Review: Dance with Death

I just finished reading “Dance with Death” by Will Thomas. An interesting book that received 4 Sparklers from me.

Thoughts: I haven’t read any of the other books in this series, but I will be looking for them. The story takes place in 1893 London and reminds me—vaguely—of a Sherlock Holmesian type story with two detectives (enquirers). Llewelyn is Watson to Barker’s Sherlock with Llewelyn being the note taker and Barker the enigmatic genius. Though this is not the first book in the series, it is not hard to get to know all the characters and where they fit in the story/series. Though a fictional story, the historical facts about Nicholas were mostly correct. He was related to a lot of European royalty; he did travel to London in this time period; he did marry Alexandra; there was a lot of unrest concerning the Russians, anarchists, socialists, communists, etc. I will note that I found the story slow, and yet I couldn’t put it down because it was fascinating at the same time.

What I liked: the characters of Llewelyn and Barker are fascinating, especially Llewelyn—who is telling the story. The supporting characters are well-done and interesting—especially Hercules, a Black man guarding Nicholas who is forced to wear bizarre clothing ala “genie”. It is noted at the end of the book that this character is actually based on a real person.

What I didn’t like: This was an ARC so I expected some minor editorial gaffs, but there were more than a few which put me off. I assume they’ll be corrected in the final proofread. Also, as noted above, the story was a bit slow to read, but at the same time, I couldn’t put it down.

Recommendation: If you’re looking for a decent historical mystery in the style of Sherlock, I’d definitely pick this one up. Or even start at the beginning of the series so you don’t miss anything and go from there.

I received this from NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press and thank them for allowing me to read this advance copy in exchange for an honest review.


Guest Author: Anna M. Taylor


Ten years ago no one — not even the man who said he loved her — believed Sankofa Lawford’s story of being attacked by a ghost. Ten years later a new ghostly assault brings her back home to a mother going mad, a brother dangling at his wits’ end and a former love wanting a second chance. She’s at a loss what to do because the painful memories of her own attack prove stronger than her desire to heal her family or to find love again. Mitchell Emerson believes science and reason can account for the ghostly happenings at Umoja House. He seeks a rational explanation that will prove him right and hopefully regain Sankofa’s trust and love. Instead what he learns leaves his own beliefs shattered. Now reluctant allies, Mitchell and Sankofa uncover years of lies that threaten to pull them apart until help comes from an unexpected ally: the ghost itself.


“‘Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against powers and principalities, against spiritual wickedness in high places.’”

Mitchell leaned forward in the chair across from Professor John Mortimer.

“That’s your realm more than mine, John. You’re the philosophy and religion professor.”

His mentor and friend laughed. Mortimer’s jowly cheeks puffed, his bushy gray eyebrows waggled like a Black Santa in a Macy’s Christmas window display. The mid-Century chrome, light wood, and tidy surface of his desk defied the stereotypes of musty books and clutter attributed to eccentric college professors.

Mortimer leaned back, his fingertips steepled. “But it’s why you sought me out, why you’re talking to me about this.”

“Granted, but as I’m not in the camp of biblical literalists, I don’t know how to interpret that verse, John.”

Mortimer smiled seventy years of wisdom on Mitch. “Perhaps you’re more comfortable with Shakespeare? ‘There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophies, Horatio.’”

Mitchell shook his head. “Nope. That’s equally unhelpful.”

“Too metaphysical for your scientific tastes, Mr. Soon-to-be Commissioned Lay Pastor?”

Mitchell rubbed his upper arm. “Too metaphysical for someone who recently just put religion back in their portfolio.”

Mortimer leaned a forearm across the glass top of his desk. “So why don’t we start with the answer you want and work our way back to the truth?”

Mitchell dry scrubbed his face. Could he accept his answer wasn’t the truth? He studied his friend. A scientist and an evangelical believer, John Mortimer was Mitch’s bumblebee: the thing defied all the reasons for why it shouldn’t exist by its very existence.

Author bio and links: Anna M. Taylor is the gothic romance and women’s fiction penname of Anna Taylor Sweringen, a retired United Church of Christ and Presbyterian Church USA minister. She has been writing seriously since joining Romance Writers of America in 2003. Her first published work appeared in 2008 under her inspirational romance penname, Anna Taylor. Her first erotic romance was published in 2016 with The Wild Rose Press as Michal Scott. Her Haunted Harlem contemporary gothic romance series launched in June 2020.

Author contact links:

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A contest to win a $10 Amazon gift card for sharing the title and/or GIF of a favorite ghost movie in the comments.

Two new Romance Reviews

I have two new reviews up in the Romance department. The first is “Undercover Outlaw” by Gini Rifkin – a 4sparkler historical western romance full of all the things you like in that genre with a HEA ending that satisfies.

The second book, “Stroke of Midnight” by K. Webster garnered 3 stars. It is an extremely hot, kinky, romance. The story isn’t bad, but what bothered me was that it is not a complete book. The author stopped the story in the middle – to be continued in the next book. I hate those kinds of books when I don’t know it ahead of time. I got to the end of this one and…nothing. And I wasn’t expecting that. I wanted an ending, not a “to be continued”.

Guest Author: Maria Imbalzano

Gigi Jenson, an up-and-coming Broadway star, finds herself in Willow Springs, Vermont, for the summer as director of their first annual community revue. This sleepy town is worlds away from her vibrant and beloved New York City, but the experience she’ll gain will be invaluable to her career.

Jason Simmons has lived in Willow Springs his entire life. Working several jobs while writing music, he yearns for a contract to record his songs. The one chance he had to make it in Nashville he blew due to stage fright.

When Jason volunteers to help Gigi with the revue, sparks ignite but their dreams are taking them in different directions. Could their love for each other guide them to the same path?


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About the author:

Maria Imbalzano is a retired matrimonial lawyer who now writes full time. Instead of drafting motions, legal memoranda, and briefs, although fascinating, she now spends her days creating memorable characters and taking them on their emotional journeys through her contemporary romance novels.

In addition to writing fiction, Maria is on the Friends of Thomas Edison State University Foundation Committee and is still involved with Dress for Success Central Jersey, having been a founding Board member. She also serves on the finance committee for The Present Day Club. She has received the distinguished Family of Edison Award for her work with The Thomas Edison State University Foundation, the Iron Mike Professional Achievement Award from Trenton Catholic Academy and was inducted into the Italian American National Hall of Fame.

Her novel, “Unchained Memories,” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers Write Touch Readers’ Award and the ACRA Readers’ Choice Heart of Excellence Award. “Sworn to Forget,” the first of the four-book Sworn Sisters Series was a finalist for the illustrious RONE award as well as the Book Buyers Best Award.

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The Wild Rose Press Blog Interview May 2020

New Reviews

A new review for a nonfiction book: The 5-Minute Productivity Journal by Jennifer Webb. This 5 Sparkler book is a good book for those who want to become more productive through journaling. There are two main parts—Starting Out and Journal Entries—along with resources and references. If I had any criticism at all, it would be that both the resources and references were a bit thin, but…it’s a jounaling book which doesn’t take a lot of research. Each journal entry gives space for your feelings, productivity, setting priorities, and more. Including a place to vent/rejoice/plan. The first section gives you ways to set SMART goals, find a routine, how to tackle large tasks, planning and prioritizing, evaluating and more. It also encourages you to create a “life wheel” as a way to understand what is important to you and figure out what you really want.

Also: a 4 Sparkler for “Create Your Own Graphic Novel” – a colorful how-to manual aimed at teens or young writers looking to create their own graphic novels or comic books.

You can find my full review under the Nonfiction page.

Guest Author: Robert Herold

Blurb: It’s 1885 and a drunk and rage-filled Nigel Pickford breaks up a phony medium’s séance. A strange twist of fate soon finds him part of a team investigating the afterlife. The Eidola Project is an intrepid group of explorers dedicated to bringing the light of science to that which has been feared, misunderstood, and often manipulated by charlatans. They are a psychology professor, his assistant, an African-American physicist, a sideshow medium, and now a derelict, each possessing unique strengths and weaknesses. Called to the brooding Hutchinson Estate to investigate rumored hauntings, they encounter deadly supernatural forces and a young woman driven to the brink of madness. Will any of them survive?


Sarah retrieved the lamp and twisted the peg. The outhouse door swung open on its own, and she gasped.

“Momma?” Sarah asked as she held out her lantern. No. A ruined version of Molly stood in the doorway.

Before her disappearance, people often commented on the sixteen-year-old’s beauty, but in the last twenty-eight days birds pecked out her pretty blue eyes, and maggots now swam in the sockets. Molly’s head hung to the left at an odd angle. Her skin looked mottled with patches of gray, blue, and black. A beetle crawled out of Molly’s half-opened mouth and darted back in.

Sarah’s heart leaped to her throat, and she jumped back. She lost her footing, fell onto the outhouse seat, and dropped the lantern to the floor. She bent to retrieve it; thankful the glass globe did not break. Sarah looked up and saw an empty doorway.

Impossible, she told herself. Must’ve dozed off, had a nightmare, and woke up when I dropped the lamp. Her heart still pounded in her chest, and Sarah took a deep breath to calm herself.

Holding the lamp before her once more, she crept out…

Author bio and links.

The supernatural has always had the allure of forbidden fruit, ever since my mother refused to allow me, as a boy, to watch creature features on late night TV. She caved-in. (Well, not literally!)

As a child, fresh snow provided me the opportunity to walk out onto neighbor’s lawns halfway and make paw prints with my fingers as far as I could stretch. I would retrace the paw and boot prints, then fetch the neighbor kids and point out that someone turned into a werewolf on their front lawn! (They were skeptical.)

I have pursued many interests over the years, but the supernatural always called to me. You could say that I was haunted.  Finally, following the siren’s call, I wrote The Eidola Project, based on a germ of an idea I had as a teenager.

Ultimately, I hope my book gives you the creeps, and I mean that in the best way possible! (Book two involves a werewolf and is titled, Moonlight Becomes You. It should be out in a few months and I’m busy writing the third installment of the series.)

BTW: Eidola is pronounced “eye-do-la” and is a Greek word for ghosts, phantoms, and apparitions

Buy links for the book.

Amazon Kindle (US):

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Anything else you think will help sell your book, including giveaways, recipes, crafts, etc.

The Eidola Project is on sale for just 99 cents through October 30th!

Winner of the Reader Ready Award

2nd Place in the PRG’s Reviewers Choice Awards

Finalist in the Chanticleer International Book Awards

Currently a semi-finalist in the Kindle Awards

Two new reviews…

We have two new reviews for you to check out. The first is on Teresa’s page – a 4 sparkler review of The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman. If you’re a writer, this is something you should look at.

The second review is for Andrew Grey’s newest book “A Heart Back Home” – this gay romance got 5 sparklers. If you like M/M romance, definitely pick this one up. My review is on the LGBTQ+ Adults page.

Guest Author: Andrew Grey

Blurb: Clay Kartwell loses his job and gets a call from his estranged father asking for his help back on the family farm, all on the same day. Clay knows he has to return home, even though it’s the last thing he wants to do. Some things back home are best left unremembered. Dell Warrington was Clay’s unrequited high school crush and the man he least wants to see. He’s everything Clay remembered and more, including the father of four-year-old Archie. But Dell hasn’t had it easy either, and not everything is as it seems. Clay sets out to save the farm and bring in the crops with Dell’s help. Old assumptions fall to the side as the two men reconnect, and the second chance that Clay never knew he wanted seems within his grasp. But Clay left the farm for a reason, and reconciliation with his stoic father won’t be easy. When his city life offers a new opportunity, he must decide whether to accept what he knows, or follow his heart..



The drive into town took about ten minutes. I pulled into the pharmacy parking lot, lowered the windows so the fall breeze could flow through the car for Rex, then hurried toward the door and immediately bumped into a brick wall. I shook my head and stepped back.

“Clay?” a familiar voice from my past asked.

I cringed for a second before wiping my face clear and smiling as best I could. “Dell?” I asked with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. In truth, I had planned to avoid Dell while I was in town. I should have known it was too much for me to hope for. I wanted to ask something, but instead ended up staring at him like a fool, my lips going like a demented fish and not saying a word. Dell Warrington had always had that effect on me.

“What are you doing here? I thought you were in Chicago. When I saw him a few months ago, your dad told me that you had a good job there and were doing well.” Those eyes had the same sparkle they had in high school, back when I would gladly follow him around like a puppy. I didn’t tell him that the job and the life that my father was so proud of were gone like a fart in the wind.

“Dad called, and I came back to try to help him.” I wanted to get inside and get the prescriptions before the temperature in my clothes rose any higher and I sweated through everything I was wearing. Damn, I thought I would have gotten past all this. Five years away and never hearing his name, and with one look, I was back to the geekish kid who first left. “I just got into town, and he needed something.” Thank God I found my voice.

“Daddy?” a little boy asked as he stepped from behind Dell’s legs.

“Hey, buddy. This is Grampy Harvey’s son, Clay. He’s an old friend of mine. We went to school together.” He lifted the boy into his arms. “Clay, this is my son, Archie.”

Author Information

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press


Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey


Twitter @andrewgreybooks


For Other Works by Andrew Grey

(Please Be Sure To Stop by His Website to See All of His Works)

Check out my 5 sparkler review of this nice romance! You’ll find it on the LGBTQ for Adults page.

**** Disclosure of Material: I received a final and/or advanced reader copy of this book from RBTL Book Promotions and the Author/Publisher with the hope that I will leave my Unbiased Opinion. I was not required to leave a review, positive or otherwise, and my opinions are just that… My Opinions. I am posting this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”. *****

Guest Author: Wendi Dass

Bella Cigna

Foreign Endearments, Book 1

Tagline: Italy might be the very thing to heal her.

Devastated by personal loss, Sarah Flynn escapes to Rome where she finds a job teaching English. Only the girls’ school is like a nunnery and she’s expected to speak fluent Italian overnight. What has she gotten herself into? While the beautiful sights rekindle her interest in art, not even her brush finding canvas can heal all the wounds she carries. She’ll need the help of a meddling nun, a nutty mathematician, and a handsome Italian admirer. Can Sarah overcome the insecurities born of a shattered marriage? Will she again take a chance on love?


Eduardo laughed again.

His laugh wasn’t loud or overbearing but a genuine expression of amusement. His eyes, so rich with warmth, smiled, too. For a moment, she lost herself gazing into them, even after his laughter subsided. She cleared her throat and stepped toward the table, where she pretended to busy herself with collecting the folders and handouts. “So, did you have a question?” She kept her gaze on the papers in front of her.


She stole a glance at him and nearly gasped. With his eyebrows pressed together and his glasses dipping to the edge of his nose, she knew where she had seen his face before. Michelangelo’s David. His eyes, his nose, and his mouth were all strikingly similar to the image she’d studied in college. And she’d studied the David closely: the toned biceps, the chiseled abdomen, and the intricately carved genitals…

A deep blush rushed her face, and she shifted her gaze to the desk. Why was she so embarrassed? She wasn’t undressing him with her eyes. Even if she had paid attention to the wide shoulders and narrow hips that now caught her eye, she needn’t be ashamed.

How long had passed since she had felt the warmth of desire for a man? Sarah swallowed hard and fanned her face. Apparently, long enough that even an innocent attraction burned her cheeks bright.

He relaxed his brows. “Are you all right?”

Sarah froze her fanning hand in mid-flap. “Oh…yes. I’m still getting used to the temperature here.”

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Author Bio: Wendi Dass is a math professor and author from Charlottesville, Virginia. Her writing interests include literary short stories, flash fiction, and novel-length women’s fiction and romance. Wendi’s short stories have been published in several small journals. When she’s not devising deceptively delicious problems for her students, she can be found drafting her latest story. For more information on her writing please visit

@wendi_dass1 (Twitter)

@wendi_dass (IG)