Tag Archives: Romance fiction

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.

NEW RELEASE! A NUN WALKS INTO A BAR

 

Release Blitz:
A Nun Walks into a Bar
by
Tracey Jane Jackson
Mar 29th
 

 

 

 

After growing up in an abbey, orphan
Sadie Ross becomes Sister Abigail Eunice. Her life and career are on track
until a chance meeting with a handsome stranger in a place no nun should ever
go.

Ryder Carsen’s sister is missing, and he doesn’t
have time for distractions. But when a pretty nun walks into his bar, he can’t
ignore his attraction to her, even though she’s not the “sister” he’s looking
for. He’s relieved when she walks out of his life for what he believes is
forever.

Sadie’s life takes a surprising detour when she
finds her path crossed with Ryder’s once again. When they are brought back
together, Ryder knows he’s found the only woman he’ll ever love, but time is
running out for his sister.

Will Ryder save his sister from the men who took
her?
When a source far too close to home threatens
Sadie, will she trust Ryder enough to let him save her too?
 

 

    

 

    

 

 

CHAPTER ONE
Sister Abigail Eunice
I HAVE BEEN told
I look like Mila Kunis, and you’d think this was a good thing, but in my line
of work, it’s more of a hindrance. You see, I’m a nun. Admittedly, I’m not a
very good one, but nonetheless, I am, in fact, a nun.
Which (in a very
roundabout way) led me to a tiny, hole-in-the wall bar at the edge of the Pearl
District in Portland, Oregon, on a quiet Wednesday night.
I was supposed to be
meeting my friend, Laura, for dinner, but as I stepped off the MAX, I realized
I’d gotten off at the wrong stop and, as was my luck, the small wet sprinkle
coming from the sky quickly turned into a downpour.
“Well, crap!” I
slapped a hand over my mouth and mumbled, “Sorry, Lord.”
Seriously, I was the
worst nun ever.
Unsure of which
street I was on, I took shelter under an awning next to a building with a frog
motif, but no other identifying information. Frustrated, I fished my phone out
of my purse and tried to figure out where I was. I had a missed call from
Laura, and a new voicemail, which I could only guess meant she wouldn’t be able
to make it.
“Hey, lady. I’m so
sorry, I’m stuck at work and I can’t get down to the Pearl for another hour. Do
you still want me to try or do you want to resched?” Yes, she said, “resched.”
“Anyhoo, text me and let me know what you want to do. Love ya, ’bye.”
Laura Chan was my
oldest friend. She was actually the only one who knew me before the nunnery,
and therefore knew me as Sadie Ross, not Sister Abigail Eunice. Laura’s parents
had moved from China, and into the house next door, the summer before second
grade. She’d spoken very little English, but we still managed to communicate
and we roamed the neighborhood, inseparable until my parents’ death. I adored
her, even though she wasn’t always reliable. Ever hopeful, however, I always
gave people the benefit of the doubt, so here I stood, only slightly protected
from the pouring rain. And it was pouring. I fired off a quick text to
Laura, pressing send… just as my phone died.
“Oh, holy mother of—”
I pulled my sweater closer around me and stepped toward the building’s entrance
so I could warm up and perhaps borrow a phone, but just as I moved away from
the wall, something came loose from above, dropping a bucket’s worth of
collected water on my head. I let out a quiet squeak and pulled off my now
soaked veil, yanking open the heavy wooden door and slipping inside.
“ID,” a gruff voice
demanded.
I nodded even though
I couldn’t see anything in the dark space, reaching into my purse and pulling
out my Oregon ID.
A large hand swiped
it from me then handed it back. “Sister Abigail, you look lost.”
I let out a snort.
“You have no idea. I’m stranded and my phone died.”
“Ryder can call you a
cab.”
“Ryder?”
“Owner.” He nodded
toward the back of the building. “He’s at the bar.”
“Do I really need to
go to the bar?” I asked.
“Lady, he’s got the
number for the only cab company he trusts and if I let you leave in one from a
company he doesn’t trust, he’ll be pissed.”
I gave him a look of
mock concern. “That sounds serious.”
Bouncer dude
chuckled. “Yeah, he’s got this weird thing about sweet women being protected.”
“What about women who
aren’t sweet?” I challenged.
“Those too.” The
bouncer laughed. “But the sweet ones always seem to get special treatment.”
I smiled. “Okay, I’ll
head to the bar.”
“Good plan.”
I walked past the
pool tables, dartboards, and a jukebox playing something with a heavy drumbeat
next to the bar, the counter of which ran the length of the building. There
weren’t a whole lot of patrons, just a few who looked as though they paid
weekly rent for their stools. However, I was surprised by the heart motifs
hanging and taped up in a few key places. I guess it made sense… Valentine’s
Day was tomorrow, so the bar was probably getting ready.
A tall man with his
back to me turned and I felt sucker punched. Like, as in, the breath left my
body.
His light-blue eyes
met mine and seemed to peer into my soul. I froze, unable to take one more step
under the weight of his scrutiny. He crossed his arms, keeping eye contact, and
I was drawn into his tractor beam-like pull. I inched forward, one baby step at
a time, taking in his light-blond hair, a full beard—not quite Portland hipster
full, but still sexy-as-heck full. When my gaze landed on his lips he gave me
this incredibly delicious sideways smirk, and Lord help me, I wanted him to
kiss me.
See? Worst nun ever.
“You lost, Sister?”
“How did you know I’m
a nun?” Without my veil, most people just threw pitiful glances at my clothes
as though I didn’t know how to dress in anything fashionable. I wore a sturdy
black wool dress, black tights, and a gray button-up cardigan.
“Couple years of
Catholic school. ’Course, I never saw a nun who looked like you, but it’s your
shoes that give you away. It’s always the shoes.”
“Oh.” I bit my lip,
glancing at my feet. “Well, you got that right. They call them sensible… I
call them ugly.”
“Not touchin’ that
one.” Ryder smiled. “You need directions?”
I shook my head. “I’m
that tale of woe, I’m afraid. My friend couldn’t make our dinner date and my
phone died.”
“You need a cab?”
“Yes, but do you mind
if I just warm up for a minute?”
“You want some tea?”
I couldn’t stop a
huge smile of relief as I sat on one of the stools. “I would love some
tea.”
“Give me your phone
and I’ll charge it for you.”
“No, that’s okay.” I
waved my hand dismissively. “I doubt you’ll have a charger that works.”
He chuckled. “You’d
be surprised.”
I pulled out my
six-year-old flip phone and slid it to him.
“Right,” he said.
“Solve that one,” I
retorted with a giggle.
“Oh, you don’t think
I can?” He pulled open a drawer next to the cash register. After testing
several cords against my phone, he let out a, “Gotcha!” and faced me again,
plugging my phone into the wall. “Found one.”
“How is that even
possible?”
He laughed. “We never
throw anything away and people leave shi—ah, stuff here all the time.”
I raised my hands and
gave him quiet applause. “Well done, sir. Well done.”
He grinned and handed
me a cup of hot water and a couple of tea bags. I was pleasantly surprised to
see he had my favorite licorice flavor and steeped it in the water while Ryder
went about his business.
“You look like you’re
gearing up for Valentine’s Day,” I said, and sipped my tea.
Ryder shook his head.
“Not my choice.”
“Aren’t you the
owner?”
He chuckled. “Doesn’t
mean I’m not ruled by my patrons.”
“Ah, so not a
romantic, then.”
“Just think men
should show their women they love ’em every day… not wait for one day out of
the year. The whole holiday is a farce, in my opinion.”
I smiled. Maybe he was a
romantic.
As he freshened my
hot water, I wondered what my fellow sisters would think about the predicament
I’d gotten myself into. Granted, they rarely left the abbey, but they also
didn’t have jobs like I did.
Being a fourth-grade
teacher and working for the Catholic school next to our living quarters was a
perfect setup for me. Lately, however, I’d been feeling restless and I know
Reverend Mother noticed. In fact, I had a meeting with her in the morning and
it sounded serious, so being late or tired would not be an option. Perhaps my
ill-fated evening was cut short for a very good reason. Mother always says God
works in mysterious ways.
“You ready for that
cab?”
Ryder’s question
pulled me from my thoughts and I smiled, shaking my head. “Is it okay if I
stick around for a little bit?”
“Knock yourself out.”
He glanced at his watch. “But you’re outta here within the hour. It gets a
little rowdy at night.”
“Your bouncer warned
me about you.”
“Yeah?”
I wrapped my hands
around the cup, warming them. “He said you’re very protective of women.”
He glanced behind me
and then met my eyes again. “Bennie talks too much.”
“Maybe so.” I
shrugged and then sipped my tea again.
“What do people call
you other than ‘Sister’?”
“Nothing. I’m Sister
Abigail Eunice. Although my parents named me Sadie.”
Now why did I share
that? I hadn’t used my real name in years.
He leaned against the
bar. “Pretty.”
My breath caught. “My
parents thought so,” I said once I could speak again.
“But not you?”
“No, I like it fine.
I guess I don’t really think about my name much.” I shrugged. “My students call
me Sister and I don’t have many friends outside of… well, outside.” I shook
my head. “Gosh, that sounds so narrow.”
Ryder grinned.
“Sheltered perhaps.”
“That’s very
gracious, Ryder.”
He cocked his head.
“Never been called gracious before.”
Elbow on the bar, I
settled my chin in my palm. “That surprises me.”
“Of course it does.
You’re a nun.”
“Meaning?”
“You’re gracious to
everyone, so you assume others will be gracious as well.”
“I’m not gracious to everyone.
I’m a nun, not perfect.”
Ryder shrugged. “Fair
enough.”
“I should go.”
“Probably a good
idea.” He grabbed his cell phone and put it to his ear. “Hey. Got time to drop
someone home?” He faced me. “Where do you live?”
“Beaverton.”
“Beaverton. Great.
Yeah, five minutes works. Thanks.” Ryder hung up and slid his phone back in his
pocket.
“You’re pretty
friendly with the cab company, huh?” I took the last swig of tea and set the
cup down.
“One of my guys is
taking you home.”
“I thought you were
calling me a cab.”
“Can’t let a nun pay
the cab fare all the way to Beaverton.”
I frowned. “You don’t
think I can pay for cab fare?”
“Not what I said,
Sister.”
“Wow, you really take
this whole I-am-man-hear-me-roar stuff, to a whole ’nother level, huh?”
His gaze went to
something (or someone) behind me and he nodded. “Ride’s here.”
I decided not to
argue; probably because it would do absolutely no good, and slid off my stool.
“Thanks for the tea.”
“Anytime, Sister.”
Somehow, him calling
me “Sister” felt lacking. I took a deep breath. Lordy, I was ridiculous… and
I probably needed to confess, but I knew I wouldn’t.
Again, worst nun
award goes to…
Ryder grabbed my
phone and stepped out from behind the bar. “My number’s in there if you need
anything.”
“What would I need?”
I asked, and took the phone from him.
He shrugged. “You
never know, Sister. It’s a resource. Feel free to use it.”
What a strange thing
to say.
“Thanks for
everything, Ryder,” I said, leaving my internal thoughts in my head.
“No problem.” He
nodded toward his friend. “This is Reese. He’s gonna take you home.”
Reese was tall, dark,
and handsome as they say, but he had an edge about him that made me a little
nervous. His hair was longer than Ryder’s and kind of shaggy, and he was quite
muscular. I was fairly confident he wouldn’t hurt me, but had I met him under
different circumstances, I might have declined a ride.
A warm hand settled
on my back and I felt a shiver steal down my spine.
“You okay, Sister?”
he asked.
“Yes, fine.”
“You’re safe with
him, yeah? You have any issues, you call me.”
“Okay.” I stepped
away from his touch and forced a smile. “Reese, it’s lovely to meet you. Thank
you for the ride.”
“No problem.” He
waved his hand toward the door. “This way.”
With a backward
glance and smile to Ryder, I followed Reese out to the car, grateful he wasn’t
a big talker. Our conversation consisted of him asking me for my address and me
giving it to him. The rest of the ride strictly featured me gripping the door handle
(as was my habit). I hated cars and avoided them whenever I could.
It didn’t take long
to arrive at the rectory and I thanked Reese and climbed out of the car, a
little taken aback when he followed. “I’m fine from here.”
“Ryder’d kick my
a—rear if I didn’t make sure you made it inside safely.”
“Right, his
protection fetish.”
Reese chuckled but
didn’t comment.
I led him up the
brick walkway and to the back of the building where I unlocked the door and
stepped inside. “Thanks again for the ride.”
“My pleasure, Sister.
Have a good night.”
He walked away, and I
closed and locked the door.

 

 

 

New York Times Bestselling Author,
Tracey Jane Jackson, was born and raised in New Zealand, and that’s where her
love of horses was formed. Her grandfather taught her to ride at four years
old, and she couldn’t get enough.
Her love and passion for Abraham Lincoln and the
entire Civil War era might have come from her American father, however, he lays
no claim to influencing her. Tracey’s mother used to tell her she was simply
born in the wrong place in the wrong time.
Tracey hasn’t always wanted to write. It took
her a long time to get started, but now she doesn’t seem to be able to stop,
the joy of escaping to the 1860s is too much fun.

She’s been happily married and gooey in love
with her husband for more than twenty years. They live in the Pacific Northwest
with their two sons.

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Meet Author Georgia Rose

Georgia Rose 2

Author Georgia Rose

My genre is: romantic suspense – I write mysterious and romantic adventure stories with plenty of action and strong characters.

I started writing because: I had a story that had finally come to me in a complete form and this time I was determined to get it down before it disappeared from my head, as my ability to be able to hold onto such thoughts in the past has been pretty ephemeral.

The best thing about being a writer is: when I get the chance to spend some time in the fictional world I am creating and write a bit more of the story I am trying to tell.

My current favorite read:
I have been fortunate since starting to write to have found some terrific writers in the online world I often inhabit, and I’ve enjoyed many wonderful books, but there is one that leaps to mind that I have not been able to forget since reading it. Once Upon A Time In The City of Criminals by Mark Barry. I recommend it everywhere I go.

GET GEORGIA ROSE’S Before the Dawn WHILE IT’S ON SALE!

Before the Dawn

‘…he moved closer and slowly ran the point of his blade along my jaw line as he spoke softly, intimately, to me.

“So, you are Trent’s woman. Now that is very…appealing.” I glared back at him silently.’

There are testing times ahead for Grayson and Trent as trouble threatens Melton Manor. When an attack is made against those on the estate, Grayson gets caught in the middle finding herself and those around her in terrible danger. Terrified when she thinks tragedy has struck again she fights to protect those she now views as family and, suffering bloodshed and pain, confronts  her fears – both those brought by the enemy and by the one she loves.

Buy links – where it is currently on offer at 99c/99p!

Universal link for Before the Dawn at Amazon:- getbook.at/BeforeTheDawn

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: MATE OF THE WEREWOLF

The future of a veterinarian’s wildlife sanctuary is at stake when her biggest donor, a changeling-werewolf, tries to convince her that she’s his destined mate.

Mate of the Werewolf (Changeling Encounters, #1)

Mate of the Werewolf

This story has a great premise and the bones of some interesting characters. Problem is that the author doesn’t take the time to develop either. The Amazon listing says it’s 39 pages, but the font has to be twice the standard 12-point, taking the length down to about 19 pages. Maybe. But 19 pages could be enough if Scott gave us a little more depth. Even a short story needs a little meat…a respectable beginning, middle and end. There’s no middle to this one. We never really know what billionaire Noah does that makes him so wealthy. Nor do we get to spend time watching Grace work either as a vet or at her sanctuary. The relationship develops through phone conversations that we never get to hear.

What we do get is a couple of hot sex sessions and a lot of telling versus showing.

I will say that the other two stories in the Changeling Encounters series are more developed, so maybe Scott was finding her footing here. Both THE DANGERS OF ADOPTING A WEREWOLF and ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS A WEREWOLF are worth a look. I hope Scott goes back and reworks this one, because the idea has plenty of potential.

Review: HOW TO TRAIN YOUR KNIGHT

*author provided a copy of the book for review.

A beautiful young widow suspected of murdering her elderly husband is forced by the King of England into marriage to a hot-blooded knight determined to discover the truth.

How To Train Your Knight: A Medieval Romance

How To Train Your Knight: A Medieval Romance

Alden starts this medieval romance with a bang. Sir Marcus Blackwell has ordered his second in command to drag Lady Ann down to their wedding naked if he has to. She isn’t quite naked when Thomas D’Agostine accomplished his mission, but she is bound, bruised, and wearing underclothes that leave little to the imagination. She’s also not the hag, Marcus expected.

Marcus is also something of a surprise to Lady Ann. Having been brutalized by her first husband, who died under bloody and unexplained circumstances, she expects a sadistic monster who will likely have her hanged as soon as the wedding is consummated. Even if he doesn’t, she figures he’ll just take her land and breed her for heirs like some sow. The nickname that followed him home from the crusades–The Beast of Thornhill–doesn’t help.

Getting past these initial mistaken impressions of one another is a huge endeavor, and it’s not even the biggest obstacle they face. England in 1276 is a lethal environment. There’s a church infested with evil men hungry for two things: gold and witches to burn. For Lady Ann the former is likely to lead to the latter. When the local bishop isn’t causing trouble, there’s Ann’s half-witted sheep-stealing neighbor eager to align himself with Marcus’s villainous father. And to top it all off, every time Marcus uncovers one of his complicated wife’s secrets, there are two or three more to contend with. And that’s not counting the Venetian glassblower.

The period details are well chosen to immerse us in the setting without burying us there. Marcus and Ann share enough genuine chemistry to make up for the overwrought fits of temper they each indulge in now and again. Lady Ann is vulnerable, frightened and yet has an iron core. Sir Marcus is a generally honorable guy in search of a little peace and domesticity after years of bloodletting on foreign battlefields. We want them to trust each other, and it kills us that every step forward on that score is followed by two steps back. But that’s what keeps us turning the pages.

I did find a couple of rough transitions. Most are minor. One was majorly irritating. On one of the occasions when Marcus is following Ann to learn more about her wicked ways, they end up at a mysterious cottage. Then the scene is over and we don’t find out until later that he witnessed her in an amazing knife fighting training session with another woman. We should have BEEN there, seeing it with him. Not listening to him confront her about it later. Sure, we get some good details, but it’s all second hand.

There’s a lot of physical violence toward Lady Ann. When it’s a villain knocking her around, I can accept it as part of the story. That behavior from Sir Marcus and Thomas D’Agostine, even if Ann’s being difficult, made me think less of them. Yes, it was a brutal time period. But both men should have been above such reactions. I think true chivalry would’ve demanded it, even if it took every ounce of control in the men’s bodies. In my experience, a hero with hand problems only works in those mega-long bodice rippers, where the reformed hero has enough time to erase our memory of the creep. My opinion of Marcus managed to survive. But Thomas left me annoyed and wishing the Turks had succeeded in gutting him.

On the whole, though, if you like passionate, emotionally charged historical romance, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR KNIGHT is the book for you.

Review: HEAT

* Author provided a copy of the book for review.

A troubled young man forced to take part in a family vacation meets a young woman with a secret of her own.

Heat

Heat

Lucassen does a good job building the mystery surrounding both Dan and Lynn. Dan’s issue, while hard on him, is nowhere near as devastating as Lynne’s. Yet his behavior is so much more self-destructive than hers. He can be incredibly unpleasant. It’s irritating in a way, but when we do find out what Lynne is hiding, the revelation is all the more powerful because she’s been so thoughtful and reserved throughout. It also shocks Dan out of his self-indulgence and forces him to put someone else’s well being ahead of his own regrets and resentments.

There’s good character development. The author does a great job portraying wounded people and struggling with huge obstacles. The romantic tension is generally strong, and sex scenes are tasteful and fitted to the plot.

The pacing is a bit slow at the start, but it does allow us a chance to know the characters. I wish I had as good a sense of the setting. Both the island resort and the scenes back in the Netherlands seemed rather undefined. Lucassen, a unique new voice in New Adult fiction, could have done more here to make the novel a bit more DUTCH.

I also found the English translation problematic in places. Overall the errors are small and amusing. Two of them, though, interfered with the plot. First, the younger children Lynn is responsible for are referred to as “toddlers.” Yet we know by how these characters speak and act that they have to be at least four and probably five or six. Since this age group becomes important to the action, an accurate understanding of what the author means is important. Also, Lynn’s position at the resort is “animator.” Call someone an “animator” in English, and we assume they draw cartoons for a living. “Livley” or “Energetic” has become a secondary definition of the word not often used in contemporary fiction. I don’t intend to be picky, but the word is used a dozen times or more, and it distracted me each time, especially at the beginning when I was trying to understand who Lynn was and what she was doing at the resort.

As a whole, HEAT offers a rich, emotionally intense reading experience. I’m looking forward to reading more books by this author.

Review: DUELING MOONS

When journalist Pat Wyatt and her werewolf lover flee Louisiana to escape her otherworldly ex husband, they never expect to face an even more dangerous foe.

Dueling Moons: A Pat Wyatt Novel (The Pat Wyatt Series Book 2)

Dueling Moons: A Pat Wyatt Novel

Sexy and sarcastic Pat is back in all her bad-tempered splendor in this follow up to GRAVEYARD SHIFTS. As the book opens, her new life in bayou country isn’t going as planned. Her obsessive ex has a long reach, and he’s basically left Mike-the-werewolf without the proverbial pot to you-know-what in and also without the means to earn money for another. Meanwhile, Pat’s new boss is a misogynistic pain in the neck, who nevertheless begins to pursue her in a most unprofessional manner.

It turns out that Pat has more to worry about than a complicated love life. Seems someone’s out to kill her. Her ex is at the top of her suspect list, but things aren’t what they appear, and Pat must face the hard truth that some battles must be fought even if they are unwinnable.

It was great meeting up with the characters from the first book. Laura Del adds to what we know about them…or shows us how we didn’t know them at all. New flaws and new strengths make for plenty of exciting conflict. Pat is tested on so many levels, it’s hard to bear at times. You just feel so bad for the girl. I do wish the identity of the main villain was kept a mystery for a little longer. I think this would have made the book even scarier. The climax manages to tie up enough of the plot to be satisfying, while still leaving plenty to look forward to in the next installment.

I enjoyed DUELING MOONS. It’s a perfect mix of laughs, chills and tears.

Review: JUMP THE LINE by Mary McFarland

A young criminal justice student working her way through school as an exotic dancer finds romance and danger when she becomes embroiled in the search for a serial killer.

Jump The Line (Toein' The Line Book 1)

Buy Jump the Line on Amazon

Alaina Colby has worked hard to distance herself from her family and their criminal activity. It’s been a struggle to put herself through college, especially when she’s also responsible for her younger brother whose drug addiction has already landed him in a heap of legal trouble. Now she’s nearing graduation and an end to her days wasting her dancing talent swinging topless around a stripper pole.

Only the universe has decided that it’s not playing nice.

Fellow strippers keep turning up dead behind the club where Alaina works. Not just dead. Chewed to pieces. Law enforcement is sniffing around. What’s worse, Alaina’s brother, who once dated the latest victim, has gone AWOL. Clearly, she needs to find out what she can about the killings…if only to protect what’s left of her family.

Jump the Line grabbed me from page one. Alaina is an intriguing character. She’s had a rotten life and has thrown up some thick walls. Yet her soft heart and…well…innocence shine through her gritty exterior. Her big dream is to make “Jump the Line” audition video for the Rockettes, though she knows a physical handicap has put professional dancing out of her reach. It’s such a childlike ambition, like the short girl entering the modeling competition or the kid with two left feet trying out for cheerleading. It makes her lovable and vulnerable. The sort of person who ignores her own well-honed instincts when the odd behavior of a friend sets off warning bells.

Detective Aidan Hawks certainly appreciates Alaina’s finer points. Another engaging character, Aidan talks like the worst sort of man-whore, yet he generally behaves like the gentleman his mom and two fathers (long story) would wish him to be. Aidan is determined to catch the killer. At first it’s a professional thing. Then he becomes convinced it’s a race to save Alaina. He has plenty of obstacles. This murderer is clever and closer to the action than anyone realizes. Aidan also has trouble within his own ranks. His chief can’t stand him. And his attractive new partner is after his collar–and his body.

There’s considerable violence in this book. The killer’s victims go through hell. So do Aidan and Alaina. By the climactic final showdown, both of them are at their physical and emotional breaking points. But there’s also forgiveness and the chance to heal old wounds. Light to balance dark. Sanity to balance madness.

McFarland uses an alternating first-person point of view that could have resulted in a disjointed narrative. However, though the POV shifts, it is always tightly controlled. We get a peek at how Alaina, Aidan, and the killer’s minds work without becoming muddled or learning so much about what’s going on that the story is spoiled. In fact, “delayed discovery” is used to keep the characters on the go and us readers frantically turning the pages. We may know more than any single character, but it’s exquisite torture as we wait for one of the gang to discover an important point or for a meeting/confrontation that we know is coming.

Jump the Line is chilling and fun and left me checking and rechecking that my door was locked.

Review: AWAKEN A WOLF

A witch discovers that she’s something more when she learns she’s the fated mate of the local alpha wolf shifter.

Awaken a Wolf (Wiccan-Were-Bear #9)

Awaken a Wolf

I didn’t expect this book to be as scary as it was. There’s way more going on here than a shifter romance. It takes on the concept of evil in a very direct and graphic way–not simply as the background for a love story.

Cinder, the heroine, is Wiccan. There’s a lot of that culture involved in the story. It adds even more texture to the book.

AWAKEN THE WOLF is the ninth book in an on-going series. It stands alone without a problem. But there are a lot of characters and many different sub-groups within the greater supernatural community. Many of them are so interesting that you’d like to follow their stories at some point.

Cinder is a well-wrought character. She’s strong willed and independent…and completely clueless about the degree of danger she’s in. Adam Beaumont is a fun hero. He’s so shocked that Cinder isn’t falling all over herself with joy when she learns she’s his mate. Dealing with a witch is new to him. It throws him off balance, and that’s fun to watch.

The scenes where Cinder is held by the enemy wolves are just terrifying. They are really bad news. And it’s even worse when you take into account Cinder’s relationship to one of the key members. Talk about creepy!

Excellent book. On my re-read list.