Monday, January 16, 2012

Gold, Frankincense, and Murder by Barbara Early

Title: Gold, Frankincense, and Murder
Author: Barbara Early
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Publication Date: 12-01-2011
ISBN: 978-1-61116-123-6
Genre: Christian Romance, Mystery, Holiday
Length: 93 pages
Heat Level: Sweet
Reviewer: TJ
Date: January 15, 2012

High school geometry teacher, Donna Russell likes her life well-ordered and logical, even if it is a tad solitary at times. But when a charming co-worker at the local food bank disappears just before Christmas, Donna is left with more questions than solutions.

After the missing man’s neighbor, muscle-bound EMT Sam Holton, volunteers as Donna's crime-fighting sidekick, sparks fly between them. Donna wonders if Sam can be trusted, or if he's trying to throw an unknown into her calculations—and her life.

And when police recover a body from the icy Niagara River, Donna is faced with the most frustrating equation of all: can murder plus mayhem ever equal romance?

Gold, Frankincense, and Murder is a sweet, short, sleuthy story. While I would have preferred a little romance to go with this holiday treat, I enjoyed the tone and pace of this story. Donna is not your typical romance heroine and it was rather refreshing to see the world through her eyes.

Wanted: Boyfriend for Christmas by Kimberlee R. Mendoza

Title: Wanted: Boyfriend for Christmas
Author: Kimberlee R Mendoza
Publisher: White Rose Publishing
Publication Date: Nov 2008
ISBN: B002TG4M70
Genre: inspirational holiday romance
Length: novel
Heat Level: Sweet
Other: n/a
Reviewer: Brecken Stevens
Date: January 13, 2012

Heather and Daniel have been friends for college, but nothing more. Heather decides to take her dating life in hand and submits a personal ad, hoping to find Mr. Right, or at least Mr. Take Home to Mom’s. Daniel thinks he’s in love, but when he proposes to his girlfriend, he is shot down, shattering his dreams. He agrees to help Heather with her family, but as ‘pretending’ hits a little close to truth, both will have to decide if they’re ready to look for something more than friendship.

Wanted: A Boyfriend for Christmas, I love the title and the personal ad element had some cute and telling moments for Heather. I felt like I’ve read this storyline a few times. I adore stories where love was there the whole time, but it was spoon-fed in this one. Still, a very sweet read with a light Christian aspect. A nice, feel-good story for the holidays. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Steaming by Vanessa Barger

Title:  Steaming
Author:    Vanessa Barger
Publisher:  Decadent Publishing Company, LLC  
Publication Date:    March 2011
ISBN:   9781936394920   
Genre YA Steampunk
Length:   42,000 words
Heat Level:    1
Other: A few kisses
Reviewer:  Suki

My name is Cornelius Latimer, and I have fallen in love. The object of my affection isn’t tall and blonde with all the right curves. It isn’t even human. My love belches smoke and breathes fire. My world runs on steam and hard metal, and I am a master of both. My Uncle, Rufus Harrison, has funded my expeditions. He’s gifted me with a lab containing all the parts and space I could possibly need. For weeks I have been toiling over my journals, crafting my biggest and best creation yet. It’s heady, this feeling of power. But I made a fatal error. I told a friend about my machine. And now someone who should not know, does. I should tear everything apart, but I can’t.

Steaming from Vanessa Barger was a surprising page turner. I say surprising because it took me a while to get through the first few pages, honestly there was a moment when I didn’t think I could read more, not because it wasn’t well written, it just wasn’t my style of writing. But once I got about a chapter in, WOW the adventure begins and NEVER EVER stopped until the very end. Cornelius is naïve, young, insecure and a bit of a loner. He prefers his gadgets and inventions to the people of London.

UNTIL…until that fateful night at the ball when a beauty catches his eyes and he is smitten. But as you can imagine, things don’t go as planned. The Time Keeper is the perfect steampunk villain and tBea is the perfect Steampunk heroine/co hero.

I was genuinely drawn into the characters and the plot. I enjoyed entering the world Ms Barger created and couldn’t be more pleased that I didn’t let my initial feeling stop me from reading what was a very enjoyable read. The steampunk aspect wasn’t over played in the story,  many steampunk books forget that the plot must be there for the steampunk to work. This book set in nearly any time period would have worked, the story was that strong. The author left the door open for a sequel, one that I will buy on its release day.

Monday, October 24, 2011

West with the Wind by Cindi Myers

**posted on our sister site, Got Historical Romance Reviews**

Title: West with the Wind
Author: Cindi Myers
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Publication Date: October 2011
ISBN: 978-I-6I97-000-5
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 243 pages
Mariah Tate is not exactly who she says she is. Running from something in her past, she is hell bent on getting to California to start a new life. An unwelcome member on the train of pioneers heading west, she proves herself calm and useful time and time again. It’s not long before Camp, their guide, takes a personal interest in her. Through the dangers both on and off the trail an unlikely bond is formed between them. As their grudging friendship and respect grows, so do the feelings Camp has for Mariah, if only he could understand her refusal to pursue something more. Feeling the pressures of the past she left behind, Mariah is forced to ignore her growing feelings. Can Camp figure out this puzzle of a woman before their journey ends and he loses her forever?
After finishing this book in one day, I can tell you firsthand that Cindi Myers has written a story that will grip you from start to finish. This story flawlessly transports you back to the days of the California Gold Rush and the dangerous cross-country trek faced by all who sought the promise of a new life in the west. Filled with danger, suspense and romance this book is one fast paced read you will not want to put down!
Reviewer: Desireé Frazier
Date: 10/23/11

Friday, October 14, 2011

Murder In Hum Harbour: A Seaglass Mystery by Jayne E. Self

Title: Murder In Hum Harbour: A Seaglass Mystery
Author: Jayne E. Self
Publisher: Harbourlight Books
Publication Date: 9-30-2011
ISBN: 978-1-61116-100-7
Genre: Christian Mystery
Length: 264 pages
Heat Level: Sweet
Reviewer: TJ
Date: October 13, 2011

There's a sleuth on the loose.

Part-time medical receptionist, part-time jewelry crafter, Gailynn MacDonald thinks she knows everything about everyone in Hum Harbour, Nova Scotia. That's the way she likes it. But when her former employer Doc Campbell turns up dead aboard his beached yacht, and her sister-in-law becomes the prime suspect, quirky, over-excitable Gailynn vows to unmask the killer. With Geoff Grant, Doc's handsome replacement, by her side Gailynn uncovers secrets and confronts childhood fears. And in the process she discovers that catching a killer is a lot like crafting her seaglass jewelry… it’s all in the details.

Murder In Hum Harbour introduces readers to a fabulous heroine and I cannot wait to read her next adventure. Gai is so endearing and she is such a bumbling detective that I’m surprised the culprit came to light at the end of the story. Geoff is a wonderful man with hidden depths and a kind disposition. Sweet cozies are a rare treat and this one offers laughs, secrets and intriguing human behavior. Having lived in a very small town myself I know how interesting the residents can be. The quirky individuals we meet might seem over the top if they weren’t so darn realistic. The location comes to life with amazing clarity and I can almost smell the fresh ocean air and feel the brisk winds in my face. The characters and setting are what made this book such a winner for me. If you are looking for a mystery with some maritime charm then you have to pick this one up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Death by Scandal by Marguerite Butler

Title: Death by Scandal
Author: Marguerite Butler
Publisher: Musa Publishing
Publication Date:10/2011
ISBN: 978-1-61937-038-8
Genre: Regency
Length: 283 pages
Heat Level: Sweet
Reviewer: TJ
Date: October 11, 2011

Lady Calandra can't help it if the scandal sheets have dubbed her “the dangerous debutante.” The Earl of Camden needed to be shot. And she certainly didn't poison her latest suitor for failing to make her an offer...although everyone seems convinced she did. She's never killed anyone, but someone is determined to make it look as though she has.  

Desperate to save her reputation, Lady Calandra needs a betrothal-now-and turns to one of the few friends she has left. Arthur, Lord Alsbury is only too happy to oblige her. Arthur has loved the beautiful musical prodigy for years. To save Calandra, he must put himself at risk. In order to unmask a killer, Arthur must pretend to be Calandra's next intended victim. If he fails her, the consequences are dire--either a slow death by scandal or a swift one at the hands of a murderer.

Death By Scandal is a witty whodunit and Lady Calandra and her set have become absolute favorites of mine. I love traditional Regencies with non-conventional heroines as I find it much easier to relate to them. Our leading lady and her friend Julia are very amiable characters and their circle of family and friends kept me in stitches. Arthur is a strong and steadfast hero. 

And I found myself holding my breath in the hopes that he would win over his friend’s affections. I enjoyed the action and the setting and could not get enough of the heroine’s outrageous Aunt. I appreciated how certain subject matter was handled with the proper amount of humor and deference and I am looking forward to seeing Julia buck society’s conventions and get her very own adventure. Overall I delighted in this story and I am looking forward to reading many more by this talented author.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Puppy Love by Stephanie Bedwell-Grime

Title: Puppy Love
Author: Stephanie Bedwell-Grime
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: 9-21-2011
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: 60 pages
Rating: 3  Diamonds 
Heat Level: Sweet
Reviewer: TJ
Date: October 2, 2011

Emerald Douglas has fallen head over heels in love with the puppy she found on her doorstep. Oscar fills an empty space in her life and heart. That is, until a chance sighting of a lost dog poster in the park changes everything. Emerald knows she must do the right thing—she just isn't sure what that is.

Cody Martin isn't sure what to make of the woman standing on his doorstep. And Emerald is not prepared for the man's heart-stopping good looks or his son's tremendous joy at being reunited with his furry companion.

Can one small puppy lead three people on the path to becoming a family?

Puppy Love is a heartwarming short story that gives readers hope that every lonely person will find their happiness. Emerald is an interesting character facing some difficult circumstances. Cody is a strong hero who is coping as best he can with the challenging position of raising his child alone. His son is as bouncy and spirited as his dog and I enjoyed watching them both work to bring the couple together.  This light, uplifting story takes some very serious issues and gives them a cheery, upbeat solution. If you are looking for a carefree break this is definitely one for you.