Monday, July 28, 2014

Safe in the Tycoon's Arms by Jennifer Faye

Growing up, I thought Harlequin romances were great.  In a way, they were my gateway to many different genres:  romance, historical fiction, and contemporary.  However, it has been a long time since I read one.  So, when I was offered the opportunity to read Safe In the Tycoon’s Arms by Jennifer Faye, I thought I would check out how Harlequins have changed and whether they have stood the test of time for me.

            Kate needs help:  she is divorced and her daughter is suffering from a tumor.  With few financial resources, she is relieved to be offered a place to stay by a kindly hospital volunteer.  The vacant, sprawling house seems like a perfect place to stay as it is close to the hospital.  What Kate is not prepared for is the appearance of a man in the middle of the night!  It turns out that his aunt is the one who offered Kate the use of the house, and he is unexpectedly back to stay at the house.

            Lucas is a busy businessman and does not have time for the complications of Kate living in his house.  But, Kate has nowhere else to go.  She offers to help him remodel his crumbling home if he will assist her in creating a fundraiser for her daughter.
            Lucas is a complicated character—and for me, not totally likeable.  While he does understand Kate and her devotion to her daughter, he has a daughter as well.  He has not seen her for four years, since his divorce.  The reason for his distance is that when he was a child, he witnessed his parents fighting all the time, and he did not want to create that tug of war for his daughter.  So, he does not see her at all.  Umm, WHAT?  I had such a hard time rooting for Lucas, knowing that he abandoned his own daughter.  And when he showed care and concern for Kate’s daughter, I wanted to yell at him to get over himself and take care of his own kid.

            There is a bit of “the big misunderstanding” but Safe in the Tycoon’s Arms is an easy read with a happy ending.  Kate is a likeable character, as are the supporting characters.  Lucas was a speed bump in my enjoyment of this book, but for a quick summer read, I enjoyed it.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Your Perfect Life by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

Best friends since childhood, Casey and Rachel couldn’t lead more different lives. While workaholic Casey rubs elbows with celebrities daily as the host of Gossip TV and comes home nightly to an empty apartment, stay-at-home mom Rachel juggles an “oops” baby, two fiery teenagers, and a husband who barely seems the man she fell in love with two decades before. After an argument at their twentieth high school reunion, Casey and Rachel throw back shots to get the night back on track. Instead, they get a life-changing hangover.

Waking up in each other’s bodies the next morning, they must figure out how to navigate their altered realities. Rachel is forced to confront the reason she gave up her broadcasting dreams when she got pregnant in college, and Casey finally steps out of the spotlight to face the truth about why she’s alone. And they soon discover that they don’t know themselves—or their best friend—nearly as well as they thought they did.

Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke bring humor and heart to every page of this novel that is sure to please fans of In Her Shoes and The Opposite of Me. Your Perfect Life is a story about two very different women, what they didn’t know about each other, and how, by switching lives, they each learn to appreciate their own.

Once I saw the title of this book my first thought was that it would be a story about someone being jealous of another person’s life and how the main character tries to deal with his/her jealousy of the other character. Once I received the book and read the summary I found out I was wrong and that the story more closely resembled the movie Freaky Friday but involving friends instead of a mother and daughter.    

As soon as I started this story I was instantly hooked, to the story and the two female characters. I found that I could relate a little more to “Rachel” than I could with “Casey”; I think it’s because “Rachel” is a stay-at-home mom and “Casey” is the workaholic ruthless career woman. I loved the situations each woman dealt with prior to the “switch” and especially after the “switch.” I enjoyed reading and getting to see how each woman dealt with each others situations and by the end of the book it taught both Rachel and Casey that not only is the grass not always greener on the other side, but that you don’t have to just settle for the way your life is; that you can always make changes in your life that will make you happy.   

I believe that Ms. Fenton and Ms. Steinke wrote a wonderful book. I think this story is funny but at the same time the reader can learn a little lesson from these women. I think most women would love this story especially stay-at-home mothers. I would love to read more stories like this and it's my opinion that these two authors would write some more wonderful stories together. I give this book an “A+” and Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke an “A.”

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Tiffany

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reckless Disregard: A Parker Stern Novel (Parker Stern #2) by Robert Rotstein

Former topnotch attorney Parker Stern, still crippled by courtroom stage fright, takes on a dicey case for an elusive video game designer known to the world only by the name of "Poniard."  In Poniard's blockbuster online video game, Abduction!, a real-life movie mogul is charged with kidnapping and murdering a beautiful actress who disappeared in the 1980s. Predictably, the mogul--William "the Conqueror" Bishop--has responded with a libel lawsuit. Now it's up to Parker to defend the game designer in the suit.

In defending Poniard, Parker discovers that people aren't who they claim to be and that nothing is as it seems. At one point, his client resorts to blackmail, threatening to expose a dark secret about Parker. Then, many of the potential witnesses who could have helped the case die prematurely, and the survivors are too frightened to talk. Parker begins to feel as if he's merely a character in a video game, fighting malevolent Level Bosses who appear out of nowhere and threaten to destroy him.

Rotstein is back with a second book/installment in what seems to be the beginning of a series featuring Parker Stern. Stern is a lawyer who just recently started suffering from debilitating stage fright whenever he’s in a courtroom. This time around, Stern is working in a mediators office which affords him the opportunity to practice law without stepping foot in a courthouse. 

Unfortunately, trouble seems to find him wherever he goes. Poniard, an anonymous game designer, debuts a video game where one of the most powerful men in Hollywood kills off an actress who in real life disappeared years ago. Poniard contacts Stern online and asks him to represent him after he is subsequently sued by the media mogul. Stern agrees to take on the case even though he never meets Poniard in person because it gives him a chance to go up against his former lover, Lovely Diamond. 

Describing the story can get complicated but Rotstein does a great job of creating a seamless story that grips you as you try to figure out all the angles right along with Stern. The city of L.A. once again makes a guest appearance. You don’t have to read his first book, Corrupt Practices, but it was nice knowing the whole picture whenever Stern referred to his past. I am definitely looking forward to the next Parker Stern installment. 

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  Roberta

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Those Who Wish Me Dead by Michael Koryta

 Jace Wilson is an ordinary kid.  When he is dared to jump from the top of a rock quarry, he foolishly agrees.  But, he is not at all sure that he is capable of it.  In order to test his mettle, Jace goes to the spot alone and jumps off.  His descent is not the most terrifying part of his experience, however.  The dead body he finds is.  In this opening chapter of Those Who Wish Me Dead, Michael Koryta, sets the pace for a thrilling ride through Jace’s fight for his life.
            As if the dead body was not enough, Jace hears the Blackwell brothers, the murderers, trying to find him.  He is fortunate to escape with his life.  The Blackwell brothers know who Jace is, however, and are ready to kill him.  Jace needs protection, so he goes “off the grid” at a wilderness camp for troubled young men.  Jace, who has always been well behaved, has to find a way to fit in with the other campers. He also builds a relationship with Ethan, the man in charge of the camp who will teach Jace survival skills.
            The Blackwell brothers are not giving up on finding Jace.  They trace him to the wilderness program and in order to get Ethan to bring the boy back, they burn down Ethan’s house and attack his wife.  From there, it is a race to see if the Blackwell brothers can succeed in their mission to kill Jace or whether Jace can manage to survive.
            Fast paced and thrilling, Those Who Wish Me Dead was a great read.  The characters were well drawn and the little survival lessons in the book were great.  Ethan was a strong character and he was well matched to the task of fighting the Blackwells.
            My only criticism is that the bad guys seem just a little too evil and omnipresent.  In some ways, they were not just thugs, but rather like preternatural assassins coming to get this young witness.
            Full of interesting plot twists (including a major one at the end that I did not see coming), Those Who Wish Me Dead, was an action-packed page-turner.  I loved it.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  Regina

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thornbrook Park by Sherri Browning

Eve Kendal has been battered by circumstance.  Though she married for love, her family thought that she was marrying beneath her station.  They disowned her for marrying Ben, an army captain, instead of an earl.  However, the couple is able to forge a new life in India and they are quite happy—until a natural disaster results in Ben’s death.  Eve expects to be able to live on her widow’s pension and the savings that she and Ben have accumulated.  When the money is not forthcoming, Eve decides to return to England and count on the largesse of her friends.  Such is the setting for Thornbrook Park by Sherri Browning.
            In 1906, there was not much choice for financially strapped women but to impose upon their friends for help (unless they were ready to work as a governess), so when Eve writes to her friend, Sophia, she is pleased to be offered a place to stay at Averford House.  Averford House is the dower house that is near to Sophia’s estate, Thornbrook.  When Eve arrives she is delighted to relax in comfort—until a commotion on the hall alerts her to the presence of Captain Marcus Thorne, Sophia’s brother-in-law. 
            Marcus is haunted by his past as a soldier and suffers from frequent black rages.  He is able to control these through forays into the prizefighting ring.  When he loses a fight, he returns to Thornbrook, drunk as can be.  In the throes of a flashback to the war, Eve ministers to him and seeks to provide comfort.
            Flash forward and both Marcus and Eve are at Thornbrook.  Lady Sophia, who wishes that Marcus would marry her sister, Alice, threatens their budding romance.  This would keep the family close by and provide that any children from the union would remain near.  In addition, Eve needs to solve the mystery of her missing funds.  She seeks the help of a lawyer, who is mysteriously murdered.  Her quest to find out about her money, as well as to honor Sophia’s hope that Marcus marries her sister, forms the rest of the novel.
While I found Thornbrook Park to follow a predictable romance novel formula (boy meets girl, obstacle, obstacle, life threatening event, happily ever after), there is one thing that Browning did quite well.  When Marcus and Eve sleep together and are ruining Sophia’s plan to get her sister, Alice, married off to Marcus, both characters do the right thing—and confess their relationship.  While this led to complications for the both of them, they did it anyway.  This avoided “the great misunderstanding that can be solved with a conversation” that is present in a lot of romance novels.  I found that quite refreshing.
            The rest of the novel is pleasant, if not predictable.  The last third of the book, in particular, follows the standard romance novel arc with an appearance by the villain and a blessed event.  There were no surprises there.  If I had to grade Thornbrook Park, I would give it an average grade.  It was nothing remarkable, but it was a fun diversion.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  Regina

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Miting by Dee Yoder

Leah is seventeen and Amish. Like many her age, she has lots of questions, but the temporary flight of freedom known as rumspringen is not the answer for her. She does not desire Englisher fashion, all-night parties, movies, or lots of boyfriends. Leah is seeking to understand her relationship with God, to deepen and broaden her faith by joining a Bible study hosted by an ex-Amish couple. She wants to know why Amish life is the only lifestyle her family accepts, why the church has so many rules, and . . . most disturbing, how godly men can allow her best friend to be abused in her own home. In the pressure-cooker environment of church and family, Leah is not allowed to ask these questions. When finally she reaches the breaking point, she walks away from the Old Order Amish life that is all she has known. Though adapting amiably to the Englisher world, Leah is tormented with homesickness. Returning to the community, however, entails a journey of pain and sorrow Leah could never have imagined. The miting--shunning--that will now be Leah's unendurable oppression every day is beyond her most devoted attempts to believe or understand. All the bishop and her family ask is that she abandon her practice of reading the Bible. Is that a price she is willing to pay?

 Seventeen year old Leah is curious about the Bible and in her search to better understand God, she joins a Bible Study group without the knowledge of her family. It is through this group that she learns that God is not the one dictating all the specific rules that her order says they have to follow. I have always been fascinated by the Amish and this book offered great insight into their world. It explains how each order’s beliefs and customs can vary depending on their head Bishop. Some orders will even allow indoor plumbing, phone and propane use, and so on. Other orders, including Leah’s which is a Old Order, are very strict. For example, Leah’s order dictates that they cannot use buttons on their dresses, the specific types of curtains they can put on their windows and that no flowers can be planted on their yard.
Leah’s family eventually learn about her Bible Study group and forbids her to continue attending since per Amish beliefs, church leaders are the only ones allowed to interpret the Bible. Leah insistence on continuing to read the Bible and the problem it caused for her and her family eventually forces her to leave her family and friends behind. Although it breaks her heart, she wants the freedom to learn more about God. This results in the “miting” or shunning by her people. She does attempt to come back due to her extreme homesickness but quickly realizes that she cannot stay with her newly acquired knowledge of what the Bible is stating versus what her church dictates of their followers. Yoder did a great job of exploring the heartbreak that comes with each of Leah’s decisions. This book has two great things going for it; not only is it a compelling story but it also offers an inside look into the Amish culture for anyone who has ever been curious about their beliefs and customs.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.  Roberta

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dark Moon Series - Name a Werewolf Contest!

How would you like to have a chance for a character YOU named be in a popular new series soon to be published by Dark Feed Press with GMTA Publishing? 

Sounds like a dream come true, right? 

Well here is your chance, read below to find out how you can be a part of this amazing new series soon to be released! 

Like the Dark Moon Series Facebook Page and tell us the story behind why you are choosing that name you're submitting.  

On August 12th, 2014 we will choose a winner at random and the name you've chosen will appear in our next book "Dark Harvest."

  RULES: The name can not be a celebrity name or contain curse words.  We retain the right to use the character as it pertains to the story. This means they could have a short run (two book minimum) or a long story arc. Who knows how that character will develop.