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”.
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?
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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.
I recently finished reading this 4 Sparkler cozy mystery “Winner Cake All”. It’s cute, like most cozies, but also different in that there are two main points of view. But as in all cozies, the villain gets caught and life goes on. Check out my full review under “Mysteries”.
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.”
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 www.wendidass.com.
Tagline: When two Scrooges unite to save a bar in trouble, a kiss under the mistletoe sparks the sexiest Christmas miracle ever.
Back Cover Blurb: Bartender River Lundqvist has a damn good reason for hating Christmas. Bangers Tavern is the perfect place to lay low over the holidays—until Charlie walks in. His first encounter with the saucy server nine years ago was utter humiliation. Her reappearance stirs up powerful desires and hopes for a new start. But the timing is all wrong. Back in Tacoma to care for her estranged dad over the holidays, freelance web designer Charlie Khoury braces herself for the suckiest Christmas ever. A temporary job at Bangers Tavern gives her a chance to escape Dad’s criticism and blow off some steam. But why does the hunky bartender seem to hate her? A pretend girlfriend is just what River needs to keep his family off his back—until a kiss under the mistletoe flares hot enough to melt the North Pole. When greedy developers threaten Bangers Tavern, River and Charlie must team up to save it. Their sizzling chemistry feels like the real thing—but everyone knows rebound relationships don’t last. Come to Bangers Tavern for an enemies-to-lovers tale of reconciliation, found family, holiday cocktails, and the sexiest Christmas miracle ever.
Her low, throaty chuckle made him want to kiss her again. Though he pretty much wanted to kiss her anytime she was within range.
She laid her hand palm-up on the center console. “The thing is, I’m not looking for a relationship.”
Remembering a bit of Dawn’s wisdom, he nestled his hand into hers. “You never find a relationship when you’re looking for one.”
Her gaze softened, open and vulnerable. “Are you looking?”
Warning sirens blared inside his head. This was a question to answer very carefully. “If you’d asked me a month ago, I’d say, ‘No way.’ But then, I kissed this girl under the mistletoe, and…”
She closed her eyes, lifted his hand, and pressed it to her sternum. Beneath his palm, her heart thudded fast. His pulse sped to match hers. He held his breath.
“I like you, River.” Her whisper matched the brush of snowflakes against the windows.
“I like you too.”
She inhaled deeply, then met his gaze. “Enough to be my friend?”
He nodded, mesmerized.
“Because my life is a mess right now, and I have no idea what the fuck I’m doing.”
Her coarse language stirred up a heady swirl of laughter, sympathy, and arousal. He scooted as near as the center console allowed and placed his lips close to her ear. “I’ll tell you a secret. Me neither.”
Fire flickered in her eyes’ inky depths. Her lips parted. A golden thread wound around his heart and tugged him toward her. His thumb stroked the delicate line of her jaw as he closed the distance.
When two Scrooges unite to save a bar in trouble, a kiss under the mistletoe sparks the sexiest Christmas miracle ever. Come to Bangers Tavern for an enemies-to-lovers tale of reconciliation, found family, holiday cocktails, and grumpy, snarky love. #Christmas #Romance #Steamy
Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance from her new home in Washington State, U.S.A. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, plays darts (pretty well), plays guitar (badly), and gobbles all the books. Visit Sadira at http://www.sadirastone.com.
Tell us about what you write (short stories, novellas, novels, non-fiction)?
I write steamy contemporary romance set in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. My Book Nirvana series centers around a quirky bookshop in Eugene, Oregon. Gelato Surprise is a steamy older woman/younger man beach romance novella. The Bangers Tavern Romance series is set in a neighborhood tavern in Tacoma, Washington, where I live—the town, not the tavern! Each story features a holiday celebration in Bangers Tavern: Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, 4th of July, Halloween, etc. During this sad time when so many bars, restaurants, and other businesses are shut down, Bangers Tavern gives me the chance to virtually share the fun, camaraderie, and bar food I miss so much. And each volume includes tasty cocktail recipes I’ve personally tested and tweaked—a tough job, but I do it for my readers (wink).
Under my own name, I write cozy mysteries and creepy short stories—think The Twilight Zone—but so far only one creepy short has been published. I’ll get to the rest of them eventually, but right now I’m having too much fun writing romance!