Category Archives: Favorite author

Love’s Complicated

Last week I posted my review of Storms, the initial installment of Wendi Kelly and Deborah Dorchak’s new paranormal shifter series Tau’s Pride.

Schemes set into motion in Storms build momentum in the second book, Sacrifice.

The Pride (Not Pack. Did you catch that? Cause the change is ruffling lots of feathers and fur!) are flipped again as Regina and sexy angel Sebastian consummate a love that’s been simmering since even before Regina’s birth. The consequences of this union promise to reverberate throughout the shifter universe. If that’s not big enough news, Regina and her bodyguard Jon also have an important moment. If all of this “free love” makes you squirm, you’re not alone. Some of Regina’s most trusted mentors and confidants question whether she’s gone too far over to the “feline” way of being, with a serious loss of the special bonds conferred by the Wolf’s monogamous nature.

Regina accepts the validity of the question–she just doesn’t know what to do about it. Since the Dream Walk back in Legacies, a law of love that is greater than any particular species custom has asserted itself, and she feels compelled to honor it. Judging from what happens at the end of Sacrifice, this proves to be a wise impulse, but it has its costs. Harry for one, now transformed beyond anything he or we could have imagined, seems an outlier in this situation right at the point where he’s decided he wants to be more a part of his marriage and his family.

The final battle of Sacrifice is complex, brutal and resolves (to the degree that anything can resolve midway through a paranormal saga) in a most unexpected and satisfying manner. Weirdly enough, I’m especially concerned about a couple of the “villains” I’ve become attached to. I fear Kelly and Dorchak may have done too good a job with their characters–here I am rooting for the wrong side!!!!

Buy Tau’s Pride: Sacrifice on Amazon

 

Home Again

It gives me such pleasure to discover a new favorite author or a book that I know I will read a second or even a third time. I find myself talking about it to everyone I run into, and if I find out they already love that author or have read the book, it’s an extra rush.

Lending a favorite book out…it’s hard. I am possessive of my collection. Especially in this era of the e-book. If I have a genuine physical copy of a book, it’s because I either fell in complete and utter love with the Kindle edition, or found I had a hard time letting go of a library copy.

I must be growing up or something, because lately I have been lending out Tim Farrington’s books like crazy. Seriously. These books are making a round robin of the members of my Centering Prayer group. I’ll lend my copy of The Monk Downstairs to M and when she brings it back to the next meeting tell her, “Oh, just give it to K.”

It’s working out. All my babies have come home.

My latest prodigal is Tim Farrington’s The Lazarus Kid. It’s the THIRD novel he’s written about Mike Christopher, a former monk building a new life in San Francisco. The Monk Downstairs  is followed by The Monk Upstairs . They are spectacular. I also featured his debut novel The California Book of the Dead on this blog last week. There are a couple more novels of his and a wonderful memoir. I hope to talk about them in the near future.

Farrington has a gift for creating characters you wish you could meet for coffee. They’re by turns generous, selfish, compassionate, thoughtless, silly, and incredibly deep. Deep is also the word I’d use to describe the major themes in his work–finding the extraordinary in the mess of the ordinary, fundamentally flawed people living out their own highly idiosyncratic idealism, and the human search for the transcendent. Good stuff!

Why You Should Read What You Love

Seems it’s best to read what you genuinely enjoy rather than what you think you should read, or what you’d like to be “seen” reading. Here’s happiness expert Gretchen Rubin’s take on the matter:

“I wanted to make more time to read–more books, with more enjoyment. To do so, I gave myself permission to read at whim. Samuel Johnson observed, ‘If we read without inclination, half the mind is employed in fixing the attention; so there is but one half to be employed on what we read.’ Science backs this up. When researchers tried to figure out what helped third-and-fourth-graders remember what they read, they found that the students’ interest in a passage was far more important than the “readability” of the passage–thirty times more important.”

So when not compelled by work or school or promises to your author sister-in-law, READ WHAT YOU ENJOY.

And if you want to read more from Gretchen Rubin, I suggest starting with The Happiness Project.

Dandelions on the Road

A runner-up on a Bachelor-type reality television show gets a second chance to find love.

Dandelions on the Road (Dandelion #2)

Dandelions on the Road

I’ve become a Brooke Williams fan over the past two years. She writes the kind of quirky romantic comedy that keeps you turning the pages. DANDELIONS ON THE ROAD is a cheerful, clean romance. The premise might seem a little too common these days, but Brooke Williams adds freshness by taking her fictional reality dating show on the road. The different locations offer lots of opportunities for complications and conflict.

It was also fun to catch up with Kate Covington (from WRONG PLACE, RIGHT TIME) and Renee Lockheart, the heroines of the first book in the Dandelion series. I will say that Eva Merida doesn’t have quite the same sparkle and charm as these two.

Part of the problem might be that she and the hero (Brian Schaffer) don’t spend all that much time together. He’s the host and she’s the contestant, and for most of the book he’s way more into her than she’s into him. So when she falls for him, it isn’t as believable as it might have been.

Still, even with the coolness of the heroine, this book has many funny moments and provided an fun afternoon of reading entertainment.

ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL by Elle Kennedy

An ex-fighter turned nightclub owner struggles against his attraction to his best friend’s ex.

One Night of Scandal (After Hours, #2)

One Night of Scandal

When I read the first book in the After Hours series ONE NIGHT OF SIN I fell for Elle Kennedy’s well-developed characters and wildly effective scene setting. ONE NIGHT OF SCANDAL delivers the same excitement. Reed Miller and Darcy Grant have a lot of chemistry. Reed is a grump and emotionally shackled by his bad-boy past. Darcy is pretty wholesome, even if she does enjoy the occasional walk on the wild side.

The relationship develops against the backstory of a possible drug problem at the club. This plot line starts in book one and carries on through all three of the After Hours books. At this point, the club is in definite danger of being raided, so Reed is preoccupied with finding the dealer before the whole business goes under.

Darcy and Reed’s relationship has a great balance of romance and drama. The misunderstanding at the end is a little too engineered. There are enough real issues between the characters that complicate matters, so it was a little disappointing that Kennedy got so melodramatic at the end.

On the whole an entertaining experience.

ROAD TO VICTORY by Piper Davenport

* I received a copy of this book in return for a fair review

The troubled daughter of a wealthy family fights for love and for her future when old secrets bring brand new heartache.

Road to Victory (Dogs of Fire Book 5)

Road to Victory

Kimberly Church has struggled for years to create a stable life after a nightmarish childhood. Every so often her demons rise and she spirals out of control and into hard drinking and promiscuity. Luckily, she has plenty of friends to catch her when she crashes. Now that her best friend is married to a leader of the powerful Dogs of Fire Motorcycle Club, sometimes poor Kimmi has more eyes looking out for her than is comfortable. One set belongs to Aidan “Knight” Quinn. He’s lost from the moment he sees her, but she does everything she can to keep him away.

Aidan is determined to get to the truth behind Kimmi’s outrageous behavior. A shared love of horses offers a bridge and, slowly, they cross it. It seems like Kimmi’s personal life–and her riding–are about to reach new levels of fabulous. Then her ugly past turns into a terrifying present as someone threatens Kimmi and her beloved horse.

I’ve read all of Piper Davenport’s Dogs of Fire books. This is a good one. Kimmi’s character arc is a big one. She transforms from all hard edges and erratic emotion, into a grown woman prepared to face the terrible facts of her “privileged” childhood. Along the way, she puts Aidan through hell. There were times I found it hard to believe he’d stick with her, but Davenport is an expert at creating honorable yet believable heroes.

I did have two issues with the book. First, the pacing lags near the end of the middle when Kimmi and Aidan’s horse interests take them on an international journey. I can’t say more without ruining the plot for you. This section goes on a bit too long and the tension, so wonderful until then, suffers. Things pick up again once the couple returns home. Second, the climax, which should be pretty scary, falls flat. Just when Kimmi should be in maximum danger, she’s left on the sidelines. Kimmi needed to be the star in that final “bring the creep in” scene and it should have been from HER point of view, since this guy has tormented her for decades.

On the whole, though, ROAD TO VICTORY is exciting and entertaining.

Jackson & Washington’s DIAL L FOR LYNDA

* I received a copy of this book in return for a fair review.

Best friends turn detectives when one is arrested for the murder of her boss.

Dial L for Lynda (Linda & Lynda Detective Agency Book 1)

Dial L for Lynda

Having read a lot of Tracey Jane Jackson’s work, I was excited to learn that she was collaborating with Amanda Washington and branching into a new genre. DIAL L FOR LYNDA is a funny, sexy, well-plotted mystery. It might seem surprising to find wealthy, stylish Addison Allen’s best friend since childhood is a financially-strapped girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Harley James has been a hard worker from an early age and earned herself a scholarship to a pricey private school, which is where she met Addison and her twin brother Asher. They’ve been close ever since, though not as close as Asher would like. Harley keeps him at arm’s length as she tries to build a career that makes her feel more on his social/financial level. It’s her job that becomes the problem when she’d fired by her lecherous boss and then he ends up dead outside her apartment.

Jackson and Washington give us amusing, well developed characters who manage to get into all sorts of oddball scrapes as they try to find the real killer. Asher, a serious, sensible lawyer is a great foil for his emotionally overwrought sister. Whereas Asher tries to help Harley by becoming her legal advocate, Addie actually tries to get herself arrested so she can keep Harley company in jail over the weekend until a Monday bond hearing. And that’s just a taste of the lengths this wacky blonde will go to in order to protect her bestie. Though it doesn’t hurt that the lead detective is a tasty morsel who inspires all sorts of fantasies.

The comedy, mystery and romance are kept in fine balance. Jackson and Washington do a great job leading us through the tangled motives of the real killer, who came as a surprise to me, but is completely believable. Two small issues. The first was with Addie and Asher’s parents. They are a little too cliche “rich and snooty.” I would’ve liked more nuanced characterizations. Also the Linda/Lynda link seems a little forced. Even the authors can’t really explain the logic behind it. Harley’s middle name is Linn, and Lynda is the name Addie and Asher give to their GPS systems. Addie also uses it for a special phone line to throw off unwanted suitors.

Name confusion aside, DIAL L FOR LYNDA had me laughing out loud and reading way past my bedtime. Can’t wait for the next one.

Review: A NUN WALKS INTO A BAR

An orphan raised in a convent falls for a sexy bar owner and is drawn into a web of romance and danger.

A Nun Walks Into A Bar

A Nun Walks Into A Bar

I’m a fan of Tracey Jane Jackson’s Cauld Ane paranormal romance series and was excited by the premise of this book. A NUN WALKS INTO A BAR is funny and yet touches on some difficult subjects. It isn’t the ideal time for either Sadie or Ryder to focus on a romantic relationship. After an incredibly sheltered childhood, Sadie is trying to navigate the world outside her aunt’s insulated religious community. Ryder, the offspring of a biker of the mean-and-nasty variety, is desperate to locate his missing kid sister, who has been swept up into a human trafficking ring thousands of miles from their Portland, Oregon home.

Despite their opposing backgrounds and somewhat conflicting values, Sadie and Ryder share an undeniable and largely believable attraction. They manage to challenge each other and to protect one another from the forces of chaos swirling around them. There’s plenty of character growth on both sides and yet a consistency at the core of each.

The supporting cast is just as strong–par for the course in Jackson’s work. Plenty of tantalizing backstory. Troubled pasts. Secrets. This all bodes well for future “Nun Fiction” novels.

Jackson always does a good job with her villains. This time around the bad guy is SO bad, it boggles the mind. At the same time, he’s not overdone. As horrible as he is, it’s a believable horrible, which makes it especially creepy. You hope people this dark don’t exist, even though you know they do. There’s a scene in Sadie’s apartment that absolutely chilled my blood.

All in all, I loved spending time with Sadie, Ryder and their “gang.” I’m hoping it won’t be too long before there’s a sequel.

TAXI DELIVERY by Brooke Williams

I’ve featured Brooke Williams and her novels including, Mamarazzi, Accept This Dandelion, and Beyond the Bars, several times on this blog.

Now here’s a peek at her sweet romance about a law student whose part-time job changes his life when a passenger gives birth in his taxi.

Taxi Delivery

Taxi Delivery

This is a Christian-themed novel, so God is mentioned often and plays a large role in the characters’ decision making. Jed is an appealing hero. He’s not so gorgeous or wealthy as to be unreal. He’s just a good guy trying to do the right thing in difficult circumstances. Sadie is vulnerable and likable.

The end seemed a little too pat. I think resolving the romance AND Sadie’s employment issue tipped the balance away from realism, even with so much of the plot turning on odd coincidences that seem to be part of a “bigger plan” in the divine sense. I would have preferred my HEA with at least a couple of unresolved threads.

The plot strains a reader’s “suspension of disbelief” in places, but this unconventional romance is offers lots to enjoy.

Review: THICKER THAN WATER

A young woman’s hard-won future with her new husband is threatened by an enemy from her past.
Thicker than Water (Book 3 of The Grayson Trilogy)
Thicker than Water

All of the characters we’ve come to love from The Grayson Trilogy are back as author Georgia Rose sets them off on new paths and also resolves longstanding mysteries. Rose gives us a meaty plot set firmly in Emma’s point of view, which allows us to experience events as if we’re there living through them. Departing from past installments, though, THICKER THAN WATER features a secondary POV, one which pops up at the most unexpected times and offers a tantalizing hint of rough waters ahead for our friends at the manor. I love how ambiguous this personality is at first. There’s a darkness surrounding him, sure, but his intentions are not quite clear. When he does step into the light, not only does the game between Emma and her enemies turn on its head, but a slew of questions dangling from the previous novels are suddenly answered. Yet even these filled-in blanks don’t lead to closure for Emma. Instead they free a deluge of pent-up emotions that are almost as big an obstacle to her happiness as the gang of Russian criminals out to kill her.

The other side of the close focus on Emma’s POV is that we can get caught up in her day-to-day activities to the point that the pacing of the narrative slows. I think it took a little too long for the suspense/danger element of this episode to come into play, but in return we do get plenty of deep character development. Plot vs. character is always a difficult battle. Throughout The Grayson Trilogy Georgia Rose shows a knack for this balancing act.

THICKER THAN WATER delivers the romance, suspense and, especially, the final satisfaction readers of this series pine for.