Review: Until Harry by L.A. Casey

until-harry

Until Harry by L.A. Casey. Print Length, 322 pages, publication Date: July 19, 2016 by Montlake Romance, ISBN: 1503936600, ASIN: B01B6E6OHQ

Goodreads

Coming home is hard for Lane. Hard because Harry, her beloved uncle, has died suddenly, but also because of him. Kale.  Kale Hunt has been her best friend since childhood. But it was never that simple. He was Lane’s reason for leaving home and moving to New York. Seeing him with someone else, in love with someone else, shouldn’t have hurt. But it did. It really, really did. So she upped sticks and left, started a new life and cut herself off from her past.  But now she’s back, and all the feelings are right there. As if she had never left.  Emotions are running high for everyone, and tragedy has a funny way of bringing people together. But is Lane reading the signs right? Are they still just friends, or is there something more? 

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

When she was just ten years old, Lane knew with a bone deep certainty that she loved her best friend, Kale.  Kale protected Lane at school when she needed it, he talked with her about everything important in life, and he chased away the monsters that liked to hide in Lane’s closet.  Yes, Lane was certain she loved Kale.

Fast forward a lot of years . . . . . .

Living in New York all alone isn’t an easy road, but for her own security and sanity, Lane has spent the last handful of years doing just that.  She has a quiet little apartment, a good job as an editor, and just a few close friends to keep her company when the loneliness begins to overwhelm her.  Other than her beloved Uncle Harry, Lane’s family no longer speaks to her, and Kale is nothing but a very painful and often crippling memory.  For a girl who was once Velcroed to her family and home, being separated is a special kind of misery that was brought on out of necessity rather than desire.

Rewind a lot of years . . . . .

At ten years old, Lane was sure her relationship with her family would never be anything other than loving and supportive.  Additionally, she never saw a time when her relationship with Kale would go sideways and leave her devastated.  But, at ten years old, circumstances and the world had yet to bite Lane squarely and viciously on the ass.  As the years rolled by, Lane’s feelings for Kale grew stronger than ever and Kale’s feelings seemed to cool.  He dated other girls, he partied with her brothers, but he never reciprocated in the feelings department.  Until the night he got drunk, banged his best friend, said everything Lane had been waiting years to hear, and then dramatically and loudly regretted the whole experience the next morning.  Yeah, that’s good for the ego!!  As if that weren’t enough, over the course of the next few years, Kale gets in deep with one girl in particular, Lane begins to act out in response, and several terribly upsetting (and somewhat terrifying) events unfold that leave Lane feeling like an emotional wasteland.  In the wake of everything and with the help and support of just her Uncle Harry, Lane packs her bags and heads to the States.  Never did she imagine she would be back home but fate and the universe have a way of righting the wrongs of the past.  Even if that righting is born out of even more tragedy.

The Bottom Line:  Until Harry is my first L.A. Casey read and I can assure you, I’ll be coming back for more.  This read has so many things that I truly love in my contemporary romance novels.  There is the movement back and forth between the present and the past, there is a troubled and damn-near broken sexy man, there is a wonderfully endearing character, there is loads of drama mixed with some moments of pure joy, and most importantly, there is a character the author was absolutely able to change my stubborn mind about.  Finally, there is the fact that Casey made me cry.  I hate crying and I actually don’t do it all that often but at about the 75% point of this read, I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.  From this point right on through to the end, I cried like a b*tch and loved every single minute of it.  From start to finish this is a tightly written read that has a lot of weaving going on: the past and the present, the characters, and the various plot lines that all connect and come together at some point in the read.  The pace is quick so you aren’t mired down in the drama and the end is totally worth all the tears. 

P.S. I absolutely refused to call the sexy, hot, damn-near broken man, Kale.  I just couldn’t wrap my brain around calling someone that sexy by a name that also refers to a stinky, gross vegetable.  In my head, he was Kade 🙂

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About the author and where to find her:

l-a-caseyL.A. Casey is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who juggles her time between her mini-me and writing. She was born, raised and currently resides in Dublin, Ireland. She enjoys chatting with her readers, who love her humour and Irish accent as much as her books.  Casey’s first book, DOMINIC, was independently published in 2014 and became an instant success on Amazon. She is both traditionally and independently published and is represented by Mark Gottlieb from Trident Media Group.   To read more about this author, visit her website at www.lacaseyauthor.com

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Review: The Crêpes of Wrath (Book #1: Pancake House Mystery Series) by Sarah Fox

The Crepes of Wrath

Title: The Crêpes of Wrath Series: Book #1: Pancake House Mystery Author: Sarah Fox Format: ebook, 240 pages Published: August 16, 2016 by Alibi ISBN: 042528509X

goodreads

When Marley McKinney’s aging cousin, Jimmy, is hospitalized with pneumonia, she agrees to help run his pancake house while he recovers. With its rustic interior and syrupy scent, the Flip Side Pancake House is just as she pictured it—and the surly chef is a wizard with crêpes. Marley expects to spend a leisurely week or two in Wildwood Cove, the quaint, coastal community where she used to spend her summers, but then Cousin Jimmy is found murdered, sprawled on the rocks beneath a nearby cliff.  After she stumbles across evidence of stolen goods in Jimmy’s workshop, Marley is determined to find out what’s really going on in the not-so-quiet town of Wildwood Cove. With help from her childhood crush and her adopted cat, Flapjack, Marley sinks her teeth into the investigation. But if she’s not careful, she’s going to get burned by a killer who’s only interested in serving up trouble.

 Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 3½/5 stars

My Review:

There are worse ways to pass the time than waitressing at a pancake house in the cozy little seaside town of Wildwood Cove.  One of those worse ways is when your cousin, whom you were helping out with the waitressing, drops dead – with a little help – shortly after being released from the hospital.

To say Marley McKinney didn’t see her time in Wildwood Cove going the way it has wouldn’t even come close.  When her cousin, Jimmy called for some help with his diner, the Flip Side Pancake House, Marley was more than willing to help out.  As a child, Marley spent her summers in Wildwood Cove and the chance to spend a couple of weeks there as an adult sounds quite lovely.  In just a few short weeks, the locals have gotten to know Marley and she feels right at home.  Running the Flip Side is tiring but rewarding work but Marley is managing with the help of a few friends and a surly cook who is genius in the kitchen.

When Jimmy is found dead, Marley’s world is turned upside down.  By all accounts, Jimmy had no enemies but then there’s the small bit of blood near his front porch, the stolen goods in his suspiciously locked up tight garage, and the ongoing strange happenings with several Wildwood Cove residents.  There’s the crazy ex-girlfriend, the uber-wealthy land developer who has made no secret of his plans to “improve” the sleepy little coastal town, and that one sketchy couple that no one really seems to trust.  For every question Marley answers, three or four more seem to pop up and at every turn she feels even further away from solving the mystery of Jimmy’s death.

As Marley gets deeper and deeper into the murder mystery, she also has to deal with some big life decisions.  She keeps running into her childhood crush who is yummier than ever and quite unexpectedly, she has to decide just how at home she really feels in Wildwood Cove since Jimmy left her not only the Flip Side but his home and cat too.  Emotions are high, the danger is real, and if Marley is able to come out the other side unscathed, she might just have a whole new life for herself.

The Bottom Line: Sarah Fox has convinced me of the goodness of the cozy mystery genre. The Crêpes of Wrath is an easy book to fall into and with the constant question asking from Marley, it’s perfectly easy to keep track of all the action and developments.  Wildwood Cove is populated with some very nice people, some very weird people, some very crazy people, and one downright cruel person.  The mix of personalities that all come together in the Flip Side Pancake House make The Crêpes of Wrath a really interesting and fun read.  Now that the groundwork is there, I think the forthcoming books are going to be even better and I’m certainly looking forward to diving in.

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About the author and where to find her:

Sarha FoxSarah Fox, writer of cozy mysteries, was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, where she developed a love for mysteries at a young age. When not writing novels or working as a legal writer she is often reading her way through a stack of books or spending time outdoors with her English Springer Spaniel.  Sarah is the author of the Music Lover’s Mysteries and The Pancake House Mysteries.

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Review: The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel

The Roanoke Girls

Title: The Roanoke Girls Author: Amy Engel Print Length: 288 pages Expected Publication: March 7, 2017 by Crown ASIN: B01GYQ058A

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After her mother’s suicide, fifteen year-old Lane Roanoke came to live with her grandparents and fireball cousin, Allegra, on their vast estate in rural Kansas. Lane knew little of her mother’s mysterious family, but she quickly embraced life as one of the rich and beautiful Roanoke girls. But when she discovered the dark truth at the heart of the family, she ran…fast and far away.   Eleven years later, Lane is adrift in Los Angeles when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra has gone missing. Did she run too? Or something worse? Unable to resist his pleas, Lane returns to help search, and to ease her guilt at having left Allegra behind. Her homecoming may mean a second chance with the boyfriend whose heart she broke that long ago summer. But it also means facing the devastating secret that made her flee, one she may not be strong enough to run from again.   As it weaves between Lane’s first Roanoke summer and her return, The Roanoke Girls shocks and tantalizes, twisting its way through revelation after mesmerizing revelation, exploring the secrets families keep and the fierce and terrible love that both binds them together and rips them apart.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4½/5 stars

My Review:

There are a few known facts about Roanoke girls:

1)   They are all cut from the same mold with the same eyes, same hair, same gorgeous appearance

2)   They all harbor some very dark secrets

3)   They are hard to get close and even harder to love

4)   If they don’t run away, they die

Lane Roanoke has never met her extended family and if her mother can hang on long enough, Lane will never have to meet them.  The only thing Lane really knows about her extended family is that her mother hates them and they are the reason she has spent most of her pathetic life depressed, angry, and utterly incapable of loving her own daughter.  When her mother finally (yes, finally is the right word here!) commits suicide, Lane figures going to live with her extended family can’t be as bad as the foster care system.

From the moment she arrives at her mother’s childhood home, Lane feels the tension and sadness that permeates the Roanoke home.  Her cousin, Allegra, is beautiful yet abrasive, her grandmother is cold and standoffish, and her grandfather is at once oblivious and attentive.  In the weeks that follow, Lane learns more than she ever wanted to know about her relatives as Allegra is quick to tell Lane of the family’s tragic past and the fate of the women and girls who have come before.  Both Allegra and Lane are certain they will be strong enough to survive and defy fate but fate is relentless and determined and by the end of the summer, Lane knows that if she doesn’t run, she’s going to die.

Though she regrets leaving Allegra behind, in just one summer Lane learned far too much about her family’s dark and dirty secrets to stay.  For eleven years, Lane has managed to avoid any and all contact with her family, but when her grandfather calls to tell her Allegra is missing, Lane has no choice but to go home.  The minute Lane sets foot inside the Roanoke home, she knows there is something horribly wrong.  She also knows the truth is never going to come out if she doesn’t dig in and do some investigating of her own.  Sadly, Lane knows there are few who will truly mourn the loss of Allegra so her investigation turns up very few clues.  In order to find out what happened to her cousin, Lane is going to have to delve deep into the past and pray she is strong enough to deal with whatever it is she discovers.

For many, the trip down memory lane can be a pleasant and comforting experience.  For Lane, it is a journey into sadness, abuse, truly twisted beliefs, and the stories of women and girls who all eventually succumbed to a monster.  As she is investigating, Lane encounters the people of her past who can tell her of Allegra and her life in the past decade that Lane has been gone.  One of those people is Cooper, her first in so many respects and the boy she nearly destroyed when she ran.  Cooper, still strong and beautiful even after all these years wants Lane back in his bed and his life but knows that can’t happen until the demons of their respective pasts have been faced and defeated.  For the healing to begin and a future to be possible, Cooper has to help Lane discover the truth about Allegra’s disappearance and be there to pick up the pieces when the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

The Bottom Line:  The Roanoke Girls is one seriously twisted read!  Engel has created a family that is so mired in abuse and misery, circumstances that have literally existed for decades that they can no longer see the horror they inflict on one another.  Run aways, suicides, perpetual grief, and secrecy are the norm until the summer Lane comes to stay.  As a virtual outsider, Lane has a whole different perspective on the situation which is how the awful eventually comes to light.  In order for the reader to understand the present, the reader must also understand the past which means Engel shifts between the present and the past in alternating chapters.  Mixed in between these chapters are chapters told from the perspective of dead Roanoke girls; the individual stories about the circumstances leading to their eventual deaths.  While this may sound like a lot of shifting (and it is!) each chapter and each character reveals a bit more, that is, sheds a bit more light on what has likely happened to Allegra.  Make no mistake, this is not a light read at all and it deals with some really nasty issues that will most certainly upset some readers.  With that being said, I enjoyed (???) this read and found it to be quite captivating.  There is a bit of a slow start but once you work out the pattern of shifting and Lane really begins to dive into the mystery of her cousin’s disappearance, it is hard to put this one down.  In all, a good if significantly dark offering from Amy Engel.

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About the author:

Amy EngelAmy Engel is the author of THE BOOK OF IVY young adult series. A former criminal defense attorney, she lives in Missouri with her family. THE ROANOKE GIRLS is her first novel for adults.

Guest Post and Excerpt: In the Line of Duty (Book #7: Detective Madison Knight Series) by Carolyn Arnold

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In the Line of Duty (Book #7: Detective Madison Knight Series) by Carolyn Arnold.  Published September 29, 2016 by HIbbert and Stiles Publishing, Inc.  Approx. 292 pages, ASIN: B01HZVSQPW, ISBN (e-book): 9 978-1-988353-22-7, ISBN (print): 978-1-988353-23-4, ISBN (hardcover): 978-1-988353-25-8

Purple Goodreads

He devoted his life to seeking justice. But would she get any for him?  It was an ordinary day for police officer Barry Weir. It was the end of shift, he was tired, and he just wanted to get home to his wife and kids. But someone had other plans for him, shooting him down and forcing him to make the ultimate sacrifice.  When news of Weir’s murder reaches the department, it leaves Detective Madison Knight and every cop in the Stiles PD itching for revenge. It cuts Madison’s boyfriend, colleague, and Weir’s childhood friend, Troy Matthews, deepest of all, driving him away from everyone he loves just when they need one another the most.  With evidence pointing to a gang-related drive-by, Madison and her team investigate the town’s seedy underbelly in search of justice for their fallen brother. But the deeper they dig, the more convoluted the case becomes. Now they need to figure out if this was a random shooting as part of a gang initiation, a straight-up hate crime, or a targeted kill. But with members of the Stiles PD under attack, they have to do it fast…before more officers pay with their lives.

graphic

Guest Post: For the Love of Police

Police officers and departments are especially hot topics right now, whether it be in regards to police brutality or the use of excessive force. It seems there is a clear line between people who respect them and people who despise them. But how does that choice come to be?  We all make decisions based on information that comes our way, but what if everything we read in the media about police taking harsh action isn’t correct? What if these articles are book-cover-thingymissing key intel? Unless we were in an officer’s shoes, how can we really know what transpired?  All of us have played—or at least are familiar with—the telephone game. In this, it’s easy to see how a message changes as it moves down the line. The same, too, I would suspect, is the case when it comes to reporting. But that’s only one way that information can get garbled, making it uncertain and difficult to claim as truth. Reports are also often colored by the viewpoint of a source. If that source is prejudiced against the police, it will immediately taint his or her reaction to a situation; before knowing any facts, the police will be cast in an unfavorable light.  I’m not saying that police always make the right decisions; they are human, after all. There are even some corrupt cops. However, I feel that people need to appreciate that unless they are there, in the moment, there’s no way of truly knowing why a certain course of action was taken.  As a result of my own respect for law enforcement, I have dedicated In the Line of Duty to all the fine men and women who serve or have served, and in memory of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. While most of us would run from gunfire, they run toward it. That right there is enough to warrant my respect. Just imagine what the world would be like without police. In two words, utter chaos.  –Carolyn Arnold

Excerpt from In the Line of Duty (Book #7: Detective Madison Knight Series):  

In the hallway, Troy leaned against a wall and waited as the ringtone drilled into his ear.

Answer the damn phone…

 “You’ve reached the voice mail for Chief Fletcher…”

He hung up and redialed. She should be back from her vacation by now. What time had she said her flight was getting in?

Someone picked up on the other end of the line. “Chief Fletcher here.” She sounded groggy, as if he’d woken her up.

“Where are you?” he rushed out.

“Hotel near the airport. We just got in. What’s going on?”

“Something has happened.” The words came out soft-spoken and dry

“That doesn’t sound good.” He could imagine his sister sitting up in bed and turning on the light on her night table.

“It’s Barry…” His throat constricted. This would be his first time verbalizing what had happened.

His sister’s voice was gentle and caring. “What about Barry?”

“He’s dead.” He delivered the news directly, unable to water it down no matter how much it hurt.

“What? How?” she asked, her tone switching quickly to one of shock.

“He was shot this morning while on duty.” He got through telling her the basics, the facts draining so much from him.

“Wake up, Robert,” his sister said distantly. He heard his brother-in-law moan in the background.

“We’re leaving now. I’ll be in as soon as possible. Has there been a briefing yet?”

“In ten minutes.”

“Has the shooter been caught?”

At his sister’s question, his insides pulsed with adrenaline and determination. No matter what it took from him, he would find Barry’s killer.

“Troy? Has the shooter been caught?” she repeated, a subtle beep in the background of the line.

“Not yet.”

Another beep. “Someone’s calling. I better let you go.” Her voice was withdrawn, and Troy imagined her pulling her phone out to consult the caller ID. “It’s Winston. See you soon.” His sister hung up before he could say anything else. He put his phone away, the ache in his chest now almost unbearable.

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The Madison Knight Series:

Murder. Investigation. The pursuit of justice. Do you love trying to figure out whodunit? How about investigating alongside police detectives from the crime scene to the forensics lab and everywhere in between? Do you love a strong female lead? Then I invite you to meet Detective Madison Knight as she solves murders with her male partner, utilizing good old-fashioned investigative work aided by modern technology.  This is the perfect book series for fans of Law & OrderCSIBlue BloodsRizzoli & IslesWomen’s Murder Club, and Hawaii Five-O.  

Read in any order or follow the series from the beginning: Ties That Bind, Justified, Sacrifice, Found Innocent, Just Cause, Deadly Impulse, In the Line of Duty, Life Sentence (Bonus Prequel).

About the author and where to find her:

carolyn-arnold

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.  Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™. Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.  She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime.

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Review: First Position by Melissa Brayden

First Position

Title: First Position Author: Melissa Brayden Print Length: 264 pages Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Published: August 16, 2016 ASIN: B01ICMAK0W

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Anastasia Mikhelson is the rising star of the New York City Ballet. She’s sacrificed creature comforts, a social life, as well as her own physical well-being for perfection in dance. Even her reputation as The Ice Queen doesn’t faze her. Though Ana’s at the peak of her career, competition from a new and noteworthy dancer puts all she’s worked for in jeopardy.   While Natalie Frederico has shown herself to be a prodigy when it comes to ballet, she much prefers modern dance and living on her own terms. Life is too short for anything else. However, when the opportunity to dance with the New York City Ballet is thrust upon her, it’s not like she could say no. Dealing with the company’s uptight lead is another story, however. When the two are forced to work side-by-side, sparks begin to fly onstage and off.

Source: Netgalley
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
My Review:

Ana Mikhelson (aka Frozen) is now and has always been focused on one thing, becoming a principle dancer with the New York City Ballet. Her life has been spent in the pursuit of this dream and nothing is going to stop her from achieving her goal. Each and every day, Ana pushes herself, she pushes her body, she uses her precious free time on review and extra practice, and denies herself every comfort. Within the company, Ana has only colleagues and no friends and until Natalie, that was a situation she was completely comfortable with.

Natalie Frederico loves to dance and has spent her life in the pursuit of her kind of dance. Though she is a classically trained dancer, Natalie has always found ballet to be too restrictive, too formal so when the New York City Ballet comes calling, Natalie isn’t sure she’s exactly cut out for the job. When she arrives in New York, Natalie is stunned to learn she will be given a lead role in a new show, in large part because of the emotion, the passion she brings to her performances. The only condition, she has to share the lead with the company Ice Queen, Ana, and they are meant to work together and learn from one another.

Ana’s technique is flawless, superb even, but she has never been able to bring any real life or emotion to her performances. Though Ana isn’t happy about having to share her lead role, even she has to admit, when Natalie dances, it is a sight to be seen. Natalie is fierce, uninhibited, and dances the music. Her technique may be far from flawless but Natalie’s performance, her presence on stage is phenomenal. Yeah, Ana can learn from that. On the flip side of this little arrangement is Natalie’s aforementioned far from flawless technique. Ana’s technique is above reproach and with a little hard work and some well-placed pointers, she is able to help Natalie shore up her own performance.

As the days and weeks go by, the entire company begins to notice some big changes in both Ana and Natalie. Frozen is thawing just a bit and Natalie’s technique is getting better and better. The two women feed off one another in the best way possible and that feeding carries over into their personal lives as well. There is no denying the attraction between the two women – it’s damn-near electric – but there are complications on both sides. Natalie is involved with another woman and Ana simply doesn’t do anything (or anyone) that might derail her career plans. Because life is generally feast or famine and the universe has a nasty sense of humor, the two women aren’t allowed to deal with just one thing at a time but a whole slew of crap simultaneously. There’s the personal, there’s the professional, and there’s the universe hates us.

The Bottom Line: First Position is my first Melissa Brayden read and I will absolutely be coming back for more of her brand of writing!! I totally enjoyed this book from start to finish. Ana and Natalie are both entirely likeable characters whose strengths and weaknesses work well together; they truly are an excellent pairing. There is just enough of the personal, the professional, and the universe hates us all mixed together, blended and balanced to keep the read moving at a strong and steady pace. There aren’t any lags or slow spots in the read and it doesn’t rush to the end as if Hell is on a horse chasing everyone. There are some naughty bits in this read and they match the everything else in the novel, strong, steady, and balanced with just the right mix of naughty and nice. Overall, First Position is a book I looked forward to getting back to each time I was forced to stop reading. Furthermore, there is a nice cast of secondary characters in this book that I would happily read about should the author choose to move this first book into a longer, more in depth series.

P.S. First Position has a truly excellent epilogue. I really like it when an author uses an epilogue to such a fantastic degree 🙂

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About the author and where to find her:

Melissa BraydenMelissa Brayden is a multi-award winning author of seven lesbian romance novels and hard at work on her eighth. After ten years working in educational theatre, she has recently graduated with her MFA in Directing from Texas State University and is embracing life as a full time writer. 
Melissa works really hard at remembering to do the dishes. For personal enjoyment, she spends time with her Jack Russell Terriers and checks out the NYC theatre scene several times a year. She considers herself a reluctant patron of the treadmill, but thoroughly enjoys hitting a tennis ball around in nice weather. Coffee is her very best friend. http://www.melissabrayden.com

Review: The Confectioner’s Tale by Laura Madeleine

The Confectioner's Tale

Title: The Confectioner’s Tale Author: Laura Madeleine Format: Paperback, 336 pages Published: May 21, 2015 by Black Swan ISBN: 1784160725

goodreads

At the famous Patisserie Clermont in Paris, 1909, a chance encounter with the owner’s daughter has given one young man a glimpse into a life he never knew existed: of sweet cream and melted chocolate, golden caramel and powdered sugar, of pastry light as air.  But it is not just the art of confectionery that holds him captive, and soon a forbidden love affair begins.  Almost eighty years later, an academic discovers a hidden photograph of her grandfather as a young man with two people she has never seen before. Scrawled on the back of the picture are the words ‘Forgive me’. Unable to resist the mystery behind it, she begins to unravel the story of two star-crossed lovers and one irrevocable betrayal.

Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

For the wealthy in 1909-1910ish Paris, the place for the most delectable, most elegant, most impressive, most delicious treats could be found at one place and one place only, the Patisserie Clermont.  The confections that come from the kitchen of the Patisserie are as much art as they are food and it is no wonder Gui is drawn to the site.

Gui fully expected his life to be nothing more than hard labor as a railroad worker but his expectations were radically altered the night he met Mademoiselle Clermont.  In what will eventually be a moment that haunts him for nearly a decade, Gui bargains for a job at the Patisserie so that he may learn the trade and be closer to the woman he is so fascinated by.  In the weeks that follow Gui works harder than he ever has in his life and learns everything he can about the confection business.  The work is grueling, the standards are extraordinary, and it is all worth it for those stolen moments with Mademoiselle.  In those stolen moments, the most unlikely pair develop a real affection for one another but their stations in life prevent even a casual friendship let alone a love affair.  Their only hope to be together is to run and though they have a plan in place, circumstances beyond their control threaten their love and lives together.

Meanwhile, in the modernish world . . . .

Some 80 years later, a young scholar, Petra begins digging into the life of her famous (and recently deceased) grandfather only to find a picture with the words “forgive me” written on the back.  Unwilling to think the worst of her grandfather, Petra starts down a road she just can’t give up despite the advice of nearly everyone around her.  Her research leads to dead end after dead end until that one glorious moment when the way is clear and the answers are within her reach.  What Petra finds is a side of her grandfather she never knew existed.  His friendship with a young French couple in pre-war France, his misguided belief in his involvement in their separation, and his life-long attempts to make amends for the sins he committed as a young man. 

The Bottom Line:  I was drawn to this title for several reasons: 1) the gorgeous cover, 2) the title and, 3) the meeting of past and present.  What I got was a sure delivery on the gorgeousness of the cover, the promise of the title, and the beautiful blending of the past and the present.  For me, this story is all about Gui and Mademoiselle Clermont, how they overcame so many obstacles to eventually reach their HEA.  The fact that you don’t find out how their story ends until the very last pages of the read had me holding on and flipping pages furiously hoping this story would have the HEA it deserves.  The writing style is very much in the vein of historical fiction which makes it something I knew would appeal to me.  My only, very tiny complaint is that sometimes the pace gets a bit slow but those moments are few and far between.  In all, The Confectioner’s Tale is a sweet read on nearly every level.

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Review: Resisting Samantha (Book #10: Hope Parish Series) by Zoe Dawson

Resisting Samantha

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Samantha Wharton had escaped New York City to settle in Suttontowne and run Imogene’s, a quaint and historical eatery, struggling with a devastating painful past. She thought her heart had died along with her family, but when she meets Chase Sutton, the fallen son of the town’s founder, she cannot seem to hang onto her bruised and battered heart.  Chase Sutton was tired of being told what to do and whom to know. After the discovery of a devastating family secret, he left his life completely behind and opened up a bait and tackle shop supplying seafood to the local merchants. The simple life suits him fine. It isn’t until falls into Samantha’s sad eyes that he realizes what he’s lost. But how can he offer Samantha a future when he hasn’t dealt with his own past?

Source: Author and Purchase

My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

When I started this read my first thought was, “FINALLY! We finally get Chase’s story.”  As a devoted fan of this series, I have waited patiently (most of the time) to find out what Chase Sutton’s story really is and finally, the wait is over. 

It seems like Chase Sutton has always been a looming presence in the Hope Parish series but he’s rarely ever been a huge part of any of the reads.  All we really know for certain is that Chase wasn’t willing to follow his daddy’s mandates any longer and chose to leave the safety and security of his home for a life of his own choosing in the bayou.  Since he left home, Chase has kept to himself but managed to build a successful and thriving business.  Though he has rarely ever been truly lonely, he has started consider the emotion since the moment he saw Samantha Wharton.

Though not a local, Samantha Wharton has been heartily and warmly welcomed to Suttontowne.  Since her arrival, Samantha has single-handedly restored and revived a favored local eatery, Imogene’s and her cooking is something even the most uppity rave about.  Though she’s friendly at work and certainly enjoys her job and her customers, there is a sadness about Samantha that only Chase seems capable of seeing.  He doesn’t know her story, but for the first time in a very long time, Chase wants to get close to someone.  Knowing he can’t do that with a restaurant full of people, Chase arranges his delivery schedule so Imogene’s is the last of the day. 

The time Samantha and Chase get to spend together quickly becomes a favorite part of each’s day.  Each finds the other easy to talk to, comforting to be around, and exceedingly attractive.  For Samantha, opening up to another person after being alone for so long is scary, but Chase make her feel safe and protected so when strange things start happening late at night at the restaurant, she turns to Chase.  The strange things are just that, strange happenings and if Samantha didn’t have Chase, she would begin to wonder about her sanity.  To further complicate matters, Samantha’s past seems to be coming back to haunt her and if that is the case, it’s not just Samantha’s life that is at stake.  With any luck, some of the skills Samantha developed during her old life will come back to her if and when the need arises. 

Chase’s relationship with Samantha is about the only truly good thing in his life.  Though he has removed himself from the drama of his family, Suttontowne is small and it is hard to avoid everyone all the time.  Furthermore, there are those nosy Outlaw triplets who seem to think now might be as good a time as any to make amends with his family.  Though Chase would rather have a root canal without anesthesia, even he acknowledges it may be time for a reconciliation especially after he hears Samantha’s story.  Life is short, as Samantha so tragically learned and harboring old hates and holding grudges could very easily become regrets. 

The Bottom Line: What a wonderful story for a character I have been waiting patiently (most of the time) for.  That cover tells the story of Chase’s sexy side but there’s all those other sides that get revealed through this read.  Chase had very real reasons for leaving his family behind and it isn’t until he meets Samantha that he realizes precisely what he gave up.  Make no mistake, there are issues that have to be worked out but with Samantha by his side, anything seems possible.  As for Samantha, she is a truly interesting character and with the totally fun spins Dawson throws into her storyline, well, let’s just say Samantha is all kinds of awesome.  I also need to touch on the totally fun spins Dawson drops I this read.  For the first time, Dawson really delves into some of the supernatural history of the location and that makes for a really excellent twist.  In all, Dawson is still bringing a loads of fresh and awesome to the table even at ten books into the series.

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About the author and where to find her:

Zoe DawsonZoe Dawson is the alter ego of Karen Anders, award winning, multi-published author. Her writing journey started with poetry and branched out into fiction. With a couple of college English courses under her belt, she penned a historical, then moved onto contemporary romance fiction. Today, she is happy producing romantic suspense, romantic mystery, urban fantasy and paranormal novels. The words feed her soul and the happily ever afters feed her heart.

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