a vehicle. They, of course, become the focus. Throughout the investigation, Sam and Jake are naturally brought close together. Jake’s natural interest in this newcomer and trying to keep her safe leads him to spend more time with her and get to know her better. The slow development of their relationship opening up over the course of the investigation only made Jake more protective and concerned about Sam – the one thing she didn’t want for a long time.
  • Suspense. Every so often narrative from the perspective of the person stalking and scaring Sam appears throughout the book. As the story goes on, the events that happen become more severe and egregious, and the narrative becomes more unstable and scary. Things amped up each time, and twice I thought I knew who was responsible, only to be debunked by further investigation. I finally figured it out who it was at the last moment, and the battery of information about this individual went far beyond some simple pranks.
  • Twist. There is a major twist toward the end of the book when the plot goes into overtime. Everything about one of Sam’s students all fell into place from the beginning and made sense: stealing items alone (unusual for teens), constantly checking his phone, disappearing, and being antsy.

The writing was well-crafted and the dialogue had a natural flow to it. Jake’s investigation and dealings with people added authenticity to his role. The description of this small Minnesota lake town was beautiful and charming, a town you’d want to live in. It was a sweet and thrilling read that kept me turning pages to find out just who it was so determined to run Sam out of town. The characters are an interesting and fun cast, each adding their own little sliver to the story.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I was born, raised, and still reside in the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Being surrounded by ten thousand some lakes means a love of all things water-related…and a deep hatred of mosquitos. After years spent in perpetual motion juggling a family and a career and loving every minute of it, some pesky health issues led to mandated down time and eventually resulted in me finally grabbing the laptop and putting some of the stories that had been alive and well—but relegated to a small spot in the recesses of my mind—down on paper. The outcome is my first published novel, Misty Lake. It is my sincere hope that you enjoy the story.

After completing one novel, the writing bug took a firm hold. With the support of my amazing and understanding husband, as well as my amazing and somewhat understanding kids, and in spite of the lack of support from my ever-demanding Golden Retriever, I have completed the second and third books in the Misty Lake series,  The Inn at Misty Lake and Misty Lake in Focus. I am currently hard at work on book four.

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