Review: Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion

grand centralReviewed by Karin

Blurb

A war bride awaits the arrival of her GI husband at the platform…

A Holocaust survivor works at the Oyster Bar, where a customer reminds him of his late mother…

A Hollywood hopeful anticipates her first screen test and a chance at stardom in the Kissing Room…

On any particular day, thousands upon thousands of people pass through New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, through the whispering gallery, beneath the ceiling of stars, and past the information booth and its beckoning four-faced clock, to whatever destination is calling them. It is a place where people come to say hello and good-bye. And each person has a story to tell.

Now, ten bestselling authors inspired by this iconic landmark have created their own stories, set on the same day, just after the end of World War II, in a time of hope, uncertainty, change, and renewal….

Very touching and evocative. This book features original stories by best selling authors. Much of it has to do with Jewish refugees — and also Jews who had left Europe for America, at least one had been in concentration camps. It gives a glimpse into what it must have been like to live those early years post war.

My father served in the air force in Europe, so it holds a special poignancy for me.

While there are possibilities — and even love — it is not an easy life or an easy read. It is a world very far removed from where we are now, but not far enough to be in the way distant past. It holds too many memories.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion

Review: Bought for Revenge by Sarah Mallory

bought for revengeReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Captain Lucas Blackstone has, unlike many of his men he served with returned from the battle of Waterloo unscathed. By coming back, he hopes to renovate what was once his family’s mansion, but seeing it in its current state causes him concern.

Debutante Annabelle Havenham’s father has to settle with his debtors and the only way he can is to sell the mansion he has come to see as his home. He thinks Captain Blackstone is the worthy buyer, yet he wants more into the bargain if he is to get his revenge on her father for what he had done in the past.

Review: Lucas comes to Annabelle’s father pretending to be a Mr Monserrat to avoid problems, but even in this deceptive manner, Annabelle’s father thinks he recognises him. Little by little, Lucas plans to take the loathed Mr Havenham down, knowing no one can prevent what will come to pass. Once Lucas meets Annabelle he has feelings for her as she is a strong-minded woman who wants to be seen as an equal in relationships. He wants to take down her father, yet he also has a hard time making her a worthy pawn in his game. Lucas makes the mistake of getting too close to her, close enough to have feelings for her that could cloud his judgement if he wants revenge against her father. He does have a heart, though but he keeps it in check for his own sake if he is to make her father pay for his past sins. In doing so, he puts his future and that of Annabelle’s at risk – she might never trust him after he tells her he wants to ruin him. He was after all a child when the incident happened and as a result, he could be alienating the only woman who would love him back, and the one man who, if Annabelle would accept his offer of marriage, would accept his offer of marriage without question.

Good Bits:

  • Annabelle’s first meeting with Lucas.
  • The interesting business of the Havenham family painting that makes Lucas very nervous indeed.
  • The mysterious cousin Hugh and how he fits into the story.

Summary: What starts out as a heated romance novel soon turns into a murder mystery both Lucas and Annabelle have to solve before it is too late. I found this an enjoyable and gripping novel that twists and turns really well until the satisfying reveal at the end.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Bought for Revenge

Review: Knight of Love by Catherine LaRoche

knight of loveHero: The hero has a complicated name. He is Wolfram von Wolfsbach und Ravensworth, also known as Wolf, the English Earl of Ravensworth. He first meets the heroine when he’s undercover as a blacksmith in Prince Kurt’s court, where he finds her being publicly whipped for a small infraction to the amusement of the Prince. Barely able to contain himself, Wolf watches and then volunteers to carry Lenora upstairs where he gives her a large knife for protection.

Heroine: Despite appearances to the contrary, Lady Lenora Trevelyan is not a damsel in distress. She is resourceful and determined to make her escape on her own… no knight in shiny armor needed. She successfully escapes her abusive fiancé, Prince Kurt von Rotenburg-Gruselstadt and is galloping toward freedom and safety with the English/German diplomat… and gets captured by rebels just days down the road. The head of the rebel camp is none other than the blacksmith who gave her the knife.

Review: The hero is an unusual mix of beta and alpha characteristics. He’s very flowery in his language, chivalrous, and believes in love at first sight, but is also skilled at war, believes in civil rights of man (and woman,) and carefully controlling to ensure all is in his favor. For my tastes, I would have had less flowery language and more determined wooing. Wolf arranges a wedding to Lenora in order to protect her – this battlefield wedding is hardly legit as she didn’t give her consent. Still, he consummates the marriage in a forced seduction that evening. It is a heartbreaking (and erotic) experience for both of them which makes it successful. That night destroys what trust Lenora had in him. Now she’s plotting a new escape… but it’s harder to break the touch of silk than the touch of iron. There’s also an erotic scene where Lenora is in full control of Wolf and that is also successful as it is healing for both. I felt the story fell short when it changed locations from Germany to England. It was a night and day difference and the smoldering passion cooled quickly. Definitely a memorable read.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Knight of Love

Review: Tapestry by Karen Ranney

tapestryHero: Alex, the Earl of Cardiff, never planned to be the earl. He had a father and older brother and so went off to war to make his mark. When he returns, he is severely wounded and hides his ravage face and body and heart in the castle of Heddon Hall. His servants are terrified of him. His stepmother despises him. He can’t tell if his estate manager is swindling him because he can’t read due to the loss of one eye and the headaches that come from trying to focus the other. When an uppity little maid arrives, bold as you please, on his doorstep, he’s intrigued despite his attempts to distance himself from her.

Heroine: Lady Laura Blake has had enough of being rebuffed. If Alex won’t return her letters and tell her what is going on she will figure it out on her own. She shows up at his estate in disguise, wearing her maid’s clothes and using her maid’s name. Once inside his household, she’s put to work in the kitchen. Being a scullery maid was not quite what she had in mind! Soon she’s elevated to be his personal secretary and that suits her so much better. Now she can spend her days with Alex… and nights.

Review: The first half of the novel is the best part of the story. If you want a happy ending that’s truly happy end at book one/part one. I enjoyed the setup with the heroine breaking into the hero’s lair as a servant (though how she managed it is a mystery because she’s a family friend, you’d think she’d be recognized by someone – Alex!!) I like Laura’s bumbling in the kitchen, her determination to reach Alex and break down his walls. I loved his elation at recapturing humanity and love.

However, after they come together the story goes downhill as they are separated, when the hero returns to his wartime duties for one last assignment. Laura doesn’t want him to go, but for his masculine and national pride, Alex must. Their separation leads to misfortune as Alex is captured and assumed dead. Laura experiences a miscarriage because of the news and also faces the doubly incapacitating grief of losing Alex and the babe. When Alex gets out of prison, he allows his evil stepmother’s cruel words to sway him from finding the truth of what is going on with Laura which causes a big misunderstanding. My friends, you know me, and you know I love angst, but holy moly this is too much. I also like more time together with the main characters and less time apart.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Tapestry

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Review: The Officer and the Secret (Semper Fi, Book 3) by Jeanette Murray

the Officer and the SecretReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This is the third book in Jeanette’s Semper Fi series. The books in this series are stand alones but if you love military romances I hope you will read all the books. I tried to find out if there will be a book four in this series but was unsuccessful.

Captain Dwayne Robertson is a Marine who’s coming home from his last deployment. When you read this you will think he is a solitary man. Isn’t that sad for a soldier to come home to be alone. During the Gulf War, I had a chance to welcome home our soldiers at our local base. It was an honor and privilege. I still have the undershirt that I had some of the returning soldiers sign for me. If you ever get the chance, take advantage and shake the person’s hand that helps to keep our country safe.

Veronica Gibson has been talking to Dwayne via Skype while he was away. They forged a friendship that seems a little awkward since his return. Jeanette has made these two characters polar opposites. Dwayne is all alpha male and Veronica is shy and introverted (even though she is fighting to change that). Makes you think of the saying about opposites attract.

It’s interesting to watch how Veronica experiences things. We get to see things from her perspective for what we take for granted. Jeanette also includes a very real problem for a lot of people in the military – PTSD. She doesn’t get preachy but she shows the reader that it is a serious problem and that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help – it is not a show of weakness.

Our author also shows her readers that you need to learn to take chances. You might miss out on finding the love of your life if you don’t take a chance. You need to learn to get out of your comfort zone. Otherwise, how can you experience some of the things going on around you?

If you like military men, you will love Dwayne and his crew. If you like quirky love interests, you will love Veronica. You will want to make sure to read this book if you like love stories where the characters have to work at their relationship. Jeanette kept me interested from the first sentence. You’ll also get your HEA ending.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Officer and the Secret (Semper Fidelis. Always Faithful.)

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Get into Bed with Liz Trenow (Author Interview)

last telegramKeira: If you could only communicate to one person, one time, and only by telegram – who would you send it to and what would it say?

Liz Trenow: To my husband: IN CASE I HAVEN’T TOLD YOU BEFORE, I LOVE YOU. X

Keira: Before emails and the internet, there was the telegram – how did one go about sending a telegram and what did it cost?

Liz: Before telephones were available, people had to go to a telegram office (in England, the Post Office) and write their message on a blank form, which would then be turned into Morse code. When telephones became available, you could phone the telegram office and dictate the message: the cost of the service was added to your phone bill.

The cost of sending a telegram depended on distance the message had to be sent, the speed with which it needed to be delivered, and its length. A ten-word telegram sent within a city cost as little as twenty cents in the 1920s but the same telegram sent from Chicago to New York City, for example, cost sixty cents. They were charged by the word so were usually very brief, missing out any pronouns or articles such as ‘you’, ‘and’ or ‘the’.

Keira: What is the mistake that Lily Verner commits during World War II and how has it affected her?

Liz: It would be a shame to reveal the secret of Lily’s mistake to people who may not have read the book yet!  Of course it affects her deeply, and she deals with her guilt and shame it by locking it away for most of her life (both metaphorically, in her subconscious mind, and physically, in the suitcase). She probably spends her adulthood subconsciously trying to make up for it by being as perfect as possible at work and at home. But as she grows old and frail, she realises that she has to face up to what happened, and make peace with herself before she dies.

Keira: What would be the worse consequences Lily could face? What does she imagine them to be?

Liz: The worst consequence is the one that actually happens. Again it would be a shame to reveal the outcome for readers who have not read the book yet. She is so devastated by this consequence of her actions that she cannot imagine that anything worse could ever happen to her.

Keira: If you can’t avoid “the consequences” (being negative), how do you decide what to do?

Liz: That’s a profound question! When something bad happens, that perhaps is something they have caused, people deal with it in so many different ways. In an ideal world, you need to acknowledge your own complicity (and apologise, if necessary) and then move on if possible. But it’s never that easy! My own way of dealing with anxiety is to try to restrict the amount of time (in a day, say) that I stress about the big things and otherwise try to put them in a metaphorical box and close the lid (as Lily does).

Keira: How do you define (romantic/true) love?

Liz: Whoo, another deep one!  There have been two major loves in my life: the first was the big ‘romantic’ one: at the time I couldn’t eat, sleep, or stop thinking about him and was devastated  when it ended, but he would have been a disaster as a long-term partner! The second is my husband, who has been the most wonderful life’s companion and father to our children. That’s the one I would define as ‘true’ love.

Keira: Anything you want goes here!

Liz: I just want to add that I am intensely proud to be part of a silk family and its unique heritage, but most of all I am proud of my father and tens of thousands of others for their tireless work behind the scenes of the home front during the Second World War, playing a critical role in helping to keep this country safe. I offer Last Telegram as a small tribute to all those remarkable men and women whose stories are otherwise untold.

Buy: The Last Telegram

Review: Anything for You (Coming Home, Book 1.5) by Jessica Scott

Anything for YouReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Anything for you starts out with comic overtones which I liked, and continued to surprise me over the course of the story. As many of you will know, I do like short stories, the way they are constructed, and the way you can read them on the move is attractive to me, so I don’t mind investing time and effort in them. As far as this is concerned, I am glad I invested the time on it.

Like her previous novel, Until There Was You this is set after the time when Jen and Shane met again and got together as a couple. He loves her, but hates the thought of losing her after such a long time apart. It starts back in the past of 2008 at Fort Hood where Jen had got cancer, and Shane was thinking hard about having a vasectomy, as even though she wanted kids, if he ever got her pregnant, it would cause complications with the baby and have her risking her life. He is a considerate man, and understandably doesn’t want this to happen. He wants to talk to her about it, but knows he might also be causing problems in their relationship if he does.

They aren’t the perfect couple, but they have both had their ups and downs as far as romance and general life is concerned. Shane doesn’t want to be like he was when he had his first wife; he was gone so long their marriage collapsed from the strain of her not seeing her. He finds that he loves Jen too much to let that happen to their relationship, but who knows what will happen in the future to their relationship. She fears he might have to go to war, and then she might lose him for good, or he might be away for a long time. If he is going to be away for any length of time, she thinks she will have to cope with her loss in her own way.

Jessica gives the perfect introduction to the story, a bit of light-hearted dialogue that seems to set off the rest of the story. There are peaks and troughs of happy and sad moments, but all in all it is a story well worth reading.

This story also contains a list of other novels by the author, as well as a bonus excerpt from her other novel; Bitten by Deceit.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Anything For You

Review: Because of You (Coming Home, Book 1) by Jessica Scott

because of youReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Book covers can be a great source of titillation, and this one isn’t half bad either as the sight of a hot guy in combat pants showing his tattooed naked back gets the reader right into the story, or at least it did with me.

Shane is a mixed-up guy who serves in the army as a sergeant, but has a bad private life. With a failed marriage, being a bad son and an even worse father, he doesn’t give himself much hope for a good life when he comes back. After several years in the army, he is finally going to Iraq, in charge of his men. He has to look out for their best interests, and it is noticeable from the story that he is under a lot of pressure to perform.

Jen St. James and Shane have a smooch before he goes off to Iraq, hoping that she might be the one for him after only five months being divorced. He feels as though he might not mess this relationship up if she gives him the chance to break the habit of a lifetime. Jen has recently had a mastectomy, and feels uncomfortable in most of her clothes. She is safe after the cancer scare, but it has left her with a complex about how other men view her. She would love to look sexy in clothes again, and doesn’t realize that most people don’t notice she has only one real breast.

In the story Carponti acts as a means of getting Shane to open up when he is at his worst point emotionally. He is upset about the way his wife left him, and the divorce in general, and all he wants to do is get Shane to have a bit of down time where he can have fun and share some special time with his men. This though is the last thing he wants to do, and little does he know who he will find who he can share a special moment with. Carponti is Cupid and does a great job of it too.

The writer has made sure that the two main characters have their own problems to cope with, and that they can help each other out. She could give him a hand with his uncertainty that life will get any better after the divorce, and he can help her with her lack of positive self image. It didn’t help when Jen’s ex boyfriend once announced to everyone in a bar that she only had one breast.

Jessica Scott impresses the readers with her storytelling ability. She gives readers a chance to read a novel that is more than a romance, but a story of the brief lives of Jen and Shane who are two unhappy people who meet in a most unexpected way. They can help each other find love and that love can heal all in many ways. This is something that we can truly feel in this novel as; Because of You is a riveting read.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Because of You