A Road Paved in Copper by Angela Christina Archer

A historical western romance that sets the glimmering city of San Francisco against the harsh desert of Nevada.

What’s it About?

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Armed with her six-shooter, Ava De La Vega dips the pen into the inkwell and etches her name on the Esmeralda County tax record book. A formidable force, that’s what her peers have called her. The woman in a man’s world, what did she know of mining ore, silver, and copper? Plenty. And it’s this knowledge that makes her of the richest miners in Nevada in 1903. Of course, it also makes her a target.

Traveling back and forth from Tonopah, Nevada and San Francisco, Ava blazes the trail from the dirt and grime of her mines to the fanciest hotel rooms, enjoying the finest wines, the most decadent meals, and the company of attractive young men. Unfortunately, for Ava, she doesn’t see Craig Harrison coming.

A miner from the snowy Klondike, Craig has traveled from the harsh Canadian mountains down to city streets of San Francisco. Not looking for work, he’s happy with the comfortable life away from the deep mines, the dirt, and the ever sought-after gold. Unfortunately, for Craig, he doesn’t see Ava coming.

First Impressions

This female lead is a bad ass! LOVE her!! Ava has distinguished herself in the male dominated world of mining. She’s more successful than her male counterparts, and not afraid to stand up for herself. Unlike most historical romances, Ava admits very early on in our tale that she’s no virgin. Although she works in the dirt and grime of Nevada’s desert mines, Ava also delights in her trips to San Francisco, where she can indulge in the company of a new man every time. No attachments, no expectations. However, upon first meeting Craig she immediately recognizes that there’s something different about him. He’s no one night stand. Rather than treat him as such, they actually refrain from intercourse for quite some time, even though they are both brimming with sexual need. Talk about willpower!

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From Harsh Desert to Glimmering City

A particular feature of this novel which was rather clever was that it managed to twist your initial assumptions and expectations of both the main character, and even the setting of the book itself. Ava embodies this perfectly, as she herself appears to be a contradiction in terms. She is one of the only women in this small mining Nevada town who can hold her own, and is in no way a damsel in distress. She can shoot a gun and kick a man where it counts, so you sort of have this initial impression that she’ll be kind of a tomboy.

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However, that all changes when she leaves the harsh desert of Nevada behind for the bright lights and busy streets of San Francisco. While she loves getting her hands dirty in Nevada, she loves to indulge herself in luxuries and feminine clothing when in the city. It almost seems like we are dealing with two different personalities in one woman, but we find that she manages to maintain her moxie whether surrounded by the elegance of the city or the ruffians of the mining town. The ability of the author to provide us a glimpse into two such distinct worlds is truly commendable.

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The Allure of the Land

Certain passages within this book were utterly poetic. One section which particularly resonated was when Craig describes both the allure and dangers of mining. How the earth holds such wondrous secrets and wealth, but it’s just out of reach from those who are searching for it. The bounty of the land can dry up at any time. At one point, the mines are even compared to a woman who makes you work for her pleasures; playing a teasing game with her suitor before giving up her secrets. Phenomenal metaphor!! It really made me wish part of the story could have been told from Craig’s point of view, so that we could better understand the intricacies of his own character.

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Another eloquent passage presents us with Ava as she contemplates whether or not to reveal the secret details of her troubled past to Craig. On the one hand, she wishes to keep some of her foolish girlhood decisions a secret from this man she has come to love. Senseless choices which she realizes she would never commit now as an informed adult. On the other hand, the grown woman in her wants to tell him, to admit the mistakes of her past and move on. Unfortunately Ava’s built up so many walls around herself in the attempt to keep herself safe, and ensure that only she will know the errors of her ways. This is probably a debate which many of us have faced at some point in our lives, and makes her character even more relatable.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: I would actually love to read some kind of short story or sequel to this one, but it looks like a stand-alone.

Should you read it? This book definitely starts with a bang! Ava’s enemies are trying to steal her land claims through force, and she finds herself in the cross hairs of a wild west shootout. After that initial drama the middle section was pretty mellow. If the suspense had carried more throughout the entirety of the book it could have made a positive difference. It all comes together though for an unbelievably intense ending that left me a mess of tears.

Smut Level: Craig has an appetite for this headstrong woman, so he enjoys her on the kitchen table. Hint hint, wink wink. Nothing too explicit or detailed as far as smut.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Long Valley Press. 238 Pages.

Little Red by Caroline Lee

Alright, before we even get started with the review, I think we all need to take a moment to fully appreciate the sheer beauty of this cover art. Seriously, just look at it! The juxtaposition of the red cape against the white backdrop; the flow of the cape that makes you want to reach out and touch it. I wonder if I could get away with wearing a cape like that?

What’s it About?

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She’s gone over the river and through the woods, but who will protect her from the Big Bad Wolf? Rojita is in trouble; all she needs to do is get to her grandmother in Everland, but she’s being chased by El Lobo, one of the West’s most notorious gunslingers. It isn’t until she’s thrown herself head-long into danger that she realizes the old adage about frying pans and fires applies. She’s in desperate need of a protector, and hires the first man who comes along to get her safely to Everland.

Bounty hunter Hank Cutter is more than ready to retire to a lonely little cabin in Arizona, to hang up his gun and find peace. He’ll begrudgingly help the reckless young woman get to the nearest train station, because he figures she’d get into even more trouble on her own. But when El Lobo struts back into his life—Hank still has the scars from their last encounter—he knows that he can’t leave Rojita at the gunslinger’s mercy. Maybe he’s nobler than he’d thought, because he’s soon setting a trap to save the lovely, impetuous Red. The only problem is that she’s still keeping a secret that could destroy his trust.

First Impressions

I’ll admit, I really do love a fairy-tale adaptation. I grew up reading fairy-tales. Looking back I can’t really say I was drawn to the princess finding her happily ever after with Prince Charming per se. Rather, I loved the locations. The adventure! Growing up in suburban Ohio, basically any story that took me to another part of the world was a plus. When it came to this adaptation of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” tale, there was an added unique feature of the story being transported to the Wild West. Gunslingers and all! It was such fun to see the mention of other classic fairy-tale characters as well, from Aurora to Snow White! Then when our main characters arrive in the small town of Everland, we see classic elements drawn into the names of streets and houses too. So cute!

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Classic Western and a Classic Tale

I will say I thought it was extremely unique to adapt a fairy-tale into a good ole’ western romance, with a bounty hunter, gunslinger, not to mention an orphanage that needs saving! I also enjoyed the interesting twist to catching our wolf. In this adaptation we see grandma is the one who dons the disguise instead of the other way around. That being said, I do feel that unfortunately some of the essential elements of the original story were lost in the adaptation.

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When I think of the original “Little Red Riding Hood” tale I think of two primary characters: Red and the Wolf. If I put more thought into it I remember the grandma. If I reaaaally push it I remember in some variations you have like, a huntsman, who helps Red kill the wolf and rescue grandma. In this version you have Rojita as Red, Hank as our manly hero, and grandma is, well…grandma. One character was noticeably absent though for a rather large portion of the book. The wolf!! Infamous gunslinger, El Lobo, is our villain, but he’s only in a few scenes and doesn’t actually appear until a large portion of the book is already finished. Kind of disappointing.

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Series: Everland Ever After, book 2.

Should you read it? Not a whole lot of action until the very end. We also don’t really understand the full connection of the characters and the villain until pretty late in the game. I did enjoy the unique take on this fairy-tale, but I wish it had drawn a few more elements from the classic telling.

Smut Level: Clean read. No sex, yet still full of passion!

Get it on Amazon:  Click Here. FREE. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 164 Pages.

Tess and the Highlander by May McGoldrick

I can’t believe you all let me go this long without reviewing a historical romance novel. Honestly, shame on me!

What’s it About?

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Tess Lindsay has spent most of her life on the remote Isle of May, uncertain of her identity. Raised by the two sole inhabitants of the island, she is left to fend for herself after their deaths, until a stranger washes ashore in a storm. Tess pulls him from the surf, not knowing that in saving the Highlander she is saving herself.

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If good looks and a taste for adventure are a curse, Colin Macpherson is destined for ruin. Until he ends up a castaway on Tess’s windswept island, he’s been roaming the seas, seeking fame, fortune… and a different girl in every port. But his fascination for this strong-willed lass goes beyond her wild beauty, intriguing him as no girl ever does.

As Colin gains her trust, Tess reveals what little she knows about herself and her past. From her scant clues, though, Colin comes to one conclusion: he must return Tess to the mainland to reclaim her birthright, even if it means losing her to a destiny that does not include him.

First Impressions

Ok, so when it comes to historical romance reads, this one was just alright. It wasn’t bad in any sense of the word, but it was overall a rather predictable and basic romance. Not a whole lot of depth, but easy-going and still enjoyable. Also, we’ve got a Highlander in a kilt, so at least it has that going for it. This book also made me realize that my brain has now been conditioned to always picture Sam Heughan from Outlander as the male lead for any Highland romance. I don’t care that the lead in this book, Colin, has a physical appearance completely different than that of Sam. Sexy Highlander in my mind automatically reads Outlander to me. I suppose James Dornan could be an acceptable substitute.

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Plenty of Sass

My favorite character in this novel, hands down, had to be Tess. She had so much sass and spunk, and that isn’t something you necessarily always come across in historical romance leading ladies. No need for a fainting chaise in this one! Tess has been living alone on a remote island for a while now, and Colin is the first outsider she’s ever interacted with. He might be big, surly and intimidating, but that doesn’t mean Tess is afraid to speak her mind.

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With a Shipwreck Here, and a Shipwreck There

Tess has no concrete memory of what life was like before she washed up on the island during a storm when she was a child. She was raised by an elderly couple who recently passed away, but they ensured she was kept hidden from any outsider who visited the island when they were alive. When Colin washes ashore during another terrible storm, Tess can’t help but drag him to safety. While she initially tries to stay hidden from him, their paths on this small island eventually cross, and sparks are quick to fly.

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The Harsh Reality of Coming Home

The few memories Tess has of her former pre-island life are far from happy, and remain as blurred, fiery flashbacks which come to her in the forms of nightmares. When she eventually leaves the island with Colin, her flashbacks start to become more and more clear, specifically in regards to her overbearing mother. Tess is desperate to reunite with her mother, who is also her only living family. However, her mom’s hatred of Highlanders, and ill opinion of Colin presents a complicated inner struggle for Tess. She craves the closeness and affection of her mother, yet also refuses to stand for her mother viewing Colin as a barbarian. A complicated and dramatic homecoming to be sure!

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*Disclaimer: Yes, I realize every photo I used in this post was from the show Outlander. Yes, I understand it might have been overkill.But you know what, I don’t even care! I LOVE!!!

Series: MacPherson Clan, book 6. I haven’t read any of the others, and had no trouble following along. We do see characters from the other books though.

Should you read it? Good, not great. Predictable and sweet. Tess has been independent for so long, it’s inevitable she’ll clash with her overbearing and controlling mother upon reuniting.

Smut Level: A few make-out scenes, nothing more. The best part though was when they were on the island together, and Colin has to warm Tess up after she was hiding in the cold and rain to avoid him. Time to get cozy!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.01 Kindle Price. May McGoldrick Books. 173 Pages.

 

 

Dragon Knight’s Ring by Mary Morgan

There were many moments in this novel where different characters would be in some kind of open field, tilt their head back, spread their arms out wide, and scream their frustrations about life to any Fae listening. Not gonna lie, kind of jealous! Must be a cathartic experience. I wonder where the nearest open field is near me.

What’s it About?

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Crusader, Adam MacFhearguis is on one last quest to the standing stones in Scotland where he seeks to bury the past. However, a silent prayer sends him to an unknown future and to his beloved Meggie. When he uncovers a shocking revelation, Adam questions everything about the woman he thought he knew and loved. He may have traveled the veil of ages, but time is now his enemy.

Margaret MacKay lives a life in the future without the memories of her past—her death. When Adam arrives at her door confessing he knows her, she is confused and wary. With each passing day, she yearns to learn more from this stranger. Yet, when a truth is revealed, can she trust the man to unlock the chains from her mind and heart? Will love free the bonds to unite the two lovers who were doomed centuries ago? Or will evil finally claim victory over the Dragon Knights?

First Impressions

At the start of the novel, we see Adam continuing to mourn the death of his beloved, Meggie, at the hand of her brother years before who disapproved of their union. We see a broken man, who struggles to move on in life. I assumed this novel would focus on him meeting a new woman who could help him live again, and find a new romance. Imagine my surprise when, instead of meeting a new woman, we find him being sent forward in time to reunite with the love of his life. Even more surprising is the fact that she has no recollection of who he is.

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The Mysteries of the Future

So many romance novels involving time travel focus on someone having to adjust to traveling back in time, whereas in this one we see someone travel to the future instead. I must say, I absolutely loved this feature of the book! It was quite humorous to see Adam’s reactions to the strangeness of the future. From the flying beast of an airplane, to the glowing embers of light-bulbs, and the ultimate sorcery of running tap water.

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On top of Adam’s adjustments to the future, another struggle was his attempt to help Meggie regain her memories. Although she doesn’t remember him per se, she can’t deny the connection she feels to him, or how her body yearns for him. It’s only a matter of time before they succumb to their bodily urges. And once they do, Meggie has a moment of remembrance. That can only mean one thing! Maybe one more tumble will bring her memory back fast. Or maybe not. But one must try and try again!

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Blast from the Past

This is the fifth book in the series, and we see all the Dragon Knights from the previous novels come together for one final battle against the forces of evil. I’ve only read one previous novel in this series, and in hindsight I wish I had read all of them before opening this one. I think I would have connected more with the characters and the story-line if I had more background. There are so many knights, with their wives and children it was kind of hard to keep them all straight at times! Not to mention all their magical powers. That being said, definitely an interesting and suspenseful final battle!

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Order of the Dragon Knights, book 5. There’s still more to come from this series.

Should you read it? It’s kind of hard to rank this one. Definitely a good build-up of suspense, and an enchanting tale of true love lasting through any obstacle, whether death, or time. However, I did feel confused for a large portion of the book, as I wasn’t too familiar with all the different rules of magic involved, or the connections between so many characters.

Smut Level: Thinking she’s been dead for years, he’s not gonna let this moment pass them by without showing all the passion he has for her burst free.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 281 Pages.

 

 

Clingstone by Marti Ziegler

A Civil War romance unlike any other you may have read before.

What’s it About? 

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What if you were counted among hundreds of civilians wrongly charged with treason? Creighton Branagan is one of the few men still residing in the mill village of Roswell, Georgia, at the closing stages of the American Civil War. His deafness excludes him from military service and condemns him as an outcast.

Mae Parrish’s dissatisfaction extends to a life of too much work and too little joy. She forms a wary alliance with Creighton when they are included among hundreds of southern textile workers arrested for treason and deported to northern prisons under Federal guard. Their crime: manufacturing Confederate uniforms.

Clingstone chronicles their arduous journey by wagon and train, followed by an emotional internment rife with privations and disease. It is during the course of these hardships that their resilience is repeatedly tested, and their pact of survival deepens into a steadfast love that withstands even the deepest self-inflicted wounds of war.

First Impressions

When it comes to Civil War romances, you can’t help but draw to mind one of the most well-known of all time, Gone with the Wind. What I absolutely loved about this novel was that it’s about as far removed from Gone with the Wind as you can get. Instead of a high-class lady for a heroine, we have a lowly mill worker who isn’t a virgin, or afraid to speak her mind. Instead of a suave and debonair male lead, we have a deaf man who cares for his ill-mannered nephew as his ward. And yet, our characters are unbelievably dynamic, and like Gone with the Wind, we see how all their lives are affected and worsened by the ravages of war. However, in the end it also this terrible war that brings them all together.

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Travels and Travails

This novel takes us on an unbelievable journey, where we see our lead characters start off as enemies in a southern mill, but grow closer as they are sent north with their fellow mill workers to a prison for producing Confederate uniforms. It was amazing to see these characters start to rely on one another throughout all of their difficulties. No matter what troubles they encountered, they could always find their way to each other again.

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I personally found Mae to be an extremely unique, yet complicated female lead. I’m not gonna lie, when the novel begins, you kind of dislike her. In a word, she’s basically a brat. She joins a friend of hers to pull an unkind prank on the deaf Creighton. She whines and complains, yet we quickly discover that she’s a strong character who’s had to adapt because she’s been on her own for so long. Mae has built up a tough exterior to survive, but it is Creighton and his unruly nephew, Owen, who let her connect and trust others again.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? Yes! I absolutely love Mae’s relationship with both Creighton and his nephew. They all have this bickering and bantering exchange on the surface, yet underneath you can see how much they all care about each other. They are an unlikely, yet loving family.

Smut Level: Their banter turns into flirtation, which eventually turns into something more intimate. A few scenes in particular are utterly delectable.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 383 Pages.

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Seize the Flame by Lynda J. Cox

Alright, I’m gonna try my best to stay reserved with this review, and keep my emotions in check. I loved it, I loved it, I LOVED IT!!! Wow. Didn’t really succeed in that attempt, did I?

What’s it About?

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Jessica Depre’s life is in tatters. She’s on the run, thanks to her abusive husband Robert, who needs to silence her about his criminal escapades and the part he forced her to play in them. When bounty hunter Drake Adams walks into the boarding house where she works, Jessica slips away into the night. Her only hope of surviving and protecting those she loves from her husband’s rage is to vanish forever.

Unable to accept that the only woman he ever loved left him standing at the altar and married another, Drake Adams has given up a good law practice in the Wyoming Territory. If he’s not hunting down bounties, he’s pursuing the bottom of a bottle of bourbon. When Drake learns his former fiancée, Jessica Majors-Depre, has a price on her head, he decides he will collect the reward.

Can the bounty hunter and the bank robber ignite a future from the ashes of their past when they are trapped by a blizzard in a mountain shack or will playing with fire burn them both?

First Impressions

In case you didn’t catch on earlier, I absolutely loved this book. From start to finish, prologue to epilogue, the entire book comes full circle and holds your interest throughout. It has everything you could possibly hope for in an exciting western romance: a brooding bounty hunter, a brave woman on the run from an abusive husband, and the two of them trapped together in an isolated cabin during a snow storm. Well hello sexual temptation, so nice to see you again!

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A Connection Through History

Good God the connection between these two characters is phenomenal. They have a history together, one that met with an unfortunate end due to a devastating misunderstanding. When Drake discovers that Jessie is wanted for murder, he is determined to bring in the woman who ran away from him on their wedding day. But when he hears her own telling of events, he realizes that things might not be as simple as they seem, and that the two of them have some unfinished business to attend to. And clothing to remove.

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A Hateful Villain

Another great aspect of this novel is that it contains a villain you’ll hate with every fiber of your being. Jessica’s husband is a disgusting piece of work who is just pure evil. The author does an amazing job at creating such a despicable character with absolutely zero redeeming qualities. We know it’s just a matter of time before this scum bucket catches up with our lead characters, and when he does the novel is thrust into a whole new level of intensity! You just don’t know who will come out of it alive.

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*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Nope

Should you read it? If you’re looking for an engaging historical romance with a great blend of intrigue and sexiness, then you should definitely pick it up.

Smut Level: A fire isn’t the only thing keeping these two warm during a Wyoming snow storm.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 182 Pages.

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Midnight Serenade by Alli Sinclair

This book makes me want to learn to tango. And re-watch Evita for about the fiftieth time. And find an amazingly artistic male lover to do a little tango beneath the sheets. Unfortunately, none of those are going to happen because I essentially have two left feet, Evita isn’t currently streaming on Netflix, and well…who are we kidding? That last one was never gonna happen!

What’s it About?

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After twenty years of wondering why her mother chose the tango over her, Dani McKenna finally travels to Argentina. What was it about this beautiful, mysterious land that enticed one woman away from her own child—and broke another’s heart? As a journalist, Dani may have the opportunity to find out. And an enigmatic tango dancer may hold the key to her quest—if she can break down his defensive walls.

Carlos Escudero had been Dani’s mother’s protégé. Tragedy ended his career and he refuses to be interviewed. But he will give Dani some insights, on one condition: she must agree to his tango lessons. As the two begin the intricate dance of passion, Dani’s quiet, logical world is exchanged for one of music, motion—and mystery. For the clues to a tango legend’s murder may lead Dani to the truth about the past and its impact on her family—and free her to move toward a future she can claim as her own at last…

First Impressions

Honestly, it takes a few chapters before this book finally finds it’s direction. There’s a lot going on in this novel, and although this helps to constantly keep you on your toes, it also makes it seem a tad unfocused at times. I think the main contributing factor to this is the fact that we’re dealing with a multi-generational novel. Dani might initially seem to be the lead of the novel with her journey to Argentina and flirtations with a handsome tango dancer, but then we find out the book is just as much about her mother and grandmother as it is about her. Not to mention a few other dashing characters who get thrown into the mix.

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From Dani’s search for her estranged mother, to her tango lessons with a devastatingly strict teacher, and even a 1950s murder mystery, I questioned whether or not the multitude of story lines presented in this novel could come together and form one cohesive plot. Happy to announce I was pleasantly surprised, as well as emotionally floored at the way all of these stories converge into one beautiful ending that will have you reaching for the tissues.

 

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The Tango of Life

Throughout the novel, there are many references and equivalencies to how tango is just like life and love. In my opinion, there may have been a few too many comparisons at how they all contain overwhelming joy, sadness, heartache, passion and melancholy. However, in the end you can’t deny that tango has a supreme impact on every single character presented in this novel. At times it might seem like a curse, but it can also result in a deep connection with your perfect partner.

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From 1953 to Today

While Dani is the main focus of the present day story line, we are also concurrently reading about the tumultuous tale of Louisa Gilchrest in 1953 Argentina, and her love affair with a talented musician who is pretty much off limits. I almost thought this historical romance could have been a book in and of itself. It was this story that had the bulk of the mystery, intrigue, political upheaval, and tragedy. It also made me slightly antsy, as there’s nothing that makes me squirm more with discomfort than someone who is accused of a murder they didn’t commit.

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Eventually we do see how these two stories are connected through something much more than tango. As these two tales start to merge together at the end it almost becomes a race against time for all of the puzzle pieces to fall into place. But when they do? Oh…my…God.  Devastatingly beautiful. It might not be the happiest of happy endings with prancing unicorns and bunny rabbits, but it will make you realize that life is always full of unexpected surprises.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: The Dance Card Series

Should you read it? The multi-generational aspect of this novel is definitely one of it’s most unique features. However, at the beginning this is also one of the main detriments of the novel, as it’s almost too many stories going on at once. Definitely worth sticking around though for the ending. You’ll also learn a bit about the history of tango, which is pretty interesting.

Smut Level: The characters of this novel insist that one of the main misconceptions about tango is that it’s all about sex. Though love and passion are a main feature of this novel, sex isn’t too much of a focus.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. Lyrical Press. 326 Pages.

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