Monthly Archives: May 2015

Author Laura Del Paranormal Event!

FREE OFFER ENDED 4/29. BUT DO CHECK OUT THESE FUN CHILLERS!

I’ve already had the pleasure of interviewing paranormal novelist Laura Del and reviewed Graveyard Shifts, the first book in her Pat Wyatt series.

Today marks the release of her new novella Ghosts Among Men. This is one author who knows how to celebrate! Not only is her new chiller FREE all day April, 29th, so are her two Pat Wyatt paranormal romances. Just read on to learn more about this exciting paranormal event and be sure to click on the links.

GHOSTS AMONG MEN

 

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Samantha Davidson sees ghosts for a living. More specifically, she sees ghosts as a private investigator, working alongside the Chicago Police Department to put away killers and put troubled spirits to rest.

Kindle US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00Y3597IO

Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00Y3597IO?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Paperback US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1511720565

Paperback UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghosts-Among-Men-Samantha-Davidson/dp/1511720565

 

GRAVEYARD SHIFTS

Graveyard_Shifts_Cover-2Sent on an assignment to find the best diner in New York, Pat Wyatt is more than happy to complete it, but not alone. Recruiting her best friend Christina Iglesias to join her, she sets out on her fateful mission, completely oblivious to what lies ahead. When a handsome stranger walks through the doors of the last diner of the day, Pat is not impressed with the striking man, and quickly leaves the restaurant…only to be followed out by the attractive mystery man. Following a whirlwind of marriage proposals and Hamptons’ mansions is the creeping recognition that everyone seems to be afraid of her new husband and that he might not be as perfect as he seems. With everything inside pushing her toward an impossible realization, Pat must decide if she can trust the outlandish instincts she has inside and truly believe her husband, Samuel Satané, is a vampire.

Graveyard Shifts: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B3A5D58

DUELING MOONS

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Monsters, workplace headaches, and sordid love triangles collide in Laura Del’s delightfully dark Dueling Moons.

The adrenaline-pumping sequel to Graveyard Shifts: A Pat Wyatt Novel finds our sarcastically witty heroine once again fighting for her life.

After a move to rural Louisiana with her werewolf lover, Mike, freelance writer Pat Wyatt is hoping for a more subdued life.

However, her demanding new editor makes work utterly excruciating, while her abusive vampire husband, Samuel, has frozen Mike’s assets and her attempts to get him to go to his werewolf pack for help go unheeded.

Things go from bad to worse when Samuel begins appearing in her dreams—alongside none other than the queen of all vampires, Kathryn. Samuel and Kathryn’s ominous dream presence proves that, no matter where she goes, the vampires will always be able to find her.

While still reeling from this realization, Pat’s car is set on fire by an unknown assailant. Soon, she finds herself in the middle of some major werewolf drama while a mysterious monster lurks within the city—a monster whose only mission appears to be murdering Pat!

Dueling Moons: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00OZFSS14

ABOUT LAURA DEL
Author Laura Del

Author Laura Del

Laura Del earned a degree in radio, television, and film from Rowan University.
Del is the author of two other books, Graveyard Shifts and Dueling Moons, which are part of the Pat Wyatt series.
Del lives in New Jersey, where she runs the blogging website  www.thefictionwriters.net

Review: MATE OF THE ALPHA

I’ve reviewed a few Marie Mason’s shifter novellas here and here.

Very short paranormal romance about a shifter businessman whose reluctance to claim his mate comes back to haunt him when she’s attacked by a gang of rogues.

Mate of the Alpha

Mate of the Alpha

Marie Mason manages to pack a lot of action and a decent amount of character development into thirty-five pages.

Hero Ethan Scott is a good mix of sensitivity and strength. His main problem is that he isn’t convinced that Lily Reynolds, who he believes is his fated mate, is prepared for life with a wolf shifter. By not claiming her, he’s left her fair game for the less savory elements of shifter society.
I’m not sure I buy Mason’s logic here. Rogues are outcasts. They don’t belong to or recognize wolf shifter social structure. So, I don’t see how Ethan claiming Lily would have put them off attacking her. Seems to me that at least the nastiest among them would’ve been even more eager to hurt her if she “belonged” to the alpha.

But this is supernatural fiction.

The scene where Ethan faces down the rouges is scary and will make me think twice about entering a deserted parking garage.

A quick and entertaining story.

Review: RESCUED BY THE ALPHA: Part 1

A woman is attacked in the middle of nowhere by her date and saved by a werewolf setting off a war between shifters and local fanatics.

Rescued by the Alpha: Part 1 (Silver Creek Pack)

Rescued by the Alpha: Part 1

I normally don’t like serials. I don’t like having to pay over and over to get to the end of a story. Also, the cliffhanger endings can feel manipulative rather than a natural stopping point in the action. RESCUED BY THE ALPHA: Part 1 is actually pretty good, and the ending is well thought out. Too bad there are other issues that undermined my enjoyment of the book.

Ryker the Werewolf Alpha is a mysterious character. His pack is full of interesting characters with lots of history and baggage. There’s good back story, especially about Ryker’s own tragic past.

The heroine isn’t quite as interesting. There’s nothing specifically wrong with her, even if she’s a little too quick to fall in lust with Ryker. She just doesn’t shine the way he does. This disparity is apparent in the love scenes, which are bland and disappointing. There’s just no spark when Ryker and Diana get together.

Brywood does a much better job with her action and suspense sequences. She creates tension right away with Zane’s attack on Diana and Ryker’s reluctant intervention. Zane is a chilling creation. After that initial encounter, we shrug him off as just another creep who has issues with women. It isn’t until he attacks the werewolves with such devastating results that we see what a dangerous foe he is.

In closing, I found part one of RESCUED BY THE ALPHA to be a mixed bag. There’s plenty of conflict and rising tension, but it just doesn’t make up for the flat interactions between the romantic leads. That’s why, though I gave this four stars, I’m in no hurry to read the next installment.

Review: MARRIED TO THE BAD BOY

A guy deeply involved with a Montreal organized crime family has trouble on his hands when he meets a young woman on the run from a member of a related outfit in New York.

Married to the Bad Boy (Cravotta Crime Family, #1)

Married to the Bad Boy

I was shocked by how much I enjoyed this book. As the story opens, it’s hard to find someone to root for. Tony is superficial and violent. Women aren’t even real people to him. I don’t even think they rate as playthings. Sex is an itch Tony scratches as he lives his miserable life employed by the same criminals his father died working for.

Elena is more sympathetic. Her father was a crime boss until he turned coat and squealed to the Feds. This got him killed and stripped Princess Elena of all status within the organization and all rights to its protection. No one will help her escape her violent (and likely psychotic) fiance. Desperate, She digs up a hefty pile of her dead father’s hidden loot and runs. Now here’s where she really made me angry: instead of vanishing to Montana or New Mexico or Alaska where she might buy herself a new identity and build a decent life, she runs to Montreal to find someone who will kill her ex. Elena’s stupidity and poor decision-making skills dog her…and Tony…through the whole book.

So why give this book five stars? Vanessa Waltz knows how to build suspense. In Tony, she gives us a bad boy who will NOT give up. He’s in a no-win situation. Elena wriggled her way under his skin, he’s not giving her up. But her ex is a “made” man–there’s no way to touch him and live. Tony and Elena can trust no one–not even each other for most of the book. There’s too much at stake. Compassion and friendship can get you killed.

There’s a lot of sex and violence in this novel. Tony does some awful things and is himself nearly tortured to death. What finally helps him and Elena is what initially caused so much trouble–her ex is nuts. Even the people in his own outfit want to be rid of him. They, like everyone, are restrained by the “rules” that protect all “made” members. So, while they don’t actively stop the guy, they are less than scrupulous about stopping Tony. He still has a hard road, and the action twists and turns as it races to an explosive climax.

MARRIED TO THE BAD BOY is a dark, scary book with characters that grab on and don’t let go. It definitely merits five stars.

Review: MY STEPBROTHER THE DOM

A young woman visits a sex club as a lark and becomes infatuated with a masked Dom who she doesn’t realize is her stepbrother.

My Stepbrother: The Dom

My Stepbrother: The Dom

This book isn’t quite what the title/cover/description lead you to believe. Sure, there are plenty of erotic elements to this story, but the sex comes on gradually and is secondary to Ava and Cole’s development as people. Ava (“April” at the club) is a little lost after college. She’s living at home and working at the mall. Her once close relationship with her stepbrother has eroded over time. Ava knows why she keeps her distance–her attraction to him embarrasses her. What she’s less sure of is why he’s always avoiding her. She’s not the kind of girl who lives dangerously. Her friend pretty much bullies her into going to the club that night. Ava certainly never expected to get all hot and bothered over “Master Royce.”

Cole never set out to work as a Dom at a sex club. He started as a bartender, but he has a huge gambling debt to pay off. When his boss offers him a chance to make real money as a Dom for introductory-level clients, he’s not even sure he can pull it off. “April” throws him for a loop. She wears a ridiculous peacock mask and her pre-set limits rule out nudity and most physical contact. As Cole figures out how to work within her limits and still give her some sort of “experience,” the boundaries between Master and Sub blur. Breaking down April’s defenses crumble his own.

I love how when the masks come off–during a holiday visit home–the result is anger and embarrassment. A lesser writer would have had a brief blow up lead to lots of sex. Instead Ava and Cole are mortified, not just by what they’ve done, but also by how it has exposed their mutual attraction. It takes a long time before they decide to launch into a relationship. Too bad for them that their leap of faith results in violent and completely unexpected consequences.

If Quinn falters anywhere it’s with Cole’s big secret–the one his stepfather tries to use to get rid of him. It’s too big a thing for the author to have offered no clues or hints about. All we know is that there’s always been tension between Cole and Ava’s father. I wish the author would have handled this plot point better and worked to make Ava’s father less of an out-of-the-blue villain.

Overall, though, MY STEPBROTHER THE DOM delivers far more than the sensational title promises. It’s on my Keeper list.

Review: WILLING CAPTIVE

A young heiress’s kidnapping by masked intruders isn’t what it seems.

Willing Captive

Willing Captive

When Delilah “Lily” Flynn is seized in her bedroom, dragged from her home, and bundled into a van, she’s pretty sure someone is out to collect a big ransom from her wealthy father. Turns out this isn’t the case. Lily’s father hired Nox Taylor’s company to take Lily and her twin and protect them from an unknown person who has been threatening to kill them.

Lily, kept isolated with Nox and his team for several months, takes a long time to come to grips with her confinement. It doesn’t help that she’s not allowed to speak to her parents or to her sister, who is being held at a separate location. Even when she comes to accept the situation, Lily’s worry over her family makes her take some risks that undermine the trust she’s slowly built with her protectors.

Things get especially complicated when she develops feelings for Nox and, seasoned professional or not, he returns them. Problem is he knows in the end he’ll have to leave her behind. It’s the nature of his business. No family. No ties. Not even a real identity.

Lily is a great heroine, a perfect mix of sass and vulnerability. She’s a fighter. Problem is that she doesn’t realize how much danger she’s in. That coupled with her anxiety for her family leads to conflict after conflict between her and Nox.

If you are looking for the perfect Alpha hero, Nox Taylor is it. He’s determined to do the job he’s being paid to do. If he has to become Lily’s worst nightmare in order to keep her under control–and alive–he will. His own growing feelings for her are locked away. And when they can no longer stay hidden, he gives in with full acceptance that the consequences will be painful.

There’s a lot of action in this book. Lily is determined not to be a victim. She trains hard alongside Nox’s team. Even so, no one is prepared when the real villain is unmasked or for his final, devastating move, which changes Nox and Lily’s lives forever.

I did find the epilogue a little tame and ordinary compared to the rest of the book. I would have been happy had the author left things with the main ending. That was closure enough for me.

Still, I loved WILLING CAPTIVE. If I could give it more than five stars, I would. It’s in my Keeper category–a book I’ll re-read for sure.

Review: GIRL UNDERWATER

NOTE: I’ve prepared an even more detailed video review of this book on Amazon. VIDEO REVIEW

A college swimmer struggles to put her life back together after a deadly plane crash that stranded her in the Rocky Mountains for five days with a teammate and three young boys.

Girl Underwater

Girl Underwater

Great example of New Adult fiction that crosses into literary territory. A powerful, character-driven novel. The chapters alternate between the crash/surviving until rescue and Avery’s attempts to get over what happened. I thought that knowing who survives so early on would ruin the excitement, but Avery’s PTSD is so serious that she reveals details of the stranding little by little, so the tension grows and grows.

There are two major conflicts here. One, will Avery pursue a relationship with Collin Shea, the swimmer stranded with her, also the one person in the world (besides her dad) who calls her to task for opting to take the easy road through life rather than use her considerable talents. Two, what kind of life and future does Avery want to have? The answer to the second question determines the answer to the first.

This is an incredibly romantic book, even though there’s almost no sex. Collin and Avery’s relationship advances through character development and small interactions. The result is a beautiful intimacy.

GIRL UNDERWATER has an epilogue. Nine out of ten times these serve no purpose. But this one is essential to the two conflicts resolving themselves without overshadowing each other. At the end of the novel, Avery decides what sort of life she really wants. And that leads to the events of the epilogue and the revelation of what happened between her her and Collin.

Review: WARRIOR PATIENT

The story of journalist-businessman Temple Williams’s three-year journey navigating the treacherous waters of the modern medical system.

Warrior Patient: A Memoir About Survival, Hope, Love & Laughter

Warrior Patient: A Memoir About Survival, Hope, Love & Laughter

A cancer diagnosis is scary enough. What most of us don’t expect is that our lives will be more endangered by the people and methods employed to cure us than by the disease itself. This is exactly what Temple Williams experiences when his prostate cancer leads to a three-year-long comedy of errors that includes massive infection, kidney failure, partial blindness, seeping open wounds, and on and on. Through his experience, Temple transformed from a passive receiver of medical wisdom to an active advocate for his own best interests–a Warrior Patient. His memoir tells his story and in the process offers hope and guidance to others who find themselves victimized at the most vulnerable time in their lives by the very system that is supposed to help them.

Though the subject matter is serious–and the details often raw and graphic–Williams tell his story with a surprising lightness. His rich humor and conversational style draws the reader in and keeps you with him even through the toughest parts of the narrative. And it gets really tough as combination of poor medical practices and inane miscommunication lead Williams to the brink of disability and death.

Chapter by chapter we are taken from a simple fall on the tennis court (that has repercussions that are anything but simple), step by step (or cock-up by cock-up) through Williams’s saga. Interwoven with the main narrative are episodes from his life that show Williams is no stranger to life-threatening situations. As a young journalist in New York City, his undercover investigation of the subway police nearly got him killed. And in Africa, he had a close-up and personal introduction to a Malawian prison. After these close calls and several others, the last place he probably expected to face annihilation was in a urologist’s office in Boca Raton, Florida.

Williams’s close, quick-paced account reveals how much of patient care both in the hospital and out is arranged for the convenience of doctors and staff rather than in the best interests of the people they are supposed to be curing. For instance, catheterization is normally standard procedure upon admittance to the hospital, though it is often unnecessary and can lead to serious infection. Then there’s the reluctance of medical professionals to actively communicate with patients. At its most innocent, this failure to engage can leave people confused and unsure as they struggle to understand the details of their condition. At worst it leaves them ignorant of their full range of treatment options and the possible negative, even devastating, side effects of those options.

Throughout the book, Williams offers tips to turn his readers into Warrior Patients. He demonstrates how vital it is that patients arm themselves with knowledge of their own condition and of the backgrounds of those they are trusting to treat them. Williams emphasizes each patient’s right to demand honesty and competency from their medical professional…and to fire those professionals who fall short.

In closing, WARRIOR PATIENT is not only full of humor and riveting drama, it instructs and empowers readers how to–literally–fight for their lives in a medical system that considers those they serve more as economic units than as flesh and blood human beings.

Review: WORKMAN’S COMPLICATION

A way-way-off-Broadway actress inherits her father’s PI business and finds herself in the middle of the life insurance fraud investigation which led to his murder.

Workman's Complication (McCall & Company Book 1)

Workman’s Complication

Kate McCall is in her mid-forties and resigned to the fact that she’s never going to get her big break. This doesn’t dissuade her from continuing her acting career, much to the chagrin of her son, a NYC DA. As the novel opens, Kate has the lead in a campy vampire musical and subsidizes her professional gigs by managing the apartment building where she lives. It’s a bit of a patched-together existence, but Kate’s content. Then her father, a private investigator, is murdered in a gruesome manner and leaves her his business…including an open case involving a contractor whose whole family faces ruin thanks to a construction worker’s false injury claim. Kate doesn’t want anything to do with detective work, but the client is paying good money. At the same time, she begins investigating the circumstances surrounding her father’s murder.

With two separate mysteries to solve, Kate (and author Rick Leder) take on a lot. Luckily there’s a cast of unique and helpful characters from Kate’s theater company and her apartment building to lend a hand. Leder does a good job keeping the separate cases going without confusion, but the sheer number of characters (and associated back stories) can overwhelm at times. There were a couple of instances where I had to go back and remind myself which character grew pot in the apartment’s back garden and which had to pee in Gatorade bottles due to a perpetually non-functioning toilet.

The book is funny with a capital F and full of unexpected twists. Leder lands Kate in tight spot after tight spot and always manages to get her out in humorous yet believable ways. Several scenes stand out for me even weeks after finishing the book: Kate and a fellow actor posing as Feds and interviewing the “injured” construction worker’s grandmother, Kate and another set of actor friends infiltrating the office of a crooked doctor, the indomitable Fu rescuing Kate from certain death in a Queens bungalow. Each of these scenes ends with a bang of one sort or other–whether from a tea kettle, flying lawn furniture, or a mean right hook.

Kate is incredibly likable and it was a hoot how–thanks to decades in various small-time acting roles–she has a clothes closet full of wigs and costumes to draw upon when she has to impersonate a banker or a reporter or a sweet mid-westerner. It’s also refreshing to spend time with a heroine who is tipping into middle age. As bright and mature as she is, there’s also a freshness and vulnerability to Kate. It makes readers relate to her, but it also gets her into trouble.

The only issue I had with the book was how heavy it is with detail. Not only are there tons of characters (each with a story), every scene is filled with Kate’s impressions and ruminations. Every town she visits. Every person she runs into. It’s all material for her to chew over and expound upon. This slows the pacing down at times to the point where I caught myself skimming until the real action picked up again.

Still, WORKMAN’S COMPLICATIONS is a highly entertaining mystery full of great characters.

Review: ON YOUR OWN by Jonathan Miller

A collection of short stories focused on individuals coming to grips with their inherent isolation–even from those they love.

On Your Own

On Your Own

The stories here are filled with flawed characters led astray by their own illusions and failure to connect with the people around them. They generally fall into two categories. First, there are generally good people gobsmacked by an unkind, inflexible world. Second, there are those who do wrong though they know better and often want to be better. All of Miller’s characters seem trapped by their own misconceptions and miscalculations. They either cannot attain intimacy or they cannot accept the restraints that intimacy imposes on them.

Miller’s writing is sharp and accomplished, and he has a good grasp on the emotional nuances that make for realistic characters. The world view presented in this volume is a bit grim, but that is literary short fiction for you, moody and leaning toward the pessimistic. Nevertheless, there are some lighter moments. “Mrs. Dumont and the Aroused Tenant” had me on the floor laughing. Also, “The Last Week of Summer” is full of a sharp-edged humor as a mini-war between two brothers clouds a much anticipated visit to their grandparents.

A thoughtful, nicely balanced collection.