Of Love and Betrayal by Louise Lyndon

Wow, wow, WOW! I was shocked at how quickly this book sucked me in. Right from the get go! And I didn’t want to put it down!

What’s it About? 

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Aveline de Bondeville is on the run. Determined to keep out of the hands of the cruel Raimbaut de Blois she will do whatever it takes to stay alive. And so when she finds herself in the company of Troy de Gysborne she must quickly decide if she can trust him. But can she confess to murder knowing it would mean her certain death?

Troy de Gysborne did the unthinkable; he tore the bonds of brotherhood and left a path of destruction in his wake. And now Troy must face those he betrayed, including the father who long ago renounced him. But to confess to the crime he committed will cost him everything. Including Aveline. But can he remain silent if it means losing the woman he loves?

First Impressions

I really had no idea going into this book how much I would absolutely love it. It’s the perfect mix of intrigue, suspense, lust and romance. Not to mention two lead characters you can’t help but adore. Aveline has been through hell. She’s been tortured, beaten and flogged to within an inch of her life. She’s also killed to escape this nightmare, but is still being pursued by Raimbaut, the son of the monster she killed, who is intent on revenge. It seems like fate that Troy finds her on the side of the road, and vows to protect her by any means necessary. Even if he has to marry her. Even if Aveline’s already married.

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Turmoil

The brilliance of this novel comes from the inner turmoil which both of our characters face. Technically, Aveline is already married to another, though the marriage was never consummated. She can’t help but be drawn to her savior, Troy, yet she also feels ashamed and confused that she desires him. The fact that her first husband never came to her rescue while being tortured also adds to her confusion. As Raimbaut surrounds the castle where Aveline and Troy have taken refuge, she feels responsible for all those trapped within its walls.

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Then we have Troy, who is shocked to find that he desires his new bride. He feels protective of her, and wants to be with her. However, he acknowledges that she has already declared her love for her first husband. Troy has a secret past of his own which caused his father to disown him, and fears that Aveline will run from him if she discovers the truth. There’s such a fantabulous building of drama throughout this entire novel you feel like you’re gonna explode from all the tension! It’s glorious!! You never quite know what’s going to happen, and even I gasped a few times in surprise.

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

Series: The perfect stand-alone.

Should you read it? Throughout the whole book you wonder what’s going to happen as Raimbaut encroaches ever closer on our newlyweds, and how our characters will react once the details of their pasts are fully revealed. The blend of romance and suspense was done to absolute perfection from start to finish. Our characters are also outstandingly dynamic, from Troy and Aveline, to his relatives, and even our villain Raimbaut.

Smut Level: Troy is more than willing to show Aveline just how pleasurable it can be to consummate a marriage.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $0.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 231 Pages.

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The Love Square by Jessica Calla

I have a feeling I’ll be thinking back on this book for a few days.

What’s it About? 

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Clare Davis hates everything about L.A. Well, almost everything… Accustomed to a small town life in Nebraska, Clare is miserable in her new role as manager of an L.A. bookstore. She yearns to return to the simple life on her family’s farm. That is until she literally runs into up-and-coming movie star Dylan Barnes.

Dylan resents the Hollywood limelight. Awaiting the premiere of his first feature film, it would be nice to meet someone real—just not someone who rear-ends his BMW with her oversized truck. Dylan is instantly attracted to Clare and her Midwestern charm. And as he shows her the wonders of California, Clare can’t resist falling in love with the Golden State and its newest star.

From West Coast to East, friendship and love are equally complicated… On the East Coast, Dylan’s childhood friend, Alex Popovich, loves his carefree life as a minor league ballplayer. He’s the man-whore of Brooklyn, playing the field in more ways than one. So when real feelings for his best friend erupt, Alex isn’t interested.

A gorgeous ballroom dancer-slash-office worker, Jenna Stecco wants her best friend, Alex, to take a leap from friends to more. Busy having one night stands, Alex is quick to let Jenna go, telling her it’s time to give up lost hopes and move on with life. Complicated turns full on crazy with a tangled love square…

When Dylan returns to New York City, he meets up with Alex and is introduced to the stunning Jenna. Believing Clare is unavailable and Alex isn’t interested, Dylan and Jenna share a night of passion and embark on a long-distance relationship. Everyone is thrown by this love square, as Dylan, Jenna, Alex, and Clare struggle with their feelings for each other. When Jenna reveals a secret that will change their lives, all hell breaks loose. As the love square crumbles, the four friends must find a way to rebuild or risk losing love forever.

First Impressions

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This definitely isn’t your average romance novel. I know I’ve joked before with other novels which expand on the concept of the love triangle to include more people, but this one acknowledges it right away in the title. I must say, I love the uniqueness of it. We are essentially presented with two separate couples who are engaged in relationships of friendship rather than romance. However, with both sets of people it is blatantly obvious that there are underpinnings of deeper emotions at play which go beyond basic friendship. But what happens when these two sets from opposite ends of the country come together, and two of them choose to start a sexual relationship? Turns out, a lot of freakin’ drama!

Our Couples

Alright, let’s take a look at what are basically our couples, even though they just want to be friends. The first is Dylan and Clare, and I’d have to say they were probably my favorite of the bunch. They are both just so darn sweet, personable and down to earth that you can’t help but love the two of them together. Unfortunately, Clare is kind of involved with a cowboy back home in Nebraska, which is why Dylan never makes a move to take things further. I guess technically, that makes this love square a love pentagon.

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The second couple consists of Alex and Jenna, and it’s definitely understandable why these two choose to just remain friends. Alex is a self-proclaimed player, and is afraid that if he admits deeper feelings for Jenna he’ll eventually screw things up and she’ll leave him. For both couples, they’d rather have the other person in their life as a friend than not at all. And then Dylan meets Jenna…

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Missed Opportunities

This book truly becomes a love square when Dylan travels to New York City to meet up with his buddy Alex, and subsequently hooks up with Jenna. In a way, the whole novel is sort of a combination of missed opportunities. It is always when one person is about to confess their true feelings for the other that something goes wrong…or they sleep with someone else.

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Not gonna lie, kind of frustrating. After Alex and Jenna share a moment of deep connection, he gets spooked and runs into the arms of another woman. Hence, Jenna decides to have some fun with the visiting Dylan. As for Dylan, he’s on the verge of confessing his true feelings of infatuation to Clare, but when she travels home to Nebraska to visit with her fiancé Lucas, he welcomes Jenna into his life as a convenient distraction.

Additional Frustrations

So essentially we have a group of adults who are too afraid to have an actual conversation with their love interest. Mkay, I get it. Talking about how someone else gives you all the warm and fuzzies can be intimidating. But then when you combine this with the fact that Clare went to Nebraska to end things with Lucas, but never reveals this to Dylan, and she continues to let him believe that she’s engaged and happily involved with another man?! Well, honestly it was almost one frustration too many for me.

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And then we are presented with the twist. Throughout the whole book you are questioning how everything will come together, and who will end up with whom. Just when you think you’ve got things figured out, there’s this twist at the end that’ll definitely throw you for a loop. Now, I can’t really say I cared for this twist, but my hat’s off to the author for keeping me guessing throughout, and eventually surprising me with an unexpected conclusion.

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

Series: Nope

Should you read it? I honestly don’t know how to feel about this one, which is why I’ll be thinking on it for a while. It’s absolutely unique, and will definitely hold your interest in spite of the sometimes frustrating actions of the characters. That being said, the twist at the end wasn’t my fav, and the response of the characters to this twist was kind of strange.

Smut Level: There is definitely some sex, but the scenes usually cut away before things get too detailed. However, with this many people denying their true feelings for one another, there’s bound to be some excessive sexual tension at play.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Limitless Publishing LLC. 313 Pages.

Crazy About You by Katie O’Sullivan

Ah, there’s nothing quite like a summer at the Cape…mixed with a touch of murder! Mua ha ha!

What’s it About? 

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Climate scientist Chase Anderson races from one project to the next, unwilling to slow down in his quest to save the world’s oceans. He has no time for family or relationships until he crashes into an impetuous blonde with a quirky sense of humor. One sizzling kiss makes him seriously reevaluate his priorities. And his sanity.

Emma Maguire left her small Cape Cod hometown years ago, seeking the fast pace and anonymity of New York City. She’s not sure what she’s searching for, but when a family crisis brings her home to Provincetown she’s caught in a crazy tangle of half-truths and mistaken identity… and falls for the handsome stranger who broke her cell phone. Will untangling the web of lies drive them crazy, or lead to something even crazier – like love?

First Impressions

Emma and Chase literally bump into each other. After going through the necessary back and forth misunderstandings required of most any romance novel, they admit they have an obvious connection, and decide to explore things further by going on a date. I’ll admit, initially I had no real idea where this story was going after having such a classic/cheesy meet cute. But before you know it they come across a dead body on their date, and get wrapped up in mob family business. Did NOT see that coming!

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Some Twists

What you think will be a quick summer fling love story suddenly twists into a suspenseful story of murder. Who knew?! What I really loved about this book was that Chase stood by Emma through everything, even though they just met. The story might have some elements of mob intrigue, but it still maintains the underpinnings of a classic romance, and sticking together through the worst of any situation.

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I do think Emma and Chase may have had one too many misunderstandings which led to arguments seemingly on repeat. For example, Emma’s best friend Tony is linked to the mob, and she must insist multiple times throughout the novel that they never dated. Come on Chase, she’s already said so 5 times, I think you can believe her when she says it for a sixth. That being said, Emma also makes a few questionable/not-so-intelligent decisions surrounding Tony’s mob connections, so I guess it goes to show that nobody’s perfect. Definitely keeps the story interesting though.

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

Series: Stand-alone!

Should you read it? A bit frustrating at times when Emma puts herself in seemingly obvious danger, and the constant misunderstandings between her and Chase. That being said, the kooky townsfolk are one of the best features of the book, and you’ll wonder how everything will come together in the end.

Smut Level: Some intense kisses lead to something hotter than the August weather at the Cape!

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $5.99 Kindle Price. The Wild Rose Press, Inc. 332 Pages.

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The Soldier’s Secret by Heather Osborne

This was definitely a unique approach to a Civil War era romance. On the one hand, it is similar to Gone with the Wind in that the story mainly focuses on a female heroine. And yet, we are also witness to a woman’s first-hand account of the grisly carnage related to war.

What’s it About? 

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A picture of pure shock and curiosity, Emma placed her empty glass down, “Surely, you are not suggesting I dress as a man and enlist in the Union Army!”. “That is precisely what I am suggesting.” In an era when women are adornments, Northerner Emma Mansfield finds it challenging to fit the mold. It becomes an impossible task when her country is torn apart by civil war. Knowing she must take action, Emma finds herself in the midst of danger and intrigue when she takes up the guise of a young artillery soldier for the Union Army. Desperately trying to find out if her two brothers are alive, Emma must maintain her anonymity as she fights for survival.

First Impressions

While Emma’s bravery to disguise her appearance to go and fight on the front lines is commendable, her motivation for doing so was questionable. Her brother Will is fighting for the Union Army, while her younger brother Harrison has shamed the family by running off to join the Confederacy in order to fight for some cause, whether he believes in it or not. Emma and her family haven’t heard word from either brother in a long time, which is what pushes her to enlist.

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It wasn’t that she was fighting to stand behind her beliefs, or even that she was a Mulan-type character stepping in to take the place of a family member in the war. She just wanted information. Now, I understand the desire to find out what has happened to your loved ones, but couldn’t she have just become a nurse or something? It seemed a little foolish to me for her to put herself in such unnecessary danger.

It Keeps You Guessing

One thing that this book definitely has going for it is that it’s far from predictable. The majority of the story takes place in 1863, which means that the war is far from over, and you are kept guessing who will make it out alive in the end. Sadly, not all of the main players in this saga do make it out alive. But unfortunately that is the tragic reality of war which the novel brings to the forefront. The Civil War is often described as the war which divided families, and pitted brother against brother. This novel highlights the harshness of those statements.

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The book is an interesting mix of historical detail, deathly grudges, and untimely romance. Before enlisting, Emma falls for a handsome doctor, Colin, who is also sent to the front lines. When Emma finally joins the troops disguised as a young soldier, it isn’t long before Colin and her brother Will discover her true identity. To avoid further discovery from people higher up in the Army, as well as an evil Colonel with a seemingly unexplainable grudge against Emma, she and Colin run away into the wilderness. This is when the story takes on another level of suspense, as the loving couple desperately tries to hide out in the woods and avoid capture until this terrible war comes to an end.

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

Series: Stand-Alone

Should you read it? The writing was rather simplistic at times, but it’s a story which will hold your interest, and would probably be a good, short read for all of you history buffs out there who don’t have time to read all of Gone with the Wind. 

Smut Level: There are a few sex scenes throughout the book, but they are all very tame. One scene though happens before Emma and Colin are married, which is oh so scandalous.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $2.99 Kindle Price. CreateSpace Independent Publishing. 194 Pages.

Juggler, Porn Star, Monkey Wrench by Rich Leder

Well, I’ve gotta hand it to this book, it has one hell of a unique title. As for the story goes, I’m not really sure what just happened.

What’s it About? 

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My name is Mark Manilow. I am a LA screenwriter. Here’s my recipe for a cocktail called “Romantic Hollywood Sex Comedy.” Start with my estranged wife, who left me two years ago to become a juggler. Pour in the ensuing emotional tailspin conjoined with my brutal case of writer’s block. Mix with my last-gasp writing job, a ridiculous porn flick called Broken Boner. Add in the Broken Boner porn star, who seduces me into an ill-fated partnership. Throw in the gun-toting producer and eccentric Montecito billionaire who hire me to adapt the phonebook into a movie. Combine with the return of my headaches and a trip to an ancient Chinese healer, where I meet the healer’s beguiling granddaughter—my monkey wrench. Serve with wonderment as to whether or not I’ll find a way to settle things with the juggler, break it off with the porn star, and fall in love with the monkey wrench…or if anyone will stop laughing long enough to notice.

First Impressions

So Mark is a screenwriter, and from what I can tell, he’s not a very good one. He’s only written one mildly successful script which has been shelved for all eternity due to some kind of Hollywood mumbo jumbo. He’s a bit down in the dumps trying to think up the premise for his next story when he gets a shot to write the script for a porn film. Just as Mark is starting to warm up to the idea of being the next big name in porn writing, the director of the film informs Mark that he just doesn’t have what it takes to write a porno. I’m sorry but if the guy can’t write porn, I question if he can write anything else.

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The Characters

Mark meets a plethora of different characters throughout the novel, and each one is crazier than the last. In my opinion, the personas were too outlandish to be believable, which took away from how much you could really connect with any of them. The entire novel culminates in one tediously long, drawn-out scene in which practically all of the characters from the book come together for a reading of Mark’s newest script, Phone Book: the Movie.

That’s right! The guy who couldn’t write porn wrote a movie script inspired by the phone book. This script reading is one of the most ridiculous scenes I’ve ever come across, and escalates to include an orgy and attempted murder, although nobody really seems to care that either is taking place. Unfortunately, what I assume was an attempt at hilarity left me feeling more confused than amused.

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The Writing

Although it was unique to see how this struggling writer goes from attempting to write porn to adapting the phone book for a feature film, the writing did annoy me at times. Firstly, there were way too many anecdotes which added nothing to the storyline, including a multitude of flashbacks and possibly imagined scenarios. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with flashbacks, but they have to tie in somehow to the overall plot.

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The second element which I barely noticed at first, but had me on the brink of chucking my Kindle across the room by the end, was the addition of rambling lists. For example, did you know that Mark has written dramas, comedies, dramedies, romantic comedies, sophomoric comedies, teen comedies, family comedies, action, adventure, action-adventure, thrillers, sci-fi, and westerns? He also talks about producers and directors and writers and actors and agents and managers and painters and carpenters and this guy really needs to learn the use of etc.

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

Series: Stand-alone

Should you read it? It was a little out there for my taste, and has convinced me to never move to LA if there’s even a smidgen of a chance I’ll meet people like this out there.

Smut Level: Believe it or not, the absolute funniest scene was when Mark visited a beautiful mansion which actually contained sets for multiple porn flicks. An amusing experience to say the least.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $3.99 Kindle Price. Laugh Riot Press. 390 Pages.