Monthly Archives: December 2013

Three – Ann McMan

GCLS clean logoThree - Ann McMan3 short stories about Diz and Clarissa spread across 3 Christmas’s

“Nevermore” finds the pair at the Christmas party after working together for 2 years ‘in the basement’ at Clarissa’s family. Diz, gawky, geeky, Rachel Maddow lookalike, dreams of the fabulous, upmarket and “almost engaged” Clarissa. She promptly gets drunk and disorderly, and finds herself being ministered to by her dreamy guardian angel..

A year later in “A Christmas Tree Grows in Baltimore’ Clarissa has moved to the 9th floor and hey have spent the year stuck in amber. It’s the day after the Christmas party and Clarissa is coming over for a late supper, except a Baltimore snowstorm has other ideas. Simply Red, tossing the Christmas tree and pink lights add up to a wondrous night for Diz.

Blended Families jumps forwards another year and Diz is freaked out by Clarissa’s determination to have a Christmas party and invite both families. After several run-ins with the law and a husky, including one which has put Clarissa’s mothers prize whippet into therapy, Diz thinks the party will seal the end of their fragile romance. Little does she know quite how chaotic it can get.

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Three brilliant short stories that take us from the first dawnings of a relationship through to “Meet the parents” on double vegan egg-nog. Diz and Clarissa are wonderful characters; chalk and cheese – ditzy geek who has no idea how attractive she is and long-suffering rich girl who knows just what she wants.

Ann McManAnn McMan has given us a charming Christmas delight. Witty, humorous and full of fun. Fast paced and full of non-stop rollicks – I couldn’t put it down. Anyone who likes some Christmas cheer will love this, and lets hope for more Diz and Clarissa adventures in the future.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 123 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bedazzled Ink (December 11, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HAM6SR0
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Etched in Shadows – KG MacGregor

GCLS clean logoEtched in ShadowsWho is Johnelle Morrissey? Is she the successful wife, mother and career woman who seems to have everything, including the most amazing BFF? Her life seems complete, she is happy, she has everything she worked and planned for. But when her plane comes down shortly after takeoff she is left in a coma for weeks, while her husband, son and BFF Alice try to deal with the possibility of loosing her, or getting only a part of her back.

When she finally starts to come round Alice is there for her literally 24/7 until hubby Dwight can get back from a sales trip and son Ian from Italy. Alice is, as always, conscious of her ‘place’ in the family and, not wanting to overstep the mark, works hard to help Johnelle remember her husband and son as well as their long term friendship.

Johnelle and Alice have been best friends since 6th grade, inseparable and rock solid for each other. Alice knew early that she loved her friend, but she quickly realized Johnelle was 100% straight and vowed to always put her friendship first. So she wept on Johnelle’s wedding day but kept her pain to herself, living in the shadows of the happy family and being the perfect friend, the perfect aunt.

Alice knows she is the outsider. Tolerated by Johnelle’s parents and useful to her husband as both a substitute parent and reliable resource. But her dedication to her friend mean she is the one who continues to visit twice a day over weeks when the rest of the family go back to their lives, she is the one who talks to the comatose patient, and she is the one who is there when Johnelle wakes up.

As Johnelle emerges from the haze of jumbled memories and regains her self and her self will, a different woman emerges and the changes will impact all of them. Whether it is Alice’s presence, her words and tales or the near death experience, Johnelle no longer wants the status quo, and soon begins to realise she no longer wants her controlling husband to rule her life. The Johnelle who emerges from the trauma is a different woman, no longer prepared to be ruled by husband and father, determined to make her own choices and finding feelings long buried that she had never allowed herself to explore.

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KG MacGregor has created an interesting twist on a traditional plot. We are led through a tale of a woman emerging from the fog of brain trauma, discovering herself for the first time, and finding out she is not who everyone thinks she is.

The character of Alice is wonderful. Strong silent loving lesbian BFF who has, literally, suffered her whole life with her unrequited love. Rather than leave her best friend and create a new life she has chosen to stay, be the family spinster aunt, support and rock. Her relationship with the family forms a brilliant canvas upon which the new Johnelle emerges from her chrysalis.

Johnelle is a work in progress. The loss of memory and feelings she once had gives Ms MacGregor the opportunity to show a woman before and after a life changing event, and to explore how starting from scratch as an adult might allow us to make different choices. The author does an excellent job of drawing out the gradual changes and self-realization, and of Johnelle’s slow understanding that she cannot go back.

Johnelle and Alice are strong characters, well drawn and developed. They, as well as Alice’s feisty mother Dessie, the bewildered ‘man of the house’ Dwight, the sensitive son Ian and homophobic father form a cast which will be recognized by most. They form the backdrop of many American novels and soaps. KG McGregor has colored them in with love and affection, even for those with whom we have little sympathy.

The plot is simple, the recovery of a air crash victim from brain injury including hospitalization, rehabilitation and a gradual coming back into herself as her memories and emotions settle from the jumble caused by disorientation.

KG MacGregorBut on top of this KG has layered a controlling father and husband who think they have the right to manage Johnelle’s life. A friendship which supersedes even the best of BFF’s. And a gradual realization from Johnelle of why she made the choices that seemed like the only ones available. And even more important, the choices she now has the opportunity to make-over.

We could, perhaps, have had more of the childhood and teenage friendship between Alice and Johnelle to give more substance to the feelings that develop, and more detail of the way Johnelle made the choices she did. Presenting her at the start of the novel as having it all doesn’t present us with a woman who doubts or regrets the route her life has taken. Never-the-less an excellent book, well written, well edited, thoroughly enjoyable read.

 

Product info:

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bella Books (18 Nov 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HHK8VWK
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Tender Heart – Ana P Corman

Dr Megan Summers loses her temper with her best friend and colleague Dr Drake in front of his realtor. When she has calmed down and reviews her behavior she knows that she has a lot of apologizing to do, to Drake and to the gorgeous Rebecca Rhodes who witnessed her outburst.

Her apologies lead to friendship and the romance between the women develops while they explore each others worlds. Surrounded by loving friends and family with amazing jobs and a wonderful home there is nothing out of place.

But then Rebecca is abducted by a crazed client and Dr Summers fears she could lose everything she cares about.

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Having just read Celtic Knot I was really looking forward to this. And it is rare for me to be critical. But while the idea behind the plot is fine, and I can see that Ms Corman is trying to develop her characters this was a painful read and I struggled to make myself finish it.

The dialogue is stilted and unrealistic. The writing is good in sense of grammar and structure, but the language is repetitive and overflowing with superlatives. The tone is so over-joyous, sickly sweet and gooey it leaves a false saccharine taste.

In terms of the story, the underlying plot is fine but the timings unrealistic. While we all get the U-Haul scenario do adult professional women really fall in love and commit over one coffee break, start calling themselves ‘wife’ on the second date, agree to move in on the third day?

And the drama. Yes the plot needed something to break the saccharine sweetness of everybody bursting into laughter (3 times a page) and giggling (really?), and the abduction adds tension and suspense. But Rebecca has a gun in her purse that she seems to make no attempt to get for the longest time, for no good reason I can see. Megan smashes her mobile against a wall in angst and a broken arm is portrayed as a life threatening injury.

Looking at the bibliography available this was Ms Cormans fist novel and it feels like a teenage romance. The behaviors and language are immature and undeveloped, the plot is oversimplified and the theatre is melodramatic. Having read Celtic Knot first (Published 10 years later) I was extremely disappointed.

Sorry Ms Corman but this needed a lot more work.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • First published 2000
  • Publisher: 1st Book Library (20 Aug 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158721878X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587218781
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Weeping Walls – Gerri Hill

GCLS clean logoWeeping Walls - Gerri HillFBI Agents CJ Johnston and Paige Riley are once again sent off to look into a mysterious death. Along with their work partners Ice and Billy, they head off to a small town Northeast of Houston to investigate the death of a young boy that is similar to an earlier cold case.

At the same time they are exploring their new relationship, trying to keep it hidden from the colleagues, while finding ways to spend as much horizontal time together as possible.What they find case wise is a haunted house, creepy neighbors, batty old women, and a lot of evil. More importantly what they find is the beginnings of something serious.

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Great follow up to “Keepers of the Cave

In the second of the series Ms Hill takes her more than slightly odd FBI team to a haunted house. In another great X-File-esque romp the team face friendly ghosts, possessed middle aged women and incompetent local cops.

This book gives us more of Ice and Billy and develops the team dynamics, especially amusing as the big baldy is terrified of ghosts. But once again the central characters are CJ and Paige who’s burgeoning romance started in Keeper of the Cave.

Gerry Hill biogHere CJ and Paige start to explore their relationship outside of the play-acting – will it develop into something more than a short term fling while on the case, or will Paige’s mother and CJ’s insecurities derail it?

Amusing, lighthearted, funny, touching romance, great sex as always. Am enjoying the development of this off the wall series.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 234 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bella Books (December 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HWKJHNM
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A Celtic Knot – Ana Corman

A Celtic KnowCatherine O’Grady and Olivia Carrington meet when Catherine’s mother, Dana, attends an oncology appointment for her 5 year checkup. The attraction is instant but the surface ‘dislike’ is palpable.

Catherine runs a café bookshop with her mother. She has worked hard to build her business, recover from a bad break up and more than anything, to support her mother through treatment and recovery. But along the way she has developed a loathing for hospitals and uncaring Doctors who, she feels, failed her father and provide limited options for patients.

Olivia is the typical arrogant heath professional. On top of her game, confident she knows it all, and sure of her own opinions. When the 2 collide over Dana’s hospital bed sparks fly.

Both have something to learn. Catherine that cancer sufferers need more than just books for support, Olivia that they need knowledge. And while they 2 women battle each others prejudices their attraction grows.

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This is a great book. Catherine, Dana and Olivia are wonderful characters with strong individual personalities and great depth. The story is strong and the developing romance follows a well trodden but interesting pattern. The use of the jigsaw puzzle to capture Catherine’s heart is excellent.

While I haven’t been involved with cancer (my own family experience is heart disease) I found the battles over emotion, knowledge, support and care to resonate as I am sure it will with many. Ana Corman’s background is nursing and she has clearly empathised with the family and friends as well as the patients. I thought Catherine’s hostility and anger came across as very realistic, something many of us can relate to when we have lost somebody and are not convinced the medical profession did their jobs.

The initial fights between Catherine and Olivia are well done, their affection develops well, and Olivia’s war of attrition on Catherine’s fears can make us all dream of being wanted so much.

Will definitely be on my re-read pile for the future.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 250 pages
  • First published 2010
  • Publisher: Createspace (31 Aug 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451593457
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451593457
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