Review: The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend by Annabelle Costa

time-travelers-boyfriend-by-annabelle-costaSummary: Claudia loves her boyfriend Adam and would love to marry him. Unfortunately, he’s not ready for the next step. He’s leery of commitment because he had been deeply hurt by a girl he met just after the accident that left him paralyzed. When Adam invents a time machine and asks Claudia to use it to save him from the accident, she’s not sure what to think. But then Claudia sees this as the perfect way to separate Adam from the emotional wounds of his past. If he never meets that girl then he’ll be emotionally ready for marriage in the present when she gets back… of course it’s not that simple and things go awry.

Review: This is a cute, fluffy romance that is quick to get into and quick to read. I loved Claudia’s and Adam’s interaction after her first foray into the past. Oh my! Not quite what either one were expecting. I liked how Claudia accidentally-but-eventually-purposefully influenced her younger self toward the career path she finds so rewarding. I like how young-Claudia and time-travel-Claudia butted heads about things. I love young-Adam and Adam-at-the-end-of-the-book. It’s hard to say what made this work for me without giving too much away. I hope though, if you’re in the mood for something lighthearted you’ll consider reading this book!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Time Traveler’s Boyfriend

Audio Review: Loving Lady Marcia (House of Brady, Book 1) by Kieran Kramer

lovingladymarciaHeroine: Lady Marcia Brady believes in fate, true love, and the goodness of others, until the cruelty of one severs her from her heart’s one desire. The man who did this was her lover’s older brother. It’s not until much later she finds out the fellow she entrusted her heart and virginity too was a cad of the first order. And the brother? Why Lady Marcia’s heart would want no other! A truly impossible match… it’s a good thing she’s got a school to save to distract her from all these unwanted feelings.

Hero: Duncan Lattimore, Lord Chadwick, has cleaned up after his brother, Finn, time and again. Little did he know that his brother’s one seeming attempt at responsibility was in actuality his quick escape from the parson’s noose. Luckily for Duncan, his brother’s lack of interest means he can swoop in and claim Lady Marcia for himself. For a man who never thought true love could exist, all it took was one slip of a girl to change his mind. Now he must convince her that her youthful dreams of love are not lost forever.

Review: There was much of the story to like – young/older Duncan, young Marcia’s idealistic nature, and how they are together. On the other hand, the whole school business, bastard child, and the “black” widow character could have gone away. I couldn’t give a fig about them and they took too much time from the romance and oft times were repetitive in actions/dialogue. The very best sequence after the youthful encounter between Duncan and Marcia on the ship was when Duncan runs into Marcia in London and realized he is on the wrong side of Lady Marcia’s goodwill. He must discover why she dislikes him and why she’s changed from her sweet bubbly persona into the woman he met on the streets. When he does – he blackens his brother’s eye and gives him a good licking. Go Duncan! Hot.

Narrator: Alison Larkin is a terrific narrator. I loved her voice and would listen to her in another book. Very precise “s” sounds, very proper.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: Loving Lady Marcia (House of Brady)

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Review: Courting a Cowboy by Patricia McLinn

Courting a CowboyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Sophie Vandercook works as an instructor at Mrs. Forestell’s Academy. She tells friends about having an absent husband and plans to convince them by trip to Wyoming. She’s actually using the trip to go visit her brother.

Nate Abbott has been corresponding with Sophie. But when she walks into the store he’s in, he doesn’t recognize her. Then eventually the light bulb clicks on for us, as we read their interaction. But something is amiss. The ranch hands will have you chuckling. They remind me of the male version of the ladies of River City from “The Music Man”.

The ranch hands think of Sophie as part of their family. How the ranch hands feel about Sophie is like how the lost boys felt about Wendy. And yet everything they know about Sophie, up until now, was based on letters that they received. But Sophie doesn’t realize what a flim-flam her brother was. The ranch hands respect her and don’t want to let her know the truth.

Nate seems to be a man that keeps his feelings close to the chest – makes me wonder if it was because of a woman. Sophie is as stubborn as they come. It will be interesting to see who wins this war.

I love the character named Doughy. I grew up watch Bonanza and thinking that Doughy would fit right in. He would be just like Hop Sing. My family watched the show religiously and I could picture Doughy cooking up a storm for the Cartwright family.

I love how Patricia describes the surrounding landscape. She’s like an artist putting bold colors on a canvas – but her canvas is paper. She also has a way with words. Sophie, at times, uses some pretty big words. I have to wonder if Patricia had to keep a dictionary or thesaurus handy. It also has me wondering if Sophie uses the big words so that people won’t get too close. I also get the impression that Patricia knows quite a bit about ranch life.

I fell in love with everyone at the OS. Sophie has a couple of women that she writes to at the Academy where she works. I wonder if Patricia will continue the adventures of the OS and have the story revolve around Alice. It will be interesting to see if she gets her own story.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Courting a Cowboy

Review: The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

girl she used to beReviewed by Karin

A different romance
Not exactly a romance; almost a character study of the two main characters; yet a romance. This is a thinking man’s (or woman’s) romance.

I have to admit I started with the last chapter, then read the next to last, etc. for a few chapters, then reread from the beginning. I had to know how it ended before I began.

The story: Melody Grace McCartney has been a lot of different people over her 26 year lifetime. When she was 6, she and her parents witnessed a horrific mob hit by the Bovaro family. Since then, they have been on the move in the witness protection program, though her parents were later murdered. Their testimony didn’t matter in the the case against Tony Bovaro, because the elder Bovaro got off. Seemingly it did matter in a lot of peripheral cases, though that doesn’t hold any significance for Melody.

She contacts the program again, claiming she has been found, simply because she is bored.

And now as she is being moved again, the younger Bovaro shows up with orders to kill her, but he has other ideas. He has the crazy idea that he can set her free to find her own self, when she doesn’t even know who she is. Will his plan work?

In the meantime, she is pulled back by the witness protection program who finally offers her an offer that might mean something. They treat criminals in the program better than they do innocent witnesses. Which will she choose?

Jonathan Bovaro is already in love with her, with the real her, with the her that has been so many different people. He knows them all. And their two lives are not so very different in many ways.

The math: She’s a mathematician and in her most recent life, the program set her up to teach math. (Never mind she has no real credentials.) How she grades her average class is a sweet revelation. The sense of certainty that is math pervades a lot of the book and how she reasons.

I thought it was clever to start each chapter heading with an algebraic equation. I thought they might be a title for the chapter, some cryptic thing, but once I figured out chapter 2 and chapter 5, I had a pretty good idea, then I had to figure out what some of the symbols meant, because I have long ago forgotten them, though I used to love algebra.

At one point she is bothered by three young men. Her put down of the young man that comes over to her sounds like a mathematician — and is surely one for the books.

My take: This book is well written. There is much to like about the book!!! My only reservation is that Jonathan is a kind of loose cannon, with a short trigger. He has no problem with violence, but he has never killed before. I wondered how little it might take for him to turn against her and how far that violence would then go. I’m guessing RL might go that way, but this is a book.

I understand there is a sequel. The Exceptions.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: The Girl She Used to Be

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Review: The Scent of Jasmine by Barbara Delinsky

The Scent of Jasmine Barbara DelinskyReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

This is a reprint of a book that was written back in 1985. You will realize this when certain music is mentioned.

Pepper MacNeil is a mail carrier in Naples Maine. She loves her classical music. As you are sitting reading this story, you may want to have some classical music playing in the background. If classical isn’t your thing, you could try listening to some music of the eighties. Personally, I fell in love with a Maine folk group years ago called “Schooner Fare”. So I will be putting on some of their music to give me some ambiance.

If you’ve never been to Maine, you may want to check out what that state has to offer. I have to warn you, some of the towns may be few and far between and malls may not be close. This is a state where you go to relax and enjoy the nature around you – unless you’re looking for one of the bigger cities. I also found it interesting that this story takes place in a town that I used to vacation in as a child.

John Smith is outside his house applying shingles to the roof. He’s new to Pepper’s route. They start flirting with each other almost from the first. Ladies, can we say eye candy? He certainly knows his way around tools.

Barbara describes a scene where Pepper has the day off and she’s in Portland. I feel like I’m right there with her. There’s nothing like being in Maine in the summer time. Even when the Portland Mall is crowded, it doesn’t feel the same as walking around my local mall.

There’s another scene where John and Pepper head south of Portland to go to the beach. It’s another reminder of my summers in Maine. We used to spend time up in Old Orchard Beach – I can smell the salt air now. This story just brings back so many family vacation memories.

This book is the greatest type of beach read. It sets the scene during the summer months. It’s set in a vacation state. And even the music is something that will relax you as you enjoy your vacation. Make sure to add this to your list of books when you take off to enjoy yourself – whether at a lake, an ocean, a pool, or even camping.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: The Scent of Jasmine

Review: Murder, Mayhem & Mama by Christie Craig

murder mayhem and mamaReviewed by Lynn Reynolds

Calie McKay is in Hopeful, Texas. She’s a teacher and her mother recently passed away. Her boyfriend, Stan, isn’t very sympathetic. Detective Brit Lowell works in the Hopeful’s Homicide Division. He’s currently working the graveyard shift.

One night Cali comes home and Stan’s not there. When she goes to sleep her mother fits prominently in her dream. You would think with the title Christie used that it might be a little dark but it has some quirky moments – not to give too much away but “I hear dead people”.

I think that this book would make a great murder mystery movie. Christie gives us the dark side of murder. We get to see how the police department works to solve the murders that have occurred. And she makes us laugh a little when we see the ghostly side of the story. We would need actors that can be serious one moment, make us laugh the next, and then talk to people they cannot see. Who would you choose to play the parts?

There was one scene that just started getting to the interesting part and then we cut to another scene. You’re left wondering “what happened, what happened!” But this is what makes a great page turner. We have to keep reading so that we can see what’s going to happen next.

Christie shows her readers how officers feel, and act, after one of their own has been killed. This hit home for me after one of our area towns had an officer that was killed in the line of duty. And as I read this story, I’m reminded how my own mother passed away several years ago. I would like to think that she’s somewhere looking after me.

One thing that I found a little predictable, probably from watching too many cop shows on TV, was how the cops believe that somehow Cali is involved with what is going on. Brit surprised me too when there were times he could be romantic. He seemed like such a jerk. You’ll love the nickname that Cali gave him.

I have read some other of Christie’s work and this is another good one. Her story flows right from the beginning. She makes us think that guardian angels are possible. It also shows that our men, and women, in blue go through a lot to protect us. If you get this read within the next couple of months, you will be ready for her blog tour that starts toward the end of August. If you visit her web site, http://www.christie-craig.com/, you will find out what book will be involved with the tour.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Murder, Mayhem and Mama

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Review: The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine (Sydney Dovedale, Book 1) by Jayne Fresina

most improper miss sophie valentine

Wanted: one husband, not too particular. Small dowry, several books, sundry furnishings, and elderly aunt included. Idlers, time-wasters, and gentlemen with other attachments need not apply.

Herione: Sophie Valentine is a spinster by choice. She had an offer once but when she saw him make googly eyes at a maid after their indiscretion in the billiard room, well she knew she couldn’t accept. Sophie wanted someone to look at her the way her ex-lover looked at that maid. Could she ever find that? Impossible now that she is ruined! Scarred from the night, literally, her sister-in-law takes every opportunity to let her know that even if she wasn’t turning 30, was free from scandal, her scar would make her non-marriageable.

Hero: Lazarus Kane has been looking for Sophie since the night she jumped from the balcony and caught herself on his ladder, leaving her scarred. When he overhears someone discussing her ad, he knows where to find her and he makes haste to be the first applicant. Will she accept him? To further his suit he takes up residence down the driveway from her brother’s place and spends much time outdoors, shirtless (very scandalous, but the ladies loved it!) Time is ticking and Lazarus only has so much.

Review: Sophie was very immature for a thirty year old spinster. She climbed trees, read naughty books inside books on sermons, swapped kisses with a stranger, etc. (All this makes her very improper, but not very spinsterish.) She claims to want a solemn upright marriage but the girl is clearly looking for someone willing to break rules with her. Lazarus is the man for the job. He wants to break rules because he is socially beneath her in terms of class and education and has a time bomb over his head which could kill him or imprison him, whichever comes first.

I never really got why Sophie wasn’t jumping at the chance to be with Lazarus, considering her terrible home life with her sister-in-law and controlling pompous brother. The whole bait and switch with the ad seemed wrong. She’s not picky until the guy shows up at her doorstep. Me? I’d be relieved it is not some old guy, but apparently that was what Sophie was hoping to get.

Then Hartley shows up, the man that ruined her and then went on to have an affair with a maid, and he wants to marry her too. I was aggravated with Sophie for entertaining it. Why should she be okay with Hartley now when she wasn’t then?

My favorite scene was inside the schoolhouse when Lazarus gives Sophie his lessons in passion. Hot.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Buy: The Most Improper Miss Sophie Valentine

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Get into Bed with Isabel Cooper (Author Interview)

Keira: How did you first come up with Lessons After Dark?

Isabel Cooper: The end of No Proper Lady was really what started it. The natural course for Simon and Joan seemed to be making sure that the world could defend itself from future threats, which meant training agents—so I was pretty sure that any sequel would involve a school. I always liked school stories, anyhow.

Gareth and Olivia, in specific, came from my desire to write a hero and heroine who started out not liking each other, and to provide a good reason for that.

Keira: What happens when a supernatural talent for healing fails to heal the supernatural?

IC: That depends a lot on the situation: how strong the healing talent is, what sort of condition the person’s trying to heal, and so on. Gareth’s particular talent tends to draw on his own life force, so he can fail to heal even a non-supernatural wound just by not having enough energy. Diseases fight back to some extent, which can be nasty—and supernatural injuries or diseases are often even worse, since some of them have some kind of primitive “mind” of their own. Failure to heal that sort of thing can have serious consequences for the would-be healer—or anything else around, sometimes.

Keira: There are elements of fake magic and real magic in Lessons After Dark, what made you decide to include both?

IC: I’d already set up a world with real magic in No Proper Lady, and I naturally wanted to continue with that. But, since not everyone knows how to do real magic, some of the people out there have to be faking it for their own reasons. I wanted to show that the real presence of something doesn’t mean fake versions aren’t out there, and vice versa—I also had learned a lot of interesting stuff about fake mediums during my research, and wanted to work with that information. Plus, working with the false information seemed like a good way to accidentally find out about the real stuff.

Keira: Do the school children bring together the Doctor and the Teacher or help drive them apart?

IC: A bit of both, sometimes!

On the one hand, having five adolescents around is going to put a damper on even the most active love life—and Englefield’s students can get into even more trouble than most teenagers, which is saying something. There are a lot of interruptions. I also don’t think Gareth would have gotten his back up quite as much over Olivia’s background if she hadn’t been working with the students: he’s got that whole Victorian thing about role models and setting a good example and so forth.

On the other hand, the aforementioned trouble that the kids cause means that Gareth and Olivia can’t avoid or ignore one another—they have to work together, which breaks down a lot of barriers over time. And after they’ve seen each other in action a few times, each of them has to admit that the other has the students’ best interest at heart, which goes a long way toward changing their initial mistrust.

Keira: How do you define (romantic) love?

IC: Just the right mix of friendship, admiration, and lust. There’s a complicated sort of alchemy here. For me personally, realizing I’m in love with someone has always been a lot like realizing I have gum in my hair—a messy situation that’s going to be hell to get out of—but I try to keep it more positive for my heroes and heroines.

Keira: What’s harder to keep alive and maintain: romance or houseplants?

IC: Romance, definitely. If guys just needed direct sun and water once a day, my college relationships would’ve lasted way longer.

Keira: What projects are you working on next?

IC: My next book is Curious Affairs at Midnight, and will be in stores in December 2012. Charlotte Woodwell—now a full-fledged Englefield agent—teams up with a government spy to track down a missing kid with unnerving powers. There are road trips, evil cultists, and a surly hedgehog.

LESSONS AFTER DARK BY ISABEL COOPER – IN STORES APRIL 2012

A woman with an unspeakable past…

Olivia Brightmore didn’t know what to expect when she took a position to teach at Englefiend School, an academy for “gifted” children. But it wasn’t having to rescue a young girl who levitated to the ceiling. Or battling a dark mystery in the surrounding woods. And nothing could have prepared her for Dr. Gareth St. John…

A man with exceptional talent…

He knew all about her history and scrutinized her every move because of it. But there was more than suspicion lurking in those luscious green eyes. Even with all the strange occurrences at the school, the most unsettling of all is the attraction pulling Olivia and Gareth together with a force that cannot be denied.

Buy: Lessons After Dark

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Critically acclaimed author Isabel Cooper lives in Boston with her boyfriend and a houseplant she’s kept alive for over a year now. She maintains her guise as a mild-mannered project manager working in legal publishing; all the while, she’s writing dark, edgy and magical romance novels. Her debut novel, No Proper Lady, was named a 2011 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year in the romance category, a 2011 Library Journal Best Romance of the Year and received an RT Book Reviews Seal of Excellence for the month of September 2011. For more information, please visit http://www.isabelcooper.org.

GIVEAWAY: 2 copies of Lessons After Dark. Open to US and Canada only. Enter by leaving a comment or question for Isabel. Last day to enter: April 27, 2012.