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Archive for the ‘romance books’ Category

In full disclosure, I received an ARC from the author’s publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is third in the Wind River Ranch series by Lindsey McKenna, each one telling the story of different characters who come to the Bar C Ranch in Wyoming and soon call it home. Each is a stand-alone book, however, there are numerous references to people from previous books.

Publisher’s blurb: Kira Duval was part of a Special Forces team that got caught in an ambush–leaving only two wounded survivors: herself and Weapons Sergeant Garret Fleming. Losing her team was traumatic, and in the chaotic aftermath, she lost Garret too. But she never lost her secret yearning for him.

Finally she gave up trying to find him back in the states. But as she settles in at the Bar C cattle ranch in Wyoming, a place where veterans can find a home and a place to heal, she’s introduced to her housemate: none other than Garret Fleming.

They’re a long way from Afghanistan–and a long way from the people they used to be before tragedy changed their lives. But as Kira earns her keep by care-taking for the ranch owner’s bedridden, alcoholic father–a task that sometimes feels more challenging than any black ops mission–she finds that even in peacetime, Garret still has her back, and that in this warm, welcoming place, the passion she resisted in the heat of battle may finally have a chance to flourish..

*  * * *

There was  much I enjoyed about this story, but before that, my two pet peeves. First, was the head-hopping of the two main characters–Kira and Garret–between paragraphs. Once upon a time I never used to notice that, until enough editors preached to me about it, so now it glares at me whenever I encounter POV in both characters heads in the same few lines of each other.

Second was the redundancy in the beginning between Kira and Garret’s secret feelings for each other. Clearly, while working in Afghanistan, and part of a team unit, they could not have shared nor demonstrated their true emotions or interest in each other beyond “just friends”. It is a common sense thing to me, however, it felt like the author was belaboring the point repetitively for more chapters than necessary.

Now, all the main characters that reside at the Bar C Ranch suffer some degree of PTSD as a result of their experiences in the military. The severity and complexity and everyday challenges were all well handled. I like how the author researched the various ways it can manifest and emphatically wrote the character’s experiences. I felt I could experience it right alongside them.

Around the middle of the book, the characters really started to shine. Garret’s protectiveness of Kira felt real and remarkable. I do wish they’d spent less page time internally dwelling on their true feelings now, instead of excusing to themselves why they still could not be honest with the other. They are ex-military now, no more reasons to hold back. I felt they should just take the chance, and be open and honest with each other much sooner. However, that can be a manifestation of the PTSD, so I chalk it up to that.

The situation between Kira and the ranch owner’s ailing father was also wonderfully done. It showcased PTSD in it’s most honest form, and I caught myself gritting my teeth and wincing right alongside Kira sometimes.

What I did love was the way Garret, and another soldier buddy, Reese, tenderly protected and looked after their lady loves. These are big, strong, warriors, yet Ms. McKenna wrote splendidly of their wonderful job in portraying their softer, gentler, nurturing personalities. It was lovely to read.

Other than a few minor typos and one case of a wrong name used, and the aforementioned issues, I thought this latest edition of the Wind River Valley saga was a very good read.

I will add this: the cover is a bit misleading, as is the title. Garret is not a cowboy, he does not handle horses in the story with the exception of two lines toward the ending. He spends his time working on ranch machinery, running an odd errand here and there, and spending most of his time with either Kira or the Ranch people, never the horses. He is never astride a horse. Also, the reason for the dog is a mystery as there is no dog mentioned anywhere in the story. Just a head’s up not to be looking for dusty cowhands who spend their time talking to their horse or the loyal dog. Perhaps in other Wind River stories, but not this one.

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The cover, plot, and setting drew me in. I received this story from Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

Blind since birth, Abbey Morrison is confident and proficient in her world, the only world she’s ever known. Despite the family and friendships she has in the small fishing village, and her father’s unfailing love, she is still lonely.

Disfigured and scarred from war injuries, Irish immigrant Jeremy McKetcheon, finds work and solitude in self-isolation as a lighthouse keeper on a lonely island. His only companion is a loyal dog and the periodic visits of the kindly mail carrier, Morrison, from the mainland, bringing him supplies and news.

A tragedy brings Abbey to Jeremy’s isolated island. Soon, romance blooms between the two lonely hearts.

Because this is a historical novel, the author did spend a fair bit of time describing food, activities, and period details, thus creating a developed and believable setting, even if the factual timeline was off a little bit. It’s fictions and she is entitled to stretch dates a small amount for the story.

I enjoyed the language of the Irishman, Jeremy. It felt true to his heritage and made him more dimensional. Likewise with his hobby of carving wood figures. I wish Abbey had more depth to her. She seemed a little too perfect, with her only flaw in that sometimes she made a poor choice.

The pacing, however, was awkward in many places. Sometimes it felt jerky or rushed. Characters spanned large periods of time within the same paragraph, leaving a feeling of leaping forward and missing things. A smooth transition between time could have eliminated this.

The reprobates  were believable and thoroughly unlikable, which was the intention. While Abbey didn’t always behave in the wisest of ways, the evil behaviors of the bad guys certainly came across as genuine.

Abbey’s Tale is a good story. It could have been better with more development of Abbey Morrison and better pacing overall and more development between scenes.

 

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I am delighted to have another contributing author visit, and bring their story for the Soul Mate Tree Collection of stories. Today I have the pleasure of hosting Steven Mitchell. His book is a delightful and fun Science Fiction Romantic Comedy, called “Between Venus and Mars”.

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An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.

For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.

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HEAT LEVEL: Steamy **  An intergalactic adventure filled with laughs, love, and adventure.

Once Upon a Galaxy . . .

Zana Starchild is on a mission to restore her tribe’s livestock and save herself from one more meal of kelp. Sure, it’s technically illegal to visit Old Earth, but to a rim rat like Zana, galactic laws are really just guidelines. Her wrecked starship just means she’ll need to use her backup plan to get off the abandoned world, an old Earth legend her uncle passed down to her.

Pulled from a relaxing shower, across the galaxy to Old Earth, Galactic Marshall Kyle Kepler finds himself naked and marooned with a quirky rim rat. Zana’s broken more laws than Kyle can count, and he plans to arrest her, just as soon as he can find transport off the planet and a pair of pants.

A junk heap of a starship, a magical tree, and a roving gang of mutant kangaroos are just the beginning of rollicking intergalactic journey filled with laughs, love, and adventure.

Book Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV0BQCcwhfk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdtFXXlGvbk

Amazon Link: https://www.amazon.com/Between-Venus-Mars-Soul-Mate-ebook/dp/B01N7OXSND/

Author S.C. Mitchell has this to say: When series collide: Between Venus and Mars is not only set the multi-dimensional worlds of the Soul Mate Tree legend, but also ties into my Hearts in Orbit series, a futuristic universe filled with starships, aliens, and new technologies. And, of course, romance. The Soul Mate Tree project offered me a great way to play with some new characters and further develop my universe, while partnering with some of the best authors in the business.

The Hearts in Orbit universe is a place where galactic marshals keep the peace in the cosmopolitan Core Worlds as well as the wild-west type rim world planets. While this book works as a standalone, and you don’t have to have read any of the others, I consider it Hearts in Orbit 2.5, fitting nicely between Pirates of the Dark Nebula and my soon-to-be-released Hearts in Orbit 3 novel Captives of the Kratzen.

Series Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016DF63JM/

 

                              Hidden strengths, adventurous hearts.

S.C.Mitchell grew up an avid reader of comic books, science fiction and fantasy literature. He’s been writing stories for over thirty years. In 2010 he left his job as a computer desktop support specialist to pursue his passion for writing full time. He is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as the Wisconsin chapter.

As a writer of paranormal and sci-fi romance, fantasy, and science fiction, Steve crafts unique and wondrous worlds where his characters explore, romp, and fall in love. Whether traveling through dark, demon filled dimensions, the edge of wild space, or ancient mythological heavens, his heroes and heroines, guided by their adventurous hearts, discover hidden strengths on their pathway to enduring love.

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You’ll find him at:

http://scmitchellauthor.com/

Blog: http://scmitchellauthor.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSCMitchell

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSMitchell

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B007D0Z1MW

Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rV0BQCcwhfk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pdtFXXlGvbk

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I am happy to showcase a series by Soul Mate author Rebecca E. Neely. I have read two of the books in her Crossing Realms trilogy, and reviewed her first book, The Keeper, on this blog last year. The Betrayer is the 3rd book in the series and is currently being written now.

THE KEEPER  (Book 1)  

Nick Geary, jaded clan leader of human guardians, the Keepers, is doomed to love a human woman who’s forgotten him, time after time, for thirteen years: Libby Klink, a skittish accountant who’s as terrified of her recent and strange intuitions as she is of her mundane existence.

When Nick is ordered by the clan’s guiding force to seek Libby’s help in defending the clan against enemy Betrayers, romance sizzles as the pair forms an unlikely alliance in their desperate search to discover the key to the clan’s salvation—which Libby alone holds.

But a haunting secret could cost Nick everything, and in a race against time, both will be forced to choose between their hearts and duty. Can their love, and the clan survive, or will the very forces that drew them together ultimately destroy them?

 

THE WATCHER  (Book 2)

Hell bent on avenging his own death, former Keeper Dev Geary eagerly accepts when the Watchers task him with returning to the human realm to discover the secret for rendering Similitude—the very thing that killed him.

But to succeed in the seven days he’s been granted, he’ll need to work with the one human who wants nothing to do with him, and who he can’t help falling for—Meda Gabriel, a cagey, street smart bar owner with a unique skill set, and maybe, the key to his mission.

With the clock ticking and the Betrayers barely a step behind, can Dev overcome his demons and find the answers the clan so desperately needs, with Meda at his side? Can love find a way, or will he be forced to abandon her and the clan, leaving them all to face imminent destruction?

Can a former Keeper hell bent on avenging his own death conquer his demons in time to save his clan, and his heart?

Buy links:

REBECCA E. NEELY, AUTHOR  ~  Romance. Paranormal. Suspense.

A sucker for a happy ending, Rebecca strives to write the kind of stories she loves to read—gritty, suspenseful and featuring authentic, edgy and vulnerable characters, smack dab in the middle of action that explodes from page one.

Careers, past and present, include freelance writing, accounting, mother, problem solver, doer and head bottle washer.

Rebecca is a member of Three Rivers Romance Writers (TRRW), a PAN member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), and is proud to serve as a judge for several writing contests each year.

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CONNECT WITH REBECCA:

Website: www.rebeccaneely.com

Blog: https://rebeccaneelysite.wordpress.com/

Mailing List: http://eepurl.com/bqiDi5

Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/rebecca.mullnerneely

Twitter   https://twitter.com/Rebeccaneely1

Amazon   https://www.amazon.com/author/rebeccaeneely

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9857158.Rebecca_E_Neely

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/rebneely/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rebneely/

BONUS! REVIEW OF “THE WATCHER”!

“The Watcher” picks up where Book 1 “The Keeper” ended. To fully understand the characters, the setting, premise, etc…, I would highly recommend starting with book 1 first. Otherwise, parts of book 2 will not make sense. That said, “The Watcher” is the suspenseful story of Dev Greary, and introducing Meda Gabriel. It is fast paced, spicy, and full of loads of romance.

Dev, a returning character from book 1, and a hero in his own right, is fresh from his recent death and hell bent on revenge. Except he is charged only to helping his fellow Keepers clan to avoid catastrophic trouble. A lone wolf, Dev’s death hasn’t chilled him out much. He still lives “between the inches” in every situation.

So now he is back on earth, albeit temporarily, thanks to The Watchers. He has seven short days to right some wrongs and save human kind from the damage of the Betrayers. And, well, if he can manage to avenge his death, so much the better. Right?

To succeed at the revenge, he needs to get very lucky. To succeed in helping the Keepers and all human kind, he needs the help of Miss Meda Gabriel. She is the daughter of a late scientist and researcher whose work aligned very much to the non-human Keepers. Meda is the perfect match to Dav’s devil-may-care personality. She’s independent, wicked smart, and takes no crap from him. Ever. She sees right through him.

In fact, the lovely Meda can see a lot of things, with just a simple touch. Unfortunately, she can’t see into Dev’s heart and soul. And his Watcher ability to see into human’s vistas doesn’t work with Meda either.

Be prepared to read about a fair bit of scientific stuff–some factual and some probably a bit of literary fantasy. For example, I learned that everything contains energy. To paraphrase Ms. Neely, “Good energy, bad energy, it is everywhere and in everyone. Vitality is the whole of those energies”.

Ms. Neely has once more created a cast of characters, both good and bad. who are committed to their passions. Whether it is saving man-kind or destroying it, she blends suspense with science, with adventure, and with spicy romance in an artful style that will keep the reader turning the pages.

Time is short. Only seven days allowed. The clock–and the passions–are ticking.

 

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This story began with a rough and rocky start. A woman was getting beat–again–by her alleged boyfriend. It left a sour taste in my mouth and I almost stopped reading right there. But I reasoned there was hopefully nowhere else for the plot to go but up, so I turned another page.

To be honest, it was hard to swallow and I wondered why this woman–the story’s heroine–was staying for yet around round of abuse. After a flip of the page, she has left the sod, apparently for good. I let out a ragged breath and turned the page again.

Lauren McCray left Michigan in a haste, fleeing the vile and completely hate-able Clint Jackson. She eventually crosses enough state lines to run into Chase Montgomery, a slow drawling rancher you can’t help but instantly stumble into. Or fall for

Grammatical errors abound, which distracted from the read. It is a good story but I felt it could have benefited from another round of edits. The suspense was tight, the characters–especially the secondary ones–well-developed, and the story line moved along at a nice pace.Yes, there are rustlers involved, and I won’t spoil it except to say it was not exactly who I thought it might be. And there is very fast romance between Lauren and Chase. Personally, considering her terrible track record, I thought she ought to wait a bit before dashing off to love-land with Chase, but sometimes it just happens that fast. And Chase is just the protective rancher that you want to cuddle with and start your day with, and definitely end you day with.

Overall, “Rustlers and Romance” was not a bad book to read, fairly short at 129 pages, and worth spending an afternoon or evening curled up with.

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Incredible. That was the single word that came to mind months ago when I first learned of Soul Mate Publishing’s latest endeavor.  As it was described to me, this is a flagship group of Soul Mate authors who are busy creating a series of thirteen novellas for The Soul Mate Tree Collective, which combines legend and fantasy to bring soul mates together over time, over continents . . . over worlds.

 

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The legend of the soul mate tree:
I am old, I am ancient, my purpose is clear
To give those who are needy a treasure so dear.
They who come to my roots, touch my bark, stroke my leaves
Find the soul of their lives if they but believe.
When I call and you listen, your prize will be great
If your heart remains open and you don’t hesitate.
Do you yearn? Be you lonely? Is your time yet at hand?
Reach for me and I’ll give to you. I’m yours to command.
For your trust, for your faith, keep my secrets untold
And I’ll gift you forever, to have and to hold.
An ancient legend spanning eras, continents, and worlds. To some, it’s nothing more than a dream. To others, a pretty fairy tale handed down through the generations.
For those in critical need of their own happy ending, a gift.  The second story to launch in this series is by C.D. Hersh, entitled “Can’t Stop the Music”. As a treat, there is a short except at the bottom of this post.

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Here is the story’s Blurb:

For college senior and hippie wannabe Rosemary—Rose for short—a teaching job is within her grasp, but she wants more. She wants love, the kind of love that has bound her parents for so many years. When she’s dumped by her current boyfriend because her morals can’t bring her to give in to free love, she finds herself at Woodstock in the middle of the biggest free-love music festival of the Sixties. Alone, again. Until a magical tree grants her wish and she finds the man of her dreams—and loses him before she really knows who he is.

Dakota meets the girl of his dreams at Woodstock, but a jealous wannabe girlfriend drives them apart before he can discover Rose’s last name and where she comes from. After he sees a disappearing tree that promises him true love, a frantic search to find Rose comes up empty-handed.

Magic and music brings them together at Woodstock in 1969. Misunderstandings tear them apart. Will two flower children find one another again, or live with missed opportunities?

Book Trailer for The Soul Mate Tree: https://youtu.be/VjxyyD3TVoA

Trailer for CAN’T STOP THE MUSIC: https://youtu.be/18EuE-SOvH4

About C.D. Hersh:  

Two hearts creating everlasting love stories. Putting words and stories on paper is second nature to co-authors C.D. Hersh. They’ve written separately since they were teenagers and discovered their unique, collaborative abilities in the mid-90s. As high school sweethearts and husband and wife, Catherine and Donald believe in true love and happily ever after.

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The books of their paranormal romance series entitled The Turning Stone Chronicles are available on Amazon. They also have a short Christmas story, Kissing Santa, in a Christmas anthology titled Sizzle in the Snow: Soul Mate Christmas Collection, with seven other authors. (including yours truly)

They are looking forward to many years of co-authoring and book sales, and a lifetime of happily-ever-after endings on the page and in real life.

Connect with C.D. Hersh:

Website: https://cdhersh.wordpress.com/
Soul Mate Publishing Author Blogsite: http://smpauthors.wordpress.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cdhershauthor
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/cdhersh
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorCDHersh
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/CDHersh

As Promised, a Short Excerpt:  “Can’t Stop the Music”

As they made their way to the festival site, Rose and her friends grooved to the music coming from the stage.

When they reached the makeshift bridge over the road, someone yelled, “Hey beautiful! You with the red hair.”

She looked around to see if there was anyone else with red hair. Then she glanced up and spotted two guys, one blond and the other dark-haired, leaning over the side of the bridge.

“Yeah, you,” the blond called out as he caught her gaze.

Willow halted beside her. “He’s cute. How about him?”

Rose looked away, her gaze landing on the other guy.

He jabbed his companion in the ribs. “Quit trying to pick up every girl you see.” Then he leaned farther over the rail. “Don’t pay any attention to him. He’s high.”

“So she’s not beautiful?” Willow yelled to the hippie.

She poked her friend. “Stop it, Willow, you’re making a scene.” In spite of her protest, her gaze remained on the dark-haired guy.

He rested his elbows on the rail and stared back at her. The intensity of his expression shot heat into her belly.

“I didn’t say that, just that she shouldn’t pay attention to him.” He flapped a hand at his blond buddy, then tapped his own chest with his thumb several times as if to say, ‘Choose me!’

Does he want me to pay attention to him? Her heart thumped in rhythm to his jabbing thumb.

“Take that one,” Willow whispered. “He’s the real cutie.”

Before she could respond, the crowd pushed them forward. When they reached the other side of the bridge, she looked back, searching for the dark-haired hippie, but the spot where he’d stood was empty.

Just my luck. I see someone who’s intriguing and he disappears.

With a sigh, she continued the trek to the festival grounds.

_________________________________________________________

I’ve had the pleasure to read this story before its release and would like to offer my opinion here.

Fans of Woodstock will enjoy the trip down memory lane. At the back of the book the authors thoughtfully included the song list of 60’s, 70’s, and other nostalgic titles that will surely wake up those groovy feelings of yesteryear. Music fans will be pleased with the many references to the classics and assorted instruments. All grown up, Rose (the heroine) and Dakota (the hero) leave Woodstock behind them and engage in teaching careers within the music field.

“Can’t Stop the Music” is a short read that delivers a lot of feel good emotions and enough questions to keep one turning the pages. The ultimate question of whether a bit of magic from a special tree can transcend time to bring two free love kids from the 60’s together ten years later will be answered only after much tension and twists & turns. Without spoiling the plot, let’s just say it is expected for people to move on and have a life over a ten year span. What happens when that life collides with the return of a past life? What happens when you can’t stop the music in your heart and soul?

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I began reading The Black Sheep, by Patricia Ryan, because I am unabashedly drawn to the bad boys (a fact that landed me in some trouble when I was young). And honestly, the model’s arresting gaze on the cover whispered to my curiosity. Oh yeah, plus the author is a USA Today bestselling author.

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Plus the nearly 400 Amazon reviews helped cement the decision.

This is the story of Harley and Tucker.  Harley is the house-sitter in charge. Tucker has a 20 year estrangement from his dad.  He arrives home to find the pretty new house-sitter. Now they have a few weeks to spend getting to know one another till  Tucker’s dad arrives.

Harley is organized and a wee bit of a control freak and perfectionist. She is regimental in her duties and habits. For her, it’s rooted in a rough past and how she keeps balance in her life now. Tucker is a true black sheep, in that he’d would rather bolt from any sort of conflict, and well intended truths, then deal with reality. He is also casual and lax in all matters of everyday. Clearly, Harley and Tucker are personality opposites.

Technical stuff, some errors that were not caught in editing that distracted from the reading flow and a few places where the tension sagged, but picked back up again in a page or two. It was not enough to keep me from reading on.

For all of Tuckers obvious flaws, he does have a tender and caring streak a mile wide. The time with Harley gives him chances to show those character traits. Haley, for all her prim and proper, can also harbor a careless streak of her own, taking the reader, certainly Tucker, and perhaps herself, by surprise.

Tucker’s friend adds a comic relief that is needed when sexual interest and tensions rise a little to high. A good dose suspense of wondering what Tucker will do next. Will he and dad reconcile or not? Can he win Haley’s heart?  A good blend of poignant and sass, fun and sexy. I liked the scene where Harley challenges him to catch her in the swimming pool. His prize if he succeeds—her.  That’s some serious stakes.

This is book 1 of the North Moon Bay Book series, by Patricia Ryan.
North Moon Bay Books

The Black Sheep

The Marriage Arrangement

My Best Friend’s Girl

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