Monthly Archives: February 2014

Between here and Paradise – Anna Samuels

Between here and ParadiseEvie Harkness lost her life before her time. Unable to escape to paradise, Evie lingers endlessly in her old home searching for answers, visiting her mother in the care home and wondering what the future holds.

When Ally Christopher buys the family home Evie is troubled. At first she wants the beautiful stranger to be gone but when Ally begins to ‘hear’ her, Evie sees her chance for company and to reconnect.

——

This is the first third of a short story trilogy being published over the next 3 months. It is an unusual story of a woman caught in limbo between her home and paradise after she has been murdered… we don’t know why or who by. It is written on the first person of the ‘ghost’ – a curious mechanism.

At first her world is empty and extremely frustrating because nobody can see or hear her, but when the new owner of her family home starts to see and here her, she finds comfort and company and a way to reach back out to the real world.

Unfortunately I found the beginning of the book very stilted and heavy handed. The author has tried to set the scene and explain the circumstances with too much description and too much of an “I did/felt this” monologue. Once the plot gets going the stiffness disappears, the descriptions are well done and the dialogue well written.

The story is interesting and unusual. The plot hints at romance and a crime/drama. The characters are beginning to take substance and achieve layers.

I would recommend this, and urge you to work through the first section because I think it could be a very good read – and I am looking forward to the next instalment.

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 34 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Self Published
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00HSRCXEY
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Tumbledown – Cari Hunter

Tumbledown2 years after their horrific ordeal on Desolation Point Alex and Sarah have everything they never knew they wanted. A peaceful cabin on their own land in small-town Maine, new directions, new names, and most of all the joy of each other brings peace to their lives. They keep their eyes open, their heads down and are always conscious that there are threats still out there from the Church or Aryan Resistance.

When a Sarah’s good deeds and Alex’s injury on a police raid get them mentioned in the local paper, internet searches and face recognition software are triggered. The resulting confrontation will leave them fighting for their lives and their freedom.

—————–

Tumbledown is the sequel to Cari Hunter’s second novel, Desolation Point. In it Alex and Sarah face a whole new set of challenges, but the underlying story is a continuation of the previous plot. This is a completely different type of action thriller however – and I mean that in a good way. Too many authors find a formula and re-write the same book over and over. All three of Cari Hunter’s books are very different. There are themes, but no repeats.

This time Alex and Sarah are settled, living quietly together and trying to forge a new life in the aftermath of their extreme feat of endurance. They both appreciate how lucky they are to have survived, and what they have now is a love and a lifestyle beyond what they ever expected. Into this quiet idyll comes hatred, cruelty and pain and it is looking for them.

Once again Ms Hunter outdoes herself in the tension and pace of the plot. We literally know from the first 2 pages that the evil is hunting them, but we are held on the edge of our seats for the whole book to see what will unfold, how they will cope, whether they will survive – and at what cost this time. I literally couldn’t put it down.

Cari HunterThe main characters continue to develop and now we meet a new cast of friends and enemies, haters and supporters – both in the local community and as the plot unfolds. The supporting cast is well drawn whether it be cameo roles such as Esther to ongoing cast members like Agent Mike Castillo.

In the middle of all this tension and drama the characters manage to maintain their humanity and their sense of humor. Even at their darkest most painful moments Alex and Sarah are able to think of others, and release the tension with a gentle tease. Their love for one another is the strength that keeps them fighting to survive.

Well written, edited and effortlessly enthralling, Tumbledown is a wonderful read. It will stand alone, but why would you deprive yourself when there are two breathtaking books to read about these lovely women? So if you haven’t yet read Desolation Point you have a huge treat in store for you – go buy them both. (Still not convinced? read my review of Desolation Point here)

(publisher review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (February 16, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IHPPP0K
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Desolation Point – Cari Hunter

GCLS clean logoDesolation PointWhen a drunk driver destroys Sarah’s family and leaves her scarred and unsettled she opts to take some time away and travel. Finding herself in the North Cascades and now fit enough to do some serious hiking she decides to take the trail up to Desolation Point before the predicted storms come in.

Alex has left her beloved LAPD after a traumatic arrest leaved her physically and mentally marked. Unable to face the fear of being hurt again she has run away to the hills and is working on an isolated farm. She too takes a break to get some hiking in before the season puts a stop to any more camping.

When Alex hears that Sarah is still up the mountain when the storm hits earlier than expected she instantly decides to go after her. But what neither Alex or the other rescue teams know is that Sarah has unwittingly stumbled across an escaped criminal and put herself in the middle of a race for survival.

————-

This is the second of Cari Hunters’ novels and is another great example of a romance action adventure. The story is fast paced and thrilling. A real page turner from beginning to end. There are times when only the fact that there are chapters left in the book convince you somebody must survive to carry on. Ms Hunter is a master at an adventure plot and comes up with more twists and turns that the mountain trails they are hiking.

The characters are well developed and multilayered. Sarah is English, Alex American, and there is humor throughout as they explore their language and cultural differences. (I’m English – we play football NOT soccer) Cari Hunter clearly knows both the UK and US well as shown in her settings – Snowbound in the UK and this in the US. She uses that knowledge to great advantage as a lighthearted part of her character development.

The descriptions of the scenery are well drawn and evocative, her use of the weather as an additional part of the plot is clever and we really experience the mountain in all its fearsome glory.

Among all the horrors, pain and fear, we also have a love story as good as any LesFic out there. Alex and Sarah are great characters and as the plot unfolds you cant help but root for them both to survive the ordeal and survive together as a couple, forged in adversity and drawing on each others strength to survive.

Well written, edited and crafted this is an excellent book and I cant wait to read the sequel.

 

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 15, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CDMO324
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Sea Glass Inn – Karis Walsh

GCLS clean logoSea Glass InnMel travels to the Oregan coast to refurbish and open a dilapidated hotel she bought on a whim, inspired by an artist in the local town, and reeling from the shock of an unexpected divorce. After years in a compromise marriage, she has a lot of thinking to do about her future.

Pam is a blocked artist. Clearly somebody with a huge level of creative talent, she has been suppressed by a bad relationship and a huge loss. Now she survives in a closed off world hiding from her art and the pain it brings her. Mel wants more of the artists work that inspired her to move to Cannon Beach and begin her dreams. Her relentless drive to re-create herself and determined desire for the sea-glass art will challenge both women, and change their lives.

———————–

Karis Walsh’s third book, excellently written and paced as always, takes us on a gentle but determined journey through two womens’ awakening. For one it is the birth of her ‘real’ self, hidden and denied for many years. For the other it is the drawing out of a buried talent and overcoming the fear of her pain and her creativity.

The small town and its characters are lovingly drawn. The Sea Glass Inn literally emerges before our eyes and most of us could probably walk round it and name the rooms and their art long after we have finished the book. The tale of Mels’ refurbishment is both amusing and touching as she fights to assert her independence. Karis Walsh biog

The story is well paced, with just enough tension to keep you turning the pages but without an overdramatic melodrama. Pam has huge demons to face in her journey, and her agony is well explored, but never overwhelms. Mel’s journey is gentler, but she has her own fears to overcome as she emerges from the past.

Loved it, another great read that will stay on my re-visit shelf.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • First published 2013
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (January 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00B3ON4HS
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Worth the Risk – Karis Walsh

Worth the RiskJamie is a workaholic and a player. She is obsessively good at her jobs an investment analyst but the rest of her life is closed down. A difficult childhood, loss, responsibility and pain have all closed her off until she barely registers any form of emotional contact. Women are there to be used, her work is her life. It is how she maintains her façade while writhing with guilt on the inside.

Kate appears to be cool, calm and collected, yet approachable and endearing. It is all a show however, just as much as her dressage outfit or her horses plaited mane. She has come up from the servants quarters with parents determined to make her into an Olympic show jumper. Chameleon like, she has a face, an outfit, a manner and a character for every occasion.

When Jamie takes on the side project of assessing Kates’ bid for investment funding they are brought together like oil and water, opposing magnetic poles. Between their fears, their fighting and their flirting will they stay safe in their closed off worlds or risk everything for happiness?

————

The setting of this novel is exquisite, based on Karis Walsh’s own background in horsemanship and knowledge of showjumping. It provides a wonderful plot to the story, a great backdrop to the characters and an interesting insight for those of us who don’t know that world.

Jamie and Kate are intriguing characters. Well rounded and layered their backgrounds are unusual and their self protective behaviors are both frustrating and amusing to watch. They are both vulnerable and yet strong, independent and powerful in their own way. The romantic plot revolves around their mutual attraction and yet their public personas frequently repulse each other.

Karis Walsh biogI loved how Ms Walsh demonstrated and developed the relationship between Jamie and her niece, Kate and the riding group, and how that thread of caring is the core that shows these women their real personalities.

Another great book by Karis Walsh. Well written, well paced, amusing and warming. Definitely a hit for me.

 

Product info:

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • First published 2012
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (April 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007QP5VJ2
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Harmony – Karis Walsh

HarmonyAndrea is the violist in a string quartet that earns a living by playing at weddings. She is tasked with coordinating and negotiating with the Bridezilla’s, amusingly named by the band by their wedding date. Andrea is the controller; ordered life,  organized work, distant ‘relationship’.  But she is also the peacemaker who gives in to her domineering family and demanding lover  to stop conflict of any kind. Unlike second violin Tina, Andrea does not mix work with pleasure so despite finding October 5th attractive she would never act on her impulses.

Brook – October 5th – is instantly fascinated by the gorgeous viola player when the meet to discuss the wedding plans, and has to fight down her urge to have one last wild night, one chance to explore what she has never let herself enjoy.

When Brook calls a second meeting with Andi to finalise details of the wedding it will set them up to challenge who they are, and who they want to be.

————–

This was Karis Walsh’s first novel and what a great addition to the LesFic fold. It is very well written and flows effortlessly as it weaves together the story of Brooke and Andi’s worlds and their intriguing journey together.

Karis Walsh biogThe characters are well rounded and loveable. Ms Walsh has given space to more than just the heroines and we come to know the quartet and their partners, all of whom are likeable and interesting.

Brooks personal journey, struggling to find herself and find a balance between people domineering her and helping her, is a great read. At the same time Andi must also realise how her own behaviour has trapped her into a cold world of control which costs her early.

Lovely romance, well paced and enjoyable. You spend the whole book wanting to egg them both on. Well recommended.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • First published 2011
  • Publisher: Bold Strokes Books (19 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10:1602822379Br>
    ISBN-13: 978-1602822375
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Give Me A Reason – Lyn Gardner

GCLS clean logoGive Me A ReasonLaura has found her niche in educating ex-offenders and is delighted to be starting a new job as director of the education at a big women’s hostel in London. 

As Laura starts in her new post she is startled to find that one of her teachers wont actually be reporting to her for the foreseeable future.  Antoinette Vaughn is an enigma Laura could definitely do without. Invisible, outside the normal hierarchy and a nuisance in terms of managing the team, developing the program and filing the required monthly reports.

Toni Vaughn is more than an enigma though; she is a whole phycology thesis waiting to be written.  Previously a strong, articulate, confident woman, successful in her work, life and a definite ‘player’, she has been literally destroyed by institutionalized abuse. She is a physical and emotional wreck whose tenuous hold on life is maintained by extreme agoraphobia brought on by nothing short of terror. Only her best friend and her teaching keep her just this side of sanity and suicide.

When Laura is forced to confront Toni and has no choice but to challenge her “safe” world it sets in motion a series of events that will change both of their lives.

——————

It’s not often I put down a book and am speechless. The length, depth and emotional rollercoaster of this novel is way beyond the average LesFic story, and will, undoubtedly, stay in my mind for a very long time.

Lyn Gardner has created 2 amazing heroines. They have strength and depth, are multifaceted and layered and in book of more than 600 pages we have a remarkable opportunity to get to know them. Laura is the carer and giver. She has found an outlet for her skills and personality by teaching offenders and helping them discover a world outside of their experience. At first she is nothing but frustrated by the difficult and annoying recluse who teaches outside the normal program. But as soon as she hears Toni teach she is captivated. Despite everything that still drives her mad  she is caught up in a campaign to reach out to the wounded woman.

Toni is a gifted teacher but outside of that single environment she is a nightmare for anyone to engage with. She barely tolerates the minimal care from her only friend Kris and has built walls so thick around her nobody else can even see the person inside. Her life experience is shocking and horrifying, something most will find hard to read let alone comprehend surviving. She is a master at being invisible, staying within her self-imposed but totally understandable safe spaces both physically and mentally.  Struggling to survive on a minute-by-minute basis.

What we experience is a painful and yet exhilarating battle between them as Laura fights to break into Toni’s space, whittling away inch by painful inch to reach through the walls to the woman within. Meanwhile Toni struggles to hold on to her ‘safe’ isolation while inadvertently giving Laura more and more power in her life. Toni’s anger at Laura’s intrusion is the first emotion other than fear she has expressed in 2 years.

It is a magnificent exploration of both a victim, her extreme PTSD and the will power of two strong women, one to survive and maintain her safety, the other to reach out and help a person destroyed by her life. The relationship that grows between them is wonderful to watch. It will make you laugh with joy, swear in frustration and cry in anguish.

There are some very uncomfortable parts to this book. Reading about Toni’s abuse cannot help but make you cringe at the in-humanity in the world. But even more difficult for me personally was the description and internal monologue of one of her abusers, not something I would ever chose to read in any other genre. Some have commented that this whole section is unnecessary. But Ms Gardner had her reasons. It is horrible because we cannot have any glimmer of humanity in a man so evil, we shouldn’t enjoy reading a single word about such a monster, he can have no redeeming features. But by allowing Toni to face her worst fear the author also allows her to finally step out from under the crushing weight of her past. The confrontation is a catharsis that frees Toni from the fear. She isn’t healed, but she has survived.

This book has already been reviewed many times and it is difficult to find anything new to add to the praise. If you haven’t read it you are missing one of the best LesFic novels out there. It is well written, well paced, multi-layered, full of tension and virtually impossible to put down. Well done Lyn Gardner, you deserve the acclaim, this is one of those times when I wish there was a 6th star for special ratings.

(Publishers review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: 622 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Lyn Gardner (25 Oct 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00G7UU0R0
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ICE – Lyn Gardner

ICEDI’s Maggie Campbell and Alex Blake have just successfully solved a child kidnapping when tempers flare. Their styles are just too different, one a rule breaking maverick, the other a stickler for procedures. There extremely public and personal comments end the working partnership and they avoid each other for three whole years.

Suddenly they are forced back together as a decoy team for Interpol and with virtually no notice find themselves waiting to fly out to places unknown.

Their journey and adventure will change their lives in ways neither of them had expected.

——————–

Lyn Gardner’s first full-length novel demonstrates what a great writer she is.  Well written and edited, despite not having a publisher, ICE is a wonderful story of repressed feelings fighting through a battle for survival.

Alex and Maggie are well rounded, multifaceted and well set up characters. Their personalities and foibles are established very quickly at the start of the book, allowing us to feel comfortable with how they react to new situations, including extreme adversity.

The scenes and descriptions are excellent. Without going into mind-numbing detail at ever stage Ms Gardner has evoked the storm – the freezing cold, the numbing effect of the wind and ice. She made me feel the physical battle for survival – and be thankful to be home safe.

Part of that battle is also an extremely useful tool for developing the characters. From early on you want these women to succeed, and although I found Maggie’s sudden praying fatalism a little annoying I can forgive it as a foil to Alex’s overwhelming determinism.

Underlying this entire survival story is Alex’s attraction for Maggie, and Maggies confusion over her feelings for Alex. The book is a page turner not only because it’s an action/adventure story, but because we can’t help but want these women to sort themselves out and get it together. Ms Gardner has created layers of tension which last throughout the novel and keep you on the edge of your seat.

I loved it. I cant wait to read more of Lyn Gardner’s work.

 

Product info:

  • Paperback: 210 pages
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Lyn Gardner (25 Nov 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00ADC8PPC
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Mistletoe – Lyn Gardner

MistletoeWhen she was 4, and had recently lost her parents, Diana Clarke wrote a long letter to Santa asking for a soulmate. In a sweet childish way she asked to have somebody who loved her like her mummy and daddy had loved each other.

Unfortunately for Diana, her letter got stuck in the lining of Santa’s sack and 30 years later is found by Santa’s senior elf.

Mr Claus has never failed a child yet, but there are rules that mean he can’t give a gift to an adult. But with special dispensation he can deliver a suitable present and a handy little helper to make sure it works out.

————-

This is a delightful novella is a joy to read. It is lighthearted, funny and full of childish glee. Well written and decently edited it flows of the page. The characters are well rounded and hard not to love. Even the baddies soften up into decent human beings under the onslaught of a full blown romantic childhood Christmas.

It’s a ‘love at first sight’ followed by stunningly good sex type of novel, but swathed in warmth and joy which has to warm the most unbelieving and cynical heart.

An excellent Christmas read, definitely one to put under the tree for all your friends, and undoubtedly one to warm up your own Christmas.

PS.. I know it’s Valentines not Christmas, but was feeling a bit down all on my lonesome and needed a joyful, romantic, quick read.. so came back to this wonderful little book.

Product info:

  • Paperback: 126 pages
  • First published 2012
  • Publisher: Lyn Gardner (December 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00AH61KMY
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Lessons in Love and Life – Jae

Lessons in love and lifeA year on from “Hidden Truths” Amy Hamilton still feels insecure that her big city lover, Rika, will be bored on the ranch or fed up with her. She dreads Rika leaving. So she plans a special trip to show Rika the local bright lights at the Salem State Fair as an anniversary gift.

Not all goes quite according to plan and Amy learns lessons about herself, Rika, and her father Luke.

———–

This is an excellent little story about the ongoing relationship between Amy and Rika and how our fears and expectations are often mistaken. First Amy learns first hand quire what sacrifices and choices Luke has made. Second, she learns what Rika’s priorities are, and that she needs to trust her lovers words about just how she feels.

Well written and executed as always, this is a nice addition to the ongoing Hamilton family saga started in “Backwards to Oregon”. Hopefully over time we will see another short story collection for Amy and Rika’s life as we did with “Beyond the Trail” which explored aspects of Luke, Nora and Tess’s lives.

Maybe we all have something to learn this valentine – that Love is more important than sowing machines and canaries in a cage.

(Publishers review copy received)

Product info:

  • Paperback: –
  • First published 2014
  • Publisher: Ylva Publishing (February 10, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00IDDLLNG
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