Cover Reveal: Undaunted Love (Banished Saga #3)

unnamedTitle: Undaunted Love
Author: Ramona Flightner
Publisher: Grizzly Damsel Publishing
Series?: Banished Saga #3
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Broken:

In spirit by the death of her daughter and by disillusionment with her marriage, Savannah Montgomery must find the strength to rediscover her sense of self-worth. Living in a mansion in Boston’s Back Bay, surrounded by maids, she’s learned wealth alone will not bring happiness. Submerged in a deep depression, a chance encounter brings friendship into her life. Will her friend’s faith in her embolden her to embrace a newly envisioned future?

Disillusioned:

By his actions in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War, Jeremy McLeod believes he will continue to battle the darkness alone. Returning home to Boston’s North End, wounded in body and spirit, he consigns himself to a solitary life. Working in his brother’s workshop brings much needed solace, but will it be enough?

Dedicated:

To forging a life with her husband Gabriel, in Montana, Clarissa McLeod is determined to fulfill her role as wife. When actions from her past continue to haunt her present and threaten her future, will Clarissa trust in her husband’s love and surmount her deepest fears?

Undaunted Love follows the McLeod, Sullivan, and Russell families as they struggle against injustice, persevere against loss and betrayal, and learn that the strongest bonds are the ones forged by loyalty and love.

***** About the Author *****

Ramona FlightnerRamona Flightner is a native of Missoula, Montana. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish, she earned a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Montana. Her Master’s thesis, Chilean Testimonial Literature: the collective suffering of a people, highlighted her continued interest in the stories of those who were at risk of being forgotten or silenced.

She studied nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has worked for ten years as a family nurse practitioner providing care to the poor and under insured at two community health centers, first in Wilmington, Delaware and now in Boston, Massachusetts.

An avid reader, she began writing three years ago. She enjoys the demands of research and relishes the small discoveries that give historical detail to her books.

Ramona is an avid flyfisher and hiker who enjoys nothing better than spending a day on a remote Montana river, far from a city. She enjoys research, travel, storytelling, learning about new cultures and discovering new ways of looking at the world. Though she resides in Boston, Massachusetts, Ramona remains a Montanan at heart. 

Her dreams are to see the plains of East Africa, marvel at the wonder of Petra in Jordan, soak in the seas of the South Pacific, and to continue to spend as much time as possible with her family. 

Banished Love is her first novel and is the first in the forthcoming Banished Saga.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Review: Love’s First Flames

23601283
Title:
 Love’s First Flames
Author: Ramona Flightner
Publisher: Grizzly Damsel Publishing
Release Date: November 2014
Length: 129 pages
Series?: Banished Saga #.5
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Find the book: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Love’s First Flames is a novella prequel to the Banished Saga.

Devastated…
When a fire irrevocably changes the lives of the three McLeod brothers, Gabriel, Richard and Jeremy learn to depend on each other in their harsh new reality.

Determined…
To thrive in prosperous, dynamic Boston of the late 1800’s, the McLeod brothers forge a bond created from loss, loyalty and shared hardship. Led by elder brother Gabriel, the three brothers battle wits against class conscious, exploitive relatives, working together to maintain a sense of family.

Committed…
To their dream of a better future, Gabriel worries that Richard’s interest in fellow orphan Florence Butler will only lead to heartache. Will Richard be able to secure Florence’s love? Will the brothers maintain their loyalty to each other? Or will they be torn apart?

***** Review *****

This is a prequel to the Banished Saga. I reviewed Banished Love (#1) and Reclaimed Love (#2) last year. The third book will be coming out some time this spring.

I liked this short prequel, and I also didn’t like it.

What I liked:

  • The McLeod brothers all together again (at a younger age)
  • A couple of loving influences for the McLeod brothers during their dark days with the Mastersons
  • Richard meets the sweet Florence Butler and kind of courts her
  • Florence has a motherly-type figure in her boss
  • Gabriel and Richard stand up for what their parents have taught them
  • Gabriel stays strong and provides for his brothers like a good man

I didn’t like, as we’re not supposed to, Aunt Masterson.

At first, she’s just a woman. A very nice-looking woman.

Gabriel shrugged his shoulders as a thin woman stepped out, wearing a shimmering blue dress that almost appeared black. She pulled a slate-colored wool coat more firmly around her as she exited the carriage. She wore black gloves and a black hat with a veil pinned back.

Her harsh features were drawn into a moue of disgust as she glanced around the street, and she raised a square of white linen to her nose as she dodged horse droppings and approached Mrs. McClowski’s door. 

Aunt Masterson is evil. She collects the McLeods and takes them into her house, but it is surely not for want. It is simply to keep up appearances. What would it look like to the genteel society if she didn’t take in her sister’s own children?

“My sister had the misfortune to marry a worthless man, and these are her children. A cautionary tale.”

The longer the boys stay, the more abuse they must take at the hands of their family. The cousins are snooty brats. They are seen as burdens and even lesser than the servants. In fact, Aunt Masterson refers to them – directly – as cretins. She slowly loses it over the course of the novella with each passing antic.

She is evil in its purest form. It is so hard to think that people actually applauded and supported Aunt Masterson in her words, actions, deeds and schemes. How much more does the woman have to prove that she’s the devil incarnate? It’s like society – ahem, snobby ladies in particular, I’m talking to you – is completely blinded. She could be standing on a pedastool, revealing her next hateful scheme and they all applaud her for it.

One of my favorite parts of Love’s First Flames was actually Richard, the middle brother, when he stood up to Aunt Masterson with the very fiber of who he was:

“Our da said respect was earned,” Ricahrd said, inserting himeself between Gabriel and his cousinss even though he was at least three inches shorter than any of them. “Not given just because you wear some fancy suit that makes you look uglier than a wart on a baboon’s bottom.”

 Followed by a much more simpler response from Gabriel: 

She pinned him with her most severe glare. “You will learn to respect me, Gabriel.” 

“Respect is earned, Aunt, and you’ve done nothing to earn it.” 

I also loved how smoothly Richard’s courtship of Florence began, but sometime between the end of the prequel and Banished Love, something goes terribly, terribly wrong. I thought that might be covered in the prequel so as not to leave any gaps in the storyline, but I suppose that’s something that is going to be left alone.

***** About the Author *****

Ramona FlightnerRamona Flightner is a native of Missoula, Montana. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish, she earned a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Montana. Her Master’s thesis, Chilean Testimonial Literature: the collective suffering of a people, highlighted her continued interest in the stories of those who were at risk of being forgotten or silenced.

She studied nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has worked for ten years as a family nurse practitioner providing care to the poor and under insured at two community health centers, first in Wilmington, Delaware and now in Boston, Massachusetts.

An avid reader, she began writing three years ago. She enjoys the demands of research and relishes the small discoveries that give historical detail to her books.

Ramona is an avid flyfisher and hiker who enjoys nothing better than spending a day on a remote Montana river, far from a city. She enjoys research, travel, storytelling, learning about new cultures and discovering new ways of looking at the world. Though she resides in Boston, Massachusetts, Ramona remains a Montanan at heart. 

Her dreams are to see the plains of East Africa, marvel at the wonder of Petra in Jordan, soak in the seas of the South Pacific, and to continue to spend as much time as possible with her family. 

Banished Love is her first novel and is the first in the forthcoming Banished Saga.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Reclaimed Love

reclaimedbold1-266x400Title: Reclaimed Love
Author: Ramona Flightner
Publisher: Grizzly Damsel Publishing
Release Date: January 2014
Length: 337 pages
Series?: Banished Saga #2
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*****Synopsis*****

Committed…

To living a life she desires with the man she loves, Clarissa Sullivan continues to teach poor, immigrant children and to agitate for the vote for women as she awaits Gabriel’s return to Boston. Will her stepmother leave her in peace or is her life about to change again in unforeseen ways?

Convinced….

Clarissa is the woman he now wants to marry, Cameron Wright renews his pursuit of her. Charming, wealthy and well-bred, he is perceived as the ideal gentleman for a blacksmith’s daughter. With Gabriel far from Boston and his return uncertain, why should Clarissa continue to reject Cameron?

Devastated…

After his banishment from Boston, Gabriel McLeod forges a new life in a remarkable city. Will the memories of the love he shared with Clarissa sustain him?

Will Clarissa overcome deceit and treachery and reclaim her love?

*****Review*****

Oh, this book. How many of you think your mother-in-law is bad? Well, this book paints an ugly picture for Clarissa…almost like a historical version of Cinderella, without the stepsisters and no fairy godmother, just a beyond evil stepmother.

I snuck this one in while on my trip to Pennsylvania, and I am so glad I read it sooner rather than later. You can find my review of Banished Love, the first book, here. Clarissa is still in Boston, trying to continue on with her life even though Gabriel has gone west, after being blackguarded by Clarissa’s stepmother and her evil counterpart and cohort, Gabriel’s aunt. These two witches come into play quite a bit in this book, more so than in the first book, and their doings are far worse than in the first book.

Clarissa is pining over Gabriel, but he hasn’t written to her since leaving. Does he still feel the same? She continues teaching and deflecting the advances of her former fiance, Cameron, but it is harder and harder to do so with her stepmother plotting teas with ulterior motives and inviting Cameron over. Even her father’s adamant foot-down order that Cameron is not allowed in his house does not stop Clarissa’s stepmother, who convinces her husband to make Clarissa give up teaching and  be underfoot to learn the “proper” way to run a house, and be confined to her own home, a prisoner with no outlet. And this makes Clarissa’s stepmother even bolder in her actions and her inane matchmaking between Clarissa and Cameron. She goes too far and all but ensures that Clarissa will be forced to marry Cameron, or suffer untold ruin. During all of this, Clarissa meets Gabriel’s long-lost brother Jeremy, back from the war in the Philippines, and he is the one who grasps the idea of what Clarissa is keeping hidden. Also in a cruel twist of fate, the McLeod’s uncle Aiden surfaces, to learn that the nephews he was told were dead were indeed very much alive.

If only Gabriel would ask her to come to him…

This novel switched between Clarissa and Gabriel, and I felt that more time was spent with Gabriel than with Clarissa, so as to develop Gabriel’s new life out west. He meets up with a nice guy, who steers him into a mining town in Montana, derailing his plans for California. Gabriel finds work as a carpenter in this booming town and makes friends (and enemies) among his work crowd and Matthew’s. The Egan house is where Matthew and Gabriel and the bunch end up the majority of the time. Liam Egan works with Matthew in the mines, and Ameila Egan cooks and in general cares for the men, who all dote on little Nicholas. They are all trying to get Gabriel to get Clarissa out west and be reunited, and eventually she decides to do just that.

Clarissa sets off west with her brother Colin, and quickly discovers there is little trace of Gabriel where he said he’d be…and yet he has left the rumor mill running at full speed after leaving town with Amelia Egan. None of this bodes well for Clarissa, and even after they are reunited and things have been sorted out, Clarissa’s refusal to tell Gabriel what happened in Boston, and about what she learned as to why Cameron is forceful in his pursuit for their marriage, made me quite temperamental as a reader. There were several people telling her to just tell Gabriel, and just like in Harry Potter when Dumbledore gives Harry plenty of opportunities to tell him what is going on and Harry refuses, Gabriel gives her even more opportunities to tell him. Clarissa was such a flawed character at this point, afraid that Gabriel would not want her, that she almost made it come to that by her refusal to open up to him.

This teaser that Ramona shared about Reclaimed Love sums up the book beautifully:

Reclaimed-Love-change-yourself-into-something-final-400x400

There are so many things that happen in this novel that I can’t share even a glimmer of it, but they are all important, and most important of all is Cameron’s hell-bent reason for following her west. I did not think that he would let things end as they had in Boston, and even goes so far as to lie to everyone that Clarissa accepted his offer of marriage.

Even though Colin has gone west on this journey with Clarissa, his character was very limited in this book, while on the flip side of that coin we got to see quite a bit of Gabriel’s uncle Aiden, who as a businessman had an interest in a particular company in Boston that is keeping quiet about its bankrupt status…

The novel ends on a sweet note, with no clear indication of what will come in the next book, but from what I know of Ramona Flightner and her write-by-the-pants writing style, I think she’ll be writing more for this series than she originally thought as characters and plot lines continue to develop.

I can, however, take some guesses and list out some hopes:

  • Uncle Aiden buys out the company he originally came to Boston to do dealings with, making ruin publicly humiliating for one Boston family
  • Ameilia finds a wonderful man to remarry (although I’m still undecided as to who!)
  • Richard and Jeremy come west to join Gabriel, Clarissa and Aiden
  • Clarissa’s father discovers his wife’s treachery and abuse of Clarissa and something horrible befalls her and Gabriel’s horrid aunt
  • Cameron Wright ends up dead (come on, a girl can only hope!)
  • Savannah finds some happiness in her horrible marriage
  • Clarissa and Gabriel have a baby
  • The grandparents learn of Cameron’s true nature and make amends to Clarissa in some way
  • Clarissa and Gabriel devise a way for Ronan to live his life with purpose
  • Colin finds a way to put his love and musical talents to good use (and hopefully becomes famous?)

*****About the Author*****

Ramona FlightnerRamona Flightner is a native of Missoula, Montana. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish, she earned a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Montana. Her Master’s thesis, Chilean Testimonial Literature: the collective suffering of a people, highlighted her continued interest in the stories of those who were at risk of being forgotten or silenced.

She studied nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has worked for ten years as a family nurse practitioner providing care to the poor and under insured at two community health centers, first in Wilmington, Delaware and now in Boston, Massachusetts.

An avid reader, she began writing three years ago. She enjoys the demands of research and relishes the small discoveries that give historical detail to her books.

Ramona is an avid flyfisher and hiker who enjoys nothing better than spending a day on a remote Montana river, far from a city. She enjoys research, travel, storytelling, learning about new cultures and discovering new ways of looking at the world. Though she resides in Boston, Massachusetts, Ramona remains a Montanan at heart. 

Her dreams are to see the plains of East Africa, marvel at the wonder of Petra in Jordan, soak in the seas of the South Pacific, and to continue to spend as much time as possible with her family. 

Banished Love is her first novel and is the first in the forthcoming Banished Saga.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Banished Love

Banished Love (Banished Saga, #1)Title: Banished Love
Author: Ramona Flightner
Publisher: Grizzly Damsel Publishing
Release Date: January 2014
Length: 290 pages
Series?: Banished Saga #1
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Format: e-book
Source: author

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

Free-Spirited…

Clarissa Sullivan dreams for more from life than sipping tepid tea in stifling parlors in Victorian Boston. She defies her family’s wishes, continuing to teach poor immigrant children in Boston’s West End, finding a much-needed purpose to her life.

Radical…

As a suffragette, Clarissa is considered a firebrand radical no man would desire. For why should women want the vote when men have sheltered women from the distasteful aspects of politics and law?

Determined…

When love blossoms between Clarissa and Gabriel McLeod, a struggling cabinetmaker, her family objects. Clarissa’s love and determination will be tested as she faces class prejudices, manipulative family members and social convention in order to live the life she desires with the man she loves.

Will she yield to expectations, or follow her heart on a journey of self-discovery as she learns what she cannot live without?

Review

The year is 1900; the place is Boston, where high society still has a lasting impact on gossip and reputations. Clarissa is a young woman who caused quite a stir a few years prior to the novel starting, through no fault of her own whatsoever, but ugly gossip and remarks have made Clarissa out to be the one at fault, along with her continued insistence that she teach school in a poorer area of town.

Clarissa is also very clumsy, and known for it. She accidentally knocks a man from a ladder coming out of her uncle’s store, causing him serious injury. She ensures that he is well cared for, and discovers that he is a carpenter her uncle has hired – and he hires Gabriel to build Clarissa bookshelves for her school. Despite Clarissa’s clumsiness, a romance is budding between the two.

Clarissa teaches because it gives her life a sense of purpose. She enjoys it, and it grants her a certain amount of freedom, but a freedom she soon discovers is not so free at all. She is once again subjected to the rumor mill and gossips of society – including her very own stepmother, who is stirring that roiling pot, and simpering to her father when confronted with her wrongdoings. However, sometimes the damage is too great to be undone.

An unexpected and unwelcome ghost of Clarissa’s past shows back up in town and stalks her at every opportunity. Clarissa must eventually be escorted home from her school, but her stepmother is trying to play matchmaker, knowing fully how this ghost from Clarissa’s past has hurt her, and is tarnishing Gabriel’s reputation.

All the while, Clarissa is foiled against her cousin, Savannah, who is soon to marry a snobbish, well-to-do “gentleman” who at every opportunity reminds Clarissa exactly who she is and what she is in the most horrible way. Clarissa brings up a time or two the rift that is fast growing between the two cousins, especially after Savannah’s drastic retreat from The Cause.

Clarissa wants more from her life – and winds up the friend of an old, high society woman who has so much money nothing said can ruin her. Mrs. Chickering is an adamant suffragist, from the old days of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. She becomes a mentor to Clarissa in so many ways.

Clarissa’s family is an obstacle in this book in so many ways. Her aunts and uncles, cousins and brothers love her, but her aunts hold to the traditional notion that a woman belongs in the home. Her brothers love and support her to no end. Her uncle adores her. Her grandparents detest her, her father and brothers because her mother “married down.” Savannah is the exalted granddaughter doing everything right. But there is one unlikely relative who surprised me in support of Clarissa’s choices and new love interest.

This book explores the deep patriarchal society structure of the time, and the vast complexities of the nature of genteel society. It gives context to a time when women as a collective were changing in their needs and wants of life. Indeed, it provided historical context from the original suffragist days through Mrs. Chickering, and the new suffragist agenda, which is vastly different and barely scratches the surface of a movement. This is a time when a person’s word could be taken at face value as truth, and many took advantage of that to manipulate situations, especially the character and reputation of others, as is made clear on more than one occasion in this novel. Clarissa is pitted against these ideas within her own family, which is a hard thing to face. She also falls in love with someone below her status in society, and again faces all of the complexities and ugliness that human nature can bring.

Clarissa experiences growth as a character, as do most of those involved. I was disappointed that her friend and fellow teaching colleague disappeared after a point in the book, and the focus was on the development of the plot and conflict regarding Clarissa and Gabriel. Mrs. Smythe, Clarissa’s stepmother, truly grows in character to the opposite end of the spectrum. Even after being chided, reprimanded and scolded by her husband, she won’t stop her personal efforts to hurt Clarissa. In fact, it seems to only serve to make her more grandiose in her efforts and schemes.

In essence, this is a Romeo and Juliet novel, with an unfinished ending in that as readers we don’t get satisfaction. The book ends on a definitive cliffhanger that has me pondering several things:

    • Florence Butler, Clarissa’s fellow teacher, will resurface in a subsequent book (and perhaps her love issues will be solved)
    • The second book will follow Gabriel instead of Clarissa
    • Clarissa’s ghost will reappear, and her stepmother will continue to push and push until something completely drastic and unfixable occurs
    • Clarissa become more involved in the suffragist movement
    • Secretly (knowing it won’t happen) that Clarissa’s father divorces Mrs. Smythe

I loved this book. It was a wonderful read with several historical constructs, during a time that for women was very important. I fully intend on getting my hands on Ramona’s follow-up novel, which may be released sooner than expected! 🙂

About the Author

Ramona FlightnerRamona Flightner is a native of Missoula, Montana. After graduating from Tufts University with a B.A. in Spanish, she earned a Masters degree in Spanish Literature from the University of Montana. Her Master’s thesis, Chilean Testimonial Literature: the collective suffering of a people, highlighted her continued interest in the stories of those who were at risk of being forgotten or silenced.

She studied nursing at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a Master’s in Nursing as a Family Nurse Practitioner. She has worked for ten years as a family nurse practitioner providing care to the poor and under insured at two community health centers, first in Wilmington, Delaware and now in Boston, Massachusetts.

An avid reader, she began writing three years ago. She enjoys the demands of research and relishes the small discoveries that give historical detail to her books.

Ramona is an avid flyfisher and hiker who enjoys nothing better than spending a day on a remote Montana river, far from a city. She enjoys research, travel, storytelling, learning about new cultures and discovering new ways of looking at the world. Though she resides in Boston, Massachusetts, Ramona remains a Montanan at heart. 

Her dreams are to see the plains of East Africa, marvel at the wonder of Petra in Jordan, soak in the seas of the South Pacific, and to continue to spend as much time as possible with her family. 

Banished Love is her first novel and is the first in the forthcoming Banished Saga.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: The Stargazer

20487653Title: The Stargazer
Author: Michele Jaffe
Publisher: Diversion
Release Date: January 2014
Length: 374 pages
Series?: Arboretti Family Saga #1
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance, Thriller
Format: e-book
Source: Diversion Press

Find the book: Website | Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Synopsis

The midnight shadows of Renaissance Venice conceal intrigue, romance…and murder.

Bianca Salva’s love of science has led her to defy the conventions of her day and illicitly practice medicine among the poor of Venice. She’s managed to keep her pass time a secret–until she is discovered over the lifeless body of a young courtesan, by the last person she’d ever want to see.

Ian Foscari, Conte d’Aosto, is known for being rich, handsome…and heartless. Finding Bianca over the dead body, he concludes she’s the murderer. Yet for reasons he cannot explain, her protests move him. He offers to give her one week to prove her innocence, but she’ll have to move into his house and be his prisoner. Her other option: the authorities and certain death.

Bianca has no choice but to agree to his maddening terms. She’s furious at having to cede her hard won freedom, and unprepared for the effect of his presence on her, for the longings he awakes in parts of her body she’s only studied in books. As Bianca struggles to focus on finding the killer, Ian fights his own battle between the undeniable attraction he feels for her and the painful scars of his past.

When their mutual attraction blazes to life, they are both dazzled by it’s force. Passion burns through their reserves, teaching them both to trust again. Love again. But this fragile alliance is soon tested. Lured into a web of scheming and betrayal, Bianca and Ian find themselves in a race against the clock to save their lives, their hearts, and the city of Venice itself.

Review

This book is different in a lot of ways. First, the novel is set in Europe, which is different than my typical fare, but not unappealingly so. The focus of the novel is Bianca. She has essentially been shackled to her aunt and uncle since her father’s death. She practices medicine in a time when it was unseemly for a woman to do so. There are a few comments from her aunt throughout the book about how she has embarrassed the family because of her chosen occupation. This endeared her to me even more.

I think it is because someone hurt you once, and now you want to hurt someone. – Bianca

Bianca is a strong character: young, smart, kind, beautiful, talented, innocent, naive, strong, prideful. She ends up at the wrong place at the wrong time, and appears to be a murderer. Her discoverer, the Count, takes her prisoner for his own personal reasons. He does not want to believe Bianca a murderer, but he does not want to believe what she says either.

Women’s minds were so utterly devious that they could be trusted to think of anything that would contribute to the illusion of their innocence, to remove the burden of culpability from their narrow shoulders. He had learned that lesson well and would not – would not – be duped again. 

The Count is another character altogether. He is a cynic of everything, drowning his present life with his failures and losses of the past. He suspects everyone of something – most especially Bianca.Yet at times he can be very kind and thoughtful. He is an odd man haunted by his own demons – demons that he will give in to over the love of his own family, the Arboretti.

Now get back to your job, which is to make enough money so we all continue living like princes, and let us do the work of ogres. Doesn’t suit you at all. – Franscesco

The Arboretti are an interesting bunch. There are the two uncles who act like old biddies, trying to marry the Count off. They both come from the medical profession so this was an interesting quirk. They hover and coddle like no female character I’ve yet read.

Then there is the brother and the cousins. They each have their own famous – or infamous – ways about them, and they all love the ladies of the land, which is also the major focus of the novel in the context of Bianca’s work. Often she administers to the prostitutes and poor, and through this she has developed extensive connections that come back to benefit her in several ways throughout the novel. The Arboretti men are all protective and supportive of Bianca, welcoming her into the folds of their warm, friendly and humorous family.

What I was waiting for was how the novel would fall into place, how the plot would get moving, and Michelle Jaffe delivered! All I can say is the Arboretti are arms and weaponry dealers, and are much hated by quite a few, and there is an explosion – and missing items! Narrowing down the whodunit list – and finding the murderers – becomes increasingly complex…but there is a traitor in the midst!

This is a wonderful read. The characters are well-developed with their own individual strong suits and flaws. I felt that I became a part of the Arboretti family while reading this novel. The murder and Bianca’s commitment to solving it kept me going – along with the Arboretti’s arising business problems. I could not manage to put two and two together until it was almost staring me in the face. The novel is tied up nicely, with no loose ends that seem hasty or overdone, which is always a plus in my book. I am looking forward to reading the other Arboretti novels.

Photo-579-300x225About the Author

Michele is the author of the Bad Kitty series of YA books as well as thrillers and romances for adults. After getting her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Harvard, she retired from academia and decided to become an FBI special agent or glamorous showgirl, but somehow instead ended up writing.  A native of Los Angeles, California, Michele and her sparkly shoes currently reside in New York City.

Find the author: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Book Review: Prejudice Meets Pride

Prejudice Meets Pride (Meet Your Match, book 1)Title: Prejudice Meets Pride
Author: Rachael Anderson
Publisher: HEA Publishing
Release Date: April 2014
Series?: Meet Your Match #1
Genre: contemporary, chick lit, romance
Format: e-book
Source: I Am A Reader 

Find the book: Website | Goodreads 

Synopsis

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome new neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.

Fun, compelling, and romantic, Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

Review

I was skeptical of this book from the start, there was just something about the cover, but I ended up loving it! Rachael Anderson has written on a unique premise: artist Emma Mackie gives up her dreams to raise her two nieces for a time, until their dad can come back into the picture. At first there wasn’t much to Emma – just a stubborn woman with really no options and no prospects – refusing the help of her neighbor Kevin, who ends up saving the day several times and even lands Emma with another dream job by the end of the novel, but at the beginning he saw Emma as a scatter-brained, incompetent single mom.

Throughout the novel, Kevin learns a lot about Emma and her situation. Emma learns a bit about Kevin. Feelings start to develop, and then things come to a screeching halt a couple of times. It is obvious that Kevin comes from money, and as that is one of Emma’s essential problems in the novel, it creates conflict in a few different ways that play out in the novel.

I think I loved this novel in several ways because I am a lot like Emma – I hate feeling that I owe somebody a debt, whether for a kindness served or an actual debt from a gift. I grew up the way Emma survived through college. I have her same mentality in that regard, so it was easy for me to assimilate into Emma’s mindset and background. What I was not prepared for was Emma’s history before turning 18 and coming to the United States. (She is originally from Sierra Leone.) In the beginning of the novel she made a comment through dialogue that made me think she had a baaaaad family upbringing and wanted to get the hell outta Dodge, but I found out that it was not quite as I had pictured it.

The nieces are adorable – and Emma teaches them quite a few life lessons – and they teach her a good one as well. One that lands Kevin with a mud pie in the face! 🙂

This novel is a sweet, fun read, perfect for summer. The characters were The banter was just right, the dialogue between all of the characters perfect. I wish I could go live on their street, where the neighbors are nice and friendly and in your business in the nicest way. A slice of small town living in the suburbs. 🙂

RachaelAbout the Author

USA Today bestselling author Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

 

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