Here and Then After by D.M. Porters

Beth has been given a second chance at life, and in the process she also has a chance at love. It might be the truest love she’s ever experienced. In this lifetime…or her last one.

What’s it About?

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Retired tax accountant, Elizabeth Edwards is devastated when she discovers her husband of 41 years, has been unfaithful most of their married life. What’s worse, she discovers this after he passes away when deep, punishing secrets are revealed. She is left to struggle with the deception and the fact that her life has been a lie. Broken, tortured and alone, Beth decides to leave her life behind and start over with what little time she had left.

With a keen eye for antiques and her love of history, Beth embarks on a journey to England that will change everything for her, even time. She visits the countryside to explore its grand manors and estates. Then, the directions to a ‘hidden gem’ are disclosed to her, and she is inexplicably drawn to this estate – Taylor Manor.

Faced with her own sudden death, Beth is given a second chance to live. This time, however, it is in the body of a beautiful young woman living her own hell 200 years in the past. In a twist of fate, the haven she is sent to is Taylor Manor, where she is to work as a maid. There she meets the brooding Lord Samuel Taylor, who has lived through his own pain and suffering. Can Beth start over and learn to live in this new and dangerous world while resisting her growing attraction to handsome Lord Taylor? Can he allow himself to love while battling his own demons? Love truly has no boundaries, not even time.

First Impressions

This novel presents us with a very unique and interesting twist to your typical time travel romance. Rather than simply traveling through time (seriously, who hasn’t in this day and age?), Beth has actually died in the year 2017 from a heart attack. As she’s traveling towards the white light of the beyond, she encounters a young woman named Sarah who is also moving along that same light. Beth then proceeds to inhabit Sarah’s body back in the early 1800’s. This added an interesting dimension to the whole time travel theme in that Beth doesn’t just have to adapt to living in a new time period, but she also deals with a flood of memories from this young woman’s sad and short-lived life. I can’t say I’ve ever come across a time travel romance such as this, and I must say I loved this twist. Instead of constantly wondering whether or not Beth will be able to return to her own time, because let’s face it that ship has sailed, we get an alternate drama of her having to cope with the events and tragedies that Sarah tried to escape from through suicide. We quickly learn that this woman was abused and raped at the hands of her drunken father, and while Beth is able to hide out in the countryside estate, Taylor Manor, we all know it’s just a matter of time before this abusive father comes to find her.

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A New Life

Beth doesn’t lament too long on the fact that she’s leaving her old life behind for good. After all, she was in her 60’s at the time of her death, and suffering from obvious heart problems. She now gets to inhabit the body of a beautiful 20-year-old, and the aches and pains of old age are no more. Beyond that though, she had also just learned that her recently deceased husband of 41 years was quite the philanderer, and even had a daughter she never knew existed. After learning of this betrayal, Beth decided to finally set out and live life for herself by exploring the beautiful country estates of England. She visits a rather hidden estate known as Taylor Manor, and feels an immediate connection to the house before keeling over dead from a heart attack. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up in the 1800’s, and learns that to escape the clutches of Sarah’s lunatic father she will be hidden away as a housemaid in none other than Taylor Manor.

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Now, most people who find themselves in this type of situation would probably be freaking the eff out. However, you have to admire Beth’s tenacity and ability to look at this entire situation as a second chance at life. Sure, Sarah’s life was fraught with issues, but Beth still chooses to make the most of every day. The fact that she gets to spend her time in a beautiful manor house surrounded by glorious antiques is simply an added bonus! And sure, the devilishly handsome master of the house with whom she has an undeniable sexual chemistry isn’t half-bad either. However, I do feel that there was one missed opportunity here for some added fun. In her former life, Beth was a wealthy older woman who had worked a desk job as a successful accountant. Now she is suddenly a housemaid in the 1800’s doing dishes, cleaning, etc? I just wish we could have been privy to a few more scenes which focused on the difficulty of adjusting to this new life. I get that by waking up 40 years younger she probably has a bit more pep in her step, but it seems like she would have had a few issues here and there with having to put some elbow grease into her daily work.

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Life in the Manor

Of all the manors in England to end up in after traveling through time, Beth definitely lucked out being placed in Taylor Manor. The various characters of the house are such a delight, and you can’t help but fall in love with them. From the motherly love of the head-housekeeper, to the joyous affability of the cook, and especially the rambunctious innocence of the young stable boy. As soon as Beth steps foot into this house you can’t wait to get to know them all, and just like Beth you too will be swept up into the warmth of this friendly bunch of people. And then of course we get to the master of the house, Samuel. He’s a bit of a surly fellow. Kind of closed-off and grumbly, although he has a definite soft spot for his employees.

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We learn that his parents died in a tragic carriage accident when he was just a boy. The fact he witnessed the entire ordeal adds to the overall tragedy of the event, and obviously contributed to his seemingly outward lack of empathy as an adult. But at the first sight of Beth he is obviously smitten, and also surprisingly intrigued by her adept knowledge of math and balancing his ledgers. Beth is also surprised to feel such desire for a man again. I will admit at times I was prone to a slight giggle-fest when they eventually acted upon their desires for each other. What can I say? I couldn’t help but remind myself that in essence we have a woman in her 60’s getting down and dirty with a handsome English Lord in his 20’s. Sure, her body might be young, but this woman has lived, and she brings all of her experience to the table. Let’s just say she has a few tricks up her sleeve to bring this man to his knees. Well…she gets down on hers anyway!

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The Big Reveal

Alright, so the time has come which we know is inevitable in any time travel romance. The moment when our lead character admits to her love interest the fact that she isn’t from this time. Samuel has suspected pretty much from day one that Beth was hiding something about herself, but he never dreamed in a million years what she would come to admit. Now, typically when this reveal happens, a very common response is for the opposite party to think our time traveler is crazy. I definitely get it. But here was the one aspect of this novel that I wasn’t toooooo fond of. Normally when the person thinks the time traveler is crazy, they immediately start to treat them like delicate glass, and vow to get them the help they so desperately need. Well…we don’t get that here.

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Instead, after Beth admits she’s lived a life in the future, Samuel not only declares she must be mad, but practically insists that she get the hell outta his house as soon as possible. Dude, I understand it’s a tough thing to understand, but don’t throw the poor woman out on the street! Let’s assume for a moment that he does actually believe she is legitimately insane. Beth has already admitted to him that she (or at least the woman she’s occupying) tried to commit suicide after being abused and raped at the hands of her father. Why wouldn’t Samuel just think she’s going through some kind of post-traumatic meltdown, and somehow tried to create an alternate life as a way to cope with this trauma? While he quickly comes to regret his decision to kick her out of his house, and immediately runs after her to bring her back, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed at his initial reaction to her admission. I expected more from you Samuel!

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

Series: Taylor series, book 1. I have definitely fallen in love with this family, and this manor. Can’t wait to see what comes next in book 2!

Should you read it? I will say it does take some time for our story to build up to Beth’s eventual death and travel through time. Quite a bit of time is spent on Beth interacting with her husband’s illegitimate daughter that I’m not 100% convinced was entirely necessary. Unless of course that story line comes back into play in a future novel? Who knows! That being said, once Beth makes the jump through time I was hooked. You have the drama and intrigue of her adjusting to life in the 1800s, falling in love with Samuel, and eventually dealing with the suspense of the abusive father. I figured we’d end with a happily ever after, but what I wasn’t expecting was to see how everything connects back to the future. The novel definitely comes full circle in a delightfully clever way, and I for one am excited to see what other inventive twists and turns we might encounter in a second book.

Smut Level: For a historical romance this book will definitely have you blushing. Sure, we get the typical mentions of trembling and bursting forth into ecstasy, but there are also a few more details in there to please our modern sensibilities.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 237 Pages.

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Larken by Suzanne G. Rogers

The miracle orphan finds love. After years of being alone it’s so nice to see that something has finally gone right.
What’s it About?
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The sole survivor of a train accident, young Larken Burke is dubbed the Miracle Orphan. Four years later, however, her life is far from fortunate. Because of her emotional and physical scars, she believes she’s un-marriageable. With little hope for the future, she agrees to wed a gentleman she’s never met. Unfortunately, his aloof manner proves difficult to take.

Marked by romantic tragedy and the loss of his brother, Brandon King has forsworn marriage. Obliged to take in a ward, he advertises for a mail-order bride to raise the boy. Since the union is to be a marriage in name only, his criteria are youthful age, a certain level of intellect, good breeding, and that the girl shouldn’t be so ill-favored she would embarrass him in society. To his dismay, he gets more than he’d bargained for. Will it take a miracle for Mr. and Mrs. King to fall in love, or is their marriage another accident waiting to happen?

First Impressions 
I have read many a mail order bride romance novel, and honestly after about two or three they get kind of repetitive. However I must say this one was quite unique in that we aren’t dealing with a young woman who gets sent out West to fall in love with a lonely cowboy. Instead this novel is set in the Regency period of jolly ole England. Larken has been brought into the family of Brandon King to act as a sort of governess for his ward. The fact that he places an ad in a newspaper in order to find such a woman to marry and become his wife, sight unseen, makes this romance a bit different than your typical Lord falling in love with a governess tale.
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Why would a woman as young and beautiful as Larken agree to enter into such a bizarre arrangement? Easy, she has no choice. Her parents died years before in a tragic train accident in which Larken was the sole survivor, making her the “miracle orphan”. She was eventually adopted by a cold, unloving family. Larken is now of age to be married off, and her stepfather takes the first offer he finds. This novel definitely draws you in with its sad beginning, but eventually we see a beautiful romance develop, not to mention the importance placed on family. Just when it seems that everything is going wrong for Larken, she eventually finds a happily ever after she never thought was possible. 
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The New Wife and the Ward 
Hands down my favorite aspect of this novel is the fact that it didn’t really start off as a romance. Instead we see the focus placed more on Larken developing a relationship with Myles, Brandon’s young Ward. He too is an orphan, and is afraid to suddenly be in a new home surrounded by people he doesn’t know. This is where Larken is able to offer her own personal perspective, and connect with Myles when it seems no one else can. She too has been left alone in the world, and is just looking for someone she can talk to. Neither will find this in the cold-mannered Brandon King. He practically ignored Larken at their wedding, refusing to look or speak with her. Hell, they didn’t even consummate the damn thing. Needless to say her opinion of him was quite negative at the outset.
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As for his relationship with Myles, we aren’t given too much information at the beginning. We just know that Brandon knew Myles’ mother, and felt obligated to pick up the young lad over in America before returning back with him to his estate in the English countryside. Brandon said only a handful of words to the young orphan on the return journey, and therefore Myles also doesn’t have the best opinion of his new caretaker. He is also wary of Larken in the beginning, insistent that she would never be able to replace his mother. But this is where Larken admits she has no such objective. She is just looking for a friend. This is also where we get to see Larken’s rather carefree and whimsical nature. She had to invent imaginary friends in order to survive the harsh realities of being orphaned in such a tragic manner. She has no hesitancy whatsoever in introducing these silly characters with their own personalities to Myles.
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Eventually their laughter draws the attention of the brusque Brandon King. While both are understandably wary of letting him into their tight-knit circle in the beginning, they eventually are able to open up with each other and become a family. All of them have lost loved ones, and while they understand the others could never replace those that they’ve lost, they are able to overcome the tragedies of their pasts the more time they spend together. All of this takes place within the first half or so of the novel, so you can see why it was definitely my favorite part. Once this ragtag bunch of characters find happiness with each other, things start to get a bit…interesting.
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While there were definitely some interesting plot twists towards the end of the novel that I did not see coming, I must admit that the second half wasn’t as enjoyable as what came before it. I did find one particular plot twist revolving the death of Brandon’s brother, Theo, rather interesting. Brandon blames himself for his brother’s tragic death years before, and we see that it actually relates to Myles’ mother. His brother’s death not only impacted his surly manner, but also his outlook on life and love.
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Both Larken and Myles are able to help Brandon overcome the tragedy of his brother’s death, but with this certain plot twist in the second half it sort of throws everything we thought we knew for a loop. While certain aspects of this twist weren’t necessarily my favorite, or particularly realistic, I really did enjoy that it connects back to how our novel began with the terrible train accident involving Larken and her parents. It was neat to see that almost every aspect of the novel introduced in the beginning comes back full circle by the end. Even the most seemingly erroneous of details actually had a purpose, and nothing is left unresolved.
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However, while the twist involving Brandon’s brother may not have been my absolute favorite, the dramatic plot point that was saved for the very end of the novel was by far my least favorite aspect of the book. It was just too over-the-top, and actually involves Larken being kidnapped by an unhappy group of theater actors dressed as pirates. So…yeah. It was too theatrical for my taste, and took away a sense of realism to the story which had been so strong up to that point. Both the pain and love which all of these characters felt was something that we could all understand. And then suddenly we have this group of outsiders dressed as pirates to throw a wrench in the whole thing. I definitely understand the need for drama, but let’s tone things down just a smidge. 
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Series: Graceling Hall, book 1. Overall I really did enjoy the characters and the story presented in this novel. I will definitely be continuing on with book 2.
Should you read it? This is a short, quick read. It highlights the importance of family, and to keep trudging on when life seems to be at its lowest point. You never know, there might just be a break in the clouds up ahead. The ending was definitely a bit too over-the-top, but I loved the familial dynamic between Brandon, Myles and Larken, not to mention the developing romance between our male and female lead.
Smut Level: Two short kisses, and an implied love scene at the very end. Clean read, no graphic details, and very sweet. Not the steamiest of historical romances. 
Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. Idunn Court Publishing. 176 Pages.

Always Mine by Ruth Cardello

Passion for art. Passion for business. Passion for each other. When push comes to shove, which one will prove the strongest?

What’s it About? 26064429

When it comes to getting what he wants, Asher Barrington is a hammer who is known for crushing his opponents. From the moment Emily walks into his office and challenges him, winning takes on a whole new meaning. The only thing standing between Emily Harris and her goal to open a museum for the blind is an arrogant, sexy as hell billionaire, who thinks sleeping with her will not complicate the situation. He won’t change. She won’t back down. But together they sizzle.

First Impressions

Meh. Blarg. Blerg. Blaginfeffer. This book was just ok. There were definitely some very interesting aspects which kept me engaged as a reader, but overall there were just too many different storylines and dramatic plot points at play which never really came full circle for me. Not to mention a romantic couple that was constantly engaged in a dynamic power struggle, with a lacking ability to communicate or even act like adults at times. Sounds like a fun one to jump right on into doesn’t it?? Follow me!

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Emotion vs. Physical Connection

Alright, first off, their emotional relationship seemed completely unbelievable, and even one-sided to me. Their physical relationship is certainly ready and raring to go, but also borders on physical manipulation at times. I seriously lost track of the number of times Emily told Asher no, but then he just kisses her into agreeing to sleep with him. It seems like their entire physical connection is based on them being pissed at each other, and then working off their frustration in the bedroom. While this can work in some situations, the fact it was the driving force behind their coupling just left a bad taste in my mouth. As for the emotional side of things, this was all over the freaking place, and is so catty wompus it’s tricky to verbalize in a coherent way.

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When it comes to Emily, I honestly felt she was more passionate about her art than Asher. But there’s actually a very good reason for that. Asher basically treats her like shit! He’s closed off to her about his life, constantly keeps her in the dark, and apparently uses sex as a way to distract her. When he f*cks something up in their relationship, he can never use his words to say how he messed up. Instead he turns to making a big gesture, which I think is supposed to show how deeply he cares for Emily that he’s willing to go all out to remedy the situation. However, instead I couldn’t help but feel that he was just throwing money at her in the hopes of wooing her to his side. I mean, hell, I’d swoon over a private plane ride to Paris with a sex God. But then you have to ask yourself what you’re left with when the Paris vacation is over and you fly back home.

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The Sex God

And this leads me to the underlying reason I didn’t really care for this book. When you stripped away all of Asher’s money, power, and sexual prowess, what do you have remaining? He’s kind of a dick. Sure, he loves Emily, but she has some clear-cut lovable qualities. She cares about her family, she’s passionate about her mother’s art and sharing it with the world. She herself is a loving person. As for why Emily falls in love with Asher? Other than him being talented with his penis I’m kind of at a loss.

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He does show a brief interest in her art, and while he does have a final big gesture which shows he’s been paying attention to how important her art is to her, I couldn’t help but feel Asher merely saw it as a way to get Emily back into his life and his bed. When they’re in Paris he basically abandons her to go solve a work problem. Not only does he leave with zero explanation, but he remains radio silent for about two weeks. No calls, no texts, no carrier pigeons. And then he’s shocked upon returning to Paris and discovering that she’s returned to the States without him. Seriously, what did you expect ya ass?

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A Plethora of Plots

Another big deterrent of this novel was that there were way too many plot points introduced, and they didn’t really mesh well. There’s an interesting start for sure, as Asher’s company is buying up all the land around Emily’s home and museum site for some kind of fancy facility that needs to be in rural New Hampshire for some reason. Then you have their love/hate/anger relationship and sexual explorations. But then there’s this weird side-plot involving Asher’s business exploits in some kind of war-torn country with guerrillas, and for me it was the most unnecessary aspect of the book. Back in the States Emily is working closely with Asher’s mother on an art auction to spread the word about Emily’s new museum. But! As if that wasn’t enough Emily’s museum burns down and we have to deal with the drama of who was responsible, and Asher trying to win her back after being absent for so long. By that point it was just kind of like, alright what else can we plop on here?! Sometimes less is more!!

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Series: The Barrington Billionaires, book 1. Meh.

Should you read it? I wanted more from this book, but also less at the same time. I know, sounds disfunctional. First, I wanted more reasons to like Asher as a person, not to mention love him as a romantic lead. Second, there needed to be at least one less story point, as it was just an overwhelming amount to the point where some couldn’t be fully fleshed out to come full circle. Overdone for sure. And to throw another wrench into the mix, while Emily was a passionate character she could be over-the-top at times, and almost too idealistic. Tone it down girl. All in all, it was hard to fall in love with the characters.

Smut Level: Hot damn! The physical connection between these two was one of the only things they had going for ’em. Naughty, dirty, and angry. But…almost too angry.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. FREE Kindle. RCardello LLC. 220 Pages.

Under a Scottish Sky by Pamela Q. Fernandes

While searching for stars in the Scottish sky, Michelle manages to find love underneath them.

What’s it About? 36239163

Seeking stars, finding love! Michelle Reyes is a strong, guilt-ridden woman. Traveling as a nurse from her home in Manila to Scotland to see the stars, she meets Adrian, the son of her patient. She sees Adrian as arrogant, unforgiving and cruel. But is Adrian more than he appears to be?

First Impressions

I think I’ve said it before. If not, well I guess I better mention it here. Short novels are a tricky business. Their short length are so unique that they can allow you to skip over superfluous details, and get right down to business. They can also give a slight introduction or continuation of a story from a full-length novel that sort of teases you for something more. More often than naught however, I think short novels can act as a trap when what should probably be a full story instead crammed into something much shorter. Unfortunately, I think this story falls into the latter category. Overall, it was an intriguing story which captured my interest, and was filled with troubled yet relate-able characters. However, I couldn’t help but feel that the romance aspect of the tale between Michelle and Adrian felt somewhat rushed. In the end, I was left wanting more.

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A Few More Pages Needed

Personally, I felt this was the type of story that really would have benefited from a longer page length. There’s just a lot going on! In addition to the obvious budding feelings of love between Michelle and Adrian, we also have her acting as a nurse and caretaker to his stroke-impacted mother (probably my fav story line), Adrian dealing with his own troubled relationship with his mom and deceased father, as well as an interesting dynamic involving Adrian’s former friend, ex-girlfriend and Michelle. Not to mention Michelle’s work visa issues to remain in Scotland after moving from the Philippines, and her own quest to find peace following the death of her parents years before. And last but not least, the attempt to see the stars hidden in the mist of Scotland’s grey and cloudy skies. All in 81 pages! Phew, kind of exhausting.

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A Whirlwind Romance

So you can definitely see how there were plenty of plot points on hand to fill an entire novel. That being said, if we have to work within the parameters of a short novel, there is one more thing I would have wanted, which was just one more scene between Adrian and Michelle to focus on the dynamic of their evolving relationship. They seemingly moved rather quickly from acquaintances to crushes to feelings of actual love. We were really only offered one detailed scene which highlighted their connection on an emotional level, and that was when Michelle explained the tragic reasoning behind her desperate search to find stars in the night sky.

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This moment offered us one of the most endearing and enchanting scenes of the novel. However, I think the overall story would have been strengthened significantly from one additional scene where we could have seen the vulnerable side of Adrian. Instead, we have brief mentions of how they “chatted” or “spent time together”, but delving deeper into one of those particular moments could have made their relationship seem slightly more plausible. Again, all the pieces were there for something spectacular, but the details needed to be more fully fleshed out.

The Brightest Star

There was one character in this tale who I think was provided with the most development in terms of her story arch, and that would be Adrian’s mother. From her first scene you can’t help but fall in love with her kindness. She’s struggling to survive following her stroke, as well as deal with the fact her son resents her, but she manages to take things all in stride. Michelle also has the ability to bring out the best in her, not to mention help her find joy in the things she used to love about life. The mother’s story has a definite arch, and it was an emotionally compelling and poignant part of the plot, not to mention one of the main driving forces which brought Michelle and Adrian together.

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

Series: Nope! Although I’d love to see either a continuation of this story, or perhaps even see it developed into a full-length book.

Should you read it? This short novel is a quick read which definitely draws you in, but ultimately I was left wanting more. I think the story could have benefited from maybe one more scene focusing on the development of Michelle and Adrian’s relationship. Also, certain aspects were rushed to the point where we couldn’t fully get to know our two main characters. There seemed to be so much to Adrian’s back story that could have been expanded upon. Michelle also had a number of tearful moments which could have been spread out more.

Smut Level: Some brief kisses between our two unlikely lovebirds.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $1.99 Kindle Price. Amazon Digital Services LLC. 81 Pages.

Company Ink by Kat Colburn

A delicious office romance with a secretive twist.

What’s it About?

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I think this might be someone else’s story…because it certainly doesn’t feel like mine anymore. I can still remember a time when I was happy, when I didn’t go to sleep each night with a stress headache, and wake up each morning and cry because I no longer recognized my own life. A sick parent, a job I can’t stand, a company I hate, and too many people counting on me to stick it out and be strong. This can’t be my story. I guess I’m an unlikely heroine anyway- sarcastic and feisty, and more than one person has called me foulmouthed. Yeah, I guess it’s pretty unlikely that there is a hero and a white horse in my future.

Enter Dan Kelly. The new smoking hot vice president at this horrible company. He’s offered me a way out, one more shot at my dreams and the life I always wanted. He stands too close to my desk with his cocky smirk and makes it hard to type, he pushes our workplace flirting until it’s all I can do not to beg him to bend me over his desk, he challenges me, makes me want to argue with him until our fights verge on something…more. He makes me feel alive like no other. He makes me feel like there just might be a happily ever after in my future.

The problem is…his mountain of secrets.

The problem is…we can’t cross that line or I’ll be fired.

The problem is…he’s my best friend and now I want more.

The problem is…I’m about to be sucked into a story I never imagined I’d be a part of, and I’m not sure if I can make there be a happy ending.

First Impressions

I really enjoyed this book! It was such a good combination of funny, romantic, slightly suspenseful, yet also kind of sad. Office romances are always a tricky thing, and must be handled delicately so that we don’t cross over into inappropriate work behavior/sexual harassment. However, this book cleverly avoids that scenario. Sure, there’s that first initial physical attraction upon first meeting for our lead characters, but they don’t take things further for a really long time. Instead what we see is a true blossoming of friendship. They help each other in work, he helps her with managing stress, and only by opening up through spending so much time together do they slowly start to fall for each other. I for one appreciated how natural it seemed. And sure, once their friendship is secure we do see some fabulous sexual innuendo thrown in there too!!

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Trapped

The work factor of this novel was just as gripping as the romantic side of things. Now, I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t fully comprehend whatever the hell technology it was these two were working on. However, that wasn’t really the most important facet of it. Instead it was all about Dani, and how we’ve seen her become trapped by something she used to love. How this company is running her into the ground with stressful hard work that she doesn’t receive appropriate compensation for. Yet she’s unable to leave because she needs the money to help pay for her mother’s cancer treatment. And that’s when Dan comes along.

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The two of them are forced to work together on a big international proposal, the commission from which would allow Dani to finally have enough funds to help her mother, quite working for a company she hates, and finally get back to the woman she once was before corporate suits and fake personalities buried her true self. She can finally focus on living her life and escape from the depression she’s slowly steeping herself in. And I just found this part of the story so compelling. We find this strong woman at her wits’ end. At first she is hesitant to work with the domineering Dan, but they quickly discover how similar their personalities are. They have the same interests, laugh at the same jokes and truly become best friends. He helps her smile again, and uncover the sassy side she’s kept hidden for so long. They both want to take things to the next level, yet also don’t want to rush the possibility of ruining their friendship. Not to mention breaking a few HR rules along the way!

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Taking Their Time

After a while I really started to wonder if we would ever be privy to Dani and Dan breaking those HR rules, because damn do we have to wait a long time for them to get around to it!! Again, when push comes to shove I’m happy we were able to see them develop an emotional connection beyond anything physical, but good God! Eventually there was so much sexual tension I was ready to burst. While you do have to wait until a good three quarters of the way through the novel to get to the good stuff, lemme just tell you it…doesn’t…disappoint! I’d say we get a good full chapter of details, and my word do they make every second of it count. Simply delicious!

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

Series: Nope!

Should you read it? Personally I really liked this one, and I think it’s a good one to take to the beach. You can’t help but root for Dan and Dani to eventually find a way to be together. There are some secrets to Dan that I won’t give away here, but let’s just say they also impact his decision to hold off on taking things further with Dani. There was one element brought into the very end of the novel that I can’t 100% say was necessary, but overall I thought it was a fun, sweet, sexy read.

Smut Level: We have some warming up in a pool, shower, and against a window. See, I told you it didn’t disappoint!!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $12.89 Paperback Price. Self-Published. 245 Pages.

The Dark Side by DB Kennison

Farm life on a cattle ranch can be such an interesting thing. I mean, it seems like one of the only legitimate businesses where one can honestly say they had to take a day trip on the weekend to go buy some cow semen.

What’s it About?

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Addiction, greed, envy…They say every person has a dark side. All it takes to set it off is the right trigger. With the woman who tried to kill her behind bars, private investigator Randi Lassiter is still suffering the effects of post-traumatic stress nearly a year later. And just as she and her cop boyfriend, Jon Bricksen, have finally settled into the routine of a happy couple, someone in town is murdered and the news threatens to send her down the rabbit hole again. What Randi needs now is a case to focus on. When a missing person case waltzes into her office, Randi embraces the chance like the lone life preserver on a sinking ship.

Unfortunately, the client is her ex-husband, Stuart, and the missing person is the woman he’s now married to—her former best friend. Randi’s decision to help the man she’s sworn to loathe for all eternity is so out of character that Jon questions not only her judgment, but her mental health as well. To make matters worse, Randi begins to keep secrets from him, the kind that could ruin a relationship. When Stuart is suddenly arrested for murder, Randi stubbornly stands by her ex and tries to clear his name, despite the evidence Jon has against him. Now pitted against one another, not only is the couple’s love tested, but their survival against the dark side of a killer.

First Impressions

Phew, I think…yes I believe I can finally take a full breath and stop clutching my Kindle in a death grip. To say this book is a suspenseful read that’ll keep you guessing from start to finish is an understatement, just like book 1 in the series! This one probably has even more moving pieces than the first, and at times I was really wondering how it was all going to fit into place, but it was almost surprising when it did all come together like one perfect jigsaw puzzle. Looking back, there wasn’t one piece that was left out, and in the end you could tell how well orchestrated the entire plot was. Everything comes full circle, and you’ve gotta hand it to the author for being able to reign everything in at the last moment.

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Who Dunnit? 

Unlike book 1 where we had to wait until the very last moment to discover who our villain was, we actually find out earlier on in this book who is pulling the puppet strings. Granted, we don’t find out right away, so you do still have the fun of suspecting basically every character in the novel of ill-doing at some point. The true brilliance with this book is that once we finally discover who that villain is, if anything the suspense level heightens even more as our main characters are still left in the dark. We also don’t necessarily understand the full motive or end game of our evil doer, but with every turn of the page I found myself starting to rock back and forth a little more in agitation just wanting to yell to our detectives, “you’re so close!”, or “no, don’t discount that theory, it’s right there!!”. And of course, my personal favorite, “Just answer your damn phone!!!”.

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A Bump in the Road

In book one we saw how Randi and Jon had to work together to solve a string of murders that arrived in this small Wisconsin town. With the start of this second book we see how their relationship has lasted through Randi surviving an attempt on her life by the killer from the first book, and you can’t help but smile at their fun-loving relationship. But when murder pops up again in this small town we see their relationship put to the test on multiple fronts. Will this chief of police be able to cooperate with this private detective looking into his crime scene? Or will he push her away in the hopes of saving her from the details of death once again? And when Randi’s cheating ex-husband comes into the picture, well let’s just say the dynamics of their relationship are pushed to the breaking point.

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Cell Phones and Breaking Bad

I will say at times there were certain aspects of this novel that seemed slightly far-fetched. First and foremost, the cell phones. My goodness this must have been the most frustrating part of the book for me. Not only would Randi and Jon continually ignore the most important phone calls at the most important times (repeatedly!!!), but of course we have the joys of cell phones losing their charge right at the climax. Now I get it, stuff like that happens, but after a while it did start to feel almost like a cop-out to show it’s the only possible way these characters could get into these kinds of situations. Honestly, I’d probably prefer a lost cell phone to characters constantly ignoring calls from their significant other during a time of crisis. Just saying. In the grand scheme of things though, that’s really just me searching for something to nitpick. Maybe I just didn’t like that it simply ratcheted up the intensity of the story!

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As for the criminal activities in the book, I will say they felt a bit too Breaking Bad at times, which is funny considering the show is mentioned at least once in the book. One of those big-time crime issues in such a small, tight-knit community definitely isn’t impossible, far from it, but again it was one of those aspects I’d have to say was slightly over-the-top. Overall though, still a really interesting plot point! Again, throughout the whole thing you’re wondering how everything’s gonna come together, and who will survive. Just keep in mind that there are dark sides to this book, as hinted in the title. People die, and normally in violent or disturbing ways. Nothing too egregious, but just something to keep in mind if murder isn’t your cup of tea.

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

Series: Randi Lassiter, book 2. Another good addition to the series, and just as suspenseful as book 1.

Should you read it? This one might be too dark and suspenseful for the beach, but would be great on a cold and rainy/snowy day. This one will probably knock up the blood pressure a bit with the intensity level. Even though we know the identity of our villain earlier on in the novel, that doesn’t detract from the mystery of it all. Overall, a good murder mystery that definitely kept me on the edge of my seat.

Smut Level: The steamy scenes in this book are few and far between as more attention is placed on the murder investigation at hand, not to mention the fact that our lovebirds have some rocky moments in the book that test the strength of their relationship That being said, the few moments we do get are rather saucy.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $4.99 Kindle Price. W.R. Publishing. 371 Pages

Lachlan by Hazel Hunter

This book is like Gladiator meets Outlander meets…Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Shockingly, it works!

What’s it About? 

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When Kinley Chandler abruptly lands in medieval Scotland, there isn’t much she’s leaving behind. With her body shattered and her military career over, Kinley has resigned herself to death. But in the past, all that changes. Lachlan McDonnel, the laird of a clan of immortal highlanders, can hardly believe his good fortune. Not only does the mysterious lass save his life, she awakens his heart in a way he’d thought no longer possible. But the druid spells that allow Lachlan’s clan to live forever have a dark side as well. He and his men know all too well that the magic folk never give without taking. Though he is sworn to protect them, the price of his loyalty may finally be too high.

First Impressions

We open on our heroine, Kinley, who has been gravely wounded as a soldier fighting in Afghanistan. She’s experiencing intense PTSD, has no family or friends for support, and has given up to the point where she’s ready to end it all. On a day trip away from the VA hospital in California, she’s prepared to roll her wheelchair off the edge of a cliff when she is suddenly transported to 14th century Scotland where her body is magically healed. As if that wasn’t shocking enough, a clan of immortal highlanders are battling against a legion of Roman vampires, and Kinley is able to assist the Scotsmen by shooting fire out of her hands. So…yeah. Believe it or not, the highlanders and Romans actually make a lot of sense story wise! Now, why a magical portal would transport someone from California to Scotland? Not sure.

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A Fantastical Blend

I was actually pleasantly surprised with how much this story pulled me in and wouldn’t let go! I finished reading it in a day as I traveled from Denver to Salt Lake City for work. We have history, fantasy, time travel, fierce warriors, magic, betrayal, revenge, and some unbelievably steamy sex scenes between Kinley and our highlander laird, Lachlan. Altogether I would say there are three main components at play here: the developing relationship between Kinley and Lachlan, the battle against the Roman legion, and the mystical element concerning Kinley’s travel through time and newfound fire powers. Shockingly, I think my favorite component was actually the fighting, and for one very important reason. Kinley is a freakin’ badass!

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You Go Girl!

As you all know, I love a strong female lead character, and Kinley represents this to the max! She’s not afraid to stand up for herself, and show the men a thing or two about fighting, strategy and hand-to-hand combat. Her persona is the perfect combination of sass, physical and mental strength. This is a woman who is taking advantage of her body’s sudden healing and will live her life to the fullest, even if it’s in another time and place than she’s used to. Kinley knows she’s in a historical era and land where women are inferior to men. But you know what? She doesn’t…give…a f*ck!

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Kinley isn’t afraid to speak up until she’s heard, even if it’s not necessarily what others want to hear. You go girl! And you go all day long! In addition to Kinley’s overall badassery, we also have this larger never-ending battle at hand between highlander and Roman that’s been raging for centuries. It’s a dark and violent battle, and these Roman vampires are merciless and pretty disgusting. Be prepared for some nasty descriptions of battle and blood-sucking murder/mayhem. ‘Twas interesting though!

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Druid Magic and Wonder

The mystical aspects of the novel, while interesting, also left me slightly confused at times. As I mentioned earlier, the reason Kinley is transported from present day California to 14th century Scotland isn’t fully explained. There is Druid magic at play which has made these highlanders immortal, and Romans become vampires. However, the interactions with the local mortals left me a bit befuddled, as these are small villages and the highlanders have been interacting with and protecting them from the Roman vampires for centuries. Yet their immortality is supposedly a secret?

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Then there’s Kinley’s fire power, which is so honed at one point and then completely vanishes the next. Huh? Lastly, the passion between Kinley and Lachlan is off the charts amazing, with so much detail and dirty talk, but at one point Lachlan’s snake tattoo gets involved in the bedroom activities in a rather…disturbing way. At least in my humble opinion! Can’t say it was a feature that was absolutely necessary. Their link is already undeniably intense, so I’m not sure we had to bring the tattoo into the grand scheme of things too?

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

Series: Immortal Highlander, book 1. Oh yeah, I’ll definitely be continuing with this series. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for our other highlander warriors.

Should you read it? This is an entertaining and action-packed read! It’s definitely dark at times, but the strength truly lies in the personalities of the characters. From Kinley’s strength to Lachlan’s soft side, his highlander brothers’ loyalty and even the evil of the Romans. It’s all just very believable even though we’re dealing with so many fantastical elements. It’s a uniquely compelling story, and while I can see how it might be too dark a read for some, I’m excited to see where this story is headed!!

Smut Level: Holy sh*t here people! Just because this is a historical read, don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s tame!! We’ve got extensive detail, and dirty talk galore. Which I must say whenever we have dirty talk mixed in with old time 14th century speak it kind of makes me giggle. Such a stark juxtaposition.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. Allure Press. 382 Pages.