Handsome ladies’ man Lucas Beckford has agreed to help his friend, an impoverished baron, win the affections of an icy heiress. It should be a simple task, especially for a seducer of his reputation. However when Luke catches sight of the enchanting lady, he is captivated with her pretty brown eyes, quick wit, and sharp tongue; and his desire to see his friend marry the girl quickly evaporates. Now he just has to find a way to convince the penniless lord to turn his attentions elsewhere—leaving the Ice Princess to him.
Lady Juliet St. Claire has always believed that her fortune would protect her from ever having to relinquish her freedom in marriage. Though fortune hunters endlessly hound her, Juliet’s outwardly cold demeanor keeps most of them at bay, licking their wounds or patching up their pride. However when Luke charms his way into her life, he easily melts more than just her heart. Unfortunately, the rogue is of the love ‘em and leave ‘em variety, and leaves Juliet’s tender heart in pieces. But when her fortune lands her in danger from an unscrupulous foe, Luke returns to her side, offering his help and protection. Now Juliet has to decide if her heart is strong enough to trust the rogue a second time.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Round two of Ava Stone’s Scandalous Series is an even better read than the first!! A Scandalous Charade follows Lucas Beckford, infamous ladies’ man and confirmed bachelor. Luke has spent the vast majority of his life chasing tail, drinking, gambling and, generally enjoying every second of his life. Luke is wealthy, gorgeous and, has no intention of ever changing his ways.
Lady Juliet St. Claire is, without doubt one of the most sought after women in English society. She is beautiful and wealthy beyond belief and has always felt her money will be the thing to protect her from the wretched state of marriage. Lady Juliet has never seen a successful nor happy marriage and as such has no desire to give up her independence and engage in such nonsense. With the start of the new social season, Lady Juliet is quickly seeing the flaw in her plan. With her money and her beauty she is constantly being accosted by fortune-seeking “gentlemen” looking to wed and bed the young lady and take control of her considerable fortune. In her determination to avoid romantic entanglements, Lady Juliet has developed the reputation of being cold and impenetrable – a reputation she both despises and holds dear.
When Luke Beckford meets Lady Juliet St Claire everything in his world turns upside down! Juliet is all Luke could ever hope to have in a woman and most disturbingly, with very little effort at all, she has Luke considering things like commitment and monogamy. Dismissing these horrifying thoughts, Luke hatches a plan that will get him closer to Juliet and keep the wolves at bay. Startlingly, Juliet not only accepts Luke’s proposition but jumps at the chance to spend more time with the dashing Luke Beckford. Night after night, Luke and Juliet spin around dance floors and chat with friends and family in an effort to convince all they are a true couple. Within just a few nights all of English society is buzzing and both Luke and Juliet are mostly thrilled with their arrangement.
If emotions weren’t a part of life, Juliet and Luke may have been able to pull off their perfectly plotted plan. The more time each spends with the other, the deeper each falls for the other. Juliet is willing to accept her feelings and move forward with Luke but Luke is a coward and completely ill-prepared to deal with something like feelings. As one would expect from a somewhat reformed playboy, Luke totally and completely freaks out and leaves Juliet with her head spinning and her virtue no longer intact. As if to add insult to injury, Juliet’s estranged family rears their collective and ugly head and add a considerable amount of danger to Juliet’s already devastating life. With few choices and her life in danger, Juliet also pulls a runner.
The Bottom Line: Lady Juliet and Luke Beckford are absolutely, 100% made for one another but their road to an HEA is disturbingly difficult. Luke is perhaps the most charming and most stubborn of men and totally taken aback by his feelings for Lady Juliet. In an effort to spare Juliet anymore pain Luke runs for the hills causing her more pain than he could have ever imagined. Additionally, the dumbass causes himself a considerable amount of pain when he belatedly realizes just how much he cares for Juliet. The give and take – the struggle – between Luke and Juliet is all kinds of fun with her sharp wit and his charm constantly battling for dominance. Adding to pure enjoyment of this read is Luke’s sister, Caroline whose meddling ways are as delightful as they are devious. Caroline is pure joy and without her, Luke and Juliet would have no chance at all. Thank you, Ava Stone for Caroline J In all, I found A Scandalous Charade to be a most enjoyable Regency read and see it appealing to lovers of this genre as well as lovers of HEAs and light mystery.
P.S. A Scandalous Charade has, near the end some repeated parts from book one, A Scandalous Wife. If you have already ready book one, I highly recommend skimming over these parts as you won’t need the information twice. If you haven’t read book one, the information is necessary and you should definitely pay attention.
“What gives you a thrill Kristen?”
The conclusion to the Surrender Series by Priscilla West.
No one is who they seem to be.
Kristen let Vincent into her heart because he seemed so different from everyone in her conservative world of wealth management. She thought they shared something special, but when she realizes that Vincent has been playing her the entire time, her heart is crushed.
As Kristen’s relationship with Vincent reaches a crisis point, a man from Kristen’s past returns looking for a second chance. Is her ex-boyfriend really looking for redemption or is his goal something more sinister?
Kristen struggles to hold herself together, until she discovers a revelation that will change everything.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
**CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOKS 1 AND 2**
Beautiful Surrender is the final installment of Vincent and Kristen’s story and it begins with a long and winding trip down memory lane. As we discover in the first two books, Kristen fled her life in Boston to get away from a scary and abusive relationship. Thinking she was safe in a new city was her first mistake and though Vincent has taken steps to help protect Kristen, crazy is crazy and her ex comes a calling looking for a second chance. The situation quickly devolves and before she can mace the bastard, Kristen’s ex is attacked by her two neighbors and Vincent.
In the wake of the attack/rescue, Kristen finds her head spinning with trying to understand everything that has happened. Her ex is back, her neighbors are bad ass security guys hired by Vincent and, there is still the matter of the phone snooping and what she discovered at dinner. Kristen feels, among other things, heartbroken, scared and, betrayed. In a move that is sheer cowardice, Kristen refuses to talk to Vincent until she can sort out her feelings. Without so much as giving him a chance, Kristen decides it is time for a break and determines this is what will happen between she and Vincent. Vincent has other plans!
Vincent gets where Kristen is coming from and when he convinces her to rationally and calmly talk about their situation, he is able to convince her that they are far better together than apart. Both knows their relationship is on shaky ground but each wants to make the relationship work. In an effort to build a more solid foundation, Vincent introduces Kristen to his sister and nephew. Kristen takes the opportunity to learn more about Vincent and his past and sees, perhaps for the first time that he is very much committed to her and their relationship and he is a man that can absolutely be trusted.
As fate and Priscilla West would have it, the universe isn’t quite done screwing with the couple. Kristen’s ex is well and truly bat-sh*t crazy and in what is one totally terrifying scene, makes every effort to take Kristen away from Vincent. Seriously, this is one intensely scary scene that not involves extreme violence but a bombshell secret that Kristen intended to share with Vincent in a very, very different manner and setting. It is only when all the cards are on the table, more than a few bones are broken and, the crazy man is finally contained that Kristen and Vincent can focus on nothing but the two of them!
The Bottom Line: I’m truly glad I chose the Forever Series for my first real adventure into the world of billionaires. Vincent didn’t inherit his money and he certainly didn’t have it handed to him and I think that is what made such a huge difference for me where this character is concerned. I very much liked Vincent’s honesty, his intensity, his sex drive, his willingness to be there for Kirsten and help her in any way he possibly could. Though Vincent certainly spends money, he doesn’t use it as a means of controlling Kristen or as a way to bribe (for lack of a better word) her to be with him. In this way, Vincent felt like a very genuine character for me. Kristen on the other hand . . . .bleh!!!! At some point, I think I sort of began to tune her out and only really “listened” to her when she was having sex with Vincent. Clearly, this series and these three reads have been all about the boy for me. J From a purely technical perspective, West creates an entertaining and exciting series. There is plenty to keep the reader involved including loads of backstory (I LOVE backstory!), tense moments, scary situations, dirty awesome sex and, a plot that comes full circle in the end with no cliffhangers or unanswered questions. In all, I found Vincent and Kristen’s story to be well worth the time and effort it took to read about them.
As the head of his family, Robert Beckford, the Earl of Masten, was accustomed to dealing with various problems his siblings had caused of one sort or another. However he wasn’t prepared when his cad of brother ruined and then abandoned a young lady. To right the wrong, Robert married the girl himself; but his chivalry only went so far. He didn’t want a wife, and most certainly not a scandalous one. So after repeating his vows, he sent her packing, off to a secluded estate and expected her to stay put.
After years of mistreatment at the hands of her family, Lydia was prepared to be an accommodating wife; but her rigid and unforgiving husband asked too much of her. After languishing for years in her opulent prison, Lydia leaves her country estate for the glamour and excitement of London—and unfortunately her husband’s path.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
Robert Beckford, Earl of Masten has always been aware of appearances: how he looks, how he is received, how his family is perceived and, above all else, the reputation of he and his family. When Robert’s younger brother, Luke was caught in a compromising position with the young and impressionable, Lydia well, appearances and reputation had to be considered. Luke certainly wasn’t going to do the right thing and so, in an effort to save everyone the humiliation and protect the family name, Robert Beckford married Lydia.
For five long years Lady Lydia has been hidden away at Lord Beckford’s Blackstone Manor, safely removed from polite society and any gossip that may tarnish the Beckford name. Determined to come out of hiding, Lydia returns to London to stay with her remaining family and spend the season among polite society. After five years of not seeing nor hearing from her husband, Lydia really couldn’t care less what he thinks about her reappearance. She is bound and determined to live her life and find some happiness, no matter the cost. It takes very little time for Robert to discover Lydia’s presence and if it weren’t for appearances, fireworks certainly would have flown.
Robert Beckford is livid over the presence of his troublesome wife and wants nothing more than for her to remove herself and be gone from his sight. Even more troubling is the fact that his once quiet and unassuming wife has grown into a confident and beautiful woman – a woman who will certainly cause more scandal and bring down the family name. In an effort to get Lydia out of town, Robert calls her to his home and announces he will take her on a tour of his various homes and she can choose her next gilded prison. While Robert’s intention is to be rid of his wife he also knows he needs an heir (his brother certainly won’t do!) and decides he will let her know he intends to have an heir from her and then she and the child can live away from him. What Robert doesn’t count on is Lydia’s attitude regarding family and her refusal to be with a man who doesn’t even like her, let alone, love her.
Robert quickly figures out if he wants his heir, he is going to have to get his wife on board and in order to do that, he is going to have to get to know her. What Robert discovers is a woman who not only knows her own mind, is resolute in her belief that a child should have a mother and father and, she is surprisingly kind and forgiving given her experiences. Robert is surprised to discover his wife is quite likeable and before long he finds he wants nothing more than to forget everything about her past and focus on her future with him. More surprising, Lydia is amenable to Robert’s suggestion and when they arrive at his favored home, both are ready to give married life a true and proper go of it.
Things aren’t always easy and while their nights together are generally enjoyable, the days take some work. Robert realizes his wife is a good woman with a troubled past and though Robert wants to forget the past and move forward, the past has a way of coming back to haunt him. Robert does his best to shield Lydia from as much of the scandal as possible but Robert can’t be everywhere all the time and when Lydia’s life is threatened, he is damn near too late to save her.
The Bottom Line: What a fun Regency read! Stone has paired two of the most unlikely people in Robert and Lydia and “watching” them make their way toward an HEA is as times frustrating, at times humorous, at times naughty and, sometimes even sweet. I rather enjoyed the fact that their road to an HEA isn’t smooth and easy but something each had to work at. A marriage isn’t always easy and when the foundation is shaky to begin with well, there is work to be done, trust to be earned and, love to be found. Lydia’s past is constant bone of contention and as Robert grows to like and even love his wife, he works harder than ever to help her overcome that past. The obstacles provide a good deal of drama and entertainment and work nicely with the characters and the overall plot. With a fine cast of characters, A Scandalous Wife makes for a very good start to this Regency series.
“What gives you a thrill Kristen?”
I knew that giving in to Vincent Sorenson was a risk, but it was one I was willing to take. I had hidden my heart for so long and for the first time in a long time, Vincent was close to breaking down the walls.
When a trip to Vincent’s exclusive private island reveals the real Vincent underneath the layers of suave nonchalance, I thought we were close to the start of something special.
Just when things were looking up for us, I would discover the one secret that Vincent never intended for me to find.
My Rating: 4/5 stars
**CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BOOK #1**
Secret Surrender opens exactly where book one ended, with Kristen tucked safely into Vincent’s arms and life. Waking up to Vincent is something Kristen could certainly get used to but things can’t always be sunshine and unicorns and book two certainly throws some kinks into the budding relationship.
Kristen is still very much all about the discretion but never getting to see Vincent because of work commitments is a little extreme. Vincent is the head of a billion dollar company and he is constantly on the move so alone time with a girlfriend isn’t always easy to come by. Additionally, Vincent’s business constantly puts him contact with some scantily-clad women which of course, causes Kristen’s level of anxiety to rise. Thanks to her past, Kristen has an incredibly difficult time trusting men and though she wants to trust Vincent, she finds it very difficult to do so given his schedule. The time apart is just as hard on Vincent and with Kristen’s past, his level of anxiety about leaving her is higher than normal.
Both Kristen and Vincent want to be together so when it’s possible, they make the time and make the most of the time they have. One of the more impressive and seriously hot moments for the duo involves some dirty cyber time and multiple orgasms. As if that weren’t enough, Vincent also whisks Kristen away to his private island for a weekend of fun, sun, boating, ex-girlfriends and, some really hot sex. As you might well imagine, the whole ex-girlfriend thing puts a serious damper on the weekend and causes Kristen’s insecurities to once again rise to the surface. Though Vincent assures her there is nothing to feel insecure and/or concerned about, Kristen is wary but willing to give her man the benefit of the doubt. As the weekend winds down, Vincent and Kristen leave paradise and return to the reality of their crazy lives.
As book two comes to a close, Kristen is finally allowing herself to trust Vincent and enjoy the crazy ride the two of them are on. In a moment of strength, Kristen decides to throw caution to the wind – discretion be damned! – and invites Vincent to an intimate dinner in the city. All is going well until Vincent excuses himself to go to the restroom and Kristen makes the mistake of looking at his cell phone. What Kristen sees shatters her trust, breaks her heart and causes her to run from Vincent as fast and as furiously as she can. Determined to ignore Vincent, Kristen turns off her cell phone and is fully prepared to yell at him and slam the door in his face when she makes the fateful decision open her apartment door without first looking to see who has come a calling.
The Bottom Line: Secret Surrender certainly does take everything up a notch. From the sex to the action, this book is filled with intense and highly charged moments that will have you flipping virtual pages as fast as you possibly can. As with book one, I am still head over heels for Vincent and loved getting more of his personal story in this read. Vincent doesn’t ever lie to Kristen and though his schedule is crazy and demanding he tells her clearly he is trying to make adjustments and allowances for her being in his life. Vincent’s actions support his words at every turn which leads me to the thing that brought this read down one star rating for me, Kristen. I will be the first to admit that I have no way of understanding the situation Kirsten has come out of and continues to deal with but her attitude gets damn old. Kristen is about as insecure as they come and doubts Vincent at every turn. She has a serious disregard for her personal safety and refuses to acknowledge that she has to deal with her past. Finally, Kristen has a tendency to overreact which causes far more drama than is necessary. Thankfully, Vincent is a patient and understanding man! As book two closes, things are certainly looking bleak for the couple and are about to get a whole lot worse. The final pages of this book are both sad and quite frightening as Kristen’s past literally knocks on her door.
“What gives you a thrill Kristen?”
The minute I saw Vincent Sorenson, I knew he was trouble. Billionaire. Bad boy. And dangerously sexy. He was everything I craved, and nothing I needed.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t just avoid him. The higher ups at my company decided they needed his business, and I was on the team to bring him in. Vincent Sorenson didn’t seem as interested in business as he was in me, but I knew that was a door better left unopened. If I got involved with him, it would only unearth the pain I spent years trying to bury.
I thought I had it under control, but I seriously underestimated Vincent’s seductive charm and silver-tongue. I would soon find out how delicious it would feel to let myself fall into this forbidden surrender.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
I have been very reluctant to dive into the whole billionaire versus quiet unassuming girl genre for a wide variety of reasons but the most significant has been, of course the quiet unassuming girl is going to go for the hot billionaire, duh!! That crap just doesn’t play well for me so I have intentionally avoided the genre. BUT, I have read other books by Priscilla West and like her so I thought I would give the Surrender series a try. I have to say, pleasantly surprised!
Vincent Sorenson is a billionaire but he isn’t your typical asshole with a ton of money. Oh, he can be an asshole when he needs to be but you would be too if you earned your money the hard way, the way Vincent Sorenson did. Though he seems like a carefree risk-taker with little to no focus on his business, Vincent Sorenson is actually very much a risk-taker but he also knows exactly what is going on with his company all the time at every level. What Vincent Sorenson needs at this point in his career is an advisor for all of his vast wealth and he wants Kristen.
Kristen is damn good at her job but she is a low-level advisor and not yet “qualified” to take on clients of her own. When Kristen unintentionally and totally impresses Vincent Sorenson he agrees to go with her wealth management firm if and only if Kristen is his sole advisor and point of contact. Vincent is very used to getting what he wants and he wants Kristen. While Kristen is thrilled to have her first real client, Vincent Sorenson is unlike any man she has ever met and when he makes it clear he wants her for more than financial advising well, she is beyond nervous. After a very, very bad dating experience Kristen is not at all a risk taker and being with Vincent presents a great many risks both to her personal and professional life.
Vincent is persistent, seductive, fun, intense and, is willing to provide as much discretion as Kristen needs to feel safe. When you’re a billionaire, discretion is easy and Vincent can easily whisk Kristen away to a secluded island or one of his more remote homes. When the two are in bed together they are they are all kinds of good and the chemistry between then is fantastic. When the two are out of bed, Kristen is uncertain and nervous. How could a man like Vincent Sorenson want to be with a woman like her? What if her past comes calling and negatively impacts her relationship with Vincent? What if Vincent gets bored and decides to take a little risk while he is away on business?
The Bottom Line: Forbidden Surrender is a hell of a first book for a series! One of the primary reasons I hit 5/5 stars on this read is because of Vincent Sorenson. I liked Vincent instantly, from the first moment he is introduced in his South African office. When Vincent begins to press Kristen for more he doesn’t do it in a skeevy or pervy manner nor does he throw a huge amount of cash at her to convince her to be with him. In fact, Vincent is a pretty decent guy and does everything he can to make Kristen feel comfortable and safe with him. In fact, Kristen feels so comfortable she even opens up to Vincent about her past and why she has so many fears and anxieties. With the turn of the last page, Kristen is safely tucked into Vincent’s arms and feeling more secure than she has in years. Vincent had me at hello and I was securely locked in to loving him by the end of this read.
Gavin McLeod is a man who has it all. His corporate climb has positioned him as the next CEO at Holden Enterprises. He’s financially stable, allowing him to provide for the grandfather who raised him, and his successful seduction of the sexy bartender last night proves his private life is also on fire. Until the alluring woman in his arms turns out to be a serious road-block to his future. One that could bring everything he’s worked for crashing down around him.
Sunny Black has spent her entire life tending to the needs of others, caring for her younger brother since she was ten, and serving bar patrons night after night. For the first time in years, she thinks of herself and gives in to her body’s demands, taking a trip to the wild side with a customer whose raw sexuality is too strong to deny. The next morning, however, she learns that in addition to rocking her world, the stranger might cause it to crumble.
A game of sexual seduction and corporate chess ensues, with neither Gavin nor Sunny realizing the ending could come in the form of a permanent check-mate.
My Rating: 5/5 stars
Holy Hannah!! Alannah Lynne’s Heat Wave series is totally heating up in round two of the series, Last Call. As the title suggests, Last Call revolves around a bar and when you throw in a hot bartender, a little mischief and mayhem and, a super sexy property developer you have a recipe for a really good contemporary romance.
As second-in-command at Holden Enterprises, Gavin McLeod is in charge of scouting out properties and locations that might be suitable for Holden’s next luxury resort. For more than a decade, Gavin hasn’t just done his job well, he has done his job exceptionally well and as a result, he is the heir-apparent to the throne. For most of the past decade, Gavin has been OK with the work he’s done but lately things have been a bit off. Gavin wasn’t born and raised into a life of luxury and when he is asked to check out the Blackout bar, he sees a little piece of his childhood coming into the crosshairs.
Anticue Island isn’t home to a lot people but it is home to Sunny Black, her younger brother and, their bar, the Blackout. Sunny has dedicated the bulk of her life to looking after her younger brother and ensuring he has a stable home, a place he can always return to. The Blackout is not only Sunny’s income, it is her home and something she and her brother worked very, very hard to build. The night Gavin McLeod walks into her bar, Sunny knows two things: 1) she is fiercely attracted to him and; 2) he is interested in her bar in a way that just doesn’t seem quite right.
Gavin’s first night in the Blackout puts a whole lot of things in his life into perspective. He realizes exactly how much he hates his job, he realizes how good life was when it was far simpler and, he knows to the cellular level that he must have the woman tending bar. Sunny Black is unlike any woman Gavin has ever met and getting to know her is just as important as his next breath. Breaking through her defenses isn’t going to be easy and once he starts asking questions about the owner of the bar and the possibility of buying the property, well, those defenses get even trickier.
It doesn’t take long before Sunny and Gavin agree to disagree where her bar is concerned but agree to agree on their sexual chemistry. Thanks to everything holy they agreed on that last part J In a very, very short amount of time Sunny and Gavin both realize they are in over their respective heads but just can’t seem to care. Unfortunately for Gavin, he also gets in over his head where his boss is concerned and as more and more evidence comes to light, Gavin figures out that more than his job is on the line. As Gavin and Sunny become closer, Holden Enterprises and its slimy CEO becomes more desperate and the two lovers work hard to keep the Blackout in their possession and their heads attached to their bodies.
The Bottom Line: I really liked this read. In fact, I read most of Last Call in a single sitting and stayed up way too late to get to the end! Sunny is all kinds of feisty and I very much enjoyed her constant mental gymnastics she found necessary to keep seeing Gavin. Sunny is strong-willed, loyal, hard-working and devoted to her brother and her home. Her relationship with the residents of Anticue Island are some of the most enjoyable (and heart-breaking) parts of this read. I generally liked Gavin but had to change his name in my head because his full name, Gavin McLeod is the name of the actor who played Captain Stubbing on The Love Boat and that just isn’t sexy J Weird name issues aside, I liked the drama and the antics throughout this read and the naughty bits may have been even a little hotter than in the first read. If this series keeps going as it is, I can see it becoming one of my favorites!
About the author and where to find her:
Alannah believes there’s nothing more magical than finding the other half of your soul, experiencing fiery passion, and knowing you’ve found happily-ever-after. She loves going to work each day (in sweats and a T-shirt) and writing about hot heroes and feisty heroines who torment each other in the most delicious ways before finding their happy ending. She lives in the coastal region of North Carolina with her husband, who also happens to be her best friend and biggest fan. They have two sons, a dog, and two cats.
Cover Reveal and Sweepstakes: Criminal Kind (Book #3: Charlie McClung Mystery Series) by Mary Anne Edwards
It’s the perfect setting for a romantic getaway at sea: Caribbean breezes, clear blue skies, passionate nights, and murder? Not exactly what Detective Charlie McClung and Marian had in mind for their honeymoon. When one of their fellow passengers is murdered on her 35th wedding anniversary, Charlie and Marian get pulled into the investigation. Who would want to kill poor Tammy Ferguson in such a brutal way? As Charlie uncovers more sordid details about Tammy and her husband, Peter, it becomes clear that someone else has found the same skeletons in the Ferguson’s closet and Tammy has paid the price. Is Peter next? Trapped on the ship with a killer, shadows seem more ominous and even the most innocent faces seem sinister. Has Charlie inadvertently put Marian in harm’s way? How long does Charlie have before the hunter becomes the hunted?
For Charlie McClung, going home to Virginia with Marian was supposed to be a joyous occasion, but upon arrival at his childhood home, he’s met with a note instead of his family. “Don’t worry, Love, we’re all okay. Come to the shop. A dead girl was found in an armoire delivered just now. Huggies, Ma” Charlie is quickly recruited to help solve the murder of a young girl who was on the path to becoming a nun. The suspects begin to mount as Charlie delves deep into the girl’s life revealing a sordid and ugly side of the town’s good girl. “Is there anything more fun to read than a book that’s equal parts captivating mystery and charming romance? A GOOD GIRL will keep you on the edge of your seat guessing and will warm you to your bones as Marian and Charlie, meant for each other, race to the end.
Detective Charlie McClung no longer finds his job fulfilling and has given up finding that “someone” his granny promised he would find. So he leaves behind the big city and his close-knit family and takes a job in a small town police department in Georgia, resigned to live a quiet life in solitude. Things change when he meets Marian Selby while investigating the mysterious death of her best friend. But Marian swore never to love again after the death of her husband 11 years ago. What seems to be a suicide turns into a tangled web of deceit, corruption, and complicated shadows. Can the two of them come to grips with their feelings for each other before the killer closes in on them?
About the author and where to find her:
Mary Anne was born in Mercedes, Texas, but has lived in Georgia most of her life. She has had a variety of experiences in her life. Some were great and some, well let’s just say Mary Anne has learned many lessons the hard way. Mary Anne has been married for nearly 35 years to the most practically perfect man. They have a newly adopted Tuxedo cat named Gertrude. They enjoy traveling and watching mysteries on TV. Mary Anne is active in Sisters in Crime Atlanta Chapter, Mystery Writers of America and sits on the advisory board of Rockdale Cares, Inc., a non-profit advocacy group for the developmentally challenged. Although Mary Anne began writing in high school, she didn’t get serious about it until 1999. She writes traditional mysteries that are influenced by some of her favorite authors: Agatha Christie, Anne Perry, Caroline Graham, and Elizabeth Peters. Her first book in the Detective Charlie McClung mysteries, “Brilliant Disguise” was released on January 21, 2014. The next book in the series, “A Good Girl”, was released on September 23, 2014. Mary Anne is currently working on the third book in the series, “Criminal Kind”; there are seven more to follow.
A King Rises
A Fate Seals
Eve Collins has set in motion a chain of events that could destroy everything she’s ever loved. Surrounded by dangerous creatures, dark worlds, and the struggle to become who she was meant to be, Eve must complete her ascension and accept her destiny. War has begun. Losing is not an option. With dangers lurking around each corner, and everything against her, will Eve sacrifice her own happiness in order to tip the scale of balance? Which side will rise to power, and which fall to fate? In this fourth installment in The Revelation Series, Eve must risk everything she loves in order to prevent a centuries old war. Everything comes with a sacrifice, even love.
Excerpt from Revolution (Book #4: Revelation Series):
The Midnight Temple
FROM DARKNESS, COMES LIGHT. I whisper the assertion in my head, over and over again, as a form of reassurance. Distracted eyes take in my surroundings, seeking out a focal point of luminosity. Nightfall shrouds the ill-omened forest I’m standing barefoot in.
My gaze lifts toward the heavens, searching for light. There is nothing. No stars shining brightly to guide me. No flush of the moon’s silver rays caressing the ominous tree lined confinement I find myself in. Panic begins to claw at my throat.
Everything is unnaturally still. The trees are motionless. There’s no breeze to embrace me. No woodland creatures at home to calm me. Only silence. It’s eerie and yet, oddly familiar.
“Hidden within the darkness, the unseen will eventually be divulged. Revealing the true purpose of your existence.” Gage’s deep, masculine voice penetrates my trepidation.
I shift my body and tilt my head, meeting a pair of sea-green irises. The gargoyle clasps his warm fingers over mine in a soothing gesture while the scent of cigarettes and spice drifts over me. His presence rescues me from the shadowed corners my mind finds itself in.
I inhale, for what feels like the first time tonight. A small smile appears on my lips at the sight of the good-looking protector. Gratitude washes over me, because I’m not alone on this self-imposed journey.
The moment of reprieve passes quickly when I remember who I am and what I’ve done. At the thought, a sharp, unyielding pain presents itself deep within my heart. The sting causes my breath to hitch as my hand moves to cover the twinge.
In the distance, a faint, familiar sound floats over me. “Come back to me, siren,” it whispers. The memory of how much hurt I’ve caused seeps in. “I will protect you, always.” The voice, belonging to Asher St. Michael, my gargoyle protector, and now my mate, promises. My stomach lurches at the recollection of my actions this evening. My treachery.
Instantly, I fold at the waist and vomit into the plant life lining the forest’s floor. Gage steps closer to my uncontrollable, trembling body. Releasing my hand, he gently holds my hair back, allowing me to empty the contents of my stomach into the undergrowth. Shit.
“You’re okay, love. It’s just the adrenaline wearing off. Take deep breaths,” he soothes.
I close my eyes, trying to block it all out, as my body hums from the protector blood bond. In rapid fire, images of this evening flash through my mind. Each one cutting my soul like the dagger I used in my deception. All I can see is Asher. My dark prince. My everything.
Asher’s gentle hand is wrapped around the lower portion of my throat, showing dominance. The feel of my gargoyle’s body pressed against mine, pushing me into his stone state bed. The stunning and blissful expression he had as he slid into me for the first time. His scent. His touch. His declarations of forever, all marred by my deceit.
I’ve ended us by showing my disloyalty. When his indigo eyes met mine, my dagger fell into his heart, forcing him into a healing sleep. Protecting him. Then, I walked away from my love to save another who I hold dear to me. My sacrifice.
A shiver passes over me and my breathing becomes ragged. My stomach churns again and my knees buckle. If it weren’t for Gage’s large hands wrapped around my waist, I would collapse in despair on the dirt-covered pathway. Crap. Pull yourself together, Eve.
“Are you alright, love?” Gage questions quietly into my ear, holding me close.
Once the visions dissolve, so does the nausea. I open my eyes to meet Gage’s troubled ones. Taking a step back, I allow for some distance from his protective arms. Then I center myself before pushing back my shoulders and lifting my chin.
“Yes,” I say firmly.
He knits his brows together, running a hand through his golden-blond hair. “Are you sure, Eve?” he questions with worry lining his voice.
I’m actually taken aback by his apprehension. Normally, Gage doesn’t show signs of unease. It’s unnerving and making me question my resolve. I straighten and nod once.
“I said I am.” My voice is strong, even though inside, I’m terrified.
The undecipherable gargoyle’s eyes just search mine. His face is strained in disbelief.
“I really am,” I assure him and attempt to turn my attention to the fog-covered fortress in front of us. I don’t want to see his troubled expression.
Gage doesn’t let me twist though. Instead, he snatches my chin roughly and tilts my head back. His gaze roams over my face before locking onto it with a raw intensity. “With every moment that goes by, they turn a deeper shade of indigo, love,” he whispers.
My breath hitches and I slam my lids down, hiding the irises. Asher and I triggered our mate bond and fulfilled the divination of redemption. My light ignited and awakened his soul, protecting him from stone petrifaction. I was so concerned with his safety, I failed to remember his mate mark wouldn’t be the only change to my body. My eye color changed from hazel, to blue, the clan’s hue. I really should have read more paranormal books. Crap.
Opening my eyes, I take in a deep breath through my nose. The memory of my intimate night with Asher disappears. His mate mark angrily pulses on my lower back, alerting me to Asher’s emotional state. He’s pissed. Of course he is. Why wouldn’t he be?
Gage sighs in annoyance. “One look at you, love, and the Declan clan will not be able to overlook the fact that you are the dark prince’s mate.”
My eyes narrow in response. “Not fully. Abby told me that the mark and eye color are temporary until my new mark is infused with Asher’s blood. If that doesn’t happen, with time, both disappear and release him of our soul connection. That’s what needs to happen, Gage. I only did this to protect him from the council and Dark Army.”
Gage releases a hollow laugh that sounds more like a bark. “You’re naïve, daughter of Heaven, to think you gave yourself to him in the name of protection only.”
My teeth clench in aggravation. “You said you would help me. I need to extract my aunt Elizabeth from Lucifer before he kills her. I’m the one he wants. It’s my role to save her. By any means necessary. Asher wouldn’t have let me do this, you know that.”
He holds my gaze for a moment in contemplation. “Don’t you mean your mother?”
“Ever since finding out that Elizabeth and Michael are your biological parents, you continue to refer to her as your aunt. She’s your mother, love. You are her flesh and blood.”
I pull my chin out of his grasp. “Fine. I need to save…my mother.” As the words fall out of my mouth, my stomach sinks at the recollection that both the archangel and my guardian, whom I’ve known since birth as my aunt Elizabeth, lied to me for years before recently coming clean about our biological lineage.
“Are you going to help me or not?” I snip impatiently.
Gage’s focus shifts from me, down the haze-filled path, toward the ominous castle that belongs to Deacon, the leader of the Declan clan. Since Gage was the half-demon, half-gargoyle’s right hand man for a short time, Gage is the only one who knows of its location, which is why I entrusted him to assist me with this plan.
My eyes follow his line of sight, landing on the stone fortress, as unease trickles down my spine. The last time I was here, Deacon was holding me hostage. Despite the bad blood between the two, Gage had helped Asher and his family, the London clan, with my rescue.
Deacon’s entire focus has been to hand me over to Lucifer and the Dark Army. He killed Aria, my best friend and college roommate, while she was protecting me. After which, both Deacon’s brother Kaiden, and his mother Dimia, died doing his bidding.
I shudder at the thought of what he’ll do to me this time, knowing that Asher and the St. Michaels won’t save me. Stabbing Asher, the future king of the gargoyle race, in the heart with my daggers was the ultimate betrayal. I’ve ended the protection the clan offered.
Releasing a slow breath, I remind myself that I’m the weapon, created by Heaven, to tip the scale in their favor and bring redemption to the world ending this centuries’ old war. Heaven sees me as a pawn, but for Hell, I’m a threat to their very existence. It’s why they’re hunting me. If not restrained, I have the power to destroy the Dark Army. This time, though, I’m going to make it easy and surrender, exchanging my life for my Elizabeth’s.
Chewing on the inside of my cheek, I wait for his answer. Deciding then and there, with or without his help, I’m still doing this. It’s my fault that Deacon and Lucifer kidnapped my mother to get to me. Gage faces me with a soft look. I can tell he’s made his decision.
Silently, he extends his hand for me to take, and I do, as relief floods through me. The grip he has on me tightens, almost painfully, as he yanks me harshly to his chest. Without warning, his grey wings snap out from his back. Gage’s face morphs into one of regret.
My expression turns to one of confusion at his sudden coldness, wordlessly questioning him.
“Sorry, love,” Gage whispers in my ear before disappearing with me in his possession.
If I stand any straighter, I think it’s possible my spine might snap in two. Of their own accord, my hands clench and unclench at my sides in agitation. I fear if they stop, I might land a hard smack on the cheek of the sexy gargoyle watching me with his unimpressed eyes.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I scream and throw my hands up in dismay.
The protector ignores my outburst. Instead of responding, he takes out a cigarette, rolling it between his thumb and index finger, momentarily distracting me. Damn, he’s alluring when he does that.
“I said I was sorry,” Gage offers unapologetically, yanking me back to the present.
“Take. Me. Back,” I demand.
“No,” he says with finality then pulls out a lighter from the front pocket of his black dress pants. Once the nicotine stick is lit, he drags in a hard inhale, relaxing his face and shoulders.
“Now, Gage.” I narrow my eyes at him.
He pins me with a hard glare and he lets out a long exhale. A cloud of smoke is directed at me, forcing me to fan my hand in front of my face like Miss America does when she starts crying after she’s found out she’s won. Jerk.
“I understand the word no is not something you’re used to hearing, love, since Asher bows at your every whim, but I mean it. So stop arguing with me.” His voice is rough.
“She will die,” I seethe.
His shoulders drop at my statement. “Elizabeth is not under my protection. You are.”
I scoff. “Unreal. NOW you decide to step in and protect me?” What the hell? “What happened to, I don’t babysit, love. You’re a big girl, Eve. Spread those wings and fly, daughter of Heaven.” I mock his previous statements.
He shrugs and places the cigarette in his mouth again. “It pleases me to do so now.”
I fold my arms over my chest and attempt to take on an even angrier stance. He just continues to stand there, unaffected, sucking on his cigarette. Letting it dangle over his infuriating perfect lips. Damn gargoyles.
“Gage,” I fume.
“This wasn’t the plan.”
Gage throws the remains of his cigarette on the concrete sidewalk before stomping on it with his black designer shoes. “No, love, it wasn’t. Plans change. Isn’t that what’s so wonderful about free will, daughter of Heaven?”
We hold one another’s irate glare before a deep tone cuts through our childish stand off.
“In or out?” the gruff, accented voice asks in a short manner.
My eyes shift to the large Samoan man glaring at Gage and I. His thick, tan arms are covered in tribal tattoos and folded across his heavy body. The stranger is guarding a black door with no sign on it. His sudden presence triggers the realization that we’re standing in a back alley, in a city.
“Where are we?” I ask Gage, finally coming to my senses.
“The Midnight Temple,” Gage says cryptically and walks over to the intimidating bodyguard. “Issac, it’s good to see you again, brother.”
Issac doesn’t smile, or move for that matter. To be honest, he looks like he’s about to kill Gage. That unto itself makes him my new favorite person.
“Ua leva tele ona o’u le toe va’ai ia oe,” Issac grunts out in what sounds like Samoan.
“It has been a long time, man. I need to see him,” Gage says. “I’m owed a favor.”
Issac slides his guarded attention toward me before motioning to me with his head.
“O ai lou igoa?” he asks me.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” I state.
“He wants to know your name, love,” Gage explains.
“Oh. Eve. Eve Collins,” I answer and put out my hand to shake his.
Isaac doesn’t take it. His dark brown eyes skate back to Gage. “E le o inei le tama.”
Gage stands straighter and leans in. “Don’t lie to me. I know he’s here. I sense him.”
“E na’o ‘oe?” Isaac questions frostily.
Gage’s expression turns lethal. “Do I look stupid, ma a’u o?”
After an awkward few moments, Issac tilts his head toward the door but doesn’t make any effort to move. Gage grabs my hand and yanks me around the large man. As we pass, my arm briefly brushes Isaac’s, causing the hair on the back of my neck to tingle. He just smirks.
Gage drags me through the steel door into a dark, long hallway. A loud buzzing sound emits from the one small, circular overhead light that’s tinted red, basking the corridor in a burgundy hue. Immediately, the smell of sulfur assaults my nose. I dig my heels into the old, thin black carpet on the floor. Crap. I’m still not wearing shoes.“Where the hell are we?”
“That’s a pretty close assessment, love.” Gage sighs before turning to face me. “At the risk of sounding like the dark prince, in here, you stick by my side. Don’t speak. Don’t move. Don’t breathe, unless I permit it. This place is where darkness comes to play. Understood?”
I hold his intense gaze before giving in. It’s not like Gage to go all protector bossy on me.
“I’m not wearing shoes,” I point out.
Gage ignores the statement. Instead, he roughly snatches my hand again and continues to pull me along, forcing us further into the hall’s darkness.
“Why are we here?” I whisper.
“Christ. Don’t speak unless I speak to you, love,” he growls. “You want Elizabeth back? We do it my way. This is my way.” Why do I get the feeling his way sucks?
This was not at all how this was supposed to go. Aggravated at the change in plans, I stop and rip my hand out of his hold so he’s forced to turn and look at me again. He does.
“Gag—” He cuts me off. With supernatural speed, Gage is in front of me, pinning me to the wall and caging me in with his arms. A shrewd smile crosses his lips as he dips his chin.
“I mean it, love. Not one word unless I give you permission,” he orders.
After a brief moment of defiance, I press my lips together to prove I can behave. Satisfied, Gage pushes off the wall and continues to maneuver us through the shadowy passage and up several flights of stairs.
As we walk, the dim vibrations of a bass flow through me, prompting my curiosity. There must be a nightclub on the other side of the wall.
I keep my eyes trained on Gage’s back while we make our way up the last set of stairs. A snow-white door sits at the top of the landing. The color seems out of place given all the deep burgundy and blacks from the stairwells and hallway decor. Upon approach, I read Media Nocte In Templo spray-painted artistically across the entry. Before Gage knocks, the door swings open and my eyes meet a familiar pair of wild emerald green ones. What the hell?
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she rasps out.
“Sorry we’re late, buttercup.” Gage feigns an apology.
Confused, I look to Gage and then to the pale girl blanketing her face with her long raven hair. The new purple highlights mixed into the glossy dark strands make Nassa, Sorceress of Prosperity, look effortlessly cool. They match her deep purple eyeliner. Longing for my own clothes, I take in her black converse sneakers, black skinny jeans and vintage band t-shirt.
What in the world is going on? I’m about to ask, but a loud squawking noise interrupts my curiosity. At the sound, my focus stops on a black crow sitting on the sorceress’ shoulder. Its wings are silky with sleek deep cobalt streaks running through the raven feathers.
“Noir, meet Eve, daughter of Heaven. Eve, my familiar, Noir.” Nassa introduces us.
I smirk awkwardly at the bird while it tilts its head, assessing me. My life just keeps getting more and more absurd. “You have a pet crow?” I stare at the animal in astonishment.
Gage shoots me a menacing look, probably for speaking out of turn. My eyes widen at him in apology as I motion with my hand that I’m zipping my mouth closed. Fuck, he’s bossy.
“You don’t have to be afraid of him.” She enlightens, reaching up and petting the creature.
“Isn’t he sort of a symbol for death?” I snort, causing the bird to caw at me.
“Christ, love.” I get an aggravated warning from Gage.
“Actually, crows are keepers of the sacred law. They can see our true soul self, representing transcendence. They’re also extremely smart and loyal.” Nassa shifts her focus to me.
I arch my brow in skepticism. “Pretty sure Alfred Hitchcock would disagree.”
At my reference, she rolls her eyes. “If it helps you sleep at night, they mate for life, sunbathe, and can count to six.” The quirky girl explains these points as if they will win me over.
“Fascinating,” I reply warily.
“Noir is simply my familiar, like Malefica, aunt Lunette’s spotted panther,” she adds.
I’d forgotten Nassa was the niece of the eccentric Sorceress Lunette. A member of the Sorceresses of the Black Circle, and one of the Supernatural Royal Court members, as well as, the guardian of the scroll of divination. Oh, and a tantric sex hobbyist who pierced my mate in the most private of spots. My lips tilt at the vision of the slim, blonde haired witch.
“Are you going to invite us in, buttercup?” Gage winks seductively from the doorway.
Nassa glares at him, irritated at the nickname, before stepping aside and motioning us into another hallway. Odd. Before we enter, Nassa steps up to Gage angrily.
“For the record, Gallagher, your mere presence makes me want to puke,” she quips.
Gage just stares at her with a blank expression before leaning toward her ear to speak quietly.
“Gallagher, huh? It’s nice to see you got my name right this time, buttercup. I loathe being confused with God. Oh God…please,” he says in a low, seductive voice.
My eyes slide closed. Well, crap. That can’t be unheard.
Nassa releases a raspy, deep laugh. “Don’t flatter yourself, Gallagher. I was just surprised. Oh God, is that all there is,” she mouths off as I beg the floor to open up and swallow me.
Gage rolls his neck, allowing the loud cracks of his straining bones and muscles to echo off the walls. He ignores her smart remark and snatches my hand, yanking me hard into the corridor as I stumble over my feet.
“Eve needs to clean up. Maybe an outfit and some shoes. Can you help before she meets him?” Gage grits out.
“If you’d release your overprotective grip on her, I’ll get right on that,” Nassa retorts.
“Love, go with Nassa. You have ten minutes.” He releases my hand.
I go to say something snarky, but Gage’s face morphs into one of caution. Damn my promise to keep my mouth shut. Instead, I follow the sorceress into a backroom, where she roughly throws a duffle bag at me. Rummaging thought it I find it’s filled with my own clothes and products, as well as my favorite shoes. My eyes meet hers in question.
“How did you get my things?” I ask.
“Gallagher told me about your little escape plan, so I packed some items I thought you’d need.” She points a dark purple, polished index finger behind me. “There’s a bathroom through that door to freshen up. No offense but you smell like vomit,” she states as a matter of fact.
“Yeah…well, you smell like crow,” I retort.
Her face scrunches. “That isn’t even an insult. You need to spend more time with Kenna.”
I ignore the dig and snatch the bag off the floor then head into the bathroom to change. Ten minutes later, I’m clean and in my own clothes, shoes and all. I open the door to see Nassa sitting on a couch, magazine in hand. Noir stares at me with his beady bird eyes. Creepy.
“Why didn’t you have that thing with you when you were at the summit in London?” I ask.
“Noir doesn’t like flying,” she answers in an even tone, not looking at me.
I study her for a moment to see if she’s joking. She’s not. Is she serious? She has a pet bird that doesn’t like to fly. Awesome. “Where are we?” I change topics.
“Didn’t Gallagher warn you not to speak or ask questions?” Her head tilts, watching me.
“He did. I thought since we know one another, you might be a little more forthcoming with information. My mistake.” I shift uncomfortably, while she focuses on the glossy pages of the fashion magazine. “Are you and Gage an item now, or something?”
Nassa sighs. “New York. You’re in Manhattan. And no we’re not.”
I drop the bag holding my dirty outfit and nod in appreciation. “Thanks.”
She studies me for a moment. “For what it’s worth, I think what you did to Asher was pretty shitty. I’m willing to bet he kills you. Painfully. That said, I respect why you did it. I would do anything to keep my mom safe. So we’re cool. You and me.”
I swallow the painful lump forming in my throat. “Good to know,” I whisper.
Her eyes float around the storage room. “This is my uncle’s club, The Midnight Temple. That’s what the Latin graffiti on the door translates into.”
“Why did Gage bring me here?” I sit down on the worn couch next to her.
Twisting so she can see me, Nassa shrugs. “Probably because my uncle’s a demon lord.”
I knit my brows. “A what?”
“Demon lord. It’s the same as an archangel only for the other team.”
“Your uncle is a demon? I thought you were a sorceress?” I accuse.
“My mom is a sorceress. My dad, Mammon, holds a high position within the demon world. To avoid the look you’re giving me now, I tend to play up the sorceress side. It’s less…freakish. I make more friends that way,” she deadpans with a look of irritation.
“Mammon… Your dad is the demon of greed?” I question in a high-pitched voice.
“You’re in no position to judge. Your dad is the warrior of Heaven,” she throws back.
“Sorry,” I murmur. “Wait, how do you know about Michael?”
“Noir can see your true soul. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me,” Nassa ensures.
“Forgive my mistrust but my ability to read people’s motives isn’t what it used to be.”
“I have nothing to gain by ratting you out, Eve. I live with my mother and the Sorceresses of the Black Circle. My allegiance is to them. I haven’t seen my dad, or my uncle, in a very long time. Nor do I care to engage in what their side believes to be truth,” she explains.
“If your dad is Mammon, who’s your uncle?” I question, not really wanting to know.
“The King of the Nine Hells, one of the original seven princes of Hell. Known to most as the demon of lust,” Nassa answers, holding my eyes.
“Actually, my dear niece, my claim to fame is that I penned the contract of creation,” a baritone intonation cascades over us from the doorway.
At the interruption, both Nassa and I become rigid, shifting our focus to the voice.
“Eve, meet my uncle, Asmodeus.”
About the author and where to find her:
Randi Cooley Wilson is a “New Adult” Paranormal/Fantasy and Contemporary Romance author. Randi was born and raised in Massachusetts where she attended Bridgewater State University and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. After graduation she moved to California where she lived happily bathed in sunshine and warm weather for fifteen years. Randi makes stuff up, devours romance books, drinks lots of wine and coffee, and has a slight addiction to bracelets.
In my world, there is no such thing as love. It is just a lie we whisper into our client’s ear. Love is foreign and hazardous. What I did not expect was to bare my soul to a man who is as egotistical as he is dangerous.
His name is Landon. Despite his blackened soul, he tried to save me, but what he didn’t expect was my torturous fate to catch up with me.
To your father, I’m the escort.
To your mother, I’m the whore.
To the legal system, I’m the prostitute.
In the end, I’m just the other woman.
I have no idea if I will continue to survive, if I will ever find my path aside from the gritty streets I know so well. There is a good chance I will wind up in the ditch like most women in my position. Surrendering to my fate is the only choice I have. I must relinquish it all.
About the author and where to find her:
M.N. Forgy was raised in Missouri where she still lives with her family. She’s a soccer mom by day and a saucy writer by night. M.N. Forgy started writing at a young age but never took it seriously until years later, as a stay-at-home mom, she opened her laptop and started writing again. As a role model for her children, she felt she couldn’t live with the “what if” anymore and finally took a chance on her character’s story. So, with her glass of wine in hand and a stray Barbie sharing her seat, she continues to create and please her fans.
Simon Watson, a young librarian on the verge of losing his job, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home, a house perched on the edge of a bluff that is slowly crumbling toward the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, works for a traveling carnival reading tarot cards and seldom calls.
On a day in late June, Simon receives a mysterious package from an antiquarian bookseller. The book tells the story of Amos and Evangeline, doomed lovers who lived and worked in a traveling circus more than two hundred years ago. The paper crackles with age as Simon turns the yellowed pages filled with notes, sketches, and whimsical flourishes, and his best friend and fellow librarian, Alice, looks on in increasing alarm. Why does his grandmother’s name, Verona Bonn, appear in this book? Why do so many women in his family drown on July 24? Could there possibly be some kind of curse on his family, and could Enola, who has suddenly turned up at home for the first time in six years, risk the same fate in just a few weeks? In order to save her–and perhaps himself–Simon must try urgently to decode his family history while moving on from the past.
My Rating: 2½/5 stars
Every reader has a stack or list of books titled “The Ones I Wanted to Love but Didn’t” and Erika Swyler’s The Book of Speculation now finds itself on my list.
What I Liked:
The concept of this book is pretty sweet: a mysterious book with little to no identifying information makes its way into the hands of librarian, Simon Watson. Simon is drawn to the book and once he begins to research it, he discovers his family is intimately tied to the book and its history. Simon’s family has a long and tragic history he is desperate to not only understand but overcome. If Simon can pull all of the puzzle pieces together, he just might be able to save himself and his sister from a tragic fate that has befallen so many before them.
The alternating time periods/chapters is a favored writing device for me. The Book of Speculation moves back and forth between the present and the past as described in the book Simon has been given. The alternating time periods allows the author to weave the past and the present together into one cohesive story and I generally find this a most entertaining form of storytelling.
What I Didn’t Like:
I really struggled with the pacing of this book and it took me a lot longer than necessary to get through this read. The pacing is very slow and even in moments when there is considerable action, the pace barely picks up. I found myself only able to read 2-4 chapters at a time because of this.
In most books I like the majority of the characters (and dislike those the author wants me too) but I found it very difficult to like any of the characters in this read. Every character in this read is seriously depressed (or angry) over one issue or another and as the plot unfolds and the past and the present begin to merge, the sadness (and anger) becomes overwhelming. Yes, I totally appreciate these characters are dealing with a tragic past and current set of circumstances but even in the darkest of times, something good happens once in a while. This is not the case with this read.
Repetition makes me crazy and The Book of Speculation is riddled with repetition. In nearly every chapter at least a portion of the information is repeated and while that is sometime necessary (in a very complicated plot, for example), it certainly isn’t necessary in every chapter nor is it necessary for this read. At some point I realized I could skip over parts of the chapter because I already knew what was coming. Did this in any way cause me to miss a part of the read or not understand some aspect of the story down the road? No.
Finally, though there is no cliffhanger to this read I still found the ending to be thoroughly unsatisfying. Yes, all of the major questions are answered and the mystery is solved but the fate of the characters doesn’t feel at all settled, as if there is something more that needs to be explained about their circumstances.
The Bottom Line: The synopsis for this book drew me in instantly but I found it very difficult to stay with this read. To be clear, I finished this book but I found it hard to want to read and that is generally a very good indicator regarding how much or how little I like a book. Based on the book’s concept, The Book of Speculation should have been a book I was sucked into and only spit back out of after a single marathon read. Unfortunately, too many issues kept this book from being something I enjoyed and will keep it from being a read I would recommend to others.