Book Review: Isabella: Bride of Ohio by Debra Parmley and Robert Arrow

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RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

ISABELLA: BRIDE OF OHIO (American Mail-Order Brides Series, #17) by Debra Parmley is part of an interesting writing project. Fifty authors are writing a fifty book American Mail-Order Bride series that releases one book a day for fifty days.

Isabella Britta Stolt arrives from Sweden with her parents only to have them quarantined on Ellis Island and die. On her own at seventeen, she hears of work in a factory in Massachusetts. It is long and tiring work, but she has a roommate from Sweden and a few friends. Then the factory burns down. Luckily Isabella and her friends make it out alive, but now they must all make decisions for their futures.

A mail-order bride paper is passed around the factory girls and they decide to try their luck with the gentlemen they find to write to. Isabella writes to Donald Jenks, who seems to be a successful accountant in Yellow Springs, OH looking for a wife. His description of his home and life is everything a future bride would want, so she begins her journey to Ohio.

On the train to Ohio, Isabella meets two men; one who will try to kidnap her and one who will save her more than once. Thomas “Tom” Allenby is an undercover Pinkerton man working a case of missing women from the train. He is instantly taken with Isabella and comes to her rescue. He knows she is taken, but he will cross paths with her again in her future home.

This is not the typical mail-order bride romance where they live happily ever after. This groom is not who he seems and the story takes a major twist. There is a forced sex scene, but it is mostly described and not played out in present time description. Isabella is a woman of her time with few choices, but she has the resilience and strength to always move forward. I loved Isabella and was so glad she got the HEA she deserved in the end.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

Book Review: Ethan’s Heart by Vickie King

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RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

It has been quite a while since I have read a historical cowboy romance. I am very glad that I tried this first in a series by a new to me author, ETHAN’S HEART (The Blackwood Brothers, #1) by Vickie King. The Blackwood family, a runaway with a sick baby and secrets, posses, outlaws, and Missouri in 1855 all come together for a great read.

Ethan Blackwood is a widower with two little girls. His beloved wife, Elizabeth was killed during a bank robbery. Grief has turned into a powerful need for revenge instead of justice for this sheriff, but first he has to find someone to take care of his little girls so he can go on the hunt for her killers.

Annabelle “Annie” Holt is on the run from St. Louis with little baby Lily. She has to abandon the wagon train due to Lily’s health and is helped by the town’s doctor, Andrew Blackwood. Annie needs to stay in town for Lily, but she has no money and considers accepting the job as the laundress for the salon girls. Andrew believes he has the perfect solution for Annie. She needs a home and security and his brother, Ethan needs a new wife to care for his home and girls.

Ethan and Annie marry and when Ethan makes it clear it is not for love, Annie has some rules of her own. It isn’t until he comes in with his star on his vest that Annie realizes she has married the town’s sheriff. It is now more important than ever to keep her secrets.

I loved Annie! She was so strong and loving even with all that had happened to her and what could happen if the truth of her past became known. The love and care she showed for everyone was wonderful to read. Ethan was a good and honest man who was being eaten alive by his need for revenge and how Ms. King dealt with his change of heart was very well done. I really enjoyed reading this story, even though at times it was predictable, because the familiar and HEA is what I am looking for in a good romance genre book.

Thank you to Salt Run Publishing LLC and Net Galley for allowing me to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the brothers’ stories!

Book Review: Beloved Beast by Karyn Gerrard

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RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars

WOW! My preconceived notions for this book where blown away. I went looking for a book with a different twist and this was definitely it. BELOVED BEAST (The Ravenswood Chronicles, #2) by Karyn Gerrard is a mix of gothic horror, historical WWII romantic suspense and historical WWII spy novel. Even though this is the second book in the series, it can easily be read as a standalone with all the information the author has seamlessly peppered throughout this book.

The debauched Viscount Ravenswood Lucas Madden died from a carriage race accident in 1895 only to be revived in a Mary Shelley like experiment. Unlike Shelley’s beast, Lucas has become a man with heightened senses, strength and possible immortality, but he has also become outwardly disfigured, and cool to the touch with a strange gray cast to his skin. He hides his face as much as possible and explains away his strange coloring as ‘photophobia vitium’.

Working with his nephew in the emerging MI-6, with his new identity as Luke Newman, he helps relocate returning spies from the war zones in Europe. He is assigned the safety of Gillian Browning, who seduced a German business man for information on the Enigma machine, returned to England, and is suddenly in danger from a German spy.

As the two return to Luke’s former home in the country to wait for transport to Canada, Luke cannot believe that Gillian brings warmth back into is body and life. He never believed he would find love again after the death of his wife. Gillian wants the truth about Luke’s past and no longer wants her time with him to be limited, but the threat to their lives is catching up to them.

I could not put this book down. The concept made it unique and yet it also read as a traditional historical romantic suspense. There is explicit sex, because the beast has a heightened libido and yet it never felt gratuitous. The plot was well paced and the characters where all fully fleshed out and believable, well as far as you can believe in a reanimated man. I really enjoyed this book and I will definitely be looking for the next in the series!

Thanks very much to Kensington Books and Net Galley for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Loved it!

Book Review: Belonging To A Highlander by K.M. Patterson

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RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars

I so enjoy curling up on the couch on a cold winter day and disappearing into a well written romance. BELONGING TO A HIGHLANDER by K.M. Patterson turned out to be the perfect escape. An alpha Highland Scot and the young impetuous woman willing to stand up to him and lead him on a merry chase.

Hugh McCross has one more debt of honor to fulfill before he can fully leave his life as a mercenary and become the full time laird of his lands. He may not like it, but he feels he must fulfill his debt with anything asked of him by taking an innocent from the cloister to be delivered into the McAlison’s hands to settle a blood feud, but there are secrets being withheld.

Catriona McBruiey will do anything to help her friend escape her fate. She pretends to be Tamsin and is taken in her place. She believes it will be of no consequence as she is only a bastard and has no betrothed, even though she is the favorite niece of the king. When the deception is revealed, neither Cat nor Hugh realize the political and deadly ramifications set into motion surrounding both of their lives.

Ms. Patterson has delivered a historical romance with a plot that is very familiar and yet entertaining, scenery and atmosphere that make you feel you are back in historical Scotland, and an H/h that you cheer for to come together for their HEA. The secondary characters were as fully fleshed as Cat and Hugh, good and bad. There are a few steamy sex scenes, but placed where appropriate and not at all gratuitous. This is not a ground breaking new story, but a satisfying historical romance read well worth your time.

Written for and posted first on The Romance Reviews.com.

Feature Blog: AVON KissCon at the CCPL

avon-kisscon-logo KissCon Diamond Jubilee 11/10/16

I had a blast at the AVON publisher KissCon event at the South Euclid/Lyndhurst CCPL! It was a Diamond Jubilee Celebration and I got to meet two of my all time favorite authors and made new friends with some others. Thanks to AVON for bringing this event to Cleveland and special thanks to our wonderful and award winning Cuyahoga County Public Library system for hosting!

The first hour was a pay for event with food trays, beverages, wines and a meet and greet one-on-one with the authors. We all received an AVON Diamond Jubilee tote full of goodies, a free anthology and a coupon for a free book of our choice.

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img_0266 Susan Elizabeth Phillips!

img_0264 Linda Howard!

img_0274 Jill Shalvis!

img_0272 Shelley Shepard Gray!

All of the authors were great, but I have been reading Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Linda Howard for years, so of coarse I was fan-girling!

The second hour was free for everyone who registered and it was all the authors seated in a panel format. We had a fun Q&A game, the authors talked about their current books and the audience got to ask questions.

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The full panel of authors included: Shelley Shepard Gray, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Jill Shalvis, Linda Howard, Linda Winstead Jones, Jennifer Ryan, Katherine Ashe and Toni Blake.

I now have another list of books to add to my TBR and new authors to try. It was a great night! Thanks to AVON and the authors for coming to Cleveland.