Review: Striking a Chord (Backstage Pass, Book 3) by Dani Wade

Striking a ChordReviewed by Sandra Scholes

Synopsis: Sean changed his life for the better after ignoring his friend’s father who said he shouldn’t decide to make his mark as a musician – as he has got this far as a US rock star, he only needs to find the woman of his dreams, but Meghan is the sort of woman he can’t ever have – or can he?

Review: The tattooed lover boy on the front says it all – a career in music is all sex, drugs and rock and roll, but the fact that it looks like she’s two steps away from giving him full fellatio tells us all we need to know. Meghan is a stunner, even if he has only spent months on the phone with her that have ended with him getting a hard-on, he’s yet to meet her and he’s anticipating seeing her. Whether it’s good or bad, he doesn’t know, but his need to see her, to bed her comes before anything else. Sean only knows a few facts about her, she’s mid-twenties, divorced and has an upper level degree in education, but this is as much as he knows. Meghan has issues about whether he will like the look of her once they meet, and whether she will be the rock chick he is used to seeing everywhere he goes. She isn’t the size 8 that she might have wanted to be, but that doesn’t matter to Sean as she has a hourglass figure he’d like to get his hands on. Hearing her on the phone every night for three months seems like a form of harsh, teasing foreplay for Sean, and once he meets her, he wants her no matter what.

As his assistant, Meghan is used to opening Sean’s mail and when one letter is from Sean’s brother Kieran, she has to bring him to see Sean as there is something he needs to know – his father is dying of liver disease and wants his family around him before he meets his maker. When he sees Kieran, all his childhood memories flood back. He was hoping for the time of his life – he would be finally meeting the woman of his dreams, the woman who made him wet just from talking to her, but to bring his brother along too is a taboo even he didn’t think she would make. It doesn’t take her long to find out that Sean has a dark past and a dark secret his brother knows, and she realises she might have made a mistake coming to see him.

Good Bits:

  • The cover – it rocks!
  • I wonder why she’s called Meghan the Mouth?
  • Sean’s brother Kieran

Summary: Dani Wade is the author of several novels, Finding Her Rhythm (Backstage Pass #1), His by Design, Snow Bound, Maximo Placer and A Bride’s Tangled Vows and knows what her readers want to discover. One of the first things I will say about this is that l liked it being about a plus size woman rather than the usual slender maiden in contemporary romance novels. Meghan is a big girl and once she has got with her new boss, Sean and he loves it. So much so he can’t resist spanking that desirable behind of hers – especially when she’s been very naughty and I would say bringing over his brother was naughty, wouldn’t you? Her bringing over Kieran is the conflict in the story we are looking for and if she is as irresistible as he thought, then he could be in for a very interesting relationship. The characters from the first two in the Backstage Pass series are connected while this one takes an intriguing turn as different and being set in Ireland. Judging by this one alone, I would like to read more from Dani Wade. Who knows who her characters will be spanking next!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Striking A Chord: Backstage Pass Book 3

Review: Iced by Karen Marie Moning

Iced by Karen Marie MoningReviewed by Sharon S.

I was a little apprehensive about reading this story. I loved (in an unnatural way) the Fever series, but I never really cared for the character Dani and the thought of a trilogy about her wasn’t appealing. I knew I would read it because I love Moning’s emotional first person POV writing style and the Fever world and all its characters. You don’t have to read the Fever series to enjoy this book. Moning does a good job of giving the reader any extra information needed, but you are totally missing out on one of the best series out there if you don’t.

I love that we experience things through many different characters POVs. Dani’s POV got on my nerves in the beginning. In part, because Moning was very repetitive with Dani’s thoughts. I don’t know if this was on purpose since Dani is such a chaotic character or if Moning just went overboard. By the end of the book I found Dani to be tolerable. Her growth over the trilogy is a what this story is about so I think I will eventually I will like her. Most of the book is from her POV and we learn some interesting information about her past. She is only 14 at this point and she would act mature beyond her years one moment and then like a teenager the next. It was interesting to watch her and the other characters struggle with this.

Mac and Barrons are mentioned though out the book, but we never have any interaction with them until the very end. Based on the ending of ICED we will see more of them in book two. There are three possible love interests for Dani at this point! I know, right?

Dancer is Dani’s post-apocolyptic buddy. He is a human and a genius. He obviously has feelings for Dani, but she is just too focused on herself to notice. He is just a little too perfect though. Like all the characters, he isn’t all that he seems and I can’t wait to find out.

Ryodan is one of Barrons’ men and he has been watching Dani since she was 9 when he found out about what she calls her “superpowers”. They are very much like Ryodans. He is sort of “the law” in Dublin now that the walls have fallen. He is like Barrons, but he wants to have power and is willing to do anything to achieve it. We don’t know why yet, or how Dani figures into his plans, but he sees something in her and is waiting for it. You really can’t tell his interest is romantic or just power driven yet. Moning is definitely setting up a love hate relationship between them.

Then there is Christian. I think he is the most complex and interesting character. You have to read the Fever series to understand what happened to him, but he is turning into the fourth Unseelie Prince. It is heart breaking to watch him struggle to hold onto his human side. Moning is creating a lot of sympathy for him even though his Unseelie side is very dark and twisted. He also sees something in Dani he calls a “light” and he is in love with her and plans to make her his Unseelie princess.

There are many character threads and they are all just starting to be woven together. I am very excited to find out what Moning has in store for us. I don’t know how she will get us there, but it will be on hell of an emotional rollercoaster ride!

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Iced: A Dani O’Malley Novel (Fever Series)

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Review: Celtic Storms (Celtic Steel, Book 1) by Delaney Rhodes

Reviewed by Sandra Scholes

Darina O’Malley is distraught at the knowledge that her cousin, Kyra is to be betrothed to a man she does not know – he might as well be a stranger as far as she is concerned. She knows there are secrets about her clan that could undo them, but she is far more interested in the Laird Kyra is to be married to.

A lot is mentioned about the scenery and surroundings of O’Malley Castle as well as the scenery inside it. It is a convincing story, and setting, and the characters are written to play their parts well enough. Instead of appointing her as clan Laird, even though she was adept in battle, her family instead decide to marry her off to another clan’s Laird, and in doing so want to forge an alliance. Not many girls would be up for marrying an older man-not even nowadays, so it is easy to understand what Kyra would be going through.

There are certain sections of the story that can leave you baffled though, as to why Ruarc would send Kyra, a woman on horseback dressed like a man to send a message. If the men don’t respect her as a warrior, they are risking a lot using her as a messenger-she could get caught and anything could happen. I can see from Rhodes’s point of view that she is trying to prove that Kyra is just as good at espionage as any man, though.

Rather than this novel just being a steamy romance, it is easy to tell that a lot of research has gone into the history of Ireland for the story. Rhodes has shared the past of two main characters that make up a good part of it. The warning at the beginning helps readers to notice what the subject matter will be in the novel, so in a way it prepares the reader for what to expect. In this novel’s case it is the occult, and a great deal of erotic scenes that some, if they like erotic romance novels as much as I do won’t get offended by.

If you like romance novels to be historical and erotic with a nice touch of political Irish court intrigue, then this will be as hot as you want it, and you will be as desiring to get hold of a copy.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Celtic Storms (Celtic Steel Series, Book 1)

The Uncrowned Kings of Ireland

Nell Jeanette Baker

Guest Blog by Jeanette Baker, author of Nell

My novel, NELL, is the story of the Geraldines or, more familiarly, the Fitzgeralds of Munster, “a family so wealthy and powerful they were called the uncrowned kings of Ireland. Their lands encompassed Desmond and South Munster and nearly all the counties of Kildare, Meath, Dublin and Carlow. Fitzgerald Castles stretched beyond Strangford Lough on the coast of Down to Adare, and the Fitzgerald fleet patrolled the Irish seas,” …and so the story begins.

NELL is also the tale of a family, all five heirs, taken down in one fell swoop, hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn by order of Henry Tudor, a king desperate to establish a dynasty, a man afraid of the might of his cousins, the Geraldines. What Henry passed over, disregarded, refused to consider, was that a kingdom might be ruled by a woman, Elizabeth, and a family saved by another, Eleanor…Nell.

After the execution of all five family heirs, only Gerald, a boy of 12, is spared. He is hidden away in a remote castle, cared for by his sister, Nell, the betrothed of an Irish chieftain from the West. Through the forests and bogs of Ireland, at the court of the king who killed her family, Nell, aided by a strange vision from the future, struggles to keep the only remaining Fitzgerald heir alive.

We writers who attempt to create characters and a world sympathetic and realistic to our readers frequently are caught up in the lives of the people we create. Imagine my excitement when I came upon the site of the beheading of the last Fitzgerald heir, the Earl of Desmond, the boy, Gerald, from my story, now a man who, in the end, lost his fight against the English. When I learned that his body was interred in the ruins of a small church attached to a tiny cemetery, I was determined to find it, with Tommy, my fiance, an incredibly good sport, in tow.

Our first stop was the tourist office in Tralee. The friendly ladies manning the office knew nothing about the burial spot, but they were game to try. Success came no more than 20 minutes later. The Earl was buried in 1593 near the tiny village of Cordal in a place called Ardnagragh. The ruins of the Desmond chapel were in a burial ground with an unpronounceable name, Kilnananima.

Finding the spot was difficult. There are no markers or signposts on the tiniest of Ireland’s roads and this was one of them. Tommy stopped at a small post office in Cordal to ask directions. In true Irish fashion, a woman posting a letter offered to take us there.  Minutes later, we were climbing over the fence and peering at the graves, all Fitzgerald, in the overgrown grass. It was remote, it was lovely, it was historically fascinating, but the grave I’d come to find wasn’t there.

Then, Tommy noticed the foundations of a ruin and began pulling away decades of lichen, ivy, undergrowth, uncovering an enormous slab. Climbing through the thick flora, he began scraping away the mud. Letters appeared. Excited and hopeful, I climbed in, too, and continued to scrape while he left to find the bucket of rainwater he’d noticed earlier. We scraped and poured until the name and date were evident, Gerald Fitzgerald, Earl of Desmond, 1583. I could only stare, not speaking, at this evidence of a man to whom I’d given conversation and personality. He’d lived, walked the earth and died a horrible death. And here I am, 500 years later, intrigued enough with his story to resurrect him for my readers.

Buy: NELL

Review: Irish Warrior by Kris Kennedy

Kris Kennedy’s writing is very engrossing. The Irish Warrior was a page turner from start to finish. It’s a story of an Irish warrior slated to be king and an English widow struggling to run a business. Both get trapped by the evil Rardove, a man promoted by the English King Edward to the aristocracy. A journey that must end in the purest of joys or deepest of sorrows begins when the young widow frees the warrior from the prison and together they escape in the dead of night for their freedom and their very lives.

Finian O’Melaghlin is everything one could ask for in a hero. He’s noble, compassionate, capable, and honorable. He has his pride and his strength. He is a man other men will fight beside because they know he’s on their side. And if rumor is true, he’s also got a way with the ladies… but don’t take my word for it, just ask the ladies or really just ask the heroine.

Senna de Valery is a beautiful widow and very young. Her first marriage was at age 15 and it did not go well or last very long. There’s implied evidence to rape in her background and it’s made her people shy (though she doesn’t realize this until later that she is so and she certainly doesn’t seem it, but that’s part of the transformative power of love in this novel). When confronted with danger and cruelty, she’s defiant, strong, and smart. Senna is a heroine to root for.

Rardove has ties to both of them in ways that are equally obvious and concealed. Kennedy gives readers one right off the bat and hints at the other until it’s revealed late in the book. Rardove delights in torture and pain and power and the pictures Kennedy paints are vivid if not comprehensively detailed.

The lovemaking scenes are burn your fingers hot and are told so beautifully that you will probably count them as part of your all-time favorites. The intrigue and politics that make up the suspense half of the story are heart-pounding. In short, you could not go wrong picking up a copy of this book.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: The Irish Warrior

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Review: Semi-Sweet by Roisin Meaney

Summary: Hannah Robinson gets dumped by her longtime boyfriend days before she’s going to open her new shop, Cupcakes on the Corner. Even though he’s told her he’s leaving her for another woman she can’t quite believe it’s happened. Everyone loved Patrick, including her, she didn’t even know things were bad with them… and even her mother was certain there would be wedding bells before long. What a nightmare! Her best friend, Adam, gives her his birthday as the deadline to get the shop up and running and successful, which she’s determined to do, even if Patrick’s new girlfriend is pregnant and bombshells keep landing on her head and the lives of those around her, specifically family friend Alice.

Review: Semi-Sweet switches POVs with several characters examining all aspects of love and romance across several different couples. You get inside cheating Patrick’s head (props for this), sweet Adam’s mind, the nervous wreck of Hannah’s, and also into a slew of other side characters including Patrick’s new girlfriend, Adam’s sister, Hannah’s mom, the new girlfriend’s mom, Hannah’s mom’s friend/boss Alice, and so on, which can a little confusing as sometimes you don’t know which head you pop into for a sentence or two.

Life isn’t easy for the characters as you watch them muddle through their relationships in this small Irish town where everyone knows everyone. Other people’s problems cut into Hannah’s new romance and among them are alcoholism and a child’s death, which turned the novel into a downer for me personally.

Recommended: If you read chick-lit novels, contemporary women’s fiction, books on love and loss, or want to simply find out just how much scum Patrick is, this book is for you.

Rating: ★★½☆☆

Buy: Semi-Sweet: A Novel of Love and Cupcakes

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Movie Review: PS I Love You starring Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler

So I finally gave in and watched P.S. I Love You for the first time. It sounded like such a sad and depressing movie that I really didn’t want to watch it. How many others thought the same thing when it first came out? And while the movie has its sad moments, it also had a lot of touching and funny moments helping the movie grow just as it helped the main character, Holly Kennedy, to grow.

Holly and Gerry have been an item since their teenage days, married young and still don’t have kids. Gerry dies from a brain tumor and his death has for all intensive purposes has killed Holly too. She herself is dead to life and is struggling, going through a facsimile of living and doing it poorly. Holly wallows in her apartment remembering Gerry and moments of their life together until…

A birthday cake and tape recording jumpstart Holly. On her thirtieth birthday, Holly receives these two gifts from her dead husband. She thinks it’s a terrible joke until she plays the message. Gerry is talking to her, telling her that he loves her but it’s time to move on and enjoy life again. He plans to give her ten messages, in all different ways at random intervals, to help her get over him.

Every adventure gets her out of their apartment and takes her somewhere new. She winds up in Ireland for the trip they never took and ends up sleeping with another hot Irish musician after he somehow knew to sing her Gerry’s song. When she finds out the man was akin to being Gerry’s best friend growing up she’s horrified. The friend too is completely taken aback by the news and rushes to reassure her that Gerry wouldn’t be angry with her. It’s a very sweet moment.

The whole movie is about Holly finding her single self again. She went from being a couple and knowing exactly who she was and how she functioned in that setting to being single. There’s romance in this between flashbacks of her and Gerry and daydreams of Gerry as well as a hint of future love with his best friend, but mostly this movie is like a coming of age story. I liked it a lot despite my original concerns. You’ll cry but you’ll laugh too.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Book Review: Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary

bookreview

I managed to sneak another romance novel in time for Halloween that has a spooky overtone. Wild Sight by Loucinda McGary takes place in a fictional town in Ireland with a lot of real cities and sights thrown in for good measure. This little mystery romance has a paranormal edge with the hero having what the Irish call, “The Sight.” So we get the spectral ghosties in Wild Sight to complement the passing of the Samhain, which actually falls within the books timeframe.

Samhain, if you don’t know, is an Irish holiday or at least a word derived from the ancient Celtic month bearing a similar name. On this day the veil between the spirit world and the human world is thinned and can be breached – kind of like the witching hour superstitions but allocated to a date instead of a time. The corresponding days to our calendar is Halloween or All Saints Day, October 31st and November 1st. It also marks the end of summer.

The Sight, which Donovan O’Shea possesses, manifests itself in different ways for everyone. For Donovan he comes near or in contact with an object or place of an event and he receives a vision. These visions leave him with buzzing, headaches and take place with a swirl and bright flash of colors. His mother possessed it too, but it’s not elaborated how the Sight is different from her to him. We do get to see a little bit of another version of the Sight by a character in Donovan’s past.

Donovan at age seventeen left Ireland behind as fast as he could. He’s now a naturalized American citizen, a CPA to be exact on the east coast. The start of the novel has us meet him a month or so after he’s arrived back in Ireland. He’s here to visit his ailing father, who has suffered a massive stroke, that’s left him partially immobilized and without the ability to properly speak. Donovan is hurriedly trying to sell off the old family land, has started the process to sell the pub his father owned to a third partner, all in his attempts to get the hell out of Ireland before the Sight takes him.

Too bad for Donovan, he’s a little too late.

Rylie Powell is in Ireland trying to track down her MIA father; the very same father she has never met, the one who abandoned her and her mother a very long time ago. She had once promised her mother never to track him down as sometimes the reasons people leave are reasons you don’t want to know. But now that her mother is dead, Rylie doesn’t feel obliged to keep that secret. She feels guilty about her step-dad’s acceptance of her need to come face to face with her real father, but not guilty enough to not go. She takes the directions her hired PI gave her and tracks down her father’s pub. When asking to meet with Dermot O’Shea a tall hunky guy unfurls himself from a corner booth.

She never imagined step-brothers… Older, seriously gorgeous half-brothers.

For Rylie and Donovan it’s instant lust that they fight as they search out the truth of her parentage. Donovan is dead certain his father is not her father (he’s right of course or there wouldn’t be a novel). Rylie wants to believe him, because she doesn’t want to feel sexual desire toward a half-brother. But she fears he’s wrong as she has a history of being attracted to the wrong men and who could be more wrong than Donovan?

As Rylie unravels the mystery of her parentage, a murder twenty years old is exposed on Donovan’s land as archeologists try to uncover ancient Celtic history. Dermot is implicated and Donovan must find out the truth – even if it means evoking the Sight on purpose. He really must be crazy.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: Wild Sight

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