Fav Romance Reads

Some of my favorite romance reads for your spring reading by Jackie McMurray.

A Fireproof Home for the brideWomen’s Fiction – A Fireproof Home for the Bride by Amy Scheibe

A compelling coming-of-age story set in North Dakota and Minnesota during the 1950s. Scheibe tackles the unsettling themes of family secrets, racial unrest, and small town politics through the main character, Emmaline Nelson. Unlike many other young women in the 1950s, Emmaline wants more for herself than settling down with a man and raising a family. She lands a job at the newspaper office as a switchboard operator. She dreams of becoming a reporter. Little does she know that her research for the newspaper leads her to painful family secrets.

This story stayed with me for a long time.

Chasing VictoryParanormal Romantic Suspense – Chasing Victory, The Winters Sisters, Book 1 by Joanne Jaytanie

There are no whimpering females or laid-back males in Jaytanie’s debut novel, Chasing Victory. Instead, the reader gets a fast-paced suspense populated by a kick-ass heroine, a determined military undercover agent, and a murderous villain.

In Chasing Victory, Jaytanie seamlessly managed to weave elements of three genres together—paranormal, romance, and suspense—into one neat package.

Chasing Victory is the first book in the Winters Sisters Series, and while each book in the series can stand alone, I recommend you start with this book and read your way through each book in the series.

UnknownSweet Contemporary Romance/Chick Lit – Fooling Around with Cinderella, A Storybook Valley Novel by Stacy Juba

The story loosely follows the tale of Cinderella, including two sisters who take advantage of the heroine, Jaine Andersen. Her prince, Dylan Callahan, is the general manager of Storybook Valley. When Jaine approaches him to propose hiring her to do the park’s marketing, he agrees, but only if she’ll finish the summer season as the park’s Cinderella before she moves into the marketing position.  Juba’s writing style is witty and her ability to keep the reader in the storybook world is great. I can’t wait for the next book in this series.

 

51jZ10-qpfL._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_Historical Romance – Save My Place by Olivia deBelle Byrd

Olivia deBelle Byrd takes the reader on an emotional ride with the ever hopeful heroine, Elisabeth Belle Sterling, a Southern woman through and through. The book is based on the real life events of a friend of the author and told from Elisabeth’s point of view. The book starts with Elisabeth’s proclamation that she will be a spinster. She’s only twenty-two, but she’s determined to stay a spinster after her college boyfriend dumps her right after graduation. She believes nothing can sway her, that is, until she meets Kincaid Patterson on a blind date.

Save My Place is a story of faith, hope, and unconditional love. The narrator’s voice is compelling and leads the reader through a maze of highs and lows in a manner that had me feeling what she felt—laughter, relief, frustration, anger, love and loss.

51dWKH7G5NL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_Christian Western Romance – Convince Me Cowboy: A Bellham Romance by Danita Cahill

Convince Me Cowboy starts with all the reasons Shay Monahan will not fall for a cowboyagain—especially not a rodeo cowboy. Her heart was already broken when she discovered the rodeo cowboy she married was sowing his oats across the rodeo circuit. Now that she is divorced, she dismisses the notion of ever dating a cowboy again.

Cahill does a fine job of giving the reader both points of view of the main characters who both do a great deal of trying to talk themselves out of falling for the other while being thrown together into some intimate moments.

I loved the setting. I could feel the grit on my teeth at the rodeo grounds and visualize the horsesand the ranches. Convince Me Cowboy is a clean romance that kept my attention while I waited for the heroine to sort through her trepidation. There’s just something about cowboys, isn’t there?

Reviews provided by Jackie McMurray.

New Release: SATIN DOLL by Joe Cosentino

SatinDollcoverJoe Cosentino talks about his new release, SATIN DOLL, a Jana Lane mystery.

As a child I loved child stars like Shirley Temple, Hayley Mills, and Patty Duke, seeing their movies over and over. I remember my parents dragging me out of the movie theatre kicking and screaming after three showings of The Parent Trap. They still remind me of that! So I created a heroine who was the biggest child star ever making a comeback personally and professionally—and solving murders along the way.

I find it fascinating how Jana uses the skills she learned as a child star to solve the crimes. In PAPER DOLL Jana at thirty-eight lives with her family in a mansion in picturesque Hudson Valley, New York. Her flashbacks from the past become murder attempts in her future. Forced to summon up the lost courage she had as a child, Jana ventures back to Hollywood, which helps her uncover a web of secrets about everyone she loves. She also embarks on a romance with the devilishly handsome son of her old producer, Rocco Cavoto.

The series takes place in the 1980’s and Jana lives in a gorgeous mansion in beautiful Hudson Valley, New York. In SATIN DOLL, it is 1983, so I included a great deal of history, music, and fashion from that era like Flashdance, “Maniac,” layered hair, parachute pants, shoulder pads, lace gloves. I love that period! I was also able to include Karen Carpenter’s death, the still new AIDS epidemic and the devastation it caused when ignored by our political representatives, and dangerous proposed legislation by conservatives like the Protect the Children Act, which was a disguise to try to make gay people second class citizens. Since Jana is making a comeback film, I used my insider knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes on a movie set. Thankfully nobody was murdered on my sets, though I’m sure some people thought about. Hah. Finally, in SATIN DOLL Jana is in DC to research her upcoming role for Madam Senator. So I was able to include many famous Washington, DC historic settings like the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Smithsonian Museum, Capitol, and the Ford Theatre.

PorcelaincoverIn PORCELAIN DOLL (The Wild Rose Press), Jana makes a comeback film and uncovers who is being murdered on the set and why. Her heart is set aflutter by her incredibly gorgeous co-star, America’s heartthrob Jason Apollo. The other suspects include Jana’s James Dean type young co-star, her older John Wayne type co-star, her children’s Eve Harrington type nanny, the film’s gossipy makeup and hair artist, a local reverend trying to stop the film’s production, and Jason’s agent.

In my current release SATIN DOLL (The Wild Rose Press), Jana and family head to Washington, DC, where Jana plays a US senator in a new film, and becomes embroiled in a murder and corruption at the senate chamber. She also embarks on a romance with Chris Bruno, the muscular detective. Jana rubs elbows with senators on both sides of the aisle, a lobbyist, and a Washington reporter. Her husband also goes through a personal crisis, which still brings tears to my eyes when I read it. Readers get a complete mystery full of revealed secrets by the end of each novel. The clues are there, and so are the plot twists and turns, and white knuckle shocking ending for each book. I’m thrilled to report the reviews have been amazing. Here are two examples:

Paper Doll “Paper Doll is a superbly crafted mystery with an eclectic cast of characters that will engage you and elicit some very emotional responses as you are completely caught up in the events that unfold in these pages. Everyone has secrets and the people in Paper Doll have them in spades!” Fresh Fiction

“Murder, mystery, and suspense are high inside of this brilliant masterpiece by Joe Cosentino.” “Every page fills the readers with intrigue.” “Edge of your seat mystery that lures readers instantly.” “Once you read it, you can’t put it down.” Danielle Urban Universal Creativity Inc.

Purchase Links:

http://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/all-titles/3808-satin-doll.html

myBook.to/SatinDoll

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/satin-doll-joe-cosentino/1123509196?ean=2940158028465

https://www.omnilit.com/product-satindoll-1999821-367.html

Mystery Reviews

Crowned and MolderingSome Cozies for spring reading: Kate Carlisle takes us to small-town California in her latest Fixer-up Mystery, CROWNED AND MOLDERING (Obsidian, 2015, $7.99). Shannon Hammer, the construction expert of Lighthouse Cove, is ready to tackle best-selling author Mac Sullivan’s project, restoing the old lighthouse that gives the town its name. After all the hassles with the local historian, both Shannon and Mac are more than eager to gut the place. But everything comes to a halt when the body of a young woman is found jammed into the dumb-waiter, and it looks like a town mystery is about to be solved. The body is identified as an old friend of Shannon’s who disappeared fifteen years before. Suspect in her murder include many of Shannon’s high school classmates, a charismatic teacher, and a school counselor whose position owes more to politics than to competency. Then there’s another murder, and Shannon knows she has to act quickly to prevent a terrible miscarriage of justice. Bits of construction lore are sandwiched between clues in this look at the nastier side of small-town life.

A Turn for the BadA small village in Ireland is the scene of A TURN FOR THE BAD, by Sheila Connolly (Berkley, 2016, $7.99). Maura Donovan is still finding her feet as the proprietor Sullivan’s Pub in Leap when a farmer announces that one of their own has gone missing. John Tully was a dairy farmer, not a fisherman, so why was he taken off the beach, leaving his young son alone? What has this to do with the body of an unknown man that washes up soon after? And who owns the grand boat that’s been lurking in the bay?

Smuggling has been a part of Irish life for centuries, but Tully had no connection with it… or so his brother says. Maura concocts a Plan that involves almost everyone in the village, from a pair of fishermen-turned-distillers to the local lord, and finds that the hardest part of being a pub-owner is waiting for other people to do things! Another Irish jaunt, with more to come.

Foreign EclairsMore foreign affairs back in the USA, in Julie Hyzy’s latest White House Chef mystery, FOREIGN ECLAIRS (Berkley, 2016,$7.99. White House chef Ollie Paras has had her share of adventures, but she doesn’t realize how serious her danger is until her purse is stolen on her way back home from work. Her new husband, Gav, knows more than she does about who is behind the mugging, but things get serious when an explosive device is found in a National Forest. Ollie is the target of a dangerous madman, one who will stop at nothing, including the assassination of the President of the United States, to complete his self-appointed revenge. There’s a shocker of an ending, and a possible new career for Ollie, in this nail-biter that includes many recipes fit for a king… or a president.

Designated DaughtersMargaret Maron reveals more of Judge Deborah Knott’s complicated family history in DESIGNATED DAUGHTERS (Grand Central,2015, $8.00). One of the matriarchs, Aunt Rachel, is dying, and Deborah is summoned to her bedside, to give comfort to the woman who holds the family’s secrets. Now that she is dying, Aunt Rachel is rambling, revealing far more than anyone wants to hear, especially the one who hastened the old woman’s death with a pillow over her face. A long-lost treasure trove, a long-ago affair, babies born too soon or too late, all have a part in the unraveling of this tangles tale of love and murder. In the end, a most unlikely killer with an even less likely motive is revealed, and Justice is properly served. Maron at her best.

 

Threads of EvidenceFrom Appalachia we go to Maine, in THREADS OF EVIDENCE, by Lea Wait (Kensington, 2015, $7.99). Harbor Haven is the home of Angie Curis and her group of needlepointers, all of whom are agog with the news that the old mansion, Auroroa, has been bought by a real-life movie star, Skye West. Angie is asked to appraise the old furniture in the house for possible renovation, and is especially intrigued by a set of needlepoint tapestries that may hold a clue to the murder of a young girl some forty-five years before. Then someone tries to poison Skye, and Angie finds herself tracking two murderers… one in the past, and one in the present. Recipes for Maine treats are included.

 

Reviews provided by Roberta Rogow for her column Roberta’s Ramblings in the April 2016 edition of The Book Breeze.

Book Excerpt: BELOVED ENEMY by Hywela Lyn

Beloved Enemy
BELOVED ENEMY

Book Blurb:  Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.

Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret and self-blame, shields himself from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship, Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red haired woman who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.

Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?

Book Excerpt:

Gravel and pebbles dug into her skin through the fabric of her clothing, as something dragged her toward the edge of the bank. She bit back a cry of horror as she glanced over her shoulder at the thing twining itself around her leg. An icy fear went through her. Snakes—the only creatures she really feared. She aimed her pistol and then realized it was not a serpent that dragged her toward the river, but a long, rubbery tentacle fastened around the tough material of her leggings and boot.

Before she could fire, Kerry let off another barrage of plasma bolts into the river, then leapt toward her and ripped the severed tentacle from her leg. It flapped around on the wet grass. She scrambled to her knees, still slightly winded and fired at the hideous thing. The foliage around it flared for a moment with an eerie green flame and the tentacle shrivelled into a slimy black mass, emitting a pungent odour and causing her to gag for a moment.

“It seems I was mistaken about the creature being dead.” Kerry prodded the smouldering mass with his boot and looked across over the water. “It is now.” He leaned down and grasped her wrist to haul her to her feet. “Are you hurt?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Her shoulder was sore and probably bruised but she’d live. She tried to control her shivering. The incident affected her more than she wanted to admit. Kerry’s proximity, naked to the waist, his lithe body shining from the water droplets that still clung to his skin, his legs swathed in tight black leather, did nothing to help. The last thing she wanted was for him to realise how scared she’d been when she thought a snake attacked her. “Thanks. That was close. It would have been a bit ironic if I’d been killed by the same creature I saved you from.”

She realized he still grasped her wrist. She tried to move away, but he pulled her back, obliging her to turn to him.

“You are trembling.”

“I’m fine.”

“No,” he said. “You’re not.” He pulled her closer and his eyes softened, his gaze holding her mesmerized. She opened her mouth to try to speak, but in the same instant he put his hand under her chin and his lips closed over hers. For a brief moment, she tried to resist but found herself drawn into his kiss as he deepened it, his hand brushing lightly through her hair. For a long moment, time seemed to stand still, and nothing mattered except his lips burning on hers. His tongue teased her own, demanding and insistent, his lips incredibly sensuous, firm, caressing. Through the thin material of her shirt, Cat felt the warmth of his bare chest pressed hard against her breasts. The cold metal of the capsule he obviously did not take off, even to bathe, dug into her skin, but the slight discomfort was nothing compared to the turmoil in her mind.

Interview with Financial Thriller author George Ugeux

GU-June 2013 - High Resolution
6/6/2013, New York—George Ugeux, chairman en CEO of Galileo Global Advisers, at Rockefeller Center. Photo Rene Clement

A Belgian and U.S. national, Georges Ugeux is the Chairman and CEO of Galileo Global Advisors LLC, an investment banking advisory boutique. Ugeux joined the New York Stock Exchange in 1996, as Group Executive Vice President, International. An adjunct professor at Columbia Law School, Ugeux is the author of a numerous nonfiction books about finance. The Flying Dragon is his first work of fiction. For more information about Georges Ugeux, visit: www.georgesugeux.com

What led you to write this book?

I always wanted to write a novel, and the mystery genre seemed to be the right setting for the financial world that I know and am working in, but also often find dysfunctional. For me, it was another way to help readers understand that the financial industry can be dysfunctional – so much so, that when passion and sex become factors, it becomes a natural environment for fraud and crime. I was also able to draw from my own experiences from that world to fuel the plot.

Which is more important characters or setting?

By choosing a young Chinese woman as the protagonist, I was inevitably focused on settings in Asia. While the story does include mainland China ramifications, Hong Kong was the perfect setting. However, it was because of the lead character, Victoria Leung that I chose China, not the other way around. I have found that the most fascinating part of fiction writing is the creation of characters.

Are any of your characters loosely based on people you know in real life?

Victoria Leung does have characteristics of several Chinese women I know well. While none of these women would entirely recognize themselves in Victoria’s character, beauty, strength in character, assertiveness and vulnerability are all common to each of them. In the end, while Victoria Leung is unique, I could not have created her without the rich interactions I’ve had with these women.

What do you hope readers take away from your work?

I hope the readers will like Victoria Leung as much as I enjoyed creating her. I want readers to understand while I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences in the financial industry, there is a dark side of finance – one in which honest and dishonest people live in ongoing conflict of values. It is the eternal fight between the good and the bad, (with seduction from both sides). I also hope that readers will recognize the humanity of the characters I have created.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I have a day job. I run a boutique investment bank that is very active in many parts of the world, including China. I also teach finance at Columbia Law School. Writing has become a passion of mine and I do it every day for one reason or another. The fact that it is not my only activity helps me to avoid the blockage some authors feel when their Muse is silent. I have the luxury of writing only when I feel inspired.

Have you ever written a scene that ‘creeped’ you out?

There is violent aggression in the book. For me, it was the most difficult passage to write because I found it difficult to create and describe a scene involving something I deeply hate: hate crimes. I relied on several of my female readers to make sure I was being respectful without betraying the facts.

Do you have a favorite writing place or writing rituals?

I travel a lot and often have long flights: This is my favorite time to write. What’s next for you? I’m currently in the process of finishing a non-fiction book on central banking. Additionally, I will soon have the French and Chinese editions of The Flying Dragon, followed by Victoria Leung’s next adventures…in London.

9781480818569_COVER.inddExcerpt from THE FLYING DRAGON:

The crowd around the Hong Kong Arts Center seemed happy as they streamed out of the concert by talented Chinese pianist Yuja Wang. They enthusiastically shared their impressions about her beauty, musicality, and talent. Some of the patrons had seen videos of Yuja Wang playing Chopin at the age of six. Victoria Leung was so in sync with the music she had played tonight: Schubert’s impromptus. She also felt so close to the pianist, who commanded the keyboard and seemed on the verge of tears when the third impromptu moved from lightness to depth and passion. At twenty-seven, Yuja Wang was one of the best-known pianists of her generation and now lived in the United States. She had the same drive, intensity, and grace as Victoria herself.

The Center’s superb architecture had always given Victoria pleasure. It was modern without ostentation, and its its acoustics were close to perfect. Over the years, classical music had increasingly been a source of inspiration in the Chinese world, and the public was ecstatic. For a Chinese pianist to reach this level of excellence and artistry was a source of pride.

Since she had left the financial fraud department of the Hong Kong Police Force, Victoria Leung had enjoyed the freedom attached to her new status of senior detective at Pegasus, an international firm headquartered in London. She intended to fully enjoy this period of her life. Having a family was not on her agenda. Like most thirty-six-year-old women, though, she was starting to give it some thought. Her biological clock inexorably ticked. She knew it. But at the same time, she didn’t know what to do about that reality.

Victoria was an assertive and attractive young woman well aware of the impact she had on the male-dominated financial world of Greater China. She had initially faced difficulty demonstrating her leadership and competence, partly because of her good looks, femininity, and youth. She had learned to turn these qualities into assets that she used subtly and wisely. While she remained vulnerable to some aggressive behavior from male colleagues, she knew how to garner respect. Her body was slim and strong; she exercised regularly. She liked having the freedom to wear dresses and skirts rather than a police uniform. But what struck everybody who met her was the power of her demeanor and her smile, which revealed her complexity.

++++

Wearing a short red dress, Victoria drank her green tea as she peered through the glass of her office windows into the Hong Kong morning: Kowloon Bay on one side and the old British Empire buildings and parks at the center of Hong Kong on the other. The traffic was penetrating and created an impression of energy and intensity. Hong Kong was not a city for the fainthearted. Victoria was an early bird, and relished the atmosphere of the office before anybody else was in. She was in control and serene.

Victoria looked down at the document on her desk:

Henry Chang is in danger. I urgently need to meet you. Meet me at 9:00 a.m. at the Mandarin Oriental for coffee. I desperately need your help. —Diana Y.

Victoria was stunned. For Diana Yu to send such a dramatic message was unusual. Henry Chang was Diana’s former lover until he broke it off and publicly humiliated her. Now, Diana was asking Victoria to help the bastard. It didn’t add up. Did Diana still have feelings for him? Victoria hoped not, but it was the only explanation that made sense. She sighed. If it had been Chang asking, Victoria would have said no. But Diana was a dear friend. If she was willing to swallow her pride and ask for help, then the least Victoria could do was find out why.

Diana Yu and Victoria had started together at the Hong Kong Police Force. Soon after, Henry Chang became Diana’s boyfriend. While she had given the relationship all she had, she was never sure whether Henry was playing or being earnest. Unexpectedly, after they had dated for a year, he dropped her for a Hong Kong socialite, Helena Lee. He then became head of the fixed-income department of the Bank of Hong Kong and Shanghai, or BHS. The breakup had been particularly painful for Diana since Henry had been cruel enough to do it publicly at a 2012 New Year’s party.

Diana was now reaching out through a confidential police cable; whatever had happened to Henry must have been fairly dramatic. The Wan Chai Police headquarters was close to Hong Kong Central and near the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

Review: Brides of Seattle series by Tracie Peterson

Steadfast Heart – Brides of Seattle – Book 1 Refining Fire – Brides of Seattle – Book 2 Love Everlasting – Brides of Seattle – Book 3 by Tracie Peterson Bethany House Publishing, January, July, and October 2015 ~ 4 Stars

51uO+TUm9sL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Blurb – Steadfast Heart – Brides of Seattle Despite her spoiled upbringing, twenty-year-old Lenore Fulcher isn’t pretentious. She simply believes a marriage should be built on true love. Her father, however, thinks she’s wasted enough time searching for the perfect husband. He wants to marry her off to one of his business partners–who is seventeen years her senior–an idea that is out of the question for Lenore.

 

51lIUzGBx1L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Blurb – Refining Fire – Brides of Seattle – Book 2: Twenty-two-year-old Militine Scott is in training at the Madison Bridal School in Seattle, yet she has no intention of pursuing marriage. What respectable man would have her? But she has found the school provides the perfect opportunity to keep her unsavory past hidden.

Thane Patton, though fun-loving and fiercely loyal to his friends, hides a dark secret, as well. He finds himself drawn to Militine, sensing that she harbors a haunting pain similar to his own.

Will they allow God to make something new and beautiful from the debris of their past?

51w7Tn3Iy4L._SX322_BO1,204,203,200_Blurb – Love Everlasting – Brides of Seattle – Book 3 Abrianna Cunningham has always viewed her longtime friend, Wade Ackerman, as a protective brother. Lately, however, she’s begun to see him differently and finds herself attracted romantically to him. But she’s confused and overwhelmed by these unfamiliar feelings.

Wade, on the other hand, has loved Abrianna for some time and has been waiting for her to realize they are more than just friends. When he asks her to marry him, she asks for time to adjust to their changed relationship.

And then there’s Priam Welby, who has been relentlessly pursuing Abrianna. Will his underhanded tactics succeed in luring Abrianna into marriage with him?

Review: Based in 1888-1889 Seattle, this inspirational, historical New Adult series revolves around events at the Madison Bridal School. Because of their limited financial resources, three elderly ladies operate the school to teach young women how to become suitable wives. While some activities draw single men to the school for entertainment, most of what occurs are classes in cooking, cleaning, sewing, and household management – not easy tasks in the late 19th century.

The biggest flaw in these books is that the “blurbs” or back cover copy doesn’t conform to the actual stories. The first book should have been about the love story between Lenore Fulcher and visiting attorney, Kolbein Booth who arrives to look for his runaway sister. Instead, most of it was about Lenore’s friend, Abrianna who is the niece of the owners and has a passion for helping the downtrodden. She continually escapes the school to run around the frontier city and visit the docks providing food to the homeless. A spirited heroine with a taste for adventure will definitely appeal to readers, especially when she helps Lenore and Kolbein find each other. Still, there isn’t any romantic conflict between our supposed hero and heroine. They meet, fall immediately in love and that’s it except for a few contrivances by her parents who want stability for her. Meantime, Abrianna is off to solve a few murders and attempt to keep Priam Welby, the “Snidely Whiplash” of villains from destroying the school in his takeover bids.

The second book is supposed to be about another would-be bride, Militine Scott. She has issues with God, always a good conflict in an inspirational romance and successfully attempts to fail her classes at the Bridal School. Once again, Abrianna strides onstage and makes off with the story. She does help Militine find her true love, fireman Thane Patton and once again, there are few conflicts between our lead couple. They talk about what brought them to Seattle and everything is resolved between them. Most of the story describes the efforts that Abrianna makes to build a “food house,” what we would call a “soup kitchen” to feed the homeless. Both Thane and the boy next door, Wade Ackerman who loves Abrianna are enlisted to help with repairs and she starts her mission, growing up a bit in the process. She is still the same sassy, smart-mouthed young woman called upon to help those less fortunate and believes that training to be an appropriate wife and mother must come second. Readers will connect with her struggles especially when Thane’s concerns about fire prevention foreshadow an upcoming tragedy. Priam Welby continues his devious antics which range from opium smuggling to the Chinese slave trade to convincing Abrianna’s aunts to trade their school in downtown Seattle to a more favorable location on Queen Anne hill.

Finally in Book 3, Abrianna has grown up enough to admit that she’s fallen in love with Wade and the two of them plan a future together. They really don’t have a lot of conflicts between them except for those manufactured by outsiders. Her naiveté and innocence begins to wear thin since she’s survived so much in the past year. Every once in a while, some elements of the old Abrianna rise to the surface and she’s the same heroine who engaged readers in her quest to save the world in previous books.

Since these are inspirational stories, a great deal of time is spent understanding religious concepts which often led to additional conflicts among the secondary characters. While the quest to live by Christian ideals concerned most of the ensemble cast, this didn’t overshadow the plots or slow the pacing. As a native Washingtonian, The Brides of Seattle series was especially fun for me to read with its references to old-time Seattle.

However, a short course in state history wouldn’t come amiss with this series which is another downfall. A skilled writer like Ms. Peterson shouldn’t count on her readers knowing that overt discrimination led to vicious race riots toward the Chinese immigrants in the 1880’s. More mention could have been made of the efforts to join the union and Washington’s impending statehood in November 1889. Since the setting was a “bridal school,” why wasn’t there more mention of the fact that women had won the vote in 1883, then lost it in 1888? Wouldn’t these women have at least discussed it? And of course, the emerging town was named after Chief Sealth, a name changed to Seattle by the first settlers, but there isn’t a mention of that either.

Seattle has an extremely colorful, very well-documented past. While Asa Mercer, the man who arranged to bring brides to Seattle earns a mention, what about the others who helped create the city? At the time this series takes place, Seattle was barely thirty-some years old. I would have loved to see some details about the Terrys, the Dennys and of course Doc Maynard, the drinking bigamist who helped lay out the streets.

Review provided by Shannon Kennedy for her column Shannon’s Space in the Feb/Mar 2016 edition of The Book Breeze.

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Sci-Fi/Fantasy New Releases

Beloved EnemyBELOVED ENEMY By Hywela Lyn Spicy Sci-Fi Romance Released March 11, 2016 by The Wild Rose Press

Marooned on an inhospitable planet, Cat Kincaid and Kerry Marchant need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?

perf5.000x8.000.inddDEMON KISSED By Karilyn Bentley Urban Fantasy Released Feb 17 by The Wild Rose Press in print and ebook

Gin Crawford, the world’s latest demon huntress, has no time to mourn her dead lover as she’s called in to determine why a demon attack occurred at the local medical school. And not just any demon, but the one demon that gives her demon-killing bracelet the shivers. A dead professor, a lab full of missing anthrax, and a demon who turns good people into minions complicate her life. Can Gin and her mentor Aidan Smythe solve the mystery of the missing anthrax and the identity of the demon before someone else dies?

41WeZmy7++L._SX328_BO1,204,203,200_THE ORION PLAN By Mark Alpert Sci-Fi Adventure Released Feb 16, 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books

Scientists thought that Earth was safe from invasion. The distance between stars is so great that it seemed impossible for even the most advanced civilizations. But now an alien species has found a way. When the government proves slow to react, NASA scientist Dr. Sarah Pooley realizes she must lead the effort to stop them before they become too powerful.

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